26 November 2006
Did I think by surviving Thanksgiving things would somehow calm down? Haven’t I already told myself many times to never think.

Saturday went off without a single hitch. Honestly it was the smoothest day in recent history. I managed not to bite anyone’s head off, and I only chewed Marc out a tiny bit. Honestly I was so much more Zen than usual that people asked me if I’d discovered some new drug.

Anyway, the menus was:

For appetizers—a big fat vegetable platter with two types of dip, four different types of toasts (tuna, smoked salmon, cheese/rossette and pizza), crab dip, very spicy wings with bleu cheese dip, the traditional chips and salsa, deviled eggs and my world famous baked brie which lasted all of five minutes and almost caused a fight.

Mains: The Done Tom Turkey, a roasted pork loin and a roast beef (that was apparently outstanding, and perfectly rare so very off-limits), green bean casserole, homemade dressing, cranberry sauce, sautéed courgettes with onions, corn, and mashed potatoes (which brought in several more compliments).

The desserts: Two pecan pies, a sweet potato pie, an apple crumble (made with three kilos of apples) and my regular cop-out-of-the-hazelnut-mousse-cake chocolate cake because time was running out and my energy level was in the negative. I’d also made homemade whipped cream (1 liter of cream to give you an idea of quantity).

This morning there was left over: Half a pan of turkey, three slices of pork, two slices of roast beef, a few stray fresh vegetables, five wings, a small pan of green bean casserole (cooked in 1.5 liter bread pans because there were no larger sized aluminum baking pans available), three small pans of stuffing, about a cup of corn and one slice of sweet potato pie. Oh, and a bit of the various dips of course. But otherwise, that's it. Basically they ate it all.

And apparently it was good because I walked away with three marriage proposals.

Now it’s back to reality. First thing tomorrow I have to drag my butt to the vampires’ shop and get some blood work done for my next visit on Wednesday. Tomorrow evening we have an overnight guest, so more cooking to do—in addition to the shopping needed. I’ve got my regular English conversation group on Tuesday and then Thursday I’m meeting up with my brother’s wife in Strasbourg. Marc takes off on Wednesday for three days and when he gets back, we have to go to a house-warming party on Saturday, so in-between times I need to find a “little something” for the happy homeowners. And, supposedly the rest of the work on the house is supposed to start this week. Again, not holding my breath.

And I have to figure out what to ask Santa Claus to bring Tigger-ette. Anyone got any ideas? She’s already into her brother’s toys and I honestly cannot fathom adding more clutter to the already overloaded toy chest.
posted by Doc at 21:34 | Permalink | 8 comments
25 November 2006
This is the first year I came seriously close to not having turkey on my table for Thanksgiving. "My Gawd", I see you thinking, "First she stops loving football, and now she's thinking about not serving turkey two days after Thanksgiving. How unAmerican!" Well, yes, color me red, white and boohoohoo. There are only so many things a goyl can take without the help of serious barbituates.

Tom set me back five hours yesterday. Five hours is a mighty long time. Five hours is like three naps and a Miller time all rolled up into one. And he almost killed me. But I will say this, he's a done Tom Turkey.

Some of you who live over here are probably aghast that I found a turkey that big, so big he would not fit in our oven-a full size one for here but still small by American standards. You're probably wondering what a huge French turkey looks like. Well, wipe the image of a round Butterball from your mind. Imagine in its place BB's tall, lanky cousin. That's our turkey. The base of his neck to the tip of his tail was longer than my largest roasting pan-the one that just fits the oven. When in the oven with the rack as low as it can go, Tom's breast touched the top of the oven and his legs stuck out the door about five inches. And while I was able to close the oven door-for all of five seconds before the smoke over took me-doing so meant crushing his legs into the oven's roof where they soon set themselves on fire.

When the laughter died down and my tears dried up, I decided to be very practical about the whole thing. Tom sat patiently on my table covered in herbs and salt and other things to make him taste like something good. I figured why bother roasting him. No one is going to eat his wings or his back. So I figured let's roast his breast and legs, things people might actually eat. Yah! Good answer.

So I set about separating his parts from his other parts and got almost done taking the top of him off when I realized that his innards hadn't been completely taken out. Agh! Lungs and heart were still attached. This is really disgusting. And all at once my body decided to be very pregnant. (Admittedly some of that lost time was spent in the toilets doing something I do very well when knocked up.) After taking a good dose of anti-puke pills, I drug myself next door to enlist the help of my mother-in-law, who found it funny (to say the least) that I needed help scraping innards out of Tom, but then this is a woman capable of killing, skinning and eating the Easter Bunny.

