Monday, March 31, 2008

Ode to Montana

My friend's cat died last week. Now, this just wasn't any old cat, this was a cat named after Joe Montana. A big black and white nightmare of a thing that bit my ankles on several occasions and who I gladly (just don't tell my friend) let Luna the Love Dog chase for the heck of it.

He was a lump, as cats go. I don't think I ever saw him moving really, usually he was just hanging out with my friend giving her the pleasure of squashing her knees. Or her feet.

This cat moved around the US almost as much as I did and he was a witness to many milestones in my friend's life. He was her constant.

Montana would sit there and watch, shifiting his tail ever so gently, smiling like his feline cousin the Chesire Cat. I am sure there were times he was laughing as well. Especially on those occasions when poor souls like me would have a massive allergy attack after he coyly brushed past.

He was a fixture with my friend. A part of her and her world as Luna had been in mine. Montana was part therapist, part boyfriend, sometimes a constraint, but always the breathing example of unconditional love. He nipped at friend and foe and kept you on your toes. He was a 'watchcat' for my friend, making sure no one messed with her or him, that even included his other relatives like the blue haired dachshund, Scooby.

Oh, Montana. It was good to know you. I hope you are there in the animal after life chasing Luna for all she's worth.

I'll leave this quote as a final epitaph for Montana. I'm sure he would've agreed with this too:

Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow. ~Jeff Valdez.

Friday, March 28, 2008


I'm here thinking through our day in Paris yesterday and remembering how magical it seemed to me the first time I was there. Waiting for the elevator up the Eiffel Tower, seeing the view across Paris, and listening to the world talk to their friends around me on the platform.

Nothing's changed in 28 years.

Only this time, it was Mini-Husband's eyes who were wide with wonder, The Princess's laugh as she chased the pigeons in the snack-bar on the second level, and Bubba-Love's name for the elevator, the "train in the sky."

We lucked out by having our friend Magali with us. An extra set of arms to hold a curious child up to the view. An extra voice to help explain how and why this tower exists. An extra witness to the wonder.

Mini-Husband was a bit loath to leave Paris at the end of our day. He tried to attach himself to a street post, begging to be left there. His face fraught with concern that he will never see Paris again.

How can you explain to a 6 year old that Paris exists, breathes, is, always? How can you exlpain to this child living in France that all roads will most likely lead him to Paris? How can you tuck a little bit of this first Parisian magic into his pocket so that someday if he's living there, he can feel the wonder and awe again when he may need it most?

Quick, go chase the pigeons! Let's watch them fly!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pouvoir d'Achat

There is nothing like shopping in England to make you realize just how expensive some things are in France.

For example, you should have seen the happy dance I was doing in Boots when I saw Bubba-Love's nappies at about half the price I pay at home. Then there was the sign: Buy one pack of wipes, the second pack FREE! What? A second pack FREE!?!? Quick, I'll take 4!

Then there were the deals in the shampoo and soap section! Buy 2, get the 3rd FREE! What?!!? I quickly sent The Princess over for a one of those little kid trolleys so we could fill it up with shower creme, bath soak, and shampoo. Talk about mana from the heavens!

Hubster and I also had a quick jaunt through Marks and Spencer where Hubster was able to basically outfit himself for the year for about £40. We're talking a couple of shirts, enough underpants for me not to have to do laundry during the week, and brand new matched-up already socks. All for around £40!!

Man, oh man! Talk about the joy of being in England's green and pleasant land!

I'm all a twitter right now and we haven't even been to the grocery store yet!!! Tesco here we come!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Running Blind

Who else, in their right mind, would set off for a 10 mile run in a blinding snowstorm?

Sure, it was snowly lightly when I started, nothing too bad, but snowing all the same. I turned the corner just up from the golf course and was hit full force by the wind blowing straight down from the Arctic. I momentarily thought about heading back to my in-laws for a steaming cup of tea, but then I reasoned, 'hey, once I turn around, the wind will be at my back and it won't be so bad.'


Turns out Sod was running with me yesterday. You all know Sod, he and his cousin Murphy have that famous law about everything going wrong. Well, Sod is an aspiring half marathon runner as it turns out. He laughed the whole way as I stuggled to understand how on earth it was possible to run into the wind in one direction and then still be running into the wind when I turned in ran in the opposite.

I had had enough of Sod by about 8.5 miles so I decided to race him back to my in-laws. I managed to sprint ahead of him and lose him in the whiteout about 1/2 a block from the house. I was awarded for my efforts with a steaming cup of tea that dethawed my toes and revived my spirits.

