Wednesday, January 28, 2009

And What of Knitting?

Yes, dear readers, despite what you may all be thinking, there was, in fact, knitting during my trip to Paris (just not with French yarn). Let's take a gander, shall we?

As I mentioned last week, I finally decided to cast on for a Clapotis as my "travel/plane" knitting. I mean, come on, it was inspired by Parisian women, it was a total no-brainer.

I'm using the Briar Rose Sea Pearl I bought at Rhinebeck last year. (Hah! As if that was the only thing I bought. Bwahahahaha!!!). It's really wonderful to work with, every stitch is a pleasure (really, I think the only thing that could beat it would be HandMaiden Sea Silk). Even though it's not a variegated yarn, as the pattern calls for, I'm quite happy with it.

I've worked through sections 1 and 2 and am now in the straight section, where I start dropping stitches.

Love those dropped stitches...

I also brought the second (technically third) Miscellaneous-Man Sock, take 2 along with me for Métropolitain knitting.I've just got to graft the toe, and I'll finally have a completed pair of socks. At least, um, I hope so. I wanted to take this picture with the other sock (you know, the original second sock?) and I... um... couldn't find it anywhere.


OK, seriously, I think I may have an idea what's been going on. I was reading on my friend Tamara's blog earlier this week that her son Byron (whose a whopping 3 days younger than Maxime) had a stash of crochet hooks hidden away, and that if he hadn't asked her to help him stuff another one in there, she would never have found them.

Well, last night (or the night before), I had taken the sock out of my bag and had put it on the coffee table. When Maxime went to bed that night, he looked at it and said "Papa?" (well, more like PapaaaaaaaaaAAAA???? [insert upspeak here]). And now I'm beginning to wonder if he's got a stash of socks hidden away somewhere.

How else can I explain it? Gnomes? A doorway to Narnia? What????


OK, I've had a cookie that Kate-the-Enabler just dropped off, and I feel better (Oh, and Kate? They're just the perfect amount of buttery. Yum!).

I also finished the Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf while we were away, but I want to devote a special post to that FO, so no pics for now.

I've also got a great deal of commissioned knitting waiting in the wings these days. I want to make a Noro Striped Scarf for my brother-in-law (to go with the Turn a Square Hat I made him for Christmas). His 40th birthday (Gack!) is coming up, so I should probably get going on that.

Then my sister-in-law writes me last week and asks me would I please knit her a new winter hat. This would be a replacement of the Amanda Hat I had knit her last Christmas and that she felted when trying to shrink it "just a bit" (apparently she has a small head).This is what she has in mind. In black. Yup, I'll get right on that.

I'm also test-knitting a pattern for my friend Stéphanie, an awesome hat that she's asked me to proof-read the English version of. I started it last night, and I hope to have it done by the end of the week/week-end.

*Sigh* There just isn't enough time in the day to do it all, is there? I want to be one of those knitters, you know the kind I mean. The ones who whip up heirloom afghans that they designed themselves, and who have their yarn alphabetized and on index cards.

I'll have another cookie now.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Better Late

My apologies to everyone who has been waiting for my final post on our trip to Paris. Friday was a really busy day (as you'll see shortly), and yesterday was spent traveling back to Montreal and hugging the kids and my parents upon our arrival. But now the kids are both in bed (with colds), Phil went out on some pinball related business of some kind, and it's just me and the big computer. So let's get to it, shall we?

Thursday night Phil and I decided to head out to Montmartre together to climb the hill and visit the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur. It never ceases to amaze me how things are in such proximity to one another in Europe. For instance, Montmartre is a quaint little area, with lovely shops and side streets winding up and down the hill. On top of the hill you have this:

And at the bottom of the hill, a mere 5 blocks away, you have this!

The Moulin Rouge! I would really loved to have seen a show there... *Sigh* The restaurant that was mentioned in my guide book turned out not to exist anymore (note to self: next time dole out the 25$ and buy a guide book that wasn't published in 2000), so we walked around for a while and finally settled on a little bistro with mediterranean influences, Le Restaurant, where I had the only bad meal of the trip and Phil and I watched the worst waiters in the history of the profession muck about, which almost made up for the bad food.

