21 December 2008

"Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering - because you can't take it all in at once."

Audrey Hepburn.

Especially these past few days..... whether you're enjoying the holiday rush..or avoiding it! x c

19 December 2008

dwell in possibility...
e m i l y d i c k i n s o n

((another one by emily dickinson, as promised, for anne at city sage ;))

18 December 2008

a saucy moment

So I woke up, glanced at my daily list of blogs I enjoy and my eyes fell on this: "Ne pas savoir à quelle sauce on va être mangé" on Chocolat & Zuccini, the latest in Clotilde’s series on edible idiomatic expressions in the French language. I clicked on it immediately as I knew that this was an expression for me at this very minute in my little, uncertain life, and I thought it was an amusing way to look at my situation, a new and perhaps even delicious perspective.

For those of you that up to this point have no idea what those words means, Clotilde explains it’s “Literally translated as, ‘not knowing what sauce one is going to be eaten with,’ it means that one's prospects are uncertain, not very good, and entirely outside of one's control.”

Let’s just say that in my current situation in life, I simply don’t even know what sauce I’m going to be eaten with. Right now my sauce is definitely a sweet and sour one, or sweet and salty one, and I’m wondering if things will get sweeter, or spicier...((or richer ;))) or perhaps at this point I might be struggling to have any sauce at all!!

She also says it can be used in less drastic situations ((than my life, ha, kidding)) like a first time going to the acupuncturist as she uses in this example, "C'était la première fois que j'allais chez l'acupuncteur, alors je ne savais pas à quelle sauce j'allais être mangé." And I really do find it relevant to our present circumstances, don’t you? Very pertinent.

So I read that and smiled to myself ((before even having my coffee)), because let’s face it, I’m not even sure what recipe to choose these days to begin to make that sauce, or where my spoon is, or if there’s gonna be any bread to dip in the sauce....so I really appreciated this tasteful way of stating what is already an obvious uncertainty at this point in my life, and in many of our lives I’d imagine... donc, merci Clotilde.

"’Je me demande à quelle sauce je vais être mangé’
(I wonder what sauce I'm going to be eaten with).”

Hope it's a good one. Maybe I'll know after I have my coffee.......

A plus tard x c

((Photo by Angie Cao, found it on Tea For Joy’s Typewriter Tuesday))

17 December 2008

oooohhh x(s)-mas tree.......

my mom just brought me a delightful surprise, this tiny ‘European-style Christmas tree’ from, none other than Trader Joe’s!! It’s small, almost lime green in color, soft and flexible, and glittery ((i do believe it didn’t grow that way..!)) Funny, in all the years I lived in Europe I never saw a tree quite like this, but quand même I think it’s perfect and I’m curious find out more about this sweet little variety of Christmas tree.

((photo shoot to follow...once I get back from tutoring a writing session))

golden reflections

the other day I saw these photos on two different design blogs that I enjoy, and I can’t get the images out of my mind, I just love them and decided to share.

i found them on Anne’s blog The City Sage, which has daily photos and images that are bright, inspiring, exciting...and words that sparkle ((especially lately)) as much as the images. It’s a fun blog to stop by..and linger... ((sometimes even twice a day)) and Anne has been such a great assistance and support for me as I figure out this blog world.....

also check out Under a Paper Moon...the other delightful design blog where this photo caught my eye... initially it was the name of the blog that got my attention..but wow the blog is fun and what creative talents!

and now I’m off to decorate my staircase...I’m not kidding, but it won’t look as good as this...

((photos by CHRIS EVERARD ))

"to live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else."

e m i l y d i c k i n s o n

((This painting is by Hippolyte Romain, a French artist who has an amazing and vibrant collection of great scenes like this one here. I discovered him on Carla Loves Photography, and then went straight to his site, really fun stuff.))

