December 2005 Archives

Happy Holidays

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Well, this afternoon we're off - we have a 5 hour drive ahead of us to get to the in-laws (lots of knitting time, actually), and we'll be spending a week there. I will miss my family back home in Australia, and I can't help but think of our last wonderful Christmas when my sister was here, but our future holds lots of foie gras, champagne, seafood, poultry, wine, bûche de noël, sitting beside the fireplace - and I'm pretty ok with that. I just hope we get a little snow, to make it really worthwhile.

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season :)

Loose feet

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I have a vivid mental image of my mother at her computer, one knee bent and her foot tucked underneath her. When it came time to get up, she would hobble around for 30 seconds whilst she complained that her foot was dead / her back hurt / she couldn't straighten her knee properly. We would all roll our eyes at her, and tell her she should just sit properly on the chair, and she knew she should do it too, but she couldn't help herself. She's always done it, and probably always will.

I like to sit on my feet too. I like to curl up on the couch, my feet tucked underneath me. I've always been flexible, and it's comfy. I think it has something to do with the way I always saw my mother sit, and with the fact that I have had a complex from a very early age, about the fact that whenever I sat down, my feet rarely touched the floor.

I used to do this a lot at work. I'd unconsciously switch positions if I was working on something particularly time-consuming, and would sit there frowning at the screen, one knee bent, foot tucked underneath me. I prefer to sit on my left foot.

Since I twisted my ankle though, I can't do it anymore. Sitting on it like that strains the muscle too much and I quickly have to rearrange myself so that I sit properly again. I can still sit cross-legged on the floor, and curl up on the couch, but gone are the days of sitting on my feet at work.

I guess in the long run it will be good for me, my posture, my ankles... but I like doing it. It reminds me of my mum.

At least I will always have the See How Long We Can Leave The Coffee/Tea Cup Beside The Computer Trick. She is the Queen of that little habit. I run a close second.

SMS conversation

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08:00

Katia to Sylvain : Eek! I need to get Pierre's present! Today! What BD do I get him? (BD = comic book)
Sylvain to Katia : Don't panic, I'll send you some ideas.

12:25

Katia to Sylvain : I need to know what to get Pierre!
Sylvain to Katia : Just get something funny!
Katia to Sylvain : Something funny? You're a poopoohead!

13:30

Katia to Sylvain : Just spent half an hour in BD store. Too much choice. Still don't know what to get. Can you look online this afternoon?
Sylvain to Katia : Ok

13:40

Katia to Sylvain : Just asked R, he suggested Litteul Kevin and Les Profs. S'ok?
Sylvain to Katia : Perfect!
Katia to Sylvain : Looked at fnac. I think Litteul Kevin is a bit naughty.
Sylvain to Katia : Will suit Pierre perfectly then.

What must be understood is that the comic book is considered a sacred piece of work in this part of the world. Like their Belgian counterparts, the French revere the comic book. Most decent book shops have entire sections dedicated to the art, and the vast majority of them are not for children. At any time of the day, you'll see grown men and women perusing the aisles, leafing through their favourite BDs, which will range in style from classic comics to epic tales, with beautiful drawings and artwork. A far cry from the Garfield and Disney comics I grew up with.

It took me a couple of years of living here to get my head around the idea of this genre being so attractive to so many people. My own husband dislikes reading (to my chagrin) but adores his BDs. I guess it's good that he reads at all ;)

So today, in the BD shop, I was literally surrounded by choice. Inundated with choice. Too much choice. And to be instructed to get something funny was not helpful. At all.

Things to do

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- get through a pile of washing that is so big that if I was buried underneath it I would be smothered and it would require a search party to find me (note to self - take packed lunch and a torch in with me, just in case)
- finish knitting Christmas presents (oh the nightmares)
- pack for a week away at in-laws (what yarn should i take? what books should I bring?)
- clean the apartment (who likes a messy apartment after a week holiday?)
- talk to the guardian about the fact that our apartment is STILL sitting at about 27°C and we are NOT sleeping and Symphony is drugging herself by sprawling out on the floor of the apartment and then vomiting because she gets too hot and doesn't know when to stop
- panic over Christmas presents STILL not yet sent to various overseas people (I know, I know, I'm so bad, you should all disown me)
- write three articles for the neomag. in-laws don't have high speed internet and therefore my research capacity is down to about zero. smelling trouble on this one
- respond to about 23,923 emails and 1,029,330 neomails

I'm sure I could get it all done in time. If I didn't waste all my free time blogging and reading blogs. teehee!

