handcuffs

Our culture has bought a lie. That lie is that a sexual relationship is the greatest experience of our lives.  If you don’t have a sexual relationship you don’t have a life.  This lie has been around ever since the Renaissance as human society broke away from the inhibiting rules of the Medieval Church and its domination and before the Church’s dominance,  when sexuality was central to the worship of ancient gods and goddesses. This lie has grown more and more powerful and prevalent with the advent of the modern sexual revolution.  This lie is so strong that traditional heterosexual relationships are giving way to a whole rainbow of other kinds sexual relationships.

The truth is that the one relationship we were created for-the greatest experience of our lives is a relationship with God.

What is sad is that in pursuit of sexual relationships many people are committing sexual acts that inhibit a relationship with God.

This lie is not only among people that don’t really pursue a relationship with God, but sadly it is prevalent among those who call themselves Christians.  They believe that their purpose in life is to find that perfect Christian mate and then they can live their life.

As this lie has grown and it has gone further and further from the true purpose of sex for procreation and family stability, to gratification of pleasure and coupling at any cost, the shades of perversion have grown.

With the popularity of “Fifty Shades of Grey” the sexual deviation of Bondage, Dominance, Sadism, and Masochism is being mainstreamed as a “normal” sexual behavior.  Those who wish to be in a sexual relationship are now buying  that these behaviors need to be a part of the repertoire of any sexual relationship.

If we continue to believe this lie we will never find peace, and joy in our lives and we will never have the assurance of eternal life with God when this life is through.  It is not too late to seek the truth and build a life on the one foundation that will not fail.

John 14:6

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 8:32

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Bella and Edward wedding

“50 Shades of Grey” was the spawn of self-confessed “Twilight” fan EL James.  “Twilight” was her inspiration so it is called “fan-fiction”.  It is termed as the “adult” version of the teen love story.

If Christian and Anastasia are the grown-up version of Bella and Edward –I don’t wanna grow up.

I am not implying that the love story in “Twilight” is without toxic elements but to compare Edward Cullen to Christian Grey is a grave disservice to the vampire.

In case you live under a rock, the story of “50 Shades” is about a narcissistic sadistic man who uses his money and power to seduce and violate an innocent college student. He introduces her to bondage and sadism and rape under the guise of seduction. None of this is done with any kind of commitment , other than an agreement pertaining to the kind of abuse she is willing to suffer signed by Ana. He does eventually change his ways as the trilogy continues and gets “healed” through psychological counseling.

Edward Cullen falls in love with his prey, the one person whose blood he wants more than any other. His love causes him to protect her by guarding her from others and in “New Moon” from himself by leaving her when he realizes the danger she is in by just being around his family of vampires.  Although she wishes to be like him and be transformed into a vampire, he initially refuses to do it. Not only, because it will cost her, her life as a human but also because he believes that as a vampire he has lost his eternal soul which is a greater price. Because he believes in the Bible, he also does not want to compromise her soul by causing her to sin.  He insists that they be married before they have sex. He tries not to intervene in her friendship with Jacob except to protect her from the danger he could pose as a werewolf.  He almost hopes she will choose Jacob because a relationship with him would insure her desire to stay human.

When Edward and Bella finally do have sex on their honey moon and because of his immortal strength Bella gets bruised from the encounter, Edward is horrified.  He purposely distracts her and keeps her busy and overactive so that at the end of each day she is too exhausted to want another physical encounter.  Finally with her insistence they find a way to make love without causing her injury.

The sexual encounter creates a child, but the half-vampire fetus is too powerful for Bella’s frail human body and as the baby grows it ebbs away Bella’s life. Edward in an effort to save Bella’s life asks her to abort it.  When Bella refuses , he asks Jacob to convince her to have future children with him so she will give up on the pregnancy. Edward finally changes Bella into a vampire as her mortal life fades after giving birth by injecting his venom into her heart.

Although the story is a little outrageous the love story demonstrates the characteristics of true love not the twisted selfish love exhibited by Christian Grey.  So don’t call it “Twilight” fan fiction…even a vampire is a better lover than Christian Grey.

