31 August 2013

Far too much excitement

I got up at five o'clock this morning. I had gone to bed early because I was pretty tired after our whirlwind visit to the Sud-Touraine on Thursday and Friday to see friends, along with a side trip to the city of Tours. I was in the kitchen putting on a pot of coffee and I kept hearing little clicking or bumping noises out in the living room. I went to see what it might be, and discovered three small creatures flying around in the room.

When I went into the living room, the UFCs (Unidentified Flying Creatures) fled into the kitchen, and into a bedroom. Then one flew downstairs into the entryway. I started opening doors and windows so that they could get out of the house — hoping that they would. I turned on outside lights to try to attract them to the outdoors.

I'm missing the relative calm and quiet of Paris, with its sidewalk cafés and restaurants.
La Poule au Pot is a restaurant on the rue de l'Université in the 7th.

Now I'm pretty sure they were bats. When I saw the first one, I thought it was one of the big "bat moths" that we've seen here in past summers, but it definitely was not a moth. And I think moths are solitary. Then I thought they might be birds — swallows or martins — but they seemed too quiet to be birds. They had to be bats. After five minutes, the three of them were gone. One had a hard time finding the way out, but finally did.

I'm happy that none of them bumped into me or landed in my hair. Still, it was an exciting way to start the day.

Le Recrutement is at the intersection of the avenue de la Tour-Maubourg and the rue de l'Université in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. Doesn't it look peaceful?

Yesterday morning, in the suburbs of Tours, I was driving along a wide boulevard lined with big-box stores. I was going about 40 mph and headed toward an intersection with a green traffic light. As I approached the light, it turned yellow. I was close enough that I went on through, posing, to my mind, no danger to other traffic (there were no pedestrians in sight). It was a judgment call.

I continued a few hundred yards up the road to the night traffic light. We were going to turn left into a parking lot, so I pulled into the left-turn lane and stopped at the traffic light, which was red. Suddenly a man in jeans and a T-shirt, on a motorcycle, pulled up along the passenger side of the car and started tapping on the side window, gesturing for us to roll it down.

The view down the rue de l'Université from the avenue de la Tour-Maubourg

My first thought was that the motorcyclist might be lost and wanted to ask us for directions. We pushed the button to open the window. The man, quite excited or angry — I couldn't tell which, but definitely perturbed — started screaming at me. "You are lucky that I'm off duty, because I was behind you when you ran through that yellow light back there," he yelled. "You could get a 135-euro fine and four points taken off your permis de conduire for that."

He finally finished his tirade — I'm not sure what else he said, because I was so rattled by the whole situation. What would you have done in my place? Who was the motorcyclist ? He could have been a car-jacker, I realize now, thinking back on it. He could have pulled a gun on us. I guess we should not have put the window down.

Can you believe that a gendarme in civilian clothing — claiming to be one, anyway — would behave that way? He produced no badge or other ID. And what had I done wrong, anyway? I went through a yellow light, and I wasn't speeding. I probably ought to report the incident, and I might talk to our neighbor the mayor about it.

Sitting on the terrace at Le Recrutement, with no bats, crazy motorcyclists, or marauding felines to worry about

Just a minute ago, Bertie the Black Cat was outside the door meowing loudly. I let him in. Then I realized he had some mouse or other little animal in his mouth. The last time that happened, the little animal was alive and Bertie dropped him on the floor at my feet. It was some kind of mouse, and it scurried into a corner behind a radiator. Then suddenly it shot across the room, with Bertie in hot pursuit, and hid under the sofa.

I didn't know if I'd ever catch the thing and get it back outdoors. I finally did, grabbing it with a kitchen towel when he ran under the coffee table. I put it outside, and it ran and jumped off the terrace onto the driveway below. Bertie stared at me, bewildered, and probably disappointed to see his prize escape.

This morning, I managed to grab the cat and push him back out onto the terrace, with the animal still in his mouth. Maybe whatever it was was dead. All this is way too much excitement for me.

