Browsing Posts published in October, 2011

Anyone who knows my mother-in-love (MIL) would agree that she’s a pretty cool customer. She’s warm and funny, supportive and wise and one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. She’s also a total babe and plays the double base in a jazz group but that’s beside the point. She’s been a psychologist, a music teacher, a museum docent and apparently now dabbles in some light trafficking.

Today I arrived home to find this in my mailbox: Continue reading “Food And Drug Administration” »


Many, many moons ago I sat in the dark of the LSPU Hall in St. John’s watching a young man (then part of a comedy group called Corey and Wade’s Playhouse) pretend to commit suicide in a giant garbage bag. It was love at first sight and oddly enough I knew he’d go far.

Fast forward a couple of decades and you’d be hard pressed to find a Canadian who doesn’t know and love him and as for Newfoundlanders, we’d probably sell him the island for a dollar and let him run it however he saw fit. He’s so famous now that I wouldn’t dare write a book as a Newfoundlander and not mention him (“We are famous for our ranting and roaring, well Rick Mercer is famous for it …”).

He hosts a weekly political comedy show called The Mercer Report which sees him doing everything from convincing former premiers to go skinny dipping with him to making sandwiches in the Prime Minister’s kitchen (with the Prime Minister of course).

But the best thing he does is a segment called his ‘Rant’. He walks through a graffiti lined alley and lets ‘er rip on whatever happens to be getting his goat at the moment. He’s always manages to be humourous and ironic yet never fails to shoot through the rhetoric and hit the bullseye of common sense; serving up a barrage of health food disguised as a double chocolate donut. And yesterday I caught his latest on You Tube and I am compelled to share it here. I’ll tell you why after you’ve seen it. Continue reading “Rick Mercer’s War On Terror” »


Blogs For Dummies

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So yesterday I was whining to Duchess Downith that I had absolutely nothing to write about today. Rien, tapped out. In a manner entirely befitting her royal highness she reminded me of her post called It’s The Library Stupid. Then she told me to stop being such a baby and drag my bony yet somehow simultaneously flabby arse up to my local library. She used clever tactics like multiple exclamation points and ‘seriously’.

I told her that I already had plans to go to the gym but then she broke out the tough love. “Do both,” she said. “Choose life,” she said. That’s the trouble with the Duchess, she’s very convincing and always right. So after I hit the gym (where there was actually another woman (!), naturally the most beautiful and fit woman in all of France but still) I made my way in the pouring rain to la bibliothèque. Continue reading “Blogs For Dummies” »


Playing The Field

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Let me start by saying that I love my husband. I do. Really I do. Okay now that that’s out the way let’s get to the heart of the matter shall we?

My current husband is actually my second. My first, affectionately known as my practice husband (ex-husband is just so cliché), was and I imagine still is a lovely person but he was without a doubt Canadian to the core and by that I mean obsessed with hockey. I’ll spare you the gory details but I will say that there was many a Saturday night when I weighed the legal ramifications of a psychiatrist slipping her mate a Prozac cocktail against the preservation of her own sanity. Continue reading “Playing The Field” »


Real Men Eat Tarte

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Not long after we arrived here on the Rue I noticed that a house across the street, previously shuttered up tight, was slowly coming to life. Each day out came a serious looking fellow of a difficult to say age with a thick gray mustache and beard and a myriad of tattoos. He wore exotic leather sandals with soles that curled up over his toes, you know the kind you see on movie characters who ride Arabian horses through the desert and cut people’s heads off with giant curled swords. In my head he was mysterious, dangerous even and I had all kinds of wild stories attached to him.

Despite my intrigue, timidity trumped curiosity so I never got beyond a quiet bonjour to him. Then one day Neil and I were huffing up the hill and there he was again. He stopped in the middle of the street and offered us a deep and solemn bonjour and said, “Jean-Claude.” Finally someone in France opens with their name. He paused for a moment, looked at us intensely, “Do you like apples?” Of course we like apples. Then he raised his large arm and with a toss of his hand directed us to his truck.

