Monday, December 30, 2013

still raining

It has now been raining for three days, not heavily but lightly and steadily.  Jack said 2 1/2 inches.  We can always "use" rain but it puts a "damper" on social activities such as walking anywhere.  But the zillion shades of green are truly dazzling.  Despite the rain we drove up to Colima yesterday to visit the BIG supermarket to get things like heavy cream, good butter and good olive oil.  In and out in less than an hour, although the round trip takes about 3 hours door to door.  And yes, it did rain on the way.  So we are not the only ones who are getting soaked.  We went down to Fernando's for comida and sat well back from the edge of the overhang.  Amazingly, there were quite a few people on the beach and in the water. 

We went to the tianguis this morning, mainly to buy the ingredients for Chuy's chiles rellenos for dinner on Wednesday night.  Also picked up some beautiful strawberries for ice cream!

Looking at last year's blog posts, it rained at this same time.  I guess this has become an annual thing.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

El Real in the rain

On Thursday afternoon the skies darkened to the shade of good grey flannel, the winds came up and, pretty soon, the rains were upon us.

It rained off and on all night, not heavily but I could hear it pattering in the fronds of the palm tree outside our window.  Friday dawned grey and damp.  We had made plans to go out to El Real for comida with two visitors from Milwaukee.  We decided that, what the heck, it's either lunch here or there and there seemed more interesting! 

Off we went to Costa Dorado, one of several very large, palapa-roofed restaurants along the beachfront in El Real.

The place probably holds 300 diners when full; it's absolutely enormous.

But yesterday, a wet, cloudy Friday, there were only about 20 people there, all clustered down at the very front looking out at the dark and choppy sea.

My restaurant review goes like this:  pretty setting, terrible food.  And it came highly recommended by Chuy.  We all agreed that a meal at Fernando's puesto was far, far superior, cheaper and much closer to home!   And no leftover shrimp for my opera salad; it's Tosca today.  It's still overcast and cool; soup perhaps. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

the blackout Christmas

Yesterday afternoon we got a completely unexpected invitation to share Christmas dinner with two of our favorite gents. We were planning to have some leftovers along with the eggplant I bought on Monday. Nothing to rave about. They, on the other hand, had cooked a turkey and all the trimmings. How could we resist? I was planning to take along the trusty camera to record the event. Then I thought about available light. We'd been having outages and brownouts all day. By 6 PM electricity still hadn't come back on. With flashlights in hand we arrived at their lovely home, overlooking the sea, in time to watch yet another spectacular sunset. Mac lit a few candles and we sat down to a really wonderful meal, finished off by a delicious pecan pie. It's good to know men who cook (I happen to live with one)! At about 9 PM the lights came back on and we could enjoy their brilliantly lit Christmas tree. We left with full tummies and hearts.

Last year was the first Christmas here without my sandbox playmate who had died the previous August. Her daughter and son-in-law were here then to close up the house, take care of all her possessions and scatter her ashes. It all went by in a blur. This year is different. There are no distractions, no tasks to perform, nothing to keep my attention focused somewhere else. I miss her very much, more this year than last. I had the same reaction when my sister died; the second Christmas was much harder. The phone call and invite were just what I needed to add some merriment to the day.

 Thank you, Mac and Juan.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Shepherd by Frederick Forsythe

We used to listen to this beautiful reading every Christmas Eve via our shortwave radio.  Now we can listen, courtesy of YouTube.  It's our Christmas Eve gift to everyone.  Enjoy Alan Maitland, one of the CBC radio's great voices.

The Shepherd by Frederick Forsythe

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday's harvest

No problem with the keys today.  Off we went this morning to the tianguis, list in hand.  Managed to find everything we wanted, which wasn't much because we had been in the super mercados.

Our usual vendor had Roma tomatoes for 15 pesos a kilo or about 50¢ a pound.  It's true that they are not juicy and flavorful but they make dynamite sauce.

Down at the end of the walkway was this pile of clementinas, juicy as all get-out but also loaded with seeds.

Gorgeous radishes for your Christmas posole.

For dessert or to throw on the grill or to put into a salad, your sweet, juicy Christmas piña.

