Thursday, August 30, 2007


The village has been sitting in a cloud for the last two days. It's been impossible to see anything out of our windows except the flashes of lightening from the storm the other night. It was like being on a night flight, getting ready to land in thick fog. The lights flash from below and around you, impossible to tell where they begin and end. Only this time, I was in bed reading.

It's finally starting to clear thanks to the strong wind that's blowing. The mist is sneaking into house through the open front window. Even when it's miserable outside, I need air.

The leaves on our magnolia tree are dancing and spinning with it's windy partner. Bowing this way and that, leaving leaves behind like Cinderella's slipper at the ball. A splash of sunshine marks the spot where the other shoe will land.

And with that the clouds roll by, obscuring the blue sky and the world.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Random Thoughts Wednesday

I really should go for a run.
What ever happened to my friend Roc?
All of those kids need a sleep.
Why does my husband think that cleaning out the basement makes our house look nice?
Rain really is beautiful.
I hate flies.
Before I got my hair cut last week I was ok with it. Now, it's driving me nuts.
I know that crack in the plaster is something serious. I'm sure of it.
Must go and visit my friend in the hospital tomorrow.
Where are all of the kids' socks?
I hate plastic toys.
Do all 5 year olds have attitude problems or is this something genetically related? If so, I'm blaming his father.
What are we going to have for dinner?
I want to be in Nome for the Iditarod some time.
I hate flies.
Good. At least the kitchen is clean. For now.
Must call my mother sometime soon.


I'm going to admit that I've been reading the house listings online. It's becoming a slight obsession with me.

I love this house. I don't want to move but I'm starting to become overwhelmed by the work that is involved with an old house. And overwhelmed by the fact that I haven't a decent DIY bone in my body. I see things here that I want to try and fix, but I haven't a clue how to begin. I'm afraid of making something worse and the whole back of the house would fall off or something.

I'm also starting to worry that living in a village like ours is not a good thing if I want to have an extended family of howling Malamutes and Siberians. If you really look at most mushers, they live in remote places, Alaska and Northern Minnesota for example, with neighbours scattered a few miles away. There is something to be said for isolation.

The thought of being so "out there" wasn't an option when we first moved to France. I needed the contact. I needed to learn the language and the learn about the people. But now I'm thinking I need to get back to learning about us and me again. Doing the things that I love doing and being out in the woods with my kids, hubster and dogs.

I really do love this house. I just wish I could move it to the middle of the back of beyond.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And on to the next thing

Our friends left today. It was lovely having them here but I must admit that as soon as their car pulled out of sight, I was in our dining room rearranging the kids toy/art cupboard. I'm having this overwhelming urge to sort. My mother should be proud!

It's funny how this feeling of needing to be organized strikes me so randomly. I wish I cared more about being organized and tidy, but I really would rather have all my teeth pulled. I remember a roommate in college telling me how she loved it when I would make long distance phone calls because I would clean as I chatted away. An expensive habit!

Right now I just want to go clear out the old clothes that don't fit the kids anymore, get rid of dog beds that smell of Anouk and Typhon stuck out in the rain, haul old broken toys to the dump, and start redoing all the the decoration in the house. I'm thinking like stripping wall paper and repainting and the like.

Whoa. I'm getting ahead of myself here. Maybe I'll just start by putting the dishes away and changing the sheets on the guest bed. Tout doucement.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Weekend Ramblings

It's beautifully hot here this weekend. I keep having to resist the urge to strip naked and roll around on the grass. It just feels so good have the sun on my shoulders. Plus, we've been able to eat on the terrace with our friends every night. We've got these awesome candles that are about 3 feet tall that I stuck in some of my tomato plants for a little ambiance. Of course, the wax melted and destroyed one of the plants. Oh well. Who really eats tomatoes in this house anyway except me!?!

Had a fabulous run through the trails on Sunday. Unfortunately, the dogs caught kennel cough while at camp so it was just me and a friend out there. I really missed having Typhon haul me up some of the hills. I also missed having the distraction of yelling at him to get "on by!" Had to actually think about my running and breathing. Hate that. Can't wait till they are cleared by the vet to be out there again.

