29 October 2006
Comfort Food
My mother often complained about raising me “wrong”. Why? Because I had a serious aversion to good home-cooked food during my terrible teens. She often blamed herself for this, as she often fed me, from a very young age (like birth) processed, pre-packaged foods. During one visit to the pediatrician, a nurse explained to her that she need not waste money on the pre-packaged juice bottle I was sipping on, as one could just as easily arrive at the same thing by adding water with regular juice and pouring it into a regular bottle. My mother’s response was something to the effect that she already knew this, I was her fourth and final child, and I was going to go in style.

In style 10 or so years later meant I wouldn’t touch any of the stuff she cooked, or half the stuff my father cooked. She despaired as night after night Swanson’s and Tyson’s TV dinners along with Tostino’s pepperoni pizzas became the mainstay of my diet. Prepackaged, convenient, and, while not super tasty, they were, in my humble adolescent opinion, better than the spaghetti, chicken, and, God-forbid, Hamburger Soup my mother would dish out.

I had a bit of an epiphany eventually. I began to cook and by the time I finished high school, had developed enough of a curiosity in food to actually eat something that resembled what it was supposed to be. My earliest specialty was a turkey breast steamed in white wine and served with a creamy mushroom sauce. The first time I made it was for my father (it was father’s day) and I was tickled to actually be cooking with wine (ha! if I’d have only known…). The fact that he ate all that I had prepared and still wanted more (I’d made a lot, too) only fueled the cooking fires, so to speak.

Fast forward some few years and here I am in the food capital of the world. France! Home of great wine and great food. And dinner? Ha! You know, roots is weird thangs. Tonight's menu: Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and green beans—TV Dinner fare! But progress has been made: it was all home cooked.

Oh, and that Hamburger Soup? Still hate it.
posted by Doc at 21:09 | Permalink | 0 comments
28 October 2006
how i feel today...
posted by Doc at 11:20 | Permalink | 0 comments
25 October 2006
…is just all around me this morning. Piglet is in the baby-prison (we did let her out most of the morning) practicing being a politician. She repeats “Blah!” over and over again in several different types of voices. Sometimes she’s serious, sometimes humorous, but always she’s in total control of the conversation. Blah! indeed.

Muppet is occupying himself under the couch—or half under as his legs are technically still outside of the under the couch area. He’s chasing the cat who has already fled to the other side of the room and is laughing at him.

Marc was kind enough to let me sleep in this morning. I haven’t needed this much sleep since Muppet was en-wombed, back in the days of sleeping 18 hours a day. At least when I sleep I don’t feel nauseous. Well, not usually. In the hour I’ve been up I’ve managed to put a chicken in the oven and pass things from the chest freezer to the freezer compartment of my dream fridge that I broke down and asked Marc to bring down from the other house (along with the dishwasher) because I can’t live with a fridge the size of a large suitcase anymore (or dishes stacked to the ceiling). Oh, and I got the mail. I’ve been invited to a thing at the chateau in Joinville to celebrate 120 years of happiness between France and Korea on the 7th. Marc’s out of town that day, so if any of you are interested, please let me know. I need a date.

And Marc has gone off to sell his peas. Or at least try to. Farming is just sooooooo much work for so little money. And so much stress, and so much pain-in-the-buttness. We need to win the damn lottery so this farming gig can become a hobby or, better yet, a memory.

The expert passed again yesterday, along with the guy who screwed up all the work on our house, and I have very mixed feelings about the whole thing. I can’t go into detail because I just can’t bring myself to think about it that much. But apparently the guy says he wants to put things right. He’s got until the end of December to redo all the ceilings, the walls upstairs that are wobbly, replace all the door jambs and two very moldy doors, and fix the beams in the roof—which he claims aren’t his fault, and that he needs to check with the people who designed and built the roofing system, blah, blah (blah is just more pleasant when is comes out of Christine’s mouth). In any case, it’s looking more and more like we’ll end up bringing baby number three home here first and I cannot begin to explain how helpless and lost and without hope that feels. The depth of my hate for this house, the lack of space, and all the problems my marriage and children have had to endure because of it just puts me in a place no human should ever have to go.
posted by Doc at 11:18 | Permalink | 0 comments
19 October 2006
Nancy Reagan can kiss my lily white arse
Just say no? Don’t work, hon. I want to know which of you birches out there has been selling my husband the Ruffies.

Here is my list of suspects:

Buzzgirl. You top the list. Why? Because of this comment you made: “Whoa, dude. You're pregnant?!! I TOTALLY missed that. Note to self: must stop smoking crack.” Yep, I’m all for putting the crack pipe down. Amazing how much crap I missed, too.

