Book Writing Continues as Day-Job Resumes

The Writer on the Move at Vancouver's Bike-Friendly Cafe

The Writer on the Move at Vancouver’s Bike-Friendly Cafe

The final week of my 3-month Book Writing Tour 2013 concludes with me writing at Musette, my Vancouver neighbourhood bike-friendly café. Inspired by my Parisian café and Torontonian coffee shop writing experiences, I trial this tradition in my hometown as well. Also before concluding, the latest iTouch drama of my Book Writing Tour 2013 – that is: the mysterious disappearance of my crucial historical Calendar entries, which I reported in my Decidedly Foodie Return to Vancouver story – gets somehow resolved…though I now have 2 copies of each of those entries on my iTouch and no Apple technical support to assist with resolving that glitch. I am once more reminded that, sometimes, you just need to accept imperfections!

With the following week’s return to regularly scheduled programming at my paid day-job with NRCan, I reduce the frequency of my story posts here. My current goal is to post bi-weekly stories, with the intention of having this external motivator to keep me living my life as I transform my past into a useful and publicly sharable tale. Ideally, this frequency will allow a good balance between my book writing and my storytelling about parts of my writing process.

Travel-Inspired Homemade Mojito

Travel-Inspired Homemade Mojito

I now resume my various routines in earnest. My weekday morning smoothie ritual of fruit-protein-and-a-green-veggie is once again complemented by my weekly juicing of carrots and ginger, with a mix of beet, apple, cucumber, spinach or kale, and red pepper added in turn into the vitamin-rich rotation. A new addition to my homemade drink preparation is the delicious and somewhat healthy, travel-inspired Mojito, in which Jamaican Rum instead of white rum greets some organic sugar, soda water, and fresh lime juice and mint. While fresh produce abounds at the downtown farmers market during the summer months, I work into my weekly routine a Saturday morning stroll there through “my secret garden” passageway. I manage, also, to keep up with my twice-weekly Pilates classes at the nearby YMCA in order to keep strengthening my core to give my wiggly body some added stability, along with gaining other physical and mental health benefits. I practice using my strengthened core posture while cycling to the monthly Pacific Mobile Recycling Depot with my unmarked plastics and other materials, like almond milk cartons, that are not currently recyclable through the municipal recycling collection system.

While I continue deliberating the intensity with which I will continue improving my French in the foreseeable future, I take advantage of 3 conversational French opportunities in the past week. I drop in at 2 Vancouver French Meetup events, which both happen to be a little before and on the way to the writing events I participate in that week. I also reconnect with my new Parisienne friend for language exchange practicum, which we started after meeting at one of these French Meetup events I frequented in preparation for the Paris portion of my Book Writing Tour 2013. Perhaps I will return to France some day in my reincarnation as a full-time writer… We all need dreams, and it is wonderful when we can come up with some – and think that there is even some possibility of attaining them.

Romeo and Juliet (With a Twist) Outdoor Theatre Performance

Romeo and Juliet (With a Twist) Outdoor Theatre Performance

To sustain my artistic soul, I take myself on several Artist Dates these past two weeks. A friend invites me to another outdoor Shakespearean performance, this time at Sunset Beach: “Romeo & Juliet” (also with a twist). Similar to the gender role twist in the Hamlet performance I related in Back in Undecidedly Sunny Vancouver, here both Romeo and Juliet are portrayed as women, played by women, in a story of love – one that “transcends sex, sexuality and gender.” Even classic stories can become fresh and relevant to current times when a twist is introduced.

As part of my Artist’Dates, I also attend 2 evening Summer Writes Lectures at the downtown campus of Simon Fraser University. The first one, “Going Places: A Writerly Perspective on Travel”, quite timely for my last week of my Book Writing Tour 2013 discusses how writing is a journey, and uses the excitement, uncertainty, and discovery of travel as metaphors for writing. From this Lecture – by short-story writer Marina Sonkina, originally from Russia and the Communist Block all too familiar to me from my childhood – I am reminded of the importance of humour in storytelling. The following week’s Lecture, “Personal Tales: How a Country Boy Became a Poet”, reminds how the places and physical objects that flit through or linger in our lives, shape us. In this Lecture, George Bowering – from the small BC town of Oliver – highlights how taking notice of the details distinguishes writers from non-writers, and speaks to me of the importance of being comfortable in one’s own skin.

