29 September 2006
HAIR! not the musical
When I found out I was pregnant with the M3 I decided to stop coloring my hair. I woke up this morning with roots that were a good eight, nine inches long. After she was born, I lost a bunch of hair. It fell out in clumps and I honestly thought I looked like I had radiation sickness. I was able to weave little figurines out of hair every time I brushed my hair. Eventually it all grew back in, with more gray than before (can I blame that on Marc?), so I not only had the great big long root-thang goin’ on, but I had these little puffs sticking out on the sides of my head. And on top of that, the last time I had my hair cut professionally was for the Houdini-Monkey’s baptism, a little over two years ago. Agh!

I have to go dress up and play nice this weekend because Marc’s friend is getting married and my husband is the best man. I can’t get out of going because that would just be tacky. Besides, we’ve rented a gîte and we’re splitting it with friends, so it’s like a little weekend get-away, only Marc’ll be otherwise occupied and I’ll be stuck with the kids—so more of the usual—just in different surroundings. Work with me here—I need some support. Anyway, I can’t show up with the mess I have on my head. It’s like five different colors, sticks out every which way and I can’t barely get a brush through it on a good day. Drastic measures are needed.

So yesterday I went had had all my hair cut off. It’s gone. All gone. I can actually lay down and still move my head—my hair isn’t pinned behind my back immobilizing me. And the color is all natural now. Holy cow I got gray! (And Vi, I completely blame you for that. “Oh Doc, it’ll be so pretty when it grows out!” Yeah. Whatev-ah!) I’m feeling a bit light headed to be honest. My mop used to fall well below my shoulder-blades. No more!

I’ll be back soon. We’re heading home on Monday, but we’ve got that appointment with the lawyer some 350 kilometers away in the afternoon, so it’ll probably be Tuesday or later before I post again. Ugh. I feel the withdrawal already.

Dear Santa, please bring me a laptop…
posted by Doc at 03:40 | Permalink | 0 comments
27 September 2006
It’s moving day, at least for my evil sister-in-law. Marc has been volunteered to do a bit of furniture wrangling, and me, I’m stuck at home with the kids. I’ve got mine, and the nephew. I’ve also spent the afternoon doing all the dishes my MIL managed to dirty up since she’s taken off to help toss crap in boxes.

The dishes and stuff don’t bother me. I know, I know. I hate doing dishes on a good day. But I know one day we will eventually move out of this cesspool and into the cesspool we’ve paid to have built (badly) up the road, and I won’t be of much use during that time. The evil MIL, while evil, has a knack of butting in at such times and making life easier, so I figure I’ll just pay what’s due in advance. Besides, I’m the best daughter-in-law she’s got.

What’s got me seeing red today is the bit of conversation I’ve had with my nephew. For those of you not in the know, his mom, my other SIL, is pregnant with baby #2. The nephew is now eight, and has managed to accumulate more emotional baggage in that time than most of the adults I know. He spent the first almost four years of his life being shuttled from one grandparent’s house to the other, sleeping in his own bed only on weekends. His father was out of work at the time, but was doing things around the house, apparently to make it livable (they opted for buying a ruin and redoing it), and couldn’t be bothered. His mom worked during the week, and since they decided not to put the child in day-care or hire a nanny (because ALL of those people are pedophiles!), and the father couldn’t be bothered, someone had to take care of the kid. And let’s face it, the extra twenty minute drive to pick the kid up every evening was just too much.

Now, he is only shuttled back and forth on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There’s no school on Wednesdays, so someone has to be around for him on that day. He’s still back and forth between the grandparents. Thus his presence here today.

He arrived last night, unannounced. Apparently the parents are too cheap to pick up the phone and call ahead. They all arrive expecting dinner, which hadn’t been prepared because nobody expected them. The kid sat at the table on the verge of tears until his parents left. I felt bad for him last night. Today I feel worse.

This afternoon I asked him if he was excited about becoming a big brother. It seemed a harmless enough question, right? I mean, who would have thought it could lead to trouble? So he tells me he’s not sure he’s going to be a big brother or not. “What do you mean?” I ask, stupidly.

Apparently he’s having a hard time at school (no surprises there, given the emotional burdens this kid is carrying around on his back). The parents had been called by the teacher to discuss the situation—which explains the sour puss yesterday. Then he goes on to explain that his parents have explained to him that if he doesn’t do better at school, that if the disciplinary problems don’t stop, that if he doesn’t concentrate more on his work than he isn’t going to be a big brother.

