26 December 2006
post x-mas post
Well, the fat guy came and went and , surprisingly, this year was fairly good. I didn’t get that Madagascar DVD, but I didn’t get lesbian porn as a replacement, either. In fact, The old elf is getting much better in that department. Not only did I have multiple gifts, but I got good ones, too. We will be having fondue! Woohoo!

The monkeys, because let’s face it, it’s all about the monkeys, had a good day. Pooplette was not at all interested in anything except eating the occasional bit of wrapping paper. Unwrapping? Presents? Gimme me paper and lemme make spitballs! Muppet, for that matter, was not very interested in unwrapping his under-tree-stashed gifts either. See, he got a DIY house thing with all kinds of neat accessories like a hammer, a screwdriver, a hammer, bricks, a hammer, pipes for making the plumbing, a hammer, bolts, and a hammer. Did I mention he got a hammer? He’s hammered everything in the house, including my last nerve. I think the hammer needs a post-holiday trip to the landfill.

Lunch with the in-laws went surprisingly well. There were a couple of little messes (like half of the smoked salmon I got to “make” was bad, and the turkey was VERY WELL DONE and the potatoes stuck to the pan), but all in all it was a nice day. The E-MIL actually did let us bring the dirty dishes here to run through the dishwasher, but she did insist on scrubbing most of them first. Progress was made in that department, so we’re not overlooking that. Nor shall we down play it. In fact, it was nice not standing over her too-low sink either washing, rinsing, or drying. It was very nice indeed.

The entrées I made (because I couldn’t help myself and ended up making a few things anyway) went over very well. The arrange-a-cold-cut platter was beautiful even if the thought of that whole ordeal makes me cringe. But I dressed it up a bit with cheese and herb stuffed cherry tomatoes and made the cornichons look like lace. I replaced the bad smoked salmon with some steamed shrimp (which I happen to love, so you can imagine my giddiness when I realized the fish was less than perfect) and that broke up the monotony of the platter. And there was a plate of cold asparagus and one of canapés. And I made butter and piped it into the form of Christmas trees which was, in my humble opinion, very clever. And cute.

Once next door, Muppet decided opening gifts was the thing to do, and insisted on opening all of his gifts and all of his sister’s gifts and all of his parent’s gifts. He was very helpful, although explaining to him that while he has the right to help open said gifts, he does not have the right to play with/eat/wear said gifts was difficult. No, explaining was easy. Making him understand was something else altogether. The Psychotic SIL is again on our list of people to hate. She got Pooplette a cow/pig (yes, it’s both) that moos and oinks and plays music. Now, the noise-making toys are bad enough, but this one inspired the other SIL to start oinking and mooing in tune for the duration of the meal.

Speaking of people we now hate, the list is growing. The Pooplette’s god-father delivered a remote controlled quad for Muppet and a music-playing moving snail for his sister. Batteries and noise are things we try so hard to avoid in this house. And as Mr. God-father Man & his Wonderful Lady never plan of having kids of their own, pay-back is not really in the cards. I will think of something though, I promise you that.

We all racked up the gifts, ate like pigs, had a good time together, and went to sleep feeling fairly good. It was a good Christmas this year, probably my best yet in France.

Now, on to New Years!
posted by Doc at 09:44 | Permalink | 6 comments
22 December 2006
Saint Nick the Louse
Marc’s gone again today (no surprise there I guess). While we were discussing his next round of meetings (“It’s the last one for this group this year!” he said, with forced optimism), he asked me what time LeClerc opens. Me thinks the elves have fallen down on the job again. He also asked a bunch of questions about things I added on my not-too-cryptic Dear Satan Claws letter. “What’s Madagasgar about?” “It’s a funny movie. I think Eddy Murphy did it.” “Never heard of it.” (Has he been living under a rock?!) (No, don’t answer that.) “It’s kinda like the Âge de Glace.” “That’s a cartoon. “Yep.” “But you said it’s got Eddy Murphy.” “He does a voice or something.” “Oh…” At which point I imagine the poor, lost, and pitifully so because he’s still sick, man stumbling upon the DVD in his rush to get in and out of the stores in France days before Christmas and freaking the fuck out because it’s not at all what he expected. In which case I’d have probably ended up with a DVD of badly made lesbian porn. Sadly, that’s still a possibility.

