Archive for the ‘homes’ Category

12/6/21, STOP!!!!

Posted on December 6, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

19 more days until Christmas, barely more than two weeks. I hope your plans are shaping up as you want them to, that your family can get together safely, and most of all I hope that you are safe and well. As I used to say when my kids were little, safety first, then happiness. I hope you will be able to achieve both during these upcoming holidays.

I think an important issue is being overlooked. For the 21 months of the pandemic, I think many of us have been shocked and dazed by the reality of the entire world coming to a dead stop around us. Businesses closed, working from home, masks or not, vax or not, which have become hot political topics in the US, and are only considered safety and health issues elsewhere. We have worried about our families and ourselves, in some cases our jobs and incomes have been impacted by the pandemic, or our businesses have folded. Everything we relied on before seems shaky now, which makes us feel anxious and insecure. And a frightening element has crept in with the basic safety and health issues, and the job issues, an element that has snuck up on us like a thief in the night: violence, and what appears to be the breakdown of our very morality, and an important human element.

 

According to statistics, violence and crimes have increased in every country in the world during the pandemic. There is an underlying tension. A law passed in California last year that theft (from a store) of under $1,000. will no longer be prosecuted. As a result, people are simply walking out of supermarkets, drug stores, and other stores with whatever they want to take, with no risk of being prosecuted. What is basically theft is now common place, and the shelves in many stores are bare, with items being stolen, and managers afraid to put merchandise on display. People are stealing without a second thought. And it appears that the people stealing are not unemployed parents stealing food for their kids, the door has been opened wide to petty criminals, who are stealing for profit. In theory, these are small crimes which have led to bigger ones.

 

From the theft of toothpaste, snacks and toilet paper in grocery stores or at Walgreen’s, there has been a huge leap to what is now called “Smash and Grab”. Luxury stores and department stores have now become the victims of looters who smash windows, enter stores, grab whatever expensive merchandise they can and run, in order to sell it later. Sometimes at night, and sometimes in broad daylight. In other stores, armed thieves enter, terrorize the customers, grab what they want and run, expensive things they can sell. When I was in San Francisco for 2 weeks last summer, armed robberies (of Louis Vuitton and Neiman Marcus) were committed across the street from where I was standing. I didn’t go downtown again. Three months later, when I was again in San Francisco, 7 luxury stores were broken into and looted in one night, including 80 looters who attacked a Nordstrom’s, and stole whatever they could lay hands on. Maybe some amateurs, but mostly professional criminals who are stealing to resell, adding theft and violence to our woes while Covid still rages on, and people argue about why they should wear a mask. In the meantime “Smash and Grab” has become an ordinary daily occurrence, which is theft on a massive scale.

 

And now, the deterioration of our moral fiber has gone a step further. In Northern California, ‘Smash and Grab’ has become a booming business, and the new ‘sport’ has become ‘Home Invasions’ in Southern California, where criminals break into homes, hold everyone at gun point and steal what they can. A horrifying example of that was the invasion of the home of a well known couple, in the music business, and the 81 year old wife, a remarkable woman greatly respected in LA, was shot and killed in cold blood during the event. So wholesale theft has led to armed robbery, and now to murder. In my own peaceful residential neighborhood in San Francisco, three women have recently been beaten to within an inch of their lives by men who stole their purses, another was beaten savagely while walking her dog, and her attackers stole her dog, and two very young children were kidnapped in the course of a car jacking. On the shopping street two blocks from my home in my neighborhood in Paris, where it was fun to walk, and window shop, or buy chocolates or pastries, we are now advised not to walk anymore, because hoodlums and criminals are mugging people, stealing purses, and ripping watches off their victims’ arms, and jewelry off their hands, ears, and necks.  What is happening to us? Where will it end? What makes it okay to steal toothpaste in one location, expensive handbags in another, beat up old women, steal people’s dogs, tear a necklace off a woman’s neck, or shoot people in their homes? That’s not a ‘home invasion’, that is murder plain and simple. And a young woman I know took an Uber in a normally safe neighbourhood in Paris a few days ago, and was savagely beaten and raped. How? Why? How did this appalling threat to our physical safety, and mental balance enter our lives unseen, and settle in as some kind of offshoot of the health crisis we are already living through. While those who govern us argue about wearing masks, roving groups of random criminals are looting, shooting innocent people, and stealing whatever they can lay hands on with no regard for human life.

