Saturday, June 28, 2008

And Then We Were 8

My brother-in-law's response to my sister when she told him she was pregnant with their fourth child was, "And so we grow."

I'm going to use that line today too.

Remember the story about my neighbour's dog? The husky living attached to a tree?

Well, she's a tree hugger no more.

Say "hello" to Abeka, our newest four legged family member.

Yes, I know. Hubster and I are suckers.

But I have to say, it's been awesome watching her and Anouk play all afternoon. Typhon has been sitting on the steps, reigning over all and sundry while the 'girls' have been running insanely around the garden.

All's as it should be at the very furry Birth Control Bed & Breakfast.

Friday, June 27, 2008

All He Needs is an iPod

So when I asked Bubba-Love what he was doing, he said,

"Running the treadmill."

I'm still laughing.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When You Least Expect It

It was with severe dread and trepidation that I headed to the tax office yesterday. See, we'd forgotten to file our French taxes on-time so I had the pleasure of taking them in, myself, two weeks late.

I don't think I've been this nervous about dealing with a public entity since I had to get my first driver's licence in the US ever so long ago.

My experiences with tax offices has been remotely neutral. Never any real contact with anyone and never any real problem. But, the overwhelming fear that there might be one can make me giddy, freaked out, and humble. And that's when I'm dealing with one in a language I actually speak well.

There is a local tax office in the town near us, so I headed there with all our papers. I hoped and prayed that the late fines wouldn't be too terrible and that I wouldn't be chided in front of a large group of people for missing the deadline. Visions of being scolded by my grade school principle kept creeping into the back of my mind.

Turns out, our local tax office is as big as my living room and there was the nicest, kindest person working there.

"Hello," I said. "I'm afraid we are late with submitting our taxes."

"Oh la, la! That's right. The deadline was two weeks ago," the woman responded.

And with a sypathetic smile, she took our papers, checked all our details and then asked why hadn't we claimed the commuting benefit since Hubster drives 86k each day for work. When I told her I didn't know, she let me phone Hubster at work and then spoke with him directly so she could get all the right details and hence, the right amount for the benefit.

She then checked our other deductions, corrected a mistake, photocopied everything for me, and said,

"I know this is late, but I'll mark on the form that I had it here and that you had some issues. It's hard to understand the French system when you are French, let alone when you're foreign. Hopefully, the fines won't be too harsh, " she said with a beautiful, kind laugh.

I could have kissed her.

I'm amazed how in this country that can be so stuck in red tape all the time, I found someone so nice and so willing to help me.

A lovely woman named Marie-France, in the tax office, of all places.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Straight Story: Version Francais

So if all goes well this week, it looks like Hubster may have bought his new commuter car.

We are slightly concerned about the overall fuel consumption, but this new vehicle has everything he was looking for, so we couldn't pass it up.

It's a real cabriolet with leather seats, (well, one faux but I digress...) new paint, a steering wheel, two speeds (forward and reverse) and most importantly, a cup holder. (We hope.)

I think this will be a wonderful addition to our rapidly dwindling stock of moving vehicles. And since Hubster has been able to get from here to work by driving only on back roads and trails with the 4x4, getting to town on this tractor shouldn't cause too much of a worry for him.

Of course, I'll need to buy him a nice hat and pack him breakfast for the commute. Actually, breakfast and lunch and maybe a mid-afternoon snack as well. Let's just hope he doesn't have too much trouble finding parking once he gets to town.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday Morning

It's a good morning.

Why, you might ask?

Well, Typhon didn't sing with the bells for the first Saturday in as long as I can remember. This fact alone is cause for celebration but the kids kept quiet till 7:30am. Between the two miraculous events, I actually got a little extra sleep.

Look out world, I'm feeling alive!

So here I ponder. I'm on my second cup of good strong coffee, Hubster and our current guets are still sleeping, and best of all, the sun is out.

You know what? I think I smell a BBQ in our future.

Happy First Day of Summer!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Anouk: The Border Collie

Nothing like heading straight on into a flock of sheep with two huskies, I tell ya!

Luckily for me, I spotted the herd before Anouk and Typhon did so there wasn't any collateral damage, i.e.: me in a million pieces covered with blood and wool.

But it is beyond obvious that Anouk wants to be a border collie when she grows up.

Not only did her whining get them to run past us as far over on the other side of the road as sheeply possible, the flock then took off with a speed the one could only imagine goats or lamas could possess.

The lady moving the sheep starting laughing, thank goodness, when they took off. Hopefully her border collie, Tuscan, won't be too tired out after he finally catches up to them around Paris.

Anouk, on the other hand, is now dozing in her dog house. Her closed eyes twitching ever so slightly as she counts her own flock of sheep.

Monday, June 16, 2008

2008 International Year of the Potato

If this picture from the BBC doesn't warm the cockles of anyone who loves the humble spud, I'll be surprised.

As a former Idahoan, I'm glad to read that the UN has declared 2008 as the Year of the Potato. It's about time this tuber gets some good attention.

After all the steaming, boiling, mashing and making them manage a drive-in we've done, it's about time we give them a little respect and love.

