Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

5/18/20, Dazed and Confused

Posted on May 18, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

How are you? Hanging in, I hope, whether confined, or liberated, under serious lockdown, or finally easing out of it, depending on your country, city or state. I hope you’re finding ways to keep busy and keep your spirits up. These are challenging times. We will get through it, but there are definitely better and worse days.

 

And particularly now, as some places start to de-confine, the difference in rules, even between neighboring counties, is REALLY confusing, often contradictory and in conflict. My closest knowledge is about San Francisco, and France. San Francisco, which confined the earliest of many states and cities in the US has done the best, and gets a gold star, with incredibly low numbers of sick people and deaths (fewer than 100 deaths). And they seem to be planning to de-confine slowly, starting on June 1st on some subjects, if all goes well.

 

I chose the title on the blog today, because I think we are all dazed by the whole situation, worldwide, and how quickly it happened. 3 months ago our life was entirely normal, with vague distant rumors of some unknown flu ravaging China (which couldn’t affect us, right? Now they say it was already in the US in November and we didn’t know it, and thought it was just regular flu season) Less than 3 months ago, I was dancing at my son’s wedding and having fun. And there were vague rumors too a few weeks later, that people in Italy had the flu. And then ZAP!!!Fast forward a few weeks, and Holy Sh—!!!! What the hell happened? Two months later, we’re locked up, and it’s a pandemic. I never even knew that word 3 months ago. And I think we’re all confused by the constantly contradictory information we hear, some of it real, some of it well meant but inaccurate, and some of it just rumors that people spread, scare you to death, and turn out not to be true. The truth is scary enough, and I absolutely detest the people who spread rumors with delight, just to upset us. “Have you heard THAT…..”and then they tell you some horror, and you/I can’t sleep all night. What’s the point of that??? It’s irresponsible and vicious.

 

But even if you try to stay informed through allegedly reliable sources, newspapers, online, doctors, etc, what you hear is confusing. There are rules, laws and suggestions, not to be confused!!! In France, the chain of command is simple. You get the word from the President, with solemn pronouncements on TV, telling us we’re locked up for X number more weeks. For slightly less solemn announcements, the Prime Minister delivers that message. Until now, the rules have been the same for the entire country. Simple. You may not like the message, but you know what it is.  Now, in France, we have red zones and green zones, the green zones don’t have Covid, the red do. About 2/3 of France is green, without Covid 19.The US has 6 times the population of France, the country is huge, and the ‘rules’ are made city by city, county by county, state by state, by mayors, governors, and in some cases, the President. And many of the rules conflict and are contradictory, about the disease itself, and about what you’re allowed to do. From what I know, more than half the states are not under lockdown, some cities aren’t, others are locked down tight. Some cities are beginning to loosen up, others (like LA this week) are tightening up and slamming shut. Who is right? What’s the rule? In some places masks are required, in other places they aren’t, in some places they don’t wear them at all. What is safest for us, not to get sick? Wear a mask or not? Where and when and with whom? The directives between some of the US and France on that are completely opposite. Who’s right?

 

Hairdressers were forbidden in the beginning in France, now they’re allowed. All hairdressing salons are open. But in San Francisco, they are strictly forbidden. BUT in San Francisco anyone who does cosmetic procedures on your face is allowed: like Botox and all those shots and procedures that are so popular now. So it’s okay to mess with your face, at VERY close range with the person doing it—-but don’t touch your hair. (Personally, I’d rather get my hair done!!!). That makes NO sense to me at all. Gardening was forbidden in SF (Am I really going to get Covid 19 from my gardener, when they work out doors, usually far from people, and work alone?). Gardening is okay in France, and the ban on gardening has just been lifted in SF. (To me that seemed an unnecessary economic cruelty to gardeners who couldn’t work and make a living, weren’t dangerous, and were harming no one). One doctor in France told me to always wear a mask when you leave the house now. Another doctor in France told me don’t bother, not necessary. And I believe they are required in San Francisco now—-or ‘suggested’. There’s a difference. I think the root of a lot of the confusing directives is that they really don’t know. ‘Take your shoes off when you get home’ or, ‘Take off all your clothes and disinfect them and shower the minute you get home.’  (in the East of the US), don’t bother (in France), ‘the ventilation system will kill you and the air conditioning’ (said in the US), I haven’t heard anything about it in France. And why will seeing the hairdresser almost surely kill you in San Francisco, when it won’t hurt me in Paris? Who’s right? Hair salons are open now in France, but my hairdresser came to the house, he was wearing a doctor’s surgical gown over his clothes, something to cover his own hair, he wore a mask, a plastic visor over his face, eye guards, and rubber surgical gloves, and he insisted that I wear a mask and gloves too (he looked like an astronaut ready for a walk on the moon). So they’re not casual about it, although he may be more careful than most. In French stores at the moment, sales people are wearing masks and gloves, but clients don’t have to wear a mask. Why not? If they are, I should be too. I wore a mask on a walk yesterday, but almost no one else did (I saw 3 masks in all), and I looked like I was going to rob a convenience store. I don’t mind the rules, and I’m willing to follow them, but I wish they made more sense and were more consistent, and that you had the feeling that the people making the rules really know what’s best for us. And then there are whole countries doing things differently. Sweden has no confinement, Switzerland and Austria have reopened. France is starting to. I wish I knew what is really right and safest, so we can protect ourselves intelligently, wherever we are. Our world is confusing right now. And I don’t object to rules, and will follow them, but I wish they were more consistent and made more sense. (Several people I know in the US spend 2 hours washing their groceries when they come home from the store, they remove wrappings, take everything out of cartons, it’s a big production. But no one does that in France).

