"Vacation" is a misnomer

One of the many things I miss when I'm in Paris - our small yard. Not visible in the photo are the irises that are in bloom.

"Do you know where the bottle opener is?"

"Have you seen the remote control for the tv?"

"I'm going to make some tea. Do you want some? Oh, wait...I don't know if there's any left."


Stephane and I are on vacation in Annapolis for a couple of days -- but the word "vacation" is extremely misleading, unless you consider cleaning windows, hunting down kitchen utensils and transplanting hosta as a sabbatical from the rigors of visiting the Louvre and Versailles.

So, how did a Swiss/American couple who lives in Paris end up with a home in Annapolis, Maryland? As my mother used to tease, it was Stephane's birthday gift to himself. It all started when Stephane fell head over heels in love with "America's Sailing Capital" during his annual sailing trips. When we were transferred back to Switzerland from Ohio in 2008, we decided that it was time to get a permanent place in the United States. I suggested a couple of diverse locations, including Chicago and Charleston, while Stephane lobbied long and hard for Annapolis. Guess who got his way?

But I'm not complaining. It does my heart good to see the bounce in Stephane's step as we stroll along the brick sidewalks to Chick and Ruth's Delly, one of our favorite spots for breakfast in the historic district. On the way, my normally reserved husband greets everyone with a cheery "Good Morning!" When I elbow him in the ribs and smile, he responds that he loves how friendly everyone is here. They're amiable because it's hard to resist a Swiss man who is so enamored with Maryland that he wears Brooks Brothers shorts embroidered with blue crabs, the official state crustacean.

When we're not in Annapolis, we rent our house for special events, like the US Naval Academy's Commissioning Week, the United States Sailboat and Powerboat Shows and the State Legislative Session. In an interesting twist, our next guests are a French/Belgian family whose son will graduate from the Naval Academy on May 29. They live in a small town outside of Boston and even offered to let us stay with them when we're there for our son's graduation. We didn't accept but it goes to show that the world is full of amazing people!

In preparation for their visit, I'm busy re-making the beds, putting all of the towels back where they belong (why do all of them always end up in one bathroom?), organizing the cupboards and replenishing the supply of staples. It's exciting to think of the woman's relatives who are traveling from France to Annapolis for Commissioning Week. I hope that they enjoy their time in Annapolis as much as we do.

Now it's time to get back to work! But first...

Stephane's shorts - What do you think, could he wear these in Paris?

Comments

  1. I'm reading David Lebovitz's Sweet Life in Paris and I would say that those shorts won't cut it in Paris.

    Hope you enjoy many crab feasts while there. We were there for the Sail Boat show years ago and ate crabs at Buddy's almost every night.

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    1. But more importantly, will those shorts cut it in Boston?! That's where they'll be appearing next!

      Crab feasts are one of our favorite things about MD - knowing a good thing when we see it, we quickly adopted picking crabs as a family tradition. I haven't been to Buddy's yet because we always end up going to Cantler's.

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    2. The shorts will be fine here in Boston. But, they need to be a bit worn in. The sign of a true Bostonian is comfortable clothes and shoes. If the jacket or sweater was handed down from your father or mother, even better. We're thrifty Yankees.

      While we do have fashionistas on Newbury Street and among the newcomers, the old Boston loves eccentrics and values personality and intelligence above fashion.

      And, thanks for the referral to our site in a comment here! Denise, send any questions you may have my way. I'll try to get the answers.

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  2. Stephan's outgoing, friendly attitude would've been perfect for Charleston, South Carolina! Our friend who teaches at the Naval Academy is visiting France this week thanks to his French colleague's recommendation. I wonder if this French exchange officer happens to be your guests' son? Hope you enjoy many delicious crab cakes while in Annapolis.

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    1. Mmm, I love crab cakes and they're a lot less work than picking crabs!

      It seems as if there's quite a bit of collaboration between the French and US Navy. It's raining right now but we hope to visit the two French schooners that are currently docked in Annapolis to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812.

      It probably wasn't our guest's son who knows your friend because he isn't a commissioned officer yet. He'll graduate from the Academy in a couple of weeks. Although, he may have been a student in one of your friend's classes.

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  3. If your husband wears his crab-adorned shorts in Paris, the locals would surely peg him as an American tourist. Very preppy!

    I visited Annapolis years ago and found it to be a very picturesque place. How nice for you to have a home there!

    Patricia H

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    1. Thanks to me, Stephane gets pegged as an American tourist all the time in Paris! Since we always speak English together, waiters in the touristy parts of town will usually talk to us in English and are surprised when Stephane orders his meal in French. After this happened quite a few times, I asked Stephane if he minds being mistaken for an American. He doesn't so all's good.

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  4. Annapolis is a great town. The harbor and the historic district are great. I love the shops around the State House. But it's no Chicago--not sure you made the right choice there. We used to sail on the Bay as well, I didn't know Stephane was a sailor, but those days are over for me.

    Oh, and Annapolis is one of the few places where those shorts actually fit right in, nothing unusual. Do you ever get to the Eastern Shore?

    Now about having to get everything in order before the next guests arrive: your cleaning service should be doing that, and if they're not, then you need a new service.

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    1. No doubt about it, Chicago is a fantastic city. I'm glad that we had lots of opportunities to go there while I daughter was an undergrad. Plus, I feel really comfortable there since I grew up in the Midwest/South.

      We were on the Eastern Shore on Sunday to go shopping at the factory outlet mall. Stephane wanted to get this year's version of the crab shorts! I've been to St. Michael's but haven't had time to really explore the area. I remember that you used to live there and think about you whenever we drive over the Bay Bridge. The Eastern Shore is also one of Peter's (from Boston) favorite spots.

