Tuesday, May 29, 2007

welcome to the world, baby girl!

I just got off the phone with Doc's husband, who wished me to pass on the news of their third child's arrival!

Mélanie Danielle Michelle Poulot
4.8 kilos / 10.6 pounds
51 cm / 20 inches

Little Mélanie is under observation to watch her sugar levels, but she has already eaten and everything seems perfectly fine. She should be able to join Doc in her room in a couple of days. Marc told me that she looks like a little sumo! He had a poloroid picture that he was able to bring home to Muppet and Pooplette, who are already in love.

Congrats to Doc and Marc!!

more randomness

Hi there! Ok, I'm still funky (well, I was always funky, yo) but truthfully less funky than Saturday. While yes, living in France is a fantastic experience, day to day living and planning for the future can get you down no matter where you live sometimes, and I simply had a little freakout about the future. Then, instead of giving myself an ulcer, I actually did a little research on teh internets and now I'm feeling better. Yay internets! So thanks for the uplifting comments, you guys are the best!

(Also, confidential to David, since you didn't leave an email: I'm curious to know how you found me or if THS is just a coincidence and also: Go terriers!)

Anyway, the high for today is going to be 57. That's Fahrenheit, people!! Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, oh no, not one bit. It's just a bit odd. Good thing I didn't store away all my sweaters.

I am also in the process of deadline knitting, yet again. If I can afford another break between knitting rows and sweating bullets, I'll post about it over on the knots blog. In case I don't, I can at least show you what I've got so far:

half a dress

The dress is going to be for MP3 who is making her grand entrance into the world TODAY! I can't wait to meet the latest Franco-American in our circle, and if all goes well we'll go see MP3 and Doc this weekend.

Oh man, I just read this book:

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I don't like to be negative, so... the cover art is nice.

Oh screw it: y'all, I don't know if it is due to bad translation or what, but this is possibly the worst book I've ever read. It breaks my heart because the subject matter is really very interesting, but wow: the stilted, unnatural, laughable dialogue had me howling. It's a shame, really. I would have given up after a few pages but books in English are a bit thin on the ground around here, so you take what you can get. But this was bad.

And... that's all, folks!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

unintentionally funny french

I just looked online to see if there is anything interesting playing on tv tonight and saw this:

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It certainly is. *snicker*

Saturday, May 26, 2007

i need a do-over button.

Hi. Yeah, I know, I haven't posted since my birthday. Speaking of, thank you all very much for the birthday wishes! I was very touched to receive at least one from a lurker as well (donc il faut dire merci bien aussi!).

These last couple of days have been a bit rough on the morale, which culminated with me breaking down in the car a little while ago on the way home from being out for the afternoon. I'm just having one of those lifetimes years months weeks where I've hit a wall. I'll snap out of it eventually.

In that case, it's a good thing I'm forcing myself to think of a few good things that happened this week. This way I can remember that at least the view was nice on my way to crashing into said wall.

  • My cousin Lisa sent me photos of her doing a triathalon. She completed it in under 2 and a half hours! She is such a rock star in my eyes, I can't even tell you.
  • I finally got the yarn that I ordered online nearly a month ago. They packed a little sachet of lavender inside so everything smelled lovely when it got here. Thanks, packing people! If you live in France and you're far away from a yarn shop, like me, I can totally recommend leslaines.com, as long as you're not in a real big hurry.
  • Just as it was getting hot, a huge system of thunderstorms has been blowing through the last couple of days. Last night, Stéph and I went the center of town to grab some dinner and were walking along just when the apocolypse appeared before us - swirling debris, trees bent in half, furniture flying, the works. Stéph grabbed my hand turned us in the opposite direction and yelled "RUN!!" We ducked into the nearest brasserie where we had a really good dinner and a good laugh as the apocolypse passed us by.
  • Well, my birthday was this week. All the birthday wishes are still making me smile!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

happy birthday to me!