The Summer Writes Lectures are accompanied by 4-hour writing Workshops conducted over 2 days, of which I take the one on “Personal Tales: Form and the Narrative Essay”. Invited to bring a physical object from our past to serve as a memory prompt, I narrate the forgotten story that the object commands be told. Only it works even more effectively than I expect, and the process of writing the narrative induces some surprise discoveries.

The Writer's Herb Garden at 3 Weeks

The Writer’s Herb Garden at 3 Weeks

Back at my apartment, my little herb garden – planted only three weeks earlier upon my being Back in Undecidedly Sunny Vancouver – is already nearing harvest. My cilantro, arugula and mesclun salad greens are reaching heights of up to 10cm. Though the days remain warm, the evenings are now getting chilly, so perhaps they will not grow much in size but will ripen even more in flavour.

The Writer Celebrating 16 Years in Vancouver with French Dinner

The Writer Celebrating 16 Years in Vancouver with French Dinner

My return to my day-job coincides with my celebrations of my 16th anniversary of coming to Vancouver. Only two weeks since celebrating my 29th anniversary of coming to Canada described in my Decidedly Foodie Return to Vancouver story, I don the same pretty Desigual dress – which I first feature in the London Calling story – and indulge in some rich French cuisine of French onion soup, truffled poutine, and crème brulée, at one of my favourite restaurants in Vancouver, the Franco-German: La Brasserie.

Iron-Rich Chicken Livers Dinner Salad

Iron-Rich Chicken Livers Dinner Salad

Additionally to my weekly Special Dish for the Week creations – of which I had 3 in the past two weeks: Fig and Green Peppercorn Soup, Spiced Swiss Chard with Butter Beans, Pineapple Shiitake Thai Curry with Shrimp and Chickpeas – into my other cooking, of late, enter dishes containing chicken livers along with other iron sources (like oatmeal in my smoothies) and iron supplements to counter the recently measured iron deficiency, which may be causing my ongoing fatigue and muscle weakness.

As I recount my writing-related endeavours and other life-affirming activities of the past two weeks, it all feels incredibly productive but a tad overwhelming. I feel my body is speaking up in mild protest this week, and I am listening. I will be taking it a little bit easier, and the upcoming long weekend – quite fittingly celebrating Labour Day – should help with that plan as well.

Back in Undecidedly Sunny Vancouver

The Writer's Vancouver Public Library Office

The Writer’s Vancouver Public Library Office

After hearing all the raving about record-breaking weeks of sunshine in Vancouver, rain and clouds greet me for a few days upon my return for 3 more weeks of the in-town portion of my Book Writing Tour 2013. And after spending a couple of days getting caught up on the more mundane tasks of life that sometimes unfortunately take precedence over writing, I settle back into my Tuesday and Friday Pilates classes routine at the YMCA, resume my Saturday morning farmers market circuit, and once again return to the Vancouver Public Library for some concerted writing time.

"Hamlet" (With a Twist) Outdoor Theatre Performance

“Hamlet” (With a Twist) Outdoor Theatre Performance

My first Artist Date back in Vancouver is an outdoor performance of Hamlet (with a twist) at Granville Island’s Carousel Theatre for Young People and its Teen Shakespeare Program. The twist involves my preferred portion of the colour palette: black & white costumes, in steampunk style, and reversed gender roles, with Hamlet being a girl and the queen dying instead of the king. In true Shakespearean fashion, though, and most reflective of life itself, everyone still dies in the end.

