Tuesday, May 30, 2006

my love/hate relationship with the phone

Yes, I hate the phone. Although, to be fair, I hated the phone before I even moved to this country. Back then, I only used a cell phone. Since my internet connection was through cable and long distance calling was always so much cheaper that way, why not? So if someone I didn't know called, and I didn't recognize the number on my handy caller ID, I was more likely to let it go to voicemail and find out what the call was about. This was mostly to avoid telemarketers, but I admit that caller ID allowed me to be selective about answering the phone when people I knew were calling, too. Sometimes you just don't feel like blabbing for hours on end.

But I love the phone too, for there is nothing like hearing a friendly voice when you need to vent or share a laugh. But now that we don't have caller ID here, I'm much less likely to pick up the phone if I'm alone. Perhaps it's because 90% of the calls we receive will have French speakers on the other end. Faking through a conversation in French with someone right in front of you is one thing, but someone speaking rapid-fire French on a telephone is another thing altogether.

But today, I knew I had to answer the phone. It went slightly better than expected.

You see, our carte bancaire, or check card, expires at the end of the month, or tomorrow if you prefer, and we haven't received a replacement. So Steph called yesterday at the end of the day and was told that our bank representative (whom I first met way back here) would call us back as soon as possible. Since he didn't call by the end of the working day, we knew it would be today. That means, yep, you guessed it...

So a little while ago, the phone rang so I clenched my teeth and hesitently picked up the receiver. At least it was actually Bank Dude so I know I can go back to ignoring the phone again.

As usual, the Frenchie on the other end of the line spoke rapid-fire French so all I could do is take a deep breath and hold on. I didn't understand every word but the important bits that I did understand included things like "contract" "two years ago" and "signature," fun things like that. When he asked when Steph could come down and sign a new contract, I replied that it's going to be a while, since he's doing his big stage in Chalons this week and the next, so he proposed that since the account is in both our names, why couldn't I come instead and sign the paper?

Ooh, he's smart, this one.

So I've got to go to the bank tomorrow afternoon and sign a contract and in turn, we'll receive a bank card with my name on it. It really doesn't make a difference whose name is on it, as every transaction is performed with a PIN number, making it quite different than check cards in the states, which are treated like credit cards. In any case, I can't wait to hear Steph's reaction to this bit of news when he gets home.

Oh, and if you ever want to call and chat, you may want to shoot me an email first. That way I'll be more likely to take your call!

five things

After rereading yesterday's run-on sentence of a post (hoo boy, do I need to get out of the house more often or what?), I realized that today would be a good idea to do The Bold Soul's Five Things Meme wot she tagged me for.

Five items in my fridge
1. Leftover chicken salad from last night, which I shall enjoy for lunch today
2. Strawberries. I love that you can only get fresh fruit when it's in season!
3. Beer. That has been in our fridge since Christmas. Not big beer drinkers, us.
4. Cherry yogurt. Actually, cherries just came into season so I'm going to have to buy some fresh ones soon...
5. Bricks. No, not the kind you build houses with, like this. Sorry I can't find anything in English about them, but this is a great site about French cooking.

Five items in my closet
You're lucky I have a closet! They're not easily found in France! So, in the closet in the office...
1. My wedding accessories, including shoes (is it too sentimental not to wear them again? They're really cute...), garter and tiara (ok it's not really a tiara but it's metally and goes on your head)
2. Old photos that will eventally find their way into photo albums. One day.
3. Steph's box of shoe shining things
4. A tin box of various medals Steph won while playing table tennis
5. A box of various and sundry computer accessories that probably don't work

Five items in my car
Bit of a handicap here, as (a) the car was cleaned out last week and (b)it's not here so I'm working from memory
1. A large umbrella
2. discarded parking meter receipts
3. some fishing accessory (like I said, working from memory)
4. a large bottle of motor oil
5. an incredible amount of dust

Five items in my purse
1. small bottle of water, which I added recently because it seems I'm always dying of thirst as soon as I leave the house
2. folder holding choir music - it's a big bag
3. perscription sunglasses
4. camera
5. hawaiian lip gloss I've had for two years now, this stuff lasts forever!

Five people who are "it" now
Oh no you don't. Every time I tag someone I get yelled at, so if you'd like to pinch this meme, please feel free. Let me know you've done it and I'll link you here.

Monday, May 29, 2006

obsessive weekend

I spent the last two days in a complete state of mania over my two favorite hobbies (this week; subject to change), one nerdy and one girly.