Motivation

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When it's cold and pouring down rain outside, and you've got the whole day to yourself, it's hard to get motivated to go out. But once a body gets moving, it's worth it!

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my

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I'm feeling a bit tired at the moment, a bit run down, thus my monthly day off should do me a lot of good. I'm looking forward to Christmas at the in-laws, despite my initial reluctance to give up our plans to go somewhere between Christmas and New Year, because it means we get to relax for awhile without really having to do anything.

Last week we saw Notre Dame de Paris, which was really fabulous (even if I didn't like a few of the lyrics, "quasimodo est malheureux, quasimodo est triste" - get a thesaurus, people), and has inspired us to make plans next year to see some musicals in London.

I've been frantically organising Christmas presents (I'm so bad, those destined to countries outside of France are LATE as usual), and putting the finishing touches on my knitted gifts. I think it's slightly crazy that I'm nearing the finishing line when I decide to add a couple more knitted gifts into the mix. But hey, frantic activity adds a little spice to life, really.

We have been cooking up a storm, and like busy little squirrels stockpiling nuts away for winter, we've been busy tupperwaring and putting things in the freezer. It's always nice to have a few chuck-em-in-the-microwave choices for weeknight dinners. This weekend I made a big pot of bolognaise sauce and a meat pie (not bad, but not quite as good as those back home, I need to experiment with the spices), Sylvain whipped up a quiche (no, don't worry mum, I'm not eating it), a flan and an apple pie (using a recipe from the lovely Sarah). I think the latter two won't last long enough to be put in the freezer.

On the advice of a commenter on my blog, I have been downloading Speaking in Tongues and watching them on my mac. Hilariousness. Not only is there that dry sense of Australian humour that I love, but the fabulous accents, particularly that of Father Bob, really remind me of home. I only wish the show would run for longer than 25 minutes, and that they'd have a chance to do longer interviews.

I'm also completely enamoured with the hilariousness that is Little Britain. I fell upon an episode by chance on cable a few weeks ago, and since then we have acquired the first two seasons. I have been watching the episodes slowly, savouring them - they are comedic entertainment at its best. Sylvain is somewhat confused by some of the things, and he commented to me last week, "you know your show?" "Little Britain? Yeah" I replied. "Well, it's a bit naughty, really," he giggled. And that's the essence of it.

I spoke to my sister this weekend, and I mentioned that I'd been watching Speaking in Tongues and how much I was enjoying it. I was about to tell her how much I liked Little Britain when she exclaimed, "oh have you seen this show? It's called Little Britain?" I laughed, and sms wars between Australian and France ensued over the rest of the weekend, "ya iknow", "i want that one", "i'm the only gay in the village", "you remember my gran, don't you?", "yeah but no but yeah but don't listen to him anyway coz he's got no pubes", "if ye were to ask me on monday, i would say yeyuss" and so on and so forth. The second-last, "bitty now", provoked the response, "sick. It is truly sick." That one is really shudder-worthy. But it doesn't stop us watching it and Sylvain has the "ya iknow" accent down pat now. I'm impressed.

Last night I was sitting in bed, checking my emails on my pda, with Symphony on my lap. Sylvain came in and crossed his arms over his chest, "you know, playing in bed on the internet via your pda doesn't make you any less geeky than when you have your computer in there with you," he commented. I opened my mouth to reply, but he continued, "in fact, I think it could be worse."

I concede that my dear husband has a point, "ya iknow".

A special gift for Christmas

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Welcome to the world, Zozo! I'm sure you're going to be surrounded by all the love in the world. I can't wait to meet you, our newest little knotlet! Congratulations Sarah and Tibo! :)

Santa Hotline

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My mobile phone rings.