 

Some people say our world has changed forever (I sure hope not), others say it is temporary. No one knows the time duration. Maybe it will disappear as suddenly as it arrived, or maybe it will linger. I think it’s the uncertainty, of what will happen, what we should do, and how long it will last that is so anxiety producing. Some people love video conferencing, others say that their video meetings are lifeless and dead and much less productive. I find it MUCH harder to write, and to concentrate, in the constantly stressful atmosphere. But I hope and believe that our world will return to normal again. Some countries are almost there. It just feels like a very long time, but in the scheme of life, this has not been so long, only 3 months. And maybe 3 months from now, things will be immeasurably better, or even nearly normal again. It will certainly have been a very strange time. And in some ways it forces us to reconsider what matters to us, what is really important, and who we care about most.

 

Things are loosening up, or will soon in some places, the death tolls and numbers of sick are coming down in most places, after months of confinement, the curve is flattening….what lies in store beyond that, we just don’t know yet. We just have to keep plodding on, and hope that the rules and directives and laws and suggestions are the right ones to keep us safe. And that people follow them.

 

So if you’re dazed and confused, me too. We all are. And hopefully, we will come out of this unscathed. With no major losses. The light is there at the end of the tunnel, if I squint I can just barely see it up ahead. I’m not complaining, Paris is de-confining, and I went for walks in the fresh air this week, I saw a friend, and will see a few more next week,  confinement in isolation for so long was really tough. The sun is shining, I’ll go out later for a walk….and when I do, do I wear a mask??  Hang in, and have a great week!!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

3/2/20, Strange Times

Posted on March 2, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re having a healthy, happy week, and that all is well in your world. In Our World, we seem to be facing something of a (very) serious health crisis at the moment. It’s a very unusual occurrence.

 

The blog I am writing to you today is very different than the one that I was planning to write. It was recently Fashion Week in New York, followed by Fashion Week in London, then Milan, ending with the grand finale: Fashion Week in Paris. Each city is important in the world of fashion, each of the cities has its own flavor, mood, and tempo, and in each of the four cities, the designers of that country show their collections, for the following season. It happens twice a year, in September into October, and then February into March, to show their spring/summer and fall/ winter clothes. Each designer puts on a fashion show, which is a major event and costs a fortune. Some put on presentations, with models walking around showrooms to show how the clothes are worn. The shows are attended by magazine and newspaper editors, hundreds of international press, stylists, store buyers to place their orders for the following season, and a large number of movie stars, celebrities and VIPS. It’s a grueling month each time for the people who put on the shows, and an exciting time for everyone who attends them. It never seems to get old. The shows are by invitation only, are in spectacular locations, and those shows and all the razzle dazzle surrounding them are a highlight of the fashion world twice a year. I usually attend the fall/winter shows, and skip the spring/summer ones, because my youngest daughter’s birthday falls during those shows, and I spend that time with her. But I check the shows out on line, to see what fashions are coming. And during the various fashion weeks, the design houses give lots of parties to celebrate the event.

 

Normally, I would be writing to you about the shows I attended, telling you about the stage setting, the clothes, the models and the vast group of exotic and important spectators, the followers and creators of fashion. But Fate threw a heavy monkey wrench into the fashion world, and the entire world, in the last few weeks. As I’m sure most of you have read, a virus called the Corona Virus has begun to spread worldwide. Allegedly, it appeared noticeably only weeks ago in an industrial area of China, where many, many factories exist, producing a wide variety of products, including those involving fashion, as well as high tech products, and many, many things. Perhaps due to the density of the population in the area, the greatest number of people stricken by the virus is in China, with 89,000 people affected, and just under 3,000 deaths. All forms of flu are potentially very dangerous, and 80,000 Americans die of the flu each year. (My own mother died of the flu, and was in relatively healthy energetic shape when she got sick.) It would appear that most of the people who have died of the Corona Virus had pre-existing conditions which made them more vulnerable. The elderly are cited as more at risk, and I’ve heard that men are more vulnerable to it, and I have no idea if that is true. Rumors about the virus are rampant, and many countries around the world now have anywhere from a handful of cases, to a few hundred, to several thousand. How did people get it? How did it get so out of hand, particularly in Asia? How is it transmitted, no one is sure, which lends to the rumors and a certain degree of panic. There is a test for it, in limited supply, which even doctors are finding it hard to obtain. And some people get it so mildly that they don’t even know they have it, and think they have the common cold. The danger there is that if they don’t suspect they have the virus, they continue circulating in the cities where they live, or travel, infecting others without realizing they are. And the bad news is that the incubation period is 2 weeks, so that a healthy person wouldn’t know they are incubating it, and it is highly contagious during that asymptomatic time of incubation.

 

The persistence of it, as cases continue to crop up in every country around the world, is unnerving. Public reaction to it ranges from denial of its seriousness, to outright panic. Once sick, in some places, people have been quarantined, in other countries people are simply asked to confine themselves. But there are no consistent rules about what to do with those who are sick. A week ago, Italy, which had very few cases, less than twenty, experienced an explosion of the number of Corona Virus victims, all or most stemming from an industrial factory town two hours from Milan, where most of the factories are which produce fashion related items. It was similar, on a smaller scale, to what had occurred weeks before in China. And it was also a factory town visited by people of many nationalities, flying in to do business there. It happened at the time of Milan Fashion Week, and ultimately many of the people who visited those factories participated in Milan Fashion Week, and then went to Paris to participate in fashion week there. And in that case, during the silent incubation period. So no one knows yet how many people at Paris Fashion Week will ultimately be impacted and infected as a result of the outbreak in Milan. Cases have continued to increase in Italy, and the number has grown in France. And when all the people of many nationalities go home again, to their own countries, the disease may spread exponentially again.

