Saturday, March 31, 2007

Knitting projects

I've been meaning to do a post about my knitting projects for ages, but it just keeps slipping my mind whenever I sit down at the computer. Easy to do, considering the modest progress that I have made. When I read about other people whipping through one project after another (especially Vivi, who apparently is just as much a debutant as I am and yet I am in awe of the things she has managed to do) I kind of wonder if I might not be missing some critical knitting gene. I keep plugging away at it and am desperately proud of everything I've done, but I suspect no one else would quite understand why. I've been meaning to take some photos but my camera is out of batteries and the other day at Monoprix I spent 25 euro on replacements and then left them sitting there on the counter. I am still vaguely hoping that the turn up at the bottom of my purse or maybe the Battery Fairy will come and leave some under my pillow. In any case, the idea of going back and spending that much money again pains me.

So no photos. Anyways, half of the work I've done is just sort of practice swatches to get in the hang of things. I started a scarf from a really lovely blue wool that I bought at Anny Blatt and it was such a mess- full of holes and stretchy patches where the tension wasn't tight enough- that I decided it was worth the time and yarn to just practice a bit more. After a few weeks of that, I unwound my scarf and started again. I am really pleased with the result. Of course, its just a plain scarf, there isn't even a fringe on the end, but its a lovely color and I've started wearing it (must get a crochet hook though to finish weaving in the ends where I added a new piece of yarn.) It looks a bit messy at present, but I beam with pride whenever I wear it. I've got two balls of the yarn left to make a hat but I haven't found a pattern yet that will work. For one thing, I don't have any circular needs and that seems to be the easiest way to go out making a hat. Keeping forgetting to stop in the shop to pick some up so I imagine spring will be here by the time I do buy them. Oh well. That takes the pressure off.

I also managed to make a practice hat from a Beginners' Kit that I had in the cupboard. It was a bit of a trick for me because it was stripey and by the end, there was such a tangle of extra yarn hanging off the one side, I could barely see what I was doing. The only problem is that it is teeny tiny and it only fits on Ella- who, naturally, hates it. But it definitely looks like a hat and it fits like a hat should fit (if your head is only 51 cm in diameter...) I felt so proud of my new skills, that I decided to launch into a proper knitting project and last night, I cast on 88 stitches of bubble gum pink Baby Blatt yarn to make a sweater for Ella.

I'm so in over my head. I found the most basic sweater I possibly could- its a Phildar pattern, edged in seam binding tape so I don't have to do any fancy edges or button holes. But I need to use size 3 needles, which seem so tiny to me. When I first started using this yarn for the practice sample, it felt like I was using bamboo skewers and dental floss. The worst part is that the knit is so tiny that I need to do 64 rows before I even get to the arm holes. Now, I'm clearly not a seasoned knitter, but 64 rows seems like a lot of work, which means a lot of time, which means plenty of opportunity to throw in the towel or get distracted. The last thing I want to do is put in 30 hours of work on this, and still have so much left to do that I give up and pack it away in one of my craft cupboards. I might have to do regular updates here in order to keep myself motivated.

I suppose part of my enthusiasm is due to the fact that I managed to get back to the knitting group on Thursday this week. Last week I tried and just ended up running so late, that it seemed like it wasn't worth it (besides, B and I were both in terrible moods and it was much more satisfying to shout at each other and stomp around the apartment than go out. We are the classic Old Married Couple. Remember George's parents on Seinfeld? Well, we are getting there. ) Originally, this Thursday I was planning on going out to a party at Maxim's with Mimi but she backed out at the last minute. Finally, I'm glad she did. Its gotten to be a bigger group than it was originally and there are lots of different kinds of people. I feel like I am turning into a real Parisienne, the way I've gotten stuck in my tiny little group of friends (who are all fantastic, this is no reflection on them) and just don't bother making new friends. Having half of them move away has sort of forced me to make some efforts, I suppose. This knitting group is the perfect antidote. I mean, I don't know if I'll end up life long friends with anyone, but even just having the chance to talk about different things with new people is a welcome break in the monotony of the stay-at-home mom lifestyle.

