(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

man's inhumanity to man.

just a short note regarding recent developments related to the 'arab spring'.

the darkness of the human spirit is evident, even in the midst of individuals professing to fight for freedom in their world.

I have been sickened to read the ever-deteriorating stories about the fall of M. Gaddafi. First were the elated news bites that he and members of his entourage had been captured. Then, reports of his dying of wounds received during a battle. To follow were more reports, ever changing stories and then videos of the depravity.

One reads he was found hiding in a drainage ditch. He was shot in the legs, suffered a head wound and died in an ambulance on the way to medical attention. No wait, he was captured and though bloodied, coherent and speaking to his captors, telling them "don't kill me, my sons". But also, videos emerge of his killer being congratulated for shooting him in the head. Oh but the head of the transitional government says he was killed by his own people. Today, a video emerges of him being sodomized ... who knows what further degradations will emerge.

I am sickened by all of this. to those who say he was a despot, guilty of terrible acts, I do not doubt it. To those congratulating Western governments on their success in Libya ... so clean, so quick, I say look in a mirror, you hypocrites.

It is disgusting the fleeting memories that exist in the world. How proud we are of governments whose greater integrity can only be measured in the slightest variation of gray. The United States, France, United Kingdom and others have provided financial support, military weapons and other aid to the most flagrant violators of human rights, requiring only that their demands are met. When that fades, US and other nation's backs are turned.

Gaddafi for example. How is it that Lockerbie was forgotten and Libya's leader was welcomed back into the fold? when it was convenient and to the benefit of the countries involved. And when it became expeditious to turn on him again, well then ... so many modern examples of this scenario exist it is mindboggling. Kennedy and Johnson's governments played these types of chess games with other governments and people's lives. Nixon...Reagan's administration did it. Both Bush Administrations did it. Carter, Clinton and Obama's as well. American hands are as bloody as any.

It seems now in Libya we have ushered in one set of depraved 'leaders' on the tail of another. Drowned out by the celebratory back-slapping are the weak cries from human rights groups to investigate what has happened.

The number of civilized societies in this world are dwindling and those that remain are at risk. These are dark times we live in.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

we now return you to your regular programming...

first off, apologies.

I needed to take a break from things here, I am going through some serious changes in life and haven't yet decided what to get into here and what to leave private...also some of the changes mean that maybe I don't want my life to be the same open book it has been these past three years.

unfortunately, I still haven't figured that all out yet. so for now, I am going to continue writing about this and that and try to divine the direction for my writing.

yesterday, on my way to see a man about a horse ... lol, no but seriously yesterday on my way to see a man about a door purchased on leboncoin (a french site similar to craigslist), on a random seemingly deserted country road in the middle of nowhere I stumbled upon a newly erected monument, not yet open to the public ... jutting up from a large field, accopanied only by a lone oak tree and remnants of a stone wall. this beautiful monument of a combat soldier with a dead or dying comrade in his arms, was a sombre anthracite grey, on top of buttery limestone. It was erected in memory of American soldiers and marks the site of one of the first major battles, involving Americans, of the first world war. Over 1100 soldiers, french,german, american, were injured in this field and 162 Americans died there. This was the Battle of the Croix Rouge Farm, July 25-26, 1918. Nimrod T. Frasier, the son of one of the injured soldiers and a director of the foundation at Croix Rouge Farm, helped sponsor this monument in memory of his father and his father's comrades. These soldiers were from the Rainbow Division of Alabama, part of the U.S. National Guard.

There was not a soul around, not a car, a person, an animal. yesterday, it was a cold, foggy, misty day in the north of France; to view this monument you had to climb down a large ditch and up again, or scramble across a pile off large boulders. I really had no idea what we had stumbled across ... until I did more research. I discovered the real significance of this battle ... and the sculpture itself. It was difficult to imagine this peaceful farm field as it was on that summer day, filled with young soldiers battling in blood soaked fields, the soldiers remaining alive recounted hand-to-hand combat unlike any other they had experienced. The fortified farm buildings blasted from existence, a small stretch of stone wall all that remains.

Instead of regurgitating everything that has already been so carefully documented on a wonderful site here, let me just tell you it is worth the visit. To the website or the actual site, whichever you can manage.

The dedication of this monument and opening of the site will be November 12th. The sculpture made its first stop in England and it looks so different and formal in the picture I have shared. Mounted on plain blocks of French limestone in the middle of a large nearly empty field, accompanied only by a lone tree, the remnant of a wall and a lone stone bench ... its charcoal color seems more like a charred ghostly remnant of the piteous nature of battle.

I am going to try and make the dedication but if not, I feel as if I have already had my own private reception. an american, stumbling across something so profound and installed specifically in remembrance and support of franco-american relations. indescribably touching;

just another random Saturday of my french life.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

summer is winding down ...

went to a dinner / barbeque Monday night ... will be about the last (felt like it anyway) of the summer's outdoor fêtes. school starts on Friday ... at least six of the guests are teachers and they are gearing up for the year.

three picnic tables were drawn together and covered with colorful cloths. when I arrived there was a huge circle of chairs, with everyone seated ... glasses in hand. I made the round of bises (everyone rose and there were only one or two vous-es in the group)

one of the guests manned the rosé and sirop de pamplemousse. there were all sorts of apéro nibblies, smoked salmon cake, huge bowl of melon balls, a gorgeous pate de campagne and another of rillettes de canard.

about 20 adults, plus kids. me, the only non-French. I managed some topics and followed several conversations. there were some fast talkers there! as dusk descended, it was not too cold and the bats made their whooshing appearance to partake of their daily apéro, insect-hunting high in the sky and treating us to their acrobatic swoops and swirls.

later it was a simple meal. i know some of you are always curious about the meal: bbq'd sausages (merguez and chipolatas - good quality ones), some big salads (endive, apple & emmenthal, bow tie pasta with tomatoes and onion, a big rice salad with vegetables) ... oh and an absolutely amazing ham quiche ... made with the real savory, unpackaged ham, a bit crispy and just divine ... then a huge platter of cheese and beautiful bread ... desserts : pear tart, raspberry tart, chocolate tart, nut tart ... and good red wine throughout. we finished with coffee. so yeah, not haute cuisine but simple and delicious and seasoned with laughter and friendship under the stars.