 

As a result, parties in Paris were cancelled and only one show. But people cancelled out of many events, and tried to stave off germs with hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial drenched ‘towelettes’.Meanwhile the factories in Italy, and in China, and elsewhere around the world, have been closed until the epidemic is under control. In some places, people have been quarantined, and in others not, while we wait to see where this goes. What we don’t know about it is scarier than what we do. And not being a high risk taker, I cancelled out of the shows I wanted to see, and the atmosphere surrounding Paris Fashion Week has been tense. And personally, I would rather miss out on the shows and the fun, than to risk contagion and contamination from people who don’t know they are incubating the Corona Virus, and might be sitting next to me at a show. It just isn’t worth the risk. I’ve seen lots of fashion shows, and will see more again at a safer time. Precautions people are taking cover a wide range from ‘pooh poohing’ the risks, and others who simply decided not to take a chance, packed up and went home.

 

As an extreme comparison, I am reminded of the infamous Spanish Flu, which happened between 1917 and 1919. The statistics on The Spanish Flu are staggering. It was 100 years ago, when medications were less sophisticated and available than they are today. It struck right at the end of World War I, figures on it vary, but it is thought that 500 million people worldwide were infected with it, and 50 to 100 million people died, more than twice the number of people who were killed in the war. It is inconceivable that we could be struck to that degree today. But the rapid wide spread of this virus has caught the world’s attention, as we pause to see what will come next. Schools across the country are talking about closing, for several months. Businesses are encouraging people to work from home, to avoid contagion. And we are waiting for further guidelines and information, hoping that this will not grow to more major proportions than it is now. Some people say it will be over in April. But we really don’t know.

 

Stay safe, be careful. It is something to take very seriously. Follow whatever directions we are given by reliable sources. And I hope and pray that the epidemic will be rapidly brought under control. Take care, and have a peaceful, healthy week,

 

 

love, Danielle

8/5/19, “Some Like It Hot”

Posted on August 5, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a great, fun, and relaxing week. I hope you’re sitting on a beach somewhere, relaxing, or under a tree in the country, having some down time!!!

 

I’ve been whining a lot about the weather lately!!. I grumble all winter about the cold, wet, and sometimes even snowy blizzard-y weather, and am thrilled when the warm weather rolls around. Only this year, I’ve been in 2, possibly 3 just brutal heat waves. Two in France, and one in NY when I was flying through for a couple of days. Like childbirth, one forgets how miserable a heat wave can be. One kind of expects it in NY but it’s much more unusual in France. And this year in France, we had history making temperatures. One night at 4 am, it was 104 degrees, another day it reached 111, and there is almost no air conditioning in France, except in big hotels and supermarkets. It almost never would occur to me to check into a hotel, and I didn’t think of it this time—-but I will next time. Very few homes in France have air conditioning, you just don’t need it except in the South. And most buildings are very old (including mine), many buildings and homes in France are 200 or 300 years old, and it’s apparently very difficult to install. And landlords won’t let you put it in if you rent. Instead, many people have archaic machines (that look like a small refrigerator, it has a tube about 8 inches across, you hang the tube out the window, and supposedly it will eventually cool down the room. It actually works surprisingly well, but it’s not like the state of the art built in air conditioning systems in the US.  We put one of those in each room, and two good fans.

 

I have to tell you, the day that it was 111 degrees, I was melting. And I was worried about my dogs. I kept wetting them down all day and night.

There was one massive heat wave in June, and another in July, it was hot as blazes in the South of France, and when I flew to NY to visit my daughters there, it was close to 100 degrees. It was 95 degrees and then alarmingly close to 100   for the duration of my brief stay. When I landed in NY it Was 98 degrees, still in the realm of the bearable, though not by much.!!!

 

I actually wrote a book while I was boiling and suffered, but both books I worked on turned out well.

 

I’ve decided that I like the cold winter weather better after all. It’s a lot easier to dress warmly and add lots of sweaters under a warm coat, than to try and cool off in record breaking heat (the temperature during the second heat wave broke all records in France. I would have loved to sleep at my local supermarket!!!)

 

And by blissful contrast, when I flew in and out of San Francisco, to see my kids, it was the usual freezing San Francisco summer weather, in the 60’s in the daytime, gray and foggy and about 50 degrees at night…..heavenly!!!

 

I hope the temperatures won’t be too extreme wherever you are this summer!!!! keep cool!!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

4/8/19, “I had a blast in LA!!” Again!!

Posted on April 8, 2019

Hi Everyone,

 

I just had the great pleasure of spending a weekend in LA with one of my daughters, to celebrate her birthday. Unfortunately, with my rushed life of travelling between the two cities where I live, between writing deadlines, and another city where I spend about two months a year, I only get to LA about once a year, for my daughter’s birthday (and I see her in the cities where I live the rest of the year). Each time I go to LA, I remember what a fun city it is, and how much I enjoy visiting my daughter there, and I promise myself to visit there more often. But somehow with publishing 7 books a year, and all that goes with it, I never manage to get to LA more often—but wish I did. What a fun, lively, exciting happy city it is. The weather alone is enough to cheer you, when it’s still dismal winter everywhere else. I love the way the city looks, and the people always seem upbeat to me.

 

San Francisco has a certain casual austerity to it. Maybe it’s the weather, with gray foggy weather and a chill wind so much of the time. And New York is brutally cold so many months of the year. I love the way cities have a look, feel and personality all their own. LA just seems like a happy place to me—or maybe that’s just the fun I have with my daughter, which predisposes me to loving the place. The restaurants are great, and people REALLY try to look great—-maybe that’s due to the proximity of the film industry—but there are an awful lot of pretty people there. Lots of jeans, but bright colored shirts and clothes, women in sexy high heels running around town (and not just flip flops, or Uggs, or heavy snow gear, or just functional running shoes and yoga clothes all day long/ did they REALLY go to the gym or just wear the clothes?.) Lots of glitz and glamour, a lot of younger women with carefully done wild colored hair, many shades of pinks, some gorgeous mauves and purples, occasionally blue. The women wear makeup, and the men seem to pay more attention to how they look too. I always end up shopping there, and often buy things I can’t wear in very, very casual San Francisco, serious New York, and which they’d never understand in Paris. This time, I bought a wild shocking pink dress, a giant black suede purse, a great pair of combat boots I can wear in all my wintry cities, some good jeans (with a strawberry on the back pocket!!), and I wore a pair of light blue iridescent sequined jeans I haven’t been able to wear in any other city. The shopping is great in LA—the cultural side of life too. I had some interesting meetings, exploring film and TV options for my work. And the meetings in LA are fun too, and very creative.

