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the 13-year houseguest

IMG_20140402_151515186-1If you’re anything like me (a public school educated American), you probably didn’t learn about Jean Cocteau in school.   You may have intuitively envisioned him (or her) as elegant, artistic and French. You might have sometimes confused him/her with Jacques Cousteau, or some famous old school French actress (hey, Jean is a girl’s name, right?).


Photo of Cocteau at Villa Santo Sospir

At any rate, if someone mentioned Jean Cocteau in a conversation, you’d nod knowingly (knowingly, because the name sounds familiar) and say nothing for fear of embarrassing yourself by responding with something like “she was a great beauty, fine artist and a pioneer in deep sea exploration.

Turns out, Cocteau is pretty famous over here (male, FYI).   And he was no one-trick petite cheval.   He’s famous for poetry, literature, theater, art, ballet, films, music, set design, and the list goes on.   Dude did everything.   He was the first to adapt Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et le Bete) to film (yeah, I thought it was Disney, too).   He even designed jewelry! (I discovered this at the Musee de Cocteau in Menton).  Dear Lord and American school system, where has he been all my life?

A few facts:   He was born in 1880 and died in 1963 (a few hours after his close friend, Edith Piaf’s death).   Not a bad run for a once sickly child before the invention of penicillin.  His father was a lawyer and amateur painter who killed himself when Cocteau was nine.   He published his first book of poetry at 19.   He was a hard partier and drug addict.   He was good friends with Picasso and Matisse.   Hell, it appears He was good friends with just about every famous person alive, from Coco Chanel to Marlene Dieterich to Igor Stravinsky.    Something tells me that if the E network existed in his time, he’d be top news everyday and much more popular than the Kardashians.   It appears, he was visionary enough to have his own Facebook page.

jmfbabbHe was bixexual, but his longest relationships were with men –Jean Marais was an actor (starred in most of Cocteau’s productions) and Eduoard Dermit a young writer he eventually adopted.    He struggled with opium addiction.   He lived like he was rich, but he wasn’t. Which is a nice way of saying he was a bit of a mooch; living well off of other peoples’ coin.   I guess he was just so wonderful, charming and clever, people just wanted to be around him and invited him to stay with them.

Which is how he wound up spending 13 years at Villa Santo Sospir on Cap Ferrat.

Cocteau, Weissweiler and Dermit

Cocteau, Weisweiller and Dermit

Francine Weisweiller, a rich socialite whose husband spent most of the time in Paris with his mistress, owned the villa. She invited him and his extremely handsome adopted 23-year old son, Eduoard Dermit to be her guest in the Villa for a week.   They wound up staying until over a decade later, when after a huge fight with Francine, Cocteau stormed out and they never spoke again.

IMG_20140402_150233772I’ve heard differing stories on the nature of Francine and Cocteau’s relationship.  I tend to think that putting up with a guest for that long without killing them indicates a love beyond reason, but that could just be me. One thing is certain, Cocteau never really left her. He left his imprint in the form of murals, tapestries, tiles and doodlings all over the house.  Santo Sospir was his sketch pad.

IMG_20140402_154519920After Francine’s death in 2003, Villa Santo Sospir was passed down to her daughter, Carole.  In order to avoid the huge inheritance tax and because the historic and cultural nature of the villa, the family had it classified as an historical monument. Unlike many historical monuments, it still evokes the essence of the people who lived there.  It seems unchanged, as if they’re all still present, possibly getting very drunk and having wild, celebrity/intelligensia-studded orgies on the terrace overlooking the sea.

The villa is open for tours, but unlike nearby Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and Villa Kerylos, you have to make an appointment. Eric, the caretaker and once caregiver to the aging Francine, conducts the tours, and offers unique, intimate insight, much of which I probably either miss or misunderstand because the tour is in French.

It doesn’t matter. The setting is spectacular and It’s like Cocteau opened his brain and splashed it all over this quirky place.  You can practically feel the stories that happened over those 13 years.

In many ways, Villa Santo Sospir is the embodiment of the epitaph on Cocteau’s tombstone: “Je reste avec vous” or “I stay with you.”

No kidding.