We’re expected to put in our annual appearance at the in-laws for Christmas dinner Monday afternoon. I volunteered to make the entrées this year because it’s something I love doing and I am purty darn good at. The Evil MIL accepted my offer and then kindly informed me that “making” the entrées means, basically, putting crap on a platter. She’s buying everything and I get to make it look pretty. There just seems to be something missing in the “making” part. So we’re probably going to be stuck with the same round of cold cuts and cornichons that we usually get, with a plate of smoked salmon tossed in to be elegant. I must really resist the temptation to hide all of her groceries in the freezer and do something really fun and elegant and… (dare I say it) TASTY, but here, change is bad, bad, bad. I can only imagine the war we’ll have (war? OK battle of wills) when and if we ever get our house done and we try to convince her to have the dinner there as it’s so much bigger and they’re expecting two more grandkids between now and then.

I’ll just save all my kitchen ingenuity for New Years when we have “real” people coming, ones who not only appreciate good food, but have come to expect it here. Menu planning for that shall get me through Christmas’s Arrange-an-Entrée nightmare. Gah.

My Christmas shopping is done and has been done for a while. Even the wrapping part is all taken care of, except for the two gifts we got Marc that Minion 1 unwrapped. I know he’s just practicing, but I had them wrapped perfectly. Which brings me to my rant. Am I the only one who finds the French way of gift wrapping, what’s the word I’m looking for?…Messy? All of my gifts are wrapped with the paper cut to the correct size, seams hidden as much as possible, ribbon and paper coordinated with recipient. Here, things are wrapped up like meat in a butcher shop—or like sandwiches in a NY deli, which I swear is the first thing that came to mind when someone in France gave me a gift. I thought it was just this person, but all gifts are done that way here: paper rolled up on top, folded down on the sides and tied with string/ribbon. Grr. I get the feeling it will be the gift wrap more than anything else that kills the Satan Claws mystery in our house.

I am so looking forward to Monday morning. My camera batteries are charging, the memory card cleared, trash bags strategically placed to catch all the flying paper. Minion 1 will have a blast this year, and Minion 2 will surely enjoy being allowed to shred paper. Christmas is as close as little kids get to orgasms, and I want them to enjoy it thoroughly. It’ll make acepting those lesbian porn DVDs easier.
posted by Doc at 06:50 | Permalink | 5 comments
19 December 2006
Over the weekend my darling husband finally caught all of the germs his precious children and I have been passing around for the better part of three weeks. Why is it that when the man of the house falls ill time must stop? He’s pitiful. It’s tragic. And because I am a total bitch, I am evilly enjoying every minute of it.

For three weeks he has complained about how little I’ve done in the house while I’ve had rivulets of slime cascading from my nostrils, a voice to rival Barry White, and enough snot stuffed between my ears that Christine was able to scream without me hearing her (this last bit is a bit of an exaggeration—I think if she were on another continent I’d be able to hear her. Hell, you probably already hear her at your house and just think it’s a bird or something. It’s not. It’s her.)

For three weeks I have tried to explain how I am not only PREGNANT YOU EVIL BASTARD, but I am also very sick and feel very much like a turd, a fat snotty turd. Leave me alone and let me die.”

Now I am feeling a bit better. I can breathe. I don’t cough until I pass out. I can hear something other than the flow of snot like lava through the cavities in my face. I’m not 100% cured, but I am human again and feel, if not quite good, than at least not too bad.

This weekend I tried, and mostly succeeded, to hide some of the crap we have lying around so our living room looks like something other than a dumping ground. I put the tree up and decorated it (with help, of course, from Matthieu, who swears he did it all himself), I did laundry and dishes, hell I even vacuumed. The Christmas presents are all wrapped and hidden away. I even made it to the post office yesterday—so yes Vrandy, luv, your pants are in the mail—so my sisters and their families should get their gifts before the new year.

