Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

1/19/15, Paris in January

Posted on January 19, 2015

Hi Everyone,

I hope the New Year is rolling along nicely in its first few weeks. The world seems a little bumpier than usual right now in these first days of the year. In my blog last week, I mentioned the tragedies in Paris, and am noticing the mood in Paris in the aftermath. I think when anything shocking happens, people retreat into their shell for a while to try and figure out what happened, and why, and how they feel about it.

January is a quiet month in most places. People have gotten through the holidays and are tired, the weather tends to be dreary everywhere, gray and cold, rainy or snowy, except if you live in a tropical place somewhere. Two years ago, I stayed home in January in bitter cold weather in Paris, and discovered the TV series Downton Abbey and fell in love with it, and became addicted to it. It’s also a good month to stay home and catch up on work. Nothing much seems to happen in January. And I usually do a lot of writing this month.

And this year, January has happened with a jolt, with the events in Paris. The reaction of French people has been one of strength. Only days after the events which riveted the attention of the world and turned all eyes toward Paris, they held a ‘solidarity rally’, in which 2 million people showed up in a public square in Paris, walked about ten blocks, many of them arm in arm, and holding signs—and quite amazingly was attended by almost every Head of State and Crowned Head in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East. They came together to show their support for the people of France after the sad events and attacks that had happened. I was in New York at the time, and cried as I watched the March on CNN. It was extremely moving, old people, young people, world leaders, Presidents, little children. It represented almost half the population of Paris and the surrounding suburbs, and was an extraordinary heartwarming and peaceful event.

A week after the intense drama began, with attacks, deaths, hostage situations, and suicide missions carried out, the mood of Paris is quiet and pensive. Much like the atmosphere in New York after 9/11, which was a far bigger event, in terms of loss of life, the city and its people seem silent and somewhat withdrawn, almost like someone who has been injured and needs to be in a quiet place for a while to think about it and heal from the shock. It is an odd combination of emotions, both sadness and strength, determination not to be terrorized or victimized, respect for those who died, and although quiet, the people seem very brave and strong. There are noticeably fewer people on the streets, and in restaurants and stores, fewer cars, less traffic. People seem very serious, and wisdom dictates staying out of big public places that could be vulnerable: the subway, department stores, big stadiums, some people are avoiding places of worship, so as not to draw attention to themselves. Like any time of mourning, it is a time to turn inward, rather than reach outward, and yet the march last weekend was an extraordinary reaching out in unity and show of strength. But it is also a harsh awakening to the risks and dangers of our troubled world, with the realization that people are vulnerable in every country around the world. Just as 9/11 was a tremendous wake up call in the US, I think these recent events in France were a similar sounding of the alarm in France that they can be at risk in a grocery store, at work or at home.

The big event in January in Paris usually is the sales. The government demands that all stores hold sales in January and July, with terrific bargains of great goods, marked down up to 70%. Stores don’t get to just do sales randomly whenever they want, and they are expected to put their past season’s merchandise on sale during those two months. It usually creates a festive atmosphere, draws shoppers to Paris from all over France, and even from other countries. People come for bargains and pretty things, the streets and stores are crowded, and traffic gets very congested. This month though, the city is almost eerily quiet, with few people in the stores, and no sign of traffic or the usual excitement about sales. Maybe it will pick up before the month is over, as people recover from the trauma to the city and the nation, but suddenly buying a sweater on sale, or a pair of shoes, seems insignificant compared to the bigger issues. I have a feeling that the sales won’t do as well this month as they normally do.

