OOTD: Indicators Of My Descent Into Madness OR Why I Want to Be Baldric

Those of you that follow me on social media are forgiven for reading the title of this post as a deconstruction of a Gore-Tex and Polarfleece ensemble with handwarmers and Bean boots.  My Instagram has been a venue for my winter griping and twitter and pinterest have served the same purpose. But today I am going in a different direction, though still somewhat (indirectly) blizzard related.

In order to survive captivity one must occupy the mind with a pleasantness. An occasional distraction from the gelid monotony. One of the ways I accomplish this is by joining Mr Bebe on the couch in front of the fire for a nightly episode of our new show:

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Time Team

I know that most of you have heard of Time Team, but it is a recent discovery for us. It suits our end of day routine quite nicely as it is interesting enough to capture our complete attention yet not so cerebral that it reminds us how tired we are.  It’s like a personable Nova.  Archaeology has always been one of The Four-along with opera singing, acting in British costume dramas, and and international woman of mystery it is a calling I would have pursued, if fortune and talent were at my beck and call. The very idea of digging in the dirt and pulling out an object last touched by human hands more than 2000 years before is fascinating, and were it not for my debilitating camping allergy then I may have have been an archaeologist and adventurer myself.

But it is not only the fascinating archaeology that keeps us engaged, it is the sudden and seemingly incongruous bursts of sartorial folly that provide a humorus foil to the descriptions of Roman architecture and Iron Age pottery. Whether by accident or design these gaffes are integral part of the show, and we find that we begin every episode with curiosity not only for what will be unearthed but what will be uncovered.

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Ugh-this is a particular annoyance. No matter the body type, ill-fitting pants make your lower back look like the broad side of a barn
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Of course, in a still shot like this you don’t get the full effect but you can imagine the effect that rigorous digging has on untethered body parts. I simply cannot understand how a lady dons a spaghetti-strap tank top to head out for a day of digging in the dirt
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Dr. Purkiss explaining documents from the English Civil War. Perhaps free from her Oxford robes, she had an urge to show off her tan? Or did the producers say: “Excuse me Professor, could you pull that shirt down and give us some flesh?”
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We used to tie our shirts like this when we were teenagers.
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I had long hair as a young girl and I was often admonished about keeping it tidy: “Put your hair back or you’ll drag it in your soup”     
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Long tresses can be lovely, but not usually in the workplace. Certainly not in the mud.
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Ah, Phil, you flint-knapping, pirate speaking, ebullient delight. You are my favorite. I am going to name my next dog ‘Summat’ in honor of Phil “I found summat ‘ere”
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I do have an almost overwhelming urge to take him to a good barber

I blame the producers. If they feel the need to inject a bit of flesh into the show why not hire some sexy young cheerleaders to jump around off to the side and leave the archaeologists to their work? They are taking advantage of these dedicated and scholarly men and women who may be very learned in their field but naive when it comes to the tacky, grubby world of commercial tv. So I find myself compelled to solve this problem for all of archaeology. I will clear my calendar and focus on this important issue. The show may be over but I am offering my services as visiting professor to all the graduate and DPhil programs to teach a course in Archaeology Outfitry.

ARC801: Fieldwork Practicalities: Unearthing the Past Without Revealing Secrets (Required) -Prof.Bebe

OOTD or Outfit Of The Dig:

Dressing for a dig, one must keep certain realities in mind: hour upon hour is spent kneeling in the dirt bent over at the waist.  Space can be confining, and the work can be rather rigorous and there may be no laundry services available. Therefore, the best way to go about an outfit for a dig, whatever the season, is to dress as you would for an outdoor workout. High performance clothing is a must:

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LL Bean, Title Nine, REI, etc. Cover it and flatter it

Water resistance is the key to fabrics for the summer dig. Whether a day of glistening in the hot sun, or working in rain and mud, these shirts and shorts will dry quickly, wash easily, and last the season. The bottoms should be of a darker color to hide the dirt and the tops should be light and bright so one avoids getting run over by a front-end loader. Sun protection is of paramount importance-a lightweight hat that is also water resistant and a tube of non-toxic sunblock should always accompany an archaeologist to the digsite. and her little daypack should include barettes to keep her hair out of the soup. Back at the tent, there should be a nailbrush and a manicure kit, and they  should be used daily. Lastly a cushion for the knees-an eager young grad student may easily overlook this accessory but the knees age vigorously so unless she wants a couple of ripe advocados by the time she is into her tenure, care must be taken to pamper them.

