Monday, August 22, 2011

Paris Je T'aime… But Ca M'énerve!

I can't believe I got back from Paris nearly a week ago .
There's something about that city that still pulses inside me even 16 years after I first landed.
Truthfully, when I'm there in August ...
ie: the weather's balmy, 

there are no traffic jams, 

(Champs Elysées, one Friday night in August)

there is almost no doggie doodoo in the streets 
and we can grab a park anywhere, 
even on la rue Royale for a quick afternoon tea at my favourite salon de thé

and the service staff are all friendly and smiling!   
When I re-discover the artists at la Place du Tertre 

in Montmartre

and the Tour Eiffel sparkles above, 
waving her magic wand like a benevolent good fairy over her subjects

I am once again filled with wonder and nostalgia 
for Paris the magnificent city of lights.

But then I remember the gruesome reality of carrying tonnes of (take your pick) food shopping/suitcases, sleeping children up long flights of stairs several times per week (seriously, they used to call me the bag lady and not for my Louis Vuitton!!!), turning for hours to find a parking spot in front of the apartment at 3am or 3pm for that matter (HORROR after finally getting back from holidays and having to lug a whole family and car full of STUFF without waking the building), Beaker always missing the first part of any opera or theatre production because he'd only allowed 1h30 to do the 15k trip into La Bastille from the outskirts and not 2h and WORST OF ALL - constantly forbidding the messies to run in the grass because of all the dog poop.

Funnily enough, those memories don't seem quite so bad now. I could almost move back there… Almost...
Helmut Fritz however (below) has a new take on what annoys him about Paris and we giggled away singing this song all the way up there and back ( a mere 7 hour drive each way).
It's in French, and quintessentially Parisian, but you might be able to find a translation…
It appears that you'll also have to click on the link to see it on You Tube.

As Helmut says, "How annoying all those people who queue outside Ladurée just for some macarons….(I remember saying that to Beaker early on in our marriage, 'I am so NOT queueing outside in the cold just to eat a BISCUIT!!' one winter's evening. But I did, and although they only made the fabulous 'DIVA' from Banyuls and spices that year to my knowledge, I never regretted it!)
Helmut - they really ARE good!"

However, my friends, I still prefer my haven in the south-west countryside. Besides - I bought the Ladurée cookbook (in English) so I no longer have to salivate every time I think of Paris any more ;-)
You can get the recipe book too - from HERE
Looking forward to catching up with you all next week. 
Off to bed for me!
 I have a 6.00am bike ride to compensate for all the sugar ;-)
Much love
PS. you can click on my facebook page for more Paris colour

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Love and Do What You Will (while I'm in Paris)

It's nearly 1.30am and if I was a sensible girl, I would already be well in bed catching a few zeds before the alarm goes off at 6am. Sensible, however, is a word that's been banished from my vocabulary due to its palid shade and boring, flat heeled, black shoes. 

Tomorrow is a mission of LOVE - and we all know that LOVE overrides practical sensibility by a long shot. LOVE prevails. LOVE lifts us up where we belong . Oh Goodness, stop me before I start singing the Moulin Rouge soundtrack and wake the newly arrived messmonsters, would you be so kind?

Paris is reputed to be the city of Lurrrrrrrrrrve n'est ce pas? I've decided to whip up there on a whim and verify that for myself for a week. Ok - not really on a whim… but definitely  on a mission of love. Chickpea has landed on the home shores of Paris at last and is waiting, safely and patiently (Even a little too patiently for my liking: MUM DON'T COME TOMORROW PLEASE BECAUSE WE'RE GOING TO GALLERIES LAFAYETTE!!) at her best friend's place for the remaining messmonsters and excited parents to drive up and drag her home kicking and screaming reclaim her.

It's a seven hour drive… which will get us there just in time for afternoon tea at Dalloyau and a wander round Boulogne Billancourt where we used to live. There's a great Lebanese restaurant there which is handy so I don't have to plan dinner! Excellent, that's tomorrow's food taken care of ;-)

Then it's four days jam packed with Angelina's on the rue de Rivoli (for the bona fide best hot chocolate in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD), Berthillon Ice Cream on l'Ile St Louis for the bona fide BEST mango sorbet and chocolate ice cream in the WHOLE UNIVERSE. Honestly, if chocolate grew on trees - that's what it would taste like! And KOBA for the best Japanese meal outside of Japan or Australia in the rue Michodière.  You may be wondering why I am going to Paris and not thinking of escargot or cuisses de grenouille...

Dash the frogslegs. I shall heed St Augustin's words once again and indeed do - or in this case EAT - what I will.  May I suggest you have a wonderful time doing the same :)

Should I reassure you that we are planning to do things other than eating? Like visiting the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Jardin des Plantes for the paleontology department -blame that on Pokemon and his dinosaur craze, Notre Dame... We may even take a ride on the Bateau Mouche and OH GOD! NOT. eat the food!

