Archive for the ‘Paris’ Category

12/3/18, Paris IS burning

Posted on December 3, 2018

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, that you recovered from Thanksgiving, and are heading peacefully toward the holidays.

 

I am overwhelmed with sadness today. I don’t know how much it is reported in the States, but one of the ways that the French express their displeasure with governmental policies is to demonstrate, gather in the streets, to protest policies and conditions they don’t like. Demonstrations in France are usually peaceful, but not always. They can be noisy sometimes (or not), and rarely result in violence.  For the French, demonstrations are a form of freedom of speech. In the States, I think demonstrations tend to be bigger and less frequent, on a variety of important subjects. We should all have the right to let our governments know how we feel about things, hopefully peacefully without injury to property or people, nor destruction of any kind. Some people do it by writing letters to their legislators, others prefer to do it in a march, or a demonstration. It’s a show of hands for new and different policies, which seems fair to express those opinions.

 

The French people are generally unhappy about a variety of subjects at the moment. The economy is not doing well, there are certainly injustices that need to be corrected, and problems that have not been addressed, as with any government in any country. And to bring current problems to the government’s attention, a group of citizens applied to demonstrate for several consecutive Saturdays, beginning two weeks ago, for what was meant to be a peaceful demonstration in a number of cities in France. Since the issues are important and heartfelt by the demonstrators, the demonstrations became heated, erupted in destruction of property a week ago, and as a precaution stores were ordered closed in many areas, this past Saturday for the third demonstration.

 

The third demonstration two days ago became a nightmare of mob brutality and wanton destruction in Paris. However valid or not the complaints may have been, the expression of them got out of hand. Cars were burned, homes were set fire to, businesses and stores were destroyed and vandalized, bonfires were set in the streets, flaming bricks and rocks flew through windows setting fire to homes once inside, people were frightened, important monuments were graffiti-ed and severely damaged, trees were burned, entire streets were destroyed, smoke was heavy in the air from all the fires, and the acrid smell of smoke from tear gas bombs, water cannons were turned on the crowds by police. By noon, it looked like the city was in flames, over a hundred people were injured, both law enforcement and civilians. And observing it at close range, one sensed the frenzy of the crowd, a frightening excitement to destroy anything at hand. By nightfall it looked like there was snow on the ground which was a carpet of broken glass from all the destroyed cars, windows, bus stop shelters, etc. In an economy already suffering, in the weeks before Christmas, there will be fewer purchases with stores that will take months to repair (or closed forever for shop keepers who can’t afford to repair them), and people afraid to leave their homes for something as benign as Christmas shopping. Even sadder, the small independent shops and businesses who are the livelihoods of people who own them and work there, small grocery stores, dry cleaners, book stores, florists, which they can’t afford to repair and will not reopen. Big fancy stores as well as small ones were looted, vandalized and set on fire. Fire fighters couldn’t get from one fire to the next fast enough, and in some cases, an entire street of cars were burning. The destruction of property of all kinds was extreme, as shocked Parisians watched their city burning.

 

In the past few weeks, I have seen the shocking cataclysmic destruction by nature with the fires in California, with homes and businesses and lives lost, a true tragedy and natural disaster……and now to the kind of destruction Man is capable of when emotions run high, and get out of control, even if with the best of intentions. In either case, the results are tragic and immeasurably destructive.

 

And just as I was heartbroken for the tragic immeasurable losses to the fire in California, I am deeply saddened now for the destruction in Paris, and all the people who will suffer from it. In its own way, it is tragic too, to see a beautiful city looted and pillaged and in flames, and so many people affected by it. When Nature or Man get out of control, we are all losers in the end.

 

Have a great and peaceful week, and I hope the holiday spirit prevails and begins to grow in all of us.

 

love, Danielle

 

PS. Elaine very correctly said that she read that “professional rioters” have joined the Gilets Jaunes (the yellow vests, because that’s what they wear to identify themselves) demonstrators in France. The Gilets Jaunes began by demonstrating peacefully, and a group informally known as the “Casseurs” (the breakers, the people who break things) infiltrated their ranks, and are wearing the same yellow vests, making it impossible to tell who is who. The Casseurs have added the violent element to the demonstrations, and turned them into riots more than peaceful demonstrations. It’s a tremendous dilemma, because the yellow vests they wear (the same ones), make it impossible to figure out who’s who. I don’t think the Gilets Jaunes ever intended for the demonstrations to become violent, and the Casseurs have appeared at other demonstrations in France. And the end result now is some tremendous damage that will be very costly to repair, graffiti on many important monuments, windows broken, shop windows smashed and the stores looted and vandalized, cobble stones hacked out of pavement, and thrown through windows and used to smash cars. Some of the professional rioters use sledge hammers to destroy cars. And with the added element of experienced rioters, violence has erupted. Everyone in Paris hopes that it will stop, stores are suffering from lack of business, not just big fancy stores, but small independent stores, grocery stores, dry cleaners, neighbourhood florists, people who depend on their business to earn their livelihood, and now their stores have been vandalized. The big luxury stores have been attacked and looted, and are able to recover more quickly. Everyone in Paris is affected in some way. And the situation Elaine described is exactly the problem, and once violence is added to the mix, it’s very hard to calm it down again. I hope that solutions will be found soon that will be acceptable to all, so Paris can recover, tourists can return, and people can move around the city safely. D.

