Friday, September 30, 2016

one day at a time

I've been resting up after a mad week of tearing around Paris, trying to cram in everything Cait wanted to do.  I don't think we made it, but believe me, we tried.  We started early, went hard,  and I was just too tired at the end of our days to write anything.  Whatever we missed will be here for her next trip.  I'll try to catch you up a few days at a time.  Too much at once and you'd zone out.

Arrival day.  Mr. C went over to our fave charcuterie in the 5th to get a piece of roast pork for our dinner.  None to be had.  So we all walked down to the Enfants Rouges and brought home a delicious selection of things from the Moroccan stall; lamb tajine for me, couscous with lamb for Mr. C and Cait.  So delicious and flavorful.  After dinner we made plans for our Wednesday.  L'Orangerie!

Metro over to Tuilleries, walk through the park up to the Place de la Concord and, across the river, La Tour Eiffel.

This is the museum with the round rooms displaying the Monet water lily paintings, great big panoramic canvases that surround you as you sit in the middle of the room and gaze at their beauty.

This was my third visit.  I never get tired of looking at these beautiful paintings.  Downstairs are three galleries of delicious Impressionist paintings by all of the greats and some lesser known greats.

This is my favorite Renoir of the sisters playing the piano.  They're on the same page they were when I saw them a year ago.

I think of this as "Susan at the Beach" but it's actually "Femme `å la mandoline" by Matisse.

I'd also like to have a bedroom that looks like this.

After a couple of hours we went back out into the sunshine ~ we've been very lucky this whole trip.  Only one day of rain and that wasn't too serious although we did get caught! We all headed home but Cait and I got off at Hotel de Ville and went through the big BHV department store, top to bottom.  We were actually looking for a rubber tub mat; the shower is very slippery and has some serious size and hot/cold water problems.  But we have learned to live with those; it's the slippery we were really worried about.  We found a mat up on the top floor so of course we had to walk through every floor on the way down.  Lots of good stuff.  BHV (Bazaar Hotel de Ville) is like a Bloomingdales with a fantastic hardware store in the basement.  After shopping we stopped for lunch at a sidewalk cafe and then strolled home down rue du Temple.  Wine, cheese, bread, olives awaited our arrival.  Plans for tomorrow?  The Thursday market at Richard Lenoir for Cait and me and a nice free morning for Mr. C.

Off to the market with a very short list but we ended up with quite a bit of stuff, of course.  The market is actually manageable on Thursdays; Sundays are a madhouse.

We strolled the aisles looking at all the beautiful food.  Cait bought a new scarf, I bought luscious olives, some Clementines, a few veggies Mr. C had ordered, found some peach yogurt in the little glass jars, and a couple of things I will go back and get to take home.  And flowers, of course.

Back home for lunch and then an outing of the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (hunting and nature).  It's a small museum just a few blocks from us. Interesting things like stuffed animals, paintings of dogs and horses and of hunting scenes, hunting guns, photographs, and a nifty display upstairs of a lair some hunter set up on his property to watch the animals as they came and went.  A rich man's pursuit.  We walked home and stopped at a patisserie for a couple of goodies for dessert.  The clerk handed us this perfectly wrapped package, a gift of deliciousness.

Inside were these two beautiful tarts, one au Normande (apple) and one abricot.

Museum day today.  The Musée Jacquemart-André over in the 8th.  This is Mr. C's favorite non-Monet museum, his favorite being the Marmotan that is all Monet all the time, including even MORE lily ponds.  So we got on the Metro over to FDR, then walked to the museum.

We got there only to discover a looooong like waiting to get it.  Why?  Because along with all the goodies in the house there is a small Rembrandt show there for about two months.  We decided we'd go over to the Nissim Camondo museum instead.  It's on the edge of the Parc Monceau and went to it the last time we were here.  It's another "house" museum, dating from the turn of the 20th Century until about 1935 when the owner died and gave the house to the state.  It is full of beautiful things collected by the father, Moise Camondo, and a very sad story.  Moise's  son Nissim,after whom the museum is named, died in WW I, and his daughter, son-in-law and two children deported and  died at Auschwitz.   The house has an amazingly modern kitchen that includes two huge cook stoves, a roasting pit big enough to hold a whole sheep, pipes in the walls to vet the heat, a "downstairs" dining room for the staff who ran the place.

I don't know who keeps these things so shiny but the room is lined with them.  There is also a very "modern" bathroom upstairs with heated pipes for warming towels and heating the room.

