Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Rare Occasion

I'm actually speechless today.

I have just had the most wonderful of weekends celebrating my birthday and I really don't think I could find the words to explain how good it feels in my soul.

Hubster and I have been laughing and enjoying being together these last few days. I know sorting wood isn't really a special thing to do on a birthday, but there is a sense of purpose to that work. It's nice to feel like we accomplished something. Plus, heading out to buy a chainsaw is a great way to bring a couple together!

The little people have had two crazy nights playing with almost all of their friends until the wee hours of the morning. Last night it was the birthday party here with a huge mix of the English and French people that we love. Nothing like weaving conversation in Franglish with accents from Ireland, England, America, and France to make it flow!

It may sound so wordly and cosmopolitan to be mingling with such a collection of people, but in truth, they are just good everyday people who happen to be here in our lives. We are blessed to have such riches.

The highlight for me last night was the parade of princesses. Our Princess and her friends found every possible dress-up costume in her closest and proceeded to give us the most dazzling display of princess wear. Sparking tiaras, clicky-clacky shoes, braclets, and ribbons topped with smiles that melted your heart.

The dogs were a bit diappointed not to have a chance to try on the tiaras themselves. Might have to see if I can get them decked out in their own princess wear today. Of course, that means harnesses and ganglines hooked to my bike, but I think that's a better (and safer) bet then Typhon in clicky-clacky shoes!

Friday, December 28, 2007

International Dig Day

Yes, it's here. The day we've all been waiting for. My birthday.

I'm celebrating by scooping dog poop, stacking firewood, and staring at the snow covered mountains out of my kitchen window.

Hubster surprised me by painting the lounge last night. It's so nice to see colour on the walls rather than the white undercoating. The little things that make us happy, eh? Who knows, maybe we'll finish this room before his birthday in February.

Then again, who am I kidding!

Happy Dig Day everyone! Go hug someone you really love, be it animal or human!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Two Days and Counting

So now that the second major holiday of December is behind us, we can start really focusing on the important celebration, my birthday! (Just kidding, Miss Tennessee 1975!)

Just two days to go until I hit yet another birthday milestone. I'm kind of excited about that since I've actually remembered how old I'm going to be this year. I've never been good at math so I have a tendancy to mix up my numbers. But what's in a number anyway? I still feel like I'm 12. Plus, when I'm falling off my bike, I still look like I'm 12!

I manged to get all three of the huskies out for some fun today. Anouk and Typhon had the usual bike tour, which was AWESOME. They actually pulled me out of the village without incident, did the u-turn when asked, and we made it home without once chasing a cat or playing "Flip Dig Over the Handle Bars." It was surreal. I'm still all giddy thinking about it.

Abaca and I then headed out for a trail run. I was worried about how far and how fast I should go with her since she's young and her owners aren't as insane as I am. That being the case, we did our version of a 'wog' (walk/jog) around the trails. I think she really enjoyed herself. Though, I'm going to have to give her a bath before her people come get her this weekend! Hello happy mud puppy!

Hubster's impressed too. I've actually showered twice today. An all-time record! Good thing I got such nice soap from l'Occitane this Christmas. As if wet dog isn't an attractive perfume! Someone must have been trying to tell me something...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Goose is Cooked

Well, almost.

I'm attempting to make a proper Christmas goose today. My neighbour in the village raises poultry so we bought a goose from her for this year's dinner treat. Talk about buying local!
Luckily, she dealt with all the plucking and stuff that this American has never done before. It smells delicious in here right now.

The kids are happy playing with their new toys from Grandma and Granddad, Kitty and Daddio, and their aunts and uncles. The lounge is a mess. It's an explosion of Barbia, Lego, trains, and tractors. (Bet you didn't realize that Barbie is good at working with tractors!)

With that, it's time to go open the Christmas champers and celebrate all the wonderful things we have in our lives.

That includes all of you!

Mary Chrismer!

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

And I've got three happy husky dogs outside.

Don't panic. We haven't gone nuts and adopted another one. We're dog sitting for some friends over the holidays so Abaca is with us for Christmas. She and Anouk have been playing all afternoon. Non-stop. Typhon is enjoying this time 'off' from being Anouk's favourite chew toy. They are so fun to watch. Of course, we have absolutely no grass left in the garden at this point. Let's hope it snows soon!

Mini-Husband has been asking since 5pm if he can go to bed yet. Someone excited about Santa coming?

I'm gearing up for our annual tradition of foie gras and champers as Hubster and I wrap all the presents. I love this time with Hubster. He mocks my poor wrapping abilities and I remind him that he's only getting a lump of coal if he continues to misbehave.

'Tis the night before Christmas and all is as it should be.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Lesson She Gave Me

My aunt would have been 57 today. Seems incredible to think about her as a 57 year old. She's still so vivid in my mind as she was at 34. Blond hair flying everywhere, big smile, and a laugh that I still hear ringing in my heart and soul.

She once told me that she wanted to have a dog someday. A big old floppy labrador who she'd name Beauregard.

I'm not sure she meant for it to at the time, but that name has stuck with me for years. Various and sundry stuffed animals in my world have been called Beauregard beause of her.

Now that I sort of speak French, I've come to think of this name Beauregard in a new way, beau regard. Beautiful look or, rather, beautiful outlook.

It's not correct French and I'm sure my French friends would argue I'm translating poorly, but it works for me.

I don't think we can ever understand the lessons we give in our lives, the lessons we share without meaning to. She taught me so much by her living and by her dying. Because of those lessons, I appreciate my life, my chance, my blessings. Because of her, I hold dearly to a beau regard of what's around me.

I hope someday I get to see her again, laughing and playing with a big old chocolate lab. Till then, I'll listen carefully for her in my heart.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Tails

Home. I love that word.

And I love this place.

The dogs have destroyed all of their dog house cushions while I was gone. There are pieces of cotton and flannel stuck in the rose bushes, plastered to the steps, with mounds of fluff everywhere. It looks like there was a giantic battle between the Michelin Man and the Stay-Puff Marshmellow guy out there.

Hubster and I have relaxed with at least 14 cups of coffee and Christmas carols. Perfect before sending me out with the dogs.

Beautiful Anouk and Typhon pulling me along as I sing, "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" at the top of my lungs. Of course, Typhon was pulling so he wasn't able to contribute as well as he normally does, but I'm sure he'll make up for it at 7pm.


I love this place.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

St Mildred's Bay

Alas, we head south tomorrow.

Mini-Husband isn't happy about going home. He's told me and Hubster on the phone last night that we have to promise him that if we don't fix the roof, and we need to change house, we change to one in England.

I love that he feels such a strong connection to this place. And why shouldn't he? He was born here. Just like his daddy and his aunt, uncles and cousins. He was 15 months old when we moved to France, but he can point out our old house every time we pass it. He loves being with his grandparents and watching CeeBeebies all day long. England is magic to him.

This part of England is chalky cliffs and coast line, constantly being teased by the North Sea. There are wide bays that change constantly with every tide and every swell. There is a promenade that runs for miles along the cliffs and one can easily meander between the beaches that pop up around practically every corner.

When we lived here, we weren't very far from St Mildred's, a bit of tidal beach with two cafes and a boat slip. It was a favourite spot for Hubster and me. We would take Luna-the-Love-Dog there and let her run free along the rocks and sand. Who knew a Malamute would love catching crabs so much! We'd wander with her down the sands until we had to join the promenade again and then continue on to Hubster's parent's house. Grandma was (and is still) always wonderful about offering us a warming cup of tea when we arrived.

Hubster asked me to marry him on that spot of sand at St Mildred's. My life as part of a "we" started here. And as I ran past that beach today on the promenade, all my memories embraced my heart, and I see just how magic this England is to me too. I can understand Mini-Husband's attachment to this place.

That being said, I'm ready to be home. I miss France. I miss Anouk. I even miss hearing my morning wake up song performed by Typhon.

But more importantly, I miss my Hubster. I want to be in that world of us right now.

And I really, really hope we get that roof fixed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

'Tis the Season

I found a radio station here that is playing all-Christmas carols, all the time. Now, for some of you in the English speaking world, you might be sick off all those tunes right about now. But for me, with the English deprived ear and a thing for December, it's been a little slice of heaven.

Of course, Mini-Husband and The Princess are not impressed with my vocal abilities. But I keep reminding them what my Catholic priest said way back when, when I still went to church,

"It's the voice God gave you, so even if it's horrible, it's thanks to God. So use it!"

Can't wait to surprise them with the Christmas CDs Grandma bought us for the car ride home. Heck, I suffered vomit on the way here, the least they can do is croak along with mommy on the way back!

7 hours of Christmas songs. In English. Ahhhhhh.....

Talking Loud and Proud

Yesterday, my oldest friend, The A, came down to visit us here at Grandma and Granddad's. She's got two little people too so, of course, off we went to the pub with the whacking great play area. (Amen, alleluia!)

When you get the two of us together, it's a major talk fest. We babble, we laugh, we talk, we talk, we talk. We talked up a storm as we waited in line to order at the bar, we talked even more as we got the kids signed up in the play area (amen, alleluia!), and we talked even more as we sat feeding the babies at the table.

It never occurred to me that anyone else in the pub would find us remotely interesting. Possibly loud and annoying, but other than that...

I had noticed out of the corner of my eye that the woman who was supervising the play area was lingering by our table. When I finally made eye contact with her, it was if the floodgates had opened.

"You know, I was just asking your son if he came from America. He said no, he comes from France. But I think you're Americans, right? I have an aunt who lives in America. I love your accents. Why on earth are you in England?"