Hitler Allah

If there was ever any doubt as to whom President Obama has his allegiance to there is none now.  He had the audacity to downplay the barbarism and violence of The Islamic State of Islam or ISIS and other Islamic terrorists at the  National Day of Prayer  breakfast.

Our “one nation under God” that this country was founded on was not the God Allah, but the God Yaweh- the Judeo-Christian God.  At the prayer breakfast this God and his followers were defamed and ridiculed by comparing the Historical violence of Christianity to the present atrocities of the followers of Allah.

Obama has a very dim understanding of history, because both the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades were in retaliation to the violence and invasion of the Islamic Jihad  during the 1400’s. To compare Christ who murdered no one to Mohammed who murdered innocents is also a misinterpretation of history .

The question might be what is the motivation behind Mr. Obama’s statements?

Is it to justify his lack of concerted effort  against ISIS?

Is it some kind of reprimand against Christians for disagreeing with his policies on marriage, and Obamacare’s forcing organizations to provide abortions for their employees? Steven Crowder  called it “evil” to make this kind of accusation against Christians.

This made me reflect on one of the most evil rulers in history- Adolph Hitler.  I found that in his speeches, he blamed past wars and the historical so called “evils” of the Jewish people as a justification for the Holocaust .

Was the President blaming Christians for the murders committed by ISIS and other Islamic terrorists?  Is he setting up the American people for an American Jihad against them?

The anti-discrimination laws are already putting Christians at risk of incarceration as I mentioned in my last blog.

The question is-will non-Christian Americans believe the rhetoric the way non-Jewish Germans did in 1941 and allow it to happen?

The Bible promises that “pride goeth before a fall”. The pride of this man far outweighs that of any other Commander in Chief in the history of the United States.  His executive orders have made him more of a monarch than a president. The  monarchs of England   who took the kind liberties that Obama has taken were soon out of power. How far will we let his abuses go as a nation?

gay marriage

tol·er·ance

/ˈtäl(ə)rəns/

noun: tolerance1. the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

The quest for acceptance by the LGBT community has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. Men and women of faith who own businesses and refuse to celebrate the nuptials recently legalized in many states of the LGBT community are being martyrized by the government because of their lack of tolerance.

A recent lawsuit filed in   Oregon   could cost one business $150,000 for trying to uphold their beliefs.

In a blog I wrote in December 2013 called “Did Hate Come Down On Christmas Day?” I made a case in favor of the LGBT community and the fact that according to the Bible Christian believers should do business with those whose morals do not align with theirs because  “none is without sin”-even the most fervent believer in the Bible.

This tolerance is now being used as a battering ram by the government in case after case  of punishment    and fining and driving into bankruptcy those who refuse to tolerate something that is morally objectionable to them.    There is even a case where a business owner was threatened with jail time  for refusing to perform gay weddings.

It reminds me of a certain local individual in my area who has used the American Disabilities Act as an opportunity to financially benefit by suing nearly every business in town who doesn’t meet the regulations.  The litigant made settlement after settlement while their attorney lined their pockets as well. Some of the businesses had to move their location because of pressure.

These new tolerance laws are becoming the new witch hunt, but it is the “sinners” hunting the “righteous”.  It seems to be a great set up for certain opportunists to “cash in”.

Tolerance needs to be a two way street.  With the drop in church attendance nationwide, it is hard to believe that those in the LGBT community will have a difficult time finding businesses who are willing to celebrate with them and share their joy in uniting in marriage.

If true tolerance and harmony is the goal then there needs to be tolerance for those in the faith community as well.  Those whose goal it is to receive tolerance must be willing to give tolerance.

Oscars 2015

Welcome to Hollywood award season and don’t forget to take your anti-depressant.  The movie industry takes this time every year to embrace its narcissism by putting itself on glittering display so that it can admire, applaud and reward its efforts in entertaining the masses.

