April 2005 Archives

More Crazy gals on the metro

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More Crazy gals on the metro

Crazy girls on the metro

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Crazy girls on the metro

Crazy french guys on the metro

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Crazy french guys on the metro

I don't know where we managed to pick them up from... They just kept following us around for some reason...

Quizzle

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Forget all that crap about "What is your inner European?". Here's an interesting topic for lunchtime conversation : "What memento would you keep if you were a serial killer?" Amongst the possible keepsakes discussed were teeth (most specifically necklaces made of), clothes, locks of hair and, of course, shoes.

Hmm.

It's clear that I have to start questioning the kind of company I've been keeping lately.

Sticker on a train window

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Sticker on a train window

Stake-out

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Boy have I changed.

I didn't think I was capable of it. But I did see it coming...

Last night I had a bloody steak.

As in a steak that was only lightly cooked. Seared on both sides. Not a "bloody steak" (said in a negative, whingy sort of tone of voice).

Are you proud of me, dad?

I'm not sure whether to be pleased with my progress, or disgusted.

Whatever... I also scoffed down some fabulous Epoisse without even blinking. The smellier and runnier it is (as in literally sliding off the plate, requiring a container to hold it together, and served with a spoon), the happier I am.

I surely deserve my Carte de Sejour now.

It's all about me

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What is with this wacky (French?) tradition of the Birthday Girl/Boy hosting the "pot" (drink)?

Shouldn't everyone else be treating the Birthday Girl/Boy on their special day, not the other way around?

Just a thought.

Another day goes by

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Another day goes by

There is no better way to start my birthday than opening up a package from Australia containing about a gazillion varieties of Tim Tams, along with several packets of Smoked Mussels and a Kylie Kwong cookbook! Perfect to go with the Neopets goodies I got from my lovely friend, Kerstin, and the massive Nigella Lawson cookbook my beautiful sister sent me! Hoorah for birthdays!

I was all ready to sit down and get started on the packet of Caramel Tim Tams right away, but with a guilty conscience, I figured that I probably should go to work...

But even racing down to the station, today I took my dad's advice - it's all about taking the time to stop to smell the flowers...

Birthday flowers

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Birthday flowers

From my boss. Aww.

You say tomato

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For me, a foreigner in France, the problem lies not only in the differences between English and French as languages. There is also the problem of the differences between Australian-English and English-English / American-English / take-your-pick-of-the-nationality-English.

I greatly appreciate the existence of several wonderful Australians and New Zealanders in my life here in France, as I can talk without having to translate myself, but with people of other nationalities it can prove a little challenging. I tend to behave myself on my blog, but in real life, it's harder to temper the vocabulary and things can slip through.

Once and for all, the following personal list* of words / phrases are acceptable in everyday use and should not be laughed at hysterically :

grommet (a pre-teen surfer, also a grotty person, someone who often makes a mess)
lolly (a sweet, candy)
capsicum (red/yellow/orange/green pepper)
windscreen (of the car) (windshield?)
bonnet (of the car) (the hood?)
boot (of the car) (trunk)
flyscreen / flywire (that screen to keep out flies and mozzies on the window)
ocker (an unsophisticated person)
zed (pronounciation of the letter "z")
jumper (sweater?)
doona cover (the cover that you put on the soft, often feather-filled coverlet for the bed)
"you reckon?" (you think?)
"take the piss" (to tease)
"crack the shits" (to get cranky)
"chuck a spaz" (to throw a tantrum)

Anyone seen laughing at my way of talking shall, forthwith, be promptly thwacked with a handbag.

* list non-exhaustive

Edited at 13:44 to add requested definitions ;)

The days go by

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This weekend was a whirlwind of vegetarian delights, cleaning, shopping, cooking up a storm, kir royales and red wine, garlic bread and spag bog at an impromptu dinner party, bookswapping, zooming around town in Pikachu, frantic last-minute preparations and a cosy bridal shower, white chocolate and raspberry muffin-y goodness, and girly chats. All in all, a full weekend!

And now, I need to recuperate. So I sit at work, drinking coffee, checking and rechecking my gmail notifier and refreshing my bloglines. hehe.

