Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 30

A Pied-à-Terre

Contrary to Tillerman’s prediction from last week, nothing has been redacted from this chapter. Yes, I know, we’re still dealing with not-so-active “girl stuff” here, but what we’re really doing is setting the stage for future action. And at the time I wrote this, I was still having fun with the Corsican-twin stuff.

Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 30

“You know, we’re not going to want to stay in the hotel much longer,” Pierre said over breakfast the next morning. “Since we’re here for a longer term, we ought to look into renting a flat.”

“Yes. I think I’d like to have some more privacy,” I said.

“Not only that, I’m getting tired of eating out all the time. I’d like to get some home cooking.”

“Aha! You didn’t marry me for my body, you married me for my macaroni and cheese!”

“You guessed it,” Pierre said, leaning across the table for a quick kiss.

Alois had recommended a broker to Pierre, and we spent the whole day with the broker, looking at dozens of apartments. Time and time again, however, something was wrong with each one. Either the place was too small, or it had noisy neighbors, or it wasn’t in a convenient neighborhood, or it was in an airless basement. Finally, however, at the very end of the day, we found the perfect place. It was in the attic of a building without an elevator, and the six flights of stairs had apparently fazed a lot of potential tenants. But for us, it would be perfect, since the exercise would help Pierre to keep the pounds off while still enjoying my cooking. The place was large, occupying the entire attic, and it was very well lit, with skylights and with dormer windows that commanded stunning views; the setting sun lit the whole place in a golden glow. A special touch was the skylight directly above the bed in the master bedroom. “Now we can sleep under the stars every night,” Pierre whispered in my ear. The floors were all hardwood, and there was plenty of room in the living room for Pierre to give me dancing lessons. The kitchen was large, and it came fully equipped with the finest French equipment – finally, I could cook in style. There was even a blowtorch for finishing the crème brulée. And there was a second bedroom, where Betsy could sleep if she came to visit – although that wouldn’t be right away; we agreed we wouldn’t let people know we had “found” Pierre’s daughter until she graduated from wizard school. We returned to the broker’s office to complete the paperwork and made plans to move in the next day.

It didn’t take us long to take our belongings from the hotel to the flat. Even with all of the new clothes and shoes I had bought, our stuff took up just a small portion of the walk-in closets. We set about putting up magical protections, and then I went out to the market to stock the kitchen while Pierre went to visit some of his friends at a club. Except for Alois, who also was the only wizard among them, they hadn’t been aware of his return to Paris until the Monte Carlo night party, and they were eager to catch up with his doings – and especially his mysterious, gorgeous, new bride. As I was browsing through the fresh foods at the market, I eavesdropped on the conversation, which was in mixed English and French; Pierre’s friends came from a globetrotting set that included French, English, Americans, and other nationalities.

“You never did tell us the other night,” a red-faced, balding Englishman was saying, “how did you end up with such a beautiful young woman?”

“Well, Nigel,” Pierre said, “I first met her about two years ago. She was a college student, and she was interested in learning how to sail. I gave her lessons.”

“Robbing the cradle, are ye?” said a willowy blond young man.

“Not at first, I wasn’t, Mike,” Pierre said. I realized he knew I was probably listening in, and I appreciated that he was using everyone’s names as he spoke to them, although I hoped the frequent interjections wouldn’t become too obtrusive. “In fact, for a while, I thought she might be my daughter, the one who was kidnapped twenty years ago.”

“And what would she see in you?” Nigel asked. “Girl with her looks, she could have just about any chap. What’s she want with a weather-beaten fellow a head shorter than herself?”

“I mentioned that she wanted to learn to sail,” Pierre said. “She took to it right off, and in a year or two she was beating me all the time.”

“You always were competitive,” Alois said. “So, what, you married her so you could continue to possess the best sailing talents around?” I paid for my groceries and saw that the clerk was curious about why I was smiling broadly for seemingly no good reason. I waved my left hand, letting the sparkling new rings glitter in the sun, and she winked and smiled back.

