mercredi 27 mai 2009
While I was waiting at the bus stop today, a young woman next to me lit a cigarette.
Nothing new about that.
She asked me "Is my cigarette bothering you?"
Excuse me? Am I hearing you correctly?
Are you indeed a Frenchwoman in France asking me whether your cigarette is bothering me?
I wasn't quite sure what to say, I mean, this has never happened to me before.
Honestly I wasn't making faces or rolling my eyes or wrinkling my nose or coughing or anything.
Finally I just said "well, yes."
I half expected her to say "Well tough!" and blow smoke rings in my face, but get this! She moved away!!!
Was I space-warped to Sweden or something without knowing it?
Are the French becoming more conscious about their cigarette smoke?
(Not about the cigarette butts certainly.)
mardi 26 mai 2009

dimanche 24 mai 2009
Many moons ago, on a pilgrimage to the Casino in Lambesc (thanks Poppy Fields!) I snagged a box of pancake mix, syrup, a small French size box of Oreos (yeah, that was gone in about a day- seriously, why put only four oreos in each packet?!), bagel chips, and Pepperidge Farm cookies.
Since then, I have been subjecting Alain to my pancake attempts.
I am convinced there are three requirements in order to make good pancakes (in descending order of importance):

1) be a mother
2) be a woman
3) be American
My mom's pancakes? Fabulous.
Mine? So-so.
A french mother's? Could be good with practice.
A French man's? Not even a chance.

My first few attempts were horrendous- thick slabs, burnt on the outside and still raw on the inside.
I diligently kept at it, to the point where Alain would whimper every time I took the box out of the cabinet, and say:
"Why can't we just have croissants today?" Because!
Or: "Why can't you make pancakes like your mother?"
Because dear, I don't have the final ingredient yet: kids of my own.
Or: "It's not possible, you cannot be American and make such terrible pancakes!" Do you want to be hit with the spatula?

He finally figured it out: "You are just practicing on me for when we have kids!"
Um, duh? Three years of marriage and you're just figuring out now that all of my cooking is practicing on you?

Towards the end of the box, they were getting more or less eatable, except for the occasional "Watch out dear, there is part of an eggshell in one of the pancakes. Just think of it as a galette des rois. Enjoy!"
The box is now finished. Don't know when I will be able to find another. Might have to make another pilgrimage the next time I am in the area.

Maybe one day I will attempt pancakes with actual flour and baking soda and stuff. But I think I need a few more rounds of pre-made pancake mix.
vendredi 22 mai 2009
Last night we were victims of an attack of newparentitis.
As it was a day off, we invited one of Alain's colleagues from work and his wife over for pizza.
They have a two-month old little girl, who is normally very quiet and calm.
No problem, she'll just sleep in the corner like last time right?

As soon as they arrived, she started fussing. Didn't want to eat, didn't need to be changed, etc.
We ordered two pizzas and waited. She kept crying.

They jiggled her up and down, put her down, picked her up, took off her clothes in case she was too hot, walked her around the apartment... nothing worked.
If I were the baby, I think I would just want to be left alone.

Heaven knows I'm not an expert in the little buggers, but sometimes they just cry for no apparent reason, no? And in that case, pretty much everything you do either makes it worse or is pointless.
Anyway.... they decided...

Hup! To the emergency room.
They left in a flutter, and we waited for our two pizzas to arrive. What do we do now? I guess we have enough pizza to last the weekend.

I suppose we will probably be the same if we ever have a kid or two. Though I am guessing by the time the second arrives, you can leave them crying for days before you think to yourself "Hmm, maybe I should take him to see the doctor?"
So readers, please share your newparentitis stories.