Lest we forget

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Today is Anzac Day. Words escape me, so I'll leave it to my mum, who wrote this to me in an email this morning. A die-hard Saints supporter, I love the way she has described the opening of yesterdays football match, something that I've grown up watching. I hope she doesn't mind :

Because this is the Anzac Day round, every AFL match has had a small ceremony prior to the match commencing. In this case, we were sitting at the western end of Telstra Dome, very high up, as the match was a sell out, and noticed the flag pole which was mounted on the ground, near the wing on the western side of the ground. The players came on for their warm up, then, all lined up each side of the pole, with their coaches. An army person unfurled the Australian flag, and flew it at half mast. Then, an RSL member recited..."At the going down of the sun, and in the morning...." poem, and the last post was played by a military bandsperson. The playing of the Last Post was extremely moving - with the accoustics of Telstra Dome (roof closed) making the tones reverberate, sending shivers up the spine. The minute's silence is also very evocative, with 50,000 spectators standing, and you could have heard a pin drop. I could not help but look at the two sides of 22 players each, and think of the terrible waste that war is, when young men's lives are cut off in their prime. This year the AFL has sent 3 representatives to Gallipoli - Ron Barrassi (whose father was killed in action during the second world war) one of the current players who is injured, not sure who the third one is, and I think it is a lovely idea. (It is interesting to note that there are huge crowds now turning out for the Dawn ceremony at the Shrine of Remembrance and other city ceremonies.)

One day I will make it to Gallipoli for the Anzac Day commemorations. It's important to remember.

Any time is muffin time

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Any time is muffin time

Street of the cat who fishes

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Street of the cat who fishes

Bon appetit 3

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Bon appetit 3

me : fondant au chocolat (which was NOT shared with the waiter, no matter how many times he insisted)
her : gateau au chocolat

Going up

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Going up

Bon appetit 2

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Bon appetit 2

me : lasagne aux legumes.
her : polenta

Bon appetit!

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Bon appetit!

me : omelette aux pomme de terre
her : falafel

Snacking on sunflower seeds

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Snacking on sunflower seeds

Trying a new vegetarian restuarant in the 5e

Loving the lava lamp

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Loving the lava lamp

Liquid orange

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Liquid orange

If only learning French was this easy

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If only learning French was this easy

Hair today, gone tomorrow

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The only bad thing about getting an unreal haircut that you just adore is that you can never really recreate the blowdried, styled goodness on your own.

I still love the colour, I just have to figure out how to tame these unruly tresses into a respectable do.

Hmm. I just used the word "unreal". Without thinking. It's like my vocabulary is regressing.

Linguistics

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I'm really not a meme-r, but given my current obsession with everything linguistic, I was really interested to do this one.

Linguistic Meme

Age: 25
Where did you grow up? Country Victoria, Australia

WHAT DO YOU CALL:
1. A body of water, smaller than a river, contained within relatively narrow banks? A creek
2. What the thing you push around the grocery store is called? Shopping Trolley
3. A metal container to carry a meal in? Lunch Box
4. The thing that you cook bacon and eggs in? Frying Pan
5. The piece of furniture that seats three people? Couch
6. The device on the outside of the house that carries rain off the roof? Gutter
7. The covered area outside a house where people sit in the evening? Verandah
8. Carbonated, sweetened, non-alcoholic beverages? Soft Drink
9. A flat, round breakfast food served with syrup? Pancake (but not for breakfast - I eat these for dessert!)
10. A long sandwich designed to be a whole meal in itself? A baguette?
11. The piece of clothing worn by men at the beach? Togs, Speedos, or Bathers
12. Shoes worn for sports? Runners
13. Putting a room in order? Tidying Up
14. A flying insect that glows in the dark? Firefly
15. The little insect that curls up into a ball? Icky. hehe. I don't know. A Millipede?
16. The children's playground equipment where one kid sits on one side and goes up while the other sits on the other side and goes down? See-saw
17. How do you eat your pizza? I eat the crust first and EITHER the pointy bit last, OR the bit with the most topping on it last (whichever is easiest - both a really disgusting, messy way to eat pizza)
18. What's it called when private citizens put up signs and sell their used stuff? Garage Sale
19A. What's the midday meal? Lunch
19B. What's the evening meal? Dinner
20. The thing under a house where the furnace and perhaps a rec room are? Basement
21. What do you call the thing that you can get water out of to drink in public places? Water Fountain
22. Harass: Where does the accent go? harr-ASS
23. Vehicle: Where does the accent go? vEE-hicle
24. Latter: Pronounced with with a "T" in the middle or a "D" in the middle? T
25. Kitten: Pronounced with with a "T" in the middle or a glottal stop in the middle? T.