The nerdy one is the same one I've been doing off and on since I moved here, playing City of Heroes online. I've always liked the idea of playing an MMORPG, but just couldn't get into the trolls, orcs, and elves scenario - that's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. But my sister starting playing this and I thought it was a nice change from the usual and it would be something we could do while I'm in Europe and shes in the States. So we played together for several months and then she went back to EverCrack Everquest and I sort of floundered around on CoH for the next year and a half. But over the last few weeks, I fell into a rather large guild (guilds in CoH are called Super Groups, of course!) and got a lot of help in increasing my character, until Saturday I found myself within one level of the ultimate goal - level 50. So I sat here for eight hours and played until my fingers hurt and I was seeing double but by god I got my level 50 character! That's something I'll do maybe once a year because unlike my husband who really can play for eight hours at a stretch, I do actually enjoy sunshine and fresh air and all that sitting makes my butt hurt (not to mention makes it wider but I digress).

(tangent: so yeah, I know what the following terms mean: PL, mid (I don't like doing either one, however), lft, pwnage, n00b, and incidently if anyone on the Champion server ever needs a level 50 regen katana be sure to let me know, and if you understand any of that Congratulations! you are a gamer geek just like me.)

Yesterday I was bouncing back and forth between my brand spanking new character that you can only have when you reach level 50, and working on the girly hobby, my Sooper Secret Cross Stitch Project. I want to do both of these things so much that I literally get the shakes thinking about getting my fingers on them. My day kind of went like this:

(after breakfast, reading news and blogs, etc)
9:30-11:30 play with my new character!
11:30-1:00 prepare and eat lunch
1:00-2:00 play with my new character!
2:00-3:00 arrange all the new threads for SSCSP in numerical order in specially-ordered plastic storage sheets (is it possible to have selective anal retentiveness?)
3:00-5:00 play with my new character!
5:00-7:30 begin stitching the SSCSP
7:30-8:15 prepare and eat dinner (leftovers)
8:15-9:00 turn on overhead light as natural light is fading, stitch SSCSP
9:00-10:00 must turn off light as it is too hot in the office (with two computers in a small space it can get very warm in here!) play with my new character!
10:00-10:30 attempt to stitch with hall light and table lamp but get headache from squinting so hard
10:30 give up, goof around online and eventually crash around midnight

I'm not sure how I was able to avoid nausea and dizziness from all that spinning around in one room!

Friday, May 26, 2006

ascension party!

Yesterday was a holiday in France, and we were meant to meet the MIL and SIL at the annual vide grenier in Romilly, where Steph used to work, in the morning before meeting up with friends (Steph's former colleagues) in the afternoon. Since the weather was absolute crap yesterday morning, we waited until after lunch, walked down the main street filled with less-than-spectaular stuff, and met up with the friends and did it all over again, except this time with a nice fine drizzle of rain. Then we went back and plowed through a couple of beers each, several bottles of wine and all the snack foods available in a three-block radius. I'm sure you can imagine how I'm feeling today. Oy.

I've got to buck up because there's grocery shoppin' to do, plus I have to go to Troyes this evening for half an hour and maybe sing (I can explain this better if you care). There's nothing much else interesting going on, but Karla's post today made me think of a completely random story.

If I were ever going to start a band (chances are now highly unlikely but I was in a garage band for about five minutes so it's not wholly unreasonable that I would have these thoughts) it would be called The Speaker Children. That's because many, many moons ago, I would go visit my friend Carrie, who was going to college in St. Augustine, and we would go to The Milk Bar in nearby Jacksonville. All around the dance floor were enormous speakers with kids (yes, even in college we were old beyond our years) swaying in front of them, as though in homage to their god. I'm sure it was really Carrie that christened them "Speaker Children," because she's way cleverer than me, but in any case I'd intended to steal it and ride to glory with it.

So if you were going to start a band, what would you call it?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

i told you it was going away

Thank you all for that little ego boost yesterday, but I had to take the photo down because this is supposed to be anonymous and Steph would kick my ass if he knew I pulled that little stunt. So, back to complete obscurity for me (as if this blog weren't already completely obscure)!

Anyway, thank you all for your birthday wishes and emails and phone calls and such. I spent most of the day sprawled out playing my computer game. It was glorious. I nearly gained a level (sorry, nerdspeak)!