And even farther along the spectrum, in the last days of January is fashion’s Haute Couture week, with really beautiful fashion shows held by important designers of Couture clothes: clothes that have to be ordered, take several months to make and are entirely handmade (every stitch!!). They are extremely beautiful, and works of art, and also extremely expensive given the man-hours it takes to create them. France has always made a big fuss about Couture week, and about its fashion industry, ready to wear as well. Weeks after a national tragedy, it’s hard to imagine people coming from many different countries to view the fashions on the runways. But it’s an industry as well as an art, and people are resilient. And I’m sure that in a few weeks, people will be ready to see the shows, and ready to return to life. Chanel and Dior are the two most important houses that produce the clothes, and there are a number of others. And maybe after a few weeks of silent mourning, people will be ready to face the world again, and think of fashion. For now, it is quiet in Paris, and the mood is somber and strong. And in some ways, maybe it will be a relief to think of something more frivolous, and turn back the clock to an easier, simpler time. France has survived Revolution, Occupation, and two wars. The French are strong people, and they will come through this as well…..and for now, their serious quiet mood seems appropriate. It is the right reaction for the time, and perhaps good for all of us, wherever we are, to think of what’s important to us, what freedoms are essential to us, and what national values, or even what personal values we believe in. A little serious thinking never hurts. And the outpouring of support from other countries has been amazing.

We live in challenging times. I hope that your life is peaceful and all is well with you. And I’ll be writing to you about the fashion shows in a few weeks, when I go to see one by Chanel. Take care.

love, Danielle

11/24/14, Countdown

Posted on November 24, 2014

Hi Everyone,

As of today, the countdown has begun. We are entering the ‘zone’ now, with Thanksgiving in a few days, and as of today Christmas is exactly a month away. And if you have people on your list you’re going to shop for, it’s time to get serious.

I’m one of those annoying people who start Christmas shopping in August. When I see something that looks like the right gift for someone on my list, from August on, I buy it. And in September, I actually start shopping. But the net result is that I now have gifts for employees, friends, people I do business with, have ordered chocolates for the nurses at my pediatrician, dentist, and vet, and even for my dry cleaner in Paris, but the MOST important people on my list, my children, have yet to tell me what they want. So I’m still going to have to go shopping. And I have to beg to find out what they want. I start shopping early so I won’t get caught in the crush in stores at Christmas, and so they don’t run out of sizes, and by October I have it pretty well nailed…..EXCEPT for my kids. So I’m still as stumped as you are, and will be dashing to some store on the 23rd of December.

And with Thanksgiving this week, the holidays have begun in earnest. I particularly like the symbolism of Thanksgiving, a day for giving thanks (and eating way too much!!!). It is a day for excess, a ton of food (I like the stuffing best, and cranberry jelly), and although whipped cream always upsets my stomach, particularly after a huge meal, but I can never resist it. So I will heap it on the pumpkin and apple pie for dessert, and will roll away from the table after!!! But beyond the food we eat on that day, there is the reminder to give thanks for our blessings and for the people at our table. Or it’s a day when we have an opportunity to give back to those less fortunate. Many of my friends work in shelters serving or preparing food that day, and when I was working on the streets on homeless outreach, we always went out to reach out to as many people as we could the night before Thanksgiving. And as we sit down at our table that day, all of us, it’s good to remember those who are alone, or lonely, or may not have a meal to eat. If we can reach out to even one person that day, it makes the holiday even more important. It’s an issue too for many people about who they spend it with, or if they have anyone at all. Gathering friends who have nowhere else to go is an important part of Thanksgiving. And sometimes it’s easier to be with friends than family on that day, depending on how well family members get along.

And once we get through Thanksgiving, the days will just fly by. A few weeks to shop, make plans, invite friends, decide where to go or who to invite, and the next thing you know, we will be nose to nose with Christmas, and our plans or lack of them then. And then there will be New Year’s to get through, and after that we can all heave a sigh of relief and relax. But for now it’s just beginning.

I hope you have a truly wonderful Thanksgiving, that it unfolds just the way you want it to and that you can be with those you love. But if not, remember those who will be so grateful for your company or a helping hand. I will think of you on Thanksgiving, and please know that you are top of the list of things and people that I am grateful for. Have a beautiful Thanksgiving holiday.

love, Danielle

9/15/14, Busy Fall

Posted on September 15, 2014

Hi Everyone,

Things are revving up and speeding up, as they do after the summer. As the days get cooler, our lives seem to get busier.

