March 31, 2011

Chez Stephen.

Petite soirée chez Stephen last night. Stephen just recently moved into a new apartment in the West Village (lucky boy) and given his line of work and his brain material, festooning this place is a royal activity - it looks sublime already, every detail pondered.

John looks perfect in the apartment. A compliment to both.

Stephen is the kind of guy who takes his decorating so seriously that he will live for a very specific (rather long depending on your slant) period of time with paint swatches all over the place - each painted in several locations to shed light on the color's various renditions. He lives with the squares in different lights and moods and cloud conditions and will one day choose one of these hovering colors to cloak the walls of each room. (His biggest piece of advise for me when we moved into our house: "Don't make any decisions too quickly, just live in it and see how it feels." Like - don't do anything drastic! Too bad Xavier and I are about as impetuous as people come...).

But Stephen has a whole crowd of people who also use a decision-making tree when decorating or, rather, show other people how to use them and decorate for a living. Chris, for example, here explains the different emotional states one might experience if choosing the top color versus the lower two, or the one over there on that wall.

So many sample cans.

March 27, 2011


Xavier gets ideas. And then the ideas get big. And he does not get rid of the ideas until they fully take life. He gets feverish, sweating and all, and devotes wild amounts of effort to make whatever it is happen.

Story #1. Setting: Paris, France. Hotel room above.

Background: Since I've been working in Paris now and again over the past couple of months, Xavier decided that it was the perfect opportunity to order something he just couldn't find in the United States for some 'bricolage' in our house, have it delivered to his sister's house in Paris and then, have me take it home from there.

This would make a lot of sense if we were talking about an item that would fit in a suitcase (any suitcase at all) or one that weighed a reasonable number of pounds. Xavier, however, was talking about the rolls of fabric that are featured in the photo above. These rolls of fabric are, according to the Frenchman, transformative and are used in apartments with cracking walls (centuries old) all over Paris. Apparently, you use a special type of glue and apply the fabric like wallpaper, which covers cracks and imperfections (our walls are very familiar with these things) and then you paint directly over it for a smooth look in the end. Brilliant, except these rolls are literally almost 4 feet long and thick like your leg.

For my first round of work in Paris this winter, he told me there was a package waiting for me at Marie's house to transport back with me. You can imagine my rapture (and my facial expression) when I actually saw what he had ordered. I called him to explain that it would simply be impossible for me to take his package back home with me. This would not do. He was galled.

The second time in Paris, he actually came with me. Or rather, he also works in Paris from time to and this time our times matched up (so much time in this sentence). So, I was pleased that he would actually see what he had ordered and had instructed me to sherpa home. Pas de problème, he said, eying his shipment. Soon enough, there they were at the hotel: rolls and rolls all over the room - practically covering the place. I just laughed. At least I wouldn't be lugging them. He concocted a box aligned perfectly to the standards of Air France's oversize baggage. Three rolls of masking tape and 32 kilos (70.4 lbs) later - he had his magical portable agglomeration of wallpaper rolls. Portable is actually inaccurate. Here is he displayed below, in an awkward moment. He kept calling me over to help him "just lift the box" to weigh himself to get the scale reading exactly right for the airport restrictions. Too heavy, he ended up leaving 4 rolls with me to bring back (seemed like nothing after the 18 he had dealt with). They were heavy and I was mad by the time I was lugging them out the door at JFK when I arrived. But all the rolls are now in position in his 'bricolage' room in the basement awaiting their their moment to shine on the walls of our house.

Story #2. Setting: back in New York. A little shopping trip.

We headed to Home Depot/Target, etc to get a few things for the house. We went on the scooter, despite the winter temperatures. Xavier generally blocks the wind in front, so I can abide. For some odd reason, we fell in love with a vacuum cleaner - a Dyson. Cyclone technology celebrated at the Centre Pompidou or some such thing. We thought, the house will be cleaner. To be sure. It was a big box and I asked Xavier if he thought it would fly with the scooter situation. He looked at me like I was idiotic. Of course it would.

A little later, we were back on the scooter with a whole lot of people staring. Bags everywhere, hanging about, and the huge vacuum box positioned directly in front of Xavier, resting on the hood (does a scooter have a hood?). Yes, it was blocking his vision. Yes, I was worried about our safety - loss of life, etc. So, I was relieved when he pulled over and had a think. I got off and said I was going to take a cab with the vacuum and stuff we bought. He told me to cool it and as he sat there, I could literally watch him go through ideas, reject them and then conjure up some more. Then his eyes lit up and he said, "Got it." And he had. He balanced the very heavy vacuum box at the back of the scooter like so (below) and fastened it like so (below) (with very few materials). Amazing. It worked.

Other examples include this bench and, let's face it, the recent house acquisition (took tireless persistence and some real creativity on his part).

Plus, on the weekend, he requests that we go running together in matching red suits he purchased. I say uncle. Gapers are generally entertained.

March 25, 2011

March 23, 2011

Brooding clouds.

And an iteration on the theme:

March 21, 2011

Early early.

In the early early light, the city looks ashen, almost bleached of color. Then later it all washes back in (and for some odd reason, begins to look like we are in the 1970s again).

March 20, 2011

March 19, 2011

A Marc-y hat.

In Central Park on such a spring day, Joyce found a "Marc-y hat."

She took it.

Let Grace borrow it.

And then trotted off.

March 17, 2011

Two girls.

At my house when I got home. Two of my very favorite girls. My nieces.

Joyce struts proudly in her green frog boots.

Keeps it up in the museum. We all follow. Grace too.

Marc and Joyce disappear and then we find them in their spot.

Then it is dance time. Joyce waits for the music to commence.

Commence the music, Xavier.

March 12, 2011

Les quais.

Along the quais of the Seine today I found old spots I used to love - to loll in the sunshine and read books - to sometimes accidentally sit in pigeon poop (it was comical when, after about an hour of lazing today, I looked right next to me at a sickly green glob of it, stood up a little cringing, cringed even more when I felt a mass and started pulling it off and when it kept pulling, like taffy, my grimace turned to a relieved face. Such a delight to find chewing gum when you are expecting poop). The trees were florescent green - their youngest and newest leaves lambent, so thrilled to get out.

And my favorite tree looking out over Paris in a sort-of forlorn fashion - like she couldn't remember how she was the belle of the ball last year and so many years before. Don't worry, you'll soon be adorned too.

And a self-portrait sur les quais de vieux Paris.
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