Winter Digpvoreoutfits

Again, stick to fabrics that perform when wet. A good wool blend is best for the tops. The pants are can be lined, and outer shell should be water resistant. You really should consider silk long underwear ( I am wearing mine as we speak). It provides an exceptionally thin layer of warmth. I also recommend a polarfleece scarf for any outdoor labors. The fabric is soft, warm lightweight and very easy to clean; if it should get in the dirt it can easily be rinsed out and left to dry overnight.  Along with a wool headwrap and wool glove liners this is an arrangement that should provide plenty of comfort in temps above zero Fahrenheit.

When the new generation of well groomed and attractive archaeologists hit the digs, tv producers will be inspired to renew Time Team, they will approach Bebe to replace Tony Robinson and I will spend my days exploring  the archaeology of Western Europe.

Gads-there is so much snow outside…..

Release the St Bernards..

It may be some time before I am heard from again.  Mother Nature is collecting on her debts and the snow-free winter we have enjoyed thus far is coming to a sudden, blizzarding end. The storm of 2015 is bearing down upon us and three feet are predicted. As the very first flakes fall outside my window I have taken a moment out of my storm prep to send up what may be my last communication until the tulips poke through in the spring. You see, despite living in the woods, The Family Bebe are not particularly self-sufficient. Or woodsy. Or in the least bit rugged. Most notably, our entire homestead runs on electricity. Lights, internet, heat, water, pellet stove, everything requires a steady flow of juice running into our, …uh…whatever it runs into. One fallen branch across a powerline can put our whole operation out of business. Most of our neighbors, far more hardy than we are (my girlfriend has chickens and makes her own maple syrup!!), have generators, and could probably survive until the summer. We never really felt the need for such unattractive, cacophonous pieces of machinery. Rather seemed a bit doomesday prepper for our lifestyle. If our house ever fails to provide for us we simply close the door and go to another. But now our little upturned noses will be frostbitten because the snow will have us trapped here to face our folly.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. Mine will be too cold….

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Blizzard of ’78.

Paris. The Bebe

part deux

Everything, everywhere.
That’s how Paris felt to me. It may be easier to process as a tourist. I was almost jealous of the hotel-staying, English speaking, sightseeing crowd. Once the monuments are seen and the museums visited all that was left of the day was to enjoy a croissant or vin chaud. Not for them was the pleasure of buying groceries at night in the Monoprix, operating a French washing machine, tiptoeing up and down ancient stairs so as not to disturb neighbors, or navigating the city while scouring centuries of history stored in my mind behind a jumble of Frenglish.

No, for us it was an exhilarating, challenging and wonderful chance to be Parisian, not just see Paris. No lines, no English, no itineraries

So come with me, as we explore Paris.

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come with me……

Here we are: our apartment on Quai des grands Augustins. Standing at our front door, the Pont Neuf is to our left, Notre Dame to our right, the Seine directly in front of us and history all around us

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our beautiful apartment was in an old building in an ancient part of the city
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well-worn stairs-I refused to take the tiny elevator.
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..and we are on our way! Actually we didn’t take the T much. We walked so we wouldn’t miss anything

The People

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The beautiful Maeve, the waitress at our ‘local': the Comptoir Dauphine. Her friendly welcome our very first day was a wonderful beginning to our trip and we visited several times

Parisians are quite friendly, thank you very much. When planning our trip I came across quite a few warnings about the rudeness of Parisians, especially the waiters. I didn’t remember this from my last visit so I was dubious and I was right to be so-Parisians are quite friendly and personable. More so than the people of Boston. Which is not to say that Bostonians are rude (ahem) they are just into themselves whereas Parisians are into life.

The Food

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a proper restaurant
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a brasserie lunch, how we had most of our meals
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This was a bittersweet moment for me. Most restaurants have English versions of their menus but we were usually handed the French ones because I would speak French to the staff. It was validating but then we wouldnt know what to order because we couldnt read the menu! This waitress wasn’t fooled by my attempt at French but it was nice to be able to read the menu for once

I wasn’t impressed with the food.

There. I said it.

I heard a few gasps just then.