We came back to the nabe, bought some of these signature baguette sandwiches, and came home for lunch.

Here's a pretty picture taken inside our little apartment.  It has two big windows in the front, one in the back that opens into the center of the building and is really for good ventilation.  But the front windows look out over trees and let the sun pour in.

That's about it for this session but there's much more to come.  I'll catch you up on the next few days tomorrow.  There's always something to report from this marvelous city.  I'm only too happy to be the one doing it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

everybody has rights

I want to get this posted early today ~ 9 AM CET ~ because the rest of the day is going to be spent welcoming and settling daughter Cait whose plane arrived about 1/2 an hour ago.  She'll take the RER into the city then the Metro toy the nabe.  Stay tuned for a recitation of fun and games.

A couple of days ago, Saturday I think, we walked over to the market street and passed this gorgeous building.

It used to be a beautiful covered market called La Marché Carreau du Temple or windowpane market and you can see why.  It's huge.  This is the left wing and there's another right wing the same size.  But alas, it is no longer a market but an "event" center and home of a tourist office.  It has been pretty carefully renovated.  At least the skeleton was preserved; the big arches, the soaring roof with its thousands of glass panes.  It is so beautiful and, even though it's massive it is somehow delicate at the same time.  The inside just glows as the light pours in.  But I'm sure it can cause dismay in the neighborhood when it plays host to big music events.

In fact, the tenant in the apartment across the street says as much with this sign on the balcony.

The sign reads, "Silence1  I have a right to sleep!"

See?  Everybody has a right to something, even sleep.

Monday, September 19, 2016

market day

I was so completely exhausted last night that I didn't get my blogging done.  We had a really great day yesterday ~ or at least I did because Mr. C does NOT find strolling through a crowded market in any way amusing ~ at La Marché Bastille, aka Marché Richard Lemoine.  It's a quick Metro ride over to the Bastille (home of the old prison and the new opera house).  The market goes on for blocks and has absolutely everything you could want in the way of fruits and veggies, prepared , clothing, furniture, kitchenware, table linens,  flowers and more.  I was ecstatic!  He was bored but indulgent (sort of).  We didn't buy a lot; little quiches for lunch (they were terrible), flowers for the apartment (they are lovely), a spatula for the kitchen (:Mr. C said we needed it but when we got home we found there was already one here), and a bag of mixed olives (my favorite before dinner nibble).

The tiled walls and location name plate of the  Metro
Yummy cheese, one among hundreds of varieties at this fromagerie
Glossy fish on ice

Many varieties of mushrooms

Olives I've never seen from places I've never heard of!

There were two or three bread stalls but I was particularly delighted by the way this baker displayed his baguettes ~ sort of log-cabin style.

One of the more fascinating characters was the caning man; you bring your sat-through chair seat and he'll re-cane it.  And this is hand caning, not the stuff that comes in a roll.  It was absolutely beautiful work.  I couldn't get up close to him to take a photo of him actually working due to all the other gawkers crowded in.  I'll try again next time.

This market is very popular, especially on Sunday.  These are true French shoppers with their carts on wheels, stuffed with the goodies for the coming week.  Young, old, kids, dogs.  There are still a few debonair gentlemen in suits and vests and their  beret and ladies all dressed up.  This was the style the first time I was in this market in the late '70s.  Now it's shorts  and t-shirts and the ubiquitous jeans.  There's nothing wrong with any of this but it does make French fashion watching a bit disappointing!

We headed home, again via Metro, and walked from Republique (one of our two stops) back to the apartment, about a 7 minute stroll.  I wanted to walk this route to check out any outstanding landmarks I could point out to Cait for her arrival tomorrow.  I found a good one.

The café on the corner has these distinctive chairs out on its terrace.  They are so cheerful and bright and SO French!

I would love to have these little beauties at home.

At home we had lunch ~ the terrible little quiches (tough, dry, tasteless) and a lovely salad with my favorite green, mache.

I never see it in the US, even at our farmers' market which has several trendy greens growers.  I'll have to ask.

It rained yesterday afternoon, then the sun came out but before we could think of what we wanted to do it started raining again.  It was an early night.  More to do tomorrow, including more shopping.  I love marketing here.  There are such interesting things on the shelves of even the most humble market.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

it's been a "get-over-jet-lag" day

Anyone who has crossed several time zones, resets the watch and then tries to carry on as though still at home knows what happens.  Usually in 24-36 hours you hit a wall of total exhaustion that cannot be put off one minute more.  It's sleep or die.  Or at least it feels that way.  This phenom hit me yesterday afternoon.  It hit Mr. C today and he was out cold until around 3 PM this afternoon, his sleep interrupted by morning coffee, then lunch.  Finally we got it together and went out for a walk, some little shopping chores, and to just get some exercise.  A couple of miles later we're back just in time for some nice bread and cheese, olives and a glass of wine.  So civilized.

