March 2006 Archives

Boom boom boom

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I love winter - I've always loved winter, the wind and the rain - but the sensations experienced here in Europe that I didn't grow up with are something else altogether. I love wrapping myself up in layers, surrounding myself in coats, mittens, hats and scarves. Big, solid boots. And the possibility of snow.

But I do like to see the change of seasons, and I feel the sensations of such change keenly, in the pure rhythm of nature.

Today, time has moved forward, the day stretches out a franction longer, the sun goes to bed later, the birds are singing, clear skies bode well and the air smells different.

But the best sign... the bongo drummers are back. Lulling us to sleep with their earthy rhythms, late at night.

Spring is coming.

Far away

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I've been feeling very far away from Australia in the last few weeks. What with the Commonwealth Games going on in Melbourne, not to mention my sister preparing for her year working in Papua New Guinea and getting engaged, as well as all the other things that are going on in the lives of family and friends back there, it's been hard to sit back and watch it all going on across the other side of the world without me.

I know that the world keeps on turning, whatever happens, it's just hard to not be part of all that. Especially when Dame Edna is involved, possums.

We're planning on heading back there this Christmas for about three weeks, and I can barely wait. By that time, it will have been three years since I've been home. I wonder if I'll recognise Australia. I wonder if it will recongise me.

Unshopping

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Today we went to Ikea, and left without buying anything.

Who knew it was possible?

(Of course, Sylvain will have to go back to get the thing that they didn't have in stock today, but still, it was done!)

Sing your heart out

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Her latest post reminded me of a conversation I had with a colleague today. We were discussing our respective tendencies to sing to ourselves (he had been humming Funky Town) and he admitted that he was actually too embarassed to sing in English in front of me, because he only really catches a few of the words for each song (usually those in the title) and for the rest of the song he just makes sounds that mimic the words and it's really rather ridiculous.

I giggled and replied that I had exactly the same sentiments about singing to myself in French.

A few minutes later I found myself singing Love Shack. I was put on the spot when someone asked me what exactly a "love shack" was. Trust the French to ask a question like this.

Katias Cooking School

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Last night I received a call from a girlfriend asking me for a cooking tip. It's not the first time this has happened, and she's not the only one amongst my friends to do this.

20 minutes later, the home phone rang. I assumed it was her, ringing to tell me how her cooking adventure went, so I respond, "Katia's School of Cooking for the Epicurically* Challenged".

"oui-allô? Katia?" a confused voice asked.

My mother in law.

Crap.

"Oui bonjour! C'est moi!" I hurriedly reply. "Je croyais que c'était une amie." (I thought it was a friend)

"Je croyais que j'étais une amie." (I thought I was a friend)

Double crap.

Thankfully she laughs, and I rush to explain with a lengthy tale about a confused girlfriend and the history of strange instructions left by parents of children she takes care of, but from the silence on the other end of the line I figure that I've only managed to dig a deeper hole for myself (whilst Sylvain nearly falls off the couch from laughing so hard), so I throw the phone at him and hope that she doesn't think I'm a complete idiot.

I've often watched movies like Bridget Jones, where she answers the phone saying something naughty and it ends up being her mother, and thought that I'd never do something so silly.

Of course, it could've been a heck of a lot worse.

When will I actually start to think before I speak?

* I love making up words. Oh the beauty, the elasticity of the English language. Of course, virtually impossible to translate into French.

Hot to trot

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Zoom in on the Aussie lasses kitchen, early evening.

Guacamole is being prepared. The onions have been chopped, garlic crushed, tomato deseeded, salt and pepper shaken, avocado peeled - all that remains is the chilli.

On the weekend, a relatively inconspicuous chilli had been purchased for this very same purpose, but the flavour was relatively inconspicuous as well, and the Frenchman had been sent out to hunt down something with a little more kick.

The new chilli lay on the bench, and looking a little more interesting than the last, it sported a name that included "antillaise" in the title.

10 years ago, my own tastebuds refused to handle chilli of any sort, but working in a Mexican restaurant during my student years vastly helped improve my appreciation of this little gastronomic delight. The Frenchmans tastebuds have slowly acclimatised to the amount of chilli I put in food, and he can often be heard mentioning, "this could have more chilli in it".

In order to work out the proportions required for the guacamole, it was decided that the Aussie Lass should test the chilli before any further moves were made. A tiny sliver was cut, and she hesitantly placed it in her mouth.

Hot to trot

One second, two seconds, five seconds - she moved it experimentally across her tongue to see if her taste buds could pick up anything interesting - to no avail. "It's very delicate", she remarked, and proceeded to chop off a chunk of the chilli and popped it into her mouth.

The scene that followed had to be cut due to the vast number of expletives.

