Thursday, May 29, 2008

Used Car Lot No More

I think, if I count correctly, that Hubster and I have had 9 cars since we've been together. Bear in mind, our's has been a whirlwind relationship: three dogs, three kids, three houses, and two countries in 7 years.

Nine cars is not surprising.

It started with two Fords, one a Sierra and the other a Focus. One that ran beautiful and was perfect for a bachelor, one that ran like it had arthritis and was not so perfect for someone unaccustomed to driving on what she considered the wrong side of the road.

Luckily for Luna the Love Dog, we managed to get hold of a Volvo 240 estate/station wagon, aka Betty the Bomber. That car was a heavy as all get out but could turn on a dime. Plenty of space for dog fur and the precious little car seat for keeping Mini-Husband snug and safe.

Unfortunately, the electrics went and so therefore did Betty.

Enter the Mercedes E-Class estate. A big old black cruising machine. You could steer that huge barge with one hand.

Of course, once we hit France, it was time to get back on the right (and right) side of the road so time to change cars yet again. Good thing, Hubster was all over getting a Fiat Doblo. A box on wheels with sliding doors and air conditioning were a gift indeed for the rapidly growing family of the Birth Control B&B.

Then, love at first site. Hubster scored his mid-life crisis car well before his 40th birthday: A VW Golf Cabriolet. (A Rabbit convertible in American English.) It was a Bordeaux beauty with black leather seats and enough space for The Princess in the snuggly baby seat up front, then me and Mini-Husband windblown in the back.

Halcyon days.

When we left the mega-opolis of Clermont-Ferrand behind, it was time to make sure my Hubster could get himself to work, come snow or sleet. Lucky for him, a nice little 4x4 did just the trick. "The Little Cat Cat" has earned it's place in our hearts for many, many reasons. Most importantly, the chance for Hubster to come home from work without ever rolling on pavement.

Enter Bubba-Love and the whole game is thrown for a loop.

After a journey to Germany and back with me stuck between two toddlers, the search for a larger car commenced. Actually, I think it commenced before we went on the trip, but I actually started looking at cars myself after having suffered pacifiers being thrown at me for 8 hours in between various European rest stops.

Once again, Hubster fell in love. And so did the rest of the family. Nothing like a fabulous Land Rover Discovery with seven seats and all the bells and whistles to tickle everyone's fancy. Who knew it would be so easy to clean baby puke off such nice leather!

Of course, the only downside to driving a luxury car is the luxury price to keep it running.

Lucky for us, once again, we profited from the migration of expats back to the US and got hold of a Peugeot 307 SW, a nice little 7-seater station wagon with more dings on the body work than this woman (who is famous for crashing cars) could ever dream of doing herself. A match made in heaven.

Yesterday, we finally whittled ourselves down to just having two cars, The Cat Cat and the 307 Banger. It's a strange feeling just having the two cars. And as Hubster pointed out last night, we now have more kids than cars. I think that makes him slightly uncomfortable.

I'm fairly sure that this isn't the end of our mechanical additions to the family. My only fear is that this may mutate into a whole new vehicle category. Since we bought that bit of land behind the house last year, Hubster has started cruising the local John Deere dealers.

I can see it now. When we reach 10 years of marriage the tally will read: 3 kids, 10 cars, four dogs, and two tractors.

His and Hers.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

68 Years Young

My coffee is going stone cold as I sit here and try to wax poetical about my mom's birthday today. One part of me wants to talk about how beautiful she is inside and out, the other wants to try and figure out what it is about her that makes her tick...

Let's go with the ticking.

I don't think I can remember a time when I heard my mother blaming anyone for anything.

Sure, she gets mad and sure she can hold a strong opinion, but those things don't dominate her. She'll tell you what she thinks and then moves on. She knows you have to make your own decisions and she knows you have to deal with those consequences. But, she'll be there to listen and help you through.

This is a woman who reads. I mean reads. Everything. And all the time. Just give her a book and she'll talk to you when she's finished. That is, if she hasn't got a second book on waiting on stand-by.