I sat eating and staring up at the leaves of the enormous tilleul tree tossing magical shadows on the buttery stone walls ... entertained by the musical notes of french voices filling the air and realized that I have indeed connected with this place. the smells, the sounds the colors of my life here resonate like no other. if I were a believing kind of person instead of the stubborn atheist that I am, I would think that I have lived here in former lives ... based on the fact that I have been drawn here for years and years like no other. and the sense of belonging that I have discovered since giving in to that pull and finding a way to get here.

but I was talking about summer's end. my fourth summer here. still head over heels.

the nights are starting to get a little fresh. summer is backing out of the room. soon flashy autumn will be here with her colorful, attention-grabbing glory and start stealing the show.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

talk about seeing fur fly ... eep!

living in a centuries-old stone house means not a lot of closet space. Okay, basically NO closet space. so you get creative. of course, armoires, chests etc.

but I have also used the stairwell to the third floor attic as a storage space. I rigged up a crossbar and have hung a couple of hanging shoe thingamajigs; as well as using the steps as storage places.

so this morning I am rummaging through the shoes to find some grey boots, grab them and as I am getting ready to close the door I have this impression of something fuzzy and grey brush my hair and shoulder and then I hear a plopping sound.

I look down and see a mouse kind of bellyflopped on a step.

screech. ensuing door slam. minutes of shudders.

no, I didn't reopen the door. why oh why did my cat run away? she had plenty of options here! tempted to get another but in my current state of flux, doesn't seem wise.

anyone willing to stop by and check my cupboard?

Friday, August 26, 2011

funny little things I am forever finding in french

so four years into my life here and I still don't consider myself fluent. lots of people who know me disagree but I feel I have kind of plateau'ed for the moment ... and for the life of me I still blow most of the verb conjugations for "ils" ... j'ai un vrais tête de bois!

but here is another funny little thing just found ... the french view american eating habits as disastrous. (no that is not the funny little thing, I have known that for quite awhile now). I have heard lots of comments about folks who have been appalled after visiting the states ... things like americans are ALWAYS eating ! you walk down the street and people are eating as they walk! you drive in your car and look to your left and there is someone behind the wheel, eating! and so on ...

and yet, not only is there a plethora of comestibles in the metro here, but there are named times throughout the day just for eating.

maybe that is the trick, you eat at these designated times or you don't eat. a little more discipline is in order! I remember how shocking I found it on my first visit that if you didn't arrive at most village restaurants by 1:30 pm or so, you will have missed lunch. "complet" you will be told, and tant pis for you!

Here is a list of designated eating times

petit déjeuner ~ breakfast, early and usually simply coffee and a small pastry or baguette and butter with jam

en cas ~ just learned this one, "in case", typically a small something either tucked into a school child's pocket or worker's sack ... a small piece of fruit or bread in case you can't make it till lunch.

déjeuner ~ lunch and it begins at noon and is a proper meal. You sit at a table for it, cutlery is required and this includes the schoolchildren. You will have a starter and a main, fromage or dessert. You will finish with coffee and nobody will look askance if it is accompanied by some wine. Everyone has time for a real meal since, except for big cities, all of the shops, banks, and other stuff will have closed. For two hours.

quatre heure ~ 4:00pm, another small snack ... mostly children indulge but I know many adults who rub their tummies and take something as well.

apéro ~ 7ish, a beverage and little salty somethings such as nuts or a savory cake. Aperitif is not just for adults, kids have a sparkling beverage. It lasts no more than an hour and is a civilized end to the workday, a chance to connect with friends before returning home for ...

diner ~ yes, dinner time and traditionally during the week (although this is sadly changing and fast becoming a concern in France) this will be a lighter meal than midday ... perhaps a soup, a bit of pasta or a protein and a vegetable which balance out the midday meal.

I don't know if there is something yet after dinner. Since I just discovered 'en cas' this week, it is highly possible!

So yes there is ongoing eating in France as well, but it has been a more formal affair ... and until recently, it seems the population has been in better shape physically, as a result. But there is some concern that lifestyles of the younger generation are morphing towards american values.

there have been some national awareness campaigns to try and reverse this trend. The schools are involved in this effort, and in addition to the balanced meals they present to the kids, they keep the parents informed and even recommend possible evening meals that are appropriate nutritionally to complete the day's regime.

I suppose americans would say all of their non-mealtime eating was just 'en cas'.

probably ... ^cough cough^

Thursday, July 7, 2011

telling time by traffic noise ...

wow folks, I think about my blog and blog readers daily ... but with sufficient projects to fill 48 hours in a day, I am woefully neglectful (hangs head in shame).

but I refuse to give up my blog all together and cling to the fantasy that someday I will be able to write everyday again. of course, it is probably all a matter of will. henri says to write a little story every day and in a year I will have a book. hmmmm....

so, the season is nearly upon us here in my corner of the Sud Ouest. By this week-end, thousands of visitors will begin to descend on our region and our village. many thousands. 3/4 of the year, the fact that my house is next to the main road out of town makes no difference at all. But during this part of the year, a steady stream of traffic flows by at particular times of day...

I never ever use an alarm unless I have an early plane to catch. I do not wear a watch. and I try not to look at clocks, relying on church bells for managing the shop hours. One blissful advantage of my new life.

But during the season, the road guides my timetable as well. I always know when it is around 8:00 a.m. because the road livens up. and then, just about a quarter to noon, it's on again. fast forward to 2:00ish and we know lunch time is ending. Finally, starting a bit before 5:00 p.m., a last flow for the day.