10/29/18, Trick or Treat

Posted on October 29, 2018

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week, and that this week will be more treat than trick for you!!! (Treat being lots of dark chocolate or whatever makes you happy!!!)

 

I worked REALLY hard last week, writing 20 hours a day, so I am definitely back up to fall speed and my winter writing schedule. And I finished what I was writing on Friday, so I treated myself to a fun day on Saturday (after Xeroxing everything I’d been writing, since I type it on a typewriter and don’t use a computer). After the Xeroxing, I did some Christmas shopping….and of course a few treats for me!!! I’m having my Godchildren for a Halloween dinner, and they’re still young enough to really enjoy it!!

 

After Christmas shopping on Saturday (I went to a really cool store that is ALL men’s socks in a million different rainbow colors—–great stocking stuffers for the men on my list!!)—after that, I did something I never do. I NEVER go to restaurants alone, I’m not a big eater, wouldn’t enjoy being in a restaurant alone, it always looks weird to me when I see women alone in a restaurant, or people alone generally, and it’s no fun without someone to talk to. If I’m out doing errands, I just plow through until I get home, and I always have a bar of dark chocolate in my handbag if I get hungry, and it doesn’t hurt to skip a meal. I’d rather do that than go to a restaurant alone. And I’ve only done that once in my life. But Saturday, I decided to spoil myself a little after a week of hard work, and spotty meals. I tend to eat food that’s easy to eat and I don’t have to pay attention to when I’m working. Like hard boiled or scrambled eggs, the occasional sandwich, and waaayyyyy too many cookies!!! But Saturday I stopped for a late lunch, I had truffle risotto and calf’s liver (I love liver—-I know, no one else does). It was yummy, I was on an outdoor terrace, having a ball watching the people go by, sitting in the sun, feeling lazy and spoiled and enjoying it thoroughly. It was a fun restaurant I go to a lot, so they know me, and the kind of place where families and couples go, and all kinds of people so I didn’t stand out alone. And the people watching is superb there. Lots of foreigners, on my right were two Chinese women who looked like they were having a good time. They took photos of each other with their phones. to my left were two young Americans, maybe about 18 or 19, a boy and a girl, talking about college and exams, and how awful their parents are (I tried not to laugh at that. The boy said he had to take a trip with his father and said “Erghk!! How Sinister is That!!”) And beyond them was a beautiful Russian woman with what seemed to be her boyfriend. Lots of people came and went in some wild outfits. It’s a restaurant where a lot of people go in the fashion business, and some models, actors and actresses sometimes, and people who want to see and be seen. There was a Chinese actress posing for photographs in front of me, and some crazy outfits: one couple had on matching suits with Bermuda shorts, and she was wearing Mickey Mouse ears. It was a fun interlude for an hour, and at least I had a decent meal after a week of eating snacks nonstop.  I did some more errands after that, and went home and listened to some music and answered some emails.

 

I still haven’t figured out a Halloween costume, I have a pink sweatshirt with Miss Piggy on it, and may settle for that this year. I hope you have a GREAT HALLOWEEN!!! Whether in costume or not, and I hope you get lots of treats!!!

 

I learned something VERY unusual this week by the way—At least I think it is, a social event popular with the Millennial generation (late 20’s to early 30’s) Apparently the big trend is for “Gender Reveal” Parties. Clearly, I’m from the Dark Ages because I’d never heard of it before, although all my children knew about it when I checked. It sounded extremely sexy, but apparently isn’t. Here’s how it works if you don’t know about it either. When a Millennial is having a baby, instead of having the doctor tell her and her partner or spouse the sex of the baby, the doctor writes the baby’s sex down on a piece of paper, seals the paper in an envelope and the future Mom takes it to a party planner and a baker, and they throw a party, which will either have a pink or a blue theme, they invite all their friends, and when they go to the party, they discover the sex of their baby, along with all their friends, from the pink or blue balloons. I have to admit, I was stunned, I can’t imagine wanting to share that discovery with 50 or 100 friends or even two. In my generation, it was a very private moment to share with my husband and not discover at a party. But apparently, Gender Reveal Parties are a big deal now. You learn something new every day!!!

 

 

Trick or Treat!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

10/1/18, The Rose and the Thorns

Posted on October 1, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week. I’ve had a long crazy one, travelling again, and my travel day this time consisted of TWO, not one but TWO cancelled flights, and 7 hours in the airport between them (with my 3 dogs), only to go nowhere and go back home that night, unable to get a seat out for another 2 days. It’s fairly typical travel hell nowadays, but it sure isn’t fun when it’s happening. And I think cancelled and delayed flights happen a lot now. In the end it took me 4 days to get home, instead of one. It’s all part of the complicated landscape of travelling now, and challenging at best. I was exhausted by the time I got home.

 

Two hours after I got home, I celebrated my daughter’s birthday with her, and some friends. It was a really fun evening, and her birthday was the reason I came home. I would have swum home if I had to, not to disappoint her.

