(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

je suis plat.

I got up this morning with the intention of making a tour of the area on my bicycle...an hour or so, before the heat really set in. It is, after all, Sunday ... a day meant for repose!

My neighbor Nicole decided to join me. I should have taken the broken valve on my tire as a sign, but decided to use her daughter's bike ... and off we went.

I had planned a not-too-stressful ride out to Bourdeilles ... the road runs along the river, it is scenic and a respectable 12km one way... it is fairly flat but with a few hills here and there to mount, use the low gears and feel accomplished when done.

Nicole is way more 'sportif' than I and, against my better judgement, I agreed to the 'petit tour de St. Julien de Bourdeilles' with a stop in at a friend's before our return.

3 hours later, on roads littered with higher and higher ascents ... I was back at home. Sunburned. Dehydrated. and very, very cranky.

I suppose I should be congratulating myself I made it. But I'm afraid I was 'un peu desagreeable' upon our return, and turned down the offer of a cold beer at a mutual friend's house.

After a cold shower and a power nap, I'm feeling a bit more myself. but jeez, how do I get myself into these pickles?!

Friday, June 25, 2010


my blog was reviewed by A Taste Of Garlic this week and it was a charming, well-written piece that made me smile! By the end, I was nodding my head in agreement ... I think I just might be experiencing a touch of teenage rebellion ... post teen years, of course!

But I'd like to acknowledge the kindness and thank Keith Eckstein for taking the time to peruse my blatherings in detail and further share them with the world.

I confess, it was somewhat inspirational to reread some of my posts ... from the viewpoint of blogging, which I've slacked off on and yet has provided me much pleasure in the past.

The antics and recent drama with my blog, I confess, put me off some of my writing. But perhaps the pause was for a cause and, with adjustment, I can get back to rendering you all spellbound with my tales.

heh heh!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

train saga ...

our visitors have been experiencing a series of travel casualties involving planes and trains and banking faux-pas. I've determined never to personally purchase tickets online nor recommend such to others except in situations where there is really no other option. of course, the past week's occurrences may have unjustly influenced me and with time I'll return to my casual, who me? nothing could go wrong attitude.

one guest's plane was late, making her miss her train. she had tried to buy some sort of insurance with sncf when she bought her ticket, but was unable to. as a result, she was provided no option other than to buy another ticket from Paris to Angouleme, which I believe was more expensive than her original ticket.

later, after spending literally hours plotting a week plus of travels from my house to Barcelona, on to Nice and then Italy ... due to an error on her bank's part ... the card she paid online with was captured in an ATM and could not be presented at the train station when collecting the tickets. SNCF had absolutely NO alternative to offer. And insurance HAD been purchased, but of course this particular scenario was not covered. "Oh, you purchased those online. you have to deal with them. And the insurance company isn't part of SNCF." No tickets were provided, although paid for. No trip could be taken. and No Refund could be given. tant pis.

by some miracle, when returning home from the Bordeaux train station, (yes, we drove all the way to Bordeaux to receive the above news.) and looking more closely online, we discovered that subsequent portions of the trip could be cancelled and reimbursed. so only the 1st leg (a major portion - Bordeaux to Barcelona) was lost. we think. still waiting to see what credit will be provided on the card.

don't even get me started on the many calls to 3 different agencies concerning the bank and the captured card. suffice to say, after hours of calls, the card has been recovered. fortunately this happened in a small bank branch in Brantôme, where they were willing to listen to what happened and hold the card vs. destroy it while we frantically sought out a solution.

so. in fear of a lost or stolen or confiscated card, I'm vowing always to go to the local train station to purchase my tickets. one less disaster to deal with.

oh and our visitors? they're off! but they decided to skip Spain altogether, quelle dommage. there's always next time!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Trip Highlight - Avenue of the Giants

If you should find yourself in or near California on a trip to the United States ... you must make time to view a dwindling part of history while there. Something that should be noted as the eighth wonder of the world.