I just finished a book, and am editing two others that are due out in the coming year. I’ve been traveling, visiting with my kids. We have 2 September birthdays in our family, so we’ve made plans for that. And I went to the big antique show this week that happens in Paris every two years, The Biennale. Beautiful museum quality antiques in some booths, paintings, and every important jeweler in the world has a stand at the show. It’s exciting to see it all, and a little dizzying!!! But really lovely stuff. The show is kicked off with a black tie event and dinner, which I go to whenever the show is in Paris every two years. It’s the summit of all antique shows, and really a glamourous event. Lots of women in evening gowns attend, wearing some very spectacular jewels. And they come from all over the world to see the show and attend the opening. You hear every imaginable language, and some very big ticket items are sold. It is truly an impressive event.
» read more »

8/25/14, Las Vegas

Posted on August 25, 2014

Hi Everyone,

I just took a vacation with friends from France, and their kids (my Godchild and her siblings again), to a place where I haven’t been in 14 years: Las Vegas. I’d been there 3 times in the past, just for a day or so, and found it a bit dazzling and overwhelming, but it’s definitely a place one should see at least once. And on my friends’ American Tour with their kids this summer, it was their next to last stop and I agreed to join them. And Wow!! What an adventure that was!! I never thought of it as a place for kids before, but we didn’t stop for 3 action packed days.  We saw the fabulous Cirque du Soleil’s O show, which is as beautiful as I remembered, combining acrobatics with swimming, a pool which appears and disappears, and then disappears partially, while one part of the cast is dancing on a solid floor, and the others are diving acrobatically (or from high trapezes) into the water. It is a breathtaking experience for all ages, and the children I was with were as dazzled as the adults were. On our last night we saw David Copperfield’s magic show, which is less poetic than O, but totally amazing and fascinated us too. And in between we went to roller coasters inside 2 hotels, Circus Circus and New York New York, we watched the volcano erupt outside the Mirage Hotel, and the water show of fountains outside the Bellagio. We walked for miles along the Strip, peeking at enormous, impressive hotels, each with a special flavor of its own. Some of our group went to the Venetian Hotel, but I missed that, we walked through the lobby of the Bellagio, and walked for many blocks along Fremont Street, which was a little less my cup of tea, with half naked people in costumes posing for photographs, and a lot of souvenirs and tattoo parlors. I wasn’t as crazy about that, it felt like the old days in Times Square in New York, a little on the seamy side. But the rest of what we saw in Vegas wasn’t seamy at all, but mostly fun and exciting.     » read more »

7/14/14, Paris Fashion

Posted on July 14, 2014

Hi Everyone,

Unlike (ready to wear) fashion week, which is a wild 10 day relay race, as store buyers, press, movie stars, celebrities, and anyone associated with fashion professionally, dash from one venue to the next to see as many as 7 or 8 major fashion shows a day, in 4 cities (New York, Paris, London, Milan), repeating the wild week again and again, until everyone is exhausted and has seen the wares of every ready to wear designer. Unlike ready to wear, Haute Couture fashion shows happen only in Paris, and whereas once upon a time, a dozen or so years ago, and for many years before that, the Haute Couture shows were the Big event, now Ready to Wear is where everyone wants to go and be seen. I guess I’m dating myself when I say that the Haute Couture shows used to be absolutely knock out, and attracted the most elegant women in the world. The front row at the fashion show was every socialite you’d ever heard of, important dignitaries and movie stars, and presidents’ wives, along with well known royals, and the women who attended the shows actually wore haute couture in their daily lives. The shows were beautiful, dignified, the clothes were spectacular and it was a rarefied scene and atmosphere that took your breath away if you loved beautiful clothes. But like it or not, the world has changed. My daughters and I were reminiscing about those shows a few days ago, since I started taking my 5 daughters to them when they were very young, like 7 or 8 years old. And the shows were dazzling then, for them, and for me. I’ve always loved fashion, and the haute couture shows were every woman and young girl’s dream.  All of Paris buzzed with the excitement, and the women who attended them (by invitation only) were stunningly elegant. But that world no longer exists.