Poor old Sod. No tea for him. He stayed outside to play the wind.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Loading the Roof Box

I've had Pat McCurdy's song stuck in my head all morning. Now, I realize, there are probably quite a few of you out there who have no idea who Pat McCurdy is. But, if any of you spent any time in Wisconsin or Minnesota, there's a chance you know the fellow in question.

Basically, he's this fabulous crazy guitar player who's songs get stuck in your head for years, like this one, Rich, Young, Pretty and Tan.

I remember clearly one night, sitting in front of Memorial Union at Marquette listening to him sing his song about going on vacation with his family. Me and my cohorts laughed over our beers and sang along as loud as we could. And now, everytime I start packing bags for a trip, I'm singing that song:

I'm on vacation,
With mom and dad.
Ten days in hell...

Scary thing is, that now, 15 years later, I'm the mom and it's my kids who will be complaining in the back seat:

We're on vacation,
With mom and dad
Hours in the car,
I'm feeling sad.

Let's just hope The Princess, Mini-Husband and Bubba-Love don't throw-up this time. That's just not material for a beer drinking song, if you ask me.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


It's happening.

Bubba-Love is trying to give up his afternoon nap.

Rats, rats, and double rats.

Who knew those two hours in the afternoon could mean so much to me. The time to get outside, pick up poop, play with the dogs, write, drink tea. The peace of a napping house.

Shattered by the shrill cries of, "MOOOOOMMMMMMIIIIIIEEEEEEEE!"

Hence my newest mission: I'm going to have to teach Bubba-Love how to use the pooper scooper and boil the kettle.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sweet Release

The lovely nurse came to the house today and pulled those staples outta Bubba-Love. I'm not sure who was more excited, me or him. He's been funny since, touching his head and babbling away in his own language, a mix of French, English, and Bubba. I catch the words "boo-boo" and "head" but that's about all I'm understanding.

His gestures give me more to go by. He's nodding that beautiful noggin, tilting it to the side and patting the spot where the staples were. I think he's telling me he's glad they are out too.

There will be a nice scar there now, that's for sure. I sort of expected him to get some over the course of his life, but seeing him have one when he's only 2 years old is impressive.

I look over my own scars on my hands, knees, chin, elbows, feet and I see the bookmarks of my life. My history played out in funny little bumps all over my body. When I run my hands through my hair, I always stop to touch and feel the scar from my car accident when I was 16. How I've changed since then.

I wonder if Bubba-Love will enjoy reading his history in the same way.

Oh, how he will change since today.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Few Perspectives from Musher Boy

Photographic evidence that it did snow at least once this winter and that I can hold on to the bike. Of course, since it's not video, you can't hear me yelling, "Come on, Typhon! Don't stop now!!"

"Ohhhhh.....I smell MOUSE!"

The majestic teddy bear.

Friday, March 14, 2008


I'm just home from running 19K around the hills and valleys near us. I was beyond inspired today.

The sun is glorious and as I weaved my way up into the countryside, I could spot the seven chateaux that dot the peaks and hills, each gleaming warm and yellow in the sun. Except, of course, the mighty fortress that reflected purple and blues out over the green fields dotted with brown and white cows.

Farther off in the distance, I could make out the city, tucked ever so neatly up against the extinct volcano. The mountains rising fiercely behind, their snowy peaks contrasting sharply with the darkness of the volcanic stone.

Everything is green, blooming and alive today. I felt as though I could run for miles, fueled by the sounds of the birds, the trickle of the streams, the rays of the sun guiding me.

I wish every run could be so amazing. But I am grateful that even in poor weather, I know those mountains and those chateaux are there. Quiet, silent, strong, and steady.

There is magic in these hills.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Two Versus One

I really should think about what I'm doing to myself when I serve semolina as couscous to two 2 year olds. The sticky teeny, tiny grains all under the table, in the highchairs, and stuck in the slats of the wooden table. Makes me wonder why I clean in the first place!

Yes, it's another day of me chasing Bubba-Love and his buddy around the house. Ever so exciting and of great importance in this world, I know. All I hope for is that both of them are alive and unboo-booed by the time French Me comes to pick up her bubba this afternoon.

Of course, Bubba-Love has decided to master his tackling ability again today so this could be a tall order. He looks like he could play prop for England with those mighty Frankenstiches in his head.

They are both down for a nap now so I think I will sneak off and try to do something that makes me feel organized, important, dedicated and well appreciated.