Besides, there were two other incidents yesterday, on having to do with our vegetable garden and the other with events out in the vineyard...


  1. The off duty policeman had probably had a bad shift and was taking it out on you.
    It's funny how you get days where one thing happens after another like that.
    I hope the rest of your weekend is more peaceful.

  2. I think you need to get back to CHM in Paris and sit for a whole day in one of those cafés...
    drinking mineral waters [for the health]...
    rosé wine [for some relaxation jooce]...
    and a strong coffee to wake you up before you head home!!
    "La Poule au Pot" looks relaxing enough...
    "Le Recruitment Café" looks farrrr, farrrr to crowded to relax outside!

    But if you've got bats in the belfry...
    perhaps you'd better just have a lay down!

    Hope you have a really quiet day today!


    That 2CV book of CHM's is wonderful...
    Jean and Nick brought it with them last night...
    when we've had a good look, who's next on the reading list?

    My favourites so far are the little grey Deuche with the one wheel trailer...
    the "sculptured" car with the stained-glass quarter-lights...
    and the lave-linge bootlid [or trunk lid to you.]

  3. I'd be willing to put money on the motorcyclist not being a policeman at all.

  4. I'm with Susan. I doubt the man was a cop.

  5. Wow Ken, we're so far apart, yet we're dealing with bats and rude "police".
    However, with Bertie you're on your own.
    I've been enjoying all your lovely Paris photos and descriptions...I'm learning so much, and to think you were thinking of taking a break from blogging earlier this year...I'm glad you didn't.

  6. Never a dull moment!

    Jean, Nick and Tim, I'm glad you enjoyed that 2CV book. My cousin, who wrote it, was on the Paris-Dakar at least once. Even though I have fond memories of my one and only 2CV, I'm not a car kind of guy. Airplanes, trains, cars and motorbikes are just means of transportation, however gorgeous they might look!

  7. Ken, sorry you had all that hassle. Things come in spurts, so now you're entitled to a few peaceful weeks.

    Bats don't like the light, so turning on all your indoor lights should chase them outdoors.

    I don't think my spouse has ever been deterred by a yellow light. I'm going to be sure he reads this post because French fines are expensive (as we know to our sorrow).

  8. I wonder if that mec knows what people our age think of authoritarians?

    I've got a couple of butterfly nets that I got at Dollar Tree. When the cat gives that special meow, I grab them and get busy. Often the critter is only stunned and I can bag it before it comes back to life.

    Bats are the worst of the critters, the cutest was a small screech owl. All of these excitements when we could be relaxing in a Paris cafe....

  9. Holy bejeebers, what a load of unwanted excitement! Let us know what you find out about whether or not there really is a fine for going through a yellow light. Nutty!

    (Yuck yuck yuck for things flying around inside your house.)

    More wonderful café photos! I'll be showing these especially to my new little débutants in Français I, as their next unit will be teaching them phrases for ordering at a café

  10. Ken

    If he was following you as he said, how much do you bet he would have reacted in a worse fashion , had you put the brake forcing him to do the same.

    His excuses would have been different but the attitude the same. I doubt he was really a policeman.

  11. These cafés remind me how much I miss Paris.

  12. All this excitement calls for a glass of wine. Or two.

    Isn't a yellow light a warning that the light is about to turn red? Does it really mean "stop?" If the yellow light means "stop," what does a red light mean?

    It's a puzzle.

  13. My thoughts exactly, Chrissou. If that man really was a gendarme, his behavior was not very ethical. Besides, he's the one who pointed out that I had driven through the intersection on a feu jaune. He didn't say feu rouge. I don't think I committed a crime.

    Beaver, you're right. I could have slammed on brakes and tried to stop, but I was afraid I might get rear-ended.

    Tim, that 2CV magazine is for you to keep or to pass on as you will.

    Carolyn, Susan, Starman, Jean, Virginia, Judy, Evelyn — hope I haven't missed anybody — smiles all around.


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