15 December 2008


about 30 minutes ago my little Poupou ((my dog Poulet)) was running around the house like mad, literally like a chicken with his head cut off. ((Poulet means chicken in French.)) he was kind enough to pose for these shots here, and then proceeded to run laps around the house. by the time I got these pics loaded on my computer he was fast asleep, snoring loudly, partially hanging off the bed.

it’s been raining these past few days in California, and very cold...which explains why he’s clothed ((and perhaps why he’s crazy, though it’s not really new behavior.)) he has quite the wardrobe from his chilly days growing up in Paris, shopping sprees chez Mon Bon Chien, and daily café outings

((and the occasional bar scene at night just hanging out with the best of us))

this raincoat is very handy, actually keeps him dry and is cheap entertainment when the hood goes over his face and he can’t see where he’s going, he starts darting about in all directions.....

but for now he’s snoring, dreaming of Soph Soph, walks to Mon Bon Chien, and the good ol’ days when someone left the cookie case open and he could walk right in and help himself out..... seriously if you are in Paris, even if you don’t have a dog ((or cat)) stop by this shop, it’s delightful and cheerful and I imagine all decorated for the holidays...

12 rue Mademoiselle in the 15th
Métro Commerce

tell Harriet I sent you....
((and try the peanut butter truffle...yes, technically it’s for the dogs, but tastes like Reese’s to the rest of us ;)))

Bonne nuit
x c & pou

((just in case you didn't get enough of this pic the first time..))

“A person who is looking for something doesn’t travel very fast.”

e.b. w h i t e

"The only way of knowing a person is to love them without hope."

Walter Benjamin

14 December 2008

“The day we left I had hashbrowns..."

The first time I went to France I was 11.
I went with a very special woman who is like an aunt to me. When I see the clothes I wore on this trip ((in that picture below that you really can’t miss)), it’s a wonder they ever let me back into the country, and straight into the stylish capital nonetheless.... well anyway, what can I say really, I was 11.

And in case the outfit didn’t give it away ((yes that's one extra large t-shirt over spandex shorts, the baseball cap and double socks are self explanatory)), I invite you to read a lovely excerpt from my travel journal. The travel journal that ((at the time)) I felt had been cruelly forced upon me by my mother “Dearest Chantal, may this first trip to Europe be the beginning of a lifetime of worldwide adventures...” she had the nerve to write on the inside cover ;) and this cruel and unusual punishment of a daily journal entry was strictly reinforced by my aunt. Oui, moi, the writer, refused to write. I did write, but when you read the eloquent first few pages that I’ve copied here, the refusal part will become screamingly evident. Did I mention I was 11? That too, will be alarmingly clear.

August 6 1991 - August 18 1991
age 11

“The day we left I had hashbrowns. When I went on the plane I found out that I HATE ((underlined)) them because the food is SICK ((underlined)) and they get to COLD ((you guessed it, underlined)) and they don’t have good radio stations or good movies the first movie was the hardways with Michael J. fox in it it was STUPID! ((underlined)) The second movie was King Ralph that I wanted to see but the head phones were fuzzy the whole time! (at least I got my money back) The food on the plane looked like liver in sticky dark blood. And I had that 2 times! (I did not eat it!) the 3rd plane I got lunch. It was cold cuts on a sweet roll DISCUSTING ((underlined)) The cheese was swiss and it had tiny hairs on it and the meet was dirty. Finally I got to the air port and went to the car rental place and the girl that helped us looked exactly like the French girl I know! She was verry pritty and even talked like her except she talked to us in english!....”

...aaaand one can only take so much of that at once, so... to be continued, I’m sure you’re anxious to hear the next installment. ((note I’ve always been a creative speller, I didn’t change a single letter, word, capital letter or punctuation mark))

I’m writing a travel guide, or series of travel guides to Paris. This will be the opening, my first true appreciation of all that France had to offer...lol. And even if the term lol existed at the time, I don’t recall thinking any of this was the least bit funny. Did I mention I was 11? And let’s turn the page, shall we..

ps does anyone know how to underline text on here??? ((obviously I don't...))
x c

13 December 2008

the day

And for those of you wondering, why yes, in fact today ((or the remaining 10 minutes of it)) is my name day, my fête, December 12 Saint Chantal. Well I mean, technically they call it St. Jeanne de Chantal...but it’s enough for me. Last year I was sitting on a crisp afternoon in Paris writing in the Tuileries, so content that I didn’t even realize how chilly it was. That is my favorite time of year to be in the gardens, it’s quiet and empty, you can be completely alone but not at all lonely, or even if the loneliness seeps in a bit, it somehow becomes more tolerable, gentler in this light, and there’s this stillness, this frosty lull in the air that envelops the trees..... and this year, well, I’m sitting at my computer writing, not quite the same but for a moment there I really was back in Paris. And for the evening, at least, I wasn’t alone, I had the pleasure of sitting in a warm café with a warm Algerian.

