(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

like babe. only better.

Last night was another fun evening spent with new French friends. And a farm animal or 2!

I was invited to a BBQ in honor of Christian's birthday. Christian is the rancher sporting the long red wig at the disco party. I went with Marjo and Rodolphe, who live in a pretty little village called St. Jory de la Chalais. I'll have to tell you about their spot soon, a gorgeous renovated grange.

But anyways, they invited me to accompany them. I thought it would be a group the size of the previous party. Christian lives up the lane from Marjo et Rodolphe. As we neared the turn for his house, we saw a tractor loaded with those great big hay rounds (do you know the ones) turn into the lane ahead of us.

It was Christian, bringing in hay to the barn. We parked, the first to arrive and lingered around in the yard. Christian was just ending his day and walked up the road, baking. It has been another round of hot days and yesterday was no exception. Bises were exchanged all around and he went inside to hose himself down. His house is a grand old farmhouse with a large open kitchen, door on one side leads to entry, door opposite looks out into a huge pasture with a cow or two. This door faces west and so, I imagine, one could sit at the country kitchen table every night and watch the sun go down.

The kitchen was the 'hub' of the house, with doors leading off into other rooms, an equally large dining room with huge skinny brick fireplace and a large dining table. Totally bachelored out with stuff everywhere! Back to the kitchen, in addition to a large country table in the center and the normal kitchen stuff, there is a desk with computer and various accoutrements for managing affairs. The other door led to what looked like a t.v. room.

You enter the house through a mud room, with a long bathroom comfortably equipped and a door leading into a bedroom. This was all on the first floor. All rooms spacious. Amazing stone and wood floors. Just comfy.

A BBQ big enough to grill a side of beef was off in the yard, along with a big old metal table and a smattering of chairs. A couple of dogs trotted happily around. Christian's cousin rode 1-1/2 hours from Bordeaux on a motorcycle with our precious piéce de resistance for dinner - an entrecote the size of a side table. They were quite proud of this beautiful (and ultimately DELICIOUS) piece of beef and wanted me to be sure and share with you that not EVERYTHING is bigger in America!

Before dinner preparations, Marjo and I took a walk about the property a bit, and I was introduced to the pigs. The picture is one of the baby pigs, mom was in the stall next door and twice as large!! These pigs aren't raised for selling, they are for home use and friends and will result in lord knows how many saucissons and patés and hams and other treats, all prepared by Christian. We returned for the aperitifs, the opening of a few small gifts and chit-chat.

Christian's mother (very old) lives in a small stone house down the way, very charming.

Everyone got together in the kitchen to put together the accompaniments - I sliced fresh tomatoes which went together with freshly picked parsley (I saw Marjo pluck it!) and onions for salade 1; Christian had already made a salade haricots vertes with the most tender beans ever...his secret was a little bit of bicarb of soda!!! who knew??!!. We also had slices of his homemade pate, fresh bread, slabs of the melt in your mouth steak. Red wine or rosé. A cheese course (mmmm....roquefort!) and an apple tart. Ohhhh! and I had some of the homemade brandy that would curl your hair. Delish!!! Group clean-up as well.

It was Christian, Marjo and Rodolphe, Christian's cousin and wife, 2 other neighbors and assorted teens milling in and out. Christian's teenage daughter lives with him and various groups of kids would arrive, present themselves in the kitchen and walk single file around the table to receive their greeting bises from all of us!!! How charming is that? I can't imagine it occurring in the states...

Much visiting (yes I Did Participate, as much as possible and was awarded with kindnesses like how good my french was, etc.) The evening was casual, convivial, warm and special. I was honored to be included in this intimate family gathering.

Other observations included small bats (don't worry, they don't bite, Kim! yikes!!) and an enormous wasp-like creature that found its way into the house. Everyone immediately asked me if I was allergic. We had moved indoors to avoid these, they are 3x as big as normal wasps and pack a toxic dose of poison, apparently.

All in a country day's work, I suppose.

Now I'm off to the village park where a small festival is about to begin. Live music, "Agricole Rock"? lol, its Occitan and we'll see. I'm bringing my camera for y'all!

try and resist. go ahead, I dare ya!

SEATTLE-ITES Support Your Fellow Blogger!

Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby are performing live in SEATTLE, WASHINGTON tonight, Saturday, August 30 from 6:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. on the Wells Fargo State at the annual arts & music festival,  Bumbershoot.  Bumbershoot takes place at the Seattle Center, the 74-acre park located in the heart of the Pacific Northwest. Bumbershoot, as the name implies ( it does? I pulled this from their website ... and frankly, Bumbershoot is greek to me), umbrellas a number of artists from different genres representing the best in music, film, comedy, theater, spoken word, dance, visual, performance and literary arts.

Be a part of the 'blogging community' and go treat yourself to some fabulous music. And I'm adding that I expect YOU, my fellow blogger and/or reader, to either return here with a comment or post on your blog with a backlink here, if you attend.

Did I mention they are my new neighbors up the road in Chalus! (Um ... that's in FRANCE!!! neener neener! lmao)

Also check out Amy's blog to read all about their Grand Tour! Check out their myspace.com page to hear a clip of their cool music!

(Um yes, in particular I'm talking to YOU, Miss Thing Function of Time. Come up for air, woman, and grab that new hunk of molten love, get thee there, and dance off thy collective asses.)

((look at me, miss marketer and virtual roadie ... !))

Friday, August 29, 2008


okay, well some of you might have thought I crapped out on blogging today and cut and pasted from a Stuart Smalley book.  

I just have to say that the past few days have been so inspiring to me, for nothing but simple reasons.  Whether driving along a 2 lane road with soft August sunlight shining on the sunflowers and a lone cyclist sharing the view with me.  Or acquiring a few new words, phrases and understanding of this complicated language I'm trying to learn.  Perhaps a few new friends met who are also trying to piece together a different existence. Sharing a laugh with Jean-Yves over yet another Kim misstep.  A stroll through the village worn by time.  Little instances adding up to the fulfillment of long deferred dreams.

I'm just feeling affirmed that life can go the direction of your dreams.  Whatever they are.  And the things I mentioned previously are just detours.  deviations.  distractions that might result in disappointment.

well.  that's all.  I'm the furthest thing from a new age gal.  I'm just feeling good.  I'd like to pass it on a little.

fearless friday.

I'd like to tell you all ... life is too short.

Life is too short to spend time in a fruitless relationship.
Life is too short to waste in a dead-end job.
Life is too short to put off the experiences you dream of.
Life is too short not to learn something new each day.
Life is too short to spend endless hours in front of a television.
Life is too short to mindlessly collect 'things' to distract you from whatever it is you'd really like to be doing.
Life is too short for the merry-go-round (unless it is at the amusement park!)

Life is too short for regrets.

Life is to short to live in fear.

Fear of taking a risk. 
Fear of the consequences (what really IS the worse thing that could happen and how bad would it really be?)
Fear of failure.
Fear of embarrassment.
Fear of what others will think.
Fear of discomfort.
Fear of tomorrow ruling how you live today.

Friends and readers, I spent many years of my life doing all of the above.  I'd just like to tell you that it is okay to stop.  

I'm living proof that it can be done.  I'm okay. My world still spins.  Every day I'm finding a new way.  I still don't have a plan.  But I'm seeing the light a little more clearly every day.

I hereby declare today "Fearless Friday".  I encourage you all to take a step, however small, toward something new.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

PORTLANDERS! Support your fellow blogger!

Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby are performing live in Portland, Oregon tonight, Thursday, August 28 at 8:00 p.m. at the East End.

Be a part of the 'community' and go treat yourself to some fabulous music. Plus, they are my new neighbors up the road in Chalus! Um ... that's in FRANCE!!!

Also check out Amy's blog to read all about their Grand Tour!

(Um yes, in particular I'm talking to YOU Tom, Kathleen, Mike, Stacey, Kelly, Zac,  Christian, Lanette, and all of my other friends in Portland ... not to mention my virtual friends who read my ramblings ... put the remotes down and get to it - you'll be glad you did!)