 

Violence has become a way of life. I was told not to wear a purse if I go out in San Francisco. You can’t walk down a street in any city now, without fearing for your life. Bad enough that we are faced daily with the Russian Roulette of Covid, praying that we and our loved ones wont get sick or wind up in a hospital,  and now we get to worry about being caught in a shoot out at the grocery store, or in a store like Neiman Marcus, or we could be beaten to a pulp while walking our dogs. WHAT is happening to our moral fiber, where are our lawmakers while they look the other way, and allow people to steal up to a thousand dollars worth of what doesn’t belong to them. Where is the respect for human life that shooting an 81 year old respectable remarkable woman has now become commonplace. This is not a video game, this is our real life, while civilization as we know it is crumbling around us, and unthinkable, immoral, illegal acts are given clever names like ‘Smash and Grab’ and ‘Home Invasion’.

 

No!!! A thousand times NO!!! We all need a wake up call, we need to be profoundly shocked, even horrified by the violence happening around us that we seem to take for granted now. The pandemic has been like living through a war, where our lives are on the line every day. I have a hard time believing that during the Blitz in London, where countless people died daily from the bombs—-I can’t imagine other people shooting the survivors in their homes, or looting stores, while bodies were being removed from the rubble, and others were taking refuge in bomb shelters during an air raid.

 

We need to stand up, we need to wake up, we need to do EVERYTHING we can to stop the violence, end the criminal acts, and take a stand against the violence that impacts us all, and we are beginning to take for granted as a common occurrence. It could be our own homes that are invaded next, for a handful of money, or our loved ones or ourselves are shot randomly. We are fighting for our lives with Covid, there should be no room in our lives or in our world for violence as well. Living through the pandemic is hard enough without being mugged, beaten up, raped or killed as well. Enough. And those in government need to take a strong stand against it. Even the police are afraid of this tidal wave of violence we are facing. It needs to stop, before we have no safety, no moral fiber, and no respect for human life left at all.

 

 

Have a great week, and a safe one!!! love, Danielle

 

11/1/21, Flying Angels

Posted on November 1, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

It’s a quiet winter weekend where I am, after 4 days of rain, and chilly weather. Winter is definitely here, the trees are bare and it’s good weather to stay home. I’ve been getting an early start, wrapping Christmas gifts, catching up on letters and emails, and doing some reading. It’s the day after ghosts and goblins and trick or treat on Halloween, and today is All Saints Day, a religious holiday. (Halloween is actually All Souls Day/ All Hallow eve). Halloween isn’t celebrated in France so I had no trick or treaters.

 

Thanksgiving will be coming soon. I love that it’s a holiday dedicated to gratitude, and being grateful for one’s blessings. It’s a good chance to take stock, and be thankful for the people in our lives that we are grateful for!!!

 

I’ve been working very hard on two new books. And I hope you love them when they come out. I have a new book coming out two days before Thanksgiving, “Flying Angels” in hardcover, about a squadron of nurses in World War II, who flew missions to save wounded soldiers from the battlefield and fly them back to hospitals where they could save them. The women in those units were extraordinarily brave, and I hope you love the book, with all its history in it, and the stories of four courageous women.

 

Have a great week, full of happy surprises, much love,  Danielle

7/5/21, Coming back to Life

Posted on July 5, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a good week and lots of fun on the Fourth of July, went to a parade, had a picnic, lay on a beach, met up with friends, had a great time with your kids and family, and had some yummy traditional 4th of July food, and even saw fireworks.

In recent weeks, I’ve been in three cities and had a chance to see the easing of Covid restrictions in San Francisco, New York and Paris. Except in the major ‘hot spots’, in the countries that are still struggling with the crisis, and the variant strains of the virus, things are easing up in most places, the rules have been relaxed, although caution is still advised, and masks are an ongoing debate. In most places, the number of cases has dropped sharply (at last), due to vaccinations. Most people are rushing to get them, while others hesitate, and some staunchly believe that the vaccinations could prove to be dangerous and aren’t comfortable about them and have decided not to get vaccinated. As a result, herd immunity, which would protect us all and eventually end the Coronavirus crisis, has not yet been achieved. But on the whole, the vaccines have reduced the number of new cases, severe ones, and deaths, drastically, which is encouraging, and a great relief. But we still have to remember that it’s not over yet, and common sense and the medical authorities tell us to be careful.

