Thursday, April 24, 2008

Two Unfinished, One Finished (For Now, Anyway)

The Frenchie's colleague had a little boy just about two years ago for whom I made a little cap. As it turns out, poor thing's allergic to wool, so I'm working on something for him in cotton.

My intention is to end up with a little henley sweater kind of like the one I found in an old copy of Family Circle knitting, but we'll see what happens. I seem to have a terminal problem following patterns. Already the stitch pattern's been changed (should have been an alternating 6-stitch cable).

I haven't bought myself any new spring clothes in a while now (penury sucks), so decided to both make myself a new top and get rid of my stash with this. So far so good, as it's a nice little mindless thing I can work on while reading or being read to.

The last time I had to have flesh cut out of a sensitive place, I promised myself a little trip to the nearest local yarn store for an expensive (for me, anyway, I'd budgeted myself $20) treat as a reward for showing up*. I found that $20 isn't a lot, but it can get a nice double skein of recycled sari silk.

Long story short, the yarn ended up in the stash until a coworker's wife's birthday when I decided to give it some action. During the course of knitting, I found myself growing more and more attached to what I was making. In the end I remembered that I did after all get the yarn for me, so shouldn't it stand to reason that I get to keep the finished product? Ended up giving the intended recipient something else and keeping the scarf for myself.

When I knit and I know who I'm knitting for, it's hard for me not to think good thoughts, to be happy imagining the intended wearing/using what I've made. It's probably good that I have these prayers knitted into the sari scarf, as the treatment for what's been ailing me isn't working and I need to get it kicked up a notch. Next week, I go in and get another chunk cut out of that sensitive spot again, and then on to another specialist.

* I'm much braver than I used to be. The old me would have ignored it and let it bloom into something worse. The new me gets poked and probed and prescribed all sorts of things. Heck, my gyno even bargained me up to bimonthly breast self-exams.
How Refreshing

to see that someone other than Walmart being boycotted.
Sorry to be AWOL for a bit, but the life outside of here has been pretty exciting what with the:

-end of month at work
-end of semester at school
-the Frenchie here for a visit
-scrambling to more doctor appointments than I'd like

and all.

(Am tired just writing about it.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Engineers and Cats.

What more could a girl ask for?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

So, it looks as though TF1 is suing Google for content on YouTube that it apparently bought the rights to. Google was served in California a few days ago and the trial will be taking place in Paris.

TF1's spokesperson refused to comment. However, according to the French business daily Les Echos, (pay site unfortunately) damages and interest against YouTube, controlled by "the American Giant Google," would be as high as 100 million euro...or ten times their receipts for 2006 which were at around 10.6 million dollars.

Les Echos added that another suit against another video-sharing site,, was filed in December. The amount of damages demanded was roughly 39.7 million euros.


From what I can gather, this is supposedly to recuperate an estimated potential loss in ad revenue per episode of a particular (American, no less) program to free stuff on You Tube. In the broader scheme of things, it looks as well that this is TF1's manner of gaining supremacy in what they call the "web community" (file sharing?) market. According to this article in Le Monde, TF1 is the fourth largest player in "community web" in France.

It's going to be interesting to see how this all works out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Glory in the Snow

Seen on Walnut Street near the foot of Prospect Hill, 04/15/08. Am thinking that these might be nice in my front flower bed.
8 Count

from my bed
I watch
3 birds
on a telephone
one flies
one is left,
it too
is gone.
my typewriter is
and I am
reduced to bird
just thought I'd
let you

-Charles Bukowski


Poetry Month this year started off as a sort of hymn to Spring. Now, it appears to be turning more towards depression (specifically mine).

My shrinks have always suggested that I keep a journal of sorts. I was never able to, though, as thinking about and trying to communicate in words how I felt would put me in a rotten(er) mood. I always worried, too, about sounding like the paradoxalist in Notes from Underground.

In this format, things seem to be different. Letting other people speak for me helps. Maybe the rhythm of the arranged words helps soothe me. There's also the thought that I'm not alone in this that helps as well. Don't know. Anyway, for the moment, it's flowing well.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Good Lord, am I tired.
Unmentionables. Imponderables.

Wonder how my neighbor would feel knowing that not only do I go into her yard to snap pictures of her laundry,

but that I also post said pictures on the innernet.
This was not a fun weekend, as I had to deal with the only two certainties out there: Death and Taxes.

Mamasan gave me a serious scare. He's not long for the world; that's for certain. Just not right this minute. We'll see how he is over the course of the week.

Taxes? I'd feel better about paying if I didn't know what went on at work.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Platform shoes, money, power?

Some guys may need that stuff to get a girl, I guess. Others, not so much.

"Do you think I'm jealous?
Not at all, not at all!
I've a girl trap, a taboo trap
A super toy that makes them go crash-boom 'Ooooh!'
And the girls, they fall at my feet..."

Go Jacques!
Apparently in France, there's been an upswing in cosmetic procedures for older men that's due to what's being dubbed the "Sarkozy Syndrome.*"

From January to March, consultations for Botox injections in the UK went up 57% for men compared to the same period last year, according to the British medical research group Haley.