Last lazy week of summer vacation. Bliss.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Birth Control Bed and Breakfast

Living here has it made if perfectly clear to me that running a B&B is beyond me. Organizing menus, cleaning bathrooms, and changing sheets with only hours between arrivals is purgatory for this woman. Its becomes full hell when the little and furry Clark tribe members start sabotaging every effort as well.

For example, I'm cleaning the bathroom last night as the kids are in the tub. Toilets over here do not have the same "swimming pool" amount of water in the bowl. So, when you actually use the toilet for heavy duty business, there is inevitably a trace of your work left behind. (That's left behind, not on your behind, I hope!) Using the toilet brush (something I never paid much attention to before living over here, I will admit) I've removed all traces of the clan in the bowl. The room is looking nice and smelling of lemon sented bleach. Perfect.

As I take care of getting the littlest boy to bed, the older two are left to themselves. That means, they had about 10 minutes to get dressed in jimmy-jamas, brush teeth, and get into their room. I return to the bathroom only to discover that not only had they achieved what mommy had asked, but they left new calling cards in the toilet, used toothpaste for some modern art on the sink, and decided that all the bath toys needed to be spread out on the floor so that they could clean them with baby wipes.

I am slowly learning my lesson. Clean AFTER the people are in bed. Then lock the doors and take pictures.

So, with the next guests arriving in about 4 hours, looks like I'll be going nuts trying to get this place tidy. I just hope we don't live up to our name, yet again. I am convinced that once anyone without children stays with us, they decide they never want kids. Our friends who arrive today already have a little bubba so let's hope their experiences here don't cause her to be an only child!

Friday, August 24, 2007


So in the end, we decided to escape England sooner than planned. The horrible weather had sent us all into a mild form of depression so we called it quits. We loaded the kids into the car late last night and caught a ferry that arrived in Calais about 2am this morning. As expected, no traffic and the kids slept. I fought off the sleepy eyes and actually drove for a little bit but hubster was the rockstar and got us most of the way home. This after going out for a curry dinner with old friends! It was beautiful here today and I'm so glad we had the whole day to be outside. I needed that.

The funniest part about all this is that we got lost coming home. How many times have we driven from our place to Calais? About a gazillion. We've got the routes around Paris sussed. Or so we thought. Some how, we missed our turn and ended up in Paris itself last night. Both of us were cracking up since we recognized NOTHING. Plus, since French directional signs are beyond pathetic, it was a game of chance trying to figure out where the motorway to the sticks was! But hey, when you hit Paris at 4am, it's not so bad being lost.

Exhausted tonight. Just spent the last 10 minutes hugging and playing with the furry children. They seem unfazed from their stint at "camp." Both have happily curled up in the garden, tails under noses. My turn to go curl up now too.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


My in-laws have a lovely house right on the sea front in South Eastern England. When the tide is out, we can head over the bay and play in the sand and find all kinds of fun stuff. Usually it's seaweed or little crabs and the occasional mollusk. It's nice being out there with the salty air, running around getting the kids all sandy. Such a nice change to the hills and farms around us in France.

Unfortunately, this trip we've been witness to another side of the bay's character. That of angry sea and swell. For the last three days the winds have blown hard across the water and the seas have whipped frothy foam at the house leaving traces of salt on all of the windows. It's gotten to the point where we can't see out the front windows. The wind is rattling everything and it sounds like thunder as it gusts across the roof. We've hunkered down in the house drinking lots of tea and letting the kids stay in pajamas till noon. Camping at Grandma's, as it were.

I have to admit, though, that I really like seeing the sea like this. The shades of gray, blue, and white change with each gust and wave. It's as if the water is voicing it's opinion on things, getting stuff off it's chest, bellowing at the world. It's loud and alive out there. It's beautiful.

My only hope is that the sea stops complaining before we head back on the ferry. I'm not so sure I want to be out in that sea. I've never really been good at conflict!

