Browsing Posts published in January, 2012

Alone Time

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OMSJ. That’s text-talk for Oh My Sweet Jaysus, for those occasions when OMG just isn’t quite enough. For the past two weeks, two effin’ weeks, I’ve been here on my own. Neil has been in Canada again, bastard. My christ, if the nuns who educated me could hear the mouth on me now. God love him, off working like a dog to keep me afloat. So probably bastard isn’t quite the word I’m looking for.

For the first few days it was fine, less laundry, fewer dishes, no need for personal hygiene, no snoring, well, none that I’m aware of. A veritable paradise right? I had time to become swiftly addicted to Downton Abbey (I now answer only to Lady Bobbi). As any husband worthy of my love and admiration would, he left me in good shape foodwise. Like a faithful housewife from the 50’s he filled the freezer with individually packaged meals. Soups and stews were lovingly prepared, even the wine rack was stocked with my favourites.

I was particularly looking forward to a ziploc bag jammed full with butternut squash and ginger soup, one of his specialties. I know you’re thinking how hard can it be to make supper from a bag but it’s actually harder than you think. Especially when you open the fridge to see that thick, bright yellow liquid has managed to find its way out of the bag and on to everything in sight. And after that things just went downhill. Continue reading “Alone Time” »


Clean-Up In Aisle 7

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Well, I always say you can take the girl out of the locked psychiatric unit but you can’t take the locked psychiatric unit out of the girl. I’ve witnessed many a display of out of control behaviour in my day. You name it, I’ve seen it. But yesterday was a first for me.

There I was minding my own business at the Intermarché caisse (that’s French for big chain grocery store checkout) with my bananas and tortilla chips. Of course I also had my Special K but I did not have my milk as fresh milk appears here sporadically which drives me right round the friggin’ pipe and is a story for another day. Anyway, I was enjoying the view of my favourite checkout lady (40 pounds of makeup, dangly rhinestone earrings, leopard print scarf over the supermarket uniform) when the great ruckus began. Continue reading “Clean-Up In Aisle 7” »


Some Style To Her

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That’s Newfounese for ‘My, my she’s looking well put together indeed’. Now I’ve shared my fascinating perspective on French style before. But I’ve been studying les femmes for over a year now and much like the language I still have no inkling whatsoever how it works, that effortless chic that 99% of the women here display on a regular basis. I remain the poster girl for the other 1%. But then a golden opportunity arose.

France has a unique retail practice. Twice a year everything on French soil goes on sale and I mean SALE. Les Soldes are serious business, 50-80 % off is common and not just the ugly crap that’s been gathering dust. The really good stuff is priced to move. Anyway, Mademoiselle Elodie invited me to Dijon (aka the big city) with her for a day of shopping. Mais oui mon amie! 

I was beyond excited with this prospect. Okay, I haven’t totally lost it yet. I’m well aware that the line next to ‘2011 income’ on my tax return will look like this: $0.00 but the thrill for me was the chance to watch a French woman shop. I knew at long last all secrets would be revealed. I would carefully observe her, taking note of every twist and turn. What colors? What fabrics? What stores? Oh yes, IT IS ON. I would come home sans boxes and bags but with a PhD in chic.

Ah well, the best laid plans. Sadly by the time the day rolled around I was a tad under the weather, nothing serious but enough to prevent a day of power shopping. Oh how disappointing. The next round of sales isn’t until June. I spent the day watching Downton Abbey marveling at the costumes and jewelry while cursing my fate. As the moon rose I ambled out of bed and traded flannel pajamas for trusty sweats. And just as I’d accepted my fate as the dowdy mistress of my little manor, the doorbell rang.

There was Mademoiselle loaded down with bags. In she came and laid all her treasures before me. Black ankle boots, a supple grey handbag du jour, blouses, dresses, sweaters, Chanel perfume (of course) and finally the staple of the French woman, les foulards- scarves. It is indeed the scarf that separates the women from the girls in France (and the men from the boys for that matter). It had been my plan to buy one thing and one thing only on this excursion, a scarf.

Naturally I’d have Elodie teach me that dark art of how to make it seem as if a breeze had tossed it around my neck. As I was admiring her clever purchases she handed me this …

And inside was this …

I hadn’t even told her of my foulard master plan. That’s how good they are, they just know exactly what to buy. She said it was the perfect colour for my hair and that if I couldn’t go to the sales then the sales would just have to come to me. Now that’s style.


Cover Girl

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Well, this giraffe has been a busy beaver (now there’s a visual for you). This week has been all about the blook. As things move along I’m becoming more and more aware that this is actually happening. The big news is that the cover design has been finalized and now just needs some minor tweaking here and there. I must say it’s not at all what I first imagined but I think it’s a winner. And no, I’m not showing you yet so stop looking at me like that. You crowd have already read most of the book so I have to keep a few surprises in store.

