Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My New Espresso Machine That Will Kill You With Its Awesome...

(or maybe it will just make you a nice latte.)

I really cleaned up at Christmas this year!
I got some delicious Dior perfume from the kids.
And the best part is- instead of the giant purple snake, they got me the body lotion and a Dior makeup bag!
Good choice, kids!

My parents got me adorable (and warm!) Ugg boots.
The astounding coffee machine was from JP and the kids....and the husband also got me a spa weekend in Switzerland. So I really did well this year. Seriously.

The boots really came in handy when we went to the Christmas circus in Geneva on the 26th. It was a freezing cold night, but that New Zealand sheepskin kept me plenty warm...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Very early on Saturday morning, we drove an hour in the snow to get here:to take these two lazy, yet adorable creatures:
to compete in this cat show held by the Cat Club of Lyon in the city of Aix-les-Bains.
The two green cages belong to our cat breeder pal who took us to our first show last September. The one on the end is ours, lovingly decorated with frilly curtains sewn by yours truly...

It's not well known, but even the fancy cat clubs allow common house cats to compete in a special category... and it's lots of fun.

Our friend, of course, has no common gutter cats. She shows skinny little naked expensive cats... I had to show this one to the judges for her, as she was busy with another cat being judged at a different table...
Here's our Dexter being checked out by the judge. Dex was a good boy and the judge really liked him... "Nice, big, quiet boy" was the final verdict.
Daisy did well, too....sort of.
She was extremely well-groomed, as my girls have been working on her for weeks. And she was nice to the judge....didn't do her strange growling thing that she does when she gets crabby.
The judge's final verdict was "lovely but bizarre".
But he was Polish.
Maybe "bizarre" means "adorable" in Polish?

But despite her bizarreness, our Daisy won, big time!

As did our handsome boy
Here's Mal standing beside our award-bedecked display cage:
Our happiness was only slightly marred by the fact that there were NO other competitors in the class. At all.
This actually kind of ticked Mallory off.
"It would be much better if other people were competing. I'm sure our cats could beat any other ones! I know it!"
She was really ready to bring it, cat-wise.

Her only consolation was that, even in a class with only one entrant, the cat won't be nominated for the prize if it is not up to standard. It needs to be healthy, good-looking, well-groomed and have a good temper. Competing cats have to be handled by judges and their assistants, so difficult, shy or mean cats need not apply.

That made our Mal feel a bit better. ...but she'd still rather see some seriously cut-throat house-cat competition the next time around...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just got the news that my grandma died last night.

Lillie Rohnert Kolb.
She was 92.

I love this picture of her- she reminds me so much of my own girls...

This is another favorite...I think she looks like a 1930's movie star.
Here is one I keep in my dining room. You can spot her, right? The glamorous one...
She taught me how to cook, sew, crochet, make quilts and, most importantly, how to get up and do exactly what needs doing, even if you don't really want to....

This is definitely one of those time when it really sucks to live on a continent far from family....
Yesterday the USA celebrated ( is that really the word I want there?) "National Unfriend Day" for the first time ever, thanks to the efforts of late-night host Jimmy Kimmel. Not that is was actually much of an effort. He went on tv and said "Today is National Unfriend Day" and that was it. But it had to be done.

In fact, it's a brilliant idea and should be celebrated more than once a year, IMHO.

In fact, several times every month seems preferable....or is that just me being crabby about all that Mafia Wars crap cluttering up my wall? And no, Farmville Psychos, I don't want to buy you a cow or send you mangelwurzels.

One thing that slightly amelliorates my crabby is this- the semi-official song of the Facebook clean-up movement:

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The kitchen update will have to wait. (I hope nobody was holding his or her breath waiting for that particular bit of news on my blog, btw. If so, sorry for your anoxia and probable brain damage. My bad.)

So, kitchen news has been suspended today in honor of our annual Halloween party here chez nous in the French Alps. It is probably one of the best. (It is also probably just about the only one, so I feel safe making that claim.)

The kids did a bang-up job with the decorating. They did it all themselves and damn they made me proud! I was all "The torch has been passed. My work here is done." and etc...

This was our new cats' first Halloween with us. Dexter found it a bit daunting, but Daisy took it in stride. She even decided to take part and here we see her playing the role of the witch's familiar...
Here Sev sporting his Mafia look..
And Tya's Goth look fits right in at halloween, of course. She didn't even need a costume...
Alexa was the world's most adorable cat. Actually, she reminded me of a recent ad campaign for a perfume that she likes:

Doesn't she look like a grown-up Alexa?Somehow, I didn't manage to get a picture of Mallory. I guess between the treasure hunt and all the other fun, she was running around too much. But she was a super-cute witch....

The party went on until midnight. Pizza was eaten, poker was played and then a bunch of kids slept over. (I had 10 people to feed at breakfast!)
In short, a good time was had by all.