And finally, to amuse the children who will be guests at your Christmas party while you toss back the odd margarita, a piñata to stuff with candies and other treats.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

nut harvest

The above title has more than one meaning.  First, Fernando and his son were up in the coconut palms harvesting both fronds (for palapas and coconuts for the putesto.  But second, he's really to old to be climbing 20+ feet up a ladder for this.  Get the guy with the dog who does it barefooted and carries his machete in his mouth!

We took a little recon trip this morning, out to Boca de Pasquales and El Real, scouting the perfect restaurant.  We've been invited out for a meal at a spot of our choosing.  We don't want to go into Manzanillo, Tecoman is kind of boring, so we thought a seaside place (with a real roof and floor, i.e. not a puesto) might be nice.  Boca de Pascuales is a very popular surfing spot and has one very popular eating place, Las Hamacas.  It's a huge, 2-level place that seats 1000 happy eaters.  We've been there once and although we remember that the food was excellent it's just too big.

So we drove over to El Real, a lovely oceanfront town about 2 miles south of Boca.  Its sea front has probably a dozen very nice looking restaurants, all open to the sea, most with palapa roofs.  We were actually looking for a certain one, El Oasis, that we've been to a few times.  It's at the far south end of the town and, unfortunately, appears to have fallen on evil days.  I remember it having the most beautiful palapa I had ever seen, wikth little dormer windows woven along the top to circulate the sea breezes.  But now the tables and chairs are all beat up, there was nobody in the kitchen although a shirtless gent assured me they'd be open in about 15 minutes.  If we go to El Real, we'll drive by but probably move on to another place.  El Real itself looks very prosperous although there are many SE VENDE signs on houses along the ocean front.  Its main problem is that the whole town floods almost yearly during particularly high tides.

Last night's dinner at Dago's was not the best I've had.  He wasn't there doing the cooking.  The shrimp was tough and so salty I almost didn't eat it.  And we were the only gringos there except for one of the J Boys (Jeff).    I brought the leftovers home and they had a good washing before joining the salad mix at noon.  Still way, way too salty.  I seem to remember this happening last year and I subsequently requested no salt and things got better.  I'll do that next time.  I don't know if folks are deserting Dago for another Friday place; I'll ask around.

Friday, December 20, 2013


On Wednesday we took off early for Tecoman to take care of several bits of business.  First stop was at the bank to pay our annual bank trust fee.  This year it took only two employees (one who knew what to do, one who didn't) and 30 minutes and we were out the door, paid up for another year.  Next we went to the bacon/cheese shop for some Mexican cheddar (white and mild) and yummy bacon.  To a different bank for a wad of pesos.  Since I missed Monday's tinaguis in Armeria because of the lost keys saga, we stopped in at the Tecoman offering instead, bought a few veggies and some fruit, then headed for the Bodega supermercado for the things we had forgotten on our first trip.

Among the things on the "to buy" list were lightbulbs.  Since these will disappear from the shelves in another couple of weeks here as well as in the US, we bought all they had on the shelf ~ seven 60W bulbs.  Nothing higher and no 3-way.  All gone.  Hoarded by people like us who HATE those curly things.  Thanks a lot, Congress.  We now have enough to get us through this season, I hope, providing they don't salt up and blow out.

Dago's tonight for our usual dinner with the local crowd.  And tomorrow will be my first opera, A Midsummer Night's Dream.  The season has officially begun!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

the tropical malaise

Just as they always do, the tropical blahs came on me this morning.  I'm usually OK for the first 48 hours, then I get so tired I can hardly stand up.  All I want to do is sleep.  So I did, most of today.  Chuy came and got the house all tidied up for the next few days.  Santorini, the water company, delivered two big garaphons of drinking water, so they know we're back.  Beer guy won't come until Friday.  I spent the afternoon in a rotation of dozing and listening to my book.  By 6 PM I had finished the book and had had several hours of restorative sleep.  It's hot and humid and I just don't feel like doing anything.

If you've ever lived in Berkeley or Oakland, this book will bring you home.  Marvelous, clever, inventive, thought- provoking, hilariously funny, unspeakably sad.  I loved it.  Next book is Kate Atkinson's newest, "Life After Life."  NOT about Jackson Brodie.  I'll report.

Right now, at 8 PM, it's time to sleep some more.  Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

Monday, December 16, 2013

it's always interesting around here

Since it's Monday, that means tinguis, except today.  I was up, (cold) showered, dressed and ready to go at 9 am.  However, Mr. C had misplaced the car keys and we weren't going anywhere.  It took an hour to find them. Where were they, you might well ask?

