Friday, October 31, 2008

Role Model

Yesterday I grabbed my New Yorker from the mailbox, stepped into my kitchen and unpacked my groceries, including a bottle of Ginger Ale; all of a sudden, childhood memories and emotions came back to me.

When my family was living in Iraq, we all adored Deborah. To my parents she was a dear friend, while to my sister and me she was the best aunt ever, always around for our birthday parties and willing to watch video tapes with us - oh how many times did she sit through The Sound of Music, or my then favorite, Flashdance? The picture with my sister and me (wearing a Bar Harbor, Maine sweatshirt!) was taken during our trip to Jordan with my mum. Just the girls.

To me, she was also a role model. She was an independent working woman, a young American diplomat who was also very beautiful and fun. Oddly, three things came to embody what I aspired to through her: that she had a place of her own, the Ginger Ale in her fridge and her subscription to The New Yorker. That's what I must go for when I grow up, I'd muse.
And yesterday, with my Ginger Ale and my New Yorker, in my little West Coast studio, I thought of her. She is now an American ambassador in a key Gulf state and has two daughters I am enamored with; she's my role model always.

Calling all bloggers! I want to buy a large poster to decorate my new place. Art, photography, I'm open to everything. I'm considering this one. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

From Paris to Malibu

Benjy relaxes at the airport before boarding the 747 that will take him to Los Angeles...

The view of the Pacific Ocean at dusk, a block away from my Malibu studio.

Benjy and I send sunny birthday wishes to our dear Jennifer - Benjy's sometimes nanny and my wonderful friend, our Montana gal in Paris.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Farewell, Paris

A few last views of beautiful Paris...

To celebrate my departure, my dad treated us to lunch at my favorite Paris restaurant, Le Congrès at the Porte d'Auteuil. I had 12 oysters and chocolate mousse for dessert - with a glass of champagne of course.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Poetry Books, And A Playlist

As I'm heading for a new destination, I've had to leave my Paris apartment and could only bring a few books with me, of the hundreds that I have collected over the years, transforming my living room into a library... It took me a surprisingly short time to select the ones that will be in my suitcase - all three of them poetry. Shakespeare's Sonnets of course. Sylvia Plath's musical Ariel. Sappho's fragments, in Mary Barnard's landmark translation, radiating with Grecian sun and violently shaded with the abysmal darkness of the heart.
I wish I could have brought my Emily Dickinson volume, but it was a bit weighty.
What books would make it into your luggage?

And if you're wondering where I'm off to, listen to this Destination playlist...

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I was very excited to receive my absentee ballot this morning! I'll mail it back today.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Few Wonderful Things

Marie is not only a wonderfully talented artist but also a dear friend and a very generous person - she gave me this amazing, delicate necklace...

It's fig season!

I contributed an article (in French) to an anthology of English literature that has just come out. The reason why I'm excited about this is because, to the best of my knowledge, it's the very first time that my dear Nancy Mitford is included in a comprehensive anthology of Brit lit. I hope that she ends up getting the respect her work should earn her - not as chick-lit forerunner but as supremely witty author, the granddaughter of Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Japanese Maple Tree

On this sunny autumn day, let's go for bold colors. My mum bought an exquisite red Japanese maple tree, which she carried home down the rue d'Auteuil. "Look, a tree that's gone for a walk!", a guy sitting at the café told his buddy - they weren't drunk, just playful.

On the sidewalk, I also found a couple of dead leaves, which had united to form a heart; this would have been perfect for Pia's My Heart Wanders project; a pity it comes too late!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

At the Menagerie de Verre

Twice a year, dancer Norio Yoshida drops by Paris's Menagerie de Verre to give ballet classes. That's an occasion I try never to miss.
His enlightening explanations (the "attitude" is a spiral, feel it in your body) are always precious. And I also enjoy being in the Balanchine studio of the Menagerie de Verre. This industrial printing press, covering 21,500 sq feet (2,000 sq meters) has been renovated and turned into a dance venue with bright airy studios, painted white. A dream space.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Welcome, Arthur!

My friends Guillaume and Céline just had a wonderful baby. Blue-eyed Arthur was born in Paris 10 days ago and is in perfect health, loved and pampered as he is... I held him in my arms today and think I can say we get along superbly.
Nothing's more beautiful that a baby's hands.

I was thrilled to go shopping for a present for Arthur (baby clothes are irresistible!) so I went around a few stores; I thought I'd show you my favorite shop window, the one at Bonpoint.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Green Tea Please

It's very cold already in Paris - temperatures are in the upper 40's-low 50's F, or low 10's C... To stay warm, I drink a lot of tea. Right now my favorite is Kusmi's green tea with ginger and lemon essences - a very fresh taste. It can't hurt that Kusmi's teas come in super stylish boxes.
A few days ago, at a friend's place, I also enjoyed some frothy Japanese green tea served in a delicate blue and white bowl. It reminded me of my discovery, in Taiwan, of the classic Chinese tea houses. While in mainland China in the 1960's the Cultural Revolution, targeting all things deemed "bourgeois", eradicated the ancient tradition of tea houses where intellectuals would meet to chat over some tea and treats (say, salty plums), Taiwan has retained and cherished both the buildings and the rituals, something I was delighted to discover when I visited Taipei as a teenager.
Though it can't be compared to the highly arcane Japanese tea ceremony, tea drinking in those quiet, precious wooden tea houses is still a rather codified matter; for instance you pour the water several times over the leaves, then emptying it into different bowls and then back into the teapot before thinking of having a sip... Going with a connoisseur definitely helps!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Benjy & The Dutch Tile

After I took this picture of Benjy, I was stunned to see how uncannily it reminded me of an ancient tile I photographed in a 17th century Canal House during my last visit to Amsterdam...
And just for our pleasure, here's another tile from the same house. Don't you love that bunny?

Notice how Benjy looks mysterious on this picture? That's because he and I are planning a life-changing move... More details in the days to come...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

60, rue de Richelieu

Today I was happy to head for the showroom at 60, rue de Richelieu, to meet jewelry designer Deb from Bonbon Oiseau. Not only did I get to admire her exquisite and whimsical work, but I also got to meet her and have a chat; she's sweet and smart, a genuine artist and a wonderful woman...

I was thrilled to be around so many inspired designers, and fell in love with many brands, amongst which Warmi, a French-Colombian brand that offers the most delicate yet bold knits ever.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Bouquet After The Wedding

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about a wedding I attended. Yesterday I went to visit the friend who got married and brought a couple of celebratory presents, including this white and green bouquet, with roses, pink-rimmed carnations and more...