From the lovely wantonly wanton

Stick it where it fits

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Accents are not my friends.

Not those melodic Irish, Scottish, or Indian accents. I can't get enough of those ones. I'm talking about Graves, Acutes and Circumflex(es?).

When writing, I throw them willynilly throughout my sentences. It's an accent party! The more the merrier!

Inevitably, words that are not supposed to be accented get a little stroke or a hat, and words that are supposed to be accented get neglected. I can never get it right. When I do, I give myself a cheer. You've got to take each small victory for what it is.

This is why I detest writing in French.

That, and that horrible thing called conjugation.

That will be all.

More Meetup Moments

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I'm currently swamped with work this week. Can someone throw me a Life Saver? Or maybe a Fruit Tingle? Actually, now we're on the subject, a liquid version of that lolly goodness might help move things along a little better.

But I did find the time to make the monthly Expat Meetup last night. I had a brilliant time, as usual, and met, amongst others : a couple of Russian lovelies; an Irishman; a Hawaiian; a Frenchie who, after over 8 years of travelling, feels like an expat in her own country; someone who tried to convince me I needed to help him get his book published; a Sydneysider who is suffering no culture shock whatsoever (I think he's still on the honeymoon period. Either that or he just takes these things in his stride - a typical Aussie male trait, so it could be the case)... the list goes on.

The Meetup is always a colourful event, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak in English, to meet new people who are having the same experiences as me.

It's most interesting to think about the fact that I've been here for over three years now, and have only just recently started seeking out the "expat contacts". A number of the people that I've been meeting have only been here for a short period of time and are already seeking out this sort of thing - I wonder why it took me so long.

Money was certainly a problem, as we couldn't afford for to go out for dinner like that when I was a student and when we first got married.

Perhaps I was shy? Thinking back, it's a strong possiblity.

But perhaps it was also my desire to really integrate, immerse myself into the French lifestyle, learn as much as I could about the language and the culture. After all, I am married to a Frenchman - appreciating his background makes things easier for both of us. I think that immersion did me a lot of good, as my French is far better than it would have been otherwise, and I'm comfortable here, even if I still can't quite call it home.

It's only now that am I coming up to breathe... and the fresh air is doing me a hell of a lot of good...

Cravings

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It's nearly lunchtime and, as sometimes happens, a girls thoughts turn to food.

I am currently craving everything that I can't have :
- smoked mussels on toast
- salt and vinegar chips
- Tim Tams
- fish and chips
- a lebanese sandwich from Tiba on Sydney Road
- roast lamb/chicken/pork/beef at my grans. With plenty of roast potatoes
- japanese noodles (I keep hearing rumours from various people that there are a couple of japanese restaurants here in Paris that serve them - as opposed to the millions of japanese restaurants here in Paris that serve exclusively sushi and brochettes - so I'll just have to keep nagging)

I might just have to resort to a nice Cantonese soup. Not a bad compromise, I suppose... ;)

Berry good

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Sylvain was utterly miserable and sick this weekend, and on Saturday I left him wallowing in piles of tissues and hot water bottles (sniff sniff, I'll be fine, just go!), got my hair done and hung out doing girly stuff (like buying shoes! again! this is getting to be a problem!).

I came home in the early hours of the evening, to find him in the kitchen, still sniffling, and up to his elbows in raspberries and eggs.

"What are you doing?" I asked. "Are you feeling better?"

"I still feel like crap," who teaches him these words? "But I'm making a Framboisier," he replied. "Cooking makes me feel better."

I don't know what possessed him to just suddenly sit up and decide to make one of the more complicated patisserie concoctions in France when he was feeling so sick.

