Friday, January 27, 2017

Puppies, kittens, and Paris

I am tired of news.  I refuse to watch it or read it.  It only makes me grumpy and grouchy. And anyone who knows me knows that I am neither very often.  Life is too short.  And in the words of Jacques Prévert, my favorite French poet, “Later will be too late.  Our life is now.”  That’s my translation, not an “official” one.  It works for me.  I haven’t felt like blogging or being creative and I need to shake that.  So, I am back in the saddle.  A great way to start feeling happy is to look at puppies.
Let’s start with Buddha.  He is Son #1 and Daughter-in-Law’s pup.  The only dog I’ve ever met who pouts.  I admit that I am not really a dog person (much to the chagrin of every single relative of mine), but Buddha is a love.  He doesn’t smell stinky.  He loves my boy.  He doesn’t aggravate my cat.  He rarely barks.
And how about Max?  He belongs to my Cuz and I bet he is just a little bit spoiled! Adorable.
Finally, siblings recently adopted by friends…
Maggie Mae
Now, it’s time for kittens.  Callie is ours.  She is sleeping next to me right now.  Studiously ignoring me, of course.  We’ve had her for about 9 years.  Her brother passed away last spring.  She is good company, doesn’t make messes, sleeps on my feet, hides in the bathroom when we have company, especially those with dogs, and is generally pretty darned content.  This is her “I am bored with you” look.
My French girlfriends love cats, too.  Madame M has Tao.  A very Zen cat.  Looks pretty comfy, n’est-ce pas?
And Bigoudi.  We’ve spent a few nights together in the south of France Chez Fanny.  A loyal America-loving feline.  I like her choice in college basketball allegiances.  Of course, I may have played a small part in that…  BTW, a bigoudi is a hair curler in French.  In case you were wondering.
For the Paris part.  This time last week, I had just returned from a six-day trip to La Ville Lumière made possible by ACIS, the company I use for my student trips.  It was cold.  The Siberian wind blew in one day.  It was a bit rainy.  I got lost a couple of times looking for Lafayette.  The heat didn’t work very well in my hotel room. But who cares about any of that?  I WAS IN PARIS.  I met some amazing teachers.  My roommate, from Venezuela by way of Wisconsin, was a bundle of energy.
I found three first-timers who allowed me to show them some of my favorite Parisian spots, including Place du Tertre in Montmartre. Merci, mes nouveaux amis!
I ate some of my favorite foods– foie gras, fromage, soupe à l’oignon, croque madame
And some sweets, of course.  Pain perdu, macarons et chocolat.
A glass of wine at a couple of my favorite cafés, as well as champagne at the Eiffel Tower.
Speaking of La Grande Dame, I added a few more photos to the hundreds (thousands?) that I already have.
I climbed the steps of Notre Dame to say hello to the chimera and gargoyles.  I lit a candle for Mme Buchanan, my high school French teacher.
The crèche in Notre Dame was made with santons from Arles.  An unexpected blessing.
I visited with Vincent at the Musée d’Orsay. Sad to say, Starry Night over the Rhône is not there at the moment.  It must be out and about in another exhibit. Well, as a matter of fact, Google just told me that it is in Ontario until January 29 when it will make its way back to Paris.  By mid-March, I hope.
There are so many statues to admire at the Orsay, as well.
Just strolling the streets, I found beauty at every turn.  The Panthéon.  L’Opéra Garnier. Ile Saint Louis. Sacré Coeur. Sainte Chapelle. Trocadéro. A random rose still alive in winter.
A real highlight was to have dinner at Mary Claude’s apartment in the 16e arrondissement. This is a new addition to the ACIS offerings for travelers.  They work with VizEat, a company that pairs eaters with cookers/hosts and hostesses.  Mary Claude (in the white shirt) could not have been more gracious.
She fed us exceptionally well.  Leek tart, charcuterie, soup for starters–
Risotto and chicken for our main dishes–
Du fromage?  But of course!  I took it upon myself to give the others a lesson in cheese cutting (always respect the form!)–
and Galette des Rois for dessert.
When I had a chance to talk to Mary Claude, in between courses, I asked about the soup (I didn’t take a photo…) and the risotto.  The soup was butternut, made with chestnuts.  I peeked in the kitchen to get a look at her food processor.
I am very fond of risotto.  This was probably the best I’ve ever eaten.  I wanted to know her secret.  At first, she told me that it was “just” risotto.  But I knew better, so I brought the conversation back to the risotto after learning about the soup.  Look closely–
Those brown specks?  Truffles.  And truffle oil in the initial preparation stage.  Aha!  Not “just” risotto.  The earthiness of truffles + the creaminess of the rice = a perfect marriage of flavors.
It was a wonderful trip.  It will keep me going for the next few weeks.  I will return in six weeks with 22 8th graders.
La vie est belle.  
And, by the way, I finally found General Lafayette.  Tucked away in the back corner of the Picpus Cemetery.  Winter hours 2-4 pm.  12e arrondissement.  Did you know his real name was Gilbert de Motier?  I did not.
Bon appétit, old and new friends.  May you see beauty wherever you are.  


KVS said...

In the House of Representatives, one of the seats of American government, there are two large portraits behind the Speaker's Rostrum. Just two.

One is of George Washington (bien sûr). The other? General Lafayette, in honor of his essential help in our war of independence.

And the portrait of Lafayette came first.

The Sabbatical Chef said...

I will look for the Marquis when I am there next week (with 96 seventh graders!). I did not know that. I have been in there several times and do not know why I didn't notice. Merci!