vendredi 26 janvier 2007
Double take, Cat calls, Wolf whistles, Hey Baby want to (verb) my (noun)?

As far as I have seen so far, there seems to be less of this going on in France than in the US. Of course, I haven't walked past any construction sites lately.

But it seems to be more of the non-verbal kind, not phrases or demands. (Or it is and I am just blissfully unaware linguistically).

Though there was a time that I walking with my sister in law, and we walked past a group of, I am guessing, teenage boys. They were calling out things like "Hey how are you doing? Talk to us" We ignored them, then the comments changed to umm, well, name calling. (I didn't know this at the time, she explained it to me when we had moved away.)

So gentlemen- be respectful. Don't do it in front of your lady. Don't do it at work. Don't, in fact, say anything. While you might be quite pleased to hear "Hey big fella" a) it isn't going to happen and b) that doesn't mean women want to hear the same from men.

As I have been going to job interviews lately, I am more dressed up than usual. And by usual I mean sweats. I have received some honks, which I assume were meant for me as there was nothing else obvious that they could be honking at. A couple of double takes, and a few Wooh!s.

Though this could be as much due to my coloring (blond hair, blue eyes) as everything else. This area is mostly a dark haired, dark eyed region. Haven't gotten any spontaneous marriage proposals yet but was discussing with the men working on the apartment below us. They asked if I was married, said yes, then said they should have figured with my blond hair and blue eyes. Yes, I did step on to French soil and ensnared the first sap who came along. (hard to come off sarcastic online)

I think any woman who says that she hates getting noticed is either lying or deceiving herself. As long as it is somewhat tame and subtle (honks, double takes) I think most women feel secretly flattered. Once men stop complimenting you as you walk down the street in your best, then you notice that they don't and wish they would again. But if every day on your way to work you are bombared with gross requests, then I can see where it would be a problem (and you might want to take another way to work.) Or at work is bad too. I suppose everyone has different comfort levels but to me the following are acceptable at work: "You look nice today" "I like what you have done with your ----" or "That is a very nice ----- (hairstyle, outfit, shoes (haha like men would notice shoes) or piece of jewelry)". Notice I did not include body parts in that list. "That sweater really brings out the color of your eyes" is okay. "That skirt really brings out the hotness of your legs" is not.

That doesn't mean I only want to be thought of as a ornament and not be respected for my acheivements and abilities. Looks alone may get some people jobs (not me) but you gotta have something more that.

If anyone, man or woman, has a different opinion or would like to share an experience, please feel free to comment.
jeudi 25 janvier 2007
Our apartment is incredibly dirt and I can't even clean it.

First off, we have tons of tools and building supplies taking over our hallway. Our medium bedroom is filled with boxes and bathroom stuff (shelves, shower curtain, towels) that we had to move out of the bathroom when we started working on it. The smallest bedroom has the shower basin smack dab in the middle of the floor, plus the spa thing that we are planning on mounting on the wall (one piece with the shower head, jets, etc.) on the floor. Everything is covered in a fine layer of dust, from the guys working in the bathroom- sanding down the walls, then putting more concrete on because apparently our walls are sloped. Our vacuum cleaner decided that it has had enough. (and honestly, I don't blame it. I would have quit too, if only I could.) It turns on, makes noise, but that is about it. Besides, even if it did work, there really is no point as there is a new coat of dust every two days anyway.

Sponge bathing is getting old, especially in the winter. By the time the warm water gets from the faucet to my body, it is cold. Standing there without a stitch on in the cold air makes one want to take sponge baths less. One starts to think "Ah well. I didn't do anything too strenuous today. I didn't work up a sweat or play in the mud. I think I am good for one more day. I would much rather stay in my nice comfy sweats." Don't believe me? Try it for two months.

At least our washing machine works, so our clothes are clean.
mercredi 24 janvier 2007
I have recently upgraded to the New Blogger. I have added labels on the posts, so you can click on a label and be shown all the posts in that catagory.
The labels I have, in order of frequency, are at this time

Provence (17) (places we have visited here in Provence, including Marseille)
French Customs (16)
Wedding (15) (our's and other people's)
French Language (14)
Misc (12) (things that don't fit in other catagories)
Daily Life (11)
Family (11)
Holidays (11)
Our Apartment (10)
Rants (10)
Trips (8) (any trip taken outside of Provence)
Mishaps (7)
Homesick (6)
Alain (4)
Bureaucracy (4)
Friends (4)
Jobs (4)
Health (4)
Cooking (3)

New catagories may be added in the future, and some posts have more than one catagory.