Catherine. You’re a close second. “I swear I didn't know that germs could be passed via blog.” Riiiiight. I’m supposed to believe that? Regular germs might not pass this way, but apparently the Gee-My-Uterus-Just-Pops-Kids-Out-One-Right-After-The-Other germs pass just fine.

D from Fla, Ms. Pardon my French (indeed!), and Dear Aimee in Gay Paris y’all all rank up there, too. Misery loves company, right? But damn. Why me? WHY?

Yes, if you haven’t figured out the cryptic shit, the rabbit died. Again. For the third time. In less than three years. I can hear my mother laughing. “You have three kids in three years and people look at you like you are dumber than a box of rocks.”

Hello, my name is Doris, and I am dumber than a box of rocks.

PS: Happy Birthday Poopee--looks like you're ending up with ten after all. Sorry you're not around to share the fun.
posted by Doc at 22:50 | Permalink | 0 comments
13 October 2006
telegram from hell
am alive stop
will write more when not comatose stop
house under quarantine stop
life basically sucks stop
please send tissues and that super cough medicine with codeine stop
posted by Doc at 23:18 | Permalink | 0 comments
10 October 2006
Another adventure in potty training
We’ve been trying, with varying degrees of success, to get Muppet out of diapers and on the potty. Some days are really good. Others less so. Yesterday though, he found a new trick.

We now leave Muppet out of diapers during the day. We’ll put one on for nap time and for night time, but otherwise, he’s a normal diaper-free kid. And he’s pretty good about going on the potty. There are three set up around the house—two little pots and a ring that re-sizes the normal potty so he doesn’t fall in. The choice, for someone of his age, is incredible.

But apparently not enough.

Yesterday he pulled out a stacking bucket from his toy box. It’s from a group of 15 or so little buckets that can be stacked one on top of the other or, if turned around, fit one inside the other. So he pulls the little bucket out and proceeds to pulls his jeans off. No big deal, right? One of the potties was right there next to him.

Once his butt’s in the air he put the little bucket on the floor right next to the potty and tried aiming for it. OH NO! I managed to avert the problem with only a dribble in the little bucket which I took into the kitchen to clean.

He followed, letting me know the depth of his discontent. I told him he had to go on the potty. That’s what potties are for. So while I was cleaning the little bucket he disappeared into the living room—home of the potty. Yeah! This being a mom thing ain’t so bad.

Wrong. Two minutes later I hear him freak out, yelling to me that something is broken. Broken? I didn’t hear a crash. What’s wrong Muppet?

In the living room he won’t look at me, keeps his back to me, and tells me his zizi is cassé—broken. A quick glance tells me there’s nothing in the potty, but there’s nothing on the floor either, so we’re OK there. Whew, no major clean-up on aisle five. Back to the broken zizi problem.

After what felt like an eternity (real time = 3 seconds) I get the monkey turned around and discover his zizi is stuck in a half liter coke bottle that he’s half filled with peepee.

They don’t cover this shit in birth class.
posted by Doc at 09:21 | Permalink | 0 comments
05 October 2006
The reception…
…is usually the one thing I look forward to when I’m dragged off to a wedding. The French have a no-holds-barred mentality when it comes to letting the good times roll, and lets face it, these days I need all the free booze I can get (especially with the continuing saga of the Nightmare House—but that’s for another day).

So we followed the happy couple, in the bride’s father’s Chrysler complete with American Flag, to the reception, tooting our horns and making mayhem as is the norm here. (The French have this interesting tradition of turning this journey into a parade of sorts, and honestly it never ceases to make me happy to the point of tears. Everyone following the couple blows their horns and makes all kinds of noise, and the folks we pass along the way all wave and smile and cheer.)

We found a pretty good place to park and then tried to figure out how to cart around both monkeys, who decided to fall asleep on the quick drive over. After packing them into various carriers/strollers, we filled in the card we picked out for the couple, wrote in a quick check, and headed over to meet up with S&M and Vi & Mô.

We said a quick hello to the couple, their parents, etc., and made our way over to The Table—you know The Table, the one where all the food and alcohol is to be found. I grabbed up a big fat glass of sparkling crémant d’Alsace, served in a red wine glass (hooray!) because they’d already run out of champagne glasses. Oh hurt me—more space for mind-numbing bubbles! We all munched and drank inside for a while until the heat and (for some of us at least) dire need of a smokey-treat overtook us.

Outside the weather was just short of perfect. We formed our little group near the trash cans where I eventually set Piglet’s play pen up (yes, right in the middle of the road, but hey, it was blocked by the caterers’ truck and besides, it’s got wheels, so if we needed to evacuate we could do so quickly and without problem). We joked and carried on as we usually do. One thing about Marc’s friends, no matter how long it’s been since they last saw each other, all that time evaporates in seconds and they pick up right where they left off.

We made occasional forays inside to restock our provisions—especially those little pizzas they had which were some kind of yummy—and refill our glasses. And then we heard the big announcement.