Monday, August 20, 2007

There is no "alone" anymore

I got the chance to head out for a run this afternoon (in a blinding wind and rain storm none-the-less! Love England in August!) and as I head down the high street, it blew my mind how every person I passed was either talking or texting on a mobile. Every person. There was an older woman of about 70 leaving her house, obviously reading something on her mobile screen. There was a pregnant woman strolling along chatting away on her mobile as she drank a Coke. Then I ran by the bus stop where about 10-12 people stood and sat, waiting for their bus. All of them, the whole time texting as I passed through them.

Having a mobile gives us instant access. In someways, that's good. We have the chance to summon help if we need it, we can call a friend to tell them we are thinking of them, we can text our significant other to tell them we'll be late home. But on the other hand, it strikes me that people now are almost afraid of not having the phone with them. Afraid of not having a connection with someone, anyone, at anytime. They can not walk or wait without feeling the need to talk to somebody, be it by text or voice. We have become dependant on contact. We can not be out of the loop. We can not be by ourselves. That scares us.
People are never alone anymore. We can not deal with being alone.

On the Road Again

Ah the joys of vacation. No rest for the mama that's for sure! Nothing like having a toddler wandering around a ferry boat to get that old heart rate up! Missing the dogs and missing our home but it's good to change the scenery.

Our first stop was near Heidelberg. We spent 3 lovely days with our friends there and had the chance to explore the castle and the vineyards about 30 minutes from them. I'm not sure it happens very often that a car with French registration comes in an buys several cases of German wine, but hey! It was good and it's nice to have some variety in life...and in wine!

The vineyards there are beautiful, laid out in perfect symmetry against the small hills. There are little dirt roads that form grids of bike and running paths through the vines. Lost amongst the Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Chardonnay with the scent of warm grapes floating through the sunshine was like being in a painting. A moment to capture and spill out on to a canvas with hazy water colours. Beautiful.

I really like Germany. It's so different from our France. Germany seems to be so organized and proud, whereas France seems to enjoy lackadaisical whimsy with an attitude. They are such different peoples with a history between them that I will never truly comprehend.

We have now crossed the Channel and are with the family in England. It's nice to be "home" here even though I've now lived longer in France than I ever did here. The kids are happy to see Grandma and Grand-dad and hubster was able to watch his beloved Liverpool play on TV last night.

The intensity of Premiership league fans in England is incredible. Similar to my Packer relatives in the United States, true, but watching a friend tell his 2 year old to "kiss the badge" on his football jersey reminded me of people kissing the Pope's ring or bowing to a monarch. I'm not sure we've travelled all that far from the days of conquest, fighting, and squabbles. We've just changed it from France vs England to Chelsea vs Man United or Packers vs Steelers.

We really are funny creatures. But better to substitute football in any form for armed invasion in my opinion. When is the next world cup again?

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Day Before Vacation

The problem with where we live is that I have absolutely no desire to go on vacation. I could happily stay here and walk the trails, bike around the little villages, or just sit in my garden. It's so calm here. I know it's good to have a change of scene. I like exploring new spots and seeing more of Europe, but it's so easy being here.

Must go start packing and take the dogs out for a run before they head to the kennel.

But I think I'll have another cup of coffee and sit on the front steps first.

The sun is rising over the church and the sun is reflecting off the stones, casting hues of purple and grey over our front garden. The dogs are both curled up into themselves, tails tucked under their noses. It's obvious Typhon slept outside since he's covered in dew. It's so calm and still. The only thing moving is the steam from my coffee.

If only I could find some motivation to go pack.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I'm Nuts

I'm so insane. All I keep wondering about lately is how I'm going to be able to have a proper team of sled dogs without pissing off the entire village. I might have to start secretly watching the property announcements to see if I can find a house as lovely as this one with a heck of a lot more land. And no neighbours.

I like neighbours. They serve a purpose. They can get your mail for you when you are on vacation. They can say good morning to you when you walk out of the house so you don't feel like you are completely alone on the planet. They are also good for fighting with over stupid things like fences, or shared walls, or parking spaces. I'm just not sure neighbours would really appreciate the sound of 4 huskies singing with the bells each morning. That might go just a step beyond "normal" neighbourly behaviour.

Perhaps if we ever did take an expatriation to say Poland that would be the answer. Can you imagine it? Moving possibly 4 dogs, 3 kids, and two wacko parents?