Tomato, Bocconcini and Red Wine Balcony Lunch

Tomato, Bocconcini and Red Wine Balcony Lunch

While enjoying my tri-coloured tomato, bocconcini, basil and cilantro salad and sipping a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon on my sunny balcony one afternoon, I am inspired to plant some new life around me in the herb containers that lay abound. I march over to the local artsy garden shop, where I get just a little over-ambitious. Picking up the 40L bag of topsoil as it is the same price as the 25L bag, I just barely drag the >20kg of dirt over the 2 blocks that it is to my apartment. It will be a few weeks till there is something to show from the planting effort.

Herb Garden Planting Contemplations Over Quinoa Salad and BBQ'd Salmon

Herb Garden Planting Contemplations Over Quinoa Salad and BBQ’d Salmon

While at the said artsy garden shop down on Hornby and Pacific, I make a stunning discovery: the Desigual brand has been getting sold here for nearly a year! I wondered when the fashion that I have been introduced to in Europe, and which I feature in the London Calling story stepping out of the distinctive red phone booth, would find its way to Vancouver!

Taking My Writing for a Bike Ride and Ice Cream to English Bay

Taking My Writing for a Bike Ride and Ice Cream to English Bay

With only 3 more weeks to go before returning to regularly scheduled programming at my paid job with NRCan, having spent more than a few days in transit and settling in over the course of my Book Writing Tour 2013, I try to play a little catch-up by writing on the BC Day Long Weekend. With the sunny weather enticing, one afternoon I take my writing on a bike ride and for some ice cream to the beach at English Bay.

I happily reconnect with my Developmental Editor by Skype once more, and with this 1-hour call, we resume our bi-weekly check-in and moral support sessions. This website’s blog has been a good surrogate for the last 2 months, though I am glad to have both now. Now that I will be more stationary and soon my writing time will be once again dramatically reduced, while I spend my days earning my keep at my day-job, I contemplate the frequency with which I will continue motivating myself to do interesting and inspirational things in order to keep myself writing and to have some fresh insights to post here. My weekly semi-public recounts of my writing efforts, motivations, and life experiences, from my travels throughout Europe and in Ontario during my Book Writing Tour 2013, have been very morally supportive and motivating for keeping my good and wanting moments in perspective.

I am also back with my Special Dish for the Week routine, and in keeping with the Watermelon theme, I make a Watermelon Curry.

From London to Ontario

Garden Dining in London

Garden Dining in London

During my last days in London, and the last days of the European leg of my Book Writing Tour 2013, my London host and I continue the daily morning smoothie and 3-minute Pilates routine, to feed the body, in preparation for feeding the mind with my Daily Morning Pages, weekly blog story posts, working through and writing down my life’s story, and reading some insights that others share about book writing and publishing from their own experiences. In the evenings, we complete the day with some rosé to feed the spirit. We gladly retreat back to our garden dining, after our all-you-can-eat sushi tradition gets us again, before I leave that continent once more.

The Writer in Brampton Garden During Toronto's Heatwave

The Writer in Brampton Garden During Toronto’s Heatwave

I land in the midst of a Toronto heatwave, with much relief after spending the 8-hour journey in frigid temperatures, with most passengers repeatedly complaining to the flight attendants, to no avail. At first, the 45ºC on the thermometer in the sun, and the 30ºC at bedtime, are welcoming. I try to do a little bit of work in the shade and among the vast greenery of my Mom’s Brampton garden, but quite quickly the heat overwhelms even me! I give in to nature, and for a couple of days, I simply visit with my Mom and Sister, going for slow walks, eating great Polish food, and engaging in many a chat, much of which assist me in sorting out my story.

Writers Collaborating in Toronto's West End Coffee Shop

Writers Collaborating in Toronto’s West End Coffee Shop

Even nature gets tired of the heat, and after a few massive thunder and wicked lightening storms, the post-thunderstorm cooling brings me to downtown Toronto for a week-long writers retreat visit with my fellow writer and Toronto hostess. There, I join Melissa in a few of her daily writing and creativity-boosting rituals. She invites me to her early morning coffee shop sessions of writing, drawing and connecting with other local artists. I get a weekly guest-pass and we expand her yoga routine to include Pilates at the local YMCA, also down the street like mine in Vancouver. Throughout the day, we exchange tips on writing habits, software programs, and helpful internet resources. Our joint feedback sessions and collaborations are interspersed with creative alone-time as we migrate with our laptops and sketchpads throughout her lovely artist’s home and garden.

