A ring in Paris (fiction)

Parts of this story are based on actual events I experienced during a recent trip to Paris, France. It was as they say … Tres bien!

There’s nothing like the glint of a precious stone or metal in the sunlight. It is unmistakable. So when I saw the ring out of the corner of my eye, my head snapped. I am like a crow in nest building mode when it comes to shiny things. Caw caw! But, hey, aren’t we all? Even if you pride yourself as a super crunchy world-music type, you have probably given in to this urge at some time even if the diamond was just a zirc.

It didn’t really surprise me to find the ring lying there. I am after all, a finder of things — cameras, phones, wallets. You name it. Once I found a bag full of drugs and money on the streets of Oakland, but that’s a story for another time. Back to Paris, and the bridge I was crossing when I spotted the ring.

Before I could reach down to scoop it up, someone had done just that. Oh well. I’m the type who will obsess over trying to find the owner of lost things so it was a bit of a relief. One time I found an amazing digital camera near Lake Merrit and it was full of photos of this amazing looking family, but no ID. I scoured Craigslist and bulletin boards (yes it was pre-smart phone era). But to no avail. It wasn’t the camera so much – it was valuable – but those photos/1 They must have really missed them. But, again, I digress.

The woman who picked up the ring seemed delighted and a bit in awe. She was unremarkable in appearance … dressed in clothes that were less than stylish and a tad overweight for a French woman.  I quickly ran though how this scenario might play out for her … pawning the ring, getting a haircut and some newer clothes. Maybe she’d just enjoy a fine, French meal, like the one I’d sprung for the night before.

“Oh lucky you!” I said. “I know!” the woman replied.  “Nothing like this ever happens to me.” We started looking it over together and I could see some small marks on the inside that I imagined must be a 14k or maybe 24k gold symbol. I didn’t have my glasses on and it was rather small, so I couldn’t be completely sure.

“What do you  think? Is it real?” she asked. “I said, maybe!” The woman looked rather doubtful. And at second glance, I realized she actually had very pretty eyes and a nice smile when you got up close.  “Nah, that sort of thing never happens to me [I laughed]. “Besides, I don’t want to worry about finding the owner.” Seems I had her pegged wrong all along. She was just like me! And here I was making all these assumptions. I felt rather ashamed of myself for that.

“Here, you take it,”she said. “Oh no, I couldn’t!” I declared. “Please?” she asked “I don’t know what I would do with it.”

After a short time of the little “I just coooouldn’t!” dance, I relented and she gave me the ring. It felt cool and heavy in the palm of my hand. I thanked her, slipped the ring in my pocket, and resumed my trek back to the shabby little flat in the 19th. The whole time I was I was thinking about what it would be like to negotiate in a Parisian pawn shop, especially with my spotty French. And what I might order for dinner that night. I was definitely going to be celebrating.

Just before we parted she asked “Hey, is there any chance you can spare a couple of bucks?” So she was hungry. And, then it hit me. I’d been conned with a fake ring. It was a pretty good one though, wouldn’t you say? I mean the con not the ring. We bonded together over this experience of wonder and delight. We’d shared the ups and downs of possible riches coming our way. I’d felt that delicious feeling of giving and receiving a gift. It was all so well played! How could I not give her something for such a splendid performance. Besides, when this sort of thing happens in a big city – and you’re already engaged with a street level player – it’s sometimes best to just give them a few bucks and move along. And, well if you’ve ever been down and out you know what a difference a few bucks can make. But this was Paris. These were Euros. So the 5 I handed her felt like 7. And it was not enough for her! She pushed and pushed insisting that nothing decent could be had to eat in Paris for that amount, and couldn’t I just make it 10? “Ten?! I pushed back. “Yes 10!” she replied. She must have had a quota back at the con artist encampment. So I gave her the 10 and she quickly turned on her heal and was gone.

Upon returning to to my flat, my beautiful girlfriend was waiting there for me. If she sees something shiny she wants, she can generally just reach into her purse and pull out the Euros or dollars and buy it. I told her the story of the ring, handing it to her to try so she could read the tiny “jewelers mark” on the inside. Then she slipped it on her hand and declared, “mine!”. Oh the nerve! But you know beautiful women. They can be very hard to say no to. And, well it did look amazing on her petite little fingers with the perfect manicure. On me? Not so much. So I let her have it. Conned twice in one day? Sure but c’est la vie as they say. We’re on one side of a confidence or another now aren’t we?

So remember, if you’re walking home from the Eiffel Tower one day you too might become a part of some amazing street level theater. And I say go for it. It is well worth the ticket price of $10 euros or 12 bucks American!

#travel #travelstories #travelblogger



Carson Valley visit

Recently headed to the Carson Valley with my hubby, Bob, for a family wedding and it was absolutely lovely. The nuptials were held at the East Fork Ranch and they did a great job. Nicely catered and such a cool setting.