On the purely human side, it is both unnerving to see people throw themselves back into ‘normal’ life exuberantly, and at the same time, it is a huge relief to be able to enjoy simple pleasures and do normal happy things again, just going to dinner with friends at a restaurant has become a treasured gift, and every meal shared has become a special occasion. After months of confinement in France, 6pm curfews, gatherings of more than 4 people forbidden, restaurants closed for 9 months, and seeing family and friends strongly discouraged, it is thrilling to go to a restaurant with friends. I’m not comfortable eating indoors yet, I still wear a mask when I am around people, for their protection and my own, even vaccinated people can get sick, even if less severely, I’m not kissing friends when we meet, or even shaking hands, and I am cautious about who I see, and am even cautious about hugging my own (vaccinated) children. I’m not ready to throw the doors open yet, but I am venturing back into the world.

When I went back to France a few weeks ago, after visiting my children, I had lunch or dinner, one by one, with the friends I had missed most. I will go into a store, with a mask, but don’t feel comfortable yet going to a department store. I have been through airports, which are already crowded, and flown on both US and foreign airlines, there are still rules, and masks are worn. But planes have been crowded, and once you’re in the airport, it appears to be a free for all, which did unnerve me. How safe are we? How far can we go? States and countries differ, with every city, state and country having its own rules, which is confusing at best. And the variants remain ominous. Countries which had been particularly strict and seemed to have achieved real safety (Australia, Israel and the UK) are in trouble again, seemingly due to the variants. Their borders are closed again. France opened to Americans (vaccinated or with a PCR test)a few weeks ago, and the US has not reciprocated. Foreigners still can’t get into the US, unless they are married to Americans, and Europeans are desperate to get into the US again for business and pleasure. It is incredible that countries around the world have had closed borders for 17 months. Who could ever have imagined what we have lived through for nearly a year and a half?? Things are definitely better, I just hope that people don’t abuse their newly retrieved liberties, and don’t go crazy over the summer, and land us in the soup again. Having lived through three long lockdowns in France, I hope that never happens to us again. I want to continue seeing my children, have them able to visit me, I want to spend holidays with my big family, have lunch and dinner with my friends, and have them to my home for a meal, and I hope we never have to endure again the reign of terror we have lived through for the last year and a half, and never have to worry again about losing loved ones to Covid 19, or about getting sick or dying ourselves from the virus that has terrified us for the past l7 months. It is so sweet just sitting in an open air restaurant, eating with a friend, and watching life take off around us again. It has been a very long year and a half. And I hope we all use our new freedoms well!!!

On a more immediate front, my heart goes out to the relatives and friends of the people who disappeared as the result of the horrendous building collapse in a suburb of Miami. I can only imagine the agony of waiting for news of their loved ones.

On a frivolous note, it is Couture week in Paris, usually a fun time, with fashion shows put on by the fashion houses who still produce haute couture clothes. Paris is usually crammed with people and full of life during those weeks, which came to a halt for the last year and a half, and the fashion shows are happening again, and although I enjoy them immensely, I’m not ready to sit in a crowded hall yet, elbow to elbow with celebrities and fashion fans to see the shows. I’ll let another season go by before I go back, just to be on the safe side. And I’m excited to be able to go on vacation with my children again, for the first time in two years!!!

And on an impressive family note, my niece who was a victim of the terrorist attack at the Brussels airport five years ago, lost both legs at 17, and was hoping for the Olympics one day then, is leaving for Tokyo shortly, for the Paralympics games, as part of the US Equestrian team. She is one of the most inspiring, courageous people I have ever known.

I hope you have a fantastic week, are safe and well, and that you enjoy and appreciate every minute of our newly restored lives, as we head toward normal at full speed.

love, Danielle

PS. I am REALLY enjoying the TV series on Netflix “New Amsterdam”, Season 1. It is so much fun and gripping. I whipped through all 22 episodes in record time, and loved it, lots of human drama—-if you’re looking for something to watch!!

5/11/21, Together Again

Posted on May 11, 2021

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week. I’ve had a couple of really busy weeks, and I didn’t have the time or the calm to write to you peacefully. After more than fourteen months, a huge moment happened in my life. The Covid numbers came down just enough in France, and in the US, and with many people vaccinated, I decided to brave the trip I have put off for fourteen months: I was scared of the health risks, but I took the bull by the horns, and was reminded of one of the sayings on my office wall: Courage is not the absence of fear or despair, but the strength to conquer them. So, with great trepidation, and real fear, I packed up fourteen months of papers and things to bring my children, and unsure until the very last minute, I made a run for it, with my French nephew to help me with ten suitcases and three dogs on the trip from Paris, where I have been for fourteen and a half months, back to the US.