Everything was delicious, but there wasn’t much that I couldn’t enjoy here in Boston as well. What I enjoyed was the way the French eat: they sit down properly, and take their time. They eat everything we are told to fear: white bread, cream, real butter, cheese, and wine in the middle of the day. And I shall bestow upon you, free of charge, the secret behind the ‘French paradox’….ready? …Sit down, it will be a lot to process…hold on to your hat……

They eat LESS

(you’re welcome)

Food is a serious business, it’s not to be rushed. No silly diets or fads. And unless otherwise advertised, the food is always French. No tex mex apps, oriental salads, or buffalo spices. We ate mostly in the brasserie, though.  Although I grew a bit weary of croque monsieur I love that the menus are, for the most part, unadulterated.

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One of our favorites restaurants: Relais de l’Entrecote in St Germain des Pres, on a little side street around the corner from Deux Magots

 

 

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that teaspoon now resides in my silverware drawer. I took it from Relais de L’Entrecote as a momento. Je ne regrete rien
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This was one of my favorite moments: Early Sat morn at Deux Magots
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Even the cafeteria in the Louvre gives a delicious petite dejeuner

The Sights

We took a peek at the major sights of course

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under the Eiffel Tour. (I thought this would be a clever shot but it came out like an upskirt)
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the family under the Eiffel Tower
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our view of La Joconde
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La Joconde’s view of us
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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triumph
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Hall of Mirrors, Versailles

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A French 75 and a hotdog at Harrys Bar-sank roo doe noo
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Brasserie Lipp “Eating is wonderful too and do you know where you are going to eat right now? Lipp’s is where you are going to eat, and drink too. It was a quick walk to Lipp’s and every place I passed that my stomach noticed as quickly as my eyes or my nose made the walk an added pleasure. There were few people in the brasserie and when I sat down on the bench against the wall with the mirror in back and a table in front and the waiter asked if I wanted beer I asked for a distingue, the big glass mug that held a litre, and for potato salad. ” E.H.,A Moveable Feast

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But the big sights needn’t be seen. Oh, to just wander in Paris! The city offers so much in her architecture and style that simply wandering through the streets is enough to get the experience of Paris. Every street was cobblestone, every building historic, every corner revealed an ancient church.

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The statues were sporting clown noses. No idea why, but It was amusing

The Unexpected (The little differences that captured my attention)

Ou et le…..?:

photo(32)I have an excellent sense of direction. And Mr Bebe is an actual expert in land navigation. So it came as quite a surprise to us when we found ourselves hopelessly lost on more than one occasion. At first it was a little concerning, standing stock-still on a Parisian street, map in hand, and absolutely no idea how to get where we were going.  But I highly recommend it. You never find as much as you do when you are lost..

Let’s Not Get Physical

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No one on the stairs! he French will actually line up to take the escalator. I am beginning to rethink all this exercise nonsense….

Since diet and exercise occupy much of my day, I found that spending time in a community that puts no thought into them at all was intriguing to say the least. So much extra time in the day! And they obviously know what they are doing: not everyone is thin, but no one is fat

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IMG_20141128_150206Forget about water. The French just don’t drink it like we do. If you ask for water they will bring you a little bottle to share. So if you are, like me, the type that is very conscious of ‘eight glasses a day’ then you will find yourself parched. Drink more vin rouge to take care of the dehydration headaches. That’s what I did.

Gypsies

The pickpockets must make a decent living because they are out in droves and they do not even try to be subtle. Anywhere more than ten people may gather there will be a group of 20-something girls with crumpled papers approaching people for signatures. They were everywhere. Armies of them across the city, men and women,and we were warned by our Parisian friends that they can get very aggressive. The police won’t arrest them so they are free to grab jewelry and phones and run off. Its an interesting situation. For the most part we could simply rebuff them and they would move on but one man actually grabbed the hand of my 14yo daughter and got very close as his partner moved in. Fortunately I was right there and can give a quick slap like my Irish grandmother. Over here, these sorts of shenanigans would get you a pop on the nose. Lucky for him my husband wasn’t the one standing next to her.

Gendarmarie

pictures-12People in this country would lose their minds if soldiers patrolled the streets. It would be viewed as a violation of civil rights, intimidation, and/or incitement. Personally, I like a man person in uniform. But then again I don’t do anything wrong. Not in public, anyway.

You’re on your own

Of course I never noticed it much before, but we are rather catered to in this country. Signs are translated, grapes are seeded, showers have doors, stores honor their posted hours. But in France I noticed a more laissez faire attitude toward providing conveniences.

