Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Bernard's Bounty

Last year B. came to us with a crate full of goodies from his garden three days before we left. Leeks, plums, onions, carrots. tomatoes and more that I don't remember. Wondelfull, but really much too much for us to eat in just a few days. I spent a morning poring over cookbooks, coffee at my side, and turned out a few chutneys, more jams, and a canned tomato sauce.
The carrot chutney looked a bit funny when I spooned it into its jars, but never mind.
Tonight we had it as a starter: lettuce leaves, a good slice of artisan paté, carrot chutney and brown bread.
An absolute winner!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Journey through Paris

Kibo knows all about our journey through Paris.
Outside Gard du Nord P. kisses me farewell. No worry about his staying behind. No looking back and dragging along. This is the way it goes.
She follows me, sniffing the walls of the apartment buildings where interesting males have left their mark. She is too ladylike to do the same. This is the big city, and it needs to be treated with due respect.
After our half hour walk she is not surprised at all to find P. sipping his cofffee expresse at a sidewalk café just off Gare St. Lazare. Of course he will be there. Isn't he always?
This is when we all board the other train, to be met a little later by that kind man, who will drive all of us to the house in the country.
For Kibo all is well. Although she does need to express her elation by running up and down the garden once she has arrived.
We wish we could do the same.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Make-Over Lives

Idling across the TV channels one encounters numerous make-over programs. Anything can be made-over: bodies, wardrobes, financial businesses, houses, lives. The makers of the programs scout for the most pitiful buggers, who are ugly, or whose children suffer from fatal diseases, or who have lost their jobs. Preferably all three. Then they descend upon them, send them away for 2 weeks, and hey, presto! New persons, new happiness.
It is not philanthropy that sends TV makers to improve the lives of these victims. It is entertainment. It is all for the sake of poor sods like us, the audience, who take the viewing rate to a higher level. We want to see this. We want to believe that the fairy godmother may knock on our door and change our pumpkin into a carriage.
So what do we see when houses are made over? We see people living in dire circumstances, derelict houses, that desperately need repairs. In America the TV saviours take the whole house down and build a new one; in Europe they would need planning permission for that, so the renovations are less drastic. Yet, here too, they go all out. Plumbing, insulation, bathrooms, furniture, knick-knacks, toys for the children, nothing is neglected.
Result: a perfect, perfectly boring house. Everything matching, everything according to a plan or a theme. Mum likes Buddha? Buddhas hang on the wall and sit in the garden. But Grandma’s sofa and her embroidered cushion have gone. And so has the old swing set in the backyard. All life has been sucked out of the house.
Never mind. The inhabitants of the lifeless house are happy. Balled over. Ecstatic.
Rather them than me.