Another change is that on the right underneath the list of labels you will see an icon Site Meter. If you click on it, it will show facts about my site. How many people have visited (starting at this moment, not since I started the blog). It also shows interesting facts about location of people that have visited my blog, how they reached it (search engines, etc). If you would like me to block your address so your IP is not shown, please let me know.
vendredi 19 janvier 2007

Today we had the washer/dryer combo and our stove/oven delivered. We bought them on Saturday, after much visiting of the various home appliance stores in the area. It took a while to figure out exactly how to configure our kitchen as there is a 107 cm wide part of the wall that juts out. I guess it was the old ventilation shaft or something. Who knows.
The only possibility was to buy a 50 cm wide stove (smaller than standard 60 cm) and a 60 cm washer. We wanted a combo, and the best was to buy one that opens in front, not on top, and those only come in 60 cm widths. So what about those extra 3 cm? We are going to have to make it unaligned, slightly surpassing into the sink area.
We finally went to a Factory Leftovers type of place, and found the same models, 100 euros less for the washer, and 50 euros less for the stove. Delivery/set-up/removal of old appliances was 40 euros, a definite worth-it.
Except we don't have enough plugs in the kitchen, nor a gas hook up for the stove (which has three gas burners and one electric). So we need to get someone to install a gas connection, as we already have the gas line from the city for our hot water heater. Anything is better than working with two hot plates and a toaster oven. So the stove is in the hallway for another week or so. Making it a little harder to cook. Oh well. I can always order pizza and serve cereal. We had debated whether we wanted to cancel the delivery of this stove (when we realized that though we had the gas, we didn't have the hook up. One thing home ownership has definitely taught me- never assume anything!) and get an all-electric one, but everyone seems to think gas is better. Besides, we weren't sure the company would let us change our order.
(everyone admire... Oooohhhh... Aaaahhh.... ->)

The washer/dryer is a great space saver. In our old apartment I had to haul the laundry to the nearest Laundromat several blocks away. When we moved in here, the woman left her washer, but it doesn't spin fast enough to get any of the water out. So then I have to wring it out in the sink and hang it up to dry. At the moment, we don't get direct sunlight so it takes about three days to dry. Can't wait to try it out. Even if it only dries 4 kg of clothes (washes 5 kg, don't know why there is a difference) anything is better than what we had.
Stove will eventually go right next to the dryer on the right. Then we can start removing wallpaper, repainting, changing the electricity, and buy new sinks and cabinets! Oh Happy Day!
mercredi 17 janvier 2007
I recently had an interview with a company, who shall remain nameless. From reading their website, I got their impression that they did sort of the pre-planning of projects/project management for other companies. Turns out I was totally wrong. Actually, I don't think this misunderstanding was entirely my fault, the English and French parts of their website say completely different things. My reading comprehension in English is pretty good at least most of the time.
Anyway, what they really do is collect lots of engineers in all different domains- chemical, electronics, aeronautic, etc. Then they keep these engineers gathered in a little box and when a company comes to them and says "We need to rent an X Engineer from you" they take you out of the little box and send you off to work for that company for Y amount of time, then when it is over you go back in your little box and wait for the next project to come along. I call it RentAnEngineer.
It is amazing how many jobs you never thought of could exist until you start looking for a job. I would have assumed that the company would just straight up hire who they want, but I guess this way is less risky for the company. That way, they can develop a project for a certain amount of time, and if it doesn't work, they send their RentAnEngineer packing without having to pay severance, unemployment, etc.
I wonder how many of their engineers get poached by the very same companies. Anyway, they said they would keep me posted. Back to!

mardi 16 janvier 2007
Last week in the metro I was confronted by a poster which I could not for the life of me understand.
It said the above (in French, Tout neveux debonnaire avoue et vote vanille). I knew what is saying, that is, each individual word. I just could not for the life of me get what it was trying to convey. Is it a joke? Is there some part of French culture that I JUST DO NOT GET?
When Alain and I took the Metro to go to a museum this weekend, I asked him about it. He looked at it for a moment and said
"Tous nos vouex de bonheur à vous et votre famille" (which is what it sounds like, phonetically).
This means "All our wishes of happiness to you and your family", which is a common New Year's greeting/wish.
Ah. I get it now.
A play on sounds.