When school is in session (since I live just across the road from the Ecole Maternelle) I am also reminded of when it is around 4:00 p.m. because a few busses arrive. I love living across from the school and hearing the joyous shouts of children on the playground. Do you remember that buzz in the air when you and your schoolmates would rush, en masse, to release that pent-up energy from sitting in a school room? All of the voices merge together to form one large roaring giggle at the simple pleasure of being outdoors, free to run and jump and play.

My first summer here (just when I arrived in July and August) I wasn't so sure if I was going to like this summer noise. I bought my house in April, when the town was quietly springing to life ... soft sunshine, birds chirping, easy strolls through silent streets. I was shocked to hear the sounds just outside my windows ... that was before I decided to open my shop.

Now, the traffic sounds make me smile at the thought of travellers from around the world arriving to ooh and ahh at the beauty of our village. and also smile because maybe they will wander a bit up the road from the 'centre ville' and find my funny little store that they can't figure out... because it isn't exactly a furniture store, or a clothes shop, or a décor boutique, or a jewelry haunt or an art gallery ... no, it is all of those rolled into one ... with an open ateliér/workshop to boot. The french (in general) are more accustomed to a store with one purpose. So they find my little place a bit out of the ordinary.

which is ok. because I am probably a little bit out of the ordinary myself!

I'll keep checking in ... doing my best with an update during the crazy seasonal months. hope you do too!

Friday, June 17, 2011

miam miam >>>

My life has become insane in regards to work and available time...work is infringing upon my dream a bit (another post entirely) and it is difficult to even find time to shop for food ... let alone go to market day and seek out the most beautiful that France has to offer.

but somehow ... just when I am getting discouraged about things, someone ... something ... hears my silent cries and poof! ANSWERS APPEAR~ like magic I tell you ... hee hee

So enter the Panniers des Roches (probably going to have to go back and respell that later) ... there I was in the shop (when am I NOT in the shop these days? but anyhoo) last Friday ... arranging things and this woman comes in for a look. we get to talking and she asks if she can put some brochures up about her business. I say sure, what's your business and she points across the street and says "des panniers" ... I ask what panniers and she explains that .... drum roll ....

her and her husband have an organic farm near Nontron (about 20 minutes up the road) and they deliver vegetable baskets to subscribers. I ask if I can have a look and we cross the road where they deliver to the local primary school every Friday. She shows me a basket for 1 person and it is chock full of the most beautiful produce!!! I ask the cost and she tells me 11 euros per week. 3,50€ supplement if you choose, where it rotates weekly between sweet and savory. You will get homemade cornichons...or confiture... or other yummy stuff.

I decided (in about 10 seconds) to give it a try. So today I received my first pannier. Here is what I got:

1. The most beautiful head of lettuce EVAH!!! (ok picture sucks but you can still see how massive it is.
2. Two large fennel bulbs.
3. Two GINORMOUS artichokes.
4. A bunch of carrots just pulled, dirt clinging (maybe 12 of them)
5. A paper bag of new red potatoes.
6. Fresh sorrel.
7. A large bunch of fresh radishes.
8. A recipe for a galette with fennel and new potatoes.

So. instead of feeling sorry for myself that I am too busy to go to market day every week (only now and then), I am celebrating the discovery of this enormous luxury of having amazing fresh organic produce delivered to my door every week for a paltry sum... I will still enjoy France's bounty and be able to cook some delicous and healthy food.

I am still one of the luckiest girls in the world. sure, my dreams have become a bit tarnished here and there ... or maybe it is just that I am working harder for them. but they are still there!!

ALL of it is gorgeous. and it was 11 euros.

Friday, June 3, 2011

life is cool.

the season has yet to commence and still, I am a bit exhausted! the shop needed some major clean-up and refreshing and this year I am doing more vide-greniers to generate more awareness of the shop and also more revenue ... but that old adage remains true about it being different if you are working for yourself and not someone else (particularly if that someone else is a huge corporation )

all in all life IS cool!

let me tell you about a guy I met. it all seems slightly coincidental. not long after I had painted over Salle de Vente on my door and replaced it with my overall philosophy ... a youngish guy comes walking up the road and, having read the new sign, sees Henry and strikes up a conversation. in English. american english.

I am in back in the garden and here comes Henry and this tall young fellow. "Kim, this is Tyler" .... hmmmm, tyler is my son's middle name. "I invited him to have an apero with us" ... (my favorite time of day by the way) Tyler is from California... ok curious, I go and grab three cold ones given it is a very warm day. how did tyler from california happen to find me?

well tyler is walking across Europe. he started at Berlin with the smallest bag imaginable for such a journey. no he really isn't like the myriad of 20somethings you see barely able to lift those huge backpacks. Tyler is early 30s in hightop converse and is walking/hitching his way to the southern tip of spain. he is a photographer. he is on an extraordinary journey which may last for life.

see, tyler graduated from prestigious Georgetown University and went straight into investment banking. tall and handsome, I can only imagine the tenor of his life back then. after a period of a year or two, (yup much smarter than me) he realized how pointless, how absolutely soulless this profession was that he chose and determined to leave. he remained a while longer, saving for his escape. and then he walked away. He loved photography and went to LA and got work there in the television and film industry. after some time, he left that to pursue individual projects. last year he was in morocco and lived with a berber family; photodocumenting their lives. he had some funny anecdotes to share ... including how eventually he bought a rickety vespa in morocco for 300 bucks and ended up riding it all the back from Morocco to London ... imagine the tales!

this year he is taking 3 months to walk across Europe ... and then will be spending several months back in Morocco, hopefully finding the family he was with and finsihing up his work with them ... with the goal of maybe doing a book about the experience. I am witholding his full name to respect his privacy at the moment.

he has his own internal "rules" for his trip ... no buses or trains or airplanes ... just walking or hitchiking. He hitches quite a bit and leaves it up to the drivers to somewhat determine his path. that is how he ended up being dropped off down the road from me. as long as it is comfortable, he takes a photo of each driver.