 On top of the bedspread but, since they are the same color, almost invisible.

 Meanwhile, a technician from Global Gas arrived to check out the connections and gauges for the gas tanks.  No problem there; it's in the lines.  Just as he left, Elias showed up ~ we weren't expecting him until 4 PM this afternoon ~ and started chipping away at yet more cement to get at the copper piping.  All in all, it was a good thing we were here, even though we are without any fruits or veggies.  But we don't have any gas to cook anything, either.

 Tomorrow we have to go to Tecoman to pay our trust bill after which we'll head up to Colima to the big supermarket.  Or not, depending on how long it takes at the bank.  We go through this every year; nobody has ever seen this transaction before and the whole banking staff has to gather around the window to watch.

Mr. C went downstairs to fetch some things to bring up and found a 3' snake in the guest room closet.  It was stretched lazily across the clothes rod.  Yikes!  Mr. C took down the slider's screen door and propped it up over the closet opening to keep the little fellow from fleeing and hiding someplace else.  He is now standing guard outside the bedroom door so it doesn't get out until Fernando can get here and dispatch it somehow.  I'll try to get a photo of it.  I don't think I've ever seen anything more than a tiny garden snake so I have no idea what it is, where it came from or how it got into the house.  And to think!  I was going to go down and get a blouse out of the closet this morning!

With Mr. C waiting on the side, three great brown hunters ~ Fernando, Elias and a third intrepid chap ~ went into the closet, found the snake and did what they had to do.  It's called a culebra ratonera,  rat snake.  Not venomous but not cute, either.

I think we're going to have gas.  Hot water.  Hot food.  All is good here at the beach.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

sun up to sun down

Sunrise somewhere between Sacramento and Los Angeles, courtesy of Southwest Airlines.  The van picked us up at 3:45.  Classes are out at the big U so there were students as our co-passengers, on their way home for the holidays.  They included one young man who stumbled into the van, trailing great clouds of alcohol, presumably as a result of his end-of-term celebrations.  He promptly fell asleep.  We checked ALL our luggage (four pieces) FREE.  Bumpy but beautiful (see above). Then over to Alaska for the flight to Manzanillo.  When we boarded in Sac the temperature was 41º.  When we landed here it was 84º.  I like this better.

 Just a couple of glitches when we got home.  First, no gas so no hot water and no cooking.  Unfortunately it may be a break in the line but that's to worry about another day.   A nice cold shower is good for the soul.  Second, a HUGE spider on the kitchen wall which, this morning, has disappeared and I'll probably find it on the plates when I open the cupboard (I'm waiting a few days1).  A few light bulbs blown, some salted-up in the sockets, no toilet paper.  Otherwise, all was prepared for our arrival.  Chuy had made her world-class chiles rellenos, there was indeed lots of cold beer in the fridge.  It's good to be here.

Here's our first sunset of the season.  And there will be many, many more. 

Today it's off to Tecoman and La Bodega for a car-load of supplies!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Thanksgiving and so on

Let me just say right off that yes, I have been neglectful to a serious fault, since putting up my pix of "the boys" almost three weeks ago.  I took many photos during our Bozeman sojourn but, alas, they are on the "big" iMac and I am using the Air®.  The big computer is all packed away because we leave TOMORROW for the beach house.  I think the photos may still be on the camera (also packed) so when we finally get settled I'll check that out.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to report that we had a wonderful visit with family and friends.  NPW in UK:  everyone did his/her baking as promised.  NN:  the Hutterite turkey did not disappoint.  The weather was gorgeous; bright and sunny every day although very cold.  Nights clear and very chilly.  I saw several deer, including a young doe who picked her way delicately across the meadow in the snow.  We saw lots of deer tracks on our walks.  The dogs love rolling in the snow; canine snow angles.

On Cait's advice we decided to leave a day early.  Saturday flights were jammed.  So we packed up and went to the airport early Friday morning but, alas, we didn't make it onto the plane.  A quick check showed there were 15 open seats on a 1 PM flight to SLC out of Butte.  Alex drove us up, we bid good-bye and checked in.  When I inquired I was told that several others were waiting for a non-rev spot on the flight; there were not enough seats on an earlier  plane so just have a seat and see what happens.  We did and here's what happened.  The plane arrived from SLC, the passengers got off, and about 20 minutes later an announcement said that our flight had been cancelled due to mechanical problems.  Now what?  We decided to spend the night in Butte and try to get out early the next morning.  I called Cait and reported this; she did a quick flight check and reporter there were absolutely NO seats Saturday or Sunday out of Butte. 