 

People had told me that airports were empty, and planes less than half full, and travel was easier than I feared. (I feared most of all catching the dreaded virus on the way. After all those months in safety and seclusion in Paris, it seemed insanely stupid to catch it on the way home. But I couldn’t stay away from my children any longer. I felt that I was letting them down, and owed it to them to be brave, and as careful as possible and go to see them in California and New York. And the numbers had not been good recently. But when would they be? And how much longer could I wait?)

 

The reports I’d had weren’t entirely true. The airport wasn’t jammed but it was full, and busy with international travelers, leaving Paris for other countries. There are only two flights a week from Paris to San Francisco, but people are moving around. The airport was not deserted, although the flight was one third full. Equipped by one of my children, I had plastic covers to put in the security bins (a really good idea), which made me feel a little safer. I wore an N95 mask, which was too big so it floated around on my face, but I had been told it was the best. I brought a visor, but didn’t wear it, and used a seat cover, and disinfected my hands frequently. And once on the plane, I began to relax. The crew was attentive, and the air supposedly well filtered and pure. It was the same worry we have all had for more than a year: an invisible killer virus is lurking, but you can’t see it, and don’t know if you do the wrong thing, or stand next to the wrong person. A PCR Covid test was required for the trip.

 

It was a very long flight, one I never take. I prefer to break my trip to the West Coast with a stop in New York, which avoids jet lag. I was too tense on the flight to watch a movie or sleep, so I read, and talked to my nephew, and the eleven-hour flight went surprisingly fast, and we landed an hour early. And I had a strange sensation on arrival, that I was suddenly back in the US, had travelled halfway across the world, and was allegedly home, but it didn’t feel like it, everything felt strange and foreign and unfamiliar. And I kept reminding myself that I had made the trip to see my kids, which made any degree of fear worthwhile. I had a reason, a purpose, and a need of my own, to see the children I had missed so much. We had never been apart for more than a few weeks in their entire lives, and I hadn’t seen them in more than a year. Unimaginable, and yet the time had flown. There were some hard, lonely times, but always a sense that we were doing the right thing, staying where I was. it was a sacrifice for them and for me, and it hadn’t all been painful. There had been some wonderful moments in France in the year, and often a sense of peace, and some lovely moments with friends. Some of my friendships had deepened, others had faded away when friends disappointed me, which happens to us all.There were frightened times, and peaceful times. But my family is a vital part of my life, and was always missing. It took enormous strength and faith to be away from them for so long.

 

I made my way through immigration and customs, and trumpets didn’t go off. A brass band didn’t play. No one congratulated me for coming home. And we drove into the city, and got home. San Francisco looked bright and shiny, the sun was shining, people had told me the city looked grim, but I saw no sign of it on the way. And at last, I was home. I have led a divided life for a long time, as a child between France and the US, and again as an adult once my children grew up. For the past 16 years, my life, and my year, and my friendships and my heart have once again been divided between France and the US, with homes in both places, but the ‘mother house’, the family house my children grew up in, and my children, are all in the United States, so like a homing pigeon I always come back, even though eventually I fly back to France again. But my return to the US is always sure, my kids are here. My worst fear for years, or one of them, is that there would be a war, and I would be separated from my children particularly if I had a different nationality from them—-which is exactly what happened in Covid. It exploded while I was in France, rapidly became too dangerous to come back, and my kids were in the US. They were incredibly brave and tolerant and supportive of my remaining safe there, in fact frequently they advised me not to come back yet, and to wait, so I did. But a year? How could that be?