First there are The Golden Globes awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press-people from other countries who write about the American film industry.  Then the Critics’ Choice shows its less critical side by lauding those they have scrutinized over the past year.  The SAG Award is probably the most enmeshed-an exclusive organization recognizing itself. Then there is the most exclusive club of all The Academy Of Arts and Sciences who award Oscars to those who are deemed worthy by a very narrow demographic of 94% white  .001 percenters- the Volturi (Self-proclaimed royalty of vampires-in case you aren’t a Twilight fan) of the film industry.

The curtain has come down on three of the four award shows with only the Oscars remaining. A few of the films are getting the majority of the “wins”. Birdman and Boyhood are the front runners in terms of the number of awards.  I have seen both of these movies as well as Cake (for which Jennifer Aniston has been nominated for Best Actress by all but one of the awards shows) and Imitation Game-the movie Benedict Cumberbatch has gotten nods for.

My response to these movies is a line from an Oscar winning movie of the 90’s As Good As It Gets:

“Some of us have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that’s their story. Good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you’re that pissed that so many others had it good.”

The award winning stories this season are like the stories in that car-not very pretty, about people who had it pretty bad, and are pretty depressing.

Boyhood explores the struggles of growing up through the eyes of a boy.  He must endure an irresponsible father, two abusive step-fathers, and the struggles of bullying and peer pressure.  This is no fairy tale.

I should mention that Into The Woods-which I have also seen-is a fairy tale, and does provide some happier lighter fare in its story and has received some nominations. The Grand Budapest Hotel was also a happier story that got recognition.

Birdman and Cake explore mental illness-schizophrenia and depression from chronic pain and the struggle to avoid suicidal tendencies brought on by the illnesses.

The Imitation Game is the story of the father of the modern computer-a brilliant but troubled individual who is brought down by his sexual proclivity which was illegal during his lifetime.

I should say that this array of doom and gloom does not belay the true variety and scope of the offerings for the year.  Those movies not recognized, but fully entertaining and uplifting include Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hobbit-Battle For Middle Earth, X-Men Days of Future Past, Captain America-The Winter Soldier, Thor the Dark World  etc.

The irony is that the movies that made the most money were excluded from the awards.  It is almost as if the awards are a consolation prize for movies that were not rewarded financially by the general public in the form of ticket sales.

“Ahead of nominations, the eight movies nominated for Best Picture had earned a combined $203.1 million. That’s the lowest total since the Academy expanded the field beyond five nominees—and by a large margin, too. The previous low was 2011, when the movies had earned a combined $519 million ahead of nominations.” (Box Office Mojo ) American Sniper did improve these numbers scoring over  $200 million  since its release although it had only earned $3.3 million prior to its nomination.

The high sales for the frothier more escapist fantasies are indicative of what America really wants in entertainment. Hunger Games was the biggest grossing film of the year-not completely cheerful, but definitely a break from dreary realism.

This fact reminds me of a line from another 90’s film Jerry McGuire:

“We live in a cynical world, a cynical, cynical world…..” and with all the misery, wars, and suffering in the world, we just want some Hollywood movie magic to make it all go away for a few hours.  Somehow, that  just may give us the courage to keep living.

cosplay-fail-girlcurvy-power-girl-cosplay-cosplay-know-your-meme-edewdhwh

I am beginning to think that certain so called “Libertarian” women who boast the label of “Libertarian” Girl, Chick, etc are really plants by the Republican-Democrat duopoly to undermine the credibility of the Libertarian Party.  They are more caricatures than real women, who use their sexuality to gain followers rather than their pseudo-intellect. Their pictures purport them to be call girls not serious journalists or politicos. Their inane opinions and shallow interpretations of government are more of an embarrassment than an asset to the name “Libertarian”.

Furthermore-their “libertarianism” never truly supports or promotes the Libertarian Party and its candidates.  They promote the so-called “libertarian” candidates, and officer holders who function as members of the Republican Party. To this accusation, they respond that “Libertarian” is a philosophy.  My question is, if that philosophy is so fundamental to who they are, why are they not supporting the party that most fully embraces that philosophy and bears the label as well?

