Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

9/14/21, Old Friends, New Friends

Posted on September 14, 2021

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re doing well, the Fall is off to a good start, that the summer brought you some fun and relaxation, time to just forget all your problems and do things you enjoy, and now the kids are back in school, you’re back at work, and I hope you’re busy with some exciting projects and plans. And in many places, countries and cities, the acute phase of the Covid crisis is easing a little, due to vaccines, masks, and sensible practices that have become routine for us, and are easy to maintain.

 

In many, many cases, these long Covid months have separated us from people we love, and want to spend time with. I was separated from my children by an ocean and a continent, and the fallout and dangers of Covid 19 for fifteen very long months. With restrictions, curfews (at 6pm in Paris for a while), and lockdowns, my world and my social life dwindled to nothing, and is still very limited, in terms of who I see, and how much I go out, and only outdoor dining. Many people are still not back in their offices, and are working remotely, people have moved away from the cities where they lived and worked before the pandemic, so there seem to be fewer people in our lives. There are also fewer social activities and opportunities to meet new people with reduced social lives, but in spite of that I have been struck by renewed contracts with people I haven’t heard from in a long time, who suddenly surfaced to inquire how I am. And by sheer happenstance, I have connected with new friends who are a real gift in my life, and were totally unexpected. Unexpected romances and relationships have started in the same way too for many people. Life does go on, even if temporarily on hold and different than it was before.

 

Work, professional activities and our jobs still bring us into contact with new people, even if only on line. Particularly in the creative fields, we are all starving for contact with other humans and experiences, which we need to fuel our inspiration to create, whether it be music, art, design, or literary. Every artist, designer, or writer I have spoken to is suffering from their diminished opportunities for inspiration from a broader world. I struggle with it myself, my life is much quieter and more isolated than it was before Covid. We are all anxious for that to improve, whether creative or not, but I think people in the arts are really feeling the lack of daily stimuli.

 

The flip side of that quiet coin is that we are doing less in the world, in order to be careful and mindful of Covid. Every day requires decisions from us of what is worth the risk, and how much. It’s a movable marker that changes day by day. And I certainly see fewer people, and do fewer things outside my home now, in order to be responsible. With fewer activities, I have written more, but I also have more time to reach out to people I know, on line, or respond to people who’ve reached out to me, whom I might not have taken the time to correspond with before. But with a little more time, and hungry for that human contact, I’ve been more open to new connections, which in some cases have turned out to be a real blessing in my life, and enrich it immeasurably. It’s particularly fun to ‘meet’ other creatives, in a variety of fields. And I’ve met all of them by accident because of Covid, so the experience hasn’t been all bad, and some of my already existing friendships have deepened in the stressful war-time atmosphere that has impacted us all.

 

At the beginning of the pandemic, a museum in another country contacted me, with time on their hands too, they had gone through their archives to ‘clean house” and discovered that my grandfather had loaned them a small painting for an exhibit many years ago, which somehow got forgotten, never got returned, and was still at the museum. My grandfather had died shortly after, no one knew about the loaned painting, and they never claimed it. It wasn’t valuable, but it belonged to his heirs, which was me. They contacted me and offered to return it to me. I didn’t fall in love with the painting when they sent me a photo of it, and decided to donate it to the museum since it had already been there for years. They were very pleased and the curator who had made contact is a lovely woman, and we’ve had a wonderful correspondence that has gone on for a year. In non-covid times, I would never have taken the time to get to know her. Buried under mountains of work, meeting deadlines, travelling constantly to see my kids, I would have made a fast decision about the painting and let it go at that. Working from home, the curator had time too that she wouldn’t have had otherwise. It has been a lovely exchange now for a year, and we hope to meet one day.

 

And I did a crazy thing, during one of the lonely lockdowns in France. My favorite series cheered me late at night when I was anxious and lonely. One of them is a British show that I have loved for years. The sound of the actors’ familiar voices was comforting, alone in my apartment for 77 days. I did something I’ve never done before. I researched the woman who created it and writes the show, got her address from a friend who works in TV in London, and wrote the first fan letter I have ever written, to tell the writer how much the show has meant to me. I would NEVER have done that in normal times. But suddenly, living daily with a lot of anxiety and fear, we are more open and more vulnerable, more emotional, and aware of things we paid no attention to before. It had never occurred to me before to write to the creator of that show, although I’ve loved it for a decade and watch it faithfully. But suddenly, in the craziness of the pandemic, it seemed okay to reach out, so I did on a sudden impulse one night. Much to my astonishment, she answered me the next day, and she had been reading my books since her teens. We had a powerful mutual admiration for each other, had a million things in common, and she has become a fantastic friend, although we still haven’t met. Our birthdays are even one day apart. She writes me hysterically funny letters, and our shared view of the literary world and the world of TV has given us a lot of laughs. She is a kindred spirit, and I adore her. Wow!!! Imagine if I had never written to her. She is a huge gift in my life!!