 

I walked through my front door and nothing had changed, the house looked the same. it was as though I had never left, and yet I had, and we had been separated for a year. We had faced hard times alone, holidays and important life moments. But we had survived, no one had died. We had made it. Four of my children were in San Francisco, the others in other cities, and I will visit them soon. The elderly dogs I had left in San Francisco, too old to travel, had died during the year, and the house seemed empty without them. But I felt as though I had been either thrown back a year, or air lifted ahead. It was like flying through space. And within hours I saw the children I had missed so much—cautiously, we kept our distance, wore masks, some of them are vaccinated, some not, and I’m not, due to severe allergies that make it questionable, so even more caution and wisdom is required. We didn’t hug, but we glowed with joy and relief when we saw each other, and got as close as we dared. I had another Covid test several days later, which was negative. They had tests before they saw me. The distance of six feet didn’t matter, we had been six thousand miles apart for more than fourteen months, and we had survived it, we had come through it, Love had fueled us and kept us going, and there were many dark hours in the year apart, but bright ones too. They had grown more independent, and I had to fill my time without them, although I had been surrounded by my children since I was nineteen. It was a learning experience, and an act of faith for us all. And somehow, I’m not even sure how, we did it. I don’t think we will ever be as affected by being apart for a while. We did it, and it was hard at times. Christmas alone, without them was the hardest of all for me. But even that painful memory faded once I saw them in front of me.

 

I felt like a ghost in my own life for a while. I had come back, and their lives had gone on without me, and my life had moved forward too. I was eternally grateful to the people, a precious few, who had gotten me through it. Strong bonds had formed during the pandemic, like in wartime, which will stay with us forever and last, never to be forgotten.

 

For several days, I woke up in the morning, or at night, unsure where I was. Paris or the States? Where was I? Which country? Which home? And then I remembered.

 

So often I was overwhelmed with fear during that year, that I would die and never see them again, or that something would happen to them. Miraculously, nothing terrible did, and we came through it unscathed. Our worst fears never happened, and we are together again. And I will see the others soon. I will always remember that time apart, and be grateful for the love that carried us through, along with the people we love and who love us, who helped us along the way. it was a remarkable journey, and living proof of what I believe, as trite as it sounds, that Love conquers all, distance and fear and darkness and anxiety, and no matter how many miles we are away from our loved ones, we can never really be separated from those we love. Love truly does conquer all, and transforms us on the way. And no matter how difficult or frightening the experience, there are blessings in every situation that carry us through. And wherever we find ourselves, we are where we are meant to be. I am grateful for every moment of the last fourteen months, and to be with my children again. Home is wherever we are, with the people we love. And I am so grateful for the people who gave me comfort, support and love for the past fourteen months. It has been a blessing and a miracle, and even though so hard at times, an incredible gift to be together again.

Have a great week!

Love, Danielle

 

3/22/21, Confined Again, Round 3

Posted on March 22, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

So, how was your week last week? Mine was busy doing the usual errands, writing, and trying to catch up on my desk after a book, which takes a while. And the big news in Paris this week is that we’re in confinement again, which is definitely an odd confinement. The reason for it is that the hospital beds are full up, because unfortunately they have not added more beds in the past year, so with rising numbers of new cases again, there is a shortage of hospital beds and the Paris area and the South of France have been put on lockdown, while the rest of France has not. The confinement from March to May last year was of the strictest regime in all of France. Total lockdown, you could only leave your house for an hour a day, for an essential reason, within a short distance of one’s home. Offices and businesses, restaurants and schools were closed. The entire country was shut down for two months, with disastrous economic consequences to the country. The President has become determined to avoid lockdown as much as possible. And in spite of that, we were back in lockdown from the end of October until the end of November, and that time restaurants were closed (and still are since then), but shops were open for business, but you had to order and pick up outside, schools stayed open, and offices, and eventually a 6pm curfew was set in place. The idea was that you could work or go to school, but there were to be no social gatherings, no going out in the evening, and nowhere to go. And now here we are again, Round 3, with restaurants still closed (till May or June, they have taken a brutal hit, being closed since October), offices open with people urged to work remotely where possible, shops open for order and pick up but not shopping in store, schools are open, hairdressers are open and have been deemed ‘essential’ (I second that), and the new twist this time is that everyone can go outside as much as they want and are encouraged to, until curfew at 7pm. The weak spot there is, that encouraged to go outside, suddenly there are big groups of people picnicking together in the parks, (without masks while they eat and drink), playing sports, lining the river, filling the streets on the weekends. It is hard to believe that those rules will bring the numbers down. Vaccination continues at a snail’s pace, after a 3 day hiatus (with concerns about blood clotting possibly being related to the Astra Zeneca vaccine,from Britain). And in all forms, modified, local, or general, people are generally fed up with the confinements and regulations, lack of a social life, no restaurants. It has definitely been a long year, and everyone is hoping that the vaccines will return life to a semblance of normalcy. I hope too that things get more normal soon. People are worn out by the hardships, the risks, the uncertainties, the lack of ability to plan anything, the lack of a social life. It WILL get better, and the virus will eventually go away, but it’s a long road getting there, a lot longer than anyone knew a year ago. I hope that we see the last of it soon.

