(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Monday, February 16, 2009

on safari... and stuff ....

well, folks ... off for a 'petite aventure' ... a break from the cold and capitalizing upon the new relative proximity to Africa.

Gone for a few weeks and probably not blogging regularly. lucky to have running water, let alone internet access!

I WILL however take copious notes and photos ... and hopefully have a million small adventures as only Kim can. That way, I can dazzle you with stories upon my return.

ponders what other witticisms to throw in. comes up with nothing.

Okay then, I'll leave you with that...feel free to confer amongst yourselves and ready your questions for my return ... ha!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

this much closer.

well, the floors in the kitchen are now completely sanded. We spent about five hours Friday morning sanding, JY with the large belt sander and me, hands/knees with a special electric 'edger'. The sanders had their own vacuum attachments so the dust was less than I expected. We finished sanding about 1:00 p.m. and, famished, we had lunch in Thiviers. First we pulled up to return the equipment (late ... but apparently the vendor was kind of a jerk and only wanted us to have the machines for 2 hours after we reserved for one day... like a job of this magnitude could be done in a day ... harumph). The next customer was sat outside the shop waiting for us and the vendor had gone off to lunch. So he gathered the equipment and then we went to the restaurant.

It was my first time at this restaurant in Thiviers ... of which there is a limited selection. The lunch was actually not bad ... the menu du jour, 'ouvrier' style (workers). You arrive and all the tables are set with a large carafe of vin rouge. You start with a big tureen of the day's soup (delicious legume). Then a trip to the salad bar ... with a broad selection. and no lettuce! lol. Charcuterie, poached fish, red cabbage, beets, shredded carrots, artichoke hearts, several styles of cold pastas, celeriac, and other assorted pickled vegetables. A big basket of delicious fresh bread. On to the main course, today (we were very late) we were offered steak/frites but I am certain there was some other dish earlier. Next, Fromage! a large plate with 5 or 6 choices. Next, dessert! Choice of creme brulee, fruit cocktail, ice cream, or baba rhum (our choice... mmmmm) and then ... coffee! 13.50 euros (about $17/$18 US).

Friday afternoon was spent vacuuming the floor thoroughly and then hands/knees application of linseed oil. A big fire was in the fireplace to help the drying process. All appliances were moved out so I'm back to no kitchen for a bit!

Sunday (today) I applied a second coat of oil to the floor. Did I mention the floors are chestnut?! They are gorgeous and light and the sanding just made the whole room warmer, lighter, brighter .... lovely. Take a look below at the process pictures (I couldn't delete the preset song but I think I got it to show without playing...crosses fingers).

Je suis fatigué! I'm ready for a break. which we're taking. more on that on Monday!


ok, well I know that my following is trés petite when contrasted with many of my fellow bloggers. but even with my small coterie of readers, I never really recorded or tracked (formally) who has 'jumped on my bandwagon' to the right.

but lately I've noticed that one day the number is up, the next day its down. it is starting to make me paranoid. anyone else (those of you that aren't in the 50s, 70s, hell 100s of followers) notice this kind of fluctuation and begin wondering just who it was you offended?


Friday, February 13, 2009

thursday! hallelujah!

I unexpectedly spent my Thursday at a gospel concert! There I was, minding my own business in Perigueux when my phone rang ... an excited JY informed me there was a concert in one hour and did I want to go? 'qui?" I inquired ... 'Liz McComb' he replied, 'tu connais?' ... um, no. 'est elle la francaise?' 'non, je pense est elle une Americaine!' 'Impossible' I replied, 'je sais tous les artistes Americaine and je ne sais pas Liz McComb' "le sigh, tu veut aller ?" "d'accord, je recontre toi"... (hopefully I haven't butchered that too badly).

Well, embarrassingly enough for haughty ol' me, Liz McComb IS American. Of course, wouldn't you know she is a diva in the one genre of music I know little to nothing about ... Gospel.