For those who haven’t read about my talking about Haute Couture, what defines haute couture from ready to wear, is that every single stitch is hand made. There is not one machine made stitch on an haute couture garment. The seamstresses who worked on them had to be apprentices in the workrooms for twelve years before they were allowed to touch the clothes. The way it works is that there are two haute couture shows a year by the designer, in January (to show summer clothes) and in July (to show winter wear). The designer would put together about 70 designs, complete outfits, a sample of each one is made by hand, and usually famous models wear the samples down the runway in a beautiful show, so everyone can admire the clothes. Appointments are made afterwards for clients to try on the samples, and if they like them, the client will order a dress or outfit, and it will be handmade to her precise measurements. She will then have three fittings, sometimes more (the first one in a sample of the garment made in muslin, not the actual fabric), and about three months after the process began, the haute couture outfit or dress she ordered is delivered to the client. That process is still true today, and hasn’t changed. Haute Couture clothes were always expensive, but not the way they are now. A dress or outfit cost around $10,000 not that long ago, a spectacular evening gown $20,000. A wedding gown 50 or $100,000.  Today those same clothes can easily be 75 or $100,000 for a wool dress, $150,000 for a suit, up to $300,000 for an evening gown, and $700,000 for an elaborate wedding dress. At those prices, there are only a handful of women in the world who can afford them. And not only have the Haute Couture clients changed, but so has the world. I went to two of those shows in the last two days, as I do twice a year, and have for most of my life, as an admirer of fashion (I went to Parsons School of Design and studied fashion design, and three of my daughters work in fashion, so it’s a family passion), and there were no Presidents’ wives at the shows I attended, only one major movie star, no royals, and the famously well dressed women are only a memory now. I occasionally see well known movie stars at those shows (Jennifer Lawrence at Dior yesterday), and have seen Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, and Kirsten Dunst, and Rihanna in recent years, but on the whole people go now for the spectacle, and many to be seen, and very, very, very few are going to buy haute couture. The haute couture client of today is a very different breed. And the world we live in a very different place. Money is tight, jobs are scarce and the economy strained in many countries, the entire world wears jeans and sneakers, some even to work, exercise clothes are considered okay in every public place. Luxury is often frowned on (though secretly envied), men rarely wear ties now, it’s considered fashionable not to shave, and most people have nowhere to wear the fabulous creations of Haute Couture. And all but 3 of the once numerous haute couture designers still produce haute couture collections, which are labor intensive to make and out in the stratosphere in price. Many of the clothes one sees on the runway are then put in the designer’s museum, and never made for any clients. Sadly, haute couture has become an exquisite beautiful, absolutely spectacular dinosaur from another age. A few people still buy it, but most people’s everyday lives, even those with money, just don’t lend themselves to those fabulous creations anymore. And there are sometimes simpler clothes in the collections too, but always at an astronomical price, due to the fabric, or embroidery, or the remarkable labor and expertise that goes into them. I go to look, and am in awe of the workmanship and the creativity every time. » read more »

7/7/14, Are we taking technology too far??

Posted on July 7, 2014

 

Hi Everyone,

As a person who has had a war with machines all my life, I can’t help but ask myself that question. Machines have always hated me, and I have to admit, it’s mutual. I hate them back. I have no problem with a light switch or the basics. I owned an electric can opener years ago that I could never operate. It took me 5 years to learn to fax, and longer to figure out how to get my messages off my cell phone. I kept forgetting how to do it. I can however manage a toaster, and now a microwave if it’s not too high tech. And my cell phone is prehistoric.  Smart Phones terrify me, so I have stuck with my old 14 year old battered cell phone that has disco lights that warn me when I have a message. I could give you a list a mile long of the machines I can’t figure out how to operate, and my mistakes on my laptop are legendary. I usually hit delete instead of send when writing a message, and then can’t figure out later why the person didn’t get my message and didn’t respond, when I complain that they didn’t. I write on a 1946 manual typewriter which does not erase my latest book. And I can’t blame the machinery in question, in my case it is ALWAYS pilot error. I can write a 500 page book, but damned if I can send an email without a hitch.