Huh? See, if things don’t turn around he is going to kill his unborn baby brother or sister.

What the fuck!?! Who in their right goddamn mind tells this to a child?

So in addition to dishes I’ve been wiping away tears and trying to convince him that he’s not going to kill the baby. And trying hard, very hard, not to tell him what total fucks his parents are. I hope he realizes that one day, before it’s too late.
posted by Doc at 16:44 | Permalink | 0 comments
25 September 2006
For the Kool-Aid Goddess
I'm back at it again today, baking yet another pecan pie, although (sadly) not for that hunky piece of eye candy up the street. Vi asked me share my doctored recipe here, and as she was so kind to cart back packets of fruit flavored drink powder from her visit with her sick father (now that's a true friend for ya!), the least I can do is oblige. So:

you need:

A pie crust of your choice (and no Vi, I refuse to share my recipe for that-Granny'd kill me)

4 medium eggs
24 cl (1 cup) maple syrup (and yes maple flavored syrup will work just as well, if you're into the OGM* thang)
150 grs (2/3 cup) sugar
67 grs
(1/3 cup) butter
1 big fat soup spoon full of vanilla
, or more if you like. I happen to be a fan of vanilla.
2 1/2 Little French-grocery store size bags of Pecans
(1 1/2 cups) (Walnuts work equally well)

So you mix those last six ingredients up, chuck it in your basic unbaked pie shell, cover the edges with foil and poke it in the oven at 180°C (350°F) for 25 minutes. Then you gently rip the foil off, and chuck it back in for another half hour or so, or until a knife inserted near the middle comes out clean. Let it cool, then proceed to put yourself into a diabetic coma.

At last. Sorry about yesterday. Here's a picture of the dessert table from our Turkey Day Feast last year. There be two of these pies there on the table and they was so bad the Frenchies left NOT ONE CRUMB for me to narf on afterwards. Boogers!

*OGM= most maple flavored syrup sold in France has a warning that it might contain genetically modified ingredients. Buyer be warned...

posted by Doc at 17:48 | Permalink | 0 comments
22 September 2006
At last, a good day!
Yesterday was supposed to be a calm day. Marc was off at another all day meeting. I was at home with the kids. All was well, or at least normal, in our little corner of the globe. Then I opened my front door at 8:15 to have a little smoke break before the madness of child-raising began. I quickly regretted it.

It’s grape harvest time in the region. It’s that time of year where temporary employment is easy to find—if you’re willing to work yourself to the point of death everyday for a week or so. The grape harvest. Fall is here.

The local boys started the process last week. On a Wednesday. They try to do this on the weekend because then the sons and sons-in-law, daughters and daughters-in-law, and the grandchildren can all be part of the fun. This year nature didn’t cooperate, so their first go was right in the middle of the week.

And like every year, I got a visit from the good-looking guy down the street, Franck, wondering where I’d stashed his pecan pie. The one I hadn’t made. Because as I tell him every year, he’s got to give me a little notice. I can work miracles in the kitchen, sure, but making something without ingredients is a little more witchcraft that I’m capable of.

He invited me across to have a glass (or five) of champagne in any case. I learned that the next day of picking had been scheduled for this weekend. “Hey Franck, no problem. I can make you a pecan pie for next Saturday and leave it with your mom because Marc and I aren’t going to be here.” “Ah, Doris, I love you still.”

Today, Friday, Marc has another all-day meeting. In Reims this time. So it’d be convenient for him to stop at the only grocery store in Haute Marne that always has the things I need. And this is what we’d planned on, except this is Po-Dinkville, and you can never plan anything.

Back to yesterday…I go out with that first cigarette of the morning clenched like a lifeline between my fingers (artificial sanity is what they are for me) and find cars and cars and cars and lots of old men mulling around, and the crates they use to put the grapes in to bring them to the press and everything else I’d expect to find on the day of the grape picking. And this scared me. I went to bed on Wednesday night and woke up on Saturday morning? How is this possible? It’s not.

DO NOT PANIC. My MIL showed up, with her sister, who fired off questions about the babies like a machine gun. I told them I needed to go shopping, that no one told me they’d moved the harvest and if I didn’t have a pie waiting for Franck, he’d never ever flirt with me in public again, the horror. So she offered to take the kids. I then told her I needed to go to Saint Dizier, a 40-minute drive (one way), and she wavered a bit. But her sister jumped in and saved my life, bless her, saying; “Oh, I’ll get to visit with the babies!” with so much enthusiasm that I actually felt a little better about being stuck in an impossible situation.