(photo from www.amyrigby.com)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

returning to our irregular programming.

between Dennis Kucinich and Cheech & Chong, I may have confused my audience. So back to the scheduled French report live from ... you guessed it ... France!

I may have mentioned that I have begun French lessons. I started with a one-week, intensive, group program with 5 participants, including me. There were four women and one man, including an English couple and two women - one American, one English (and then me). why does this bring to mind those word problems from 6th grade math ...

The school was recommended to me by my friend Marjo. Its located in Thiviers, about 25km from me. La Petite Maison des Langues is owned by Laurence Saunders and offers classes in French and English. She is a very kind and effective teacher. I was interviewed by phone to determine my speaking ability and placed in the Nouveaux Intermediate group. I think this is basically the next step after beginner; there are 2 levels of intermediate and then on to advanced. I'm shocked I made it there given my lack of professiona

Everyone in the group had been taking lessons for some period of time. I have not attended lessons since high school ... so my trepidations began during introductions. I quickly discovered there was a broad range of ability in the group. Some with better vocabulary and grammar ... but so-so on the pronunciation and spontaneity. The other American in the class, god bless her cotton socks ... has a very strong accent and apparently no one has told her yet about the importance of being able to reproduce French sounds. The uuu-ing and ahn-ing that go on. (See RG, I told ya). And then there is me, stuck in the verb present and mixing conjugations right and left. But with a good accent. And the willingness to just go for it. Laurence says she is impressed that I always find a way to express myself even with a lesser vocabulary/grammar. yay me!

Speaking French 3 hours a day (in the MORNING-ack) was draining and exhilirating at the same time. But I'm so glad I did it, it kick-started my zeal for improving my French. And now, I have 2 things in my favor ... Jean-Yves is back (daily free language practice) and I am taking 1:1 classes 2x a week for 2 hours each lesson. This will go on for 4 weeks and then a new group forms in the fall.

The downside of all of this is I've discovered just how much I've been getting wrong with regards to grammar and vocabulary. How embarrassing! Apparently I might as well just have a big Touriste stamped on my forehead with all of my "c'est possibles" and "je voudrais's". harumph.

So RG, you and me kiddo. Let's be French class pen-pals and buddies. Remember homework buddies?

WAKE UP AMERICA! Everything that needs to be said.

Monday, August 25, 2008

bête de jour jones.

sung to the tune of basketball jones.

bête de jour jones, I've got a bête de jour jones,
bête de jour jones, oh baby whoo-ooh-ooh.

Yes, I am a victim of the bête de jour jones.
Ever since I was a baby blogger, bête de jour been bloggin'.
In fact, he was da baddest engly blogger in da whole doggone blogosphere.
Den one day, google reader showed me bête de jour.
And I loved that bête de jour.
I read that bête de jour everywhere I went.
That bête de jour was like a blog du jour to me.

I even waited up for bête de jour's GMT ought zero posting every day.
Maybe that's why I couldn't sleep at night.
I need help, ladies and gentlemens.
I need someone to find bête de jour for me.
I need, I need to read about bags of elbows and rotten landlords and quixotic pussy lust and long-lost love.
Someone I can relate to.
Someone to nail the topic at its core, day after day, to expose the underbelly of life.
And not end up in the delete key void.
So fellow bloggers, help me out.

(Bloggers, sing repeatedly...)
(bête de jour jones, I've got a bête de jour jones)
(I've got a bête de jour jones, whoo-oo-oo)
Oh Bloggers, dat sound SO sweet!

While *No Regrets but Makes Silly Faces* (previously known as Tyrone Shoelaces) sings/speaks ((guess its called rap now, lmao)) ...

Let me repeat
Sing it out
C'mon all you BDJ Fans - you know you gots da good writin' blues
And yer name ain't Keef ... What about You???
It be bad wivvout our daily BDJ, you know its true.
Yeah man, sing it loud, sing it proud
I want all of Blogland to stand up and be counted
It feels SO good to re-eaad Bête de Jour ...

Inspired even when he's expired (read those old posts and try to make do, bloggers)
After I read bête de jour jones
I can make my fingers jump on top of the keyboard
Yeah, I can make my words take wings ...
I can devise links and double entendres with one hand tied behind my back!!!
Yeah, reading him's so good, you end up with more stories than the Daily Mail!!!
I type with my eyelashes and edit with my tears after reading some bête de jour blogs!
Yeah, watch this ... I just read some old bête de jour writing and now I'm gonna ESP my next 6 posts!!!
oh yeah, I KNOW ya feel me.
But Bloggers. those old posts only last SO LONG. So wontcha join with me and help me find BDJ?

(queue high pitched whines disguised as a chorus)
bête de jour jones, I've got a bête de jour jones,
bête de jour jones, oh baby whoo-ooh-ooh.

Takes her bow. exits stage left. with all the other bête de jour loving liberals.

BLOG WARNING: May not compute if you've never heard of Cheech & Chong. May make more sense if read when stoned. Singing along repeatedly may provide a contact high.

SECONDARY BLOG ADVISORY: Listening to the Cheech & Chong version of Basketball Jones on YouTube below while simultaneously reading Bête de Jour Jones' lyrics will increase and prolong your total and wondrous pleasure in consuming this post.

TERTIARY BLOG UPDATE: Some folks are just plain warped. and kooky. And can remember the tales of Cheech & Chong heard on their momma's knee. While being American. and a baby girl. in the 60s. So the rest of you can just ... well, wait for the next post. Or go read you some back issues of the beast while we wait. Or watch Fat Albert on YouTube. Pick your pleasure. What can I tell ya? Most of this stuff is written for my own entertainment! it seemed like a good idea at the time. I've got to stop listening to those voices in my head.

for my SF bay area readers ...

We are having a little 'do' at our décor boutique, Mignonne, located in the historic Old Oakland district, on Saturday, September 6th. We'd love to have you stop in, enjoy some goodies and be inspired by the local artisans displaying their wares.

The theme is a Green Potluck Event, and we are hosting in partnership with a few local merchants. To find out more, Click Here.

These unique receptions are our specialty, and visitors continuously remark how much they enjoy the hospitality they receive when they attend.

Hope we see you there!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

forgot to mention.

that I didn't get home until 2:00 a.m. and had to meet for a trip to the vide-grenier at 9:00 a.m. this morning. erggg.h. can't believe I manage it with the slightest of lugy head from the one extra glass of red wine that I wish I didn't drink last night.

napping this afternoon was awesome.

what I did last night ... tales from the clumsy American.

in my usual state of dishabille, I organized myself at the last minute to depart for Chalus. Nonchalant at the prospect of driving nearly 70km on a Saturday evening with fair weather, I dawdled over my attire. Unfamiliar with my pending surrounds, both socially and environmentally, I opted for pseudo-casual-chic. Readers, this next bit is solely for my gal pal La Belette. Madame she-weasel, I ruminated over black head-to-toe options, staggering stillettos, skirts, blue jeans, or coordinated sets. I ultimately opted for comfort and what is becoming a more and more common color choice ... a sort of aqua teal. Isn't it funny how a color can slowly overtake your wardrobe? Its like one intruder gets in, sets up camp, and sends out coded messages to its compatriots to reconnoiter in the closet. but I digress. At least I think I do because frankly I'm not sure where all of this is going.

Oh yeah, I was opting for comfort. I wanted jeans but decided to go with tan jeans (aren't I daring?) and my tan granny boots with the black heel. Black BR belt with deco buckle. Aqua teal lightweight merino pull with draped wrap neckline. A (to me) stunning aqua necklace with carved glass beads and a large multi-faceted cut glass medallion. Silk scarf, micro-striped with vivid shades of aqua, fuschia, greens & yellows (a Parisian favorite from a few years back). Finished off with an unlined linen jacket, light khaki color with a bit of a safari cut. Girl, I even did some maquillage with 2 tones of eyeliner and extra mascara. I know its a special night when I do the bottom lash mascara routine. Isn't that odd? hope I have some advocates out there who understand the whole top lash only approach for the daily routine.