The plan for Friday was to see the Basilique Saint-Denis, the traditional place of internment for the kings of France (think Westminster Abbey) and, if I had time, I really wanted to see the catacombs as well (yes, I know they're not in the same parts of the city - what's your point?).

Now, the Basilique is in a really bad part of Paris (technically not even in Paris). For instance, I arrived about 15 minutes before the church opened, and decided to stop for a quick coffee at a brasserie across the square, and there were people at the bar having a beer. At 9:45 AM. Yikes!

But dudes, seriously? It was worth it.

Now, what you need to remember about me here is that, before becoming a librarian/knit-blogger, I was a history major in university. This place is the epitomy of history, y'all. Over 1500 years' worth, to be precise (it's reputed to have been built on the tomb of Saint-Denis, the first bishop of Paris who was martyred around the year 250). Over 70 monarchs and their families have their final resting place here, including Dagobert, Henri IV, Louis X (from Les Rois Maudits), Henri II and Catherine de Medici, as well as Marie-Antoinette and Louis-XVI. I must have taken 100 pictures in there, I was so awed. It was like time seemed somehow heavier in there, you know?

Honestly, this was probably my favourite excursion of the trip.

So, keeping up with that day's theme (my original title for Friday's post was going to be He's Dead, Jim), I took the metro towards the 20th arrondissement, bound for the Catacombs of Paris. Since it was lunch time, I stopped at a little patisserie for a sandwich and an éclair (it had chocolate custard - I nearly cried), and then made my way to the ossuary.

Now, the catacombs are a huge maze of tunnels about 90 feet below street level, so definitely not for the claustrophobic of the faint of heart. The remains of about six million Parisians are laid there, prince and pauper alike. 30 metre deep crypts succeed one another in a seemingly never-ending procession, and while I was walking around, it suddenly hit me: six million. The amount of Jews killed during WWII. Trust me when I tell you that six million people is a LOT of people, and I was chilled at the horrible efficiency it took to wipe that many people off the face of the earth in a six year period. Truly, I never understood the magnitude of that number until I walked among the earthly remains of six million souls, and for that, I'm very grateful.

Naturally, after this visit, I needed a little pick me up. I hadn't really planned anything else for that day, but it was only around 1:30 in the afternoon when I emerged from the depths, and I didn't quite know what to do. It was only when I was scoping out the route back to the hotel along the metro that I noticed that the Opéra Garnier, Paris' most famous opera house, was on the way.Opulent isn't a strong enough word to describe this place. Again, these French just don't do anything half-assed! And this was just the lobby! I walked around for quite a while, just taking it all in. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to visit the music hall itself because...

There was a rehearsal going on. Maybe next time!

Across the street from the Opéra are the Galeries Lafayette, a very posh department store. I wandered around in there for a while, a bit dazzled at being in such close proximity to so many designer names (I think I found shoe heaven), and I even made a purchase, in the Mode Séduction department (that'd be the lingerie floor)...

See, that night Phil and I had our Bateau Mouche dinner cruise along the Seine, to celebrate our 15-year anniversary. It was quite nice, but in retrospect probably not as romantic as we thought it would be. First, the food wasn't that great. Second, we couldn't really see the monuments because we were inside, and even though the dining area is encased in glass, you can still only see the bottom of any given building. And third? Well... Tara drank a LOT of wine and was sick as the proverbial dog on her return home (as she was 15 years ago, funnily enough)... Insert sheepish grin here.

So that was my trip to Paris! I managed to see almost everything I wanted to, I had great food, great wine, quality alone time (something no mother of small children takes for granted) and time alone with my husband. But I was glad to be home last night. I missed my kids, I missed my family and my little life.