And my darling husband, who is all snotty and cough-y and miserable? What does he think of this? “I’m dying and you want to work…ugh!”

Bwahahahahaha. I am an evil bitch!

And if you don’t believe me, just go ask Antipo. I imagine I’ll have a bunch of pygmy Kiwis come slay me in the night for ruining her Christmas. Ohhhh! Maybe they'll mistake me for the snoring, grumpy, lump of snot I live with.

And looky! What an odd combination. Two old favorites singing one of my favorite Christmas songs.
posted by Doc at 09:10 | Permalink | 6 comments
18 December 2006
Wanna play?
Leave it to Vivi to find yet another stupid addiction for me.

Thanks Vi. Beyotch.

Play LOST here.
posted by Doc at 01:11 | Permalink | 2 comments
15 December 2006
I'll have nightmares...
Is it just me, or is THIS THING the absolute scariest personal hygene thingy you have ever seen too?

This is what I get for trying to find something for my brother's kids online
posted by Doc at 23:15 | Permalink | 6 comments
13 December 2006
Because I like being kicked in the head…
Today started out simple enough. No, it started out simpler than I’ve know life to be in almost three years. Marc and I woke up and got dressed and left the house. Notice anything missing? Yeah! No getting the kids ready. They were at Granny’s house and boy did that make the morning go easier.

Marc and I went out the night before like a normal, sane couple. We. Went. Out. And the world didn’t stop, or fall off it’s orbital path. Death and destruction haven’t befallen us. It’s amazing. And what’s more, we went out and ate Indian food—granted it was because the French restaurant of choice wouldn’t seat us—and Marc actually liked it! Well, aside from the ‘there’s no bread’ fiasco we have to deal with every time we eat anywhere remotely ethnic. Even at the “Mexican” place he’ll beg for bread. It’s sad. But he ate Indian and LIKED IT. Like REALLY liked it, meaning we may eventually go back for take-out (because it’s cheaper and hey, one can have bread at home). Hope exists in the universe.

So, back to this morning. Off we went, in different directions of course, because let’s face it, not everything is going to change in a day. Marc had another all-day meeting, in Chalons this time, and I had an important visit with The Tank—the nurse mid-wife who has seen me through two successful pregnancies and never ceases to crack me up. Sometimes I think I got pregnant again just to have an excuse to visit with her.

All’s fine in baby land. Today’s visit was more about explaining the process of having a baby at that particular hospital and as this is my third turn in as many years, we spent our time talking more about the babies I have at home than things like epidurals and breast feeding. She, at least, unlike certain others of you out there who refused to believe me, remembers what a NIGHTMARE the little Tigger-ette thing was in the beginning, and let me just add if I may, that given the number of babies this woman sees delivered in a year, that is some kind of feat. So PBBBBLTH to those of you who refused to believe what a nightmare she was, because SHE WAS. (past tense, AMEN)

After that, because I just didn’t get enough of French Red Tape and Bureaucratic Stupidity while dealing with my Carte de Séjour Nightmare lo these many years ago, I drove into Chaumont for a visit to the Tribunal d’Instance to start the (let’s hope less-nightmarish) process of obtaining French nationality. The lady with whom I spoke was nice and polite and very helpful and even though she refused to accept any of the paperwork I’d brought along to get things going, I was grateful for it. See, she’d explained that they’d heard of all the CdS nightmares and tried to make sure the dossier was as complete as possible before accepting it. “Nous essayons de faire plus simple ici Madame.” What?! Someone who actually tries to make sense? Maybe this won’t be so bad after all. She did complement me on my French and also explained that while the number of children we have has no official bearing on the outcome of my case, the fact that the third one is now well under way does seem to point out that this isn’t another one of those marriages for citizenship things. Uh, no. I just want to help assure my children’s future. Good line? I hope so.