So off I went, grumbling, worried how I was going to manage to get back from town, feed both children and bake a pie before 1. But the gods were with me. I didn’t catch a single red light in the entire ville of Saint Dizier. Not. A. Single. One. Saint Dizier only has a handful of lights, and compared to where I lived in NC, where there was one traffic light per inhabitant, it takes no time even if you hit all of them on red. But they were all green! I made it to the grocery store where I usually find everything I need without any problems. But they’ve recently moved things around (WHY does EVERY grocery store on the planet do that? Just when you’ve gotten used to where everything is, poof! Let’s change it again! Why? Why? Why?), and I was lost for a few minutes. Grr. They’ve put in a new section, though, and I am pretty happy. It’s all foreign foods. See:

Those are corn nuts y’all! And Orange Crush! (I couldn’t get REM out of my head after that.) And Oreo cookies! It’s like a care package, only no one had to care. I also snagged some real Chinese things, a few North African goodies, and a Polish pickle because there are no Jews around here, thus no kosher pickles.

Orange Crush in France! The new section in the grocery store is there mostly for the other-than-French ethnic groups that live in the area. But Orange Crush, that’s like American, right?

Ya know, there are people back home who are thoroughly convinced I moved to France to become a Communist and join the Taliban. So I guess having these bottles in the house will just seal my conviction. Oh well.

Follow me, don't follow me
I've got my spine, I've got my orange crush
Collar me, don't collar me
I've got my spine, I've got my orange crush
We are agents of the free…
posted by Doc at 08:34 | Permalink | 0 comments
20 September 2006
Only because there was a Dead Milkmen video left in the comments...
...and anybody cool enough to do something like that deserves a response. So, here are my answers to the Five Things to Eat Before Being Eaten (by worms or dust mites depending on my fate) Meme dear Guffie left me:

One: I've had a bad hunkering for a plate of fried scrimps lately, but not just any ole fried scrimps. I NEEDS me some fried scrimps from Middle of the Isle on Wrightsville Beach, North Cackalacki. This was regular lunch fare back when I worked at the brokerage firm in Wilmington, and at the time, for a whopping $6.50 you could get a HUGE plate of fried shrimp with three vegetables (or one vegetable and a salad) and an iced tea. And if you called ahead, it would be waiting for you. They were even kind enough to toss in a little thing of homemade ranch dressing to dip my shrimp in. And it was heavenly. MOI was, probably still is, one of those hole in the wall dives, a place you'd look at from the outside and say to yourself, "There ain't no way in hell I'm eatin' there." But as you waddled away from the table, you were oh-so-glad you did. Crap, I'm drooling already.

Two: My mother was born and raised in Baltimore, and I spent a large part of my growing-up years living on the Intracoastal Waterway. This meant that we often ate crab--not any ole crab, mind you, but lovely Blue crab. MMMM. Mom always had friends in the right places, and we'd often wake up on a Saturday or Sunday morning and find a five gallon bucket full of those wonderful crustaceans sitting at our door. Mom would take them in and steam them, often calling Sister the Second (who loved crab probably more than my mother) so she could hear them scream as she put them in the steamer. Then we'd pick and eat--not only did this mean negative calories (you can burn more calories picking crabs than eating them--it's labor intensive), but there was an entire ceremony that went along with it--the laying of the newspaper, the placing of all the nut crackers and picks and extra Old Bay seasoning and melted butter. Good food, good conversations. I needs me some crab, too.

Would you believe me at this point if I told you I really am not a fan of seafood? I'm not.

Three: While I'm not going to be able to make it back home this year to see family, my Sister in Law is coming to Europe later this year on a tour with her mom, a sister and a friend, so I hope to shed some of this at times unbearable homesickness. They'll be touring the Rhine river and hitting the Christmas markets and we plan on meeting up in Strasbourg. Any excuse to go to Strasbourg is a good excuse in my book, because good food is to be had there. For number three we can count any Alsatian specialty, be it tarte flambée or baeckeoffe, or even choucroute--just seems odd to me, with my German, sauerkraut-eating roots, that the French claim it as a specialty, but Marc assures me Alsace is Alsace, not France.