Despite being motivated by the best of intentions, it didn't work. First the cream was not right, and then it didn't set properly. But even so, just like my goopy attempts at making a pavlova, it tasted pretty darn good.

"You know that bakers have to train for years before they can make a framboisier perfectly," I said, hugging him tightly.

"I know..." he grumbled, then went over to the shelf where our cookbooks are stored and started leafing through them carefully. "Next time I'll get it right."

I still suspect that he's harbouring secret dreams of opening a patisserie in Australia one day. Perhaps one that opens onto a surfboard shop on a beach in Torquay.

Some like it hot

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When I first arrived in France, I ate my steaks "well-done". The slightest bit of red had me gagging. It surprised me to find that when I asked for things "well-done" in restaurants here, there was still a hell of a lot of pink inside. The chefs at the staff canteen where I did my internship would have a chuckle about the girl who was willing to wait 10 minutes for her steak haché to be burnt to a crisp.

Sylvain and his family got used to giving me the ends of the roast, or leaving my bit of meat in the oven or on the grill until the last minute.

But bit by bit, I've been trained (?) to eat meat that is less well-cooked. I can appreciate how tender a good cut of steak is when it's properly prepared and cooked. I don't think I could ever eat it the way Sylvain does (literally seared on each side for a few seconds!), but it's interesting to think about my progress.

It's not just steak either. One of my favourite things to eat is a grilled duck breast fillet that is still bright pink in the middle. Three years ago, I would have made Sylvain cut off his half, then slapped my half back on the grill for another five minutes.

I watched Sylvain prepare the duck fillet today - he massaged the meat between his fingers for five minutes.

"Can you do that to my feet?" I asked him.

He began putting the finishing touches onto the fillet, scoring the skin and sprinkling a little salt and pepper over the top.

He looked at me. "You want me to put salt and pepper on your feet, too?"

Smart arse.

The duck was good though, and the massage was worth it - the meat was only cooked for a few minutes, still pink inside, and it literally melted in my mouth.

New Birkenstocks! Now I really am set for summer!

Colour and Cut - I'm happy!

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Colour and Cut - I'm happy!

Colour and Cut - the results

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Colour and Cut - the results

Colour and Cut - the process

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Colour and Cut - the process

Green Campers!

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Green Campers!

Photogenic

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Last night Sylvain picked me up from the train station saying, "did you get your photo taken?!"

"No..." I said. He sighed. Audibly. "But I can pop into the photo service tomorrow morning and get it done!"

"The shops are still open!" he said. "We'll go get them done now!"

We have a rendez-vous at the Prefecture this morning (joy of joys - hence the reason that I am not yet at work, and the reason that I'll probably be working uber-late tonight), and, amongst other things, I must furnish 5 identity sized photos.

I did try to get the photo taken yesterday. But there was a giggly couple hanging around in the photo booth taking a million photos and I couldn't be bothered waiting for them to finish. Not to mention the fact that I had a spot on my chin and unbrushed hair.

You see, this is the photo that is going to be on my TEN YEAR RESIDENCY CARD. I'm going to have to live with that thing for TEN WHOLE YEARS.

"Can we just swing by the apartment so that I can freshen up?" I asked, smiling sweetly and angelically.

"Nooooo, you're fine!" Sylvain looks at me fondly.

"No really," my voice hardens. "I really really really need to stop and freshen up."

"You're gorgeous," he insists.

Zoom. We drive past the apartment.

I now regret having switched handbags the night before. My handy freshening-up kit containing concealer and a tiny comb is in my other bag.

"But sweetie," I plead. "This is a TEN YEAR PHOTO! I have to LIVE with this photo for AGES! I have a horrid spot on my chin and my hair is EVERYWHERE!"

"You're just beautiful," he smiles at me. "After all, at least it can't be worse than the one on your drivers licence."

He has a point there, but he doesn't need to bring it up.

I begin to plot a devious plan to duck into Sephora on the way to the Photo Station. We arrive at the shopping centre, but Sylvain thinks it's incredibly clever to park as close to the photo shop as possible, instead of parking in our usual spot.

Men.

I try one last shot.