So I again find myself in the quagmire of French Bureaucracy. Color me glutton for punishment. I keep telling myself I only have to do this once and then it’s over. No more stupid people at the sous-prefecture, no more screaming ‘You can’t have the original of my divorce! It stays at the courthouse in the USA!”, no more trying in vain to explain to a French civil servant that outside of France things do indeed work differently and the world hasn’t ended yet. I can do this. Right?
posted by Doc at 02:38 | Permalink | 10 comments
11 December 2006
Good Medicine
I’ve been rather under the weather here lately, and while I don’t know if it comes across in my writing or not, I seem to have lost my voice, in every sense of the phrase possible. Supposedly during pregnancy women are blessed with a type of super immunity, protecting us, and consequently the rug rats we are carrying, from the ills of the outside world. Well, this is pure and total horse shit. In fact, all those pregnancy bibles? Toss them in the garbage because they are all full of shit.

The munchkins got sick a few days before we went to see the ASIL last week. By the time we’d made it to Strasbourg they were both feeling rather cruddy and slept the entire afternoon in their respective strollers. This is not normal behavior and makes me want to keep a couple of petri dishes of bacteria in our fridge for days when I need a break from the constant battle of the monkeys. Here, wanna fight? Go fight some germs.

The best part about having young sick monkeys is that they haven’t quite mastered the ‘put your hand in front of your mouth when you cough’ thing. As their doting, loving mother (still half a word, folks) I have had my face sprayed more times than I care to think of with the byproducts of their congestion. Whenever this has happened I have stuck out my not-very-or-at-least-not-yet pregnant gut and counted on that bullshit about pregnancy and immunity.

In other words, I got sick, too. Like sicker than I remember being since I’ve been in this god-forsaken country of social-medicine-so-kwitcherbellyachin’-and-go-to-the-doctor-already. But with two and a half munchkins and an over-worked ever-absent husband, who has time to go see the great dispenser of cures? Not I. At least that’s my claim.

So I have suffered for a little more than a week. My nose hath runneth over, into my throat, my ears, even my eyes. I’ve sneezed, coughed, and wheezed until I can no longer do any of those things without hurting some muscle or other. I’ve been miserable.

By Friday I’d started feeling like things were getting better. This was fortunate as the mad chick from South Africa was coming for the weekend, and as she’d been kind enough to stay away whilst dealing with the chicken pox at her house, I figured I should at least try to be healthy, too. I’m all about fairness.

Friday we had a smashing evening, eating like pigs (at least she did), drinking like fish (again, her, not me) and making total asses of ourselves (no, not me either) during a concert for the benefit of Jerry’s Kids in France or whatever group it is that the Telethon supports over here where we were almost kicked out of the church for being ever-so-slightly amused by the Veely Franch accent of my husband’s choir. Imagine, two anglophones laughing at French people singing Gospel music in a 500 year old church. Of course, the fact that my husband is in the group, and the serious lack of spectators (we were two of ten), saved us from being tossed out on our keisters by Dave, of the Is He Or Ain’t He club, who did, never the less, embarrass us both by telling all of Joinville (or rather the other 8 spectators) just how international their audience was.

We went out for drinks after that where I was kindly hung out to dry by our sweet, apparently starved house guest, when I had to explain to these genteel French folks just why we were laughing so gleefully during their concert. All I can say in retrospect is, ‘thank God they didn’t sing Rock My Soul’ because I think we would have needed oxygen. Of course I did feel vindicated as I watched her squirm away from the slimeball at the bar who tried desperately to get L’il Miss Laugh At Their Accents to go home with him. At least he tried his moves in English. (And yes, it was still pitiful.)

After all that fun and excitement and a quick almost-midnight tour of the Princely City of Joinville (including an explanation of Wash Day Stew), we all went home and ate dessert with the Director and Dave who live in the next village and who were kind enough to give Marc a ride home so he didn’t have a car seat shoved up his bum.

Saturday brought more tourist-y things, including the infamous Tour d’Arse in Chaumont which brought tears to my poor guest’s eyes such were her chuckles, the noble village of Vignory, and the infamous visit to LeClerc which you’ll have to read about on her blog, because I refuse to go there. We also stuffed ourselves stupid on Indian food which was such a delightful change from the creamy and buttery dishes of northern France that we’d spent the morning complaining about, that we couldn’t stop ordering and eating. (Hey Vi, the Indian place is right across from the Chinese place and the prices are reasonable—you need to come visit!!!! Drool drool.)

