A bit of a catch up is due. Things are moving right along and, as Winter turns lazily to Spring, so go the days, hot then cold, one moment rainy and gray, then bright and hopeful. Marty shoots out of his cage in the morning and, after a brisk walk and some quality time snorking quasi-invisible edibles off the kitchen floor, spends the rest of the day melting out of his bed, like a marbled dark- and white-chocolate candy bar, lying senseless in the sun, small Boston batteries recharged after a cold, dreary Winter.
We found our dream rental apartment, large and bourgeois, like a faded aristocrat, decked out in his finest trappings even though those bits of lace and ribbon are torn and faded, walking head up and erect, proud and haughty, ignoring the sniggered remarks on his old age and decrepit state. A perfect match for us, lots of space and rooms, beautiful albeit quite aged, scuffed and stained, original hardwood floors, a kitchen that hints of the country home or a space ruled by a stern hired cook in a starched white cap and apron. Tall French living room windows overlooking a square behind an official building, boasting just enough oak trees to be Marty’s delight! A beautiful, old and luxurious apartment just yearning for a bohemian, culturally mixed, follow-no-rules couple such as we to kick it up.
Out with the old, in with the new.
Every now and then I still feel this tug as if I am forgetting something important, and then I remember that the apartment is signed and the deal sealed, no more websites to surf or real estate sections to buy, no more phone calls to agents or attempts at describing yet another mediocre house to JP. No more fear of finding nothing and then being forced to settle on an apartment that is too small, too noisy, too far away. Huge sighs of relief emanate from under our front door and out of our windows.
And I can’t wait to cook in that new kitchen, with the window open, maybe window boxes full of fresh herbs, that amazing stainless steel cooker with 6 burners that she is leaving. A cozy and inviting kitchen that just oozes warmth and cordiality, offering up mugs of steaming coffee, still oven-warm baked goods and a delicious tête-à-tête.
And Anita is born. Rosalie, our delightful, opinionated 4-year-old neighbor has a brand new sister, beautiful as a starry night, as quiet and calm as her big sister is lively and bubbly. For now.
And Clem received his first rejection (based solely on a questionnaire; “What books have you read? Where have you traveled? What kind of art do you like?”) and his first acceptance (based on an interview and his portfolio). We are proud and thrilled! He has also passed the selection cuts for 3 schools and is invited to interview at these schools in Nantes, Rennes and Bordeaux at the end of the month. These schools post their list of accepted for the 2009-2010 school year sometime in May or June. We are as jittery as any parents whose child is applying to college.
And so it goes. And in the midst of life’s ups and downs, I have been blessed by wonderful, kind, sometimes crazy friends, and in these past months I have received gifts from several. I just wanted to share these with you, because it still amazes me that I have met and made such great friends through this small, cold, hard computer screen, friends that I have grown to love and even rely on through thick and thin. Even if we have never met face to face. Life is funny and wonderful and surprising. I am hopeful that I am as capable of bringing smiles to their faces as they bring smiles, laughter to mine (and I will not mention the eyes rolled, the snide comments made by envious teens as packages arrive and are ripped open in glee!).
SALAD OF LAMB’S LETTUCE FROM NANTES WITH ORANGE VINAIGRETTE
Before citrus season ends, this is a marvelous, tangy and flavorful salad dressing using the best of the season’s juice oranges. Drizzled over delicate lamb’s lettuce – the local Mâche Nantaise – and with the addition of slices of the fresh fruit nestled into the greens, it makes a truly elegant salad.
For the Orange Vinaigrette :
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs Dijon-style mustard
¼ cup (65 ml) fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 cup (250 ml) good-quality, mild extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
In a bowl, whisk the prepared mustard, the red wine vinegar and a generous grinding of black pepper. Whisk in the freshly squeezed orange juice and then the olive oil.
Using a very sharp knife, slice of the top and bottom of a juice orange. Carefully slice off the peel and the outer white membrane of the fruit, leaving a whole, naked orange.
Carefully (the orange is very juicy and you don’t want to lose the juice by squeezing too hard) slice the orange.
Toss your greens, maybe a large handful per person or more, if you desire, with as much of the Orange Vinaigrette as needed to coat and flavor the greens without drowning them. Place a serving on each plate. Nestle a couple of orange slices in among the greens and serve immediately.
Keep unused Vinaigrette in a clean jelly jar and just give it a good shake whenever you want to use it.