It being Saturday, tout le monde was out and about doing what the French do best:  eating, drinking, talking and, best of all, shopping.  Let me deal with each of those national characteristics.  First the eating/drinking.  Cafés are full all day.  This could be because nobody wants to cook because cafés can do it cheaper and you don't have to clean up.  It could be because most French apartments have kitchens smaller than a standard walk-in closet (yet they make and sell some of the most spectacular cookware and tableware in the world.  Go figure.) Café food is, for the most part, really excellent.  Simple, good ingredients, well prepared, well priced.  I'm not talking about places vying for a Michelin star or getting written up for the wait-time for a reservation.  I'm referring to the zillions of small neighborhood spots whose sole purpose is to serve good, honest meals.

It's in these neighborhood cafes and bistros that you find the French indulging in another of their great pastimes:  talk.  Jesus, these people can talk for hours and hours without stop!  Loud, animated talk accompanied by facial gymnastics, arm waving, forehead slapping and, if on an outside terrace, hungry sucking on foul-smelling Gitane or Galoise cigarettes.  If these's a lone diner, that person will be holding a lively conversation with whoever is on the other end of the cell phone, all the time enjoying a solitary meal.    They talk constantly except, I have noticed, on the Metro.  Complete silence, even between people who know each other.  They talk while on the platform but once in the carriage, nothing.  The minute the doors open and passengers step out, the chatter begins anew.  I have absolutely no idea why.  It can't be the lack of privacy on the Metro; the volume of talk in a restaurant insures that everyone knows exactly what you think about anything you mention.

The shopping is epic.  Saturday is the tradition shopping day in Paris.  Not for food; they do that every day and the myriad tiny purveyors along every street.  Saturday is when for necessities like pants, shoes, jewelry, etc.    Or for something like this that I spotted on our walk up rue de Temple.

I just wanted to go into the shop and touch it.  Probably silver grey fox.  (There is a big fur section in the 10th arrondissement where there are blocks of fur merchants and workshops where beautiful clothes are made.  When my sister and I were here in 1985 we stayed in a hotel in the 10th, across the street from a fur showroom and we could see hundreds of beautiful pelts hanging on a sort of conveyor belt ~ such as in the dry cleaners ~ where buyers or designers could come and check out the goods.)  Paris is one of the places where shops give out beautiful bags with your purchase  and, just like in the movies or the tabloids, you can see very young women hauling their loot around in bright, glitzy bags that provide not only a vehicle for getting the stuff home but also very visible advertisements for where that particular shopper found her treasures.  I guess I do too much on-line shopping to truly appreciate this particular type of peacockiness.

Mr. C is feeling much restored and thinks he's ready for a trip to the Marché Bastille tomorrow (aka Richard Lemoine).  I hope it's not raining because it is a fabulous place.  I'll also tell you about the fate of the old Marché Carreau, now enjoying a second life as an "events" site.  Sad, sad, sad.

From the guest bedroom you can see these beautiful window box gardens.  Note the graceful lamp.  I'll take a shot of it lit so you can see how pretty the street is at night.

Thus ends our second day here.  Forgot to add that I took a shower yesterday and damned near flooded the place.  Everything in the bathroom ~ other towels, bath mat, toilet paper, wall mirror ~ got soaked.  Problem?  Shower curtain waaaay to small.  It's going to be baths from now on.

Friday, September 16, 2016

dispatches from another world

Bonjour from Paris.  We arrived yesterday morning and, 24 hours later, are feeling almost human again.  These long flights and big (9-hour) time gaps are killers, even to experienced travelers.  I napped yesterday afternoon, went to bed about 10 PM and woke up at 2 AM ready to start the day.  It will be better tonight, I hope.

We left Sact'o at 7 AM Wednesday on a short flight to Seattle. Both seats were in aisle 6; only the second was in Business Class.

Once you have had the pleasure of BC it's hard to think about sitting in the back ever again.  But here's the problem.  If you are not affiliated with Delta in any way, the cost is absolutely ridiculous.   So if you want to sit up front on a fairly regular basis, encourage at least one of your children to work for an airline.  Here's the menu for dinner.