We'll be returning to our regular knit-related blogging this week. Yes, there WAS knitting during this trip, and I've got a few things to show you. Until then, I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip as much as I enjoyed writing about it.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rainy day in Paris

Good afternoon everyone! Or morning! Whatever! :)

I know you're all anxious to know how Phil's feeling. Well, last night he was a little better, but not well enough to really stray too far from the Hotel. So I did some Googling and found a restaurant in the 17e arrondissement, a mere 4 metro stops away from where we're staying. Now, as it turns out, the restaurant I had found was no longer there, but we found a wonderful Wine Bar/restaurant on our own called Le P'tit Canon which was absolutely wonderful. Too bad Phil wasn't feeling top form though, because we could have done some damage (no cheese plate for us last night!). Oh well...

Today was a rainy day in Paris, so rather than go to Montmartre, as I had originally planned, I decided to go to the Musée d'Orsay instead, which houses an impressive collection of impressionist paintings and art.

Monet, Degas, Cézanne, Van Gogh... they were all there. A very impressive collection, housed within a unique building (it's an old train station). Really quite spectacular, actually. I was quite impressed with the Salle des Fêtes, for instance.

I tell ya, these French don't do anything half-assed, do they?

I took my time, but was still done visiting the exhibitions and permanent collection by 12:30 today. I didn't really have anything specific planned for the day, so I decided to just wander around a bit (the rain had stopped by now) and see where the day would take me.

I crossed the Seine and wandered over to the Jardin des Tuileries, in front of the Louvre.

And that's when I remembered that I wasn't too far off from another legendary establishment that I had promised myself I would visit. Yes folks, it's the moment you've all been waiting for. I'm talking about...

La Droguerie! It's a really special, quaint little shop just across the rue du Jour from the Église Saint-Eustache. It's not a yarn store in the strictest sense, more of a craft store. You can buy yarn as well as ribbon, beads and buttons.

Now, I don't want you to be disappointed, but I didn't buy anything (!). First off, I've got enough yarn to last me until judgment day, so if I'm going to be paying Euro prices it's going to be for something unique and spectacular, you know? What I might have been interested in were the buttons, but there was already a very long line-up at the button counter, and I just didn't feel like waiting in line for 20 minutes if I didn't specifically know what I wanted, which I didn't.

So I made my way back towards the Louvre and had a delicious late lunch of Moules marinières with frites and a glass of beer. OK, this will only mean something to the francophone Quebeckers who are reading this, but I just about laughed out loud when I saw that they actually had Blanche de Bruges beer on the menu, just like in Cruising Bar!

OK folks, that's it for today. Tomorrow is my last day in Paris, and we're heading home on Saturday. I'm going to try to convince Phil to see the Eiffel Tower tonight, and tomorrow I'll either be visiting the Basilique Saint-Denis or Montmartre and the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


It's 4:42PM local time in Paris, and I'm sitting here with a glass of wine (notice a trend here?) and very, very sore feet. Yes, gentle reader, I visited the Louvre museum today.

But let's backtrack a bit to last night. I failed to deliver a suitable restaurant (in my defense, Phil arrived home earlier than I had anticipated), so Phil suggested we go to a restaurant he had been to with his boss when he was here in November, restaurant Chez Astier, in the 3e arrondissement of Paris.

Now, something you should know about this restaurant: it's renowned for it's cheese plate.

That is a LOT of cheese. The meal itself had copious amounts of food, and then they bring THIS out??? Phil and I did our best to sample them all between the two of us, including one that looked (and smelled!) like Jabba the Hutt's turd or something... I wasn't game, but Phil gave it a go... and had a hard time keeping down. I swear, this man will eat almost anything, and this stuff had him groping for the bread and water, STAT! Too funny...

Unfortunately, it seems the meal didn't agree with him after all, because his stomach was really quite upset this morning. All together now! Aaaaaaw...

Anyway, the plan for today was to visit the Louvre, and then to head over to La Droguerie, the famous yarn shop not too far away. Well.... I made it to the Louvre, anyway!

