Friday, March 30, 2012


Sometimes I am sparse with the updates for no good reason, but I've got an excuse this time.  I've been in China, where they make it really hard for you to work on your silly little blog.  Thankfully I am able to access my company's server in Paris so I can dance around their controls, but it makes for an infinitesimal lagtime (sometimes I can count up to 10 seconds before the letter I've struck appears on the screen--which makes for a fun "Memory" or "Count-'em-down" sort of typing game!) and my arse hurts at the mere thought of uploading a photo.

So I will wait for the photo updates until I'm home this weekend, at which point I will be no doubt super J-lagged and barely able to grunt at the cat much less string a sentence for this here thing.  So you've been warned.  But I give you a briefing on the trip as it was this time:

1. I am proud to say I am still gluten-free.  There were moments (mostly at the disgusting Beijing fabric fair) when I thought that if a Papa John's pizza  fell (from the grimey girders) into my lap, I would have polished it off with no problem.  But I am proud to say I was steadfast and spent 12 dumpling-free days in China.  If I don't fall ill with something-or-other after this germy time, I will know that my immune system has been duly fortified.  As someone without a severe gluten allergy, it's pretty easy to be off the gluten in China.  No dumplings, no excessive amounts of soy sauce (I am no saint), no deep-fried/"breaded"
 things, and no beer.  So really, it's been all-rice, all-the-time.  And a fried pigeon here and there.  But no Jew's ear.  Nuh-uh. Only for pictures, I swear.

2. It's been a clean-up on aisle Marni over here.  I wasn't that into the H&M-Marni collection when it came out, mostly because I was put off by the frenzy of it all.  Maybe it's because I knew I could never get a piece--even with a boyfriend who works at H&M.  That shizz was gone in seconds!  But I thought maybe I'd take a gander in Shanghai... and, sure enough, there it all was!  Hanging unpreturbed!  And... ON SALE.  I got a pair of shoes (made in Portugal, no less) and a silk dress and a silk blouse.  But the best part was I had the time to browse, try things on, and think it over before I made my purchases, on sale, with a discount.  OK, now I'm just rubbing it in.  And when I got to Beijing, there was even MORE there.  Like accessories!  So I have a few extra plastic necklaces earmarked for a few lovely ladies that I know.  But if you are dying for one (not the fancy leaf one, though...), send me an email. 

3. I've been to Beijing twice now, so it's doubly confirmed I find it dirtier, uglier (Except for the Olympic Stadium, it really is what any new stadium should be judged against--damn all those retro-style stadiums built in the past 10 years in the US.  They turn my stomach.  But this is not the time for a stadium rant, though I am good for it.), slower (Because. The. Traffic. Is. Painfully. Awfully.  Horribly.  *cough*  Slow.  And. You.  Can. *fumes*  Get.  Nowhere.  Fast.), and harder to manage than Shanghai.  Sure, Shanghai is all tall buildings and loud expats from Oz and light shows and over-priced scene-y dinners, but it is much more modern and (dare I say?) civilized than Beijing.  I mean, I get stared at hard in Beijing.  And try taking a taxi as a solo Western woman... I thought the one taxi driver was going to strain his neck all the times he kept turning to stare at me. 

4. I think I might like Yunnan food the most of all of the regional Chinese food I've had.

5. Today we went to the Summer Palace (where I was inappropriately dressed for the windy cold weather and spent most of the time shivering and fantasizing about all of the things in my suitcase layered to encase my body) and then (after a stop back at the hotel, which thanks to the Beijing traffic was no quick jaunt) to the Great Wall.  Yes, I went to the freaking GREAT WALL OF CHINA today!  Woop!  And it was really something.  I will write more about it later when I am over my impending jetlag and can do it properly.  I don't know when I'll be back in Beijing (not soon, if I can help it), so I jumped on the opportunity to go.  I think it's the only one of the Seven Wonders I've seen.  And, yeah, it's a wonder alright.

6.  Damn you, pink puppy.  You had no excuse holding out on me this time.  Your mom and dad no doubt wonder what the deal is with the girl in the red-and-black coat craning into their newsstand every day.  Please come out and play next time!   

7.  What would I do without my Kindle?  (T R-P, I am forever grateful for your encouragement.)  It really is the best dinner/lunch/breakfast partner a traveling lady could ask for.  I finished the Paris Wife, which despite my initially snobbery, was a fun read.  I've put off The Sisters Brothers so I can read some of Nancy Mitford's historical stuff.  Madame de Pompadour, I'm smitten!  I can't wait to be back on your bourgeois stomping grounds tomorrow!

Stuff on Walls #57

Here's a buncha stuff on walls from before my China trip.  Love the Lucha Libre posters...

I've found that horse shows are a real hit in Europe.  And the posters are generally awesome. 


I can't WAIT to see this one tomorrow.  I am homeward bound in about 15 hours....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Kitty Lotto!

Only in Paris are there scratch off tickets with cats and dogs on them.  Of course, I had toss 2 euros at one of these.  I guess they had a big casting to find the "lucky" pets featured.  And there is some sort of App where you can "play" with the pets.  heh.

And here's my own lucky kitty:

Well, I can't sleep with you and your camera right there.

