Saturday, December 10, 2011

navy navy navy blue

Annabelle officially started school on Thursday.  She arrived fully outfitted in navy blue and white, the school colors.  There is a mandatory navy smock worn over their clothes, but the overall dress code is fairly lax.  Many schools in France require navy blue apparel, which explains the uniform style of clothing that is commonplace among French children.

DSC_5922  our french school girl

We were all up quite early and walked together to drop Annabelle off on her first day.  Naud’s work begins around 10 am, which affords him the luxury of spending mornings with us.  In fact, we have decided to make a habit of having coffee together after dropping Annabelle at school.  On the flipside, Naud’s work hours are significantly later and he will occasionally have to stay up late for phone meetings with the US contingent.  It’s a tradeoff, but I imagine we will get used to it.

Annabelle was tuckered out by lunchtime and sagely opted to take the afternoon off from school.  We picked up a few more (!) navy blue essentials along the way home, then got slightly lost before stumbling upon Le Bon Marche.  It turned out to be a fortuitous mistake as we needed an angel costume for Sunday’s church pageant.  I had visions of fashioning foil wings and a tinsel halo but was grateful to secure the last pair of angel wings with a halo to match.  We found some silvery star garland to accent and, voila, an angel costume was born!

so angelic

Our next task was to tackle two extensive lists with required school supplies and books, in French no less.  We made our way to the store, near the Sorbonne University and found that it was actually a series of five adjoining stores, each specializing in one category.  What could have been daunting turned out to be a simple, efficient undertaking, thanks to extremely helpful staff who diligently worked their way through the lists.  It was a lesson in trust and I was rather proud of my ability to comprehend much of what was explained in French, along the way.

We ended our evening with crepes from a relatively new and extremely popular crepe place.  People were packed in like sardines but we ordered from the to go window (a emporter) and brought them home to eat at our flat.  We had ham, gruyere, mushrooms and roasted artichokes in our savory crepes and a banana chocolate crepe with whipped cream for dessert.  They were good but a tad cold by the time we ate them.  Next time, we will eat right outside the place like everyone else. 

Crepes are pretty much where it’s at when it comes to street food in France and even those are eaten right next to the crepe stand.  In general, people eat sitting down and it’s rare to see someone walking and eating, save for an apple or the torn off end of a fresh baguette. 

We recently spotted movers in the back of a truck, using a large spool turned on end to serve as a table.  We walked by twice in the course of two hours and they were still sitting around their makeshift table, enjoying a leisurely lunch of wine, sausage, bread and cheese.  People in France take their lunch seriously.  Both the cheese shop and the butcher are closed for two hours and many smaller shops post ‘out to lunch’ signs on the door.  It’s changing some, particularly within larger companies, but still wonderful to witness this age-old tradition in action. 

On Friday, Annabelle had her first full day of school.  She came home for lunch and I ended up walking back and forth to her school three times, between morning drop-off, lunch and afternoon pick-up.  That’s 15 minutes a pop, thank you very much.  No wonder all the French women have such slender legs.  I had a somewhat pathetic ‘conversation’ with Annabelle’s teacher, where she explained how Annabelle is doing, thus far.  I think I understood her, but it’s sort of liberating to make up whatever I want to believe.  Not really.  It’s amazing, though, how much can be deciphered by reading body language, facial expressions and intonation. 

In summation, I think she said that Annabelle is focused at times, spacey at times and when she feels overwhelmed, she checks out by drawing.  The teacher concluded by saying that she will have an adjustment period, which is normal and should be fluent in two to three months.  Phew!

Friday marked my first foray into real cooking in Paris.  I visited the aforementioned cheese shop, produce stand and butcher to gather my ingredients.  I had no idea what I would prepare, which is a new concept for me, but soon settled on lamb rib chops (the seconds, which were slightly less pretty but just as good, were only 12 Euros per kilo- that’s about seven dollars a pound!).  I served the chops with black trumpets and cepes (wild mushrooms) a side of roasted potatoes with lardons (chunky bacon pieces), gruyere, and chives and mixed green salad with creamy lemon chive dressing.  Time to go for another run!

the butcher shop where chickens don little blue coats

Sidenote: The butcher sells most of their poultry with head and legs still attached, feathers and beak intact.  Some even have little blue jackets to conceal their plucked midsection; or in case they get cold.  Your guess is as good as mine.  I will do my best to provide a visual sometime soon.

We have been in Paris for one week, now.  So much has transpired in the past seven days.  Seattle feels very far away and it seems as though we’ve been here much longer.  The notion of home is still quite abstract, but perhaps that will change when we move to our next apartment…

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