I was talking with a friend of mine recently. He’s as much of an italophile as I am a francophile; he hopes to retire to Italy one day. (I think he has a better chance of doing it than I do of retiring to France, but we shall see.) To make ourselves feel better, we made a list of things we actually prefer about the United States, since we can both go on all day long about what we prefer about Europe in general and our favorite countries in particular.
The biggest thing, no pun intended, was space. He and his partner have a big house and I have a pretty darn big condo and while homes of these sizes do, indeed, exist in Europe, they’d be way, way, way, way out of our price range, or possibly very far into the countryside (or both).
Tonight I was watching Rachel Khoo’s Little Paris Kitchen show (I bought the cookbook on my Powell’s jaunt last June). I am amazed by what people in tiny kitchens can do — I saw it in action in 2012 at my friend S’ place in Paris as well. I was just looking at her web site, and she says her entire apartment is 21 square meters. That’s 226 square feet. My condo is 1752 square feet, or almost 163 square meters.
So, yeah. Space.
Having said that, I have always had a secret dream of paring everything down and living in a totally efficient and cozy tiny place. My problem would be my books, although again my friend S squeezes tons of books into every corner of her Parisian apartment, so maybe I’d just have to be creative!
Besides the fact that it’s, well, in Paris, I’m also envying her kitchen tile, seen in the photo here. I am considering whether I could do something like that under my cabinets. Another thing to add to my maybe-to-do list!
This kind of book is right up my alley, alongside slice-of-life, almost-plotless foreign films. I ended up marking or Post-It-marking several quotes where I was saying (sometimes aloud) “Yes! Me too!”
“Bad news makes me unhappy but satisfies my paranoia.”
“When I am happy I’m afraid of dying, when I’m unhappy I’m afraid of not dying.”
“When something wonderful takes me by surprise, I try to reproduce the circumstances under which it occurred, in order to make it happen again, but that is confusing the thing with the grace of accident.” (I remember many times doing this as a kid, very deliberately. I do it a little less deliberately as an adult.)
“When I’m in a foreign country, I pay more attention to the norm than the exception.” (Yes! I love going to foreign supermarkets and riding public transportation in other countries. Here, not so much.)
“In foreign countries the street is an exhibition.”
“If I don’t like what I see I close my eyes, but if what I hear bothers me, I am unable to close my ears.” (Constant commuting lament.)
I probably could have annotated half the small book, but those jumped out at me. Oddly, while I love books like these, I also enjoy mysteries set in other countries. I only care in passing about the crime; it’s the foreign-country details that are described because it’s a mystery that I love.
I have a strange list of favorite books, clearly.
While most of the country is freezing and/or buried under snow, today was a lovely day in the Bay Area. A friend and I ventured to the Legion of Honor in San Francisco for the Anders Zorn exhibit, with a small Matisse show from the SFMOMA thrown in as a surprise.
After the Legion, we went to Baker Beach for a little while to enjoy the view and sunshine. It was the sort of day that I could have actually sunbathed, were I the sunbathing (and not the burning-just-thinking-of-the-sun) sort. Have some pictures! (Click to embiggen. They look a little washed-out in their smaller forms.)
The entrance to the Legion of Honor. A little taste of France for me.
Archway into the entrance courtyard at the Legion.
Outside the courtyard, to the right.
Moving a bit to the left, you can see all the way over the City to the East Bay.
To the left, the other lawn and the entrance to the Bay.
Baker Beach, looking oceanward.
Surf and frolicking people at the beach.
The money shot.
Got home rather early, and spent the rest of the day knitting and reading. Back to work tomorrow… a full, holiday-less week that is going to be busy and not fun and all that, but hopefully I can whip up another weekend like this soon.
Yesterday was a lovely, perfect day. I woke up amazingly early for me — 8.45 — and spent the day reading (I finished Autoportrait, about which more another time), putting Post-Its in my new Christmas-gift cookbooks (What Katie Ate, Smitten Kitchen, and Homemade Winter), knitting, blocking finished knitting, watching a little tv, drinking tea, and watching my housemates be this relaxed:
I also had some assistance with the blocking:
It was pretty much my ideal day.