06 August, 2012

What Would You do if You Had a Day?

With my son off at camp ( no late night calls yet! ) I woke up with no real obligations but many intentions. Unfortunately, I became ill yesterday and had to make a doctor visit, but while in that area I left the car and walked "downtown" Orleans. I did some errands, sent my son and niece postcards at camp, sent a birthday card to Paris (Bon Ani, Sharron!) and to Maryland, bought a fabulous Guess leather coat for a song at a consignment shop, and got some bright green, orange and espresso paint for the new bath project. Random purchases but fun. I also wandered in and out of art galleries and designer clothing shops, but just to lache vitrine, or window shop.  I kept feeling guilty that I wasn't home scrubbing something.  Being a tourist at home can be very wonderful.

Hoxie Pond, Sandwich

Me, on Bike Path, Orleans
Yummy Orange! Left Bank Gallery

Hot Chocolate Sparrow goes francophone



05 August, 2012

Let Them Eat Cupcakes

Sadly, even Sugar Daze cupcakes in Paris is en vacances ( en congés  is on paid leave), maybe unlikely for the self employed ( a New Yorker I hear!) I will give you their info in case you're in Paris after August 30, its 20 rue Henry Monnier, 75009 Paris (South Pigalle) Metros: St-Georges (12 line) or Pigalle (2 line) Bus: Lines 30, 42, 43, 54, 67, 68, 74, 85. Yes, that's the three weeks of closing up shop to appreciate the good things, rejuvenate and prepare for the rentrée. 
How will Paris live without these for three weeks? Photo: Sugar Daze




I love rentrée, when Parisians somewhat take back their city from tourists, children reappear in school uniforms, and restaurants are available for the rest of us.  All of that applies here on Cape Cod, as well!

04 August, 2012

The Big Bon Voyage

Tonight we had a special bon voyage to camp dinner for my eight year old son.  His favorite lobster, this time cracked, picked and eaten by himself. It even wound up on the back of his head.  Corn on the cob that came from Canada, probably due to the severe drought this year in the USA, and spaghetti with aglio e olio and anchovy. My son likes anchovies.  So we ate outdoors to make the necessary mess and try to catch a hint of a breeze in this stultifying air.

Four gals busy removing moss and cooling off
The chickens were gaping they were so hot, so I let them dig up the moss, which I've been meaning to do anyway, and literally roll around in the cool dirt eating their weight in yucky bugs. Good girls! They are four months old now and starting to look very grown up.

The dry soil and moist air have done little for my gardening efforts. I made two terraria with plants my son brought home from school three years ago. They sat in the kitchen window in a sorry state but alive all of this time, so I made something interesting for him.  I'm not much for indoor gardening. I saw a photo in a French design magazine (to which I am addicted) of a wall in a Paris apartment covered every inch in plants. I assume they have an indoor gardener. I have a palm from IKEA in my room to which I sometimes remember to add a couple of ice cubes.  On the deck I have several planters, three tomatoes  a pepper and a variety of Mediterranean herbs. The herbs are doing the best, although the oregano shriveled up once and had to be cut back to start again. This morning I gathered enough goodies for lunch, the tiny tomatoes are as sweet as candy.  I would like to visit the Abbaye de Senanque yet again to see the enormous fields of lavendar, and walk the beautiful cloister.  I was looking at a rental property today 30 km from Avignon, not far from the abbey. There isn't a day that I don't speak, dream, read, write or cook in French. My thoughts are always of what I know to be in the markets or which fête is coming up.  I clearly remember the flinty white wines of Cassis drunk beside the white calanques.  I can taste a rosé from Tavel after a hot hike on Montagne Sainte-Victoire, at the empty café overlooking Picasso's home (and grave)  at the  Château de Vauvenargues. These memories span the now 20 years I have traveled or lived in France. Yesterday, though, I watched my son play on the neighborhood beach with his buddy, riding an enormous inflated Orca through the waves. So what if my only rosemary is in a pot, not in a huge Provençal hedge.  It tastes as delicious under the same summer sun.

02 August, 2012

Vacances

Were I in France, I'd be preparing for the annual August exodus.  French folk from all six corners head to the mountains, seaside, or family homes for often a full month of rest and relaxation.  Something to remember is you are visiting France this month, as many attractions, restaurants and public facilities are closed or have reduced hours. You may find this frustrating, but go with the flow.

French children as young as first grade go off  for class trips, without parents, for a week in the forest camps.

Mayflower Beach, Dennis, MA c. LM
Since I live in an American vacation mecca, the rest of the world seems to come here making restaurant reservations as rare as my hens' teeth.  Although I can walk to Mayflower Beach, a stunning "10 best" beach, my travel plans include a weekend in a college dorm and a visit to the mountains.  My son and I will attend the Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference in my ancestral homeland of Amherst, MA (and my graduate school alma mater.) Although our Cape Cod "farm" is 10 vegetables, four chickens, a dog and a cat I'm hoping to glean more information on sustainability. Then we will head north to Shelburne Farm Museum and the Lake Champlain region.  I realized how much I miss getting some elevation since I live at sea level.

Sète, France   c. LM
My own French vacations have included Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Sète, and more. I would dearly have liked to attend the festival in Avignon again (and again). For now, I'll hang at my "10 best" beach.

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01 August, 2012

IKEA Gaff

August 1 is my friend Lella's birthday ( buon compleanno! ), the start of my birthday month, the home stretch to my favorite season, and a challenge month to write daily. I've just returned from IKEA, the only one in Massachusetts and it's near my sister's home.  I only went for a piece of fabric to make a cover for a chandelier chain, but of course came home with all kinds of nonsense. Shopping with my son, we started in the cafeteria so he wouldn't be hungry along the long, winding aisles.

I have shopped and eaten at several IKEAs in France, and they offer wine and beer to enjoy with your gravlax. The marketing model that controls all big box stores and makes them look identical worked its magic on me, and I searched in vain for the vino. I even asked the bemused line cooks for it! I forgot what country I was in!

A soul-crushing trip to IKEA Paris-Nord left me weak as a limp noodle in March. It is no small feat to get out there without a car and come back with anything heavier than a lampshade. I did negotiate next day (Sunday!) delivery of a couch and many other items, but it wasn't easy, and I finally uttered the dreaded, "only in France," to the clerk. But I got it done for my home design commission.  I was fortified by red wine and meatballs.

Paris 9eme After Home Staging