Today I'm going to Troyes to buy the last bits for my Sooper-Secret Cross Stitch Project and to pick up a few odds and ends, and then I'll come home and work on my birthday present from Steph (yes, I know, pics to come, I'm forever saying that). It looks beautiful outside but it's freakishly cool today, still a good day for wandering around!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

an accidental birthday gift

my awesome gift
Originally uploaded by vivi en france.
When Gnumoon announced that she was going to be taking performance photos at this year's MerleFest, I was greener than green with envy. Not only is it an amazing music festival with all kinds of different music represented, but one of my favorite bluegrass bands, Nickel Creek was performing this year. Not only did Gnumoon take unbelieveable action shots of the whole shebang, but she went out of her way to send me a program from the festival, signed by Miss Sara of Nickel Creek herself! In the accompanying note, she said, "and Sara says, 'Bonjour!'" Well bonjour right back Miss Sara. Rock on. Thanks so much, Gnumoon; since it arrived three days before my birthday, I'm counting it among my gifts, I hope you don't mind!

So yes, today is my birthday. I have nothing at all planned for today. Steph is gone all day in Chalons and I may walk to the grocery store and buy a birthday chocolate bar. I have no complaints, I've done more than my share of traveling this year and we did have the big party this weekend, and doing nothing at all is loads better than what I went through last year. That being said, if anyone can arrange a birthday something similar to this for next year, it would be much appreciated. Api Birzdai to me!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

of bbqs and IKEA accessories

my spice corner
Originally uploaded by vivi en france.
On Friday, I met Doc in Chaumont, where we indulged in Chinese food before filling up two grocery carts with food and party favors for a big bbq/birthday party extravaganza last night. On Saturday, we sliced and diced, mixed and squished food between our fingers, stuffed pastries and chopped veggies all day before filling up no less than three car trunks with food and drinks to go to the local chalet, where we celebrated the birthdays of Steph, Doc's hubby Marc, Nono and ME! Despite the freakishly cool weather, we hung outside next the grill, and when the grill ran out of gas, the men proved that men are the same world-over and created a fire-pit in the gravel next to the chalet and roasted the remaining meat. Then we exchanged gifts (I received a really lovely planter to hang above our front door, pictures to come) and some wine and the new Corneille CD, and Steph got a couple of books) and, in the wee hours of the morning, drove all the way home. Spending the day in Doc's kitchen was really fun and I picked up quite a few tips that I'll be implementing in the near future.

Today I'm feeling rather worse for wear - recently I've been suffering bouts of terrible car sickness, but it's probably from indulging in a couple of party cigarettes and then jumping in the car after - but I did manage to take a photo of the famous IKEA accessory I got last week. It was actually Steph's idea to hang up the measuring things my sister sent me for Christmas, so I knew IKEA would have the perfect thing to do just that. I am so in love with my spice corner - not only does it look great, but I actually use everything! Click on the photo to see what kind of spices I like to keep around.

There's actually quite a lot going on right now - I've received two exciting packages in the mail, Steph starts his course to become certified in special education tomorrow, and my birthday's on Tuesday (mark your calendars!), but today's a day for being lazy so if you'll forgive me, I'm going to get back to it!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

i do not think it means what you think it means

I learned a valuable lesson yesterday. Just because a word looks the same in French and in English, doesn't mean it means the same.

Last time I went to choir rehearsal, I was told that there would be an audition on Tuesday, May 16, in the hall in Troyes where we often give concerts to the public. so I'm thinking

1. It's nearing the end of the school year, so we're having auditions for the next school year.
2. It's being held in the hall so it can accomadate all the people for the four different choirs, from little kiddies to adults.

So imagine my shock when I arrived at the hall last night, five minutes before the audition was the begin, and there is an audience and all the choirs and the director are on stage taking directions.

It was then that I learned that in French, an audition is a small informal concert open to the general public. Ha HA!

Luckily, I had all the apporpriate music, I had worn something presentable (thank GOD it was casual!) and everyone had a good laugh about the whole thing. Though I have to say that I'm pleased that in two years, this is the first time I've had to cop the "I didn't understand, I'm a silly foreigner!" defense. I'm sure it won't be the last!

Monday, May 15, 2006

one year

When I was seven years old, my parents bought a piano. It was the end of a vacation in North Carolina, and they bought it at a piano dealership just two towns over from where my father was born. We put it in a U-Haul trailer and dragged it all the way back to Florida, where it was installed in the "fancy" living room.