The A and I answered her questions and had a laugh about the two of us, friends from grade school being married to Brits and living over here. All the good stuff about irony, fate, and just the coolness of life, in our opinion.

After she headed back to the play area, we started chatting away again.

At that point, I hadn't noticed the young couple at the table behind us. It was only when they started staring that I got a little self conscious. Was there ketchup on my face? Were they horrified that I ate all that was left over on the kids plates? Worst, could they be relatives I'm supposed to have remembered?!?

"Excuse me. You're not from America, are you?"

"Yes," The A and I responded with a laugh. And so began round two of the "what-on-earth-are-you-doing-here-and-I-love-your-accent conversation."

If I really reflect on it, it must be strange in this part of England to hear American accents. Stranger still to hear two women babbling away about dummies, nappies, prams and pushchairs in American accents.

Both The A and I have been attention seekers our whole lives and this accent thing is right up our alley. It's fun being asked questions about America and what our connection is to England.

I love that. I thrive off stuff like that. If I'm totally honest, I just like being the center of attention and a minor celebrity in the pub with the whacking great play area!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Land of Indoor Play Areas

There are so many things that I love about England. Hubster's family is of course top of the list, but I also love the grocery stores, the way you can make quick conversation with anyone anywhere, the fabulous cheeky way The Times editorial pieces read, the fascination with football, the accents, everything on the left, and last but not least, pub food.

Especially pub food in a pub that has a whacking great play area inside of it.

I remember when Hubster and I got married ever so long ago. My family had flown over the pond for the nuptials and we had a nice week of touring around south eastern England before the big day. On about the second to last night they were all here, we finally took my sisters and my nieces and nephews that had been born at that point to the pub nearby with the whacking great play area in it.

My brother-in-law, USNA, regarded me quite seriously over his second pint. "You mean you've known about this pub the entire time we've been here and you've only brought us here NOW?!?!?"

I didn't have kids at the time. I had no idea of the importance of such things.

I now worship the very land that pub is built on. South eastern England in December is not necessarily the nicest place to be. It's cold out, it's windy, it's grey. But in the pub with the whacking great play area, it's happy time. The sun is shining and mommy is basking in the rays.

My deepest apologies to USNA. I really didn't get it at the time.

But I sure do now.

They open at 11. Anyone for lunch?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Nothing Like A Long Car Ride

Everyone always seems shocked or amazed when I tell them that I'm taking the kids to England by myself. People seem to think it's a heck of a journey to do on my own. Normally, it's not so bad. Though this I time, I should have realized it was going to be tough when only after 2 hours on the road, Mini-Husband started telling me his tummy hurt.

The long version of this story is rather too painful for me to relive so I'll go with the synopsis. Suffice it to say, there is a rest stop on the A-71 towards Paris that will never smell the same again. Poor little man. We manged to make it to the parking lot, all four of us out of the car, and just into the entry by the toilets when Mini-Husband was sick. There we stood, me rubbing his back, holding Bubba Love on my hip, while The Princess hid behind the fake rubber tree plant next to the coffee machines.

After somehow managing to get Mini-Husband cleaned up (and the floor of the rest area as well thanks to a kind, kind staffer) we got back into the car and headed on our way. I could see from the rear-view mirror that Mini-Husband was succeeding in his interpretation of "A Whiter Shade of Pale." Could we make it through the next 5 hours?

The answer, my friends, was no.

Mini-Husband proceeded to be sick again in the car several times over the next few hours. By the time we reached the north side of Paris, his colour was still off but he seemed to have nothing left in his stomach to upset him. Blessedly, all three of the little people took a nap and I sat there wondering why on earth I had ever quit smoking.

When you reach the toll booth at Calais, it's only about 45 minutes to the port. I sighed with relief as we reached this little landmark. It wasn't far now till the boat and better still, Grandma and Granddad's.

As I pulled out of the toll booth, there was a strange little noise, that sounded like a combination of burping and crying. As I looked frantically at Mini-Husband in the rear-view mirror, I saw he was asleep. It was the nanosecond later that I realized the noise was coming from both The Princess and Bubba-Love. There sat my two littlest people strapped to their car seats, covered in sick.

Oh the joys of having to strip your children out of vomit covered clothes in the pull-out lane on a major highway when it's -2C outside! Not to mention that this time, both car seats had taken the hit so I had not only smelly clothes and children, but smelly seats as well. Lovely.

We whimpered our way to the boat and luckily managed to get an earlier crossing. The Princess was sick once more on the boat and Mini-Husband on arrival at Grandma and Granddad's. Bubba-Love started doing his rug impression yesterday but thank goodness wasn't sick again. I, myself, felt horrible yesterday and just sat watching snooker with Grandad all afternoon. Boy, I bet they were ever so glad to see us!!

When I spoke to Hubster, turns out he's been ill as well. He slept most of yesterday and is starting to feel "normal" today. That seems to be about the same for us. Now, I'm just hoping we haven't infected the grandparents.

The highlight has been Grandma's new washing machine. It's done a fabulous job of washing everything from the car seat covers to The Princess's shoes. Dirty yucky stuff in, clean smelling stuff comes out!

I'm also I'm looking for a car cleaning service to come and scrub down the car while we are here. I'm not sure I can face the return journey if our car still smells like our own personal Vomit Comet.

Holy cow, that wasn't fun!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

This Evening

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...

A nice glass of red wine, relaxing with Hubster and I think I'm ready to head over the river tomorrow morning.

It's magic for the kids to go to Grandma and Grandad's. I love being able to share that with them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Some Good Stuff

After a few weeks of what seems to have been nothing but bad news, we've had a couple of really nice bits come our way.

The first wonderful thing is that my loved one's love is on the right track to getting better. And he's even decided that he wants to make my loved one his loved one for good. They got engaged this past weekend and it's wonderful. There is hope and happiness with them. Long may it continue.

The second nice bit of news came from my past. Turns out my first real boyfriend and his wife just had their first child this past week. I'm so happy for him and them. He was always such a lovely guy and he will make the best of dads. Another spot of hope and happiness in this world. Long may that continue too.

Closer to home, we've had word back from the people who made the decision regarding the tiles for our roof. Seems they had a talk amongst themselves and decided that we really can do the roof in another type of tile that isn't slate. WHOOO-HOOOO! We may not need to sell the kids afterall!!

In fact, I think this might be a good time to take those little people over to England and visit with the tea-sipping side of the family. Next week, we'll be on tour eating fish and chips, heading to Tesco, seeing old friends, and wrecking what's left of Grandma's nerves. Should be fun for us at least!

So there you have it. Some nice updates from our little corner. It's cold outside today, but I've got both woodstoves burning so the house feels warm and cozy. The kids are reading and drawing, the dogs are curled up in their tails, and Hubster will be home soon. There is hope and happiness here too.

The Resident Artist has updated his site. Check out his latest works and let him know what you think!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Living this for the Second Time

I always had the impression that in order to live a really wild, rustic life one needed to stay living in Idaho/Wyoming or head on up to Alaska. Those seemed the logical places to me. Hardly any people, vast empty spaces, and the ability to live simply. I never in my life could have imagined that I would find that in France too.

Granted, there are more people here in my part of the Auvergne than in some areas of Idaho, but these are people who are of the land, the terroir. Many houses are rustic, heated only by woodstoves with very basic plumbing. The people raise their own chickens and cows, have vegetable gardens that are bigger than a McDonald's parking lot, and they don't mind mud. They are natural, discreet, private, and incredibly attached to their region. In many ways, they remind me of the locals back in Idaho. Same ethics, same appreciations, same natural way of being.

Here I am in this country of amazing culture and tradition, surrounded by huge forests and endless trails that wander between the tiny, hidden villages. Here I am living in this place that has a history older than my country and my children, Hubster and I are now a part of it.

Today I made coq-au-vin on my woodstove, took the dogs for a ride through the countryside, waved at the hunters, watched the cows being herded to a new field, and chatted with a couple of locals about the weather.

Who could have guessed that a part of France could be as wild as Idaho?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Yooo-hoo, Dig!

Remember me? I wanna go for a walk or I'll pee on your bushes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Introducing The Resident Artist

Introducing the works of Jack.

We will try and update that blog when he has created something new he'd like to share.



He's fine.

Thank goodness.

And after a bottle of red last night, Hubster and I are almost fine. I really don't want to go through something like that again anytime soon! Luckily for us, we were able to see a cardiologist last night and have an echography on Bubba-Love's heart. Within seconds, we knew everything was ok.

Nothing like the thought of your child being seriously ill to help you get your priorities straight!

Today, I'm thinking we need to just hang out and play. It's sunny out there so maybe a nice walk in the village, taking long slow peaceful breaths.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

From Now On, No Googling Anything

I'm worried.

Bubba-Love and I went for his x-ray this morning. As expected, his lung is infected but not seriously. The unpected thing is that the x-ray shows that his heart is enlarged.

Of course, as soon as we got home from the x-ray, I bee-lined it for the computer and Google. There should be a law against ANYONE heading straight for Google after you get any sort of medical news. Between the various causes of heart enlargement and the prognosis, it's amazing I haven't flooded the house with tears!

I like Google. I like being able to find out loads of stuff quickly. But sometimes too much too quick is not good for you. Better to call your rational sister very early in her morning and get her to calm you down. (Which she did and which I love her for.)

We've got an appointment with our doctor this afternoon. I'm hoping he can explain what the heck is going on. Till then, if I'm on the computer it's only to read the news and maybe search Google for stories on huskies and dog sledding. I'll use Google in it's good sense, to find something to help keep my mind off that beautiful little guy sleeping upstairs.