I examine the oh-so-useful caller id and exclaim, "Hi Kyliemac! How are you?"

She replies, "Hi, is Santa there?"

...

Last night, I got a phone call from this rarely-frazzled young lady, who confessed that she had also used the "I've got Santa's phone number and I will call him if you're not good" trick. She then asked if it would be at all possible to "borrow" my husband for the duration of a phone call if she was ever stuck again.

Thank goodness I talked to Sylvain about it when I got home last night, so when I handed him the phone tonight and said, "Santa, there's a phone call for you", he knew what to do.

...

"Make sure you're a good girl between now and Christmas and I might come to visit."

...

"Where you ok with that?" I giggled, as he hung up the phone.

"It's LYING!" he laughed. "I LIED to a four year old!"

"Boff," I replied. "The very existence of Santa is a lie. You're just perpetuating a story people have been telling for ages. It's fine."

He rolled his eyes. But ten minutes later, he's still smirking.

...

This reminds me, I think it's definitely time we put up the Christmas tree this weekend...

Tissues

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Blowing my nose, carefully folding up the tissue and sticking it in my pocket (I have only a limited supply, at least until lunchtime when I can go out and buy some more) - I am reminded of my Gran. She would tuck her folded hankies up the sleeve of her cardigan, in the pocket of her apron, or somewhere in her dress. As a little girl, I looked up to my Gran, and I thought this was really practical, so I used to try to keep my hankies and tissues tucked in my sleeve, only to forget about them and later watch them tumble to the floor when I pulled my jumper off, or worse, discover them all clumped up in my sleeves when they came out of the wash.

I've been told that my way of covering my mouth when I giggle is a habit I picked up from her at a very early age. I share her love of words, of Scrabble, of crosswords and of dictionaries. Her competitive streak, in card and board games, and challenging myself as much as I challenge others. As I grew older, I learned about the things she did as a young woman, like bringing up a family in difficult post-war conditions, and driving the tractor into town to buy groceries. My view of her evolved from the love of a grandchild to encompass a respect of her as an accomplished person as well.

I'm not very good at keeping in touch, with writing letters, but rarely a day goes by when I don't think of her, when I don't think of all my grandparents back home. It comes from the everyday things, the way I make my gravy for a roast chicken, a new crafty endeavour I want to put my mind to, or the mere act of blowing my nose and putting my tissue in my pocket - this is the way that they remain present in my heart, despite being oceans away.

Heroes and villains

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Our plans to go away between Christmas and New Years have been foiled by assumptions that we will be spending the maximum amount of time with the in-laws. Not that I really mind, because they're fabulous, generous people and I enjoy spending time with them, but just to set the record straight, since we've been married, we've only really spent one week of holidays together, by ourselves. We'd like to travel a little, see things, enjoy things, but I guess that'll have to wait... until next holidays... maybe.

I really shouldn't complain though, because when I spoke to him on the phone today, my father-in-law was starting to talk about an experiment that he's going to be doing on one of the foie gras for Christmas. There's always a "straight" foie gras - made with just a smidgen of salt and pepper and the liver does all the talking - but there's also always a creative one. I literally started to salivate on the phone. Christmas = foie gras = good times = no complaints from me.

Tonight we watched Hero. Magnificent movie. I have now decided that I want to dress up in big billowy robes and weild a sword. Of course, practicality dictates that my new fashion statement will have to wait until the weather warms up again, but I'm determined, oh yes I am.

I also sneezed about 60 times during the movie, and at the end, Sylvain asked, "have you got a cold?". Nice to be noticed, really.

But it's all ok. In 2 1/2 weeks it will be Christmas - I will have finished my knitting projects and will have started on something all for ME, and there'll be foie gras and maybe even snow and all will be right with the world.

Hot and cold

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Our heating is back on, but now we've got problems on the other end of the scale - it's about 27°C in our apartment and we haven't slept properly for three nights. We have a shared heating system - the heating is in the floor, through hot water pipes - which means we cannot regulate the temperature. As a general rule, it works really well, but it's a real pain in the posterior when it breaks.