The latest blow to the true Libertarian Party is the hiring of one of these female Libertarian icons by a certain potential Republican presidential candidate as his new media relations guru.   I am not certain whose credibility is taking a bigger hit- the candidate or the Libertarian Party.  If this is an attempt to gain the millennial vote, surely there is a better representative of that generation that could actually be taken seriously. The libertarian views of this female are certainly not in line with the Libertarian Party.

My recommendation to these women is change your label to the one that really fits Neo-Con Republican and leave “Libertarian” to those that really know what it means.

Laws lead to control not freedom As a libertarian, I am vehemently opposed to government control of my life.  I wrote about how the Affordable Care Act was a violation of our Constitutional rights in my book Blessed Are They That Hunger a full 2 years before it was implemented.  I discussed just two aspects of the law that would hamper our freedom as Americans.  The fact that the government would make it illegal to be uninsured and the fact that religious organizations would be forced to provide birth control in violation of the tenets of their faith were clear violations of our religious and personal freedoms as protected by the Constitution. Since its implementation both of these issues have been bandied about by the media and there have been a multitude of court cases brought on by religious based organizations and corporations refusing to comply with the law. There are more insidious ramifications of the ACA-like appointed committees determining who will receive certain procedures-(or as they have been termed “death squads”) that have not even come to light yet, but will as the “roll out” continues. Because of these issues, I opted to avoid the “exchange” when my insurance was cancelled because it did not meet the ACA requirements. I opted to “keep my Insurance” and stay out of the ACA exchange in my state.  This meant paying more than double the premium for a plan that would give me comparable coverage that would allow me to “keep my doctor”. I bit the bullet and tightened my belt to accommodate the large insurance premium that I was forced to pay.  Everything was fine, until I had an auto accident in July and had to shell out a $500 deductible for my car.  The budget just couldn’t handle that plus my nearly $500 per month health insurance premium.  I got behind and was one day late on paying my premium. (I was not one day late really, I paid it on the due date, but they applied it a day later and my insurance was cancelled.) Once it was cancelled, I could not re-enroll until November, for insurance that would not be effective until January 2015.  So now, thanks to the ACA, I- a person who was insured before the ACA -was suddenly, uninsured.  Hey, wait a minute- wasn’t Obamacare supposed to get more people insured? The only option left for me, other than wait out the months until I could re-enroll was to get on a medical program designed for Christians who want to opt out of the ACA on moral grounds.  It was about $150 per month less than I was paying with my previous coverage.  It did not include free preventative care and I was due for my annual check up to renew my prescription meds, so once again I was paying more out of pocket.  There is nothing affordable about the Affordable Care Act for me. After the findings from my annual exam, my doctor wanted me to see three different specialists.  Since my new insurance is really more for catastrophic coverage, that meant more expenses for me.  I could imagine the bills piling up. I was afraid if I went back to my old plan I would end up uninsured again because of the exorbitant premiums and my current plan wasn’t cutting it so finally, despite my apprehensions, I had to apply for coverage under the exchange. Because of the deductions in my business, my taxable income put me in a subsidized coverage.  Now I am totally at the mercy of the US government thanks to the ACA. I have been put in the position to be a dependent of the State when I was perfectly able to take care of my own insurance before the ACA mucked everything up. It seems that this law is really meant to force Americans into a socialized health care system whether they want to or not because only the wealthy can afford to be out of the system.  This makes us under government control in the most vulnerable part of our life-our physical health and wellbeing.  If it was a benevolent government concerned with the best for its people, that would be ok, however it is becoming increasingly clear as each of our freedoms gets taken away from this administration (as well as our privacy) that this is not a government that we can entrust our very lives to.  Grrrrrr!

paris-not-afraid_3157581b

I blogged a few days ago about my wonderful vacation to France over Christmas. In my 10 day journey around the beautiful country, I fell in love.  I fell in love with a country with a proud heritage and a powerful history that is beautifully preserved in its monuments and architecture. In a world bent on advancing and evolving in technology, France prefers to remain in the past.  A journey around France is like a journey back in time.  It is like stepping into a fairy tale, filled with castles and chateaus, and cottages.  Every village and district lies in the shadow of a fabulous stained glass cathedral.  As we drove the countryside I imagined royal hunts, and carriages traveling from village to village. I could almost see the French tales of Cinderella, and Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast come to life in the patches of woods.