Think positive thoughts everyone.

December 4

I think today is my friend Katy's birthday. Now, I have to admit, I forget every year what day it is exactly. I'm in good company though, since her mom forgets which day every year as well!


And just a little FYI,

Only 24 days till MY birthday!!!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cold Winter Winds

Last night was interesting Chez Nous.

First off, I had to take Bubba-Love to the on-call doctor. He had been pushing a fever all weekend and was doing his best to impersonate a throw rug. Finally last night, the fever peaked at 40.5C (104.9F) and I freaked. Hubster called the emergency on-call number and I took Bubba-Love in. Turns out, he's got yet another ear infection and again, mild pneumonia. So we're off for more chest x-rays tomorrow.

The incredible thing is that since he's now had two doses of the antibiotic, he's back to demanding "Cars." Never thought I'd be so happy to hear that request!

After getting him settled in bed last night, the most intense wind storm descended upon our little part of the world. I swear I could hear every loose tile on the roof flapping about. It seemed as if our whole house, which is solid stone, was going to lift off and crush the nearest wicked witch. (I was hoping that would be whoever decided we have to do the flipping roof in slate again!)

Around 1:30am, the village fire siren went off. And so did Typhon. And then Anouk. Hubster manged to open the window, despite the wind, pop his head out and yell a few nice words in English to get the two of them to stop. But of course, we were now fully awake to again enjoy the beautiful music being made by our roof and it's wind conductor.

Around 5:00am, the power got knocked out. Normally, that's not such a big deal at 5:00am. It's dark, we're sleeping, no worries. Except that both Mini-Husband and Bubba-Love have this built in nightlight sensor and if that nightlight blips for any reason, they're up. Eh, voila. There goes Super Mommy ricocheting around the hallway in an attempt to calm the little men down at the same time as setting my watch so that Hubster wouldn't be late for work.

Somehow, we all manage to get back to sleep and the power got restored along the way. I was nearly late getting The Princess up for school since Typhon decided that only one performance a night is enough, so he skipped his usual 7am choral session.

The wind is the only thing howling out there right now and that's good by me. Bubba-Love is tucked up on the couch watching a movie (can you guess which one) and Mini-Husband (who's teacher was sick today) is busy making a fire station out of a shoe box. I swear that kid is a combination of MacGyver and Picasso.

Looks like a good time to go make some coffee and watch what's left of the Christmas decorations blow by.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Sing it to Me

Not sure which way this day is going...Mini-Husband got dressed by himself, The Princess wanted to wear a skirt, and the dogs didn't break into a chorus this morning with the bells. Something's up.

Plus, Bubba-Love is under the weather again so we are off to see the doctor this morning. "Off to see the wizard, the wizard..."

Yet another day with a musical quote! Not bad! Let's go with this idea here for a minute. Yes, I think it's LURKERS AND POSTERS PARTICIPATION TIME!

Tell me the lyrics from a song that really rings true for you. Could be a list of several or could just be one you hold dear to your heart.

I'll even start.

"I can see clearly now the rain has gone." --Jimmy Cliff

That song always helps me keep my head when I'm going nuts and reminds me to see the forest for the trees. And there sure are a hell of a lot of trees out there!

"And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful Wife
And you may ask did I get here? "--Talking Heads

Not only do I love the whole song but that "how did I get here" line seems to fit me like a T!

Ok, people. Hit that comment button and let me know what lyrics have that special something for you. Go on, it'll only take a minute. You know you want to...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A New Morning

There is the sun!

It's shining warm and bright this morning. We've had a hard frost so all the tree branches, gardens, roads, and houses are coated silver with crystal rainbows reflecting back at the sky.

Hubster isn't working till this afternoon so we've had some time to talk. He's spoken with the people who made the decision about our roof. We're going to try and work with them to find a solution. Nothing is resolved but at least we feel as if things are moving. There may be hope after all.

Since he was here, I got the chance to not be the morning staff today. He kindly got Mini-Husband some breakfast and got Bubba-Love up for his bottle. That extra time snuggled under the duvet was bliss. No starting gun start for me today, just a stretch and a yawn.

Best of all, with Hubster here, I got out to bikejor with Anouk and Typhon. They are doing so well and we really are starting to work better together. Of course, Grandma Francaise saw us getting ready and was completely paranoid I would hurt myself again. Ok, she's got good reason to think that, but we really are getting better at this! I didn't fall at all today!!

Watching them pull, with all the white light glissening around us, was peace.

It's beautiful out there.

Sometimes you do get what you need.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Case of the Greys

Maybe it's the weather. The lack of sunshine must be taking a toll on me. Or maybe it's the distressing news about a friend who is the most important person in the life of someone I love.

Or maybe it's that we need to think about making some big decisions and that goes against my nature. I've always been a spur of the moment kind of person. Doing things on a whim. It's how I found my college, my career out west, my love of dog sledding, my husband. They all felt right to me instantaneously. I didn't need to think about these things.

But now, I need to think. I need to really reflect on how our choices will effect not just Hubster and I, but our little people and our four legged friends.

See, we have a problem with our roof. It needs to be replaced and it's more than we can afford right now. We could stretch to cover the costs, but that would put us into a situation that I'm not sure either Hubster or I would be comfortable with.

We could sell the house and find something well within our means, but that could possibly meaning moving from this immediate area. Away from the kids' school, friends (mine as well), and all that they have known.

There is no spur of the moment here.

I should be grateful that it's only a question of finances and not of something more serious. This is something we can control, something we can find a solution to. It's just hard to know what the right choices are and what will come to pass because of those choices.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things
I cannot change; the courage to change the
things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

I think I need to continue talking this all over with Hubster. But more importantly, I need to pray for my loved one's friend

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Not a Cat to be Seen

I made it back alive from a jaunt with the dogs today. I will admit to be a little bit intimidated when I hook up Typhon and Anouk and head off through the village. The minute it takes to get from my front door to the open road, sends chills up my spin. I never know how many cars, cats, or people we are going to see before getting free of the confines of village life. Who knew cats and a boulangerie could be so stressful?!?

As we rolled around the corner past said boulangerie this morning, I was ready with the brakes just in case Winnie the Cat showed his little grey face. But to my delight and joy, not a cat to be seen! It was only when I heard the sound of the gunshots that I figured the cats must have already been in hiding.

Hunting season has arrived.

Rumour has it, most of the time the hunters are looking for three things: Red, white and rose.

Hence why Anouk, Typhon and I decided that with the shotgun sounds being just a teenie weenie closer than normal this morning, we'd stick to the roads.

Most of the hunters are men that I know from around the village. They all meet up at this lovely old trailer by the quarry, check that they've all got their cell phones, throw a couple of hound dogs in the back of a Renault, and then head off. It's a massive convoy of big men in little cars, parking on the side of the road as the hounds flush out the birds or deer or wild boar that they are looking for. If they get a call that the hunted have changed direction, it's everyone back in the cars and off towards the trails where they once again park on the side and wait.

We passed the convoy as we headed out on the main road. I managed to free my death grip from the brakes to wave hello to the various sundry I know from the village.

I'm sure they all think I'm nuts.

There goes that crazy American woman with her dogs again. Did you see her the time she flew over the handle bars in front of the boulangerie? Funniest thing I've seen in weeks!

Life in the country. We've all got our own ways of having fun.

The hunters have shotguns and wine.

I've got a banged up bike and two huskies.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Trimming the Tree(s)

This weekend we are going to finish trimming the trees. Now before you get all excited and start singing Christmas songs, I'm not talking about ornaments and tinsel. I'm talking about trimming with saws and clippers. Playing with Man Toys!

In front of our house we have two beautiful Magnolia trees. In the spring, one has beautiful red flowers and the other white. I'm always worried about trimming these trees, that somehow we'll ruin them and then the flowers won't bloom in the spring. Luckily, that hasn't happened in the past. But I'm still a nervous nelly about it. It's like giving them a bad hair cut but not being able to hide it under a hat!

The other tree we've started working on is a huge old leafy thing that sits in the corner of the garden. It's obvious from it's growth pattern that it has been trimmed before. Actually, it's obvious it's been not just trimmed, but hacked back to it's trunk over the years. One thick solid trunk that has four knobs growing out from it. Each of the four knobs has marks from where branches have been cut over time. It looks like four scarred fists, trying to reach up and touch the coulds.

I'm not sure what it is in France, but there seems to be a general attitude that trees need to be cut right back every year. Cut off all the new shoots, cut off all the old dead branches, cut off anything that looks like it remotely wants to become green! The trees look just like a stalk of broccoli after all the florets have been cut off. Fine for a vegetable, but a tree?!?

It reminds me of when Daddio used to trim the crab apple tress at our old house. He would head out to those three little trees and just start snipping away. A couple of hours later, we'd still consider them trees but we'd have to wait a few months for proof!

In Daddio's case, and hopefully in ours, with the spring we had beautiful trees once again. And I will admit, that the trees in France are ever so pretty once they start sporting their new leaves.

It's just such a stark look for winter. Maybe if I knitted some big colourful mittens for the four fists, throw a little tinsel on 'em, some lights, maybe even an ornament or two...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

My White Wine Women

Since 1993, I haven't really spent Thanksgiving with my family. The first year I was away, I remember clearly talking to Daddio from the race shack on Snowmass Mountain. My family was all together, getting ready to eat, and I was on the side of a mountain watching people race NASTAR.

The wonderful thing about having lived in resort towns was that there was never a question of being alone on this holiday. There were always loads of other people in the same situation as me. We became each others family. And if that didn't work, I begged my single crazy friends from high school to come and play with me. A few years later, one small house in Idaho, copious amounts of alcohol, and a turkey. Not a bad way to pass the holiday!

