Monday, January 19, 2009


No more run away weeks, because those just turn into run away months and then half the year's gone by and you wonder how that happened without your consent.

I had a lovely weekend. The boys and I went out for apéritif on Friday evening. I took them to a little restaurant/bar not far from our house and I drank red wine and ate olives and saucisson sec while they drank water and ate chicken wings and saucisson sec. We sat on a lovely couch and talked about our day. And no one told me I couldn't sit that close to the bar because I was with the kids and it's non-smoking here now so no one called child protection services on me either. I love that about this country.

Saturday we spent the night with friends and Sunday was lazy all the way around. Nothing run away about it.

This morning, as I was getting all my school stuff out of the back of my car, I noticed a plastic bag full of something. Fearing the worst (forgotten groceries or something horrible like that), I carefully opened it. 12 bags of chocolate covered hazelnut toffee that I had made at Christmas and forgotten to give away. I tasted it, it's still good, so I'm giving a bag of toffee to everyone who crosses my path today.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The run-away week

This week has totally gotten away from me. Boy2 got the flu on Sunday so I had to cancel all my classes Monday. And I didn't have any classes Tuesday and I don't work on Wednesdays since the boys don't have school. I had big, fancy plans for all of those days. Said big, fancy plans didn't really manifest in the way I was hoping.

So when I walked into work on Thursday morning, I asked everyone how their weekend was. Common responses included:

- That was a while ago.
- I'm already planning this weekend, I hardly remember last weekend.
- Huh?

In other work related news, the heater at work is broken. It's very cold. Not quite as my house was when my heater broke, but close. I really need a new coat.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Let's talk about the weather

It has been really cold here. I mean really cold. Much colder than it usually gets and certainly much colder than it usually stays. -6°C? That's like 20°F or something like that. That's colder than I've had to deal with since I moved away from Illinois. Which was a long time ago.

You'd think though, having grown up in the midwest, that I'd be all cold proof. Not so. Even less so when things like heaters break. You kind of get used to not having to deal with lasting cold. I won't say I've missed it. But I won't say I hate it either. It just takes a while to get used to it.

Better equipment would help. Double paned windows. Warmer shoes. Coats that are meant only to keep you warm, not to be pretty. I wore a very warm (read: not pretty) coat to school the other day. My students - the guys - all made remarks. Along the lines of, "Well, at least you're warm." Nice.

The freezing walk across the river to the café is nice though. Parts of it are frozen, unexpected and beautiful.

Friday, January 09, 2009


From interviewing 40 students over the past two days - part of their midterms.

From the horrible bronchitis my petri dish children gave me.

From running around this week trying to get the house back in order after the out of orderliness brought about my the no-heat for four days thing while taking care of very sick children and very sick self and interviewing those 40 students.

Yes, I know, deep breathing would help. But every time I take a deep breath I cough.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I will listen

And I will hear something different. Finally.

Laval is a small city. In a very rural part of France.

Up until a few weeks ago, I was reminded of that everyday in the car. I don't have a cd player in my car, just the radio. Which is how I got the reminders. The selection of radio stations was REALLY limited. Religious and all talk, pop and all commercials, another pop and all commercials, 'alternative' (read still pop but heavier guitar) and mostly commercials, public radio and all news, classical so mostly good but sometimes too much opera, elevator music and I never left it on long enough to know if it was mostly commercials. That's about it.

And then, for some strange magical radio-land reason, one night, at midnight (I'm not kidding), there were 15 more stations. Most of which are just more of the same but there's one jazz station with little talk and fewer commercials. So between that and the classical station and the public radio every once in a while so I vaguely know what's going on in the world, I like what I hear when I drive my car.

Monday, January 05, 2009


Which is not the same thing as waiting. Waiting is what I did this morning. They called to tell me the technician was at my house at 8:30 and that they would call me as soon as he had found the problem. At noon, I still hadn't heard anything. At 2:00 I called and they informed me that he had just finished. And I will openly admit that I was imagining the worst. Mechanically mysterious, unfixable things. You should know that it's -2°C (27°F) outside and snowing.

