Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Minor details



Lest anyone thinks our plan to drop everything, pack a back pack, some books and a few toys and head to France for a year is some kind of a fairy tale, let me offer some details.

I'm not generally a detail person. Many wives/mothers would have already grilled their husbands about the particulars of their impending new living quarters long before they put their own home up for rent.

As it stands now, we're planning to live in the France house as it's being renovated. The fact that there are two buildings, the main house and an outbuilding that wants to be transformed into a guest house (or caretakers cottage, as I like to call it) will make this feasible.

All I've known up until now is that the main house is "rough but habitable." I also know that, of the two bedrooms, one of them requires going outside of the house and climbing some exterior stairs for access. Quirky, but fun. Well that's how I'm choosing to look at it for now.

It only recently occurred to me to ask Ian to provide some more pertinent details about our living arrangements in France, the kitchen in particular.

"I suppose it would be silly of me to imagine there will be a dishwasher in the kitchen," I said one evening as I happily stuffed our super-efficient Maytag with another day's worth of dishes.

"No there's no dishwasher," he answered. "But I'm pretty sure there's a sink."

"Pretty sure there's a sink?" I repeated.

"Well there's got to be running water in the kitchen because that's where the shower is."

"The shower's in the kitchen?" I repeated.

Then, a few days later, while at a dinner party at the neighbors', I learned a bit more.

"Is Betsy going to have to go outside and pump water from a well, then heat it up on the woodstove to bathe the kids and do the dishes?" our neighbor joked.

"No," Ian laughed. "There should be hot water."

"Should be hot water?" I repeated.

At that point, I reminded myself, and everyone in the room, that there will most certainly be plenty of good wine. And it will be cheap.

For whole other kind of conversation about dishwashers, click here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

America the beautiful


Never, never, never, never have I felt more patriotic than I do today.

In fact, I feel like going out and buying the biggest American flag I can find and shoving it in the snowbank at the end of our driveway. This is not normal behavior for me.

I have been unimpressed, uninspired and disappointed by politics for the whole of my life. Until now.

I can't stop crying.

I cry each time I see this video.

This one does it for me too.

I cry each time I hear his voice on the radio.

I cry each time I hear the sound of crowds of people cheering and clapping their hands together in response to his words.

I cry each time I hear the hopeful voice of another human being--white, black, red, yellow, purple or green-- who feels empowered by the election of this man.

I have an irresistible urge to kiss pictures of the Obama family when I see them in magazines or newspapers.

Is this normal? Who knows, but it feels really really good, and natural and right.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

mon Dieu


Ian is officially unemployed, as is almost every builder/husband I know around here.

We're a missing paycheck away from financial disaster, (I am missing one as a matter of fact) yet we're still joking and laughing each morning.

Esther's snow pants are too short and she needs a new pair. She's grown out of her ski boots. (Honestly, who can afford a lift ticket?) Our car is up for inspection (okay it's expired) and needs new shocks. We owe our accountant money. I was actually even looking into the pros and cons of dipping into my IRA savings the other day.

Yet still, we laugh.

I made the choice to give up a perfectly good, safe, sensible and secure teaching job because, mostly, I couldn't fathom having gone through all that trouble to have children then spending an inordinate amount of time taking care of other people's children while I paid someone to take care of mine. In these tight times, that decision feels frivolous. Kind of.

It's zero degrees outside. It's meant to dip well below zero tonight. The poor pony's eyelashes and whiskers are all frozen. To sit inside and look out at the brilliant blue sky and white ground, you could almost imagine you're at the beach. But you'd freeze your tits off if you tried to sunbathe out there.

Yet I'm not spending a minute of my time daydreaming of warm sunny beaches, tenured teaching jobs, or of winning the lottery.

Why? We're going to France. Yes France.
And we're going to stay a while. A long while. A year, a year and a half, maybe more.

Ian's sister has offered him a job renovating a farmhouse she owns in Burgundy. And he, we, said "yes." Yes, yes, yes.... YES! OUI!

It's a big job. The house is really run down. It's a big move. We're overwhelmed by the details. We need to rent our house, apply for Visas and British passports for the kids, refinance our house, and enroll Esther and Isla in school. Oh yea, and we need to learn French.

Well I need to learn French. Ian' already speaks it and everyone assures me the girls will be spouting French phrases in no time. I'll be the only sad sack with the crusty adult brain crying in my red wine and talking to all my Facebook friends (We better get internet access) because I can't speak the language.

Yet, still, I'm feeling remarkably giddy. One step above it all. There's nothing quite so powerful as the knowledge that your day to day life is going to take a turn to the unpredictable. The scenery is going to change, in our case drastically, the sounds, sights smells, and even the language we use to communicate with those around us will be different.

And different is good in my book.

This isn't entirely new news. We've been sitting on it for several months now, but it has recently become more real, more mind-blowingly scary/titilating than ever before.

While we don't have plane tickets in hand, we're shooting for mid March.
Foremost in my mind, other than how the heck are we going to find a good, trustworthy renter in two months, is: If French women don't get fat, do American women living in France, frequenting the Boulangerie and dipping into the Burgundy, not get fat either?

I'm still writing, but not talking about France, yet, shhhh!, over here.

Monday, January 05, 2009

winter's playground and hibernation


When snow covers the ground, even if it's a thin layer, we are overcome with choices. To ski, to skate, to slide.......

It's a metaphor for life. Well, my life at least.

Never the kind to have a set plan, I mostly just stand there, paralyzed with indecision, gaping in awe at all the choices.

And when that sky is Windex blue and that landscape is blinding white, you feel as if you need to be outside for every second of it.

Yet, I've been tired ever since Christmas. I feel this vague feeling of inspiration, the desire to start anew with the new year, to plunge ahead with my goals to act more like the person I want to be, yet it seems the person I want to be is actually not a person at all, but a hamster, or some other such hibernating creature.

And the desire for red wine, or oatmeal stout, and good bread is everpresent. I can't wait until dusk just so I can start eating and drinking. This happens to me every winter, this desire for carbohydrates, simple and complex. I have no need to be alarmed. Right?

We've conquered the living room, now for the back hill.

I'm still posting, as usual, at Momformation. Things like this. And this. And..... this.