 

And the next day, I had some sad, bad news. A friend had gotten sick a few weeks ago, seemed to be coming out of it and recovering, and this morning at barely 60, he had cardiac arrest and died. I was stunned when I got the call. It just didn’t seem reasonable or possible. We had spoken only a few days ago, and emailed regularly. He was a wise, intelligent, extremely kind person who had been very helpful to me, always willing and quick to go the extra mile to help. He was a truly lovely man, with strong protective instincts. I always felt safe when in his presence, as though nothing could harm me when he was around, which is a rare feeling. I met him many years ago, and our paths crossed again earlier this year. The friendship picked up then for the past several months. I saw him twice this summer, and as usual, he was wonderful to me. We exchanged some emails, just chatting, and three weeks ago, I learned through one of my children, he was ill in the hospital, and wanted to hear from me. So I sent him an email, and we began talking. He was suffering from the illness he had, but he was determined to beat it. And he assured me only days ago that he would. While he was ill for the past few weeks, our correspondence became voluminous and intense, as I tried to encourage him, and hoped he would get well soon. I sent him some prayer cards, and some religious things, including a medal from a convent near my childhood home in Paris, and some books. And our email exchanges were fun too. I was always happy to hear from him, and he was grateful for the support. The thought that he might not get well seemed remote and unlikely, and he said that he was confident that he would. We spoke a few days ago, and he was “confident that he was getting better”. And then one morning a few days ago, that terrible call, that he had died suddenly, and was gone. It left an instant void, and an overwhelming feeling of sadness, and I was stunned all day after hearing about it.

 

The concept of birth and death has always been a mystery to me. It always struck me when I was having a baby. One moment you are X number of people in the delivery room, and minutes later, there is one more person in the room. How did they get here? It is utterly remarkable to me that a person can be added or subtracted at a moment’s notice. And similarly, death makes no sense to me at all. People you love and care about and know, see regularly or once in a while, and suddenly that person no longer exists. Game over. The person you loved or knew is nowhere to be found on this planet, you can’t talk to them or see them, and never will again. Vanished. Gone. Whatever they were doing before, and in all the places where you used to see them, they are no longer there, and you will never hear their voice or see their face again. It seems incredibly cruel, especially with our loved ones. Now you see me, now you don’t. And we are left with the memories of time shared with them.

 

I’ve often said that some books are shorter than others, and it applies to people too. Some lives are shorter, and they are not meant to go the whole long distance. But for those of us left with our memories, and not with the person we loved, it’s hard to understand why this happened, and what it means to us.  I will miss talking to my friend, and reading emails from him, the exchange of laughter, the comfort and the reassurance of his emails. Why destiny chose to make our paths cross again this summer for these few months, I don’t know. And I know even less how such a lovely person, anxious to help anyone he could, should die so young. I’m grateful to have known him, I will cherish the memories of who he was and what he shared, and the example he set for kindness in this world. He always went the extra mile for anyone.  I will miss his smiling face, and so much about him.  He said to me the last time we spoke, that he preferred to focus on the roses in life than the thorns. He was certainly a rose in many lives, and I will long remember and cherish his friendship.

 

Have a great week!!

 

love, Danielle

 

Filed Under Family, Friends, Paris | 7 Comments

9/17/18, Hard Day, Hard Week

Posted on September 17, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, even a great week, as the Fall gets off to a busy start. For those of you with children, they’re all back in school by now, which keeps parents busier than ever, until the new routine is established, and things settle down. And with after school activities, and sports teams, kids keep us running. Mine are all working now, and I miss those school days (which will sound crazy to you if you’re dashing all over the place with your kids, and wish they’d hurry up and grow up. Beware of what you wish for!!! They grow up all too soon!!). I still have one child living at home, and am grateful that I do!!! Every time she leaves her laundry stacked up in the front hall, or borrows something and forgets to return it, or loses something, or scrambles my schedule, or uses enough towels to stock a hotel, I remind myself of how lucky I am to still have her at home!! Any time I spend with her is precious.

 

I had a busy, mostly fun week last week, doing errands, catching up, seeing friends for lunch and dinner. I love having friends in for dinner after the summer, to catch up with how everyone’s summer was. I worked, and finished an outline I love, for a future book, and can’t wait to get to work on it. And I’ll see a few friends this week too, and visit two of my daughters, and see 2 more of my kids by the end of the week. Seeing my children will be the best part of the week. And I have a bunch of real life stuff to do too. A visit from the plumber to solve a (lack of) hot water problem, a trip to the vet to check the dog who was sick this summer (Blue, with a disk problem), put away summer clothes, call to complain about the kitchen chairs I ordered 5 months ago and haven’t received yet. Ordinary real life housewifely stuff, which I enjoy. I got a new TV for my bedroom, after 14 years, which is fun. I like the rhythm and routine of ordinary life, I find it comforting and relaxing to get small things done. Last week had its serious moments too, I went to the memorial service for a dear friend, and unfortunately will go the memorial service of a beloved brother in law this week. The friend was 91, a famous fashion designer (Hubert de Givenchy, an extraordinary really lovely man). My brother in law was in his late 80s, and like a real big brother to me since I was 16. Both men led good, full, long productive lives. I will miss them both, but it is in the order of things for people to leave, and both lived well lived complete lives to a great age, which makes their leaving easier to accept.