So Alex, now half way back to Bozeman made a big U-turn and  came back for us.  We decided then  go to the Bozeman airport and rent a car and drive to Salt Lake (the car rental in Butte would not rent us a car we could drop in SL).  At 7 am on Saturday we headed off for SLC, 400 miles away and we had to get the car checked in by 2:50 PM or pay for another day.  At 80-MPH, the speed limit in Utah, we made it by 2 PM on the dot.  We checked into a hotel for the night and were at the airport on Sunday morning by 7 am hoping to get on an 8:30 flight.  There was one seat left, which I took, and was home at 9:30 (one hour time change).  Mr. C got on the 11 am flight and was home by 12:30.  Meanwhile, as I backed the car out of the garage to head off to the airport I cut it a little close and ripped off the right side mirror.  Frazzled, to say the least, i picked up the weary traveler who asked what had happened.  I think I replied in a too-loud voice, "Don't ask!  Just get in."  He drove home.

The last two weeks have been spent getting ready to head south tomorrow morning.  Haircut, pedicure, packing, cleaning the house for guests.  We are NOT driving this year.  We'll fly to Los Angeles at 6 am tomorrow morning ~ the shuttle picks us up at 3:45 am ~ then on out of LA to Manzanillo at 10:30.  Fernando will  pick us up at 4 pm (Central time).  Chuy will have our chiles rellenos picadillo ready and waiting along with a nice cold Indio to wash it all down.  The temperature is forecast at 87º!

So will begin our 12th season.  I'll let you know how it all goes.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

the boys

Huck and Zeke
They're bigger and better than ever!  And hairier!  I wore black pants upon my arrival and they now look like gray mohair.

Weather continues cold, sunny, clear.  We've visited several grocery stores, some more than once, and are almost ready.  Tomorrow is a bake fest; pies (Mr. C ), cranberry-walnut tart (Susan), cornbread for stuffing (Mike), Part I of stuffing (Cait).  Roasted boneless leg of lamb for family dinner tomorrow night.  Flowers ordered two weeks ago have arrived and look very festive.  I think it's all going to come out just perfectly!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bozeman via Butte

We made it safely with only a short diversion from Salt Lake to Butte instead of Bozeman.  No seats available so Cait rerouted us and drove up to get us.  Beautiful drive back to snowy, very chilly Bozeman.  It is right now a bright and sunny 19º.  We've started making our to-do list for the day's first shopping outing.  There will be more, I'm sure.  It's good to be here.

Looking west across the meadow toward Bozeman

Saturday, November 23, 2013

To Bozeman

Tomorrow morning it's off to Bozeman where the weather is cold ~ 12º tonight ~ but the 27 lb. Hutterite turkey awaits our attention.  Pictures of family, dogs, neighborhood, snow, etc.  This, of course, providing we actually make a flight.  It's always thrilling.

A sweet recommendation for movie watch:  "Toast" is available on instant watch by the Flix.  Delightful.

Currently reading "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis."  Saw the movie years ago but the book is much more comprehensive.  I recommend both.

Friday, November 22, 2013

where were you?

I remember exactly where I was on November 22, 1963 when I learned that the president had been shot.  I was studying in the library at San Diego State and had just come up to the circulation desk to check out a book.  Staff and students were huddled over a radio.  I had no idea what could have been so riveting  and asked, rather casually if I remember, what they were listening to.

"President Kennedy has been shot," came the answer.

At first I didn't believe it.  Impossible.   We don't do politics this way.  I left the campus and as I drove home I saw that flags had been lowered to half staff.  It must be true.  It was true.  It was so shocking, so dreadful.  And today, fifty years later, it still is.  It was the loss of faith, the loss of innocence, the loss of the vigorous, idealistic idea of politics and public service.  By the time the '60s were over, we had lost our entire generation of leadership; two Kennedys and a King.  And we are the poorer for it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

this just in . . .

1919 - 2013

nutritional guidelines

Here's what I'm currently feeding on.  First for the body, from CostoCo, Penn Cove mussels.

