Saturday, April 29, 2006


I am running around like a chicken with it's head cut off these days. Yesterday I spent the morning at the conservatory, we had a great session and I was sorry to leave at lunchtime, but we didn't even break for lunch until 1:00 so I knew I had to scram if I was going to get everything else done. As it was, I didn't get home until after 5:00 where I learned that Steph had been a busy bee all day. He even presented me with a list of all the things he'd done: swept most of the house, put the suitcase in the cellar, trimmed his beard (!!!) made an appointment to have his haircut (!!!!), etc. Don't you know I've been giving him gooey eyes ever since? Definitely one of those "Dammit I'm lucky" moments.

Today I put together the furniture base we bought before I went to the States. I promise I only said the really bad words once or twice. I was going to put together the drawers today too, but after putting in three screws, I said, "screw this, (ha!) I'm plugging in the electric screwdriver and I'll do the rest tomorrow!" and that's just what I did.

I've spent another part of the day gathering addresses and designing invitations. To make a long story short, Steph and I are finally going to have our French wedding reception. Only two years late! I'm sure I'm going to be writing more about that in the not-too-distant future.

And then this, which I first saw here, has me laughing harder than a five year old on a sugar high:

If I replay it one more time I think Steph is going to hurt me.

PS Firefox really is the best. If you're looking at the page and you're wondering why the sidebar is yucky? It's because it's fine in Firefox and I can't be bothered to fix it for IE. Switch today!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

france makes me smile

I had to run over to the local grocery a little while ago to pick up some odds and ends (you know, the stuff you need between the big grocery shops) and as I was wondering down the DVD isle, I learned that the French title of "The Dukes of Hazzard" is "Sherif fais-me peur," or "The Sheriff Scares Me." Heh.

Then driving home I was distracted by a few boys hanging out under the shade of a tree. Well, the boys themselves didn't really distract me, but the one who did a roundoff back-handspring did. Is my village well known for it's gymnastics or something? Have the French recently adopted cheerleaders for football (I can't even say "soccer" anymore) games?

One week after coming home and the biggest step of unpacking is finished - the suitcase is empty. That's not to say that everything has been put away, but at least the suitcase isn't laying open and staring at me everytime I go downstairs. Normally I can't stand the clutter but with Steph home still on Easter holidays, I can't get motivated to do much more than throw a couple of loads in the washer per day and go downstairs and cook meals. What is it about him being home all the time that drains all my motivation away? I've thrown myself into my new recipe search with wild abandon and have a couple of warmer-weather recipes to try out over the next couple of weeks.

Tomorrow there's another stage at the conservatory for our choir and the youth choir which is going to last all day, but I'm going to leave at the lunch break because I have approximately one zillion errands to run and I don't know what time the afternoon session is going to end. Gas prices are climbing higher and higher here so we've got to try to condense as much as possible to help save a little money. I have implemented step one for taking over the world working at home but until that bears fruit it's really time to tighten the belts a little bit.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

vivi overcomes an obstacle

Doc's house
Originally uploaded by vivi en france.
We spent yesterday helping out Doc and Marc with the staining of the wood on the exterior of their very nearly done new house. Since they had the scaffolding available to them only until Wednesday, they wanted as much help as possible. Unfortuntely, they had to settle for us. (ha!)

Since they started Sunday, over half of the work was done with the first coat, so first thing Monday morning, Steph and Marc set to finishing up the front of the house. I tried to join them, but after climing halfway up the scaffolding, I was overcome with a nauseating wave of vertigo. Frustrated with myself and wanting to help, I made my way alone to the back of the house to see if I could manage to get on the scaffolding there.

Since there's a balcony at the back, the scaffolding wasn't nearly as high as that at the front, so I felt confident that I could overcome my nausea and do some work back there. I set up shop and carefully made my way up to the planks of wood straddling the scaffolding, and got as far as on my knees before I had to take a pause. I stayed in that position for a full ten minutes while I talked myself into standing on my feet, willing the nausea to go the hell away. Finally, I got the nerve to stand up and by the end of the morning I was practically leaping up the scaffolding and bouncing my way across the boards.