The towns of Minden-Gardnerville offer a nice, slow place with friendly folks wherever you go. The level of service you get far surpasses the Bay Area, as they surely don’t have the staffing woes we do. They have art galleries, museums, gift shops and some cool thrift shops too.

If you go, I recommend styaing at the Carson Valley Inn in Minden, NV. The rooms are clean, comfy, quiet and well appointed. Be sure to hit their fine dining experience CV Steak. It is amazing!

On the way home we were headed towards Hope Valley along Hwy. 88 and decided to take a detour to Markleeville CA. Took a dip in the Grover Hot Springs pool which I always recommend.

It had been a long time since I’d visited Markleeville and it’s gotten super cute. They’d probably say it got gentrified if it were closer to SF.

The infamous Cut Throat Saloon is now the Cut Throat Saloon and restaurant with a new owner who will be debuting an all new menu later this month. Long long ago they had a bunch of old bras hanging from the ceiling. I think biker chicks used to like to leave their mark that way. It was memorable but they were getting old and dusty in the 1990’s so I’m sure their shelf life was long passed before they came down. Wonder if they burned them? That would have been an appropriate send off to say the least!

Here are a few photos from the trip

#travel #travelblogger #travelnevada #visitcarsonvalley #seniortravel


L’Escargot Bar (and restaurant)

If you’re in Paris in the 19th arrondissement of Paris this place cannot be missed. The snails are amazing, of course, but the lamb dinner … that was truly fantastic! Service was perfect and the waiter spoke English really well. You can watch what’s going on in the kitchen, and many friends seemed to be checking in with the man at the grill.

The chef also loves a little theater, lighting sage on top of certain dinners. People smoke outside, vape inside and enjoy a lively, quirky bar scene there as well. Tres bien

L’Escargot Bar
50 Rue de la Villette

Paris, France 75019


#europeantravel #travelblogger #seniortravel #travel #paris

Thailand Trip

I have now been to two foreign countries, Mexico and Thailand. Very far from the suburbs.

Thailand was amazing. I loved how gracious the people were. There was a slightly more intense pace in Bangkok as opposed to Ko Phi Phi Island (Krabi) but the constant was grace. They never want to lose their cool or worse yet, cause someone else to “lose face”. Homeless encampments do not seem to exist there. But can really see the income disparity in Bangkok, with plenty of luxury outposts alongside tin sided shanties along the Chao Praya River.

I stayed right along the river at the Mandarin Oriental, which was amazing. I want to go back there one day again soon.  Phi Phi Island Village was simply beautiful, with warm days and nights (but not too bad while I was there. I got lucky). Spent a day in Tonsai Bay too. Fun place to shop, eat and pick up other stuff. (Yes, I found cannabis near a taxi stand and well, it was cheap and good enough for me.)

Here are just a few photos. It was always a little foggy as they were coming out of the rainy season at that time (November) and not the best camera on my phone, but you get the idea!

Have you been to Asia or Southeast Asia? What sort of things did you procure? Bring back? Leave behind? Tell me your story please in the comments below.

Chap book release party Feb. 10 7pm Liminal Spaces Oakland CA

Renowned writer Ginger Murray has been selected as a featured reader at the Digging for Pony Chap Book Release Party at LIMINAL, a community writing space for women (3037 38th Ave, Oakland, CA 94619) on Friday, February 10, 2017 from 7 to 10pm. (18 and over. Donation optional).

Murray, also of Oakland, CA is the editor-in-chief of Whore! Magazine. She is also a “performance storyteller” and writer. She has appeared just about everywhere and done seemingly everything. An “avid lover of bad girls, radical idiots, and thinkers”. She “delights in wild expressions, stories, and the adventures of sublime chaos”.

Justine tenZeldam, blogger and consultant, has released her first book of poetry, prose and photographs. Digging for Pony is now on sale on Amazon.com with a 25% off discount code of X6XUPBW9 available for pre-orders by attendees now. The author will be personally signing copies at the event.

Self-published, Digging For Pony covers a period in the writer’s life when she was breaking loose from old ideas, patterns and from a long career in advertising sales. tenZeldam also has a background in publishing and events promotion and non-profit development.

Most of the writing in Digging for Pony is adult oriented, with the disclaimer of NSFW applicable. tenZeldam’s nickname is “Badd Gramma” after all. (She is a grandmother, actually, and a good one according to said children.)

In addition to tenZeldam, Cheral Stewart of Oakland, CA will be reading erotica from her upcoming novel, with entertainment by Nikki Borodi and partner providing some ambient Acrolele entertainment.

Also a featured reader that night, Gina Goldblatt, Founder and Creative Director of LIMINAL, will be serving tasty beverages to support the community programs they offer. There will also be a raffle, and donations of prizes are currently being sought.

For more information see the Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/920271854775531/

You may also contact Justine via email at eastbayjustine@gmail.com

Or visit her BLOG www.SoLongSuburbs.wordpress.com