So for me the world of virtual everything and E-everything is pretty scary. In that context, I was told today that there are, or are going to be, computer operated cars that you don’t have to drive yourself, you just program them and they drive you. My home in Paris can usually be accessed by a minefield referred to as L’Etoile (The Star). In the center of it sits the very dignified Arc de Triomphe, there is a circle of traffic that runs around it, and a dozen broad avenues leading away from the circle. Sounds simple, but it isn’t. You take your life in your hands when you enter that circle of frantic traffic, cars going at odd angles to each other at full speed, in a mad dash to go from one boulevard to another, it looks like bumper cars or the destruction derby. And I have friends who have devised elaborate routes to avoid the circle entirely. So how is a computerized car going to navigate that without imploding? Hard to imagine.  And there is an “app” to park your car now. Why? I can actually manage to park my car myself. I can drive without a problem, I just can’t operate my computer.

I am also terrified by surgery performed by robots. I know it’s state of the art surgery at its best—-but what if the computer blows up, or goes haywire, or does something crazy, like my toaster or my microwave? The idea of a surgeon in Cincinnati, eating his lunch while operating his computer, performing surgery on me in Phoenix, or Houston or Miami, scares me to pieces. I can barely get my mouth open at the dentist, let alone stomach the idea of a robot doing surgery. On the other hand, a surgeon with shaky hands after a bad night before isn’t too reassuring either, and a robot presumably eliminates the possibility of human error, but still…

And I learned today that drones will no longer be used for aerial photography in real estate. Why? Did they hit someone? Take off their head? Hit a 747 at high altitude? If they’ve been eliminated in real estate, what terrible thing did they commit to be banned?

And the last straw came when I saw on my computer tonight (while trying to send an email) that there will now be computerized Smart Bras.  Computerized bras? Wow. Now that is impressive and really scary. My current bras are definitely not smart, they just hang there doing their job quietly. They seem to hold things up okay, although admittedly my bra size is small ( okay,very small), so they don’t have to do a lot of work, but my bra has never complained about it, at least not that I know of. What does a Smart Bra do? Do I really want to know? Will it teach my boobs to speak another language, vacuum, do laundry? A Japanese friend has a robot to do housework and vacuum. So could a Smart Bra be taught to do household chores, walk the dog, or feed the children? How smart could our boobs get, and our bras? I’m afraid here I go back to basics. I think I’ll stick with my fancy French bras which do absolutely nothing except decorate the landscape. My daughters once decorated their Christmas tree with fancy multi-colored bras. But a computerized Smart Bra? Maybe it could decorate the Christmas tree all by itself….I’m afraid that technology has left me way behind on this one…..I’m still back in the dark ages wearing a Dumb Bra, not a smart one, don’t have a robot doing my vacuuming, and park my car myself. And the idea of getting into a car that will drive itself is terrifying, what if it gets confused and takes me somewhere I dont want to go, while my Smart Bra gives it the wrong voice commands…..wow, guys, I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready for virtual everything. And if my bra spoke to me, I think I’d faint…unless it paid me compliments….maybe a Smart Bra could be taught to lie….”Congratulations!!! You wear a 44 Quadruple D”…..in that case, maybe it would be okay…..but I guess for now, I’ll stick to basics….have a great week!!! A real one!! Not just a virtual week!!! And watch out for heavy machinery!!!

 

love, danielle

 

6/23/14, Feast or Famine

Posted on June 23, 2014

Hi Everyone,

Wow….busy times here, and I hope that all is well with you.

