Saturday, December 30, 2006

oh, hullo

Man, I am the definition of laziness these days. Sleeping late, goofing around on the computer, eating meals at odd times, barely leaving the house; it's terrible. I have renewed my interest in playing DAoC but we justify it by saying it's for improving my French (because we only play on French servers). The worst thing is that I slept through the postman knocking on the door to deliver not one, not two, but three (ah ah ah! Three!) boxes that can't be stuffed into our mailbox and now I have to wait until Tuesday to retrieve them. Tragedy! Actually, the even worse thing is that Steph actually heard the knock and couldn't be bothered to get out of bed. Humph!

Our date night was hit and miss, in traditional Vivi and Steph fashion. The movie we wanted to see wasn't playing Wednesday, contrary to reports on the cinema's website. The only movies available were kiddie flicks, and while I'm not opposed to seeing kids' movies at the theater without kids, I had my heart set on Casino Royale so animation just wasn't going to cut it. So we had three hours to kill before our dinner reservation, so we went shopping. Again. It's not that I don't like shopping but shopping during the holidays is so draining, I don't even want to go near a shopping center for at least another two weeks. Anyway, it turned out alright because we found some books we'd been looking for and I also found one of my all time favorite movies on DVD for only ten euros. Merry Christmas to me!

The good news is that dinner was extraordinary. It cost a pretty penny, but everything was divine. This restaurant only seats twenty (plus more on the terrace in the courtyard when the weather is nice), is run by an international maitre d' - he not only chatted in English with us and an English couple at another table, but also spoke Italian with an Italian family across the room! - and features an impressively large menu for such a small, cozy place. My foie gras was unbelieveable and was served with a delicious quince marmalade, my steak stuffed with garlic butter and herbs was the best and most tender steak I've eaten in France, and my dessert was superb - carmelized pears served on spiced honey bread with a small scoop of licorice ice cream on the side. Steph started with a salad featuring Chaorce cheese, then had veal so tender he could cut it with his fork, and ended with "crunchy" bananas wrapped in crepes (it sounds so much more elegant in French! Ha!). Like I said, this place is a little heavy on the wallet, it's the sort of place we could treat ourselves to once a year, but it really was amazing and the best part was spending time together in this lovely setting.

It looks like today is going to be more of the same lazy goodness, but we do have some interesting stuff coming up. We're going to Doc's house to celebrate New Year's Eve, and then Tuesday I'll get my mystery boxes, plus next week we'll have to visit the Prefecture once again for yet another one year resident card, and who knows, maybe we'll get to see Casino Royale after all!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas recap

Christmas Eve was hit or miss, but a good time was had by all. We arrived at the home of Steph's brother and sister-in-law a good two hours in advance, and he and his brother cracked open all eight dozen oysters in about forty-five minutes. After everyone finally arrived and we toasted the newest member of the family, Steph and I slipped into the kitchen. Chaos reigned as we set our oyster assembly line in motion (or usine des huitres as my brother-in-law called it). It was slow going, but every one eventually was served their own plate of fried oysters and we finally got to sit down again nearly an hour later. They were definitely a hit, and one niece even asked if we would make them again next year. Steph and I looked at each other and replied, "Um... no." It was fun to do something different for a change but I don't think we'll be making this a tradition!

The rest of the dinner went on without a hitch, and the gift distribution was fun as always. The books I made were really well received which was a major relief. We got some interesting gifts; my favorite was a necklace kit that I'll put together myself (fun!). Another couple who always puts a lot of thought into their gifts gave us a really cute glass and pitcher set with "American" slogans on them. I think they're really fun and it will be great for making lemonade in the summer (I found a really interesting recipe of lemonade with rose petals that I'm really looking forward to trying!). The bad part was that when my mother-in-law called Steph for ideas for me, he told her that I didn't have a bathrobe. Actually, I do; I rarely use it, but I do have one. What's worse is that she bought it for me two Christmases ago! So, last night I got a new one. At least Steph gave a few minutes warning so I wouldn't stick my feet in my mouth! We also got a waffle maker, which we also already have. They asked us if there's anything else we need for the kitchen, and right then I couldn't think of a thing. Of course, after a few glasses of wine that's not a big surprise.

