Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Seeing Eye

The Seeing Eye

The small dogs look at the big dogs;
They observe unwieldy dimensions
And curious imperfections of odor.
Here is the formal male group:
The young men look upon their seniors,
They consider the elderly mind
And observe its inexplicable correlations.

Said Tsin-Tsu:
It is only in small dogs and the young
That we find minute observation

Ezra Pound

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lunch with the Girls


A group of 15-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Dairy Queen, next door to the Ocean View restaurant, because they had only $6.00 among them and Brad Johnson, the cute boy in Social Studies, lived on that street. 

10 years later, the group of 25-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant, because the beer was cheap, the restaurant offered free snacks, the band was good, there was no cover charge, and there were lots of cute guys. 

 10 years later, the group of 35-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant, because the cosmos were good, it was right near the gym and, if they went late enough, there wouldn't be too many whiny little kids. 

10 years later, the group of 45-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant, because the martinis were big, and the waiters wore tight pants and had nice buns.  

10 years later, the group of 55-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant, because the prices were reasonable, the wine list was good, the restaurant had windows that opened (in case of hot flashes), and they served fish which is good for your cholesterol.

10 years later, the group of 65-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant, because the lighting was good, and the restaurant had senior citizen discounts.

10 years later, the group of 75-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant, because the food was not too spicy, and the restaurant was handicapped-accessible.

10 years later, the group of 85-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant, because

 they had never been there before.

Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.

My cousin, Iris, sent me this "grin for the day" .   Thanks, Iris.

I __,_._

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Dark Knight Rises : the film

comic book movie.com

   Weighing in on the latest of the Batman movie, I can say that the third in the trilogy was a satisfying three hours of good fun.    Ann Hornaday from the Washington Post says it beautifully in the review sent along by pal, Bruce B.     "The Dark Knight Rises" by Christopher Nolan is great summer entertainment.  


I was especially pleased as I had NEVER before seen a batman movie!    I thought it would be too dark and violent and not my "genre" at all.

 And it is dark and it is violent but not to the extent of let's say,  the Mel Gibson's movie " The Passion of the Christ".  In that one from 2004 , if Gibson's point is that Christ was not an ordinary man , he proved it by the gallons of blood the character of Christ spilled in the various torture scenes on his way to Calvary.   The Dark Knight Rises is emotionally violent but always falling on the side of fantasy... which makes it all bearable.

Another characteristic of this genre which often keeps me away, is a sound track of body blows and impact sounds that is ever- increasingly exaggerated.  These sound tracks are always an assault on the senses, particularly in the pivotal scenes where the decibel level is off the charts.  What happens to kids who make a steady diet of this genre?  Probably deaf by 30. 

In the new Batman, the ensemble is even and even surprising, with standout's in character bits (as in the dungeon scenes) as well as the central cast.

  Ann Hathaway looks amazing in her cat suit with a killer hour glass figure that she wasn't emphasizing in  " The Devil Wears Prada".  Here she has all the quixotic attitude that is needed for comic relief in the role of Cat-woman.  She and Christian Bale ( Batman )make a quirky but believable couple .  Their relationship (if indeed it goes into the future) will be full of ambivalence and the problems of two modern strong- willed characters.  I doubt if they could last long without one strangling the other.  But we need both of them to fully enjoy the bat machines.

 There are star turns by a lot of well known actors in Dark Knight so I see that this is a respectable vehicle for the most serious players.  But it was hard to see some of my favorites acting brilliantly as usual but much older than the last time I saw them on screen.  I will so miss Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman when they go, but none of us is getting any younger.  

The thug, Bane, played by Tom Hardy, looks pumped on steroids and over-muscled to the point of real creepiness.  I wondered that the actor appeared so able to fight as most of the pumped-up guys in "real" life are more "show than go".  I wonder if he did his own stunts.

   I also question if this trained actor, Hardy,  had put on all this muscle just for the movie.  In any case he makes a more than adequate villain, half of his face covered in metal, with a scary voice box and with a shaved head.  It seems impossible that Bale's Wayne could take Bane in a physical fight at all unless he has supernatural powers.  I think we are meant to believe Batman does indeed have some of those.

And I think we are meant to believe that Gotham is our beloved NYC.   WE are primed to love this film when a hero saves our city from destruction.  The ending I will not spoil, just to say that it is ambiguous but there is enough to give us hope.  