Nowhere was this more evident than when we were abandoned at Petite Trianon. Shuttles bring visitors back and from from Versailles as they are quite a distance apart.  After a late day visit to the Queen’s humble abode, I stood in line for the return shuttle awaiting my children. I told Monsieur ticket taker that we would be four for the trip and he said nothing. It would have been a bit helpful if he mentioned that this was the last shuttle.He didn’t even glance back at me as he drove away

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Mr Bebe searches in vain for the offspring.

Children are nowhere to be found, the shuttle has gone and suddenly there is not a soul to be seen. And this is in the woods, there are no main streets where a cab might be hailed. So we walked, in the misty rain, no maps, darkness approaching, and only our wits to lead us in the right direction

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long walk home in the French countryside

It’s amusing, but I felt rather unimportant. Didn’t the staff wonder why we were still there, damp and confused? Not a single patrol car or security guard approached us to ask if we were lost. Apparently it mattered to no one but us that we were stuck in the middle of Versailles all alone. C’est le vie.

I enjoy a challenge anyway.

And I hope my readers do as well-coming up: what I wanted to see in Paris. But first: an important day trip.

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12hrs of travel each way. Phew-almost as long as this post..

 

For Hostess:

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Paris. The Grand

part une

She smiled pleasantly. “That’s 40 euros, please” Quickly and efficiently change was made and tickets were delivered. Another smile. “Thank you, Merci.”
And with that brief exchange we began the last leg of our 12-hour journey. My non-existent French had made something of itself and I was surprised at the ease of it all. But we were struggling under the slumping fatigue of a sleepless night and heavy luggage. Paris had not waited for us, she was well into her day, and, in an additional act of betrayal, she wouldn’t easily give up our apartment.  We searched, our minds on a job, our heads not yet in Paris.

Then, suddenly, we were standing on the Pont Neuf, the Eiffel Tower to our right, Notre Dame allowing herself to be observed to our left, and the Seine flowing under our feet.

Paris comes at you all at once.

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outside our apartment, Quai des Grands Augustins

 

 Heavy, ornately carved ancient stone soars into the sky.

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Notre Dame

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Notre Dame, during mass

 

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tower of St Jacques cathedral

 

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Arc de Triumph

 

 

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Sacre-Coeur

Paris delivers on all of its promises

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petite dejeuner in Montmartre

 

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the bedroom of Marie Antoinette at Versailles and the door through which she ran when the mob gathered outside

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Versailles

 

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evening in the 5th a beautiful brasserie/cabaret on the ancient rue Gallande off Rue St Jacques

 

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petite dejeuner at Deux Magot

 

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view of the Champs Elysees from the Arc de Triumph. We walked all the way from the home, then climbed all the way to the top

 

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Laduree
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late night dessert on ‘the Buci’- Rue de Buci in St Germain

Soon after purchasing those train tickets into the city we were immersed in Parisian life. We walked everywhere, we looked at everything, we spoke to everyone. Every minute of our day was filled, quite often with nothing at all. We left behind almost all of our other life, after all, it was only for ten days and France has so much to offer that you don’t want old habits to get in the way of new experiences. In some ways, we had no choice: we spoke little French and had to practice as we went, our computers and iphones failed to work for a myriad of reasons, and even the phone in our apartment didn’t work. But I think it was mostly Paris itself, she brings your senses to the very edge of overwhelmed and while you are there, you are so consciously in Paris, you cannot be anywhere else. Paris takes up all of your attention.

quoth the raven Nevermore

It has begun. The sky is a bright blue, the oblique sunlight is dazzling and the wind, our own mistral, swirls and gusts through the colorful branches and carries orange, red, and yellow confetti along in a carefree aerial dance

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I just raked that area yesterday

We are deep into that season for which our little part of the world is so well known and although I am no fan of the cold weather which it portends, I do enjoy the fall here in New England. Much like the earliest settlers who reveled in the bounty of the harvest and enjoyed the last days of habitable weather before the frozen chill of winter robbed them of crops, livestock and occasionally family members, folks here seem to embrace this season with a happy heart in a last burst of conviviality before the long hibernation.

Maybe it’s the beautiful surroundings, where even driving down the highway is like a leaf-peeping holiday. Maybe it’s the cool nights when we can finally pull out our LLBean down comforters and snuggle against the chill. Maybe it’s the time spent at harvest festivals and apple picking rather than lawn mowing and pool cleaning.