The Great Turkey Chase of 2006 is also something I'll never forget. We had been invited (Hubster the non-American included) to have Thanksgiving with Miss Tennessee 1975's family and some other American friends. Keep in mind that trying to find American things in France is hard enough at the best of times, but trying to find a turkey 3 weeks before the French actually think about putting them in the stores adds a little adventure!

Miss T, undaunted, had gone out of her way to make it a "real" Thanksgiving by making fabulous deserts, ordering a turkey from the bird guy at the market, and tracking down fresh cranberries. The Saturday that we actually celebrated Thanksgiving, Mr. Tennesse (who's really from South Carolina) ended up driving all over the Auvergne to find the bird man and the turkey.

To Market to Market to buy a Big Turkey.
Home Again, Home Again, all I found was Beef Jerky!

Luckily, Mr T did track down the bird man with enough time to roast that bird to perfection!

There is one Thanksgiving in particular that has had the biggest impact on me. In November of 2000, I had been living in England for 5 months and was going through a difficult period professionally and personally. I flew home for the holiday and stayed with one of my sisters. Thanksgiving Day, I sat with my two sisters, my mom, my two beautiful cousins and their mom and we drank our way through several bottles of white wine. As we sat there, we talked.

And talked. And talked. And laughed. And cried. I felt so loved. All of them helped me realize what I needed and wanted to do with my situation and my life. Those women, with those bottles of wine, helped me find clarity and direction.

I am eternally grateful.

Today, I've been trying to explain this "foreign" holiday to The Princess and Mini-Husband a bit. They've never really celebrated a true American Thanksgiving but I think they get the basic idea. When I asked them what they were most thankful for they both said their blankies and teddies. They're on the right track.

Blankies, teddies and the white wine women. It's all the same. Love and constancy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

While I'm Thinking This...

What on earth did parents feed their children for dinner before the mass production of pasta?!!?!?!?

God bless spaghetti!!!

The Joy of Fur

I know y'all must be waiting with baited breath for the latest from my little world! My apologies for not having a moment to post sooner, but grammar and fur called.

Fur? Yes, fur. Fabulous Malamute and Siberian fur. All over the place. Blowing in the wind. Sticking to my fleece. Changing my black pants to grey. Glorious fur. Someone once said to me, "You know you've got huskies when you open a new jar of peanut butter and there's fur in it already." Happier, truer words have never been spoken!

This past weekend there was another fur fest in the region. And not just a hang-around-and-look-at-the-pretty-dogs kinda fur fest. It was a real watch-the-fur-work kinda fest. Yes, you guessed it. A proper dog sled competition. Of course, there's not enough snow (or no snow rather) so it was dogs with bikes and karts, pulling over a 6k course. It was fabulous.

It was good for us to head over and see all the various mushers and their teams getting ready, heading to the start, and actually running. There were a few of teams with fancy equipment and nice looking dogs. There were other teams with karts held to together by duct tape. There were Malamutes and Sibs and some huskies of questionable background. There was fur. Lots and lots of fur.

For most of the teams, be it 4 dogs or 6, the musher has other people helping them get organized at the start or moving around the staging aread. These people, handlers as they are called, are a common site. They know the dogs well and really try and keep things calm.

That being said, the one team that really impressed me was a team of 6 Malamutes and their musher who navigated the staging area and arrived at the start all by themselves. No handlers. The relationship between the musher and dogs was so good. Those dogs knew what he expected from them and them from him. While other teams would get insane with excitement and jump and pull at the harness at the start, this team of 6 calmly listened to their musher.

"Sit. Wait." That was all he said and they did exactly that. Calm. Controled. Alert. Ready. When it was time for them to go, only one word was said, "Allez!" Off they went. Fabulous. Beautiful. A team. A team.

This is how I want to be with my dogs. Of course, Tpyhon isn't exactly convinced. Y'all know how we have our little wobbles when out. He likes to stop and pee on everything and that gets Anouk frustrated and since he weighs more than me and her put together, eh, well...

The good news is that there were other teams out there just like us. Dogs who didn't want to go up the big hill. Dogs who wanted to take the short cut back to the staging area. Dogs who wanted to pee everywhere. Mushers falling off the bike. Mushers happy to have a handler or two around. Teams just like ours.

I'm going to try and remember that in my quest to be like Malamute Musher, the journey of a thousand dogs begins with a little fur flying in the wind and a little pee on the flowers.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Something I Realized Today

I think I'm failing Bible study.

Perhaps if I actually read the book that might help.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Did the Brakes Hold Out?

Eh, voila! I've made it back home safe and sound after taking both the happy mutts out with the bike. Sure, I've blown out the brakes yet again, but not a single wound to be found!

Honestly, it was amazing. We had gotten about a centimeter of snow last night and it was still snowing this morning. I somehow managed to get the dogs, the baby, and the bike into our little 4x4 and haul them over to French-Me's house. There are a series of beautiful logging roads not too far from her place so she watched the Bubba Love while I got to go toodling with the dogs.

The silence of snow is something I live for. The calm, the quiet, the peace of fresh snow. Here we were, out on new undiscovered trails, bouncing along, with only the jingling of Anouk and Typhon's collars as background noise.

Anouk is really coming on as a lead and followed my commands like a rockstar. Typhon even seems to be getting the idea and helped keep us flowing at a good pace for over 10K. The nicest thing is that when I did finally burn through my brakes, we were only about 1/2 a kilometer from French-Me's house!

It was at that point that I took a spectacular spill when I tried to brake going into her hamlet. Yes, that's when I realized the brakes were well and truely gone! I tried to roll through the frosty/snow scrub on the side of the road to slow down but ended up going over the gangline and tumbling. Typhon and Anouk stopped, waited for me to get back up, sorta snorted a laugh at me, and off we went again.

I love being able to watch them run and pull. Heck, I even kinda like falling off the bike at this point!

I love these dogs. I love seeing them curled up outside in the snow right now. Tired, happy, and peaceful.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Grace a Eux

I've had a day of connections, as it were. I finally had a chance to call and talk to my mom. Really talk, complain, laugh, and listen. She's great, my mom. I really do believe that I have been blessed to have her in my life.

She's not a complicated person. She doesn't stand for falseness or seek those who care for material things.

She reads. I mean reads. If there is a topic that slightly interests her, she finds a book, or a story, or an article and reads. This is a woman who hasn't stopped learning.

My mom has always been very good at letting me and my sisters make our own choices and our own mistakes. I realize now just how hard that must have been for her. I am who I am because she allowed me to be. (And, probably, because she convinced my father to let me be!)

She once said to me, "I am not your friend. I am your mother." I didn't get that at the time. But now, that is exactly how I want to be with my kids.

My mother loves me, there is no question, and she supports me and listens to me, but that doesn't mean she always likes what I'm doing or who I'm hanging out with. She's not my friend. She's more than that. She is my mother.

The beautiful irony in our relationship is that I married a version of my father. (And, not only me, but one of my sisters as well!) Their relationship, married now for almost 45 years, has been the best example of how to love and be a part of something so amazing without losing sight of who you are and who you want to be. My parents are normal, everyday people. That is what is so extraordinary.

It's getting late. Hubster has a company dinner and I'm having red wine with bread and cheese for my dinner. I'm glad for the alone time. I'm glad for the time to think about my mom, my dad.

I hope I take the good lessons they've given me and pass them on. I hope I continue to learn as she has.

The Weather

It's grey, cold, and sleeting today. Just my kinda weather. It can only mean that the real cold and snow isn't far off! Bring on winter! I'm ready to play in the snow, build some igloos, and break trail with the dogs.

Of course, if today is any insight, that could be difficult. Anouk has curled up in her dog house and hasn't even come over to say, "Good Morning." Typhon, on the other hand, knocked on the door just after his 7am karaoke with the bells and hasn't moved from the hallway since. I've opened the door a couple of times to let him out and he won't budge. Must be a Malamute thing. Luna always liked to play the carpet when it was cold outside too.

Tomorrow I'm taking them out for a jaunt with the bike. I've got my helmet, my gloves, and my brakes ready to go. Cross your fingers for me, ok?

Whoa....wait!!! There's a snowflake!!!! Oh JOY!!!! Oh HAPPINESS!!! Oh WINTER!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tired Tired Tired

My head is ready to explode. Yet another afternoon of French grammar and I really do feel like I'm having all this pronoun, masculine/feminine thing hammered into my head. Accord? Accorde? Why? When? Why with this verb in this context and not with the same verb when it's having a cup of tea?!?!?! Who made this up?!?!

I'm almost too tried to write about my experiences with tripe on Sunday. (Tripe. If you don't know what it it, you need to click on the link.) I was proud of myself for actually tasting it and finding it much better than expected. That being said, I'm not sure I'll be making it anytime soon.

See, I helped waitress the annual parent's association dinner. A dinner that started at 9am. A dinner of tripe that started at 9am. And there were people actually there to eat tripe at 9am! By about 12:30, my sense of smell was gone and I had no trouble serving the huge plates of tripe with boiled potatoes, bread, and cheese.

There was a fair amount of food left over when we had finished serving so we waitresses were allowed to take what we wanted back home. I scored a huge wheel of bread, some St Nectaire, and a tub of tripe. I had thought maybe one of the tribe at home would want to taste it.

I had the distinct impression I smelled ever so lovely as I wandered back to our house. Low and behold, the dogs sensed that too. I was literally licked clean as I walked into the garden. Seems tripe is a big favourite with the four legged members of our family. Who knew! Anouk and Typhon manged to open the Tuperware (without using thumbs I might add) and inhaled the entire container. I haven't seen something that clean since I bought new dishes.

