Sunday, August 14, 2011


Looks like paradise and a great place to have to oneself for a few weeks, no? Well, it pretty much is. But only by day. The other night I went down to turn off the light in the kitchen only to find that it had been taken over by flying and crawling aliens. They were everywhere, and I had to jump out of my delicious torpor and into a killing frenzy.

Last year’s invasion of the flying ants had resumed! They had made an initial appearance the other day, but I had taken what I thought were definitive extreme measures to reclaim my turf. (Just goes to show that the Ancient Greeks did not have a monopoly on hubris.)

I had removed all temptations from the counter and ferreted them out of the most unexpected places. I think the other members of the family might be surprised to know that they are not the only ones in the house to love coffee. The biggest swarm of them was on top of and under the machine.

But there were some tea-totalers, too, who had decided to set up residence in the electric teapot that U proudly declared “Slovene clean” after I had pointed out that the water may have been sitting in it too long.

It shocks me to see how such a generally non-violent, bug-transfer-in-a-cup type like me can lickety split turn into a killing machine. As a measure of my pacific, let-and-let-live nature, I didn’t even have the courage to read the “NYTimes” article, “The Beast in the heart of Every Fighting Man.” Holocausts of any kind haunt me.

And yet, here I am, squishing, trapping, drowning, and stomping on these creatures with no small amount of disgust and near-glee. Furthermore, I stay up an extra half hour past bedtime to indulge my inner killing machine.

Then I think, “Wait a minute. Maybe it’s just not such a good idea to go downstairs at night, when these nocturnal critters take over. Maybe they’re thinking, “Ha! She thinks she’s La Principessa around here, but we were here for generations before, and we will have the last word.”

Lee Hayes, about whom I wrote in an earlier posting (ON GETTING WHACKED: A GOOD OR A BAD THING?) and who asked that his ashes be added to his compost heap, already figured that out.

CONFESSION: I have to admit that I got the idea to call myself “La Principessa” from Calvin Trillin’s tribute to his wife, Alice. As I recall from his delightful book, “Alice, Let's Eat,” he used to refer to her loudly as “La Principessa” whenever they needed a better hotel room or other special treatment. Of course from the loving way he wrote about her, it is clear that they had a very good thing going, and that to him, she really was a principessa.

This has also been the season for royal weddings, and I have enjoyed watching the ceremonies of the actual new principessas of England and Monaco, Katherine and Charlene. I have to say that the former, previously known as “Kate,” looked as if she were having a lot more fun than the elegantly beautiful but restrained, Charlene. In any case, I’ll bet that if their palace gets invaded by flying ants, someone else will deal with the problem.  

While looking for outdoor furniture, we came across this eloquently understated (?) throne. It seems that for a mere 299 euros, anyone can be a principessa! 

But in terms of thrones, I already have one.

It's the Philippe Starck "Louis Ghost Chair"--the perfect union of French and Italian sensibility, and therefore the ideal accoutrement for someone who writes a blog called “In Love with France, At Home in Italy.” 

Designed by a French genius and manufactured in Italy, the Ghost Chair is a witty nod to le style Louis XIV translated into a modern vernacular.  

This makes it feel right at home in my Moroccan-style bagno/study in the Italian countryside.  

As one vendor put it, "it is the quintessence of baroque revisited to dazzle, excite and captivate." (I agree with all of that, except the "baroque" part. To this French prof, to call a Louis XIV-style chair "baroque," as opposed to classical, is enough to make poor Louis turn over in his grave. Quel sacrilege!  

The Louis Ghost Chair was all that was missing from my nearly perfect Moroccan bagno. It replaced an $8 ikea folding chair:to turn the expression "du sublime au ridicule!" upside down, I have gone from the ridiculous to the sublime in one purchase.  

The bottom line?: every aspiring principessa should have a throne:
Vive le Roi Philippe (Starck!)


As I think about it, maybe it is not an exaggeration to say that I already come from a royal family. Because of my creative ability to imagine the catastrophic ways that things can go wrong, I am known in the family as The Disaster Queen. Further, the royal line goes back yet another generation, since my mother is the undisputed blintz Queen and a strong contender for Mandelbrot Queen.

In any case, this seems like the right throne for royalty of all seasons.

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