Browsing Posts published in May, 2012

In case you haven’t guessed yet, I spent last weekend in Switzerland, more specifically in a town called Vevey. The weather was glorious. Each night, I sat on the balcony of our friend’s gorgeous lakeside apartment. Let me set the scene: white swans gliding over the black waters of Lake Geneva (in French, Lac Léman), me sipping a chilled local wine and tick-tacking away on my computer as sheet lightning illuminates the snow capped mountains. Bliss, I tell you, pure and simple.

I visited this town last year, known as a pearl of the Swiss Riveria, and ever since I’ve been captivated by its beauty and vibe. So much so that I am actually considering moving there. More on that line of thinking later, but for now let me show you a brief glimpse of one of my favourite places I’ve ever been.

Now I ask you, wouldn’t you want to walk here …

on your way to this … Continue reading “Paradise by the Laptop Light” »

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See here’s what I love about this crowd: you know how to take direction. Holy reviews! I knew a few of you would reward my begging and scraping, but I never dreamed so many would do it. Your reviews are amazing and heartwarming and gratefully accepted. It’s not the fact that you rated the book so highly (well, it doesn’t hurt), it’s that you took the time out of your busy lives to toss me a bit of kindness. If you all ran the world we’d have fewer wars and more funding for cool stuff like libraries and wine kiosks every 10 feet.

Anyway, I have the best followers in the blogosphere, that’s the good news. The bad news is that my non-Canadian Finders are having a hard time getting hold of the blook through Amazon. Jaysus in the garden, they are driving us all bananas. It looks like for the foreseeable future the blook can only be ordered for certain through Creative Publishing (see the link on the book page on the right).

All I can tell you is we’re working on it, but unless international publishers decide I’m worth the risk, that’s the deal. I know it costs more this way and it takes longer but what can I say? This might be the first time in history that Americans cannot get something they want right when they want it. I want to leap on a chair and shout, “Suck it up you superpower maniacs!” but because I know you already feel bad enough about Mitt Romney possibly becoming president, I’ll hold my tongue.

Now, you’ve kept up your end of the bargain and so must I. I’m still trying to get my head together on what I’m potentially cooking up. No decisions have been made and these are early days, so until I have more to say I’ll just leave you with a hint of where I spent the weekend. We have friends in Semur who have to be the kindest souls one could ever stumble across. They tossed us the keys to their second home located just across an international border and said, “Our maison is your maison.” I’m no rocket scientist but I know a good deal when it’s laid out in front of me.

Here’s the view from my weekend hideaway…

Mon dieu! What a weekend. More to come on my 3 days in heaven. Any guesses where I was?

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Road Block

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Well it only took 11 months but my dear husband is officially safe for French roads. He passed the final hurdle in the great obstacle course known as the quest for a permis de conduire. He has in his possession a flimsy piece of paper that will substitute for the real McCoy, which I’m told should arrive via post in a few weeks. Right. I’ll believe that when I see it.

In all honesty I still have trouble accepting the drama involved in getting a French driver’s licence. I mean the study, the practice, blah, blah, le blah, but really what burns my arse is the money, now a grand total for Big Red alone of just over 600 euros. That’s $780 CDN or 10,000 Mexican pesos or 60,000 Japanese yen. Any way you slice it, a shitload of cash that could’ve been spent on moi.

Think of the books or massages or croissants or wine that wad of cash could buy. It breaks my heart. There’s nothing I like more than pacing about, twisting my moustache while hatching a plan for someone else’s hard earned moolah. I tell you it’s just not right. I know he had to actually endure the whole bloody process but still, it’s obvious to anyone with half a brain who’s the real victim in this mess. Continue reading “Road Block” »

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Spitting Image

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So I’m at the gym the other day, dragging my flappy arse along on the treadmill, when I saw a sign on the wall that said “something, something, respectez nos clients, something, then ne pas cracher par terre.” I knew par terre meant on the floor but cracher? By the time I saw a third sign I broke out the translator app on my iPhone and it turns out it means spit. Obviously enough people have been spitting on the gym floor to warrant multiple signs. Each sign also said they’d already spent over 500 euros dealing with this issue. Now I don’t know about you but I tend to limit my floor spitting to museums and the occasional cathedral.

