Friday, March 26, 2010

Of Food and Fun

It's official: we now have to call the kids (or just Iris some days) picking up the baguette for the evening a habit. Today was KinderSurprise day, so all three tromped in there, and I took this picture of them climbing back up our street from the Boulangerie. The look of triumph on Eleanor's face is the best. I haven't figured out how to get croissants in the morning and still get them to school on time (the boulangerie opens at 7 and that's when I start getting the kids up and in the weird space-time warp of getting kids ready for school 15 minutes makes a huge different, so there you have it) - but clearly the kids loved that daily contact (their daily bread!) and so the ritual of the boulangerie has migrated to the afternoon. They love everything about it: the "Bonjour," the asking for a baguette, the giving of the money, the receiving of the change (especially if it's more coins than they handed in, never mind the value), and the "Au revoir." Oh, and did I mention that they take a bite of the baguette before they're even out of the boulangerie?

We speak this strange English-with-a-sprinkle-of-French at home now. Basically nouns and main verbs, all the necessary linking verbs and words still being in English. "Can you find your chaussettes?" (socks) "Mommy, after this can I have pain et beurre?" (that's bread and butter, not pain and butter!) "Where is my canard?" (duck). I'm aware that we're coming up on three months of our being here, and not just because it's the halfway point of our time here (gasp!), but also because Iris had made me promise the first night we were here that Baby Pink Dragon and Her Friend the Little Girl (and their now 21 other friends) would catch Krrrrichelieu after three months. So I have to come up with something really good by Monday night - can we really say goodbye to the search for Krrrrichelieu? Can we really end his Reign of Sadness, which, repeatedly (ok, nightly), BPD and HFTLG and all their friends overturn? There's a plucky little fellow from the Breton Fairy Tale of the Day series named Belzig who is a contender for the next three months, but I'd better leave the possibility of a sequel open - you never know.

So, no photograph (but boy do I wish I had one!) - just a quick notice of what the children had for lunch today: calamari napolitaine. That's right - squid! in a garlic tomato sauce served over rice. Delectable. I asked Oliver if any kids refused the squid (squid!) and he looked at me like I was crazy and said "No way!" - wow oh wow. Calamari at the cantine. Oh to be young again!

So we had a nice, cozy evening at home, the kids and I. It was our last after-school night sans Mac - he comes home on Monday in the early evening and will meet up with us at the seder (that should make things festive!). We had crêpes and soup (an odd combination, but Eleanor loves soup and it has been pouring rain - seemed like the right thing to do). Then, Madagascar in French - you can tell it's in French because of their little faces being so intent in concentration. Here is further evidence of Eleanor's need for contact with human flesh at all times: even (especially?) during a movie, she must twiddle an ear. All of us can pretty much carry on even with Eleanor radio-dialing our ear-lobes.

I spent the day reading a book on French Renaissance art and abundance and excess (this is the one by Rebecca Zorach, with whom I went to graduate school and who wound up teaching at University of Chicago where we both were). The book is bold and original and wonderful to read. It's a bit outside the parameter of what I'm doing, but I've wanted to read it for a long time, and it's good to know what happens "next" after one's period. Monday I start writing because for all intents and purposes, I have two weeks of uninterrupted work time left - after that, it's the kids' two week vacation, overlapping with my Mom coming for two weeks, then back to work. Before that, a terrific student from my "Love and War in Medieval Art and Literature" (and other) class is coming to visit - one with whom we're going to explore the Arthurian Center when it opens! Those two weeks will be filled with writing, and going back over original sources. I could keep reading secondary sources forever (I love to see ideas and ideologies change over time), but at some point, you have to put them away and get to your own thoughts. I always do an elaborate and probably unnecessary girding of the loins before writing - but writing is truth, you know? Writing down your ideas lets you know if they're any good or not. It's been helpful to "whisper in the reeds" out here in this blog. I was encouraged yesterday when I found myself writing an abstract for a 16th century conference (Montreal, October) - there was something to say, and my thoughts were organized enough to be pithy about it. I'm always tremulous before writing (ack! if only I didn't make it such a big deal!), but the end result is so, so sweet. So I'm building up a chapter, writing one from scratch (but whose core will be the Leeds talk), and then putting together a table of contents for a book proposal. After my mom's visit, I'll polish the Leeds talk, and finalize my Women's Studies course. Those ought to be some fun posts! :-)

For now, The Three Musketeers await me (ooh-la-la!) and I must rest, for tomorrow, we have plans to go to a zoo!

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