Thursday, January 31, 2008

my new imaginary boyfriend

So y'all may have noticed that I'm finally starting to get into French music, especially since we got the TNT box and I have access to music videos that I can leave on in the background while I'm doing other stuff, which is nice because I cannot get the radio to pick up a signal out here in Tiny Town for love nor money. Occasionally I'll link a song I like to my Myspace page (I've still got a fun song on there y'all should check out) and every once in a while I'll post a video here. But this time, I have fallen, but hard.

I'd like to introduce you to Renan Luce. He is what I guess you could call a folk pop singer. His songs are full of clever lyrics and melodies that stick in your head, and his videos are quirky and clever as well. Oh - and he's easy on the eyes, too. Very easy. Mmm!

This is his first video for "Les Voisines" (which means "The Neighbors"). The first person that can name the movie this video is based from wins a virtual cookie.

Monday, January 28, 2008

state of the union 2008

You can read about why I do this instead of New Year's resolutions right here.

When I look back at where I was a year ago - and one of the miraculous things about writing a blog is that you can do just that! - it seems like I'm reading about the life of an entirely different person. This time last year I was heavily in mourning, having lost my Dad two months before, and since his death was hot on the heels of Mom's death I was simply stunned into inaction. But, at the same time, I could feel the change coming, and I knew instinctively that the worse would pass and I'd be able to get on with it.

But, it would take a few months to get there. In the meantime, I "consoled" myself with food, ballooning up to my heaviest weight ever. Thanks to an intervention from my doctor and the help of a dietitian, I lost twenty pounds last year and I intend to continue with the good habits we learned last year. And I'm here to tell y'all that losing weight will do wonders for your outlook on life. Seriously.

This time last year I was learning how to knit. Now knitting has become such an important outlet for me - not just creatively, but thanks to the internet I can connect with other knitters around the world to learn how to do it better, celebrate beautiful FOs and commiserate when it all goes wrong. I cannot believe that I went from not even knowing how to hold the needles to successfully knitting a sweater for my husband in one year! I've had a lot of friends and family ask me for advice on starting to knit, so I'm going to write about it, hopefully this week. I don't claim to be any kind of expert, but I have been a beginner and I know what it's like!

Of course, we had the ultimate good news in finding out I was pregnant and the worst disappointment when I miscarried in December. I certainly do have a way in making the holidays more challenging! Stéph and I have chosen to see this event in all the positive lights we can - we quit smoking, our healthier lifestyle is certainly helping, and most importantly, it's possible for us to get pregnant! We have high hopes that it's going to happen again soon.

As for 2008, well, Stéph and I have a lot of "maybes" and "if this happens then we can do this" sorts of things in the works. If nothing else, we've learned that life is full of surprises and we can't plan everything down to the last detail. Who knows what's in store for us this year, but like I do every January, I'm ready to turn the page and look towards the future with a positive attitude. Bring it on, 2008!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

greetings from fog central

The last few weeks the temperature has been slowly creeping up the dial, so much so that people were starting to talk about an early spring. That is, until the bottom dropped out Thursday night.

Yesterday was supposed to be a cold but sunny day, but thanks to a huge drop in temperatures and the ground being very warm, we had The Fog That Would Not Burn Off yesterday. At no point in the day did the fog clear and it was so bad that you could barely see ten feet in front of you.

It was under these conditions that I drove to Troyes yesterday to meet up with Doc and the rest of the American Citizens of Haute-Marne (of which there seems to be three, total). Thus I am very happy to report that Doc is both alive and well, albeit exhausted from caring for three very sick babies. There was a lot of "I'm just gonna run in here for a minute" up and down the main shopping drag in Troyes, and I actually went inside and bought yarn from Bergère de France for gifties, one of which is LONG overdue. Then we hung out and drank hot chocolate and had snacks of the sugary variety (we had to keep up our blood sugar levels, honestly!) and gossiped before heading our seperate ways back into the fog.

Today, the fog is still here, but as of this writing at 2:30pm it looks like it's finally starting to burn off a little and I can actually see a little blue when I look up. Here's hoping it clears up before the next batch of gray clouds descend on us!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

it's still christmas around here

I don't usually post pictures of gifts before I give them to their recipients, but if you listen to the katia and kyliemac show and you listen to episode 112, I was knitting while we chatted and I said that I should be done before the show went live and that you could stop by and see the final product. Plus, my sister, who these socks are for, already knows about the gift, and she'll probably be happy to know that they're done and nearly on the way.

I did actually finish them Tuesday and caught a little ray of sunshine before the sun went down to take a picture:

sister socks

And before you say "it's a little late for Christmas presents, isn't it?" let me just say "ha ha! you must not be a knitter!" and also mention that I didn't received my gift from my sister last year until February, so we reckon that this clears the slate (though I should note that it wasn't her fault and that she did ship the gift well before Christmas, that's just the way it goes around Christmas time).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

vivi goes to hell

I limped my way to Paris this past weekend and had a wonderful time, as always. I got to check in with Miss Flare (who brought me goodies from the US! Thanks Flare!), spent some quality time in the Coffee Table Studio, went to a bar and met interesting people and drank a beer and went home without smelling like an ashtray - and I didn't even crave a cigarette the whole time! - and relived my college days with Kyle Mac by indulging in real American-style pizza and beer.

