Friday, February 26, 2010

Singing Spanglais

One of the first nights I hung out with Hubster, back when I shared a flat with a teenage boy and an insane member of MENSA (a blog if ever there was one,) I sat sipping whiskey as he played song after song after song on his very nice stereo. As we listened, it become clearly obvious that our musical tastes were not quite the same. I'm a bluegrass/folk/hippy/guitar kinda girl. Him, well, he's hard to pin down. He's got this thing for Mmmbop, he loves a song by a man named Martyn Joseph , and could happily play KLF for hours on end.

As he continued tripping down memory lane, he started sharing songs from his days in South Africa, his time in Spain, and even a French song or two and I don't know if it was the whiskey or Hubster actually started to open up, but through all those songs, I realized a couple of things. One, I liked this guy. And two, his inner calling had been missed. He would have made a rocking DJ.

The Internet has definitely helped him keep this addiction alive. He can spend hours surfing through sites, finding videos of songs loved and lost and then blaring them as loud as possible on our dinky computer speakers. The next thing you know, he's got three little people glued to his knees, asking for the videos over and over again. He's got them loving our standard selection of dead singers, current French and English favourites, and also songs who's lyrics they don't understand but who's rhythm rocks.

Case in point:

Just ask The Princess or Mini-Husband what they want to listen to and 8 times out of 10, it's "the Cadillac song!" The other times would be for this one:

A huge favourite with my head banging Bubba-Love.

The coolest part about all this is listening to the tribe sing in English, French and a bizarre form of Spanish. It makes me realize how much I like them. No whiskey needed. (Well, when they aren't on school vacation that is...)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

There Is Love

I think I've earned an award. Not only am I feeling extremely "sensitive" today due to a stomach that has decided to vide anything and everything that enters it by a massive volcanic eruption (south of the equator) but, (no pun intended) I've managed to make two quiches, a banana bread, and get the kids ready to head off to the pool.

I'm not sure how this day is going to pan out since the only thing I'm wishing is that they made swim nappies in my size.

The two two quiches and a banana bread are for my darling Hubster who is having his pot this evening. No, he's not trying to relive my Idaho years, he's just being given a leaving do at work where various and sundry people that he sort of knows are going to give him a gift and tell him good luck in his next job. The irony of this pot is that he didn't get to invite the actual people he likes, he's got to supply all the food and drink, and his wife was the one who told them what to get him.

Once again, I'm not sure how this day is going to pan out.

The light at the end of my tunnel today is that there are only 5 more wake-ups before I send my blessed tribe back to school and I can get back to being the lazy SAHM that I've always strived to be. The light at the end of Hubster's tunnel is that there are only 5 more wake ups before he starts his new gig at the big factory on the happy side of tracks.

To quote the ever prophetic Jimmy Buffett, "come Monday, it'll be allright."

Till then, I'm off to impersonate Kilauea and hope for the best. Sing it with me, Finheads...

Monday, February 22, 2010

An Update from the Penitentiary

The dogs have settled nicely into their prison space next the house, it must be said. They've each marked out their spot for sleeping, peeing and pooping. Of course, that space just happens to be right next where the gate opens. Jumping over them to fill the water bowl has become my daily aerobics workout. And at night, when I head out to feed them, I look ever so glam with my one-spot headlamp guiding me through the land mines.

I miss having the dogs in front of the house, I have to admit. I planted bulbs for the first time in 3 years and we might even have grass out there this summer, but I miss seeing them as we come and go. There isn't that little white fur ball or massive Malamute choirboy coming towards you for a scratch when you get home. It feels lonely to me.

The irony is that pretty much every visitor we've had since the dogs moved to the side yard has said how nice it is to come to our place now. There's no worry about being assaulted by the three escape artists as our friends wriggle in past the front gate. It's calmer and cleaner and no body's yelling, "watch out for the dogs!" An element of chaos at the B&B has been relegated to neutral territory. And to my chagrin, with much success.