Breast reduction** operations went up 42%, microdermabrasions by 43%, accoding to the study.

This craze is being fuelled by the "Sarkozy Syndrome," according to the researchers. "Surgeons are noting that for the majority (of men), these operations are being justified by the youth of their new female partners...linked to a second marriage to a younger spouse, usually with an age difference of 10-20 years, stated Liz Dale, director of the group.

Carla Bruni, 40, is 13 years younger than President Sarkozy, 53.

"A second marriage and professional opportunities are the most-cited reasons by 40 and 50 somethings as justifications for these surgical interventions," she added.

"The results achieved with lighter treatments such as Botox*** (...) can be spectacular and can result in more self-confidence for these men in their relationships," added Dr. Julian Northover of the Haley Group.

"The principal areas of consultation for men have been laugh lines and facial wrinkles, the main signs of aging," he added.

Had to have a talk with my Frenchie about this. His L'Oreal Men Expert stuff is okay. He's earned it. Anything more that that would be grounds for an intervention or (possible) termination. The last thing I need around who is 20 years older than me trying to look 10 years younger than me. That's about as bad being chained to a metrosexual with a thing for day spas.


* Named after the illustrious French President, meaning, I gather, to rob the cradle because one fears death.

** reduction de poitrine means literally "breast reduction." Do they mean "tummy tuck," I wonder?

*** Injecting yourself with botulism is "light?" I'm a female pushing 40 and I'd never consider that. Ech.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

It can't be a good thing when the Doctor personally calls a patient at work, can it?
Winter Garden to Spring, IV

I live on the side of a steep hill, so it's pretty hard to keep topsoil in the flowerbeds. It amazes me to see these little guys forcing their way through the rocks every Spring. Maybe they're my favorites because of this and because I can relate so well to the struggle.
Hmm, not feeling myself today. I could really use a few days off from work. I think I'm burning out again.
The Peanuts

by Charles Bukowski.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Oh, the Irony.

I don't normally write about work for obvious reasons (much less write about work from work), but:

...RRRRRRRRWHOOSH...(rumble rumble rumble) go the F-16s on their Opening Day flyover. Some folks applaud, others yell "play ball!"

Out of the corner office I hear, "That's wrong."

"Why? What's wrong?" asks the admin, sort of hurt-sounding like a child who just learned that Santa Claus doesn't exist.

"Because it's such a waste of taxpayer money."

Pardon me, but we are the absolute last ones who should be complaining about wasting taxpayer money.
Winter Garden to Spring, III

The three little strawberry plants I bought two years ago quickly turned into over fifty. I culled out maybe two dozen, then planted everything else in two buckets at the side of my house. Last Spring, they were early and enthusiastic risers. However, they never bloomed. What could I have done wrong? I fertilized them, made sure that they had plenty of sun, water, CO2 in the form of sweet-talk...

These guys showed up early again (maybe in late February/early March?). As one can see, they're a bit knocked around by the frost. That aside, they certainly appear to be thriving in the strong, direct sunlight of late March/early May. Any suggestions as to how to care for them so that I might get some fruit this year?

Monday, April 07, 2008

An unfinished object on an unfinished chair.

I picked up the yarn at a little cart at the Versailles market with the intention of making myself a little cravat to go with the tweed jacket I'd coopted from the Frenchie. Though the color ended up not being not exactly what I wanted, decided anyway to continue knitting. If nothing else, it'd keep my hands occupied if my brain was too fried to let me read during the long flight home.

The guy sitting next to me on the flight back was French, wore eyeglasses like the Proclaimers did back in the day, and spent most of his time either dozing or reading the sports pages. Every now and again I'd catch him looking at my hands.

About two or three hours into the flight, I decided to break the ice. "You know, I wish I were able to sleep on the plane. I'm too keyed-up, though. You're very lucky." He looked at me blankly, so I repeated in French. He gave a half smile and told me that he was just resting his eyes and that he could only do that because he was totally whupped. Also said that he was enjoying watching my hands; they were very strong and sure-looking and I must have been knitting for a long time.

Told him that I'd been knitting since I was six (so for quite a long time) and asked him if he wanted to learn. He thanked me, but wasn't interested. Since he made his living with his hands he needed to rest them as much as possible between jobs.

"What do you do for a living if you don't mind me asking? (I was being rude, but curiosity trumped convention. Besides, he'd just complimented my hands and learned my age.)" He grinned and told me that he made saddles for a living. Horse saddles? Told him about my two equestrian friends and my Frenchie who was fascinated by sewing machines and asked him all about the saddler business. Asked him what brought him to the States and how he hurt his hands. (Work on both accounts.) He went to NY every few months to work his behind off at an atelier there that was associated with his company (Hermes? Hadn't the nerve to ask that), and the last time there, he overdid it. He wasn't as young as he used to be and he had to be very careful now.