I'll go to knitting next week with my sweater and get some opinions on how long it will take me to finish that kind of project. If the concensus is "Forever" then I am abandoning it in favor of something else, made with big fat yarn that is about 10 rows front and back. Knitting is not the best hobby for someone cursed with the need for Immediate Gratification but I'm trying. Baby steps, right? And I should also have photos by next week. We are doing an egg hunt with the playgroup on Tuesday and when I suggested it to the other moms the only thing going through my head was 'photo op.' That gives the Battery Fairy 3 more days to come through. Failing that, I might just ask B to pick them up. I would just kill me handing over the money. 500 euro for a pair of shoes? No problem. 2 times 25 for some batteries and I'm coming out in hives. There is no sense in it.

Friday, March 30, 2007

California dreamin'

I don't think that I mentioned that I booked tickets to go to California for a few days to a friend's wedding. I am leaving husband and baby at home and just making a long weekend of it. Already have a gorgeous hotel to stay at, a post-flight massage booked, a mad batchelorette party lined up. Its going to be so much fun. Plus, it gives me something to look forward to, distract me from the gloom of watching my Maldivian tan fade away.

Have two more interviews this afternoon for a babysitter. I hate doing interviews. I like everyone. Do you think that they would agree to job share?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

French translations and Bikini waxing

Yesterday I had my legs waxed and realized that their definition of "Sexy Bikini Wax" has been modified from its original definition. I admit that trying to explain what I wanted and understanding what their code words meant has always been a problem for me at the salon. Since most people don't use medical terms for The Area and my Webster's French/English dictionary is slightly lacking in slang for The Area I've been forced to sort of wing it whenever I go to a new salon. Find the most extreme option on their price chart and take the option before that. I've gotten used to a certain level of pain/grooming, give or take a bit. So last time that I went in for a wax before holiday, I thought the girl was just being extra thorough because I had mentioned that I was spending the next two weeks on the beach. This time, when I spent a half hour doing yoga poses on her table, I decided that something bigger is going on. I'm not complaining, I guess, since I'm getting more for my money (or less for my money, really). Its just that I like to be more mentally prepared for that first swipe of hot wax.

"Wow! Ok, there? We're waxing there?! That's cool. I can take it. I pushed a baby out of there. I got stitches there. This is nothing; a few stray hair follicles, its- Yeoh!!! Gone. Thank you for firmly pressing your hand on the skin. This is so awkward that I have almost totally forgotten how much it hurts. And you'll even rub in a special lotion? For 15 euro, you have become more intimate with me than several of my ex-boyfriends. "

And yet, you know what I get embarrassed about? When she asks me if I want my feet waxed. Like somehow, there is no shame in showing her the inside of my vagina, but hairy feet? Mortifying. There is no fur on my feet, how insulting to suggest otherwise! Perhaps a few stray hairs who took a wrong turn at the ankle, but hairy? Nuh-uh. Its like upside down world once I cross the threshhold to Body Minute.

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot to tell you about Tupperware-a-polooza. Meh. I actually would have bought up the entire catalog, but Tupperware is EXPENSIVE. And then they get you all confused by dividing it up into Refridgerator, Freezer, Microwave, Freezer-to-Micro, Micro-to-Oven, etc I kept asking what happens if you mess up? What happens to a Fridge box in the Freezer? I know that the last bit of trivia that I want rattling about in my head is which color plastic container belongs in which cooling compartment. Please, as if there is not enough to worry about, what with war and famine, now I have to find time to be concerned about finding the right box for each of my food storage needs, by temperature? Life is too short. But I do like plastic boxes, so I came away with one of each kind. Only time will tell if my freewheeling ways will come back to haunt me. But I like living on the edge.

As usual, the mommy brigade was getting nervous by 10:30 and making nervous noises about breast-feeding schedules and taxi queues so I was home by 11:15. I was one of the few women there with only one child, so maybe its true what they say about two children more than doubling the work from one. Anyways, I am hoping to have a quick drink tonight with my single girlfriends so no need to over-do it. I have been tossing around the idea of starting a two week detox and realize that it would have been much easier when I was living through my babysitter drought and doing nothing more exciting than ordering in on a Saturday night. "Detox" will remain on the To Do list for the present time.