So Tom is cooked. And between his boobies and his legs I have a 9 x 13 pan chock full of turkey. And I have another half million things to do today before the people arrive and start to praise me for my culinary genious. So back to the trenches I shall go and, barring any more disasters in the kitchen, you'll hear more when I've recovered.
posted by Doc at 07:04 | Permalink | 6 comments
24 November 2006
I've got a BIG problem
The turkey DOES NOT FIT in the oven.

ah, shit
posted by Doc at 13:09 | Permalink | 4 comments
I know why I’m so tired. You probably think you do too, but if your opinion leads to the Turkey Day Bonanza happening tomorrow (holy shit, tomorrow?), you’re a bit off. Not completely, just a bit. Yes, I have a million and three things to do. But they’re things I like doing, so they don’t tire me out like say laundry or dishes or vacuuming might. Yeah, there is a considerable load of dish washing involved, but I have my trusty dishwasher with it’s super fast 30 minute cycle and that keeps me rolling right along.

No, what tires me out is the family. Especially the two masculine members of the family.

Man-thng wanted the kids to go to bed earlier than I was in the habit of doing. Tigger-ette would go down at 9, Muppet at 10. Mr. Man didn’t like this because at 10 he was exhausted and in dire need of sleep. So now we put the kids down earlier. Like half an hour to an hour earlier. Hell I’ve even been able to get them both down before 8.30 at times. I am a miracle worker—praise me. And the result of all this work is that Mr. I’m-so-tired stays up even later, watching TV while I lay restless on the couch (because it’s closer to the toilets) unable to sleep until he says, sympathetically, “I should probably let you sleep.” No, darling, you should definitely let me sleep, especially when I yawn so often and so deeply that the barometric pressure changes in the entire village.

The lack of sleep is a minor thing though when compared to the Biggest Problem In The House. That title belongs to the other half of the Testosterone Duo, the half whose cuteness saves his life more often than he’ll ever know. He’s only alive today because he’s too cute for words, God’s honest truth, because yesterday I was going to kill him.

Yesterday I was busy, busy in the way I’m only busy once a year, and always at Thanksgiving. Cooking for the masses is one of those things that takes rhythm—once I’m in the groove everything rolls smoothly. Knock me out of the groove and not only do I turn into Psycho-Bitch, but I have a very difficult time getting anything done. Yesterday Muppet’s entire reason for breathing was to keep me out of my groove. Not only did he empty every cabinet in the living room and spread their contents high and low, but he decided it was also the day to revert back to the Demon Un-Potty-Trained Non-Angel. He peed in his pants, all over the floor and on the couch. Thaaanks. And then, once I had that entire mess cleaned up, he pushed Tigger-ette’s playpen over to the couch, climbed up, stood up and peed directly into the pile of Mega Blocks she’d strewn everywhere. Like one of those stupid garden fountains. Lovely! Not only did I have another mess to clean up, but I no longer had a place to stash the Tigger-ette one who just wanted to jump, jump, jump all day long.

See, this is why I’m pooped. It’s not the cooking that’s killing me. It’s the rest of it.
posted by Doc at 11:00 | Permalink | 1 comments
23 November 2006
The Thanksgiving Insanity Log:
Wednesday, November 22

Shopping done! Am so glad I decided to do this today and not tomorrow (except for it being old people day at LeClerc—Gah!). Left the house at 9.30. Got home at 3.45. Had a nice Lunch with F. though, even if she’s not as chinky about Chinese food as I am. Found almost everything. Will have to go back for beer and roasting/baking pans and napkins and a certain other special ingredient. How the hell could I forget napkins? Found bunches of little melamine serving trays to replace the wobbly reusable aluminum ones that Muppet destroyed since last year. An investment, but worth it I think. Am EXHAUSTED. Remind me why I do this every year.

Thursday, November 23.

8.30 sanity break—been at it for two hours now—damned insomnia. Have managed to clean and cut up half the veggies for the veggie platter, dry out half the bread I need for the dressing and not kill anyone. It’s a damn good thing I decided to shop a day early, because if I had to do that and all the prep work I have to do today, I would find myself on the floor before Saturday. Ah Jeez, kids awake. Must go pretend to be mother. See constructive kitchen activities coming to a screeching halt.

11.00 rolling along—no one dead yet, though it is a distinct possibility for the Evil Muffin who has single-handedly trashed the living room. Paper plates everywhere. Plant basket no longer has a bottom. Entire drinks cabinet has been rearranged. Piglet is down for her morning nap and seems to be playing the drums. All is calm. Pissed off because have to put preparations off (not to mention clear everything off the table and counters and stove) to cook lunch for the Man-thing and his helper. Ugh. At least the E-MIL will be taking care of the helper tomorrow while the Man-thing is gone. Veggies done, dressing preparations well underway, slicing and dicing pretty much finished—on to mixing and combining.

11.45 lunch in the oven. Muppet has hidden my good china all over the house. If I find anything broken, he's going on e-bay.

1.30 Why in God's name does it take you so long to eat? Go away already!

3.45 Agh! I forgot the marscopone! How'm I gunna make the chocolate hazelnut thingy without the cheese? PHUQ! If I weren't pregnant, I'd be drunk.

7.00 PANIC! Where did the day go? Am so far behind. CRAP CRAP CRAP!! Husband found marscopone and napkins-one less ordeal. Now I just need to stay up till 3 to get caught up.