I learned that Steph also suffers from vertigo (good thing as now I know he'll never try to convice me to go rock climbing!) and did a bit better than me, helping Marc (who must be part monkey since he was climbing all over the freakin' place) with a corner on the side of the house - the house stands on a hill so the sides require something like 30 feet of scaffolding - but when he tried to work alone on the other side, he didn't feel safe enough. Even Marc, monkey that he is, noticed that it didn't have security bars and minimal planks and set about adding security bars for later. God only knows how Doc's brother-in-law managed alone on Sunday!

After a delicious barbeque lunch back at Doc's current abode, the men set back off to work and Doc and I took her kids for a leisurely uphill climb to see their progress and chill at the local park on the way back.

At 5:00 Steph was ready to call it a day and make our way back home. I nearly slept all the way home. Who knew that conquering your fears would be so exhausting?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

At last, they're loaded

red azaleas
Originally uploaded by vivi en france.
I just finished loading all 86 (presentable) photos onto my flickr page. There's lots of photos of flowers in bloom and general things to see on the farm back in North Carolina where my grandmother lives. Just click on the picture here or on the link in my sidebar.

I think I talked mostly about family in the posts I wrote while I was there, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the two days when I caught up with friends. On Friday, my sister joined me in hanging out with The Birches, a high falootin' society comprised of my three best friends from college. We ate fancy food in Charlotte and then followed that up with a visit to a wine bar - in a mall, no less. Nothing like liquoring up before a good shop. Unfortunately, sis and I had to cut it short in order to make it back in time for the party being thrown in honor of my cousin and his wife, but it was a much needed afternoon of in-jokes and girl gossip. Thank you ladies, and hopefully we'll do a better one this summer!

Monday afternoon I drove down to Greenville, the town of my last mailing address, to visit with my dear old friends The Dinettes (why aren't there t -shirts yet?). The Dinettes continue to meet once a week at a different restaurant, most mostly stick close to home and enjoy the two favorites (especially since they're in walking distance to most of the members): a Greek pizza joint and a Mexican restuarant. We met Monday night at the Mexican restaurant where I indulged in a couple of grown-up slushies and glorious cheese dip - and I'd forgotten how good their pico de gallo is, too! After a wonderful meal, we retired to S's veranda where more wine was consumed and more catching up was done. Even though they are in the throes of a major kitchen renovation, S and R were extremely gracious hosts (like always!) and made me feel right at home. The next day, it was up and early so S and R could get to work, and also so I could swing by my old office to catch up with those old friends. I brought them some French pastries (*cough*Krispy Kreme*cough*) and checked out their new office arrangements. Not wanting to keep them from working for too long (ha ha!), I kept it short and hopefully next time I'll be able to stay for lunch!

That's pretty much it from the Easter vacation. I think I'm just about over the jet lag, which is a good thing, since we're heading to Doc's new house tomorrow, where she's gonna put me and Steph to work. At least I know the chow will be good!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

and back

It was a relatively uneventful return, though I realized today that my layover was longer than the flight from Toronto to Paris. Toronto is now officially my favorite airport in the world. Not only is it insanely easy to do international connections there, but terminal one has some really nice shops (Lush! If only I had more money! And a bathtub!) and I had no problem making my own little space with my cd player and cross stitch.

I've had a shower and a nap, and I'll be heading back to sleep in a couple of hours, but just wanted to say that I'm home, all is well, I have over a hundred photos to sort through and post and I have more stories about my trip home that I'll share in the next few days. Right after I get over my jet lag - say in a couple of weeks or so?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

party party party

When my family gets together, we don't need much of an excuse for a party, but we've got plenty of things to celebrate this weekend so we've had one event right after the other over the last couple of days. Last night we celebrated my cousin's wedding and welcomed J into the family. We had a nice time getting to know her and catching up with various and sundry relatives coming into town for the holiday weekend.

This afternoon we had a surprise birthday party for my great-aunt who will turn 80 on Easter Sunday. She thought she was coming to the bridal shower for her granddaughter, so imagine her face when everyone waiting in the church library burst into "Happy Birthday!" when she walked in the door. It was priceless! I gave the video feature on my camera another workout and I can't wait to get home and see how it came out.