I'll be matching up socks.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Au Revoir Miss Snootie

Our local municpal elections were held on Sunday and the village was all a twitter with excitement. There were two lists up for election that represented very different concerns and opinions about what the focuses should be for our village.

It was a bit of a bummer for me not being able to vote (since I'm not a European citizen) but I decided to take on a the role of a UN election observer, i.e I opened a bottle of wine and watched all the people drive past the house on their way to the polls. Not a bad gig really!

In French local elections it is possible to vote for everyone on a list or pick and choose the people from each list you would like, not going over the stated number of positions available, in our case 11. If someone was elected with a clear majority of votes (over 50% of the overall votes) that person would be elected immediately. If not, there is a second round of voting scheduled for this Sunday to determine the final winners.

In a huge victory and a very rare occurance, the entire list we supported was elected in the first round. It's a great mix of people who are forward thinking, ready to explore all kinds of projects and options for the village. I'm personally very excited about the future and what it could mean for us and our children.

It's hard in any small town or village just before and after an election. We all know each other. Each others stories, gossips, aunts, cousins, friends and even animals. It's hard to vote against any of that. As much as we were thrilled with the results, I do feel a twinge of regret for a few of the non-elected.

That being said, I feel no regret for some of the others affected by this election, most notably Miss Snootie, the secretary at the mayor's office. Poor thing. Her current boss was not re-elected and the rumors have started flying that Miss Snootie will be seeking a new job elsewhere. I can't say I'm too sad about that one.

The irony is that she might be looking for a new job in the village where my friend Miss Tennessee 1975 lives. How fun for her to get to experience the joys of Miss Snootie too!

The newly elected mayor and his council will take office on Friday night. Hubster is planning on going with some of our friends to watch the ceremony. (I've been told it consists of handing the keys of the buildings over and that's about it!)

All in all, he will be a witness to the history of our village and then we can all start being a real part of it's future.

Wouldn't it be great if all this positive excitement could last for longer than just the elections?

The Resident Artist has updated his site. Enjoy!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Auntie Em! Toto!

Goodness me, it's windy out there today!

According to the French weather service, there is a huge storm blowing off the Atlantic, slamming into the west coast of France. They've called for winds gusting up to 14o kph (87 mph) and several departements are under a severe weather alert.

The amazing thing is, we are MILES from the west coast but it sounds as if our roof is well and truely being freed from the ties that bind. Every crack, bang and boom has me jumping nervously to the window to see if there are any tiles flying around the garden.

I had thought about putting some clothes outside to dry this morning, but when I saw that the clothes rack had flipped over and started dancing on all limbs towards the front gate, I figured maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all.

Not too long ago, Anouk came out of the dog house for a couple of minutes to bark at the trash bin. The wind was flapping the lid up and down and Anouk seemed convinced that her mighty Siberian bark would make it stop. When the wind finally toppled the whole bin over, Anouk tucked tail and ran as fast as a greyhound back to the dog house. Typhon glanced over at her with that, "you're such a silly dog" look on his face.

I can hear the wind whistling down the chimneys now, blowing our fires hot and furious. It's howling out there and I am really glad we live miles from the western coast.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Let's start with the moral of the story:

When a child is bleeding from the head, just go to the emergency room.

Yesterday, as I sat here pondering what wonderful words were going to be used in my blog, Bubba-Love took a sliding dive into the edge of the door frame. I could tell by the intensity of his crying and the blood pouring from the back of his head that something was up.

A couple of phone calls to the French medical service and Bubba-Love and I were on our way to the local on-call doctor. After sitting in her waiting room for an hour, Bubba-Love playing happily with my car keys and only marginally seeping blood during that time, she took one look at his boo-boo and sent us on to the hospital.

The visit to the emergency room took all of 10 minutes. We were ushered straight to an examining room and the doctor and nurse arrived almost immediately after. They cleaned off the blood and before I knew it, they had stapled Bubba-Love's boo-boo back together.

Yes, staples. Three lovely little staples in my little guy's head.

Bubba-Love is a trooper with all this. He cried for a bit immediately after but by the time we reached the door of the examining room to leave, he had stopped. He's a tough little guy.

Today, he's himself. Running around the house on Pooh Car, demanding to watch "Cars" and fighting with his siblings.

A right little terror with a Frankenstein touch holding him all together.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The New World Opening

The miracles have started.

Last week, it was with a poster in the dentist's office.