It’s all so surreal. I talk to my editor (she’s a sweetheart) on the phone and we hammer out this detail and that detail but I still have no concept of this coming to pass, a theme that has emerged in my life ever since I turned it upside down. I haven’t read the book since early December and for all I know it’s a nightmare. But I don’t care. If I start reading it now I know I’ll go all medieval on it, plundering and pillaging it from start to finish. It’s a sickness this compulsive need to change. So it’s best that I leave that file untouched. It is what it is. Continue reading “Cover Girl” »


Tick Tock

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I’ve told you before but I’ll tell you again, I am childless by choice. Not once in all my 40 odd years has it ever occurred to me to have a youngster. I’ve never minded going through the motions of reproduction (depending on who else was in the room at the time of course) but I’ve never wanted anything beyond a slight sweat and a craving for cookies as the outcome. But lately I can hear a soft ticking that heralds a change in priorities.

Perhaps it’s all these major life changes that I’ve made in the last year and a half. Perhaps it’s a newfound appreciation for things beyond myself. Or perhaps it’s too many re-runs of Frasier. Lately, every time I watch my two favourite psychiatrists in the finest display of neurosis ever captured on film, I find myself distracted. All I can take notice of is Eddie, the Jack Russell terrier who never fails to charm me into a swoony state of longing. Yes, my dogological clock has been wound tight and is keeping time with alarming precision. Continue reading “Tick Tock” »


Love-Hate Relationship

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Ye crowd know I’m all about the joy and god knows I can flap my gums with the best of them but I have nothing to say today because a bookstore in Toronto called Type says it much better than I ever could.

I love language …

And just in case you’re wondering how the French is coming along I’ve decided to take a new approach.

I hate language …



License To Kill

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I’m not sure who I want to beat with a stick until they’re dead, the province of Nova Scotia or the French version of the Department of Motor Vehicles. At this point either will do. When I left the homeland to seek fame and fortune in a medieval French town, I boarded the plane safe in the knowledge that no detail had been overlooked. I knew that I had done everything in my power to secure a smooth transition. And so begins the cautionary tale …

Ages ago we each applied for a permis de conduire, otherwise known as a driver’s license. Of course we knew that France and Canada have an agreement to exchange licenses. Then we each received a registered letter informing us that Nova Scotia is the only Atlantic province that was not part of the agreement. That we didn’t know. Neil’s letter said (in bold print) that he was no longer able to drive legally in France. Very bad news for those of us who enjoy the privilege of being shuttled around. My letter offered me a few more months behind the wheel but the bottom line was the same. Ze French do not want us on ze road. Continue reading “License To Kill” »


Don’t Fence Me In

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Robert Frost once wrote that good fences make good neighbours. Well, today I say au contraire. I have decided that good gifts are all it takes. Monsieur Jean-Claude and Madame Jacqueline have finally returned to the Rue after their long sojourn in Morocco. And they came bearing this …

This is an authentic tagine, the original slow cooker used to make all kinds of exotic and aromatic dishes all throughout North Africa. I’m waiting for that husband of mine to get busy with the hundreds of meals I’ve already carefully planned in my head.

And as if that wasn’t enough to drag back all the way to France for the two Canadians across the street, Madame et Monsieur presented Neil with these …

Oh yes, Rusty of Arabia. Handmade right in their Moroccan village. And if you think these can’t be outdone just feast your eyes upon the ones I got…

I’m thinking I’ll have to get a whole new wardrobe for these. I mean I ask you, how sweet are these people? As they were walking out the door JC reached into his pocket and said, “Oh I almost forgot,” as he pulled out a bag of Moroccan cinnamon, Neil’s favourite addition to his morning oatmeal. Sweet indeed.



Sometimes I think the entire country of France is obsessed with pastry. No wait, that’s just me. Any day of the year one can satisfy even the most severe of cravings but on January 6, known to religious types as The Epiphany, the French roll out a special one. It’s called the galette des rois, or king cake and there’s no escaping them. The other day there must have been hundreds of them steaming on trays at the entrance of the grocery store.

So of course my better two thirds decided this was a vital element of cultural assimilation and brought one home.

Mmmm, puff pastry stuffed with frangipane (roughly the size of a North American pie). The tradition is that hidden somewhere inside is a tiny ceramic trinket. Whoever happens to find it becomes king for a day and gets to wear that gorgeous golden paper crown so conveniently provided. Of course His Highness Garbage Guts didn’t know about this piece of French folklore and he almost choked to death on a miniature figurine before he could even take his seat on the throne.

Well, that’s what you get for inhaling an entire galette without offering a single crumb to the royal taster. King for a day my arse, the odds of his coronation were exactly 100%. But this is the second galette, the great equalizer, and my friends this time he’s agreed to give me a shot at the title. If I move fast enough and find the trinket that makes me queen for the day. My decree will involve a back massage, a solid hour of him listing all the reasons why he loves me followed by a three hour discussion of the emotional dynamic of our marriage. Someone call the Guinness Book Of World Records. We’re about to see a man eat an entire cake in one bite.



Vanity Hair

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It’s been suggested to me that I spend an inordinate amount of time talking about my derrière. Guilty as charged I say. So today let me take you back to my other overused topic, my hair or mes cheveux as they say around these parts. What can I say? I lead a dull and superficial life. If it’s depth you seek go pick up some Thoreau and leave the rest of us to ponder the arse in peace.

