December 2007 Archives
Today's Very Important Tasks :
- Send Birthday Greetings To A Friend. Given my track record with remembering 30th birthdays, she should count herself lucky that she got an e-card. Ahem.
- Taste The Bread For The Foie Gras. Analyse the taste - toasted and untoasted - and decide whether it is appropriate to eat with The Foie Gras. It was.
- Put The Christmas Tree On A Stand. This requires some manly sorts of activities. Holding bits of wood. Talking about the bits of wood. Drilling things. Sawing things. Lots of standing around with hands on the hips.
- Keep An Eye On The Lobsters. They were purchased this morning, alive and kicking, to eat on Christmas Eve, and my mother-in-law plans on cooking them 24 hours in advance. So we have wrapped them up in newspaper, covered them up and put them just outside the front door, in the hopes that they'll stay alive until tomorrow. But we need to check on them occasionally, to make sure they don't escape.
- Figure Out If We Have The Ingredients To Make My Mum's Famous Pavlova Roll (Eggs. Caster Sugar. White Vinegar. Cornflour. Fruit. Icing sugar). We do.
- Visit The Local Christmas Market. Just because that's apparently what we have to do.
- Play Scrabulous. Read a little. Play cards. Etc.
I'm missing Australia and everything in it terribly right now, but a couple of days of this suits me just fine. Sadly, there is no snow in sight here at my in-laws, but we might have to take a trip to a slightly higher altitude to see if I can romp in that glorious white stuff that delights me so much.
Because I am apparently the most disorganised person on the planet and didn't realise it was December until last week, I've been fretting a little about Christmas presents. The guilt-o-metre got pushed up a notch as gifts and cards from thoughtful friends overseas started arriving in the mail box (people who are a lot more organised than me and who I'm sure I don't deserve to count as friends).
I sat down on the weekend and wrote out the list of things to do. I've ordered a few things online, and picked up some bits and pieces, but am nowhere near "done", and I simply couldn't think of anything to offer Sylvain's mum and his sister. Sylvain was being no help whatsoever on that front. They've both got everything they could possibly need, and have very particular tastes, so it makes things very difficult to find a thoughtful and meaningful gift.
So I did what any disorganised and guilt-ridden girl would have done, and I threw a hissy fit. Complete with foot stamping and dishevelled hair at the end of it all.
Sylvain looked at me solemnly, with worry in his eyes, and said "Listen, if it's upsetting you so much, I can do the shopping for you. There's a shopping centre near my work and ..."
There was a moment of dead silence as we looked at each other.
The way his face changed colours, from pink, to white, to green, as he realised the magnitude of what he had just offered to do, especially given his tendency to break out in a rash when he is in large crowds, was very interesting indeed, and more than worth the energy of my hissy fit.
"I mean... I mean..." he stammered.
I shook with laughter. It took me a few minutes to stop. Sylvain's face needed that time to slowly return to its normal colour.
"It's ok, my dear." I said. "I can do it."
"Oh good," he spluttered. "I don't think that it would have been pretty..."
Every time I've gotten cranky at myself for not being more organised this year (a fairly common occurence actually, who ever said 'tis the season to be freaking jolly?), I think of Sylvain's face turning a multitude of different colours and know that even if I'm having trouble thinking of presents, at least I enjoy shopping and I can handle the crowds.
I just asked him what he would do if, in a parallel universe, I wasn't here to buy the Christmas presents. He looked at me in confusion, which in turn rapidly transformed into full-blown panic.
I patted his arm and told him not to worry, that he could always rely on gift vouchers.
I've got to stop torturing the boy.
We've run out of toilet paper chez the Aussie lass, the Frenchman and the Burmese. We both got home really quite last night and couldn't pick up any provisions. So we are forced to use tissues instead. Eucalyptus-scented tissues.
Probably not the best thing for ones nether regions, especially since, whilst not unpleasant, they leave you feeling a little... tingly...
Last night I returned from using the facilities and joined Sylvain lounging on the couch. I must have had some sort of grimace on my face, because he grinned and asked, "feeling a little fresh downstairs?"
"Fresh as a daisy," I replied. "Or a eucalyptus tree."
He was silent for a moment, then responded, "I wonder if Koalas are fresh downstairs all the time, then."
