(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

pretty tired!

well, this semi-job stuff is really cutting in to my days! I'm just about worn out ... (smile)

I know I know, happens to the best of us ... but I'm juggling quite a bit these days trying to keep up with the garden ... including harvesting and preserving the fruits and veg ... keeping the yard cut ... trying to clean house every now and then ... searching every Wednesday for old furniture to renovate, renovating said furniture for the shop (finished three pieces thus far plus one for Étienne's bedroom) ... and various other sundry items.

in the face of a heat wave no less.

yesterday something kind of cool occurred. I was in the shop and a little lady with a younger woman entered. She was excited to tell me in her rapid french that she knew the property ... in fact, as I began to comprehend I realized she was the daughter of Monsieur Briant, the former owner. Her eyes were welled up looking around at the renovated forge where her father used to work. She was so pleased to see so many original touches remaining! Jean-Yves reminded me, "the photo, Kim...the photo". Ah yes, we had recovered only one personal item in the house and that was a very tiny photo of a man holding the hand of a young girl, standing in the garden. I ran to the house to retrieve it.

It was her uncle, the brother of Monsieur Briant. She asked to see the garden and I also showed her the new kitchen with the 2 new windows. She gave me her address in la Rochelle.

They also bought some things. In fact, they got a few extras that I forgot to charge them for ... oops! JY and I had quite the lunch yesterday with aperos and a bottle of wine ... so I was a bit perky, to put it nicely! lol.

well that was fun. I'll have to see about scanning that photo and sharing it.

Blogging is getting tighter and tighter, now that I'm supposed to be doing 3 of them! two shops and mine ... le sigh.

but I keep hope alive!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

lovely evening in Nailhac ...

I was invited to a "Fête de Noix" in Nailhac, a small village near Hautefort last week-end. English friends, Ruth and Steve, who I met through my french class last year live in Nailhac and have put forth a lot of effort to integrate into their area. This year Ruth was on one of the fête committees and spent many hours fashioning paper flowers that were strung into garlands and other shapes and used to decorate the tiny village.

This village celebrates Friday through Sunday ... one 'repas' won't do it for them! I closed up a bit early and headed over (it is about an hour's drive) ... did my usual getting lost a bit before getting guided back and was warmly greeted with a nice cool gin tonic ... what's not to love about that!

Ever encounter some one you just connect right away with? sure you have, and that's how I felt with Ruth. We were able to chat and laugh immediately (in class) and have had some nice afternoons ... they don't live here full-time so it is another 'flexible friendship' where you 'profiter' when able ... I'm learning more how to do that these days ... as potential friends are fewer and farther away than in the states. Ruth offered to put me up in her guest room so we could drink to our heart's content! lol, plus the fact we could walk there left us feeling able to throw caution to the wind!

uh oh.

well, j/k ... sort of. I had a lot of fun meeting some of Ruth's friends and checking out the village party. I think the tinier the village ... well no maybe not, anyway, I will say I have encountered such a broad variety of experiences with these village happenings ... they can be quite charming.

this one felt somewhat familial ... casual ... and fun! there were a couple of village characters ... the old gent who(french) who likes to take his 'bises' one step further ... and the young man(french) who is a performer at heart and dresses up in various costumes each year with accompanying personalities and entertains the attendees.

and the table full of brits we were 'reserved' with ... some colorful folks there as well...I sat next to a gent on my left, 3 across and Ruth to my right. All were spouses of others at the table. Everyone was quite friendly, jocular even. Except for the man at my left. Soon after I sat down, I was rummaging in my purse and he asked what was I after ... just as he saw me find a pack of Camels and a lighter.

"Oh. surely you're not," he exclaimed. I was kind of taken aback, first of all because he was peering into my purse right along with me. Okay, we were sat on benches ... but it was still a little forward. "Not at table. SURELY no," he kept repeating.

I'm not sure why, but it instantly irritated me! All who know me know I'm not even a serious smoker, just with cocktails or what not. and we were drinking aperitif, no food had been served. and we were outdoors. and all the tables with the french (just next to us) had smokers. smoking. Ruth piped up and pointed this out.

But let me also say that, in seeking out the pack, I wasn't planning to have a smoke just then. It was just that we were a bit scooched in there and it was on my mind to set them out on the table for later.

but then mister nosy mcnosy decided to tell me what to do. or not to do. the fellows across the way urged me to go ahead, have your fag, we don't care.

and so I decided to torment this slightly annoying article just a bit. (Ruth, I know you've begun reading me ... begging forgiveness in advance! :P)... I can be naughty that way. when inspired.

I placed the pack firmly on the table between our 2 settings, along with the lighter ... looked him straight in the eye and said, "I'm not planning to smoke just yet ... unless you piss me off". he was more than startled! I told him "you know us 'mericans are quite direct and I'm a best example of such ..."

The chaps (seems in keeping with the theme here) across the way had a laugh and kept trying to instigate a ciggy lighting session. I proceeded to point out the other folks around, smoking away. He then pointed out a guy standing off to the side, french no less, and smoking. Maybe I'd like to join him was his retort!

