December 28, 2008

When I first got home, I found my brother and sister, Andrew (11) and Rebekah (16), over chirping in a corner, 'building' their Christmas present for all of us. When we 'opened' it on Christmas morning, we were unanimously delighted, at least with the idea of it: DANCE LESSONS.

Last night we were delighted in actuality when they came through and we all successfully line danced, waltzed, and did the chacha. Bedda and Drew were fabulous teachers.

December 26, 2008

Christmas in Washington

Rosie sewed aprons for all, including a little miniature one for Marguerite.

In honor of Xavier, who was not in Washington.

Stephen baked a birthday cake for Jesus.

Me and Sam. I am obsessed with Sam.

Snowman number 3 in total.

December 24, 2008

On my way home...

I had a significant layover at the Cincinnati airport, of all places. Long wait. Luckily, I came across a dream spot in the terminal: 10 Minute Manicure. At least 10 of my minutes waiting were to be highly productive.

Sitting down to wait for the next available gal, I was exposed to a stream of continual chatter. Her name was Rena: black hair, pageboy hair cut with a twist. Black base, white stripes in front. 50 pounds too heavy, nails bitten to their root and sky-blue eyeshadow. "He is a really special lap bunny. He doesn't even like to leave his cage much, even when I leave it open all night long," she said, comforting herself for all the hours she spends away from him lacquering people's nails. She was painting a deep maroon color on a woman in a fur coat who looked at Rena with suspended condescension and feigned interest, while trying not to widen her eyes too much and only when Rena was looking down at her nails. Sometimes she was caught. Rena didn't catch on too much though.

When it was my turn, she asked me in her country accent (because after all, the Cincinnati apartment is actually in Kentucky - who knew? Rena told me all of this proudly and with a lot of authority),

"You finish all your Christmas shopping?"

I told her that, unfortunately, I had not.

"Ah, well, one year I didn't either and I went to Walmart and there weren't no shopping baskets on wheels left, so I went straight to the laundry aisle and found a basket for myself and kicked it around the store and put all the groceries right in it. At the check out, I just took out the groceries and put it right there underneath."


Snowshoeing, Sam, Snow

and some Johnsons in Washington.

Stephen, Marc, Rosie



Marc, Rebekah

Sam, Andrew, Brad


December 21, 2008

Oh How I Love Her

I have an ongoing conversation with this girl. She lives in the 4th arrondissement and I go out of my way to pass her. Loveliness incarnated - given that form. On the wall. Red arrows to boot.



When I was here for a semester in 2001, my idea of Paris was a bit fuzzy. I mean, I engaged with the city in a sort-of half-hearted, dreamy way. But now the idea of the city and the physical reality of its streets and spaces has fully solidified. So when I randomly stumbled upon a restaurant I had found way back then while I was riding my bike in Le Marais the other day, I whooped with glee. This restaurant is one of those places then that carves out a little space in your brain that you like to refer to in lonely, nostalgic, or bored moments. (I preserve lots of these). Xavier, Marc and I went back on Friday and that little space in my brain felicitously reconfirmed itself.

404 | Restaurant Familial | 69, rue des Gravilliers | 75003

December 17, 2008

naughty monkey

MARC is here! Arrived from Tibetan settlements in India...escaped from naughty monkeys who stole some of his clothing. Joyous Joy. Marc says these monkeys liked throwing poo at people. Nothing could be more delightful to think about. Unless you can think of something.

While peacefully reading, one of these monkeys charged Marc and then he charged the monkey back and then five retaliated. He also said that while walking through the forest, you would see monkeys trailing monks robes behind them, which they had stolen, presumably off laundry lines. Another thing that borders obsession in my brain now.

December 13, 2008


I like to read Marguerite stories. Most of her books are in French. Most of her world is in French. It is a funny thing with our situation. Marguerite is French and I am American. Obviously. What is not so obvious are all the little implications that are behind that. I speak to her in English - I sing her songs in English, but when we play together or she addresses me in French, sometimes it is easier just to reply in French. More and more she understands English, I think. She has certain English words she knows and employs: "cookies" "somersault" "pumpkin" "again" "grandma rosie" "grandpa brad." But her world has just come together in French. She is very articulate for her age and I learn all sorts of vocabulary in French I would have missed entirely otherwise. We keep insisting that we should have English days with Marguerite and only speak English, but even with Xavier's almost-flawless English this is not a natural thing for him to do.

Anyway, back to story-time. So, I always read her stories in French - she loves Petit Ours Brun (Little Brown Bear). I think my accent adds a special little spicy layer to the tale. Sometimes I mix up important details (for example, I say 'the skin' la peau, when I should say 'the potty' le pot (sounds the same except one is masculine and one is feminine) - I shall never take sufficient notice of the genders of all the things around me).

Those are my stories, but Xavier takes it to another level. Many of the characters surrounding Petit Ours Brun are handicapped in Xavier's version of things. When the story is handed over to him, most of the little bear's friends are suddenly missing legs or they are blind. He also usually adds a constant commentary on which characters are completely stupid and which characters might end up dying. Marguerite is engrossed in the story in the same way and, in this way, Xavier also keeps himself highly entertained.

Remember this one?

I ran into him again...

and I was delighted to find him in me.

December 10, 2008


There is this famous little 'grocery' store in the city of Paris: Fauchon. To be fair, Fouchon is a high-fashion food store - think more about fashion than anything you put in your mouth. Think outrageous little cakes made with the same care as a pair of shoes, foie gras, women in ball gowns and lots of hot pink fancy glitter - l'excellence à la française ('un savior-faire incomparable'). True. Have a look see.

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