I just happened to glance in the fish case and there they were, all netted and cleaned and just begging to be taken home.  So for $15 I got 5 lbs. of the sweetest, plumpest, most tender and delicious mussels imaginable.  Almost 20 years ago Mr. C and I took a trip up to Seattle, Polsbo and Port Townsend.  We went to a little waterfront resto in PT and had big steaming bowls of Penn Cove mussels and have been hooked ever since.  I know we had mussels in Siena, Bruges and Paris, (and the Paris ones were the best) but these were even better.  First we had them in a simple wine-onion-garlic-shallot broth.  We had the rest in our favorite recipe from the NYTimes, mussels with roasted tomatoes and garlic served over fettuccine.   Mr. C bought some excellent cherry tomatoes at the Farmers Market ~ some sweet, some acidic, all with tender skins ~ and roasted them for the sauce.  It was fabulous!  I think there's a little left over for my lunch today.

Second, for the soul, I am about half way through this marvelous read.

If you're as big a fan of books about academia as I am ~ think Lucky Jim, The Groves of Academe, Pictures at an Institution, Richard Russo's Straight Man and Donna Tartt's Secret History (although it's in a somewhat different vein), you'll not want to miss All Souls, a take on life at Oxford as lived by a young Spanish instructor.  He is there for two years and, later in life, is recounting his experiences.  It's wonderfully wry, sardonic, funny and also soulful.  This author, Javier Marais, is new to me and I look forward to reading more of his work.  I should add that, to my ear, the translation from Spanish to English is spot on and rings completely true.

We are continuing to have bright, sunny days here in the valley although it is cold and brisk.  I had a fine walk this morning, tromping through piles of leaves on the sidewalks and streets.  The fireplace is getting good use in the evenings.  This next week is filled with doctor and dentist appointments, a hair cut (at last), and packing for Bozeman and what's become our annual family Thanksgiving.  I've already sent the Trader Joe's care package and it has been received so we're set for snacks.  In truth, we've never gone hungry.

Monday, November 11, 2013

autumn in the valley

The days are warm and sunny with bright blue skies.  The nights are cold and still now although there were some terrific wind storms here before we got home.  Trees are turning red and gold throughout town.  Lots of big leaf piles on the streets.  Autumn in the valley.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

getting to "yes" in French

It could be "we" or it could be "wish" or it could be "way" or "weigh" or "a-way" or "whish" or "whey" or "mm-oye" (usually murmured between two people having a close, quiet conversation where one is confiding to the other or that's how it looks to me), or any other iteration or interpretation, in French, of the word "oui."  It delights me to sit and listen to the French talk ~ which they do on and on and on ~ and to deconstruct how they pronounce certain words, "oui" being one that has innumerable interpretations.  There's also the "bah-oui!!" which is like our "but YES!" or "sure!"  Then there's the pursing of lips and blowing out a little puff of air "(puff)-OUI" which is like "don't be stupid!  Of course!"  There are also non-verbal communication skills; the arch and lift of the eyebrow meaning "Who knows", the downturn of the mouth accompanied by the shake or nod of the head which usually indicates the listener doesn't speak the language you're using, or the shrug of the shoulders-eyebrow lift-downturn of the mouth, simultaneously which means "who knows" or "I have no idea where that bakery is you're asking about."

The French don't talk with their hands like the Italians.  It's the face that tells the tale, answers the questions, can be read as a gauge of how funny the story is, how fresh the cheese, how pretty the woman walking by, how outrageous the headline on Le Monde or Le Figaro.  And, of course, how gross is your linguistic faux pas. It's a show not to be missed.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The last time I saw Paris . . .

was at 10:30 AM this morning. We managed to get a seat on the outbound, another seat on the MSP to SMF.  We're home.  Exhausted, of course.  It's now 6 AM tomorrow in Paris and we've been up since 4 AM today, or something like that.

I'm having some soup then to bed.  But no fresh croissants whenever I manage to wake up.  Bummer.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

DATELINE: Paris (10)

It pains me to say it but our revels now are ended.  Tomorrow morning we leave this most magical of all cities and head back home.  We are on the stand-by list for a 10:30 AM flight and although I could stay another month, I guess it's time to go home.

But today I had a fine time out and about with a little bit of sun, a little bit of really icy wind over by the river (the Seine, that is) and some light rain.  I was not deterred in my search and enjoyment, however.