 

But all in all, I know this will be a hard week for me. However well I fill the time, whatever I do, there is a date that I cannot escape every year, the anniversary of my son Nick’s death, by suicide at 19. He was greatly, great loved, and still is, and I miss him always. Talented (in writing and music), brilliant, funny, loving, compassionate, he was a wonderful boy, suffered from bi polar disease all his life (I first noticed it before he was 2, and knew it for sure by the time he was 4 years old). We did everything we could to help him, but he finally just couldn’t live with the pain anymore. He led a remarkably full life in his short time, he already had a successful career in music (writing lyrics and music, and lead singer in a successful band). And even after his death, his life has been a blessing to many people. We established two foundations in his honor, to help mentally ill people, and the homeless. Thousands of people have been helped in his name. There is a blessing in even the hardest events in our lives.

 

Anniversary dates are always something of a mystery to me. The person we loved, and still love, is just as gone the day or the week or month before and after the anniversary. But there is a power to the anniversary date that is like the sound of a gong that reverberates through you, shattering the silence and any sense of peace. It’s as though your body knows what day it is as well as your heart. Life stops for me on that day, as I try to remember him without remembering how terrible that day was. Birthdays are easier because there are happy memories of that day. There are no happy memories of the day someone you love dies, and it pierces your heart like a spear. The memory of that stops you in your tracks. I try to keep it as gentle as possible, but there is no easy way. This will be the first year that I won’t be with some of my children on that date, but I will see them the next day. There is something particularly terrible about losing a child, at any age, because it is not in the correct order of life, and a child is part of you from the moment they are born until you die, and they take with them a part of you that belonged to them.   So it will be a hard day. It always is. Some years are harder than others, and some years are a little better, and gentler. You never really escape it, but some years whatever you do to soothe the pain seems to work, distraction, seeing friends, whatever you do, and you get through it. Other years you barely crawl through it. The pain begins to dim the next day and gets back to something you can live with, but you hit a wall on those days, time stops, and you are catapulted into the past to a day you wish had never happened. In a way, the agony of that day doesn’t make sense, because they are just as gone before and after the day, and you learn to live with it…..but the actual anniversary date is particularly tough. I dread it, but one gets through it. It comes at you like a heat seeking missile, headed straight for your heart.

 

He was an incredibly sweet boy with a huge heart. Forever missed, forever loved, for the rest of time.

 

Have a great week!!! I hope it is a gentle week for you, with lots of happy moments in it.

 

all my love, Danielle

 

8/20/18, Bea, an Amazing girl!!!!

Posted on August 20, 2018

Hi Everyone,

 

Well, here we are, the last week in August, Labor Day is just around the corner, and we have ‘done’ the summer. It has whizzed past us, I hope you had lots of fun, some time off and vacation, and I hope you’ll look back on this summer with a smile. And now we have all the excitement of the fall to look forward to, and our winter plans and projects, in some cases moving at high speed after the summer. I am definitely back at work, and working on new books.

 

I wanted to bring you up to date on something I have mentioned to you before, that happened in my family two years ago. My nephew’s daughter Bea, my great niece, was 17 years old then, a beautiful, happy normal high school girl. She grew up in France, her father is French, her mother American, and they had just moved to Brussels, Belgium from Paris a few months before. Her passion was, and is horseback riding, her dream was to ride in the Olympics. And her great love was, and is, her beloved white horse Deedee. She has two older brothers, lots of friends, and lots of dogs. A very normal high school girl. And in March of 2016, her whole world changed. The family went to Florida for Spring vacation, she stayed back a day, and set out to join them in Florida a day later. She went to the Brussels airport for her flight, and Fate intervened in a very major way. It was the morning that terrorists blew up the Brussels Airport, right as Bea was in line to check in. We know now that she was standing roughly 3 or 4 feet from one of the bombs when it exploded, and was one of very few survivors in the terminal. It is a total miracle that she survived at all. Seven months in the hospital of fighting for her life, dozens of surgeries ensued. Hundreds of people were killed and injured. She was in a military hospital along with the other survivors, because the wounds inflicted were so extreme that they were only comparable to wartime military injuries, not civilian ones. She was burned over much of her body, was paralyzed in the days and months after the explosion, her body was full of shrapnel, pieces of metal in the bomb designed to do the most damage possible to a human body, and she lost both legs. It’s the kind of horrifying event you read about in a newspaper, but doesn’t happen to anyone you know. But it did, to this very wonderful 17 year old girl. And the future looked dark indeed for a while.

 

We don’t have any idea how any of us would respond to catastrophic events in our lives. Something like that is beyond imagining. She was in a medically induced coma for a while, to alleviate her suffering. And what not only survived but flourished and grew to incredible proportions was her extraordinary spirit, her strength and determination, not only to survive, but to have an amazing life in future anyway. She has a family who adores her, and a remarkable mother who exhibited strength and courage that kept Bea fighting for her life at the darkest times—and fighting for the quality of her life.

 

One of the most touching moments in her early recovery was when she was finally well enough to sit in a wheel chair and be rolled outside for some air. Her horse trainer had arranged with Bea’s mother and the hospital to bring Bea’s beloved horse Deedee to visit her. The video of it reduced me to sobs, and still does. Bea was sitting in her wheel chair, not expecting a visit, as Deedee was led out of the trailer, was instantly alert, and literally raced across the parking lot to where Bea was sitting, found her, licked her face adoringly, and then rested her head on Bea’s shoulder. It was pure love between those two. It was a turning point for Bea in her recovery. A day or two later, she was cautiously lifted into the saddle on Deedee, and held there so she wouldn’t lose her balance and fall, and thus began the next chapters of Bea’s life, with courage, love and hope, and a fierce determination not to be beaten or destroyed by what had happened.