Besides, my Julia Child cookbook arrived this morning. I think that there is something satisfyingly academic about the recipes, as if someone will show-up at the end of dinner with a certificate and firm handshake, congratulating me on my fine work. Am already planning a dinner party, we've not had friends round in ages. And one of the best things about the book is that I noticed that in the meat sections, she explains the different cuts of meat in French and English. I haven't the vaguest idea what I am buying, most of the time, and even less of a clue about what the ideal cooking method is. This book is just what I needed. I always felt a bit of a fraud accepting compliments on my kitchen skills considering that my basic knowledge was so appalling. You know, if I make it through enough of these recipes, I might just have to whip up my own little certificate. I'm sure I've got some gold stars tucked away somewhere.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Broken glasses and Tupperware Raves

I finally attacked those stains on my trenchcoat and can happily report my total success. Olive oil soap, my friends. It is my Go To stain remover. I used to always buy it at the Parapharmacie in a pack of four bars and it was perfect. I would even take it back to the States for an extra special treat for my mom and sister, who have also been totally won over by it. But I am practically out and they don't sell it any more at this shop. I've been looking around but can't seem to find a plain bar of olive oil soap with no fancy packaging or essential oil or colorings added. Just plain ole soap. If anyone knows where I can get some, please let me know. Ella's staining abilities have ramped up over the last few weeks and the situation is getting pretty dire.

Of course, the stain removal was such a breeze something else had to go wrong. While I was trying to get the extra water out of the fabric, I was having a problem keeping it all in the sink and I didn't notice behind all the fabric on the counter were two champagne glasses, where B put them last night after washing them out. I pulled the coat over and managed to knock the glasses, causing them to shatter over the floor. (insert giant sigh, while I count backwards from 10, to keep myself from screaming in frustration and stamping my feet. Who's the toddler in this house, again? ) You know, some days, when you feel like you just can't win. For everything that goes right, you have two things that go wrong? Please don't let that be today. Its bad enough having broken these glasses. Naturally, its our wedding crystal and I just love them so we use them all the time. No one told me originally that you shouldn't put crystal in your dishwasher so I did and it all became horribly brittle, the stems started snapping off if you so much as breathed on them. So we were down to about 2 wine glasses and 4 water glasses when I was strolling through Printemps one day and saw them on sale. I stopped to have a look and remarked that they were never on sale so it was my lucky day and the vendeuse told me that they were being discontinued, hence the store was clearing out their stock. Atleast I had enough foresight to buy up all that they had left plus everything at Galerie Lafayette. But since then, I've had no luck finding replacements. And so my precious stock dwindles away, between drunken dinner guests and overly exuberant laundry washing. I suppose I would have the pleasure of using the glasses on a regular basis and have to put up with a mismatched table rather than occasionally peaking in the cupboard at them gleaming in well-ordered ranks (although that has also counted among my guilty pleasures. I love the nice orderly lines, sparkling dully on their shelves. My inner-Martha glows with housewifely pride). But this is one the reasons that I need a job and my own money. B can understand that I need to clothe myself, and cut my hair, and go out with my girlfriends and will happily overlook those expenses. But when I try to explain the need to have a matched set of crystal for 12 place settings he is suddenly baffled. Well, I suppose if he did understand, I might have a different set of worries...

So today I have a lovely task ahead of me- interviews with new babysitters. I put up an ad and have gotten some really good responses. I do like the girl who babysits for us normally but she has suddenly discovered boys or something and is perpetually busy on Friday and Saturday nights. Good for her, bad for me. But just as I suspected, there are loads of American college girls in Paris who would happily give up one or two evenings a week in order to have a bit more spending money for the other 5 nights a week when Paris's glittering lights are calling. Cannot wait for my own social life to get back on track. And for starters, I have been invited to a Tupperware Rave this evening. Cannot possibly imagine what that will entail, but rest assured, I'll make a full report tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Inspirational design

I am just loving this website and as a result, I am DYING for a new decorating project. Today at playgroup, one of my mommy friends was talking about how she has bought an old farmhouse to turn into a gite, but she has no design sense and doesn't know what to do for the decorating. I am sure that I turned a very fetching shade of green as I sat there. What would I give to have that kind of fun ahead of me? And of course, having found this new website to scroll through every morning isn't helping things. The best part is that I can start a collection of inspirational interiors on my computer rather than having to buy a mountain of magazines to rip out my fav pages since the amount of money I have spent on decorating magazines is probably equal to the down payment on a farmhouse. I don't know if they will be able to keep finding such great things to post, but for the time being, it is one of my guilty pleasures.

