(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Monday, June 29, 2009


I've been told by mon monsieur that the lyrics to this song describe me... it is by a group we both love, Louise Attaque.


Blanche, fraîche, le matin, elle est douce, tendre, elle est sereine. Elle est excellente. Elle dit:
"Ce soir, allez, on va danser." Ce soir, au matin, couchée, elle est désespérante. Elle dit toujours
"Bonjour" comme ça. Elle dit toujours "au revoir" comme ça. Elle dit toujours "je veux ça ça ça"
Elle est fatigante. Elle a de la suite dans les idées. Elle te dit "bonsoir à demain" mais quand
Elle danse, belle, franche une reine elle est pour moi tout ça pour moi un ange qui tourne
Autour de moi et pourtant elle dit toujours "bonjour" comme ça, elle dit toujours "au revoir"
Comme ça, elle dit toujours "je veux ça ça ça". Elle est fatigante, oh, elle est pour moi. Elle dit
Toujours "bonjour" comme ça. Elle dit toujours "au revoir" comme ça. Elle dit toujours "je veux
Ça ça ça". Elle est fatigante. Elle est pour moi, fatigante, intelligente, intéressante et attirante,
Négligente, excitante, désespérante et attirante, pas très galante, souriante, affligeante et
Rassurante, désobligeante, énervante, sur la bonne pente, un rien méchante, surprenante,
Menaçante, militante, parfois charmante, très importante, très très changeante, imposante,
Suffisante, elle est pour moi, fatigante... elle est pour moi.

I'm told the fact that I am somewhat fatigante is not necessarily a bad thing. I am dubious. mais, j'accepte!

If you want to listen to the song, click HERE.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

tendresse ...

whilst in Paris with Jean-Yves, I greatly admired a tree in his mother's garden. We laughed about my guess of the name ... "Jacaranda" ... which had somehow captured my imagination recently when reading a book. For some reason, I convinced myself it might be this tree. The tree was very lovely, smooth barked with leafy, fern-like foliage. It provided great shade, but also a pretty view.

His mom didn't know the name. She hauled out garden book after garden book to help us search. We had no luck. She urged us to take a specimen of the branch to a local garden shop to assist. We left with lots of great plants and cuttings, but forgot this one.

fast forward to last Monday. Jean-Yves left for the bricolage store. He returned and unloaded the items he bought for our project. And then he went back to the truck, and returned handing me a small pot with a plant in it. He beamed proudly.

"Now I know the name, too!!! Albizia!!". Yes, he had found a tiny version of the tree I loved, bought it and brought it back to me. In the states it is known as the silk tree, monkey pod or mimosa tree and you either love it or hate it. In some U.S. states, it is considered quite invasive and requires careful tending. It has unusual flowers, is extremely fast growing as well as profligates at will. It is a sub-tropical plant but has done well here.

I was SO touched by this simple act. Later in the morning, we walked the large garden together, selected a spot and he planted it. It is so small, he also planted a 6' tall bamboo stake so I, Miss Maladroite, wouldn't mow it over. We chatted how it would mark my first anniversary here and how we would sit together under its shade in the future.

Love it.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I received a newsletter from the mairie detailing the goings-on in Brantôme...in addition to the usual stuff (budgets, town committees, births marriages deaths...there was information on an upcoming 'randonnée' organized by the Dordogne Conseil de General. I asked JY to read this and discuss to make sure I was getting the drift...

So what it was was a perfectly organized family and citizens event ... launching in Brantôme and culminating in Bourdeilles. It offered biking, canoeing or walking a trail. But when I arrived, I realized it was so much more ...

I rode my bike down to the park to see a large trailer stacked three high with canoes. Another trailer held a large supply of bicycles ... good bikes, mind you ... in all sizes.

