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I got a late start on Sunday, after an excellent night’s sleep; 2:30 to 9:30 is just as good as 12 to 7 if you’re tired enough. The weather was again cloudy, with occasional showers. After blogging and a few household chores I met Lisa near Bastille for a violin recital at the studio of her friends Eve and Patrice, whom I had met at a dinner party two years earlier. The music was contemporary and unfamiliar, but fascinating. Two of the pieces messed with your head by creating melodic expectations, then smashing them. The last was a simply gorgeous set of ten variations on Fratres by Arvo Pärt. The violinist was a student preparing for her thesis performance, in a few weeks. I loved every minute of the recital; at one point I reflected that life ends, but nothing can take away moments like these when one truly lives. My seat was poor for photography, but here is a glimpse; to complete the scene imagine a dozen appreciative Parisians filling the rest of the cozy studio.

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At six months, Lisa’s secret is pretty definitively out. It’s hard to imagine how much bigger she will be getting!

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Curvy Lisa!

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Colorful Lisa!

Our cousin Brian (the son of my first cousin David) arrived on schedule later that evening, to stay with me for the last few nights of his European Grand Tour. After a couple of welcome beers we got to bed at a reasonable hour.

On Monday we set out after breakfast on what turned out to be a (half) marathon walk. I took us on a rather boring route across the Haut Marais, relieved only by the ever-lovely Place des Vosges.  At Bastille I invited Brian to take the lead, with help from me only on our “strategic direction.”  Brian proved to be a perceptive and independent-minded flâneur, sometimes taking us exactly opposite to our strategic direction when an interesting block caught his eye.

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We stopped for lunch at a café on rue Daval. I was at first concerned that we were the only diners, at 1:30, but the service and food were just fine. A friendly fellow at a nearby table took our picture for posterity.

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Brian has an incandescent smile, but it takes some social engineering — and a lot of shots! — to capture it with a camera. The Canal Saint-Martin helped bring it out.

IMG_8435 MEDAfter exploring the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont — more than 12 miles all told! — we took the métro back home, then went over to Lisa’s on rue Tolbiac for an apéro (her mom’s special recipe for kir) and a delicious Thai meal with Lisa’s partner Ali. Brian and I then schlepped his big suitcases (which he had used during eight months teaching English in Russia) from Lisa’s and Ali’s back to my place. The time had gotten away from us and the métro was nearly closed! We made it home, though, despite my moment of navigational confusion on the way from Châtelet back to rue Montorgueil. We had no trouble getting to sleep that night!

I’m posting photos again this year on Picasa.  Three sets (in addition to any An Hour From Paris trips) are new for my 2013 petit séjour:

I’m also adding to two sets started in prior years:

In each case I’ll be adding photos during the trip, so feel free to check back. One advantage of Picasa is that it allows you to download full-size digital images; WordPress doesn’t even let me upload the full sized images, though you can see 1/4 sized versions by clicking on the thumbnails in my blog posts.

Mot du jour: merde. Literally, “shit,” usable on all the occasions when we would say that, or even “f*#k.” But it’s also what you say — instead of « bonne chance » ! — to someone who is about to go on stage; the equivalent of our “break a leg.” Needless to say, I learned this by yet again stepping in some French merdeUpdate: Perhaps even better would be mille fois merde (a thousand times shit).