The Writer's Garden Lunch

The Writer’s Garden Lunch

We make smoothies for breakfast and fabulous salads of kale and quinoa for dinner. I excitedly get to try out her stylish bright red Vitamix – the most renowned and coveted blender among vegans, raw-foodies, and most soup chefs, alike. The sweet yet spicy Watermelon Gazpacho soup tastes even better the next day for a mid-morning snack, once the flavours have had the time to infuse together. These dishes are supplemented by various goodies from my Mom’s garden and oven in the care package with which she sent me off to Toronto. All quite spontaneously, I meet several close friends of my Toronto hostess, and reconnect once more in-person with another long-time friend who is very supportive of me and my efforts.

The Writer at Toronto’s Kensington Market

The Writer at Toronto’s Kensington Market

My impressions of Toronto as a land of BBQs, cottage-getaways, and urban sprawl are slightly augmented by the highly multi-cultural Kensington Market area we lunch and shop for groceries at, and the diverse and livable West End where I am staying. This area is very close to the Polish community of Roncesvalles that was one of my first homes around Toronto as a kid when I first came to Canada. I look forward to possibly trying out the Toronto Bixi bike share, as I patiently await its installation in Vancouver, hopefully as soon as next spring!

London Calling

The Writer's Garden Office

The Writer’s Garden Office

Things are a little different for me in London this time: it is finally warm here when I visit for once! Most days, I work from the garden office and enjoy my super salad lunches while sipping a glass of rose. My writing is going a little slower after my mini-holiday, and I am also at another challenging spot in my story: What really happened, and how did that actually shape what happened after that? Is what I now say really true, and will it still be true for me 5 years from now? It feels that writing down your past for others to partake in, and possibly dissect, requires a certain commitment to your own truths. I am reminded of one of my favourite quotes, by Margaret Laurence: “A popular misconception is that we can’t change the past – everyone is constantly changing their own past, recalling it, revising it.” I must keep reminding myself that a book, whether auto-biographical, historical, or otherwise, is but a snapshot in time of someone’s interpretation of their truth.

Super Salad and Rose Lunch

Super Salad and Rose Lunch

My London Cycle, The Viking Prelude

My London Cycle, The Viking Prelude

I am now, for a while, back in the land of the daily breakfast smoothie and 3-minute Pilates routine, brilliant public transport (for the able-bodied, anyway), and a pub at least on every other corner. I am also, briefly, reunited with my second love: my London cycle, the Viking Prelude. Life is better from behind the handlebars, I once said to a friend, and it still feels true today. My favourite images of people on bicycles that I have seen on my various travels are the 50-something ladies, smartly dressed in skirts or jeans, swinging their high-heeled foot off their bicycle as they slow down to park; the mothers and fathers with one, two or a bucket-full-of-kids mounted onto their bicycles; and the (usually) elder men cycling blissfully with a cane attached to their bicycle frame for when they must walk. It is visions like these in most countries I have travelled to, that inspire in me the “live as you are” feeling.

Artistic inspirations surround me here. On our walks around town, my London host and I get artsy with the street art (and a little Photoshopping afterwards).

Artists' Walk

Artists’ Walk

Ballet Inspiration

Ballet Inspiration

I find additional inspiration from the Billy Elliot and Spamalot musicals. The latter was even more goofy than the Monty Python movie version, but the former was quite breath-taking and moving – as many sniffles and sounds of search for tissue from the audience can attest to. The elegance of movement of the ballet prodigy has given me some fresh ideas. This lead child-actor was superb to watch. Bravo!