As I had done at Versailles, I rented an audio-guide, something I highly recommend if you're on your own in any museum and really want to take your time. I saw the Venus de Milo... well as the Mona Lisa (I didn't bother to take a picture... oops!), the Radeau de Méduse and the Victoire de Samothrace. I visited the quaint apartments of Napoléon III (dudes!).

And I called it a day at the Cour de Marly, where a great many lovely French sculptures are exposed.
By this time it was 3:00PM, I was exhausted, and my feet were killing me (I foolishly opted for the sexy red pumps - I'm trying to compete with the loveliness of the French! - in lieu of the sensible if homely loafers), and there was no way in H-E-double hockey sticks I was going anywhere except back to the hotel. So no Droguerie for me today! Maybe tomorrow or Friday? We'll see... But really, Paris is more important than yarn, right?


All right, that's it for today, folks. Phil is home early and his tummy is still feeling a little wonky, so we're going to walk over to the Arc de Triomphe and have a light dinner of steak entrecôte et frites tonight.

Happy Knitting, everyone!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Are we there yet?

Last night Phil and I had the first part of our 15 year anniversary celebration (the second, for real celebration will be on Friday night) at a restaurant near the Champs Élysées and Georges V avenues, called the Fermette de Marbeuf. It was excellent, a lovely setting and a wonderful meal (I had canard à l'orange, Philippe had tartar de something or other). Anyway, after the meal I had it in my head that we would see the Grande Roue de Paris, which is set up on the place de la Concorde until January 20th.

For those of you who've never been to Paris, I'll let you in on a little secret: the Place de la Concorde is NOWHERE NEAR Georges V avenue (boulevard, whatever...). We walked and walked, and walked some more, and at one point Phil stopped and asked me, in absolute and total Québécois fashion: "Are we fuckin' there yet, câlisse???", and I Just. About. Peed. Myself. That might have had something to do with the half bottle of Saint-Émilion (not to mention the glass of champagne I had as an appéritif) I was forced to drink all by my lonesome...

Anyway, we finally made it to the Grande Roue, it was closed, and we took this picture.

On the agenda for today were Versailles and the Petit Trianon.

Geez, what can I say about Versailles? Well, it's friggin' huge, for one. You read 580m wide, and it just doesn't register. Then you see it, and you think "Holy Crap! No WONDER the people revolted!" The resources that building and maintaining such a structure must have required frankly boggle the mind.

As a former History buff, of course I was really looking forward to seeing the Hall of Mirrors, and I wasn't disappointed. No picture (and especially no picture with a bunch of tourists in it) can do it justice, but here you go nonetheless ;)

I took my time in the Château, I had rented an audio-guide and I listened to the commentary for each room. It's amazing to me that most of the Château is still off limits due to the fact that it was complely sacked during the Revolution, and yet it's STILL so magnificent. And the grounds! OK, I probably would have enjoyed them more had I been here in the Spring or Summer, but still... There was simply no end to them.

From Versailles I walked to the Domaine de Marie-Antoinette, also known as the Petit Trianon. I visited the, what, cottage? And then walked around the grounds towards the Hameau, the quaint little village the queen had built for her own personal enjoyment. Of course, the entrance to the Hameau was closed during the high season, so I had to walk all the way around again and gain entrance to the grounds of the Petit Trianon through the house. Aaargh! Oh well, I've got to burn off all these croissants and pains au chocolat somehow, right?

This is the Belvédère, a small music hall on the grounds of the Petit Trianon. There's also a lover's temple and an orangerie, as well as the afore-mentioned hameau.

The Hameau feels like some place outside reality, where you expect some large-bosomed peasant woman to come out of a house bearing pints of mead and freshly baked pie, with little rosy-cheeked children running about with flowers in their hair or something. Pleasant? Yes. Real? Absolutely not. Nobody lives like that, not now, and certainly not THEN.

Know what else there was on the grounds? A farm! With sheep! I showed them my sock in progress, but as seems to be typical of the French, they were unimpressed...