But the real reason I was there was to go straight to hell. (Sorry, link's in French)

So - L'Enfer de la Bibliothèque, or The Hell of the Library, is an exhibit going on at the National Library of France. "Hell" is the section of the library that was created at the beginning of the 19th century for all documents that were considered indecent, whether political or sexual, and locked away from the eyes of the general public. The exhibit not only covers the history of Hell, but also shows an overview of documents that have been stored there for centuries. Absolutely fascinating exhibit, but only available through March and not open to those sixteen years and younger - there are, after all, loads of penises and vaginae on display.

So after all that excitement, Kylie Mac and I needed something of a palette cleanser, if you will, so we took advantage of one of the many (free!) museums just lying around Paris waiting for someone to come give them a visit, so we opted for the Petit Palais. Built for the 1900 World's Fair, this "little palace" now holds a permanent collection of art through the ages and is an absolutely stunning example of Art Nouveau architecture and style.

the cozy front room
Be sure to click so you can appreciate how gorgeous this place is!

I enjoyed this visit very much and if you've got a couple of hours to spare, I think you will, too. Unlike some of the larger museums of Paris, this one is easily doable in an afternoon with time to sit and have a drink in the café and you can leave satisfied that you saw everything there is to see. You can't say that about many others.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

from fabulous to annoyed in six hours flat

Yesterday we were due for a whopper of a storm in the afternoon, so I took my foot out for a spin in the morning as I had a couple of errands to run. One of them was one I'd been putting off for nearly a year. I can't remember if I mentioned it here, but I broke my fancy-schmancy frameless eyeglasses, and in the stupidest way possible - I laid down for a nap and put my glasses next to me. Yep, you can imagine what happened next. I've been wearing glasses half my life and now I break them? Anyway, they weren't destroyed, just one of the arms came off where it connects to the glasses, so I'd been just sticking the arm back in its slot. But it's been getting worse and worse and I knew it was time to bite the bullet and just go.

Much to my surprise, not only did the woman remember me from two years ago, but she fixed my glasses for me right that minute for free (yes you read that right!) and told me that if this quick fix didn't do the trick, I'd have to drop them off for a couple of days. So far, the glasses are holding up just fine.

This, y'all, is why living in a small town is the best!

Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. I had a couple of twinges in my foot during my walk, but it got worse while I was making lunch and right when I was finishing up my foot actually spasmed. So, off I went to the doctor.

One of the peculiar things about our doctor is that he takes appointments in the morning and the afternoons are first come first serve. I called to see if I could get an appointment for Wednesday morning but he wasn't going to be there, so I didn't have much of a choice. I arrived a half an hour before his scheduled afternoon time and there were already seven people ahead of me. Then he was half an hour late. Then he took an extraordinarily long time between patients (to the point that we were kind of looking at each other in the waiting room saying "what the hell is he doing in there?"). Finally, my turn came two and a half hours after I walked in the door.

This is why living in a small town can suck.

And the most frustrating part is that he's a really good doctor and both Stéph and I like him. Though I have to say, yesterday he did seem way more rushed than usual. However, he did poke and prod my foot a few times, prescribed me some anti-inflammatory pills and cream, and told me I could go on my urban adventure this weekend as long as I wear shoes with very thick soles.

Why is it that sitting in a doctor's waiting room for so long can drain the will to live?

Anyway, all systems are go for my urban adventure this weekend and I'm hoping to catch up with a few friends along the way. I'll be the one wearing hiking boots in the middle of a very cosmopolitan city. Be sure to say hi.

Monday, January 14, 2008

moaning is the best medicine

Of course you know that the day after I bitched about my foot it started getting better the next day. And here I thought my drama queen days were over! It's not quite perfect but I'm not getting stabbing pains anymore when I stand on it for two minutes, so it's definitely improving. Today I'm going to the grocery and tomorrow I'll try my usual walking route and we'll see where we are after all that.

I sincerely hope tomorrow's walk is good because I've been invited on a very interesting urban adventure this weekend and I really want to go. More to come on that as soon as I know if my foot will be up to the task.

Also, I just have to say that one of the pleasures of living here in winter is walking back home from the boulangerie with a warm baguette in your cold hands. It's the little things, you know.

Friday, January 11, 2008

my stupid foot

Why is it that when I get one thing sorted out, something else has to go all wonky, and why does this always have to happen to something in my body? For about a week now, my right foot has been giving me problems, and believe me, with my pantheon of former foot problems, this is a new one on me.

