March 2007 Archives

Of late-night messages and dreams

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Dreaming is something I look forward to each night, and when I talked about my dreams recently, my mum asked me what sorts of dreams I actually had and what happened in them. I subscribe to the theory that dreams are a random firing of neurons, and that it's all just a matter of what is grabbed first by my sleeping mind. It's natural that work, family, friends and other preoccupations play different parts in my dreams, and although sometimes I'm plagued by spiders or balding monsters in my night-time travels, it's just something that has been picked up by my brain as just another part of the great big archive that is my mind.

This week, worrying about my sister (given the circumstances), has taken up a lot of my time. As much as she likes to play it down and tell me that it's really not a big deal, I think it's relatively normal behaviour for a sister to worry.

At night, I kept my phone beside my bed, just in case something happened. I got woken up at 3.15am a few days ago, by an sms saying that she was out of hospital. And I let out the breath that I'd been holding for a few days.

I fell back asleep. And had the most marvellous dreams. Random things: sitting on the verandah on the farm and playing Scrabble with my mum and Sabine, my dad walking along the garden path, my sister in the farmhouse kitchen making a chocolate Madeira cake, me poking around the pantry, smelling fenugreek and looking for sugar. Laughing. Smiling. Recounting stories. Everyone happy.

I woke up, feeling completely surrounded by love.

In this case, I'm lucky to remember my dreams.


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There are many things I love about working in France. The 35 hour working week, for one. Not to mention that I get to hear real French, and I get to learn all sorts of different and glorious expressions.

Like "caca d'oie". Translated as "goose poop". Used to describe the colour "greeny-yellow".

Ah, the language of Molière.

Words that I know, that I use all the time, are my biggest downfall.

I go too fast, plunge headlong into things without thinking, and end up making terrible mistakes that make me look like a right nuffer.

When referring to my sister, I talked about her being buried on Friday (enterrer), rather than landing on a plane (atterrir).

Hilarity ensues.

Especially unfortunate error, given the current circumstances.

There are days when I should truly keep my mouth shut.

Dear Charlie

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Only you would manage to pick up what is likely to be a tropical disease on your last day in Papua New Guinea. Obviously a tropical ulcer was not enough. Thankfully you made it to an Australian hospital.

Don't hassle the nurses too much. Get better quick, 'cos mum and dad are waiting to pick you guys up, not to mention that you have a wedding to plan! I love you lots, baby sister.


Him and her


No matter how much progress I make in my French, I am always going to be the Queen of Messing Up Genders of Words. A "le" here, a "la" there, and I wreak Havoc whever I go.

A couple of days ago I referred to a male colleague of mine as "ma colleague". Turning him into a female, just by making a mistake with one tiny little word. Two eensy weensy letters. And something which I normally say correctly. Of course, he didn't even flinch when I tried to get his attention, because he didn't realise I was talking about him.

I don't have any illusions about the level of my French - I work in the language every day, and although I'm very fluent in daily dialogue, I'm far from perfect (not to mention that my literary French only grows very little with each passing week). I swear, it doesn't get any easier. In fact, the longer I stay here, the fewer excuses I can throw out for not speaking as well as I'd like, and so the more flagrant my errors become.

Him and her. My achilles heel. Who was the genius that decided that words have to have genders?!

Watch out, the Queen of Massacring the French Language is coming through.

Of looks and laughter

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I experienced one of those surreal moments today that you sometimes see parodied in movies or on tv shows or in cartoons.

I looked at her and she looked at me while he looked at us. Then she looked at him and he looked at her and I looked at them. Then he looked at me and I looked at him and she looked at us. This continued, for one long minute. The three of us exchanged looks, raised our eyebrows, sighed, puffed out our cheeks, and raised our eyebrows again.

It went on for so long that there was nothing for me to do but laugh. Laughter lightly dusted with hysteria is better than no laughter at all.

Swedes in Spring

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Winter made a last ditch attempt to save face this morning, and threw a few snowflakes at me on the way to work. Then, in a fit of rage, he decided to throw some hailstones at around 2pm, but that didn't last long either. Spring seems determined to assert herself and I keep catching glimpses of blue sky through the heavy grey clouds.