"Oooh look at that car display!" I point to a mini-exhibition in the middle of the shopping centre. Perhaps he'll be distracted for a few minutes and I can sprint up to Sephora.

"Yeah, that's all last years stuff," he waves it off in a similar way to my dismissal of last years shoe styles, grabs my hand and drags me to the photo booth.

I pout, then smile for the camera, sporting a horrid spot on my chin and unbrushed hair. Sylvain beams at me.

I'll be 35 before I can get another one of these.

Unless I conveniently lose my card...

Kitten Therapy

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One of the things I love about having a cat at home, is that playing with her makes me forget everything that makes me cranky. The world is good when I fall on the floor with Symphony pouncing on me and with Sylvain laughing in the background.

Mobile chain thingy

Who knew this little mobile phone trinket - a souvenir that I got from EuroDisney last weekend - could be such a dangerous monster, so that Symphony feels obliged to attack it ruthlessly?!

Kitty Kitty Kitty
Kitty Kitty Kitty
Kitty Kitty Kitty

Playing with my cat and laughing with Sylvain is even better than buying shoes. Yup.

(But that's not to say that Shopping Therapy doesn't have it's place in my world either - heh!)

I will have really earned my RTT this month

Too much work and no play makes the Aussie Lass a dull girl.

Austria vs Ostriches

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Austria vs Ostriches

In an attempt to help my constant confounding of the words Autriche / Autruche (Austria / Ostrich), one of my colleagues has (cheekily) stuck a little visual aid on my pinkuter screen = "Austria. Finally.".

I don't know why I just can't GET IT with these two words!

Thankfully it's not as if they come up very often, but when they do, I inevitably stuff them up, which leads to much hilarity and blushing.

Dizzying Disney

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This weekend was so much fricken fun.

Starting at the wee hour of 6:15am (Sylvain admonished me for being overexcited and suggested that I use my Inside Voice), we had an entire Saturday of fun at EuroDisney, with a bunch of anglo chickadees and some unwitting Frenchmen.

It was a day of bad jokes (expectant mothers are not allowed on this ride - so what about unexpected mothers?), random text and phone messages from an envious friend in Australia who was reading my mo-blogging, loop-de-loops and lost hats, pirate cocktails and busty wenches, riding It's A Small World TWICE, and trying to run away from the strange person with glasses taped to his head who kept following us around all day.

The only bad thing was that Aimee and Julien didn't get to ride Space Mountain 2 (arriving later than us, they got jibbed by technical difficulties as they were SITTING in the train thingy to go on the ride).

We got home at 2am on Saturday night, and needless to say, we were exhausted on Sunday and did virtually nothing. hehe.

It deserves a mention that this was the first time I've ever done any rollercoaster rides like this, and I was therefore particularly pleased that I didn't get vomity.

And since I didn't get a photo with Mickey or Minnie or any of those characters, I'm just going to have to go back again!

Favourite ride : Thunder Mountain.

So today I have been singing "It's A Small World" all day long (and driving my colleagues a wee bit around the bend). As Vivi once said to me, "grown up land is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't wanna live there".

Spinning in the teacups

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Spinning in the teacups
A moment of silence for the dead dumbo

Yay for dumbo!

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Yay for dumbo!

It's a small world after all

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It's a small world after all

No dancing in the boat

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No dancing in the boat

I might have problems here

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I might have problems here

Waiting for thunder mountain

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Waiting for thunder mountain

Pirates and busty wenches

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Pirates and busty wenches

Scary dragon

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Scary dragon

Starspeeder

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Starspeeder

Space mountain 2 is about to open

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Space mountain 2 is about to open

Super excited!

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Super excited!
Empty carpark aka the early birds get into the park first

Parking at disney

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Parking at disney

On the way to disneyland

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On the way to disneyland

U2 tickets !

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U2 tickets !

We are going to DISNEYLAND

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We are going to DISNEYLAND

On n'est pas sorti de l'auberge

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One of my colleagues was talking about leaving work to pick up one of his children from the after-school care.

Another of my colleagues called out, "tu dois aller chercher ton bout d'chou?" ("You've got to go pick up your kid?")

I called out, cheekily, "tu va recolter les legumes, huh?" (You're off to harvest some vegetables, huh?")

