Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Letter from Prison

Dear Dig,

Thanks for coming to see us today. Nothing like a nice fresh bowl of water first thing in the morning. And getting rid of Anouk's poop, well, I don't quite know how to thank you. Not sure what she's been eating, but WHOA.

We were wondering though if it would be possible to bring back those really nice cold temps we had last week? It's not that we don't like the sun, it's just since we can't possibly shed any more this summer, it could get hard to cope. I know that the old outhouse makes a really nice cool spot to sleep but Anouk, damn her, decided to reinstate it's old use and so now laying in there just isn't possible. I've tried digging out a nice new hole right in front of the gate, but Abaka thinks it's for her. Sisters, I swear.

Please tell Musher Boy that even though I may seem very excited to see him, I'm really not. I don't care if it's a nice night, pulling that damn cart when I could be howling with the 10pm church bells really ticks me off. Why can't he just take Anouk so Abaka and I can have a couple of minutes peace? You do know that she's insane, that Anouk, don't you?

Thanks also for the little bit of chicken liver you threw to us yesterday. A nice treat and tasted just like the one we had back in November. Ahhh, the memories...

Well, my paws are getting a little tired and the hole is free, so I'm off to curl up and dream of living next to a nice tall mountain where it snows all year long and it's legal to chase cats.

'Till tonight's choir practice,


Monday, June 28, 2010

Nuit des Piqueurs

Have I ever mentioned how much the French like to walk? How serious these people are about any excuse to organize a randonnée and head out into the woods? Have I ever mentioned how they also find a way to combine this love of walking with the love of eating and drinking? Have I ever mentioned how much I love that?

Take Saturday night for example. Full moon, over forty happy people, an easy walk from one course to another in some of the hamlets around the village. Every once in a while, we'd stop and have a good laugh at some really raunchy street theatre. The final climatic stop being that at the statue of Mary, way up on our highest hill, where a man dressed as a monk juggled fire before doing his best impersonation of a dragon. 

The wine was good, the evening lovely, I wandered easily at the back of the group while Mini-Husband and Princess Boo lead the way with their friends from school. Have I ever mentioned how much I like living in a place where everyone knows my children and you really do get the feeling that it takes a village? 

We finished with desert back in the church square. It was 1am and the little hikers were beat. Sure, our town council likes to get in fights, sure the neighbours may fight over an inch of land, sure sometimes everyone knowing everything about you gets a little hard to live with, but when you walk through the woods and fields of this old place on a full moon in the end of June, you really know it doesn't get any better than this.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Hubster, You are My Father."

No. Not mine. Although, there are moments when I wonder about that. But that's a deep psychological question I'm not sure I want to explore on a Thursday morning when I have all the kids in the house and Typhon woke me up at 2am with his singing. I might draw conclusions that would scare me, Hubster and my father and since I love them very, very much, we're not going to go there right now. Perhaps over lots of whiskeys later this summer but till then, let's just be happy that Husber and BaPa at least have one thing in common, me.

Where we are going to go right now is the local fire station, i.e. a garage behind the school where the truck is parked.

Mini-Husband got to have a tour the other day with Musher Boy. It lasted all of 15 minutes but M-H was psyched. Here's a shot of him wearing the helmet:

Truth be told, I think I'm a little concerned that our local pompiers wouldn't be able to see out of that Darth Vader thing. And fireman who can't actually see a fire really doesn't bode well for a fire call, now does it?

Overall, M-H had a great time climbing all over the truck, wearing the jackets and even getting to help roll up the fire hose.

And no. He's not getting one for Christmas. If he did, I'm sure he'd want to run that riot control drill way too often on his brother.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The House of Pearly Whites

It all started the other day when I went looking for some medicine for Mini-Husband. I pulled out that create that could double as a pharmacy all by itself, when I found a thing of dental floss that some American must have left with us at some point. Why an American, you ask? Well, let's just say that my very British husband likes to boast how he hasn't been to the dentist in over twenty years and "his teeth are just fine!" Years of this boasting has lead me to believe there may be a slight touch of dental apathy in the UK. (And well, ok, the floss was also marked from CVS, but I digress...)

I casually left the floss on the table and within seconds, the three largest tribe members wanted to know all about this fascinating stuff. "How do you use it?" "How much do I need?" "You mean you put it between your teeth?" "Can we compost this or do I need to put it in the trash?" Ah, there's nothing like the joy of a good group floss in the dining room on a rainy afternoon. There we were, the four of us, happily flossing away. Me, breaking off tartar left, right, and center, while the boys figured out how to fleck each other with whatever was recently between their teeth.

Once I finally was able to snatch the dental floss away from them, all three of them decided that brushing their teeth was now something that had to happen every 15 minutes: after you eat, before you clean up your room, after you sneeze, after you fais bizous, after your mother tells you to stop picking up your baby sister, and right before it's time to go to bed. We've gone through two tubes of toothpaste in 5 days.