Yesterday was very quiet and relaxing here at home. We already bought ourselves a Christmas gift of a new entertainment center (photos are forthcoming as soon as I clean downstairs, heh) but I couldn't resist getting Steph the first season of Kaamelott which is a hilarious show set in King Arthur's court. Each episode is only about ten minutes long (there are quite a lot of comedies like this on television, which appear between the news and the main show of the evening) so it's been fun to watch five or six and then go on and do something else.

Tomorrow, Steph is taking me out on a real date! That's right, we're going to see a movie and go to a fancy restaurant. Can you believe it?

Monday, December 25, 2006

merry merry!

First, I have this Very Important Message.

Second, I have this Also Important Message: Steph and I wish you a very Merry Merry! Everything went fine last night, but today I'm going to relax, so look out for an update tomorrow. Have fun!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

in which vivi feverishly rambles about the weekend before christmas

I can't believe it but I think we've got everything under control for Christmas this year, and I'm not stressing out at all. This may be, of course, because I'm still feeling under the weather. The worst of the head cold is gone but now I've got something of a wet cough, which is always very attractive.

Yesterday we found all the oysters we need at our local grocery store, which was a relief as the alternative was driving all the way to Troyes to fight the madness of last minute shopping at one of the large grande surface shopping malls. Our local crowd was crazy enough. I should have known that we wouldn't have a problem finding oysters here, as they are a traditional appetizer for Christmas Eve in France, although they are traditionally served on the half shell instead of fried up in the southern style we're going to attempt tonight. The oysters came conveniently packed in baskets of 48, so two baskets are currently chilling out in the fridge. I'm trying to put myself in the mindset that we're going to attempt a wacky experiment that hopefully will go over well and not to take it personally if they're not well received. I can always blame Steph for that. (heh)

For lunch yesterday, we decided to try one of the two brasseries here in our town. The brasserie we chose offered a surprisingly wide array of choices, but I guess because I'm still a bit sick absolutely nothing sounding good to me (believe me, I never have a problem finding something good on a menu!). Steph opted for the menu of the day, which started with a salad with duck gizzards followed by kangaroo steak. I wasn't feeling very adventurous so I went with a large salad with escargots. Meanwhile, there was some kind of mixup with the waitress who came in late and the very gregarious owner/chef/head honcho that took our order. Steph's main dish was delivered to the table behind us, so both Steph and the other person at the table behind us were stuck waiting for their meals. I plugged away at my salad as best I could - it was alright but I really wasn't very hungry - and we waited for a good forty-five minutes for Steph's order to come out. Meanwhile, the man behind us read the waitress the riot act - how they didn't have time for this nonsense and he'd never seen such terrible service. Then there was some kind of confrontation about their paying with vacation vouchers (kind of like travelers cheques for restaurants and hotels) which damn near came to blows. At least we had dinner and a show! Well, they did give us free coffee at the end, so that was nice.

I spent the greater part of Friday and yesterday afternoon wrapping presents. The only reason it took so long is that I made my own bows for the presents which involved staples and glue as well as some well-placed clothespins to keep them all together. Since I only have so many clothespins and the bows needed to set overnight, I could only do about half at a time. The worst part is that I purposefully left the books until last so I could photograph them. There are a couple that I am especially proud of. I even charged the batteries Friday afternoon so I'd be ready. Wouldn't you know that it wasn't until I was halfway through wrapping them that I realized I'd forgotten to photograph them? Ugh, I'm so annoyed with myself, but that's the sort of scatter-brained dingbat I am these days. I still have two books to wrap for nieces we won't see until the New Year, so I'll get photos of those next week before I wrap them. I hope. I'm going to bring my camera tonight, but heaven knows if I'll remember to actually take it out of my purse.

To all of you who start your Christmas celebrations today, I hope you all have a wonderful time surrounded by friends and family (for me, that's the reason for the season!) and the same goes to those who will gather tomorrow. Tomorrow I hope to update on our Christmas Eve celebration, but if I don't make it, may you have a beautiful Christmas filled with love and laughter!

Friday, December 22, 2006

this is the cold that never ends just goes on and on my friend... (everybody sing!)

'Cause I can't. It appears I've lost my voice.