A couple of tables were set up and 2 good looking young fellows milled around in shorts, greeting people and chatting. We started in french, but as soon as my accent was detected (as well as my crappy french, I'm sure) some english was added. At first the fellow couldn't figure out what I needed since I had a bike. I told him I needed to know the process, since I was alone. He corralled the other fellow ... who told me there was a route to Bourdeilles and I could go with him if I waited. A few more pleasantries and then I thought to introduce myself. I screwed that up royally ... (realizing I haven't had the need to present myself in a long time...) the first part (je me present) went okay but then I said Je suis Kim ... DOH! what's the first thing we learn in french class 101??? not je suis ... je m'appelle ... sigh. well, he didn't skip a beat and we continued on.

As I waited, Guillaume returned and handed me a pamphlet prepared for the day. It had the course marked, stops marked along the way and questions for the kids about the history and what not . He then told me that all of the visits (a chateau, separate large gardens, a famous mill, etc) were free!

We commenced and I noticed that the route was marked about every 100 yards or so ... we went on paved roads as well as a little bit through field and mud! flat terrain and uphill! 11 plus kilometers, one way. Most of the participants utilized the equipment provided and were given a bus ride back to Brantôme after reaching the destination. Since I used my bike, I turned and retraced the route ... so that was 22 plus kilometers for me ... and being a novice and a non-sportif type, that was pretty damn awesome!

After I got home, I showered and went back to Bourdeilles for a night of music. 3 bands in their square, and dinner facing ... All in all a fun day... yes, I do love my new bike!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

life is like quicksilver ... translucent and momentary ... what if he is the one ... what if I am his one ... what if we miss each other ... if we slip through each other's fingers ... like water cupped for a moment that evaporates before someone thinks to place it in a vessel for safekeeping ... fragile, temporary, uncertain. je vis.

Friday, June 19, 2009

my morning...

rose for a walk in my garden ... dogs at my heels. weeded maché, picked a potful of fresh green beans, puttered in the tomato plants. Brilliant sun, blue skys, masses of birds singing.

grabbed the bike and headed to the boulangerie. The petite madame is now friendly with me and asks what I am looking for. "Je cherche pour un pain paysan". "Deux minutes, madame!". I look into the rear room to see monsieur unloading fresh loves from the enormous old brick bread oven. She brings me out a warm round loaf. She nods approvingly as I sort out my centimes and get it right on only the 2nd try! (why do I always fail to have my glasses here?).

pedal home, prepare a fresh coffee with beans from Corsica that I bought at yesterday's market, steamed whole milk and cream, and a snip of vanilla bean from my trip to Africa.

grab my volume of La Bonne Cuisine (the original companion for french home cooking, written by Madame Saint-Ange in 1927 and translated by Paul Aratow of Chez Panisse fame ...) for some morning reading and inspiration.

look at the clock ... it is 9:01.

bon week-end!

an old family tradition ...

yesterday, JY was out in the garden doing his manly thing that the manly men do here in France ... when he spied something.

He came into the kitchen and requested scissors. I obliged and he asked me to follow him back outside.

He showed me 2 wheat plants randomly growing in back. He carefully counted out 13 stalks of wheat and handed them to me, then proceeded to count out 13 more.

We returned as he told me that every year, as a young boy, he watched his mother do this very same thing. He told me firmly that it was necessary to hang these stalks of wheat near the front door, and this would bring abundance and prosperity through our doors. He smiled as he told me and it was obvious he believed it worked!! but it must be 13!

We then went on to our task of going to the dechetterie to dispose of our load of work schmutz that had accumulated. While there, I found 3 really cool chrome barstools in perfectly good condition, a woven rattan fateuil, 2 table bases that can be used for the restaurant, a cast iron-back for the fireplace with a really interesting relief (these are trés cher at the vide-greniers), and a big lot of chromed tubular poles that we can use in the atelier.

Now, while this isn't money directly into the bank account, it certainly is money not leaving!!!

that blé is bringing the bling already!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

nice week-end in Paris ...

Jean-Yves invited me for an extended week-end visit with his family in Paris. We left Thursday night (Jean-Yves, Etienne, and me) ... the drive was fun ... we stopped at MacDo's in Limoges (blech) and then pushed on up. Around 11:00 pm, I took the wheel (about an hour outside of Paris) ... and was told to follow signs "Lille".