I headed down rue des Rosiers toward the Village St. Paul.  I passed by the old site of Goldenberg's, now an upscale outerwear shop. 

This was probably the most famous Jewish deli and restaurant in Paris until it was attacked and shot up in 1982.  A sad loss.

On to the Village St. Paul, only about 3 blocks away, across the rue Rivoli toward the river.  This beautiful church, St. Paul and St. Louis, is just about at the junction of rue Rivoli and rue San Antoine.

The red doors of the Church of St. Paul and St. Louis
Down the block I found this sign.

 The area has changed greatly, however.  At one time this was THE center of antique stores and of workshops where one could order handmade furniture, fabrics, find a designer to advise you on redoing your hôtel particulier or buy beautiful objects, both local and imported, to help decorate that grand manse.  But they are mostly gone new.  Gone are all the workshops  in the various courtyards at the St. Paul addresses.  I went in to many of them but the ateliers are shuttered and vacant.  There were just a few antique shops still operating but the real workshops are gone.  A sad note to progress.

I walked down St. Paul to the river, across the Pont Marie  bridge and into the 4eme arrondissement to have a look around.  This area is tucked into the southern corner of the Right Bank  and includes the beautiful Ile St. Louis.  Now that's a place I would like to stay.

I still hadn't found what I was looking for but it was starting to rain so I headed back.  But lo and behold!  I looked in the window of this little ~ and I do mean LITTLE ~ shop and found just what I had been seeking  In fact. I found several but didn't have enough euros for more than one.  (I would show you what I bought but the recipient reads this blog and I don't want to give it away!)  As an aside, it's very easy to run out of euros in this city.  Everything takes a lot of them and what I'm using for exchange ain't worth squat!  In fact, the cost of the euro has gone as high as $1.40 and only as low as $1.32.  I have no idea what's propping up the euro; every country using it is going broke.

Passed a gorgeous bakery on the way home selling these tasty treats.

All yours for 24 euros

Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries
This little flower shop caught my eye.  So trim and modest and beautiful, tucked away on a tiny street.

This doorway is just down the street from the flower shop.

There is a wonderful bicycle service in Paris called Vélib'.  You can rent a bike at one of many stations  of them throughout the city.  You'll pay €1,70 for a day ticket or €8 for a seven-day ticket, which lets you take an unlimited number of 30-minute journeys. Trips longer than 30 minutes incur small additional "usage charges."  You pay by time instead of distance.  You  pick up a bike and cycle off to do your errands, drop it at a station in the area where you'll be, then pick up another one at some other spot and cycle on to your next chore.  The bikes are sturdy and have baskets to hold your packages. This is the "station" around the corner from us.

On a bit further are these splendid doors.  I have no idea what's behind them but I think they're a great addition to the street scene.

We went out to dinner this evening to bid our farewells to this marvelous place.  We found a lovely place called Tresor tucked back in a little walkway called rue Tresor.  I had a piece of grilled sea bass worthy of a rave review; Mr. C opted for a hamburger with a poached egg.  The fries were fantastic.  A good "last meal."

And now, folks, that about wraps it up for Paris this year.  It's time to go to bed for a few hours; the alarm is set for 4:30 AM and it's almost 9:30 PM now.  I will have a few more things to say about this trip later on but right now all I can say is I don't want it to be over but it is.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

DATELINE: Paris (9)

It was a cold (43º) and rainy day in Paris today so no go to anywhere.  I did get a couple of things accomplished, however.  First, I finished this astonishing book.

If it isn't on your list or already on your bedside reading table, add it.  A read for our time.

Second, I got repacked.  I hated to do it but it's time.  It seems I have less than when I left home.  More room, somehow.  But that can't be true because, if anything, I've added to the load.  But everything fits into the 2 bags with even a bit of room left over.  I managed to pack just about right; there is only one thing I brought that I didn't wear (a dress) and most everything I have worn so often that I'm sick of it.  This reminds me of my time in boarding school when we, as a group, pledged that we would burn our uniforms in a great beach bonfire after we graduated.  And we did so on Coronado beach during our graduation party at the grand old Hotel del Coronado!  I never want to see any (or most) of these clothes again!  Actually, after five months in Mexico in shorts and T-shirts I won't remember any of these winter duds and will be amazed to see them again.