Four: I think I'll continue the food tour, and head over to Asia now, to Thailand specifically, where I'd love to sit down to a big fat bowl of Pad Ki Mow (if memory serves me correctly--I have a hard enough time with English and French, so forgive me if Thai isn't a strong point). Its a dish of wide flat rice noodles, chunky veggies, and different meats all stir-fried together in these spices that are just... I'm drooling again. It's wonderful, and I so need to taste it in the proper setting.

Five: I think I'll cheat here and put not a thing I want to eat, but a way to eat. It's my blog and I can cheat if I want to, cheat if I want to, cheat if I want to...sorry. I'd like to sit down to either Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner with my entire family, just for once in my life, now that I'm old enough to remember it and appreciate it. It would be nice if we could all learn to get along, or at least learn to keep our mouths shut when needed. Just once. So if Marc and I ever can afford to make it home again, we won't have the added expense of driving to all corners of the country to see the people we need to see. But I have as much chance of seeing that dream come true as my grand-mother does of getting a glass of ice water where she's hanging out.

I need to go beat my kids and work on the mountain of laundry waiting for me in front of the washing machine. So now, Cathy, Linda, Crispy? DeeDee? Y'all it? Maybe?
posted by Doc at 09:14 | Permalink | 1 comments
18 September 2006
Living with strangers
Nothing much is going on here. No, I guess that'’s not exactly true. There'’s nothing going on in the areas I need to progress (those areas being in and around that damned edifice we thought we'’d be calling home by now). All other areas (those being all things concerned with my children) are busy--like crazy busy. So, instead of boring you with the non-existent details of all the non-existent work not going on in our existent-but ever-so-very-badly made house, I'll give you a boring update on my very wonderful monkeys.

Piglet is now eight months old. Why is it that pregnancy passes so slowly, but once the baby has fled the uterus time shoots into overdrive? I was pregnant with her for nine thousand years yet she was only born yesterday. Ugh. Time, you's one nasty beyotch! Anyway, she's now known as the Mad Mobile Midget. Why? It's one of those things I can't quite describe. You have to see her in action. We put her in her walker and she's off, like a mad dog, tearing up everything in her path. She's mad, she's mobile, and, for the time being at least, she looks like a midget (though this too shall change--she's already much taller than the babies who are older than she is). She's charming and adorable, and when she cocks her head over to the side and sticks her tongue out at you it melts your heart. If it doesn't, there is something inherently wrong with you and you should be exterminated. She's active, like very active, like we need to glue her down or else she's gone again active. Not only can she sit up and crawl, she can pull herself to her feet and skootch around the play pen--and the living room if I leave her on the floor long enough. And she can walk, if you hold her hands. She likes to jump too, though she doesn't quite get off the ground. She does go through the motions, though, holding on to the bars of her crib or play pen and my God her legs are strong. Speaking of those legs of hers, everyone remarks about her fluffy thighs--until she kicks them, that is. That's ain't baby fat, y'all. She loves music and has a special place for some of her mom's favorites. Alanis Morissette makes her very happy, and probably ranks up there as her favorite. She also like the really hard stuff, and Marc has taken to calling her the 'punk rock girl'. And she's still a redhead--though thankfully without the temper. I hope this never changes--the temper part.

Muppet, my darling monkey boy, spends his days going back and forth between being the most wonderful little boy ever and being the person on top of the list of all the folks I want to beat senseless. He refuses to take a nap anymore, although we still lock him in his room for a while in the afternoon. He punishes us for this misdeed by destroying everything he can reach--and some things he can't. Today I found the entire box of plastic for the diaper pail pulled out and strewn across the bedroom. This tiny disaster only served to hide the fact that all of his books (though thankfully none of mine) we're strewn about underneath. He was, of course, out of bed and running around his room when I came to get him. When I opened his door he greeted me with a "Coucou mama! Ca va?" or "Hiya mama! How are you?" like I wouldn't notice that WWIII had just taken place behind him. He's talking all the time now, and his vocabulary grows every day at astonishing rates. You can actually have real conversations with him now, so long as these conversations center around tractors or motorcycles and their various paraphernalia. I am beginning to see how things work inside his head, and I'm frightened to see that he's not the little boy I thought he was. The more he is able to communicate, the more I realize I'll never really know him as well as I'd like. He's full of surprises and every day shocks me at least once. Potty training is still an on-going thing and he's really making progress so I shouldn't complain, but I'd love for it to go a lot quicker. There I go wishing his youth away again--I'm a horrible mom.