Oddly, I always find that my social life is very irregular. In New York and San Francisco, I very seldom see friends, and try to spend as much time as I can with my kids. They always have the priority when I’m in their cities. And given the nature of my work, I tend to hole up and disappear whenever I’m writing. Everyone has their own style, and I’m always impressed by writers who have a regular pace and schedule, write for a few hours in the morning, and then go out, see their friends, play golf, or whatever. That sure doesn’t work for me. When I’m writing, I can’t deal with any distraction, I don’t see anyone, talk to anyone (except my kids if they need me), I don’t even read phone messages or mail. Anything distracts me from the work, so I lock myself up in my office and don’t leave my house for weeks at a time. My writing style is to keep my foot on the gas, and keep it there until I finish whatever I’m working on. It can keep me locked up in my house for weeks or a month at a time, with no contact with the outside world. If I interrupt the writing to go to dinner with friends, it can take me days or even a week to get back into the book afterwards. So I don’t do that, and stick with the story, and usually write 20 or even 22 hours a day at a time when I’m working on a first draft, sleep for a few hours, and then go back to work. I’m very energized when I write, and hopefully excited about the story, and don’t want to think about anything else. (I used to have to be more civilized about my writing schedule when my kids were young and at home, but now that they’ve grown up, I can indulge my preference to stick with the story). And coming back from a long writing binge like that is like returning from a trip. I catch up with everything I’ve missed, return calls, open mail, and get back to real life. It makes for a somewhat erratic social life, since I don’t accept invitations to anything while I’m writing. And I find that one’s social life can be erratic anyway, even without writing, since people kind of hibernate in winter and don’t entertain much except for holidays, or everyone goes their separate ways in summer, and then catch up with friends in the fall. And I’ve found that there are times when I don’t go out socially for a long time, and then I get a bunch of invitations and go out every night. And for the last ten days, it has indeed been a feast of seeing friends, and fun invitations, and I’ve been out every night, which is very unlike me. But friends have come through town, childhood friends have surfaced after years of losing touch, and I’ve just had a bunch of fun activities and invitations, and even did a little work, though not serious writing, at least not this week. I’m always working on something!! But it’s only when I’m in the heat of the first draft of a book that I disappear. The rest of the time, I can edit or correct or work on an outline, and not go at it 22 hours a day, and manage to do other things. » read more »

4/21/14, Courage

Posted on April 21, 2014

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a good week, that you had a warm family Passover or Easter, or are just having a nice Spring if neither of those religious holidays are part of your life. Religiously, and just philosophically, I have always loved what Easter represents, not the crucifixion, but the resurrection. A renewal, a rebirth, a healing from the challenges we live through, rising from the ashes. It’s about hope that we will survive our difficulties and things will get better again. Whatever one’s religion, or none, it’s a comforting thought.

I just had a wonderful weekend before that, in LA with one of my daughters, to celebrate her birthday. We had a great time, and I always have fun with her in LA. I loved it!!! And as I left LA, she gave me some magazines to flip through on my trip home. And I had a great time browsing through Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Time Magazine, W, Town and Country. I love looking at the fashions, and reading articles that interest me. I wasn’t expecting to find one in Vogue that struck a real chord with me, I was having too much fun looking at the clothes. And then I found one about a fascinating woman. It was an article about an apparently famous political journalist in the l950’s, named Dorothy Thompson. I probably should know about her, or have heard about her, but I don’t know of her. She was greatly respected and apparently in 1939 was named by Time Magazine one of the two most influential women in America, along with Eleanor Roosevelt. She ran a foreign news bureau in Berlin, and apparently stood up to Adolf Hitler, and wrote a book about him, which got her expelled from Germany. From everything the article in Vogue’s Nostalgia section said, she sounded like an amazing, admirable woman. A trail blazer in a major way, at a time when few women worked, most were in the home, and she was apparently a devoted mother and grandmother as well. They mentioned her in Vogue because apparently in the 50’s, she complained that she had nothing decent to wear, and was a size 20. (They commented that in those days a size 12 was considered slim). And apparently Vogue did a whole article at the time, based on putting a wardrobe together for her with half a dozen looks, in her size. But the woman who wrote the article I read went on to say how she had always admired her, and what a gutsy woman Thompson was. It made me think of actresses we admire from those days, who were gutsy too, or appeared to be, Barbara Stanwyck, Rosalind Russell, Katherine Hepburn, women who spoke their minds and had big personalities. Clearly, Dorothy Thompson was not just acting a part, but was the real deal, and just reading about her, I admired her too. The writer said that reading about her had given her courage in her own life, which made me think too. » read more »

4/7/14, New Chapters (2)

Posted on April 7, 2014

Hi Everyone,

I hope that all is well with you.  Every book must have them, and every life: new chapters. And that’s never been my strong suit. I love the old and familiar, favorite restaurants, favorite places, favorite people, those we know well. I get attached to houses; I even keep my cars forever. New is exciting, but old and familiar feels safe and warm.