My tech-savvy London host equips me with a few more book writing and reading gadgets to try out during my stay. The handheld iPod Touch (iTouch) picks up the wireless keyboard via Bluetooth as a possible on-the-go writing option… I test out reading an ebook on the iPad Kindle app as a possible book publication format… I am amazed by all this technology that I barely understand, and I think I can increasingly relate to the generations that came before me. Various friends advise me of links to potentially useful blogs written by others about writing and publishing a book. It is incredibly supportive. Sometimes I have trouble keeping up with what helpful words of wisdom and interesting experiences others may have to share, and this, too, helps me better relate to the readers (or would-be-readers) of my stories on this website.

London Calling Phonebooth Pose

London Calling Phonebooth Pose

When feeling nostalgic about the past, and a little sad about a current plan ending, it is advisable to start making a new one. This wisdom was prompted by a timely invitation that I received from the Vancouver Writers’ Meetup Group. As I wind down my Book Writing Tour 2013, with one more 12-day stop in Ontario before I return home for my 3-week finale, it heartens me a little to know that I have a weekend writing retreat in September to look forward to in Vancouver. With both London and Vancouver calling, I remain forever with “One Foot in Europe”.

And in Europe is where I celebrated my 4th anniversary of my possibly life-saving, or at least life-prolonging, surgery of 2009. Unlike in previous years, instead of hosting a potluck open-house for caring friends and acquaintances on a Sunday afternoon around July 14th, I spent the day having a relaxing garden breakfast, cycling around London, acquiring a very pretty designer-style summer dress, and making Beet Bourguignon with Lentils and Brown Rice – all with a good friend here. With this very special adaptation of the better known beef bourguignon, I am now back on track with the Special Dish for the Week. With my London host, we also made a mid-week dish of another Tomato, Cardamom, Chickpea and Coconut Sauce over Spelt Pasta.

À Bientôt, Paris! Moin Hamburg!

The final week of the Parisian stop on Book Writing Tour begins with a second Pilates en français class, to exercise the body, the mind, and together, the spirit. My Artist Date this week, while not quite alone amongst friends of my Parisian host, is nonetheless a relatively solitary artist-nurturing experience consisting of three solid hours of four theatre performances – entirely in French! A midnight Vélib bike-share ride home is the day’s welcomed mind-clearing finale.

French Cafe Lunch with Parisian Writer Colleague

French Cafe Lunch with Parisian Writer Colleague

Writing, though, need not always be an entirely solitary activity. Collaboration and mutual support with other writers is highly beneficial and recommended, particularly over a tasty meal of French onion soup, mixed salad, and dessert crepe, in a typical Parisian café, on the odd sunny summer afternoon. This is where Maria and I meet for the second time, to share our biographical writing experiences. It presents an opportunity to share my story of how I came to be working with my Developmental Editor.

Taking advantage of a rare sunny day, I return for my morning writing to the little park by a church on rue Mouffetard, where I wrote on my first writing day in Paris. I slowly begin to say my au revoirs to Paris.

Jardin du Luxembourg - A Writer's Haven

Jardin du Luxembourg – A Writer’s Haven

Still intermittently sunny in the afternoon, I grab a small picnic on the way to le Jardin du Luxemburg, on the Vélib bike-share, of course. This garden park is the working artist’s haven, with visual inspiration abound in the statues, the flower beds, the diversity of trees, period buildings, a pond that serves as a fountain in the centre, and lots of places to sit down with a laptop computer or handheld easel. A multitude of chairs is provided throughout the garden park, as grassy knolls and patches are strictly forbidden from trespassing with a blanket. Joggers and strollers of all ages complete the setting.

Jardin du Luxembourg - A Writer's Picnic

Jardin du Luxembourg – A Writer’s Picnic

I observe the carefree happiness of a little boy ducking in behind a tree as he marvels at the wonders around him, and witness the innocence of childhood slowly stripped away from him as his scolding mother yanks him into obedient motion in the direction she feels they need to be taking. Here I write, while sipping my Bordeaux and munching on my baguette, for four hours into the early evening. In the quite life-inspiring setting, I write about one of my own life re-inspiring events.