Next thing I knew we were driving up the road with this stranger who in my mind was the local mafioso bringing the feckless immigrants to a local dog fight arena. He stopped in front of a large plot of land full of bushes and trees and got out. Curious indeed. I decided to trail behind the men you know just in case I had to make a break for it. Continue reading “Real Men Eat Tarte” »


Timing Is Everything

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It’s entirely likely that I am a raving lunatic. Just a few days ago I formally declared myself a writer which is sort of true. Apart from eating and butchering a romantic language I spend most of my time tick tacking away writing silly stuff on the internet. Of course it’s not actually a career or even a job, more of a hobby gone wild.

I’m not one of those people who started writing because they had some calling to do so. I left my job on a Friday and the following Monday morning I started writing. I just sat down and started typing. And truth be told I can’t even type very well so these doodles take about 12-14 hours to actually take shape. Okay maybe I’m exaggerating a little but not much. I certainly never thought I’d ever write for a living and so far I must say that while the hours are great the payscale needs some work.

When I was in high school I did one of those career aptitude tests and the results suggested two careers for me, military commander or florist. Hmm, creative yet obsessively neat with a tendency towards spiky hair, not far off I’d say. But really I wanted to be a performer, sketch comedy preferably; too tall. I wanted to be a music producer; too afraid of the required cocaine use. I wanted to own an art gallery; too afraid of artists. I wanted to be a gardener; too fond of clean nails. But mostly the one thing I always dreamed of was owning a bookstore. Continue reading “Timing Is Everything” »


Half Full

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My friends Madame Giraffe was an enterprising little lady this past Friday, busy with something that actually required her to get dressed. You see I went to a meeting where I singlehandedly redefined optimism. Of course in my world singlehandedly means Neil doing all the work and me taking all the credit but I digress.

I dolled myself up and went to see Rusty’s French accountant to create what’s called an Autoentreprise. That’s French for a set-up for self employed people that allows them to be paid and then receive all the benefits a semi-socialist republic has to offer. Now if that’s not optimistic I don’t know what is. I mean who the hell will ever pay me for anything remains a mystery but here in France hope springs eternal. Continue reading “Half Full” »


À La Mode

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à la mode

  1. Fashionable; in the current style or fashion.
  2. (US) Served with ice cream.

Ah leave it to the Americans to turn a French phrase for style into a lump of ice cream on pie. But who am I to talk? The second definition fits me far better than the first. I’m into this today because I’ve been cleaning out my email trash folder and my closet. The first project led me to a site called My Habit which is neither a place for cocaine addicts nor a discount store for nuns. It is an online shopping site where one can find incredible bargains, like a purple Roberto Cavalli gown for the low, low price of 900 bucks.

Shows you what I know, to me it was nothing more than a prom dress gone hideously wrong. In fact I wouldn’t have the first clue about what’s ‘in style’, never have. All I know is that any time I see someone supposedly chic they always look like a $10 dollar hooker (what is with the shoes nowadays?) which only proves that I am officially an old bat. Continue reading “À La Mode” »


Grape Expectations

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Did I ever tell you that I enjoy a glass of wine from time to time? Actually anytime is wine o’clock in France. I’ve seen glasses tipped as early as 9 in the morning, hardcore even by Newfie standards. I haven’t worked up to that pace yet but I will say this, the best wine I’ve ever had in my life is made right here in Burgundy. I’m partial to the whites and they’re enough to make me believe that my mid-life melodrama was a stroke of genius. Never mind that I’ve neither paycheck nor purpose; great wine for only a few euros, no real need to be sober and nothing but time on my hands, it’s the perfect situation.