I fell in love with the food.  Every meal was carefully prepared and beautifully presented.  There is a pride in French cuisine that infuses every meal from the elegant 5 star hotel to the corner bistro.  The quality of the meats and the produce is superior and the preparation superb.  The wines had layers of scents and flavors, the breads were always fresh with a delicate crunchy crust, the pastries were layered with buttery goodness, the cakes were delicate in flavor and appearance, and the cookies were light as air. The chocolate-oh the chocolate-rich and dark or creamy and milky not too sweet covering caramels and fruits and filling delicate pastries and flavoring delicate buttercreams.

But most of all, I fell in love with the people.  They have a refinement-from the elegant elderly couple across from us in the train, to the little children dancing with joy before the animated Christmas windows, and the uniformed students swarming to class, and the business executives enjoying a leisurely lunch in a café near the Champs Elysees.  They took time for each other.  They met for coffee before work, they stood outside the university to chat. They took time to enjoy their meals, and met for wine after work.

They were patient and kind, to a foreigner who insisted on persisting to speak to them in less than perfect French although they detected the American accent and answered in English.  They took time to give detailed directions and make recommendations of places to go and things to see.  They even took time to stop and help you maneuver your luggage up and down the maze of stairs in the Metro station and lead you to your destination. One special family even opened their hearts and their home and shared the beauty of the Basque country.

Because of my love, the horrific events of today have left me heartbroken.  This world of beauty was shattered by the evil that men do.

My love, however, grew stronger as I saw the French stand together by the thousands to protest the violence and refuse to be intimidated by those who would do evil.  Vive La France. Vive L’Amour. Vive Liberte.

moulin rouge

My third day in Paris meant a to move to our second location-a small studio apartment in Montmartre.  Our dilemma was how to economically get there.  As we headed out for breakfast we asked one of our neighbors where the closest Metro station was. He directed us to the end of the block and then to the right, where the Metro station was located on a traffic island in the middle of the large Boulevard.

After checking it out and making sure it was the right Metro line we found a small bistro to grab breakfast since our favorite patisserie assured us that there would be no quiche until noon. We were thrilled to find out that it served eggs although it was before 8am unlike the other restaurants.  We ordered ham and cheese omelets and café au lait and also enjoyed our pastries from the patisserie.

My friend could not believe that in France everyone has their coffee at the coffee bar in a real cup-not  paper- that they carry with them.  There is definitely a different pace of life and an appreciation for socializing not just grabbing a cup of Joe on the run.

After packing up, we headed back to the Boulevard and down the stairs of the Metro station.  One of the challenges we faced was the fact that the Metro in Paris has lots of stairs and little to no escalators or elevators.  This was a challenge because we had to haul our luggage up and down the stairs.  We knew that at the Montmartre station there was an elevator because it is the deepest station in Paris. I packed light so my luggage was easily managed, however, my friend’s bag was not so easy.  We did get some assistance from some very kind Parisiens.  By the way, American-hating French must be some kind of urban legend.  I don’t know if it was because I was able to communicate a bit in French or what exactly, but we found the French people very kind and helpful in nearly every encounter.

We arrived a bit early for our appointed meeting with our air bnb host so enjoyed some café au lait  at a bistro and then a fabulous French Onion soup at a corner pub. Meandering our way up the steep cobbled streets of Montmartre we finally arrived at our abode for the evening.  A new challenge presented itself as there was a narrow winding staircase that we had to tackle to get down to the petite pied de terre apartment. It was close but my friend was able to maneuver the large suitcase.

