November 2007 Archives

Of dreams and doing


I dreamed of Australia last night. I dreamed we drove down the Great Ocean Road and played in the sea. I talked to everyone I care about. For a long time. And laughed a lot. And played ridiculous amounts of Scrabble. It was wonderful.

I woke up, read my mum's latest post about Christmas, and felt melancholy. Why does my world have to be spread so far apart? This year we'll be celebrating Christmas with Sylvain's parents, replete with foie gras and Sauternes and other deliciousness. And if we're lucky, maybe some snow. It's not quite enough to balance out how much I'll miss being in Australia at Christmas, but it's not so bad, really. I'll survive, after all.

I'm reading. Devouring. Book after book. Late into the night. Sleeping well. Dreaming. Eating giant choco-coconut covered marshmallows from Ikea that are quite like Snowballs. Hugging my husband. Lots. Taking photos. Working less. Being more efficient. Making new friends. Drinking ridiculous amounts of juice. Playing lots of Scrabulous. Doing yoga. Maybe even taking up a theater class. We're almost at episode 100. And I have all sorts of exciting things up my sleeve, more plans and adventures.

I'm in a good place.

All the velibs are red!

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That's it


I Am Officially Over The Strikes.

Of course, I've been much luckier than some, with a very flexible boss and being able to work from home most days. But I still don't understand why they need to make the rest of the country suffer while they have their little hissy fit. Watching hundreds of people walking down normally empty streets early in the morning is certainly something, but the Parisians around me are getting Very Cranky Indeed. And I have almost-blisters on my heels from walking in only semi-practical shoes for a bit longer than I expected today. And I feel like a pawn in something that smells like a stalemate.

I just want it to be Over. I have things to do this weekend, people! I'm all for freedom of expression and standing up for what you believe in, but not when it gets in my way. Hmph.

Of surprises and socks


I'm sitting on the couch on Sunday morning, chatting with my nephews, aged 6 and 9. They are bouncing around as they have done for the last few hours, with a never-ending energy that always amazes me.

The couch is deep, and my feet don't reach the ground, so I'm swinging them back and forth.

"Bah, Katia?" My 9 year old nephew suddenly stops, flops down on the couch beside me and stares at my feet. "You are wearing odd socks!"

His brother comes to a halt in front of me, and gazes at my feet with big, round eyes.

"I know," I say. "I never wear matching socks!"

"But..." my oldest nephew gasps- the very fabric of his universe has unravelled, just a little. "They don't match..."

They both look at me, heads tilted slightly, as they contemplate the magnitude of this revelation. Odd socks. Who knew?

I am the one who won't eat pieds pacquets. I'm the one who speaks rather funny. And I'm also the one who wears odd socks.

Am I becoming the crazy aunt?

Pieds paquets

Here are the famous pieds pacquets. Click to see a bigger size, if your stomach is tough enough ;)

Apple tart

Luckily we finished the meal off with an apple tart. No feet in sight.

Strike out


The second serious round of strikes here in France started at 8pm last night, with extremely strong "perturbations" on the entire public transport network in Paris and the suburbs. The need to strike in this country (because there is apparently no other way of negotiating), still leaves me flabbergasted. In my imaginary world, I would like to think that striking is a last resort, when all other negotiations have fallen through. But we're in France. And striking here is simply par for the course.

Strike day for me usually means that only 1 in 3 or 4 trains are running, and I just have to make sure I get to the train station a bit earlier than usual and prepare to squeeze my way into an overflowing train. But like the last one, this strike is a little different to the rest, which means that it is a lot more extreme than anything else I've experienced. Both train stations within walking distance of me are closed entirely, the bus service is only operating at 10% (so, 1 bus every two hours if you're lucky), and no other way of getting in to work. With an extremely stubborn French president facing an extremely stubborn set of strikers, there's no way of knowing how long it will last, and most probably will go on today and tomorrow, with the possibility of continuing until the weekend (although next week there is another strike predicted in the public services, so who knows how things will turn out).

But the immediate solution for me is to simply work from home. I have access to my work email and all my software on my computer at home, and I lugged a bag of cds and dossiers home with me last night. I have to spend much of my time with a phone perched on my shoulder as I type, and although Symphony thinks me being at home is a brilliant thing and keeps bringing me pipe cleaners (so that I throw them and she chases them), every cloud has a silver lining. Working from home means that I get to sleep in a bit. I can get a little bit of washing done in between phone calls. I can eat my breakfast whilst working. I don't have to worry about looking semi-presentable. I can even work in my pajamas.

Speaking of which, I suppose I'd better get back to it. And throw another pipe cleaner before Symphony sits on the mouse pad again.