 

Fast forward the long arduous film of what came after: 7 months after the attack she left the hospital, and went back to school for her last year—-she was greeted at school by a standing ovation by the entire school. People around the world, who didn’t even know her, had been praying for her. In June, 15 months after the attack, she graduated, and walked across the stage in braces to accept her diploma. She went to rehab at a Naval Facility in San Diego and is still there. Next month, she will start college. And for many months now, she has been training for the next Paralympics in Tokyo. Three countries invited her to ride for them. They first contacted her after someone had seen the first meeting with Deedee at the hospital. She is hard at work now training for the Paralympics, and getting ready for college. Her determination, and extraordinary spirit are astounding—-how can any of us complain about the problems and disappointments and minor inconveniences in our lives when you see someone like her, determined, strong, never lagging, never giving up, absolutely passionately determined to have an amazing life, and not be robbed of her youth and spirit and courage about life. After college, she wants to start a company for sports equipment adapted for people with physical impairments. She has feeling in her legs and back now, and her hope is to continue to improve. She has worked incredibly hard in the most grueling way at her recovery, and is continuing to do so.

 

Bea is a remarkable girl. Extraordinary, remarkable, incredible, courageous, amazing, don’t even begin to describe her. And her remarkable mother has fought alongside her every inch of the way. Her whole family cheers her on. I am stunned by her courage and spirit. It’s breathtaking.

 

What she has done and is continuing to do is an inspiration to anyone who knows her or hears about her. She didn’t quit, she didn’t give up, she didn’t complain about her losses, she held on tight and celebrated what she did have, and reached out toward all the good things and good times and victories that lay ahead. Her whole life is a victory, a shining example to others, an inspiration to us all. She is the best of what a human being can be faced with incredible challenges, and she has met them all.

 

I am in awe of this brave nineteen year old girl who has faced the unthinkable and is turning it into a victory every single day. And this is only the beginning of what I know will be a shining life that will continue to dazzle and inspire us all.

 

Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

Filed Under Family, Friends, Kids, Paris | 30 Comments

7/9/18, Paris Fashion:Haute Couture

Posted on July 9, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Every prayer for success for the boys, their rescuers, families and the entire team in Thailand as the whole world watches and prays for them.

 

I hope you had a terrific week, and a wonderful, fun 4th of July!!

 

I enjoyed one of my favorite fun past times, and went to the Chanel Haute Couture fashion show last week. I love seeing the beautiful clothes on the runway, that are really an art form. Every stitch in a Haute Couture garment is hand done, not a machine stitch anywhere, and often spectacular embroideries. Beautiful models showing beautiful clothes. Chanel is my favorite show, either Haute Couture or ready to wear, and Haute Couture is the highest art form in fashion, and a dying art, because it’s so rare, and there are so few clients for it, and so few people left with the skills to make it. (The apprenticeship time to work on Haute Couture clothes is 12 years!!). And even as a spectator, and not a buyer, I thoroughly enjoy the experience and the spectacle. Karl Lagerfeld, in his late 80’s now is still the designer for Chanel and an absolute genius, and a power house of strength, energy, foresight, and creativity. It’s always an honor to see his collections, and to see him take a bow at the end of the show. The scenery is always spectacular at any Chanel show, this time the scene was set as though it was along the river Seine, where the booksellers are who sell old books. And the models strolled past the beautiful sets and the stage set booksellers.

 

The show was particularly fun for me, not just because of Karl Lagerfeld’s talent, but my youngest son and his girlfriend came to the show with me, and although he is not as involved in fashion as his sisters, or at all in fact, he really enjoyed the show, the stage set, the beautiful models and amazing clothes, as fifty or sixty models pounded past him on the runway in the spectacularly beautiful clothes. Invitations to the show are hard to come by, and I was very grateful that all three of us were invited, so I could go with them. I used to take my children to the fashion shows with me when they were little, because I thought it was such a beautiful art form, and three of my daughters wound up with careers in fashion. Maxx didn’t enjoy the shows as a very little boy, but he did enjoy it this time, with his girlfriend in awe of how beautiful the clothes were, and how exquisite the workmanship!!! Fashion at that level is really a kind of art, more than anything.

 

Other than that, I’ve been doing more mundane things, a bit of work, a lot of family visits, some good meals, time with friends, vacation with my kids, and just enjoying the summer. I’m looking forward to time with my kids, and I hope you have some fun vacation time planned this month too.

 

Have a great week!!

