Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Gift

Camille was 8 when she offered me a peony in a carefully wrapped package for Mother's Day. She was so proud of having chosen the most special flower at the nursery for me and I was delighted to receive it. The pale pink blossom offered the promise of growing up to become the most beautiful of all flowers in our garden and as I glanced back at Camille, I saw that she held that same promise. What a Mother's Day it was.

When we moved from our home years later, I made sure the movers took the large blue pot holding the peony with them.  It flourished in the pot for awhile but when we moved again, I knew it was time to plant it in the ground.  The garden was reworked and the peony was transplanted-- the only problem was that I didn't see where it had been placed.  Every springtime for 3 years, I searched for it to find its blossom but to no avail.  Ironically, Camille left home at the same time to go to college --- so now, they were both missing. 

Last week, I was walking in the garden with a glass of wine in hand appreciating all the flowers that were beginning to bloom--and there it was.  Not just one blossom, but two!  It had been hidden behind so many layers of tall plants that I would never have seen it had it not called out with its two fabulous pink flowers!  In three years, the plant has grown tall, strong and healthy and in those same years, Camille has grown strong and independent-- and they have both come through on their promise of beauty. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gone With The Wind

What a day!  St. Andrews was storming mad. The doors to the hotel bar were rattling and ranting until finally they had to be locked to be kept quiet.  The thought of going outdoors was trying to enter my mind but it never quite made it.  Sideways sheets of rain, blasts of chilling wind, and people everywhere running for cover.  No....not the day to step outside.  Instead we took refuge in the bar for tea.  What a wonderful afternoon practice.  We weren't the only ones who were "practicing".  Enter two Scottish ladies....friends wanting a bit of a chat and a coffee.  They talked as if they had been on one long visit--the kind of visit that lasts for years.  Maybe that's a good definition of friendship...a conversation that lasts for years. They solved their problems while we solved ours and the hour moved along.  
Now that I'm home I wish for a reason to stop for tea, but the weather is fine and the idea is gone with the wind.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tarte aux Fraises

Last day in Paris.  The rain returns and becomes my signal that it is time to go....but not before I enjoy one final lunch.  I return to my hotel to leave my shopping bags full of Debauve et Gallais chocolates, Laduree macaroons, and my modest picnic for the Eurostar the next day.  La vie est belle!  I head to the Cafe Varenne not far from my hotel....a gem of a neighborhood bistro.  It's a bit late in the day so I don't have to worry too much about getting a table.  I am seated in the window  with a view of la Boucherie de Varenne, a very charming butcher shop! It may seem strange to put the words charming and butcher in the same sentence, but trust me, it is charming.  The store front is green and the proud banner says "Charcuterie, Volaille, Triperie". The butcher is perfectly dressed in a red checked jacket with sleeves that roll up and attach with tabs. Who would have guessed that fashion and meat go together! Yes, the butcher wore red.  I try to focus on the menu of the day because I feel the impatience of the waiter behind me.  Ironically I don't order meat.  I take the lentilles with diced carrots and poached egg on top, a salade frisee and a glass of brouilly--red wine that is slightly chilled.  I am already in heaven just by making these choices and continue my people watching out the window.  The butcher has prepared a platter of meat on a silver tray to take to the apartment at 33 rue de Varenne and is on his way up to deliver it.  I wonder who lives there and what their relationship might be...He returns to his shop after only a few minutes, however, so any fantasy I might have is quickly dispelled.  My lunch arrives and it looks so good that it distracts me from looking at anything around me.  I enjoy it slowly knowing that it will be months before I get to have anything like it again.  When I am done, the waiter asks me if I will be having dessert.  I ask him what is being offered that day and he replies "tarte aux meilleur du monde"!  Strawberry tarte--the best in the world. That is quite a statement I think.  Then he adds, "C'est la recette de ma maman!" Ah...his mother's recipe.  How can I refuse? The tarte arrives and it is beautifully arranged--I'm impressed already.  One bite of the tarte and I know that he wasn't kidding. It is the best strawberry tarte...simple in that it is just strawberries, pastry and cream... but the best strawberries, amazing pastry and scrumptious cream.  He gives me a knowing nod as he passes by watching me close my eyes and take a first bite.  It's not just a bite of a strawberry tarte, it is a bite of Paris... always at it finest.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

An Eyeful of Paris!

Miss Von Teese

Paris. Monday, March 23rd. The Crazy Horse, Avenue Georges V.  Burlesque.
Dita Von Teese!  
I slipped into my Chanel trench coat, belted as a dress, put on my favorite rhinestone earrings and walked out the door of my Paris hotel room in turquoise satin shoes and a smile. I was on my way to see Dita's show at the Crazy Horse and then to meet her backstage afterwards.  Camille flew over from Scotland for the  show and we were both beyond excited to meet her. We were escorted into a VIP section, served the Dita cocktail...sitting in a red velvet banquette and settled in to watch an amazing show.  The lights dimmed and the women appeared all dressed alike in basic nudity...we called them the stallions.  And then there was Dita....and only Dita dressed in a black sequined trench coat by Elie Saab with Christian Louboutin extreme heels.  Her hair was down and wavy and her cigarette smoke curled in kind.  She leaned back and blew a puff of smoke high above her head.  The smoke travelled back down and created a blur of a sex scene.  When she turned her head to address the audience, we were already smitten.  With a lift of her eyebrow, she held our breath and when she dropped her gown it was our turn to lift our eyebrows...perfect complicity! Her skin is powder compact white and her lingerie the sheerest black.  When she wiggles, we can't move and when she stands still and stares, our hearts leap out.  Dita....amazing Dita.  
The backstage story will keep replaying in my mind for years-- a personal treasure...