Sure, we can leave the gate wide open now and take our time to come in. Unloading groceries is a pleasure and hauling wood almost a dawdle. But, truth be told, I miss my dogs out front. I miss them lounging on the steps, digging holes in my flowers, pooping on the terrace, shedding all over the hydrangeas, barking, singing, and being excited to see me.

It's better that they are confined, it's true. The chicken population of the Puy de Dôme needs to be able to live in relative security and harassing donkeys isn't something a Siberian Husky really needs to be good at. But I miss them at my feet.

I take solace that I can at least open the kitchen window and sing with them when making dinner.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rapunzel, Throw Me Your Sheets

We've had a break in the weather today and it's actually sunny and mild outside. I'd forgotten how much I like that sun thing and since this isn't supposed to last, I'm going try to make the most of it while I can.

I'm a fresh air freak. There is no doubt about it. I need windows open, a breeze blowing, some sort of contact with that unseen force that not only keeps me alive, but HEY, you as well! Air conditioning is something I fear. Hence why I left the humid mid-Atlantic and headed west all those years ago. Hence, why I still love driving along the highway at high speeds, window open and my hair becoming a vision reminiscent of Helena Bonham-Carter's from Fight Club.

France is good for me in this way because there seems to be a bizarre devotion to this freakish love of open windows. It's especially evident on days like today when entire villages throw their bedding out their windows. Foreign immigrants included.

Let the air in! Let the sheets blow in the wind! Get all those teeny tiny flakes of dead skin out of your duvet! Kill those little bed bugs with a blast of near arctic air! Burn them with the powers of sun! Open those windows and let the dust fly!

It's therapeutic, I swear. The bedrooms smell better. They look happier, if that's at all possible. Airing out the place is my type of cleaning. Just open those windows. What could be simpler?

Of course, my hair still looks a mess and I need to remember to bring the bedding back in before the rain comes, but that aside, the freeze blasting cleaning method rocks. Just what this lazy maid servant of Rapunzel needed.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Most Appropriately Named Cereal in the World

Once again, I'm thinking it would have been a good idea for someone to get a second opinion on the wording.

Then again, call a spade a spade, right?

Saturday, February 13, 2010


With the Olympic games now under full swing, I've been wondering...

What does one do if they are a competitive downhill skier from New Zealand?

Show up in August?

Friday, February 12, 2010


It's cold outside and I've just finished hauling in the rest of the firewood we had stacked in the barn. Hubster lit the main wood stove this morning and I need to get off my tookus and light the other one so the kids don't turn into popsicles.

I don't think I thank Hubster enough for getting that fire lit each winter morning. It's always so nice to come downstairs and have that orange glow to great me. I pour a cup of coffee that he made before heading off and I sit there, warming my hands, feeling safe and good.

He found this house for us. A coup de foudre, as they say in French. Standing in front of the big green gates, looking at it's beautiful symmetry and enormous windows, he was in love. It's funny how this place has changed us both, made both of us so happy to be in one place. So happy and content that we joke about spreading our ashes in the garden, next to the forever unfinished fence.

There is such a determination in Hubster about getting this place to be exactly as he would like it. Always ideas of how we can improve or change or make nicer the rooms, the space, or the outlook. This place is home and I don't think he, or I, have ever felt so connected to somewhere like we do here. We aren't from here, but we belong here. I know that.

Our life in this rural world has mellowed us both. Taught us a lot about patience, neighbours, and how to keep the peace. It's also showed us that it doesn't matter how much money you make, you'll never have enough and what's really important is what you do on those days you don't go to the office.

We have been blessed with a beautiful place, a beautiful life, a beautiful family.

I'm going to get that other stove lit now. Make the lounge nice and warm so that when Hubster gets home tonight, he can sit in that room he made lovely and be at ease. I'm glad he loved this house. Just a shame I don't think I'll ever love it as much as I love him.