And as we had some space left over after lunch, I made a tartiflette for the evening meal. Someone ate half the platter on her own, in addition to an entire bottle of champagne (minus the two glasses she knocked over in a most gracious manner) and two glasses of Frangelico she had to drink. Me thinks the woman never eats at home. Damn, I know I cook fairly well, but…just DAYUM!

We had planned on watching the Beeb, but never got around to it and instead fell into a contented starch-and-cheese induced coma until Sunday morning. Vrandy, as she is called by the elder monkey who is capable of human-like speech, had her morning coffee and a couple of pancakes with maple syrup and then drove back to the sphincter of France (as opposed to the prostrate, where we live).

Since then, my cold-like-slow-creeping-death symptoms, which had given me a bit of a break even though I could no longer talk Saturday night, have jumped up on me like a rabid dog. I’ve slept almost all day, drunk hot liquids, cold liquids, eaten very little (comparatively) and used five packs of tissues and half a roll of paper towels and still my brains are leaking out. I am, in every physical way possible, miserable. My sinuses are screaming, the bits around my nose are on fire and my throat is doing something that feels like what nails on a chalkboard sound like.

But I feel better than I have in a long, long time. Thanks Psychotic South African. We must do it again sometime. And soon. (And I promise to stop humping my appliances, sexy though they are.)
posted by Doc at 02:09 | Permalink | 9 comments
07 December 2006
Just To Post Something...
So I'm a lazy git these days. I'm just tired and honestly the entire creative process, the one where I make this dull as hell life seem half way interesting, that one? It ain't working. So I stole this meme from Lizza.

It's simple, should you be interested in doing it too. Copy the list and just put in bold everything you have done. Now, how hard is that? Not very, because even I managed to do it.

I have:

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive (no, but I have ridden in a Lamborghini)
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity (anything I give is more than I can afford)
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse of the moon.
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends (and still do...I think)
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip (the reason-in part-for #42)
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert” (not as an expert, sadly)
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children (not quite past tense yet)
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

I get the feeling I should be a lot more interesting than I really am...
posted by Doc at 13:36 | Permalink | 11 comments
04 December 2006
last week
A lot of things went down last week and I haven’t posted anything at all about them. I haven’t exactly been in a happy place lately, and whenever that happens I find it extremely hard to write about what’s going on and tend to hide behind static things like food (which apparently is just as well considering).

Monday I went in and saw the vampires who stuck me twice because oops, forgot that one test right there. I didn’t mind, really. The girl-vampire rocks and I usually never feel a thing. And hey, it was Monday, so I think I can be forgiving. I did get a special treat for my trouble—a card for Marc to add to his ever-so-slightly huge collection of Magic the Gathering decks of which he has probably a thousand. I probably exaggerate, but it seems whenever Muppet goes into our room he manages to find at least one and spread it around the room. Darlin’ it’s not one of those “if you plant it, it will grow” things.

That night the Tigger-ette’s god-pop was round for the night. He had some type of workshop to do in Chaumont and whenever that happens he crashes at our house to avoid the two-hour one-way commute home. This doesn’t bother me (good thing, too, as he’s back again tonight), and it’s usually good for Marc to have his best friend around. And hey, someone else to cook for? Hurt me. At least he brings dessert.

Then the monkeys got sick—both of ‘em—the fun never stops.

Tuesday was calm, except my English group ran over. It seems to do that a lot these days and I can’t help but think it’s a good thing. The folks are interested and participate and we just don’t finish up right at the hour mark. Maybe next year I’ll extend the group half an hour. Coming home from that and then having to cook dinner sometimes gets on my nerves. But then a bunch of that is the reason I’m not in the happy place, and this probably isn’t a good time to go airing out dirty laundry, especially if it’s filthy.

