12-31-18 New Years Eve Recap

We ended last year in Paris and will do the same thing again this year. Needless to say, the time in between our two visits to Paris

Chris, David, janeen and Ryan celebrating on the last night in Paris 2018.

has been FILLED with travel, family, joy and some sadness. What has been planned as a “gap year” of travel has continued a second year. Using our son’s home in Springfield VA as our base, we traveled up and down the east coast of the US and Canada, back and forth to Macomb Illinois and across country twice – once by plane and once by car.

The first several months of 2018 were spent caring for Janeen’s dad in Macomb Illinois.

Harold and his great grad daughter

After living in a Senior Independent Living situation for 10 years or so, it was time to move into assisted living care. He spent his 101st birthday

Janeen and her dad on his 101st birthday.

(March 5th) in Wesley Village surrounded by friends.   Janeen got to spend her birthday in Macomb too (March 6th) where we had a celebration at the local Mexican restaurant and a Margarita (no salt, over ice please).

Janeen with her birthday drink!

After celebrating birthdays, we were back in Springfield for a brief visit and a flight to California.

A second birthday dinner for Janeen was held once we were back in Virginia.

We had planned on returning to CA to visit our various doctors and getting checked up to make sure all systems were continuing to operate as designed. While there we visited with close friends, ate great foods and visited the Huntington Gardens.

We returned to Virginia in time for D.C. Cherry Blossom time.

Cherry Blossom time at the Tidal Basin

It seems the day we decided to go to the Tidal Basin was ideal – blossoms floating in the air, nice breeze and a beautiful day. We didn’t stay in VA long as we head back to Macomb to check on Janeen’s dad before turning South towards Savannah Georgia. Stops along the way included Cincinnati Ohio, Maysville Kentucky, Bourbon country, Nashville TN

The Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the “Grand Ole Opry” in Nashville

and Savannah Georgia. Coming back north we stopped in Charleston, and Asheville NC before getting back to Virginia.

After getting our clothes clean, the car washed and helping Jason (our son) do a batch of home brew beer, we packed up again and headed north. This time through Pennsylvania stopping at Longwood Gardens

The Italian fountains at Longwood Gardens

and Bethlehem before continuing on to the Finger Lakes of NY. I admit to not being impressed with the wines we tasted in the Finger Lakes but it was beautiful all the same.

Finger Lake wine tasting

Next stop Niagara Falls.

Boy, that’s a lot of water falling over the edge around Horseshoe Falls!

The Falls

We spent a couple of days on the Canadian side of the Falls and had a enjoyable time. From there a stop in Quebec City (it was hot which seemed to surprise the locals) and then a long drive to Prince Edward Island.This is the local of Anne of Green Gables – we didn’t actually make it to the “spot” but we certainly saw a lot of the countryside and they do raise a LOT of potatoes!

Winding our way south through Saint John New Brunswick and into Portland Maine we stopped in Boxford Mass to visit with friends then

Joel and Wendy, our hosts in Boxford Mass

found our selves back in Virginia in time for Hamilton the Musical at the Kennedy Center. I’m really glad we had listened to the sound track a couple of times as it really helped to hear what was happening on the stage. The soundtrack includes virtually all the songs and dialogue of the entire play so following along wasn’t  difficult as we had heard the songs previously. Some lines made more sense after reading the book, as well.

Business  accomplished in VA, we turned around again and headed to Macomb. We were there for the better part of July leaving the first week of August. We had things to get done in California and needed to be moving along. Traveling along route 66 for most of the way was interesting – sites you see from various commercials and movies would flash by from time to time.

While we overnighted with friends in Chandler AZ, we received word that Janeen’s dad had passed. Yes, it was sad news but not unexpected.

California called us.. When we arrived, the goal was to complete the removal of all our household possessions from the home we had owned for 40 years. We kept only those items that mean something – artwork, pieces of solid wood furniture, kitchen items to set up a working kitchen, a few tools but nothing we couldn’t easily replace.