Over the next few years, my sister and I pounded out various scales and musical pieces. Meanwhile, my mother, who had played in the student orchestra when she was a child but never quite got around to learning piano, bought herself The Billy Joel Songbook. The whole family loves Billy Joel, Mom especially. She set out to learn her favorite Billy Joel song.

Unfortunately, Mom never did manage to find her way around that piano. I don't know if it was because she only played on it when the mood struck her, or perhaps the fibromalgia was already doing a number on her hands, but even twenty years ago, she was struggling to get through the first phrase. My sister and I, subtle creatures that we were, used to tease her mercilessly. Whenever we heard that first phrase

*chord* Don't go changin'...

we would howl like wounded animals. "Oh noooooooooooooo," we'd moan. "You're killing my ears!"

As I grew older, I learned to leave her in peace. She would never be a virtuoso, and we both knew it, but it gave her happiness and who was I to make fun of her for it? When financial circumstances forced my parents to sell the piano, I like to think she gave it one last shot the night before, for old times' sake.

One year ago today, I sat in the back seat of my father's Buick.

Forty-five minutes earlier, my mother had been taken off the ventilator in ICU at the hospital. Dad thought it would be a good idea to eat an early dinner before going to spend the evening at the hospital, so we were in the middle of preparing some leftover sauce and cooking pasta when the phone rang. Mom was fading.

So I was sitting in the backseat of my father's Buick trying to prepare myself for the worst. I knew what was coming and I couldn't wrap my head around it. My heart was beating so hard I could hear it. It was a rainy, cloudy day, and it seemed everyone in Asheville was in our way, slowing us down.

Mere moments before pulling into the parking lot of the hospital, a new song came on the radio

*chord* Don't go changin'...

and I knew. I knew like I know my name, that she was gone, just that moment. I couldn't say the words, I could barely keep the tears from spilling, but I knew it.

It was confirmed minutes later, as we entered the ICU ward and washed our hands, that we had only just missed her. Fifteen days shy of her 60th birthday, Mom had lost her fight with Scleroderma.

I said I love you and that's forever
And this I promise from the heart

I'm not really a superstitious person, and I'm just as skeptical of supernatural stuff as the next person, but I know that my Mom sent us a message one year ago today.

Mommy, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of you. I miss you and need you more than ever. But I want you to know that I heard you.

I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Part 3 in the can

Three Little Words Part 3
Originally uploaded by vivi en france.
Man, this really is going slower than I imagined and I'm wondering if I'm even going to make my goal finishing at Christmas, and I've got a couple of (smaller) projects I want to do in the meantime! Luckily, Part 4 is only half this size and then I'll have one third done. Onward and upward!

Friday, May 12, 2006


Originally uploaded by vivi en france.
Yesterday, I ran away to Dijon with Doc, who, along with her son Matthieu, had eye doctor's appointments there. We took advantage of this to go to IKEA (pronounced in France "ee-kee-ah"). This was my first time walking into an IKEA and it did not disappoint.

We started off in the cafeteria, where we dined on their famous Swedish meatballs - very tasty! Then we walked around the first floor exhibition area where Doc ordered more goodies for her new house and I found the one item I was looking for (yes, I chose something I wanted from the catalog before I went, and a good thing, too!). Then we went down to the ground floor, where Doc stocked up on new goodies for her new kitchen and I picked up something extra myself (who can beat two wooden kitchen cutting boards for 2 Euros?). After we did some damage to our bank accounts (granted, I did much less damage!) we visited the Swedish food mart, where I picked up what Doc assures me are real bread and butter pickles, some Swedish cheese, and a couple of bottles of Swedish root beer (!). And after all that shopping, why not rest your feet and enjoy a soda and a hot dog, for only one Euro? Then we piled in the car and made the trek home, where poor little Matthieu zonked out in no more than 10 minutes.

Man, that was fun. And now, I get it, ok? I know what it is to love IKEA. I want to go back tomorrow. With mucha moolah. Oh, and wondering what I bought? Don't worry, I'll be taking pictures of it, as soon as Steph installs it this weekend (oooh, intriguing!).

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

vivi vs. la poste

It has now been six months since we moved to our little village, and I can say that we've settled into a comfortable routine here. Just about everything we need can be found here, with two grocery stores, a handful of restaurants, a couple of appliance stores and a shoe store and plenty of doctors' offices. I haven't had any problems at all dealing with the locals in any transactions, except for one: La Poste.

