Friday, January 12, 2007

Not Yet Back in the Swing of Things!

Thank goodness, it is Friday. The week has been extra long---OK, it just seemed that way. I've been to the gym every day. I've been to work everyday. I've done the laundry. I've fixed dinner everyday. But I still haven't completely adjusted. Must be my age.
The candle was lit for Michael in Notre Dame de Paris. The picture was taken with my PDA but I couldn't email the pictures to myself until I returned to the States.

Last night, I did make it upstairs to The Threadmill. For those of you who don't know, The Threadmill is the two large bedrooms on the 3rd floor of our Baltimore townhouse. I'm truly blessed to have these two rooms pretty much exclusively for my fiber arts pursuits. When we do have guests (rarely), I put away as much as possible and my ironing room becomes the guest room. The front room also has a sofa bed that I can make available if necessary. The front room is home to my Brother 970 knitting machine, my Babylock Esante sewing machine, and my Bernina serger. Each of the rooms is about 20 x 20 so I am really lucky. A large walk-in closet in the front room is filled with yarn. (And there is yarn elsewhere in the house, too!) Yes, I should do some organizing but the creative part of me, just wants to do it! I refuse to apologize for something that gives me so much pleasure.

Last night, I just kinda futzed around. Jeff was to be out a networking event until 8:00 or 8:30, but he came home around 7:00! He's been really tired as well. We are going to New Jersey for Jane's 60th birthday party---she's the mother of Jeff's two children---and for Dahlia's first birthday! We're staying over Saturday night, so I have one more night away.

So officially, the new year is going to start on Monday! I resolve to:

  1. go to the gym everyday

  2. sew or knit everyday

  3. do one small chore everyday---not normal chores like laundry, but something that needs to be done, and hasn't been done yet. For example, I replaced a couple of light bulbs on Tuesday evening. Not a big deal, but it required bringing the ladder up from the basement. In actuality, ten minutes and I was done. Why did it take me so long to do??

  4. throw something away

  5. eat fruit---with clementines in season, this is easy!

  6. bar Ben and Jerry from the door.

Luckily, some of these are already habits. But they still count. Perhaps next week we have some finished objects to post. I'm dreaming about the AbFab afghan and can't wait to begin!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Home, Sweet Home

So lovely to be home! The flight was long, and late---only by an hour or so---but a movie I really wanted to see was showing: Queen with Helen Mirren. Great flick! Ms. Mirren did a marvelous portrayal of Queen Elizabeth---in my opinion, the Academy Award for best actress is going to be a horse race between her role in this film, and Meryl Streep for The Devil Wore Prada. By the way, the Paris scene in Devil was filmed one block from our apartment. If we'd been in residence, we probably could've leaned out the window to watch. The scene I'm referring to is, of course, the romantic evening walk with Notre Dame in the background. Devil was a great movie, too.

Luckily, for a long flight, I had one book to finish (Red Gold by Alan Furst) and a second book to start: The Memory Keeper's Daughter. Great books both of them. Of course, I'm supposed to be reading Plum Bun for the book club, and I just don't want to read it!! So there!

What are the great things about being home? Well, let's see: my own pillow, my own bed, my own chair (Do I sound like Goldilocks?) my own shower with abundant hot water, and the water itself. The Paris water is SO HARD! My hair doesn't react well at all. Pretty much, it is one bad hair day after another. Luckily, we came home before I decided the only possible solution was to shave my head. The American keyboard---standard QWERTY format---cheered me significantly. Except, guess what? Three weeks is just enough time to form new habits, or so they say. I can confirm this. I spent much of the day yesterday backspacing to change q's to a's. Sigh.

And of course, the best thing about coming home is America. Truly the most wonderful country in the world. The drive from Dulles Airport to Baltimore is so much lovelier than the drive from center city Paris to Charles DeGaulle airport. Our industrial areas are just easier on the eyes. Or is it just the greater Washington area?

Everything was fine at home. We stopped for a hamburger on the way from the airport, so we just walked in the house, began unpacking, called family to report safe arrival, took a shower as soon as the water was hot, checked out the web world and our directDesk world, and went sound asleep by 7:00 pm. Of course, my wake up in Paris was at 11:00 pm Baltimore time. So after 20 hours, sleep was critially important.

I was vaguely aware of the rain all night, and it was still raining at 5:00 in the morning. Starbucks in the coffee pot. Yippee! There are Starbucks in Paris now---and they are always busy---but I've never even had the urge. Ditto for McDonald's. I suppose if I were very homesick, I could eat at McDonalds or Subway, have coffee at Starbucks, and dessert at Ben and Jerry's! Wonder how that would feel?