Its rather unlike me to devote so many sentences to ensemble preparation. But try living out of a slightly dark, decrepit, dusty, weird aroma having house with no full length mirrors and 7/10ths of your attire still in boxes in an adjoining building. I haven't been in anything other than jeans and tees since arrival. Well that might be a slight exaggeration. but not much. So having a chance, now that I'm settling in to dank dark and smelly, to put together an outfit - no matter how casual - was kind of a kick. Even if it was just for me.

Back to my state of disorganized chaos. I got all of my various shit together (like a quick perusal of my routier to make sure I landed up in the RIGHT Chalus, because of course there ARE 2!). I hop in the ole jalopy, fire it up and take off direction Thiviers. Quick double park at the cash machine. Stuff bills in wallet and hope back into the camionette. Queue 'ruh-roh' music.

My gas gauge was precariously far to the left. "What the f ...* I could have sworn I gassed up a few days ago. Remembers unplanned detour on several side roads through countryside. No worries, I'll just stop in for some gas and be on my way...Queue second round of 'RUH-ROH' music. Sure it is Saturday. A glorious Saturday. Time has gotten away from me and it is 8:00 p.m. The large percentage of stations are now unmanned. What remains are stations with card operated machines only. Sounds fine eh? Yah right except they don't take ANY CARD IN MY WALLET!

The inner dialogue is something like this ... "Maybe I have more gas than I think ... the light isn't flashing STEADY. And the gauge keeps moving depending on uphill or down. I can go pretty far per litre. Well I don't know exactly how many kilometres I get per litre, but I'm in Europe and European cars get better gas mileage. Let's turn around and go to that ONE station back in Brantome near the campers, maybe they keep workers later" backtracks the few miles. they are closed. "Great, just GREAT, now you wasted something like a half litre on that. Just stop at some of the other card only stations, maybe not ALL of them hate USA cards." stops at 24/24 station. inserts card. card is regurgitated like a bad taste in the French machine's mouth. Gets back in car. "Goddammit, I wish I had a better idea of how far Chalus is, freaking routier is indecipherable. Maybe I'll just drive some more and see what my gut feels like. Maybe someone will let me pay them to use their card. Maybe I should call J-Y in Thiviers and see if he'd meet me. Maybe that is the dumbest worst idea ever. Maybe the station at Champion is open and manned" nope. "Maybe I'll turn around at the next cirque and go home because I don't want to be stranded in fucking French countryside until Monday." best idea yet Kim. drives direction Limoges in anticipation of upcoming cirque. "Oh MY GOD there's a station and the mechanic's bay is open. Are those people inside?! Hallelujah pass the fucking pancakes!" leaps out and decides to go for broke and fill the tank. $50 euros and 5 minutes later, is happily humming on the road to Limoges.

Why is it that this is the travelogue of my life? Folks, I share about two-tenths of the running comedy of errors that is Kim's life. A little is funny. The whole truth might prompt a petition drive to have yours truly committed against her will. sigh. I'm way too far into this little nightmarish drama called my life to change now, at least it provides material.

Following this little episode, the drive was uneventful. And by the end I figured out that Chalus is roughly between 60-70 km from Brantome. Not bad.

I pull into the place and see a little corner bar bustling with patrons. The only bustling going on in the area, I might add. but the terrasse was full and, entering the bar I could see only one or two little tables available. I approached the bar and ask, in what passes for my French, if I can take the small table at stage's edge. The bartender responds they are complete for the night. Yikes! I fold and ask if I can speak English. Thankfully yes. "Amy invited me. Is there no where you can put me?" adds sorrowful expression. "Ahhh, Amy invited you. Well she's upstairs with Eric. Go on up. We'll figure something out."

I ascend the stairs and see Amy and Eric sat at a dining table, poring over what appear to be notes for the evening. Eric spots me first and looks askance. As soon as they hear my voice, I am recognized. Apparently I have an Accent! An American Accent! lmao. that still hasn't ceased to crack me up. I find myself mentally playing back my voice and analyzing said accent.

This upstairs area is also where the kitchen resides and there is massive activity underway, with dinners being plated left and right.

I'm embarrassed to intrude on the musicians' preparations, but after several rounds of "Please, sit down" and "No I don't want to interrupts", I finally take a seat and have a chance to chat with the pair.

Eric was gregarious and immediately began regaling me with tales of life in France and various bits of entertainment in a very fun accent. I won't dare speculate region, other than British. Amy was a bit more reserved, but so warm and welcoming and what a treat to hear a fellow American accent. I'm not sure why exactly, but I guess it is has something to do with being afloat in a sea of foreigners and ... no matter how lovely they've been ... to catch a glimpse of familiar terra firma and be reassured that not every last bit of one's otherness has disappeared.

It seemed we could sit and chat all night but then, hey! there was a restaurant full of folks downstairs awaiting the show and I was standing in between them and that. I was offered more wine in my glass and I made my way down the stairs. I was adopted by a friend of Amy's (Angie), a british woman living in France with her husband and teenage son Ned, a budding musician. Eyeing me milling about, wondering where to perch, she invited me to sit at her table for 2 and eventually it was made to a table for 3 when her son arrived. I still had time for steak frites before the show and then, around 10ish with the last plates having been whisked away ... the couple appeared and the show began.

And what a show it was! The two took turns performing a mix of each other's hits and cuts from their new c.d. (now in my possession! yay). When I say took turns, they continuously played together...backing each other up or singing duet.

Amy may be the more reserved of the two (in my limited observation) but she plays a mean and gritty guitar and her lyrics were compelling. She also played piano on a couple of numbers. Eric switched up guitars frequently, with some killer solos on the electric. They complemented each other amazingly well and, for just the 2 performers, the music filled the senses. There was some experimentation involving a laptop on 1 or 2 numbers that was also a kick.

I was surprised at the reaction in the audience, particularly the French. There was one table of 6 or eight right up front. The ladies at the table seemed rather sedate. Not a lot of movement in the beginning, but as they warmed up they were tapping and clapping. And when a few of them, on the final number "Take the K.A.S.H." arose and punk-hopped their way on the makeshift dance floor, it was something to behold. The big finish included "The Whole Wide World", which I've been humming most of the day.

The music and venue were fabulous. I enjoyed every moment of it. Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby were engaging and rocked the house. If you are in one of the designated tour cities, you'll be loathe to miss seeing them in person.

I attempted some clips on my camera. I've not made a YouTube before, I'm going to try later and if I can and its worthy, I'll post it up. You can search them on YouTube and find them both as well, maybe that will be my plan "B".

The only bad part is now they are departing in a couple of days for their "Grand Tour" and won't be back until November ... so a rendezvous redux will be on hold until after then. I'm looking forward to a reprise, I think, no I'm certain an evening spent in the company of these two will be very entertaining!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

what I'm doing tonight ...

okay so I was invited to go check out Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby tonight at the Lawrence D'Arabie bar in Chalus. It finally occurred to me to click around the internets a bit and see what was up ... lo and behold, these are no ordinary knocking around France musician/band members. Amy Rigby and Wreckless Eric are bona fide artists (I should probably be embarrassed at not recognizing them earlier ... and it isn't like they need me writing on my blog to make that fact known, I'm sure) both individually in their own right, and as an act ... I am psyched to have the opportunity to see them in person. Not to mention they are also apparently some sort of Francophiles, since they live here.

On a side note, since I just moved here from Portland Oregon USA and that is where their next gig is, I thought I'd give a heads-up to my Oregon friends and readers ... Go check them out, if you can, at the East End in Portland on August 28th. and then come back and tell me what you thought. Or blog about it. or whatever.

For the rest of my American readers, check out their U.S. Tour dates on their myspace.com site and listen to a sample of their sound here . States included as of this writing: Oregon, Washington, California, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas (Dallas, Houston, Austin!), Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, Ohio (Cleveland, L'Ennui!), Illinois, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. They move on from there to the United Kingdom. Virtually covering a vast panoply of my blog readers. Get thee to these shows, readers!