Tripe. I love most things French but I will admit I'm having a little trouble with that one. Oh, and the grammar, of course! Thank goodness I've got a week till the next class and a year until the next parent's association meal.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday's Ramblings

There is an unbeaten path just down the lane, that winds along the bottom of our hill, leading past the most beautiful lonely house, up past our peaceful cemetary, then meandering back to the village. It's full of thorns, sticky bushes, and muddy puddles. At one point, the trail heads under a ceiling of branches, the leaves casting hues of green and yellow all around us. As we walked along, it felt as if we were miles from anywhere.

When we found ourselves leaving the trees, we realized we had arrived in the garden of the lonely house. This is a house we see everyday when we drive up the hill and into the village. It sits in a little hollow off the road and is similar in style and size to our home. Every fall, the lonely house is covered in flaming red vines. We could see, as we stood there, that the vines covered the windows and front door. Not neglected as much as forgotten. An air of sad peacefulness holds this house empty and quiet, out of time.

We manged to clamber through the overgrown bushes and thorns and follow the trail as it climbed past the cemetary. There are so many chrysanthemums resting on the tombs at this time of year. All shades and colours, giving a freshness to a place that one would expect to be grey and cold. There is life in the remembering.

Reaching our house as the light rain began, I gazed upon the dog houses tucked under our big tree, our old shutters folded into the window panes, and the mess of what were my tomato plants. The sight made me smile.

Our house, cluttered, noisy, and in a contant state of change, is beautiful. There is life in the living.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Word from My Sponsors

Anouk and Typhon have decided they've had enough of all this illness and sickie talk and have manifested in the garden. They've set up their own obstacle course through what's left of my flowers, around the house, and over the see-saw. Not bad for a day's work. I managed to pull them away from their frenzy by announcing that they now have a new cousin besides Snickers, the Husky on the Hill.

And here he is, Gus, the cutest 10 month old Dachador. (Or Labrahund as his new Grandmammy calls him.)

What? You've never heard of a Dachador/Labrahund before? Goodness me! Well, for those of you who don't know, Gus is a Dachshund-Black Lab mix. He's a combination of all the wonderful things about Labs with all the fabulous spicy behavior of a sausage dog.

We had a sausage dog when I was growing up. His name was Klein and he was a pistol. (When I think about the speed that dog possessed, it makes me dream of a possible Dachusky team!) Klein wasn't your typical Dachshund either. He was, as Daddio called him, a "tweener weiner" since his mother had been of the standard size and his father, a miniture.

The greatest Thanksgiving memory I have is the time that Klein stole the turkey carcus off the dining room table. He somehow managed to eat the entire thing, between ferocious growls to scare us off his "kill" of course! Poor dog didn't move for 2 days, he was so stuffed. (Credit to my mom, that was one delicious bird!) He was as wide as he was long, sitting there under that table. Bless him. Klein, the Dachshund who'd have sold his soul for a piece of cheese.

There was a link not too long ago from the SDC site about a miniature Alaskan Husky. Interesting concept, a smaller version of these fantastic dogs appeals to me, but when I actually had a look, I'm not sure I'd know what to do with it. They are kind cute in that children's-beauty-pagent-contestant kinda way but I'm not sure about hooking them up to a sled anytime soon!

My own mini-Siberian and her accomplice would like me to just reaffirm their position on all dogs, pure bred or not:

Love us.
Whatever we Look Like and Whatever our Roots.
Go Hug Us, Play with Us, Take Us Out for a Walk.

Welcome to the family, Gus!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I Think We've Now Paid for a Full Doctor's Office Renovation

Ah yes, back from yet another visit with the doctor. Bubba-Love's fever hasn't improved over the last three days, so after a frantic phone call last night, Buba Love and I went down and saw him this morning.

The diagnosis: pneumonia.

We've got a new anitbiotic to try and a x-ray appointment for tomorrow. I'm on hive watch and thinking we might need to buy a new copy of Cars.

Red wine, anyone?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

My Colours

Mini-Husband and The Princess head back to school tomorrow. It's been a cold, dark, hectic vacation with all sorts of loudness and banging, in the end signifying nothing has been accomplished. Eh, voila. It's like that sometimes.

It's actually sunny today which has helped the morale incredibly. (That and at least my antibiotic seems to be working.) It's this striking yellow out there today. With all of the various tones on most of the trees right now, it's glowing across the fields and up to little peak on the other side of the valley. It looks as if everything is blooming in gold. I'm in awe. Yellow has always been my favourite colour.

With the time change during this vacation, I now get the chance to cook dinner in my purple and orange world of light. Our kitchen walls are painted a light purple and when the setting sun knocks on the window about 5pm, I happily let him in.

He dances about, jumping behind our wooden cabinets, sitting on top of the sticker covered white fridge, and then hiding in the purple corners of our old stone sink. I catch a glimpse of him as he heads towards the mountains, taking a quick pass over the stove. It's alive in there. It's my favourite time of year in the kitchen.

It's a good time of year to have had a vacation. If only we had had more days of light rather than fog, more days of playing rather than visiting the doctor. But it sure is amazing what a difference one day of light and colour makes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Now Showing Chez Nous: Hives and Strep Throat

I thought we had it tough a few years back when Mini-Husband had pneumonia, stomach viruses, scarlet fever, and chicken pox in a 6 month time span...wait, as I type that, I'm realizing that was pretty tough. Thank goodness he's been healthy (for the most part) this last year. Touch wood that continues!

Right now, though, I'm going through Round Two of mulitple illnesses with Bubba Love. He had a lovely case of a stomach bug about 2.5 weeks ago. Got through that only to have him develop an ear infection (as you all know.) The doctor put him on the usual course of antibiotics and he seemed to perk up very quickly. Until Friday and the latest fun visit to the doctor.

Hives. The little guy was covered from head to toe in the most amazing patchwork of hives. One minute, all over his back, the next, covering his face and arms. Off we go to see our favourite man. Thank goodness the doctor is patient and doesn't mind playing charades. We finally were able to determine the right term for hives in French and he gave Bubba Love some medicine to ease the itching and discomfort.

Trouble is, I'm not sure what is causing the hives in the first place. Was it the antibiotic? Was it the fish sticks we ate for lunch on Friday? Is he having a reaction to a virus in his system? Was it the laundry soap?

He was ok during the weekend but broke out again with them yesterday and today. At least today he's eating and happily watching (yes, you guessed it) Cars.

This is good for me. 'Cause I've come down with strep throat. Mini-Husband and The Princess have been taking care of me today. I've had the most wonderful cup of tea made from apple juice and a brioche and peanut butter sandwich for breakfast.

Think I'll bring the dogs in and curl up with them on the couch. I know it doesn't seem possible, but I'm not sure they've ever seen the ending of Cars...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

La Neighboure

La Neighboure (spelled as such because the neighbour is a she and in French, you add an "e" at the end if you are talking about a tribute to French grammar!) is here this week. Her husband is in the French military and they have moved around this country over the years. The house they have here is their dream, it's their future, their place for when he retires from the army. It's a very old house dating back to the time of Louis XV, the late 1700s. They have worked incredibly hard to renovate the house and it's lovely having more voices and life in the village when they are here.

It's an odd relationship I have with her. She is very nice and friendly but I can't help but feel that she holds the opinion that we don't really belong here. That we don't really have roots here. Whereas in her case, her mother was from near the village, they have family in the cemetery, and probably the most difficult one, she's French and we are not.

I worry sometimes about how our children will cope with being strangers in their own land. Mini-Husband may have some connections to England but the Princess and Bubba-Love were both born here and have never lived anywhere but France. They are technically not French, but when The Princess speaks, it's with an Auvergnate accent.

The kids don't have a tooth fairy, they have the tooth mouse. They don't think Halloween is about any costume you want, it's about scary skeletons and ghosts. Dressing up is Carnival. They take their shoes off immediately when going into a friend's house and they expect "gouter" at 4pm. They have never lived with air-conditioning and expect a bite of baguette when we go grocery shopping. School is Monday and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Pate and vegetables are normal options at the cafeteria. It's Dora speaking French and English not English and Spanish. When they grow up, they want to have an appartment in Paris.

This is what they know. This is their life. How can I teach them to not let people like La Neighboure make them feel that they don't belong?

I'll admit that it hurts me when La Neighboure speaks to me sometimes, as if I'm not capable of understanding this world where I live. Not capable of being part of this village that has her family name in the cemetery.

The irony is that she is trying to become a teacher and hasn't been able to pass the exams. Her stumbling area: English.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Well at Least That's Sorted

Last night as I was getting the little people to bed, Mini-Husband started asking some rather in depth questions about families, life, and death. Super mom that I am, I dealt with all of the questions with aplomb. Feeling ever so smug with myself and the narrow margin between bedtime discussions and philosophy/religion avoided, I kissed the beautiful boy goodnight.

"Mom, where would we go live if you and Dad were to die right now?"

Dang. Didn't quite escape as cleanly as I had hoped!

"Well, you would probably go and live with your aunts and cousins in the Unites States. Wouldn't that be fun having all those other kids around you?"

Mini-Husband thought about that for a second and then added, "But we could always go and live with Grandma and Granddad in England too, you know."

"Yes," I said, "but I think dealing with the three of you might be a bit much for Grandma and Granddad at this point."

Mini-Husband pondered this again for a second. He looked at me with those fabulous brown eyes, smiled and said, "Yeah, The Princess really can be such a piece of work!"