I ended up telling him my own escape story. he had lots of questions about living abroad. I confess I am surprised I didn't frighten him off xith my enthusiasm and ardor for France. after about 20 minutes or so, we invited him to stay with us. we shared a wonderful, impromptu meal and I finally left him and Henry gabbing on at midnight. I was too exhausted to do dishes, I had our first vide grenier the next day. we rose early and tiptoed out for the event, the kitchen looked like a war zone.

I had offered tyler the use of my bike to toodle around and when I returned, he was gone but the kitchen was spotless!!

tyler stayed 2 nights, enjoying our big guest bed and few comforts of home. he told us more about his life and his family and we shared more about life here in France. another coincidence ... tyler's sister's name is Paige. which is my middle name. and the middle name of my daughter. just sayin' ... by the second morning, I could sense he was getting the itch to go ... he declined offers of rides and help, I think he was longing for the solitude of his journey. he gave us a small bottle of wine, collected from another journey, as a token of thanks. later that day, I also discovered a small gift to me of delicious handmade soap. I pictured his small stash of goodies in his bag that he collects and then proffers as he moves along.

he shared with us he is seeking a way to leave the US and live abroad somewhere. who knows, maybe he will end up in Europe somewhere. his family sounds amazing and meeting him was a wonderful coincidence, a reaffirming coincidence that there are indeed other seekers out there, other crazy folks like me, stumbling around on the road less travelled ... trying to find our place in this world.

yes indeed, life is cool.

Friday, May 20, 2011

big day tomorrow!

finally ready to reopen The Bohemians!

after over three months in the states and just about 2 weeks back in France, we are there. Did a vide-grenier last week-end and focused all week on painting, cleaning, rearranging. Working from dawn to dusk with Henry to get it all together.

made a quick overnighter to the Tarn et Garonne to visit our friends from Raison d'Art and to gather some beautiful new art pieces by Bruce Anderson for the shop ... then made a beeline back to continue working on everything.

Today, I delivered Henry to the gare in Limoges and now, going to go continue arranging and preparing ...

soon I am sure I will have something more profound to share ... like my observations being an American in France observing the meltdown surrounding DSK in New York (Dominique Strauss-Kahn). for the moment, wow. Just WOW. that about sums it up!


Thursday, May 12, 2011

beginning of a trend?

still wading through New Yorkers. Okay I confess, still wading through the May 9 New Yorker. And I know it was a recent subject, but hell found another quote to inspire me to streams of (hopefully)consciousness. we'll see.

but first let me tell you why I am only to page 30.

I arrived back in Brantôme a week ago Friday (you calculate the dates, my mind's a whirl and I am lucky I can pinpoint that much). Henry and I decided to drive at night and we actually made excellent time, getting in at around 3:00 a.m. The week-end was spent doing our premier checklist, open mail and see if there were any disasters looming, get to the bank for a deposit, go to the tax office and the mairie (carte de sejour renewal time) pick up the mower and make the first attempts to hack through the jungle.

Mail: does anyone else have this dread and foreboding when opening the mail? I don't really get a lot of mail other than my beloved New Yorker subscription. So three month's worth formed a surprisingly small pile. Even so, after a year of financial headaches that have now just about been sorted, I am always a little fearful of what small seemingly innocuous envelopes can contain. BUT .... nothing unexpected!! hip hip!

Bank: ok, here's a shock! banks in France suck too. I bank with BNP and they are utterly useless. at least the branch in Thiviérs. which of itself is a pain since Thiviérs is nearly 30 kilometers away. fortunately they are open on Saturday mornings, so off we went ... still night-driving and jet lagged. When I arrive and announce I am making a deposit in dollars, the woman immediately responds "ah non, c'est pas possible". "Oui, c'est possible, Monsieur whatsisname told me it was". Of course he wasn't there but his aide, Valerie was. Great! because I had a bone to pick with her too. Before leaving for the U.S., we were going back and forth over some usurious charges, and she provided me her email contact. Three months later and two or three emails, Nothing. So I asked her why. This is the one slightly helpful person there. She tells me the answer concerning a refund of said fees was no. To which I reply then why didn't you email me such? "Well the answer was no ... trails off".
Yes folks you heard it here. I am complaining. about a French person. but really I am complaining about banks.

I've done my research and I am taking my business to Credit Mutuelle this summer. Yes they are also nearly 30 kilometers away. But the other direction, in Perigueux, where I often visit. And from what I can glean they are like credit unions in america. If any of you have any experience with them, please share!

Tax office: yes, yes, you always hear complaints about french fonctionnaires in every branch of government. they are the butt of endless expatriate jokes and complaints. all I can tell you is that in nearly EVERY single instance, these folks have been nothing but thorough and helpful in all of my various transactions. maybe I am lucky, maybe I am more prepared because I try to think like a French person before during and after. I don't know. But before I left, I had sent a letter in disavowing my need to pay an income tax bill because of a recent ruling related to my filing status. I had helpful info from the site Start A Business In France and so followed the advice there. In my pile of mail were two letters, one marked urgent, from the fonctionnaire dedicated to serving Brantôme. We arrived and once introduced, she immediately told me in rapid fire French that she would have called but had no number, that she had been trying to reach me because she had no proof of status and the online file disagreed with my claim. Henry nudged me towards guarding my patience and civillity. I, thinking like a french person, had arrived with a dossier of all of my documents including the attestation of my status. "Bon, c'est parfait", she tells me this is exactly what she needed. After a few copies and entries onling, voila ... no tax is required. I provide her my phone number for any future needs, she likewise gives me hers. Finishing like a french person, I provide a multitude of thank yous and commendations, politesse, and it is done.