I am ready for the next sequel.... but I guess it won't be with Christopher Nolan or alas with Christian Bale  or Ann Hathaway.   I think we will have to wait for a whole new twist and a brave director who can trump this one or go in another direction entirely.    And in the meantime , I can find the former sequences and watch them, if only on DVD.

I saw "the Dark Knight Rises" out at the Pathe cinema on route de Grenoble outside of Nice .  Nowadays you can just buy your tickets on-line and keep the confirmation in your cell phone.  The usher scans your cell phone and you're in.  The screen out at Pathe Nice: Lingostiere is the biggest in our area, I believe, and with a huge food hall full of junk food, it's a movie goers dream....American style.

Go and see it in town or out....and let me know what you think.  

Garden: The Sugar Plum tree

This is the season for my purple garden blooms.... and fruit.
morning glories....



 lavender ....

    and my three ancient trees of sugar plums, probably here from the 1920's ... if plum trees indeed last that long....and still going strong despite aphids and termites.

The "sugar plum" has such an evocative sound.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_plum  There is a sugar plum fairy in the Nutcracker Ballet , And Eugene Field has a lovely child's poem below.

   I don't really know if there is such a thing as a sugar plum tree or is it just a name from stories.   But for want of a better description, what we have in our garden at the moment are little purple sugar plums falling to the ground each day.

  I have made plum cake and compote and given some to the neighbors with this huge harvest.  And Jeanne is going into full domestic mode making compote, cake AND confiture with pectin and sugar.  (In France they mix the two together for jam making.)   I can't wait to taste her jam as she used a cinnamon stick .

 But now that I have been mostly staying away from sugar  with the PALEO plan,  the plums seem  so sweet to my taste that I call them sugar plums.    I will use some compote to make pancakes and PALEO desserts instead of using sugar.

 It  feels so French, not wasting a single gift from the garden.   That is something the French do not take for granted and neither should we.      

by: Eugene Field (1850-1895)
      AVE you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?
      'T is a marvel of great renown!
      It blooms on the shore of the Lollipop sea
      In the garden of Shut-Eye Town;
      The fruit that it bears is so wondrously sweet
      (As those who have tasted it say)
      That good little children have only to eat
      Of that fruit to be happy next day.
      When you 've got to the tree, you would have a hard time
      To capture the fruit which I sing;
      The tree is so tall that no person could climb
      To the boughs where the sugar-plums swing!
      But up in that tree sits a chocolate cat,
      And a gingerbread dog prowls below--
      And this is the way you contrive to get at
      Those sugar-plums tempting you so:
      You say but the word to that gingerbread dog
      And he barks with such terrible zest
      That the chocolate cat is at once all agog,
      As her swelling proportions attest.
      And the chocolate cat goes cavorting around
      From this leafy limb unto that,
      And the sugar-plums tumble, of course, to the ground--
      Hurrah for that chocolate cat!
      There are marshmallows, gumdrops, and peppermint canes,
      With stripings of scarlet or gold,
      And you carry away of the treasure that rains
      As much as your apron can hold!
      So come, little child, cuddle closer to me
      In your dainty white nightcap and gown,
      And I 'll rock you away to that Sugar-Plum Tree
      In the garden of Shut-Eye Town.                     

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

St Paul de Vence

I have to admit that I stay out of St Paul de Vence as much as possible.  The surfeit of galleries are generally not to my taste and I don't like crowds .

That said, the Catherine Issert Gallery http://www.galerie-issert.com/ has some interesting artists .  And this time I saw another which had some fine work :   The Annecy Gallery http://www.galerie-audeladesapparences.com/pages/galerie.php?langue=fr.

 In fact this time I thought maybe if I took another look there might be some new finds since the last time I was there several years back.    I know that a gallery I love is down an alley and in the back off the main street of the old town but since the kids were eating ice cream, I didn't dare enter this time.

Also , surprisingly this time there were not as many tourists for the time of year as ST Paul is one of the most visited destinations in our area.  

 Our first stop was for lunch at Le Tilleul Restaurant recommended by friend, Lanie. http://www.restaurant-letilleul.com/en/restaurant-le-tilleul-st-paul-de-vence.html  The menu they were offering had some fancy, succulent salads:

 Seared Tuna Nicoise

 Duck kebab Salad with red potatoes and figs

Summer salad with giant shrimp, watermelon , ham and cantaloupe

 And a nice outdoor setting for lunch

The only clanger with the lunch experience was the absolutely obnoxious busker with a broken guitar, a broken repertoire and a red clown nose that persisted throughout the meal.  I don't see how the waiters didn't throw him off the cliff because it was all I could do not to take on the task myself.  Grrrr.