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Training Time

I do love my Hubster.

Yesterday, he took the day off to stay at home with the sickies so that the kids wouldn't infect friends and playmates while I headed off to my class. I don't think he understands just how good that was. Knowing that the kids where with him rather than somewhere else, knowing they were safe at home with him, was a relief. I didn't have to stress about them. They were with the other half of me.

When I got home from class several hours later, he took one look at me and sensed the headache that was forming from the 2.5 hours of French grammar and sent me out to play with the dogs. Bless him. You do get what you need sometimes!

Typhon and Anouk take the hit when my time is short and I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off. They have space to play in the garden, but it's not the same as getting out for a decent run or walk. I know for me, if I don't get outside to walk or run or jump around, I go nuts. These dogs are of the same ilk. Sprinting around the garden furniture, dodging toys and swingsets just isn't the same as running the trails.

I've had some really good advice from the gang over at Sled Dog Central recently and I've been trying to work one on one with Anouk and Typhon. The hope is that by really giving time to focus on each dogs' specific needs, I'll be able to run them together better when we're ready. That may be in about 4 years time, but as Hubster likes to say, "Patience is a virture. Catch it if you can."

Anouk does well with the gee/haw commands. She hesitates a little before a turn but I'm sure that as we pratice this, she'll get confidence. She's a smart little cookie. Typhon needs a bit more practice and patience. He's not happy being out without Anouk. He'll follow me, but he won't lead. He's team player, a strong wheel dog. That being said, he knows the commands, even though I'm saying them in English! (How said is it that even my dog is bilingual before I am!)

Last night was a slow walk and the first time in while that I had both dogs out together. We focused on the commands "easy" and "on by." It was windy and blustery out there but such a pleasure to give some time and attention to the pups. They did really well. Hopefully, I'll get a chance sometime this week to get on the trails, sickies and school vacation permitting!

Did I forget mention that when the dogs and I got back home, Hubster had dinner ready? Did I forget to mention how awesome this man is who understands me and lets me do these things I love?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Let Me Rethink That

We've been fighting various and sundry viruses at our house for the last two weeks. Tummy bugs, bad colds, coughing. Mini-husband has been coughing so bad it sounds like he's a pack a day smoker. Bubba Love is clingy and gooey, with a nose running faster than I ever could. The Princess, bless her, is hardy stock (takes after me) and isn't unwell. Just annoyed with all the attention the boys are getting.

I finally was able to get them, with The Princess along for the ride, to doctor last night. One of my sisters once said to me that as soon as you get to the doctor's office, the sick kid is miraculously cured. Wiser words have never been spoken!

As we arrived around 5pm, it was obvious Chez Clark is not the only house in town that needs to be fumigated. In the waiting room, which is the size of a changing cubicle at the pool, there were 6 mothers and 9 children already wrecking the place.

Who were they kidding? None of these little people were ill! They were in top form! Running around, moving furniture, throwing magazines, screaming, laughing, hiding, and playing in the bathroom. Not a single runny nose, not a single cough, not a single wilted little love bug. Mine included!

When we finally did get to see the doctor, Bubba Love had had it. It was 6:30pm at this point and he was hungry, tired, and starting to actually look ill again. Mini-Husband went first and wonderfully answered all the doctor's questions while I held the melting baby and ever so politely asked The Princess to stop cleaning the windows of the office with a baby wipe.

After Bubba Love was examined from top to tail, I tried to gather up the kids, the coats, the prescriptions, pay the doctor and find the car keys. In this frazzled state, the doctor looked at me in the most aloof and pitiful way. I got the distinct impression that he would have liked to prescribed me a strong sedative.

So, here we are. Bubba Love with a mild double ear infection, Mini-Husband with a slight cause of bronchitis, and The Princess with her bells on, dancing through the living room.

Ah yes, the chaos continues. Toujours. La vie est belle!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Relfections on My Chaos

I just finished reading Water For Elephants and there is a point at which the main character, who is 90 or 93 (he's not sure) talks about how the days when the kids were little and the chaos was all around him were his "halcyon days." How scary. And yet how true.

Yes, my world is strange and busy and I can't remember what day of the week it is sometimes, but these really are good days. We're busy growing, playing, changing, and exploring. We're enjoying the nutsdom of our cluttered house and our dog fur covered clothes. The ritual demands from the tribe for walks or to eat or to watch "Cars" again for the 3045th time. It'll do your head in.

Yes. I'll admit it. I'm going insane with all that's going on.

It's wonderful.

Chaos is fun. Chaos is life. Chaos is bright yellow with toys all over the garden.

Isn't it great?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Christmas List

The first of the Christmas toy catalogs arrived at our house this week. A nice little booklet with loads of wonderful toys from what seems to be every Disney movie under the sun. The Princess and Mini-Husband were adorable, sharing a chair, reading the catalog together. Every time they saw something that they liked, I told them "to put it on your list." 3500 toys later, the lists are very long and distinguished.

I tried to remind the kids that there are millions of children who don't get any presents at Christmas. I tried to really drive the point home that Christmas isn't about getting loads of stuff but giving things to the people we love to show how much we appreciate and care about them. It's about the giving not the receiving, that's what Christmas is all about.

The Princess reflected for about 30 seconds on what I said. She blinked her big brown eyes and tossed her head onto her shoulder, "That's nice, Mom. But I want these toys for my birthday."

Any suggestions on what I should say now?!?!?!!?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

England vs South Africa

Because I am beyond excited about this match tonight and because we are having loads of friends over to watch, I have not been able to sit still today. It's so bad that I've even cleaned the bathrooms. So bad, I've even vacuumed up all the spiderwebs flying around. So bad, that the oven is sparkling. So bad, that I'm twitching.

Good thing I was able to escape with Typhon for a little training run. Anouk had already headed out with her friend, Musher Boy, for a seriously long adventure. Typhon was a little blue about being left behind, so it was great to be able to get him running on his own.

I do really love it when the two are out running together. He's a powerful dog and really comes into his own when he's following the pack or just Anouk. He's a typical wheel dog. He's not a puller by himself. He's not sure how fast to go, he's scared of the cows, and he would rather smell the flowers. But that was ok today. It was just us plodding along. He's learning, and so I am, that sometimes the best pack is us, one on one.

Unless you are England getting ready for a ruck, but that's another story..!!!


Friday, October 19, 2007

Strike Season

Yesterday was a lovely fall day here in the Auvergne. Cool temps and sunshine. Perfect for a hike or bike ride. Or if you we're like my friends, Hippy-Love Francais and her husband, a perfect day for manifestations!

Yes, it's October and that means it's time for the French to participate in their favourite hobby, organized walkouts and strikes. A large majority of the unions went on strike yesterday over proposed pension reform issues. It's a hot topic over here and something that could get ugly. Reform needs to happen, but I'm not sure the French are ready to deal with the pain and struggle that will come from that.

That being said, as my friends dropped off their kids at school, Hippy Love beamingly told me how they were heading into town for the protest. They both had the air of high school kids heading off to a football game, eager to participate, eager to be there. It was refreshing, I must admit. I don't think I'll ever really understand this incredible commitment to social justice and leftist politics that the French have, but I'm glad to have the chance to watch it in action.

I was inspired after seeing my friends and decided that yesterday would be my own strike action day. I decided not to do the laundry, not to clean the bathrooms, not to pick up poop in the garden, and not to do the dishes until my own pension reform plans were met. (Simple demands really: new dog sled, more dogs, bigger garden, etc etc.)

I took Bubba-Love out in the jogger for a little run to see the manifestations in our village. The manifestations of the leaves changing colours, the herds of cows grazing in the fields, the farmers turning the soil, and the hawks flying about in the sky.

For what it's worth, my demands have not yet been agreed too. And the worst part is that today I've got a hell of a lot to do. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's Important to Look Before You Leap

I come from a swimming family. I have one sister who swam competitively in college and now coaches triathletes, aiding them to become more efficient in the pool/swimming portion of their sport. My other sister is one of those swimmers who glides through the water, like a sting ray who moves so effortlessly through the currents. She has qualified for the National Masters Championships and has always been a force in the water. She's competitive like a rip tide, sneaking up on you when you aren't looking and then acting as if she really wasn't that fussed.

I, on the other hand, swim like a school of fish during a feeding frenzy. Thrashing about, water going everywhere, no sense of direction or purpose. Good thing for me, the lanes are clearly marked at an indoor pool. There is no direction except straight.

Tuesday mornings, when I'm free of all of my children and I've got time before class, I'm thrashing about in the pool in town. (It's good for me to cross-train my niggles from running and soak the boo-boos from my dog/bike accidents.) The first time I went, I was a nervous wreck. There were so many people and I was desperate to find a lane that didn't look too crowded or full of bobbers. (Bobbers (n): People who move up and down the lane without using any of the four major recognized swimming strokes.)

In my haste to actually get to the pool, I had forgotten to bring some goggles but at least I had my swim cap. As I wrestled that rubber thing on my head, I saw an opening in lane #2.

There is nothing like the first fluid strokes of freestyle. You feel strong, light, and just as the name says, free. Of course, I was swimming free and blind since I didn't have my goggles, but what was I worried about! I was at the pool! I was swimming! I was free! I was cruising! I was strong! I was getting tired! Goodness me!! Where was the wall?!?!!?

Note to self: Might be a good idea to actually check out the length of the pool before you start swimming in it. Yes, it's amazing how far 50m really is when you didn't notice the distance in the first place.

Ah yes, I'm the ultimate of bobber. A bobber who looks like she knows what she's doing when in reality, she's clueless. Free and clueless, but clueless all the same.