Well, besides the fact that I have to remember to add a number to my age, I love birthdays! Especially mine. Every one should be a king/queen for the day on their birthday. If I have to insist, it doesn't make me too crass, does it?

A box from my sister came a couple of weeks ago and I didn't open it until today because I was sure I wouldn't have any other gifts to open. It was totally worth the wait!

seal and wax

It's a seal and wax! How cool is that? (Answer: freakin' cool!) I'm behind on writing some snail mail letters, too. Now that's some excellent incentive! Thanks, sis!

Remember when I thought I would only have my one little box to open on my birthday? (Full disclosure - Sis has sent a second gift, but it probably won't be here for another week or two.) Boy, was I wrong! Our friendly neighborhood post lady knocked on the door this morning bearing a huge box from Amazon. And what was inside?

birthday gifts!!

OK, I have to be honest: putting a link to my Amazon wish list was really for a laugh, and I was completely surprised to learn that someone not only looked at it, but ordered something from it! And not just anything - Vogue Knitting is the Knitter's bible. It includes everything from the history of knitting to designing your own patterns. It really is priceless! I know because back when I first started knitting, Flare lent me hers, so I could be sure I was going to continue knitting before getting a copy of my own. I think I'm feeling pretty committed to knitting at this point, so receiving my own copy was truly a huge surprise! Plus, the Simply Baby book by Debbie Bliss is wonderful and full of adorable patterns, which comes in very handy as just about every female I know is expecting or has just had a baby recently, including my generous benefactor! Thank you so, so much, Myllissa!!

As for the rest of my birthday, I'll just be hanging out, playing on the computer or knitting one of the two or three projects I'm working on right now. I'm feeling better today, which is a relief, so I can enjoy lounging around without sinus headaches or coughing up a lung. Otherwise, I think Stéph and I may treat ourselves to the couscous restaurant this weekend. Today is about hanging out and eating leftovers - the kitchen is closed in honor of the cook's birthday! Ha HA!

This post was brought to you by the punctuation marks ! , ? , and ().

Monday, May 21, 2007

officially sick

Well, four days of Actifed Jour et Nuit didn't do the trick. I was supposed to go spend the morning with my mother-in-law in Troyes before having lunch with Stéph and the in-laws before an afternoon appointment, but at the last minute this morning I was forced to make a choice - try to get in to see the doctor or suffer on for one more day. I figured that if I could get an appointment for this morning, it was a sign. And the sign said, "Go to the doctor, do not pass go, do not collect $200." Or something like that.

So I called the in-laws to say I wasn't coming, changed my appointment to the end of the week and walked down to the doctor's office, only five minutes away. Official diagnosis - sinusitis, my old enemy. I used to get it twice a year like clockwork, but it's been ages since I've had it here. Anyway, in typical French fashion, I came away with prescriptions for three medicines to attack three different symptoms: a decongestant, in powder form, taken with water and tasting like powdered orange, taken three times a day, sinus headache medicine, 1-2 pills three times a day, and the dreaded antibiotic, taken once in the morning and once at night. Total cost: €4,10. Usually it's less but the powdered decongestant is only half covered by insurance. Hooray French health system, once again.

So here I am, all drugged up and no place to go. I think I can see some crashing on the couch and snoozing in my future.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

i hab a cohd in mah noth...

...and in other places as well. I hate being sick, especially when I have things to do, really especially after a period of not having things to do. It's times like this that I have to make a special effort to remind myself of the good things in my life, least I be dragged down to depression and bitterness. Thus I present to you...