A Notre Dame Pop-In

The other evening I was meeting a friend for dinner in the 7th.  I rarely find myself on the left side so I decided to take my time and walk there.  One of my favorite things about Paris is that there is something remarkable everywhere you go.  Sure, there are the obvious things like the Eiffel Tower or Place de la Concorde or the Pompidou.  But really the history is everywhere.  I've been walking by the Carreau du Temple twice a day for nearly a year now, but only recently did it take on new significance as I learned that it was where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and family were housed before being moved to the Conciergerie (and then being off-with-their-heads-ed).  Before the carreau was there, the spot was a Knights Templar joint/prison;  and this was the royal family's second-to-last stop.  (There is a big renovation underway at the carreau now, and they've found bodies dating back to the 12th century.  There were not one but TWO layers of cemetery under there!  Follow the link above to learn more about the excavation and renovation.)  But what I meant to tell you with all of that wind is that history is everywhere here, so you don't need to seek it out.  (Though you'll find no shortage of it if you do.)

So it happened that Notre Dame was smack in the middle of my wander to the left bank.  It couldn't have worked out more perfectly if I had planned it to arrive there just before closing so that there was no crowd and the day was square in the "golden hour" before sunset.  And there was a mass on.  A mass, people!  That counts for, like, two visits!  I had never seen Notre Dame without a large crowd out front, so I did a double-take that I was actually there.  And I marched right in.

Honestly, I got mad respect for Notre Dame and its perfect Gothic architecture (those buttresses are FLYING!) and its age and its location and all of that.  But really, the inside isn't that remarkable.  I still dare any church to beat the cathedral in Brussels.  Though it's not fair because some churches are older than others and blah-de-blah-de-blah.  I'm not so taken with the interior of Sacré Coeur, either, if you must know.  But I'll take its view any day.

 An unremarkable shot of the Seine.

 The Hotel de Ville.

Low-light iPhone action at Notre Dame.

Lit up.

Not such a big turnout for mass.  Did you know that the current Archbishop of Paris is called André Vingt-Trois?  That translates to André "Twenty-Three."  Cool.

Exterior action.


Marabou jacket from Maje
Tee from Sandro
Vintage necklace from Wilbur in Philly.

A Rougette Rant

That's a little misleading.  I'm not going to rant about rougette.  I mean, just look how cute this old-seed French lettuce is!  Who could rant about that?  

I am going to rant about what almost came between me and my rougette.  

You see, I wasn't planning on having any rougette at all.  I was making my way toward some macarons (Georges Larnicol, if you must know) when I saw the market near Hotel de Ville.  Never one to miss a market, I had to stop.  I made a couple of loops, surveying and planning what to make my lunch.  I opted for some fresh (and filleted!) sardines, a lemon, a piece of fourme d'ambert cheese, and… some rougette.  I am quite in love with the lettuce over here, so when I saw these bi-color cuties, I couldn't pass them up.  

There was a queue at the stand with the rougette, so I went to the end of the line.  Just then a lady some feet back from what seemed to be the end of the line proclaimed, "J'attend!" (I am waiting) and in a huff moved herself and her empty rolly cart to the proper end of the line.  Startled by her, I let out a prompt "Pardon!" as has come to be my second nature when bumped or surprised or unable to understand something or in just about any circumstance, really.  

In my mind, you can't go wrong with "Pardon."  I probably say it too often, as I go klutzing around this city.  I don't notice many people saying "Pardon" when they run into me, come to think of it, but I always throw out a "Pardon" in passing if I even brush against someone.  Why not?  It's an easy save.  

Except for this old French biddy.  She was talking under her breath as she assumed her rightful place and then she couldn't WAIT to tell the lady in front of her how I said "Pardon" and not "Excusez-moi" when I had taken her place in line.  (You know what lady?  If you are over 4 feet from the end of the line, it is fair to assume you aren't in it!)  And to say "Pardon" after my action, to not even give her a proper "Excusez-moi!"  Unbelievable!  She was going on about me to the woman in front of her, shaking her head and showing her disdain in her body language, like I wasn't even there.  Or like I was there, but I was some kind of line-cutting étranger ogre.  

I felt myself getting hot.  I felt shaky.  I wanted both to cry and knock this lady's block off simultaneously.  I wanted to leave the line, leave the stand, leave the rougette.  But mostly, I just wanted to say something snappy back to her.  Moments that felt like hours passed.  I decided that this bitch was not going to come between me and my lettuce, and I also decided that I wasn't going to be anybody's fool --in any language, in any country.  

So the next instant she angled her head remotely toward me, I let loose in poorly accented and rudimentary French with something to the effect of, "Merci, madame.  Maintenant je sais de dire 'Excusez-moi' le prochain fois.  J'apprends le Francais maintentent et j'essaie." Basically, what I said or was trying to say was, "Thanks, madame.  Now I know to say 'Excusez-moi' the next time.  I am learning French now and I'm trying."  That's right, I'm trying, you miserable bitch.  I'm TRYING.  

I sure took her off guard with that flurry.

She quipped back that I know enough French to understand what she was saying then!  And she asked what my native tongue was.  Well, thanks adrenaline and emotion for almost making me say "Americain"  (duh, you don't speak "American," well not really...) back to her, but I caught myself and ended up with "Anglais."  Phew.  And that was that.  She was up to order and I can't say I didn't take some joy in hearing her ask for beets for one.  

As I pictured her choking alone on a root vegetable, I realized I was eating for one, too.  Though probably less miserably.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Coeur de pigeon tomatoes.  I think they look more like teeth than pigeon hearts, but I mean no disrespect to their heritage lineage.  

My version of rabbit a la moutarde.

Why, why, why do I always have trouble with the bunny?  I know I'm put off because it's about the same size as my cat, which is a little freaky.  But this came with fur still attached!  I almost threw in the towel right then.

Healthy eating... quinoa is my best friend these days.

Stuff on Walls #38

And one thing on the ground.