But this wasn't your run-of-the-mill Christian Choir. This was good old AME-floor stomping-wall shaking-ear shattering-arms uplifting hip-shaking bluesy gospel that you might find at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Sister had an Afro that would have put baby Michael Jackson to shame. She had some pipes that would give Aretha a run for her money (blasphemy, I know!).

She had 2 guitarists, an organ player, an electric piano player a drummer and an african bongo player and she played at a grand piano. She sang, she stomped, she preached, she put it ON. She couldn't remain in her seat (I was told that must be an American thing!), and much of the time stood at the piano, dancing as she played and sang. Oftentimes she unhinged the mike, and danced around the stage.

Just as enjoyable as the concert was watching the concert hall full of French folks, sat politely in their seats, occasionally clapping along (slightly off beat). Just as enjoyable for JY was watching me trying to restrain myself as I danced in my seat, wiggling and shaking and dying to leap up and DANCE MY ASS off. As was he. but just not quite so obviously.

She covered a few non-church numbers too. Etta James' "At Last". The Staple Singers "I'll Take You There" (oh wait, maybe that does originate from church. When she sang Edith Piaf's "Mon Dieu", the entire crowd sang along.

It was SUCH a treat.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

the lap of luxury.

isn't it funny how we many things we take for granted? things like heat and running water and lighting, etc.?

renovating any sort of house is fraught with inconvenience and renovating a centuries-old property only compounds them. I realize many people might think it silly ... but these inconveniences have helped to ground me in my new life.

the feeling of accomplishment and resilience in surviving while doing without ... and still finding ways to be content, happy even ... has been profound. my first days here in my home began on a pallet on the floor ... no real bedding, no lamps, no refrigeration. Thankfully (ever so thankful!) I did have running water complete with a toilet. as time progressed and seasons changed, the fact that no heat was here was another eye-opener. I'm no aesthete ... as I commented on another blog, my grandmother was an appliance, I don't wish to be one. but I also decided I didn't want to enslave myself in order to acquire any and all 'luxuries' available ... and work right straight through any opportunity to experience real life.

now that some conveniences are returning, one by one, they seem truly decadent. An example last night. About two months after I moved in, I received phone service. there was a phone line downstairs, in my foyer. there was no electricity in my foyer so an extra long extension line snaked into another room so I could plug in my phone and modem box. For months, this phone has had limited use because most of the people I would want to call are nine hours behind in time and so using the phone meant taking a flashlight down to the freezing foyer (no heat either) and standing shivering on the cold stone floor in the dark. Back to last night. I was on my cell to my friend Kathleen when it dawned on me. Yesterday, JY completed the hall lighting. The radiator in the foyer now worked. and I had a folding chair! Quelle luxe! I told Kathleen I'd ring her back, went downstairs, turned on the light, sat in the chair, dialed her up for free (with unlimited charges for US calls) and had a good long visit with my dear friend! in relative comfort (yes, the extension cord is still there and so is the dust and the unpainted walls and the unsanded moldings and there is no overhead light .... but STILL!)

The electricity is finished in my new kitchen. I can now press my 'interrupteur' (lightswitch) and illuminate the kitchen! this morning, I plugged the coffee grinder into the wall instead of walking over 2 rooms to the one outlet, unplugging the extension and plugging-in to grind my coffee beans) ((Riana, I know I could grind it by hand ... but remember my list! I'm not doing so badly!)). I can place some bread in my oven to toast if I so choose!

JY and I chatted about these things that so many people in the world do without and we mutter about. Like I just did above...oh the inhumanity of having to walk to another room to use an outlet! how out of touch am I? Millions in the world do without electricity. ever.

Another example of why I think my friend is so ... so ... well, get this. I had a little leak from a pipe in the 'cave' and he had placed a large bucket there. over the course of weeks, that little 'tique, tique, tique' had filled the bucket to the brim. The leak was repaired and a large bucket of water sat in my kitchen. I inquired about it and what I was to do with it ... the reply?