I just came from the actual bridal shower my aunt thought she was going to this afternoon. My cousin Lisa is getting married in June and this shower was thrown by her sisters. They had the most fun shower game I've ever seen - since the shower had a tropical theme, everyone got laied (ha!) and if anyone got caught saying the special word, they got their lai taken away. The person with the most lais at the end of the evening won a prize. Since we were treated to, among other delicious desserts, a chocolate fondue, the special word was "chocolate." Cousin Liz was the front-runner for most of the evening, but I just happened to be standing behind her when she muttered something about chocolate on her pants and I caught her out and won all her lais. This happened only moments before Lisa was finished opening her gifts, so I didn't have to hold out very long to be declared the winner! I had such a good time having a girls' night with the amazing ladies in my family.

Tomorrow is the Big Day when we'll be heading to the church bright and early at 10:45 (now there's some good Christians who like to sleep late - my kind of people!) and then we'll be back out at the farm to spend the day with the family and, I'm sure, eating lots of delicious food. I'm going to try to get away at some point with my camera and take some photos of the gorgeous flowers that are blooming all around my Grandmother's house. I'm surprised the pollen hasn't gotten to me yet with all this bloomin' going on, and I hope it stays that way for the next few days!

Friday, April 14, 2006

things about america i'd forgotten

* People wear work-out clothes out in public - and they're not even going to work out!

* It's not necessary to say goodbye to people when you walk out of a store!

* One load of laundry only takes an hour and a half, from start to finish!!

Yesterday, my sister and I did a little retail therapy (in fact, more retail therapy than I'd anticipated, ouch) and then went out to the farm to see Dad and Grandma. My father's childhood best friend with his wife, daughter and two of his grandchildren are passing through on the way to Florida in their RV and have stayed the night, so we had a great day of catching up. Today is lunch with the girlies and back to the farm to visit with relatives coming in from out of town.

Exotic American food consumed:
everything bagel with cream cheese
hazelnut coffee
BLT with real bacon
hash browns, scattered

Thursday, April 13, 2006

vivi's tips for international travel

* When flying out of Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2, be sure to arrive as soon as possible. I got there two and a half hours before my flight and practically walked right on the plane, thanks to the ridiculously long passport control. Oh, and I was lucky - just after I got through, one of the two passport controllers went on break.

* I don't care what your health situation is, always ask for a low-fat meal. I did it for the first time this trip, and I was super impressed. Plenty of tasty food and none of the greasy feeling afterwards.

* Headphones are a great alternative to beating the snot out of that toddler three rows behind you making high pitched squeals. For eight hours.

* When using the washroom facilities on board your plane, be sure that water comes out of the faucet before lathering up the hands with soap. The moist towelettes stacked up next to the faucet might be a good hint.

* Addendum to last tip: Moist towelettes are not an effective way to remove soap from your hands.

Dang, it's hard to be funny when you've been awake for thirty-two hours. I have most certainly arrived. First stop off the plane was to visit my good friend Moe. Sweet tea and cheesy goodness. And then I sat down in front of the tv and found Dog the bounty hunter. I'm gonna be here for a while. More about what I did in Paris yesterday and stuff after I've slept a couple of days. Or something.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Originally uploaded by vivienfrance.
We drove to Troyes to have lunch with the in-laws today. Days like today are what make living in the French countryside so amazing for me - green as far as the eye can see. Slowly, fields are being plowed over in preperation for the new planting season, and it won't be long before they'll be covered with sunflowers and betteraves, or sugar beets.

While in town, we bought a new piece of furniture for our upstairs hallway. It comes from a place that we've bought many other pieces that you put together yourself, including our guest clic-clac and some bookshelves, but this time we had some bad luck. The top piece had packing paper glued to it and another board was snapped clear in half. Steph said that it's the first time in 15 years he's ever had a problem with this company, so I won't tell you who they are, but it won't be finished until I get back from the States, since they have to order the replacement board. It was such a disappointment, as I was really looking forward to getting stuck in putting that thing together.

My other project today was a little bit of sewing. I only want to bring a smallish bag as my carry-on when I fly overseas next week, but all I have is a tote bag that belonged to my Mom. It's the perfect size but didn't close. I say "didn't" because I spent an hour or so sewing a couple of snaps at the top so hopefully it's a little less inviting to those with sticky fingers. It's not the best job ever, as there wasn't really a way to hide the thread without taking the thing apart, but it's not glaringly obvious thanks to a butterfly motif in several different colors. This is going to be my lightest overseas trip ever, and it's going to be a nice change.