Now, first of all, I should say that the French Post Office does in fact offer many more services than its American counterpart. Not only does it perform all of the duties you'd expect from a post office, but it also serves as a bank, for many years offering checking and savings accounts, and since the beginning of this year, becoming a full-fledged bank with the ability to offer financing. Anyone who can handle all these intricate details certainly has my respect, and I can even report that, in our local post office back in Troyes, they even had service with a smile, and I never had a problem there.

And then we moved to Our Little Village.

This post is a bit long, so if you'd like to continue, please click "Tell Me More!"

The first time I went to buy a few stamps, I'd forgotten that the stamps cost 53 centimes each.

Me: "I'd like four 50 cent stamps, please."

Stamp Lady: "Are they for something special?"

Me: "Er.. no... just the regular stamps."

Stamp Lady: (as though she were talking to a small child) "Do you mean the 53 cent stamps?"

Me: (feeling rather like a small child) "Yes, please."

(Insert long diatribe from Stamp Lady about the cost of stamps.)

So I hurriedly left that place with my face burning red, but at least I had the stamps I needed.

The latest drama with the local post has been regarding having our mail forwarded from our former address. In France, you have to pay for the privilege to the tune of something around twenty euros, and it's only good for six months. However, you have the option to renew the contract for a further six months for free.

Since our contract started on November 4, we assumed the contract would end on May 4, so during the last week of April I took our copy of the contract and went to the post office. This time I was spared from having to talk to Stamp Lady, but I met her counterpart, Clueless Lady.

I showed her the contract and said that it seemed that it would end in a week or so and we would like to renew. She took a close look at the date on the contract and said, "I'm sorry, but in my opinion it's too close the end of the contract. It takes around ten days for the contract to be renewed, so if there's a pause the renewal won't work. Besides, you'd have to go to Troyes to renew it anyway."

Well I thanked her and went home, and then Steph and I started to worry that we weren't going to get our tax forms** (which are mailed out during May) and we'd have to pay a late fee. Just when we were wondering what to do next, we received another forwarded piece of mail. I took a closer look at the label and noticed that the first contract doesn't expire until the end of May, meaning our tax worries are resolved!

When I showed it to Steph at lunch yesterday, he realized that we could renew the contract anyway. This made him rather suspicious (shouldn't Clueless Lady have known that it wouldn't be over until the end of the month?) so we looked at the fine print on the back of the original contract. Turns out that not only does the contract run until the end of the sixth month, no matter on which date it started, but contracts can be renewed at the new post office! So, armed with the envelope and the contract, I went back to the office yesterday afternoon.

First, I had to talk to Stamp Lady and explain to her that I wanted to renew the contract. She went one step better than Clueless Lady and at least gave me the form to fill out (yep - exact same information, another piece of paper. I HEART bureaucracy!). After I filled it out, I got back in line (I suppose I could have gone back to Stamp Lady but there was a woman about seven months pregnant in line) and then ended up with Clueless Lady. First I explained that Stamp Lady had my first contract and then I gave her the new form and the envelope, showing her where it didn't expire until the end of the month.

"Yes, but you'll still have to go to Troyes to renew," she said, rather smugly.

"Oh, no I don't," I replied, trying desperately to keep the "Ha! How you like THAT, bizatch!" tone out of my voice.

"EH?" she replied, in wonder.

"Yes, my husband found on the back of the contract that we can do it here. If you turn over the paper, you can see where he marked it."

Clueless Lady stared at the forms in a state of shock, never bothering to look on the back of the first contract, but finally just stamped the second form, gave me my copy, and I wished her a nice afternoon and I walked out the door.

When I relayed the story to Steph last night with glee, his reaction was, "I hate rednecks like that, (yes, he said "rednecks," I have taught him well!) who think that if you don't speak the language you must be silly (read silly: an idiot)!" Man, if only I had a nickel for everytime I heard a story like that in America....

**You might be thinking, well why didn't you change your address with the tax office when you moved? Well, when we moved here, Steph made a visit to the tax office, and they told him to wait until we received the tax papers, and change it then, so we really didn't have a choice.

Monday, May 08, 2006

another holiday

Yep, May is chock full o' holidays, and today we're celebrating VE Day. This means another day off for Steph and another day of laziness for me (I swear, when he's home, I don't want to do anything but goof off. What is that about?). It's a bit rainy and cool here, but we may try to take a walk this afternoon if the skies clear up a little.