Everyone then spent the next five minutes doubled over with laughter.

Un bout d'chou is slang for "a small child". This is more affectionate than anything else - used in a similar way as "kid", or such as when an adult will call their child a "little possum" or whatever.

But literally speaking, un bout d'chou means the end of or a small piece of cabbage.

So I made a funny!

Learning this language, I'm always taking things for what they mean in the sense of the sentence - in this example, "a small child" - but I always find myself thinking about the literal meaning of the phrase too : phrases like jeter un oeil (meaning "to have a look", it also literally means "to throw an eye"), c'est un navet (meaning "(the film) is a flop", it also means "it's a turnip"!), or "chanter comme une casserole" (meaning "to sing very badly", it also literally means "to sing like a casserole").

The most dangerous ones for me are those which have almost got the same equivalents in English : "avoir un chat dans la gorge" (instead of "to have a frog in ones throat", the French say "to have a cat in ones throat") or "on n'est pas sorti de l'auberge" (instead of "we're not out of the woods yet, the French say, "we're not out of the inn yet"). I've fluffed a few of these up in my time, resulting in funny looks and throat-clearing.

A couple of years ago my father-in-law loaned me a book, "Le Bouquet des expressions imagées : Encyclopédie thématique des locutions figurées de la langue française" (by Claude Duneton & Sylvie Claval) - it's basically an entire book (1,300+ pages!) dedicated to French idioms and expressions. I still have it on my desk, and enjoy picking it up from time to time, to look for the origins of some of the more obscure expressions or to understand them better.

The more one becomes familiar with a language, the more one gets used to such expressions, and they come out as naturally as anything else. They make conversation just that much richer.

We don't even think about similarly strange phrases in our native languages : "I'm all ears", "eat your heart out" or "by the skin of my teeth". It's funny how learning French has given me a better understanding and appreciation of English!

Shopping crisis

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I'd just like to say that asking me to convince you that you don't need to buy a new pair of shoes is really not going to produce the desired results. Really.

Concerns

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"Katia!" he exclaims. "Are you ok?"

"Why yes..." I am perplexed. Shouldn't I be? Instinctively, I check that my sweater isn't backwards, inside-out, upside-down...

"Well," he looks at me with concern. "You're wearing matching socks today..."

Hmmm.

Days like this

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This morning I realised I was wearing my sweater backwards.

It's a boatneck - looks virtually identical from either side, really! - and I raced into the bathroom and hurriedly turned it around.

The only problem was that I now had boob marks on the back of my sweater! I contorted myself into awkward positions in the tiny bathroom as I tried to stretch them out a little without ruining my sweater. I looked at my back in the mirror - it was still a little funny, but it would have to do.

I came out of the bathroom, and one of my colleagues looked at me strangely and asked if I'm ok. Now I think about it, I was probably making funny noises and bumping into stuff as I was doing my contorionist act in the bathroom.

It was not a good morning.

Early morning

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I have a tendency to turn into a blubbery mess at the slightest provocation. Doesn't matter if I'm happy or sad.

Weddings? Check.
Funerals? Check.
Books? Check.
Movies? Check. (Finding Neverland, I cried the whole way through)
Hallmark Card Ads? Check.
Historical Monuments? Check.
Something pretty? Check.

The worst part is that it shows - my eyes turn all bright red and puffy and I look like I'm getting sick.

A friend recently lent me the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella (it's nice to read a book about someone who is far worse than I am). Last night I started and finished Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, and grabbed Shopaholic Ties the Knot on my way out the door this morning.

I start reading it on the train, and by about page 20, I start getting teary. A few pages on, I am sniffing. A couple of pages later and I'm dabbing at my eyes with a Kleenex. I get off the train and I look terrible, and I try to race to the bathroom at work to fix myself up. Unfortunately on the way, I bump into a number of people who ask me if I'm ok.

It's become something of a joke between Sylvain and I - when considering what movie to see, we always have to consider the blubber factor.

I need to figure out a strategy to stop myself from getting teary all the time. Recite the alphabet backwards? Conjugate some tricky French verbs?

Programming

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I was asked if my parents plans to come to France had been confirmed yet, and I replied that things are looking good on that front.