“Well, you see, it wasn’t just the sailing,” Pierre said. “We got to talking, and we discovered we had a whole lot in common. At first, I thought she might be my long-lost Eliza and that was why we were so alike. But then I discovered that she wasn’t Eliza, and I realized that I, uh, she, uh, we wanted …”

“To get physical?” a red-haired man with an American southern accent, who had previously been silent, interjected.

“Yes, Luke, you might say that,” Pierre said. I reached the flat and went into the kitchen to put the groceries away. “Those three months before the wedding were the longest in my life.”

“Now I know she’s gettin’ to you,” Luke said. “I never knew you to respect a woman’s honor in your life!”

I giggled. “Me neither,” I commented.

“Now, that’s all in the past,” Pierre said. “Sarah’s all mine, and I’m all hers.” I got the ingredients for macaroni and cheese and set them on the counter, paying special attention so Pierre would see what I was doing.

“Supper’s on in half an hour,” I said.

“Speaking of which,” Pierre said, “I’d better be getting back to her. Give me a ring sometime – you have the number for the new flat.”

“Boy, has she got you good,” Luke said.

“But then, with her looks, who could blame him?” Nigel asked as Pierre headed for the door.

Supper was macaroni and cheese, garlic bread, steamed broccoli, and champagne. Afterward, Pierre put a CD on the stereo and we started dance lessons – in addition to the magic protection, we had added floor damping so as not to disturb the neighbors below. He was every bit as good a dance instructor as a sailing instructor, and I had mastered the waltz and started on the foxtrot before the lessons danced on into the bedroom, where we discovered that sleeping under the stars was every bit as romantic as it was cracked up to be.

The next morning, Pierre and I went out to a print shop. “We’re high society now,” he said. “Or at least, we’re working on it. It’s time to meet a few obligations of etiquette.” We ordered up wedding announcements, complete with fancy dual envelopes and “at home” cards – as Pierre put it, announcing our new address so people would know where to send the presents. I picked a floral design, not so stiffly formal, and I noticed the flowers were like the wildflowers Betsy had woven into garlands for me to wear when Pierre and I went through the wizards’ joining spell. We paid extra to have a rush order, and when we returned to the shop two hours later, we had several boxes of cards. We spent the afternoon addressing hundreds of envelopes to addresses all over the world.

“You certainly do have a lot of friends,” I said, rubbing cramped fingers in the golden glow of the sunset.

“Well, most are really just acquaintances,” Pierre said, taking my hand and kneading it with his extra warming touch. “But it’s useful to know a lot of people.”

The telephone rang, and Pierre went to answer it. It was Alois, inviting us to supper with his family, and Pierre quickly agreed. “Alois and his wife are both wizards of the winds and waves,” he told me after he hung up. “The kids probably are, too. We don’t have to let them know about the communication thing, but they already know your full story, so we won’t have to be so careful about letting something slip. Besides, we can get a progress report on our boat.”

Alois and his wife, Elaine, lived in a farmhouse outside of the city on the banks of the Seine. As Pierre and I drove up, I could see that there was a small boat dock in back, with three or four small sailboats tied up to it. Supper was a casual affair, focused mainly on a large pot of ratatouille, sweetly fragrant with generous amounts of fresh basil; Elaine had a sizeable herb garden. Alois and Elaine had four children ranging in age from about seven on down, and another one clearly on the way. After supper, Elaine put the children to bed, and then we four adults gathered around the supper table over coffee.

“We started work on your boat yesterday,” Alois said. “You’re welcome to come and see it at any time.”

“We’ll certainly do that,” Pierre said.

“Meanwhile, the activities of the Others seem to have slacked off,” Alois said.

“I’d noticed that,” Pierre said. “We think they may have used up a whole lot of their power trying to kill Sarah. All of the energy they spent on all of those attacks – it may be a while before they gain their full strength back.”