** Not saying that we didn't expect the baby to cry- heck, that seems to be what they were made to do.
Just saying that perhaps a bit of fussiness didn't warrant a trip to the emergency room at 9 pm.
final verdict: Colic
dimanche 17 mai 2009
Guess I should post about something really interesting and titillating, except I don't have much to say.
Well, have spent two wonderful Saturdays at Ikea, once we came back with part of our new table strapped to the roof of our car-
Warning: if you are driving down the interstate and see a car with something strapped to the top and BOTH the driver and the passenger have their arms out the window, holding on to it, give them lots of space please. Thanks.
Today we hauled more wonderful stuff over to his parent's house, including our former bathroom door. We were going to just put it in our cave (basement storage area) except that we have the nastiest, filthiest cave in all of Marseille. Not kidding. Supposedly, when the building was constructed back in the 1950's, they didn't forsee having basement storage area. (nor parking spots, nor straight walls, nor a lot of things apparently). Anyway, the cave space was built later, but not exactly to standard. When the neighboring buildings were built, the builders just tapped into our sewer connection, instead of actually having to pay to go the extra 50 meters and tap into the main line. (Regulations? What regulations?)
As a result, our sewer connection, meant to handle, oh, about one building's worth, has about three buildings funneling through it, which means, yep, it backs up.
Which basically means that the nice big storage space is basically good for nothing, unless you don't mind rat poop and well, human poop.
(Hey everyone, come over and visit us!)
Anyway, where I was going with this is that we can't actually store anything in our basement. So everything gets hauled over to his parent's. If we ever sell our apartment one day (please god please god please god) we will have to haul it all back- doors, wallpaper, extra boxes of tiles, etc.
So we strapped the door into our car (not on top this time) and took it over to his parent's. I think that soon they will change their locks and be "not home" when we stop by.
Other than that, we are planning a long weekend trip to Lyon to celebrate our whooping Three Years of Wedded Bliss. As soon as we actually get the small bedroom cleared out, Alain will work on finishing it up. He has to finish the crown molding, and then paint. Our goal is to have all the rooms except the kitchen done by August, and then in August he will install a few more plugs, re-do the pipes for the sink/laundry/dish washer, and install the dish washer.
And then we start all over. Yeah right!
lundi 4 mai 2009
Last week I was meandering through Aix during my lunch break and came across a guy obviously trying to pick up women/get donations. As I walked by he drew me in with "Oh you have such beautiful eyes!"
Okay, yeah what do you want? (I saw that he had small packets of candy)
"Oh it's for the children so they can play sports!"
He didn't have any pamphlets, signs, T-shirt with name of organization, nothing.
I figured I would give him 50 cents or so and be done with it, so I opened up my wallet.
He held out a fistful of euros and and asked if I had any bills because he had so much change. Thinking he wanted to exchange for example X euro coins for a X euro bill, I pulled out a five and gave it to him. He plunked the small packet of candy (like halloween packets of jellybeans- there mustn't have been more than 30 jellybeans in the thing) and was off to his next victim. "Oh mademoiselle..."
I said Hey wait a minute, where's my change?
He handed me a euro and moved away quickly. Though if I hadn't asked him, I'm sure I wouldn't have even gotten that much.
I yelled after him "How do I know you even work for the organization you say you work for?"
He couldn't (or wouldn't) hear me, he was busy swindling La Jolie Mademoiselle.
I ate my 4€ jellybeans and chalked it up to lessons learned.
If I ever see him again I will give him a piece of my mind and drive away any Mademoiselles with pretty eyes he is chatting up.
dimanche 3 mai 2009
Alain took two weeks off from his work in order to work on the apartment (mainly living room and hallway). He has been a busy (cranky) little beaver these past few weeks, but I am quite pleased to say that we are finished with two more rooms!

Before his break started, we spent a day clearing everything out of the two rooms, which mainly meant shoving it into the bedrooms and taking the rest over to his parents.
Us: Hi! Us again with more c*** to store in your garage!
His parents: Super! Just what we wanted!

Anyway, the first week was pretty much spent re-doing the electricity in the living room, adding more plugs. He then tried to add some "lambris" that we bought (had to look up this word in English- paneling) along the wall upon which we added the sound-proofing foam that doesn't work. (what a waste). Anyway, it looked terrible and cheap, mainly because our walls are anything but straight. We decided to forget that idea and wallpaper the entire wall. There goes another 150€. What do we do with these three packets of paneling that we decided not to use but can't return? I know! Store them in your parent's garage!

We then painted the hallway ceiling white last Sunday, then he painted the walls a light blue/grey Monday, prepared the living room for painting Tuesday, and painted it white Wednesday.
His parents came over Saturday, ready for wallpapering. Neither of us had ever wallpapered before, so they really helped us. In fact, they did most of it.

It was a bit tricky to hang because the pattern had to be lined up from one strip to another.
It took about 8 hours, but we finally got the wall papered, and the living room is officially done!
It is a light blueish/white/grey and changes depending upon the light. Sometimes if the sunlight is directly shining on the wallpaper, you can hardly even see it. It has a bit of an old-fashioned feel that goes well with the crown moulding.

It is so nice and big now, mainly because we removed the tools, extra doors leaning against the wall, clothes dressers, etc.

We will have to start inviting people over before we have no friends left.

Oh, and we installed the new light we found at Castorama, quite by accident. We had looked for a light for our living room for months and months and were unable to find anything that really interested us and was less than 500€. We found this one for 200€ and immediately pleased both of us. At any rate, it is better than the Ugliest Light Fixture Ever Invented that was hanging there before. It isn't quite centered but will do for now. And about the next three years I'm guessing.

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