Basically, if I stand on it for more that five minutes or try to walk more than ten paces, I start getting stabbing pains in the outside of my foot. If I don't have any pressure on it (ie sitting down) it doesn't hurt at all. This means that something as simple as whipping a meal together has me howling by the time I sit down. It's gotten so bad that I've been limping around the house trying not to stay on my feet too long but it isn't lessening up. Going to the grocery yesterday was an adventure, let me tell you.

The only thing I can think of that is causing this is a)I started wearing my old clogs again that I haven't worn in ages, but the pain is coming whether I'm wearing shoes or slippers or socks; or b) all that walking I did last Wednesday in Troyes, but I felt totally fine all day and I didn't notice the pain until two days after. I don't remember tripping or twisting my ankle or anything.

So I'm pretty well annoyed because this is stopping me from taking my afternoon walks (when the weather is nice, which is rare but still!) and some other stuff I'd like to do, like go back to Troyes with my camera and take some photos of some things that tickled my fancy last week. I'm hoping it will sort itself out but I guess if it's the same next week I'll have to go to the doctor... again. I swear we should have a discount.

In other news, I found out that yesterday was dulurking day (thank you to Jaynee for delurking to say hello and also giving me a heads up!). Of course I'm a day late and a dollar short, as usual, but if you'd like to drop a line and say hello in Ye Olde Comments Boxe, I promise to return the favor!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

meanwhile, back in france

I know it's been all about me here for a while (and honestly, isn't it supposed to be like that on my own blog? but I digress...) but there have been some interesting developments here in France recently. For example:

France goes non smoking Last year smoking was banned from public places such as malls, businesses, grocery stores (!) and hospitals (!!!), but last Wednesday the new non-smoking rules went into affect, targeting bars, cafés, restaurants and nightclubs. Actually, for Stéph and I, this couldn't have come at a better time. Before we quit smoking, we actually fretted about the ban - "where are we going to go for a coffee and a smoke? how we will enjoy our dining experience?" but since we quit we've been avoiding our local café so as to resist the temptation of buying a pack of smokes and lighting them up right there. Now we feel like we can go wherever we want, and it's lovely. Plus, a lot of people predicted that the cafés would curl up and die with their smoking patrons gone, but I'm glad to report that last Wednesday, strolling around Troyes, they looked pretty busy to me.

Sarkozy gets a girlfriend So if you're not up on French current events, a few months ago, Sarkozy and his wife split up, making him the first President to be divorced in office since... well Napoleon, actually. Never mind the fact that the separation was announced right at the beginning of a massive transport strike in a very "no! look over here at the shiny toy!" kind of way. But now the President is dating Carla Bruni, an Italian model and singer, and the French media has gone absolutely apeshit. Not only has the "legitimate" press been following them on excursions to Disneyland Paris and Egypt, but at Sarkozy's first press conference, the second question was about his relationship with the model. I'm pretty sure we can expect a wedding announcement at the next financial or strike crisis.

It's the soldes! Today marks the beginning of the bi-annual shopping sales, which will last about three weeks or a month or so. Today is kind of like Black Friday in the States, where crazy shopping freaks actually staked out what they wanted to buy yesterday so they would be able to swoop in today and grab what they want without the time consuming hassle of trying it on. Typically we like to wait until at least the first week is over before we go see what's left - it's not that we couldn't use some new things but the crowds are so ridiculous, especially here where we have two major outlet shopping centers, that it just isn't worth the bother.

Monday, January 07, 2008

watch out 2008

Well, hi there! Sorry it's been so long. I was feeling so much better last week that I didn't even dare stop to blog about it, lest it all disappear and sends me back to my icky, crabby self. But no! The first week of 2008 was pretty nice, all things considered! 2007 was crap all the way until the end, as the special shrimp Stéph and I bought to eat for NYE tasted like they had been packed in salt, and we could only get a few down before we had to throw the rest away. Poor little shrimps died in vain.

But the very next day I finally started feeling better! Wednesday I spent the day wandering around Troyes with a friend that came into town. We were so lucky with the weather - finally blue skies after weeks of shotgun gray. It was cold but we warmed up with frequent café stops and shopping expeditions. I came away with a new book and I also rescued one of my all time favorite movies from the bargain bin. Incidentally, we watched it last night and I was so pleased that the movie still holds up and even Stéph liked it!

Friday night we had Stéph's friend JP over for a big dinner of moules frites. We hadn't seen him since summer and it was great to catch up. Then Saturday night we had dinner with Stéph's brother, wife, their three kids and a couple of other guests for a nice big tartiflette (gotta get those calories in while it can still be considered "the holidays"!).

Today Stéph went back to work and so did I, getting some articles written up and making a grocery run. Of course, not everything is running smoothly and I forgot my list, which automatically means I forgot something, but this will give me an excuse to get out of the house tomorrow. For now, the house is (relatively) clean, the sky is blue and the sun is shining through my window, and I'm going to enjoy the rest of this afternoon. All I can say right now is bring it 2008, I'm ready for ya!