And of course, as I'm still in computer purgatory, I can't post any pictures to dazzle you all with. That's a problem I'm working on, slowly but steadily, with bouts of cleaning up behind Muppet and Piglet and myself tossed in. No, I don't see the end yet, but as I try to do about the house, don't loose hope.
posted by Doc at 17:48 | Permalink | 0 comments
15 September 2006
Yesterday I got up because my kids were screaming. At 7. In the morning. They didn't fall asleep until after midnight the night before. Ugh!

I reheated leftovers for lunch. Our fridge is tiny and eating leftovers as soon as possible is the only way to live with the thing. You have to realize I'm not really a leftovers kind of gal—stupid, as I usually cook for an army.

I then deposited the Mad Mobile Midget at her grandmother's house and strapped the Flying Monkey in the car for a trip to the grocery store. We were almost out of baby food, and if the M3 was going to eat that night, we had to get this done. We also had to go by the cell phone shop to get Marc's phone issues worked out.

I got home in time to stash all the groceries in their respective holes in the wall, call the ESIL and ask for a hand watching the kids, change quickly—no time to do my hair, and take off for the opening of the old pharmacy at the old hospital in Joinville. (By old, I mean from the middle ages—with lots of the gear used through the ages and several books of recipes used until standardized pharmacy rules came out back in the late 18th century—neat stuff, but so glad to be alive today, and not then—especially after reading the procedures used in case of breech presentation during birth.) After a quick little cocktail—the canapés had been prepared by the restaurant staff at the hospital, then stuck into one of those push-around refridgeration units where they FROZE, but the punch was good—and spiked—I hurried back home to make dinner.

We had fried shrimp, which I picked up at LeClerc for half price because the expiration date is fast approaching, cole-slaw and mashed potatoes. I needed a bit of home, even if the texture and taste were completely off. Then we celebrated with a big fat slice of cake. Celebrated what? Our anniversary, silly. Couldn’t you tell?

Here we are, four years later, with two kids, a mortgage—without the house, and we’re still talking to each other—most days. We aren’t exactly where we thought we’d be by now, but then we both had different ideas about things four years ago. This last year has probably been the hardest—a rotten pregnancy, farm issues, and the never-ending house nightmare have put both of us just a tad bit more than a little on edge. But whatever the problems have been, we’ve always, at one point or another, managed to come back around to what was and is important to us—our love for each other and our determination to make this work.
posted by Doc at 09:10 | Permalink | 0 comments
13 September 2006
I'm not really here...
The Evil Monkeys have decided tonight is not a night for sleeping. The older monkey throws a fit every time I close the door to their bedroom, and as Marc's computer is right in front of their door, I'm passing my guard duty time on-line. Woohoo (said with dripping sarcasm).

Evil Monkey 1, the escape artist, amuses himself by climbing out of his crib, slinking over to his sister's, and climing up and in next to her. Honestly sometimes this is a good thing. She worships him, and there are nights when his presence is the only thing that calms her down. But most of the time, sadly, he ends up waking her up, and then they both start up with the non-stop giggling and laughter and furntiure rearranging.

Evil Monkey 2 has recently discovered how to stand up in the bed. This means those days I thought would be peaceful, those days of calm, they're gone. GONE. She now, whenever we put her down for the night, has to make sure she remembers exactly how to stand, and then has to slink around the bed, twice, rather like a dog following his tail before laying down. At this very moment, she's holding on the the top bar of her crib and jumping on the damn electronic dog her God-father got her at birth. Her brother is cheering her on. It's almost midnight.

Dear Lord, please make them go to sleep. I'm so tired.
posted by Doc at 23:20 | Permalink | 0 comments
12 September 2006
Please forgive my bit of absenteeism, but I've had another run-in with that Murphy guy. You know, the one who sits back laughing while everything that can go wrong does? Him. He likes me. A lot. Too much, actually.

Friday and Saturday I had to help out the tourist office with a shin-dig in Joinville. The object was to let all the folks in Joinville and the surronding towns know what associations are out there for them to enjoy. We're an association, so, of course, we qualify. Part of our presentation was a big fat Power Point slide show and since we had such a small space, I offered to bring in my computer and flat screen monitor. I know, I'm really nice.