This weekend I spent quite a lot of time watching all three parts of The Godfather, which was on loan from Steph's sister (how she came to have a copy in English with no French titles is beyond me). I seem to remember my father watching it everytime it came on tv - after all, my maiden name does end in a vowel - but for whatever reason it never captured my attention enough to sit down and watch the whole thing until this weekend. In fact, that may be an understatement, because I watched both Parts 2 and 3 yesterday, and that's nearly six hours of movie! I remembered bits and pieces of it, but other parts were a complete shock. I can tell you (and for the benefit of those of you who have not yet seen it) I didn't remember it ending like that at all. I also seem to remember that Sofia Coppola got a lot of grief for her performance, but aside from the last scene where, in my opinion, she did indeed appear a bit wooden ("Oh Dad. Why are you doing this to me. *yawn* Why Dad."), she wasn't so terrible. Of course, if I'd seen the movie when it came out, when I was the personification of Drama Queen (both in college major and life) I may not have said that. I may be mellowing in my old age.

Anyway, enjoy your holiday, for those of you who get one, and have a bearable Monday, for those of you who don't.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Originally uploaded by vivi en france.
Here's what happens when I've been trolling for recipes online and I catch one. I end up making delicious meals I never would have attempted before. This took two hours from start to finish and was so worth it.

Course I'm not doing another thing all day, except maybe watch a movie or three. Have a good weekend, all!

Friday, May 05, 2006

the upstairs

the office
Originally uploaded by vivi en france.
I had enough presence of mind after I cleaned the upstairs to take some photos, which is something I planned to do way back when I got the new camera (you can find a couple of photos of the downstairs in my flickr set called "home sweet home").

You may notice two things as you go through them:

1. All available windows are open!
The downstairs is still quite cool but with two computers running in one little space, it is already a bit warm upstairs. Happily, we get a gorgeous breeze with two skylights and two windows. Plus all the natural light is so wonderful, it really lifts my spirits!

2. The walls are very bare.
This is a difference of opinion between Steph and I - because we're renting, he doesn't want to have to take the time to cover any holes in the walls and risk losing some of our deposit, and I think that you should make your house a home, no matter how long you're there, and that means decorating with photos and what-not. I have graciously conceded to live in a home with bare walls, as I know eventually we will buy a house and I'll do whatever I damn well please with it. Believe it or not, all the walls have textured wallpaper instead of paint (that can't be less expensive, surely?).

Thursday, May 04, 2006

bloomin' fields

Originally uploaded by vivi en france.
You may remember that just before I went on vacation, I realized that the fields between Our Quaint Village and Troyes were once again green and ready to grow things. Since I've returned, green is fighting for space with the yellow of the first crops to bloom.

These plants with the yellow flowers will yeild Colza oil from the seeds. Not only does the oil have a wide variety of uses, but the waste leftover after pressing the seeds for the oil can be fed to livestock. Hurray for colza!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

and now for something completely different

Say, would you like to see our new commode?

To see the photo, please click "Tell me more!"

Here it is!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

By the way, commode is French for a dresser! You didn't think I was going to post a photo of our toilet, did you?

Monday, May 01, 2006

labor day

Today is Labor Day in France, and we'll be celebrating it just like we do in the States - by doing the least amount of labor possible. What we won't be doing here like we do in the States is having a big barbeque outside, as the highs today are somewhere in the 50's. But, if the weather holds, we will visit our first vide grenier of the year after lunch with the in-laws.

Yesterday our village held its annual Spring Commercial Fair, which basically consists of all the businesses putting tables up outside their doors as well as traveling merchants with clothes and shoes and knick-knacks. There were food stands offering barbe a papa (cotton candy) but I'm afraid the ice cream vendors were out of luck (which is just bad timing - more about that later). There was a small art exhibit in the community center and even a small carnival set up for the kids, with bumper cars and a mini carousel. For entertainment, the local Fanfare, or community marching band, marched up and down the main street. I had the oddest sense of displacement when I heard them playing the marching band version of "Gunsmoke." If I'd heard a whistle or a cheer, I think I would have fainted.

The month of April was so maverick when it comes to weather. It was gorgeous for three weeks, and we even turned the heat off in the apartment. It has been getting cooler for the last couple of days and as we were walking back yesterday it started to rain, and it rained lightly for the rest of the day. By the time I went downstairs to make dinner, the temperature downstairs was 15C! That's 60F! In the house! You better believe that heat got snapped back on in a hurry. Here's hoping we got back to warmer springtime temps soon!