Here are some French phrases that when spoken out loud (and quickly) sound like English phrases/questions. See if anyone can get them. (It helps if you know/speak French)

Ail ou radis? - Are you ready? (found by themikestand)
Qu'on gratte tous les jeunes! - Congratulations! (found by Starman)
Oui Arlette - We are late! (found by themikestand)
Ahmed a l'goût de tripes
Youssef vole ma femme au lit - You ---- my family (partially found by themikestand)
Sale teint de pépère - salt and pepper (found by themikestand)
Six tonnes de chair - Sit on the chair (found by themikestand)
Dix nourrices raidies - Dinner is ready! (found by themikestand)
Les slips tout gais serrent
Guy vomit sous mon nez - Give me some money! (found by themikestand)
Deux bouts de chair
Varices de grosseur - Where is the grocer? (found by themikestand)
C'est que ça pèle
Ma queue perd son alcool
lundi 15 janvier 2007
Our last few days in Colorado were spent going to the movies, buying last minute things (examples: Cover Girl clear brow gel, brown mascara, multi vitamins, deodorant, jeans, books, etc that I can't get in France) and trying to shove all forementioned items plus wedding gifts and Christmas gifts into suitcases (I had brought an extra suitcase empty over from France just for this purpose). I got my haircut, thinking at least in the US I could explain what I wanted. Well, I am not too thrilled with it, but oh well. Two things that VMI taught me about hair- it grows back and is NOT THE BE ALL AND END ALL OF YOUR LIFE. (I could never understand women who would say "Oh no, I could never go there. I would have to cut my hair!!!!")
Anyway, also went to lunch with a high school teacher of mine and his wife that we have kept in touch with. Mom, Jill, and Rudy went to a Children's Museum, and then we had a family picture taken.

Doug and Patricia and Gregg, Jill, and Rudy left on the 3rd. The last evening Alain and I made gnocchi (potato pasta) for mom and dad. The next morning we left for the airport around 7:15 and our flight took off at 10:45. No problems getting back. Got into Marseille on Friday morning, the 5th of January. Jacques picked us up from the airport and we went back to their house to get our car and drive back to Marseille. We were falling asleep by 9 pm. The next morning I woke up around 11:30, but Alain slept until after 1. It took us a few days to get readjusted.
All in all- great vacation, great to see everyone. Was a little depressed on returning to France, but that was partly because of our bathroom still being in ruins and no job.
dimanche 14 janvier 2007

December 31st was the day of a football game in Denver, so mom did not want to go through that to get back home, so we decided to go up to Boulder for a few hours before heading back home. It was only a few miles away, and it was where she went to college so we went. (Gregg and Jill had in the meantime rented a car, so we were able to take two cars there).
(<-- Alpha Phiers) We went to Boulder and walked around the town, ate yet again, a grand total of an hour and a half I think after the huge brunch buffet at which we were all stuffed. Then we drove up into Boulder Canyon a bit before returning to Boulder and stopping again, this time for ice cream. Jeez, one would think that all we do is eat.
(Rudy fascinated by the pizza making process and playing with a hunk of dough --->)
We then drove back home. We had great difficulties staying up until midnight, with about half of the party crashing out with a feeble instruction of "Wake me before midnight". So we did, watched the Times Square celebration and the fireworks shot off the top of Pikes Peak, and said goodnight about fifteen minutes after midnight. New Years has never been a really favorite holiday of mine. It seems so arbitrary to me. Why is that date and hour the start of a New Year? Oh well. In French, everyone sends cards for New Years, not Christmas cards.
Bonne Année!
samedi 13 janvier 2007
Congrats Chris and Candy!
December 30,2006
My cousin Chris and his new wife Candy got married on December 30th. Mom and Dad along with Gregg, Jill, and Rudy were supposed to go up to the wedding location (outside of Denver) the day before the wedding. Dad was asked to do a reading at the wedding, so they attended the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. So they all piled in the Four Runner and made it up there okay. Once getting onto the highway, the roads were manageable but the plow hadn't yet been through the small side streets.
Doug, Patricia, Alain, and I hung out at home and spent a quiet evening. The next morning Dad drove back down and fetched us since the other car, a Honda, wasn't gonna make it. Then we drove back up. We checked into the hotel and had a few hours before the wedding. Alain and I wandered around the hotel, spotting various family members. Most had not been able to come to our wedding, so it was their first time meeting each other. For the wedding, Alain wore his all-purpose suit (three weddings in 7 months) and I wore a navy blue gown I got a long time ago with the ivory shrug that I got for my own wedding.
There was a shuttle from the hotel to the wedding location. It got a little lost and was behind schedule, but we were able to make it to the wedding. It was held at the Chateaux at Fox Meadows (a funny name if you ask me. With an X Chateau is plural, but it is clearly only one Chateau. Perhaps it looks more fancy and French with an X at the end.) The wedding was held indoors, then we went downstairs for the cocktail hour while the main floor was transformed into the dining area. The tables were named after ski runs, and we were seated at "Frenchman". Not sure if that was on purpose or not.
(Gregg doing the thing mom hates most --->)
After that was cake and dancing. We took the shuttle back to the hotel at around 11. The next morning was a brunch, and then we checked out of the hotel.
All in all, it was a very nice, beautiful wedding. We really enjoyed ourselves. (picture below at brunch the next morning)