But first, a little salad of roasted apples and potatoes on a bed of arugula and soft goat cheese, washed down with a lovely Pino Gris from Oregon.  All of this served at 35,000 ft.

After that tasty tidbit came the lamb and a sharp and not-well-aged Tempranillo.  After that, sleep on a seat that opens to a flat bed.  Comfy down pillow, lightweight down blanket.  Nice.  And then it was almost dawn, spied out of my window.

We arrived at CDG right on time ~ 8:20 am ~ in a light rain, got stamped in, got our bags then a taxi and arrived at our apartment about 10:30.  The apartment is in a very old building, up on the 3rd floor looking out on one side to a street with lots of leafy green (for the moment) trees, on the other onto an apartment building with several floors of overflowing window boxes.  This pile is across the street from our bedroom.

Two bedrooms so daughter Cait can come to visit next week.  Third arrondissement (Marais), two metro stops close by, plenty of shopping, restaurants, etc.  It's Paris, after all.

We went down the street for dinner last night ~  Light supper, very tasty, shockingly expensive.  This city is not a place to come if you plan to save money.

Yesterday's shopping provided some lovely goodies for breakfast.  First, a jar of THE BEST yoghurt. Once you're done, wash out the little jar and you have an instant wine glass.  I have dozens of them that I've hauled home.  In the "old days" all yoghurt came in them.  Now you have to hunt to find them and avoid the plastic tubs.

There's also a brand called Chambourcy but I couldn't find it.  Those glasses are a bit more fancy.  You know, for "premium" wine.

Mr. C went out early to the local boulangerie and brought back two really fantastic croissants ~ maybe even better than our favorites from Carton's ~ and a baguette.  This bakery is owned by a man who won the annual "Best Baguette in Paris" contest and yes, he deserved it!

We walked up to the Marché des Enfants Rouges to do some food shopping and check it out.

I was very surprised by how deserted it was at 10:30 on a Friday morning  Very few vendors although the restaurants were open and busy cooking up a storm for, I guess, the lunch crowd.   But we found plenty of other things at various markets along the way; a roast chicken for dinner, some fruits and veggies, a bottle of pink Bordeaux, another baguette (the first having disappeared at lunch).  It has stopped raining so we may go out again in a bit.  Mr. C is napping on the couch ~ I napped earlier.  You really can't say enough in praise of naps!

That's a wrap on the first 24 hours.  Mr. C wants to Metro over to Maubert-Mutualité and our old haunt in the 5th.  There's a terrific butcher shop that sells cooked pork roast and he's hankering for some of that.  Plus the Moroccan olive man is at the street market with great pans of olives, garlic and mushrooms in a divine herb-y brine.   If it's not pouring rain in the morning that's what we'll do.  We also need to find a good street market here in the 3rd that's open tomorrow.  Sunday is the Richard Lenoir market over by the "new" Bastille Opera.  I know I don't have to cram it all into the first three days but as long as I'm in the neighborhood . . .

HAPPY FLOWER FRIDAY from the Marché des Enfants Rouges
 This place feeds by soul as well as my body.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

going . . .

Boarding passes printed (SMF to SEA only.  SEA to CDG printed for us if we make the flight).  Euros rescued from the bank, metro tickets at the ready, passports in hand.  Shuttle arrives at 4:30 AM.  Wish us luck!

Monday, September 12, 2016

going . . .

We made it through Monday without any change in flight schedule.  I heard back from the concierge that there was no problem changing the change back to the original.  If we get through tomorrow well be waiting for the shuttle at 4:30 Wednesday morning for our trip to SMF and the first leg of the Paris Adventure.  So far, so good.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

the saga of a stand-by traveler

It's a real short story.  Yesterday I told you we were leaving on the 13th.  Today I'm telling you we're leaving on the 14th.  Who knows about tomorrow.

But no whining, please.  After all, it is FREE.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

no photo

Just a few words about the last couple of days.  We've been focussing our attention on getting out of here and into France.  New plans are to leave on the 13th to avoid overbooked flights.  So we go to Seattle Tuesday morning, out to Paris in the afternoon and arrive on Wednesday morning.  Look for lots of blog posts and Instagrams.  Daughter Caitlin joins us on the 20th for a week of high mischief. Can't wait!

