Thursday, July 27, 2006

And Now, The Moment You've All Been Waiting For...

...the "After" photos of our new apartment!

Things pretty much fell into place about 6 weeks ago, when the couch came (that big red thing that's in almost every photo, can you tell we're proud?), and then, more recently, when some truly fantastic friends of ours bought us a whole heap of plants (a few of which, sadly, we've let die already - green thumbs we are not).

If you look closely, you can see that there are still little things to do here and there, but, hey, this is a long way from the rubble that it was back in April. And I'm actually settled in enough to start dreaming of the next place we will live...will it be Bordeaux? Barcelona? Brooklyn? Belchertown? You make the call... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My Loyal Fans

Paris is very hot right now, as recent blaring headlines will testify. It's 95 degrees today -- that's about 36 celsius i think -- and there is just no reason to go outside.

But inside isn't so great either -- without A/C -- so I'm sticking close to my fans. If i spray cold water on myself and stand right in front of the fan, I feel OK.

Cold showers help too, although only temporarily. I've discovered that if I soak my clothes in cold water before putting them on, that provides some longer-lasting relief. I just took my third cold shower of the day, and am sitting in wet shorts on a towel draped over the chair. It's a strange sensation, like I've been to the swimming pool or the beach, but I haven't left my house.

Strangely, although this heat wave was predicted, and the summer of 2003 should have taught people some lessons, Paris still doesn't seem as prepared as it should be. Some places do have air-conditioning, of course -- usually Japanese restaurants, major chain stores (the American influence), movie theaters. But many more are not only A/C-less, they don't have fans. The metro has become unbearable, for instance. And buying a fan in Paris is next to impossible, unless you're willing to wait in line when the stores open, and push through overheated crowds.

Which is why I am very happy that I have this fan and another one, bought before the heat wave struck. I could probably go out on the street right now and sell each one for 150 euros, three times their price. But then of course, I would need a fan myself, and then where would I be? Supply and demand in action...Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Beach Dreams Are Made of This

This is the photo on my computer desktop of Lacanau, the beach near Bordeaux where we'll spend a week in August. Every time I look at this photo I just want to get on a train and be there NOW. Walk in the water, feel the sand between my toes, eat outside at night, and sleep to the sound of waves crashing, of wind in the pines. Leave Paris and all its dirt and cars and noise and craziness far, far behind.

I am craving this more than food, more than chocolate, more than wine, or heroin, or whatever it is I normally crave. Only a few more weeks... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Mary Lou Sends Me

This is the latest in a long line of packages from my artist mother back in Boston.

Today's contents are:
- three packs of Black Cherry Emergen-C Vitamin C drink
- two packs of Ultima Wild Raspberry sports drink (at first glance I thought it was laundry detergent)
- a xeroxed copy of the History of Erewhon Natural Foods Stores
- a hand-made Japanese prayer card (by ML)
- a Scituate Massachusetts t-shirt

Listed value of package contents: $20.00
Cost to mail package from Cohasset to Paris: $19.00 Posted by Picasa

The Basil and the Tomato

Here are two plants on our windowsill. As you can see, they had very different reactions to the latest heat wave in Paris. That dried-up twig thing on the right was the cherry tomato plant. (I did manage to grab a few to eat before it completely bit the dust.)
Posted by Picasa

Speaking of Art...

This big profile was floating in the Fontaine de Medicis in the Luxembourg Gardens last month. As soon as I get the name of the artist (a German woman) I will let you know. I looked and looked but couldn't find anything on the web about it, and haven't had a chance to go back and check at the park itself (don't even know if it's still there). If you've ever had the misfortune to be searching for something on a french official website, you'll understand why I gave up.

How's that for an informative blog posting? I didn't even take the photos -- those were snapped again by Lulu Stanley (thanks Lulu).

OK, so I'm feeling lazy today. I'd like to be floating in a pool of green water myself, to be honest...

L'Origine du Monde

My fellow artist friend Lulu Stanley snapped this on her trip to Paris last month: Here I am, standing in front of Gustave Courbet's infamous piece in the Musee d'Orsay, doing what artists call "research" (yeah, I know...sounds like a crock, right? but it's true).

It was fun to stay and watch people's reactions to this painting, which has the power to shock even over a hundred years later (it was painted in 1866). You can only imagine the uproar when a group of pre-adolescent French school children came through. Interestingly, the girls ran away screaming almost immediately, whereas the boys sort of hovered, laughing and making sounds of disgust and raucous comments, but not looking away either (sound familiar?).

Even more interesting to watch were the American tourists: middle-aged couples who tittered and flushed almost as much as the pre-adolescents. The French adults didn't seem to be nearly as fazed.

Of course, this was a very small, random sampling. But nevertheless, I am tempted to draw some conclusions. Could it be that the French are less uptight about sexuality as adults because they see more of it when they are young, and in very public, culturally recognized places like the Musee d'Orsay? Growing up in Puritan Boston, the only time I ever saw this kind of unabashed sexuality was when I got lost and strayed into the peep-show-riddled "combat zone," definitely NOT a destination for school field trips (not intentionally, anyway).