 

I’m fascinated how different the cities are from each other. Las Vegas is a source of absolute fascination, with great shows and all the excitement around gambling (I’m not a gambler, but the people watching is unique!!). I’ve only been to Boston a few times, and liked it, it seems very traditional, historical, and solid. Miami always seems like a combination to me of LA and Las Vegas, double fun. San Francisco was long ago a very conservative, formal city, but The Flower children in the 60’s changed all that, and now it’s the most low key, informal city I know, and it’s still home for me for a few months a year. I’ve been to Chicago twice and loved it, it seemed like a mini New York, very chic and sophisticated and cosmopolitan. Washington DC has the underlying current and electricity of politics in a beautiful little city. I do love L.A.,  it seems light hearted (except for some very serious film work and opportunities there!!) and at times it feels like Disneyland for adults. And there is so much hope there among young people working in the film industry, or hoping to get in. And it is very different from Paris.

 

There are so many parts of this country that I haven’t seen and would love to visit. I’ve never been to Texas and would love to. I’ve only been to the South a few times, other than Miami. I have a deep love for Wyoming where I used to go with my children every year, the mountains there are magical and deeply spiritual, it is powerful and peaceful in a very special way.

 

I hope I get back to LA again soon. It was a very, very fun three days, and energized me to start a new book!!!

 

Have a great week, wherever you are!!!

 

much love, Danielle

 

3/5/18, Report from Siberia

Posted on March 5, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope you’re having an interesting fun week so far. I am experiencing something new to me: a Siberian winter. Paris has been experiencing a record breaking cold front, coming straight from Russia, literally from Siberia, and I am now understanding the descriptions I’ve read in books like War and Peace, and memoirs by people sent to prison in Siberia. It is bone chillingly cold in Paris, and has snowed several times, which is beautiful, but the weather is unbelievably cold!!!! So I’ve been puttering around my house catching up on things to do, writing, and going out too, and wearing many layers when I do.
 

I flew into Paris to meet up with another of my daughters, who works in fashion, to see her work on the Altuzarra fashion show, which she styles every season (she puts the looks together that are worn by models on the runway, to show the fashions for next winter, and after all the shows during fashion week, store buyers place their orders for their stores. So the goal is to make the clothes look as appealing as possible, as chic and as fun, on the runway.) Since I’ve been attending fashion shows myself since I was a very young girl, and took my daughters to see the fashion shows in Paris, when they were children, we have a fascination with fashion—and I can compare how the audience, models, styles and fashion itself have changed since my childhood until now. It’s more casual now than it used to be, since people don’t dress as formally. These are ready to wear clothes that you will eventually be able to buy in stores all over the US (and Europe). Previously, the most elegant women went to the Haute Couture shows, they were a serious bunch of very well dressed (somewhat intimidating) women, and that generation of fashion clients are gone now. Presidents’ wives, royalty and famous movie stars went to those shows, more to be seen than to buy clothes. Today, Haute Couture is a dying art, with few customers left for a beautiful but almost extinct art form now—-and the real ‘happening’ is at the ready to wear shows twice a year in Paris, New York, London and Milan at “Fashion Week”. These are the shows that movie stars and celebrities and fashion followers go to now, along with magazine editors, and store buyers. Each fashion show is AN EVENT, and there is as much to watch in the audience as on the runway.
 

The clothes at the show I saw today were beautiful and wearable, at department store prices, so not cheap, but real people can actually afford them, unlike Haute Couture which sells for six figure amounts and only the wealthiest women in the world can afford them. Ready to Wear is accessible, in wearable styles at affordable prices. The models, like all models now, are insanely, unhealthily frighteningly thin, and no one except people who have starved since their early teens can wear them in the sizes shown on the runway. The models are beautiful but just too thin, and women compare themselves to them, and come out muttering about how fat they are. Many or most of the models are in their late teens, although they look very grown up and sophisticated in the clothes, hairdos and make up.
 

The clothes were beautiful, and my daughter Vanessa did a beautiful job styling them, putting the looks together, dresses and coats and pants, and purses and shoes that you want to own and wear when you see them. She did a great job, and I was VERY proud of her, and thrilled to be at the show. Famous fashion magazine editors were there, movie stars, celebs, and people one recognizes. Part of the appeal of these ready to wear shows is where they hold them—-this one was at a trendy restaurant, that has been popular for decades in Montparnasse, the once “arty” Bohemian part of Paris (Toulouse Lautrec lived and painted in that part of Paris, and many famous artists). The restaurant was big, seating was set up for hundreds of people, (the fashion shows are by invitation only and it’s an elite crowd of Fashion VIPs) and the models threaded their way among us, wearing the clothes, while music played. Fashion Shows are An Event now, a place to see and be seen—-and I have to admit, I have fun staring at the audience before and after the show as much as the clothes. You see EVERYTHING there, wild hair does, crazy clothes, weird shoes, vintage clothes, current styles, I am always fascinated by the shoes, which look like works of art (but not too comfortable). The people who go to the shows want to attract attention, be noticed, and especially get photographed by the hundreds of international press attending. The theme of the audience is often “the crazier the better”, although some are truly stylish. The wild trendy ones stand out, and are fun to watch. My children scold me for staring, but who can resist that??? So I saw everything in the audience today, glittery, shimmery metallic skirts, wild sneakers, hugely high platform shoes, weird hats, out of control trendy hair does, along with some truly fashionable men and women. As many men go to these shows as women. Everyone has their own reason for going, business, amusement, or a love of fashion.
 

