Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Working and Eating

As my Facebook friends know, I recently had an epiphany: "full-time freelance work" does, in fact, involve working full time, a concept that had not quite made it into my consciousness before now. I have spent much of my time since last Friday sitting on the couch with my laptop and a pad of paper, a cat at my feet and a bottle of water on the table, earning a living. While I am quite happy to be back in a situation where I don't have to get out of my pajamas in order to go to work, this freedom has a price, and that includes working on the weekend. And first thing in the morning. And between errands. And any and all hours it takes to finish the projects I've committed to. Picturesque French adventures are in my future - I'm going to spend the day tomorrow walking around a small lake near Nouzilly with a group of people I haven't met yet, followed by a picnic on the lawn, and a friendly (I hope) pétanque tournament after. The weather forecast calls for sunny skies and mid-70s temperatures; it's been cool and overcast and often rainy the past few days, which has actually been fine, since that tempts me less to walk away from the computer.

But there has been food, though not really anything too different from what I usually eat, with some exceptions. Like this "Hildegard of Bingen" salt that I've been putting on many things, including the tomato and cucumber and herb salad in the photo above - the one accompanying the gluten-free baguette (!) topped with pâté de campagne. Besides sea salt, there's paprika, hyssop, parsley, chives, garlic, galangal root, sage, and ramsons (wild garlic, or "bear's garlic" in French, the spring green that Rapunzel's mother craved in the fairy tales). All of these are, according to the producer, taken from Hildegarde of Bingen's medical writings and combined to make "a delicious condiment with digestive, tonic, diuretic, and body-reinforcing virtues." I added some to my breakfast of soy yoghurt-topped lentil salad this morning.

I did not buy any of the donkey's-milk soap at the garlic and basil fair last week, but I had an interesting conversation with the vendor, who told me that all of the soap sold in France is regulated and has to be produced by one of five laboratories. While anyone's free to make their own soap, there are no cottage industries here for soap; if you want to sell your soap, you send all of the ingredients and instructions to the lab, and they make it for you. I may look for it again though, because the stuff I bought at the store is drying out my face something fierce. And if it was good enough for Cleopatra, it's good enough for me.

I must get back to work now, so that I can go to Nouzilly tomorrow with a clear conscience.

Mieux vaut une conscience tranquille qu'une destinée prospère. J'aime mieux un bon sommeil qu'un bon lit.
- Victor Hugo (1846)

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