I showed up and set the computer up and got things running. It seemed like all was going well. I had to unplug both my tower and monitor so the folks at the next table could plug in their power strip, and we could use our own multi-socket extension cord--the one that finally showed up an hour later than it was supposed to. So I plugged everything back in and turn the computer on and...


...no more hard drive. It decided to die at that very moment. It was impossible to get my machine running.

We went back and stole an old computer from the tourist office (fortunately we have a few lying around) and we're able to continue with the forum, but my computer, it seemed, was toast. And as my monitor and cables were all stuck at the convention, I couldn't do very much about it until the end of the weekend.

The end rolls around, and I pack everything up--alone, since my colleague never showed up. Thanks Jean-Louis! I'm feelin' the love. I finally got home and had to make dinner for the reduced Saturday night crew--no time to get everything hooked up again, much less do anything about it.

So Sunday morning rolls around. Marc and I have been talking about rearranging things here, since we're obviously not moving in the near future, and trying to make this tiny space a bit more livable. My computer usually sits in the living room, in a corner, squished between the TV and the wall and blocked in by the couch. It's not an ideal situation at all. And as I'm using an ottoman as a computer desk, the entire get-up is rather unstable. The fans also pick up a lot of dust from the upholstry. Before we even hooked up the first cable, we'd decided we need to find a new home for my computer.

I spent the entire afternoon Sunday trying and retrying to get my machine working. The only thing worse than the embarrassment of having my machine crap out right at the moment I needed it most was realizing that all the pictures I've ever taken of my children are on that hard drive and that I haven't back them up since before Piglet-girl was born. I wasn't about to give those photos up with out a fight.

And damn, what a fight it was. To make a long story short, I ended up having to install a different hard drive, reinstall XP on it and then run check disk on the old hard drive. That took care of the problem, fortunately, and I have since backed-up everything I cannot possibly let go. So, technically I'm up and runing again. Technically.

See, there's still the problem of finding a new home for my computer. For now it is sitting downstairs, all of its various parts disconnected, waiting, and doing so more patiently than I ever could--but then it is an inanimate object, right?

OK, maybe not. But I need to find it a new spot, and that's easier said than done. So, if I'm not back for a while, please understand it's not because I don't love you. I do--you guys are a drug and I'm completely addicted. But I need to organize my crap a bit, and that means calling in the heavy equipment--and moving furniture (alone, always alone). Gros bisous et à bientôt!
posted by Doc at 09:01 | Permalink | 0 comments
07 September 2006
Further down the spiral
This morning I tried to write about our trip yesterday to Paris, to tell you all how proud I was of our children and how well they coped with an eight-and-a-half hour car trip, overcrowded and not-at-all air-conditioned public transport, and the crowds of people packed into the streets of Paris. I wanted to write about how I still hate the City of Lights, how driving on the Francilienne and inner-loop turns my hands into white plaster casts of themselves from gripping the door handle too tight, and how the pollution makes the sky turn the not-quite-gray color that we used to use for Vampire make-up. I wanted to tell you all about the guy at the consulate who has a very nice voice, the two (can you believe it—two!) people who offered to help us carry our brood up the stairs of the Metro, and the chick who offered me her seat so I could sit down with Muppet. I was even going to mention the continuing saga of the Welshman (who has, in fact, fled the camp after even more problems). Events, however, have conspired against me and I wasn’t able to get the words out of my head and onto the screen before the next downhill adventure started.

This morning the “expert” came to see our house. Our builder and the contractors were supposed to be there, but as one has filed bankruptcy and the other was on vacation and didn’t receive the certified letter telling him of this meeting, we were stuck there alone. With the expert, that is. I was honestly expecting the worst—that we’d have to raze the building and start again. We’re not insured for that. Our builder apparently never had any insurance of any type, so he’s not insured for that. And the contractor? Who knows? We’re really concerned most with the water coming in through the walls from the balcony whenever it rains. Once it freezes here it could cause the walls to crack and, well, there’d be no more reason to worry about razing the house because it’d just fall down on its own accord.

Oddly enough our expert didn’t seem too concerned about that. Like the builder, he’s of the opinion that the prefabricated cement blocks that make up our floor should be finished off with a type of screed—one, in the case of the balcony, that prevents the water from coming through. For him, it’s a small detail. Huh? Yeah. Keep reading, it gets better.