 

Meanwhile, I am writing and talking to my kids. It’s still wintry cold, with many rainy days. We need a big dose of good cheer, and good news, and hopefully the vaccines will be part of that, and with Spring will come new freedoms, and fewer people getting sick, and the hospitals less crowded than they are now.

 

I am reading and writing, and I hope you’ve had time to read my new book “The Affair”.

 

We just have to keep going until we reach the end of this long road. The current confinement will be under review in a month. And let’s hope this will be the last one. We will certainly remember this past year, and I hope the months ahead are a vast improvement. Hang in!! And have a great week!!!

love, Danielle

 

12/9/20, Hard Decisions

Posted on December 9, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that all is going smoothly, wherever you are—but we seem to be in the same boat all over the world now, in varying degrees. Certain European countries are doing better, after being confined for a month. Modified confinements are being practiced, with restaurants open in some places, not in others, or for takeout only, stores open to varying degrees, while governments try to blend and marry physical safety in the pandemic, with steps to keep the economy afloat all over the world. And in the US, a wide divergence between places with strict confinement, and others with no restrictions at all. And sadly, the result is numbers that are skyrocketing, with the effects of Thanksgiving yet to be felt later this week, and Christmas and New Year coming. We are all dependent on each other and how responsible people are.

 

My family and I made a tough decision about the holidays. We decided not to gather the whole family on Thanksgiving this year, which was a sacrifice for a holiday we hold dear, and include friends in our celebration every year. This year, the family decided to stay where they were and not come home from cities all over the country, and in Europe. And we just made the same decision for the holiday we love most. Our family won’t be together for Christmas, and we will give up our Christmas as a whole family this year. It’s our contribution to the situation, and to each other, to remain safe. It was a very hard decision, one of the hardest I have had to face. We made it jointly in a series of conference calls, and it was a unanimous vote to remain safe, and not bring all of us together. Our family will spend Christmas in small groups across the country, without travelling to be together.

 

I hope that you will give serious thought to your Holiday plans. It’s a very hard decision for all of us, but we all need to be responsible for the common good now. The stakes are high, and the damage too important. None of us can afford to make our loved ones sick or get sick ourselves. It’s grown up time for all of us to make the hard decisions so we can end the pandemic soon. Our family hasn’t been united in ten months, and we are a very close knit family.

 

Families around the world are facing the same decision. None of us want to get sick or make others sick. If that helps us get to better numbers sooner and saves lives, it’s worth it. I hope we are all thinking of how we can make this challenging situation better. It’s not an easy choice, but it may be the sacrifice we have to make this year. Please be safe during the holidays, and consider your holiday plans. It’s a tough decision we all have to face.

 

Be careful, be safe, and take care, and have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

11/30/20, Countdown Weeks Before the Holidays

Posted on November 30, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week, and a heartwarming Thanksgiving, as close to ‘normal’ as you could get it, or maybe a very different one that surprised you and suited you better. Sometimes when we least expect it and dread a change, the new version of something turns out better than the old one. Thanksgiving was definitely different this year. Trying to comply with the Covid rules and recommendations, our whole family didn’t fly home to home base/the mother ship this year, and each little group stayed in the cities where they are and celebrated in small groups of 2s and 3s. Some stuck firmly with the traditions of how we celebrate the holiday, what we do and eat—others made it more free form, with a different menu and style. We had two family face times, one of which allowed me to say grace to start the Thanksgiving meal, which really touched me and warmed my heart. We’re all doing the best we can in the pandemic.  Others, I know, traveled despite the suggestions not to, and I’m hoping that their doing so won’t shoot the numbers of Covid cases way up again. Let’s hope not, so we can get the current situation in control.

 

There seem to be a wide variety and degree of restrictions happening in various countries, states and cities, which are trying to bridge safety and health necessities, with helping the economy, and not shutting down commerce completely, and leaving stores open for Christmas. Trying to respect and salvage the holidays makes it even more challenging. In Europe and some US cities, the closure of restaurants and bars is a hard blow to restaurant owners, but restaurants and bars seem to be among the more dangerous locations, with people having their masks off to eat and drink, at close range in enclosed spaces. Individuals as well as governments are groping in the dark to try and figure out what’s safe and what isn’t. We’re all doing the best we can.