Happy day after your birthday, sweetie.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bébé Vision

Yesterday, Rosie and I had her appointment for bébé vision. This is a routine eye test that is offered to babies in France during their 9th month. Which I find hilarious. How can a child who can barely say,"goo" tell you what those letters are at the bottom of that eye chart?

The exam started by Rosie and I heading into a little room where a very nice young lady tried to get Rosie to look at a grey card with swirls all over it. Which she did. After looking at me like this was nuts. The nice young lady then wanted to get Rosie to grab a couple of pencils with tigers on them. Which she did. And promptly put into her mouth. Then the nice young lady let Rosie play pirate. First with the right eye and then with the left. I never realized just how cute a baby can be with an eye patch.

Then, after determining that Rosebud has a tendency to be left handed (which we already suspected) the nice young lady put those lovely pupil dilating drops in Rosie's eyes and sent us off to wait for the doctor who took all of 5 minutes to look into those deep, dark pools, and tell me that everything looks just fine.

"Now, her pupils will be dilated all afternoon so try to avoid brightly lit places or going out in the car."

She had to be kidding me, right?

You see, it was Monday. I needed to restock the B&B after the weekend's insane binge eating by all and sundry. God forbid I didn't get more Cantal and crackers for Bubba-Love or Nutella for The Princess. I tried slipping my sunglasses on Rosebud's face to protect those little peepers as I ran through Simply Market but they ended up right where that tiger had been about an hour before.

In the car, I tried to cover the window but there are actually 8 others around her which made that attempt futile. Poor Rosie sat there, staring at me like one of those possessed ventriloquist dummies. It wouldn't have surprised me if she started blabbering in some incoherent tongue at that point, shouting obscenities in Russian with those big blank pupils drawing me into the void. Just when I was starting to get really freaked out, she closed her eyes and slept. And slept. And slept.

And when she woke up, she threw up all over me.

Rosebud's bébé vision. Just like being an extra in The Exorcist.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Les Petits Pots

It's a universal truth that a girl who is raised having steamed shrimp on a school night because that's "fast food" when her dad is going to be late, is not the kinda girl who will grow up and be really good at making baby food for her own offspring.

The trouble is, take said girl and plonk her down in the middle of a country where food and cooking is something that is more sacred than God. I may have said this before, but it feels like each and every single freakin' woman over here was born with some sort of gourmet gene that I will never possess no matter how much I pay for it.

These women might be those stereotypic French women who have not a single ounce of fat on them, wear 6" heals to go to the store, and actually shower everyday, and yet, they can cook meals that blow your mind away. Or they might be more like some of my neighbours. Farm wives who's sweaters are stained with the ingredients of a powerful country potage, women who's callous on their feet are brown because of the dirt stuck in there, ladies who really could use a good nuclear round of electrolysis, but yet their cooking! There is no beauty finer! They make poetry out of potatoes!

Of course, this all puts me to shame. I can whip up a decent grilled cheese or a nice fish dish (right Penny?) but anything beyond that and I'm out. I've dealt well with my cooking shame over the years by trying to never feed anyone French anything French. Hence, they get Mexican or hamburgers when they come here. A meal of something they don't know in their blood so I can at least have a slight air of being competent in the kitchen.

The worst part of all this cooking ineptness is that I am a failure at baby food. Yes, yes, I know. What's so hard about pureeing a thing of peas or carrots? How hard can it be to make batches of soup weeks ahead? Applesauce? Sure that sounds easy. And yet, my friends, for me it is not.

That is why I love les petits pots. I adore them. I buy them in bulk. I hide them way back in the cupboard and if anyone French just happens to be here when it's time to feed Rosie, I'm trying all kinds of kung fu moves to get the yellow pureed mess into the pan before they can see it's from Nestlé and not Chez Dig. The French women may have a gourmet gene, well, I've got a convenience one I'm rather fond of.

That being said, I was a little horrified yesterday afternoon at the school pick-up when I heard several of the other mothers talk about how they never, never, jamais, gave their sweet precious cherubs petits pots.

"And look at them now," one boasted.

