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Monday, August 26, 2013

On Doing a CIty

The Traveler's spirit is offended
by your "doing" a city or a country in a weekend
oh yes I have been there
you say
and I think I saw pretty much everything
And yet
just yesterday I walked down my own street
and saw a beautiful mural on a building
I really saw it
after four years
and I looked closely at the little boy in front of Franprix
playing just a few notes at a time on his little accordion
before stopping to extend his hand to passersby for pay
and I saw my beautiful friend waiting for me at our meeting place
a stand out in any crowd
all amidst the backdrop
of what you saw on your way past or through
Just imagine
what we could see in a lifetime

Sunday, August 25, 2013

They don't know

When they look into her eyes
and see confusion and fear
they do not know how those eyes once danced with merriment

Or that she feels betrayed by unsteady legs that once carried her 
running to school and even recently up stairs  
maybe to protest the 12 hours a day standing at work

That her voice now too quiet to hear
once embarrassed us with its volume
and also called us in from playing when darkness fell

How she could do math in her head
faster than my sister with her slide rule
and knew how a book would end from the first chapter

And so today I sort through the pieces
and wonder what is disease
and what is still  her

I smile at the day she slipped from her wheelchair to her knees
and quipped to the worker who asked her what she was doing 
 “I thought I would say a few words for you while I was down here”

And yet sadly today at the restaurant
she refuses to eat salad; she says
there are bugs in it just chomping away

I see that help is unsolicited and unwanted
and yet when it does not arrive
she is hurt by the lack of caring, of attention

Mom in summary
still the same complicated confounding
collection of all that is woman, that is present, that is her.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Next! French Drivers License

Having lived through a rigorous immigration process in the US and more recently in France I thought I was prepared for anything. Then I tried to get my French drivers license, which for some was apparently as simple as "Hello Madame yes we realize you drive on the opposite side of the road in Australia but here is your French license immediately".

My experience was more like " Once you have completed all of the documents please return a few more times so we can tell you some additional documents to complete. And once you have all of those we will tell you that you need a letter from the Canadian Embassy stating that you had permission from the Canadian authorities to live in the US for the period of time you were there."


So I explained that in Canada we are allowed to move to any country we choose, as long as that country accepts us. Not good enough. I need the letter or no driver's license. Okay. So I asked the Canadian Embassy for said letter.

WHAT??? We don't give Canadians permission to live in other countries.

Yeah I know.

So having failed miserably at the straight echange I get to take the legendary French driving course.

First the paperwork, which takes approximately 1 month to process and begins only after the submission of  4 photos, 6 stamps, 2 A5 envelopes, proof of residency, visa, passport and foreign drivers license translated by an accredited translator.

Next the 256 page study guide, (price 15€) in French of course, mandatory, which has at least 10 pages describing the meaning behind dotted lines, depending on the length of each, the distance between the dotted lines, how to measure your speed based on the number of broken lines you pass per second ( you know you are going 90 kmh if it takes 1 second to pass two dots and two spaces in between), and the secret signals these patterns provide including upcoming solid lines. I am in trouble.

Third the classroom sessions and accompanying on line exercises. for 559€ and 35€ respectively.

Then the first written exam. I was not quoted a price but I am sure there is one. Many fail. A mandatory wait period, and then restart.

Once I have passed the exam I can begin to take driving lessons, minimum 8 hours. In a manual transmission. If I don't take the exam in a manual transmission I will have a restricted license. And then of course the driving exam, which most people fail at least one.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Yesterday's wine

More than a year since we decided to do a special taste test we finally made it happen.

It all started with a visit last year to Beaune. On Sunday morning before leaving for home Alison and I found ourselves at yet another wine merchant sampling the local goods while our friends did some important museum tours. While sampling we were informed of a recent study done comparing wines from Borgogne decanted, or simply opened 1 hour, 4 hours, 12 hours and 24 hours prior to drinking. We were surpised to learn that every wine expert participating in the blind test preferred the wines opened 24 hours before.

So of course we had to try it.

On a Thursday evening I bought two good 2011 Mercury 1ere Cru and opened one. On Friday evening I opened the other an hour or so before the guests were to arrive.

Each of us received 1 glass with the 24 hour opened wine and a second glass with the newly opened version. I was the only one who knew which was which. 

The results?

  1. Everyone could tell there was a difference between the two.
  2. Most of us knew which one was opened first becasue it was softer and had a more generous aroma.
  3. Half of us preferred the wine opened longer. Half preferred the newly opened.
Try it yourself and see. I believe the rule applies only to wines from Bourgogne, but it could be an interesting experiment with any wine.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Nebbiolo don't tell everyone

Upon moving to ParisI wanted to make a big effort to meet people quickly. Having moved 17 times in about as many years I know how important it is to get established quickly and make friends. I was lucky to discover MeetUp, an idea with post 9-11 origins, created  to help people make real life connections using the internet. It works.

This week I dined out with Paris Urban Adventures at Nebbiolo.
I was the first to arrive, typically Canadian, and had a nice chat with Frederico, who just opened the restaurant a month ago along with his wife Sonia. The business is the perfect marriage of Italy and wine (him) and France and cuisine (her).

We started with this lovely sparkiling wine Alta Langa, a champagne
style but not from Champagne which was surprisingly delicious
with parmesan dipped in the best ever balsamic.

The Gavi di Gavi was paired with the Burrata,
a super creamy mozerella and puree of beets.

A Valpolicella Ripasso
that puts most others to shame
to go with the black rice salad.

And the Amarone.
Just delicious.
Served with veal and fingerling potatoes.

The cheese course, a Testun I think with grape must..
By this time I am forgetting to take photos of the wine
which is unfortunate. We had sampled quite a few wines by this time!
It was also very good, a Brachetto Piemonte served with fresh peaches. 
Frederico convinced us to pour some of the delicious wine into our peaches.
I can't sign off without mentioning the organizer, Camilla, who is warm, gracious and welcoming to all, including a local who joined us part way through the meal and the owners who by mid evening gave up on any supposed formailty they meant to keep and sampled the rest of the courses along with us. Great spot. I almost want to keep it a secret, but that wouldn't be fair to this couple who deserve every success in life. Thank you to everyone for a memorable evening.