“At least that gives us more time to find out what they are doing and plan how to defeat them,” I said.

“Sarah and I will be working to get into the circles where the Others have their influence,” Pierre said. “It’s going to be difficult, but for the time being, Sarah’s identity isn’t known. After the attack on the magic school, the Others seem to have spent themselves, and they seem to have lost track of her. I was small potatoes, so they never paid any attention to me – they don’t even know I’m a wizard.”

“Well, you’re certainly drawing attention now,” Elaine said. “I heard about Sarah’s debut at the Monte Carlo night.”

“Still,” Pierre said, “all we look like now is the wealthy playboy I’ve always looked like, turned domestic by a stunning woman. Sarah’s own protective ability is improving, and we should be able to keep her identity secret for at least a while.”


Blogger Tillerman said...

Ugh! I was beginning to like this Sarah character - a stunner and a superb sailor - what's not to like?

But then she serves up MACARONI CHEESE AND BROCCOLI to her lover??? Two of the most foul tasting foods on the planet. Ugh!!!

Yeah - I know Tillerwoman likes broccoli (perhaps this is a girl thing) but she has more sense than to serve it to me. Even GWH Bush hates broccoli. Ugh!!!!!!

Wed Apr 26, 06:31:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

A few words in defense ... first, I wrote this back in October, long before you put "I hate broccoli" twice in your list of 100 things about you. I put broccoli in because it's Pat's favorite vegetable. Also, Sarah's mac & cheese is nothing like the stuff from a box that looks and tastes like library paste. It's more of a pasta with alfredo sauce than the dish most people think of when they think of macaroni & cheese -- just with sharp cheddar rather than mozzarella and Parmesan.

Something interesting is that a lot of people think macaroni and cheese is supposed to have a taste and texture like library paste, and these people don't like my recipe. It astonishes me that some people actually LIKE food that tastes like that. I certainly can't stand that slick, greasy feeling on my tongue.

Here's a challenge: I send Tillerwoman my recipe for mac & cheese, she cooks it up for you, and you check it out. If you don't agree that it surpasses by far the slimy stuff that comes from a box, I'll buy you a pitcher of your choice of beer next time you're in New Mexico.

Meanwhile, I'll let you continue to dislike broccoli, but I'll give Pat permission to try to talk you out of that particular disliking. (His father was in the produce-packing business, and he was particularly upset at George the Elder's announcement that as President of the United States, he would no longer have to eat broccoli.)

Thu Apr 27, 01:15:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Tillerman said...

Did I actually put it twice in my 100 things? It wasn't deliberate - just shows how strong my loathing is. My theory is that those strange people who like broccoli have a genetic disorder and are missing a kind of taste bud that normal people like me have. That's why they can't taste that awful, foul, pungent, acrid taste. UGH!

Thu Apr 27, 02:04:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Pat said...

Of course, there is a problem with certain vegetables - those known as "cruciferous" I believe - having to do with certain, er ah, afterburner effects. The big thing for me with vegetables is that I like them fresh or very delicately, lightly processed/cooked. Fresh, sauteed, steamed, and that's about it. Fresh salad veggies with light vinagrette is fine. A nice Cobb salad is great. Steamed corn on the cob with butter is a very fine thing. Crispy celery and carrots, fresh parsley, yep. Lightly steamed asparagus, yum yum.

Then there's the dark side...
Mushy peas, No Thanks. Candied rutabegas or sweet potatoes ... No Way! And people who boil vegetables to death to get rid of the healthy stuff should be sentenced by the Veggie Tribunal.

Now how on earth did I ever get emotional in defense of Veggie Truth, Justice, and the American Fresh Veggie Way?

"That's what I like about vegetables... with vegetables, you know what you're about."
The Fantasticks.

Thu Apr 27, 04:43:00 PM MDT  

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