It was a fun day for me, seeing my daughter’s work, and the clothes she consulted on with the talented designer. It was a beautiful show, and I really had fun. Fashion can be a wonderful respite from the hard things that happen in the world and bring us down. Fashion is an instant upper, that makes one happy, and makes one laugh or smile or dream, or wish one owned what’s being shown on the runway. There was a short black jacket with a white knit collar that I had my eye on, and I may just try to snag it when the collection becomes available in stores next fall. I love sharing my fashion hobby with you. It’s a much happier past time than some of the serious things that go on around us in our world. So stay tuned for Paris fashion, and an important group of observers of the fashion shows now are the bloggers, who come from all over the world to report what they see, on their blogs. I had a blast, and was soooo proud of my daughter!!! We went to lunch afterwards and did some shopping ourselves!!
 

Have a great week!!! And I hope there will be some fun things happening this week for you!!

 

love, Danielle

2/5/18, Mix and Match

Posted on February 6, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

Oops, sorry I’m a day late with the blog, but I will confess I was having fun yesterday, at least some of the time. Living between two cities and travelling back and forth every few weeks, I always seem to be hit with a backlog of work, minor and major problems, and things to catch up on when I arrive. My last day before I leave is hectic, and my first day back in either city is a total zoo, and chaotic. I’m not complaining because I feel very lucky to live in two cities—but the transition can be bumpy. So yesterday was first day back, and I spent 21 hours playing catch up and settling in. My reward for all that was that a small shipment of photographs, paintings, curtains and objects that I sent home by ship when I moved to my new apartment in Paris at the beginning of November, had arrived the day before I returned home, and I got to dig through the boxes and find a place for each of the things I sent back. Some of it I had earmarked for my kids (some great photos of Marilyn Monroe that my son wanted, some fashion photos from the 1950’s for one of my daughters in fashion, and the modelling photos of another of my daughters, when she modelled for a while before getting into the business and counselling end of fashion).

It felt like Christmas as I took time out from real work to dig through the boxes.  It was like a treasure hunt!! After three months, I had almost forgotten what I sent, including two sets of really pretty curtains that didn’t work anywhere in the new apartment, and I hated to give up, so I kept them and sent them home. I love collecting things, so my houses are pretty full, and trying to fit anything new in is like working a Rubik’s Cube!!! But I somehow always manage to squeeze one more thing in, or hang one more painting, by re-hanging 5 or 10 others!! I also used the opportunity of the move to get rid of things I was tired of, and had been mistakes to begin with, so what was left were mostly things I really love, which makes my new home that much more enjoyable, now that I weeded out the things I didn’t love. I love going to auctions and finding unusual things, or paintings by unknown artists. I love Chinese art, and have a collection of small wooden antique Buddhas—they’re not of great value, but with the patina of age, I really love looking at them!! And sometimes moving something old and familiar to a new home gives it a new burst of life and you enjoy it all over again!!! I love mix and matching things, old and new, I have a collection of Chinese ceramic vegetables and fruit, and have mixed them with the things that my children made in ceramics class in school when they were very little. It makes a fun eclectic group of objects, and I have them all together on a table. I have a lot of art made by my children, and I love it!!!  And I still have many paintings left from when I had a contemporary art gallery. Sometimes the things my children made look great with modern art. I love mixing and matching with both fashion and decorating—-something very special and even expensive mixed with something silly or fun that I found in a funny little shop somewhere. I like the light hearted side of that rather than being too serious about decorating or fashion. So I had great fun finding new homes for all the things I sent back, and the curtains I sent home fit perfectly and look beautiful. So it was my Mix and Match day.

As much as I love fashion, almost as an art form, for the past 10 years or so, I enjoy decorating even more. And when I had put all the new arrivals away, I went back to work on the mountain waiting for me on my desk, and I’m still at it today. It was a 21 hour work day yesterday, with more of the same today…..but I loved my Mix and Match day yesterday.   Have a great week!!

 

love, Danielle

Filed Under Family, homes, Paris, Travel | 5 Comments

12/4/17, Shockers

Posted on December 4, 2017

Hi Everyone,

These are usually busy days for everyone, after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. The countdown to the holidays has started in earnest. And even though I start shopping in August (which my whole family makes fun of, but I like to get it done early, before the Christmas rush)—but I still always have one or two people on my list whom I feel I haven’t quite taken care of yet, so I do a little frantic late shopping too. And this year is no exception. And I buzz around in the 3 cities I spend time in at this time of year, so I’m busy getting ready for the holidays, after a lovely family Thanksgiving that got things off to a great start.

Out in the world these days, there have been some truly shocking reports, about sexual misconduct and abuses in the world of entertainment, and politics. We read of well-known famous people who have either been abused, or been the abusers, and every day new names are added to the list. These kind of things have happened for centuries, and are not ‘new’, but it is disturbing nonetheless when names of people we respected professionally turn out to be abusive, and even sick in their behaviours toward others. It’s as though a door has opened, dark secrets have been revealed, and people have come tumbling out, suddenly in the spotlight as victims or abusers. We’ve all heard about ‘casting couch’ techniques in Hollywood for years, but never in the numbers and detail that are being talked of now, and it is deeply upsetting to hear of these things happening. And they’ve been handled with seriousness and accountability, as careers have ended, people have been fired, shows have been cancelled, and strong measures have been taken to put a stop to it and support those who have been harmed. It’s all over the news at the moment. And it’s right that the perpetrators of these offenses have been made accountable for their actions. It’s also deeply saddening to hear how many people have been impacted by it, and how upsetting it must have been to them, both male and female victims, though it appears to be mostly women who have been singled out for these abuses, and have remained silent for many years. The victims are often very young people, whose lives must have been changed by it. Being the victim of sexual abuse is upsetting whatever your gender, and at every age. And in every case, there has been an abuse of some kind of power, and spoken or unspoken intimidation, along with humiliating acts.