Wednesday Marc left, again, for three days, again. I also got my results back from the vampires (all’s perfect) and had my 12 week ultrasound. 12 weeks…so many more to go. The baby is doing fine. Hands, feet, brains, and all other things are present and accounted for. The heart beat is running fast and strong and it’s already an active little monkey. Bodes well for the future. Ugh. For those of you counting, the official due date is June 15th, so we’re looking at the end of May.

I looked for a new car seat for the Tigger-ette who has, in the way babies do, grown out of her first car seat. This is a serious exercise in futility at our house because one of us doesn’t want to spend more than the cheapest model costs and the other of us wants something protective. I’m sure you can figure out which is who, so I’ll leave you to it. Needless to say, even though I was given the so-called OK to “demerde” myself, I came home empty handed because I’m just fed up with always being the asshole. I’ll deal with that battle another day. For the moment Pooplette is riding around in the ancient car seat her grandparents bought when her cousin was born in 1998. If I happen to bring up the notion that the thing is no longer within the accepted LEGAL norms, well, I’m just being difficult again. Sometimes I hate these people. Buying Muffin’s car-seat was a month long battle, and I just don’t know if I have the strength this time.

Happy place…happy place…

Wednesday night was disastrous. Neither monkey wanted to get in the bath, to get out of the bath, to get dressed for bed, or to eat, or to sleep, or to do anything to help keep my insanity intact. The Evil-SIL wanted to be all chatty on the phone while I’m trying to explain that I have ten million things left to do and it’s 9 PM already, please let me go. Finally at midnight I fell exhausted into bed…

…only to get up five and a half hours later, dress, eat, wake, clothe and feed the grumpies, toss them in the car and take off, passing by ESIL’s house to pick her up and by the tourist office where I’d left my camera. By 8 I could barely keep my eyes open, so ESIL took over the driving and promptly got us stuck right in the middle of a traffic jam in Nancy (Stupid salt truck lost its load—salt? But there’s no ice.). We managed to make it out right as the pee-call alarm was hitting critical, and after a short pit stop, crept into Strasbourg an hour after our first scheduled meeting.

All was not lost. My American sister-in-law, or ASIL, had only just arrived so after the exchange of hugs and kisses and choruses of ‘my aren’t you a cutie’ we looked for and found a place to sit down and nibble on some food, catch up and do all the other things you do with family you haven’t seen in three years and only have a few short hours with. She brought over some absolutely fabulous clothes for the animals and Muffin was all into that. “For me?” with round moon eyes and all. Tigger-ette could honestly not have cared less. “Clothes? You gunna feed me or what?” (Now that’s she’s actually wearing them she seems happier, although do not put that hood on her head. She’ll rip her own head off trying to get that thing away from her.)

We then did the Christmas Markets for the next few hours while the monkeys slept (yes SLEPT), and I (fortunately I think) convinced ASIL to let me mail home some of the goodies she found so she’d actually be able to close her suitcase. She can be hard headed at times, (she married my brother so that’s pretty much a prerequisite) but sensible and her better judgment won out.

We got her back to her bus for the ride back to her boat but the bus was PACKED, so we decided to wait for the next one in a little café where we all sipped on hot chocolate and ASIL and I talked about what a nutter one of my sisters is, and what in God’s name I was thinking by getting knocked up again (I stand by the Ruffies story). She caught the next bus and like that she was gone, hopefully for a shorter period this time, because three years between visits is just too damn long.

I cried pretty much the entire walk back to the car, but managed to do so in a way that didn’t draw too much attention to the fact. I really suck at good-byes. And I really suck at visits that are too short.

So back to the car we go and I’m trying the whole time not to fall down deep in the well of self-pity and depression. We strap the kids into their respective car seats and then continue down the spiral of the parking garage in search of the exit. Ah, street light at the end of the tunnel. We come up out of the underground garage and pull into a regular street where we watch a private ambulance back directly into the carload of Germans directly in front of us.

Joy. So the two guys in the ambulance hop out in a really pissed off way and start screaming at the Germans who look completely lost. I mean, we’re on a one way street and a private ambulance has just backed into them. So they yell at the Germans for a few minutes and then one of them goes back to the ambulance and turns the lights and sirens on. The other finally hops back into the ambulance as well and the Germans try to park on the side. ESIL, who spent a mot more time in Strasbourg than I ever will, is driving and tries to squeak through the scene so we can go home. Every one is pretty tired at this point and we’d like to be well out of the traffic before the kiddies start their next fit.