I'm referring to the last remaining site for Gigante Sequoia species ... The Avenue of the Giants a 500 mile belt of redwoods that tower over 200 feet tall (the tallest is 370 feet !!) imagine a tree taller than Niagara falls ... or as tall as a 30 story building! unimaginable and yet in person, even more dramatic and memorable than pictures can relate. The Avenue of the Giants is a 31-mile stretch that runs parallel to Hwy 101 and displays some of the more choice specimens of this amazing forest.

Better still, imagine walking through a grove of such trees with someone you love ... nothing but the crunch of the terrain beneath your feet ... the scent of the woods and the ferns ... an occasional bird ... and that indescribable silence and calm from nature. Hug your partner and then hug one of these stately beauties and draw the energy in ... feel it soothe your being as you contemplate the centuries that have passed in its presence.

This visit was a humbling experience for us, rendering us somewhat awestruck and thankful that we were able to do it together ... forming a lifelong memory that not everyone gets the chance to create. the enormity of it defies explanation.

There is so much I could write about these awe-inspiring trees ... it doesn't do them justice to call them 'trees' and they have certainly earned the title of giant. At one time on earth, they existed all over the world. Humans have managed to destroy all but what remains (either directly or indirectly) and I can only guess it is a matter of time before these are gone as well.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

good dream or bad dream?

last night I had a fleeting dream where I had this amazingly taut abdomen ... I was in a bikini at the beach. It was like one of the TMZ paparazzi moments. Unfortunately, I also had one of those orange peel fake tans ... might have been one of those spray on numbers ... somehow in the dream, the camera zoomed in tight and my skin looked kind of weird ... the color was sort of mottled ... then it zoomed out again and there was that muscle definition ... that smooth skin and perfectly placed navel ...

le sigh.

heh heh ...

Friday, June 11, 2010

and so my list begins ...

rototilling was kindly squeezed in at the last possible moment! and so I was left with a tilled area for a late garden planting. My visitor and I went to the Perigueux market on Wednesday and I snagged the first plants for the garden. Today, while closed for lunch ... I put in a dozen tomato plants, a couple of cukes, 6 peppers and a bunch of cilantro. Upon reflection, I decided to go ahead and put in the potatoes I bought ages ago ... my consultant on all things gardening and french told me it was worth a shot, they might just take off, albeit the harvest would be later than normal. But since spring sprang late this year, I'm hoping for that domino effect. So, in effect, that is one thing semi-checked on the list.

I'm also rushing about to finish up a bunch of new small furniture pieces for the shop...and get a variety of things underway to create a bit more publicity and awareness that I am here. I bought 2 large planters (about a meter long each) for the front of the shop ... that will block parking (hopefully) right up against my wall and also create more visibility that we're here...Also, 2 more signs have been installed on the wall and a 'blade' style sign will be up in late July. My partner in crime also made 2 unique standalone, sidewalk signs that I can experiment with around town...

The new internet site is almost done and with that will come new flyers and posters and such ... for further around the area publicity. Any of my French readers (those that are legit ... heh heh)who blog or have sites or shops and who would be willing to do a link exchange with The Bohemians site ... or post a flyer ... please drop me a note via the contact feature here on my blog.

I have more trip highlights to share, but thought a real time, on-the-ground report might also be in order.

à bientôt!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

feeling a little holier than thou ... or not ...

well my lovelies, I had the chance to go to Africa this week and continue my bohemian adventures, hobo-vagabond style ... but instead I let my practical side prevail for once and opted to stay behind and ... sniff, sniff ... work a little!

see, there is never a time that travelling does not appeal, especially when it is with a kindred spirit. but I've already neglected our little boutique somethin' awful ... so it is time to buckle down, get things going and work on my list. my very long list.

which includes not only The Bohemians ... but an assortment of DIY projects chez moi.

Not to mention the fact that I had a little burst of inspiration after a couple came by last week and purchased 4 (yes that is FOUR) pieces of furniture at once! not only was it exciting but now we look a little bare so I've got to get busy and get some new stuff out on the floor ...

and that certainly couldn't happen from the back of a motorcycle in Africa....

le sigh!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Trip Highlight - Great Blues in Portland at Jimmy Mak's

who doesn't like to check out music when they're touring the United States? especially Portland Oregon, home of some terrific blues and alternative music?

