Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Stranded on the Carousel

It was a glorious day at the zoo today with temperature in the high 70°'s.  I was busy mentoring two new volunteers, showing them around zoo grounds.  We visited the tapirs, Visayan warty pigs, siamangs, Malayan tigers, sloth bears, Asian small-clawed otters, and penguins when we spotted the beautiful carousel on the grounds.  Thinking it important for these trainees I suggested that we ride on the merry go round to gain the experience.

It is a lovely old Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel with brightly colored carved wooden horses, shiny brass posts and mirrors to reflect the excited faces of kids having a whale of a good time. The horse I chose was in the "down" position so with some difficulty I was able to swing my long legs over the saddle and straddle the charging steed.  The stirrups were so short that I looked like a jockey at a horse race with my knees practically under my chin.  The carousel started with the slap happy traditional merry go around music which brought back chilldhood memories.  However, seeing my reflection in the mirrors I just looked like a very overgrown "big lady", way too long legged to be on that critter. I was more than a little concerned because when we were in the "up" position we were way up in the air and I noted alarmingly that I was not going to be able to dismount the steed if I was still up that high and not down.

We came to a stop and I was not only in the up position but the way up position and there wasn't a way for me to come down.  I was trapped.   Much to their credit my two volunteers ran over with great concerned and didn't burst into gales of laughter as I would have had the positions been revered.  There I was stranded in the up position while all the other riders had  been lifted off their horses by their parent or were able dismounted themselves. A long line was waiting to get in, but couldn't do it as long as I was impaled on the horse.

The expert carousel operator came to my rescue by slowly nudging the horse down, down to the lowest position and I was able to awkwardly get off the horse but I confess that I was red-aced as I fled the scene.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Beggars Can Be Choosers

This morning I walked across the street to buy my weekly Sunday bagel at Safeway’s.  As usual there was a panhandler standing in front of the store’s main door asking for money.  I have seen this guy before and he always has two dogs  with him, a small terrier and a larger brown dog.  I felt kind of sorry for the pooches and decided that I would also get some doggie treats as life is probably not easy for them sleeping in alleys.

I purchased a bag of dog treats and as I left the store I walked over to the panhandler and gave him the package saying, “This is for your dogs.”  He looked at it, turned it over and read the ingredients.  “It has corn in it and my little dog is allergic to it,” and tried to hand it back.

“I don’t have a dog perhaps you do know someone and can give it to them,” I said.

“Oh, she does,” he says pointing to a female pan-handler just coming out of the store to retrieve her dog tied to the handrail.

No one even said, “Thank you.” I must remember that no good deed goes unpunished.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Lunch in Paris

I had just spent the morning sketching in the Marais, one of my favorite Parisian neighborhoods, and stopped at the Salon de thé Bar on the Rue Vieille du Temple to order lunch at their sidewalk safe.  It was quite crowed so I joined others at a common table and sat across from a rather rotund woman, dressed in a pink dress with chubby fingers wearing lots of rings, some with diamonds glistening in the sunlight.
Being on a limited budget I ordered a cafe au lait and a cheese sandwich.

The lady in pink proceeded to order a four-course lunch French with gusto and didn’t pay any attention to the other diners around her.  I had a perfect view of this gastronomic groupie who tore into her meal with complete abandon. 

First she ordered a carafe of rosé and poured three fingers of wine into her tumbler and downed it in one gulp. 

Intent on her meal land she hardly looked up as she broke the onion soup thick with cheese and bread.  Steam rose from her initial attack at the crust and she slurped the dark brown liquid into pursed lips.  With one hand on the spoon and the other hand holding her baguette she manage to dispatch the bowl with relish. 

There followed a small plate of patés, a paté de campagne forrestier with porcini mushrooms reeking of wine and Cognac, and the other one seemed to be duck foi gras which she slathered on bread with a thick knife.  

Her main dish was escargot (one of my personal favorites and I frankly had to keep from drooling).  The garlic and parsley sauce bubbled around the small snails tucked into their little round indentations ready to be speared with a tiny escargot fork.  She downed the first one, then dipped her bread into the sauce twice to soak up all the juices.  With hardly a pause she speared the second snail repeating her bread dipping technique, until the plate was swabbed clean.

You’d think at this point she would have swooned over the amount of butter, cheese, fat and trans fats she had ingested but she ended her gastronomic marathon with a glass bowl piled high with strawberries. She very delicately took a spoon of just one strawberry, swallowed it and then spooned another, taking her time to complete her hearty lunch.  At the end of lunch she looked up, rolled her eyes as though thanking Bacchus himself for this culinary extravaganza. I was mighty impressed and promised myself to save up for some escargot sometime soon.