 

And along the way, I did a collaboration with a young Irish fashion designer, whom I’ve admired for years, and presto magic a new mutual admiration was born, across miles and generations. We did a podcast together, and the collaboration was a wonderful experience!!! Right there, I had three new friends, without ever leaving my house or meeting them. And then a fourth, an artist in Germany sent me a pastel portrait of my late son Nick as a gift (because she had spare time too), which really touched my heart, and we have corresponded too. She is incredibly talented and a lovely person, and she is currently working on a project for me, that I plan to give my children at Christmas.

 

And in addition to that, an artist in San Francisco whom I have admired for years, but haven’t seen in a long time, reached out to me. I have many many of his paintings in my home, but we had lost touch. He wrote to me out of the blue, and said what a hard time he was having painting in the pandemic, and what a challenge it was to create in a vacuum, isolated from people and the world as we know it. I answered immediately and shared that it was hard for me too. (All the people in the arts who have written to me have said the same). I shared my own experiences with him by email, and the exchange helped both of us, and inspired us. I was SO happy to have heard from him, and so grateful that he’d written to me.

 

So even though we are alone more, and spend more time at home, and the pandemic has been isolating for many people, even most people,—-flowers pop up through the snow and ice, and bring spring back into our lives in the frozen winter we have lived for eighteen months. Email has certainly helped us reach out to others, this would all be a lot worse without it. (I accidentally spilled a glass of water into my computer a week ago, and I panicked at the loss of contact for 3 days. The internet is a huge blessing right now, and keeps us connected to others and the broader world.)

 

I am so grateful for these friendships that have appeared, flourished, and the old ones that have survived or been reborn. we are social animals and need other humans, but in the midst of the silence, the darkness and at times the loneliness, some wonderful friendships (and even romances) are born. And I am SOOOO grateful for that, and for the old and new friends in my life.  And I am certain that these friendships will last much longer than Covid, and be stronger than they would have been, because of it. So some good has come of the challenges of the Covid crisis after all!!!Have a wonderful week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

7/19/21, Storm Warning

Posted on July 19, 2021

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope all is well with you, and you are enjoying the summer and getting some time off to relax.

 

I’m in both France and the US this summer, and I am growing concerned. When recently in New York in June, there was a vast fiesta atmosphere, with everyone immensely relieved that the restrictions were literally gone, and due to vaccines, the Covid numbers were lower. I found myself in stores, outdoor restaurants, and elevators, in huge crowds, body to body, people shouting, talking, drinking, no masks, no distancing as though Covid had never existed. It made me nervous.

 

When I got back to France, the numbers were greatly improved from before, although the vaccine rate was low, and people were still being careful. Outdoor dining, masks, there was an atmosphere of cautious enthusiasm, but still awareness. And among young people, total freedom and no caution at all, crowded restaurants and bars, lots of kissing and hugging, a party atmosphere in the streets. Last year, before the vaccine, the complete disregard of rules caused a huge surge of the Covid numbers and landed us back in Confinement, with high numbers and a lot of people sick, which was definitely not fun.

 

In the last week, due to the Delta variant, the numbers are sharply on the rise in every country globally. The UK which was the most vaccinated now has a huge surge and the worst numbers in Europe. Spain and Portugal are right behind them. Israel who vaccinated everyone has high numbers again. Australia. The numbers in the US have gone up, and in France, Italy, Germany. It is discouraging without question. We thought we were well out of it, and it turns out that we aren’t. Medical advice is that even vaccinated people need to be careful, even if the risk of death is lower for them. Even vaccinated people can still get Covid, though hopefully less severely. And neither the US nor France have achieved herd immunity, although heavily vaxed.