Well, Wednesday was a wash, filled with sleeping and moaning. Yesterday I managed a quick run to the grocery for necessities and work for a couple of hours on the computer. Today staring at the computer is making me cross-eyed, so I think I need to step away from it for a while. This is just as well, as there are still books to be made and presents to wrap. I think I've got one more good dose of NyQuil left and then I'm just going to have to ride it out. I'll pass on a trip to the pharmacy, thanks - the only thing they ever give for a head cold is saline nasal spray, and I think I can manage without it (ew).

Well, as Lesley said in the comments on my last post, thank goodness it's not the gastro. It certainly could be worse.

Everyone has their own traditions for celebrating Christmas, and my extended family is no different. We gather as many family members as possible under one roof on Christmas Eve and eat copious amounts of food and then open gifts. It makes for a long night, but it's fun. Everyone brings something to contribute to the dinner, and Steph volunteered us for....

Wait - a little background is necessary, I think.

Back in October when we were in North Carolina, we had dinner in one of those fry-up seafood places you can only find miles and miles away from the ocean. Steph ordered some kind of fried seafood platter and I stuck to crab cakes (they are kind of hard to mess up). Steph was decidedly nonplussed about most of the fried critters on his plate except for the fried oysters. He was so impressed he gave me one, and I agreed that it was pretty tasty. "Do you think you could make that?" he asked. Well, I figured that with a little cornmeal and a frying pan it wouldn't be that hard to replicate.

Fast forward a month or two...

We're visiting the in-laws and my dear mother-in-law asks us what we'd like to make for an appetizer for Christmas dinner. "We're going to make fried oysters!" Uh, we are? I hadn't even tried to recipe yet, and he's volunteering us to make enough for sixteen people?

On another visit with family, the menu was being discussed, and when the oysters came up, Steph wisely noted that a dozen fried oysters each would be too much, so my brother-in-law suggested half a dozen each.

So long story longer, Steph has volunteered us to fry up EIGHT DOZEN OYSTERS on Christmas Eve. I haven't even perfected the recipe yet (last time we tried it, it was way too salty). Of course this means we'll have to take over the sister-in-law's kitchen just before eating, because you know we have to fry them up just before consumption - ain't nothing worse than old fried food. Beaurk indeed.

So that's what we have to look forward to this weekend. What are your family traditions for the holidays?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

a new record

Yesterday we finished our Christmas shopping - a whole seven days before Christmas Eve, which is a new record! Steph has been under the weather for a few days, and there were a couple of times that he wanted to give up and go home. Maybe I pushed him a little to keep going, but now everything's finished but the wrapping. What a relief!

To thank me, Steph promptly gave me his cold, which has since mutated and I feel like I've been run over. Talk about worst possible timing. Today I pressed on and bound another book and prepped two more, which I'll probably bind on Thursday. Tomorrow I'm hoping to play around with my new idea for Christmas gift tags. I can't ever find gift tags here so in the past I've just written names on the presents, but I don't really like the look of it. I'll let you know how they come out.

OK, I've just sat here and stared at the wall for a good five minutes, so I guess that's my cue to wrap this up. I think it's time to go dig the big "N" little "y" big farkin' "Q" out of the medicine cabinet for the sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever so I can rest medicine. Amazing how those ads stick in your head, isn't it?

Monday, December 18, 2006

in which vivi passes a pleasant evening conversing in french

Well, the title pretty much says it all, doesn't it?

Saturday, we spent the evening with our friends F & E, and for the very first time, I found myself able to really talk. Except for those instances I was really stuck and Steph jumped in to help, I pretty much carried my own. Sure, there were moments of silence while I struggled to find the right word or correct grammar, but F and E were both super indulgent and patient while I tried to find a way to be understood.

So what did we talk about? Well, ME, of course!! No, nothing so egotistical as that, but for the first time, I was able to talk about, in my own words, what I did for a living before I moved here, my struggle to find gainful employment in France, where I've been in France and what I'd like to visit in the future, where my family comes from (this sparked a very interesting conversation about where all our ancestors are from) and what Steph and I are thinking and dreaming about the future.

It felt so amazing to be a part of the conversation instead of a witness to it. I'm finding myself, ever so slowly, gaining confidence to jump into a conversation and make myself heard. I also think that for the first time, these wonderful friends of Steph's that I've known for nearly three years now are starting to get a sense of who I am as a person, as opposed to Steph's American wife who barely speaks French.