She's taught me to be interested in things and people. To search and explore, to try new things, but to always finish what I've started.

Thanks to her, I want to have the phrase, "you're fine" tattooed somewhere on my body.

She's also taught me that being flighty doesn't have to be a major character flaw.

There is so much more to my mother than meets the eye. She comes across as being very calm and unaffected, but still waters run deep.

Thank goodness for that.

I love you, Mom.

And as Typhon and Anouk would say, "Happy Birthday, ticks and all."

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Wonder Years

This little peanut is five today.

It's been an amazing journey with this little girl. The entire time I was pregnant with her, I was convinced it was another boy. I just couldn't imagine having a daughter. What would I do with her?

Thing is, I really never needed to worry.

Our Princess is clever and strong. She climbs everything and sings silly songs like her dad in three languages.

The Princess makes friends with everyone and all the big kids want to pick her up and carry her around the playground. It's hysterical watching her either let them or watching her tell them to get lost.

Her French is perfect and she has no fear correcting Hubster and I if our pronunciation is off. It's her language we are speaking after all.

She considers herself a woman of the world, loving the beaches of the south of France, her plane trips to the United States, and the numerous journeys around Paris, up to Calais, and over the sea to England.

She's a ball of sunshine wrapped in pink and purple, jumping off swings and dancing to The Dixie Chicks. She's beautiful and wonderful and when she hugs me, I can't believe my luck.

What do I do with my daughter?

I love her and watch her fly.

Happy Birthday, Princess.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rain Runner

I forced myself out for a run today in the pouring rain. Nothing more fun than dodging rain drops and jumping over puddles. I'm like a big kid, thrilled at getting her shoes all wet and covered in mud.

I blame this bizarre habit on our long lost friend from South Africa.

I remember the summer she was here, five years ago, feeling huge and miserable suffering though the worst heat wave France had seen in years.

(I can still clearly see her ever so cute teeny tiny undies up on the laundry line, next to my big old post-partum underpants. The horror... the horror...)

When the sky finally cracked open one afternoon, the rain started to fall and she got inspired. As she started lacing up her shoes, I stared at her, dumbfounded, in awe and jealousy.

She looked at me wryly as she pulled her hair into a ponytail and said,

"What's the worst that can happen? You get wet? Come on, let's just go and see how it goes."

40 minutes of cool, refreshing rain, splashing us and making us laugh. Getting us muddy and giddy.

Oh, how I had no idea how much I needed that.

I still run with her when I run in the rain, even though we've lost touch over the years.

It wouldn't be possible to not think of her as I watch the raindrops hit the road in time to my strides. Impossible to not think of her as I giggle jumping over snails. Impossible not to think about her when I finish and realize that you really don't get that wet when running in the rain.

I only wish she knew how far I've been able to go since my first run in the rain...

"What's the worst that can happen? You get wet?"

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Peppermint Red, Persimmon, Persian Red, or Scarlet Red?

Yesterday, Hippy-Love Française made me take a "girl day." This meant escaping from our usual routine, heading into the big city and pretending that we didn't have children.

It started by a trip to some fun boutiques where she and I went silly and tried on some 4 inch heels. God, we looked good strutting around in those things! Of course, you'd have to look beyond the dog fur covered jeans and sweatshirt to see the sex appeal, but boy I felt like Tina Turner.

Afterwards, we went to Royatonic, a fabulous spot with all kinds of hot tubs, pools, saunas and steam rooms. Who knew soaking yourself into prune-dom could be so relaxing?

In France, steam rooms are called, "hammam," so I had a great time laughing to myself about being a "ham ham in the hammam."

Two and half hours flew by and we finally had to leave the "bain parfumé" and actually head back to reality. Nothing like being almost late to pick up said imaginary children after a day like that!

Good thing is, I'm feeling inspired. Maybe it would be nice to more 'girly' from time to time. Smarten myself up for Hubster on more than special occasions.

