Diary of a Marked W•man


Paris, March 2008

Sat.the 1st: Got delivery of a tall and a short office cabinet. At last some furniture to put my stuff away! Living room looks much better. I prefer office furniture made of metal to particle-board cheap home furniture that has nasty chemical fumes, shoddy construction and paper glued on the surfaces imitating wood grain. At least office furniture is not trying to be cute. It's bland but functional and the blandness is an asset.

Tues.the 4th : I started my day weaving on my tablet loom a band that is 36 tablets wide in the center field plus 8 tablets on each side for the edge. I experienced lots of mishaps from the beginning of the warping process, dropping two tablets instead of one and having to add the missing turn at the end, thread too short requiring a knot to join a new length, and during the weaving a knot geting undone... in addition to the usual mistakes. If I hadn't let so much time pass after my previous weaving session, I might not have made so many mistakes this time, but I was awed by the high number of tablets compared to the one I was used to: 36+8+8instead of 20+4+4, and to be sure, the more tablets, the more occasions to make a mistake, and also, it's not so easy to turn a thick pack o tablets. But I gave up trying to do it fast, taking my sweet time to make sure everything is a-ok before turning the tablets. Still, if my mind wanders off even a split second, I'm liable to make a boo-boo. I'm doing some Persian motifs from Otfried Staudigel's book. They look great in black and white and I'm thinking of possible color combinations.

I have a package waiting for me. I received a note in my mailbox saying the package was at the Bercy branch and would be kept there for 5 days, and I should call to make an appointment. I called today and the woman asked me for the 17-digit parcel number, then said the package was marked as delivered. She kept me waiting for long periods and when I started losing patience she said I shouldn't take it out on her, it wasn't her fault the way the system was set up, and offered to give me the telephone number to make a complaint, which I refused, saying they don't give a damn about customers. She said there was only the parcel number in her computer, not the name of the recipient so she asked for my name and address and took forever writing it down. I asked how long would it take her to write down a two-syllable name, then I asked if she could write at all, upon which she hung up on me. This is a short version, in reality the whole thing lasted longer than this.

It's the second time I get a notice that my package is at the Bercy branch. Last time was around last Christmas and I also had to call and make arrangements to have the parcel made available to me at my usual branch post office. And before that a package of books sent from Japan was awaiting pick-up at the Massena branch and since I couldn't go there the package was sent back to Japan! And yesterday when I picked up some packages at the Simone Weil branch, the line for mail pick-up was being held up by a customer who remained at the counter for a very long time and no other clerk called numbers from this series, and only after the customer had left and the line started moving again did a clerk from another window call for this series.

Mon.the 10th: I got a second Bercy notice for another package. I've been buying wicker baskets for storage and they got shipped through the mail of course. So I go to pick them up at the post office without showing the notices because they don't seem kosher to me. A woman older than me offers me her seat while a young girl is sitting on another chair next to her mother. I comment that it would be more appropriate for the young girl to give up her seat but I accept the one that is offered, and as soon as I'm sitting down the young girl offers her chair to the woman who gave me hers! I look up to see which number of my series is being served but there's a panel hanging from the ceiling that hides the led panel from view at the precise spot where I'm sitting. But if I lean to the left I can see it. But a woman at one of the windows is calling for anyone who has to pick up mail or parcels regardless of the numbers. It happens almost every time I'm there. So I get up but a woman with three very young children beats me to the window. The postal woman gives me a look of empathy and serves the woman. It does not take long then it's my turn. I tell her I have 2 packages but I only want to pick up the one that arrived first, around Feb. 28 because the deadline for pickup is approaching and since it's a big package I can't take both. She's standing and bends forward to leaf through the binder that holds a record of all packages, her long straight black hair hanging down. It takes her a long time then she says she doesn't see a record for any of the packages I mentioned to her. So I show her one of the notices and she says yes, my package is at Bercy, that's how they deal with voluminous packages. I sa y it's not that big and am irritated at the problems they are causing me. I say I don't see why I should have to call and make an appointment, give the 17 digit package number to an operator, plus my name and address while she keeps me waiting too. I paid for a shipping method called "Colissimo" that is expensive enough and why should I go through the extra bother they are asking of me? I'm fed up and I'm going to file a complaint for interference with my mail. She says it's not interference, that's the way it is, and isn't it more convenient for me to have the package delivered at my doorstep instead of going to the post office to get it? I reply that I'm not opening my door to anyone. She says I don't have to let anybody in, I only need to sign the receipt at my front door. She says she's going to make the appointment for me, and when would it be convenient? I say "any day after 3PM". And since I get home delivery I give her the notice for the other package. She makes a copy of both and gives them back to me after having written the date and time of delivery: Thursday the 13th. Same day I get delivery of the mirror I bought on eBay. And I go back home empty handed.

