Saturday, 24 November 2007

Living Fab in the City O Light

Bon jour, faithful readers!
It is a beautiful, sunny morning in Paris, the apartment is full of the thundering feet of little Nicolas and his preteen minder. The people downstairs are either saints, or deaf. Or beyond caring.

The big Thanksgiving feast is set for 7:30 p.m., with aperitifs and cocktails and then a sit down time of 9 or so. They do things late around here, which is good for us. It gives us time to get the tables all stretched out, the rugs rolled up, the spinach leaves all washed off, and the gigantic monster turkey stuffed and roasted. This year I offered to do the bulk of the cooking, seeing as Jeanne has done all the hosting and cooking for the past three years.

This year is so different, in so many ways.

The biggest change is the location. Jeanne and her husband Jean-Marc and their little boy Nicholas (my godson) moved to a huge, deluxe apartment within the past year, five floors up above the Boulevard Clichy in the 9th Arrondissement. You can see the stone wedding-cake towers of Sacre Cour from the 10 foot front windows, or look down the street to the Moulin Rouge. This is the sleazy district of Paris, with Pussy's Lapdance Emporium across the road, and the gigantic Sex O Drome on the end of the block. It's a lively neighborhood, with night creatures of every stripe wandering around at all hours. (The wavy picture at the top is the view from our window... that's Pussy's down on the right. Visible top right of the tall building is the cathedral up top of the Montmartre, where two or three Roman Christians were martyred lo these many years ago. Paris grew up around their shrine. Maybe. I think places like Pussy's may have helped things along. )

Libby and I arrived two nights ago, in the midst of the great transport strike. It took a good two hours to get here from the airport, but it was no worse than the shuttle from Laguardia into Manhattan, really. The driver, a Sri Lankan with a bit of road rage, asked us if we were sure we wanted to get off in this neighborhood. Jeez! Getting off is what this place is all about!

Five floors up it's a different world. This is a Hausmann-era building, an 1880s classic Paris apartment block with parquet floors, marble mantels, floral and fruit cove moldings and tall, tall French windows opening out way over the avenue. Being part of the big holiday here I sometimes feel I've been airlifted into a Martha Stewart photo shoot, what with the sweetly-folded napkins and matching tableware, gleaming glasses, the spanking-new granite-topped kitchen with mood lighting, and the marble fireplaces... Oolawee. But seeing as I am the cook, they all will have to settle for working-class Pittsburgh holiday cuisine like green beans and mushroom casserole, and copper-penny carrots, and apple and pumpkin pies, and stuffing and turkey and mashed tatoes. Exotic fare to some of these guests.

Libby and Jeanne helped chop and roll out things all yesterday. We started cooking in the morning, so today things are WAY leisurely. The pies are all finished, the carrots and salad dressing are marinating, the spinach is all washed off and torn into bite-sized bits. The only mishap was with the wine -- one of the guests sent round 10 bottles of red from his family 'cave' in Bordeaux for the celebration.
Unfortunately, they were delivered to Number 35 Bis Blvd. de Clichy. We are at no. 33.

Of course the people at No. 35, purveyors of fabulous fetish footwear, say they have no idea about no wine coming there. Bummer. Makes me wonder where it all ended up. Maybe in a lady's slipper, eh? That sort of thing is known to go on 'round these parts. (can't say I've missed these things in Moratinos. I am sure they're going on someplace in the neighborhood.) We will make due with Pouilly-Fouissy (undoubtedly misspelled), a white wine that tastes like a bouquet of flowers; or Cotes du Rhone, a red that is common as dirt around here but is wonderfully user-friendly and tasty. And real champagne to start.

I woke up with an earache, and Jeanne dosed me with Excedrin. Libby and Jeanne are off to the market to buy some fresh sage. Jeannes' sister from Barcelona is due to arrive at any moment, another very interesting character. Interesting times, interesting days, I am feeling REALLY GOOD, the way you're supposed to when you're on holiday!

And now that you've held on this long, I'll tell you the news from Moratinos. Patrick must be enjoying his solitude, as it's prompted him to start blogging again! Two entries in two days, after a dearth of months. He got hold of the new builder from Palencia, Castro... and our attorney Paco the Red says Castro is a qualified surveyor. So he can do our legal survey to get the Sue the Bozos case rolling, and also start work on The Peaceable within a couple of weeks! Woohoo! (No conflict of interest there, eh?) The dogs and chicken girls are all reported well.

And when all the excitement is over, Jeanne and I are going for manicure/pedicures. Imagine! I think the poor soul who has to do me may reach for a hoof trimmer to start. But such are the limbs of we trail-hardened, intrepid hikers, habitants of barns and farmyards, 'horny-handed daughters of toil.'

Even Scruffy Girls need a coat of nail varnish now and then.

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