That evening I am rewarded with one of my better restaurant meals, which in the café-filled Paris means quite a lot! After nearly sitting myself directly into a tourist-trap, I leave my pedestrian alley courtyard table and opt for a more authentic French gourmet across rue Saint Andrés des Arts at Vins et Terroirs. The two dishes I order, accompanied by a small carafe de rosé, are both excellent – and by now, I have some good points of reference to say so. The saumon tartare with avocado paste topping and a beetroot sorbet are only barely outdone by the salade Landaise, which, in a word, is a mixed salad with all things duck: steaming gizzards, smoked duck breast, and a medallion of foie gras.

Saint Germain Post-Writing Dinner Delights

Saint Germain Post-Writing Dinner Delights

Fully satiated in my dining, writing, and life-witnessing experience, through the streets of Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés, past the Saint Sulpice church, I take the Vélib bike-share home. Located south of the river Seine and west of the Notre Dame Cathedral, Saint Germain becomes possibly my favourite area of Paris, rivalling even the by-now-famous rue Mouffetard.

Saint Sulpice Church near Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Saint Sulpice Church near Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés

After ensuring that my tastebuds experience a cheese fondue and a traditional quiche, both back at rue Mouffetard, I take the night train from Paris to Hamburg. In my six couchette comportment reserved for four passengers only, I spend the first part of the evening enjoying the space all on my own. Thinking about a nice bottle of Bordeaux I did not bring on my journey, I crack open the dark chocolate with sea salt, and settle into a couple of hours of my evening writing, occasionally peaking out the train window. In the morning, after a relatively good sleep on the top bunk, fully trained by the conductor in compartment door security, I am happily met by my Hamburgerin hostess at the main train station.

Heading to the Schlagermove Parade in Hamburg

Heading to the Schlagermove Parade in Hamburg

It is Saturday, the first weekend in July in Hamburg, and it is cool and over cast. Naturally, it is time for Schlagermove parade of 1960’s and 1970’s music, eclectic vintage clothing, and lots and lots of happily drunk Germans from across the nation. My Hamburgerin hostess is joined by a few of her closest friends – fortunately for me, they are all German-and-English-speaking. We have some cake and few drinks, I get a white feather boa, and we head out for a five-hour afternoon walk along 40-some music party parade trucks. We finish in the Reeperbahn red-light district around dinner time, and end up at a Polish restaurant of all places!

I am a little behind in adding my pictures of my visits and activities from my Book Writing Tour 2013 on a location map – continually under development so check back again!

This week, we enjoy two varieties of Special Dish for the Week: Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup and Tomato, Cardamom, Chickpea and Coconut Sauce over Quinoa.

Writing from Paris

Supplementary Book Writing Tour SuppliesWhen writing down your story that includes some difficult experiences to recount, and thus to re-live, it is advisable to nourish your body with good-tasting and pretty-looking food, while feeding your soul with inspirational sites, experiences, and chance-encounters. A box of tissue and bouquet of flowers, too, are essential. Changing physical locations, moving the body, and getting some fresh air: these also help lubricate the creative channels in the mind.

The Writer's Café Workspace

The Writer’s Café Workspace

Over my jet lag now, I try out various workspaces around Paris. Frequenting cafés not being in my bones, I do try out this ancient French tradition. Sipping verveine-menthe infusion (mint verbena herbal tea) and tearing at a buttery croissant, I spend one morning writing at a café around the corner from my Paris apartment. It is perhaps too early still for the barrage of Parisian smokers to spoil the tranquility of the semi-outdoors patio; yet, the servers silently wonder at my intermittently reddening eyes as words pour onto my keyboard from my fingers.