A tour of Villa Santo Sospir

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looking down on the masses

“Mur des amoureux” by Raymond Peynet

I’ve been wanting to visit Le Cannet for awhile now, but have put it off because it’s not directly on the train line.  It’s a small artists’ village in the hills above Cannes.   Its selling points as far as I’m concerned are the Peynet painting on the side of a building I’ve seen in pictures, a vieux ville (an old town), the Musee Bonnard and the fact that it isn’t Cannes.

It’s a simple 10 minute bus ride up the hill from the Cannes train station (#1 Le Cannet bus).  I get off at the Town Hall/Musee Bonnard stop.   It’s not the old town, but I suspect this is the closest the bus can get.

The quiet up here is a little disquieting   Nobody is brushing against me.   I don’t have to maneuver walking down the street.  It’s practically deserted.   Maybe the rapture happened on the bus ride up and all the good Christians were up here in Le Cannet.    I’m feeling positively light-headed and I don’t think it’s the altitude.   It’s probably some form of culture shock from having just been in the frenzy of Cannes 10 minutes ago.  Well, either that or I’m hungry.

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of food options.  There are several cafes and restaurants with varying degrees of expensiveness.   But before I eat, I have to scope out the village and make myself so hungry I don’t have to choose which restaurant to dine at, but rather eat at the one whose entrance  I pass out in front of.

How can nobody be here?   Granted, there’s not a preponderance of little shops.   There are some storefronts where artists show and sell their work, but I’m a little afraid of them.   I can’t imagine anything is in my price range and don’t want to insult some up and coming artist.   Or break something.   I feel the same way I used to feel about designer stores on Madison Avenue (which I got over, but it cost me dearly).   But I digress.

The village is lovely.   The Peynet “mur des amoureux” (lovers’ wall) is all I dreamed it would be.   And there’s a funky tiny ancient church restored by Theo Tobiasse with the theme life is a party (an interesting choice for a church).  The musee Bonnard is..pleasant, kind of like Bonnard’s work.   I like it, would probably put one or two on my wall, but nothing screams “genius”.

Now I’ve passed from light headed to shaky and vicious.

Fortunately, I collapse in front of a small restaurant called Arts & Assiettes which is low on the price scale with a simple menu that doesn’t muddle my little brain with options.   It’s not really a menu…it’s a plat du jour which today is a combination of daurade (some kind of fish), ratatouille, smashed blue (actually a vibrant violet that the photograph doesn’t capture) potatoes with persillade (a parsley pesto popular in these parts — the green and purple together are stunning! and a couple of cheese raviolis.   Despite the fact that something on the menu lead me to believe I was getting veal, it’s pretty damn good and the colors are beautiful — a vision in Fauve.  It’s all fresh, organic and grown locally.    I just wish the daurade wasn’t staring up at me while I devour it, but I’m going to have to get over that.   The French clearly don’t mind looking their food in the eye.

In all, I got a little culture and had a delicious typical provencal lunch in a quiet, charming medieval village overlooking the Mediterranean for a mere 12 Euro.  If I were among the masses down the hill in Cannes, I probably would have paid 40 Euro for the same lunch (sans culture).


living a life of luxury on the french riviera. well, the riviera part is true.

Never in a million years did I imagine I’d wind up living on the French Riviera (or any Riviera for that matter).   I figured I would have to be rich and fabulous.  But here I am.

I live in Antibes now, which is smack dab in between Nice and Cannes.   The population is about 75,000 which may seem small by urban US standards, but is huge compared to Vidauban (population 8,000), which is where I was originally.

The vibe in Antibes isn’t in the least bit fancy schmancy. Where Cannes is leathery skin squeezed into tight, trendy, un-age-appropriate clothes, trout pout and faces that aren’t quite human, Antibes is leathery skin in shorts and flip flops.   Well, that’s not exactly true.   There are a lot of Brits here, so there’s a lot of pasty skin as well.

Here are a few other reasons I love Antibes:

The weather 

Mostly sunny.  Not too hot, not too cold.  It’s like living in California without the Californians.

The train station Every train stops here, so I can get to a lot of places quickly and easily.  No car necessary.   It’s 20 minutes to Nice, 12 minutes to Cannes, 35 minutes to Monaco, 40 minutes to St. Paul de Vence (with a bus transfer), 5 minutes to Biot or Cagnes sur Mer, 1 hour 15 minutes to Italy, and so on.