When he woke up an hour or so later, he claimed we were lost! and the car was doing weird things ... a light went on which indicated electrical difficulties (well, it seems to be sparkplugs...or really that the car needs a tune-up and I'm negligent!!) ... so after lots of muttering and chuckling and car-sputtering, we rolled up around 2am.

JY's mom lives outside of Paris in a small suburb town, Chambly. It is actually pretty quaint. Beds were made up for us and we collapsed after kisses all around. shattered!

Friday arose around 8:30 a.m. JY's mom arises early to care for her youngest daughter ( injured when she was young ) and so since my bed was a futon in the open kitchen, the smell of coffee awakened me.

Like most family gatherings I'm familiar with, despite the best of intentions ... no one really got their act together until around 11am. We were up ... but with everyone juggling or taking turns with showers and make-up and coffee ... ( and the fact that I was sharing a chair with JY and he upset the table with the coffee onto my new white jeans and I had to soak and change!) well ... you get the drift, the usual antics.

We wanted to head into Paris to check out the wholesale district ... drove straight there and found a park. As we were hungry AND it was lunch hour (shops firmly shut) we decided to eat first. JY headed for a jewish restaurant he knew but alas, it was no longer there. We settled for another brasserie that was decidedly ho-hum. After that, we wandered around the shops ... disappointingly it was an endless stream of low quality Chinese imports. I bought just a few items and we left.

Since last week-end was Noémie's birthday, we wanted to find her a gift. We went to Carrefour and the surrounding mall. I found some blank music disks ... Etienne hung out in the games section of each stop we made ... we got her some Gucci perfume and Etienne bought an orchid for his Mamie. (sweet!)

We hit some other game stores for the petit monsieur and then made a tour of some other spots. JY took me by the town he had lived in when married and we saw his old house, etc. We then headed back and spent time at Yvette's (JY's mom). Saturday and Sunday were spent lazily visiting, preparing lunches and dinners to eat on the terrace, playing volleyball with Etienne in the garden, heading to the grocery store with Yvette, welcoming various family members who stopped by to see the prodigal son and grandson. I got to know his mom and daughter better as well one of his aunts who is staying with Yvette, recuperating from surgery for a torn Achilles tendon. Many of the folks I met were in their 70s but robust and vital. Sunday, because we share a love of flowers in the garden, Yvette took me around the yard and made cuttings or dug up root samples of some very pretty specimes in her yard. I am so Stoked! I have already dug a new bed and placed them. Plus she gave me one water plant and I filled the bassin to commence with my water garden. And I have some seed packets she brought out that will be sown next.

The drive home was also not bad. JY and I were chatting about various things and he asked me about a comment I made while there ... to the effect that he was nearly perfect (lol). He asked what I would change about him since he was not perfect. I hemmed and hawed because .... well because I'm not good at the old honest expression of feelings thing. then I managed to get out that I would change our 'amities' ... he protested that he was my friend, that we were friends, that he wouldn't change that ... I told him I have a bad habit of not expressing my feelings and that I didn't want to do that with him ... that I wouldn't want something to happen to me and I hadn't been honest ... and that I wouldn't want to change that we were friends, or change our friendship ... but I wish we were more ... or I would like more. (mind you, I really don't think this is a big news flash for him ...) He listened without judgement but with understanding... I didn't expect a response ... some big outpouring of emotion or anything. I just wanted to say it. I also didn't say much more, although I'm probably feeling more.