All our stuff in the moving van ready to go to storage

After  a quick trip to Santa Barbara for the Carnesale wedding,

here we are having an afternoon refreshment in Santa Barbara

we got back in time to meet the movers to have all our stuff placed in storage. The house sold at the end of November – we are OFFICIALLY Houseless.

Jessie and Phil – our good buds in Pasadena.

Our trusty Mercedes Benz (MerCBlu) continued to provide us with our transport as we headed to Northern California and visited with friends of 50 years in the Bay Area prior to pointing it East ;back to Illinois for an October memorial service  for Janeen’s dad. Our entire family was present which was a great comfort.

The Family at Harold’s Memorial

Continuing to Virginia, we once again got all our clothes clean, packed our bags and flew to Paris for the month of December.

Beth joined us for a tour at Mont Saint Michel – France

So this year (2018) started in Paris and will end in Paris. We are here with our entire family to enjoy being in the City of Lights with all that means. As for celebrating the New Year? Who knows. It’s only 3:30 on the 31st as I write this so the plans for this evening are not yet set.

This “gap year” that started so long ago (we started on this adventure in June of 2017) seems to be continuing. We return to Virginia in a week but come back to Southern France in March and have two different river cruises (Holland at TulipTime and The Remarkable Rhine) in April returning back stateside the middle of May.

From us to you – Bonne Année – The Lee Blog Continues in to the new year of 2019.


12-23-18 Bastille Marché

One of the joys of visiting in Paris for an extended time is the ability to go to the local markets to stock the apartment with food. The Paris Bastille Market comes alive with brightly colored stalls and enticing food displays. This Marché (Market) has been around for a very long time – taking over the Boulevard Richard Lenoir twice a week – Sundays and Thursdays.

Need a new purse? Maybe a backpack?
Well, oysters, fresh and at least 6 different kinds!

There are three pathways through the market where vendors are engaging with shoppers and calling out their specials for the day. We spent the better part of several hours doing our shopping for the next several days but it’s hard to not be amazed with the stuff that are being sold. We arrived via the metro coming up at one end of the market – a booth of hats, gloves and lots of fresh shellfish. As we walked down the way there were booths of organic eggs, flowers, cheese, bread and piping hot ready to eat meals.

Tomatoes – nicely boxed
Lots of fresh vegies
Household items – wrapping paper, storage containers, hats…

Ryan had a menu he was working on for our Christmas dinner – chicken, fresh vegetables, green apples and other ingredients to make our traditional Rice and Curry. We also picked up cheese, some marinated olives, some nuts and lots of other delicious treats.

Ryan and Janeen checking out a spot.
Another big booth!
Oranges, pineapples and fruit.
Ryan picking out some sausages for later.


12-18-18 Paris – Musée d’Orsay

Paris, the City of Lights, and Museums! We have visited several museums during our various visits to this lovely city – The Louvre, Carnavalet Museum, Musée Rodin, Musée de Cluny and the Musée d’Orsay.

The view of the Musée d’Orsay.

All of these museums are wonderful and have a different focus or approach. Janeen particularly likes Carnavalet Museum as it represented the History of Paris through the years but unfortunately it is under renovation until 2020. A visit to the Louvre is certainly an enjoyable time but it is HUGE and crowded particularly when you want to see the Mona Lisa (I can pass on that, been there done that) and we decided a repeat visit to Musée d’Orsay would be on our list of places this trip.

The Musée d’Orsay is located on the Left Bank of the Seine and is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay – a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914 including paintings, sculptures, furniture and photography.

The overlook from the end of the museum.

The museum houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world. Paintings by Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh provide a fantastic snapshot of this style of painting.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir- Bal du moulin de la Galette, 1876. Yes please, I’d like this on my wall.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir- Bal du moulin de la Galette, 1876
Édouard Manet, Olympia, 1863
Claude Monet – La Rue Montogueil, Féte du 30 juin 1878. Now this could certainly be in my living room.