"Kim, water is expensive. very expensive. Use it to wash something ... your hands, the sponges. or water the dogs. or save it for the flowers you buy ...". Then we talked about the lack of clean water in so many parts of the world. and here, we just throw it away. Culturally, we are completely disconnected from vast swaths of the earth's population ...

Consciousness. maybe that's it. My consciousness is being reawakened. My house is still a humongous project. it will be ongoing and may never end. Most people would never want to live here and would think it dirty. or undone. or uncomfortably inconvenient. I know, and I understand. and yet ...

I'm thankful. Not only do I have the above luxuries. But the luxury of having somehow created this opportunity. The opportunity to live a different kind of life. a life as yet not entirely known and pretty much undefined.

This lap fits me to a tee.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

this and that.

I've been felled by a french flu. this flu is both respiratory and intestinal and not a pretty thing. I have really felt crap, sorry for my lack of inspiration here. today I feel half-human and housebound crazy, so I'm going to drive to Bergerac for a vide grenier I read about. Maybe something interesting will transpire and I'll be back to share !!

on other topics, I was chatting with JY about painting the shutters and house trim and was informed that, for the street facing side, I will need approval! Something about 'le batiment de France' ... then I had another discussion with a Brantôme resident who tells me every year three colors are approved. Apparently there is a department I can go to and view the colors. harumph. I guess if one doesn't like the colors, you wait a year?

right now the colors are peeling brown. surely anything would be more attractive than that. Obviously, red was in at one time or another because there's a plethora of brick red around (not a favorite for me). well, that will be a project next week and I'll let you know what happens.

by the way, it snowed yesterday! for about 15 minutes. ha. but the important thing is it got cold enough to snow. I blessed my heat, because the wind and the cold were piercing.

next week is (we hope) the final push for finishing the kitchen. I finished the other 2 doors in the room to emulate the antique doors we hung. This meant a few coats of different colors of grey, followed by sanding, followed by applying dark brown-tinted wax to achieve an aged effect. Also did this on the door frame of the antique doors. They all turned out to be just spectacular (in my view, of course). JY completed lots of finish painting, including the windows. His hand is far steadier than mine!

Next week, finishing of electricity, floor sanding, cupboard door building and painting (same as above, I believe) and various finishing touches. yippee-kai-yay!

well, like I said, this and that. it has been a slow week, much of it in my sick bed.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

is this every woman's destiny?

how ironic. another twisted little surprise that the universe bestows upon us.

there I was. sat in the coiffeuse' swiveling chair. I had just returned from a nice relaxing shampoo, rinse, condition and a luxurious head massage. she twirled me around as she adjusted the towel and there, staring back at me in the mirror was ...

my mother.

what THE fuck? no, this wasn't some strange hallucination where I was visited by maternal guilt and had some sort of flashback of my mother, lecturing me like the evil stepmother in Snow White.

nor was it one of those odd occasions where we are up close, examining each facet and feature for a line ... a flaw ... a change, while we hear our mothers' voice in our heads (see I TOLD you to start with the face cream in your 20s...).

no. this was a horrendously surreal, out-of-body experience where I gazed upon my very own reflection and did not recognize myself. No, instead I saw my mother's visage looking back at me. I did a few Patty Duke exercises (she smiles a like, she frowns alike) ... and I swear to fucking christ I did NOT see myself in the mirror. I saw my mother. It was horrible. just horrible I tell you. This realization lasted at least 2 or 3 minutes as I sat there, speechless ... eyeing the stranger before me.

Growing up, in my family of mostly women my mother was the pretty one. Long blond hair, blue eyes, and a very petite frame ... she was a looker. In fact, my mother ALWAYS had a better figure than me.