Anyway, most of you know that I have grey hair. I’ve had it for well over a year now. In fact I had it all along just cleverly hidden by a bottle of Spiced Honey #7. Ever since deciding to go au naturel I’ve been developing a perhaps unhealthy pride about my silver strands. When I say pride I mean conceit, smugness, unabashed nauseating narcissism. It started with people commenting on it here and there, then a couple of women I know were inspired to let their grey grow out, then I got all kinds of cyber compliments and I began to believe my own press.

I cannot find one grey haired woman from my high school class, absolute proof that I rock. I’m a rebel, edgy and confident, unwilling to bow to trends and fear of aging. The other day one of the coolest guys from my high school days left a message on my Facebook page saying he thought I looked hot. In fact I think the words “aging beautifully” and “bombshell” were used. And that’s the game. I’m officially a vainglorious lunatic who thinks that my hair colour is unsurpassed by any other. Continue reading “Vanity Hair” »


Civil Disobedience

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So what was the movie that so enthralled me on my rockin’ New Year’s Eve? The Ides Of March. A political thriller long on handsome men who are short on morals and ethics. Not that an evening with Ryan Gosling and George Clooney isn’t exciting however truth be told Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman piqued my interest far more than those other two prom queens but I digress.

It was quite a good film about the bets and bluffs of big time politics and it’s a timely one for me as 2012 gets under way because this is an election year. Now for my American Finders I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, contrary to popular opinion in the land of the free, you are not actually the center of the universe. I’m talking about France. Come April and May the French will cast their ballots for president. It’s exciting because there are two women running this year. Americans, you only have one and she seems … she’s … well, if you don’t have anything nice to say, you know the rest. Continue reading “Civil Disobedience” »


Party Girl

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Ah 2011, ’tis but a memory. Certainly what I remember about last year is the stream of emails and messages from people all over the world. You’re an inspiration! You are living my dream! I’m ditching my husband and 5 kids and moving to France! I’m walking up to my boss today and telling her to stuff her shit job up her arse!

Thanks be to jaysus very few people know about this little project of mine. I imagine a wave of abandoned spouses and children around the world coupled with a new wave of unemployment and welfare dependance. Presidents and prime ministers on my doorstep ordering me to cease and desist regaling people with how wonderful it is to drop out of society.

I suppose it’s an enviable life but I can honestly say it’s often as dull as dishwater. Take New Year’s Eve. I want to tell you that I donned a sparkly second skin gown and spiky heels à la Renée Zellweger. That I was twirled about the Eiffel Tower by a dashing man in an Armani tux. That at the stroke of midnight, under a shower of fireworks, I whipped off said gown to frolic in a champagne fountain like the wild Bohemian that I am. That I dined on pheasant under glass and sipped a 1945 Rothschild from my shoe. That I was whisked off to a suite at the Plaza Athénée where the beds are covered in rose petals. The earth moves and the orchestra swells for all who are blessed enough to blow a couple of thousand euros on a shag they’ll likely never remember.

See, this is where age and experience come in handy and I’m here to tell you that I’ve learned a thing or two over the last 4 and a half decades. For starters, to pull off that dress I’d need to be encased in a neck to ankle Spanx suit of armour. My god the itching, the sweating. Heels? The blisters, the cramping calves, not to mention the backache. Bobbimodo, the new hunchback of Notre Dame.

And I can just see me splashing about in a fountain of bubbly. What fountain could possibly fit me? Picture a tangle of flailing limbs, a flesh coloured, sticky catsuit, hair plastered to my head like a silver speedo swim cap, champagne and mascara streaming from my eyes as I shriek, “Neil, it burns, it burns!” As for a man in a tux, my man doesn’t even own a tie and we can never figure out who’s leading when we dance.

Finally, there’s no way either one of us would throw away good money on a hotel room for a night of passion after that mess. We’d spend hours in the bathroom trying to peel the crusty lycra off me and then collapse from exhaustion and heartburn by the light of the top 10 goals in European football broadcast. Sure we can do that any night of the week for free.

So instead this ‘inspirational’ woman found herself enjoying a lovely dinner prepared by a sweet man in bare feet and faded blue sweatpants (mine were black, formalwear to honour the occasion). We toasted each other with a local wine, 4 euros a bottle, and forked into a fancy cake from the town bakery without even taking it out of the box. We reminisced over the year and made plans to travel in the next. We made a list of all the places we’d like to go and committed ourselves to find a way to make it happen.

Then we plopped ourselves on the couch for a movie. We were so engrossed in plot and wavy Lay’s chips that 2012 showed up without us even noticing. Finally we limped off to bed where I poked the bear every 2 hours to avoid being sucked on to his pillow by the snore vacuum. Talk about the earth moving.

Now if that doesn’t motivate a few souls to pack it all in and run away from the circus I don’t know what will. Ring a ding ding.

Notre Dame April 2011




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