8.45 Stay up till 3? I must be out of my mind (shut up you lot). Still really behind, but you know what-I haven't actually published the menu so no one will ever know if I don't do it all, right? Family has been called. Not as painful as expected. Less painful than my feet in any case. Need stiff drink. Damn husband, damn him to hell! No wait, he did some shopping-may yet be useful.

10.00 tasks completed: 13 tasks not completed: 3 tasks left: 23 Tom is happily defrosting in the sink as this morning marks the third morning in a row I have forgotten to take him out of the freezer and put him in the old, tiny fridge I've not hidden away yet because I wanted to use it to defrost the turkey. I'm bleeding brilliant I am! For those of you not coming let me just say that my roast beast is fucking gorgeous! So ha! I imagine another marriage proposal isn't too far off. There's a pork loin screaming for some loving, too. Between the roasting meats and the succulent desserts this place will smell heavenly tomorrow. Finishing the day a little behind because I just cannot any more. Tomorrow afternoon I have a slave coming and that will help. But it’s also baking day, and lots of time will be wasted waiting. Dammit I should have a tower of ovens—three gorgeous ovens—to take the edge of this, but I have finally realized that if it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all. Gunna catch my Zs. Tomorrow’s another packed day.

Oh, by the way, Happy Thanksgiving.
posted by Doc at 08:42 | Permalink | 8 comments
22 November 2006
Tastes of home
We’re enjoying a free month of Canal+ on TPS, our satellite provider. So, I finally get the Desperate Housewives thing. And last night (Tuesday) I got to watch Sunday Night Football for the first time in three years. Man! I was really surprised at how much I remember of the rules and how I was able to explain them to the American-Football-Ignorant Spousal Unit. But honestly, after nearly six years without much NFL (we only watched it when we were home for X-mas in 2003), with only le foot and rugby to fill my sweaty-men-knocking-each-other-around need, the NFL has just lost something. The action is so slow, and one gets the impression, or at least I did, that they spend more time doing nothing than actually playing. Dear God, I’m becoming a frog.

Today begins the insanity that is Thanksgiving. One of my nice French friends is coming around this morning and we’re going out to do the Mad Shop. My list is a mere two pages long and, as I always start out ultra-organized, is written down in the order I do the grocery store so I won’t need to backtrack and double back to get everything. We’ve got four places to hit this morning, three grocery stores and a junk shop where I can pick up the extra serving platters and stuff I’ll need. And when all the fun is done, we’re planning and a Chinese Buffet. At least that’s The Plan. We’ll have the monkeys along with us, so I reserve the right to change The Plan to include dropping them off at an orphanage…at least temporarily.

Once home I’ll begin all the prep work. Our turkey is in, fresh from the farm of one of Marc’s fellow JA guys who was kind enough to dress him out and bring him by the other day—complete with head. Marc was kind enough to remove that for me because every time I opened the freezer and saw him starring at me, those pregnancy hormones kicked in twice as strong and honestly, who wants to clean the freezer today? Not I.

So turkey it is, along with my now-traditional roast pork and a roast beef because there’s a lot of people coming. Last count there were 23 adults confirmed with 7 monsters, with folks from four countries and three continents. It should be interesting.

Oh, and I’m going to try and make a new kind of chocolate thing this year instead of my regular chocolate cake. I’ll be making it ahead of time so if it doesn’t work I’ll still have time to whip up a regular plain chocolate cake, but I feel optimistic. I always feel optimistic at the beginning…

But hey, I did get the living room floor waxed yesterday, so a little optimism has been earned, right?
posted by Doc at 08:59 | Permalink | 5 comments
20 November 2006
Weekend Roller-Coaster
We went to the JA dinner Saturday night for all the guys who plowed and help break the French plowing record. It was actually not as bad as I imagined, owing in no small part, I’m sure, to the fact that there was a large group of people who are, to put it delicately, too damn old to be part of any organization with ‘young’ as part of its name. This meant the meal started at 10 instead of the usual 11.

There were just under 400 people there, and certain things hadn’t been thought all the way through—like free T-shirt and poster distribution. So I ended up helping out (significantly) while my husband (who had to be there to help with something) passed the first part of the evening holding up the doorway. Great. Unhappy back and it’s not even dinner time.

Still, the presentation was nice. I was even happy to see the youngsters officially thank the oldest guy there—a young man of 90 years who not only came to eat with us, but also plowed on the day of The Record. They brought him up in front of the crowd and gave him a magnum bottle of champagne and he kissed and felt up Marie, the secretary, to the crowd’s approval. Amazing how different this country can be to home at times. Stateside that’d be a lawsuit. Here, it’s almost expected.

Dinner was, at least as far as I was concerned, rather light for the price we paid. There was a salade perigourdine, roti de biche with a gratin, cheese and a really tasty chocolate truffle mousse. The entrée was tiny and the meat left a lot to be desired, but overall it wasn’t that bad.