I found this description of the two and now I am CERTAIN they are my kind of people:

Combining several decades of acclaimed records and failed relationships, Eric ("maverick genius" Record Collector) and Amy ("poet laureate of bohemian domesticity" Memphis Flyer) join together to play their should-be, could-be and has-been hits, accompanying each other with harmonies, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards and beatbox.

This is going to be a very cool evening. I can feel it.

(image from Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby's mypsace.com site, hopefully I haven't broken any laws)

Voting from abroad -- simple tool for U.S. absentee ballots.

Now that we are close to having official "tickets" for both parties, I thought I'd share a simple absentee ballot wizard I found online for all those U.S. citizens interested in voting in the upcoming presidential election. Also, click HERE for official United States government information on citizens voting from overseas. Details vary by state of residence, so I am not going to attempt to put comprehensive information here. Additionally, non-partisan information can be found at overseasvotefoundation.org.

Even though I am sickened when I read various boards reflecting election thoughts such as ... "I don't care what the Polls say, America will NEVER vote black" and very happy to be living here in France during the lead-up to November 4th, I still intend to vote from abroad and register my position on who I think should be leading MY country.

Because yes, it still is my country. No matter how tarnished she has become.

(image from wvvotes.com)

Friday, August 22, 2008

are bloggers "real" writers?

this question (not a new one, I'm certain) arose when reading a recent post by Halfway to France's LaFraméricaine.

she was commenting upon feedback she has received from Monsieur LeFraméricain on the time consumed on the computer. And how she hasn't completed reading a book in its entirety since she began her blog. and other sundry nuances related to creating time and space to blog.  almost like we should apologize for goofing around on the internets.

my reaction to her and in my head was, how is this different than writing via pen or manual typewriter or other means? isn't blogging just a form of writing using a computer as a tool?

Would spouses, partners, etc. vent as much if we were sat at a desk pen in hand? or they could hear the clickety-clak of the typewriter keys?

Don't authors of the non-computerized sort still have to make time for writing ... make choices to reduce some activities or organize they schedule in a manner to put their words in readable form?

Why does the fact that a computer is involved diminish the value of the output?  Why is what is written 'less serious' because it is spontaneous? In many respects, MORE is on the line in this regard since one's audience consumes the output more quickly, leaving less time for editing etc. that printed on paper words allow.

Of course, not ALL bloggers are writers. Some folks have a blog to post family photos, talk about janey's softball games, write notes to self and granny. They may only update sporadically with Farmer's Almanac type info like weather, what they ate, etc.

But some of us are attempting more than that. We're serious about the thoughts and messages we are imparting to our readers. I  try to live up to my personal commitment and goal of providing entertaiing content of interest related to my blog theme and also to pose topics and questions, material of a thought-provoking nature.

How this differs from a newspaper journalist or writer of a printed magazine article escapes me. Except perhaps for the pay. Which some of us are even beginning to realize as well.  Blogging is an element of the writing/publishing industry and can be done for personal satisfaction up to and including great monetary gain.

So, get it straight. We bloggers are as real as you want us to be. And most times more.

(image from the bobofiles.com)

phenomenon DIVA JOOD takes the nation by storm.

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democratic veep nominee watch.

I confess that for the next 7-10 days I WILL regret the lack of a television in order to get blow/blow coverage of the goings-on with the DNC.

Further, I want to say I am unimpressed with the top 3 names being bandied about (Biden, Kaine and Bayh, oh my).  Not that they aren't without their merits ... but from my perspective NONE of them represents the kind of refreshing change and derring-do needed, in fact LONGED FOR, in our political system.

They are more of the same, maybe with a little icing on top for pretty shiny distraction.  They have individual accomplishments, however, 2 of the 3 voted FOR the Iraq war.  Flies in the face of what distinguished Obama from Clinton, doesn't it.  And if he is okay with that ... then he should select Hillary.

I was really kind of enthused when I read Michael Moore's open letter to Caroline Kennedy encouraging her consideration for the role.

That kind of an announcement, that kind of choice, could blow this thing wide open.  But looks like the old standby, do the safe thing ... will apply.

Anyone else out there monitoring the situation? predictions? insights?

In any event, I am seeking to stay as connected as possible to the unfolding events via my internets.  they are my heroes, those internets!  my connection to a bigger world!

(image from: www.smh.com.au)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

interesting new (to me) vegetable.

Okay, this is just a quickie to tell you about a new taste I tried today, before I forget.

Went with classmates to lunch at one of the best Thiviers has to offer (a non-fancy restaurant directly across from the rail station).

I have come to love their week-day menu du jour, and whenever the opportunity for lunch arises ... this is where I go. Todays offering was a custard tart with camembert, main course of lapin (so moist and tender it nearly fell off the bone) accompanied by ... drum roll for new veggie ... Salsify! We pondered and pondered what it was we were eating. The flavor is akin to a mild artichoke. In 'googling' I discovered some versions also have a slight oyster flavor. (Not our version, not at all).

One of the cool things about living in an agricultural area of France, one gets to experience a wide variety of vegetables and other produce not found or used elsewhere. This particular item was delicious. Any of you cooks out there have any encounters with salsify?

Dessert was diced fresh fruit in a light vanilla and sugar marinade.

Delicious and the menu de jour is only 11€; total bill for 3 including a pichet of rosé and cafés all around was 43.50€.


black widow blogger.


I was worried there for a bit. it occurred to me that shortly after dining with the stars otherwise known as f.o.t., she-weasel and B; the three of them nearly simultaneously discontinued blogging.

Of course, you readers were way too polite to mention it. And I was way too paranoid to draw attention to the fact. But I actually did begin wondering ... checking my breath ... watching my step ... sniffing my pits ... and generally becoming more and more self-conscious about the situation.

After all, here were 3 gorgeous women, all talented writers in their own write, sharing a mutual admiration society for all things French ... and then, kind of at the last minute, they invite me to their little summit and afterwards ... poof! presto-change-o! they are all mysteriously afflicted with a case of the au revoirs.

Thankfully, two of them, f.o.t. and she-weasel were recently and miraculously resurrected. Some sort of anti-JNRR serum was administered and the black widow bite swelling apparently reduced enough to bring them back.

Unfortunately, B is still missing in action. She was the tiniest so maybe my venom did her in.


franglais. or anglais en france.

In the time that I've been here, I've heard my share of opinions regarding the English. Particularly the English in the Dordogne. Most of what I have heard has been from the French. Then last week, when my internet arrived and I had some heavy duty surfing moments, I was googling various combinations of expatriate integration into France.

I read some really eyebrow singe-ing articles and comments. One was written by an English couple living here, bemoaning the lack of participation by the English in French life (here in France). They recounted a recent evening at the village fete and being the only English attendees from a village with many English dwellers. They made some comments about how this widened an existing gap. Commenters to this online article were indignant. Some went so far as to saying ... "So what if we don't want to be a part of French life, maybe we are here for the weather!! Its our business, isn't it?"

That got me to thinking about my attendance at my own village fete. No, I hadn't "seen" many English at the lunch tables. I didn't see the local Irish B&B owners. I thought also of the night market I attended in Thiviers. And how I looked and looked for the owners of the Thiviers hotel ... nowhere to be seen. This night I was with Marjo and Rodolphe, the agency owners from Thiviers who do not live in Thiviers proper ... but participate in town life as much as possible. Now of course it could absolutely also be that these folks were there and I didn't see them.

I have been told by my French friends that the English they know are insular. They socialize with each other, form their own clubs, have their own bars/restaurants they frequent, support English businesses where ever possible. and on and on. I've met English who tell me the French are unapproachable, unfriendly despite many attempts. The truth must lie somewhere in between, eh?

On the other hand, I've now begun meeting some English and like everything else, there is more variety there than what appears on the surface. For example, I've met the local B&B owners and they have had a terrible time since moving here a few years back. Trouble is, most of that terrible time was served them by an English criminal who had a fraudulent building business and took them for nearly $100k US. They chose this fellow because he was English. This has soured them a bit on France, but they are stuck. They have been kinder than kind and given me various tips for things I need. Like dog sitting.

