Archive for June, 2011

This may not be the best in the whole city…I haven’t tried them all…but for a delicious homemade treat “La Marquisette” is the place to go.

Metro: La Fourche 31-33 avenue de St.-Ouen 75017 Paris

They have been around since just after WWII (that stands for World War II). The owner’s father immigrated from Italy with his wife and opened up an Italian grocery with a tiny ice cream shop next door. Over the course of decades, the grocery became a family pizza restaurant. Sadly, the pizza place closed up shop for good the same year I moved to Paris (2007). There is still a restaurant next door, just not the original one (and new owners).

When I spoke to the owner (I forgot to ask his name…bad blogger!) he told me that he and his wife work a few months in the spring/summer season and the rest of the year just hang out. **Note** He didn’t actually say they hang out, but that’s what I guess they do. Their two kids have no desire to continue the two-generation family business. Too bad. However, he’s looking for someone to sell to eventually and carry on the legacy. Perhaps that someone is me…

My favorite flavors are cinnamon and yogurt. Ice scream. You scream. We all scream for what? That’s right, rum raisin, peanut butter, forest fruits, coffee, salted caramel. Their sorbets are killer, too. Chocolate sorbet –  yum! Champagne sorbet – real bubbly goes in the machine! When I lived closer, I used to go at least three times a week. Since they’ve opened this season, only three times total. BOOOO!

In any case, whether you’re on vacation or live on the other side of the city….give it a try. You could also let me know what you thought.


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My yellow Zap book now has an impressive collection of left-leaning history...I'd hate for it to fall into the wrong hands.

At 1 a.m. it’s still 27˚ Celsius, the perfect temperature for some big news – the ladybird (a.k.a. ladybug) was born today.

click on the photo to see full size

For over a week I have been obsessively watching for any tiny change or movement that the pupa would make. When I returned home from the library this evening the ladybird was in the process of shedding the chrysalis. Oh joy! I brought my four o’clock plant inside to watch the final changes closely. For the last five hours or so the ladybird has been trotting round the plant. It has not yet developed spots, but I’m sure that they will be there in the morning when I wake up.

This tiny insect is fascinating and its life so enormously complex.

Is it too late to go into entomology…I could at least pick up the my favorite book on insects by Jean-Henri Fabre, Souvenirs d’un entomologiste.

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around the house.

Is it really appropriate to make a sucker in the image of Vladimir Lenin?

“Summer in the city means cleavage, cleavage, cleavage…”

Sunday – Paris : 35° Celsius – sunny – high humidity

When it gets like this, all I want to do is to hang out in an ice cube filled bathtub with a Big Gulp mojito while reading The New Yorker and listening to Bob Dylan on vinyl. Who can make this possible?

Instead of decadence I worked on my master’s application. 30 June is the deadline and I still have the full research proposal to write. Tomorrow looks like another day at the  Pompidou library reading about Socialism and American history.

poor mug...disused again.

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Saturday is a fun day.

Porte ouvertes (a.k.a. open house) @ the art school this morning. Above is one of the prints from the adult printmaking courses. I really like the arrangement nude female figures in the two frames. There were so many beautiful pieces on display…I even had a piece framed in the main entrance!

After visiting the school, a friend picked us up for lunch (at her house with her 87 year old grandma (both amazing women)). On our way home, (outside Gare du Nord) we came across a man begging (he’s in the photo to the right, but hard to see) and his legs were backwards and his arms were deformed as well. I’ve seen quite a few disfigured beggars in Paris, but this was the most gruesome. It made me sad that someone wasn’t being taken care of properly….

For dinner, we headed out to a SUPER cheap (think Luby’s Cafeteria) and fashionably French dining establishment called Le Bouillon Chartier. The waiters are very polite….even after I sent back a bottle of wine for being “corky” (not Corky from Life Goes On, but the not so delicious, mushroomy taste that a bad cork makes). We timed our dessert arrival after ordering…it took 2″30. (Our main course arrived literally 5 minutes after we ordered!) That’s speedy service! I recommend this place to any tourist with a small budget and a big appetite.

Our after dinner stroll through the city took us to the Place de la Bourse (the old Paris stock exchange). I am sure some of the evils of the world were financed following exchanges here.

Which makes the below photo so appropriate! Place des indignés or Place of the Outraged has been pasted over the actual Place de la Bourse street sign. Indignez vous ! is an essay written by a 93 year old French diplomat upset by global politics and inaction. Last year it sold over a million copies in France and has influenced a political dialogue. So popular, in fact, that a response/criticism has already been published and sold, too. It’s a bit of French publishing history. Read it.