It's painfully slow, this adjusting to a life in a new country, but the awards are astounding. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm getting there.

And hey, don't forget to join me over here!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

panic downgraded

I just colored my hair. In an attempt to find a color closer to my favorite color ever - which isn't being made anymore - I went for something a little bolder on the red scale.

When I got out of the shower and looked at the damage, I freaked. It wasn't even Ronald McDonald red. It was RADIOACTIVE. I took a couple of pictures so I could show you how far over the edge I'd gone and then realized that with the flash (it's much too gloomy outside to get a picture with natural light) it didn't look half bad.

So, meh. It will calm down in a week or so. I'm definitely going to need to put on a little makeup though, or else I will be looking a little scary. Considering the fact that one can see women sporting crayola red and bright fuschia colored hair around here, I don't think it's going to stick out that much.

Other than the hair-scare, things are going ok. I'm making progress on the guide, slowly but surely. We're going to hang out with some friends tonight, and in an attempt to shake myself out of my little personal rut, I have actually donned a skirt and some black wooly tights (it is the middle of December, after all) for the occasion. Too bad I don't really have shoes to go with a skirt and black wooly tights, but I suppose I'll be able to make do.

Update: nope, it still looks like clown hair. Guess I'm just gonna have to work it! Scary picture forthcoming...

Click here for clown hair goodness.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Alex lives on a tropical island. This year for Christmas, she's doing a drawing for a big ole box of goodies from her tropical island. I would sign up, but when she did this two years ago from Japan, I won! And lemme tell you something, it wasn't like, a postcard and some chopsticks; the girl went past generous and went straight to lavish. Seriously.

So what are you waiting for? All you have to do is leave a message on her Woot! Woot! It's Christmas Time! post and you'll be registered for the drawing! Go! Now!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

and now for something completely different

Last week, my aunt and uncle saw their first Shuttle launch up close and personal in Florida. My uncle happened to make a movie of it, and since shuttle launches are such a huge part of my memories of growing up in Titusville, right across the river from the launch pads, I asked them if they'd mind me posting the video here so I can share it with you.

The woman you hear on the video is seeing her first launch as well, and her excitement is clear. It may seem silly to yell "Go baby!" at a huge rocket hurtling itself into space, but even the most cynical observers can't help but get caught up in the excitement. I saw dozens of these launches growing up, and even in my most aloof teenage years, there was a part of my yelling "Go baby!" at the shuttle, at least on the inside.

This may be because I saw the Challenger blow up before my eyes on my way to math class in seventh grade.

Here is your shuttle goodness!

My top three memories of the shuttle:

1. Walking home from the school bus stop and looking up to see the shuttle riding "piggy-back" on a 747 on its way back to Kennedy Space Center. This was back before the shuttle landed at Kennedy Space Center - it landed in California and hitched a ride home. I must have been seven or eight years old at the time.

2. When the shuttle reenters the Earth's orbit, it breaks the sound barrier, resulting in a sonic boom, which sounds like a rifle report. During one the early shuttle landings in Florida, when a shuttle landing was big enough news to interrupt afternoon programming, I stood in my living room (ready to run outside to see the shuttle, of course!) while the tv ran live feeds from Orlando and the Space Center. Because the sonic booms takes a little while to travel, I heard it three times: first in Orlando via the tv, then from over my house and finally at the Space Center on tv!

3. By the time I was in high school, night launches were so old hat that I would wake up in the middle of the night to windows rattling and the sound of a freight train going through the house, and my reaction was "meh, shuttle launch" and I went right back to sleep!

OK, geek time is over, back to work!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

today's the big day!

Oh my god, I think I'm going to throw up.

Update: Well, that pretty much sucked. Not that I got anyone denying me permission to put them in the guide, but I am still struggling to make myself understood and that's damn tiring. Not to mention frustrating beyond belief. I also confirmed my suspicions that I'm not meant to be a door to door salesperson. Well, make that sales full stop. I have always despised cold calling and I don't even like talking on the phone with people I don't know. I don't know what I was thinking, taking this on. I'll just be happy and relieved when it's over.

Of course, on the way home, I realized that this opened a whole new can of worms for me. Is this what I'm supposed to be doing? Just grabbing whatever questionable job that seems halfway doable? I can see a miserable life stretching out before me, full of positions of glorified babysitting (my first job here) or as unwilling English tutor.