I don't know, it's far too hot right now to get into a major analysis of this subject. But I do like this painting, and I like the Musee d'Orsay, regardless of how badly lit most of the paintings on the first floor are, and in spite of the fact that they have hung the best Vuillard portraits in the most insultingly cramped spaces... blah blah blah...

Monday, July 10, 2006

And I Guess that's Why They Call Them "The Blues"...

C'est la vie, c'est le foot. The party's over, and Paris has reverted back to its grumpy, every-man-for-himself self. Who needs organized sports anyway, when you have Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower? OK, so I admit that I liked watching the Italians, they are so damn CUTE. And way, way better haircuts than the French, who all look like they are about to join the priesthood or the army. (What's up with the tatoos all over the Italians' forearms though? When I first tuned in I thought France was playing a special game against a team of ex-convicts.) I won't bother to comment on the whole Zidane incident...except that I haven't seen a headbutt like that since I gave up mud-wrestling!

So that ends that chapter of the summer. There will be some desultory flag-waving for the 14th of July (and some bad fireworks, if last year's display is any indication), but nothing really special to bring people into the streets. Football fever has been replaced by a collective dream of "les vacances" -- that massive summer exodus which will reduce Paris to a manageable, normal density of people for a change (meaning, you'll be able to see the sidewalk).

Just one parting shot: maybe France should change its team color. I mean, isn't calling a team "The Blues" just asking for trouble?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I've Looked at Clouds From Both Sides, Now

And here are some more. The photo really doesn't capture the sheer edible beauty of what I was looking at....but try to imagine. What's important to remember is that this photo was not taken in some field or on a beach, but from my living room window.

Ice cream castles in the air? Actually, the dairy product they most resembled was a sort of cross between hand-whipped cream and really fresh creme fraiche. Very appropriate for a French sky! Perhaps one of the earliest inspirations for those fabulous, fat-filled, multi-layered creamy desserts?

(Perhaps I shouldn't blog when I'm hungry...)

Back to Talking About the Weather

I suppose I should be making predictions about who's going to win the game tonight -- France or Italy (yes, i do know which teams are playing, believe it or not). After all, either way I'd have a 50 percent chance of being right. But I'd rather talk about these amazing clouds that have been appearing outside our living room window: really large, luminous, edible-looking clouds that make me feel like I'm in a Tiepolo or French 18th century painting. You know, the kind with those pink-cheeked ladies swinging on ribboned baskets out in the lush countryside, while peasants toil in the background (dreaming of the day when they can finally go on strike...) Posted by Picasa

It Takes A Village to Watch a Soccer Match

Here we are (well not me of course, i'm taking the photo) watching wednesday night's game. That little bright white object is the television screen, which, just for the record, is fairly easy to block with one's body unless you are the size of a small iguana. Posted by Picasa

Soccer, Anyone? (I mean, "Le Foot")

Well, it's that time again -- the World Cup has transformed Paris from the city of light (the feminine city, as me and some of my friends call it) into one giant, oozing, shouting, testosterone monster. Kind of like Boston is year-round. At first I liked it, just the fact that there seemed to be something unifying people here for a change. But after Wednesday's match, and the unbridled insanity it unleashed (not to mention several careless deaths), I really can't wait for it all to be over. It's like this massive sports energy has given everyone permission to be louder, uglier, and, frankly, stupider than they usually are. Not to mention the whole "boys' club" aspect which I had to endure growing up with a sports-crazed stepfather and two brothers (in Boston, no less). Even if you show interest in the game, and are athletic (which I was), the fact of being female keeps you forever out of the loop. As I was so rudely reminded while watching the match with some friends, when I leaned over to pass some food to someone who ASKED me to (it was, after all, a dinner), thus momentarily blocking the view for all of 1 nanosecond and causing one of the men to mutter, "That's why you should never watch football with a woman."

Arggh!!!!! Makes me want to kick a ball through someone's head! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Best Food I Ate in Massachusetts....

...was Cambodian food. This was one of many feasts I was lucky enough to be a part of on my trip, thanks to my sister Laura and her husband Kresna. Beef strips, chinese broccoli, shrimp, rice noodles, and yummy, spicy, fermented-fishy sauces that are not for the faint-hearted (for those of you who are interested in this sort of thing, check out the book Salt, by Mark Kurlansky, and the chapter on fermented fish sauce in ancient Rome. It's astonishing to learn that Western food used to taste more like Asian food, once upon a time).

As for the napkins, well, it's hard to go 2 feet in the States without bumping into an American flag. If I wasn't so hungry right now, I could probably make some sort of interesting, ironic commentary on this photo. But, after all this thinking about food, what I really want to do is make lunch. C'est la vie, c'est la gourmandise. Posted by Picasa