Carte de sejour: I gird my loins and head to the mairie with my dossier prepared in advance. After a few misfires obtaining photographs sans voiture ( another post entirely ), I arrive with my papers and the new form, which is not overly complicated but does demand more info than before. This year I am asking for a 10 year carte. Since I plan to apply for french citizenship in another year or so, I am not really sure how the two requests will synchronize (any readers with thoughts, experiences, opinions, please divulge) but I am doing it all the same. The local bureau at the mairie is likewise extremely accomodating and polite. I am not overly optimistic for this year's request since I am past the 2 month deadline and probably will receive the 1 year only. I paid the timbres for one year and if by some miracle it turns out differently, I will pay the balance. Now, I wait. I hate this period of waiting where, even though you can't think of reason, the possibility of trouble looms.

Mower: the automatic transmission on my mower went on the blink last year, and so we delivered it to the local shop before leaving. Cutting 3 foot high grass with no automatic is not a pleasant option. When we went to retrieve it, we were told the transmission was mort. dead. kaput. MERDE!! I don't have the resources to buy a comparable mower at the moment (several hundred euros). We look on le bon coin (equivalent to craigslist here in france) but find no deals. Thinking I have no option but to push, we get her going. MIRACLE OF MIRACLES!!! the automatic functions!!! thanks to the gardening gods, I am back in operation!! yes. I love my life in France. heh heh.

Okay. that covers just the first week's list of wants and needs. I got a hell of a lot more miracles completed ... that will be shared later.

But now I want to get back to my latest New Yorker inspiration!!! lol, deal with it as I think this trend may continue...inspired by new yorker quotes, i believe i can mine a treasure trove of foolishness ... days and days and weeks ... who knows? ha, seriously I take my inspiration where I can find it, wheter the humdrum every day encounters or reading pithy coverage by cosmopolitan authors living glamorous lives ... and of course, everyone is entitled to my opinions ... so ....

There is an article covering a ... gasp ... BLOGGER! in said same issue! a female blogger, a diarist!, who I am loathe to confess I have never heard of despite the fact that she apparently receives 23.3 million page views and 4.4 million unique visitors ... which, according to the New Yorker is about the same amount as read the Daily Beast!! No, she is not Dooce ... she is the Pioneer Woman ... some midwestern chick who lives in Oklahoma and writes her fairy tale dream come true after marrying her "Marlboro Man" and moving to the ranchlands....whaaaat??? not only does she have this astounding blog that won the Best Kept Secret Award at the 2007 Bloggies (her first year) but she has gone on to win numerous other blog awards as well as publish a book of recipes that debuted No. 1 on the NYT best seller list AND her book Black Heels to Tractor Wheels (cough), No. 2 on this year's NYT best seller list. I repeat. Whaaaat??as if all of that wasn't enough, now she is featured in a New Yorker article. le sigh.

Okay. some point soon I am going to go look at her site. I swear. once I turn a lighter shade of green and steel myself for the stories of the modern day cleavers home on the range, home cooking, home schooling, home making and giggling straight from home all the way to the bank. to the tune of about a cool mil per year, gross.


on a side note, she is now so totally famous that she has hordes of haters. hatin' on her via websites. and blogs. and twitter. let me remind me of that cool mil. I am certain she is devastated. heh heh.

BUT. in the midst of all this charm and glory, I discovered a very respectable, even somewhat inspiring quote. that got me going a bit.

" ... you should never assume that where you are in life or what you're doing is going to remain exactly as it is forever". (the Pioneer Woman). ((I cannot believe I just quoted someone called The Pioneer Woman. egads.))

regardless of the source, that's a pretty meaty idea. when that lightbulb came on in my head that things COULD change, wow. what a pivotal moment. For the longest time, I had difficulty envisioning what my life could be. I remember talking with a friend about the amount of money I had in reserve and how many years I could last on it. And THEN what? He looked at me and said Kim you make it sound like you can never make money again. like that job, that life, was the only option, it was unchangeable.

when I came here, I truly had no idea what the hell I was doing. or going to do. For the first time in my life, I was taking a leap into the great hereafter without a plan or a clue. ok sure, I had some ducats and a property. but for the person I was, it felt very crazy. there wasn't much in life I did without a plan.

I have said all this before, I know. but still I have readers who ask....in fact, my recent post on self-relevance was commented on by someone trying to figure out how to make a big change and probably sitting there somewhat in the same place I was. I never in a million years envisioned I would be mounting some of the projects I have since been doing.

When you are there striving for relevance, you tend to go with what you know. It isn't easy to imagine how different things can be, how simple it can be to get there ... depending on what you are willing to let go of in return. and that doesn't necessarily mean material things. it can mean your idea of yourself. of your life now and where it could go. it might mean being willing to jump without knowledge of a net. or a parachute.

many times it is only then that we can truly fly.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go!

work attire before (doleful expression included)

work attire after
(warm and cold weather options duly noted!)

Of course, if it is a "shop open" day, duly accessorized with cute top, jewelry, maybe even some heels. thanks johnelle for the inspiration! xx

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

oh, to be relevant in this world.

or our world. or any world for that matter.

Commenced with the herculean attempt to catch up on a three month backlog of New Yorkers today. Decided to go backwards, so I opened the May 9th issue. oh what a frisson of pleasure it is to read this worthy magazine. oh my secret reveries of someday being published in *whisper* THE New Yorker. le sigh. but back to topic at hand. in talk of the town, reading a snippet entitled "Fish Story", discussing Ted Danson and his recent book "Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them". blah; no strike that ... all a most worthy endeavor and perhaps fodder for a future discussion.

but the masses pap TV series he is in "Bored To Death" discussion contained the quote which immediately inspired me. One small paragraph where Danson discusses his character, George, and how he relates to him. After reading it, I had to go grab my little ordi and start my random flow of randomness. hopefully it will lead to something.

ok, here it is. Danson shares that "The one constant in George is that desperate need of a sixty-three-year_old to still be relevant in the world."

this resonated not only with Danson, but immediately with me. First off, it makes sense, that view of someone beginning (optimistic view of today's youthful culture!) to age and the feelings of invisibility, irrelevance.