Surprise birthday cake!

Surprise birthday cake!
Originally uploaded by nicole_gt.
A photo from my very happy 32nd birthday party.

Cooking my way back to happiness

As I mentioned, I have been in a rotten mood. And when I am in a funk, I tend to become very very self-indulgent in order to get over it. So I've not been doing any exercise or healthy eating lately (although sometimes that is that way I indulge). I have been lying around and reading, cooking up a storm, and shopping (both internet and old-fashioned style). I have also stocked the liquor cabinet with champagne, including the pink kind and the kind that comes in little individual bottles. Its to the point where Ella, she of few words, has started to shout out "Buba Juice!" whenever she sees me with a champagne glass, "juice" being her generic word for liquids and "buba" being her word for bubbles. She will spend a half hour staring at my glass, watching the bubbles fizz away. The only other two word phrase she uses is "Baby Toutou", for her stuffed puppydog. She may look like Bruno, but clearly her tastes were inherited from me.

This weekend, we could not find a babysitter for love or money and ended up spending both Friday and Saturday on the sofa. BUT the upside was that I discovered that our favorite Thai restaurant, Baan Boran, has opened a shop on rue St Honoré for carry-out. B stopped by afterwork on Saturday night and brought us home an absolute feast. I had whipped up a lemon tart that was to die for (the only complaint being that it technically was not enough filling for my tart pan. Although, since it was so thin we felt quite guilt free cutting enormous slices). Sunday, I tried out a new recipe for veal stew and it ended up being just the thing for a nice lazy family dinner. With some mushroom risotto and a glass of red wine, we were set. Because B works so late, its the only day that we can all eat dinner together and Ella is just big enough that it is starting to be fun to all sit down at the table. I wish we could do it every night. Its so nice to have someone else to help shout at Ella about not eating with fingers.

Of course, a nice family meal is always worth the effort in the kitchen but I have to admit that my ambitious menu was mainly the result of my desire to try out all the new dishes I bought that afternoon at Bon Marche, which was open for the Spring Sales. I picked up a new Le Creuset 16 in pot, which I had been eyeing up for ages. The pot I already had was far too big for stews or things like pork loin and this smaller pot proved to be just the right size for our dinner. I also bought some new frying pans to replace the one I had received on our wedding list. It was a nice pan but the handle broke off way back in December and every since then I had been making do with a oven mitt and a long handled spoon for moving it around the cooker. Finally B got fed up with my gypsy camp antics and insisted that I just buy a replacement. I had been going on for ages about how I was going to take the pan to the service center and have the handle reattached for free and it was such a waste to throw out a good pan, etc etc. I don't know where this frugal streak came from, but it actually never went further than that and not only did I get a replacement pan but also a smaller version.

Well, you know where this goes, don't you? It took about 25 minutes to figure out how to shuffle around all the pots and pans in order to fit the new ones in. There is just not enough room. Since we aren't probably moving any time soon, we are back to talking about renovating the kitchen, a project we abandoned because it was going to be such a major hassle that moving house seemed easier. Don't hold your breathe waiting to hear any more plans. We also found out on Saturday that the building needs a new roof and they are thinking it is going to cost 20,000 euro per apartment to repair. So there goes our kitchen budget, unless I cave in and agree to the cheapy model B had picked out. Why oh why is my life such a trial?

Oh- I almost forgot. The biggest excitement we had this weekend was a visit with the pompier. While at the Bon Marche, we were struggling desperately to keep Ella in her stroller, only to cave in at the first shrieks of discontent (we are such lazy parents on Sundays when we are trying to enjoy relaxing family time. If thats not an oxymoron...) and she went shooting off in the opposite direction the first chance she got. I started after her and while she did a little victory dance in the middle of the aisle, her boot sort of stuck to the parquet and she fell over, flat on her face. And when I say face, I mean, quite literally, her feet flew in the air and she landed on her nose. She started to scream, blood started to spray, saleswomen gripped their desks in fright, old people gaped in horror, and Bruno and I shook our heads in disbelief that yet again a simple plan turns to chaos. I grabbed Ella and tried to look in her mouth while simultaneously trying to avoid getting her anywhere near my cream trenchcoat (total failure. There are bloody handprints gruesomely decorating the shoulders and back). The saleswoman handed me some towels while dialing for the pompier to come, despite my pleas to hold off until I had had a look. The saleswoman was more shook up than Ella, I think, and kept insisting that we needed to have them look at Ella's teeth. So I gave in and let her call. By the time they actually arrived, Ella had stopped crying, the blood was mopped up, and we could see it was nothing more than a split lip but she was still examined and we filled out an accident report all the same. Fun times.