The daily market (marche provencal)

Most villages have a market once or twice a week.  Antibes has one every day except Monday, plus a bunch of antique, clothes, crafts and flea markets.

One of the best ancient medieval villages ever



The new part ain’t bad either

Ten minute walk to the beach

Or 10 minutes to a morning cup of coffee on the ramparts overlooking the Mediterranean with the alps looming in the background..

Little shops

Art, culture, history

Antibes has been around for millennia.      It used to be called Antiopolis.   They’re not sure if the “anti” means opposite from Nice or Corsica.   Ligurians, Ionians, Phoenicians, Etruscans frequented the place before the Greeks settled in 5th century BC.    It fell into obscurity in the 1400’s, and was rediscovered in the early 1900’s (the jazz age).   Napoleon, Monet, Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, all hung out here at one point or another.   And now me.

There are museums, theaters, concerts (the Jazz festival in July is pretty famous).   There must be hundreds of paintings by dozens of famous artists of the place.  No wonder.

Killer views

I may not be living in a lavish villa with a view of the sea (try a one bedroom apartment with a view of another apartment building, lots of sky and palm trees), have no yacht, Rolls Royce or even a car, but to me,  living somewhere this awesome is a luxury in itself.

More pictures of Antibes

you gotta love these quaint goddamn medieval villages

We’re spending three nights in the village of Rovinj. Our hotel is in the middle of the medieval old town where attempting to maneuver a car gives mere mortals a nervous tic. You don’t see many SUVs let alone Hummers in this part of the world.

The Angelo D’Oro, is probably the closest thing to a boutique hotel you’ll find in this neck of the woods. It’s a converted townhouse. Homey. Small. Decorated with antiques. It’s got a garden where breakfast, drinks and dinner is served. There’s also a tiny covered porch area near the roof great for kicking back and enjoying the view or a book.

The other recommended hotel options are outside the walls of old Rovinj in big old communist block buildings which offend our sensibilities. The main downside is instead of having the luxury of a paved path to a pool, our hotel choice forces us to walk up the narrow street past the church courtyard to the edge of Rovinj and climb down some rocks to swim in the Adriatic. Here, People sunbathe on the rocks that jut out from the cafes bars homes and churches overlooking the sea. They look like happy flesh colored seals in unbecoming bathingsuits. I love the picturesque-ness of it. And the sight confirms my deeply held belief that humans are not meant to be a sunbathing species. But damn that water looks good.

I particularly like the outdoor market in Rovinj (just outside the wall). The fruit and vegetables all look particularly luscious, big and ripe. And they have great looking bottles with herbs and fruits in them that facinate and tempt me even though deep in my heart, I know they’re grappa. It’s the only market I’ve seen that sells colorful strings of various whole, raw seasoning…laurel, different colored hot peppers, garlic and other stuff that are really beautiful in the simple arrangements The first day in Rovinj we bought fruit and stuff from the market and had lunch on the hotel roof porch.

I’ll always remember Rovinj because my first work of art is acquired here. For my birthday present (like the trip isn’t enough) my parents bought me An oil painting done by a local artist of a couple of rowboats parked in front of a pair of shuttered townhouses in “downtown.” Rovinj. The painting seems kind of impressionist, so I particularly like it. But I’m sure I’ll curse is existence when I have to take it back to Paris, or worse, the US (not going to think about it).

On our second morning in Rovinj, my dad and I break from the pack and drive to Pula to see the ampitheatre and a medieval village or two. We find our way easily and check out the well preserved remains of the roman colloseum. It’s up there with Rome, Verona, but this is probably the nicest location. Kind of a northern Naples. There’s an old town, an old church, an old forum and old medieval streets. And the school where James Joyce taught for five minutes and developed an aversion to the region (he must have had the same problem with Zagreb airport we did).

On the way back we take the scenic route. The road winds along a rocky green shores dotted with picturesque medieval villages and steeples. It’s a Sunday but we figure we’ll stop at one of the little restaurants in one of the villages for lunch. Obviously, my dad and I are the crazy adventurous ones in the family on this trip.

We wisely opt for parking outside our chosen village and look for our restaurant. We can’t find it and everything looks closed. We look confused and an Italian family visiting Croatian relatives offers to show us where the restaurant is by walking us there.. It gives the 10 year old girl a chance to practice her English. She is also the only one in the group with any crossover translator abilities (except me, with my new Auvers inspired gift for mime).