Suffice to say that a litre of milk was downed, followed a litre of water, as her entire mouth burned, and much snot poured out of the Aussie Lasses nose and tears streamed from her eyes.

The Frenchman also shed a few tears - of laughter.

It was so strong that my freaking teeth hurt. It fully took half an hour for my mouth to stop burning - and thankfully my stomach seems to be able to digest it.

So far.

Wedding bells

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CONGRATULATIONS to my beautiful baby sister on getting engaged to the fabulous yayi. This is the best news I've heard in a while, and I think I cried with excitement about 30 times today.

I'm also really thrilled to be getting a brother! Especially one like ya.

Sylvains first response was, "it's about time", and his second thought was, "it gives us another excuse to go to Australia!"

Moi, toi et tous les autres

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In a long and convoluted way, her most recent post reminded me about one that I wrote quite some time ago, and which in turn reminded me that I should mention how weird it has been to see my name popping up in rather odd places all over the internet about this very subject.

It's almost as if I know what I'm talking about.

Good things in the world

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- Yarn sales at Bon Marché (even though I know that my stash already has a life of its own and buying more yarn is just adding more fuel to the fire).
- New season of A la recherche de la nouvelle star (aka Australian Idol, Pop Idol, American Idol).
- White chocolate michokos. These could be my downfall.

1, 2, 3, 4

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Today I learned four new words.

1. Un plastron = breastplate or shirtfront
2. Plastronner = to throw out one's chest, to strut, swagger. Comes from the word "plastron" because apparently waiters wear plastrons, and often strut.

Hmm.

Don't ask.

The third word is one that I knew already, but only with one meaning.

3. Un patron = a boss (this meaning I knew) and a sewing pattern.

When I discovered the meaning of the third word, my mouth started moving a lot faster than my brain (who decided it was a good thing to teach me French, because I just end up looking stupid and talking too much and saying stupid things in two languages?!) and I told a story. To my patron. Which involved me going to a shop near the Marché Saint-Pierre and looking at the section which was marked "les patrons" and assuming that it was exclusively for "bosses". Ahem.

For some reason, I don't think that I'm coming across as the most intelligent of lassies. I need to learn to think before I speak.

Then came along the fourth word.

4. un fur = very ancient word referring to a unit of measurement.

This word came up as I wondered (out loud, as usual) how the "fur" of the phrase "au fur et à mesure" (little by little, gradually,) was spelled. The resulting conversation revealed that it was indeed spelled "fur" and then went further as the origin of the word was discussed, as well as the origin of the phrase. People nodded solemnly, brows furrowed, as they contemplated the depth of my question.

Of course, I just needed to know the answer to write an email, but if they want to think I'm horribly clever and deep then that is just fine by me. I need these occasional boosts of confidence to help cover up all the stupid things I say.

Stamping up the steps

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I had a revelation this weekend - a fabulous experience that made me bouyant with confidence.

I was deeply engrossed in a book in English, and eating a piece of toast, with the news on television in the background (in French). I suddenly looked up, and watched a short segment about the craft show (l'aiguille en fête) that I had attended the day before.

It was only later that I realised that the information had been processed by my brain without any effort on my part - particularly interesting because I was completely absorbed by my English book. For me, this felt like a real progression in my journey in learning French, proof that my understanding of French has evolved beyond the idea of "language", into an unconscious "process". I was thrilled to realise that I can actually understand both at the same time, without having to make any effort.

Normally not one to spend all my time bragging about my own acheivements, I was so darn proud of myself that I recounted this story to pretty much anyone who would listen over the weekend. I even told my boss this morning.

My brain : I think that I've cleared another obstacle, or gone up another step in this learning process.
My mouth : "Je crois que j'ai affranchi une étape..."

I realise what I've done as the words come out of my mouth, and my boss replies, "vous avez franchi une étape, pas affranchi".

"Ouais ouais, je sais", I clap myself on the forehead.

I think I have paid the postage on another step.

Right.

Here I go and slide down the bannister. One step forward, half a step back. I've still got a LONG way to go.

Then I go and spend my precious weekend time making a gazillion phone calls trying to track down an elusive liqueur for a friends birthday, seeing movies, quoting Little Britain(-ogram), watching the first 8 episodes of Lost (in VO), frogging 20 long rows of my Devon vest because I forgot to change the needle size when I was supposed to, and eating Salt & Vinegar chips.

Priorities.

Pursuits and priorities

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Of course, the pursuit of creativity requires time - a precious commodity for the average person, when one has to count work, travel, sleeping time, meal times... the list goes on.

When it comes down to it, the time we have here in this life is short. The ideal balance is to combine the things we have to do with the things we love to do - but such an ability is rare. So I need to make the most of the time I have to do the things I enjoy. But what are my priorities?