So what the hell am I supposed to be? That, my friends, is the $25,000,000 question.

If you have the answer, please write it on a 3 x 5 card and mail to:

Bottomless Pit of Despair
Middle of Nowhere,

This negative post was brought to you in part by: the letters OMGWTF?!

Monday, December 11, 2006

the only thing that stays the same is change

Yep, I've changed my tactics again. We went to the in-laws' yesterday afternoon for coffee because half of the family were going to be there and since we don't get to see everyone very often, we thought it'd be a good idea to go. After talking about the new job, everyone seemed to agree that I'd get a much more positive response if I went to businesses in person, so I'm going to follow their advice. Who knows the French better than the French, right? Plus my sister-in-law is going to do a little networking for me too. I'll take all the help I can get.

So I've spent most of the day preparing lists of places to go tomorrow and entering contacts with email addresses and emailing requests for confirmation. I've already got one confirmation back, so at least I know the email system works. I'll be glad when I've gotten tomorrow over with - I'm more nervous about talking to all these businesses than anything else.

Anyway, I just got back from walking to the grocery to pick up a few things. Man, has the temperature dropped! At least it feels more like December now, that's a big change from just a few days ago. I've changed into my comfy clothes, I've got a big mug of tea next to me, and now it's back to work (wheeeee!).

Saturday, December 09, 2006

thinking outloud

I was going to sit down and write a post about the details of my new job but then I realized that I would be cutting my nose to spite my face. I can tell you this, though:

True to form, I spent the first two days losing sleep over the best way to do this job. I've changed my game plan at least three times and I keep bugging Steph with stuff like, "Does it make sense if I say this?" and "Does that mean what I think it means?" and generally being a neurotic pain in the toosh. That being said, I have come to a couple of conclusions.

I was originally going to spend a lot of time going to Troyes and talking to contacts in person, and then I realized that in the time it takes to drive to Troyes, I could talk to about ten contacts by telephone. I'll still take my info when we go to Troyes for something else, but making a special trip seems a waste of time. I think I've also finally come up with what I'm going to say to contacts and I've boned up on some vocabulary issues.

So, I've got a couple of craft projects I need to give my attenion to this weekend (Christmas is still only three weeks away whether I'm working or not) so the telephone assault will begin Monday. And I do mean assault - I want to get as much as the phone stuff out of the way as quick as I can, so I can get to the fun stuff - writing!

The funny thing is that I've suddenly got this surge of confidence in speaking French and I haven't even talked to a contact yet. The phone rang late Thursday afternoon and I was going to let it ring but then I thought "hey, if this is going to be my job I'd better get used to it" so I picked it up. Wouldn't you know that it is our bank wanting to make another appointment with Bank Dude? I said, "Again?! We just saw him last week." She was surprised and said she'd pass that along to Bank Dude. I mean, honestly.

Then I had to go back to the post office and found the one nice person in the whole building. I couldn't even believe it. Not only was she nice, she was patient as I explained that I probably had the wrong documents for sending a registered letter because I'd misunderstood the (not exactly nice but not mean either) woman who gave me the documents the day before. She was fantabulous and I hope she's not just a temporary replacement for someone. I want to bring her cookies, she was so nice.

Anyway, that's what's been rolling around my brain the last couple of days. Oh - and the great news is that Steph's colleague took only about an hour to work on the computer and everything seems to be fine. He took a hard drive and a graphic card out of the old computer and put them in mine, so I'm working with a Mighty Powerful Machine now, yes indeed. Only I moved as much of my documents as I could onto one of the new drives (it was partitioned) and left the games on the old hard drive, but I seem to have moved something I shouldn't have, as my desktop noises have disappeared. Something else to goof around with when I have time. So, that's my weekend set - hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

ca commence mal

This morning I got up with Steph, as I usually do, and sat down at the computer with coffee and cereal close by. After my usual tour around the blogosphere, I got down to work for the guide. My plan for today is to research really simple contacts, such as national emergency numbers and financial contacts with call centers in the UK (in other words, no need to freak out about speaking in French just yet), so I can get a handle on the company's data entry system. This is the life, I thought, working at the computer in my pajamas with headphones on in my own personal call center set up. At 10:30 I took a break to take a shower, and then it all went haywire.