It is a struggle because I don't want to do anything that changes our friendship or pushes him away because of my feelings ... so it is a tightrope. There are days that I know I must be terribly annoying because I feel like a teenager and put on a good pout ... without going into all the reasons why or other details ... suffice it to say, I'm glad I said what I did. and after I got home I sent him a text and thanked him for listening so well.

but all in all, it was a terrific week-end with a dear friend. le sigh.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

obla di, obla dah

weeks slide into each other lately ... we just keep on chipping away at our project, doing the frenchified sidestep around obstacles encountered and then sashay on forward a bit.

still futzing with changes to my carte de sejour. After getting a letter in the mail from friendly prefecture man telling me I needed to obtain an attestation from my bank and bring it on down, I went on over to the bank and submitted my request. The not-so-friendly madame told me it would take a week or so and I would get it in the mail. After 10 days, I went back to the bank and lo/behold, the manager typed something up on the spot. I proceeded to the prefecture, which was closed.

Next day, got up and drove back to the prefecture (each trip is about 30 minutes one way. gasp, that's long in frenchy-time!). Got my number, waited my turn, presented my papers and was told no, the letter was insufficient because there was not a balance (soldes) on there.


Back to the bank for an appointment I already had regarding an internet fraud on my account (another story!! gasp). Whilst there, I informed mr. manager that I had given his colleague a copy of the Prefecture letter and thus when I returned ... I hadn't provided him with a copy and thus the letter was incomplete.

Well, he retyped the letter with today's balance. Which was over 1,000 euros off the mark due to the internet fraud. And he said he couldn't change it. Because those amounts had yet to be reimbursed.


When I discussed my fear that the quoted balance would appear too low, JY was in agreeance. So now, I must return to the bank next week and request a new letter (3rd) and return to the prefecture (5th) with my new letter.

Hopefully (but highly unlikely) that will complete all the documents for my dossier to change my status. we'll see.

In the meantime, we've placed our first order for merchandise for our new little business, "The Bohemians".

I've posted new pics of our work progress on the flickr account (sidebar link) ... it is coming right along. Tonight we are driving to Paris for a day of shopping (Friday) for the shop and a day of visiting (Saturday). Home Sunday.

Next week we commence with working on the floor of the shop. It is cement and I have a painting idea. JY is dubious. But hey, nothing different about that exchange of ideas! lol.

I also FINALLY have not one but TWO new lawnmowers. Guess who found them for me! ha.

One is super heavy duty and one is just heavy duty. One has a Honda Motor and the other a Briggs & Stratton (?). Both are considered "trés bien" by monsieur and the two were 160 euros.

I spent today being pulled around the huge garden by the super heavy duty lawnmower, much to the amused entertainment of Jean Yves.

I've been sick with a cold and therefore cranky. Today's garden performance didn't help. I passed on lunch and retreated to my room for a good sulk and a nap.

la la la la, life goes on.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

go figure! Jean-Yves gives me another beautiful gift!!

I made a big screw-up on Monday, while left to my own devices with the atelier project.

Ya see its like this. JY has the world's biggest collection of tools, gadgets and machinery known to mankind. well okay, maybe only know to me. but still.

funny enough, even though he has now known me for 10 months, he obviously believes I have an automatic command of all said paraphernalia. so, in an effort to please him, I pretend I do.

for the last week, I have been working on the atelier windows. I've done the entire project nearly on my own (after some quick demos from monsieur) ... and ... well maybe I've gotten a little cocky.

week-end before last, I embarked upon sanding and painting the exterior forged metal frames. Involved in doing this project was this weird aluminum ladder that JY has. It is weird to me because it is not just one piece but two, and can be manipulated from being just a long ladder thingy to a pyramid or triangle shaped ladder thingy.

I used it as a long ladder, leaning braced against the outside wall near the roof. I worked merrily along my way and successfully reached the halfway mark of my project. Then, during the end of last week the ladder was put into usage on the inside. JY flipped and folded and made it a triangle ladder, insisting it was more secure for me to use this way. I sighed and grumbled to myself because I liked MY way. I thought MY way was better. harumph.

Fast forward to Monday and my goal of finishing the other half of the exterior windows. I was a bit on overdrive, feeling confident and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of this project. Monday was hot and windy. (queue drums of doom). There I was, struggling with this triangular ladder thingy, dragging it along on the uneven surface outside, each time I mounted it would sway and shake and I felt very insecure 6+ feet in the air with a bowl of bordeaux colored paint in one hand and my brush in the other. The wind would blow sprays of paint down my arms and legs and I was convinced I was headed for a tumble.