After a few minutes of trying to draw the girl who has clearly been put on the spot out of her shell, she tells me haltingly in English that “it is very important to be good at another language.” I nod encouragingly. “ Yes! That’s very good! And true!” Unfortunately, those are the only words she knows in English and 10 more than what I know in Croatian or Italian.

Nonetheless, It’s a lovely interlude. Visualize it: two families from different cultures strolling along the Croatian coast (maybe in silhouette) together on a Sunday afternoon. One of them is gesticulating wildly.

The restaurant is closed like everything else in this damn medieval town. We escape to the car before the family can invite us to have lunch with them. All this pantomiming is more exercise than I’ve had in years. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted.

We escape to the car, and the moment I let my guard down, I take the wrong turn.

I’m suddenly driving in the pedestrian area of the goddamn medieval village, with no apparent legal exit (of course there’s no legal exit, there’s no legal entrance). And since it’s Sunday, there are no helpful vendors directing me towards the correct exit in an effort to keep me from backing into their displays. Fortunately, there are a couple of kids and cops out, who direct us when we get our car wedged between several goddamn quaint medieval buildings. Is the air-conditioning on? I’m sweating like a pig.

On the way back to Rovinj, all I can think of is how nice it would be to have an ice cream cone and a paved path to a swimming pool. But noooooo, because we’re staying in a goddamn quaint medival village I have to walk up the street carrying a towel and climb down some rocks to swim. Which also requires wearing a bathing suit in a public place.

Once we get back to Rovinj and have a quick lunch, I resolve to brave it. The street, stairs and rocks are easy. It’s the bathing suit and water part that are hard. I finally am in position to dive in. I dip my foot in and goddamn, the water is cold. Goddamn unheated Adriatic water. I take the plunge and dunk my whole body in. It’s blue. It’s clear. It’s refreshing. I’m swimming in the Adriatic. I can see my feet and fish. But they’re not scary fish (in fact, they look delicious). My feet are another story.

I look up and see the quaint little medieval village looming above me. The sun sparkles on me and the water around me. Goddamn, this is good.


a day of concern

It’s my birthday. I won’t mention which one, because once the number crosses my lips (in any language), I’m sure I’ll go into some sort of emotional/spiritual decline that will end with me wandering the streets of some city (I hope in Europe) with long unkempt grey hair talking about the royal paradox and why all white possums must be destroyed or we will suffer the wrath of Tutankhamun who will rise from…you get the picture.

My point is, I’m approaching this day as a “Fete de moi”, rather than a birthday to avoid any unnecessary introspection, self-reflection or taking stock of my life. That must be avoided at all cost.

I have important things that must get done today. Especially since yesterday one news source informed its readers in bold red type that today is “a day of concern.” I read the article and the concern wasn’t for my creeping age. Yes, some experts were predicting something really, really terrible happening on this day. It’s got to do with the Islamic calendar and we should all be vigilant. I guess Armageddon could be considered the birthday celebration to end all birthday celebrations. All I know is I better get my derriere to the Musee Marmottan and see all those Monets before it closes permanently, so to speak.

I’m atwitter because I’ve discovered there’s a train from St. Ouen Aumone/Pontoise that takes me straight to the Musee Marmottan neighborhood which is in the 16th arrondisement. That means no time consuming stop at Gare du Nord and transferring to the metro. One hour from door to door. And what a relief to avoid a major train station on this day of ill portent.

I’m not at all familiar with the 16th arrondissement, but when I get above ground at the Boullanvilliers stop, I can see the tip of the Eiffel tower looming above the first tree topped roof. I walk towards where the action appears to be and wind up on Rue de Passy. The streets are lined with wonderful boutiques of both the material and edible kind. I’m pulled in different directions…do I find the point where I can see all of the Eiffel tower right across the Seine. Or go into the shoe store. Or the Asian traiture. I’m not sure whether it’s the wisdom of old age or poverty that propels me to find the view.

palais de chaillot from place du mars

There’s a huge palatial building at the bottom of the small hill and I head towards it. Turns out it’s the Musee/Palais Chaillot. Its terrace has one of Paris’ most spectacular views. The plaza is literally across the river from the Place du Mars, where the Eiffel tower is. But the terrace is on a higher plane, than the base of the Eiffel tower, so I get to look down on about 1/4 of it and up at the rest. I also get to look over Paris. I’m particularly enamored with the gold dome of the Invalides building glistening in the sunlight. I curse my stupidity in rushing out of the house without the camera. We’ll see if Monet can top this.