I'm also starting to wonder if this husky fixation is just me trying to deal with the fact that I'm done having kids and I'm getting to the point where I need to figure out my purpose in life. I thought I knew what that was once. Worrying about keeping myself happy was one thing. Then it got multiplied by 6.

Wait. That IS why I like dog sledding. It is obvious how flipping happy those dogs are when we run. And then you get all kinds of sloppy kisses after you're done. Not bad, really.

Friday, August 10, 2007


This movie made me fall in love with France all over again. The France where making crepes is serious business. Where you grow your own herbs even if it's only in a pot the size of a baby food jar. Where you take time to savour what's been served to you.

France has allowed me to taste the sweetest cherry tomatoes straight off the vine. It's given me the chance to pick wild blackberries till my hands were stained and my children's faces were freckled purple. My neighbours will gladly spend hours talking about the best way to feed strawberry plants. They'll plant onions and garlic and share the surplus with me and my family. My friends from Paris will take the time to teach me how to make jam and tarts and rich thick soups. It's as if every woman in France has a gene that enables them to know from birth how to can vegetables and grow basil.

The best part is that when you get around to enjoying the savours and tastes of French cooking, you get to taste love. There is no other way to describe it. That's why this movie is so good. It in it's beautiful images and hysterical characters, it's an hommage to this love. An hommage as well to a simple dish called ratatouille. One that even I can make now with the courgettes and peppers from my neighbour, tomatoes from Provence, and basil from my own garden.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Wow, that sucked.

Remind me to make sure the dogs get out for their bike rides more often. Holy cow was yesterday a ride from hell!

I hooked up the two lovies and headed off on our usual combination road/trail ride. We are still working out a few kinks as a team, but we've been making good progress. Until today.

For some reason, Anouk and Typhon just had to stop and smell every flower on the trail. Then, Anouk gets all pissy with Typhon because he's not going fast enough so she tries to bite him and that, in turn, gets all the lines completely tangled. I finally get them back on track and things are looking good.

As we come up the first of three hills near some summer houses out in the woods, I am thinking it's nice to see that there are actually people at this one house and they've even hung their laundry out. Only then, as we clear the sopping socks, do I see the very large dog. The very large dog who does not live there normally. The very large dog who Typhon and Anouk HAVE to meet. Right now.

With speed I didn't think either one possessed, we fly up the last bit of the hill, take a hard left, and slide across a large field of decomposing cow poop. At this point, the bike is now rolling on it's side using my leg as a tire. I manage to get out from under it thinking that the weight of the bike should slow the dogs down. Wrong. They continue to pull my bike across the rest of the field, across the patio of the house, towards the very large and now very scared dog, right to the front door. Humiliation at it's best.

The very kind owner of the very large dog comes out to help me back on track. I whimper some words of thanks and take the bike and my unfazed dogs back to the trail. It's then that I realize the bike now has only one working break and I can't change gears. We crawl up the last two hills, make it back to the main road, and finally home with Typhon and Anouk still stopping to say hi to all and sundry we meet.

Hubster kindly nursed my bruised pride when we got home. I suppose a little more practice and a heavier bike are in order! Worst part about all this, is that I want to get out there with them today and I can't.

See, the bike is now having it's own little summer vacation at the repair shop.

Frankenstein Runs

We have a toddler. In just the past two days, our little bubba has now figured out how to let go of mommy's hand and walk on his own. He's also figured out that he can do laps between the tv room, the lounge, and the hallway, each time picking up speed as he goes.

He has both arms straight out in front of him as he goes, teetering along like Frankenstein on a whiskey binge. His laugh is fabulous and it's obvious he's so proud of himself. The best part is that his brother and sister start to giggle too and end up chasing him around the "circuit." Their happiness is infectious.

I think I've been lucky with this little guy. He didn't really walk till he was 18 months old, so I gained some extra time carrying him and keeping him close to me. It's nice to see him ready to join in with his siblings. These little people. They grow, they change, they grow some more. I am ever so glad I get to have these experiences in my life.