They introduced me to another English couple that I met yesterday. Been here about 5 years or so, first as holiday-makers and now full time. The gentleman tells me he would really like to improve his French. Then sheepishly admitted no classes had been attempted but he wants to try!

At the thai curry dinner last week, the English to French ratio was about 80:20. The English folks were gregarious towards me, and had lots of stories for me. Many of which began with "The French this and the French that." And not in kind terms. One particular instance was mocking the French builders/workers way of doing things. How it takes so long, and they disappear. I recounted the tale of my new Irish acquaintances. How much better off they would have been with a French builder. Awkward silence ensued. At the same event, I met another couple (the artist and his girlfriend) who own a nightclub up the way. Her French was marvellous. The French in attendance appeared to all be friends of this young and energetic couple. She tells me their clientele is 90+ percent French. They've been here 3 years and have achieved integration.

The owners of this Irish hotel live in a little village near Brantome with their 2 kids. Their French too is superb. And in my French class I have an English couple, an English woman and an American woman. All working to improve their French. I was immediately drawn to the English couple ... living 1/2 time here, 1/2 time in France. Moved here because everyone was so kind, she says. Notices few English in everyday French life and thinks it is a shame. Keeps trying to get acquainted with their French neighbors, no matter how difficult it seems. Loving every minute of every day and as positive as they come.

One common theme I've heard with ALL of the characters met above is this. If one wants to achieve ANY level of integration, one must develop at least a rudimentary command of the language.

I see a huge influx of English every Friday in the market. They can't ALL be vacationers. Because of course there are tons of French too. But where do they all go after market?

Okay, this hasn't been too insightful has it? After 5 weeks here, I'm hesitant to proffer judgments or conclusions. At this point I'll just say that it is obviously like every other stereotype to be found out there. So many shades of grey exist. I'm reserving further opinions until I've had more time to look closely. I've seen truth in the the judgments. And exceptions.

But I'm definitely leaning in the French direction. Along with some of my non-French acquaintances. We're here for the French. The French culture. lifestyle. PEOPLE. wine. landscape. LANGUAGE. and that certain indescribable je ne sais quoi.

I for one definitely did not move halfway around the world for the weather.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

L'ennui-Melodieux insisted I share this with all of you. Something about "or else"?

this would be interesting, to say the least.


"Caroline: Pull a Cheney!" An Open Letter to Caroline Kennedy (head of the Obama VP search team) from Michael Moore"

Dear Caroline,

We've never met, so I hope you don't find this letter too presumptuous or inappropriate. As its contents involve the public's business, I am sending this to you via the public on the Internet. I knew your brother John. He was a great guy, and I know he would've had a ball during this thrilling and historic election year. We all miss him dearly.

Barack Obama selected you to head up his search for a vice presidential candidate. It appears we may be just days (hours?) away from learning who that choice will be.

The media is reporting that Senator Obama has narrowed his alternatives to three men: Joe Biden, Evan Bayh and Tim Kaine. They're all decent fellows, but they are far from the core of what the Obama campaign has been about: Change. Real change. Out with the old. And don't invade countries that pose no threat to us.

Senators Biden and Bayh voted for that invasion and that war, the war Barack ran against, the war Barack reminded us was the big difference between him and Senator Clinton because she voted for the war and he spoke out against it while running for Senate (a brave and bold thing to do back in 2002).

For Obama to place either of these senators on the ticket would be a huge blow to the millions that chose him in the primaries over Hillary. He will undercut one of the strongest advantages he has over the Hundred-Year War senator, Mr. McCain. By anointing a VP who did what McCain did in throwing us into this war, Mr. Obama will lose the moral high ground in the debates.

As for Governor Kaine of Virginia, his big problem is, well, Obama's big problem -- who is he? The toughest thing Barack has had to overcome -- and it will continue to be his biggest obstacle -- is that too many of the voters simply don't know him well enough to vote for him. The fact that Obama is new to the scene is both one of his most attractive qualities AND his biggest drawback. Too many Americans, who on the surface seem to like Barack Obama, just don't feel comfortable voting for someone who hasn't been on the national scene very long. It's a comfort level thing, and it may be just what keeps Obama from winning in November ("I'd rather vote for the devil I know than the devil I don't know").

What Obama needs is a vice presidential candidate who is NOT a professional politician, but someone who is well-known and beloved by people across the political spectrum; someone who, like Obama, spoke out against the war; someone who has a good and generous heart, who will be cheered by the rest of the world; someone whom we've known and loved and admired all our lives and who has dedicated her life to public service and to the greater good for all.

That person, Caroline, is you.

I cannot think of a more winning ticket than one that reads: "OBAMA-KENNEDY."

Caroline, I know that nominating yourself is the furthest idea from your mind and not consistent with who you are, but there would be some poetic justice to such an action. Just think, eight years after the last head of a vice presidential search team looked far and wide for a VP -- and then picked himself (a move topped only by his hubris to then lead the country to near ruin while in office) -- along comes Caroline Kennedy to return the favor with far different results, a vice president who helps restore America to its goodness and greatness.

Caroline, you are one of the most beloved and respected women in this country, and you have been so admired throughout your life. You chose a life outside of politics, to work for charities and schools, to write and lecture, to raise a wonderful family. But you did not choose to lead a private life. You have traveled the world and met with its leaders, giving you much experience on the world stage, a stage you have been on since you were a little girl.

The nation has, remarkably (considering our fascination with celebrity), left you alone and let you live your life in peace. (It's like, long ago, we all collectively agreed that, with her father tragically gone, a man who died because he wanted to serve his country, we would look out for her, we would wish for her to be happy and well, and we would have her back. But we would let her be.)

Now, I am breaking this unwritten code and asking you to come forward and help us in our hour of need. So many families are hurting, losing their homes, going bankrupt with health care bills, seeing their public schools in shambles and living with this war without end. This is a historic year for women, from Hillary's candidacy to the numerous women running for the House and Senate. This is the year that a woman should be on the Democratic ticket. This is the year that both names on that ticket should be people OUTSIDE the party machine. This is the year millions of independents and, yes, millions of Republicans are looking for something new and fresh and bold (and you are the Kennedy Republicans would vote for!).

This is the moment, Caroline. Seize it! And Barack, if you're reading this, you probably know that she is far too humble and decent to nominate herself. So step up and surprise us again. Step up and be different than every politician we have witnessed in our lifetime. Keep the passion burning amongst the young people and others who have been energized by your unexpected, unpredicted, against-all-odds candidacy that has ignited and inspired a nation. Do it for all those reasons. Make Caroline Kennedy your VP. "Obama-Kennedy." Wow, does that sound so cool.

Caroline, thanks for letting me intrude on your life. How wonderful it will be to have a vice president who will respect the Constitution, who will support (instead of control) her president, who will never let her staff out a CIA agent, and who will never tell her country that she is "currently residing in an undisclosed location."

Say it one more time: "OBAMA-KENNEDY." A move like that might send a message to the country that the Democrats would actually like to win an election for once.

Michael Moore

guess who's coming to dinner?

okay, within the last couple of days I was surfing around blogs and saw this idea, complete with branded graphic (no not this one), on a blog game of sorts where one picks 10 bloggers they would invite to dinner and why.

of course, I can no longer find this blog or its accompanying graphics. And I kind of think it would be really annoying to invite TEN bloggers to dinner. I mean that would be like TWENTY dinner guests and hell, not only would I not want to cook for twenty people, I don't think I have enough dishes or chairs.

Of course, we won't even mention that I don't have an operating stove. or cupboards. or table. (details, details).

So anyway, I am blatantly plagiarizing the idea (thanks whoever you were, wherever you are) but changing it to fit my idea of a nice dinner party.