I went down to the guardians office last night after work, and opened my mouth to tell him what was going on.

He put his hand up, and smiled tiredly at me. "Don't tell me," he sighed. "It's too hot in your apartment."

"Well, yes", I replied, surprised.

"Let me add your name to the list," he waved a sheet of paper with handwriting on it. "You're not the only one."

"So what can you do?" I asked. "It's really hot. We haven't slept properly in days. We are sleeping with the windows open."

"We have to wait until the new hot water system is working through all the pipes throughout the entire apartment building," he shrugged. "Then we can regulate the temperature. I don't know how long that will take. For now, you have to keep sleeping with the windows open."

I muttered to myself as I climbed up the hill to our apartment building, and continued muttering as I let myself in the front door and put on a singlet and skirt. I kept muttering as Symphony walked up to me, sleepy and dizzy, from having been sleeping too long on the hotspots on the floor. The muttering went on as I cleaned up her vomit from her overheating herself on the hotspots. I'm still muttering today, because the heating is still not back to normal, Symphony can't help but drug herself on the hotspots and then she overheats and whinges about it (but whinging is better than vomiting, and thankfully that hasn't happened yet today).

It's no wonder I cannot get rid of this cold. First it was freezing in here. Now it's too hot and we have to sleep with the darn window open. That, and the fact that it seems like every single person on the train has got the sneezles and sniffles too, so we're probably just all passing the same bugs around to each other, sharing, like good little boys and girls.

This is the problem with having to kiss almost everyone you meet in this country, and with the tiring practice at my place of employ of having to shake hands with everyone at the beginning and the end of each day.

All those bugs and germs and viruses and bacteria going back and forth.

Sharing.

Like one big happy family.

Erk. Give me a wave and limited physical contact any day.

Nuts and bolts

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Something very curious has happened on my blog, and it's all going haywire - there is no access to comments or anything. Very curious indeed. I might poke a few things and see what happens, but I don't have much time to do so right now, so I might just sit and wait for it to magically fix itself (since it magically broke itself, I don't see why it couldn't work the other way around). So in the meantime, instead of commenting, why not hug your cat or your fish or your partner or a potplant instead?

Update : It appears to be fixed. Something very mysterious, indeed. It's amazing the things that can be fixed with a couple of clicks of a mouse, followed by few grapes and kitten kisses. Still very perplexed as to how it broke in the first place, but I'm not going to worry my pretty little head about these things. So stop hugging your cat or your fish or your partner or your potplant and give me some ipodcasting love!

A craft show, a surprise gift of two beautiful paintings from a friend, pizza, knitting, rasberry and white chocolate muffins, carrot cake, good company, Harry Potter in English - this was the sum of my weekend. That, and a horrible head cold that I came down with yesterday (and which foiled my plans to attend a singing of the Messiah at the American Church last night), and which threatened to keep me down this morning - thankfully I managed to head it off at the pass by drinking about 30 litres of juice and popping some nurofen along with it.

I'm feeling a little unsettled, these days. It's hard to get myself going in the morning when it's dark outside (I'd much rather stay in bed, where it's warm, and the cat would prefer it too), and it's a little disheartening to finish work when it's dark outside too. There is also a lot of movement going on at my work, and I'm not sure what the consequences are going to be for me, and whether I will like it. I feel strung out, anxious - so I am focussing on getting each thing done, one at a time, in the time that I have, and making a clean break at the end of the day, a clean cut between my work life and personal life. So I get on the train, find an isolated seat, turn my ipod on and knit.

There are times I just don't feel like listening to music, so I've been discovering the world of podcasts. After finding a couple of good comedy ones through itunes, I headed towards the familiar, and downloaded some of the Triple J podcasts. The voices of Australia on the train in Paris. Who knew?

As I listen to these accents, I find myself analysing them in a way that I never considered before, almost from an outsiders perspective. The curious little lilt at the end of phrases, the one that goes up or down or up and down, depending on what is being said. I'm now noticing myself sometimes doing that same little lilt as I speak to Sylvain in English - not always, but sometimes.