Wonder if it's too early to get them all a pair of Mizunos? There's a nice half coming up in October...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Bells The Bells the Ringing of the Bells

Our house faces the back of the village church and for some unknown reason, (well unknown to me at least!) the bells chime at 5 minutes before the hour and then again about 3 minutes after. It's something we've gotten very used to and I hardly notice it anymore.

That is until Typhon discovered how fun it is to sing with the longer chimes that happen at 7am and 7pm. Since he's got such a baratone, his singing carries through the village. I'm not sure this is such a good idea for my neighbours at 7am, so imagine my mornings if you can:

I'm in bed. I hear Will starting to stir, I hear the first set of bells chime 7am. The adrenaline starts to flow in my blood as the second set of 7 starts. I sprint to Will's room, do the "grab-and-kiss" then fly down the stairs as the bells ring for the 5th time. I throw open the door, and say, "Good morning, Typhon!" He stares at me and yawns.

Thinking all is safe, I head to the kitchen to make the morning nectar, coffee for me and warm milk for Will. Just as the last scoop of coffee hits the filter, I hear him, loud and clear and strong. "WHHHOOOOOOO, HHHOOOOOWWWWWOOOOOOOOO."

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A little chuckle

What do you call a boomerang that doesn't come back to you?

A stick.

The Foster Parents

The couple that fostered Typhon came to visit us last night. Two incredibly kind people who are dedicated malamute lovers. All the questions I had about breeding, training, and temperment finally poured out of me. Thank goodness, Laurent and Delphine were kind enough (and patient enough!) to answer them all for me.

They had had a malamute named Thunder who horribly was poisened and died when he was only 3 years old. Delphine had been with Thunder on a walk when he found the poison and quickly became ill. As she talked about what happened, I finally understood what Typhon had done for them. He became their transition from intense love and loss to being able to love again. Typhon had given them the opportunity to be around and live with another male malamute and know that they weren't being untrue to Thunder.

The love I had and still carry with me for Luna feels the same. I know I will never be able to forget that beautiful dog who shared so much of my life. I also know that there will be more dogs in my life. And that's good.

Right now, it's Typhon and Anouk who are here to share the next bit with me and with us.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Where are you from?

Over wine last night we talked about "home" and where we are from. For Alison and I, it's obvious. We were born and raised in the same state and the same towns for a large portion of our lives. In my case, my parents were from the same state and had their own history there and in the various towns where they had lived. Our husbands are the same except their towns were on the other side of the pond.

The real problem comes when I try to answer the question for my children. They are multi-national and multi-cultural. One was born in England but has lived in France most of his life. The other two were born here and know nothing else. Are they French? No, not at all. But yet, they are.

How will they change and grow because of this background, this melange in their lives? Who will they think they are? What connections will they have with the places their parents know as "home?" Will they find themselves yearning to know their roots or will they just be happy blooming where we've planted them?

What will they feel an attachment to? Will it be the "La Marseillaise," "The Star Spangled Banner," or "God Save The Queen?" Perhaps they will have to make their own anthem in the years to come.

"Where are you from?" Here, there, and everywhere.

Friday, August 3, 2007

My husband

A word about the man that makes it all possible...

I can not get close enough to him. I can not be close enough to him. Even when I am ready to bite his head off, I need to touch him, be sure of him, feel him breathe.

He is my life. He is the direction I need. He guides me. He knows me. He teases but he believes in me, in us, in our life.

He's home now, after 4 years of travel. Words can not begin to express the relief I feel when I hear his car pull in front of the house. He's home. He's here. He's with us tonight.

31 years and counting

I've known Alison since I was 5 years old. In the craziness of life, we've flowed in and out of each other's path for years. Sometimes, unbelievably close and other times, so distanced, living parallel lives without knowing it. The most amazing part of my friendship with her is that we both have our English husbands now. And that we both have a hard time thinking of moving "home." I am beyond grateful for her in my life. I don't know who else I could complain to about "pavement" and "tea time" but her.

She is amazing. She has worked so hard to become so strong. It's obvious in her relationship with her husband, with her daughter (who she raised basically on her own) and with the two beautiful children she's had since. I love this woman. She is so free and so alive.

She has the most beautiful wings.