Steph came flying in from work, which isn't necessarily cause for alarm since his morning classes on Thursdays end at 10:00, but he usually spends the following hours working at school until he comes home for lunch. Just having him here threw me off pace, and then he (loudly) set down to work on some paperwork in the office and needed my help.

That's because my other less-known and poorly paying (read: fo' free!) job is as Steph's secretary because not only does he have a huge thesis to write, he also has to pretty much document every time he sneezes, in addition to his usual work (teachers, I'm sure you can understand all this). So I reluctantly set my own work aside to help him, and then because this extra work put me off schedule, I raced downstairs to make lunch so Steph could get back to work on time.

Plus, in a case of worst possible timing, a colleague of Steph's is coming over this evening to do some work on my computer. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally grateful that he's coming on his own time to help us out, but if something goes wrong, I am pretty much screwed six ways from Sunday.

And to top it all off, I've got to take some papers to the post office (my favorite place, they love me there /sarcasm) and it's coming down cats and dogs with the extra added bonus of wind blowing sideways.

So to make a long story longer, I've got to get this house in presentable shape, run an errand I really don't want to do, try to set up a new email address in Outlook and then, if I have time, try to complete to goal I set out for myself way back when life seemed good (approximately four hours ago) before I have to relinquish control of my computer.

Damn, damn, damn.

To be fair, this job sort of landed in my lap, and I'm glad to have it, but I should have took a better look at my calendar (can you believe I actually have things to put in my events calendar?) before signing on. On the other hand, I'd rather be busy busy busy than bored to tears and staring at the wall (my previous condition). Life has suddenly shifted into overdrive and I suppose the best thing to do is hang on as best I can and try to enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

vivi gets a job

And it only took two years!

Well, this isn't your traditional job, nor is it anything permanent, but it should prove to be interesting. I'll be compiling a rather lengthy list of contacts to be included in an English speakers guide to Troyes and I have one month to do it. This means that I'll be spending a lot of time on the phone or marching down the streets of Troyes to verify all sorts of information. The interesting thing about this guide is that it concentrates more on emergency contacts than touristy things to see. In any case, I'll have to really suck it up and get over my huge aversion to speaking French, both in person and on the phone and I need to do it quick, because even though they suggest that the list can be finished by spending around two hours a day verifying contacts, I'm worried that I won't be able to make the deadline.

So there you go. I'm both terrified and excited, and if nothing else, I'll be forced to practice my French, whether I'm ready or not!

I have to send out an enormous THANK YOU to Sam de Bretagne for posting the info about this job on her blog this morning. Sam has already done a guide for Rennes and will be my editor for this one (expect a barrage of emails starting tomorrow, Sam!).

my new obsession

Hoo-boy, I got it bad, too. Sunday I signed up for Second Life and I've barely come up for air since. Second life is a complete 3-D world that has been created by its inhabitants. It's an ever increasing and changing world, filled with everything from nightclubs to educational courses. Steph keeps looking over at my monitor and saying "But what can you do?" and I keep responding "anything you want!" Of course, first you have to learn how to do everything and I'm still in the first flush of exploring and figuring out how all this stuff works. I should also mention that it's free to download and free to play, but some premium services are reserved for those who do pay a monthly fee (and it's priced very competitively with other online MMORPGs). Anyway, if there are any other SLers out there, send me an IM sometime, my name in-game is Vivi Alexandre (you have to choose your last name from an existing list).

In other news, has Vivi finally found a job? Stay tuned for exciting updates!

Dang, I had a bunch of other stuff I wanted to include in this post, and this job opportunity just popped up this morning so my brain is (understandably) otherwise occupied... oh, I remember one!

You may have noticed a new button in my side bar - my Amazon wish list. Please, before you think that my greed knows no bounds, I just wanted to say that I've put it there for my family who sometimes swing by to see what I'm up to, in case they'd like to give a Christmas gift to their relative that up and ran away to Europe. I also want to ask my relatives and friends to drop me an email and let me know if they have wish lists I should know about!

OK, that's it for now, if I remember something else I'll add an update. Happy Wednesday in any case!