Sorry, I considered it but he was already with a pretty lady, so no go! I grabbed the pack and extracted a cig, rolling it twixt my fingers and toying with the lighter.

Now normally, I would never smoke at a table full of folks (picnic table it was) who were obviously non-smokers. but I was being pushed by his smug disapproval. I managed to hold out through a couple of courses, but after a few (more than a few) aperitifs and a glass or 2 of wine, I turned my back to him, sitting with my legs facing outwards of the bench and lit up. I felt his eyes boring into my back (and glimpsed him sideways, with an evil smirk).

He said nary a word.

after this, there was dancing. Ruth and I got on the dance floor a few times, and even stayed after her husband caught a ride with friends due to a case of the gout in his foot. I snagged a few photos of the dance floor but missed the best part ,,, which can only be described as some sort of giant seated, caterpillar dance. everyone is sat on the floor, legs spread and close to the next in front ... sort of seating swaying dancing and then ... ZUT ALORS! ... it morphs into a seated mosh pit ... the end person dives into the upraised arms of the chain and is passed to the front!

hilarity ensues.

somehow we walked home with our little 'torches' (about a mile down a country lane) and when we arrived (around 3ish) Steve was in the pool! I donned my suit and we went down ... for some reason I only sat on the edge and cooled down ... it was still warm at that hour. next day I couldn't remember why I didn't swim. that alone shows it was probably for the best.

needless to say, the hour's drive back to Brantôme and the afternoon working in the store were *cough* a challenge *cough*, to put it mildly.

but it was SOOOO! fun! especially letting my merciless contrary nature roam free a bit.

Friday, August 14, 2009

misery magnet.

hmmm. seems I've acquired a new attraction for the lonely-hearted. unfortunately of the feminine variety. I have had three women (all French) unload on me in the last week. concerning their loneliness. their 'habitation seule'. their incomprehension of how this has happened to them. or why. detailed explanations of how they arrived at this state. eyes welling up. finally, gazing at me like I'm some sort of holy grail, some ancient wisewoman soothsayer, their personal Lady of Lourdes, here to impart healing and understanding.

like it isn't frustrating enough to decide to stroll down to the village for dinner by the river at the brasserie ... intending to give myself a little treat and profit from the live music and the warm weather. Only to have the nice young waitress with whom I've exchanged pleasantries ask me rather dolefully why I am always alone? "You, a pretty woman, beautiful eyes, lovely hair, always alone when I see you here or in the village". um gee, thanks for reminding me! let me know when you come across some prospects, 'kay?!

wtf. many aspects of my life are amazing, gratifying, superb even. But when it comes to l'amour ... il existe jamais pour moi. my one pseudo-relationship here is complicated to say the least! I've got my hands-full trying to dissect my own state of being let alone diagnose others' sad-sack situations. and even if I had the time or inclination, gimme a break ladies. my track record alone should shoo-fly you right the heck on outta here!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

life in a bubble ...

life seems a little strange and floaty these days ... my French, while improving, isn't at a standard to fully immerse myself in the news and happenings of my newly adopted country ... and while my circle of French friends has grown a bit, it isn't huge. so making the transition to stimulating discussions of culture and events here is going to take a bit more time.

and while I can keep up with the American happenings via internet news (since I haven't a teevee) ... I'm missing the context that is provided by living in the country, discussing and debating the haps with my circle of friends and former colleagues... and even if I were wanting to expand my circle of English speaking friends, they wouldn't be American ...more likely mostly English. Who are most decidedly quite different from us yanks.

so, my life is a daily glide of domestic tasks and my never-ever-ending list of projects, big and small, related to home renovation, business creation, homemaking, etc.

its like being suspended in a bubble, the transparency allowing me to view various occurrences from a distance, the thin veneer masking the sounds and making communications difficult and complicated.

I've noted the effect of this phenomenon on my writing and blog as well. when I throw my opinions around, I prefer the confidence in my conclusions that comes from pre-flying them within my daily life.

I'm going to have to ponder this situation and see what I can do to alter the course a bit. Some of the folks I'd really like to create a new circle with either seem to travel a lot, making interaction a bit more challenging ... or live a good enough hike that requires planning and overnight stays etc. which isn't always too practical.

hmmm. here's one case where maybe the bubble does need to be burst.