I think I’ve said it before, but every time we go up the hill we find something else in that place that just IS NOT RIGHT. Today’s big surprises were:

Finding that the ceiling in what should be our bedroom is starting to fall down. FALL. DOWN. It’s all covered in mold too, and we have no idea where the moisture causing that is coming from. And

Finding out that the entire network of beams holding the roof on our house is made in such a way that the expert thinks the ENTIRE ROOF MIGHT CAVE IN as soon as the snow starts falling. Dude, we didn’t even think there was anything wrong with the roof—well, other than those three leaks that come in around two of the windows. We surely didn’t think the fucker might cave in on us.

I’m a bit freaked out at the moment. A few days ago Marc and I were thinking of just tossing in the towel and doing whatever needed doing ourselves so we could move. But if we move, my kids’ rooms with be right under the ROOF OF DEATH. So no, I don’t think that is still an option.

Mr. Expert wants to give the contractor a chance to do what needs to be done. Honestly, we’re kind of OK with that. I mean, he didn’t get notice of the meeting today (granted it’s because he was off on vacation spending our money). Fair is fair, and if the guy can get his crap together and do what needs to be done, well, we’re down with that. But if he chooses not to, or misses the next meeting, or screws up one tiny little thing as he’s redoing things, then we go to court.

Of course, this all means we won’t be moving in the near future. In a best case scenario, we’re looking at the end of December. That means that the contractor admits his faults and tries to fix them. If not, well, it’ll take another year or so. Another YEAR. Or so. So it could be more.

To say I’m in a funk is putting things lightly. That third baby—it ain’t happening . We don’t have space for the two we’ve got. There’s no way I can get down to any serious writing as I’ve got my PC stuck on top of the ottoman which is shoved into the corner and blocked by the couch. The endless delays have eaten up what was left of our budget. We’re no longer going home. There’s no money left. I’m almost ready to rent out my uterus on eBay so we can eat this winter.

I really cannot deal with this anymore. The stress this house has caused is tearing Marc and I apart. Everything we argue about—from money to space to time—all of it is connected to the house. I think we can try to keep from killing those who caused the house problems, but I’m beginning to wonder if we can keep from killing each other.
posted by Doc at 14:33 | Permalink | 0 comments
05 September 2006
Getting rid of the Welshman…
...is taking a lot longer than any of us expected. See, he was supposed to get his boat out of the water, fix it, paint it and then take off for Italy, Spain, and all points south. That was the original plan. Once he got the boat out, though, he found out he’d not be able to get the repairs he needed done until after the first of September. He decided to pass that time here painting our house.

Well, we have no house to paint, so he took on Véro’s place, and did a smashing job. But he’s good, damn good, and he knocked her place out in no time flat. What to do?

Well, he’s driven the tractor a few times, cleaned the combine, piddled around with some other little chores that, while nowhere near as important as painting my house—for example—have and will save us lots of time later on—us being Marc, of course.

At the end of August, we called up the port where the boat is stashed to confirm that work would be able to start on (or even around) the first. Nope. He’d been pushed back to the fifteenth.

With that in mind, he decided to head out for Italy anyway. Once there, he’d pick up a car and then meander his way back north, work on his boat, then take off for Spain. No problems.

(Might I just add here that the way he deals with these ‘no problem’ situations is infinitely more laid back than I could possibly ever do—even if I were sedated to the point of being comatose.)

So, how to get Mr. W to Italy? Train? Takes too long. Plane? Ryanair out of Paris or Brussels is cheap as chips—if you get your ticket six billion years in advance. Hey, why not hitch a ride with a truck driver?! I mean, c’mon, this is Mr. Welshy we’re talking about. His life is one big adventure. So yeah, why not. Marc called a friend of a friend who just happened to be heading down to Italy today. Sweet! Arrangements were made and we had a celebration dinner for the leaving of the Welshman…

All Mr. W has talked about his entire time here has been cheese. Yummy, yummy cheese—all full of cheesy goodness and strong odors. MMM MMM CHEESE. So, to say good-bye, we, of course, had Raclette. Yummy, cheesy, (light? Bwahahaha) Raclette. All I can say is Mr. W was a very happy (stuffed) person.

So today he should be gone, right? Well, not quite. See, when Mr. Truck-driving Friend person arrived to get loaded, well, he ended up not going to Italy. Oops!

So what to do ?