But today, we had a different experience.  The father of one of our friends died two weeks ago.  He was a very charming, funny, low-key and FAMOUS member of the Viticulture and Enology faculty here at UCD.  We met him, his wife, his sons Steve and Stan at Stan's wonderful B&B, Casa de las Flores, the first time we went up to Tlaquepaque, MX.  Although we were much better acquainted with Stan after all our years of staying at his place, we wanted to attend today's memorial to pay our respects to his father.  It was a wonderful celebration of a life very well lived.  There were, of course, his viticulture colleagues who talked extensively of his many contributions to the science of oenology.  Then there were his neighbors who talked about his friendliness and generosity.  And his graduate students, many who have become professors and researchers and the owners and winemakers of well-known wineries, who spoke of his dedication to the science of wine-making and the breakthroughs he made to teaching and industry. Vern and his wife, Kay, were famous for their hospitality to one and all ~ new faculty, young researchers, graduate students, undergraduates.  This  wonderful "host" gift has been passed down to Stan who is a marvelous host at his lovely little spot.

What I took away from all of this was how rich and varied his life was.  And how beloved he was among all his colleagues, friends, family.

The memorial was followed by a gracious luncheon featuring, of course, wonderful food and wine.  Vern, it was a real honor to know you.  God speed, and I hope the fruit of the vine is as abundant and splendid where you end up as it has been here in California.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

hammock time

Even though it's fall, it's still hot here in the valley.  Daisy (you remember, she's my next door dog friend who loves the pool) has figured out that relaxation is the best way to beat the September heat.

Meanwhile we are packing and getting everything ready to leave at a moment's notice.  Schedule departure date is September 14, but we may possibly go on the 11th, 12th, or 13th depending on the availability of seats (preferable Business Class).  Stand-by, you know.

Monday, September 5, 2016

down the drain

We've been planning this pool upgrade for three years when we first noticed the beginning of a crack down the side.  Well, this is the SUMMER OF THE POOL, and it has been quite an ordeal.  There were basically four phases to this re-mo.  1.  Redo the lighting in and around the pool and on the deck, including tree lights that had failed because the tree bark grew around them(!).  2.  Empty out and refurbish the raised planter beds.  3.  Restucco the outside walls of the pool and all the planters.  This time we used an acrylic stucco that, allegedly, won't crack and discolor.  And finally, 4; refinish the pool in fiberglass, which also won't crack and discolor and grow slimy stuff.  So far, we've completed 1, 2, and 3.  The fiberglassing will happen mid-October when we return from our trip.

To refresh your collective memories, here is a picture of the pool taken some years ago before the crack appeared and before the original stucco began to discolor badly.  (Alfonso swears this will not happen with the new covering!)

By the time we got around to doing the repairs things were looking quite seedy and unkempt.  The soil in the planters was pretty well depleted so not much was growing well.

Jorge arrived with his crew of delightful Chilean guys and made short work of the plants and shrubs, repaired the wall lights, installed new up-  and down-lights in the Birch trees and checked out the watering system for the new plantings (after fiberglass).  He installed all LED lighting which is hideously expensive but will last until Em and Andrew's children retire.

Next up was the aforementioned Alfonso, the stucco expert.  The first thing he did was to power wash all the concrete part of the patio and all the stucco around the sides, especially under the pool cap.  Here's how it looked afterwards.

Except for all the cracks that needed to be fixed, it looked pretty good.  But alas there were many spots that needed to be re-cemented before the stucco could be applied.

Next came the application of a colorless stucco to cover all the repairs.  But before he could go any further we had to empty the pool!  So Mr. C betook himself over to the rent-all and got a pump that would suck out 3,000 gallons of water an hour.  Our pool holds 12,000 gallons.  You do the math.

Through the 50' hose, up over a trash barrel to hold it steady, out through a cleverly rigged flexible tube and into the main water drain on our property.  Took about 5 hours from start to finish.  When the water was all out it really showed the extent of the crack and whatever it is that is growing around it.  Disgusting!

At the end of the day, here's my lovely pool sitting empty and forlorn, awaiting a facelift that will being it back to its former glory!

As of now, 3 out of 4 are done.  Don't worry about the water still in the bottom; we had a strange little leak problem but the ingenious Mr. C figured out how to stop it.  Some valve or other wouldn't seal.  But all the cracks in the stucco are gone, the joints have been sealed, the color is lovely, and all the tiles were saved.  Before the fiberglass gets installed the company will blast off the chemical crust that has formed near the tops of the blue tiles and it will all be good as new.  Then Jorge hauls in a load of new, fresh soil, plants that have been waiting patiently in pots will be returned to their home in the planters, it will all be splendid . . . and then we leave for Mexico.  Until then, it's going to look fabulous!

So that's what has been preoccupying me for the last two months.  In case you wondered . . .