I went back this week. This time I had some goggles and I knew where the wall was. Still had to dodge the bobbers, but at least I knew I could. I felt good and strong. Almost like my sisters.

Just The Two of Us, And a Couple of Other English Speakers

Ah, a moment to sit and post. It's been a little hectic since our night away in
Salers. This beautiful little town has been voted one of France's most beautiful villages for several years and it's easy to understand why. It's location in the Monts du Cantal makes for spectacular scenery. It was so nice being there....

The highlight of the weekend had to be our evening in the local bar watching England beat France! There we were, in a bar the size of my parent's bedroom, chatting away with an American couple from Michigan (and hence CLUELESS as to what rugby was. But GO LIONS!), a couple from Ireland who spoke not a word of French (so I ended up translating agricultural terms all night for them, kindly being paid in beer), and a young aspiring politician from Salers who works for the Assembly National. (I had no idea he had a blog till I googled "Salers," but hey, as my cousin says, "Everyone's got a story to tell!") Hubster enjoyed a evening of rivalry with his favourite team to hate, but in the end made friends with three lovely French girls who actually invited us to go nightclubbing with them at 1am!Yup, we're getting old, but we're not out, just yet!

And with a thud (in the shape of fevers and tantrums) Sunday evening, it was back to the 5 of us. (Opps, 7!)

At least we've got Saturday to look forward to: England vs South Africa in the final. Yes, South Africa. Yet another country where Hubster has friends and connections. We're waiting for the phone calls and teasing to start about 9pm. I think the only team England could've played that wouldn't have caused huge amounts of rivalry would have been the US.

What? You didn't realize the US rugby team had made the World Cup?!?!?!

Wait. Right, sorry...Go Ravens! Go Chiefs! Go Packers!

Friday, October 12, 2007

This Time 6 Years Ago

I was hanging out with my family getting ready to be made honest.

Time flies when you're enjoying it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Sneaky 36 Kilo Dog

I just caught Typhon licking out the rest of the soup from lunch.

Amazing how agile this massive great, size of a cow, dog really is.

The soup was in the pot, on the stove, pushed way back on the burner the furthest from the edge. He manged to lick the damn thing completely clean and not break a thing in the kitchen. Nice to know he at least appreciated my homemade pumpkin soup. (Unlike The Princess and Bubba Love!)

He's ever so quiet when he sneaks around in there. Wondering if he's actually in there on two feet, hence why I can't hear him.

Gonna have to put a bell on this dog. Maybe one like this.

Ahhhhh, this Malamute!!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Good Sign or Bad Omen

It's our wedding anniversary this weekend. Pretty amazing we haven't killed each other or filed for divorce in 6 years!

We've decided to celebrate by leaving our children with friends and then driving as fast and as far away as we can before THE BIG MATCH starts on Saturday night. You remember, England vs France in the Rugby World Cup semi-final, right? We're ever so romantic.

I will admit to being slightly worried about heading into strange French territory when such an event is looming, but as parents of small children, we need to take the chance to run away when and if it ever presents itself. Rugby war or no rugby war.

I made some calls this afternoon to track down a room in a picturesque village even more remote that our own. Hubster had seen a nice hotel online so I called to see if they had availability. Just so happens the hotel in question is closing tomorrow for their "vacances annuelles." They recommended I call the chateau hotel next door.

A very kind voice answered my call there. A kind voice with an accent I recognized. Imagine my joy and happiness when I was then able to ask the man,

"Vous parlez Anglais?"

"You had to ask me in French, didn't you?" he English.

Yes, it seems I've found us a safe house, or rather a safe chateau, for Saturday night. A chateau with a bar and England rugby fans.

God Save our Gracious Queen!


So after 4.5 years of learning French from the neighbours, the delivery people, the doctor, the check out lady at Atac, the repairmen, the boulanger, and a few cows on occasion, I've started formal classes.

Yes, that's right. I'm back at school.

And my head hurts.

The classes are part of French program for foreign students at the local university. Most of the students are between the ages of 18-22, coming from all over the globe. There are a few Russians, Polish, British and Americans but the overwhelming majority of the students are from China and their level of written French is impressive. It puts me to shame.

I can talk up a storm in French. (As I do in English.) I have no fear of making mistakes or asking for clarification when I'm speaking, but tackling this written aspect of the language has me, in the truest sense of the word, dumbfounded.

I'm taking two classes this semester. One is reading comprehension and the other is grammar. I enjoy the reading comprehension class. I can follow the articles and I can understand the context. But how is it possible that I can read and understand French but yet have absolutely no clue as to the proper grammar for writing this insane, intense, and beautiful language?

I sit in fear in the grammar class that the professor will call on me. In fear that these young students, who think I speak so well, will realize that I have no base of grammar, I have no clue how to form the written French, no clue as to how to spell. That I am almost illiterate. It's soul destroying at 36 to feel so inept.

Miss Tennessee 1975 told me yesterday, "It's when you get into the classes that you realize just how much you don't know."

Wiser words have never been spoken.

It's going to be a hard semester for me. I might actually have to work and learn. I might actually have to do my homework. Something I managed to escape from all the other times I was at school.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Rugby Hangover

I'm sleepy still. Stayed up too late watching the end of the second big match of the Rugby World Cup last night.

The first match, England vs Australia, had been incredible during the afternoon. England, and the beautiful Jonny Wilkinson, pulled off a stunning upset that caused Hubster and I to dance around the lounge and Typhon to start singing without his usual church bell accompaniment.

The second match between France and New Zealand was more than I ever imagined. New Zealand was the tournament favourite and the attitude here was that France just needed to play a good game. Winning it would be another thing.

Well, they did.

(And the strangest thing is, they seemed to have my friend as their head coach. Funny that, I never knew Paul could speak French! I think he did play rugby at one point in his life, but that was more for the free beer than the glory of victory...)

So this now means that the battle lines will be drawn once again. It's England vs France in the semi-final next weekend. Hubster vs the Village. " Le Roast Beef" vs "The Frogs."

I'm going to have to practice God Save the Queen with the kids this week.

And I have a sneaking suspicion that Typhon isn't just howling with the bells. He's actually singing La Marseillaise. Might have to hide the dog during the match next weekend.

This could get ugly.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Princess Speaks

Yesterday, while the kids were having dinner, we started discussing things they'd like for Christmas. Mini-Husband said that he would like to go see the Eiffel Tower. The Princess said she'd like to go see the magic place where Mini-Husband got to go when she was still in my tummy. (That would be Walt Disney World)

I said, "Hey, you know what? There's a Disney World near Paris. What we could do is maybe ask Daddy to take us there at Christmas and at the same time go see the Eiffel Tower."

The Princess was beyond excited. Beaming all over her face, she replies, "Yes! Yes! I'll ask for that for Christmas. I'll ask to go to the Magic Place, Mini-Husband can ask to go to the Eiffel Tower, and Bubba-Love can ask for ca-ca smeertz!"

Ca-ca smeertz?

"Ok, sweetie, why is Bubba Love asking for ca-ca smeertz?"

"I don't know," she bubbles, arms gesturing from her little shoulders and pointing to the little guy. "He can't talk!"

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I think I'm the New Britney

Sing it with me, "Opps, I did it again..."

Yes, that's right. I'm 36 years old and I still fall off my bike on a regular basis.

Here I was, Sunday afternoon, all ready to head out with the dogs for a little jaunt. I figured I needed to get over my cow poop incident and take the bull by the horns, or rather in this case, the dogs by the harnesses.

I hooked up my very excited "team" and off we went. We made it up the little street towards the centre of the village, made the right hand corner towards the boulangerie, and then I saw the cat.

Now, I know how my dogs feel about cat. Cat on stick, cat sushi roll, cat burger, cat sauteed with onions, cat soup, even cat just with ketchup is good for them. So, I being the nice animal lover that I am, figured now would be a good time to hit the brakes and make sure none of those aforementioned items appeared on the dogs' menu for Sunday dinner.

Hit the brakes I did. Hard. And only the front one. That's right. The brake that me, the lefty, squeezed within an inch of it's life.

Imagine if you will, an ever so adorable woman of 36 years, going full force, head first, in a tremendous display of acrobatics and tumbling, over the front handlebars and onto the road. Smack in front of the boulangerie. Good thing it's closed on Sunday afternoons. Bad thing, the boulanger's daughter was hanging out her window. Talk about embarrassed.

The bleeding mess formerly known as Dig did continue her little adventure with her two dogs that day. No further incidents were reported though there is blood all over the handles. That, thank GOD, is the only damage sustained by my bike.

So here we are 3 days later and my knee is healing nicely even though the palms of my hands still look a little bit like cat burger.

I made a point of getting back out on the bike today with the Musher Lady who lives near by. She's got two Sibs who needed a little trail adventure. So Anouk and I took them on an awesome ride. I couldn't face the possibility of sustaining even more injuries today with this already weakened body, so Typhon was asked to guard the couch. Bless him.

So here we go again. Doing it dog by dog. Fall by fall. Bike repair by bike repair. Off to find the antiseptic cream. Think that lampshade Typhon wore could fit me too?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ever Wonder What is Really Going on in Dig's Head?

Truth be told, most of the time when I'm driving or running or alone with my thoughts, I'm pondering names.

Names for the dog team I someday hope to have.

Names for each of the dogs that I'll play and train with.

Names for a litter of future puppies, be them Malamute or Siberian.

Pure bred puppies born in France are given specific naming guidelines each year. For example, Anouk was born in 2005 and that year all pure bred puppies had names that started with the letter, "A." In 2008, all pure bred puppies will be given names starting with the letter, "D." I can imagine it now. Denver, Diane, Dude, Dipsy, Driggs, Denali...

