12 March 2007

A happy Sunday, and haggling

The first best thing about yesterday was that it was actually sunny. As in warm sun and blue sky that lasts for more than five seconds. In fact, it lasted all day, and today promises to be more of the same. At last!

At church, the minister who gave the sermon had a very interesting accent, a quirky combination of French (with all the acCENTS on the wrong sylLAbles) and British. The thing that got me giggling was that every time he wanted to say the word "sinfulness," he tried to say what I think was "sinnerness," but it came out "silliness." So quite accidentally, the sermon's emphasis was on how we humans are just a big bunch of silly goofs, which is probably not far from the truth, come to think of it.

After church, we hit the Sunday markets at Jeu de Balle and Midi. The first is one big flea market, where you can find everything under the sun, from broken toys and random electronics components to antique furniture, vintage clothing and jewelry, ugly landscape paintings, old dishware, and all sorts of collectables. Everything is spread out on the cobblestones on top of blankets or furniture, and it is perfectly acceptable to haggle over prices. (What a great word, eh? Haggle!)

We saw some neat items that we were tempted to buy, such as a woodblock-engraved copy of Machiavelli's The Prince, a pile of opera scores, a package of matches from the 1930s, tiny colored cordial glasses, a collection of beautiful keys, and piles of old telegrams in Flemish with illustrated borders.

What we did buy: two earthenware pitchers in the Belgian style (blue swirls on a gray, glazed background), an antique glass cocktail shaker that I'll use to store cotton balls in the bathroom, and an adorable little brass bird. I'm most happy about the bird, because although it was an impulsive buy, it's already looking chirpy and making me happy.

After that, we headed over to the Midi market, where fruit and vegetables are sold at incredible prices if you get there as the market is closing. I got a big bag of clementines for a euro; half an hour later we passed the same stall and the guy was selling them for two bags a euro. The sellers stand up on top of the tables and hawk whole crates of vegetables for ridiculous prices. If we thought we could have used them before they go bad (and they usually are somewhat on the verge of spoiling), we could have gotten a crate of swiss chard or a crate of tomatoes for a euro. Everybody is offering pieces of their fruit for passers-by to try, and trying to get your attention in Arabic, French, Flemish, English, Spanish, Portuguese...

We went home and made a huge lunch with some of our purchases, and then spent the rest of the afternoon quiety reading. I got enthralled all over again about the idea of Dark Matter and Dark Energy (there was an article in the Sunday Times), and we listened to public radio as the late evening light streamed in through the bay windows.

It was a great start to the week, which promises to get even better. Although M. is in Strasbourg, two good friends are coming from Indiana and we'll be seeing the sights and cooking a lot. Saturday, we are having a housewarming party. Both of these things are putting me into a little bit of a tizzy, though, seeing as actual GUESTS are coming over! I had better tidy up.

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