I was standing right next to Vi at the time—the two of us cracking jokes and singing the SNCF song and carrying on in our unintelligible mix of English, French and Southern (yes it is a language all its own, thankya) when we heard over the PA “…spectacle américaine…”. Vi and I both made eyes at each other like “What did we do?” followed by the inquisitive, “What do they want us to do?”. But it had nothing to do with us. A band took the stage and all those folks with their fringe-y leather and cowboy hats started line dancing.

Vi and I were instantly transported back to our youth, one full of rednecks and Freedom Rock? Turn It Up, Man! We couldn’t bring ourselves to go have a look-see, so I don’t know if they danced well at all or not. I did notice though, on a food run, that they were doing the Electric Slide to Lynyrd Skynyrd which just seems wrong, ya know.

Vi & Mô and S & M had been seated at different tables, but managed to get that sorted out with the bride. Having the crew together is dangerous, but having them apart is somehow worse. Marc and I, because he got roped into being the Best Man-thing, were stuck up at the big table in front of everyone (good thing I got my hair cut) and like nine miles from the Fab 4. Woe is me! And yes, I spent a little over five hours complaining about that fact. (Not only were we far from the buddies, but I was stuck at the end of the table, alone—grrr!)

The menus were rather cryptic, and it took us a while to figure out what we were going to eat that night. Things finally settled down, and we were able to put our guesses to the test. The only thing we missed was the gratin served with the roast beef, but hey, I need to back up a bit.

We started with a cocktail of sorts, served with Bugles. Vi and I were a bit aghast to see them placing plates and plates of Bugles on the tables, but given the flag on the car, all that fringe, and the Skynyrd-slide that we’d already witnessed, I’m not even sure why, in retrospect, we even noticed Bugles on the table.

After the toasts were made, and a rather moving speech by the father of the groom about how they chopped wood to send their kids to university and now the son who had just married and works for Trésor Publique was going back and tracking down all that wood they never claimed on their taxes, blah, blah, blah, we got down to the business of eating.

We were then served soup, cream of white asparagus soup to be exact (I had to ask), which really wasn’t bad. In fact, it was good enough that I had seconds. But the tastiness of the soup didn’t prevent me from running over to the Fab 4 and giving my politically incorrect color food commentary. (I won’t share here because Vi told me it was wrong, just plain ole wrong to say things like that, even though she almost blew champagne out her nose with laughter.)

After the soup, we had scallops and other dead sea creatures mixed with cream and chopped up veggies and burned up under a grill, followed by what most of us in France have seen listed as a Colonel on menus—a bit of lemon sorbet with vodka poured over the top—this is to cleanse the palate you know, because while we can line dance to Skynyrd, dude, we still got some class. Still, anything with vodka is a good thing in my book—not that I needed any more alcohol in my system at that point.

The main course was roast beef with grilled veggies on a stick and gratin dauphinois. The beef was actually very tender, tender enough to surprise the hell out of me as I always find beef here to be rather leathery. They then gave us a nice plate with five different cheeses and a bit of salad that had a garlicky sauce on it. Mmm. Wine, bubbles, vodka and now garlic. Who was a happy camper?

By this point I’d fallen in good with the sister of the groom, the other Best Man, who cracks me up. She is a bit rounder than I am and she showed up with these Shocking Pink splotches in her hair. She is Shocking Pink, though, and we had a good time laughing about everything (and almost everyone for that matter).

The band had started back up again for the beginning of the dinner. They played classic rock from the 60s man. CCR, Skynyrd, Clapton—you know, good wedding music. I tried, unsuccessfully, to get Vi to come sing while I stole someone’s guitar, but she was having no parts of it. The band wasn’t actually that bad, and the singer had a half way decent accent and as much as I laughed at them (because I did—a lot) I was sad to see them go…especially after the DJ took over. Because he kept hitting the up button on the volume control all night long. Have you ever heard music so loud it made you nauseous? That’s how loud it was. And my kids were in there!

We eventually packed the kids off to the car, which we pulled around to the back door so I felt a little less like a horrible mother abandoning her kids in a parking lot. They fell asleep right away and we had cake.

Yep, the bride and groom finally got around to that bit of work somewhere around 1 in the morning. There was chocolate and some other fruity flavored kind, and they were both OK. I’ve had better. I’ve also had worse.

We all left around 2. Vi and Mô headed home, but not before passing me some Kool-Aid and a buncha books Squishy sent back on Vi’s last visit home. S & M, Marc and I headed back to our gîte and we had no problem getting the kids to bed. Amen. Oddly enough the boys didn’t feel up to playing cards again.

