Partial recollection

Yesterday I had the weirdest dream. I was called, along with a dozen people, to go to Mars to try and test the living conditions or something.

Now Mars wasn’t really comfortably inhabitable yet, there were no cities or other settlements, no vegetation, nothing more than the current dusty red emptiness, really. We were no experts in anything, like engineers or biologists, sent there to build things or start an ecosystem or whatever; we should just go there and see how we do. And indeed, it felt like being sent on holidays for a few weeks, there was definitely no sensation of isolation or anything bad like that involved while being up there.

I remember that we were living in some kind of large appartment, or a cabin, which was pretty comfortable and in particular had Earth-quality breathable air. We also regularly went out on the red and dusty plains, for walks or on errands (I don’t know), and the outside air was much thinner. At the start of my stay, I had trouble staying out for very long before getting difficulties to breathe; after a while though, while it was still hard I could stay out as long as I wanted.

Outside there was always a heavy sensation, possibly due to difficult breathing, and which felt like higher gravity (although I was aware that it couldn’t be the reason). Maybe the desolate ochre landscape contributed to the feeling.

A day or so before finally leaving, I went to a second-hand bookstore to browse through their crime fiction, looking for Maigret novels.

dusty red Martian landscape

There’s clearly enough fun to have in there for weeks.

Back on Earth, I went to a sunny beach with some friends. I reflected that the two features striking me the most about our planet were how crowded it is, and how vivid the colours are.

Picture: Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. More about it on Caltech’s JPL page.


A perfect day for perfect pain

Ever since the beginning I knew that the day would come. And then it came, much too fast, much too early. Friday 21, mid morning, my cat died.

This wasn’t actually unexpected: a large tumor had been detected in her belly early this year, and the vet didn’t hide the fact that it was highly unlikely to be the kind you eventually get better from. But you never know and we should have a look some day; long story short, I’ve been preparing for my cat’s death for a few months now.

And yet. Continue reading


A world in white gets underway

eat less chocolate
exercise more
get back in touch with lost friends

Oh, you are here? I’m finally drafting a New Year’s resolution list,  please do take a seat while I finish with it. Have some tea if you like.


clean flat weekly
update blog frequently

Wait a minute… Maybe you are surprised that I am back here at all? You are right, it has been quite a while, since… oh  my ears and whiskers, since 25th of October, that’s a loooong time indeed! Please accept my apologies for neglecting the place, and neglecting you. But, as you can see from the resolution list above, this shall happen no more in 2012. Ha ha.

Anyway, let’s go on with a long overdue festive entry: my Christmas and New Year menus, and The Tale of the Elusive Pear Belle Hélène. Continue reading


Specialty of the house

Remember how I went for a two-week long trip to Shanghai at the start of September? Well, a favourite topic of conversation with those who come back from China is food. At least, that’s one subject I like to ask about a lot, but it might well be a personal obsession: no matter what the country, my interest in the subject never seems to fail. But I digress — China is indeed renowned for its food, and this is what this long overdue blog post is about. Continue reading


The blue lotus

Ici, on dirait que le ciel est plus grand.

This observation was made by a friend during a schooltrip to Russia a long, long time ago. I couldn’t help thinking of this again when I went to China earlier this September; the sky looks bigger over there as well. Along with quite a few other things, but that is to be expected when visiting Shanghai, the world’s “largest city proper” according to Geohive. Large city, disorienting Orient, patchwork of colourful impressions, mind-blowing experience — this is what I shall fail to capture in the next few Entries.

First a disclaimer. The following haphazard account is merely an attempt to describe my first impressions of China gathered during a very short visit in a very specific location. For this reason, it is quite subjective and more likely to reflect my own flawed perception of things rather than providing a deep insight into Chinese civilisation. But honestly, would you be reading this if you were looking for boring objectivity? So there.

Very unusual: a regular-sized sky.

Continue reading


If I were a blog post, I would be this one

if I were a river, I would be… the Rhine.
if I were a colour, I would be… magenta.
if I were a work of art, I would be… The Book of Secrets.
if I were one of the five sense, I would be… smell.

if I were an animal, I would be… a human.
if I were a word, I would be… “sirocco”.
if I were a fictional character, I would be… Arthur Dent.
if I were a deadly sin I would besloth.

The Book of Secrets.

And now, most exquisite Reader, why won’t you describe yourself in a similar fashion?

Picture credit: Marta Bevacqua.

Edited for grammar on 19. September.


L’heure avant l’aube du jour suivant

A portrait in 5 snapshots


J is a waitress, and a student as well. She works in the pub a couple of blocks away. I am a regular there ever since the football World Cup in 2010. I am not sure she likes football. It doesn’t matter: the games are opportunities to have a good time in a lively atmosphere, and lots of beer. And long evenings chilling out with pub regulars who stay even when the game is over.

We play name-boozing: each participant gets allocated a football player. Whenever the player is mentioned on TV during the game, the participant must drink from their pint, empty it if the player scores a goal. If memory serves, the game is Germany vs. England. J gets Schweinsteiger, and complains that she will be too drunk to work by the end of the game. I get Mertesacker, who must have eaten a tiger if one is to judge by the number of times he is mentioned that night. Continue reading


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