  • Actifed Jour et Nuit works pretty good for a common cold. Too bad you only get enough medicine for four days in a box.
  • I found out someone I went to high school with is living in France and has been reading this humble blog, not knowing it was written by me, but he knows now! (Hi, C!) The world really is smaller than you think.
  • Speaking of friends from high school, my BFF Carrie is launching her stationary business in a really huge way - she and her business partner are debuting at the National Stationary Show in New York City. Together as Two Trick Pony they create handmade silk screened cards and they are GORGEOUS. Check out the website and if you're in NYC, stop by and say hi to Carrie (she of the black and white hair!) and tell her Vivi sent you!
  • I am really grateful for the cooler weather we've had this month, even if it's responsible for my getting sick. I've had a reprieve from panicking about the heat of summer - thank you Mother Nature!
You know, this is something I should really do every week. We'll see if I remember seven days from now!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

vivi goes to the embassy in paris

I know, poor me, right? I just HAD to go to Paris for the day. Sounds terrible, doesn't it? I laugh with my girlfriends back home about this all the time. I try to tell them that going to Paris for the day is about as exciting as going to Atlanta, but I don't think they believe me. Maybe they're right. It is Paris, after all.

But I really did have to go. I had to have a paper notarized in order to close my father's estate, which means going to the American Embassy in Paris. I believe there are two other embassy offices in France, one in the south and one in the north (or is it east?), but the Paris office happens to be the closest.

The office for American Services recently moved around the corner from where it used to be (the new address is 4, rue Gabriel, metro station Concorde), but now you have to present your passport and reason for being there before you get within a mile of the place. Plus it seems that newly installed President Sarkozy was going to be driving by later in the day, so the whole Place de la Concorde was streaming with police and barricades. It was really kind of a surreal experience, although every policeman I talked to was very nice (I got a little turned around when I got out of the metro and had to ask for directions... twice).

I was met by Sarah, whom I haven't seen in an age and we had an excellent chat (thanks again for meeting me Sarah!). Then we were met by Aimee and the sweetest (and biggest! wowza!) two month old around, the famous Max! We said our goodbyes to Sarah and Aimee and Max and I made our way into the Embassy.

Getting into the Embassy is no less trying than getting on an airplane. First you have to present your passport and reason for being there (Aimee was acting as a witness for me - it was all I could do not to go around singing "Can I get a witneeeess"). After Max's stroller was tested to be sure we weren't carrying around illegal weapons (just your garden variety diaper bombs, thanks), we advanced into a maze of steel barricades until we came to the door, where we had to show ID again. Then we advanced to a screening room, where we showed our IDs again and reason for being there as they went through our bags and held our electronics and we walked through a metal detector. Finally we made it to the big room.

When you arrive in the big room, the first thing you do is go to the computer console and get yourself a number by tapping on the reason that you're there. Your options, if you're American, are passport related or notary/authentication. You're sitting in the same room as foreign nationals who are applying for visas and passports so it is important that you get the right one, or you may end up in front of a clerk who isn't a notary and then you'll have to start all over. Then you sit and wait for a good long while. I'm so used to Hurry Up and Wait that I don't even get upset about this anymore. I just make sure I've got plenty of time to waste and I have something to keep me occupied. Aimee and I chatted away and played with Max while people all around us were getting nervous and indignant and stomping out of the place when they felt they'd waited long enough. Oh well, the better for us!

When your number is finally called, you give the clerk your passport and your paper and then you're sent to the cashier to pay for the service. Having a paper notarized is $30 plus $20 for each additional paper which in my opinion is highway robbery but when you're the only show in town I guess you can charge what you want. Then you wait for them to call your number again, and then in thirty seconds flat you sign the paper and you're free.

The office hours for these services are only from 9:00 to 12:00 and we didn't get there until after 11:00. I was worried it would be ridiculously crowded but in fact I would suggest going later in the morning because by that time some folks get frustrated and walk out which means you might get out of there a little quicker. Definitely plan on being there at least an hour.

As for the rest of the day, we mosied around, had lunch in a park and went to Bon Marché for knitting goodies and food goodies before I had to head back home. I also gave Max a couple of things I whipped up:

gifts for max!

Thanks Aimee and Max for helping me out and hanging with me yesterday! We'll have to do it again real soon!

Monday, May 14, 2007

we went to a party!