Monday, August 10, 2009

is blogging the wannabe-writer's version of teaching?

there's an American expression...(maybe more than american, who knows ... well someone knows but I can't be arsed to look it up at the moment) ... "those that can't do, teach".

does this equate to "those that can't be published, blog?" gasp! yes, I said it.

yeah yeah, I know...lots of bloggers ... well some percentage of bloggers, blog and actually make money off of it. in my limited experience (being busy trying to survive and all) with blogging and the economics of writing, i've stumbled across a few blogs and bloggesses that seem to profit as well as enjoy ... the bloggess, dooce etc. yep yep.

many (okay some) blogs have moved on to book-land ... julie & julia project, dooce, bete du jour, petite anglaise, etc etc... seems to me, upon observation ... that many blogger blogs that experience bookdom seem to morph dramatically or even ! yikes ! cease to exist. those that remain seem to become an advertising vehicle for their recently published works.

but there is also a contingent of bloggers out there who have been very public in their quest for publication. and likely others that have kept severely mum. we have read of their journey...the writing, the submission, the rejections, the angst ...

the harder they strain, the more intricate their blogs seem to become. whereas before, earnest dialogue and ruminations ran rampant in their writings ... freed of the self-conscious glances over their own shoulders and second-guessing of their tomes ... now, in pursuit of loftier goals ... they vie for increased subscriptions, links, awards and followers. they employ artful approaches to increase visitor volume and blog ranking. all in the name of their art, they seem to form a culture all their own. running contests, beseeching for award votes and employing increasingly outlandish methods to gain attention.

i've asked this question before, is blogging real writing? or the near-miss author's pacifier?

i've thrown feelers out myself recently. fantasizing about interest, if any, in my adventure. all this in the wake of my severely neglected blog and writing. having gone back and read my first few months' entries, I find myself far more interesting then. but I was preparing for the adventure. or embarking upon same.

yes I'm interested in sharing that story and maybe even in a different medium than blogging. but I don't think I'm willing to expend time and energy trying to perfume the pig in order to find a taker...

what do you think?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

qu'est-ce que c'est? cette chose, la boulot?!

wow what a crazy week (and it is only Thursday ...).

somehow it didn't dawn on me until Monday as I was sat in our new little boutique, The Bohemians , that culmination of this project ... that is, opening the doors, also meant a return to work. well you know, working hours! all of a sudden, I am back to needing to be somewhere certain days, certain hours.

not that I haven't been working my tail off for the past year or more. but it has been unfettered effort. no 'hours' involved.

I'm chafing a bit. so far, I am the one in the shop as Monsieur has this smallish renovation project he is doing, being in need of income and all. so I've resisted posting 'les horaires' anywhere. I'm using the 'it is the first week and I'm still figuring it out' excuse. As of now, I know for certain I will be closed Wednesdays. And I am opening at 10:30 and closing at 7:00 p.m. Except Friday, I'll probably open earlier since it is Brantôme's market day. but beyond that I am uncertain. Do I go full bore 6 days a week to capitalize on the season? do I close Mondays, too, since all the little shops close that day? beats me at the moment...we'll have to wait and see. play it by ear. and such.

but ... our first 3 days have been good! I've been tracking how many people visit, are they French or English? and sales of course.

So we've had 20-30 visitors each day. about 50/50 on the nationality. and sales each day too. So can't complain on that front. And Wednesday I closed and did a buying trip for furniture projects which fared well too.

mais, qu'est-ce que c'est? cette chose, la boulot?! donc, c'est un bon chose il est pour nous et pas pour une corporation!

Monday, August 3, 2009

new photos are up!

before and after of .... 'the project' ... !!!

click here to get a bird's eye-view

and if you want to check out (or even Follow!) our new blog for The Bohemians, click here ,

Bon lundi!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

tomorrow ...

culminates 4 months of nearly continuous effort to shape an old stone grange housing a forge into an attractive space for a business.

We're opening the doors on The Bohemians tomorrow. Yes, there are last minute details yet to be finished. But I'm doubting a line will form simply because we're setting out a sign and unlocking the door.

But much of the legwork is done. Nearly all of the renovations are complete. Jean-Yves will finish up the electricity tomorrow. Luckily, our big windows let the sun pour in, so lighting won't be an issue. Even though the lights (most of them) were installed Saturday.

But it is clean as a whistle. The inventory is arranged and sorted and priced (thanks Christie for your help!). Friday I managed to locate things one needs in a boutique (like tissue paper and bags and a receipt book and ink pad and little price tags and a cash box and a big mirror and a screen to create a dressing area and ...) I've painted and varnished the screen and arranged it appropriately.

I built a clothing rack for our cool, funky spring wear by La Fiancée du Mekong. I bought some beige twine and created a hanging pole with a piece of bamboo I had. I suspended it from the big beams and voila! I'm only putting out samples of each style and color and then, clients cooperating, I'll assist them in finding their size from our stock. Less cluttered that way.

I have a couple of pieces of furniture awaiting refinishing.

We will be closed Sundays and Wednesdays...in addition to trying to organize life around those days, those are 2 days when buying (vintage furniture, etc.) is best ... Wednesday is market day in Perigueux as well as auction day AND new arrival day for a secret spot I've discovered ... heh heh. Sundays are when vide-greniers are best.

So I'll be getting back to a routine of working (non-building or gardening or other project related) hours through December. I'm also investigating a lead I got for independent work with a realtor. Seems they need an English speaker or 2 for showing properties. Going to check that out.

You see, contrary to what my adoring audience may assume (ha), I don't have an endless supply of income for this adventure. In fact, it is drying up quickly. I need to find ways rectify this ... so while there is no immediate income potential looming, I'm working on creating future streams.