Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer history

My blog functions more as a history book than an up to the minute blog....but what to do, i yam what i yam...
So randomly, here are some snapshots of the highlights of June, July and August 2010

Dad xox

Dad, dear ol' brave, wonderful Dad...For those of you who don't know, my incredibly courageous 82 year old father took a transatlantic flight, a Madrid to Barcelona commuter flight and a 4 hour less-than-smooth ride in our 1978 Deux Chevaux to arrive to our little village a mile high in the mountains. It turned out to be a challenging visit that involved two ambulance rides for Dad due to health issues but at the end of the day, all turned out all right and we had the wonderful opportunity and honor to share our new life here with Dad. Now Dad is home and doing well back in the US....From bottom up: 82 year old man attacked by abstract art; Guillaume naturally on his best behaviour with his father-in-law in town; My dad's sweet, tender smile; Guillaume behaving himself for real with Dad

Cousins, the other Generation

This summer Alex, my cousin Betsy's son, came to visit. A couple of days later my cousin Nancy's daughter Brooke arrived for a visit. Both visits were loads of fun and an opportunity to get to know two fantastic beings in the next generation. Somehow Alex snuck off without a photo, but here's Brooke (with a couple of Guillaume's paintings in the background) and her "make Martha jealous" salad....

Couzin fun

Just above: "Goat rock" just below our house was the hangout for the kids, neighbors and cousins this summer... Middle photos: Fearless leader takes bored, hormone-saturated adolescent boys hiking, Second from top photo, The wall...just outside our house where all group photos get taken.., Lastly, top photo, "No comment..." (;

After the rain

The day before the kids left, dramatic storms that suddenly lifted in the evening to an eerie light and a dramatic rainbow...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bowser and Pouf-Pouf

Here Bowser is demonstrating Pouf-Pouf's effectiveness as a matress...


Here's a close-up of either Heckyl or Jeckyl (frankly very hard to tell them apart) and Bowser

Kitty Pile

Here's Pouf-Pouf and Cookie in the foreground, Heckyl and Jeckyl in the middle and Bowser in the back.

Babies having babies

We had a pool going, the entire neighborhood had bet on how many kittens Camembert would have and what day. Everyone guessed various dates but the consensus was either 2 or 3 babies with the exception of my landlords' daughter Marine, who is 12 and has lived her whole life in the country here. She asked to see Camembert took a long look at her belly, the swagger of her hips and said quietly but definitely, "Cinq, le 20 juillet." Well, okay little neighborhood veternarian, 5 babies (NONE of us believed her) on the 20th. And voila, that's exactly how it was.
Congratulations, by the way, to my sister Carol and my neighbor Didier who also correctly guessed the 20th.
So yes, Camembert had her babies. Being only 7 months old herself, I really wasn't sure how my teen mom was going to do with it all.
I can only say then that I was exceedingly proud of her because she has been an incredibly devoted mom. Her waters broke and she woke me up for the birth. I carried her to the cardboard box I had prepared. She took a sniff or two, decided it wasn't the Ritz but it would do and settled in. Not long after the first arrived. Not breathing. She began to bite Cookie's hind legs (black and white one named by Marianne), which effectively stimulated movement and soon after breath. She licked Cookie very vigorously, gave birth to the placenta, yum-yum ate it up and then relaxed a short while until Heckyl and Jeckyl (the two black ones) arrived close together. Next came the fluffy grey one, which we named Pouf-Pouf and now affectionately have nicknamed Matela (means mattress) as he is large and soft and the others like to sleep on him. Last but not least Bowser (named by Matthieu in honor of Mario games) the grey, black, white striped one who curiously has a black "M" on his face.
After the birth, Camembert was incredibly devoted, leaving rarely to do the necessary or quickly eat, nursing nearly continually the first two days. The maternal instinct was just there, strong and fierce. On the other hand, it was curious and touching that being the little teen mom that she was, she seemed to feel a little overwhelmed about her new role and if I left her alone too long in the room she would come out and meow plaintively at me to come. Nothing was wrong with the babies, she just seemed to need her doula to spend a little postpartum time with her. So for the first two days, I spent most of my time laid out on a comforter on the floor by her birthing bed, stroking her and talking to her and making sure she had plenty of food and water (Almost immediately she was back to or probably below her pregnancy weight, another true sign she's a teen mom!!)
BTW, sadly my fotos and videos that I took the first few days after the birth mysteriously disappeared so these are about at 7 to 8 days old. They are probably about 4 times their birth size already here. In the beginning they really looked more like little scrawny mice!