Heck, I'm feeling like it might even be nice to actually shower everyday, get regular hair cuts, wear nice clothes, and possibly experiment with lipstick. Come to think of it, I might still have a tube of the stuff that I bought for my senior prom laying around...

I can just see me now. I'll be decked out in full make-up and a low-cut dress, cursing Tina Turner and her damn ability to dance in stilettos, as I try to catch Typhon and Anouk as they escape from the garden.

Perhaps I should stick with my sweats and Birkentstocks for now. I'll start easy on my metamorphosis into the Goddess of Malamutes by just showering and doing that hair cut thing more often...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bring Out Your Dreads!

There has got to be some sort of worldwide phenomenon when it comes to people with dreadlocks in the sense that you never really see them in your day to day goings on, but announce a music festival and 13 mini-vans loaded with stinky hair pull up outta nowhere.

Now, I like stinky hair. I actually dated a very nice guy with stinky hair once and I think Hubster might claim that there are days when I'm heading down the road to sporting stinky hair myself.

My issue isn't with the stinky hair itself, it's with the mystery that surronds the actual bearer of said stinky hair. It's like they magically appear for special events and then melt back into society without a ripple.

But how can they do that with stinky hair?!?!

Last night, our very quiet village sponsored a travelling rock show called, "Festig Nous." There were about 4 bands who were invited to play and a really adorable opening act geared toward the kids. The crowd was mostly between 30-45 years old, with a few teenage Goth exceptions thrown in to cover the required black eye makeup and shoes quota.

The thing that got me was the dreadlock contingent. Where did they come from?!? I'd never seen any of them before in my life and yet, here, last night, in my tiny town, there were happy dreadlock people!

Where do they live when they aren't swirling and dancing? Where do they work when they aren't playing the drums? Which grocery store do they go to buy their bottles of water? How come they only come out when the music is playing? How come I can't get my hair to look that nice even when I wash it?

I felt as if I had been transported back to the Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival. Of course, the music wasn't bluegrass and it wasn't in English, but the vibe was the same.

Dreadlocks! Beautiful, hippy love, dreadlocks everywhere.

Someone explain to me this magical tribe of people. This flowing, free spirited group of people who seem to live around the globe and yet nowhere at the same time...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Theology According to Typhon

"Did you hear about the dyslexic agnostic insomniac who stays up all night wondering if there really is a Dog?"-- Unknown

I like giving Miss Tennesse 1975 a hard time.

Lucky for me, it's pretty easy to do by just mentioning anything about goddess worship or paganism. I know, it's not very nice to tease an Evangelical Christan, but really, I just can't help myself.

Today I went off on a tangent about one of my favourite subjects: The Black Virgin or Madonna . I could feel Miss Tennessee's spine cringing from across the room. I quickly ran through my theory on how all the pre-historic fertility goddess stuff, pagan female symbols and the Catholic love of Mary are all inherently related.

She calmly regarded me through my spiel and then when I had finished, took a deep breath, smiled, and quickly changed the subject.

She's very good to me, Miss Tennessee. I know my unorthodox opinions on religion and God have sent her crying to her Bible more than a few times over the years but I think it's a tribute to her patience and faith that I'm still able to have her as a friend.

I got my comupence for teasing her when I got home though.

I arrived back in the village just as a lovely thunderstorm poured bukets of rain from the sky. I deftly managed to stear my 7-seater ark to school and get all the kids home without a single squishy shoe.

Of course, that didn't stop Typhon from charging through the mud and puddles to give me a full on Malamute hug and kiss when we opened the gate.

My friends, there is no hell worse than dog splashed mud filling your mouth and eyes, rendering your helpless from the furry creature who is covering you from waist to toes in fur. Not to mention, sharing that ever so popular perfume, Eau d'wet Malamute.

Yes, Miss Tennessee 1975, I am beyond convinced now that God really does have a wicked sense of humour.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Can I Get a Harness in XXXS?

If the Birth Control Bed & Breakfast was to add a non-husky dog to the litter, what breed would you suggest?

Now, don't get all worried.