I think this calls for a celebration.

Come on, everyone! Smother them with cheese! Slice 'em and throw them in a deep fryer! Puree them with some garlic and butter! Wrap them in tinfoil and roast them in BBQ coals! Or even just put them in the oven to bake! Let's get crazy with these beauties!

Hip, hip hoorah for the International Year of the Potato!

If only you knew how much it pains me that my kids won't eat 'em...

In My Next Life

I'm going to be organized in my next life.

My house will be incredibly clean and I'll actually know where all those missing socks went.

I'll have the perfect children, who listen and do what I tell them to do.

My husband will give into my every whim and take me on exotic vacations to expensive places.

He and I'll have time to sit and read every article on Wikipedia while sipping expensive coffee drinks made from beans grown far, far away.

My dogs won't chase cats or sheep and will actually come back when you call them.

I'll be skinny and fast. Able to run marathons like Paula Radcliff without stress or effort.

Everything in my next life will be perfect, easy, and light.

Unfortunately, all that sounds kinda boring, doesn't it?

Well, all except the husband giving into my every whim part.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I Should Have Known

I decided this morning to profit from the beautiful clear skies out there and get outside. Luckily for me, all my little people are accounted for, so I figured, "why not just go for a nice little run?"

I laced up my shoes and slammed the front door behind me, only to be greeted by 4 curious eyes and two wagging tails.

I hesitated for a moment and thought about nixing the run, grabbing the bike and taking the fur balls with me, but I realized running those two in the heat that was building would not be a good idea. Having to carry home a 100lb Malamute suffering from heat stroke is not my idea of a good time.

This being the first hotish and sunnish day we've had since what feels like February, not only was I out running around, but every single fly, bug, bestiole, gnat, bumble bee, wasp, and flying insect of undetermined origin was buzzing around.

Every single one of them trying to figure out who this human was and where had I come from. I got bapped in the head by two black flies the size of grapes and a very pesky bee tried to have a free ride to the next field of flowers by clinging onto my hair.

I'm sure if any of my neighbours caught a glimpse of me running along, doing some sort of left footed version of the twist as I flapped my arms to get the bugs away, they would have thought I'd finally gone 'round the bend.

But it's Typhon and Aounk who've had the last laugh.

When I was about halfway through my run, Karma ran out and nipped me on the leg. Karma being an old black dog that didn't appreciate the fact that I was running past his house while he was trying to take a nap in the sun.

I suppose I can't really blame him. It is nice to see the sun.

Unless the truth is that Typhon had whipped out his mobile phone and alerted Karma to his task for the day...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Granny Penny and Airplane John

Our latest guests, Granny Penny and Airplane John, checked out of the Birth Control Bed & Breakfast today and I must admit, I think all of us are just a bit sad to see them go.

It's the first time in a long time I've had guests who actually repotted plants for me.

I think my mom did that one time when she was here, but heck, she's my mom. That's almost expected behavior, right? My goodness, these two only know me because I'm married to their son-in-law's best friend!

Sure, there is that odd thing that I actually met them when I was working outside of Jackson Hole well before I even knew Hubster existed, but the world really is such a small place afterall, we shouldn't be too shocked by such a conicidence...

There is something about these two and their "joie de vivre" that is contagious. Hearing them talk about travelling on their canal boat, the worries they have with their very old, very English house, or Airplane John's world of being an air traffic controller, you can't help but enjoy their laughter and their outlook on things.

I loved seeing them each morning, sitting in the guest bed with the window wide open, sipping hot tea and staring at the foggy scenery. It's as if they came with the house. Perfectly comfortable and perfectly happy, shouting out "Good Morning" as I passed the room to head downstairs.

The greatest thing is that even the kids and dogs didn't seem to bother them too much. With all the tantrums and cacophony of our house, they took it in stride. It's nice to have guests that like your kids (furry ones included) as much as you do.

I want to be like them when Hubster and I grow up. Heading off on journeys with no fixed schedule, only places to get to eventually. Like they did today: leaving from in front of our house, on a cool and cloudy day, with the top down.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Burning Orb

Quick! Cover your eyes! It's the end of the world as we know it! It's not raining!

As a matter of fact, there is something huge and yellow in the sky.

It's radiating a heat and light that warms me from my toes to the now brown roots of my hair.

Never in my life have I had such a strong desire to go and lay down in a puddle of mud in the middle of our garden and slowly evaporate with the water...

Please stay, sun. Please stay.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Tramps Like Us...., we were born to run! ~Bruce Springsteen

I'm so a tramp.

It's something I've been working on for years and I feel like I'm finally mastering the profession.

Nice thing is, I think I've got company: The Professeur, St Theresa, and the Beautiful Version of Julia Child, might be pretty trampy too.

See the proper definition of tramp is:
1. to tread or walk with a firm, heavy, resounding step; or
2. to walk steadily; march; trudge

And that is exactly what I do when I run. Especially over long distances, and definitely when I'm running 10K around a dark city on a Friday night in the rain with 4000 other nut cases. Including my 3 other possible tramps.