And I did go to the gym on Monday morning! Keeping in mind my age and fatigue level, I only did 33 minutes on the treadmill. My currect fitness goal is to do my own half marathon (on the treadmill by myself) by the end of April. There are several "train for a half marathon" programs on the web. One of my favorite blog writers ( is actually doing a helf marathon. So I'm unoffically training along with her. This morning was even better: 45 minutes, with the "Hill" settings, and all of it at greater than 4.0 miles per hour.

Work is fine. We continue to grow slowly, and I'm settling back in the groove. Since we are out-of-town this weekend, I'm making the official start of the new year as Monday, January 15th.

Will I have the energy to play in The Threadmill tonight? I hope so----lots of ideas ready to try! The Quick Cam isn't working yet. I can connect standalone, but when I try to make or answer a call, I have no video or audio feed. And my father took his computer into for a checkup. Neither Doug nor I was able to find anything wrong---we both checked for Spyware and Adware and viruses---but the system just labors over every task. I'm anxious to hear what they find. And maybe Dad will get DSL before my next visit. Late February or early March? Let's see what the winter brings.

Today it is sunny but cooler....lovely for January. This post is too long. Life will, however, now go back to normal and interesting days will not be so common.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Movies and Home!

Yesterday, we visited Parc Monceau, a smaller (smaller than Luxembourg Gardens, that is)and the neighborhoods around there. Not much happening; I did buy a hand towel that looks like a Metro ticket. LOL, a fun remembrance. We walked around the area just north of the Arc de Triomphe, where we don't usually spend any time. Fun but nothing really earthshattering or new. Paris, like everywhere, has the same stores in every neighborhood. And apparently, there is a corporate window department: all the same. And they don't change often enough. Except for one store....

I don't even have the name, but something marina in the name. A chandelier candlestick in the window; Perhaps three feet high, holding a dozen 3" diameter candles. Massive. Beautiful. Expensive (2200€.)Impossible to get home. Did I mention the multitude of chandelier motifs this year? All over. Laser cut out ones for sticking on the windows, cardboard cutouts to hang, Christmas tree ornaments, wallpaper, lamps, candleholders. Beauçoup! They had a cashmere throw in a simple tuck stitch, and a brown cashmere cardigan with zippers and suede trim. Oh, la, la!

We rode the bus all the way to the peripherique, and then home. Nap. Dinner. And one last movie: A Good Year with Russell Crowe. Delightful. After the movie, we sat outside at Deux Magots for a quick drink and catching glimpses of the nearly full moon between the clouds. By then, it was well after 1:00 am but it was still active on the streets and perfectly safe to stroll the half mile or so home.

Today I pack. Shouldn't be a problem this trip. TLOML (The love of my life--Jeff) did not buy the volume of books and paper that he usually does. Nor did I buy much either. As a matter of fact, I still have two important items for Michael still to buy today.

Then tomorrow, we leave the apartment early and fly home to Dulles. No snow or bad weather to worry the travelers, so the trip should be uneventful!

Friday, January 5, 2007

How Do They Knit This?

This scarf is all over Paris. Two years ago, I saw this type of knitting for the first time in, I believe, the Pierre Cardin window. At that time, I was puzzled about how it was produced. Especially because Jeff really would like a black cashmere scarf with a narrow red stripe. For him, I think I'll just leave a needle out of work, and then crochet up the ladder.

But this ubiquitous scarf! It almost appears to be woven with very narrow I-cords. They are available in cheap acrylic (20€) all the way up through cashmere (160€) And in many different color combinations: brights, pastels, shades of gray, earth tones, uglies. Just everything. Now that everyone has one---I think maybe I glimpsed similar at home before Christmas---I don't want one. But I am certainly curious about how they are made. The process may be "warp knitting" according to what I find on Google.

The last couple of days, we've walked all over Paris. Nicer weather (actually it has been rather nice the entire visit) and the realization that we are heading home soon both contributed. The fresh air and exercise also makes a good night's sleep, even without my own bed. We have the Temper-Pedic mattress---and have had for 10+ years---and there is nothing like it. I love the fact that I lie down, go to sleep, and sometimes never turn until morning! Very restful sleep. Every time I sleep on another mattress, I'm very much aware of tossing and turning all night!

Yesterday at lunch, we met some friends of friends who are living here. That is always fun. They are from California, living here for 10 years, and have a six year old daughter. The little girl is Elodie---what a perfect name. Hearing experiences of life with the French---you have to laugh.

Last night we had oysters at Le Dôme. Delicious oysters---they taste more of the sea than those from the Chesapeake Bay. Actually that makes sense because they are from the ocean, not the bay. And then we walked home. This distance can be walked in 25 minutes or so, if you walk and don't meander. Last night, we spend two hours detouring and wandering the streets of the VII arrondissment.