Tomorrow and Monday will be last chance for laundry (I'm giving myself two days because of the eternal washing and drying time of one load in France), and Monday will be last chance for shopping. Tuesday morning I'll be off to Paris as my flight leaves earlyish on Wednesday. It's all coming together and I'm so ready for this trip!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

a (bad) joke

A member of my choir is singing a big Bach piece with another choir next week, so he handed out some leaflets in rehearsal tonight to drum up some interest.

Someone said, "Good job you're doing Jean-Sebastien Bach and not his son, Carl Phillipe Emmanuel, because no one wants to see anything by CPE Bach right now!"


And that, my friends, is likely the only post you'll get out of me concerning the CPE and the strikes in France, except to say that it's been really interesting watching the events unfold, though I can say that since they haven't affected me at all see update below. I know many others in my sidebar haven't been so lucky. Ah, to live in the countryside.... Sorry. I tease because I love.

Also, I don't like the French tendancy to Frenchify common names of classical composers - even in the States we called him Johann and not Jean. But, that's how I heard the joke, so I left it.

Today was a very long day, and I'm pooped. Hopefully, pooped enough to sleep through the night, for a change. Nighty night!

Update: I'm seeing reports that they're calling for another strike next Tuesday, when I travel to Paris because my flight leaves the next morning. Can anyone confirm/deny?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

stitching and gift ideas

Three Little Words Part 2
Originally uploaded by vivienfrance.
I finished up part 2 of my massive cross stitch project last night. I had a few stumbling blocks, like last time, but this time is different because I feel confident I corrected any mistakes as I went, so I believe this section is fault-free. Woo!

Meanwhile, I'm going to start gathering gifts to bring home this week (can't believe I leave in a week, it doesn't seem real!). I'm in a quandry as to what to bring for my great-aunt (who is at once both great and the younger sister of my grandmother) who will turn 80 years old when I'm there. I'd first thought to bring a bottle of Champagne, since that's where I live, and some chocolates that are made in this area, but it seems that she's not allowed to drink alcohol and the chocolates also have alcohol in them, so I'm a bit flummoxed now. Anyone have any suggestions?

Update: I just had the brilliant idea to call my Grandmother and ask her what she thought (duh!). Grandma saves the day: she suggests a small token from the Troyes tourist shop will suffice, and she thinks my aunt will appreciate the fact that I've brought something over from France. It turns out that she's on some kind of odd diet and can't consume chocolate (!!!) as well as alcohol. I say if you can't get to 80 and consume all the alcohol and chocolate you want, then what's the point? Anyway, thanks Grandma! Can't wait to see you next week!

Monday, April 03, 2006

blue skirt

blue skirt
Originally uploaded by vivienfrance.
Because you asked so nice, here's the famous blue skirt I've been raving over the last few days or so. The next live appearance will be April 16, in a church in North Carolina. Reckon the girls will point and stare?

holy moly!

a light for Christine
Originally uploaded by vivienfrance.
This weekend, Steph and I headed back to the country for a very special occassion: the baptism of Doc's daughter, Christine. It was a really beautiful ceremony, and it being the first time I've been invited to an "Important Ceremony" (ie weddings, baptisms, funerals, etc. though I can do without that last one for a while yet, thanks) since I've moved to France I found it all very interesting. Much to my surprise, I was able to follow the majority of the mass, and I found the priest to be a very energetic, entertaining sort of fellow who likes audience participation ("And why did you choose this particular passage?"). The lovely little Christine, who had been screaming bloody murder the night before until 5am, was a perfect angel and didn't blink an eye when being fussed over with water and oil.

Afterwards, we all celebrated at a nearby restaurant and enjoyed an outstanding meal with friends and family that had arrived from all over for the special event.

I took a few pictures (they can be seen on my flickr feed) and I even took a few videos of the ceremony. This was the first time I took any video with my camera, and considering I didn't take into account any of its video features when I bought it, and you can't use flash or zoom when the video is running, I am quite impressed with the quality I got. That means you may be inundated with boring videos from me in the near future....

Anyway, thank you very much to Doc & Marc for including us in Christine's special day!