I spend a few hours with Monet at the Musee Marmottan and emerge culturally sated.   Now I must indulge my shallower urges (it’s my birthday and the world is about to end, dammit!!!).

I find Paris curiously tourist free except on the Champs Elysees, at the Louvre and Galleries Lafayette. The 16th is no exception. But from here, it appears every tourist in the world has assembled on the huge manicured Plaza of the Eiffel tower and is waiting in line to go up. Either that or it’s the armies of good and evil assembling for the final battle. Which reminds me, I’ve got to get my derriere going.

It’s getting late and I’ve got to get back to Auvers because I’m having dinner next door with Carole and Jerome later so I should really try to catch a train before the world ends so I can catch a quick nap (hey, I’m old). But before I go back, I check out the shoe store I’d forsaken earlier for the view. It’s fete de moi, after all. I should be able to indulge myself with a little peek. And heck, if I happen to love something, the world is gonna end later today, so it probably won’t even show up on the credit card bill. But of course, now that I have all the money in the world (as long as the world ends), there’s nothing here I really want.

I return to the Asian traiture and fulfill my earlier desire for a shrimp summer roll and eat it in the park. Then I get a beautiful pink pamplemouse/rose sorbet on the sidewalk on the way back to the metro (how could I resist?). I have now indulged my every whim of the day. I am fulfilled. Armageddon, come and get me.

a few hours with monet

To get to the Marmottan, I walk through yet another one of Paris’s beautifully kept parks. This one even has pony rides. The museum itself is an elegant mansion on the edge of the greenery. It has three floors, each featuring a different collection. There’s the illuminations from middle age religious manuscripts, the collection of art and artifacts collected over centuries from the Marmottan family and the Monet stuff.

The place is practically deserted. I begin to wonder if the end of the world happened and I missed it.   I squelch the urge to find the nearest satellite television and tune into CNN. Instead, I head for the Monets, which just happen to be in the relative safety of the basement, which has been rebuilt into a grand museum space.

This collection was donated by Monet’s son and is quite impressive. Tons of Monet paintings, sketches and even an old palette of his. Also displayed is Monet’s collection of work by his friends and peers, among them, Renoir, Morisot, Rodin, my buddy Pisarro…

Monet as painted by Renoir

I like Monet, but find a lot of his work spotty. There are periods where his work soared and then other periods, not so much. I guess that’s the curse of living a long life.

Monet lived to the ripe old age of 87. He did not die impoverished and unappreciated. I guess that’s the benefit of living a long life, if you happen to have any talent. He was making a good living which enabled him to live his final couple of decades in a gorgeous environment of his own creation—his house and gardens at Giverny (add Givererny to my “to go” list). He apparently died bitter and cranky despite the fact that he lived what seemed like a pretty idyllic existence. Of course, he did have advanced cataracts and had been legally blind for at least 10 years, which had to be a real bummer. You can actually see the effect of his cataracts on his later paintings.–they’re practically unrecognizable and there’s a reddish/mauvy cast, which is apparently how cataract sufferers see things.


Japanese footbridge, painted 1899

Japanese footbridge, painted 1919

Like Van Gogh, Monet tried to kill himself in his early years. But only once (Van Gogh tried all the time). In Monet’s case, at the time, his girlfriend was pregnant, he was broke and unappreciated and it seemed to be an isolated crisis rather than a way of life or being a drama queen.  He married in 1870, his first wife died in 1879 and he remarried a family friend (Alice Hoschede) who was helping him raise his sons in 1892, a year after her husband died (she died in 1911).   One cool, slightly perverse fact:   Monet’s son from his first marriage married Alice’s daughter from her first marriage.

Judging by the photographs, In his younger years, Monet appears to have been a real hottie. And now he’s single (dead, but single)!   I know all I need to know about Monet.  I must visit Giverny.