Luckily for me, I haven’t experienced abuse of that kind professionally in publishing, and have been respectfully treated by the people I deal with. I did have an unpleasant experience on a television show several years ago, which was not sexually inappropriate, but personally embarrassing, and have shied away from that particular show since then, and chose never to appear on it again. As a ‘celebrity’ and well known public figure, these things can happen in interviews, where someone humiliates you for entertainment. And as a person with a real life and children, it is painful nonetheless when I get put on the spot, embarrassed, or have the spotlight put on me in an unflattering light, with millions watching. No one enjoys that, and I didn’t either. You can’t defend yourself adequately publicly if an interviewer puts an embarrassing and unfair spin on things, there isn’t time, you’re at a disadvantage, and it can be very humiliating. There are also some truly wonderful interviewers, like Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, and I have enjoyed and felt privileged during every interview with her. It’s an honor and a pleasure to be on the show with her. And she more than makes up for any bad ones. I love being interviewed by her.

I did have one bad experience several years ago, which involved both abuse of power, and sexually inappropriate suggestions and innuendoes. It took me completely by surprise, and was a frightening and very unpleasant experience. It happened when I came through US Customs, returning to the US from Europe. A customs officer led me into a small private office, supposedly to figure out the amount I owed for duty for what I had purchased in Europe. I had done that many times, and assumed that being taken to the private office was a form of VIP treatment speed up the process of figuring out the duty I owed. What I got instead were verbal suggestions for sexually inappropriate behaviour on the officer’s part, and sexual innuendo. I was so shocked that I was frozen on the spot for a minute, with no idea how to react or respond. I’m a grown woman, calm in most situations, but I felt totally at the mercy of the officer, and all I could think of was that if I did or said the wrong things, or reported it, the officer could retaliate. Customs is a powerful authority. He also made a point of telling me that he knew where I was staying in the city (it was on the customs form), and could show up there any time to find me if he wanted to. I was terrified, and verbally rebuffed as politely as possible his inappropriate suggestions, suffered the indignity of more of the same for a few minutes, and realizing that I was not going to cooperate or be a willing participant, he let me walk out of the office, but I was badly shaken. Nothing like it had ever happened to me, and the idea that he might show up at my hotel that night was terrifying. We like to think we’d be cool in a situation like that, but I wasn’t. I was literally shaking, seriously frightened, and felt totally vulnerable. I told a representative of the airline, who was shocked too, and after paying the duty I owed, I left the airport and called two of my attorneys when I got to my hotel. My male attorney wanted me to report it officially and bring charges against the officer, and my female attorney urged me to remain silent, and was as afraid as I was of some form of retaliation (is that our typical female reaction?? that something even worse will happen if we ‘tell on a sexual predator’?). What if he tried to get even with me, and do something even worse than verbal sexual abuse if I reported him? Both my attorneys were shocked, and after several days, thinking about it, I decided not to bring charges against him. It also shocked me that he would be so bold as to accost a ‘celebrity’ with sexual propositions, in the crudest possible way. He didn’t seem concerned at all by any consequences. The power was all on his side, and whether accurate or not, I felt helpless. That feeling of helplessness was deeply depressing, and I was upset about the incident for months, and frightened that I would run into him again when I came through customs, which I do frequently since I commute to Europe. My male attorney advised me to refuse to enter a private room with him without a female officer present (which I think is the rule anyway), if I ran into him again. But the incident haunted me, and the memory of how vulnerable I had felt. I kept thinking too of what it would be like if he did the same thing to a young girl, who would feel even more helpless than I did—or if he did it to one of my daughters? The thought of it outraged me, but for myself I felt mostly shame that he had singled me out for his inappropriate behaviour. It was all very upsetting. Being famous was no protection—instead it made me feel even more vulnerable. What if I reported it and he denied the accusation, and turned it on me somehow? It would be his word against mine, and he had all the power. The thought of that in the press concerned me too. And in the end, I did nothing about it.

Several months later, while waiting for my bags at the same airport, I saw a customs officer I had seen and chatted with many times before, a kind man who had always been helpful and appropriate, and I told him of the incident in confidence. He urged me to report it officially, and I told him that I was too afraid of some kind of retaliation to do so. Within a day or two of my telling him, he had told his superiors, and I was contacted by the bureau of Internal Affairs for US Customs, and two officers spoke to me, and urged me to file a report on the incident, and I told them why I wouldn’t. On my next flight into the States, they were waiting for me, and again tried to convince me to file a report. They were very kind, but I admitted to them that I was just too frightened to do so, and didn’t want to cause a public scene. They had spoken to him, but they could do nothing, unless I filed a report officially. I spoke to them several times, but I never did report it. I was too afraid of retaliation on the officer’s part if I did. (And I only saw the officer in question once about a year later, and he seemed nervous, but didn’t repeat what he’d done before. I was shaken to the core seeing him again, afraid he would try the same thing again, but he didn’t.)

It makes me realize now how courageous these women are who are coming forward to report the abuse that they suffered. It takes far more courage than most people realize to step forward and speak up. More and more victims are doing so now—-and it even gave me the courage to report this incident to you. It gave me a small taste and understanding of what these victims have gone through, and a deep respect for how brave they are now in speaking up, even long after the abuses happened. And the authorities in these cases are acting appropriately and taking firm, definitive punitive action against the perpetrators. You can’t undo the harm done to the victims, but at least justice is being served in very serious ways.