The original railway station, Gare d’Orsay, was constructed in time to be part of the 1900 Exposition and provided rail service throughout southwestern France until 1939. At that time, the short platforms had become unsuitable for the longer trains and the station stopped long distance service but continued with more suburban services. It has been used in several films over the years and was set to be demolished starting in 1970 but nothing happened and eventually the Directorate of the Museums of France had the idea of turning it into a museum that would bridge the gap between the Louvre and other museums of Paris. After much work and renovation the new museum was ready to receive art in 1986 where it has continued to provide a wonderful place to view art in Paris.

The interior of the building is huge with exhibits on several levels. After purchasing our tickets we entered on the main floor that overlooks the entire space. The main floor has early 19th century art: Conservative on the right, Realism on the left.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir- Bal du moulin de la Galette, 1876

Wandering among the main floor’s gallery of gleaming white statues is a joy. At the end of the first floor is a scale model of the Garnier Opéra House – this cross section lets you see the complexities of all the stage areas and gives you a good idea of the size of the place.

The front of the Opera house and cut away.
The cut away of the Opera House.

Upstairs is where the impressionist and post-impressionist – well presented and amazing. I could certainly have one or more of these on the wall in my house!

Beth, Janeen and David outside the Musée d’Orsay

All in all David was in the d’Orsay about 4 hours while Janeen and Beth had previously spent a few hours it was not nearly enough time to really see everything – David missed all the furniture, photography and the special Picasso exhibits. Most likely we will back during this trip.

12-11-18 Paris Flea Market

Paris, the City of Light is the world’s most visited capital. The city is proud of its many monuments from the iconic Eiffel Tower to the lofty Notre-Dame cathedral and the majestic Arc de Triomphe. No doubt this is Europe’s most enchanting capital!

Here is our list of the top 10 Things to Do and Must-Sees in Paris

  1. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
  2. Take a riverboat cruise on the Seine
  3. Enjoy a Hop-On Hop-Off bus ride around Paris
  4. Paris by Night: Spend an exceptional evening at the Moulin Rouge.
  5. Visit the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Paris.
  6. Take a stroll around Montmartre and visit the Sacré Coeur Basilica.
  7. Visit the Louve Museum
  8. Enjoy a romantic dinner on the Seine River
  9. Take a stroll in the heart of Paris
  10. Visit the Garnier Opera House.

Yes, there are lots of historic neighborhoods to explore; bistros to sit and have a coffee and all those monuments are spectacular. However, there is another side of Paris that tourists don’t normally visit and they include outdoor markets (literally hundreds held every week) and a Flea Market that goes back over two centuries!

The most famous flea market in Paris is the one at Porte de Clignancourt, officially called Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, but known to everyone as Les Puces (The Fleas).  It covers seven hectares and is the largest antique market in the world, receiving between 120,000 to 180,000 visitors each weekend. This market is about a 10-minute walk from our apartment.

One of the walkways of the Flea Market (not my picture wrong season of course) but typical view.

The history of the flea market dates back over two centuries, when rag and bone men scoured through the garbage of Paris at night to find valuable junk to sell on. They were called ‘crocheteurs’ or pickers. The romantic term was ‘pêcheurs de lune’ or ‘fishermen for the moon’. Many set up their temporary stalls within the Paris walls in sleazy neighborhoods, but because these districts were full of pickpockets and thieves, they were chased out of the city walls to Clignancourt, Montreuil, Vanves, etc. The largest of these flea markets is the one at Clignancourt, but the other two continue to this day.

Only if the decision was easy could you make up your mind on what to buy.

The rag and bone men gathered outside the walls of Paris at the Porte de Clignancourt and set up temporary stalls where they hawked their wares. Eventually, they formed groups of stalls to attract more customers. The more enterprising traders began to ‘trade up’ in terms of goods and eventually it became popular for Parisian collectors and antique dealers to shop there for bargains.