Tomorrow's forecast is for partly sun/partly clouds.  I am hoping to take a last gasp walk over to Village St. Paul and then that will be it for this trip.  The van picks us up at 7:30 on Thursday morning for a trip out to Charles deGaulle for a 10:30 flight home.  I'm keeping a bit of room in my suitcase for any treasures I might find.

Monday, November 4, 2013

DATELINE: Paris (8)

This is a no-photo day since I didn't take my camera with me when I set out this morning.  Mr. C was feeling mighty poorly so he stayed home while I ventured forth to see what I could see.  I have been searching for a requested item to bring home and, so far, have not been able to find it.  But I went off this morning with high hopes that I would come across it in my wanderings.  (I did not.) 

My first stop was at a newish store here in the Marais called Merci.  It's a mix of the old Design Research with a bit of IKEA and some Conrans thrown in.  It's got the flair of DR and its price tags with the stripped-down designs of both IKEA and Contrans.  But it did not have what I am looking for.  Some great stuff nonetheless.  For the next couple of hours I strolled through the neighborhoods of the 3rd and 4th, noticing the changes in these arrondissements.  There are so many up-scale stores ~ mainly women's clothing.  This area has gotten very jumped up in the last few years.

Back home for a quick lunch and then back out for the great hunt.  This time I headed down rue de Rivoli toward the new Bastille opera house to see what I could find.  Still no luck but I did come across a great place to buy scented soaps of every size, shape, color and couldn't come away empty handed.  Also found a good-looking fist restaurant that I may choose for lunch tomorrow.  I revisited the Place des Voges to see if we had somehow overlooked Le Muoe du Pape but, alas, it is truly gone.

In desperation I sent an email to our apartment's owner asking for advice on finding what I'm seeking.  He gave me some great hints (two of which I had already tried) including an area very close by called Le Village St. Paul that is mostly antique and antique-type stores.  Even if I don't find what I'm looking for it will be fun (for me!) to poke around and see what's there.  So, rain or shine, that's on my agenda for tomorrow.  Depending on how he's feeling, Mr. C may join me.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

DATELINE: Paris (7)

The sun came out and so did we.  Off we went to Parc Monceau and the Nissim museum, and I am so glad we did.  The owner of our apartment has been pushing us to visit this temple to 18th Century decorative arts so today was the day.  What a beautiful home ~ une hôtel particulier (mansion) ~ it is.  I've already mentioned how much Mr. C likes the Jacquemart-André; he wants to off-load that place and buy this one instead.

There are three floors of beautifully furnish and preserved rooms open to the public.  Since Sunday is the traditional day for entrée libre to French museums we thought the place would be packed.  Mais non!  First, this museum does not offer such a thing and second, who comes here anyway?  There were very few visitors and thus we could roam around  freely and take our timel

The family of wealthy Jewish bankers lived in this beautiful mansion, filling it with exquisite 18th dentury furniture, art, silver, china and tapestries.  When the patriarch died in 1935 he gave the home and its contents to Les Arts Decoratifs in memory of his son, Nissim, killed in WWI.  His daughter Irene, her husband and two children were deported from Paris in 1944 and perished at Auschwitz.  The Camondo family died out.

Le salon bleu

Part of M. Comodo's "office"

Main dining room



The kitchen.  Through the open door in the rear right is the scullery.

Kitchen; the cook top and oven in the foreground; a roasting oven in the right rear

This is the "call box" on the wall of the kitchen.  Someone in a drawing room or salon pushed a button to summon a servant; this box showed who rang.

A display of the family's Sèvres china.  There are probably 300 pieces for every conceivably use.  Each piece has a different bird.

 Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (7 September 1707 – 16 April 1788) was a French naturalist and is considered the "inventor" of the idea of "species."  He made hundreds of drawings of birds and they were used to decorate this delicate porcelain china.

The "modern" bathroom.  Through the doorin the corner is la toilette.  Note two bidets; I think one is for feet!

A beautiful apartment building with a 5th floor garden.

The wide walkway through the Parc Monceau

Lots of children playing in the park, hoards of runners/joggers/walkers.  You can see that the Plane trees are starting to turn and the leaves to fall and cover the ground.  A beautiful autumn day here in Paris.

All told, about 300 stairs, counting the museum.  But it all seemed very easy today.  Tomorrow's outings are iffy as it's supposed to rain most of the day.  We'll do something but I'm not sure just what.
  Only three days left . . .