It was a dinner-dance, an activity I don’t usually engage in because I lack talent and rhythm, but even I got tricked onto the floor by the DJ. He was good, really good, and got almost everyone up at one point. But I really am old and Very Loud Music and I don’t get along too well—especially if it’s Really Loud French Music from the 80s. Ugh.

We got to watch the film they made of The Day—starring a bunch of the guys Marc hangs out with in their sexy Farm Boy attire. Marc’s got a large part, too, and you can’t miss him as he chose to wear those god-awful multicolored Bermuda shorts that are so loud they make your ears hurt. I am still amazed at how they pulled the whole thing off—the effort that went into organizing everything and the time they put in. Especially the amount of time—you have to remember this was right after the harvest and these guys work their asses off at that time of year. So it was interesting, and I guess I was really eat up with pride since we got to be part of it all. I’ve got a copy coming of the DVD so if any of you over here in France are interested in seeing it, let me know and we can figure out a way of mailing it around.

But the absolute best part of the evening was only having to tell Marc once that I was really tired. We left early—if you consider 2 am early.

We slept in the next morning, thanks to the in-laws who kept the monkeys for the night and half the morning. Of course, we did have to claim them early enough so they could go to Mass, but that extra hour counts a lot these days. A whole lot.

Of course, everything turned to shit after that. We put Tigger-ette down for her nap at 11, a half hour later than usual and she flipped the fuck out. In a bad way. So bad we gave in and went to get her (something we never do). Marc brought her down with this knot of worry in his brow. She was making funny noises when she breathed—like something was blocking her airway. And she had snot coming from everywhere. She was fine when we put her down, so we worried—a lot. We finally called the SAMU and they put us through to the on call doctor. He told us to come in at 2. We got off the phone, after being assured she could eat, and tried to calm down.

Within five minutes she tried coughing. She couldn’t. She couldn’t breathe either for a few seconds because her cough had turned into a heave and she was caught between breathing in air and coughing out something. It was another of those three seconds as eternity moments. But she got it up and out and then we freaked all over again. There was blood. That ain’t cool.

So Marc called the SAMU again, and this time they had us bring her to the emergency room.

In the car she calmed down and, as per her usual, fell asleep. So when we got to the ER she was a picture perfect angel, bright eyed and rosy cheeked without any signs of distress. But they took us right in anyway.

And she was fine. There was nothing at all wrong with her. She was calm and sweet and very curious, but not at all sick, and no where near as sick as she had been at the house. So what happened?

The doctor thinks she may have in fact swallowed or inhaled something—and given that she sleeps with her stuffed cow, he thinks it might have just been a bit of fluff from the damned toy, that it got lodged somewhere sensitive and irritated her. That explains the mucus, the itchy nose and throat and her funky-sounding breathing. And the blood when she finally hacked up that ball of mucus and bile. She was fine and we could all go home.

Thus ended the scariest moment of my life.

Funny how shit sometimes turns around on you. Whenever I have had nightmares about loosing a child, it’s always been Muppet I worried about—like Piglet was either invincible or didn’t rank worrying about. It’s true we’ve already taken Muppet in twice—once for his overdose of Piglet’s drops and the second time when he got electrocuted. But both of those times I’ve been able to rationalize it into what I did wrong, where the parenting net left a hole big enough for him to get hurt. And I’ve been able to learn from my mistakes and take steps to prevent stupid shit like that from happening again. But yesterday we did nothing wrong, there were no holes, and things went wrong anyway. And I haven’t ever felt so helpless or scared in my life. She stopped breathing for just a few seconds and I am so freaked out that it’s hard to function at times. What if it happens again in the middle of the night when we won’t hear her. Doing battle against irrational fear is tiring—and I still have the housework to do and Thanksgiving to start working on.

Dear God, please bring me some peace of mind.
posted by Doc at 11:09 | Permalink | 4 comments
17 November 2006
A little over ten years ago (time flies) I was invited with my future first ex-husband to a friend’s house to have spaghetti. It was crunchy. Undercooked. And while it had good flavor—spaghetti and sauce married to perfection…almost—I couldn’t help joking (rather harshly in retrospect) that I almost broke a tooth on the very al dente spaghetti.

Stupid comments like that have a way of coming back to haunt me. In a bad way.

Yesterday I made lasagna. After it had cooled down a bit I cut a little piece off to taste—you know those bumpy places where the cheese has risen up and been grilled in the oven, those really tempting, tasty morsels—one of those. Big mistake. I bit down into what I thought was some grilled cheesy goodness and CRACK. I broke a molar. On a fucking piece of pasta that had risen up and been grilled along with the cheese it was hiding in.

Lesson learned: Never laugh at anyone’s pasta.

Fortunately I was able to find a dentist who was able to fix me up, temporarily at least because in the state I’m in anesthetics are out of the question, and I’m back in business with only a small hole in my cheek from the now super-sharp edge of my fractured tooth. I can deal with that—at least I’m no longer in pain.

