Saturday, August 30, 2008


It's nearly 8am and the only noise I'm hearing is my stomach growling.

I don't know how it's happened, but the tribe and it's chief are all still sleeping and I'm by myself, enjoying coffee and the early morning sun.

I forgot how quiet it can be here.

No sound of cars passing by, no sound of the sea, no humming of an air conditioner.

I catch a lone sound of a cow off in the distance or a bird singing down in the field, but other than that, it's quiet.

How I've missed being home.

It's one heck of a journey from here to anywhere and when flying or driving along, knowing you've got "miles to go before I sleep," one can start second guessing the choice to live so far from family and friends. It's an effort to get anywhere else and an effort to get back. I could easily become a hermit and never leave the village.

I think this is why the Birth Control Bed & Breakfast usually has a full guest list. If anyone wants to make the effort to see us in this West Virginia of France, they deserve a clean room, good wine, warm bread, and a peaceful sunrise.

Now, if they get all that, that's another story.

Usually, they get howling dogs, fighting children, day old baguettes, and Auvergne wine, which we like, but lack some international recognition.

But, alas, here comes the chief. Just in time for coffee, before the noises get up.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dog Beach

Everytime we are here with Hubster's family I get all nostalgic for Luna. It's been several years since she's gone but here, on the tidal beach, I see her running as she always did.

The local dogs are allowed out on the beach before 10am and without fail, every morning, the local mutt pack is out there, running, jumping, sniffing, and playing. Just like Luna did, oh so long ago.

During those dog walks with her, we got to know some of the other dog parents on the beach. Never knew their names, but knew who they were by their dog. We didn't know where they lived but we knew where their dogs liked to play.

I never in my life would have guessed that a fuzzy Malamute from Wyoming would take to the beach like Luna did. Digging after crabs, splashing in the tide, getting sand all over my mother-in-laws house. Halcyon days.

Years later, the dogs on the beach have changed and Luna is now chasing cats and deer in the stars. I can only hope she's got company, her buddies from the beach, there to play with her.

It's comforting in the mornings to sit and sip my coffee as I watch the current pack out there running, splashing, and playing on the beach. Oh, the happiness and joy of getting wet and grimy!

If only I could borrow one for a couple of minutes. There's a real lack of sand in my mother-in-law's living room.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Winter in Summer

We've hit the typical British summer today. It's cold, windy, and there are the occasional rainy spells to remind you never to take the summer sun for granted in this country.

We did get a moment to play out on the beach yesterday, much to Bubba-Love and Mini Husband's delight. The Princess had already sprinted into the water within 30 seconds on the sand, but the boys started digging to China with zeal. I think they were hoping that if they really gave it a good effort, they could break through before the closing ceremonies started in Bejing.

Hubster and I have decided that napping should become the official sport of American-Anglo-Frenchies like us. If only we could get sponsored, perhaps a mattress company or a chain of hotels might be interested. I'll have to start making some inquiries...just as soon as we get up from this afternoon's siesta.

Friday, August 22, 2008

If It's Friday, It Must be France

Nothing like waking up in your bed after a vacation and wondering if you ever really went on vacation.

The only noticeable change at the Birth Control Bed & Breakfast is that Godot Roofing is HERE! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there's work being done up there! I'm so excited I could almost cry.
And cry I might since it's raining today. Please tell me that the plastic under liner they've stapled to the beams will hold. A small leak I can handle, the entire roof leaking, I'm not so sure.

I've got just enough time today to do some laundry, buy Mini-Husband's new school supplies and get the dogs to "camp" before we head off to England. Should be an interesting trip since Hubster threw his back out while I was gone. (Why he didn't recycle it, I'll never know!) I'm not sure running the gauntlet to Calais is going to do him any favours, but the doctor has given him some strong medication so here's hoping. Let's just hope it doesn't make him car sick. Kid puke is one thing, Hubster puke is another.

It is nice to being home this morning. A good cup of coffee, kids fighting over cartoons while being dive bombed by flies: all's as it should be.

I'll try and post a couple of highlights from my stateside adventures when I get a moment. That should be sometime in September...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Too Much To Remember

It's just not nice to ask "tete de passoire" to remember all that I've done since arriving over here last week.

I think I went to a really fabulous wedding for my cousin and her loved one.

I think I spent a lot of money in the Magic Running Shoe Store.

I think I love driving automatic cars.

I think having your lips burned off by crabs steamed in Old Bay is one of the best things on the planet.

I think my family and friends are wonderful.

I think that's all I can remember.

And that's because I drank too many cosmopolitans at the rehearsal dinner before said wonderful wedding. As you do.