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pick some, eat some
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blue sky, red apples
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apple picking in central MA

The days are still warm and windows remain open, allowing the delicious smells of baked goods to waft out and tickle the air with delicious scents of pumkin pies, apple tarts and homemade applesauce. Indeed, one cannot walk around my neighborhood on a Sunday morning without the comforting smell of bacon and pancakes. Apples, honey, pumpkin, and squash overflow baskets and farm stands. On my own kitchen counter is a mini peck of macintosh apples destined for tarts, pies, pancakes and muffins

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pumpkin apple bread, freshly made this very morning

One of my favorite things in fall are the crows. Those cacophonous and boisterous visitors have arrived, their black feathers, beaks and craggly legs contrasting against the bright yellow and orange leaves of the trees in which they sit, watching us… and plotting. Calling out to one another, not in the sing song melodious rhythms of their cousins, but in a loud and striking alarm reminding us that the end is near.

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The Talking Crow on Etsy

Where Spring peeps and twitters, fall gusts and caws. Even walking along with the dogs on a cheerful sunny morning the intense stare from the black eye of a jackdaw above -‘the grave and stern decorum of its countenance’-and it’s alarming call can give one pause, as if there is a warning to heed. They bring to my mind Halloween, Edward Gorey illustrations and Poe.

Edward Gorey cartoon for Masterpiece Theater. PBS has made yet another grievous error in eschewing this wonderful opening for something more slick and flashy

 

 

Typically not a fan of the macabre, I do appreciate the sharp contrast with the verdant summer.  It almost puts me in the mood to celebrate the coming of winter, and to settle in comfortably with the understanding that summer is Nevermore

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Edward Gorey’s Gashlycrumb Tinies

 

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Black plants with black berries adorn our front steps

 

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Edgar Allen Poe statue recently unveiled in Boston

Happy Birthday GSL!

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Some boys are made of more than frogs and snails and puppy dog tails. Some are made of clever bon mots, good natured gibes, and sharp repartee. None more so than our dear GSL, that charming comment czar and post pundit who makes all of our blogs more interesting and entertaining and is never short of enthusiastic participation and loyal support.

Happy Birthday Darling GSL

We love you

I Went to Olly’s to See Rufus

We never stopped at the jewelry counter of Jordan Marsh. We simply and, I thought, hurriedly, passed it by on our way in or out. But the gems within captured my fascination and held it so tightly that I truly believed the natural order of the world would be best served by my having ownership of them.  There was no desire to wear them around and cause pangs of jealousy from my enemies in the schoolyard; it was just a primal impulse to possess them.

I was reminded of an echo of that feeling when I spent the night at the Oliver Wight house.

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Oliver Wight House

I knew they had a Rufus Porter mural there, but not until I walked through the large old door and  my eyes adjusted to the cool darkness of the hallway did I realize that it wasn’t on special display, guarded under glass or behind velvet ropes.  There would be no guard approaching from the corner of the room to banish my camera, no visitors at my shoulder to apportion the view (or my personal favorite, read aloud)

There was not a soul around, and I was free to get as close as I wanted, to examine it at my leisure and take as many pictures as I chose. I could discuss out loud with Mr Bebe different points of interest which,I am sure, pleased him to no end. It was mine -all mine. Like ye olde canopy bed I would sleep in upstairs, this belonged to me, if only for one night.

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An ambitious renaissance man and rumored to be the inspiration for Twain’s Connecticut Yankee, Rufus Porter was not only a popular folk art muralist and portraitist, but a teacher, a traveler, a writer, a poet, a publisher, and a keen inventor.  He held over 25 patents and he started Scientific American magazine. He taught painting, opened a dance school, invented the revolver, designed an airship, wrote poetry and worked his entire life devising mechanical improvements for agricultural, military and transportation machinery

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He spent several years wandering up and down the East Coast with his painting gear. He did some portraits but the bulk of his work was on the walls of private homes and public hostelries exchanging work for lodging. At some point in his travels, he stopped into an Inn in Massachusetts where, almost 200 years later, Bebe would rest her head.

*(the lighting was quite poor so the picture quality is inconsistent, Im afraid. Mr Bebe held open the door to let in more natural light which helped for some areas but not all.)

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Rufus included in his murals objects that held personal interested for him

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Details. Love the hats

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Rufus liked to put cliffs and waterfalls at staircases

 

 

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Rufus Porter 1792-1884

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nota bene:   Bebe is not adverse to having a Rufus all to herself at an inn…

*Update*

for Blue Booby:

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yes I did