Fri. the 28th: Well nobody from the post office showed up at my door. I was kind of relieved because this story about home delivery never sounded right to me and I didn't know what I would have done if a man claiming to be a postal employee had knocked on my door. Later a man called after 7:30PM to say he had the mirror, was running a bit late and was in the 12th district. About ten minutes later he called again saying he was in front of my building and did I want to come down or should he come up. I said since I'm handicapped I expected him to come upstairs. He said ok, would be right there. He called again on the phone to say he was at my door. I had written the check but had not done any kind of dressing up for the occasion, wearing my 'round-the-clock pink "night" gown on top of sweat pants and a black wool hat to keep warm so I opened the door only a crack with the security on, told him I wasn't presentable enough to let him in, asked to see the mirro which was resting against the wall, and slipped him the check through the crack. He said thank you and went back down. When the sound of his footsteps grew faint I opened the door and took the mirror in.

On the 18th I wrote the woman who sent me one of the packages, saying I hadn't received it and asking if she could check on her side. She wrote back that the pkg had been delivered. I took photos of the 2 delivery notices with the bar code sticker affixed to them, uploaded them to my 'puter and attached them to my reply, saying that the post office worker I had spoken to on the 11th had given me an appointment for home delivery and no one showed up and saying I'd never heard of this service before. She wrote back that she was very surprise at the sight of the delivery notices and would show them to someone at her post office, then the day after said that she went, and was told that an internal investigation would be made. I replied I had also noticed that the address at the bottom of the letterhead was fake. In the morning a woman saying she was a postal worker called to ask me to call back, to make an appointment for delivery.

If I'm not mistaken, two violations of the Penal Code have been committed: Interference with mail and making and using false documents.

This month I have been tablet weaving. I did one band in double face, doing some motifs of flowers and birds from Otfried Staudigel's book, and one band in plain weave. This was my first band in plain weave. The weaving itself is straight, there is no pattern to look at at every row, all the cards are turned together forward then backwards when the twist buildup becomes troublesome. So I wanted to do it as quickly as possible. I started on the Thursday before Easter, the 20th, preparing the thread and by Saturday evening I started weaving. I wove all day Sunday thru Wednesday, by which time my right wrist was very sore so I took it easy Thursday and finished today. I was afraid if I didn't do it very quickly this band would be boring? Well,now it's finished, and it's 275cm long.

I have decided to do more tablet weaving so I ordered thread of different colors from 2 suppliers. I do love color combination.

The news are very bad about Iraq, the US economy, the environment... but instead of reading almost all the articles like I used to, I only read very few of them because, except for the details, I know what's going on. I knew that wars create unsanitary conditions so I'm not surprised that cholera and malaria are killing and sickening people in Iraq. Well, I read a full article once in a while. Now there's an insurgency in Tibet and two very interesting articles about the background story, of Britain and the CIA fomenting rebellion to hamper China's progress.

On the culinary front, it's the first time in maybe thirty years if not more, that I have eaten white purple-tipped asparagus. When I saw it was available at the market I looked up a recipe for a traditional sauce named "mousseline" and learned that it was a hollandaise sauce to which crème fraiche is added. So with the first batch I made the hollandaise plain 'cause I forgot to buy the crème. The second batch was with short asparagus, which is better because there is not so much dead weight that goes to the garbage, almost all is edible. But this time I had no lemon juice. Drat. Anyway I made the hollandaise and put the crème fraîche in the end, but although it was very good and I ate a lot, the sauce was not quite like I remembered my mother making it. What was it that was lacking? The mousseline she made was light and airy, not like the one I ended up with which was smooth but not airy... Did she beat the egg white and add it to the hollandaise? I didn't think so and kept thinking. I swear I was so intent on finding the original recipe that I looked up on eBay for a famous cookbook of the time (up to the 70s) by Pellaprat, who made a classic on family fare starting in the mid 40s that was updated every decade. But before buying the book where I hoped to find the answer, I understood that she must have whipped the crème fraîche before incorporating it to the hollandaise, which would account for the lightness of this sauce and its well-deserved nameof "muslin". The cookbook I used is "Les Recettes d'une Grand-Mère" by Renée de Grossouvre, and she said nothing about whipping the crème. Bad, bad grandma! Well at least I can pay my mother this compliment, that she made a mean mousseline, so good I was ready to move heaven and earth to taste it again.

Like lovemaking, success in the kitchen has a lot to do with good timing. To have the asparagus ready to eat when the sauce is just finished, the crème must be whipped to soft peaks first and kept in the fridge while the butter melts and the water heats. And put the asparagus in the water only when all the butter is melted. Make the sauce while the asparagus cook, take them out and let them drain and cool while finishing the hollandaise and add the whipped crème just before serving.

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