I love being here in the home of the free and the land of the brave but I will admit that I'm almost ready to head back over the pond. I miss everything being closed after 7pm.

Not to mention, I miss my Hubster. Who knew!

So tonight, it's a trip to the ballpark and then tomorrow back to the airport with two suitcases loaded with peanut butter, flashing toothbrushes, running gear, and Aunt Jemima's Maple Syrup.

Just the necessities, right?

Friday, August 15, 2008

The View from The Other Side of the Pond

Heaven help me, I'm in the States! And not only am I in the States, I'm in the States without Hubster and the tribe. Talk about feeling like you've had your arms and legs cut off. I seriously didn't know what to do with myself at first.

Granted, once I got on the airplane and settled in with a nice glass of wine and a book I've been itching to read, I felt like my limbs were regenerating just a touch. Who knew 8.5 hours on a plane could be so enjoyable!

Of course, I have completely talked myself out of ever having any desire to run a marathon when I realized that the 4:30 hours it would possibly take me run that distance, is about the time it takes to get from coast of Greenland to Washington, D.C. on a transatlantic flight.

I sat sipping my Chardonnay and from time to time thought, "I'd be running now."

Then, 40 minutes later, "I'd still be running."

And then when I woke up from a little nap an hour later, I thought, "I'd STILL be running." We were still only over Canada at that point and it all became too much for me to fathom, so back to my book I went, trying to shake this image of the suffering runner from my head.

We finally arrived in Washington about the same time I started seeking medical intervention in my mental marathon.

All's well in the first aid tent though and I'm really glad to be here.

So glad in fact, I'm off to go running shoe shopping with my nieces.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

And the Winner Is...

Ladies and Gentlemen, I now give you "The 2008 Birth Control Bed & Breakfast Guest Awards":

*The "Belles Fleurs Award" goes to Hubster's best man's mother and father in law for planting all the random dahlia bulbs I had laying around. Most of them are just coming into bloom, so we have beautiful colours and flowers to greet us every morning.

*The "Free to Flush Award" goes to my parents for being here when Hubster and I had the joy of playing in our sewer lines. They were able to keep our tribe happy and occupied so that the only the little shits we had to deal with were in the garden.

*The "I'll Feed the Dogs Award" goes to Mooster, with out a doubt. Bless her socks for helping us get Abeka settled and happy here.

*The award for "Arriving in Style" goes to Hubster's friends who pulled up in a Nissan Skyline, a car who's motor purred like nothing we've ever had in our family.

*"Finding Joy in an Old House Award" is given to our friends from outside London who reminded us that living in something as old as this place is a good thing and that no matter what, these thick walls should probably still be standing here in 150 more years regardless of what we do to them.

*The "Still The Same After All These Years Award" goes to my roommate from college. We may now be parents and a touch wiser than when we were 20, but we haven't really changed and she's still one of the best people I know.

*"Expanding the Cave Award" goes to our friends from Germany who refilled our stock of German white wine (something we were very, very happy about) and helped us have our own 'degustation' of wine, cheese, and ham every evening on the terrace. I've promised to learn more German before they visit again so I'd better get started since I have a feeling our annual summer visits are far from being a random thing. Bringen Sie in der Wein!

*The award for "Happy to Be Here" goes to my grade school friend who now lives in London. She left hidden notes all over the house for us to find and when I do, I leave them so I can find them again. It's nice getting to smile with her everyday. (I may have to move the one in the fridge though. It was a little too close to the cheese and now the paper looks like it's becoming Bleu d'Auvergne...)

And the last award, "Bucking the Trend" goes to two friends of Hubster's from university who, even after staying with us for several days, are now pregnant with their second child. I hope this means we haven't lost our touch!

So, thank you all and anyone I've not mentioned for being part of our lives and for being with us here.

The guest room is always ready for you. All of you.

Just not all of you at once...

Monday, August 11, 2008

House Guests

“The only advantage of not being too good a housekeeper is that your guests are so pleased to feel how very much better they are.” ~~ Eleanor Roosevelt

I don't know how we made it but the last of the summer guests at the Birth Control Bed and Breakfast checked out this morning. It was a bit melancholy saying goodbye to my old roommate and her kids, but if I'm really honest, I'm ready for a nap.

It's been a hectic 4 months of entertaining, touring, playing, visiting, talking, and the like. I need a good detox and someone else to make dinner for a couple of weeks.

That being said, it's time to feed the tribe. Peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches, anyone?

Friday, August 8, 2008

"2 Adults and 5 kids, please."

If you look up the word 'insane' in the dictionary, you'll find a nice picture of me and my old roommate and our 5 kids touring around a 12th century chateau.