I have read many women who state this feeling ... the feeling of creeping invisibility as they lose that prime pitch of supple feminine youth ... I think this invisibility could also be categorized as relevance. For a women, her sexual vibrance and femininity often equates to her self-image and feeling of relevance in this world. I think discovering successful replacements for this external characteristic is key to a transition in self-image and confidence as we age. Not to mention the fact that older women can be some of the sexiest bitches on the planet. ha. but I digress.

So men struggle with this too. Albeit, likely later in the party than women do as it relates to aging and sexual vibrance. But also in terms of career, metiér, etc. As Ben Harper puts it, "there's always someone younger, someone with more hunger"...

Yes I see this in my daily life as well. like the fellows who are chafing at life's reins at the moment, lost. when I read this quote, I did think of those guys I know. In the context of this feminine characteristic I described (not solely feminine as I see it), they seem stuck in their self-image of the handsome playboy ... always a pretty young woman on their arm and yet a stable of every age standing by to dote on them as well. Their charm and devil may care attitude are magnetic and women are drawn to them like moths to a flame. Caught in that youthful pattern of greedily sampling all at the buffet, unable to say no until nearly sick and exhausted of the choices. As the years pass, all the dishes begin to look the same so the search for new temptations becomes more frenetic. None seem to satisfy. And somewhere along the way, the beautiful young women have found other options. The young loves they let slip through their fingers are now mourned. Greed having betrayed them, they find themselves sad .. alone .. and possibly, irrelevant because they have equated such superficiality to their personal relevance! all the while, seemingly oblivious to the many other qualities and capabilities that could provide longlasting and truly satisfying meaning in their lives.

I have seen this before, particularly with the fellows who have a fear of commitment. They have convinced themselves otherwise ... can't be "tied down", they are "free spirits" etc. They become stuck in this cycle and wake up one day, the laughing stock dude down at the dance club, trying to score girls 20? 30? or more years younger! sure they might from time to time, if their pockets are full. I sincerely hope my friends finally avoid this and find new paths to pursue.

But is the desperate need to still feel relevant in this world relegated to humans of a certain age? or is it what drives many of us? particularly the educated population of the world ?

Perhaps inspiring this need, the mere potential that all of us can find a way to be relevant in the world ... perhaps that could steady the world somewhat. When I reflect upon some of the greater nations in the world, my unscientific observation is those that invest in their citizens, particularly their youth through education ... these nations experience an overall uplifting of their population. Through education, lower and upper, we are exposed to ideas and possibilities. The broader the range of topics, the greater the chance that a grain will be planted that inspires a young individual towards a passion in life. some sort of relevance in their world.

when this doesn't happen, we find ourselves floating, hopefully treading water at least. but not finding a rewarding internal satisfaction that comes from ending the day having done something meaningful.

I have spent more years than I would have liked on the merry-go-round, unfulfilled. Even worse than to experience a desire to be relevant in the world is that absolute awareness that one's life pursuit is without meaning or real contribution. once you feel irrelevant and yet do not seek change, oh the internal misery! If it hadn't been for the gift of my two children and the knowledge that the earnings I received from my daily drudgery was allowing me to raise them with more options than I had ... well my desperation index would have been much higher!!!

and now. well these past few years have been a gift in terms of rediscovering my own relevance to myself. frankly , that is what I think is most important. eventually one might be relevant in one's circle. or community. or even the world. but first and foremost, we have to find our own self-relevance. and then live up to it.

spending a life seeking relevance on your friends' or society's measure is a false pursuit and can only lead to misery, unless you die clinging to your delusions. It takes courage to examine and embrace your internal purpose and desire, and then find the path to achieve them. In many of our cultures, you will be discouraged from your dream. you will be told you will fail. that you will be alone, an outsider. but that is mostly others' fear and envy speaking. just think, if you are finding relevance in your path less travelled, what does that say to the masses?

so in conclusion ... ha, what can I say? life's answers can be found in The New Yorker?! heh heh, perhaps. but also, to take the quote of Ben Harper a little further, "There's always someone younger, someone with more hunger. Don' t let it take the fight outta you". get out there and find your relevance.

peace out for now kiddos. I'm back!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

music to my ears.

alors, je suis bien reinstallé!

I am soaking up the tones of my beloved français at every moment. Both the formal langue français exchanged between strangers in public places and the rapid-fire parisien argot of mes messieurs!

likely my français is more like that one horn in the village band that is sadly out of tune and rings the sour note in an otherwise melodic ensemble.

not that I am in any way deterred from chiming in! three months sans français, either hearing or speaking, left me in fear of having lost my voice.

I remember my language professor here in France told me that many times she has observed a funny thing amongst her students. After taking a break from studying or speaking, it seems perhaps the new language returns with a force stronger than before. I am sure there is something to it ... perhaps the new data rests in the amazing organic computer we call our brain and is somehow integrated more strongly with the break.

I am finding my comprehension better than before ... my pronunciation and vocab perhaps a little ... lacking. not exactly lacking but kind of slow ... like your car in winter when first starting in the morning! Once warmed up, going strong!

also, it seems each nuance of pronunciation is more evident to me, noticing more subtleties than before and trying to commit them to memory.

just one aspect of the absolute blissful experience to have returned home, to my new land!