Deciding I didn't care what he thought about the ladder, I was going to return it to MY superior way of doing things, where the ladder remained immobile propped against the side of the building. I descended the ladder, put my things aside and began trying to figure out how to flip it back into the shape I had used. Keep in mind, when fully extended this ladder is easily 18-20 feet long.

Well I got it back to one long piece, hooking the 2 pieces together and kept it at about 12+ feet long. I got it airborne and began gingerly trying to put it in place when along came a big gust of wind and ... boom...I lost control and 2 window panes broken. Cassé. shattered. It all happened so quickly, I was quite shocked by the turn of events. I cursed and cried and stomped my feet and decided to quit this whole stupid neverending project. leaving everything at the side of the road, I made for the house and had my hissy fit. I smoked a cigarette in an attempt to calm down a bit and then decided to take a look at the interwebnets to distract myself.

Bringing up CNN, I saw the breaking development banner alerting me to a downed passenger jet with 230+ individuals. That jerked me right back in to old reality ... nothing like a twist of tragic fate to remind one how inconsequential 99.9% of our indvidual life's irritations actually are.

I gave myself a good talking to, brushed myself off, picked myself up and got back in the race. Or at least went back out there and finished my painting job, tidied up and calmed down. I worried the rest of the day and evening about JY's reaction. He had warned me about taking care, and also about the correct use of the ladder. Not to mention that now a major project which was to be finished by Monday would require steps of rework...Re-remove the broken glass and mastic, Re-measure the panes, have the glass cut, re-install new panes, re-install the putty, wait for it to dry and repaint it all again. A good day's work at least.

le sigh.

To make matters worse, when he arrived Tuesday...he arrived bearing gifts! Check out the bicycle I am now in possession of! She's a hot and sexy little black number (who needs a little black dress with this beauty?) ... absolutely brand new, absolutely just my size, with smoothly shifting gears, a comfy seat and even a swish basket.

My heart sank. I babbled, you may want to put that back in the truck after I tell you my bad news. What bad news? with an alarmed expression. I hemmed and hawed and then blurted out "J'ai cassé deux fenetres hier!!!" .

Kim! C'est pas grave! J'ai pensée ils etaient quelques chose plus mauvais ...

He didn't bat an eyelash, shaking his head and rolling his eyes at my concern.

Work continued, we now have some very artistically done red walls, a grey poupon ceiling and other stuffs in the works.

For my part, I have a terrific new ride that I buzzed about on yesterday and today ... J'ADORE!!!

J'ai la chance! il etait mon hero!

Monday, June 1, 2009


I found a really good cave in Perigueux. A few weeks back, I went to one in the centre ville, in search of JM Rhum. I had bought 2 bottles there before, and just cracked the 2nd so it was time to restock.

They were out! but I was directed to another cave on the outskirts of Perigueux in Trelissac. Now THIS was a really great find.

They sell vin du pays (I've read about vdp and how one can just bring a jug/s and fill up on the cheap) ... also loads of wines from all over the country ... and alcohol ... and other stuff.

Plus le monsieur was very helpful, listening to me describe the type of wines I'd like. When I described my favorite white wine, a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Marlborough region ... crisp, dry, fruity ... NOT sweet ... he directed me to 2 wines he thought I'd like.

I bought a couple of each. Tonight, I opened the first one, a chilled appelation de Montravel ... Chateau Roque-Peyre. It has the description "subtilite, crispness ... 2007".

It isn't exact, but it is quite reminiscent of my favorite and very good. Oh, and cheaper than my favorite, coming in at under 5euros a bottle.

It is the little things in life, my friends.

I can't wait to go back and try the vin du pays. I left with 4 bottles of white and 2 bottles of rhum.... so next time will have to do!