A 12th century chateau built on Roman ruins and decorated with priceless furniture. Priceless furniture that can not be sat upon, touched, or damaged in anyway.

Now you understand the insanity part.

We managed to get all of the kids to at least spit out their gum before heading in so I considered that a good sign and potentially a small victory.

The guide had given my roommate an English translation to follow but I'm not sure she really got a chance to read it as we herded our people from room to room. I tried to shout out the basics I was getting from the guide ("this is really old....Roman well....some king of France slept here....really old chair...") over the heads of our dancing and bobbing children. Good thing my friend understands French history better than I ever could since she actually knew which king it was that had drooled upon the embroidered fleur de lys pillowcase.

During the tour, The Princess and Roommate's Daughter wanted desperately to know where the princesses had slept while Mini-Husband was very concerned when he noticed one of the Dutch tourists touching the knight's armour. Rightly so, but I wasn't about to adopt a 47 year old man just so I could tell him off for misbehaving.

To their credit, not one of the kids broke anything and not one of them fell through the very large gaps in the railing on the roof. Heureusement.

Once we finally left the chateau with souvenir postcards in hand, we decided to have lunch before heading onto the next adventure. Who knew that ordering a "Happy Meal" in a foreign country could bring such joy to so many people?

We did manage to make it to a second chateau after lunch, but Roommate and I decided not to take the risk with an hour long tour and just let the people run amuck amongst the marigolds.

Tummies full from chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers, they ran and played in the bushes and flowers, pretending to be knights and damsels, until at last it was time to get into the magic chariot and return home.

Perhaps we missed a chance to learn about who sat where and how old a dresser in a corner is, but who cares. Spinning and laughing in front of a beautiful chateau is the best insanity you can get.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Collective Memories

I've started telling my friends here that I have "une tĂȘte de passoire." Basically, I have a memory like a colander. You put stuff in there, but most of it drains out. (Hubster would definitely agree that this is true and might even argue that all of it drains out. I tried to explain that this was part of the deal when we got married, but he's not convinced.)

This is where I'm glad I've got people around me who can help me with that extra push to the bottom of the colander, to really have a look at what's in there. Especially my roommates from college.

See, college is a time where you do a lot of stuff that you'd really like to forget, you study stuff that you're going to forget no matter how much you loved it, and you live with a freedom that is unforgettable. Luckily for me, I had 5 other women living with me during those years who help me now not let it all go down the drain.

They remind me that my cleaning habits have never changed (I scrub the toilets while talking long-distance,) my need for animals has always been there (long live Sprecher, the stiff as a board bunny,) long frizzy hair is beautiful (except when it clogs the bathtub drain,) I can't handle conflict (quick, get the wine,) and that I always followed the beat of different drummer.

One of the 5 arrived yesterday with two of her children and it's awesome watching her little her and my little me run around our house. It's soul fulfilling to sit with her and fill in the gaps of our past as we watch our futures play with trains and Barbies.

I may not remember everything but I remember her. And boy am I glad, she remembers me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Revenge of the Cows

Yes, those would be Mini-Husband's sunflowers under threat from the cows who before this morning, used to be in the neighbouring field.

I think someone must have given them my blog address and they weren't too happy about their musical talents being criticised so they decided to retaliate by eating my carrots.

In all honesty, it's not too big a deal. It's been fun having something to watch while I wait yet again for Godot Roofing.

Looking on the bright side, it's a beautiful morning, the grass is freshly cut, and I've got loads of new fertilizer for what's left of the veggies.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Monday Morning

I'm sitting here playing tag with what feels like a gazillion flies. They keep swarming me, buzzing my head in tandem as I furiously try and tag them with a rolled up copy of The Economist. I have a feeling I look a little bit like Jerry Lewis as I fling my arms in every direction.

The flies are particularly bad this week since the cows are back in the field next to ours. This means that Typhon's morning chanting has been replaced by the subtile lowing of about 2-3 Limousine. Makes a nice change, although I do think Typhon is slightly more in time with the Evangelis, but at 7am, before my mandatory 13 cups of coffee, I'm not going to pick a fight with a rhythmically challenged cow.

Today should be interesting in that I'm waiting yet again for the roofers to show up. It's the third monday in a row that they have said they will show up and start working. At this point, I'm not sure that they really exist, but I'm going to have to have faith, I guess. That or a lot of buckets.

So there you have it, I'll be spending the morning killing flies with my own aggressive version of Thai Chi as I get progressively more juiced up on coffee waiting for a roofing company named Godot.

Embrace your inner surrealist, everyone. This could be a good week.