Good thing for me running shoes have evolved over the years so my tramping isn't quite as noisy as it used to be and my knees haven't been destroyed by my trudging.

Good thing too BVJC has an iPod so she could sing songs from Alvin and the Chipmunks as we steadily ran the 10K route. Who knew the Chipmunks singing "Witch Doctor" could be so inspiring?

Good thing The Professeur lives near the race route so as soon as we finished we could celebrate with hot showers and margaritas.

Nice thing too that Sportacus, The Professeur's husband, is fabulous with a grill and a bottle opener so my tired heavy legs could rest and recharge while we discussed the mystery of why French signatures are mini art works rather than the jumble of letters in cursive we Anglo-phones know and love.

You know, I'm going to fight to make being trampy a good honest thing again. I'm going to give it my all to see that being tramps like us is a noble endeavor. Some thing to aspire to.

Well, at least until Alvin, Simon and Theodore release a Springsteen cover album. Then I'm going to have to make a choice between remaining a tramp or becoming part of a Flock of Seagulls.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Enchanted or Cursed?

I am convinced that something funny is going on.

It's almost as if we're like that village in Brigadoon, yet rather than only waking once every 100 years, it's like France went to sleep and then the whole country was secretly swapped with Scotland, Ireland or England.

Wait. Ireland. Definitely Ireland.

Why Ireland, you may ask? Well, it's still raining here and I've been lead to believe on many occasions that that is what it does in Ireland. All the time.

If that's true, then Dorothy, we're in Ireland.

I just keep reminding myself that it's beautiful in Ireland and that the people are beyond lovely. So maybe uping and moving France over night won't be such a bad thing. The country is already beautiful and I'm sure the French could be loosened up a bit with just a few pints of Guinness thrown their way.

If only the pubs would appear and give us shelter from this constant rain...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

On My Soap Box

I'm struggling with trying to be nice and not get completely psycho on one of my neighbours.

It all started last year when this one woman in particular told me that she was thinking of surprising her boyfriend by buying him a Siberian.

I was a bit shocked at the idea, since neither she nor her boyfriend are particularly 'sporty.' And at the time, she was heavily pregnant with her third child.

I chatted with her about Siberians and asked if she was really sure about getting this type of dog. We talked how they like to escape, dig holes, chase chickens, kill cats, and generally can't be trusted. We talked about how they need to run. Run alot, or they go nuts and become 'problem children.'

"Oh, I know," she replied.

She went ahead and got one anyway.

They've had the dog a year and the only time I haven't seen her tied to a tree was the weekend she spent with us when the neighbour went on vacation and we offered to dog sit.

Yesterday, she tells me she's giving the dog away. I asked her why.

"Well, the dog keeps digging holes everywhere and when she escapes she chases the goats and chickens. She almost killed the neighbour's cat the other day and she won't come back when let her off the leash."

Hubster and I have agreed on two things because of this story:

One, we will do what we can to help rehome this sweet pup.

Two, I don't think we could handle breeding Anouk only to have her pups head to homes like that one.

I'll step off the soap box now.

I'm feeling like I need to go and chase Typhon and Anoukie around the garden for a bit, then grab them and tickle them behind their ears.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Let's Ride

This is my grand-aunt, Corinne.

And as you can tell by the photo, she's a character.

I'm not sure she's actually bought the bike, but red is definately her colour.

It's good to see you, Corinne.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Check-Out Day

I so wish I could be witty today. But it's just not going to happen. Well, it might, but that would be by pure accident if it does. My brain is mush.

Perhaps it's because we had a really good weekend with two of Hubster's old friends from England which meant that over the weekend, we ate every type of cheese, opened wine from every region in France, and decided that whiskey beats a cup of chamomile tea hands down as a before bed drink.

I've gained 4 kilos in red wine and Roquefort in just 3 days.

Maybe it could just be this never ending rain we've been living with for the last couple of weeks. I have never seen so much water in the puddles in front of our house. Bubba-Love has taken to floating his tractors in it and then splashing himself, both dogs, and the front steps with a fine layer of silt. (Anouk does look good as a brunette, actually.)

Did I mention that we still have that little leak in the roof? The little leak that is now dripping constantly into three different buckets. The worst part about this is that the roof work was scheduled to start today. But due to the rain, it's been delayed.

I've gained a migraine from the drip, drip, drip bombarding my dreams. And if I wasn't so bloated on Cantal, I'd be tempted to medicate myself and my woes with a bottle of wine from the Auvergne region.

Honestly, I think a good dose of sunshine or perhaps a detox at a really nice spa like this one would do the trick. Ok, so it's a spa that specializes in vinotherapy, but hey, I've never been good at going cold turkey! (Except with mayo and a nice bit of leftover stuffing, but I digress...)

Tonight, I'm start my own detox by heading to bed early after a raw veggie salad and a nice cuppa chamomile. I'll think positive, sunny thoughts as Hubster tucks me into bed and pray that the roof doesn't sprout anymore leaks over night.

Of course, I've just noticed on the B&B bookings that we've only got four more days till the next guests check-in.

We'd better get cracking on this.

Fresh rain water spritzers and celery, anyone?