Well, tomorrow we have to drive to Paris to get Christine’s passport and Consular Report of Birth Abroad done. Bless you SNCF—driving is actually so much cheaper this go ‘round. While I’d much rather take the train—no worries about parking—I’m not quite ready to shell out the over 120€ for two tickets to Paris. That’s just rigoddamndiculous. So, we’re going to drive to Nanterre—on the other side of Paris from where we live—and hide our car in a friend’s garage.

And now we’re taking the Welshman along with us. He’s taking the over-night train into Milan where he’ll catch another train to take him on to wherever it is he’s going.

So if any of you out there in Gay Paris need a bit of painting done, I can lend you the Welshman for the afternoon. You just have to buy me lunch.

Update: Well, ain’t Murphy just a big fat beyotch! While driving into Chaumont to get Christine’s passport pictures done, my better half called to let me know the Friendly Neighborhood Truck Driver called—he’s got a colleague going to Italy tomorrow, are we still interested? Well, duh! 145€ for an overnight train ticket or the chance to see some scenery while springing for a couple of meals? So we went to the gare to get the ticket refunded. Later on Marc’s cell phone rings. I jokingly say, “That’s the truck driver calling to tell you he’s not going to Italy bwahahaha.” Sometimes my psychic abilities amaze me. It was indeed the truck driver. But instead of canceling he’s just put Mr. Welshy off for a few hours. He’s stuck in Lille overnight, so packing him off in the morning is not possible. He’ll have to wait until early afternoon, but he will be going…barring any more phone calls. Ugh!
posted by Doc at 09:13 | Permalink | 0 comments
01 September 2006
more food
Last night we went out to eat with the Welshman and the Evil SIL. I’d told Mr. W about the ferme auberge where I’d done my stage back in the days of the ole CCTAR and he seemed more than a little interested in munching on some duck. I’d tried to get us in for last weekend, but the owner, a very nice lady by the name of Marie-Line, informed me there was (very literally) no room at the inn. She offered us a table last night, though, and as I was starting to have a hankering for some duck, I jumped all on it. Mmmmm Duck!

We got there early enough to take Muppet on a tour of the animal farm. They keep a few trophy ducks in a little pond, and have a few miniature goats, a couple of sheep, rabbits, chickens, and two pigs so the kids have something interesting to look at. Honestly Muppet would have been happy with just the tractors, but it was cute seeing him yell at the pigs.

We went in and I popped into the kitchen to say hi to all the folks I know. The plates were all lined up and ready to go, the smells were all as yummy as before, but I have to say it was a bit odd after that, going and sitting down in the dining room. While I’d eaten there several times, it was always as part of the staff, hidden away in the kitchen or some place out of view. This was my first time as a paying customer.

And boy, the food is just so much better on the customer’s side of the door! We had the old standard menus—Marc and Mr. W with the magret and Véro and I with the cuisse confit—this, of course, after the entrée of foie gras, rillettes, terrine, and smoked sliced duck breast served with salad and edible flowers and stuff—more than a meal in itself. After, a big fat platter of cheese was massacred at our table. My husband and SIL are very good at massacring cheese, and the Welsh dude is getting better every day. And then, as I’m friends with the chef and all, we had the honor of testing their new line of desserts—home made ice-cream. Marc is always willing to sacrifice himself for these types of causes. You need volunteers, Marc’s there! We got to taste the sorbet made with cherries—yummy!—the ice-cream made with mirabelles—yummy too—and the home-made coffee ice-cream that made Véro (who never really likes coffee anything) think about asking for seconds. Then on to coffee (except for Véro who had tea) and la goût!

The odd thing about last night was the other clientele. Droyes is pretty much lost in the country—granted, it is near the Lac du Der, but it’s still in the middle of nowhere. The distinguished older gentleman at the next table kept making eyes at Christine and when he picked up his napkin and started playing peek-a-boo I knew. I told Marc, no one says peek-a-boo like that unless they’re American. But this is Droyes, a place not quite on the American Tourist’s Map of France. So I didn’t quite believe it possible. Sure enough, he is American—from New Mexico. He and his wife live in the Ardennes region-right next door basically. They’ve recently moved to France (or back to, in the wife’s case) and were enjoying a bit of a holiday on the lake.

I guess the world keeps getting smaller. My belly, on the other hand, not so much. MMMMM Duck!
posted by Doc at 09:24 | Permalink | 0 comments