Christ on a cracker, who the hell leans off and spews a loogie on the floor of a gym? I was flabbergasted. Imagine walking around with a big load of foamy mucus all over your sneakers, yuck. But then I thought about it on the drive home and maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised. I haven’t said much about this kind of thing here on le blog — and to any French person reading this please know that I am merely observing, not criticizing and definitely not judging — but there are some distinct cultural differences when it comes to bodily behaviour. Continue reading “Spitting Image” »

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Time ticks on and it’s now been almost two years since I got paid. I never meant to be sans income for this long. In case you forgot, I did come to France with a plan for work. I’m not going to rehash what happened there, it’s all in the book and in the spirit of two birds and one stone, go buy one and find out, thereby adding another $1.50 to my bank account. After I was thrust into indefinite unemployment (admittedly a self-inflicted wound), I had planned to be dependent on the kindness of my better two-thirds for only one year. What can I say? I’m an overachiever.

Anyway, I do have a little windfall on the horizon however small that windfall may be and however distant said horizon. See when you write a book you get paid in royalties but only twice a year, after the book has been in circulation over 6 months. In my case that means the first money will appear sometime in November. And I don’t expect those royalties to be significant. Don’t get me wrong, I will twirl about waving that cheque like it’s a winning lottery ticket, but the only similarities between the two will be that they’re both made of paper.

So in the meantime I shall keep my belt tight and continue with my austerity measures, which is all the rage in Europe these days. Ninety-nine per cent of the time, it’s dead easy. I don’t want for anything so I don’t need to finance material desires. It’s interesting because while I was in Canada, there was a distinct pull to purchase — food, clothing, services, whatever — I could see that it wouldn’t take much to be drawn back to my former mindlessly spending self. Within a day I was watching HGTV whenever possible and planning a renovation of every room I walked into. Continue reading “The Cheque is in the Mail” »

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Help Wanted

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It’s been about a week since I returned to France and I know what you’re thinking. She’s over there hove off (translation: reclining goddess-style) like any famous author would be in her swanky European enclave, surrounded by an entourage fielding requests for media appearances while dining on pheasant under glass. Well someone has been hoving off in fine style. Here’s a clue: sparkly red hair, face full of teeth, heart of gold. Yes, Rusty the Wonderhusband is flat on his back and Bobbi the Wackywife has been picking up the slack.

Somehow (the exact details remain sketchy) Neil threw his back out the day we left Canada and has been wracked in spasm ever since. Now if you’ve spent any time with me at all you know what’s coming next. Consistency is my middle name, so as far as I’m concerned the effect on me is the only thing worth talking about.

I had to get the groceries (three times) and I had to do the recycling and the trash. I also agreed to clean a friend’s vacation house this week in addition to cleaning the housette (in the middle of some weird May heat wave), so 4 toilets, 4 bedding changes and 10 loads of laundry later I’m thinking what I need is an IV wine line and a slew of British housemaids to mop her ladyship’s floors and brow. Continue reading “Help Wanted” »

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Yes and Know

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I’m partially recovered from my travels. At least I’m no longer hovering on the brink of starvation. I came home to an empty cupboard on a French holiday, meaning everything is closed. I realize commemorating the end of WWII is very important but so is my need for corn chips. How sad when just last week I waltzed into a giant grocery store at 7 pm on a Sunday to buy cotton underwear. And had I been thrust into some underwear/salad dressing/Saran Wrap emergency at 3 am, I would have been fine as the store never closes. Ever. It’s official. Of all the things about Canada to miss, this kind of convenience is the hardest thing to be without.

I also came back to a new President. Cripes, Socialist, Centre-Left, Communist, what the hell do I know about French politics? What I do know is Sarkozy was the only person I could understand on the television. I turn my back for 10 days and he’s out and without my consent. I haven’t heard from the new guy yet so we’ll see if I can make heads or tails out of what he has to say for himself. Continue reading “Yes and Know” »

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21 Hours

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That’s how long it took me to get back. 21 hours of planes, trains and automobiles. Of course that doesn’t include the two days of waiting for the fog from hell to lift. While the trip cannot be described as anything other than a smashing success, it’s not something I want to do again anytime soon—the exception being when Ellen Degeneres calls me to dance with her on TV and tell me how much she loves my hairstyle and mannish wardrobe, naturally.