And not being in pain inspired me to get creative in the kitchen. Et voilà, today’s creation:

You’re wondering what it is. Sorry, a food photographer I am not. What it is is a very quick, very easy, and wow!-I-was-blown-away-by-how-surprisingly-tasty pasta dish. Fifteen minutes, and this yummy baby is on your table. Here’s how.

Fill a pot with salted water and bring it to a boil (this is for the orecchiette, or ear-shaped pasta). While it’s heating up, cut ten slices of pancetta into thin strips. Cut a head of broccoli into little florets. When the water is boiling, dump in two cups uncooked orecchiette. In a frying pan, brown off the pancetta. When it’s just crispy around the edge, dump in the broccoli and (this is the secret part that makes it all come together) about half a cup of liquid from the pasta pot. Let the broccoli steam for about three minutes or until it’s done to your liking. Drain your cooked pasta, toss with the pancetta and broccoli (along with the rest of the liquid) and two or three tablespoons of grated hard Italain cheese (I used parmesan regiano). And wow. Simple, fast, and DEE lish! (And no broken teeth!)
posted by Doc at 21:17 | Permalink | 6 comments
15 November 2006
keeping with the good parenting theme...
or, Why He's Really MY son
Ah, our brand new baby boy! Here he's a ripe 32 days old. Start 'em off right, eh?

The baptism...it's a celebration, right?

And now, two years later, he knows what to do.
posted by Doc at 21:04 | Permalink | 6 comments
14 November 2006
Just one of the myriad of reasons why we will not be voted Parents of the Year

That’s Tigger-ette in the foreground, tossed in a box with her bottle and her brother’s toy. And that’s Muffin stuffing his face with about the fiftieth plum of the afternoon. He consequently spent hours on the toilet being cleansed in a way no high-colonic could ever do. The dark green blob with white strip is Marc, and the leg dangling from his shoulder is his child laborer, one of the three munchkins belonging to a friend who came to help out. The arm and the tri-colored kid are his brothers.

So, you thinking pre-paid mental heath care like me or what?
posted by Doc at 23:16 | Permalink | 10 comments
My excuse is…
Marc came home, and in doing so took all the wind out of my writing sails. Out of all my sails, apparently. Man, I’m beginning to wonder if I should just stake it out alone for a while. I seem to function better. But anyway…

Muppet is in a real bed now! Woohoo! I managed to make it back to IKEA!!! the very night I last posted (after Marc showed up an hour early) to exchange the wrong size springs and the next day was Operation Make The Bed and Lie In It. **IKEA!!! in Dijon is open until 10 PM on Thursdays and the place is ABANDONNED!!!** We chose the Dalselv bed—it’s the second cheapest single bed IKEA!!! has (35€ plus sommier and bedding)—and I honestly expected it to be, well, cheap. But the model set up in the store seemed very solid when I plunked down on it (and yes, I plunked), so that reassured me. And now that it’s home and set up and the Grand Monkey One has claimed it, we’re very happy. And the best part was it took me less than an hour to put it together. Alone. Because IKEA!!! furniture cannot be assembled any other way without risking homicide.

Of course, the first night was rough. Muppet plunged out of the bed three times, the first of which was probably the most tragic event known to the human species. He panicked and woke the entire house. And then would NOT go back to sleep for an hour and a half. And then only after falling asleep downstairs and being carried back up to his bed. The next two times didn’t freak him out at all and he handled them all on his own. But since then we’ve rearranged again and the bed is now against one wall and blocked in by my dresser—not exactly pleasing to look at, but as practical as we can manage at the moment. And the isolation makes him feel like his bed is a fortress, and that’s Monkey's style.

On the way back from IKEA!!! I witnessed the most spectacular accident. This guy on a motorcycle whizzed past me and the car in front of me and then lost it. My speedometer said I was doing 120 at the time (that’s kilometers, y’all—don’t freak) and he honestly passed me like I was going backwards, so he was flying. Then he just seemed to lay his bike down and the slide for a few hundred meters. The bike was just twisted metal at the end of the run (I couldn’t even tell you what color the thing was, much less what type). But the guy, man, that’s one lucky sombitch. Not a scratch on him—aside from his leathers being shredded down to their protective plates and his helmet being shaved egg-thin. Good Samaritan that I am, I stopped and waited for the police and an ambulance—both of which showed up in remarkable time (I wondered later if it was planned), and sat with M. Jay LaChance during that time. Poor guy. Turns out it’s not even his bike. It belongs to his brother-in-law and he was just taking it out to ‘give it a try’. Oops.

But even with the motorcycle accident and eating at IKEA!!! (Thursday is also moules-frites for 3€, which I no longer, sadly, have the right to eat—have I mentioned I HATE being pregnant?) I managed to make it home four and a half hours after I left. I’m not exactly sure how long I stayed in IKEA!!!, but y’all’d’ve been proud. It was another record run.