Domestic Bliss--An after photo

Aerial view

She's a moving target but I tried to get a photo of Camembert's belly in the days just before she gave birth

Domestic Bliss --A before photo

Friday, August 6, 2010

Death to Lists (um, for now)

Last night I made the radical decision to call a moratorium on listmaking. For those of you who know me well, you know just how radical this is. I write to do lists for the day, week, month, season. Grocery lists. Things-to-remember-to-do-and-buy-when-I return-to-the-US lists. An Amazon wishlist. Write on my hand because "uh-oh i don't want to forget that" lists. Dreams and goals lists.
I'm exhausted.
So after a mostly glorious month (I say mostly because there were some uncomfortable adjustments to the sudden dawning of Matthieu's adolescence....), the kids left on Tuesday. And in the empty quiet of the house, I looked very deeply at how I was living my life.
And what I saw was that those lists were crushing the essence of my life energy. While, yes, they have an important function, to not forget important things, to be productive, to be efficient, they were so ruling me, I was so enslaved, that I had lost the creative flow of my own natural energy, my own beingness.
I decided that listmaking was a killjoy in my life. A pesticide that killed the wild growth of my soul.
So....I decided that today, for now, for the rest of this month of August, I will be a list-less(but hopefully not listless) fool surfing the waves of my own inspiration and intuition. Not to say that the health insurance forms don't need to get filed and the English classes prepped and the unemployment yaddah-yaddah yadded.
But I recognized my obsessive listmaking was based on a gaping fear. That there was no ground beneath me. That if I don't make the right decisions, on-time, in the right order, I will perish. A deep lack of trust in Life and Self.
So I am making a radical decision to Trust. And breathe.
And August, in a small town in the middle of nowhere, where they don't even sell calendars, when I'm only working 2 days a week, seems a pretty safe place and time to experiment with this.
Here's five things I feel about just kidding, really, kind of...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Barcelona visit with Jane, David, Macky and Royer April 2010

She lives, she breathes

Well, it's been a little over three months since my last post.
To summarize, since my last post on US tax day, we went to Barcelona and saw dear friends Jane, David, Macky and Royer (fabulous); came home to a high wind storm that dumped 8 inches of snow and realized with a sinking feeling that May here was not yet spring...; had a wonderful visit with Anne Helene and Eric (G's sister and brother in law), which we had thought would be about backpacking and picnicking, such innocents we were back then!, and ended up being mostly cardplaying, hot springs and restaurants as inclement weather locked us in; went to the US and packed in Emma's (niece) college graduation, Kimberly's (niece) high school graduation and final dance recital, and then packed Dad and I up and brought us back here. Had a not completely smooth visit (poor Dad had one ambulance ride and one hospital visit while here) but even so wonderful, then visits from my cousin Betsy's son Alex, followed by my cousin Nancy''s daughter Brooke, and then the children arrived with their Mom Murielle and boyfriend Bruno. Kids are still here and having a fabulous time with their cousins. Meanwhile my little kitty managed to go astray and come back pregnant so she is currently a lady=in=waiting and we have a major neighborhood bet going on for when and how many little ones.
Seven months of winter is long. But now the days are unbelievably gorgeous. I have returned to a paradise.
Stay tuned for more posts, more frequently. And kittens?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Blizzard of March

In March, we had the biggest snow of the year, a metre dropped over a day and a half of constant snowing.
Here's a few photos (taken from the view from the new apartment)


The week between Christmas and New Years, our little pad became hangout central. Here with my sister-in-law Anne-Helene, and brothers-in-law Eric and Gregoire. The kids are hanging out in the background!

Volcanic winter sunrise

It's a cold, rainy, truly awful day. I'm waiting for Guillaume and the kids to arrive. I left the house briefly against my will to buy bread in honor of their arrival. No bread would be no big deal in my life. But to my French beloved ones, no bread is a CRISIS and could transform me instantly into Marie Antoinette in a revolution re-enactment. Not good. In Europe, history is only a breath, or sometimes a baguette, away.

So I'm home, making a cup of coffee, and have decided to snuggle up to the computer and post a couple of random photos that didn't get shared earlier. Voila. Enjoy

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wild Kingdom

That's right folks, it's a regular Mutual of Omaha program here. My little kitten's in heat!! And she's only 4 months old. They grow up so fast these days...

Caterwauling. Cat-a-wailing. Got the etymology lesson, now when will it stop? According to my google search, guaranteed within 4 a few weeks.

Just called Guillaume at the hotel (he's missing all the fun--on road trip to pick up the kids) to let him know that his cat is insane...

We had no idea that kittens went into heat so young. Camembert is going to have her first doctor visit very soon.
p.s. Mimi -Thanks for requesting a foto of Camembert. Here she is, her insane self!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Les Angles--View from the Old Apartment

Going Backwards--Moving in, The old Apartment

As promised, at long last, I am going to start adding photos.

Going backwards, here's the first apartment, normally a tourist rental by the week. Wonderful big windows but ill-equipped.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Joyeuses Paques!