Except for a few years here and there, she was always slimmer. and more put together. Granted, my face didn't scare children or anything. But I was always more round. Which altered the shape and look of my face. No one ever said (as many do about mothers/daughters) "she looks JUST like her mother!". Always felt a bit competitive when we went barhopping together (a whole OTHER blog post there) and inevitably seemed to be competing for the same guy. (I know ... weird, huh?!) but anyway. Given this, one would think that staring into the mirror and seeing her face wouldn't necessarily seem a bad thing.

But of course. It wasn't her young face. It was her 40something face. Not a horrible face. But... a face that could lead me down the path of her face now. which of course is quite a bit further down the road past 40. the fact that we're estranged (my choice) and now I have to see her ghost in the mirror ain't helping things either.

Or the fact that, like many women, I have spent more years than I care to mention SWEARING I would NEVER turn into my mother. And yet. apparently I have. or I will. despite all of my careful efforts.

I have always screened myself for tell-tale signs. The sound of my laugh. (is it like hers?) Phrases and mannerisms. Little pet annoyances and habits that betray my lineage. Upon detecting them, I launch my counter-campaign to attack and destroy all evidence.

But how can I attack and destroy my changed looks? I attribute this new discovery to my recent weight loss, which has apparently peeled away my cloak of secrecy and exposed me for what I am. my mother's daughter.

I know this post is somewhat humorous. amusing, even. But I am truly distraught.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

my kitchen is THIS close ...

sorry I've been down sick with some sort of flu ... kind of drained me of inspiration. JY is sick too, but nonetheless, we've been making progress on finishing the kitchen.

The sink is installed, JY built the cupboard to house the old sink and made zinc counters. there are shelves below and he will be making the cupboard doors soon. They will match the old doors he found for the built-in next to the fireplace.

The doors were slightly too long so he modified them. and I washed and sanded them. They are a darker grey than the walls and integrate beautifully into the room.

He also built a freestanding island out of oak, it has wheels and some shelves to house pots, plates, utensils, etc. I will be on the look out for some stools or high chairs to cluster near it.

I think the kitchen will be finished by the end of next week! hoo-RAH! (I know the pics and spacing are all cock-a-mamie, but what can I say ... I'm SICK! my head hurts and I've redone this enough times that I give up ... hopefully I'll be able to post something a bit more meaningful next go around ... ) ciaoxx

Sunday, February 1, 2009

i've got friends in high places.

speaking of jesus. yep, yep ... that's right. Apparently, jesus loves the french more than everyone else. Pourquoi? you inquire.

well, here in France jesus provides his card. exactly!

JY and I stopped in at the Cathédrale St. Front de Perigueux during our last jaunt to Perigueux. After lunch, we were still waiting for stores to open ... and I've been wanting to go inside and he had never been so ...

Neither one of us are 'religious' and yet, the cold silence and sheer awesomeness of the gigando organ and freaking amazing windows and gigantic chandeliers and such engendered some sort of reverence and we each purchased and lit a candle. Of course, I had to spring for the 2euro candle because it had a pretty picture of the virgin mary on it and i'm a sucker for a beautiful virgin. well, i tried to get away with just 1euro but monsieur pascual busted me and i sheepishly added the second one. blush. yeah, that's right. i tried to rip off jesus in his own house. and he STILL gave me his card.

we tiptoed through the entire, cavernous place and examined the tombs and crypts and what-not. we giggled at the apparently petit stature of some of the notables (judging from their tombs ... yeah, what can I say ... immature much?!) umm, yeah, actually quite a LOT of giggling occurred ...

on our way out, I spied a small table with pictures of jesus. as I came closer to examine, I noticed that jesus was ALSO kindly offering his card ... in case, i suspect, some personal follow-up was desired.

so that's right bitches (apologies to any I offend), I got the hook-up. jesus' calling card. if you're nice, i'll put in a good word for ya. and if you're not, well ... no promises, no promises. i TOLD you france and her people were better, now I've got proof!!

(here's proof for all you haters ... ) ((do you think I'll burn in hell for posting this on dimanche?)) (((ducks lightning bolt)))