But the best gauge is the amount of tourists - I was nearly drowned by scores of Swedish students in the line at Starbucks during lunchtime today - and so despite this brief cold snap, I think Spring is on its way.

Oh, and check out the latest episode of the podcast ;)



Sylvain grins at me, "do you know how many shoes there were beside the door? This doesn't even count what is in the dressing room."

I glare at him and try countering. "Thongs don't count," I argue.

He shakes his head. "Fourteen pairs of shoes. FOURTEEN."

"Don't be rude!"

I flounce off to the lounge room, and I can hear him muttering, "that's, like, a different pair every day for two weeks."

He just doesn't understand the importance of choice.



Click click clickety-click.

My heels make a clickety-click sound as I walk.

Most of my shoes allow me to operate on stealth mode (I can sneak and surprise to my hearts content), but I have one pair that (unless I walk on my tippy toes) heralds my arrival from a long way off.

I like to wear these shoes when I want to seem exceptionally busy. Meeting days usually see me in these shoes. A fast clickety-click down the corridor gives the impression that I am in a hurry to get somewhere and that I have a very important purpose in my movements from one place to another. A slight frown creasing my forehead also helps.

When I wear these shoes, I feel like I'm doing something. Clickety-click. Even going to the photocopier or making myself a cup of tea sounds ten times more urgent in my clickety-click shoes.

As a student, I longed for the day when I could go to work, use my knowledge, what was in my brain, and earn a living from it. It was so exciting, just imagining what I could do.

Things are not easy for me at the moment in my day-to-day life, but I love what I am paid to do. I love playing with colours and putting things together so they look good. I love it when people ask me what I think and listen to what I have to say.

But I never imagined the satisfaction that could come from simply wearing a pair of clickety-click shoes.

Sometimes, when things overwhelm you, you just have to appreciate the simple things in life.


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One of the things that I love about France is the rich gastronomic culture - every time we've had international guests, we've really enjoyed showing them around the country through their taste buds.

And that is why taste-testing different food and beverages (armagnac, cognac, wine, vodka, etc.) from all over France is a very civilised way of spending a Saturday afternoon. Especially when you're in extremely fine company.

Of course, the wee headache that I had on my return had nothing to do with the mix. Nothing at all. Oh, and then we podcasted about it. Of course.




With Sylvain off in colder climes again, I'm starting to go stir-crazy. I need to get out of the city. Bury my nose in some grass and breathe some fresh air. The urge is so strong that I have to hold myself back from jumping on a train, any train, at the end of the day and just leaving the city.

I've talked before about spending my youth wanting to leave the country and the probability that I'll spend my adulthood wanting to go back... but this is where my roots really become obvious. I love lots of things about the city lifestyle, but I really wish that we could go back to something a little more earthy - a herb garden, growing our own vegetables,... One day, I hope.

So in the meantime I skip over the cracks in the pavement where the earth has moved and squeal audibly when I see flowers growing in places they're not supposed to be. The proof that one day our world will reach out and take back what we've tried to control.

And we are making the most of this life whilst we're here. At least it's a little easier to handle now that the Demon Spawn With The Golden Curls seems to have been reined in by her parents. Either that or they've given her away. We hardly hear a peep from upstairs now, which proves that speaking up can be worth it. And that life is what you make of it.

Oh, and more podcasting. Talk about making the most of it.

Of walking, wading and paddling

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Armed with a baguette still warm from the oven, a generous sliver of pâté, a camembert that stank up the car, and a couple of golden apples (I love the Sunday morning market, love it), we headed out today for a walk in the park. We both got down in the dirt to take some photos (and our jeans got thrown in the wash when we got home), and just enjoyed the silence.

I like this pastime - the reduction of the world into a small rectangle, where the only thing that matters is the clarity, the colours, the capture. For a couple of hours, we can forget about everything. Like stress. And cold sores.

Orange and yellow

And while doing so, I can learn new words. Patauger = to wade. Not to be confounded with pagayer = to paddle (a boat or a canoe). But if you're looking for "paddling" (in the water, with your feet)? That's barboter.

Such mix-ups cause husbands to laugh at their wives and their confusion, not to mention their bad pronounciation of words like patauger.

No swimming, wading, fishing, hunting, or ice skating

Oh, and there are a couple of new episodes over on the podcast!


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This page is an archive of entries from March 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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