Time for a trip to the supermarket. We have guests coming for lunch, and I'm not sure if they'll be so keen on a case of the tinglies.
I have no idea how I managed to find myself in the middle of December with hardly any Christmas shopping done (this is my very unsubtle way of telling people far away that their presents will be arriving late. ahem). I'm very slowly and surely descending into a state of complete and utter panic. What the heck am I supposed to get my 2 1/2 year old niece? That doesn't involve cheap plastic crap and the exploitation of underpriveledged countries in the manufacturing process? Ahem.
The year seems to have flown by so quickly that I have a hard time realising that Christmas is only two weeks away, and although I feel like the extreme stress I was under at the start of the year and my sisters wedding in July was just a few weeks ago, I also can't shake the feeling that it was a lifetime ago. I just hope I can figure it all out sooner rather than later, because I'm already starting to have to write 2008 on things at work and I still feel like I should be writing 2006.
The weather has gotten progressively colder, and this morning I wore a scarf, a coat and gloves to work, which is saying a lot for me - I enjoy cold weather and love having the sensation of frosty wind caressing my neck, but when it's 0°C outside, even I need to cover up a little. This morning the quay at my train station had been salted, which is basically a sure-fire way of guaranteeing that there will be no snow (if you don't put salt down, it will snow, but if you do, it won't), but I keep my hopes up, anyway.
Every time I see snow I get as hyper as a little kid, and just seeing the salt on the quay this morning made me squeal in anticipation. Out loud. A lady in front of me on the steps turned around and stared at me. I pretended to tie up my shoelace instead of staring back.
My in-laws live in a region which is susceptible to snow and usually experiences heavy snowfalls all throughout January and February. I'm still having a hard time being so far away from Australia at the moment, but if we have to miss out on spending Christmas with my family this year, at least I can hope for a white Christmas.
Christmas in France isn't so bad, after all.
Oh, and can you believe we hit 100? And more? We're podcasting up a storm!
What is affectionately known as "the little room" (what the French call a "dressing") opens into our study, and is the black hole of our apartment - the place where things go in and never come out.
Entering "the little room" requires being equipped with a packed lunch and a torch. I have hurt myself numerous times, picking my way through the random objects (paint cans, bikes, boxes of wine, shoes), and it is the one space in our apartment that we never ever let guests see. When showing anyone through our place, I always wave vaguely at the door, explaining that it is a storage area and of not much interest to anyone.
Both Sylvain and I are packrats, keeping things "just in case we need them", and we each have our weaknesses. Much of the contents of "the little room" were computer parts, empty boxes and shoes.
In recent times (ie. the last 4 years. ahem), the contents of "the little room" have gained a life force of their own, and have started to take over the study as well, to a point where I was cringing with embarrassment whenever anyone other than Sylvain or I went into the study. In fact, I cringed with embarrassment whenever Sylvain or I went into the study - that's how bad it was getting.
We have known that this is a problem for quite some time, but have found every excuse under the sun to avoid dealing with it. Both of us are well schooled in the art of procrastination. But finally, after a bit of blackmailing on both sides, we crossed everything off our social calendar and stayed in all last weekend and dealt with it.
Who knew that two people could have so much stuff? The sheer quantity of it still astounds me. Mountains and mountains of stuff. Sylvain threw a lot of his old computer parts away, but he kept a few boxes of things, "just in case". I threw out at least 30 pairs of shoes (ahem, again), but I managed to keep quite a few by squeezing multiple pairs into boxes. But what I want to know is why on earth did we think we needed to keep so many empty boxes?
All weekend, we hauled, we sorted, we emptied, we threw out bags and bags of stuff, we rearranged, we reorganised, we ached, we washed our dusty hands, and once we were done, we stood back, arms crossed, and surveyed our work, satisfied.
Our study now officially doubles as a guest room and I am not horrified at the prospect of someone accidentally going into "the little room".
There are still a few boxes of papers sitting in the lounge room to be sorted through. I sat down on Wednesday night and started putting things in order. I came across a box filled with some things that I don't know if I'll ever throw away. Bundles tied with ribbon. Words on pages. Postcards. Early letters between Sylvain and I.
I flicked through these packages, smiling, then retied the ribbons carefully, and put them back in the box.
Downsizing can be a necessity at times, but you also have to draw a line somewhere. One day, maybe, we'll throw them away. But not just yet.