Timely all this brushing and  flossing around here since the cavity that The Princess had filled last year has come back to haunt her. Saturday morning she headed off to the dentist to refill it and had confirmation that there's another little lovely growing on another tooth.

"Oh, sweetie, I hate to think it but you might end up having teeth like me, " I told her.

"Well, maybe," she replied," but since Daddy's never been to the dentist I might actually have teeth like him."

And so we shall know for sure bright and early this coming Saturday. The Princess is getting the newest cavity filled at 10 am and Hubster's first dental appointment in over 20 years, the first since we've been married, the first since he's had children, the first in this CENTURY, will immediately follow.

I don't know who's more excited about this, me or him.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cold and Miserable. And That's Not Just the French Team.

I wish someone had told me that June was no longer considered one of the summer months. It's frickin' freezing here and we're running out of wood. Everyone is grumpy, including the dogs, and to top it off, Mini-Husband has taken on impersonating a seal at all hours of the night. Rumour has it that the sun and it's warming rays have been stuck on the other side of the Atlantic and no whining or bribing will woo it our way.

Morale has gotten so bad that everyone is threatening strike action. Timely, since Thursday the tribe's teachers are on strike as well. Perhaps we'll get lucky and it'll snow so we can make a nice igloo out in the garden.

It's the 21st of June and it's miserable. Calgon take me away.

Friday, June 18, 2010


You know when everyone in the house is exhausted when there's lots of name calling, rolling of eyes, and screaming when it's time for a bath. And that's just the parents.

It's the middle of June yet it feels like November here. To say it's wrecking morale would be an understatement.

Please, summer, come quickly. We need you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Taking the Blame

This morning, Rosie had a couple of little English baby books in her hand as we took the big kids to school. She had great fun throwing them around the courtyard, watching the teacher and assistant teacher pick them up, over and over again.

At one point I said to the teacher that maybe Rosie wanted her to keep the books so the class could listen to them during their English lesson.

"English lesson?" The teacher said emphatically. "I stopped giving an English lesson months ago."

"Why?" I asked.

"Well, everytime I tried to say something in English, The Princess and Mini-Husband would start laughing at my accent. It got so bad that I just couldn't face doing it anymore. The rest of the class will just have to wait till next year to learn."

"But, Mini-Husband and The Princess will still be in class with them...."

"Merde. Hadn't thought about that. They may have to wait till college then."

I think I'm going to have to write out apologies to all the other parents of kids in their class:

"Dear Monsieur et Madame Auvergnate: Your child has failed English again this year because my two little snot bags made fun of the teacher's accent. Please find it in your hearts to forgive us. And perhaps you might want to encourage your children to learn German instead?"

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tribal Warfare

I love the World Cup. Seriously, there is no better tournament on the planet than this. You get nations with young teams, nations with overpaid players, nations with a rich history of the game, and nations that just play. All of these teams chasing that little white ball around a big green field. 

You get fans from all over the world hanging out in mega stadiums, yelling and cheering and painting themselves in their national colours singing their national anthems, hugging strangers and learning new words for "goal," "foul," and "referee!"

You also get a chance for matches between countries that rarely play against each other. A new opponent, a new tactic, a new chance for an upset. Tonight for example, I'll be sporting my American flag t-shirt hoping with all my heart that my team gives it their all against Hubster's English side. It's not often that our countries play against each other in any sport, so I'm eagerly looking forward to making the kids take sides and singing "Oh say can you see..." very, very loudly.

Of course, I've got my work cut out for me since Mini-Husband has already told us that he roots for England, then France and then China. When I asked him what he would do if the USA played China he replied,

"I'd root for the USA and a little bit for China."

I think I smell the need for a little American intervention. 

I love this tournament even if it's just because it's the perfect way to legitimately pick sides and hope someone loses. For example, us last night rooting against France. A golden opportunity to explain to our kids some of the ironies of life:

"Sure, sweeties, we live in France, but Daddy and I want that other team to win because they don't use their hands..."

Ah, the World Cup. Such fun. Such hype. Such a simple game. 

It's amazing what that little white ball can do, isn't it? 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Round Two

'Member way back when, when the little village on the hill got all excited about new elections? How the little village on the hill was really looking forward to having a group of people who would work to make things better, really work to improve life around these parts?

Well, that all went tits up.

Small town politics, regardless of where small town might be or what language small town might use, always seems to make people go insane. Especially when you get elected to a small town council. It's like you've been given the right to act like either a king or an idiot or some sort of freakish combination of the two.

We weren't spared. Let's just make a really long story that has more twists and turns in it than Dallas, short by saying we had to have new elections because three of the council members decided they didn't want to share their toys any more. Their opposition on the council decided that throwing sand was then an effective method of communication to which those of us who have spent any time with toddlers in a sand box will argue is just plain stupid.

