Author Archives: admin

Will You Be My Valentine?

  While most Parisians were Saint Sebastian-ing the onslaught of bows Cupid shot off at sunrise, I had my nose in a troubling article in The Guardian Weekly:  “Afghan law allows men to attack wives.” Apparently Afghanistan’s parliament has passed a law that leaves wives, children and sisters free game for violent hombres and their prized “honour killings.”   Under this law, relatives of accused people will be banned from testifying against them, leaving the vulnerable victims no hope for recourse to justice.   The law is now on the desk of President Karzai awaiting his veto or approval and the world is wondering if the man has a modicum of sanity and decency. Things are not looking good for our sisters in Afghanistan. And what this makes me feel, alongside my rage, is a burning desire to fan the flames of love, to round up the pudgy Cupids of Europe and… Read more
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Bonne Année!

Happy New Year to all! May the Year of the Horse send you galloping toward the realization of your dreams while giving you plenty of prairie time to ponder the wonder of it all. I’ve been away from the blog for some time.  Life has been full and I’ve had my nose to the grindstone finishing my novel.   Alongside the plume work, I’ve been introspecting to come up with new plans.  Already, I feel a plot percolating though it’s too soon to christen it; I’ll only mention it does involve doing the Mastery program at Mama Gena’s School of the Womanly Arts in NYC this spring.  You’ll receive an invite to the baptismal fount when the time comes.  I’ll be wearing my J-C de Castelbajac for the occasion. Having quit my last job in a mire of toxic relationships I’m now committed to the preservation of peace in my life,… Read more
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My Chou Needs a Shaman

  I had this cabbage in my purse this morning and it went to mass with us.  I’m afraid it accidentally got blessed. What the hell am I supposed to do with it now? Friday I returned to the Jeu de Paume to spend some time with Natacha Nisic’s video installation Andrea en Conversation.  Nisic’s piece, involving 9 HD videos, focuses on Andrea, a Catholic Bavarian woman, who recounts her conversion to Korean Shamanism.   Diagnosed with a cancerous uterine tumour, Andrea decides not to undergo the hyster heist the doctors urgently order.  She wants to have another child.  She knows deep down she must keep intact.  She then auspiciously meets Madam Kim, Korea’s most celebrated shaman, and things deep and mysterious begin happening in her.  Madam Kim sees Andrea’s inner shaman and explains her health problems will not subside until she listens to The Call.   Eventually, despite much doubt, confusion… Read more
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The Thirty-second Sunday of Ordinary Time – “Ain’t nothin’ ordinary about it!”

Before the Kiss of Peas, Père Wang and Père de Lescault called a group of demoiselles up to the altar.  Twelve teen-age girls emerged timidly, pushed and arranged like furniture by Sister Donation, one of the Lord’s appointed interior decorators, without whom we’d be mixing chintz with plaid and becoming Protestants.  Yes, Sister Donation was getting the girls in a half-moon formation, facing the handsome altar decorated with couture cassocked priests and altar boys in Ordinary Time’s requisite green and white. “What’s going on, Mom?  Are they in trouble?” whispered my son pointing to the maidenly congregation. “I fear they are,” I returned.  “Let’s see what happens.” It soon became clear this was a kind of sacred swearing in and that the girls were committing themselves to being handmaidens of the parish.  Their duties, as specified solemnly by Père de Lescault, were to wear a consecrated frock, greet parishioners at… Read more
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Happy Toussaint

Friends, I will be on a train to Bruges in an hour or so, but before barreling down to the Gare du Nord, I want to wish you all a happy Toussaint.   Beware of hobgoblins, grab onto a four-horned goat for safety, and don’t forget to toss a few chrysanthemums to the wind. If perchance a cold virus clings to you, here’s a recipe that disencumbers: Soupe à l’ail – Garlic Soup - 13 garlic cloves unpeeled + 13 peeled cloves - 1 soupspoon of olive oil - a tablespoon of butter -a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper -40 grams freshly grated ginger - fresh thyme - one large onion -1/2 liter of vegetable broth - 50 ml of coconut milk - a couple slices of fresh lemon to squeeze over soup Heat the oven to a mid-high temp (175 Celsius).  Put the 13 unpeeled garlic cloves onto wax paper,… Read more
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Edith Piaf – C’est la fête!

Several weeks ago we found out that the legendary Edith Piaf was baptized in our humble, faux-Gothic, John-the-Baptist-adoring Belleville parish!    Yes, Edith the Sparrow, born and reared in a brothel but blessed with belief — or so Père Boyardee has been insisting – might have pewed in the front row like me on Sunday.  Mais c’est extraordinaire, non? To celebrate the 50th anniversary of her death, a giant screen was set up in front of the church last Thursday to broadcast a Mega Mass officiated by Monseigneur de Dinechin, a RC big-wig who gets to strut in hot pink gowns and wave a pastoral crook like Marie Antoinette.   The mass was the culmination of a solemn cortege starting in Père Lachaise cemetery at the songstress’s tomb and winding its way through the 20th and 19th arrondissements.  I missed the event because I was too busy trying to plump up the… Read more
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Mills Quarterly

When her French composer-husband brings a few co-workers home from the Paris carwash where he is working to earn some money, Jane de la Rochefoucault gets the feeling that something odd is about to happen. When these co-workers steal a secret prototype car to fund a rescue plan for members of their Muslim brotherhood being held hostage, Jane’s mother-in-law hides them in her chateau while they work their plans—and Jane is embroiled in an adventure that will put her family in a bit of a predicament. Little does she know that her own famiglia connections will help save the day. Anne Marsella’s novel combines the trials and tribulations of first-time motherhood, culture clashes, and marriage with an international crime caper. Mafia uncles, upper-crust communists, absent-minded avant-garde composers, and feminist academics are just some of the wonderful characters she has created to enliven her tale of raising a baby in Belleville,… Read more
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L’Humanité – Les Bonnes Feuilles

Selected for the magazine section ” Les Bonnes Feuilles”. L’Humanite… Read more
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The Blessing of the Backpacks

(Mass under the pines at Huntington Lake) Père Boyardee will be blessing our children’s school backpacks this morning at mass in what he calls La Bénédiction des cartables. I intend to throw my purse up on the altar, too; I’m sure Père will oblige. Last Sunday he gave a rousing sermon in which he revealed, in the manner of Aesop, the veritable role of the padre. “Brother and Sisters,” he began, “the shepherd cannot be everywhere at once, and as you know, there will always be stray sheep…” Here he paused, throwing a recriminatory eye over the parishioners. “So what happens to the lost, defenceless sheep who sets off looking for greener pastures?” While we parishioners pondered the question, Père began earnestly bleating from his pedagogical pulpit; indeed, his baaas brought his pastoral scene to life so vividly they transported us to the meadow where night began dropping its curtains… Read more
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Willa on Vacation

Among the books I packed for summer vacation is a second-hand 1930 edition of Willa Cather’s Death Comes For the Archbishop. If you’re not familiar with this novel it recounts the story of two French Jesuits, Father Latour and Father Vaillant, from the Puy de Dôme who embark on a journey as missionaries in the United States’ newly acquired territory of New Mexico.  This is back in 1848.   I’ve read Death Comes For the Archbishop now three times and it remains one of my favourite books, perhaps because the tale reads in some obscure but fundamental way as my own in reverse.   From the west, I’ve moved to France.  Of course I’m not a missionary, but writers, like priests, are grateful for converts. We’ve been in the Puy de Dôme for the past six days and I’ve often thought of Willa’s two padres and the contrast between France’s groomed, well-ordered… Read more
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