In other news, the word from Mon Bon Chien is that Sophie Marie is miraculously at home now, and enjoying every minute of love from Harriet. I’m working on some special international guest interviews I will be posting in the next few days, a few simple questions on this time of the year, just searching for a snapshot of what it looks like this season in the parts of the world where some of my dearest friends will celebrate the new year. And I do believe I hear the first sounds of steady rain falling out my window...

À demain.

12 December 2008

Sophie on t'aime

The gentle 13-year-old golden retriever with pink nail polish, Sophie Marie, the heart and soul of Mon Bon Chien, is in urgent care tonight.

From both sides of the world we are looking out for her, please keep Sophie and Harriet in your thoughts, come on Soph Soph, there are so many biscuits left to steal...

c & pou

11 December 2008

From the rooftops

Seated up at a high table in the corner of a café, waiting for the young Olivia, the (star)girl I meet with every week to work with on her writing ((we’re creating a blog writing from the rooftops (see my blog roll) that features her very own writing, thoughts, inspirations and updates from the It Book Stargirl that she’s reading.))

...and during such moments in between I’m, as always, trying to figure it all out; still hoping there’s a way..and perhaps a way will come, for
my personal stargirl said best...

I was asked to act when I couldn’t act. I was asked to sing Funny Face when I couldn’t sing, and dance with Fred Astaire when I couldn’t dance – and do all kinds of things I wasn’t prepared for. Then I tried like mad to cope with it.”

I’ll take it from Audrey, try like mad to cope with it, and keep my fingers crossed, there must be a way.

ahhhhhh la laaaa!!!!

Been having trouble posting,
got a pile up here of posts for ya ;)
but I’ll ease into it......
why can't i post???

09 December 2008

I know they always say it, but quand même, all the world’s a stage. I used to love acting, until I finally realized I wasn’t very good at it, and I felt that I encountered personalities that so often overwhelmed me. I did like the feeling of becoming someone else, of living a different life for a while, of perhaps assuming more strength, less fear, of having a defined place and purpose, I was even told what to think, the words were written for me.

I’ve always written. I just never gave it much thought; it was so natural. But lately, it’s practically the only place where I feel welcome; I come to simultaneously lose myself and find myself. And it’s still like I’m on stage, I assume this voice that’s created somewhere between my head, my heart and my hands. And as I sit here, I’m overwhelmed, it falls from my finger tips before my very eyes, and again I feel I’m someone else though this time, the feelings are mine, they’re honest, or at least, what I sincerely want to believe are within my reach, so honest, in fact, that when I look back at what I’ve written it’s as though I’m reading the words, experiencing the sentiment, for the first time, still determining the character, learning through her perspective.

It’s also a distraction from this outside world that constantly seems to push me away despite honest attempt, genuine desire. It makes me wait. Holds things in front of me that I try to grasp; holds things in front of me that disappear. But this, writing, has remained, through it all, I’ve discovered in words a loyal companion, dependable and true, especially in these hours when I can’t sleep, and I can’t wake up; just when I feel like I’m living, when I take a breath and acknowledge what’s really in my heart, I look up, and find it’s gone, and yet in its absence, I feel it was here, and with my words, thankfully, I’ve marked its presence, clenched its memory, and grasped what I truly believed, was its potential.

08 December 2008

Need a good laugh: the official Carmel-by-the-Sea police log

This weekend I was back in the quaint town of Carmel-by-the-Sea where my family has owned a small cottage since I was a child. Carmel is a charming and peaceful place notorious for its Cypress trees, small-town community and constant flow of tourists, where Clint Eastwood was once mayor and still resides in the area, fairy-tale, cottage-like, multi-million-dollar homes that have neither addresses nor mailboxes and the trash collectors still go behind your house to collect your waste bins for you, where narrow, dark and bumpy little roads were paved far before SUVs became common place, tall pine trees grow all around, even in the middle of the roads, giving the area an almost forest-like feel that is scenically situated along white-sand beaches and the ocean, where all the shops close at 5:00 pm and the majority of the residents are senior citizens, providing for very early, dark and quiet nights and a complete absence of crime... it is, thus, rather amusing to browse the pages of police reports in the local weekly newspaper The Carmel Pine Cone. I would presume this is the reason most residents and non-residents take a Pine Cone off the kiosks, and I have loved reading these for as long as I can remember. I don’t know if it’s the mere nature of the ‘events’ listed in the police log, or an intentional tongue-in-cheek tone with which they are recounted ((not sure, do they have a sense of humor in Carmel?)), nonetheless, the police reports are worth checking out.