 

In another vein completely, I have a new book out for the holidays, “All That Glitters”, which I hope will distract people and provide a welcome escape from our challenges of the moment. I always try to bring out an uplifting book for the holidays, which makes a good gift. And my little quotation book “Expect a Miracle” is a gift straight from my heart, with all the quotes I love most.

 

We’re starting to decorate the house for Christmas, and trying to figure out how to celebrate it safely, and still honor the season.

 

One of my favorite Bible passages comes to mind especially this year. “God places the solitary in families.” I’ve always loved that, and the idea that even if you aren’t with your traditional family for the holidays, some other solution will happen that meets the need of those who are alone.

 

My thoughts are with you in this month before the holidays, that you will find a way to make the season bright for yourself and others. Even dark times can’t dim the light in our hearts, and the light of Hope, so essential to us all. One of the hardest things we’re all dealing with is uncertainty and how hard it is to make plans. Things seem to change constantly, but hopefully the changes are leading us to a good place and out of the darkness. Together, we will meet the challenge of these unusual times.

 

All my love to you now and in the coming weeks. We will win in the end!!!  I bought some silly Santas and put them on my kitchen table, a snow globe, and two music boxes that play Christmas carols, and the kitchen looks happy now. Corny always works for me!!!  I’m putting the last touches on my list of Christmas gifts, still a few left, even though I start in August. I think we can suspend Santa’s naughty and nice list this year, and assume we’ve all been Nice and deserve a reward of some kind. I send you lots of warm thoughts and virtual hugs in these countdown weeks before the holidays.

 

Stay safe!!!

 

all my love, Danielle

 

11/23/20, Happy Thanksgiving

Posted on November 23, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that everything leading up to the first of these important holidays has been as peaceful as possible. The Covid numbers have been alarming in the US in recent weeks, and most people I know have had to adjust their plans in some way. No one is unaffected by it. Families that are used to coming together from different cities, towns and states, have either tried to implement new measures to make it safer, and many have cancelled their family  reunion Thanksgiving plans. I’m sure you’ll each figure it out in the best way that works for you, while protecting family members. Eating meals indoors is the subject of great controversy these days, in every country, so it’s a challenge, and something of a practice run for Christmas, as each family asks themselves “what will make it safe and work for us?” It takes careful thought and planning especially for people with big families, or big groups of good friends who gather every year. We have 3 dear friends who join us every year, and sadly, they can’t join us this year, as we try to keep the numbers down for safety. Our family will celebrate Thanksgiving in small groups this year, in separate cities. A first for us.

 

And as complicated as the logistics may be, along with all the normal complications of any holiday, what seems most important is to respect and honor what the holiday is really about. Thanksgiving is about family and good friends, and gathering together to celebrate our blessings, not just about how good the stuffing is this year, or whose recipe it was, or how pretty the table looks, and if there was pecan pie or mince, and how delicious that was!!! I’m a pumpkin pie and apple pie person myself, with whipped cream (not ice cream)!! With an avalanche of good food, and either easy or difficult relatives around one table, we sometimes forget the deeper, underlying meaning of this holiday. Put aside the food, what you’re going to wear, and who’s going to be there, with a relative you love or one you loathe—-this holiday is ALL about gratitude. That’s it. That’s the whole show. It’s a MAJOR reminder to be thankful, to be grateful, to embrace and embody and express gratitude, within ourselves, and expressed to others, and even to be grateful to them.

 

Gratitude makes everything better, it adds magic to our lives. Whenever I am down about things, if I can find something to be grateful for, everything changes and gets better. It is so MUCH easier to focus on what we don’t have, what is wrong instead of what is right. No matter how bleak the picture, if we can get just one little glimpse of gratitude, of something or someone we are grateful for, it changes and improves everything, and spreads like magic!!

 

No matter how different Thanksgiving is this year, if the local government has forbidden Thanksgiving gatherings entirely, if you’re too afraid or it’s too complicated to get on a plane to be with your loved ones with the dangers of Covid all around us—no matter if you can’t see your family at all, or are alone, or are eating at Mc Donald’s, instead of your favorite family member’s home, and even if you do get home, and if people are on edge in the pandemic and it’s not how it usually is,—- The more you focus on gratitude, the more you can remember what you are TRULY grateful for, the more blessed and bountiful Thanksgiving will be, for you and all those around you. And I know it’s not easy to be grateful when times are hard.