Yes. Look at them now. Running, screaming, and yelling gros mots with my two very happy petits pots fed sons.

Because It's Really Fun to Sing This One Loud

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Shades of Infinite Jest

So my sister finally got me around to hooking up Skype and I have to admit, it is kinda nice to be able to see my family when I'm listening to them talk. They, unfortunately, can't hear us because somehow in this super clean and organized maison, the microphone got stepped on and now only picks up sounds resonating from deep space.

It's a funny thing communicating by video phone. As much as it wants to be like being there in person, it's not. Sure, I watch my brother-in-law pour a cup of coffee and clean his glasses but it's just not the same as standing there next to him, smelling that coffee and spitting on the lenses for him.

Plus, truth be told, when I'm using Skype, I don't think I'm really looking at them. I'm looking at me in that little screen, seeing what my hair looks like, how fat my face is, and if any of the underpants hanging on the radiators are visible. I'm reminded of a section from Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace, where, in his future based novel, he talks about the end of the video phone.

Basically, he writes that people really liked the idea of seeing the person they were talking to but in reality, a video call meant that they were no longer able to do those little side things they liked to do when talking on a regular phone. See, it's easy when on a regular phone to listen and still pick your feet or change a nappy or have shots of vodka, the whole time the person you are talking to thinks you are still giving them your undivided attention.

Wallace goes into this further by saying that people ended up buying a type of mask to put in front of the camera so that they gave off the impression of still listening to the conversation when really they had buggered off to the toilet. He continues to expound on this and in the end, he writes that people were spending huge amounts of money to have a mask that was perfect in every sense just so they could get back to cutting their toe nails in peace. I'm not doing his writing justice, so just trust me and read the book. Sure, it's 1079 pages long, but it's worth it. Every single word.

But back to Skype...

Now, since I like picking my feet just as much as anybody and I only really clean the house while on the phone (right, Kelly?) I'm not sure how well Skype and I are going to get along. But what I do know is that Skype and cousins is a match made in heaven.

Plunking Mini-Husband, Bubba-Love and The Princess in front of the video phone while their cousins in the United States make faces, do jumping jacks, and sing the national anthem are good solid reasons why I'm going to make sure we keep that Skype link handy.

Wallace got it right where adults are concerned, but I'm not sure the kid mask market would have been such a rousing success. Who needs toes when you've got an audience?

Monday, February 1, 2010

My God. He's Four.

This one, is a ham bone.

I don't think I could have imagined just how funny this kid would be. How he uses his hands and shoulders to express himself, rolling his eyes and blinking those lashes as he tries to convince me that he really, really needs a bonbon. I kid you not, his face is a constant work of art.

I think he might be the easiest of the four to make laugh. All you have to do is grab him, make a funny face, and he's right in there with you, giggling and screeching. He's also the one who has figured out that if you yell really, really loud during a tantrum, everyone in a 4 mile radius will stop and see what the heck is going on.

If the saying, "you are what you eat" were true, he would be a big lump of Cantal cheese. If he had a choice, he would eat that at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You might be able to get a slice a ham in him as well, but it's the cheese that he lives for. You can't even imagine his joy when he discovered that Wallace was a soul mate.

He makes us smile. He makes us laugh. He scares the crap outta his big sister when he chases her up the stairs threatening to hit her with his ever so powerful toddler fist. He knows how to get Mini-Husband in a state by just brushing his fingers across the top of a PlayMobil car. He thinks Rosebud speaks to him in French already. And heck, why not?As he sees it, doesn't everybody speak perfect French, English, and Franglais at birth?

He has to have his baby duvet, his sleeping bag, his baby blanket, the Mickey fleece, and the baseball fleece on top of him before he can get to sleep. And don't forget Blue and Green blankies tucked in next to him as well. "And MOM! Where are my cars?!?"

He touches my heart when he looks at me with those big brown eyes, his face an image of his father's. He's a joy, a terror, a comedian, and just plain wonderful. We are so blessed to have him in our lives.

Happy Birthday, Bubba-Love!