Thursday, July 22, 2010

that's me, the busy bee

Busy, busy week. After many trips with UHaul and SUV, youngest son and girlfriend are moved into their new Arlington apartment. Check. Our master bedroom is emptied, carpet cleaned. Check. New bed frame scheduled to arrive this evening. Check. Bedroom furniture scheduled to move back in tomorrow. Pre-Paris dinner party with middle son and daughter-in-law tomorrow evening. Time to get officially excited about trip. Check. Then time to start packing for mid-week departure. Sure hope I can find my passport in this upheaval . . . got it, check.

Sneak peek of the new bed frame? These photos are from my favorite Beekeeper's Cottage, but think grey-white linen fabric and king-size. Hand carving on the painted wood surrounds. And dreamy!
This is one of the few pieces of furniture I've bought new and hand-crafted just for me in 40 years of marriage. (My West Point/Airborne/Ranger husband would be just as happy sleeping on a board.) Almost everything else came from when I worked as a designer or from auctions, antique shops and flea markets. Can't wait to test it tonight!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

soggy morning

Thunderstorms throughout the past two nights have made for soggy mornings here, but the early temps have cooled down, too. Although all the deck pillows are still heaped in a protected corner, this morning I enjoyed my breakfast shake among the revived green trees surrounding the deck room. But I've given up on gardening this summer. A herd of deer who shelter in the watershed woods have eaten just about everything below deck height. On coming home one evening, my husband counted over 15 deer grazing in our sloping gardens and across the lawn. Among the few flowers not shredded of all growth are the butterfly bushes and the daisies. Since I'll be away for August, when the heat mounts even higher, I'll just have much less garden to worry about, I guess.

Tomorrow the fun begins, however, when my youngest son starts moving into his nearby apartment. Hope the rains hold off for a few days.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

i'm in the mood for paris

In three short weeks, I'll be exchanging this east coast heat wave for a month in Paris, although the temperatures there aren't much cooler right now. But the delicious excitement is building as I contemplate leisurely days to stroll the city and compare my memories from previous trips.

In 1964, as soon as my freshman year in college ended, I flew for my first time to Orly Airport, with only an undated return-trip plane ticket and a hotel reservation for my first night in Paris. Young and adventurous, I simply intended to go where chance led me until my money ran out -- maybe after a few weeks, if I were lucky. But traveling alone and speaking French made it easy to meet many gracious and generous people who were eager to engage with a smiling American. "Europe on $5 a Day" was my guidebook, but more often I dined with and even stayed with families in Paris, in Toulouse, in Pau, in Cannes, and throughout the countryside.

That adventure-filled summer was my wonderful introduction to France. I have so many stories. Towards the end of the summer, in Marseilles, I encountered a group of American college girls on tour. One girl, so bored with the confines of her tour group, broke off for a day to go climbing with me in the hills above the city. In great style, we toted supplies for a picnic by a rocky stream high in the woods, taking in great views of the sea. In return, she gave me her train ticket to Geneva, since she and her friends had decided to go home. On my early morning arrival in Geneva, I used my trusty guidebook to secure a tiny single room on the top floor of an elegant hotel and went off to find the University of Geneva's Institute of Architecture. As I wandered its large echoing empty halls, I happened on a room where 3 young men were working on their diplome projects. Our conversation covered a lot of territory, although my technical vocabulary wasn't up to par, until one of them broke off to phone his family to announce he was bringing a young American home for lunch. By the time we arrived at his family home, his mother had purchased a small bottle of milk to serve with my lunch, since everyone knew Americans drank a lot of milk. After lunch we all set out for an afternoon on the family sailboat on Lac Léman, occasionally being photographed by tourists on other boats passing by. That night I slept under a feather duvet in my small attic hotel room, greeted at dawn with a rooftop view through my tiny window, and was served my continental breakfast on a silver tray with a rosebud and a copy of the day's paper.

Eventually the summer ran out before my money did, and I returned home the day before my sophomore year began at college. Later trips to France to study and visit were never so carefree as that first summer. The times changed, my responsibilities changed, and Paris has changed. I look forward to making a new photographic record of what I see this time.