As I feared, I was told that as soon as I know the dates, we need to sit down and organise a program.

Things could get interesting. I'm actually happy to leave most of the details in the hands of my in-laws, as their enthusiasm for this country is wonderfully catching. I just hope I don't have to participate in the run-through.

Smelly belly

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I'm trying to convince my colleagues that we need an oil burner in our office.

"It's good for our well-being. To help us be Zen!" I argue. They look at me sceptically.

I decide to change tactics, "well... if nothing else, it'll disguise the odours coming from the restaurants in the quartier."

They look at each other and nod thoughtfully.

This morning - armed with my new oil burner, a collection of pure essential oils from a nearby herboriste, some candles and matches pilfered from an absent colleagues desk - I set it all up.

A blend of bergamot, peppermint and grapefruit is now simmering away. Smelling good. I am Zen.

And I no longer have to smell the greek sandwiches cooking downstairs.

All lit up

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All lit up

Preparing my oil burner

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Preparing my oil burner

Dinner in Passage Brady

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Dinner in Passage Brady

The wolf and the lamb

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My printer is making funny sounds, and shaking a little.

"Qu'est ce que vous faites à l'imprimante?", my boss asks. (What are you doing to the printer?)

"Je nettoie", I reply*. (I'm cleaning it)

"C'est donc votre frère", my boss replies cryptically. (It's therefore your brother)

I look at him, confused.

Thus begins a convoluted explaination involving the stories of Jean de la Fontaine (something about a wolf and a lamb), other important cultural references, a play on words and a little bit of verlan.

I furrow my brow thoughtfully. I nod wisely. I narrow my eyes and purse my lips into what I thought looked like a reflective expression.

This is what I always find so amazing about France - the rich historic and cultural references that I am exposed to every day. But it all went way over my head. Way too much for 9:02am and only one cup of coffee.

* I realise I could have said this better. But that's always the wisdom of hindsight. And it was early. Bof.

I understand the full nuances of his comment now. Two hours, another coffee, and a reading of "The Wolf and the Lamb" later.

Sweet and Sour

| 9 Comments

It's a bittersweet day today... It's our two year wedding anniversary, but Sylvain is out of town - he left early yesterday morning and won't be back until Thursday :(

Happy Anniversary sweetie! It's been a wonderful two years :)

We're going to try to take advantage of the different travel deals around at the moment, and take a weekend away sometime soon. There is so much to see in this part of the world, and I can't think of a better person to discover it all with :)

I also received the great news that my parents are definitely going to be bombarding visiting us in August. Looks like lots of planning to be done!

Does something smell fishy?

| 2 Comments

On Friday, my boss came into the office, and gleefully announced, "that's it - last night the law was overturned : from January 2006, we'll be passing back to a 39 hour working week. No more RTTs, no more 1/2 Fridays."

The French have a strange habit of signing laws and things late at night, and this is something that has been on the drawing table for some time (and the last major strike was all about that), so we didn't even question it, spending the rest of the day grumbling and scowling amongst ourselves. I whinged about it several times to various people over the weekend.

This morning my boss revealed, chuckling to himself, that it was really an April Fools Day joke.

Normally I'm the only really gullible one (I believed my younger sister when she told me that there were crocodiles in the house dam on the farm), but he really got us all with his poisson d'avril - hook, line and sinker. We heaved sighs of relief and we all felt really stupid.

At least, for now, our sacred RTTs and half-Fridays are safe. ;) I'm so spoiled - when am I going to enter the real world?

Under the sun

| 6 Comments

This weekend Paris was literally bathed in sunshine. North to south, east to west - nothing but pure sunshine, a delicate breeze that kissed the skin, and blue skies.

Everyone arriving at work this morning has exclaimed, "ooooh, that was the best weekend!". Morale is up, the batteries have been recharged. The good weather hasn't lasted however, and it's overcast again today - but that's ok, because there's nothing worse than being stuck inside working when it's gorgeous outside!