The possibilities are endless.

So go on. Send me some ideas. Aide me with my naming addiction. You never know, you might get a lead dog named after you.

"Allez, Kelly!" "Let's Go Daddio!" "Magali, le laisser seul!"

A Sticky Situation

Nothing like a day playing with wallpaper glue to really remind you why it's best to pay a professional.

My American friend here, Miss Tennessee 1975, had her second baby earlier this week and as a surprise, the other expats and I thought it would be nice to actually finish decorating the new baby's room while Miss Tennessee 1975 was still in the hospital. I had been hoping that the two women who actually like doing this sort of thing would be ever so glad to help.

And they were. Except one flew off to Scotland on Thursday and the other was either babysitting or having a root canal.

Hence why yesterday, yours truly and my Russian friend, Tall-N-Lean, got the privilege to play with the wallpaper glue. The good thing was Tall-N-Lean, who it very much that, was able to get the paper started perfectly at the top and in the hidden corners whereas I dealt with the edges and made sure the bottom part was lined up correctly.

We did a fairly good job. Well, we did an ok job. Actually, there are some things that look really, really rough to me and had Hubster been there to guide us, we could have done them correctly, but hey. It's done.

I just hope Miss Tennessee 1975 is pleased. And that we used the right paper.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ah Yes, Now I Remember

Since this weekend, I have had the worst neck pain. At first, I thought I must have contracted meningitis since I couldn't move my head in any of the four major directions with which the head usually moves. Of course, then I got realistic and figured out that I'm feeling like this because of some horrible nightmares I had.

The first one dealt with me and Bubba Love. We had gone to the grocery store and I had left the little guy in the car. When I finished the shopping, I walked out of the store and couldn't find the car. Hence, couldn't find Bubba Love. So there I am, in my dream, completely freaking and yelling and asking everyone and anybody if they had seen my car or my baby. Talk about horrific, that feeling of anxiety and fear.

After that little lovely, I settled back down to sleep only to dream that I had divorced Hubster and was now living with a close relative of his. Just let me tell you, that if I could tell you which relative that was, just how insane that whole scenario would be. (I'm still a little weirded out by that one!) Thank goodness when I woke, Hubster was still there next to me, immune to all my stresses.

So if you take the two nightmares and combine it with all the recent worries about getting organized for going back to school, dealing with Lampshade Head, stressing over the kids, and the like, it would make sense that all of that would pent up in the neck and get all blocked up. So there you go. The reasons I thought I have this ridiculous neck pain.

I complained about this to my friend, French Me. She listened ever so patiently, calmly giving me suggestions on how to deal with the pain, and even was so kind as to offer an alternative cause. You see, last weekend we all went to Le Pal. And they have these really great attractions. And one of them is a roller coaster that I call the "Steak Hache" even though it's really called the "Azteka." (There was a little confusion for me with some French pronunciation, as usual.)

French Me said, "Hey. Is it possible your neck is all screwed up 'cause you went on that thing?"

Ah. Yes. That's right. Hmmmm. Guess I'll still be able to speak to Hubster's relative at the next family party afterall.

The Life of the Party

You know you are in trouble when you end up wearing the lampshade.

(Don't worry. Nothing serious. Just a little skin infection that Typhon needed to leave alone. If only you could hear him when he would try to escape out of the kitchen with that thing on. "Whoosh, thrump." Plastic slapping on the door frame. He's a little uncoordinated at the best of times!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pumpkin, Part 2

A few years ago, Grandma Francaise kindly gave me a 30 kilo pumpkin. Luckily for me, that weekend I had my sister-in-law, Bombshell, here to help cook, puree, and mix up all kinds of never before tested pumpkin treats. I still think there is pumpkin stuck behind the radiator from that experience.

Earlier this week, Country Lawyer Wife from the village (who drives a Mercedes convertible when taking her chickens to the vet) gave me another wacking great pumpkin. She said she had to get it out of her garden before the donkeys ate it. Since I felt so good about my previous experiences with large vegetables, I happily took it.

Today has been in the words of Winnie-the-Pooh, "quite a blustery day." A perfect atmosphere for lighting the woodstove and filling the house with the smells of cinnamon and pumpkin. Luckily, today I have Bombshell Francaise, my friend from Paris, here to help! The soup is ready to go on the stove, the pie is in the oven, and the pots of pumpkin jam are sitting on their lids cooling on the table. The house is warm and cozy and not a spec of pumpkin to be found on the walls.

Ah yes, we do improve with age after all!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Running from the Eight Ball

Every day this week I have been quoting that Calgon commercial. You know the one..."Calgon, take me away!"

Tired children and husband, a house on the verge of actually tumbling into the pit of complete and total pitdom, a dog wearing a lampshade (more to come on that one) and another who thinks that 10K runs are just not enough anymore. (Good thing my sister sent me a new sports bra. It arrived just in time!)

Not to forget that we forgot to call Annie Love (my mother-in-law) on her 70th birthday. It doesn't get much worse than that does it? How on earth could we have spaced that one? Especially since Hubster's sister had a huge and lovely party for her and we knew it was happening. We knew it was an important day and we've had it marked on our calender for months. I hate imagining that sweet lady worrying herself to pieces, getting angry and frustrated herself over our stupid forgetfulness.

I need an assistant, a nanny, a cleaner, and to win the lottery. Possibly even a large tattoo gun to make sure I don't forget the important things. Ever. Is it possible to be going senile and mad at 36.5 years old?

Zen, Dig. Zen.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Note to Self

I think I may have to retire my "Teton Ale" t-shirts. They are some of my favourites and I usually wear them to sleep in or when I'm mucking about with the dogs. I really didn't think about it when I went skipping off to get Mini-Husband from school today. Yes, the stains and dog fur were definitely unattractive, but the stares I got from Grandma Francais and another mom at school made me a little more self conscious than usual.

It seems that "teton" is actually a French slang word for "tits." This I knew when I lived in the Tetons. This I forgot while living amongst the French.

Nothing like a mother of three running around with the word "tits" all over her t-shirt, eh?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I really can not wait for the day that Bubba Love finally starts to talk. At this point, all he is doing is SCREAMING incoherent sounds at me. I'm not sure who is more frustrated. Me, because I don't understand, or him, because he knows what he's screaming. There is nothing like being woken at 5:30am by a toddler screaming, "MOMMY." On your mark, get set, GO!

In the short time I've been getting to sleep at night, I've been dreaming of snow. It's gotten cold and the mornings are chilly and crisp. Autumn is here and it's with impatience that I wait for winter. The dogs seem to know that the season is changing too. They are sleeping outside in their tight little balls, tails tucked under their noses. Both of them covered in dew and frost, but when they finally get up and move around, the ground underneath them steams from their body heat. Both stretch and sing good morning, happy tails wagging in the mist. It's hard not to fall in love with them all over again. Even Daddio, my father, has become smitten.

There are only two more days with my parents. Amazing how quickly I've taken their presence for granted. The extra hands and hugs have been good for all of us. Hope my mother won't mind me screaming, "MOMMY" when she leaves.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Feeling the Love: Fur Fest 2007

My parents are fabulous. Not only are they some of the easiest guests to have, but they didn't flinch when I told them that after only 24 hours of arriving, we would be leaving the three human children in their care for the day. You see, Hubster and I had a meeting to get to. The National Malamute Convention. It's all about priorities, right?

I wish I could explain how just the sight of those magnificent furry dogs just fills me with complete and udder joy. How arriving at the convention site (a large field) and hearing the "wooooo-hoooo" of all of Typhon's friends and rellies gave me goose bumps.

We managed to find Typhon's foster family there and get to see the latest addition to their family, a 2 month old puppy named Cyclone. We also got to meet some fabulous breeders and a super couple who work with the nicest mix bag team of Siberians and Malamutes. Not to mention the purchase of new (matching) harnesses for our "team" and a waist belt for skijoring. Bit by bit, we're getting there!

But the thing that shocked me the most was that there seems to be a real lack of proper working Malamutes in France. There are about 2-3 serious breeders who run their Mals, but most of the others have the dogs just as pets. Except for the four Malamutes from Italy. Imagine if you can Dolce & Gabanna involved in Malamutes. We're talking primping and hair dryers, perfume and sparking collars. It was a little much for us, and our tick covered Typhon, to handle. (Yes, Typhon was with us! As well as the two boys from our village who are as addicted to our dogs as we are.)Yes, Malamutes are beautiful, but the beauty for me comes from their strength, their determination. It was hard to see these "show" Mals. I know they exist all over the world, but for me, a happy Malamute is a Malamute who rolls in cow poop, runs with his friends, and gets a chance to pull at least once in his life. Maybe I'm wrong about the show dogs. Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on them. They were so beautiful and so clean!

Turns out the judge for the competition this year was an American women named Nancy Russel. She is the owner/breeder of the only AKC team of Malamutes to run the Iditarod. It was interesting to hear her take on the Malamutes in France and I must admit, she's given me a focus. There needs to be a strong line of working Malamutes in France and I want to help build that. I really would like to get involved with the working teams that are here and help bring the breed back to their roots: strong, beautiful dogs that love to work, love to play, and love to be. Not wear perfume.

It was a fabulous day for us. And Typhon too. There were so many people there that had been involved with his story. It was beyond touching to hear how pleased they were to see him so healthy, happy, and strong. As a Malamute should be.

Next weekend is the Siberian National Convention. Anouk keeps leaving the website page open on our desktop. I have a sneaking suspicion she'd like to go...