So then the ambulance decides to back up again, with out looking again, and this time right into us. Véro was as far right as she could be without colliding with the other cars and blew the horn several times before they actually hit us, but they hit us all the same. And then started chewing us out.

Fine. I exchanged addresses and phone numbers with the Germans (who spoke not a word of French, but fortunately had someone in the family who spoke English so we were able to communicate). We had no damage to the car and we were all more than ready to leave, so after a few kind words on my part to the idiot driving the ambulance (who insisted there was an emergency in the rue piéton behind us—although I never saw him go further than three steps from his death wagon—and that we were all stupid idiots because he doesn’t know how to drive) we left. The gendarmes were escorting the ambulance guy away from the crowd when I last looked back.

Morons, you are everywhere.

So another late night. Home at midnight, and had to put two limp monkeys to bed on my own because, hey, I’m alone again. I got to sleep around 1:30, after changing, dressing and dragging each monkey out of the car and up the stairs in some order or other. I was too tired to know exactly what I was doing.

But whatever it was was apparently not too bad. The monkeys slept late the next morning (8:30 is late) and after all that Muppet took care of himself and Pooplette for another hour. I’d slept 61/2 hours straight. It was more sleep than I’d had in the previous two nights combined. It felt great.

Friday was spent in a haze of exhaustion. Marc came home around 10:30 that night and promptly turned into Dick Man the Asshole. Saturday we had two house warming parties to go to. Sunday we just avoided each other. Now it’s Monday again, he’s gone, again, and I’ve been up to the house, again. I should never do that. It only makes things worse. But it had to be done so we can have an independent estimate of how much the work is going to cost us if (when) we have to pay someone else to have it done. I was informed that, not only would it be easier to gut the place and start over, but that it’ll probably be cheaper as well, since redoing is harder work than doing. Lovely. They also said we’re looking at about two or three months of work—two or three months of work AFTER the insurance decides we can proceed with the court case, and then only after the court sends out their own expert (another two month wait).

I cannot do this anymore. This whole house thing is killing me. And yes, one day I’ll get around to giving you all a virtual tour so you can be as shocked and outraged as we are, but I’m just not that strong yet.
posted by Doc at 15:48 | Permalink | 11 comments
02 December 2006
A Food Meme--Sort Of
So, some of you asked for it, and as I am so damned nice I am giving it to you. The only thing I want is that you either post a picture of the finished product in your own blog when you make this, or that you send me a picture so I can post it here. That takes care of the meme part.

Baked Brie

You need:
(2 pâtes feuilletées, 1 brie (800 g), 1 beaten egg, ½ - ¾ cups slivered almonds, ½ - ¾ cups chopped fresh parsley)

What you do:
Shave the "skin" off the brie without actually cutting it off--basically just take off all the extra fluffy white stuff. You don't actually have to do this, but I find the end result tastes better if you do.

Split the brie into two discs. For me this is the hardest part of the whole operation. Be patient and you'll come out with two perfect halves.
Cover one disc with the parsley...
...then with the almonds...
and then place the two halves back together again and center the whole thing in the middle of the first pastry.
Wrap the pastry up and around and then brush the sides and flap with the beaten egg.
Flip it over and place in the middle of the second pastry. Wrap up in the same way.
Gently cut a design into the pastry (taking care not to cut through the pastry), brush with milk or cream and toss in a 180° (375°F) oven until it's a light golden color.
To serve, you can either let everyone cut their own slice or, for more intimate or formal affairs (or if you're just feeling hoity-toity) you can slice it yourself and serve it on individual plates with a sprig or two of mâche (lamb's lettuce) and a little squiggle of raspberry coulis. In either case, you'll need to let it cool off for at least half an hour before doing anything to it or you risk lava burns.

Bon appétit and let me know how yours turns out.

posted by Doc at 11:19 | Permalink | 9 comments