 

Thanksgiving is about abundance, an abundance of good, of blessings, of food. In Biblical terms I am always reminded of the ‘fragments’ of (I think) 7 fishes and a few loaves of bread that fed 4,000. Not even whole fishes, ‘fragments’, little pieces. And all were fed. No matter how small our Thanksgiving gatherings are this year, how many or few of our loved ones we can share it with, if any, and no matter what is on our table, whether a glowing golden perfectly prepared turkey, or half a sandwich shared with a friend—-if we can find it in our hearts to be grateful this year, of all years, it will be the best Thanksgiving we ever had. How we view it comes from within us, not from without.

 

May your Thanksgiving be richly blessed, with an abundance of blessings in your hearts, all that you need on your table, and may your blessings be too many to count.

 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, with all my love,  Danielle

 

7/20/20, Vanity Fair

Posted on July 20, 2020

Hi Everyone,

I thought this would be fun. It’s little vignettes of my Paris apartment, from the most recent edition (July/August) of Vanity Fair:

DSteel Vanity Fair

 

Have a wonderful week!!!

love, Danielle

Filed Under Art, Dogs, homes, Paris, Shopping | 2 Comments

5/25/20, Memorial Day: Here Comes Summer!!!

Posted on May 25, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that you’re all healthy, well, and safe, and holding up for these last days of confinement in many places. In San Francisco, and in many places in the US, it has been two and a half long months, and in another week, your city and state government will tell you what comes next, and hopefully the confinement will be lifted and you can get back to a more normal life. That happened two weeks ago in Paris, and it made a HUGE difference being able to get out of the apartment (after 11 weeks), walk down the street and breathe, and see friends, and do at least some of what we all took for granted before the pandemic turned our world upside down. I am grateful for every day and hour of freedom now, even with social distancing and a mask. I found that the last 2 weeks of our confinement in France were the hardest for me, and many people I know. People are not meant to be isolated, and being shut down can really hit your spirits, especially if you’re alone. So if you’re feeling droopy now, or really fed up, hang in, the end is in sight. And hopefully you’ll be out and about again very soon, even with a mask and social distancing. Stores are open here in Paris, you can go to the hairdresser, many people are going back to work (some are still working from home remotely), but life as we know it is becoming more normal again, and it will be soon for you too, if you’re in a place that is still sheltering in place. Hang in, you can do it for this final stretch!!!! It’s almost over, if you’re still locked down.

 

Memorial Day is a holiday commemorating those who lost their lives in the armed forces, a special day to remember and celebrate brave people. For those of us who never lost loved ones in a war, it has a broader meaning, and a very happy one. Traditionally, it has always marked the beginning of summer, with good weather, picnics, parades, and a lot of fun. Before Memorial Day weekend every summer, we used to do a massive cleanup of our summer home, and worked really hard to get everything ready for summer. And now every year, one of my daughters and I do the same thing, and spend a week getting rid of old broken stuff, getting outdoor furniture repainted, and doing a massive cleanup!!! I get to do it with her on Face Time this year (ha ha!!! I get the easy part!!!), and actually I’m sorry to miss it. It’s always a lot of fun, spending a week with her, working hard on getting everything clean and in shape. My children own that summer home now, it’s a 163 year old farm, and any home that old needs a LOT of tender loving care, and a lot of work to keep it in good shape. Every time you turn around, something breaks and needs fixing or replacing. But old homes have a lot of charm. We turned all the old farm buildings, (the horse stall, the cow shed, the rabbit hut, etc.) into little cottages, and the kids loved going there when they were little, and still do. We had chickens and goats (ugh on the goats, very smelly!!), and our pig loved it there too!!! We spent a lot of time there in the summer, and I still spend my birthday there every year, with all my kids. I hope to be home by then this summer!!!

 

I hope that you find some way to celebrate this first unofficial day of summer, and that our burdens lighten now, confinement will be over everywhere soon, and we can all enjoy some down time this summer, even if things will be different with some restrictions, but they’re not forever.

 

Have a great holiday, and let’s hope that this will be a wonderful, healthy summer, and we’ll all have fun in unexpected ways. Happy Memorial Day!!! Have a great week, hopefully your last one sheltering in place!!!

lots of love, Danielle