And if you ever need a good laugh or a quick pick-me-up, you can peruse the police log online
((and other major weekly news headlines!))

“Here’s a look at the significant calls logged last week by the Carmel-by-the-Sea police...”

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Thursday, November 20
Ambulance dispatched to a residence on Serra Avenue for a person who had fallen. The person was unable to get up off the floor but had no complaint. Crew assisted and returned to quarters.

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Thursday, November 20
Resident on First Avenue reported threats she had received from her neighbor nearly four months ago.

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Friday, November 21
Fire engine responded to a possible water leak at Junipero and Fifth. The engine was canceled en route by CPD.

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Saturday, November 22
Subject reported the loss of money while on Carmel Beach. If located, please notify.

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Monday, November 24
Report of a verbal peace disturbance on Fifth Avenue.

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Tuesday, November 25
Fire engine dispatched to Monte Verde and 12th for a residential lockout. Assistance provided.

Carmel area: Wednesday, November 26
Resident in the 100 block of Highway 1 in the Carmel Highlands reported possible trespassing.

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Thanksgiving
Subject on Mission Street stated that someone took his keys out of his vehicle’s ignition while the car was parked, and took his laptop from his locked garage in a separate incident.

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Thanksgiving
Victim reported his wife had struck him in the face with a plate during a verbal argument. The 60-year-old female was taken into custody for spousal battery.

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Thanksgiving
Traffic collision on Scenic Road and Santa Lucia caused injuries. Police, fire and ambulance responded to a report of a vehicle vs. bicycle. The victim, a male in his 50s, was experiencing pain in his right big toe.

...and that’s the weekly crime report from Carmel-by-the-Sea. And no, I didn’t make any of this up...this is word-for-word what is written before me in this week's Pine Cone.

06 December 2008

The same season, different views, familiar photos...and laughter just around the corner

There’s a letter sitting here next to me on my freshly organized desk. The envelope is loaded with international postage ((getting higher and higher every letter I send)) and lovingly addressed to Mon Bon Chien 12 rue Mademoiselle 75015 Paris France. The address rolls off my pen instinctively, as it was my address ((a different number obviously though I did at times, as did Harriet the owner, consider living in the store!!)) for so many years. And it is distant, and familiar all at once. Deciding where to picture myself becomes murkier every day. The presence of those people I know will always be there, and those I hope will somehow manage to hold on with me.

It’s funny, here my last post talks of the ocean and has a photo of the Carmel beach, then this morning I opened my computer to a comment on this blog from Carla who writes ((and more importantly, posts her photographs)) on one of my favorite blogs Carla Loves Photography I found myself reading her latest post, on what I believe to be a very chilly morning in California ((though it’s supposed to be 20C today)) and before me on the screen, photos of familiar street scenes appear, the streets of Paris glowing for the holidays where even the briskness of the winter air is captured in the photographs. And these images feel more like home to me, they seem to embody my image of the holiday season, and I’m hit suddenly with the cold breeze and a warm note of nostalgia.

Not to mention I missed Carla’s Paris Tango book release party at WH Smith in Paris on Thursday.... I’m having trouble locating the book here, as it would be the perfect Christmas gift for friends and family, and apparently she has a chapter about Mon Bon Chien ((my favorite Parisian dog bakery)) and writes of a time when she was there and my dog Poulet was ((comme d’hab)) tirelessly trying to get at the biscuit counter to steal an MBC gateau...((that’s a trademark move))

Yesterday I awoke to comments from Harriet here on my blog. Without hesitation I see her sitting in her world famous Mon Bon Chien boutique; yes, I can see her there on the couch ((where I usually sit right next to her)) along with her dogs Sophie Marie and Diablo ((and my dog Poulet, when he’s there with me...)) one big party on the couch at Mon Bon Chien as the pleasant and warm scent of dog biscuits in the oven fills the air, and the intermittent buzz of the timer or chiming song of the telephone ring pause our laughter and conversation....