      As for our cleaning service, what can I say! It's a big job to clean the house after our guests (as many as 10-12) have left. Having done it a few times on my own, I know how much work it is to wash all the sheets and make the beds. What I really need is a good manager to ensure that everything gets put back in its place and looks nice for the next guests. I thought that I had found the perfect solution last year but the woman who I was working with left the agency so I'm back to square one.

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    2. And good help is hard to find. I have no contacts in that area or I'd certainly send a recommendation your way.

      And the outlet malls--how could I have forgotten? I miss them too, especially the bedding one.

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  5. LOVE the seersucker-crab-embroidery shorts! Too good!

    I think he could have fun with those shorts in Paris! Come on! I've seen some crazy things in my time over there. It's not as snobby as it's made out to be...that's reserved for the women!

    Enjoy your time in the States!

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    1. Your comment made Stephane's day! Thanks to you, the crab shorts may make an appearance in Paris in the very near future. They'll be easy to spot because Stephane usually wears them with his red top-siders.

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  6. Well I have never been to Anapolis but it sound nice, love your little garden. I am visiting Boston in October so looking forward to that.

    Not sure about the shorts. I wouldn't want my husband to wear them ANYWHERE!

    ...but then I am English!

    Enjoy the rest of your "vacation" and congratulations to your son.

    love Denise

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    1. I think that you're really going to enjoy Boston. Before you go, please check out Penny's (she commented above) website, Boston Zest for tips on things to do, restaurants, museums, etc. Plus, Penny is a wonderful woman!

      Enjoy your vacation - it looks as if you're having a great time in Estonia!

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  7. NON Stéphane, et tu le sais.... :) I do like them, on you but wd probably kill my Hero Husband were he to come with them - lol.
    Mais porte les sans prob aux EU!!!! Après, c'est à nouveau le régime du bon goût!
    Enjoy your 'hols'... :) :)

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    1. I don't know Kiki, there's no telling what our Swiss husbands will do once they're set free in the United States! As an experiment, you should bring Hero Husband on a trip to Annapolis and see if he ends up in crab shorts! ;)

      Your comment reminds me of the horrified look on my Swiss friend Heidi's face when I gave her firstborn child a little snowsuit/hat with bear ears on top. I thought it was cute - she thought that it was way too American!

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    2. sorry for my late reply.... just brought English friends back to their train for the airport in Paris!!! I was SO busy and we had such a terrific time.
      I think I wasn't quite clear now that I read my comment again.... I am sure that HH would be more than happy to wear the 'crabby' (crappy?!) shorts in the United States but that's just the point... NO WAYYYYY would anybody, not even Stéphane (who supposedly, as a brave Suisse, has excellent taste in everything, lol), dare to wear those things in Paris!
      Actually Hero Husband has lovely legs and a great bum - I rather enjoy thinking of him in this outfit.... What I meant above was that HH would have a fit to see Stéphane with them in Paris.
      Enough talk - wishing you a very, very happy evening, or day as it is at your end of the woods!
      Kiki

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  8. I love that Stephane is a good sport and posed for the photo!

    Love your garden. Have a lovely time. GM x

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    1. Stephane usually is a good sport - it's one of the things that I like best about him! What surprised him is how "controversial" his shorts are. He expected that everyone would love them as much as he does!

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  9. OMG, I laughed aloud when I saw those shorts........he needs to wear them with knee high white socks and white shoes. Then, he would fit right in with the Palm Beach crowd here with it's flamingo and/or golf ball attire! He is a good sport and butt's not bad either.

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    1. Oh, no! I would draw the line at knee high white socks and white shoes! As for his butt, it has always received high marks from me! ;)

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    1. Perfect! We're going to Deauville in September for the American Film Festival!

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  11. Have a lovely non-vacation! As they say, a change is as good as a rest so I'm sure your batteries will get recharged, even if you're as busy as ever.
    LOVE the shorts!

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    1. Thanks, Steph! The change from Paris to laid-back Annapolis is doing us both a world of good!

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  12. Loooove those shorts! Good on ya (and your hubby).

    I hear you so very loud and clear re vacation is *not* vacation.

    Cheers from not-vacation in Sydney :)

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    1. So, you mean you're not on vacation when you're in Sydney...Felixstowe...and Paris?! ;)

      I hope that we'll see pics and some posts about your not-vacation in Sydney in the near future!

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  13. MK- I was just thinking the same thing here in Houston! We bought this townhouse just months before we moved to Paris, so every time we are here I have to "re-learn" the contents of the kitchen and the closets. I am always asking myself, "where is it?" and then "do we even have one?". But as my daughters would say, these are "First World Problems", right up there with my problems switching between my French and American iphones!
    When will you be back in Paris?

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    1. Hey Kate! We'll be back in Paris at the end of May. I sure hope that we'll be able to schedule a quick get-together before you head back to the States and your "First World Problems" for the summer.

      You have an American iphone?! I still have my old clunker because I keep giving my upgrades to our kids. Living without apps and Twitter is proving to be a challenge! ;) Yup, I know - another "First World Problem"!

      Enjoy the rest of your time in Houston!

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  14. MK!!!! Not only are those Stephane's shorts, they are modeled with his bum! I love the shorts though... I can imagine his excitement that he gets to wear them in Maryland. Your back yard is lovely... le sigh. Someday the Lancelots will have outdoor space! Good luck getting everything together!

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    1. Asking another man to model Stephane's shorts did enter my mind but I decided to go with Stephane's bum after he auditioned for the part! ;)

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  15. What a lovely yard, so peaceful! Its really enchanting!

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    1. It's my little piece of paradise!

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