The apartment was tiny, but clean and had everything we needed including wifi.  We headed for the top of Montmartre to see the Sacre Coeur Cathedral.  We were told to keep climbing and when we couldn’t climb any more we would see it.  The village at the top was filled with bistros and shops and a cobbled square where on a warm, sunny day you could see artists at their easels painting the beautiful scenery. Since it was neither warm nor sunny but drizzling grey and rainy, there were only a few hearty souls creating their works of art.

We found our way to St. Peter’s church but although we were at the top I couldn’t see the Sacre Coeur.  I asked someone where it was as we meandered down yet another cobbled street and was directed to my left where a hard to miss ominous structure loomed.

There were more steps to climb to reach the beautiful cathedral.  As with all of the churches I saw on the trip, this was beautifully decorated for Christmas.  There is a holy hush that envelopes you as you enter these monuments to Christianity.

We went from the sacred to the tainted as we hopped a cab to The Moulin Rouge located on a beautiful tree-lined boulevard at the foot of Montmartre.  We tried to peek in but there was no show going on til the evening and for a pretty steep price.  We did enjoy the colorful wall mural depicting the debauchery of the Moulin Rouge.

We walked back up the hill and decided to get a carry out dinner from an epicerie fine.  We selected half of a roasted chicken, scalloped potatoes, green beans and a large slice of citrus cake.  Then we stopped in the corner grocery store for a small bottle of red wine. It was a delicious meal!

The next morning the challenge of the large body bag (my friend’s luggage) meant hauling it up the narrow spiral staircase then maneuvering it up and down more Metro station stairs on our way to the Opera district.  Once again a few kind Parisians offered assistance.  I even got an assist for my small bag.

When we reached the Metro stop and I asked the other passengers if it was the right stop, apparently I was overheard and as we stepped off the train a beautiful woman said “Follow me”. She led us through the maze of a Metro station delayed by luggage hauling and even walked us the few blocks to the street where our hotel was located. Once on the street, we still had several blocks to cover before finally reaching our destination.

It was too early to check in, so we left our luggage with the bellman (thankfully) to explore the beautiful district.  It was a great shopping district beautifully decorated for Christmas.  My friend was in search of a Dr.Pepper so we entered the local McDonalds.  After 5 days in France one whiff and I had to give in to my American impulse.  My friend could not handle the throngs of people jamming the American eatery (all French I might add) so I enjoyed my fromage royale alone.  I watched the European Union meeting on the TV and listened to Vladimir Putin being dubbed in French while the Parisians chatted around me.

printemps

We did some shopping and enjoyed the beautifully decorated windows with various festive scenes.  We got back to the hotel at check in time and enjoyed the luxury of the Ambassador Marriott.  We had an early dinner of a light seafood ravioli appetizer and chestnut soup in the hotel restaurant and then waited for our traveling companions to arrive from the U.S.

Then we hung out with them back in the lobby while they had their late dinner.

I was thrilled that there was a large bathtub in my room where I could take a long soak.  The next day we got a quick breakfast from a carry out restaurant and selected some food for the train ride.  We caught a cab to the train station and headed for Basque country on a 6 hour train ride.  To be continued….

eifle tower

I have talked about the rewards of obedience to God in my other blogs.  This Christmas I got a big reward…a dream come true-the desire of my heart. I was given an opportunity to go to France for an 11 day adventure.  I studied French from age 12-22 in school and had to pass a written and oral proficiency test for my degree in Linguistics but, alas , had never been to a French speaking country.  (They do say “pardon” in Turkey with a French pronunciation but that was the closest I had gotten in my other travels abroad.)

Because it had been a few years since I graduated college, needless to say, I no longer had any of my French text books.  The trip was planned with just a month to spare and it seemed every minute before the trip was filled with business and family obligations to the point that I had no time to purchase a French dictionary or practice (repete  s’il vous plait.)

Apparently in spite of the time lapse, I did not have a total memory lapse and once in France, each day I retrieved more of the language that I labored over and verbs I conjugated for 10 years.  I was even complimented on my pronunciation.  I am glad to know that my education was not in vain.