 

love, Danielle

 

5/21/18, Dog Days

Posted on May 21, 2018

Hi Everyone,
 

As many of you know, I love art, particularly contemporary art (and I used to have a contemporary art gallery, for 6 years, in San Francisco. I still miss it!!!), and I especially love happy art, and art that makes me smile. In more classic art, I love paintings of children, or mothers and children. And in contemporary art, I love paintings and sculptures that involve words and sayings. I love hearts, AND I love sculptures of dogs, preferably in bright, fun colors. I realized recently (especially when I moved apartments 6 months ago and had to pack them all!!! and then find places for them in the new apartment) that I have a lot of fun sculptures of dogs, so I thought I’d share some of them with you. Most of them are painted bronze (and weigh a ton), some are fiberglass/also in bright colors, and some are metal like tin, or aluminum, and some are in odd materials, (one of them is made of little strips of newspaper). So I hope you enjoying seeing them…..I can never resist a cute dog statue, especially in a bright color. The French bull dogs in a multitude of colors are by an Italian artist, and the ones of Chihuahuas (in gold, red, and other colors), and the big white dog are by a Belgian artist named Willem Sweetlove, and I love his work (I also have a big red elephant by him, the size of a real baby elephant!!! It’s in my entrance hall, as a surprise to welcome arriving guests).
 

The word sculptures I love are fun too, and feature words I love: Hope, Love, Happiness. I also used to make wall hangings with multi colored vintage letters to spell out words or sayings I like. Some of the word paintings are black and white, and the word sculptures tend to be red. I collect a French artist called “Ben”, who writes words or sayings, usually on a bright background. In my office, my paintings by him say: “You never know”, “Keep on looking”, “I risk everything”, ” There are no questions without answers”, and “You have to laugh at it”.
 

So here are the dogs I’ve collected, I hope you enjoy them too!!! Have a great week.

 

 

love, Danielle

 

Filed Under Art, Dogs, Hobbies, homes, Paris | 3 Comments

5/7/18, May Day

Posted on May 7, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I had a sweet day last week, which was a double header for me. May Day. When I was a little girl in French schools, we used to wear a little wreath of flowers around our heads, and dance around a Maypole. It sounds pretty silly, but I thought it was fun. May Day is Labor Day in France, so it’s a National Holiday. And lily of the valley, the flower, are the symbol of May Day, and happen to be my favorite flower. I love their delicate scent. In France, everyone exchanges sprigs of lily of the valley on May Day, as a symbol of friendship and good luck. There are street vendors everywhere selling lily of the valley, for people to give to friends, coworkers, children, grandmothers. It’s such a pretty holiday, and a lovely thought.
 

May Day also happens to be my late son Nick’s birthday. I loved that he was born on May Day. So it’s a bit of a double edged sword for me now, with happy and bittersweet memories that flood into my mind. Memories of him as a little boy, and when he was born, and as he grew up. He was an amazing person, and passed away at nineteen. So I love the day, but I also miss him enormously on that holiday. I usually invite friends to dinner that night, so as not to be alone, and I did the same this year. Twelve friends joined me for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. Before that, I spent a quiet day, reading, and thinking of Nick.
 

So Happy May Day to you, and I hope that Spring is now officially here. And soon it will be full-on summer!!! Get ready for it!!

 

 

love, Danielle

4/16/18, Life Lessons

Posted on April 16, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope all is well with you, and that you’re having some peaceful, happy days, some fun, and productive times doing something you enjoy.
 

I was reading the new Joel Osteen book this weekend, “Blessed In The Darkness”. I always love what he writes, it makes me think, and feel hopeful about life. We all have daily challenges, and it’s nice to have ‘tools’ to help us deal with all the things that come up in all of our lives.
 

It brought to mind an experience I had several years ago. You may have read about it, or not. I was embezzled for a large amount of money, by my most trusted employee at the time, a person who had worked for me for nearly twenty years. (That doesn’t make me special, the FBI said at the time that most embezzlements are committed by the person closest to you, whom you know well, has worked for you the longest or for a very long time, and whom you trust most. And that’s how it was for me). It was an enormous financial and emotional challenge, ENORMOUS, and involved a huge amount of money. I discovered it by accident, which is usually how it happens, some small thing exposes it, and it all unravels after that. And it turned out that the person who embezzled from me had been doing it almost from the day they started working for me (nearly 20 years before), and the embezzler admitted that they had been jealous of everything I had from the moment they started working for me. Jealousy is a VERY dangerous thing!!! I work very hard for what I do have, and always have worked very hard, and I’m not careless with money, no one has the power to sign checks on my account except me. And it wasn’t done in huge shocking amounts that would catch attention, so that I would say “OMG, where did that money go?” It was done in small steady amounts, sometimes several times a day, usually under a thousand dollars,’only’ several hundred dollars at a time, and rarely over a thousand, so that eventually at the end of the month, I had less money in my account than I thought I should, but I couldn’t figure it out and thought that maybe I was spending more than I realized. The full amount if you added it up over nearly 20 years was a staggering figure. Embezzling from me was a full time job, more so than their actual job with me. You feel stupid when it happens, and shocked and betrayed, and hurt and heart broken, and feel you should have noticed it, but it was very, very cleverly and simply done, which is also typical of many embezzlements. The person who did it figured out the 3 areas that I didn’t watch closely, they also lied to me constantly and I believed them. They also figured out the one or two areas that the accounting firm we used to verify things didn’t watch as closely so they didn’t spot it either, and also what the bank didn’t watch closely. Those three factors made it possible to steal literally millions from me over the years. And life events happen which distract you—-I got divorced—-I had a very sick son, who died during that time, and those distractions also provided fertile times for someone to take advantage of me.
 