My first husband was French, but had an American grandfather, and we came to San Francisco when we were engaged. I was seventeen, ridiculously young, and the grandfather was a remarkable person, who lived to be 103. During our visit to San Francisco, I discovered a remarkable beach that I thought was spectacular. Years later, long after I had moved to San Francisco and we were divorced, I rented a house there for a few weeks. It was a beautiful long stretch of beach, it wasn’t fashionable, it was rugged and simple, natural and peaceful, and I loved it. I remarried, to a man who loved the country, and I spent 20 years spending weekends and summers in the Napa Valley, and it was lovely….but it wasn’t the beach. And I could never ‘sell’ my beloved beach to my husband, who preferred Napa, and the country life there. By then ‘my beach’ had become a bit more fashionable, though not very, and it still had a simple natural feel to it. And finally, divorced and alone again, I looked at some houses at the beach, and my longtime dream came true. I bought a house at the beach I loved. I fell in love with it instantly, and called the house “Coup de Coeur”, which means love at first sight in French. And I spent some wonderful years there, entertained friends, my kids were still at home, and in middle school and high school. They wanted to be in the city with their friends, and I never got to spend a summer at the beach house, but I went there a lot. It was where I went to find peace, or entertain friends, or spend time with my children. It was a happy place and a happy house. I loved it.

Fast forward the film again. The kids have grown up, half of them moved to other cities for their work, and seldom come home because they have jobs and lives somewhere else. And the peaceful beach is too peaceful for them. And 10 years ago, I went back to France, and live there half the year. When I come back to San Francisco, I want to spend time with my kids, who don’t want to go to the beach, understandably. And I’m too busy when I’m home. So the beach house stands empty now, and makes no sense. When I go there, I am still in awe of how beautiful the beach is. The area is more polished now, the real estate more expensive, and it’s as lovely as when I first saw it, and the house cuter than ever, but we just never go there anymore. And owning a house you never go to makes no sense, economically, practically, even emotionally. And I realized recently that it was time to end the chapter, and for someone else to enjoy the house I once fell in love with, but never go to anymore. In recent years, we’ve gone there for a few weekends a year, which makes no sense. So I decided to put the house on the market and sell it.

I only made the decision a few weeks ago. It made perfect sense, and still does. So I dove in, called realtors, and decided to get the house ready to sell, and clear it of our things. I’ve owned the house for 13 years, and in a perfect world, I would love to keep it as a little gem, a wonderful escape to retreat to when I need peace. (But that’s a high price to pay for peace. I can rent a house there for a few weekends a year). In reality, I wont miss it, but I’ll miss the idea of it. Buying a house there was the fulfillment of a dream. It was my happy place. But now I have a life in Paris, and my children are grown up. So I just spent the week at the beach house, emptying closets, reading old notes, finding forgotten treasures, smiling at old photographs, and boxing things up to send to the children, or bring home, and in some cases just throwing things away. It’s the right thing to do, but the right things are not always easy. As much as missing my beach retreat, it marks the passage of time, and reminds one that life has changed and moved on, and what makes sense at one time in our life, no longer makes sense a dozen years later. I am grateful that I was able to have that house, and the fun times we had there. When I had my art gallery, I used to invite all my artists and their partners out for a beach day once a year, and we had a ball.

I finished getting the house ready to sell today, and it was bittersweet. It looked wonderful when I left it, and it may not sell for a while, so we’ll get to enjoy it a few more times. But I have put it out there, for someone else to fall in love with it at first sight. To me, houses are like romance, you can walk into 50 houses, and they do nothing for you, and then you walk into The One, the right one for you, and you know it instantly.  I hope that happens to someone when they see my beach house, it’s time to pass the baton to someone else, who will enjoy it, and spend happy times there, and watch their children grow up there. And then it will be someone else’s turn. It would be greedy and foolish to hang onto a house I no longer use, so I am setting it free, to be loved and enjoyed by others who will spend more time there, and have as much fun there as I once did. The chapter of my life at that beach is over. I had the dream, and now it’s time for the chapter to end. Paris is where I go for fun now, and to relax, and spend time with friends, and with my children when they visit me. I will miss the idea of the beach house, more than the reality.