Sunday there was the after party lunch with all the out-of-towners which fortunately didn’t last long. See, I had a touch of food poisoning. Touch? More like I got back handed. Apparently so did Vi, and Marc wasn’t excused either. Ugh. Fun stuff. So after puking all afternoon and evening Sunday, I woke up Monday morning feeling much better, though wrung out, and we packed the car back up and headed home to drop off the kids and make the drive to Besançon to see the lawyer. And here folks, is where I’ll leave you for today. I just can’t fathom any more of the Horrible House business today, and besides, you’re probably bored stiff by now. I’ll save my rant for another day
posted by Doc at 17:27 | Permalink | 0 comments
04 October 2006

Doesn't this just tickle your ovaries?
posted by Doc at 13:21 | Permalink | 0 comments
03 October 2006
The wedding...
…happened. They did it. They signed all the papers. They said “oui” to all the questions. Basically, they went and ruined their lives. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but I still believe marriage is an institution and no one in their right mind puts themselves in an institution. It was a nice wedding. The alcohol flowed like water, the nibbles before the meal were good, the meal itself was interesting and the happy couple were stunningly beautiful.
But the weekend…ugh!

Friday morning we packed up the car to take off on the four hour drive north to the po-dinky town where we’d rented a gîte for eight. We ended up only being four, plus the two kids, so we had a lot of space. S&M were to arrive later that night, but alas, SNCF worked their magic again. Not only were all the trains from Grenoble to Lyon canceled (apparently the SNCF goes on strike a day later there than the in rest of the country), but after driving to Lyon themselves to catch the TGV north, they arrived to find that the car they’d reserved for the weekend was gone. They were stranded at the train station. No worries, though. Marc went and got them and I stayed with the kids. The groom showed up, looking like he’d been wrung out hard—his grandfather had died the night before and he'd been on the road a lot that day—and when Marc got back with the kids from the south we sat down for a light meal of spaghetti carbonara and salad with ice cream cones for dessert. Bibi left us just after, M and I put the kids to bed and the boys sat down to a hand of cards. They played until the wee hours of the morning. We girls, because we’re made of smarter stuff and remember how tired we were after our own weddings, went to bed at a reasonable hour.

Saturday morning went by fairly easily. The weather was beautiful, a change from the rain of the night before, and all looked good for a nice round of the out-of-doors picture-taking extravaganza at the bride’s parent’s house that afternoon. We had a lazy breakfast of creamless cream twists and brioche and a lazier lunch with salades paysannes made by yours truly, which were admittedly not bad even though I couldn’t get my poached eggs to come out right at all. Then we all got dressed and when Bibi showed up to carry those of us who wouldn’t fit in our car, we headed over to the fun. And here is your picture of my horrible hair and happy family: Aren’t my kids gorgeous!
After the bride’s mother was satisfied with the number of pictures taken (it was at this point that we got a taste of things to come—it may have been her daughter getting married, but it was her show if you get my drift), we all headed over to the Mairie so the civil service could happen. Like every single wedding we’ve been to in France, it was up a flight of stairs. Marc went on ahead—he had to, being le témoin and all—and I stayed behind with the Mad Mobile Midget strapped to my back and Muppethead strapped to his stroller. (Strapping my kids down is a good thing, and I need to find ways to do it more often.) I hung out with the groom’s handicapped cousin-by-marriage (who was a riot), a few of his old aunts, and his baby nephew. Those who made the hike tell me the mayor didn’t go on for too long, but those of us on the ground had other opinions. At last, we went to the church.

The religious ceremony was simple and elegant and surprisingly not terribly long. The priest was a young enough guy, rather progressive, and even cracked a few jokes. Instead of passing the basket for the offering as is usually done, we were invited up to the alter to congratulate the happy couple and to drop our coin in the basket on the way back down. And for us, this is when the fun started. Muppet was all too happy to be let out of his rolling prison unit, and even happier to go see Tonton Bibiiiiiiiii, and happier still to kiss any and everyone he could smack with his lips. But that pile of change sitting in the basket was too much for him, and he just had to reach out and GRAB IT ALL. Actually both of my children had started digging their elevator shaft of doom at this point—Monkeyboy for stealing in church and Pigletgirl for defacing the pews—the back of the pew in front of us was perfect for teething. We headed back to our seats, next to Vi, and prepared for the end.

“Don’t look now Vi, but you’re gunna hafta do a big ole yeehaw here in a sec.”
“Huh? Wha…OH MY GAWD”

Apparently the father of the bride loves everything American. And lined up in front of the church were a bunch of rednecks in cowboy hats, Harley Davidson T-shirts, boots, and leather with fringe—folks the bride’s parents line dance with and stuff. And this, let me assure you, was only the beginning of the Americana. It got progressively worse. But you'll have to wait for now. The monsters are up and need me.
posted by Doc at 08:51 | Permalink | 0 comments