After my one small experience in this vein, I salute the courage of the victims who have come forward. And with each one who does, another person is given the courage to speak up too. Women today are much braver about speaking up, and feel at last that they have the right to do so, without being ignored or ridiculed, without fear of retaliation. It is a brave new day, and I hope that seeing their abusers punished makes all the victims, male and female, feel validated, avenged, and safe at last. The victims have a voice now, and the whole world hears them loud and clear. It’s a powerful message to us all.

Have a great week as the holidays approach.

with much love, Danielle

6/20/16, Dreams

Posted on June 20, 2016

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a great week, and that some really nice things happened to you this week. We can all use that, to give us a boost, even something small, a nice moment, something that makes us smile, or some piece of really good news.

I’ve been somewhat pensive, and quiet, in the almost two weeks since the passing of my ex-husband Tom. It’s a sad event for those of us who knew and loved and admired him, but he had an extraordinary life, a truly great life, and I think he got to do everything he wanted to do, and more. He lived to be a great age, and had opportunities and experiences few people have. He once went to Antarctica for several months on one of his boats—-(I stayed home!!! I would pay money, serious money, NOT to be on a sailboat, dodging icebergs in the dead of winter. He loved it, I would have hated it, so I didn’t go. But what an amazing experience for him, and the photos he brought back were fabulous!!). For those of us left behind when someone we love passes on, we are left with memories, the loose ends to tie up in our minds, and some introspection about their impact on our lives. So I have been quiet and reflective.

I’ve seen some close friends for lunch, and really enjoyed their company. And I had dinner at the home of good friends a few days ago. The wife is Japanese, so there were a number of Japanese people there, which was interesting, and nice to meet them. One of the couples had brought their nephew to dinner. He looked to be somewhere in his late twenties, was a biologist, and was leaving soon for a 6 month research project in Finland, so it was interesting talking to him. And at some point in the conversation, despite his youth, he said something that really caught my attention. He said that “You’re not old until your dreams become regrets”. Wow!! That is a very deep, and very true thought. No matter how old we are, we still have dreams, we ALL have dreams, or we should. Things we’ve always wanted to do, haven’t gotten to yet, and hope to get to one day. Some of it may not be realistic: Winning Miss Universe or Miss America at 55 or 65 or 70 is not likely to happen, you may have missed the boat on that. Or climbing Mount Everest. That could be sketchy too. But going somewhere that is actually feasible, traveling somewhere, building something, learning a language—-taking classes of some kind, or even writing a book. There’s no limit to what we can do—there may be some limits, but in many cases, we can fulfill at least some of our dreams. Some people even find their soul mate late in life. And bitterness and regret is not unique to old age. Some people give up on their dreams early, and shouldn’t. One of my favorite role models is an 88 year old friend of mine in New York. She is still working as an interior designer, takes classes to learn something new, goes to a book club, the theater, and sees nearly every movie and reads every book that comes out. She is still learning things at 88. She is a knock out, and so much fun. She is a living example to me of how I want to be when I’m her age, full of life, and busy, and still growing and doing, and fully alive. And obviously, good health helps.

I try to keep track of what my goals are every few years, and what I want to do. I try to keep track of it so those dreams don’t slip away. It’s easy to put our dreams away, and get bogged down in the every day. And sometimes I achieve those goals better than others. But I thought that what that young man said was so true….that you’re not old until your dreams turn into regrets (about what you didn’t do). It was a good wake up call for me, and I wanted to share it with you.

What are YOUR dreams? What do you want to do, that you haven’t gotten around to yet? It’s good to think about it from time to time. I have a rock on my desk with a saying carved on it, “It’s Never too late”. And another one that says “Follow your dreams”. It’s not too late for you to meet the right person, to take a class you’ve always wanted to take, to learn a language, learn to cook, take a writing class, a dancing class, to get in shape, to make new friends. I think that’s how people do stay young, interested and interesting, by opening new doors and windows, learning new things, even small things, and hanging onto those dreams.

It was a good reminder hearing that, and maybe for you too. Take good care, and have some fun! We all need it, a good belly laugh from time to time, and even just a warm moment with a friend. Have a terrific week!!

love, Danielle

2/23/15, Moving Around

Posted on February 23, 2015

Hi Everyone,

I hope last week was a good week for you, and that you got a day off for President’s Day and had a long weekend. I used the day off (my office was closed) to do some travelling, and I am definitely moving around these days. Last week, I visited a new city, Seattle, to meet two of the big distributors of my books, Costco and Amazon, as I told you in last week’s blog. This week, I spent the whole week in a city I know well, and always love: L.A. I had meetings for some very interesting possible new projects, and this seemed like a good time to explore them, between books, so I went to LA for the week. San Franciscans are often snobbish about LA, but I love it, and always have a great time there. For one thing, I left Paris in a snowstorm two weeks ago, landed in New York in freezing weather between two snowstorms, and the weather has been below zero in New York for weeks now. The weather in San Francisco has been nicer than usual for this time of year but not summer, and Seattle was gray and chilly while I was there. I hopped my bus, which is a fun and easy way to travel—I’ve had a rock star bus for 20 years, which was a fantastic way to travel when my kids were younger. Herding 9 kids and all their equipment onto airplanes got complicated and when I had to go to LA for business regularly, when I was making the TV movies (and always took the kids to LA with me). The bus was terrific for all of us then, with comfortable couches and seats, a kitchen and a bathroom. I still use it whenever I have to go to LA, or for trips to the mountains. I can walk around, eat, sleep,work, go barefoot, and do whatever I want. So I got on the bus in San Francisco last Monday, and five and a half hours later, I was in LA, in gorgeous sunny weather, hovering around eighty degrees. It felt like summer, sheer Heaven. It was so wonderful to be in warm weather, and escape wintry cities for a few days. (I felt guilty toward my New York friends, who keep telling me how cold it is with bone-chilling temperatures).

