and we keep moving...

Next up: the Chunnel

and off the train into contemporary Paris
and after a short rest, we were ready for more food (blushes)

I've posted about our love for Apicius a few times

here's why
 starter (after house cocktail and "pre-appetizers" 
which vanished too fast to be photographed
 lobster cocktail with lemon-y mousseline sauce,
poached egg, mousse of wild mushrooms
 I of course restrained myself, had the white (warm) asparagus
with salad of minced green (cool) asparagus
 it's Spring - this little lamb didn't run fast enough!
 perfect accompaniment for roast lamb:
mashed (pureed) potatoes


welcome to London - dinner at Gordon Ramsey

A "pre-appetizer" - mousse of new little peas and 
house-made ricotta, with tiny spring vegetables 

The starter: foie gras and sweetbreads

the main - roast baby lamb, morels and other mushrooms 

dessert - lemon soufflé - a test run, expected to be on the menu soon.

That noise you hear is sighs of contentment.

on the eve of travel

Lazy twilight, reviewing list for a few days in London followed by a week in Paris, and a quick visit to Lyon. We've done this before, and it never ceases to delight.
Of course, New York has its moments, too  - here's one.

OK, back to the fold, roll or smoosh dilemma.

maybe I should have let them make me take Home Ec

Your high school guidance counselor is 
a person who has achieved his full potential.

For non-US residents, the high school guidance counselor is the person whose job is to suggest colleges or universities or courses of study, to set up class schedules, and to process transcripts and applications. They also told your parents that you were not living up to your full potential, seemed unmotivated, and risked not becoming a well-rounded and reliable citizen. In four years of high school and one year of junior high school, I never met anyone who was living up to his full potential. 

And so it came to pass that I arrived home one early spring afternoon with a list of the following year's courses, to be presented to a parent for signature. Naturally I had read it before I jumped into the car of the cute guy du jour, and so to everyone's surprise I demanded to be taken straight home. The strategy was obvious - I would wash off the eye makeup, bang out the chores and be found laboring over the trigonometry assignment when Mom got home from work. I thought about putting an opera record on, but refrained.

Mom wasn't fooled for a minute, although years of dealing with woe and wickedness and the puberty of others had blunted her x-Ray vision just a touch. So while she was relieved to know that I wasn't planning to stay out all night, skip school with a rare disease that required days of lab tests, address envelopes for a dubious political campaign, etc. etc., she wasn't thrilled to be reminded that it was schedule time again. Funny how time flies.

This was the nasty surprise on the schedule: instead of Advanced Placement Chemistry I had been assigned to Home Ec. Mom and I supposed this had happened either because of the GC's personal animosity or because he had noticed a vacancy and had filled it the easiest way possible - with an "elective."

Scene: the Guidance Office. I have been instructed not to "pipe up." Thus I listened very carefully, and the conversation is embedded in my brain. I'd actually like to get rid of it and make room for something else, but like cockroaches and corporations, some things have eternal life.

        Mom:            I'd like a few things explained before I sign off on this. This line, for starters.
        GC:               She is entering her Junior year. All Juniors are required to take an elective.
        Mom:            I don't understand, why is it elective if it's required?
        GC:               Because it's not optional. She has no choice, she has to choose an elective.

The spectacle continued until it lost its power to entertain. In the middle of a discussion about the benefits of Home Ec for someone who had learned to use a sewing machine in 6th grade (this shows you how desperate to entertain a Scout leader can be), and how could there be no openings remaining in AP Chemistry anyway, I produced a note from the chemistry teacher in which he requested that the 4th period class with double lab time be added to my schedule, since the class had 2 open slots.

It was customary to take that Chemistry course and Physics the same year, or if that couldn't be accommodated, very close together. This leads me to my current project, which is related to the time, space and matter continuum.

We leave for London, Paris, Lyon in about 2 weeks and I am determined to fit the necessary clothing into a carry-on, but equally determined not to spend more than half an hour or at most 45 minutes per day obsessing over packing, with occasional time extensions as needed to exhume some things that might fit from the last time I failed to get off the weight from the winter travels in time for the spring excursion. And no, well, minimal, shopping.

I wound up getting a new raincoat, because my very very good one is Extra Long. This is great for protecting the knees and legs in city winters, but even without the lining there's too much of it for the carry-on or the overhead.

I grabbed the J.Crew Bonded Zip Trench, a single-breasted number with a really neat collar, as an alternative. Length is adequate, and fit is fine, except the belt loops are located 1 inch too high.

This is where I start wondering whether there might have been some benefit in Home Ec after all. In keeping with my developing minimalist attitude, I sought a "free alteration." J.Crew's alteration/tailoring was not up to the task. A salesperson consulted with the tailor, and reported back that it was a very complicated and timeconsuming job requiring special equipment, and it would cost upwards of $75.

Removing the belt reveals the "complicated structure" of the belt holders - each consists of a little tab with a buttonhole sewn on the coat. The related buttons are on the belt.

Here are detailed schematic drawings showing (a) little tab with button, and (b) corresponding little tab with buttonhole. The "complicated" task is to snip thread holding tab to coat, pin tab back on to coat but one inch below previous location, and sew each little end onto coat.

I wonder if I had "elected" to take Home Ec, would I have stayed in touch with at least one of the girls who had really chosen the course? I would have been able to do a good deed and put some probably very needed work her way. ("needed" work because after 4 years of high school Home Ec back in the day and no prospects of further education, would she be employable in today's economy?)

Instead generations of my female ancestors are dropping their haloes and falling off clouds laughing at my efforts to locate a thimble without leaving the house. Cab fare to and from M & J Trimming (and if you come to New York, this place is a must and call me because I love to go there) is out of the question, because I am determined to prove that I can do the "alteration" for nothing.

Alternatively I can return the Bonded Zip Trench - sounds like equipment for an armed bootlegger - and try the Madewell Travel Trench, which looks like bootlegger wear but without the dangerous-sounding name.
This little number is shorter (good to pack, not so good to wear), less expensive (good) but web-only and final sale. Brilliantly, no measurements are published. If anyone out there has actually tried the thing on, please let me know your reactions.

Meanwhile, this link will bring you to a good collection of views of trench coats a-travelling. Look how cute the longer coats look.

I think something in my closet is whining.

what day is it again?

 I'd like to be a lion tamer
Sequins and tights and silk top hats
I know I could be a lion tamer
I've always gotten along with cats

This poster makes me think about raising a family, about being a mother. 
I'd have a whip but never use it
I'd simply hold it in my hand
I'd like to be a lion tamer
If I could be a lion tamer
I would be someone grand

As a matter of fact, so do most of the circus posters - the jugglers, the ringmaster, the overcrowded car driving the same route over and over while little clowns pour out of it, the impossibly balanced acrobats....

I'm not a proponent of holidays that were invented to sell cards and flowers and put stress on restaurants, but it's always nice to be appreciated, and to express appreciation.
Ev'ryone has a special calling
Something that only she can do
so here's to all of us who spend our days and nights 
juggling and balancing, pulling rabbits out of hats 
and keeping the globe spinning.
Which is not to say I don't love the cards and the flowers, of course I do.
Not because it's any special day
Only because they come from you.

The Lion Tamer lyric is from The Magic Show
by Stephen Schwartz. The only version to 
hear is Kristin  Chenoweth's, which you can 
find on YouTube.