Monday, October 18, 2010

This is a story - a story about a little kitchen in an old house in the French countryside.

Sometimes it is a little scary, but don't worry- like all good stories (the ones I like, at any rate, everything turns out ok in the end....

Once upon a time, in a little old house, there lived an evil witch. Her house had a little kitchen. It was an ugly kitchen- as ugly as dirt. Really unattractive dirt. Actually, now that I think about it, dirt was probably more lovely than this kitchen.

One day, a king and queen came riding buy and decided to purchase the little house. The witch was selling out, as she was getting on in years in need of cash to buy a small appartment with easy access to shopping and doctors' offices.

The king and queen fixed up the crappy kitchen as best they could. The queen took care of their baby princess, while the king tiled the countertops and tried to cover up the cracked walls.

It was a nice kitchen and they very nearly lived happily ever after....

But time passed and after a few years, the king and queen (and the many tiny princesses and the handsome prince) were sent into exile in a distant land. When they returned, they found that the little house was again....kind of ugly. Fifteen years had gone by and the little kitchen seriously needed an update.

First, everything had to come down.
And I do mean down.

The plaster crumbled, mildew blossomed and new frontiers in incompetant plumbing were revealed.....

It was very scary.
The king asked if maybe he could go fight dragons instead. But he was basically very brave. So, he called up a young knight (that would be our pal Cristian ) to assist him with the huge task that lay ahead.

First of all the walls and ceiling had to be torn down and covered with all new plasterboard. This was kind of difficult, but the king and the knight did a good job. They even got some help from the handsome prince...

To be continued......

Monday, October 04, 2010

There are two new household members chez moi and it's about time you all met them.

This is Dexter:
(Don't worry, he is not a serial killer. As far as we can tell.)

And this is Daisy:
Shortly after our beautiful Cleo was killed, I drove the girls down to the local animal shelter. We stood in a room among about 20 lovely cats, hard-pressed to choose only one.

So, we did what any decent people would do: we chose two.

Daisy was sort of a wretched specimen, really. She was quite thin and her fur was scruffy and matted. The eye passed right over her...well, mine did, anyway. But she caught Mallory's attention.
"This is a good one, mom!" she insisted.
And she was right.
Dexter also kind of blended in at first, but when Valentine picked him up the first time, he put his paws around her neck and gave her a big hug. And who could resist that?

As you can see, Dex and Daisy really enjoy the new addition to the house. (nice transition there, no?) The little blue sofa is cosy and Mallory loves to curl up there to read. But the cats prefer it when some unlucky soul leaves his jacket on the coffee table, as that provides a perfect bed/cat fur repository.
The left corner of the room is nice and sunny- perfect for the huge ficus plant that used to loom ominously over our dining room table. It was a little....overwhelming for the space it occupied before - but now the giant plant is out of our way, safely tucked into a bright corner.
So, you can see that the room finally has a real floor and actual furniture.
And even better- it now has fancy decorations:
We picked up this old mirror at the thrift shop on Saturday.
So, we've got that whole "shabby chic" thing working for us.

I've got plenty more pictures for you...mostly from our kitchen remodelling project. I hope to get them up soon. I don't seem to be doing very well with my blog lately, though. Lots of stuff going on here, blah, blah, etc. ...
But luckily Tya is taking up the slack. In contrast to me, she's blogging more than ever.
Go check her out!

Monday, September 13, 2010

"Well, plastic has to come from somewhere", Alexa told me, displaying a philosophical resignation far beyond her years.

I'd been complaining about the location of the cat show we attended this weekend. Instead of a cute town like Annecy or even Lyon, we had to go to Oyonnax- an obscure little town that bears the proud nickname "The Valley of Plastic".

Luckily, we were there for cat action and not charming tourist photos.
And cat action is what we found:

When my pal Nat had initially suggested that the girls and I accompany her to a show, the idea was that we would enter our housecat, Cleo, in a competition. I thought it would be fun for the twins and they would enjoy showing off their sweet little cat.

Sadly, she was hit by a car on Sept 5th and died.
I won't go into details, but it was bad.
Very bad.

We ended up going to the show anyway, but just to help out Nat, who is a big-time breeder of short-haired orientals, siamese and Cornish Rex. They are all sort of strange and thin and don't have much hair...but they have their fans and are very, very valuable.
And they aren't too ugly, once you get used to them.
In fact, over the course of the two-day show, I went from finding them vaguely repellant to actually finding them rather handsome.
They sort of look like bats and I have nothing against bats, really.....

At any rate, those little bat-cats managed to beat out the competion and come home with no less than five trophies.

And it was an interesting opportunity, anthropologically-speaking. The cat show circuit has its own culture and definitely bears exploring. I look forward to finding out more when we go to the next big show at the end of November. ...