Hmm, what else. Tigger-ette has her sixth toofus poking out. This means that it’s open season on anything that passes close enough to her mouth to be bitten. We’re trying to keep our distance, but you know, she’s so cute and when she screams we kind of have to feed her so she’ll shut up, but so far we’ve been lucky and have come out with all our digits intact. She’s also become much more assertive when defending her share of the toys and I fully expect to walk in the living room one day and find her with her brother in a headlock. I think his days of male dominance are numbered. The Amazon is on the rise. But she’s really sweet otherwise. Incredibly so. What a switch from the beginning.

I'm gearing up for Thanksgiving. Last year I did a good job of actually listing all the dishes I made, the recipes I used (all one of them—the rest is stored on my brain cell), and the people I invited. For now I’m revising and refreshing. And hoping to be better organised. I always start out so well, but by the time I’m ready to serve the starters I get so off track that I end up stuck in the kitchen all day and unable to visit with my guests or (more importantly) enjoy the food I’ve slaved over for days. One of my old students has offered to come help with the prep work this year, so I have a willing slave and that should help, but man, it’s always that last little bit that screws me up.

I had hoped to have Thanksgiving at our house this year. I don’t know why, but I have the feeling those three ovens will probably help with that last minute rush to get everything done at just the right moment. Sadly this is not to be…again. Does anyone else wonder why it is I’m finding it so hard to keep up the charade of hope? Yes, we’re still waiting for news. Still.

Actually that’s a good word to describe life here: Still. God, that’s depressing.

Anyway, we’ve got a guy helping out on the farm and I need to actually make some effort in the kitchen so he can eat. We’re alive. How’s you?
posted by Doc at 09:30 | Permalink | 10 comments
09 November 2006
I’m hung over
Yes, I am. Very hung over, actually, though not for the reasons one usually is hung over. No wine or liquor involved. God my life is dull.

Yesterday I schluffed the monkeys off on the MIL and took off for Dijon. I didn’t have enough time for breakfast, so I had to eat on the run. Hurt me. I got to IKEA!!!! just before noon and even though it was one of those days where the rug rats have no school, the crowd was at a tolerable level. Of course, every one who was at IKEA!!!! happened to be hanging out in the kitchen corner, so trying to organize my kitchen à la IKEA!!!! just didn’t seem worth the wait. Maybe next time.

And the next time will be soon! See, the day’s goal was to order the bed for monkey—order it, because for the past three weeks IKEA!!!!’s web-site has told me with a straight face that the item isn’t in stock in Dijon. Liar, liar, pants on fire. It was in stock, and apparently is an item they try to keep in stock since everyone loves it. Cue freak out music because I came in the car and not the Boxer with its 12 cubic meters of IKEA!!!! stuff-full-able-ness. Crap! But Mr. Helpful IKEA!!!-guy assured me the bed would fit in my car. No problems. And it did.

Along with the mattress, the springs, the down comforter, two sets of sheets and a duvet cover, a new pillow and a few boxes for the Muppetheaded One to put his MegaBlocks in because I’m tired of him ripping up all the diaper boxes we get. Oh, Saint Nick the Louse stashed something in the car too, but shhhh. They monkeys are lurking.

Suddenly it was lunch time. My shopping was done, my car loaded (with plenty of space left over I might add—ripping just one car seat out automatically makes our car seven times larger. The line to eat upstairs was affreux, so I grabbed a hot dog, and 20€ worth of other crap in the épicerie, and headed out to my second stop. IKEA!!!! took all of 45 minutes. I think that’s a record of sorts.

I had a pit stop to fill the car up with gas and the girl in the little booth, bless her heart, explained the short cut to me so I didn’t have to drive through Dijon to get to Toys R Us at the Toison d’Or—a mall of all things, in France!

I breezed quickly through the toy store and glanced around Cultura (can’t say I was impressed, sorry girls) and then headed into the main building to find sustenance and maybe some threads for the ever-growing Piglet-who-should-be-called-Tigger-because-all-she-does-is-hop. This was the biggest mistake I could have made. The place was severely over-crowded and over-heated and I was so instantly sick I almost didn’t have time to dash into the (thankfully empty) ladies’ retreat. I emerged 45 minutes later feeling a touch better, though very drained. I think might have scared the granny who takes care of the toilets a bit, but I reassured her I was just pregnant, no need for an ambulance. Nice of her to ask, though.

I managed to find a bite to eat at a little Japanese grill, and although I ordered light, I still ended up leaving a good bit of food on my plate. But I did manage to down an entire litter of Evian, and that helped. Feeling a bit stronger, I decided to Do The Mall, something I haven’t done since leaving the States SIX YEARS AGO (its official now, six whole years as of yesterday), and found absolutely nothing to buy. Not a damn thing. And folks, I tried. I really did. I had one check left in my check book and dammit, I wanted to spend it.

So I left and got Chinese food on the way home. Two birds, one check.

But the day didn't have such a happy ending after all. The springs I got are the wrong size. I'll have to go back. Boohoohoo. (And no, I did not do it on purpose, Marc, so get that idea out of your head.)