But finally we have had a few sunny days, enough to make me believe that just maybe Spring has arrived. Lets hope so. This has been a very long winter.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Back home

Sorry that there were no more posts from the island- their internet connection was lousy and even though I tried every day, I generally gave up on the idea after having already spent 15 minutes just trying to check my email. They charged by the minute and B was convinced that it was some sort of scam to make us pay more. He's like Mel Gibson in that (bad) movie where he plays a crazy cab driver who sees conspiracy theories everywhere and he helps Julie Roberts, the sexy journalist, uncover some big story. Except B's big conspiracy theories are limited to 10 cent a minute internet cafes and set-ups on Video Gag. Don't think anyone will be making a movie about that.

Anyways, super sad about the lack of posting because I was all excited to tell you about Wasabi, the little Japanese toddler that B befriended at the pool while I was off diving. I had all kinds of kooky diving buddies as well, but none so entertaining as the 71 year old Japanese lady. It was like swimming around with a sea-turtle in a pink wetsuit. She had all kinds of wrinkly skin pushed up aroung her neck from the collar of her wetsuit which kind of gave her a very turtle-y look when she was craning her neck around underwater. And since she was an excellent diver, she had this totally serene deliberate way of moving underwater that was very turtle like as well. And the rather skinny arms and legs attached to a very round torsa sort of added to the overall effect. Sadly no photos so you will just have to imagine it all. She was with a group that went diving three times a day for their entire holiday and it clearly exhausted her. I kept seeing her slumped over in various places around the hotel, her mouth hanging open, her head at some weird angle. Her skin was nearly glow in the dark white since she covered herself in thick suncreen whenever outside which only added to my recurrent fears that she wasn't sleeping but had actually died.

The British couple (the Lovelies, B's name for them) went fishing a few times with B so he ended up getting their whole story. They were newlyweds and very very young and very very sweet but absolutely the most backwards people that you could imagine. B told me all this, and he swears its true but I have my doubts. He said that Mr Lovely had asked if there was an airport in Paris and if that is where the Eiffel Tour was located. French pride could only gap open-mouthed at these enormous holes in his general knowledge. There were lots of other comments like that but obviously these were the two that B mentioned over and over again with an incredulous shake of his head.

Biggest disappointment about holiday has to be tanning related. I don't know what has happened but I am suddenly a light-weight when it comes to laying out in the sun. I remember a holiday in Cancun when we parked ourselves on our beach chairs at around 10 am and basically laid there, sucking down pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris all day long, only getting up to put on more sunscreen and swim over to the pool bar. I was brown as a nut after a week and have the photos to prove it. This holiday, I was quite busy at the dive center but had to take a break one day due to a head cold so I thought that I would take advantage and just do some tanning. At the end of the day, I felt like death warmed over and ended up spending the next 24 hours in bed. I didn't even want to eat anything, I was so ill. I think it was quite obviously a case of heatstroke or the like and as a result, I never sat out in the sun again until after 4pm. Not surprisingly, I was by far the whitest person on the island. I think I even out-glowed the Lovelies. Back in Paris, the situation doesn't look so grim. I am ever so slightly golden but after 2 weeks on a tropical island, I was hoping for more dramatic results. I know, I know- when I'm sixty I'll be praising my lucky stars over my well-timed sun allergy since I'll be wrinkle-free and passing for a sassy 50 year-old still. Sadly, I'm not too big on delayed gratification.