à trés bientôt!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

let the countdown begin.

hello dear readers. not sure how many of you regulars even remain ... no one to blame but myself for that! but I am on the downside of my stay in america and sooner than later will be reunited with my home, my life, my computer!

funny enough, I have gained about a dozen new followers while here ... with less writing than ever! hmmmm!

while here I have not had a working computer of my own and have relied upon a borrowed smartphone for online access, with the occasional borrowed moments at a laptop (such as now!). writing on a smartphone is best left to the occasional Facebook blurb or texting...at least for a non-teen like me.

but now, I am beyond excited to begin counting the days until I am home again. and looking forward to writing more. I would like to say writing more regularly, but I am loathe to put that out there and then let myself down.

so much has happened in the 3 months I've been in america (shudder). let's see... earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear meltdowns, revolutionary activity in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, more war in Libya and the Ivory coast... tea party takeovers, union dismantling, niqab ban in France, huge fire in Brantôme forests...I will probably add to this list as more appears to my feeble brain. all of it viewed from the tiny scope of an iphone screen and the welcome reportage of National Public Radio.

this stay has indeed reinforced the wisdom of my decision to move abroad. there is a sad and sickly malaise which has enveloped the country ... it is hard to describe but I would say something like a nation of people who have given up, but sadly have nowhere else to go... I fear that things are going to get quite a bit worse before the possibility of better, at least for the definition of better that me and my friends would provide.

for me, my values have veered so far beyond what america now represents that I am a bit unwelcome, even amongst my friends! I fear I'm considered a bit of weirdo, ranting about what seems so utterly wrong here. After the first few weeks I had to resolve to just shut my mouth. even my dearest lefty friends are defensive about the state of affairs and after a lot of reflection, I did indeed reach the conclusion that it is because who wants to be told how fucked up your situation is ... when you can't change your situation?

this whole tea party shift is something to see. it appears to me that the manipulation of these masses has been perfected to an art. miraculously this group has organized themselves (rich puppetmasters' funding of course has been wonderfully helpful) while the majority of poor, working and middle class individuals continue to slumber. there were some hopeful signs in Wisconsin, but the cynic in me doubts this will catch fire. I'm not sure how far the beat-down will have to go before the potential sleeping giant is prodded enough to fight back. if they even can be bothered. le sigh.

meanwhile, the corporate propaganda machine is hard at work, telling the nation (during commercials between the hundreds of reality shows like Extreme Couponing and "insert D-Celebrity Has Been Name Here" Family Fame Game) how wonderful their lives are because of XYZ Corporation's efforts. For example, Kaiser Healthcare who is helping YOU Thrive (while reaping their profits finding ways to deny your claim) or CHASE Bank, CHASE What Matters (your house through foreclosure, a prime example of what they have perfected) or GE bringing good things to light (such as their $14Billion in 2010 profits with ZERO Federal Tax paid) It would be laughable if not so tragic. And thousands and thousands of sheeple have been organized to defend to the virtual death this dysfunctional american way.

can you see why my dinner invitations dried up rather quickly?!

during all of it, my focus has been to work. there have been but a handful of days that I haven't had a project or some small job to focus on. I have sanded and repainted countless pieces of furniture, cared for numerous little people, delivered catering services, provided leasing services, helped to landscape, and provided business consulting services (déja vu). doing anything and everything to help preserve my simple little life.

I have benefited from the generosity of family and friends, and met and made several new acquaintances in the process. In fact, I even met new family members (it was always rumored my father had other offspring ... well I met a half-brother and his wife and little son ... a very nice evening was had).

I have also prepared for the coming new season for The Bohemians and I will be returning to work equally hard for a third successful year. Numerous unfinished projects await my care and attention... furniture painting, store revamping, preparation of an added furniture showroom, introduction of new artists, planting of my potager, reopening of my little abode who has enjoyed a long winter nap...

for now, I am trying to stay focused ... get it all together, finish up a long list of last minute activities ... and maintain my optimism and sense of humor.

à bientôt, mes loulous!!! xx

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

this and that.

been in the states a few weeks now, sans television or computer ... but still semi-connected via borrowed iPhone. I do have a radio (!) so I've been plugged in to KPFA (public radio) and NPR and keeping updated with the whirling world changes abroad ... plus listening to some of the more radical (ha ha, for america) views expressed here in the good ole usofa.

Imagine how shocking it is to some of my French friends that I can hear the views of American socialists expressed here ... or a segment covering Marie le Pen's rise in France, replete with a snippet of the Marseillaise being sung in front of a statue of Jeanne d'Arc in Paris!!!

or that the upheavals in Egypt can be followed closely, including Aljazeera's coverage which helps ensure more than one view is presented. American is in a bit of a bind these days ... how to appear to be promoting democracy and yet the behind the scenes scrambling with their other propped-up Arab dictatorships and what to do when all of the people of these lands might have a vote and bring on board someone / some regime that doesn't lockstep with our voracious oil appetite or blind support of Israel.

Yes, here in the states we have slivers of liberals around who guard their Socialist views with pleasure!! count me in but my views are no longer very guarded, so there.

I'm not so impressed with those who think the French should do this or that simply because the rest of the world is ... ex. recent fol de rol re: retirement age. but that is no surprise to you my readers, or my social circle either. disappointing to hear some of the French shenanigans as well (ex. Michelle Alliot-Marie's foolishness ... give her the boot!).

I've little patience for those who come to France and then moan about everything that is different than where they were from ... be it politics, weather, the local restaurant or whatever else.

on the plus side, the weather has been phenomenal ... sunny blue skies each and every day. last week-end, in the high 70s. Was fun helping Johnelle prepare for the Alameda Antique Fair (also known as one of the biggest, most amazing vide-greniers EVAH and that includes those in France). Got to help prepare / finish several pieces which all sold like hotcakes and also get lots of new inspiration for my return and little shop in Brantôme ... always fun.

knocking about, looking for some new experiences that will inform other projects on my list when I return.

Miss my puppies something terrible, Henry tells me they are french speaking now so I better step up my game or they won't understand me when I return!

I'm saving some of my socialist soapbox stuff for my next post ... get ready world .... hi hi hi!

à bientôt!

Friday, January 21, 2011


so nothing has changed. thought maybe some of the ravenous consumption monster might have been tamed a bit, but not so much it seems.

on the plane, we were a captive audience pummeled with an onslaught of offers to do what 'mericans do best. buy. shop. consume. collect. the headsets were no protection from the PA announcments encouraging people to grab that duty free magazine and shop. how easy it would be because they take credit cards. and please, consider getting another one. the handy dandy shiny United Airlines in partnership with Chase bank card where you can buy buy buy and earn miles too! Why, hold on because the hostesses will be passing out applications in just a moment. (I kid you not.)

later, a jingle came on the television screen and we were treated to a singing version of how wonderful the Sky Mall is and how we can use that United Airlines in partnership with Chase bankcard to choose from over 2,000 items in the SkyMall Magazine!! yay!!

oh and if you want food or drinks on the plane now, be advised ... they no longer accept cash only Credit Cards!!