I’m no good for it. By the time I got to the housette my head was spinning, literally. St. John’s to Halifax, Halifax to Montreal, Montreal to Paris then the train with 10 stops all lead to the worst case of vertigo I’ve ever had. Nobody wants to be around a dizzy, towering pillar of a woman waiting to yell “TIMBER!”

Anyway, I’m too knackered to write much today. I’m trying not to think about the fact that the only food in the house is a can of corn and that a colony of ants have taken over the living room. I did however muster up enough energy to haul on my beloved turquoise blue sweatpants that I keep insisting are poised to become all the rage here in France. My husband seems skeptical to say the least. Like his wardrobe today is anything that will grace Paris Fashion Week.

So here I am, glamourous author, installed back in the cage — ratty sweats, a raging case of bedhead and a pillow mark bisecting the left side of my face from forehead to jawline. All things are once again right in the world.

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Finding Me in Fog

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Well I’m supposed to be sitting in the giraffe cage at the housette, but instead I am still sitting in my mother’s house. See, Newfoundland is an island in the North Atlantic and is subject to some very interesting (that’s French for shitty) weather. When we first arrived I was greeted with a snowfall. Then came the driving North wind and freezing rain. And then the mother of all weather evils, brouillard, fog or should I say FOG!

This is no ordinary fog. This is the real deal—pea soup, so thick you can lean on it. Thick enough to get lost in (as I did on my way to Chapters) and thick enough to cancel every flight on and off the Rock for 2 days. I was all packed and braced for the ridiculously long and painful journey back to the land of butter and verbs but no dice. We are booked to leave later this afternoon and it has all turned out for the better—shorter wait in Montreal and an upgrade to executive class, which means this gigantic woman will lay flat on her rickety back as she zooms across the ocean.

The good thing about being a nothing is that delays like this mean nothing. Sure what pressing matters need my attention? If I sat here wearing my 5 foot 4 mother’s sweatpants (ahem, capri sweats if you please) watching HGTV 8 hours a day for another week, who the hell would notice? Now poor Neil is a bit put out as he has design projects to complete and French driving tests to pass, but again it’s all about me and all about how you look at it. It couldn’t be helped, so keep calm and carry on eating sour cream was the theme of the weekend.

Anyway, god only knows when I’ll be back up and running again. All I can say is that despite the weather, the Rock has been kind to me. Especially that woman at the grocery store who chased me down the aisle marveling at my hair colour. “Oh my, is that natural? I just had to tell you how gorgeous it is.” Maybe I’ll stay one more day….

ps thanks to my friend Kevin McCann for the title today and here’s some inspiring French music & dancing to keep you entertained in the meantime…

 

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Okay Thomas Wolfe is a brilliant writer and his novel You Can’t Go Home Again is a masterpiece, but he can kiss my arse because clearly you can go home to St. John’s, Newfoundland, as long as you don’t take the weather personally — gale force winds, snow and ice pellets, freezing rain that travelled sideways. It was like Antarctica or what they call spring in the homeland.

But as they say on the Rock, what odds. The brogue was thick and the arms were open wide as I came back for the first time in almost 10 years, blook in hand. I managed to survive another CBC radio interview (Weekend Arts Magazine, airing this weekend) and I gave another newspaper interview. Then we were go for launch. Continue reading “Finding Me at Home” »

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Time and Tide

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Well, here I am back in the homeland. I got off the plane. I saw the sea. I drove downtown and I looked for Club Max, my old dancing ground, now razed to the ground. I showed Neil all my old haunts, I raided the grocery store (more sour cream) and then I read my emails. Jaysus god alive. In the span of 3 days I now have a radio interview, a launch, two signings and now requests for another TV spot (sweat soaked yet again) and another newspaper interview. Mon dieu.

So I would love to regale you with a riveting tale about my arse or some such foolishness but that would mean forgoing sleep and basic hygiene. Instead let us continue with more breaking news from the Nauseating Narcissism Network. Here’s a link to my first review from the brilliant Newfoundland author Trudy Morgan-Cole (new book: That Forgetful Shore). I’m sure there will be less than lovely ones to come but who gives a merde? If you’re in town tomorrow I’ll be signing books at Costco from 3-5 — meet me between the fishsticks and the toilet paper.

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