I'm here, I'm back! Perhaps this is just a holiday blog, as my last entry was for the new year...
So now it's Easter, sign of spring, symbol of rebirth, and here, it snowed last night....
So if I had had the time to write these past few months here, the entries would have been something like, "Cold here today, worked twelve hours, seem to have a problem with my shoes" ..."Really cold here today, shorter day, 10 hours, feet hurt"..."Delivery day. 28 rolls. Started at 5 30am, finished at 9pm. Feet hurt." "Getting used to cold! -4 now seems like a warm morning", etc. Consider yourself filled in and lucky to have missed out on posts such as these!
High season is truly a marathon (from Dec 1 - Feb 28 we had three days off, one of which we moved), but I enjoyed the challenge and my work colleagues made it fun. One last post-script on the winter season: as a special newcomer's welcome, this winter was the coldest one here since 1967.
As of March 31st, I'm no longer working in the grocery store, (just working two days a week teaching English) so now we are beginning the other side of the tourist town rhythm. And I am, quite frankly, ready.
I live in the Capcir, the name for this high plateau tucked among the mountain peaks. (which by the way, is also nicknamed the little Siberia of France) Originally, there were 13 villages here, of which only 10 remain today. One disappeared due to the plague (only two women survived), one due to war, and Creu, they don't know why. But if you ask me, it's because it's just too windy there. The ruins of Creu are just the other side of the lake, and Guillaume and I drove over and walked in to the remaining rock towers and walls of the original castle. Hard for me to conceptualize that I am walking on the ground of a village that was officially recognized in 965....As always, we forgot to bring the camera, but I will go back soon and take photos as it is beautiful in a spare way: grayish-yellow granite, some partially covered with bright orange or green lichen surrounded by heather-dusty green fields.
On the way there, I was thrilled to see a few white and purple wildflowers bravely pushing up and on the way back, we spied the furry and skeletal remains of a deer. Signs of the cycle of death and rebirth everywhere.
On the domestic front, Guillaume and I moved again, "en pleine saison", the beginning of February. A better-equipped apartment, on the other side of town. Most things remained in storage or very roughly moved in. So now we are rolling up our sleeves, emptying the reserve, building shelves for our books (mostly Guillaume's, he has about 600). It is currently chaos--half unpacked boxes everywhere as we reorganize, but it feels so good to finally really settle in. (As a consequence of the move, we were without internet for a month. Who knew it took so long to move service a half mile across town...)
And last, but not least, Camembert! In February, we had some extreme days. When I would walk to work in the morning, it was -17, a fierce horizontal wind making it impossible to see and throwing up "turbillons", tornados, of snow. During that week, the employees of the ski shop next to the grocery store discovered a little black kitten that didn't have the reserves to survive such extremes. The mother was too wild to take in, but they rescued the baby and started looking for a home for her. Guillaume and I couldn't resist, so in the middle of the busiest part of the season, while the kids were here with us, we said, YES and adopted her. She was tiny, in shock, and severely emaciated. So scared and in shock, that she would fight me to eat. I had to swaddle her in a towel like a little baby and force-feed her with a syringe. With the advice of others, I finally stumbled on the key--tuna water. It turned her desire to eat back on. Now six weeks later, she is loving, adventurous, has tripled in size and constantly wants to eat! Guillaume and I brainstormed all kinds of cool names, but somehow Camembert (the stinky cheese from Normandy) stuck. Guess it's a good thing we never had children, God bless the unborn Brie and Stilton.
I've been promising since I arrived here, but now I mean it: Photos coming soon!! Love to all xox

Friday, January 8, 2010

Meilleur Voeux! Best Wishes!

Well, Happy New Year, folks! Wishing love, contentment, creativity, joy and peace to all.
The last time I wrote was December 19th. And indeed directly after that post, I descended into a two week marathon, working 90-100 hours a week, in addition to the children and other relatives staying with us in our one bedroom apartment. Challenging, joyful, nerve-breaking, limit-blasting, spiritually invigorating, hilarious, ridiculous, exhausting...
We are coming to, have refound ourselves, refound the apartment floor, discovered and hazmat-ed mysteries of the unexplained in the refrigerator...All's good.
The past two days it has snowed continuously. The temperature at 5pm this evening was -9 C. That converts to COLD in fahrenheit, tres cold. Luckily, there was a brisk wind to keep things interesting. But I had it easy as today is one of my teaching days for Speechmark so I got to stay home inside all day. And admittedly I threw caution, climate change and our electricity budget to the wind and cranked up the radiators, in addition to the obligatory, many-layered look. (No, I'm not pregnant. I'm just wearing five polar layers...)
I teach in the living room where we have set up a makeshift office--a long plank of pressed board, splashed with paint (it used to be in Guillaume's studio) supported by metal sawhorses. As I teach, I look out through a huge picture window (can you say heat loss) on to the main road going through town, which today was the hilarious sight of people crosscountry skiing on the sidewalk, children sledding on the street and cars occasionally taking predominance.
I keep promising photos. I'm having technical difficulties (what else is new?) And Guillaume and I and sufficient energy for such a project seem never to be simultaneously available. But it will happen (i won't promise when...) A bien tot!