And that's it, people! At this point I was frozen solid, and decided it was high time I head home. I stopped by a Nicolas wine store on the way and have been enjoying my Château Coutelin-Merville Saint-Estèphe (thanks for the recommendation, Sandra!) while blogging this evening. But now I'Ve got to go. Phil's waiting for me to select a restaurant for tonight (my only job and the whole reason he brought me, according to him). Tomorrow is Louvre day!

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's Closed on Mondays

Good afternoon! Or morning! Whatever!

I know, 2 posts in one day, shocking. But it's actually afternoon here in Paris, and it's raining. Since Phil's working, I thought I'd write up today's post while I wait for him to get home. Aaaaaaw...

So! The plan for today was as follows: visit the Eiffel Tower, the Hôtel des Invalides and the Musée d'Orsay. Things didn't quite turn out that way, but never fear, I managed to have a good time ;)
I made my way to the Tour Eiffel this morning without incident, and was debating whether to climb all 1770 steps to the top myself or whether to take the elevator, when I realized that my Museum Pass doesn't cover the Eiffel tower. Since Phil and I had been planning on going back some evening this week (there's a light show every hour, on the hour) and we can climb it at night as well, I figured why pay the entry fee twice? So I walked along the Champ the Mars, and tried to be as quiet as possible because the grass was sleeping.

There were pick-pockets aplenty in the area (I was accosted my someone "finding my ring on the ground" twice!) as I made my way towards the Hôtel des Invalides, which houses a great Army Museum as well as Napoleon Bonaparte's modest tomb.

I started out by visiting the armories and weapons exposition, where I was hit upon (quite boldly, I might add) by a 27 year-old Senegalese security guard named Seck Seydou. What can I say? I've still got it... Seriously, the man followed me around, telling me how beautiful I was, begging me for a "rendez-vous" (he kept conveniently forgetting I was married)... When I left he kissed me on both cheeks, and for a minute there I thought he was going to plant one right on the mouth!

Anyway, after THAT experience, I high-tailed it out of there and made my way to the Chapelle Saint-Louis.

And from there to Napoleon's tomb. Can I just say? The man had issues, y'all.

I tell you, when you see this thing, suddenly the expression "complexe de Napoléon" takes on a whole new meaning...Anyway, the plan was to go to the Musée d'Orsay after the Hôtel des Invalides, but as I found out today, it's closed on Mondays! Crap...

So I wandered around a bit, I walked down the boulevard Saint-Germain, I had a ham and cheese crêpe from a street vendor (Mmmmmm....). I visited the Église Saint-Sulpice and listened to some people warming up for a concert.

From the Église Saint-Sulpice I walked over to the Jardins du Luxembourg, saw an exposition at the Musée du Luxembourg, and sat in front of the little puddle also known as the Medici Fountain.
And that was my day! It started to rain shortly after I left, so I made my way back to the hotel, bought a café crème at the Cafe nearby, and now I'm waiting for Phil to get back so we can decide what we're doing tonight. It's our 15-year anniversary today!

Happy Knitting Everyone! The plan for tomorrow is Versailles and the Petit et Grand Trianon, but I'll just double check that it's open on Tuesdays, shall I?

J'ai deux amours....

mon pays, et Paris.

Yes friends, we finally made it to Paris ! My apologies for not blogging sooner, I actually sat down to write this post last night, but it was somewhat lacking in the creative writing department ("then we saw a church, then we had lunch"), so I figured it'd be best for all concerned if I came at it fresh. Phil is off to work, I've had my morning croissant, so let's get to it!

*** Warning, this is a picture heavy post. Proceed at your own risk. ***

Our flight out of Montreal was at 8:00PM local time Saturday night, and it proceeded without too much incident. Actually, there was a bit of a scare when the flight attendant pointed out that my Aeroplan number (I redeemed some points for my ticket) and my passport weren't technically in the same name (Aeroplan only uses my initials), but I did eventually make it on the plane. Here I am, casting on for a Clapotis (come on, it was inspired by Parisian women, how could I not?) in the waiting area. More on the knitting when I get back to Montreal, though. As usual, I packed far too much knitting (Phil already commented that there is "Wool Everywhere!"). Whatever.