Ooh, and what a party it was! Doc hosted the annual group birthday party, celebrating the birthdays of her hubby, Marc, my Stéph, another friend from university days, and me! (By the way, my birthday is a week from Wednesday so you still have time to check out my Amazon wish list in the sidebar! HAHAHAHAHA!)

We started early by having Katia, the Muffin Man and Kyliemac stop by our place for lunch before we hit our final destination. We had spaghetti and ragù sauce and a nice big salad before we piled into our cars and drove to Haute-Marne.

Once we arrived, we found that Antipo and her darling children had arrived just before us, so all of us Anglos, including Doc's newly arrived niece/best au pair ever all settled in to the kitchen surrounded by yummy nibbles and chatted, like you do.

The weather was glorious, Mother Nature seemed to want to cooperate for once, and there was plenty of activities to keep us busy, including badmitton and nerf balls and soon I had Kevin and Pauline throwing and catching baseballs like good little Americans!

Finally we settled into eat, and man, did we eat! Doc outdid herself, as usual, and the food table was groaning with all kinds of different salads (including my "famous" rice salad!) and baked beans plus just about everything you can throw on a grill, including sausages and hamburgers and barbequed chicken and brochettes. Dessert was lovely with peanut butter cake and pound cake with divine homemade whipped cream and a malted chocolate cake.

The next morning we sat around the kitchen table and had a bit of breakfast while Kyliemac made me a pair of dangly earrings for my birthday right before my very eyes! Katia and the Muffin Man gave me two gorgeous cookbooks that I can't wait to tear through. Then the living room became a recording studio for the famous parisian podcasters Katia and Kyliemac and if you're familiar with their show, you may be very jealous to know that they also gave me a fistful of magic pens! Truly my cup runneth over!

After a lunch of leftovers we finally packed the car back up and headed home. It really was a wonderful weekend and I want to thank Doc and Marc for their hospitality and Antipo, Katia and Kyliemac for coming out to the country to celebrate with us! My cup runneth over indeed.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

and we're back

Man, I'm telling you, if it's not one thing it's another. When we first brought the new computer home, we couldn't get it to connect to the internet and, long story short, finally figured out that we simply needed a new cable to connect the two computers together, because the old one had chosen that exact moment to go to the great big cable heaven in the sky. Then my computer started losing the connection and then started restarting itself until one day it wouldn't start up anymore. That time it turned out that the processor was bad, straight from the manufacturer. Once we got it back from the shop, everything seemed fine until my computer started disconnecting more and more frequently until it wouldn't stay connected for more than five minutes at a time. This time it turns out that the filter had gone bad. Here in France, you have these little filters that plug into your telephone connection in the wall and you plug your computer into that. Everything seems fine once again but I swear if anything else goes wrong I'm going to chuck both computers out the window and invest in a copying machine and just mail you all weekly updates.

Anyway. Hi!

Yesterday was another national holiday in France, commemorating the end of World War II. This is the second of three national holidays in May and when these days land on a Tuesday or Thursday, many folks "faire le pont," or make the bridge, which means they make a big old four day weekend out of it. Stéph couldn't make the bridge, but he doesn't teach on Wednesdays so he has a nice weekend in the middle of the week anyway.

This morning Stéph and I went to Troyes to do some shopping, or as I like to call it, "Stéph's mad dash through four different stores to see how fast we can get home again." Drives me crazy, that does. Anyway, we hit the bookstore and I found Frank McCourt's latest so I've started rereading the first two so I can catch up. I'd forgotten how good and yet how very sad Angela's Ashes is. Then we raced through the mega grocery to pick up paper goods and drinks for the big PARTAY we're going to this weekend, and then we went to buy some chairs that actually match our dining table (very exciting), and all was done before noon. I also managed to procure some knitting needles that I needed for my current project, but all I could get was aluminum needles, which I find I don't like very much. The sound of them rubbing together is like nails on a chalk board. Ah well, the price we pay, eh?