A bathtub of Bangles.

Today, when we arrived, it was almost overwhelming to take it all in.   Up one walkway, turn down another and round and round we went. Sometime hitting the same spot before realizing we were walking in a circle. If we had been trying to furnish or decorate an apartment it would have been a snap!

Stacks of books, racks of cloths and toys spread around.
Which one to buy!

There were stalls with rugs, lamps, furniture, nautical items, clocks, lamps and lots of decorative items. Other shops had stacks of books,

Plates, books, stuff everywhere you look.
Little boxes – lot of little boxes
Just a typical table sitting around with stuff on it.
Tennis anyone?

piles and piles of them others with stuff you would have considered trash and tossed out to the garbage but here it was ready for someone to see a need and pick something up from the pile.

This reminded me of my neighbors garage – he NEVER throw anything away.

We left without buying anything but had enjoyable walkabout and will most likely wander back later during our visit.  After all, if we bought something, where would we put it and gosh we don’t even have a home to put anything anyway. We might be back, who knows, and pick up the cow sofa.

This Cow Sofa certainly catches the eye.

12-8-18 Paris and an Update

For the last 18 months, Janeen and I have been “on the road”. This road has taken us across the USA twice, around Europe for 4 months (and 9 countries) and up and down the East Coast from Savanna Georgia to Prince Edward Island Canada. During these travels we have visited lots of friends, made new friends and toured all kinds of places from Castles to Kentucky Bourbon producers. Throughout this time we have been together virtually 24/7 and I can safely say we continue to communicate with each other and have a good time.

One of the things that have been a constant is “where to next” and we keep finding new places, and old, to visit. As of the end of November, we no longer own a home in California and that prompts us to begin thinking about new places to live – or at least to call “home” when not on the road. However, a final spot won’t be critical until sometime in June or so of next year as we have lots more to do over the next 6 months.

Since the last update, about a month ago, we have stayed mostly in Virginia with some brief times visiting friends in Asheville NC.

One of the “lots’ we are thinking about where a house would be built for us.

We also did a day trip to Charlottesville VA both of these areas are places we might find a landing pad. There are a number of positive things about Asheville – we know some folks there, the community has a lot of activities including walking trails and even a wine tasting group and the place would be brand new.   The Downside is it’s 475 miles away from Springfield VA and our granddaughters – making it somewhat undesirable as a result. Charlottesville is closer, 100 miles or so and we have an agent looking at properties that might work for us that we will check out when we get back to Virginia.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at Bistro L’Hermitage while Jason, Terri and KB were in Florida.

Right now we are in Paris. Yes, Paris France again for Christmas and New Years. We are in the same apartment we had last year in the 18th arrondissement (currently well away from the protests that have been happening, which is nice). Our youngest son, Ryan and his husband Chris are completing their Masters Degrees (Ryan in International Business and Chris in Hospitality) and Ryan has signed on for an internship which will have him first in Bordeaux and then in a couple of other cities outside of Paris. So, as Ryan and Chris are in Paris, our other son Jason decided he should come here for the Holidays too. He and his family show up on the 18th and are here until after the first of the Year.

Prior to our arrival a few days ago, Chris and Ryan had gotten the keys to the apartment and stocked it with the critical items – wine and cheese plus some other food items and they now have spent a few hours helping to get the Christmas Tree up and decorated.

Janeen and Chris having a jolly time
Chris getting the lights on the tree.
Ryan working on the porch making a wreath.
The Tree is decorated and ready for Santa’s Visit.


Next up, our friend Beth will be joining us tomorrow for 2 weeks! She has never been to Europe and it will be exciting to take her around to the unprotested ($$$) wonders of this great city.  She will be here when the Lee’s of Virginia arrive and will move out of our apartment and into Ryan and Chris for a couple of days before she heads home.

More soon!