I asked him if he would like some reiki. He didn't know what that was, but figured that it couldn't hurt, so why not. Asked him if he minded my touching him. He didn't, so I took put my hands on his and kept them there for a bit.

That really got the conversation flowing. I learned that he was married and that, though he liked going to NY, he hated leaving his wife behind. Though he lived in Paris, he originally came from the Midi (this I could tell, as he had a very strong Mediterranean accent). In the summer, he was hoping to get his wife out there for a month or so, and afterwards he wanted to take her to New England. She apparently loved history and was dying to see the birthplace of my country. His wife also knew how to knit and he loved watching her hands, too. Especially when she was working on something complicated.

He asked me how I liked Paris, how my Frenchie and I dealt with the distances, and what I did in Boston. I told him that, though it bummed me out to have to return to the States, at least I had enough chocolate to last me. (How much? Oh, 6-7 kg. Enough for gifts and to tide me over till I got to see my friend again. He thought this an absolute hoot.)

When the plane landed, we collected our stuff and shook hands. "Take care of your hands," I said to him. He told me to do the same. "I hope you make it to Boston with Mme." He assured me that they would...and Vermont, and New hampshire. I told him not to forget Maine. He made a note of that.

I should have been really forward and asked for his address as I think this actually belongs to him.

Winter Garden to Spring, II


These little guys were the first to come up, even beating out the crocuses and snowdrops. Over the weekend, I enjoyed some with rice noodles, grated carrot, garlic, a bit of sesame oil, vinegar, red pepper and julienned cucumber.
Was a little out of sorts yesterday. This was due in part to the weather, I think. Also, I did overindulge a bit the night before.

I think the TV goes on in my house maybe once every couple weeks if there's something good on PBS, and even then, it's for no more than a couple hours. Saturday night, though, was the movie motherlode, and I ended up watching all three in succession.

The first was The Apartment - possibly my favorite Billy Wilder film (if I had to choose. Don't force me to, though). The last time I saw this was in France years ago at a Billy Wilder festival. They called it La Garconniere, or the Bachelor Pad (maybe a more apt title). What struck me was how much I'd misremembered and mixed up with another favorite, Breakfast at Tiffany's.

The second was another Wilder film I'd never heard of: One-Two-Three, starring James Cagney as a Coca-Cola company man in Germany. This one had us howling, it was so hysterical (kind of iffy when it's late and there are sleeping babies in the house). The humor and aesthetic were very Dr. Strangelove meets His Girl Friday in a stage play, if that makes any sense. Would love to see this one again.

The last was a sweet little film about some Russians whose submarine runs aground offshore from a small New England town. Pablo mentioned that Alan Arkin had a pretty good Russian accent (much better than John Cleese's in A Fish Called Wanda, anyway). I found it surprising that, what with all the stars involved (Eva Marie Saint, Carl Reiner, Brian Keith, to name a few) and all the academy award nominations that this garnered that this film isn't shown more often. Is the aesthetic too dated? Are the politics outmoded? Don't know (shrugs). Also could've sworn that the credits were a Saul Bass creation, but I guess not.

What a cute little promotion! Wonder how much was improvised.

Rarely if ever is there this much good stuff on the TV, even on PBS.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Winter Garden to Spring, I

Though I've got this incredible craving for sorrel soup, I'm trying my best to let the stuff grow a bit more before picking.
Yesterday was such an awful day. Had a headache most of the day, couldn't think straight. Needed to eat, but couldn't as I felt sick to my stomach. It's always like this when a low pressure system blows through.

Today, much better. Granted it's gray, chilly and wet out, but my mind is much clearer and I'm not in nearly as much pain as yesterday. Also was woken up for the first time this year by an early mockingbird. (3:45 am, the b@stard.)

What's on the today's plate:

-Lots and lots of schoolwork. I'm kind of (very) behind and really need to get my behind in gear in order to make a respectable showing by mid-May.
-Lunch with Pablo (birthday treat).
-Maybe bread baking in between writing assignments.

That's probably just enough to keep me off the streets.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

My dad rocks.
The night panics came back, of course at a time when I really need to hold it together. Gosh, I really hate this.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

One of the most amazing, spine-tingly wonderful bits of cinema I've ever experienced is that 33 minutes of silence in Rififi. Apparently, Georges Auric was not thrilled with the idea of silence for the heist scene. When he saw the silent version vs the version with his music, he admitted that Dassin was spot on.

(Okay, not the scene I was talking up earlier, but something almost as wonderful.)

Anyway, just read that Dassin passed away the other day in Athens. He was 96.
Be's Best Known Pet Peeve:

The term "most well-known." Drives me to distraction. I'll actually stop reading an article/blog post/whatever if I hit upon that term, it angers me so.
30 Days of Poetry

will be celebrated over at my other little internet dacha. Why not stop by and join in the festivities?

Reader contributions are always gratefully received. Remember: this isn't high school anymore. I'm not an English teacher. No trauma, no quizzes, no grades.
"On April Fool's Day:

This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four."

-Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson

Enjoy your day. Or try not to let yourselves be overwhelmed by existential angst, anyway.