Wine is big, no make that huge, business here and has been going on long before Jesus was even a gleam in god’s eye. Thomas Jefferson himself stocked his cellar from Burgundy wine producers whose ancestors to this day craft some of the world’s most prestigious vintages. The grand harvest or les vendages as the French call it has come and gone. Of course I was too busy sipping wine to go down to the big vineyards but even here in Semur one can connect to the art of le vin.

Just beyond this ancient door, one of my favourite neighbourhood sights, is a small vineyard owned by two lovely Americans who are part of the international group drawn back year after year to this great town. Continue reading “Grape Expectations” »


Reality Estate

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Oh don’t you just love October? The only thing I love more is September. Here’s a little piece of French fall in all its glory.

Just over the Pont Pinard, that famous Semur landmark and site of my recent joy attacks, sits this amazing maison that apparently dates back to the middle ages. It’s an incredible building and here’s the real kicker, right now it’s for sale. The list price is 179,000 euros, not a bad deal at all for this part of France but unless they drop the price a bit, say down to $1.79, I’m out. Of course there’s another reason I’m out. Continue reading “Reality Estate” »


Living My Life

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Despite any evidence to the contrary I don’t have a whole lot going on from day to day. I just go about my life; doing laundry, eating my face off, writing and watching old episodes of Arrested Development and Mary Tyler Moore thanks to the miracle of Apple TV. A fairly mundane state of being by anyone’s standards.

The other day a lovely woman in Chicago sent me an email that said I was living her dream. But I suspect if she hung out with me for a day or two she’d be bored to sobs and race back to her thrilling big city life where women wear hooker shoes and go out for cocktails on Thursday nights. One woman’s dream is likely another woman’s cauchemar (nightmare), yet another stunning example of the useless French words I know.

But hum-drum days aside there is the odd dream being realized over here. Not long ago I put a year in France under my belt and so far that’s pretty high up on my ‘things I’ve always wanted to do’ list. And today I’m crossing off another one, ‘someday I’d like to write a book’. Now I’m not saying it’ll ever be anything other than a pile of kindling but who cares? The point is that I wrote it, all 65,000 words of it. It was a lot of work and it took a lot of time but I loved every minute of it. Okay not the minutes where I nearly tore all my hair out because I don’t really know how to use Word but all the rest were a pleasure. Continue reading “Living My Life” »


I’m a busy little beaver this week trying to turn a blog into a book which in my case involves wading through thousands of photos, literally. I thought I had it all settled but Rusty keeps showing me one lovely snapshot after another and I can’t decide which ones I want to use.

So instead of a load of words today I offer you this photo taken early this morning at our beloved boulangerie…

I only wish we had smellovision because you can’t begin to imagine how good it smells in here. Who has the perfect words for this picture?


All my life I’ve been that 90 pound weakling desperately trying to keep a bit of weight on while the rest of world packs on the pounds just from gazing at a donut. But since moving to France I’ve discovered even I can gain weight as long as the right tonnage of dough is ingested. I’ve also discovered that I’m very easily intimidated in this new culture. I think it’s mostly about language but it’s also about everything being so different from what I’m used to.

Take a simple thing like going to the gym. I’ve finally returned to regular workouts, congratulate me please. Apart from being proud of myself for shifting my attention from the bakery to strength training, I’m also proud that I’m no longer feeling ridiculously lily-livered every time I go. But let me tell you it was no easy feat.

For the last 12 years I’ve worked out in gyms exclusively for women and I liked it that way. Never mind the gawking, it was all the grunting and groaning that finally did me in. But there’s only one gym around these parts and there’s no escaping the big boys at this one, not even in the change rooms, or should I say room as there is only one. So far driving home soaked in sweat is working out just fine. Continue reading “The Politesse Of Pumping Iron” »


Double Take

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No matter how many French language CDs I listen to, no matter how many verb tenses I learn something always catches me out. This sign in town still gets me every time.

Here’s where a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I knew the word bois meant wood long before I knew the word tampon meant stamp. Now that’s medieval.

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