This may be my last post before we return the computer. That means "goodbye!" to the French keyboard. You really don't know how awful it is until you have experienced it for yourself. Picture this: I learned to type when I was 15 or 16. So for 42 years, every time I moved my fingers in a certain way, I received a little reward: The correct letter showed up on the paper or on the screen. Then suddenly, I am doing the exact same thing, and the "buzzer" sounds, I get an electric shock (so to speak) and the WRONG letter shows up. Pavlov is rolling in his grave! And you must use the "shift" key for numbers and the period. Such insanity.

Today is going to be another good day---already it is 50° but too early to tell if it is cloudy or clear. I want to buy one more thing---something special for Michael (my 10 year old nephew)---since he likes to cook and even dressed as a chef for Halloween. Can anyone guess what I have in mind?

Back home to paradise on Sunday. Currently I'm reading a "found" book: Red Gold by Alan Furst. I surrendered One Man's Bible. The style was too strange and dreamlike. I respect that this might be the only way he could express his political opinions but unfortunately, I no longer have the time---nor the inclination---to read everything! Red Gold is much more to my liking. A story of the French resistance set in Paris. Perfect. It is a short book, so I'll need to find something to read on the plane flight home.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Holidays Over!

Even though the French Christmas celebration technically continues until the 6th of January, today seem more like the regular work-a-day world. I lazed around here this morning finishing Three Junes. I enjoyed how the author connected the players in the book in a most surprising, yet entirely believable, plot. I'm not sure I'd recommend the book to any one I know, but I did enjoy it. Next up on the reading pile is by the Nobel Prize winner from a couple of years ago: One Man's Bible by Gao Xingjian. Let's see if China is better than Turkey;

Jeff and I made plans to meet at Le Solferino so I worked my way up rue de Bac from Bon Marché. The weather was a bit bizarre. It would rain for a while, then the sun would come out, then rain, then sun. But better than all gray.

I returned to find out the designer of the embroidered coat. Dries Von Noten is the designer and he is out of Antwerp. Here is a photo of the coat from but it really doesn't capture the beauty of the coat itself. Look carefully at the sleeves---this is very heavily embroidered in subtle metallic threads. Just beautiful---at least in my opinion.
We decided to lunch at Le Bonaparte. Jeff had chou farcie (stuffed cabbage)---he said it was the best he's ever had---and I had a chevre chaud (warm goat cheese salad.) Rode the bus home after stopping at the Monoprix for cookies, bought water and fresh bread to bring home.
I know you will all laugh; here we are in the gastronomical capital of the world and we had leftover chicken sandwiches at home again tonight! But that chicken is so good! And the bread is so good! Like no other chicken sandwich ever!
This evening we went to the movies: Casino Royale. One of the better recent Bond movies but I'm partial to Sean Connery and, especially, Roger Moore.
There's a full moon tonight and we walked home watching the beautiful moon and the clouds crossing over it.

Monday, January 1, 2007

A Quiet Day in Paris

New Year's Day is always quiet. Here in Paris is no exception. However, lots of tourists (like us!) were out and about doing nothing. We were out of the apartment by noon, took the Metro to Pigalle----looks less like "pig alley" than in the past---and rode the little Monmartrebus up to the top of the hill. The day was very sunny, but windy, and everyone wanted to see the view on a clear day.

We walked down the steps and around the neighborhoods. Our friend, Roth, recommended a restaurant, Le Sancerre, so we found it and stopped in for late lunch. It wasn't anything special, but, you know, every meal can't be wonderful. We walked all the way to Opéra, caught the 27 bus to St. Michel and walked home.

I spoke with Michael and Doug using the Quick Cam---what astounding technology---and then read for a while.

The New Year's Eve chicken was the best chicken I've eaten in a long, long time. Absolutely delicious. Normally, I only eat fish or beef here in France because the chicken I've eaten before was awful. As tasteless as the others were, this was superb. So we enjoyed leftover chicken on fresh French bread. Yes, the bakeries are open. (They were open on Christmas Day, too.) No respectable Frenchman can be expected to do without fresh bread. I believe this was a lesson learned by Marie Antoinette many years ago.

Jeff wanted to go to the movies tonight, but last time we looked out it was raining again. And colder. I lost my umbrella last night, and I'm a bit like a cat anyway: I don't like getting wet. So I think we are chez nous tonight. I finished Snow and I'm now reading Three Junes by Julia Glass: an OK book, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

A slow, lazy day. Home beckons but not for another few days.