To laugh, to sleep, to sing, to eat, to create, to talk, to drink, to meditate, to knit, to cook, to worship, to dream, to sew, to savour, to watch, to bake, to smile, to stretch, to write, to relish, to hope, to touch, to capture, to love, to cleanse, to jump, to photograph, to teach, to bask, to climb, to evolve, to read, to nurture, to listen, to imagine, to relax, to build, to play, to breathe.

When there is only so much time in the day, which is the most important? Where do I fit it all in?

Dad jokes

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We're eating dinner - steak, carrots and peas (almost the traditional "meat and three veg"). In one graceful movement, Katia drops several peas on the floor.

"Oooh", she exclaimed. "I pea-d/peed on the floor!"

Sylvain looks at her in horror, "but why?"

Stuff I want to make #2

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There is an unpublished blog post here on my blog that, for a long time, I used to keep a list of links. I would regularly update this list with things that I found around the internet, and used the list as a starting point when I needed a little boost of inspiration. It's called "Stuff I want to make". I recently started to migrate a lot of this stuff over to delicious, but it's only the beginning...

Every day I see things that inspire me, revolt me, amaze me, take my breath away. My photos, my scribbled notes - these only result in capturing a snippet of the essence of such things. But it's better than forgetting altogether. I find myself wishing that I could seize the very soul of each of these moments, these things, and keep them in a delicious list that I could refer to from time to time. To relive and to continue to be inspired. If only.

I am lucky to be working in a field that allows me to experiment, to a certain extent, with my creativity. It is a delight to find myself respected for this. I am pulling together dozens of different projects in all aspects of my personal life - concrete projects that I want to start right now, hopeful projects that I hope to start soon, and idealistic projects that I would love to be able to get my hands on sometime in the future - things that require making, shaping, moulding, creating, with my hands, with my mind, and sometimes with a little of both.

I am surrounded, filled, overflowing. I love this feeling.

Watch me jump into this river of inspiration.

The sky is falling

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There is a general unease in France at the moment about the avian flu. Everyone is talking about it - a friend working in local town hall gossips about documents he saw that discuss contingency plans and disaster recovery - and poultry sales have dropped by about 30%. I wouldn't be surprised if sales drop even further with time.

I'm feeling slightly panicky about it, but that's my typical reaction with anything of the sort. Epidemic scenarios flit through my head and I worry.

I like to keep up with world news on a daily basis anyway, but this is one thing that feels like it could hit close to "home". Last night we were watching the news, as they discussed the "facts" and the status of the situation. The news presenter rounded off a five minute story on the subject with a declaration of, "there is no need to worry", and "the best we can do is continue eating chicken".

I felt reassured.

Then they decide to launch into the next part of the news broadcast with a look at how the police are being trained on what to do if it does become an epidemic that effects human lives - gas masks to plastic suits and so on.

I felt somewhat less reassured.

Way to keep the masses calm, TF1.

Time for a truly classy post

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For once I'm glad that Symphony likes to drug herself on the drying cycle of the washing machine. It heats up and she drapes herself across it for two hours. Most of the time, when the drying cycle has stopped, she jumps off and stretches out on the floor of the lounge room, trying to cool down again. Occasionally, she vomits because she's so hot. All attempts to stop her from drugging herself, such as closing the door to the bathroom or picking her up and distracting her with games or cuddles, have been to no avail.

I walked into the bathroom today to check the washing in the machine and discovered a puddle of cat vomit on the tiles. Cat vomit that had peanuts in it.

Turns out that she has been eating peanuts from a little bowl that I put on the coffee table last night.

Who knew that cats liked peanuts?

A panicked call to the vet assured me that she should be able to digest them, although it's obviously not a recommended part of her diet and we need to keep a close eye on her for the next 48 hours. The fact that she vomited them up because of her session on the washing machine is probably not such a bad thing.

In fact, I might just run the drying cycle again.

Another notch on my belt

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Squirting the air freshener directly onto my jeans was not the cleverest thing I've done today.

I'm going to smell funny for the rest of the day.

Nallan pallan

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I have pulled her hair, bitten her and given her chinese burns on numerous occasions, and kicked one of her teeth out.

Crash ! and much laughter ...

We have jumped on our beds late at night; rolled, giggling, down daisy-covered hills; built cubbies and burrowed in mountains of freshly shorn wool; shared millions of adventures and hopefully will share millions more - my sister is one of my favourite people in the world.

DSC00691

It makes me desperately sad to be so far away from her laughter and crazy ideas - she makes me want to be a better person - and I miss her every day.

She is beautiful, talented, intelligent, witty, and strong. Stronger than most people I know, and doing impressive things for someone her age. I can't wait to see where her inherent goodness and courage will take her in the future.

I count myself lucky to know her.

Happy birthday, baby sister.

Just don't get a big head, spotty bot, otherwise I'll pinch yer bum.

Sisters

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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