Interestingly, there is a statute of limitations on what people embezzle from you. That limit is 3 years, so even once we knew how much more it was, with some very frightening ballpark and accurate figures, the embezzler could only be prosecuted for 3 years of what they stole—-the 12 or 13 or 15 years before that could not be claimed because of the statute of limitations. I got some money back for the last 3 years, but the bulk of what was stolen couldn’t be claimed because of that statute of limitations, which was shocking too. Embezzling is in fact a psychological pathology, and probably a form of compulsion or obsession. I doubt that there was ever a day that some amount wasn’t stolen from me by the embezzler. Many lies were told, each lie tailored to the person they were lying to, the bank, the overseeing accountant, other employees, or me. And we all believed the lies. Looking back, there are signs that could have been red flags, but I’m a trusting person, I’m honest and assume that others are too. The person bought a big house and spent a lot of money on it, landscaping, decorating, etc., and I was told that a relative had left this person money, I believed it and never questioned it, and I was happy for them. It never occurred to me that I was the ‘relative’, and paid for that house. The court awarded me the house and the proceeds from selling it, but once caught, it was mortgaged to the hilt, and I got only a small fraction of what it was worth, and very little for the contents.
 

There is no question, it was a very, very ugly, frightening, shocking time. It took a team of forensic accountants recommended by the FBI eight months to figure out what I had lost, and it was mind boggling. Some days I would be panicked by losing so much money, other days I was heartbroken by being so badly betrayed by someone I trusted completely. And it took time to get over it emotionally. One of my daughters, in her teens at the time, summed it up for me one night when I was in despair over it, and she said “We’re not starving, we’re not in the street, you’re still working, we’re going to be okay, Mom”, and she was right. It was as simple as that.
 

Because of the huge financial loss, I lost some things that really mattered to me. In order to try and regain our financial balance—-losing any amount of money hurts, but when you get hit big, it’s a struggle to get things on an even keel again, unless you have vast amounts of money—-in order to try and equalize what I lost, I had to sell a beach house I loved, I had to close my art gallery which I’d had for 6 years, and REALLY loved, as a wonderful 2nd occupation, I represented 21 unknown struggling artists, so they got hurt by the loss too, and we were all very sad to close but I had no other choice, I couldn’t afford to support the gallery anymore. And worst of all, I had run a street outreach program to help the homeless for 11 years, working on the streets and providing supplies they desperately needed. I poured a lot of money into it, and could no longer afford it after the embezzlement, and had to shut down our operations on the street. That hurt the most, it was work I loved for people in dire need. The judge was most upset by that, and added many, many hours of community service to the embezzler’s sentence, to acknowledge that. I was very sad to lose those three things, the homeless outreach program, my art gallery, and the beach house. I just couldn’t afford them after the loss.
 

It doesn’t help much, but I realized then how common this is. If you own a small (or large) business, you are vulnerable to someone doing something similar to you. A household employee can steal from you. If you have caretakers for elderly parents, those caretakers can steal money from you too, and that happens often, I hear it from friends. It can happen on a large scale or a small one. Before it happened to me, it happened to my agent, with an employee he treated like a son—-he embezzled a huge amount of money from my agent, and bought himself 2 houses, just like what happened to me, and the embezzler claimed he had inherited money. It all unraveled with a $125. withdrawal, and everything was exposed after that. At the same time it happened to me, it happened to art dealers I knew, in similar amounts and shocking circumstances by their most trusted employee. And recently it happened to two friends who own a small jewelry store, again by their most trusted employee of many years. I’m not suggesting that you become suspicious of everyone around you, or who works for you. But these things do happen, to smart careful responsible people, if you have a dishonest employee who knows you well and what your vulnerabilities are. If you’re an honest person, it never occurs to you that a dishonest person is taking advantage of you. I never dreamed that it could happen to me, that someone would do that to me. But it does, and it’s smart to be aware, and very careful (I thought I was).
 

In my case, the embezzler went to prison, though not for very long. To be honest, I wasn’t angry (I think I was too shocked to be angry), I was deeply hurt by it, practically and emotionally. I wrote a book inspired by it although a different story since it’s fiction, which helped a little, (“Betrayal”). It takes time to get over a shocking event like that. And I never recouped the money that I lost. Maybe one day I will, but probably not. But my daughter’s early assessment was right, we had our house, we weren’t starving, I still had my job, and we’re okay.
 

I did the only thing I knew how to do to recover from it. I rolled up my sleeves and worked even harder than before—hard to believe since I have worked hard on my books all my life. I worked extra time and over time, and wrote more than ever. The feelings and the hurt fueled me, and I was determined to protect my family and provide for them. And I realize now that blessings came from it. There are hard things that happen in life, but they often come with a blessing you don’t realize until later. The raw emotions and drive and determination made me work even harder on the books, and it showed in the writing. Is it an event I count as a blessing? No, but there have been definite benefits from it. Seeing my work, my publisher moved me up from four books to six a year, and now seven. If it had never happened, I probably wouldn’t be publishing 7 books a year, or even 6. But my fan base grew, my publishers recognized it, and little by little my career has grown ever since. My determination to work harder grew my career. I still miss my gallery, but no longer having it, I began spending more time in France, and am very happy there. That might not have happened, if the embezzlement hadn’t happened. And I will always miss my street work with the homeless, but in fact it was a very dangerous project, and I always worried about someone in my 12 man team getting hurt on the streets. We had some dicey moments, and it was a very high risk project, working hand to hand and face to face with people who were often mentally ill. Anything could have happened, and luckily no one got hurt in 11 years, but I always knew that at some point the risks would be too great, so maybe we stopped at the right time, and maybe by now we couldn’t do it anymore. Maybe we stopped at the right time, without knowing it. And I raise my voice whenever possible for the homeless, which I couldn’t do when I did the street work, since we did it anonymously.  There is no question that blessings did come from the embezzlement, over time, and not always visibly at first. But needing to counterbalance the loss drove my career forward in ways I couldn’t have foreseen, and maybe I wouldn’t have done otherwise, and I’m very grateful for that. I love publishing more and writing more, and enjoy it thoroughly.
 