The Malamute and Siberian addiction is still alive and well, but Hubster has mentioned from time to time how nice it would be to "walk" a dog again. Geez, as if it hurts or something to have both arms pulled out from the sockets! (Right, Mom?)

I'm sure if I had been really, really good I would have trained Anouk only to pull when in harness. But let's face it, I am so not good at organization or discipline.

I feel it's a major triumph that I get both dogs to sit and wait for their dinners. And it's a major triumph that I can now get them to pass on by most, most, distractions when pulling the bike.

But Hubster is right that we can not take Typhon and Anouk for a leisurely walk.

So what other kind of dog would work with us? A dog like Toto from the Wizard of Oz? Or perhaps a dog so big and lazy, it'll walk itself? Or maybe somthing that I could tuck into the bike basket and it could go with Typhon, Anouk and I on our rides?

What do you think?

I decided that I should probably ask the tribe about this as well. Turns out Mini-Husband and The Princess already have an idea on the next addition to our family:

A hamster.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Congés Annuel

A few months ago, very good friends of ours had suggested that we should all profit from the 5 day weekend in May and head out and explore another department of France. "Why not?" We thought. Might be the only real chance we'll have to escape all together this summer.

So on Thursday, with much chaotic running around, packing, and for some strange reason reorganizing the kids' bedrooms before heading out, The Birth Control Bed & Breakfast closed it's doors and the staff headed out on vacation for the weekend.

We said an early morning goodbye to our last guests (my parents) then loaded the car with every possible item one, aged between 2 and 39, might need and headed southwest to the Lot.

France continues to amaze me and everytime I think I've found the most beautiful part of the country, we turn left and find something even more beautiful around the corner. The Lot is no exception. This warm, cozy region is rich in colour and flowers, full Cahor wines, and more rock and stone than you can imagine.

It only took two minutes while visiting the town of St-Cirq-Lapopie to fall completely in love.

We saw so many beautiful places, ate such good food, met such nice people. I could have stayed forever.

Yet, yesterday morning, as we got in the car, Hubster asked me where'd I'd like to go.

I looked at all the incredible places we had visited: Rocamadour, Cahors, the Grotte du Pech Merle, Figeac, the Vallée du Célé...

"I wanna go home," I replied.

It's true. I was homesick for the dark stone of the Auvernge, the high meadows, the drowsy cows in every field, old slate rooves, volcanic mountains, Cantal cheese, my boulangerie, our stinking septic system, our bed, our house.

This is the wonderful thing about France. You can be done with the vacation, filled to the brim with gorgeousness and happy memories as you stuff your dirty socks into your suitcase, just ready to get home.

And when you finally do, you still get to have all that beauty around you. Just in different colours.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Brief Summary of the Merde

It's been quite the eventful week here at the Birth Control Bed & Breakfast. Fortunately for us, we've had the parents here to guard the tribe while Hubster and I do all kinds of fun and festive work.

The highlight being our foray into the world of plumbing and sewage systems.

We had noticed water leaking into the back garden a couple of days ago so while Hubster worked with a ditch witch digging out the trench for the fencing project, I investigated the leak. I dug along and around the flow until I finally reached the source of the problem.

Months of waste water sat blocked in the sewage pipes leading to the village system. Months of you know what lingering and leaking into our garden.

I've always dreamed of having a crash course in "How To Unblock You Own Sewer." In true Dig fashion, I focused on the task at hand and did my best.

Lucky me, I graduated with honors and I've changed my opinion about toilets and what needs to go in them.

After I had finally unblocked the sewer, I gingerly made my way back to the house. Never had a hot shower been so appreciated, perfumed soap so cherished, fresh towels snuggled and wrapped so lovingly around my body.

Hubster, bless his cotton socks, finished the rest of the digging out yesterday. We are now free to flush at will.

I think my parents are still in a little shock over having witnessed this whole scenario. If they didn't think we lived a remote and rural lifestyle, I'm sure they do now.

All I can say is, take heed, friends!

If it's yellow, let it mellow.
If it's brown, flush it down.