And leftover Chinese food for breakfast is a good way to start the day…almost as good as cold pepperoni pizza.
posted by Doc at 09:57 | Permalink | 6 comments
08 November 2006
truth really is stranger than fiction
"...Bush expressed both disappointment and surprise over the election results and said he had called Democratic leaders to personally congratulate them. "Actually, I thought we were going to do fine yesterday," Bush said. "Shows what I know."..."

I so wonder how the reporters refrained fom adding, "which ain't much."
posted by Doc at 21:54 | Permalink | 6 comments
07 November 2006
Finally some good news!!!!
I have found a temporary cure for morning sickness and it is WONDERFUL. Saturday we ended up at the Evil SIL’s place to celebrate her birthday. Pretty much every year she puts on a hell of a raclette spread and we all gorge ourselves stupid. This year was no exception, although I didn’t quite get to the point of being gavée like a certain other member of the household who, even today, is still feeling the ill effects of eating close to one kilo of melted cheese (and potatoes and cold cuts) all by his lonesome. But we don’t really care about him, do we? After all, he’s taken off to the mountains of Jura to play with a bunch of other farmers, and if his intestines are all wonky, well, tant pis.

No, we all care about me, since I am the injured (Pregnancy counts as an injury, right? I mean I did say no.) party. And let me just say that, if only I had been left alone to get enough sleep, I would have felt mike a million bucks Sunday. As it was, the lack of sleep left me feeling like a wrung out stack of twenties, but still better than I’d felt in a while.

You’d think that this morning sickness crap would be something your body would get used to. I mean hell, this is our third monkey, and if the truth be told, my ninth pregnancy. Shouldn’t I become immunized to the queasiness and nausea by now? Hell, if I’d been dosing myself with rat poison, I’d be up to a box a day by now. Why can’t it be the same with pregnancy hormones?

Oh, and the support! The other half looks at me, in all my greenness and laughs! “Oh, you feel sick? Hehehe.” Bastard. But enough of the husband rant. He’s gone for three whole days and technically I can put the kids in the car and go out for Chinese if I want to. I am counting my blessings. Three days of peace…sort of.

Getting off my tangent, I have learned that I should eat more of the things that I’m supposed to limit in my diet (what a horrible word—starts with die) and eat less of the things that are supposed to be good for me and I will feel just fine. Sunday night was tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Tomato soup = very green Doc. But twelve cheese-oozing wedges of grilled cheesy goodness dripping gobs of cheesyness everywhere = ahhh, don’t feel so bad after all. And this morning, instead of toast and jam I had grits with bacon and eggs and lots of butter (very, very bad), and oh my God, I feel GOOD.

So I need to go find out what greasy, high calorie stuff I have stashed in the freezer so I can make lunch. Yumm!

LATER: ugh! the manthing just gave me "permission" to go out and eat Chineeeee Foooo--of course, we've already eaten, which is probably why for him it's ok. Hmmm. Am giving thought to going anyway.
posted by Doc at 11:04 | Permalink | 10 comments
06 November 2006
Public Service Announcement
I am beginning to wonder if I should just start posting fiction because there is absolutely nothing noteworthy going on right now. No. Thing. I doubt seriously that Muppet’s potty trained-ness is very interesting, nor would you find Piglet’s Tigger-ish-ness very engrossing. As for me, its more of the same stuff: morning (noon and night) sickness with a big fat dose of fatigue thrown in for good measure. And the continuing inability to find a moment to nap because of the two aforementioned monkeys’ conspiracy to grind me into dust before they make it to school. Oh, and the husband who is leaving tomorrow—real interesting stuff, that. Ugh. Someone shoot me and put me out of my misery.

So in keeping with the late night television tradition of airing public service announcements during the most boring of shows, let me just take the opportunity to remind the Americans who have stopped by (I’m very thankful for your visit, by the way) to please go vote tomorrow. Vote! Vote! Vote! Because if you don’t, you can’t complain. And boy, if I couldn’t complain, I’d just die!
posted by Doc at 14:54 | Permalink | 1 comments
05 November 2006
So I changed some things. Big template change. You like? I also updated and rearranged my reading list—finally. And if all this fun weren’t enough, I also lost my Haloscan comments and cannot for the life of me figure out how to get them back. Gah. Computer inept she is, yes.

One Sunday well wasted.
posted by Doc at 17:41 | Permalink | 14 comments
03 November 2006
I really am a moron
See, I’ve been waiting, thinking eventually all of this crazy shit is going to calm down. And, even though my husband has calmly assured me things will slow down, and the expert working on our house nightmare has assured me things will work out and even our lawyer has emphasized that all things come out right in the end, I’ve finally realized that all of these people are full of shit. Two of them are so full of it their eyes are brown.

November is supposed to be the calm month. The harvest is over, the winter crops have been sown. There’s a bit of breathing room before the end of year fermage, where Marc has to go around and shell out ungodly amounts of money for his fields. November, usually, we breathe.