Which is dinner for eight. assuming I had a dining room table and chairs. in France. Of course I have a table and chairs in the United States. the maximum it seats is 12. so who knows, by the time I end this, I may have 6 bloggers + guest at my imaginary table. and imaginary dinner. in France. Okay since we're dreaming, I'm flying all the guests in. First Class!

Okay (in no particular order, although I know all you sensitive types just ignored that ... *sigh*)

Utah Savage ~ I'm inviting Utah for a variety of reasons. First of all, she rubbed elbows with the bourgeoisie back when the bourgeoise were captivatingly cool. Its not her fault she didn't think so. I've almost forgiven her for not running off with the sexy Italian. Or offering to introduce me to his son. Utah has a razor sharp wit, we all know she cleans up nice (who wouldn't want Audrey Hepburn's look-alike dressing up their table?) AND she makes a mean corn bread!!!! which I love with lots of butter and French honey.

Bête de Jour ~ I've sung his praises before, but don't we all agree we need an English bard to spice things up at the party? Plus, if you've read his blog, it would be worth it just to see WHO he brings along ... as well as the after-party dissemination he will undoubtedly regale us with. Bête de Jour is one of those self-abasing types who swears his visage isn't fit for public scrutiny, and yet he regularly writes about his comical forays into the public eye ... so I think he is hiding something (maybe even in those tall man trousers he undoubtedly wears, given his height!!) (( yeah, I said it ... what?! ))

Our Juicy Life ~ I'm told the gal can cook!!! and she is artistic! (maybe she'll do some of those portraits in chalk or something...in between helping prepare a lavish meal ... lol) did I mention she has a pool when she arrives and I need to butter her up?! But seriously (or not), she is also one of our few happy bloggers and if all I invite are the downers like me ... well, you get it.

L'Ennui Melodieux ~ we need to be innoculated against boredom. We need a man who has a laptop full of pictures of athletes in tight costumes. We need a man who can entertain us with politically incorrect satire and, sad as it makes me folks, Jon Stewart isn't available.

La Belette Rouge ~ She tells us she is a she-weasel, but I know from personal experience that the woman is a stone-cold fox! We need glamour, style, snappy repertoire and a great smile that only she can provide. Plus she can help ME pick out my outfit for the night!

La Framericaine (halfway to france) ~ Okay, the woman can slip seamlessly between two cultures. Her French is indispensable, and her French husband is oh so debonaire!! I can just tell from his pictures that he would be enthralling us with his frenchdom while LaF entertained us with her stories of film, literature and life growing up in the rural south (how's that for a combo?)

The Bloggess ~ well, she will be our one regrets I am sure as she is too famous for my little affair. But what can I say? I have a crush on the bloggess and her extraordinarily twisted wit. She makes me want to hum that song by Katy Perry ... YOU know the one. *wink wink*

Geekgirl Unveiled and Function of Time and Nate Beaty (my cousin) ~ Okay, I need a couple of cynical smart-ass women at the table just so I feel less awkward. I mean that in the nicest possible way, as a total compliment. Plus Stacey can take pictures. for posterity. and with Nate there, we can have a cynicism triumvirate! not to mention I kinda miss him and his whiny ass....

If I decide to disallow guests (which is always a good idea, unless they are hot single men who want to date ME ... after all, spouses can be so needy at these things and after all, it IS all about us. Except Bête still has to bring a date, I absolutely INSIST upon it) and LaF has to bring Mr LaF; then I can squeeze in a few more and there are a couple of French side folks I am ever so curious about ... like

No Place Like It - something tells me she is a quirky gal who could hold her own with the likes of the above, and in fact capture the audience with some funny stories. take for instance, her clever dissection of french neighbors... yep yep

And since I keep talking about Riana, I simply must have her as well. First off, she is another cook. and I am curiouser and curiouser about this shedding of all things monetary. hmmmm. plus she is great with a can of whup ass. keep the peanut gallery under control. just don't piss her off!

I want a gal with an English accent (besides f.o.t. *heh heh*) so we're adding Nunhead Ramblings to the invites. She's going to take notes and turn it all into a screenplay (sorry, but of course I'LL get all the best lines). She hasn't realized it yet, but film or television writing is in her future. Its her destiny, I'm convinced.

I also recently discovered a great songstress is nearby (she actually VISITED my blog, go figure) and so I'm inviting Amy of diary of amy rigby fame... maybe if we are nice and feed her free drinks she will even sing for us.

Well, now that I've got started, I've decided it must be a buffet/barbeque outside in the garden with paper plates. There's already far too many of you and I detest doing dishes.  After all, even with my eliminating unnecessary (to my dinner) spouses, that's sixteen PLUS me! good grief. I thought it was annoying to invite ten. what was I thinking?

by the way. there are no rules with this spontaneous outburst. None of you must feel compelled to pass it on. but please feel free to send hostess gifts.

beats a blog roll, eh?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

speaking of shameless self-promotion ...

Take a minute or two and check out our newly featured artists at Mignonne Décor. Diana Blackwell and Paige Camerino are talented artists with interesting perspectives who make original artwork attainable at affordable prices.

Whether or not you are in the market for art ... taking a moment or two to peruse a sampling of their work is something well worth the time.

No, I'm not posting picture here ... that would kind of defeat the purpose, now wouldn't it???

no autographs, please. and paparazzi to the rear.

Kick Ass Blogger Award

Recently I was bestowed recognition by two bloggers, the inimitable Utah Savage and Ask Allison .... AA proferred her Arte y Pico a while back when I was internet underprivileged and I've not responded ... When U.S. included me in her Kick Ass Blogger award roll, I figured I better get myself in gear.

Okay, I'm going to cheat a bit. Because both awards demand passing it on to five bloggers, I'm going to combine the effort. I know, I know; I'm a lazy so'n'so ... but instead of making excuses I'll just agree with you and move on.

I've explained all the rules for Arte y Pico here, so for you control freaks who want to make sure I'm staying in line, check it out.

The Kick Ass Blogger award seems to have a few more vagaries in its origins. I do know it was started by blogger Mamma Dawg. Rule #1. Select five bloggers who "kick ass". Rule #2. Blurt out why you think they are deserving of this award--must have some kick ass in the description. Rule #3. Link them all together in some slightly sexual way. (HUNH?????) Rule #4. Acknowledge the originator of this award and also the lovely, generous, beautiful kick ass woman who is sending it your way. Rule # 5. Make this one up as you go along.

Well hmmm.

My first Kick Ass cum Arte y Pico Award goes to the very interesting, recently discovered Riana, who writes a blog entitledThese Days In French Life". First off, I selected Riana because she recently actually DID kick a little ass, so just remember she can folks, don't piss her off. Secondly, it is interesting to watch this young woman's own adventure combining life with a French husband and their little girl as they fulfill a commitment to spend a "slow year". That is a year without shopping. I recently went back and read some of the archives on this site, pre-slow year-pledge and its fascinating to watch the changes in this woman's life and writing. In fact, you'll see links for blogs written by many people like her. Apparently its a movement. It reminds me of the centuries-old aesthetes (monks and the like) who took vows to God and progressed to vows of poverty ... chastity ... silence. You'll see varying degrees of aescetism on the part of these bloggers and it really is an interesting experiment. In fact, I have a whole separate post percolating around in my Kimba pot at the moment.

My second Kick Ass cum Arte y Pico Award goes to my favorite woman in red, La Belette Rouge. As I recently wrote her, LBR she-weaselled her way into my heart almost from her very first comment. As a writer, she is mistress of her domain and can range from heartfelt memoirs, insightful commentary on politics & culture to girl talk of fashion, maquillage and the like. She is well-read, well-versed, and well-dressed. Having had the honor of meeting her in person, I can also verify that the real-life belette more than lives up to the online belette. When she kicks ass, you can count on it being with a well shod foot.