Well, I spent a lovely evening at Jimmy Mak's in Portland. When I lived there, Jimmy's was in a dive-bar setting caddy-corner to their new location ... well folks, they've moved and their new venue is top notch. Large dining room with stage right there ... Dinner shows are the specialty and it is a fun way to spend an evening in Portland...Jimmy's gets some of the best jazz and blues headliners found in Portland.

Friends treated us to a lowdown blues extravaganza ... Bonefest All Star Band ... featuring the 'funk' of James Brown, Mr. Fred Wesley (trombonist and composer for James Brown, lead trombone player for Ike and Tina Turner).

The evening was a funky, soulful delight ... we arrived early and had cocktails and dinner. The menu there is actually not bad ... although I do believe the best plate ordered was their burger and fries! We had good wine as well ... to move us on into the rest of the night.

There was a great deal of showmanship on display, some band members entering from the back with their 'bones and adding some dance moves. The songstress for the night, Jada Amy, was a hot growling mama of a singer ... suggestive and whisky voiced.

It was an amazing evening, my french companion noted the acoustics and overall show as one of the best he's enjoyed. He even scored a poster off the wall for me as a souvenir. If you decide to go, I imagine your event will have such things available to buy, as oppose to 'nick'! lol and cd's too!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

tatouage while travelling!

If you are like me, travelling inspires noteworthy experiences ... doing something you've dreamed about but just not taken the plunge ... for us, that included tatouage.

The west coast of the U.S. is (in the cities, that is) considerably more liberal. In the SF Bay, Portland, Seattle and So. Cal. areas ... you'll see loads of tatouage (tattoos) and tattoo shops filled with (mostly) creative and professional artists. The range of artwork is amazing... but how to find and choose someplace/someone who indelibly marks your precious body?

Well, in my opinion, the best way is by referral. If you are considering a tattoo, most likely you know folks who have them ... and within that group, you know someone who has tattoos you admire. Ask them. Trust them. (make sure it is someone who has more than one! that isn't a one inch butterfly or heart... :P)

My first tattoo was done by an artist that was referred to me by a Portland'er I know who has many tattoos in a wide range of themes, all of which were really cool. He told me about 3 different artists and I went for the woman ... who made the experience smooth and easy. And didn't just slap something on my body but really 'interviewed' me and was careful to insure I wasn't going to end up with regrets...

This go around, our friends Kathleen & David told us about their friends at Infinity Tattoo in Portland. This place appealed to us not only because it was recommended ... but also because the owners travel to Paris every year for a month or so and do a sort of 'tattoo exchange' (as I understood it) program, staying in Paris, doing their art with a partner shop and even teaching.

Given their level of experience, they weren't available on the drop of a dime to work on us (of course, there was no planning ahead on our part! lol) ... but an artist in their shop, Sean Lanusse, met with us ... consulted re: our ideas and then in a follow-up appointment for the actual tattoo, presented us with the artwork he rendered from the conversation.

I knew I wanted a sparrow and the phrase "Je Ne Regrette Rien". Kibbutzing with friends, I came up with a Fillmore-inspired idea ... I wanted the phrase to form the body like those 60s psychedelic concert posters and album covers some of you might remember (example above). When I arrived and saw the art, it wasn't at all what I had in mind. Undeterred, Sean continued the convo with me, regrouped for about 20-30 minutes and came up with the exacly perfect art design. He then listened carefully to color ideas, contributed his as well and I ended up with a tattoo I know I will adore for life. It is in organic shades of green and teal ... no black at all (a req't of mine)... and perched just below my right shoulder. The sparrow's face is simple and portrays an inquisitive little spirit (what else would you expect?) The wing has Je Ne, the word Regrette forms the bulk of the body, with Rien tucked below.

So, should you be in Portland ... Infinity tattoo is highly recommended for a personalized and professional tattoo experience.

And in general, I encourage all of you dear readers to seize the moment today and do something you've always dreamed about but never taken the plunge ... make today (and every day) the day you have one of those memorable life experiences that, over time, add up to your life of no regrets!