Archive for December, 2010


Today seemed to fly by. It could be due to the grasse matinée (a.k.a. sleeping in). Despite that, lots of administrative things were taken care of. For example, I received a form regarding the living space/working space of the apartment that had to be filled out and returned to the tax office. So I called the tax office and ask how to fill in the question about the working surface in our apartment – when you only live in 30m2 that makes for a pretty small professional space. But when you’re working with a laptop, external screen and external keyboard, you don’t need that much space. I figured it was better to call and ask how to correctly respond than to risk having to resend the form because it was incorrectly filled out (plus all the waste it would create – another stamp used to send out to me, the new form, envelope, energy used by the postman to deliver the letter, etc.).

The woman I spoke with asked one of her colleagues my question. She obviously wasn’t very experienced with freelancers. She was told to tell me to respond to the question simply with “bureau”. Easy enough, I work at a desk and that was all (I didn’t tell her that sometimes I work on the couch or even at a café, that would have blown her fonctionnaire mind). Then I asked her about there being two people working in the same small apartment with the same status and at the same desk. This is where things could have gotten complicated, but she was on a roll. Again she asked the same colleague the question I had just asked her. “Bureau à deux”, he told her. Simple enough – desk for two.

After all the checks were written and envelopes stuffed, Jim and I headed out into the ice-cold afternoon. I took a large, pocketful of 1- and 2-cent coins with me. At the post office I bought stamps one at a time – you are only allowed to use 20 different coins per purchase in the automatic machines, so it’s best to buy them separately if you have lots of copper to get rid of. 58 centimes x 3 and 3 letters posted. We took a walk around the Abbesses Christmas market and debated whether to get chestnuts or churros. There wasn’t really a debate, the churros were closer and smelled so wonderful. Churros is was. With the steaming hot packet of 9, sugar-coated churros, we strolled down to the Montmartre cemetery.

In the cemetery we saw the massive art nouveau tomb of Zola, among other notable or wannabe noble Parisians. The light was so severe and orange in the blue sky I regretted not leaving the house with my camera, or at least my cell phone.

Back at the house, I got to work on a translation project. Afterward, I prepared my paper and lino block for printing and got to work. I printed 30 holiday cards. They turned out better than I thought. The design is a little weak, but in the case of holiday cards – time isn’t on my side. I do like the paper I got, though. It’s a perfect shade of midnight blue. They’re drying in on my “bureau”. I guess tomorrow I’ll have to work on the couch.


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Need I say more? Sugar cookies with browned butter frosting and chocolate chunk pecan cookies!

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this is too strange for words.

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priority 1: writing a communist manifesto

priority 2: buy paper from Rougier et Plé for printing winter cards

priority 3: baking sugar cookies and banana bread

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félicitations, Liviu!

Liviu defended his thesis “Simulations à l’échelle atomique des défauts de l’implantation de l’hydrogène en silicium – procédé Smart Cut” this evening near the University Paris Sud.

I arrived late, but still sat for two hours listening to Liviu present his findings and then hearing the thesis committee discuss how original and philosophical his research was and to ask questions about his findings.

His sweet mother, Maria, came from Romania for the event. She prepared beautiful (and delicious) cakes of all sorts and savory snacks for the reception that followed the presentation of Liviu’s doctorate (with highest honors).

It was a wonderful afternoon.

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la neige

This morning while I was eating breakfast, I looked out the window and saw enormous flakes of snow. Hours later, it’s still snowing. The streets are covered in a fresh blanket of white powder. It’s almost silent, except for a few brave souls  armed with umbrellas and the occasional car with chains.

I spent the morning with my Reader’s Digest – Complete Guide to Needlework book. It’s not easy learning how to crochet complicated pieces with photos. In fact, my book is the French version – Guide complet des travaux à l’aiguille, so it’s extra difficult! A challenge never hurt anyone.

For over an hour I worked on a crochet square. Maybe I can find a video online to help me out. Otherwise, I may never complete a crochet project.

When I was about seven years old, Little Grandma Riley taught me how to make a crocheted chain. She never taught me the rest and to this day I can easily make a crochet chain but nothing more. I even remember asking my mom about it when I was about 15 or 16. We always had crocheted afghans thrown over the couch that she had made, but by the time I wanted to learn, she had forgotten.

During the winter of 2005, I had my wisdom teeth taken out. My birth mom gave me a how-to-knit book that included two knitting needles and a skein of yarn that me occupied while I recovered. I taught myself how to knit and after a week I was a scarf knitting fool.

It doesn’t seem like the other needlework techniques will be that easy for me to learn.

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This morning a technician came to check up on our exploding water heater (a fancy flow-through water heater). This is a problem that has been going on since we moved in. The starter doesn’t start the heater directly and then the gas builds up, which causes a minor, and occasionally major, explosion – windows shake and I usually scream and duck.

The technician took the whole apparatus apart and then put it back together. His hypothesis is that there isn’t enough ventilation in the kitchen where the heater is located. What is the solution?

For two weeks we are going to do a test –
Week 1: Leave kitchen window cracked for more air to move.
Week 2: Close kitchen window and see if the explosions begin again.
Week 3: If no change is seen during either Week 1 or Week 2, I have to call EDF to come out and look at the gas pressure.

My thoughts on the whole experiment –
Week 1: Window open + heat on = strong cold draft = more energy used to heat the apartment = more $$ for the gas bill
Week 2: Warmer apartment + explosions = lots of screams and ducking
Week 3: A huge pain.

In the end, I believe we have a faulty machine on our hands. However, the owner and the technician are convinced that we are living in complete security.

After the technician left, I prepared a double batch of sugar cookie dough for my Christmas cookie baking day on Saturday.

While I was cleaning up my mess, I looked out the front windows and saw HUGE flakes of snow falling. I ran to the window to watch it fall silently. I opened up the window all the way and hung out the window watching the streets slowly disappear beneath a layer of wet, white snow.

I couldn’t contain my excitement and put a few layers of clothes on over my “house clothes” (also known as pjs), my galoshes  and headed out to take some photos with my Pentax K-1000. It was beautiful around the butte de Montmartre. I wound around rue Lepic and up to the Sacre Coeur. The city was hidden under the clouds. The rooftops were barely visible beyond the Marché St. Pierre. I took refuge inside the Sacré Coeur for a few minutes to defrost my fingers before I making my way back down the hill and home.

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