Was also a bit disappointed with the books that I bought for my beach reading. Clearly I think that I am far more clever than I really am. I bought "Mill on the Floss" by George Elliot, which is not exactly light reading. I dragged myself halfway through "L'elegance du herisson" by Muriel Barbery. The language is a little bit above my level and I kept having to ask B for definitions, only he didn't know what a lot of them words meant. OR so he claimed. I think he was just getting irritated by my constant interruptions (I think I already mentioned that B did nothing while sitting around the pool- no books, no magazines, crossword puzzles, writing, sketching, etc. He concentrated mainly on gazing into the distance blankly, sunscreen application, and drink ordering. No wonder he got fed up with all the interruptions...) Anyways, it ended up being too much of a bother so I put it away. I forced myself through the first chapter of "Their Eyes Were Watching God", and ended up really loving it, but it was a slog at the beginning. I enjoyed "Consuelo and Alma", the biography of Consuelo Vanderbilt and her mother, but only finished it because my other choices were so grim. Same for "Julie and Julia"- a book that I mostly liked (enough to have ordered the Julia Child's cookbook that the story revolves around) even though I felt like it was one of those books that needed to be severely editted of the side stories and comments that added nothing to the plot and made me really dislike the author/main character. Could not get into "the accidental" by Ali Smith, which is supposed to be so good. And I still have a stack of books from my mom to read, which are much lighter and hopefully, more entertaining than my choices. Luckily, this means I have reading material stocked up for a few weeks.

I have gone back through my photos and it all just seems so long ago. Paris has been grey and rainy since we got back. I can't tell if it is just the post-holiday depression that is bound to occur after any great vacation or if it is a post-birthday crisis, or if it is the weather/"that time of the year" thing, but I have been in a rotten mood since we've been home. I actually was thinking about it and I do tend to have a breakdown nearly every year at this time. I think its the fact that it is spring and it starts to get nicer out and I have lots of energy and if I don't have a good way to use that energy I get very antsy. Every time I have quit a job its been March. Most of my stupid "adventures" have happened in March. The list is long but basically what it boils down to is that I need to be very careful about the decisions I make at this time of year because my judgement is flawed (at best).

So, really the lack of blogging this month can be mainly attributed to that. But its almost April! And April is not March, so i have high hopes that things will soon be turning around.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Paradise report 3

Galina is gone- although I think that we resolved the mystery. I saw her cuddling with the (super hot) russian diving instructor so I think that Galina is his girl back home who came out to visit with his mother and sister and the reason that they all looked so awkward is that this was the first time that they met. Slightly more boring but much more realistic. I think our second week will be dull now that Galina is gone. The Albino Chinese left a few days ago. And even the nymphette mommy who does not own any bras was not at breakfast today (Didn't I mention her? She looks like one of those girls who only verged on good-looking but what she lacked in looks she made up for in moxie and considered herself incredibly sexy, resulting in a trashy 5-dollar-handjobs-in-the-park kind of look. Bras were not part of the equation because, it must said, she had pretty nice perky breasts. Then she got knocked up. Six months after the baby she could squeeze her ass back in her denim mini skirt so it was all systems go, much to the dismay of CateringLand's outer boroughs, who were subjected to her pendulous swinging mammaries every time she jumped up for another plate of pasta salad. Yikes.)

Our new source of amusement is the French guy and his daughter in the bungalow just down the beach from us. He is extremely enthusiastic and has got a running monologue of silly jokes to keep the 9 year-old in stitches. B shared a parasol on the beach with them this morning and came back to the room ready to stick one of my knitting needles in his ear, just to stop the constant assault of innanities. I got to see the matinee performance at the pool this afternoon and was reaching for the needles myself. I told B that I didn't think it was her Dad at all. In fact, I think that he met her on MySpace and has only just broke it to her that he isn't a 14 year old from Ivry so he's trying to keep there from being any awkward pause where she asks what his real age is then.

Speaking of 14 year-olds, we also like listening in on the very young English couple who took the Albino's table. Today they had a big fight because she was afraid of the fish and he thinks she is a big baby. Then they finished their Cokes and he asked her if she wanted to go play ping pong. We keep telling each other that they can't be that young, even though they look like fetuses, because clearly they are on an expensive romantic holiday together (and we checked their room card- they have different names so they aren't married. We are such nosey assholes its unbelieveable) but then they turn around and do something like that and we are once again convinced that they are on their 9th grade class trip.