Alors, that brings us to this last weekend where those of us able to vote in the village, me not included since I'm still not European, had to meander up to the Mairie and vote for three new people. Again lists were presented and options given. The opposition group was banking hard on the whole, "Vote-for-These-Three-Because-They-are-FROM-Here,-Really,-Really-FROM-Here" approach that I'll admit I found a little hard to warm to.

The other three candidates used the "Well,-We-Weren't-Born-Here-But-We-Sure-as-Hell-Like-It-Here-a-Lot" approach and I think they actually stuck a nerve. Turns out there are quite a lot of people in this little old village on the hill that weren't born here. A lot of people who speak the same language as those that were, but don't have the 100 dead rellies in the cemetery yet to prove how really attached they are to this place.

It's hard for me to be sympathetic to the opposition. Hubster and I weren't born here, we are definitely not "from" here, but my God, our children are. Once again I've found myself having to remind some of the older residents of the village on the hill that this, this place, this life, this is all The Princess, Bubba-Love, Mini-Husband, and Rosie know. They, with crazy foreign parents and all, are from here.

Luckily, we aren't alone. The winning three are the folks who aren't "from" here. All three of them were born in other parts of France, have lived in other cities and towns far away from this mole hill, but who now call this place home. And it is. As it should be. Home.

When you find a place you care about, when you really attach yourself to somewhere just because it feels absolutely right, does it matter if your family is buried there or not? Does it matter if no one knows your uncle Steve and his really horrible puns? Or about that time that you smashed your car into a tree on the night your sister got engaged? Or have photos of you and your prom date wearing nappies in the front garden? Does it really matter that your accent might be slightly different?


You live here because you want to. And because you just happen to like it here so much, you want it to be a better place. For everyone in the village. Old farts and sand throwing retirees included.

We'll see how things go. I'm not expecting anything to be easier with our town council this time around, but I'm at least hoping there might be some room for conversation. What's the point of wanting to help a village survive if you aren't willing to learn from it's past? And most importantly, embrace it's future?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Falling Apart

Bear with me.

I've somehow managed to wreck my left wrist and hand so typing and writing is a little on the odd side. You have no idea how embarrassing it is having to ask your husband to sign your check for you when leaving the doctor's office.

I have no idea how I messed myself up. I didn't get pissed and fall down and I didn't run the 10K on my hands. I did a little gardening yesterday and pulled out tufts of Typhon's fur, but nothing I remember being painful. But man oh man, this sucker hurts today.

The doctor said I need to take the next couple of days off and avoid driving if I can. He also mentioned it might be a good idea not to use the iron. I had to ask him what that was.

I'm on a nice pain killer/anti-inflammatory so my world is a lovely shade of psychedelic purple and yellow. Matter of fact, I think I just saw Jimmy Hendricks go by. Wow...

Hopefully, this unexplained boo-boo will go away quickly and I can get back to normal, whatever that might be, soon.

Till then, I'm dependant on the kindness of Hubster. Wish me us luck.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Sign of Getting Older?

I'm heading into the big city tonight for the annual running race. I'm meeting up with the Beautiful Version of Julia Child and the Non-Footballer's Wife to try and haul my butt 3 times around the town. Overall, if I can hold it together, it could be a nice 10K on a June evening with friends. If I can't, well, I'm not sure I'm all that worried about it.

My running has changed over time and I'm finding my motivation for this race to be way different than it was a couple of years ago. Then, I would have trained harder, plotted my strategy and hoped like hell that I would finish the course between 55-60 minutes.

Tonight, I really don't care.

What's changed this? Four children? My age? A new found love for trails?

The truth is, I like to run because I can. I like to run because it reminds me that I make choices for me and about me. I like to run because every time I take a step, I get rid of the bullshit in my life. I don't worry about the bathrooms being clean, I don't worry about matching socks, I'm not worried about what to make for dinner.

When my foot hits the road or trail, I'm looking around me, taking it all in, be it the beautiful countryside or the glow of a city on a summer's evening. My body, shaped as it is, was made to move and since I have no dancing rhythm what so ever, I embrace the running wog/plod that is uniquely mine. The beat of my drummer, erratic as it is, suits my pace perfectly.

I'm looking forward to tonight. A chance to be around other people who might be a wee bit more competitive than me, others who might be a wee bit slower than me, but all of us just out there to run. A big sweaty mass of humanity not thinking about laundry.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Where Shall I Hide the Tea Spoons?!?

The phone rang yesterday afternoon and in the nano second it took me to answer, Rosie decided to help out in the kitchen.

If only I had remembered to turn on the machine the night before. The sight of her little legs covered in mashed peas and soggy sour milk bread crumbs really didn't do justice to the words, OH MY FREAKIN' GOD.

I'm getting worried that she's more like Bubba-Love than I care to admit, but at this point, I'm taking comfort that she's just going for the spoons.