As advertised on the sides of bus shelters and metro stations all over town:
Thursday, 31 January 2013
Wednesday, 30 January 2013
When I was wee, the term "black and white" was kind of confusing to me.
As in, this would be black and white:
But why are the old movies you see on TV called black and white...they were decidedly "Grey" when you come to literal color translations. I did not understand why the Marx Brothers were described as being in black and white when they just look kind of grey to me.
As I was flipping through some pictures I took on a recent walk, I said out loud, "I don't remember shooting these in black and white". Confusion set in. I didn't! It's just so goddamned gray in this town, things always look like they were shot in black and white! Ha!
If those women wasn't wearing their brilliant scarlet coats, you would be fooled as well. Also, a note about fashion: women in Paris do this thing where they wear all black, but have one item that pops in bright red (or yellow or green), and then they match their lipstick to it (only if it is red or pink, but I'm sure others have tried orange or blue). I saw the most mesmerizing woman prancing down Rue St Honore wearing all black- sweater, thick tights, coat, scarf...but she was wearing a pair of those dressy "business shorts" over her tights in brilliant red, which happened to match her shoes AND her lipstick. It was stunning.
So I did what I do when I have gray skies (and sometimes when I have sunny).
I shot in black and white. Don't get me wrong, I've always loved the medium, and I will still shoot in it from time to time. But right now, it feels like defeat. It's my way of giving up on the lighting situation that I have been dealt. Pearly-gray to moody sooty gray, and lots of in-between shades. It makes it hard to get contrasty prints without the sun, but it's better than dull colors. Also, shadows. I miss plays on shadows. I have not seen one of those in ages.
Anyway. Here we go.
One thing that I did see that deserved a bit of color:
I know nothing about cars, but a vintage Lambo is sure to catch anyone's eyes.
In the back seat: A pillow, a gas canister, and a pair of gentleman's loafers, in case you are curious.
Tuesday, 29 January 2013
Wait...I'm a knitter?
All the way from my home state came two skeins of organic merino.
Not all merino is created equal. This is the best I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Swans Island has amazing yarns. Soft, bouncy, itch-free, and warm. It's exactly what I want in a wool yarn. The price tag is higher than the medical marijuana users there, but who could resist the most delightful of raspberry pink colors? I, for one, could not.
I cast on for the Wayfarer scarf, a basic but classic Jared Flood pattern.
It alternates between lots of garter stitch and an undulating slip-stitch pattern. Not the most exciting thing to knit, but I love the way this yarn made the slipped stitches pop, and I was comforted at the ease at which this worked up.
It's snuggly warm and I actually look forward to going out on cold days because I get to wear this.
I made mine a tad longer than written since I had the yardage, and I just love the way it drapes as I give it the multi-wrap treatment. After several wears, there is not a pill to be plucked. If I didn't choose such a shockingly femme pink, this pattern would be totally appropriate for a man's scarf as well.
Monday, 28 January 2013
A new obsession.
The perfect Kougin Amann.
I have never seen one of these outside of France, but also, I've never looked. I've had a few incarnations at different bakeries, including one chain that specializes in them and has dozens of flavors to choose from. I prefer the salt caramel version. I have yet to be able to pronounce it correctly.
Le Kouign Amann. Sigh. The best one so far is from the bakery down the street from me. When they are fresh, they are irresistible.
It's a Breton specialty. It's basically croissant dough saturated in sugar, which turns to caramel that was hot enough to hard-crack and become crunchy and gooey at the same time. It's a buttery caramel wonder of the world. Find one if you can. If not, you are out of luck. Once this has sat around for a few hours, the magic is gone.
Sunday, 27 January 2013
Meanwhile, back in Paris...what started out as big, wet flakes...
...Accumulated overnight to a very lovely blanket. It rarely snows in Paris. Or, that is what they tell you before throwing their hands up in the air and shrugging at the fact that there are no plows at the airports, and the entire snowy weekend, I saw but one plow on the road. Despite being at the same Latitude as Vancouver, ocean currents conspire to keep the city warm enough to rain all winter.
Except now, where we get lovely beautiful awesome snow. I didn't even bring my fancy fleece-lined snow boots. After 0 snow in NYC last year, I threw them in storage based on the fact that 1. They take up a whole lot of space the other 364 days of the year that I'm not needing them and 2. It's not supposed to snow in Paris. I dug out my beat-up hiking boots that I haven't worn since Norway and they caused my toenails to go missing, put the hood on my camera and went for a couple nice long walks.
No one shovels the walks here either. How about that! If my family from Maine were here, they would have started compulsively shoveling all the things.
It was a tad treacherous to get around, but oh, oh so lovely. It because a different city entirely. Much like New York, but less griping and more child-like wonder.
The streets were fairly quiet, and I think my fruit seller at the local marche was a little bored. He made the cutest bonhomme du neige and with cold fingers, I fumbled to buy the lion's share of the clementines he had that day. There's nothing like bright sunny citrus when it is snowing out.
Most of the metro lines were still running, although there was not a bus to be seen all weekend.
We were inspired to meet up with some friends for our first-ever Paris dim sum trial.
zit was nowhere near as good or crave-inducing as San Fran or NYC, but passable. Dumplings for breakfast can never be so terrible that anyone would outright reject them.
Of course, afterwards, there was much merry making and trouble making.
As long as you weren't in too much of a hurry and you thought to bundle up, it was completely joyful to be out.
It made the still-too-short hours of daylight all the more enjoyable.
Hope you are all loving your very own winter wonderland.
Saturday, 26 January 2013
One of my favorite things about Morocco:
Getting to stay in the Riads there.
Riads were former palaces or private residences that are now run as guesthouses. Every one I went to was restored beautifully and opulently decorated.
Every single one of them was a surprising find. You might be wandering a really dilapidated alleyway in the medina with a sinking fear that your hotel is on this street. They are generally marked with just a small plaque on a big, heavy door. Once you open the giant door and step inside, it's magic.
Traditionally, women were not meant to be seen, so the courtyards are facing inward to avoid any chance of interaction. This ends up being a modern blessing as well since you are now isolated from the noise and smog from an outside-facing window. Many of the riads had a pool, and most of them had a rooftop garden and patio as well. Because winters are a brief affair, the courtyards are either open to the elements or protected with a retractable roof.
The rooms were pretty swank. Most of them had very high ceilings, and completely ornate ones at that.
Our favorite one was in Rabat- Dar Karima. It was a lovely place to stay, but what made it was how the people who ran it were the best hosts.
Warm and welcoming, and they invited us to dinner with their family. Huge platters of fresh, fried whole fish. Oysters. Couscous. So much mint tea.
When it came up in conversation that we were yogis, they called their friend who was a yoga instructor and we did yoga in their courtyard first thing in the morning.
They were the best, and I would head back to Rabat just to stay with them again.
Most of the Riads only have a few rooms. It's best to book in advance. It seems like Morocco is a bit hurting for tourist dollars as there were just a few choice places that were fully booked. No one turned us down if we opted to stay an extra night either. In Chefchouen, we were the only people in our entire hotel.
Riad al Bartal in Fes was by far the most ornate. Our two-story room had a fireplace, gorgeous tile work and carpets, and a very green-thumb gardener attending the courtyard.
You felt a little bit royal staying there.
Every place we stayed had fantastic breakfasts: Carb-heavy with lots of Moroccan breads, honey, butter, cheese, jams and fresh OJ.
Compared to the relative craziness of the streets, these were all lovely places to call home for a few nights.