OH, here's another important one: Very happy birthday wishes to my home skillet Epiphany! May your birthday be truly glorious!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Apothicairerie de l'Hôtel Dieu le Comte

Sunday started off beautiful with warmer temps and a sunny blue sky. Unfortunately, by the time we got my in-laws' for lunch, the blue skies were nearly obscured by dark grey clouds accompanied by strong gusts of wind with rain not far behind. Despite the change in weather, we decided to press on with our afternoon activity, visiting the Apothicairerie de l'Hôtel Dieu le Comte in Troyes.

This tiny museum is comprised of two rooms; the first is a gorgeous apothercary in the same state that it would have been in the beginning of the 18th century, and the second smaller room, which was the laboratory, which contains some displays of apothecary instruments as well as some religious items that come from the chapel of the Hôtel Dieu.

While the laboratory holds a few interesting items, the real beauty of this museum is the apothecary. The walls are covered from floor to ceiling with over three hundred painted wooden medicine boxes and hundreds more ceramic containers, many of which still have their contents' names painted in Latin. A wooden staircase with bronze wheels rests against a wall, and would have given the apothecary access to the highest shelves, while an opened corner door reveals hundreds of pewter pieces.

This museum is among the finest of its kind in France and shouldn't be missed, but be warned that it will only take a half hour of your time. The Hôtel Dieu also contains another musuem, which is interactive for children, but it is also in easy walking distance to the center of Troyes in one direction and the cathedral in the other, so it would be an excellent break on a walking tour.

The entrance fee is usually five euros, but because we visited on the first Sunday of the month, the fees in most museums in France are waived. Photographs are allowed but without flash (which is why my pictures came out a bit dark; can't ask for much better with my little point and shooter!). You can see more pics of the museum by clicking on the photo.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

audio meme!

I am participating in an audio meme which was started by Lesley at Peregrinations. Thank you so much, Lesley, for tagging me with this, I really enjoyed doing something different for a change!

If you're interested in participating, just upload your own audio, answering the three questions in the audio portion, and be sure to let us know so we can come find you!

powered by ODEO

So there I am in all my Southern Belle glory. Hope it's not to hard on your ears!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, December 01, 2006


La Traversee de ParisOne of our friends lives across the street from a bar we used to go to when we lived in Troyes. Everytime we went to the bar as a group, everyone (except me, obviously, because I had no idea what was going on) would pound on Friend's windows and yell out "Jambier!!" at the top of their lungs. Everybody had a big laugh over this happening every single time we passed this guy's house, and whenever I asked for an explanation, all I heard was, "Oh, it's from an old movie, I can't explain it, you've just got to see it." Pfft.

Finally, two years later, we came across the famous movie at Fnac (Fnac Fnac!) bundled with two other movies for the low, low price of 15 euros, so we bought it and settled down the other night to watch La Traversée de Paris.

Unfortunately, for the low, low price of 15 euros, you don't get subtitles in English or otherwise*, but I was basically able to follow the story of taxi driver-turned-black market operative and the painter he enlists to help him carry four suitcases of meat across wartime Paris. As far as films go, it's not the best French movie I've seen, but it certainly wasn't the worst either. I think it does a good job of expressing the fear, the frustration and the inventiveness the Parisians experienced during the war (which I'm sure was still fresh in the filmmakers' minds since this was made only ten years after the war) and there are a few poignant moments as well as a few laughs to be had. I would certainly recommend it, provided you're fluent in French or subtitles are available. (Tangent: it must be a hallmark of films made in this era, because when I think of American films from this time, there are plenty of fast-talking actors who spit lines out of the sides of their mouths that would be impossible to follow if you're not fluent in English - hell, there are some that I can't even follow!)

So why is crying "Jambier!!" outside of innocent peoples' homes so funny? I'm afraid I have to tell you the same thing that was told to me - you'll have to watch the movie!

*I actually can follow a movie with French subtitles. In fact, we often watch a French tv show called Maigret which comes on about every other Friday evening. This one's a mystery show set in the '50s and based on the books of Georges Simenon. Thanks to closed captioning for the hearing impared, I know exactly what's going on!

PS In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I thought they were yelling "Janvier," which is French for January, and it wasn't until I saw the listing on IMDB that I figured out my mistake.

PPS This doesn't have anything to do with anything, but I really got a kick out of listening to Katia and KylieMac's Thanksgiving podcast yesterday. Thanks for the shout out ladies; I was thinking of you, too! Have you listened to the podcast yet? Make sure you check it out here!