Address, hours and reviews of the Musee Marmottan

dutch masters, ribs and self-pity


As one of Van Gogh’s neighbors, it would be remiss to visit Amsterdam and not see his museum.  Museumplein, home of the Rijks and Van Gogh Museums,  is a few blocks away, so I slip out before the Kellys are up.

I remember the Van Gogh museum from my last and only visit 20 years ago as the most spectacular museum ever. Max advises me that it sucks compared to the Rijks.   He also corrects my pronunciation of “Van Gogh”  (sounds like “Van go”)  with a harder slightly Germanic, totally Dutch “Van G-ahck,” which sounds like it’s stuck in his throat.   But he’s right.   Van Gogh was Dutch, after all.

I hate to admit that Max’s 8 year old impression of the Van Gogh museum is more sophisticated than my 20 year old memory, but he was sort of right about that too.    I love Van Gogh’s art but the crowd flow is awful. The lighting is dismal. And most unforgivable of all, the Auvers portion is scant.   But the fourth floor makes it all worthwhile.  It’s more personal, with his letters, sketches as well as  Van Gogh’s attempts at copying other artists’ paintings. It’s kind of like watching U2 cover Dylan, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Cole Porter , and so on. I especially like Van Gogh’s interpretation of Japanese prints.

Van Gogh does Hiroshige


portrait of van gogh by gauguin

There’s also Van Gogh’s art collection, consisting of gifts from other artists as well as trades.    Some wonderful portraits and self portraits of and by various artistic icons.

But here’s the real surprise as far as Amsterdam museums go. I like Rembrandt. A lot. I always thought he was dark and dreary, but he’s pretty awesome. The way he captures light seems almost magical.

When you’re up close and personal every line has power. And his subjects’ faces express more still than most peoples’ faces express in motion. (and I’m not just talking about botox users). I wonder where he died. Maybe I can go live there next. I run a quick check and find he died in Amsterdam. I can deal with that. I’ll become a dead artist groupie. My specialty will be Dutch artists, which will necessitate long stays in Amsterdam.


And speaking of  Dutch masters, who knew their spareribs would be timeless works of art?     Not your basic barbeque sauced to death American ribs. Perfectly seasoned lean but juicy spareribs made in a dark Dutch dive called the Klos, right off the leiderhosensplane. We ate outside, practically on the street where Max could practice his unicycle in between courses. Pretty blissful.

On my final day, Blake, Al and I go to the Oudekerk (old church in Dutch) to see a display of the top world news press photos.

In the 1300’s they started burying people under the church and there are over 10,000 people underfoot.   Some still haven’t been identified.   The inscriptions are all over the smooth stone floors, which are works of art in themselves.   I almost miss the art on the walls completely

Photo taken by Trey Ratcliff fromstuckincustoms.com.   Check out all his pictures of Amsterdam.

Some of the photographs are pretty stirring. Particularly the Iraq war widows and earthquake victims –those poor Afghanis just can’t catch a break. But for some reason, the photos of the evacuation of Gaza stir me up. Look at these religious nutjobs rending their clothes and wailing at God about the inhumanity of it all because they’re being evicted from their illegally obtained homes and getting PAID by the government to leave.

They aren’t fighting for their own survival even, yet they’re acting like they’re the only ones whose suffering should matter.

What about the Iraq war widows who lost their husbands for the wrong cause? What about the people in Darfur who face unspeakable horrors on a daily, no, hourly basis and keep going. How about the Iraqis? Or the Afghanis who have known nothing but war, famine, earthquakes and just about every other curse that can be put on a people, and these stupid settlers are just being relocated and you’d think it’s the holocaust revisited.

What is wrong with those settlers? Isn’t it time they get a grip and realize that they don’t have it so bad?

When we leave the church the sun is shining and I’m feeling lucky to be living in France and visiting friends who are living in Amsterdam.

And just at that moment, a cloud skittles across the sun and I feel a chill of fear.

I vaguely recollect that something’s not right in the world.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  I lost my apartment in NYC.   All my stuff is being moved into storage this weekend (a place called ASS storage in New Jersey, which seems very appropriate).   In four months I’ll be homeless.   It’s costing me a fortune in moving and storage costs alone(at least the Gaza settlers got paid to leave).  Mentally, I’m rending my clothes and wailing to the heavens: ‘Why must I bear such a burden? When will it end? Why me?’

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