Monday, August 30, 2010

So, what happens when Tya, the Girl Who Imprudently Misplaced Her Ipod Headphones takes a long roadtrip seated beside Sev, Possibly the World's Fussiest Teenaged Boy?

Maybe this:

Tya: Sev. Dude. Lend me Your iPod headphones. I'm desperate here.
Sev: No.
Tya (pleading): Dude! Please! Help me out!
Sev (implacable): No. Way.

This initial exchange is followed by further exchanges along these same lines, involving heavy use of the words, "dude", "please" and "no".
The sanity of Tya is also called into question several times.
Finally, after several minutes of this:

Sev (resigned): Alright.
He sighs heavily and pulls a small bottle of hand sanitizer out of his pocket.

Tya looks at it blankly for a moment, then grabs it and puts a bit on her hands. She is distinctly heard to mutter under her breath the phrase "You are SUCH a freak."

Tya then puts out her hand to take the headphones, which are not forthcoming.

Sev: Your ears.
Tya (disbelieving): What?!
Sev (patiently, as though talking to a particularly stupid dog): Put sanitizer in your ears.
Tya: You are beyond a freak. I don't know what you are.

She squeezes a bit more of the blue gel onto her fingers and rubs some inside of each ear.

Sev inspects to make sure the interior where the headphones will touch her ears is completely covered.
He finds she has missed a spot and makes her apply more.

Tya (through clenched teeth): Are you happy now?

Sev (doubtfully handing over the earphones): I guess. This really isn't hygienic, you know.

Tya (grabbing the earphones): Über. Freak.

The above is something that could have possibly happened while we were driving to my MIL's place in the northeast of France last week, if my eldest daughter was very disorganised and my son a borderline OCD case....

Monday, August 16, 2010

We're back in France now - 22 hours after our plane took off from Lincoln, Nebraska.

It was a trip full of surprises- including an unscheduled trip to Washington DC- too bad all we got to see there was the airport.
Then we had an extra stop in Frankfort before ending up in Geneva.
So, it was a bit of a trial getting here.

At least we got upgraded a couple of times. Not to First Class or even business class, but believe me, there is a huge difference between just Economy and Economy Plus. It was so great to end a long flight and not feel like I'd been folded up and stuffed into a small cupboard for nine hours...

Monday, August 09, 2010

We're finally back from our epic camping trip across five states: Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Our farthest point east was camping along the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin.

Mallory's favorite spot of the whole trip was the tiny town of Desmet, South Dakota. In fact, she wants to live there one day...

The thunderstorms didn't sweep us away and the mosquitos didn't devour us, though it was a near thing at times.

Valentine took hundreds of photos.. so expect to see some of those soon!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

One of the reasons I had to come back to Nebraska this summer was a party.
It was actually a pretty big party, but we didn't end up getting a good group shot of everyone.
I just have this:
We needed to celebrate the birthday of my Grandad!
It was a great time and a wonderful opportunity to catch up with family that I haven't seen for ages.
Good times!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

As a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words, I figure that my only real hope of giving my readers any idea of what we're doing here in the USA lies in posting some photos.

First of all, no visit to the USA is complete without an enormous fiberglass animal statue, such as the World's Largest Holstein Cow up in North Dakota....or the slightly smaller, but no less beloved Giant Chicken of Lincoln, Nebraska.
This big guy roosts in the parking lot of a very popular local restaurant. Lee's has been around forever and some of my earliest memories involve eating there with my whole family. Grandpa Augie would invariably tell me to go over to ask the organist to play 'Love Letters in the Sand' and he'd give me a quarter for her big glass tip jar.
I must have done it dozens of times over the years, but I was always SO embarrassed...

It's not much to look at, but it was fun to take my kids to visit...and eat some of that amazing chicken!
Here's my mom and Tya at the bar:

(If you blow up the photo and look to the right of Tya, you can see that the organ is still there and the tip jar still sitting right on top of it)

But my home state of Nebraska is about so much more than Lee's fried chicken and old Pat Boone songs.
It's also about college football.
And, more specifically, college football merchandise:
Yes, the Huskers reign here and their insignia is to be found everywhere, on everyone, at all times. If you want to blend in here, all you have to do is wear a University of Nebraska t-shirt. It's a kind of uniform. As you can see, though, we haven't quite got that mastered yet and Tya's Goth wear kind of stands out like a sad, dark and mournful sore thumb...

We end up spending a lot of time in stores. When we're not looking at books and clothes, we're mostly to be found shopping for food. And when we do so, usually Tya grabs my camera, recruits her brother and heads off to document the fascinating world of the American supermarket. She seems particularly fascinated by the huge quantities and has quite a number of photos of Sev holding jumbo-sized containers of just about everything a person could want to eat.
For example:
They seem to have a good time, though the other shoppers aren't quite sure of what to make of them...

I have lots more photos and lots more to say about our trip. I just hope I can find the time to post them and do some more writing. I miss my blog!