My third Kick Ass cum Arte y Pico Award goes to none other than L'ennui Mélodieux, currently my favorite online political satirist and general master of high-jinx extraordinaire. Now the primary reason I'm proferring this to Randall Graves is for the intelligence and wit exhibited in his writing. Hell, more often than not one has to actually THINK about what he's going on about in order to understand all of the many subtleties and multi-entendres. Why, I even am willing to overlook the more than occasional forays into the hidden world of sports. But a secondary benefit of bestowing RG this award is I think it will piss him off. Man, that's just gravy! Because half the time he doesn't respond to awards, instead he just whines complains sulks and harumphs. And all of that is kind of cute.

My fourth Kick Ass cum Arte y Pico Award goes to my good, good friend and blogger Geekgirl Unveiled. Stacey is solely responsible for introducing me to the world of blogging. Yep that's right, six short months ago I had never read a blog. Well okay I had read Huffington Post but I didn't know it was a blog. I thought it was an online news zine. (hey wait come to think of it, I STILL don't get the difference on that one. hmmmm....) but I digress. Not only did Stacey introduce me to blogging, she taught me how to link and in the early days helped me shed some of my blogs more embarrassing features. Like how when you opened it you heard music. *blush*.

So all of that is well and good, but let me also tell you that Stacey is a wonderful writer and an especially talented photographer. When you read her blog, you'll see the background on how it has evolved to less writing and more graphic and visual displays. And how she is okay with that. How she has owned her own little space on the blogosphere and uses it to share her extremely interesting life with us all. Check her out.

My final Kick Ass cum Arte y Pico Award goes to one of our favorites who has JUST returned to blogland. I'm speaking of Function of Time. FOT is one of the first bloggers I found who was contemplating a French life, and one of the first commenters on my blog who I didn't know in real life. She always has a pithy insight to share, she has walked in my shoes a little, she has decided to return to her writing and I think we should all welcome her back with a champagne toast. *clink*

Okay, so those are the writers on my designated hit list. You figure out the sexual thing. Its there. well kind of.

And as far as number 5 goes, let's just say that I picked writers that not only Kick Ass, but aren't afraid to pull out a can of Whup Ass when warranted, which I can respect and appreciate. No namby pamby's here my friends. Not a one in the bunch.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Well, on Sunday I checked out a vide-grenier in Champagnac-de-Bel Air. I had been there once other time with J-Y in search of a stone factory ... but just the outskirts and I really missed what a lovely little village it was.

The vide-grenier was in the town's recreation area, adjacent to tennis courts and a large swiming pool. There was also a big covered seating area where they offer the meals during village fêtes. I'd gauge this vide-grenier as small to medium with a nice blend of vendors, some who obviously make a living at it all the way to children on a blanket spread with toys they have outgrown.

Unfortunately, Sunday day was overcast with rainshowers and there were a couple of pretty strong downpours with attendees dashing to huddle under umbrellas and vendors madly spreading tarps. I seized the opportunity to dash to the crêpe vendor wear I had 2 crêpes au sucre for 1€. This inspired me to search for my own blackened crêpe pan (didn't find one here) sigh.

I then hopped over to the boissons, ordered a beer, and watched a makeshift bar produce a variety of aperitifs for the gaggle of men huddled there. Ricard, Absinthe and Menthes as well as whisky sodas were pouring away! I debated whether or not to eat with the village or grab a saucisson but in the end, because I knew I was booked for Thai night later, I resisted.

I did score some nice old glassware sets for the store before I left.

I'm sorry I skipped eating because I battled with a massive headache most of the day. My little stove gave its last flames and I instead of hauling myself to the store, I chose naptime!

My reservation was for 7ish, so I dragged myself up and out to the Domaine la Roseraie, an ambitious little enterprise with lavish potential. Owned by an Irish couple, Ian and Andrea, this former monastery and grounds has been remade into a beautiful hotel, restaurant and bar with inviting grounds that include a pool. Why ambitious? Because the couple is also developing holiday cottages and Phase 1 is enjoying brisk sales I'm told with more in the works.

The bar/restaurant has loads of ambience, the bar is a notch above the other local offerings with a contemporary feel and bar stools that you can use to belly up and enjoy a meal, especially nice when one is alone, n'est pas? They are only open during the 'season', which is to say April-ish to mid-October. They offer something outdoors every Sunday, sometimes a barbeque, sometimes a theme-night such as last nights Thai food and art exhibit. The artist on display was Steve Barker who, along with his wife, also run a nightclub not far from here which I am now decided upon visiting. Entrepreneurial lot, us expatriate adventurers, eh? I've got to hone in on what my gig is going to be and soon.

Dinner was thai curry, veggie, salmon, or chicken, all with their own sauces which were delicious. The rice accompaniment was a tad disappointing as I'd lay odds on Uncle Ben having a hand in it. Some noodle salads, the ubiquitous platter of duck (with plum sauce this time), a nice cucumber and raitsa were also there. Naan would have been a better choice than the french bread, but all round it was a treat to have some ethnic variety. I did gasp at my final bill, which I now have a tendency to do ... The meal, with wine, was 20€ ... my 2 pre-dinner drinks, a bottle of Badoit and a café more than doubled that and I was presented with l'addition of 43€. Gulp! Good thing the host (Ian) was gregarious and I did meet a couple of interesting contacts for future follow-up. And I bought a painting, too! (the blue wave on the website is now mine). So that was the sugar that made the medicine of a tad too expensive meal okay (did I mention it was buffet-style?!) I'll pass on the pre-dinner drinks next time ... one more and I'd probably be snockered anyway. ha.

But, haven't been eating out much and it was nice to be out amongst'em so to speak. I'm saving descriptions of the mostly English attendees for another post I'm working on regarding the various expats and observations around that. So more to come soon ...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

note to self.

from Latin adventurus, future participle of advenire, to arrive.

v. To take a risk in the hope of a favorable outcome

v. To try the chance; to take the risk.

v. To venture upon; to run the risk of; to dare.

v. To risk, or hazard; jeopard; to venture.

v. To proceed despite risks.

n. That which happens without design; thus, a chance of danger or loss.

n. Hazard; risk; chance; that of which one has no direction.

n. Participation in hazardous or exciting experiences: the love of adventure.

n. The encountering of risks; a hazardous and striking enterprise; a bold undertaking in which hazards are to be encountered and the outcome is staked upon unforeseen events.

n. A remarkable occurrence; a striking event; a stirring incident; as, the adventures of one's life.

n. A wild and exciting undertaking (not necessarily lawful), an undertaking of a questionable or hazardous nature.

n. An unusual and exciting experience, possibly involving a dangerous activity, journey, experience, etc; or the excitement produced by such activities.


okay, I confess to having some. Of the "what the hell am I doing all alone in a foreign country?" variety.

I imagine (boy is mine active) that this is normal. After all, I've spent huge swaths of my life alone in a not so foreign country, why would this be that much different?

And it isn't. But I guess maybe I hoped it would be.

So maybe that's it. Not only has my long-visioned quest been to live in this strange, new land. But not to do so as all alone as I've grown accustomed to being. Actually I am pretty good at being alone. I've mastered it. If this is what it is, I'll live. No pity parties necessary.


Because that is not my first choice, I have angst. That I'll be here and unable to connect. The past couple of days I've stayed in. Well except for that walk to the market. And today I'm staying in, waiting for appliance delivery.

But tomorrow I'm going out. Going to a vide-grenier. and an art exhibit at the hotel owned by Irish. And next week there are language classes. And I hereby resolve to plot outings.

For this whole thing has to be about MORE than a house. But god, I hope it also isn't about months and endless months of me knocking about alone. or complaining about said solitude. because I refuse to have regrets.


well hey, that would be a good blog title. *Knocking About Alone.* could work into something.

queue Al Green music.


Friday, August 15, 2008

la cuisinière rustique.

Readers, let me introduce you to my principal appliance currently in residence in my kitchen.

This is actually an almost exact replica (see kitchen photos below) and I am ever so thankful to J-Y for loaning it to me. Because of this *cough* stove, I am able to have a coffee in the morning, soup at night and I've even branched out into cooking. Yep that's right, I've made multi-dish meals on this baby. Three times. Two dejeuners and one petit dejeuner.

