Sunday, December 18, 2011

Weekend: Bruni and Dieter's Visit

We had a great weekend, though humbling in some respects. On Friday we all went into Paris.  My host parents, Bruni and Dieter Schulz, were visiting and we made arrangements to meet them and my parents at Place de la Concorde.  It was a blustery day with intermittent rain showers.  I had a monstrous time getting the children out of the house, and was almost in tears on the walk to the train station.  We missed our train and arrived late, only to discover it that had begun to rain and we had left our only umbrella on the train.   In a few minutes, we found Mom, Dad, Bruni, and Dieter who were half soaked from the deluge.  It was nonetheless a merry reunion.  We took shelter in a cafe and ordered hot drinks and lunch. 

After eating and getting the girls into new diapers (not a negligible task in a restaurant bathroom with no changing facilities), we went out to stroll the Champs Elysee.  The street was lined with Christmas market vendors.  There were booths selling mulled wine and all kinds of  street food---sausages, crepes, curries, gingerbread, roasted chestnuts.  Then there were booths selling gift items--baby dolls, hats, scarves, wooden puzzles, Russian dolls.  Bruni kept saying "this is not typical French, but it is nice."  Christmas markets are really more of a German tradition, but the French have appropriated it, and the Champs Elysee market was lovely.  There were many things that I wold have loved to buy, and many foods I would have loved to taste.  Perhaps it was for the best that the cold and the need to stay together prevented any serious shopping or eating.  We rounded out our Paris visit by ducking into the Haagen-Dazs cafe so I could nurse Louisa and we could all enjoy another round of warm drinks.  Here we are (minus Donnie, who is taking the photo), before parting for the metro:

On Saturday morning we (that is Donnie and I) tried to take Christmas photos.  You see, my Mum bought the girls matching dresses from Hannah Andersson.  These dresses set off visions dancing in my head--visions of my family cavorting in color-coordinated outfits, bathed in clear winter light, filled with holiday glee.

Well, the baby was fussy and Maria was adamant about bringing a menagerie of stuffed friends to our shoot.  I didn't manage to put on makeup of do anything much to my hair (just the Ponytail of Capitulation).  End result: pictures of Maria looking like a cross between a cat lady and a character from a Rembrandt painting, pictures of Louisa wailing, pictures of me grinning maniacally, trying to look full of holiday cheer.


Donnie looks great.  He's a handsome man.  Actually, I'm rather fond of these pictures.

After pictures, Donnie sent me off into the city with Louisa so that I could go to Confession at Notre Dame.  The trip went far in restoring my lately frazzled spirits.
Louisa during our train ride into the city.

Notre Dame Cathedral

On Sunday, Mom, Dad, Bruni, and Dieter came to spend the afternoon with us in Orsay.  Bruni and Dieter brought such a load of wonderful treats from Germanym it was as though St. Nick himself were visiting our apartment.  There were beautiful books, clothing, and toys for Maria, a mobile and wool socks for Louisa, loads of cookies and chocolates, beer for Donnie, and that's only part of it. 

We ate cold cuts, pickles and bread in the living room.  Bruni perched on the arm of the couch because there weren't enough seats to go around.  We caught up on family news.  I relished the chance to speak German.  Bruni held Louisa.  Dieter looked at an Asterisk and Obelisk book with Maria.  Pretty soon, it was time for us to walk Bruni and Dieter to the train station. 

It was so lovely to see Bruni and Dieter again.  They are two of the most genial and good-humored people I've ever known, and I feel very much that they are family.  It's been ten years since they hosted me, and I'm so very grateful they are still in our lives.

So it was a very good weekend.  I do hope the next time Bruni and Dieter come, I'll be able to do more in the way of hosting. For now, I'm just grateful we got to see them, and humbled to have such good and generous friends.


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