This store has a special place in my heart, opening exactly one week before I impulse-purchased my over-priced, under-fed, underage puppy Poulet from a horrible animalerie ‘shop’ on the Quai..... and as I knew nothing about dogs, and was never even particularly fond of them, was desperate for the guidance that Harriet gave both Poulet and me. However, I never expected that Poulet and I would forge life-long friendships through this small dog bakery in Paris ((the first in Europe I might add)) that happened to be located down the street from us..

Sometimes I feel as though I can walk out my door, turn the corner, and walk into the store. Sometimes I feel like Poulet and I will never make it back. But every time I find myself back there and step foot in the store, I feel happy, as though I never left at all. If you have the fortune of being in Paris during this holiday season, or any season, stop by 12 rue Mademoiselle, laugh with Harriet for me, pet Soph Soph, watch the devilish Diablo and pick up some dog biscuits for all the dogs on your shopping list. And if you can’t make it to Paris, as malheureusement Poulet and I won’t make it this season, you can order some gateaux online from her website http://www.mon-bon-chien-paris.com and watch the featured Animal Planet video ((with Poulet as the smaller of the two cavaliers running in the door and peering into to the glass cabinet)).

So add to holiday list: MBC biscuits and Carla Coulson’s books Paris Tango, Italian Joy and the one she photographed for Vicki Archer, My French Life.

((the photos are from Carla’s blog, the Mon Bon Chien site, and my camera. Poulet is the dog jumping for the biscuit, Sophie is, as ever, begging gracefully by his side))

05 December 2008


I came across this in an old notebook from a year or two ago and in a way, felt like I was reading it for the first time..it seemed somehow still to touch something within my life, to describe with my words, what I can’t seem to find the way to say.

Perhaps the waves I’ve been making are stronger than I perceive, for I find the subsequent waves are often too rough for me to swim in safely; crash around me, stay a while, sweep me up take me away and when I look behind, I’m no longer able to find my way back, to catch my breath. Powerful waves sweep over me, throw me to shore and seemingly pull back to sea without me, swiftly searching for deeper, more familiar waters with no reflection, smoother currents, quiet strength.

I watched the waves in Carmel last week, a break from falling apart. I stared at an empty beach – the rough wind in my face bringing tears to my eyes too stubborn to blink – I stood up against the wind, letting it do to me as it pleased; I watched the waves. A man played with his dog, running on the sand. And in their company, I was alone. Standing on that cliff; I watched the waves. There’s a sparkling in the traces left by the waves every time they pull away from the shore. Each wave hastened back to the sea, as brief as it was certain to caress the shore again, leaving behind the sand that glittered still, subtly, in the sunlight.

Or perhaps it’s all an illusion. From this view I can’t look away from those traces left behind, though the waves have abandoned, the beauty of a fleeting image, so often tragic. Yet beyond image and illusion, beyond beauty and tragedy, the waves faithfully return.

The sudden breaking of waves on a quiet beach – though they are expected – are beautifully deceptive, dangerous and strong, tempting and invigorating, though often much larger than we’d ever considered.

As this wave had swept me away right before my eyes – and I hadn’t seen it coming. A sudden break knocked the wind out of me, the sand no longer glittered, the sunshine escaped my days. When I reach for it the sand slides through my fingers and refuses to let me hold on. And so I stand, as I do not know, to walk away or toward sparkling traces left here, before me, I stand on this cliff.

I watch the surf, those moments when the sunlight shines just right, the rough aggressive beauty in the waves and the gentle caress, the embrace that follows every storm. And as always, I’m lured into believing, that the ocean goes on forever beyond the horizon and much, much further than the eye can see, subtle twinkle, deep reflection, the illusion that it is always coming back.

03 December 2008

Let me not...

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

s h a k e s p e a r e
sonnet 118

01 December 2008


“You do not know how much they mean to me, my friends, and how, how rare and strange it is, to find in a life composed so much of odds and ends… to find a friend who has these qualities, who has, and gives those qualities upon which friendship lives. How much it means that I say this to you -without these friendships - life, what cauchemar!”

t. s. e l i o t

((canim new photos from Selma tesekkur ederim my seker lokum :))))