My current favourite is the fabulous Dr. Karl, and I wait eagerly for next Thursdays transmission. In the mean time, Dr. Katia is still looking for others that might catch my eye (or my ear, as the case may be). Any suggestions?

Are we there yet?

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I have reached a sort-of plateau in my French-learning experience. I still have lots of things to learn, but my progress is no longer in leaps and bounds. I would like to go back and take some more advanced French classes, to polish up on some of my more frequent mistakes, and to strengthen some of my weaknesses (such as writing in a business context). But since I seem to have less time than ever now, I have to make do with just speaking French on a daily basis, writing a few emails per day in French and avoiding conjugating words like peindre.

So even though I make fewer and fewer errors when I talk, and as a general rule, and I get by without too many problems (after much effort, I don't mix up autruche (ostrich) and autriche (austria) anymore), occasionally things still do go a little haywire.

Last Friday, I raced into the office and exclaimed, "il fait trop froid! c'est pas possible!" (it's too cold! it's not possible!)

The secretary grinned at me, "est-ce qu'il neige?" (is it snowing?)

I did a little dance of excitement, "il y a des petits flacons de neige!"( there are little bottles of snow!)

The secretary looked at me for a moment, head to one side as she processed what I said, then laughed.

"Oh mince!" I sighed. "I mean... Flocons de neige." (I mean, snowflakes).

"T'inquiete pas, Katia," my colleague giggled. "De toute façon, tes bêtises me manquent." (Don't worry Katia. And anyway, I've missed your mistakes)

One little letter. Funny how it makes all the difference.

But it's still good to know that I can provide comic relief. Even without intending to.

Time flies

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There's a Work Experience girl here this week.

She spent three hours watching me work yesterday, and I explained a lot about what I do and answered lots of questions.

I remember doing Work Experience.

Scary.

Return to Narnia

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Excited about the release of the first movie, I'm currently re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia - for the first time in over ten years. Someone gave me a complete set a couple of years ago, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I just finished the Magicians Nephew, and I am a few chapters into The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Narnia is a magical place, and I am totally enchanted by it once again. The only problem is that I'm reading it so fast and I am getting through them too quickly - I want to savour them - so I need to slow down and only read a few chapters a week.

It's interesting to read these books now, with the knowledge that I have - there are so many things that I didn't see when I was younger, particuarly the parallels to Christianity, that it makes them a fascinating read on a number of different levels. I wonder how I'll look at it when I read them again ten years from now, and in twenty years, and in thirty years...

I can no longer feel my nose

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It's really cold at the moment. At least for my blood - I'm still not used to cold winters. I prefer not to know exactly what temperature it is, because it only makes me feel colder.And anyway, wWhen it's this cold, there should be snow. Seriously. I spend all winter here looking out the window, hoping there'll be snow. Even if there are clear skies. It's the Southern Hemisphere in me.

Unfortunately we have had no heating in our apartment since yesterday morning, and I hope that they're going to fix it soon, because the entire building is affected. Symphony walked around last night with her fur standing on end, and as soon as we sat down (usually with a blanket of some sort over our knees and around our shoulders) - WHOOMP - she's on our laps, snuggling. We slept with several covers on the bed last night, and Symphony remained right between us, under the covers, all night.

Walking to the station this morning, I was wrapped up in about 30 different layers (which, of course, I must take off when I get on the overheated train). As I wriggled my fingers in my gloves, I thought about the neck warmer that I saw in Etam yesterday - I could knit that! so quick! it would take just a couple of days! no! i must resist! MUST FINISH KNITTING CHRISTMAS PRESENTS FIRST!!!! - and I think ahead towards KNOTs tonight. I'm nearly at the station when I realise that I forgot my knitting bag, and thus trudge back up the hill and get it (Sylvain is in the shower, I can hear him giggling at me, and Symphony is literally huddled over the modem for warmth, poor thing), and I head back down the hill. I'm late for work and coughing from the cold.

I know the climate here in Paris isn't made for snow, and it only happens occasionally and rarely lasts, but I can always live in hope.

Time to look out the window again.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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