My Saturday involved lunching in a brasserie in the 6e, providing moral support and wise advice to a determined shoe shopper at the Bon Marché, a wander through an extremely crowded Lush, orange pressé at a café in Saint Germain, dinner at my favourite Cantonese restaurant, lazing on the bank of the Seine listening to impromptu jazz, a frenzied search for the Berthillon ice cream shop (only to find that after asking a passing lady, "ah oui! bon... je vous explique!", that it was closed), followed by gelati and continued lazing on the bank of the Seine.

My Sunday involved an early morning rendez-vous at the Picasso museum (I had complained about going so early, but was glad that we did because the first-Sunday-of-the-month-free-admission-ness meant there were LONG queues outside when we left), a tour around Victor Hugo's house at the Place des Vosges (and being harassed by a museum security guard, and entertained by a guide constantly describing each rooms as having been "reconstituted"), lunch at a Kosher Bagel Deli, shopping in Le Marais, a superfantastic shoe purchase (think green and Camper), citron pressé at a random café (with such bad service that it was almost funny), relaxing in the sun, tea and biscuits, a two minute chat with an Australian tourist on the train, and The Princess Bride.

I'm absolutely exhausted, but I had fun. Amidst it all were budding plans for summer picnics on the Seine, for exploration of the various parks around Paris, for haircuts and face vacuuming (!!), and perhaps even for a daytrip or two to visit fellow expats in the country?

But next weekend? Eurodisney!!!!

Sunday morning cultural trip

| 1 Comment
Sunday morning cultural trip

The metro loves me

| 1 Comment
The metro loves me

Saturday afternoon with the girls

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Interesting Car
Interesting Car


The world is my canvas
The world is my canvas


Flowers from vegetables
Flowers from vegetables


The worlds smallest bag next to the worlds largest bag
The worlds smallest bag next to the worlds largest bag


Nouilles sautées au canard lacqué = yum!
Nouilles sautées au canard lacqué = yum!


Sitting on the bank of the Seine, facing Notre Dame, listening to impromptu jazz...
Sitting on the bank of the Seine, facing Notre Dame, listening to impromptu jazz...


Paris fights for the Olympics in 2012
Paris fights for the Olympics in 2012


Impromptu concert on the bank of the Seine, under Notre Dame
Impromptu concert on the bank of the Seine, under Notre Dame

More photos (better quality and less blue-ness) are in my photoblog :)

The smell of summer

| 3 Comments

My parents are thinking about making a trip across the world in the summer to spend time with their eldest daughter. I'm sure it's got nothing to do with taking advantage of the fact that we're living in a cool place. Nope. No way. They're coming to see ME. heh.

The plans are very wishywashy at the moment, and not at all concrete. But just the possibility of them coming here makes me a very happy girl indeed. I have three weeks of holidays in August, so the timing is good (like many French organisations, our offices close for 3 weeks in the summer. Frustrating, as I would prefer to take my holidays at a different time of the year - like in the Australian summertime...)

Mix the possibility of my parents coming to visit in with my father-in-law being in town today, as well as the fact that I have a considerably large mouth (meaning that I dangerously tend to talk without thinking about what I'm saying), and we have a small problem.

The problem is that my father-in-law, as wonderful as he is, is a maniacal organiser - everything must be organised, down to the very last detail. When my family came over for our wedding two years ago, he had the entire three weeks planned out in his agenda, right down to hours for lunch and travel times.

It's very cool that both my in-laws are so enthused about my parents coming to visit - and after all, who better to show them around this magnificent country? ... but it's slightly worrying too, one must admit.

We were going to tell them that my parents might be coming to France... but a little later on, just so he wouldn't have quite as much time to plan stuff.

But no, I accidentally let it slip and now they're off and racing. We already have vague plans for a whole heap of other things (like a trip to England, and maybe to Ireland), but when prompted, I mentioned that my parents were interested in a certain region (Bordeaux), there was even talk of doing a run-through of the trip before they arrived, just so we'd be sure to have enough time to fit it all in.

Yes. Really. A run-though.

Hmm. Things could get interesting.

Mint tea

| 1 Comment
Mint tea

Pickles and Olives

| 1 Comment
Image295.jpg

Local lebanese restaurant

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Local lebanese restaurant

Shoe-aholic

| 3 Comments

New calendar month and I looked but I didn't touch.

I'm feeling very smug.

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