Big question- what is it with Chinese people and watermelon? As soon as they put watermelon on the dessert buffet I swear to you that the Chinese people rush over and literally stack their plates with watermelon til they can stack no more. And then they gobble it down with glee. Watermelon. I saw a little kid begging his mother to let him start his dinner with watermelon and when she said yes he started jumping up and down and clapping. I don't get it. Do they not have watermelon in China? Is it said to possess some sort of magical quality that makes people giddy when presented with the possibility of an all you can eat Watermelon Buffet? Maybe in China they have a saying of something like "Watermelon Balls" when someone is really brave or gutsy. I should keep this to myself, I know, but anyone looking to make their first million, I'm telling you, there is gold in Chinese watermelon sales.

So vacay is going well although I am getting a bit pooped out with all the diving. Its a lot of get dressed, get more dressed, get wet, get dry, get wet, get dry, get undressed, get wet, get dry, get more undressed, get wet, get dry, etc Blah. Maybe tomorrow I'll go again. In the mean time I have been busy instigating international incidents around the pool. Apparently there are people who think it is OK to just dump a towel on a chair on their way to breakfast and regardless of whether or not they spend any time at the pool, want to keep the chair free for when they do happen to pass by. For 3 days, B and I tried to get a seat around the pool for an afternoon swim, since our bungalow was on the east side of the island, therefore on the shady beach in the afternoon, but no luck at all. Despite there being atleast half the chairs empty the pool boy wouldn't let us sit down, telling us that the chairs were saved and thereby sending me into a rage. Today, we came by after lunch to find that there were several chairs which really seemed abandoned except for a towel scrunched up on them. Since there was no pool boy in site, we grabbed them. B went back to the room to change and I spread out, pretending to be asleep until our drinks arrived and we couldn't be kicked out. Suddenly an irrate Roumanian lady showed up. She collared the pool boy and started chewing him out about how there was someone in her chair, she had left her towels there at noon (it was already like 3:30) and said she would be back, he better get rid of me. Thankfully, he told her that that happened sometimes when he was at lunch and not there to survey things and she would just have to find another chair. She did manage to get a seat on the opposite side eventually and glared at me all afternoon. I wouldn't get into the pool when she was in because when I finally opened my eyes I saw that she was really big and mean looking. See, I had kind of been hoping to steal a seat from one of the nice looking japanese. In my defense however, I need to point out that there are over 300 people on the island and only about 40 chairs. Desperate times call for desperate measures right?

also to prove how good I really am, my Ipod won't charge up and I went to the electronics shop to see if they could charge it up there but no luck. I was very sad and wandered into the internet cafe to check my mail, when what should I find plugged into my computer but a brand new Ipod! With lots of nice music! And it held photos, unlike mine! I didn't even steal it. Although after listening to the Myspace pedophile all this afternoon, I totally wished I had.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Paradise report number 2

I was under water about 6 meters, petting a sea turtle as it nibbled at seaweed, watching the the sun stream down through the water and I realized that it was in fact my birthday- and quite possibly one of the best birthdays ever. I couldn't think of anything I would rather be doing at that moment.

I loved diving the first moment I put my head under the water and I love it even more every time I go out and feel more and more in control. When I was little, we spent our summers at a lake, in the water for as long as my mom would let us. We'd drag ourselves out with blue lips and pruney fingers, begging for 5 more minutes in the water. And it never got dull, since we were constantly inventing some new game or stunt to perfect. When the dive instructor was trying to convince me to take off my mask and swim along the rope, I wasn't fazed in the least, pointing out that was used to getting water up my nose after trying to do more sommersaults in row on one breath of air than Casey. And when he asked if I would be alright with opening my eyes unerwater so that I could find my mask after dropping it, I assured him it was- crystal clear Maldivian water is nothing after swimming with my eyes open in swampy Lake Winter. I told my mom after my first dive, if I had none what diving was all about when I was a teenager, I would have given university a miss and decided that dive instructor was the only thing for me. I can't imagine anything further than the life I have right now but I think I would have been perfectly content, going out diving three times a day every day of the week. So being able to jump out of bed on my birthday, throw on my swimsuit, and go for a dive? The perfect day.