vendredi 12 janvier 2007

Colorado managed to have two huge snowstorms in the space of one week. Alain got to shovel snow for the first time, we made a snowman, and Dad got the plow out. Male bonding at it's finest. Snowmen were made from snow from the storm before we arrived. The little one was supposed to be decorated later by Rudy, but we never got around to that, probably because the other foot of snow that fell.
Rudy had fun playing in the snow, while us adults tried not to go cabin crazy and hoped we would make it to the wedding.
jeudi 11 janvier 2007

For Christmas, there were only Mom, Dad, me, Alain, and Doug and Patricia. On their flight from DC. to Denver there were 150 people on the waiting list, two days before Christmas, left over from the big storm. They got in at midnight and were told that the baggage system was working, and that it might be four hours before they got their luggage. To leave a claim and have it delivered the line was very long, so they decided to wait. About half an hour later it started working, their luggage was the first off. Way to make the city proud DIA!

(<---- practice for fatherhood)

This was supposed to be the "no gift" Christmas but we all ended up getting several presents each anyway. We brought several CDs of French Christmas carols to add to the Polish/German/Italian Christmas carol collection. We had "Thanksgiving for Christmas" meal as a special request per Yours Truely.
Gregg, Jill, and Rudy arrived on the 27th and had slightly better luck getting in to town. We celebrated Gregg's birthday (on the 26th). Then it started snowing again.

mercredi 10 janvier 2007

(yeah, I know I look either drugged or drunk in the picture above. That is the point- proof of what 24 hours of travel plus no toiletries can do to you. Alain seems to look okay though.)
Alain and I managed to survive our trip to the North Pole. I mean, Colorado. We left here on December 21st and flew to Brussels, and after two hours of being poked and prodded and standing in line, got on our flight to Chicago. Once there, we went through customs, me through American Nationals, he through the Visitors line. I asked the American side if next time he could go through with me, and they said yes. Whereas the Visitors line also told him that next time I need to go through that line with him. Which is it people?
We went through customs, and got ready to catch our flight to Denver, when we were informed that the entire airport was closed because of a blizzard. I had known that it was snowing, but we didn't know that the airport was closed. We had even asked specifically in Brussels the status, and they said we would have to check in Chicago and happily put us on the plane ("whew! no longer our problem"). The Colorado Springs airport still had a few flights, so we tried to get on one of those Thurs. night, but then they canceled it.
Luckily, my cousin Paul and his wife Jen live in Chicago. We were able to take the metro to their apartment and spend the night with them. It was good because Alain had not met either of them and we had not seen their new apartment. So we went, sans luggage (it was something like a two hour wait to just get your luggage back). It was nice seeing them. The next morning we explored other options of getting to Colorado, to include renting a car, taking a train, or a bus. Because of the holiday season all options were either fully booked or really expensive. For lunch, Paul, Jen, my aunt Gretchen and Uncle Tom, and we went for real Chicago pizza. Then they took us to the airport. We were on standby for a flight to Colorado Springs. We were very anxious and afraid that we were not going to get on or only one of us would. It turned out that they had ten empty seats, so we made it. I don't know why the huge standby lists for Denver didn't try to go to C Springs instead, but I am glad they didn't because it meant we were able to get on. We got to C Springs (which was actually a better choice than Denver from the beginning but normally more expensive, so that is why we had chosen Denver). Even our luggage made it! Wow. So we made it, only one day later than planned. We were not able to go up to the cabin in the mountains as planned for a few days, but oh well. At that point we were just happy to be there, with our luggage, and before Christmas. Some poor people were stuck and didn't even make it to their destinations until after Christmas.

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