Feet packets (part 2)


Pieds paquets (also known as pieds et paquets) involves hours and hours and hours of cooking sheep's feet (my brother-in-law spent quite a bit of time prancing around the house holding the aforementioned feet above his head, singing "spider-mouton" (from "spider-cochon", the French version of "spider-pig")) and little parcels of tripe stuffed with things. The smell of all this cooking was seriously enough to make me want to vomit - all the garlic in the world couldn't have covered that.

So all weekend, I employed my technique of "m├ętro breathing", which involves breathing in and out through the mouth rather than the nose, in order to avoid the smell. It worked as well as it works in the metro, which basically means you can still smell it but at least you can pretend you're doing something about it.

But they all thoroughly enjoyed their little packets of feet and tripe. And my sister-in-law made sure there was a nice piece of salmon for me, which I ate discretely at the end of the table.

In the car on the way home, I exclaim, "I still can't believe that your 3 year old niece eats tripe without even blinking. It's amazing!"

Sylvain is quiet for a minute, then says, thoughtfully, "and I still can't believe that Australian children eat Vegemite without even blinking. It's amazing!"

"Yeah, but tripe is really gross!" I remark.

"Yeah, but so is Vegemite!" He glances at me, a very smug look on his face.

"Smart-arse," I mumble.

Feet packets


Instead of gallavanting around Paris and doing fun and exciting things this weekend (such as talking about Sooty, Sweep and Sue and exploring the many and varied combinations of vodka with other things), I'm playing the role of the dutiful wife and accompanying my husband to his sisters house.

Why? Might you ask. What could possibly be so important that we drop everything in our social calendar and drive five hours on Saturday then again on Sunday?

Pieds paquets, apparently.

We are in France! The things we do for food!

Unfortunately for me, this involves cooking great big enormous pots of feet and plenty of other disgusting bits and pieces, most of which I personally think should be kept inside the critter. There will be lots of relatives and other people there too, because it's a big deal to make this thing (you have to make it in enormous batches), and so we're having a Feet Packet Celebration which will undoubtedly continue long into the night and finish off with eau de vie and cards at 4 in the morning.

My in-laws know that I will try anything once, but apparently there will also be some "Katia-friendly food" there this weekend.

The things we do.

And at least it will give me something to talk about on the podcast.



Our long weekend away in Cambridge was just what the doctor ordered. Bundled up and taken care of by good family friends in the Cutest Terrace House Ever (Crooked doorways! Uneven floors! Wonky, creaking stairs! Mismatched furniture! All the ingredients necessary for a cosy place - it all just works!), we spent the weekend eating cheese (some of which was brought over from France by us); drinking wine (again, some of which was brought over by us); telling stories; hearing stories; punting along the River Cam; buying Stilton and Cheddar (and numerous other goodies from the supermarket, including, but not limited to, Cadbury chocolate and shortbread); eating schnicken; bike-riding through the town; wandering through the ancient colleges of Cambridge (and hoping that, by putting my hands on the walls and pausing on the well-worn steps, I could share some of that knowledge that has passed through that city in centuries past); drinking warm beer in a real English pub; wandering along the English coast and through typical English gardens; discovering English wildlife, and that squirrels, perched high in the trees, like to throw acorns on the ground; eating fish and chips on an English wharf...

A refreshing weekend with great company. I feel like my batteries have been recharged, that I can tackle a little bit more of what the world decides to throw at me.

And boy, have we been bitten with the travel bug. We chattered excitedly all the way back home. Not only do we want to go back and visit our friends while they're still here in Europe, but now we're trawling the internet for interesting deals so that we can figure out where to go next.

School ties, market at Cambridge

Heading towards the Bridge of Sighs on the River Cam, Cambridge

Wandering around Saint John's College, Cambridge

If you're curious (and especially if you're in Oz and want to see what we've all been up to!), you can check out some more photos on flickr.

Biking in cambridge

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Haunted book shop

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King's college chapel

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Heat and eat fish and chips- so wrong

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Welcome to cambridgeshire

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I'm not sure where all the time is going, it's slipping through my fingers and past me and around me so quickly that I barely have time to breathe. So much stuff. Exciting plans for exciting projects. Other plans coming to fruition. Things that I've worked for, coming up with good results. First yoga class. Almost exhilerating. Think I'll stick with that. Podcast madness. Can't believe we're almost at 100 episodes. Lots of garlicky goodness. Feel sorry for the people who come in contact with me. Whooping cough is all gone. About bloody time.

But now, we're off to visit friends in England for the weekend. Because we can.


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

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