I had dreamed of going to France, and Paris in particular, probably from my first glimpses of it in classic films like Sabrina, Irma La Douce, and of course Gene Kelly’s An American in Paris.  I realize these mostly depicted Paris with back lot scenery, but it inspired the dream nonetheless.

Fortunately when we landed I mustered enough French to ascertain that there was a taxi strike (that lasted for 2 hours and just happened to coincide with our arrival) and I turned down the drivers who offered to take us to our destination for $100 to $200.

We spotted the young girl who shared our row on the plane and found a ride share that would charge us $80.  I was immersed in French chatting with another passenger who was visiting Paris from Israel.  Due to a 5 hour delay on our flight we missed most of our first day in Paris arriving at the apartment in the 6th district at 4pm.  We unloaded our luggage and then wandered the elegant neighborhood filled with lots of young people due to a law school and large high school both within a couple blocks of the apartment.  We searched for a cash machine so I could get some Euros because I did not want to pay the exorbitant fees at the airport.  Then we hunted for a bistro with enough ambience for my friend.  We decided on one with a windowed patio on a busy corner of a boulevard.  We first sat in the patio, but since that was the smoking section opted to move inside.  We observed two young ladies that were sharing an appetizer plate of meats and pates and ordered the same with our café au lait.  Every item on the plate was delicious and so began my love affair with the gastronomique extraordinaire which is France.

As we arrived back to the apartment, we stopped for a snack at the fantastic patisserie across the street.  I ordered a small bouche noel a traditional French Christmas pastry cake roll filled with chocolate mousse layers covered with chocolate buttercream and decorated to look like a yule log complete with meringue mushrooms and flowers.  It was yummy.

We were among the first at the pastry shop the next morning thanks to the time change.  The quiche were not ready so we walked a block to a bistro to have a café au lait and croissant while we waited. The quiche was just out of the oven and we selected our piece and headed back to the apartment to enjoy it. It was the creamiest quiche I had ever had then or since, even though I had quiche nearly every day on my 10 day visit.

We journeyed to tour Paris after our morning repast.  Notre Dame appeared to be a short walk-not so short especially when walking in the wrong direction.  We ended up having to take the Metro to get back to where we belonged.  After viewing the splendor of Notre Dame bedecked in Christmas finery we had a beverage at a bistro run by the meanest man in Paris.  Then we hopped the metro again to the Eiffel Tower.

I think my heart skipped a beat as I first laid eyes on the famous landmark.  I was really in Paris.  I needed to pinch myself.  There was some kind of confusion with the security a common sight in Paris-soldiers with submachine guns- so we had to meander through the park to get to the foot of the tower.  The line was long and the weather cold so we opted not to go to the top and headed for the Champs Elyssee.  This also appeared to be a short walk but wasn’t. There were some interesting sites along the way the Palais de Chaillot and the Musee Moderne and then we stopped at a lovely bistro for lunch.  I ordered a Croque Monsieur (open face ham and cheese sandwich) and had a leisurely break.

There was an ancient medieval church near the bistro that we entered.  It was more somber and less decorative than some of the others we saw from the Renaissance era.  A few more blocks and we were at the Arche de Triomphe in the center of the Champs Elysees.  The Boulevard and the Arch were much larger than I had envisioned.  We rode the elevator to the top of the Arch and soaked in the spectacular view of spectacular Paris.  There was also a great souvenir shop at the top.

We strolled down the famous boulevard past what appeared to be the Saudi Embassy, which was well-guarded by armed soldiers.  My friend decided we should chance a ride on a bus and ended up in the Opera district from there we took the metro back to Notre Dame and walked back to the apartment passing through the fabulous Jardin de Luxembourg with the sumptuous home of Marie Medici widow of King Henry IV.  I pondered about how this royal home was now a public park enjoyed by lots of commoners even on a cold winter day.

We grabbed another sweet treat from our favorite bakery and headed for the apartment.  To be contined….

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