The Writer's Home Workspace

The Writer’s Home Workspace

Writing from my Paris apartment, I surround myself with flowers, various snacks, and a constant flow of tea. It is summer in Paris, yet temperatures are low and skies often grey. I envelop myself in a cheerful quilt and try to keep my shoulders from rising. My 3-5 minute morning Pilates routine of plank, 5 full and 5 demi-pumps, shoulder “protraction and retraction” while in plank, and occasionally the side plank (now that I can do one after nearly 2 years of practicing), helps me develop the muscle strength and habit to keep my shoulder blades drawn back and down, thus reducing the pain in my neck and back. While in Paris, I have managed to keep up with my Pilates classes as well, with the little added challenge of them being in French! But my Pilates instructor in Vancouver is an excellent teacher, so I managed my two weekly classes in le quartier du Montparnasse (see location map for photos). I have now learned to breathe in French: inspirer et expirer (to inhale and exhale), and very importantly: reposer (to rest) my arms and legs. In these terms, Pilates seems much simpler in French after all. And when in Montparnasse, it is recommended to take some crêpes for dinner at Crêperie Josselin immediately after your Pilates class, taking the Vélib bike-share to and from, of course.

Returning once more to Cimetière Père Lachaise, I seek solace and inspiration among those who came before us, and from the alluring commemoration of their bodies in the tombs raised among the trees over the ages. Having on previous visits, in 2009 and ten years earlier, too, sought out the resting places of Jim Morisson of The Doors, of writer and poet Oscar Wilde, and Polish piano composer Fryderyk Chopin, this time I look for the joint tomb of the 12th century French star-crossed lovers, Hèloïse et Abélard.

The Writer's Cemetery Inspiration at Père Lachaise

The Writer’s Cemetery Inspiration at Père Lachaise

With a mini-picnic of wine, apple, chocolate and almonds sharing space with my netbook in my backpack, I head to the top of the mound, where I have picnicked before with a loved one, and I recount into words on my screen a time of turmoil and difficult decision from my teenage years. Chased away by an impending thunderstorm and threat of falling branches, as to avoid permanently joining the ones remaining, I return home and write, well into the evening, that story of an irrefutably right decision, which would determine the course of my life.

Changing to more lively company, I arrange a rendez-vous with my Parisian host’s colleague, who is also a writer. We all meet over lunch, and at first, exchange summaries and some challenges and successes in French, switching to English when I begin to feel a little too lost. Recounting my story in French, explaining my motives for sharing it now in a book, is quite interesting for me, and rewarding as well. My French lessons, will to practice, and desire to learn better my third language now that I am better able to, appear to be paying off. Confirming it in English, I had well understood, that my new writing colleague is writing a biography of a 20th century female Russian communism activist, Angelica Balabanoff, the challenges she is having with telling the story, and her motivations for undertaking this endeavour. Partly in French, but mainly in English, I share some insights from my experience and readings about moving forward in the writing process. The overview of my own story, told at first in French, is received with much expression of interest, accompanied by suggestions of which details of my story would find more general interest among readers. Details are important, we both agree, and later I read the same in “The Artist’s Way”.

My French is put to the test, though, at a soirée of about 20 at a friend’s of my Parisian host. One-on-one conversations in French go not too badly, even while needing to block out the background noise, concentrate on hearing my conversational partner, and not try too much to make myself be heard and understood. Listening to group conversation, I feel I don’t stand a chance. Yet, I have done this before when I was child, as have many others even at my age – learn a new language.

Ascending Montmartre on the way to lunch at the foot of Sacre Coeur

Ascending Montmartre on the way to lunch at the foot of Sacre Coeur

I change my French immersion surroundings again, this time for the company of tourists and their café servers, as I take sweetened mint tea at the Paris Mosque and mount Montmartre, with its steep, narrow streets. In a side courtyard café at the foot of Sacre Coeur basilica, I enjoy a canard (duck) dish and a dessert crêpe with my Parisian host and excellent French teacher.

To round out the week, I make Special Dish for the Week: Eggplant, Lentil, Tomato and Cashew Curry, and mid-week a second Special Dish for the Week: Mushroom, Beet, and Parmesan Cheese with a Lentil and Quinoa.

I have added some more pictures of my visits and activities from my Book Writing Tour 2013 on a location map – continually under development, so check back again!