Friday, January 19, 2007

Out with the old.

I'd been struggling with bebere for a bit more than a year now, and might as well just admit that I don't find writing here fun anymore. In fact, posting anything at all feels more like an obligation than anything else.

Guess it's time to stop.

Anyway: comments are disabled, and I'm in the process of integrating posts from another (now defunct) blog here. The email link in the sidebar still works if you'd like to contact me directly, and, for the few fellow poetry fans out there, I've placed a link to the poetry month site.

This has been an interesting and not terrible experience; just not a useful one anymore. On to other things.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ali calls the northern sun at this time of year a fake sun. I tell him that, even so, I'm thankful for it, as it beats walking in the cold and rain.

After getting my coffee and hearing his first kvetch of the winter season, found myself humming "It's only a paper moon/over a cardboard sea/but it wouldn't be make-believe/if you believed in me:" a little sad, very true and certainly up and keeping with my mental landscape during the solitary commute on a cold morning.

Save for that second pair of socks I forgot to put on before leaving home and an all-too-real (very wet) sea between me and where I'd like to be, I'm feeling pretty good. Haven't felt that way in a while.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Retail Therapy.

Never was one of those girls who got into recreational shopping. This could be due to lack of funds. Also never cared for the inevitable feelings of inadequacy that arose from trying on things that weren't meant to cover my body, either.

I do, however, appreciate the old-style department stores, from their central locations to their interior layouts (bargain basement to roof-top salon) designed to make shopping a day of adventure. Sadly, these stores are seeing a decline here: Buffalo lost Sattlers and AM & As years ago. More recently, Boston's Filenes gave up the ghost and their downtown location just like Jordan Marsh did a few years back. Rumor has it that a Target will be moving in.

What I'd seen in France before is a lot like here - Carrefour and Monoprix are their versions of Target/K-Mart/Walmart, and you'll find the larger stores like La Redoute or Galeries Lafayette in their versions of malls or plazas, the zones commerciales. However, in Paris, the grands magasins, loss-leaders perhaps in a more specialized, pared-down retail world, are still holding firm.

Of these, my favorite will always be Printemps.

Everything about this store is perfect and in keeping with its being a grand monument to commerce: the evocative name (springime, budding energy afer a long winter, excitement), the lovely, enigmatic jugendstil ladies

smiling down on passersby and even the counters that spill out of the store onto the streets, selling inexpensive (though not necessarily cheap) colorful, eye-catching stuff create desire where there wasn't any before.

Oh, and the windows: what a sight! I was lucky enough to get there when I did and to see the holiday spectacle*: a sort of melange of elements from The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Mille-et-Une Nuits:

Table-dancing pots and pans!

Seeing the sheer number of kids of all ages (from toddlers to teenagers) standing rapt in front of the dancing pots, pans, teakettles was very unexpected and quite heartening. It did a lot of good to see that even today in our plugged-in and zoned-out world, a Geppetto-type could still make a living.

Didn't want to go into the grand-gallery this time, as last time I ended up blithely plunking down two-week's worth of grocery money for a bottle of perfume (we all have our weaknesses: my two are pearls and flower scents). Though there are some other scents I'd like to try, I decided that it probably wasn't a great idea to go hungry for a month in order to smell good (even if one New Year's goal is to drop a few kg.) Besides, lunch hour was fast coming to an end and K couldn't remember whether or not the restaurant/tea room was still in operation (it is, and apparently is time).


*Boston's equivalent - the Jordan Marsh Enchanted Village - was put to rest this year. Sad, even if the automates were a bit long in the tooth.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Traffic Signs.

Fung Wah!

This happy-go-lucky little tractor trailer (or Banzai Boston-NYC Bus) has been my favorite traffic sign for the longest time. I've lost count of the number of times I'd been shocked into fits of hysterical laughter at a travel-mate's hollered "Fung Wah!"

Then, last week, in a (still leafy due to an unseasonably warm winter) suburb of Paris, I saw this:

Peplexe et un peu épatée, I asked what the penalty was for going the wrong way down a one-way street.

K replied that it was just a fine, but wondered why I was asking.

I mentioned that I kept seeing that particular sign around and all I could make of it was something to the effect of "don't go there or else we'll get all biblical on you and blow up your car."

He laughed (Snorts now, too. It's catching.) and said that I wasn't far off; that the signs were there to indicate that one was about enter one of those neighborhoods.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Last week, while searching for a few centimes among the pennies, nickels and dimes in my change purse, I found a T-token. These have become quite the little nostalgia pieces since MBTA "upgraded" to the Chahlie Cahd system recently, so mon ami du loin (who from here on in will be known as Kleber) offered to turn mine into a bit of jewelry.

Since the little jeton turned out so well, I asked him to transform another bit of outmoded currency into a memento:

Francs having been superseded by Euros, I now wear my sparkling little Marianne argentée (Yup, a real silver piece. Had to buff the heck out of it because it was nearly black from tarnish) tied around the neck with some organza ribbon.

A girl can do far worse than have a friend with a drillpress in his workshop.
Though the thermometer tells me it's warm out, the sound of the wind whipping around outside makes me wonder if I'm not still up in the tundra where the wise thing to do would be to stay curled up under the covers like a mole.


I didn't mention that I ended up in Newfoundland for a bit on the way home, did I. Didn't see much, as it was dark out. However, if Goose Bay (which is where I assume we'd stopped - folks in charge weren't too clear on this) is anything like what I'd seen out the windows of the airport in Iceland, I'm going to have to visit again.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Life imitating art?

Gare Saint Lazare, Claude Monet, 1877.

Gare Saint Lazare, Be, 2007.

It's kind of funny and just a little bit cosmic that, for the new year, I'd find myself inadvertently retracing Monet's 130-year-old footsteps here.

(More pictures coming up soon.)