Some folks have asked me to express how I feel about the outcome of the recent French presidential elections and I hesitate to reply. I can tell you honestly that if I had the right to vote this year, I am still not sure who I would have voted for in the final round. Part of this is because I'm still dealing with language barrier issues, so there are perhaps some points I'm not very clear on. Another part is that, like a good Independant, I can see good points on both sides. In any case, I'm hoping that in five years when elections come up again I'll have French nationality and I'll be able to make my voice heard, for better or for worse.

But really, I don't like to talk about politics here. That probably comes from growing up with parents who rarely told me who they voted for, though I could guess (and they often cancelled each other out). I don't mind discussing politcs face to face but I don't feel comfortable putting it all out there in this kind of format. Guess I'm kind of funny like that.

Monday, May 07, 2007

a desperate message

Internet connection has been horrible to non-existant for two days STOP Am currently between knitting projects again and must wait until Wednesday to procure new needles to continue STOP Will soon be climbing walls out of sheer boredom STOP May have to resort to actually cleaning something STOP I can't even post about the new president of France STOP Maybe that's a good thing STOP Don't you just love telegram format STOP Once I get going I find it's hard to STOP

Friday, May 04, 2007

to market, to market

Jiggedy-jig indeed.

Every Friday, our town hosts a marché in the village square. Depending on the season, one can find anything from fresh vegetables and fruits, rotisserie chicken, cheese, fish and sausages to sewing machines, crafting notions, flowers and clothes. It's really quite small compared to some I've seen (a couple of years ago, while visiting relatives in northern France, I went to a marché that covered an entire small town!), but it's nice to get out and have a look when the weather is nice and it makes a great change from the same old offerings at our small grocery store.

Today*, for the first time in I don't know how long, I got up off my lazy butt and actually went. After a pit stop at the post office, I walked across the street to the area blocked off to traffic and started checking out the wares. The first couple of vendors were selling clothes (of questionable quality, if you ask me), meat on rotisserie, including chicken, rabbit, duck and turkey, and a cheese vendor who also had a few butchered products, notably for me, skinned, whole rabbit. I still haven't gotten used to seeing naked rabbits stretched out for all to see in the butcher's glass counter, but that's a post for another time.

After that I came to my prefered vegetable vendor (of which there are at least four). I like this vendor because they leave plastic bags out on the piles of vegetables and fruit so you can choose your own and then hand them over to the vendors to be weighed. Most vendors don't like you to touch their wares and help one person at a time, which is time consuming, and I've got to touch the tomatoes before I buy them. That's just the way it is.

mmmm veggies
my purchases

Then it was past the seedlings of herbs, veggies and lettuce for those with their own gardens, another chicken rotisserie vendor (this is the one I've bought from in the past), the candy vendor (get thee behind me!), the seafood stand, a couple more veggie stands, a sausage stand, a goat cheese stand and I arrive to the crafty vendor.

The crafty vendor sells a little bit of everything - thread, scissors, beads, notions, oversized cross stitch kits and just about exclusively 100% acrylic yarn. I checked the yarn just in case there was anything interesting, but I've actually got enough yarn right now to keep me going for a little while, so I just bought a spool of brown thread for finishing my knitted purse for €1 and then finished up with my favorite vendor: Scary Spice the fruit vendor.

Scary Spice looks just like who you imagine, circa 1996, with fabulous hair and cool eyeglasses, and calls everyone ma cherie and instead of goodbye says "see you next time!" and asks customers she hasn't seen in a while "where have you been? I missed you!" I recognize a good salesperson when I see one but I love her just the same.

She had some gorgeous fruit yesterday, although ridiculously expensive, but considering the only fruit available this week in my crap grocery store is apples**, it was worth the price to me! I bought three nice big peaches and a couple of pears, for more than all the vegetables I bought put together.

A quick stop to the boulangerie for our daily baguette on the way home brings market time to a close for me. This whole routine is something I definitely want to get back in the habit of doing because there is not much more satisfying than strolling home with a basket full of fresh fruit and veggies and a fresh stick of bread on top.