And got even better, if you can imagine. Since I was up early for the dive, I was a bit tired and took a nap on the lounge chair under the palm tree outside our room, listening to the waves crashing out on the reef. For dinner, we headed out to the Italian restaurant on pilotes on the other side of the island and watched the dolphins swim by at sunset as we sipped glasses of champagne. Then after a gorgeous seafood dinner, the staff came out with a birthday cake as a surprise (the front desk noticed on our check-in information that it was my birthday!). Then we sat in the beach bar until midnight, listening to a local band and drinking melon martinis. And then we stumbled drunkenly back to our room to collapse into bed (bet that was a real surprise ending.) Perfect perfect perfect day.

I am zipping along on my dive course, but I haven't hardly cracked the book yet which is a bit bad. Its just so hard to find the time and the motivation to sit down and study it. Thankfully they have it all on DVD as well, so I have been slowly working my way through that. Tomorrow though my instructor Felix very kindly suggested that I just go out on the boat for a dive, no lessons, no tests. Hurrah. It was very difficult to drag myself out to the dive center this morning with a hangover, knowing that there was some evil situation awaiting me. Today was the fun "We are going to close your tank so that you have no more air" test. What do you do? Discuss in the comments.

We are getting a bit worried about turning into big fat shark bait while here since our main activities can be summed up as eating and sweating. The main restaurant where we go for most meals is buffet style and since the hotel is nearly full we are seated in the nether regions of Catering Land, which we thought might help us to not eat too much. Wrong. Not just for a buffet style restaurant, but for any kind of restaurant, the food is AMAZING. I don't think that I have tried a single thing that I didn't love. The consequences will be dire I fear. And since I spend ;y day in an elastic suit, its hard to notice how bad things are getting. I might be flying home in a muu-muu from the gift shop. No wonder they have such a large stock- it probably happens to most of the guests.

Meal time is also fun since we get to speculate on the backgrounds of the other guests. Out in the nether regions we are blessed to have two of the islands main characters- Galina (russian supermodel/prostitute, depends on our mood) and the Chinese albino. I'm sure everybody wants our table. Galina is here with two other Russian women, a short fat blonde and an older women with glasses and henna'd hair. And they seem very very awkward together so naturally we have imagined all sorts of wild explanations. Galina was hired to complete a lesbian menage a trois. Galina is a ballerina taken away from her family at the age of 5 and this is her reunion with them. Galina is trying to hook a rich Russian sugar daddy and these are her madame's trying to help her out. But who is Galina really?!!! We may never know, as Galina (we have no idea what her real name is, obviously) doesn't speak English. Or Italian, much to the dismay of all the horny Italian divers who have tried to flirt with her. We don't know what we will talk about when Galina leaves. The Albina is not nearly so much fun to speculate about- plus he sits really close to me and speaks good English. B has a bad habit of speaking in English when he should be extra discreet about what he is saying. If Albino is a mobster, like I suspect, B might end up having a tragic fishing accident on the boat tonight, I fear...

This isn't Paradise Island, its more like Fantasy Island I guess. What was the little guys name? Now that I think about, the average Maldivian male, who normally weighs in at about 80 pounds and probably only makes 5 foot in his tall shoes, would be a dead ringer for that guy. Now, if Charo shows up at at the crab races tonight I will know something is up.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

report from paradise

We made it to the island. The plane was fine but as suspected the entertainment options were dismal, plus they didin't let me bring my knitting on the plane so I only had my reading and ipod to keep me occupied. The new earbuds were useful since the plane was FULL of screaming babies. Made us happy about leaving Ella at home as it was a constant reminder about how miserable it can be to travel with a child.

On the island, we found out that the entire hotel is full to the rafters. Even worse, its full of Chinese and Italians, the noisiest kind of tourists. Maybe its not even that. Its more that they always travel in packs. Too bad I haven't been better about my italian lessons, we'd have friends left and right. As is, we are quietly recovering from jetlag and enjoying our alone time. Its crazy how all the sunscreen application can put you in the mood ...

I have signed up for the Open Diver Course so I can get my divers license. I have 9 dives to look forward to and am excited about that. I am otherwise battling humidity related frizzies- last night I asked B how I looked and he said that I reminded him of someone. Ithought he meant my sisiter, how has curlier hair than me. After a moment of refletion he remembered who "Do you remember that episode of Friends when they went to Jamaica?" I nodded yes, completely baffled about where this was going. "yeah, you remind me of Monica in that episode."