After lunch a walk through the old town.....
Stone work on the walkways which is typical of our area.

 The village fountain and ancient laundry basins

Above the ancient laundry "room".

Coat of arms 

Christopher and Emma investigate

Yes, we are ambling along enjoying a peek at the galleries and boutiques and a view into the valley when all of a sudden the sky gives us a new look.

And  within seconds we are running for an open door as a WALL of water descends.  It is what we call a flash flood in Arizona or New Mexico but I have not often seen such a violent mini- storm like this one in the south of France.  

We sit it out in a t- shirt boutique.  Jeanne preaches patience as Christopher and I want to make a run for it during the less pronounced moments.  But Jeanne is right to wait.... as 15 minutes later the clouds are exhausted and the "orage" moves on.   No wonder there were not many tourists in St Paul.  They had probably read the weather report.   But Emma was ready with her rain parka and trumped us all as we slithered, wet... for the car.

And from the kind fellow selling children's expensive t-shirts who sheltered us, I bought a giant post card depicting Noah's Arc!

HOme again, high and dry, for  my last evening with Emma and Christopher.    The storm hit Nice about 3 hours later but we were well tucked in by then.

La Turbie: bijou d'ete

The Trophee d'Auguste

Today two special French friends , Jacqueline and Philippe, drove us up the Grand Corniche to the medieval town of La Turbie.     I had never been to this small village perched above Monaco .   I probably would have remembered their claim to fame,  the celebrated Trophee d'Auguste .  When summer hits we all long for a hilltop with fewer people than are crowded into Nice, so a car ride with a breeze on our faces was just the thing.

I hate to reveal the secret but La Turbie is a town that is not inundated with tour buses in summer but has more authentic charm then most of the "eagle's nests" of the 120 on the cote d'Azur.  And a big plus with this one is the amazing view of the sea overlooking Monaco seen by climbing to the top of the cemetery and going out through the gate.

 Nearby is also the Parc Naturel de la Grande Corniche (which is more visited in the wintertime. ....A bit too hot now.)   http://www.cg06.fr/fr/decouvrir-les-am/decouverte-des-milieux-naturels/les-parcs-naturels-departementaux/parc-grande-corniche/parc-de-la-grande-corniche/

 For lunch, Jacquie and Philippe took us to a sweet little place called La Cave Turbiasque.  3, place theodore de Banville smack in the center of the village.  http://www.caveturbiasque.com/en/   The couple who run it are friendly and the husband, who took our order, was hilarious and speaks excellent English.

I ordered a starter called a tomato feuillette which was composed of thin layers of tomatoes topped with a package of chèvre chaud,  (warm cheese)  surrounded by crispy bacon strips.  It was a new find and my idea of divine.  The lamb kabobs, "plat de jour" were fine but I think that the desserts are the best thing on the menu.

By way of desserts there was an order of "pain perdu" ( FRench toast) with fresh apricots and a scoop of ice cream.  Jacquie and Phillipe shared it and pronounced it to be superb.  Monsieur had the best looking chunky "tarte tatin" that I have ever seen.  The apples were heaped high on the plate with the pastry more like a cobbler and served with a tiny bowl of "creme Anglais".      I was a good girl and resisted the chocolate Molleux toblerone for the poached peaches in Vervain.    The peaches and the tarte tatin were both excellent.

If you are going up to eat, make sure you reserve a table .  La Cave Turbiasque is small and quite popular.

So that was yesterday the first day that I have ever tried to use my cell phone to take photos.  But since I was unprepared I pulled it out.  I think it's not bad for a Nokia C3-00 which is no "iPhone" or Samsung super duper mobile.   Let's put it this way: My C3-00 doesn't make coffee.

 Inside the restaurant

 Stepping through the old town

 View from the top of the cemetery


 Find of the day.

 Old lady immortalized against her golden house

 Trumpet vine triumphs on the Roman wall

Roman arch

I wish the kids had been here for a few more days.   They would have had a more tranquil look at village life seeing La Turbie.   Maybe next time.