We arrived in Paris at 8:45AM local time, bright eyed and bushy tailed from our 3 hours of sleep sitting straight up and being kicked in the back by the kids sitting behind us, and took the navette and the metro to our hotel, which isn't far off from the Arc de Triomphe.

After dropping off our luggage at the hotel and resisting the urge to crawl into bed, we headed back out again (yesterday was Phil's only sight-seeing day) towards the Chapelle Notre-Dame, which Phil hadn't seen on his last trip here in November.

What can I say? It's Notre-Dame! The Seine and the towers and the gargoyles and the stained glass windows and everything! It was très awesome, and not tooooo crowded. We even got to enjoy an organ recital that afternoon (OK, enjoy is a fairly loose term, but we heard the organ playing).

We were first in line to climb one of the towers, but when we noticed that the summit was closed until later in the afternoon, we decided to head over to the Sainte-Chapelle instead.

Can I just say? Dudes... It was breathtaking. The stained glass in this chapel is UN-believable. I've never seen anything like it. Apparently it's quite the accoustic heaven, as well, so I'll see if there are any concerts there while we're here. Maybe they need a soloist? (Hey, a girl can dream, right?).

From the Sainte-Chapelle we visited La Conciergerie, where many of the condemned, including Marie-Antoinette, were held before being carted off to the Guillotine during the Revolution. Phil is currently re-reading Dieu et nous seuls pouvons, about a family of executioners, so he found this museum quite interesting (as did I).

From there we walked back to Notre-Dame and waited in line in the freezing cold (yes, it's 7 degrees here, but it was incredibly windy yesterday) to climb the tower.

The view was wonderful, you could see all the way to Montmartre. But, you know, it was a bit cold. In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm going to climb the Eiffel tower today...

By this point it was about 4:00PM, so we just wandered along the Seine, through the Square Jean-XXIII and across the pont de L'Archevêque to l'Île Saint-Louis where we spent some time browsing the book vendor stalls. Then we walked down to the Seine itself, and I got a little knitting time in.We went back to Notre-Dame to hear the organ recital, and then we decided to call it a day. We headed back to our hotel to freshen up and then had dinner in a little restauraunt in the area, Madame Tomate (I had Cassoulet, it was awesome).

And that's it, folks! Phil is off to work, and I'm sitting here in my pajamas, blogging when I should be getting ready to head out the door. Paris awaits, and I've got a big day ahead of me. I want to see the Eillef Tower, the Hôtel des Invalides and the Musée d'Orsay today. Better get crackin'

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Diva Glasses

I got my new glasses today! I love them. What do you think?

Happy Knitting Everyone! :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Still Life

I've noticed an infestation around here lately. I'm not quite sure how it began, but the past few weeks have been witness to some pretty strange stash behaviour chez Dear. See.... in blatant disregard of the rules, the yarn has been congregating outside the designated stash areas. For instance:

This basket of various sock yarns, casually perched atop the hutch in the dining room.

This huge yarn bait-ball at the foot of the bookcase in my room. Safety in numbers?

And what am I supposed to make of this lonely ball of Noro Silk Garden, caught in flagrante delite on the bathroom counter?

Something has to be done, people... I've got guests coming next week, I can't have yarn roaming about as though it has free range over the entire house!

Our trip to Paris is coming along nicely. I've done some research and have settled on what I'm going to try to see while Phil is working (snicker...), and I'm beginning to suspect I'll need to go back! There's no way I'm going to get everything done in 5 days. I've also booked us a cruise along the Seine on the bâteau mouche, for our anniversary. I'm really looking forward to that one :)

All right people, I'm off to watch The Lord of the Rings with Phil and knit on my scarf.

Happy Knitting Everyone!