It was a hard lesson, and probably one of the hardest things that has happened to me. Losing my son was much worse, and getting divorced, but this was one of those shocking, brutal practical lessons you just don’t expect to happen to you. But it can happen to anyone. No one is exempt from jealousy, and the dishonesty of people you just don’t expect, whether it’s getting mugged on the street and having your purse stolen, or your house burglarized and possessions you love taken, or as in this case, someone you trust stealing from you. I was pretty careful, even very careful before, but I was trusting too. The other embezzlements I’ve heard of, of people I know, are incredibly similar to mine, always by a very, very trusted employee, and usually someone who worked for them for a very long time and has greater access than other employees, and the benefit of your trust. One thinks of innocent naive movie stars being ripped off by their shady managers—you just don’t think about it happening to responsible people who run their lives well. But it can happen to all of us in some form.
 

Reading Joel Osteen’s book reminded me of the blessings that can come from a shocking upsetting event. And as he says, you don’t stop there. You go on, you make the best of it, you use it to grow and become more as a person, which is the real victory after an event like that. The focus is on the money lost in an embezzlement, and the broken trust. But if you look harder you see the good that comes from it eventually too. And I realized, when I thought about it, that publishing 7 books a year now is one of those big blessings that might never have happened otherwise, and that’s a great thing for me, my family and my career. I’m working harder than ever, and my career has grown exponentially since that unhappy event. You can’t stop at the unhappy events in your life, you have to make the best of them, learn from them, and go on to better days…..and the blessings will come in abundance over time. I am very, very grateful for that!!!

 

much love, Danielle

3/19/18, Extraordinary Gentleman

Posted on March 19, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I’m in snow again, what a long cold winter this is!! I hope you’re all tucked up and warm. I’ve been super busy writing, so you’ll have plenty to read soon. And this week, on Tuesday, my new book “Accidental Heroes” comes out in hard cover, which is VERY EXCITING for me, and I hope for you too!!! It’s a book about averting disaster, and the heroic qualities a crisis brings out in people. I am always fascinated and impressed by the strength and courage of the human spirit.
 

And speaking of heroes, one of my heroes passed away last week, an extraordinary, really wonderful, gracious, lovely, supremely talented man, the famous French fashion designer, Hubert de Givenchy. He died at 91, which is a reasonable lifetime, but it’s always sad to lose those we love. And in this case, a truly legendary talent. And I was incredibly lucky and blessed to have been his friend for the last 35 years.
 

Very, very tall, elegant and handsome to the very end, he was one of the legendary great fashion legends and icons of all time, among the truly greats like Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Cristobal Balenciaga and Pierre Balmain. Hubert de Givenchy was a fashion giant in both Haute Couture and Ready to Wear, his enormous talent indisputable. I was lucky enough to wear some of his clothes.
 

But to those who knew him, he was remarkable not only for his talent, but for what a ‘gentle man’ he was, as well as a gentleman. He had a soft, gentle kind voice, always said something kind, had a personal elegance of spirit and a kindness that is rare in this world. I don’t think I’ve ever known or met anyone as gracious as he was. Beauty came naturally to him, and he brought it with him and was surrounded by it like a rare perfume. His home in Paris is without a doubt the most beautiful I have EVER seen, an 18th century house on the fashionable Left Bank, with antique wood paneling, exquisite furnishings, fabulous antiques and a breath taking garden. He loved white roses. He loved children and dogs (he always had a black lab), and was very much a family person, and very close and interested in his nieces and nephews. He was truly admired and loved by all. Anyone who met him felt touched by grace and magic. Meeting him once was a gift, knowing him as a friend an unforgettable blessing.
 

One of his very closest friends for most of her life and a big part of his was the actress Audrey Hepburn. She wore his clothes on and off stage for her entire career, in every film, and he accounted for her incredible elegance. He was deeply fond of her and admired her, and loved her as a friend. I cherish a photograph he sent me of the 2 of them together. He sent the people he loved, loving notes, never forgot an event or a holiday, and was the soul of discretion in every way.
 

His life partner was also an haute couture designer, Philippe Venet, they were together for over sixty years.
 

It was a somber announcement when Hubert de Givenchy’s passing was announced in Paris last week, and around the world. His leaving is a loss to us all.
 

I am so grateful to have known and loved him, and to have been his friend. Knowing him was one of the great gifts of my life.
 

Have a great week, and I hope you have time to read “Accidental Heroes”, and I hope you love it, it’s an exciting book!!!

 

much love, Danielle

 

 

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