When I bought my ticket online I had to page through 3 separate upsells from United ... more legroom, earn extra miles by paying, pay your way to the front of the check in line, and on and on and on!!

when I boarded the 2nd flight, first class was full of suits. it was one of the big 1st class sections (Dulles to SFO) and there was one lone woman. suited. All had laptops whirring and gabbed nonstop into their wireless mikes while thumb-flicking their touchscreen phones. barking orders and exchanging office gossip. who knows how many secrets could be picked up just by loitering there?

making my way to cattle class, I quit counting after about the 5th row because it seemed futile. What was I counting? why touchscreen phones of course. why was it futile? because EVERY SINGLE PASSENGER had one. and was busily doing something on it. head tucked downward eyeing the tiny screens. EVERY SINGLE ONE!

somehow, looking at all of this made me sad. I mean, it used to be me. and the fact that it isn't any more makes me happy. but it is sad to think of so many people ... driven to consume because it is the nature of the society they live in. Everyone is on the merry-go-round so it must be the place to be... when they wake up because they are pushed off at the age of 60 or so ... what will they really have? a lifetime of experiences in the office and the mall? a desk drawer rattling with a collection of outdated cellphones and other gadgets that they spent hours working to pay off the debt for?

I knew people (me included) who bragged about their airport club membership levels (premier, premier executive, million mile club) ... and strove to get to the next level. for what? a nicer drink, a bigger seat? never thinking about the true cost of that badge of honor...the hours logged for meaningless miles to even more meaningless meetings. nights in stale hotels. poor health from restaurant food and minimal activity...or better yet, hours on a stair machine heading nowhere fast.

well. in spite of the crisis. unemployment. etc etc. my little slice revealed nothing remarkably different than witnessed before. the same onslaught of ads and flashing light posters and endless airport boutiques hawking all the latest. kind of turned my stomach to see the kiosk boasting "green products, products to make your life better" but as I grew closer it was just an assortment of clothes and chatchkes and more stuff ... stuff that will end up in a landfill some day and really stuff that was dubiously green (in my opinion). le sigh.

want to hear something ironic? the movie on the flight was Wall Street 2.

it was, however, quite lovely to see and hug my daughter after I landed.

ciao, more to come ...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

california here I come ...

well, I am off to California for a bit. I leave tomorrow morning and will be stateside by Thursday night.

I have a variety of tasks to address there including some preparation and research for this summer's projects. I will be starting in the bay area and hope to get up to Oregon while there.

Like last time, it will be much less of a vacation than a working visit ... I go with high hopes to accomplish many things on my list and return ready to attack my third business season in France.

I will have internet access throughout the trip and will be posting updates of my escapades.

Haven't yet left and already missing all of my favorite french things ... le sigh ..

à bientôt!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


miam miam, how did I forget to have raclette for the three years I have lived here? I had completely lost track of how deliciously simple it can be ... I had it once on vacation here in Paris, wow seems ages ago.

he did it right ... big platter of charcuterie. tiny potatoes, buttery and warmly cooked to perfection. a salad as only a frenchman can toss. loads of tiny cornichons. and a pile of cheese, waiting to be melted and slathered over everything!!!

oh and of course a little red. and a little rosé. dessert of dried figs.

after, nearly comatose. until out came the beranic (sp?) tabletop bowling game.

oh and of course music. lots of music.

always a party with jean yves. lots of cheesy goodness .. heehee! :P

Thursday, January 6, 2011

um .... not!

just another small chuckle from ma belle France ... observed while driving through a village in the North of France. Quite large poster in a window proclaiming " S U B T I L" ... mais au contraire ! of course the models are anything but!

j'adore ma nouvelle pays!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1.1.11 !!

quelle bonne date ! un vrai bon présage pour la nouvelle année...il me semble comme un bon présage, une date qui signifié tous les premiers et qui m'inspire à essayer beaucoup de choses sur ma liste des idées pour un vie très vivant.

je voudrais vous montrer deux sites très cool, sur des personnes qui ont decidés de suivre leurs rêves.

Le premier, un couple qui ont acheté un catamaran et font un voyage dans le Pacifique avec leurs deux petits enfants!!! CLIQUE ICI POUR REGARDER LEURS BLOGUE "Sauvageon dans le Pacifique".

et le deuxième ... un autre jeune couple qui. pour les dernières deux années. ont voyager à travers le monde avec le plus petit argent imaginable! ils ont visité 15 pays jusqu'à maintenant. Je pense qu'il y en aura beaucoup plus dans l'avenir! CLIQUE ICI POUR REGARDER LEUR BLOGUE "Elierre les pieds sur Terre".

prends un café et prépare toi à devenir inspiré!!!

(for my english speaking readers, since I realize I do not have an english translator presently)

I will be trying again, from time to time, to write some posts in French. seemed fitting to do so today, on the first day of the new year.

basically I have written that I really like today's date ... 1.1.11 and for me it is an omen of good things to come. it makes me think of firsts and my ongoing list of ideas of things I want to experience yet in life. todayès date inspires me to revisit that list and choose some things that make life more than just existence ... more exciting and real.

I have shared links to 2 sites of people who are doing just that ... first a couple who bought a catamaran and are taking a year to sail in the Pacific with their 2 small children ...

the 2nd is by a young couple, also traveling a different road ... literally. they have visited 15 countries ... mostly on bicycles and with change in their pockets. when the change runs out, they stop and find work to refuel their tank, so to speak.

the links are up there and, although the blogs are in french, the pictures alone make them worth a visit.µ

so take a look and get inspired!!!! no regrets, right?