I've an extra little secret to share with you. Funnily enough, every time I go on holidays 'back home,' coincidence would have it that another Aussie blogger happens to be holidaying in the same place. On Saturday I should be lucky enough to meet up with Julie from Being Ruby in Versailles. where we will see the Grandes Eaux Nocturnes (you can find out more about what it is if you click on the Versailles link). Sigh...  Fitting! The paper that inspired this phrase in Roman Capitals is an old ledger dating from 1715. I must look more closely to see if it isn't the deed to a magnificent chateau! ;-)

Au revoir and see you in a week all chubby cheeked and eyes a sparkle with the late putty recipe. Gloups :( sorry - you'd rather I go to Paris wouldn't you? ) 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Finding the key (right under your nose)

Hi possums,

After a brief stint of doing nothing for oh, all of five minutes, I got the impulse to get busy again. There's a definite magnetic pull towards my studio when the messmonsters are engaged in their own frenzied activity hundreds of kilometres away from the house. I guess I can legitimately count my meditation time as delightfully doing nothing (or just 'Being' - as you so eloquently put it Pooch).

My studio however, actively draws me in. When I open the door, I enter another world. An exciting world so full to overflowing with possibilities I feel I may never come out. It's a little like Alice falling falling falling down that rabbit hole. I could drown in possibility. The music goes on LOUD - will it be Reggae or Rock? Country (Can't hide it - my father used to sing country on stage and I still have a fondness for the lilting tones that take me back to my childhood) or Classical? And then I become lost in a shroud of melody that takes on a silence of its own. Time stands still.

I'm not sure you needed to know all of that but I had to share :) Thanks for listening. I still have to pinch myself everyday that I have this space. I even nearly bowled poor Skippy (ie: my landlord) over in a public display of blubbering teary gratitude for allowing me to redesign his garage. Luckily for us both I held myself in check and regained my composure just in time offering a pointedly shiny-eyed, meaningful look  instead. You see, he wants me to dismantle my atelier if when I ever leave this little haven in the Toulouse countryside. Yet he keeps 'just passing by' with some feigned interest in what I've been taking my brush to.  Secretly, between you and me… I think he likes his new garage ;-)

So do you remember this? The airplane of my imagination?

With a little pfiffing and pfaffing, the tweak of a brush, some sunshine and great music, it's transformed into this… I thought I'd show it to you anyway. It's the same text, in both French and English, as this one and the same 'curvy Roman' hand.

I've found my key. It's having my own space. Previously I've always had to find it inside myself. Now I have an outside that equals the inside and the joy is palpable. Hope you like what comes of it :)
Now tell me,
What's the key to your happiness??


P.S. Lime putty recipe - sans photos tomorrow. Really! MAC still resolutely refuses to hand them over :( and I can't spend any more time trying to dig them back out. A promise is a promise after all and I'm already late getting it to you so you can rush out and change your interior design immediately as I'm sure you've been dying to do ;-)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Do you know how to do nothing?

"... Seeing cannot take place until you pause. Real creativity cannot occur as long as the creative impulse is constantly sublimated into habitual activity. At this late stage of conditioning, doing nothing alone can allow transformation to happen. Yet doing nothing must be based on clarity of vision. Knowing how to pause, not just outwardly, but throughout your being is a consummate art of living. Knowing really how to pause is the action of intelligence itself."

- G. Bluestone via Whisky River

(made by Jill Zaheer lucky MOI!!)
I am alone once again for 5 days. (IF you don't count the 2 piranas on legs guinea pigs I'm baby sitting, the baby hare I've been nursing for 4 weeks, nearly weaned and can release hopefully before the messmonsters get back, our two cats and Cinbad my crazy border collie). 
And here I am, a self confessed list maker, all set to go with my habitual list of things to do: clean the house, wash anything and everything I can get my hands on, make the house look pretty for when everyone comes back (and allow myself the illusion that it will stay that way when they do), go for a two hour bike ride, meditate, practice my guitar, fix my lapis lazuli mala … Sing loudly while painting to my heart's content. Voilà for day one! I'll spare you day two etc ;-)

(Just one of the pieces made by the talented Jill Zaheer for me during LaWendula's Paper swap)
The first part of the list brings me moral satisfaction. Like I've earned my time alone. I deserve it and can justify it. The second part - starting with the bike ride - is just for me. But it's still not doing NOTHING, is it?

Can you do nothing? 
I'd love to find out...

I find it really hard. Although last night I did, after everyone left in a flurry of actitivity.  I just sat, in the silence, watching the sun set over the trees, casting a golden light on the leaves and the prairie east of the house. It felt decadent. Like I shouldn't. It was naughty. Just sitting there. Watching. Breathing. And doing nothing. 

Who was it that said 'Nothing comes from doing Nothing?'  Shakespeare? I've decided to put it to the test? At least for an hour. I'm not sure I could do 'nothing' for much longer without getting darn fidgety, not to mention overcome with guilt! Let's see what I can come up with… What will I dare to find?

(Photo from my inspiration wall: Wise Words chosen by Gigi: to Dare, to Find. A fish hook made entirely of driftwood from a Hokitika artist in New Zealand.)
Doing nothing with clarity of vision: the action of intelligence itself. 
The idea is growing on me.