The other day, it was with a birthday party invitation.

This morning, it was with a wine bottle left on the table from dinner.

Mini-Husband has started to unlock the mystery of reading. He's putting letters together, sounding them out and finding the treasure buried between the consonants and vowels.

The magic of the moment when the sounds become a word that he knows in his imagination. These lightening flashes of insight make him shine with joy, eager for more.

He can read. He can read!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

It's A Good Day

Once when I was bout 15, I told my middle sister that if I wasn't related to her I don't think I would have wanted to be friends with someone like her.

I don't remember why I said that at the time. I just remember being in her old silver Chevrolet Chevette wondering why on earth I had to deal with her in my life.

I've since realized that God works in mysterious ways.

The summer just after she started dating the man who would become her husband, my middle sister and I drove across the US together. We spent weeks on the road at various campsites, hotels, and national wonders.

Mesa Verde will live in both our hearts forever, not just for it's incredible silent beauty, but for my own sobbing hysterics over my grade school principal.

I'm sure my sister at that point was wondering why on earth she had to deal with me in her life.

There is a four year gap between us. But as time passes, those years shrink to nothing and now as we stumble upon our middle years, I feel we are almost the same. We are both mothers and wives, a tad bit disorganized, and way too honest.

Her husband and mine are near carbon copies of our father. Ironic how that has happened. Perhaps listening to her talk about her future husband on our trip impacted me more then I could have expected.

Perhaps I should blame her for my 'flight' feeling when in a conflict. Just ask our older sister. She and I both knew it was easier to give in or hide then try and fight it out. Hence, why middle sister is such a good lawyer. And why I am so good at hiding in the mountains.

My middle sister is courageous, caring, inspired, hysterical, open, spiritual, thoughtful, direct, willing, sensitive, and alive. I don't know where I'd be without her in my life.

But I do know why I'm friends with her. And it's not just because she's my sister.

Happy Birthday to you, my insane social butterfly of a sister.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What the Cat Dragged In

It's a blustery day and the wind is whipping the snow in mini-tornados around the garden. The snow is traveling sideways and backwards in the same gust. A proper winter storm.

As I poured my second cup of coffee, I heard a very strange whimpering at the door. A soft, faint, "wooohoooo." I glanced out the door and found Typhon there, waiting to say hello.

I spent a couple of minutes scratching him behind the ears as the wind blew snow around us, then gave him a left over chunck of bread and watched as he headed off to his dog house.

He's there now. Curled in ball, with his nose tucked under his tail and the snow sparkling off his eyebrows.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fair Weather Four Legged Friends

We finally have a snowstorm here and I am beyond excited.

I couldn't wait this morning to get out there with Anouk and Typhon for a nice romp in the snow.

But you know what? My huskies, a breed bred to live in the artic, have no desire to get out of their dog houses.

I knew it was bad when Typhon skipped his usual sing-along at noon. He even decided to not make the effort when the fire siren went off .

Guess this means I really should reconsider my dream of running them in the Iditarod

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Affair

I was unfaithful today.

I cheated on my usual grocery store.

I had decided to spice up my life this morning by heading off to another store, one I've only been to a handful of times.

I had hemmed and hawed over the decision as I sat behind the steering wheel. I knew I was taking a risk, maybe not finding what I really needed at the other store, maybe not even finding fresh milk, which for some reason is a rarity in French shopping culture.

But I did it anyway.

And as I arrived, I saw tons of construction vans parked in the lot. All kinds of workmen busy with paints, ladders, and tools. The store was closed for renovation.


As I pulled out of the parking lot and headed towards town, I thought why not go ahead and try another store that had caught my eye. I had already strayed once, hadn't I?

I drove on only to arrive at the next store, which for some reason had a parking area full of policemen. I didn't think they would be too keen on me interrupting their business just for my own quest for milk.

So with that, I moved on and sheepishly pulled into the parking lot of my normal grocery store.

Like a true love, it welcomed me with open arms. It even kindly offered a simple token of it's fidelity, a parking spot right next to the entrance.

Damn it all.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Weekend Wander

Mini-Husband, The Princess and I took a stroll yesterday through the neighbourhood. The weather was right, cool without being cold, sunny without being brilliant. A good day to look at the blooming things and the newest resident, a four day old foal.

Mini-Husband chose the way home. A meandering path that leads through a little wood, over a hill and back to the village.

We may not have had a winter, with the chance to play in snow and build snowmen, but we are having an early spring, a good excuse to go and get lost in the woods.