I have new dramatic agents in LA (dramatic agents handle movies and TV, as opposed to my literary agent, who handles my books). And it was exciting spending time with them, getting to know them, and meeting the people they thought I should meet. It was a VERY exciting week, spent mostly on business, and tossing around some ideas. LA is a vibrant city, where much of the business activity centers around the entertainment industry, and if you’re even remotely related to it, it’s exciting and fun. People are busy, working hard, doing interesting creative projects and the names of famous actors, actresses and directors are bandied around like old friends. And even for someone on the fringe of that world as I am (I did 21 movies for TV, based on my books, 20 years ago, and they still show on TV from time to time around the world), the excitement of that milieu is contagious. And last week was particularly exciting in that business, with the Academy Awards only days away. I had a wonderful time meeting people involved in the business, and those who produce everyone’s favorite TV shows and series. TV Series have become one of the most popular forms of entertainment, and everyone seems to be addicted to one show or another. The series I LOVE is Downton Abbey, and have been in love with it for five seasons now. And they say that next year will be the last season!!! (And before it ends, I hope they tie up all the loose ends just the way I want. I email with several friends who also love the show, and we all have our wish list of what should happen next. I love so much about that show: the characters, the script, the touching moments, the dramas, the funny comments, how well written it is, and the fabulous authentic costumes of the period (1924 right now, it started in 1912, with gorgeous costumes), and even the hairdos are fascinating and true to the times. An incredible amount of meticulous research must go into that show. And when I turn it on, I feel like I’m visiting old friends, after 5 years of devotion to them. Sometimes, when I have a bad day, I watch a favorite episode to cheer me up!!) Being around creative people, involved in creating TV shows and movies is always invigorating. So I thoroughly enjoyed my week in LA, the people I met, the meetings I attended, and my new film and TV agents treated me like royalty. I told them that I felt like Cinderella at the Ball. When no one is spoiling me this week, I will feel like Cinderella after the coach turned back into a pumpkin and the coachmen into 6 white mice!! I’ll be back in my cozy old cashmere nightgown (with the holes in it), at my typewriter at my desk. I won’t be meeting any new creative people, the weather will probably be foggy and gloomy, and no one will be squiring me around!!! Back to real life. LA always has an unreal/movie quality to it, and going back home afterwards is always something of a jolt. But I sure had fun while I was there, and my agents were incredibly kind to me, and even took me to dinner twice. They are both wonderful people, and I really enjoyed their company and discovering their world. They’re terrific, and are already two new friends, and it was a pleasure working with them, and their abundance of ideas.

So it’s been a very lively two weeks for me, ‘out in the world’, and now I have work to do, a set of galleys to edit (the last stage before a book goes to the printer, and my last chance to change anything that needs correcting), and I have an audio script to correct for one of my books to be read on CD. (I have to pick the actor’s voice for that too). And I’ll have to deal with everything that piled up on my desk while I was in LA. But what a fun week it was, definitely a Cinderella experience!!…..and now back to real life. Have a great week!!

love, Danielle

PS. AND DON’T FORGET THAT MY NEW BOOK “PRODIGAL SON” COMES OUT IN HARDCOVER TOMORROW!!! As the publisher says, “it’s a novel of suspicion, betrayal, and suspense”. It’s full of doubts and questions, and the mystery as to who is good and who is evil, with two men who are twins as the main characters, and all the people and complications in their lives. It’s an exciting book, and I worked hard on it. I hope you love it, and have a chance to read it soon!!! love, D.

Filed Under Travel, Writing | 7 Comments

11/13/14, Whirlwind

Posted on November 13, 2014

Hi Everyone,

Whew, whirling dervish time in my life. This has been one of those ‘transitional’ weeks when I run through three cities in two countries all in a matter of four days. And sometimes the transition is gentler than others. And it requires a different mindset and attitude in every country and city, depending on the life I live there. But each city has its own characteristics and pace, some speedier or slower than others.

At the end of last week, I left my quiet, friendly relaxing life in Paris, having lunches and dinners with friends, and headed for New York. Usually I see my children there, but this time in addition, I spent most of one day in very interesting meetings with my publishers, making future plans. The meetings were serious and fun, with both my American literary agent, and the agent who handles my foreign sales, the Chairman of my publishing house, the President and CEO, the heads of marketing and publicity, the woman who handles social media, and another who deals with the distribution of the books. Ordinarily, as most writers do, I work in solitary silence, alone at home, and in cities that are each three thousand miles from New York, which is the hub of literary activity and publishing. So to be in the midst of all the excitement and activity at my publisher’s was a BIG change. And after the meetings, we all went to lunch. And then I met up with my daughters. But it was a day of intense activity and work focused on my publishing life and future books for most of the day. We shared a lot of information and some very good plans.

I had dinner with my daughters that night, and again on Saturday and also spent the day with them, and on Sunday I flew back to San Francisco, to unpack, settle in and get ready for some family time in a few weeks. And by Monday of this week, after catching up at my desk, I moved my things out of my beach house that I’ve told you about, since the house was sold. So I apologize for the delay getting my blog up this week, but you can see what I’ve been up to, and there just was no time to write once I got home.

I was startled by how hard it was to let go of my beach house, because I love it, but it’s going to people who are thrilled and love it, so it feels right, even if bittersweet for me to let it go. I had dinner with one son, and before that with three of my daughters in New York.

The week has whizzed by and the holidays are approaching. And hopefully now things will slow down a little, at least for a few days.

Have a great rest of the week,
love, danielle