 

The French president, Emanuel Macron made a televised plea to citizens this week, to be more careful, to still follow rules, wear masks, distance. It is not over yet. The medical experts in the US have said the same. The numbers in Europe have doubled daily for the past week. The Delta variant is said to be 3 to 6 times more contagious. The President said that if we don’t stop this sudden surge by our behaviours, we are going to be in a worse place a month from now than in the entire pandemic. It’s a wake up call, for all of us. To be careful. We are not out of the woods yet. We still have to walk before we can run, and be careful.

 

I know that in the US, the wearing of masks has strong political connotations, which doesn’t make sense to me.

 

Whether or not people get vaccinated is a personal decision, dependent on their health, their pathologies, or even allergies. But whether or not people are vaccinated, we can all be careful, and mindful that Covid is not gone yet, in fact is getting stronger again with this variant.

 

The very simple bottom line for me is that I don’t want to get sick, I don’t want my kids to get sick. I don’t want YOU to get sick. And I would like all of us to reach a point of health and safety, where going to the grocery store, or a restaurant, or walking down the street is no longer a life-threatening risk. It may mean not being as close to others on the beach this summer, or not being in a crowded bar, or not going to a nightclub. But I would love all of us to be careful enough, and sensible enough that in time, we can do whatever we want, and live normally again without risk.   And I really don’t want to spend another year in and out of lockdown.

 

I just hope we will all be safe and sensible this summer, for just a little longer.  Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

7/5/21, Coming back to Life

Posted on July 5, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

love, Danielle

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

5/17/21, To Mask or Not To Mask

Posted on May 17, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week. I’ve been adjusting to re-entry into a previously familiar world, and a certain degree of culture shock after being away for a long time. And to make matters more confusing, there have been differences for the past year between what Covid protocols should be followed, between Europe and the US, between European countries, and between states and cities in the US. There are differences of opinions about what is safe and what isn’t, and sometimes contradictions between suggestions, rules and laws. At first we were all told that masks were unnecessary, don’t bother with them, (both in the US and in Europe) and then country by country, scientists and governments decided that masks were essential, and one of the most most important tools we had to stay safe and stop the spread of the virus, particularly now with a multitude of variants from around the world. Masks even became a political issue in the US. Most of us have been wearing them for a year, surgical masks, cloth masks, decorated masks, colorful ones, adult and children’s masks.

 

Last week, new pronouncements were made, saying that vaccinated people no longer needed to wear them, indoors or out. The news was met with a huge collective sigh of liberation by many people. No one is thrilled by having to wear a mask, but if it keeps us safe (and people around us), why not? Particularly if it keeps high risk people safe, it seems important to wear one. And doctors have said that wearing one is still crucial. But with many people vaccinated now, the rules are changing, and it sounds like vaccinated people will be able to live free of masks now. It sounds like a plus if it is truly safe.

 

I’m a little confused about it myself, and since I can’t get vaccinated (due to potentially fatal allergies), I do pay attention to the recommendations about masks, to protect myself, and others, whether loved ones or strangers. Doctors seem to agree that there are many things we don’t know both about the vaccine and the virus itself, and they continue to learn more every day. And possibly it won’t be until after the pandemic is over that we will really be able to figure out what helped and what didn’t. But from everything we know now, masks are still very important, particularly in crowded public places, like airports, public transportation, and even stadiums. As things open up more and more, and we get back normal life, it’s important to know if masks are still important. It sounds like they are, for now.

 

From what I understand, among ALL vaccinated people, they can start to put away their masks now. And for people who haven’t had the vaccine, masks are VERY important to protect themselves and others. And to a certain degree, among the vaccinated, it will become a matter of choice, as to how comfortable they feel now not wearing a mask. But it is a small step to freedom, and an important one.

 

We’ve all gotten used to wearing masks now. It isn’t a lot to ask. And since I’m not vaccinated, I will continue wearing mine, except when I’m outdoors, with reasonable social distancing and precautions. According to everything the scientists say, masks make a BIG difference. So, with people I don’t know well, or at all, or people whose ideas about safety are different than mine, or in an airport, or on a plane, for now I will continue to wear a mask. And with those of my children who are not vaccinated, I will continue to wear a mask and social distance. Just to be on the safe side. And with friends and family who are vaccinated, and careful, I feel comfortable taking off my mask, especially outdoors or with fresh air circulating.

 

I guess things will get clearer and clearer as time goes on!!!

 

Have a GREAT week, with lots of good news, and some fun.

 

love, Danielle

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

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