Not this year.

This weekend we have to be in two places at once—Marc’s sister’s birthday and the big Farmer’s Hoe-down. Guess which one we’ll be skipping (amen). Next weekend we’re off to the local theater to see a few friends in what the Catholic newspaper has called “a pathetic performance worthy of being put in the gutter and forgotten”. I imagine it will be a hoot, as the critic for that paper is, so I hear, rather anti-performing arts. And a homophobe, but that’s another rant. The weekend after that is another Farmer Do, this time with all the guys who helped break the French plowing record. I’m looking forward to this one a bit because it’s in Joinville and it’s not exclusively JA (young farmers), or even older farmers. I’ll get to rub elbows with some of the folks who may eventually play a roll in my future and God knows, I love politics—especially local French politics. And then of course, the weekend after that is Turkey Day Bash 2006, or the fifth annual Doris Tries To Kill Herself By Cooking Day, with about 30 of our closest friends and family.

In between, I’m trying not to be too sick or too tired all the time—the sick part I think I’ve got under control, but the tired part? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz huh? Oh, yeah. Monkey One thinks his nickname has changed to Red Leader One and I’m having a very difficult time convincing him he is not, in fact, Ruler of the Universe. Piglet is no longer content to pass her days in the baby prison no matter how many wonderful and fun toys we give her. She likes, yea needs her independence. This means little more than my mental illness is spiking off the charts.

We’re also supposed to have word on the house, when and if they’re going to start fixing things. The IF is the big question. Everyone, Marc and myself included, think they are just going to file bankruptcy and we’ll prendre tout dans le cul. Preparing myself for this is probably the hardest part of this entire time because I am living in the house from hell. And every day that passes means another bit of my sanity dies.

We’ve got some serious furniture issues to work out as well. Monkey has got to go into a big bed, which means a trip to IKEA!!!! is in the near future, as is a serious change in decorating. I just can’t fathom bringing something else into this house of no space. It makes me shake.

I had high hopes of actually participating in NanoWrimo, bwahahaha.

Marc will be gone often. Not only does he have his regular meetings all the damn time, but he’s gone three days with the université d’hiver for the JA and three more days with the SAFER.

Oh, and during one of his trips The Original Sister In Law will be making a stop in France. I’ll be driving to Strasbourg to see her before she gets back on the boat and takes off for the next port of call. This means that between now and then I have to turn my savage beasties into half-civilized domesticated beasties because I can see myself, all too well for that matter, beating them senseless right outside the European Court of Human Rights. And I’d like for the standing invitation to visit if we ever make it back over to that side of the ocean to remain open, even though OSIL and Bro would have to really be nuts to let us in their house with three monkeys in tow.

What else? Oh, yeah, there’s Christmas to get ready, a Christening gown to start, doctor visits and ultrasounds and visits to the vampires to get my blood work done. And naps, lots and lots of naps. Starting now.
posted by Doc at 13:20 | Permalink | 1 comments
02 November 2006
disgusting cuteness
one little piglet dressed as a chick
(she's so zen)
one very pissed off monkey-lion
(who may one day forgive us for this torture...but probably won't)
posted by Doc at 18:14 | Permalink | 0 comments
01 November 2006
Jeeze AntiKissy, you are impatient! I was gunna get here, I swear. I just wanted to sleep a bit first.

We were actually supposed to go back to the States for Halloween this year. The plan was to spend the time with my second sister near Memphis doing the trick or treat thing and then visit my brother and his family in my old stomping grounds. That obviously didn’t happen. Anyway, Sister the Second decided that if we couldn’t make it for Halloween, she’d send Halloween to us.

Let me just say here that Global Express Mail is a rip-off. Five days? Our package was mailed on the 19th. It should have arrived on the 24th. It didn’t. It came this morning, finally. 31-19=12, right? I don’t think that 12 = 5, even when you figure in weekends. At least it did get here, even if its late arrival caused me lots of anxiety.

I spent the afternoon in Joinville, doing what has almost become tradition around here—helping a bunch of kids carve pumpkins. Why do I do this? My kids drive me nuts. Other people’s kids drive me completely over the edge. Add to that my serious lack of materials (every year the same kid breaks at least three of my saws), the kids’ total lack of listening skills (slight exaggeration; but only slight), and the general chaos of one of those days made for kids by people who have none, and boy, tonight I need a bottle of scotch, four lines of cocaine and about sixteen joints.

Anyway, after the pumpkin carving fiasco, I flew home to pick up our monkeys for the costume contest. Marc had them almost 100 % ready by the time I got home so I wasn’t as insanely neurotic as I could have been. And back we went.

Monkey is the little brown lion and Piglet is the chick being held up by the not-too-hard-to-look-at guy. I’ll have to torture the kids some more later and take better pictures. Matthieu took first place, and Christine came in fifth—not too terribly bad for someone not quite able to walk across the stage, eh? Oh, and those are the pumpkins.
posted by Doc at 01:34 | Permalink | 0 comments