I will go home to a warm house this evening after work. The heater has been repaired.

I can imagine, already know, how good it will feel to walk into it.

Some things are like that. You know it will be exactly what you want it to be before you even get there. So that when you do, it feels more like a sigh of relief, a confirmation of what you inexplicably knew in advance. Which does not diminish the joy you feel. On the contrary, you've been feeling it all along, the whole journey home.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The unexpected

So, I got home from London Friday evening. To a FREEZING cold house. My heater's broken and won't be fixed until Monday morning. It's about 4°C (39.2°F) inside. And about 0°C (32°F) outside. Not much of a difference. No gap to bridge.

And since we're talking about gaps and bridges, a London photo. Of Big Ben.

He talked to me in hushed tones as I walked by. He spoke of time and its illusions. His precision, and he chuckled as he said this, is anchored in nothing at all. There is no need to wait, now is already here. Nothing linear, just unfolding promises, like an origami unicorn.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Day 6 and the last day

We got up late-ish. About 9 or so. We lounged about and then went out for a delicious late breakfast at Esca, which was perfect for a January 1st. And then we lounged some more. And then we did some more tourist stuff.

A Westminster place, a parlimentary place, mounument type things. A long, long walk in St. James's park. Then coffee. Then, a place that always makes me smile, a book store. Then another long walk. Then pizza and cheesecake with raspberry coulis.

A perfect last day in London. My train leaves this morning.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Day 5 and the 12 grapes

It was a good day. Two more hours with Dr. Woo, who is actually Dr. Wu but it's too late now - he'll always be Dr. Woo to me - acupuncture treatment and massage and reflexology treatment and endless pearls of wisdom. "You need to relax." "Your brain is too active." "You need to be calm and happy." And my personal favorite, "Sweet foods are good for you, good for your liver." And my least favorite, "Alcohol is bad, very bad." And my response, "Even red wine? That's really all I drink, well, that and champagne, and isn't red wine supposed to be good for you?" His response, "Yes, a little bit is good for you. But only little bit. 10 ml a day."

Ok, for those of you still using the imperial measurement system, 10 mililiters is .33 US ounces, which is like, what, a couple of tablespoons? And he was serious.

Anyway, after Dr. Woo, I window shopped and went to Hamley's to buy presents for the boys and came out with nothing because everything I found and wanted to buy was way too heavy to bring back in my suitcase. As it happens, they have a website and ship everywhere so I won't have to carry anything.

Then dinner at Beth's and out to a bar up the street. Where everyone was drunk but us. Seriously, how drunk do you think 10 ml will get you? Which is fine, I've never been big into New Year's and even less into getting drunk for New Year's Eve.

And now we come to the grapes. Nuria brought three cans of 12 grapes each for all of us. Because in Spain, you're supposed to eat 12 grapes while making 12 wishes in the 12 seconds leading up to midnight. But we weren't paying attention to the clock and no one in the bar was counting down so we actually didn't get started on time and I don't know if you can imagine eating a grape per second but it's harder than it sounds. So I only got in two wishes blessed by two grapes. Luckily, those first two wishes were really good ones.

Happy New Year to all of you. I hope all of your wishes come true.

Day 4 and the tourist thing

Tuesday was the first day after Nuria, a Spanish friend of Beth's from Barcelona, arrived. There were a lot of things she wanted to see, so we went. Hyde park and some other park and some Kensington thing, and a Buckingham thing - to imprecisely name a few. It was all very lovely.

But the highlight of the day was the Borough market. A beautiful food market. All kinds of food. Cheeses and sausages and chocolates and olives and seafood and pastries and I'm leaving countless things out. But even better were the free samples of everything. I tasted it all.

And then went across the street to a cafe where, if what everyone claims is true, I had one of the best cups of coffee to be had in the world. Yes, they kept saying the world. Monmouth coffee shop. While I would not be ready to say the world, just because I haven't seen enough of it, I will say that it was a perfect cup of coffee.