The first time, I had grown weary of lunches out and the dents in my pocketbook. I'm sure it would have happened sooner if I had some means of refrigeration. In any event, I bought some potatoes, shallots and garlic, a steak and one zucchini. I started by quartering the potatoes and boiling them with a couple of cloves of garlic. Drained that, threw in some butter and set it aside. Next I sliced the zucchini and steamed them in a pot. After that, I heated some butter in the cast iron fry pan and cooked the steak on lightly both sides (I like mine rare), put the steak on a plate and quickly sauteed shallots and fresh garlic, reducing them with red wine. This was the sauce for my steak. Took a fork and mushed up the garlic and potatoes with a little more butter and sel de mer. Served them on the plate. Had some leftover cubed feta salad with red peppers and vinaigrette ... mixed that with the zucchini and finished plating my meal. A glass of red wine completed my feast ... my first meal prepared in my house. Dessert, you ask? I forgot to mention that I took a glass, sliced a nectarine and macerated it with sugar, a sprinkle of orange juice and red wine and crumbled biscotti to make a fruit compote of sorts to enjoy after my meal.

My next effort was chicken. I sauteed the chicken with onions and butter, simple and delicious. Of course, the French chickens help that along. I served this with lentils and a nice cucumber and beefsteak tomato salad ... dressing of olive oil and lemon juice.

Finally, I have been craving an eggy breakfast for awhile. Haven't bought eggs due to the refrigeration issue. But yesterday I broke down anyway and this morning I dined on eggs scrambled the French way (soft soft), toasted fig bread (toasted over the camp flame), cafe creme and orange juice. Quite the process ... boil water for the coffee (cone drip), heat the milk, melt the butter and stir the eggs (2 pots involved in repetitive fashion), hope the eggs don't get cold while I toast the bread.

It is all reminiscent of those Thanksgiving meals where it seems the eating takes 1/10th of the cooking time!

With no refrigeration, I guess I will boil the remaining eggs hard and use them in a salad. I haven't bought any of the lovely lettuce because 1-the heads are colossal and 2-have you seen unrefrigerated lettuce after a day or 2? S'okay the tomatoes are incredible right now ... so tomato and egg salad with perhaps some cucumber? delish. And the nightly soup is heaven for my waistline.

Even so, I confess I am excited for my appliances to arrive on Saturday. Even though the stove won't be hooked up, at least I will have refrigeration. Although now my guilt factor has multiplied tenfold since reading Riana's Blog, especially the bits about Keeping Cool and consumerism. See, I didn't get the hugungo American refrigerator but I also didn't get the office style French refrigerator. Mine is not an under counter mini but it is about a 3/4 size of US standard. A freezer/fridge combo, very sleek and euro looking with its silver coloring. I'm not big on frozen foods see, so as lovely as Riana's efforts appear with the freezing the water every night to cool her unplugged fridge daily... it just isn't me. Does this make me a big fat greedy American? I hope not. But I suspect so. Even when you market daily or every other day in France, you still want safe food. Now I sound like I am justifying things to myself, don't I?

At least we (Riana and I, who by the way I have only ever read not interacted with) have the same mindset when it comes to big box stores and reducing one's consumption. But I also kind of secretly think that all pursuits can lean toward the obsessive if we aren't careful ... whether they are massive over-consuming obsessions or neuroses involving puritanical frugality. Thankfully, both Riana and I appear to be somewhere in the middle, separated by degrees toward either side.

Basically we are all a bit obsessed in one way or another, I suppose. But now I've gone and gotten off track when all I really started off to do was crow a bit about what a great indoor camper I've become. Although I'm not sure that was my exact intention in moving to France.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

other things that have occupied me lately.

Realizing things actually ARE done differently in France.

Gazing at the multitude of different building styles in out of the way villages like these in Thiviers.

Multi-tasking whilst reading billboards ... working on my French AND my weekly itineraries ... c'est fantastique!

More work on the hostile living environment for spiders (otherwise known as Ivy Removal ... Ivy loves spiders and spiders love Ivy; plus Stone hates Ivy)

During a very hot day, took a swim in this river not far from my house ... threw the dogs in too .... Heaven!

I've got more, but I'll save for another post!

Scenes from la marché a l'ancienne

dedicated to all of you bleeding heart bug lovers.

Okay, so I decided to snap a few pics for you all to enjoy and then tear at your hair and beat your chests in lament at my black hearted nature.

First we have a picture of the now deceased flying beetle. (I did NOT kill it, it was discovered dead on the floor). Pay special note to its claws. It is laying on a piece of tile ... maybe the next time one of these babies flies on over and alights on your ... hmm, I dunno ... SHOULDER, you can tame it and take it home. I think I saw that on America's Next Top Model, they wore cute little bejeweled collars and shit.

Next, a snap of one the many "webs" that theatrically draped the inside of my house. This one was about a foot in diameter. Notice the artful placement and thickness of the weave ... perfect for ensnaring lots of other little bugs ... or small dogs and children.

So, while investigating spider species while humming "Born Free" might be an option for some, I'm following J-Y's advice and creating a hostile environment. By that, he meant removing all cobwebs and cleaning with bleach and stuff. That way the eight legged inhabitants get the drift and spare themselves the work of respinning their homes in MY home and take off for parts elsewhere.

What can I say? I'm a little more French every day and enjoying my ride at the top of the food chain. The can of DIE AND DIE QUICKLY remains reserved for emergencies when one of these suckers has me cornered. I have no desire to deal with the spider battle aftermath unless ABSOLUTELY necessary.

But I WILL continue my campaign to get them to pull up stakes and take their spider tents with them.

who's that blogger got her Neuf box?

Who's that blogger got her Neuf box?

She's here, She's here, She's really really here!

Kimba in tha hizz-OUSE! (Mama Mancha gots da internets)

Alrighty then. I'm hungry so I'm off for lunch and when I get back, I got a whole lotta catchin' up to do.

I'll buy it.

Ideas for much needed businesses in France … I'm sure the longer I am here, the more I will discover.

1. I was at the mall the other day (buying appliances) and spotted a kiosk that offered a variety of services … watch and shoe repair, duplication of keys, etc. Remembering I wanted to make copies of my car keys … I walked over and handed the fellow my 2 keys, requesting 1 new set. In the space of 2 or 3 minutes, I was handed my keys. “Vingt-sept euros”, he requested. TWENTY-SEVEN EUROS?! As in $13.50 PER KEY!! Key-ryst, what a ripoff.

2. Purveyor of ice. A person could make a mint off of a series of well-placed ice machines. Campsites dot the Dordogne region and yet there seems to be NO location to purchase bagged ice. When inquiring, I received bizarre looks in return. Here in my town there is a large campground, regularly occupied with at least 40 or 50 campers. What the hell do they do for ice?

3. Discount paint store. Paint and the painters who use it, seem to be exorbitant. Even at the Brico Depot, the paint runs around the same cost per litre that is charged per gallon in the states.

Better yet, a shop that offers all of the above, and more. We’ll make a mint, I assure you!

4. Shipping. Okay now this seems to be one that has become a worldwide ripoff. Used to be you could ship a box via ground at the post office and save some money. I sent a few boxes at the last minute from the states to France and it ran basically $100/box.

Last week I sent a box the reverse route, a lightweight box and it was 46.90€ or roughly $70.00.

Outrageous, in my opinion. but this is one that would be hard to improve upon because the market is locked up and the investment too great for a start-up. So instead I'll just bitch about it.

There. All of you folks out there were certain I was a big namby-pamby when it came to France, nothing to do but wax rhapsodic about her many wonders. Which of course I shall continue to do.

But I'll also continue to identify the few flies in the ointment. And break out my can of whup-ass (or DIE FLY DIE) as needed.

Oh. And for those of you who are wondering, NO, I did not get internet up yet at my house but by some miracle the hotel network across the way reappeared making it easier for me to post. Still costly at $3/hour but hey, I can use my own computer ... even if I have to stand at the window with my laptop to get the signal.

For you folks, anything.