We continued on our evening stroll (aiming for a walk along the Seine, but making it only as far as Rue Rivoli just next to the Palais-Royal where an exhibition put on by Good Planet. The film on the Good Planet website has stunning aerial views of forests across the world…and at 7 minutes long is worth seeing.

The perfect evening ended with a cup of tea…PG Tips, of course.

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Favorite thing #1: Since the impulse purchase at Carrefour on Monday (EUR 3.99), this 40 bag box of PG Tips has seen some action. In fact, I may need another box by the end of the week. Daydream…village pub on the coast of England on a gloomy day eating fish and chips with mushy peas and a cup of tea (and a pint of lager).



Favorite thing #2: The ladybird pupa is still hanging on. Occasionally the little thing wriggles and just hangs by one end from the leaf, then moves back into the resting position on the leaf. The coloration of the pupa has become much deeper and the shape has changed from an elongated form to short and squat. I can’t wait to see the birth (re-birth? transformation?) of my new garden friend…



Favorite thing #3: The tomato plants are healthy and happy. They are being fed a constant diet of Parisian pollution and municipal water with an occasional dose of nitrogen-rich puréed bat poop. They will be the most delicious tomatoes ever. I think an exclamation point is appropriate here!



All-time favorite: Jim. If you like reading books, speaking new languages, visiting museums, reading informative signs, eating ice cream, climbing mountains, taking naps, watching nature, drinking coffee, talking philosophy…then you’d understand.

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Duellum on the Pont des Arts

Duellum – “The Penny Dropped”

Last night was Paris’s annual Fête de la Musique. Jim and I headed out to have a listen. It’s always fun to see Paris alive well after 10 p.m. (something rarely experienced). Most of the bands were playing covers or just plain boring (of the groups we saw). There were a couple of groups that deserved a stop-and-listen: a sing-a-long, a blues band, a brass band. My favorite band was hanging out on the Pont des Arts – the bridge that connects the Louvre to the Left Bank. They are called Duellum. You can’t go wrong when indie rock goes acoustic…or wears tight pants and has great hair.

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my 4th floor ecosystem

The world and the universe is an extremely beautiful place, and the more we understand about it the more beautiful does it appear.
-Richard Dawkins

Ladybird pupa in the first stage

My window garden is a diverse ecosystem. About a week ago, I noticed tiny bees hanging out around my basil flowers. Then on Friday I saw a spiny orange and black bug hanging out on my four o’clocks. I knew immediately what it was. A ladybird larva!

My natural history obsession began this winter when Jim decided to buy the BBC’s entire collection of David Attenborough films from Amazon (the obsession is also due to my reading of Richard Dawkins’ book The Greatest Show on Earth and a few camping trips around France). I blame my mother for starting all this by sending him The Blue Planet for Christmas. Anyway I was a bit dubious (10 series – 121 hours of David Attenborough). Why? We don’t have a television and don’t have a habit of even watching movies on our computers. In fact, I can’t remember the last film I saw in the cinema (and the last tv show I watched faithfully was Flight of the Conchords season 1 in 2007 – and that was only 6 episodes). You get my point?

After watching the first episode of The Living Planet – “The Building of the Earth (1984)”, I was hooked…and also in love with David Attenborough. I was in the full swing of “annual report” season when this started. I was working sometimes more than 10 hours a day on translation. While Jim was at school, I would play the Attenborough DVDs on his computer (with a 22″ flat screen monitor) and work on mine. Then in the evenings I would propose a bit of Attenborough for dinnertime entertainment.

My insect obsession began while we were on spring break in the Pyrenees mountains (Ariège, to be exact). We bought a HD camera for some video projects that are on the back burner…The camera went with us on spring break. I spent an afternoon sitting in one place near a stream just watching about a square meter of earth. After about 15 minutes my eyes were opened to the whole ecosystem of insects and plants. They had always been there, but hidden from my eyes until I took the time to really look/observe. The camera was out! Ladybirds, inch worms, stinkbugs, bees, beetles, etc. I caught it on camera in HD. (I am trying to make a short 5 minute film with the footage I’ve got à la Sir David Attenborough.)

Yesterday the ladybird larva began to transform into a pupa. Like a butterfly, the insect goes into ladybird soup inside the pupa shell and then a few days later it will emerge…even then the metamorphosis isn’t complete. The wings must unfurl and then carapace hardens…enfin! the spotty thing that we all love. Cross your fingers that I will be able to watch every stage! A small orange and brown spider spun a web last night (I watched for a few minutes) in one of the tomato plants making my garden her home. Hopefully, she will keep the pesky mosquitoes away! I wonder what other sorts of insects will migrate to my 4th floor ecosystem by the end of summer. The window garden is growing beautifully. The tomato plants are growing like weeds, their yellow flowers just now opening and the others plants are thriving as well. It’s such a fascinating thing, nature.

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