So I spent the week packing boxes, and tucking away memories. The chapter ends. And a new one begins. The house isn’t sold yet, and will be put on the market in the next few weeks. And the new chapter will be full of surprises, and whatever life has in store. I’m grateful for the 13 years I had there. And now a new chapter will begin.

love, Danielle

Filed Under Family, Homes | 11 Comments

3/17/14, Cinderella After the Ball.

Posted on March 17, 2014

Hi Everyone

First of all, Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you who are of Irish descent. In the international mix of my ancestry (Portuguese, Spanish, German, French), I can’t make any claim to Irish, so it’s not my holiday. I think there was an English great grandfather somewhere on my mother’s side, but that’s about it. It’s always such a festive day, so if you’re Irish, or want to celebrate with them, have a Great Day!!!

Other than that, life is getting back to normal after the glamour of fashion week in Paris, and the real excitement of being decorated with the Legion of Honor. Now I get to wear the little red ribbon on my clothes that identifies me as a Knight of the Order of the Legion of Honor (and a miniature of the medal for special events). It’s a big distinction in France, and I’m wearing the red ribbon with much pride. But then after the honor, and the ceremony, and the fashion shows, you go back to real life. Someone has to take out the garbage, sometimes me, feed the dogs, go to the dry cleaner, and do all the mundane stuff we all do. I had a lot of work to do this week, taxes are due, money is tight, kids have problems, dogs get sick. Two of our family’s dogs had surgery this week, which worried me. And I had to grind through all the stuff that wears you out, worries you, and is a LOT less fun than being decorated, and watching a fashion show by Chanel or Dior. Welcome to real life!!! It can’t be a party every day, and I’m lucky that it’s fun some of the time. Getting the Legion of Honor really thrilled me, and it’s a once in a lifetime event!!! I will cherish the memory of it forever, and loved sharing it with my children who were here.

I had a classic French experience this week. I pay my phone and internet bills by automatic transfer from my bank, which is easier than writing one more check every month. And lo and behold, I discovered that six months ago, the phone company and my bank got in an ‘argument’, a disagreement over procedures, so my bank stopped making the transfers, but never told me. The phone company wasn’t getting paid, and didn’t tell me. And yesterday I had one of those nightmare days where modern communication was vital: I had to do some things with my bank in California, had some important business to do with my agent, one of my children needed advice, another was travelling, I was emailing and calling people in several countries, doing business, and needed phone and Internet vitally. And guess what? All my phone and internet services went dead. Just like that, one minute a string of emails, and the next, a total black out. What happened??? I couldn’t figure it out, except a notice on my screen said I hadn’t paid my bill. Impossible!! Well not so impossible. I called the bank, who blamed the phone company for not complying with their ‘norms’ so they stopped paying them. I called the phone company who told me to get another bank. And guess who got squeezed in the middle with no phone or Internet service on a day I REALLY needed it??? Me, of course. What a crazy, ridiculous situation. So I paid my bill by credit card on the phone, and they promised that sometime 2 days later, I would get service back. Oh Great. And 2 days with no communication at all, and my whole life was conducted by cell phone. How crazy is that? While the phone company and my bank were throwing rocks at each other, I got bonked on the head and stunned into silence. It made for a VERY annoying day!!!! And I was really mad. Other than that misadventure, I love France, and Paris. The weather has been gorgeous and spring like and makes one dream.

So it’s back to real life for me. I may be a Knight now, but the phone company wasn’t impressed. My dogs aren’t impressed, I have to feed them now, and take out the garbage….and do some work….then I’ll do the dishes…..some laundry….I feel just like Cinderella after the ball!!!

love, Danielle