* I started this post last night but I was so tired all day that by the time I started to write it was all I could do to stay upright, so I gave it up to finish today. Seriously, I was so weak it was like someone dropped a piece of kryptonite in my pocket. Freaky.

**Don't get me wrong, I love apples, but I don't want to eat them exclusively every day for weeks on end!

Also: I'm sorry I didn't take any pictures of the marché, but I already feel like "that crazy foreigner" in our little town and the addition of taking pictures of "normal daily activities" would probably send me over the edge.

Also also: I finshed my knitted purse! Check it out!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

random listy goodness

1. We threw the new computer back at the company who built it. OK, not really. But it's back at the shop and heaven knows when we'll get it back. Luckily, we have my old computer, which was simply replaced for being old and slow. It's back under the desk and humming smugly along.

2. While we were in Troyes, Steph had a haircut (with... um... interesting results) and I walked a few blocks away to the sewing shop for a zipper for my new bag. It was such a beautiful day yesterday and my walk led me through the oldest neighborhood of Troyes, complete with cobblestone streets and labyrinthian lanes, and I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera. My jaw nearly hit the ground when I got to the sewing store and discovered their selection of yarn! I picked up a few skeins for a gift I've been planning for my sister.

3. Speaking of yarn, if you've been following along with my messenger bag project on the Knots blog, you may be interested to know that it's been felted and I'm still waiting for it to dry two days later so I can sew it up. I way over felted it and it's small but still definitely a bag, just of the shoulder-carrying variety now. Meanwhile, I'm in between projects and I'm climbing the walls! I have yarn and needles on order for more gifty projects, and I have a pattern I've ordered that I'm waiting to be delivered to my email, and I have random skeins of yarn that are calling me and I have no idea what to do with them.

4. Did you know that my birthday is in three weeks? I've just put my Amazon wish list back in the sidebar for your convenience (good gracious I'm getting to be a greedy old hag in my old age!).

5. I saw a shooting star last night. Whenever I see one I smile like a loon for ages after. I never saw a shooting star before I moved to France. I always feel like someone's saying "hi" from heaven when I see one. I'm also a sentimental old hag, what can I tell you?

6. Steph went back to work today after a two and half week Spring Break. The first day back to school is always weird after spending 24/7 with him for a while. I also feel like now I can get a bunch of stuff done, because when he's here we end up just goofing around together while the house falls apart. Spring Break is over for both of us, then!

7. I've been in something of a slump in regards to this here blog. I've been living here in France for almost three years and some of the newness has worn off, so some things that really struck me as odd and worthy of sharing back in the beginning has become so common place that I forget that maybe you'd like to hear about it. There are plenty of things about living here that still make me go "huh!" I've just got to remember to write about them. I'm kind of hard on myself, thinking I should be doing all this stuff, and I don't know how much of my lack to do these things is the result of simply trying to get on with life (has it really only been six months since we lost Dad when I was still trying to figure out how to go on without Mom?) or just plain old selfish laziness. I'm still trying to work that out. And make grandiose plans. And then carry them out.

8. Speaking of grandiose plans, remind me someday that I have a story to tell you about the differences between Reaching for the Stars and Doing What's Expected of You. Over the next couple of years, Steph and I are either going to achieve a cool dream or fail spectacularly. One day I'll tell you all about it, I swear.

9. This list is way longer than I expected. Sure is random, though. Reckon I'll go start the End of Spring Break Laundry Festival. Huzzah!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

happy labor day!

Hurray, it's Labor Day in France! We're going to celebrate in the traditional way by throwing my new computer out the window.

No, not really. But my computer died last night. My brand new computer that has only been here for five days. This is so typical of our luck that when the computer started reseting and shutting down all by itself I just laughed. What else could I do? Happily my old computer was just sitting around doing nothing, so we hooked it back up and here we are. The new computer is going back to where it came from tomorrow with a stern warning to not come back in less than perfect order!

I swear I had more to write, but I think my brain is still asleep. If I remember I'll update later.