Monday, December 17, 2012

So...I woke up to a flooded cellar this morning.
 It looked like this:
Right now I've got a couple of guys pumping it out and we're hoping that the heat pump, washer and dryer and all the rest have survived their night with their little feet in the water.

It's all kind of depressing.  
Why don't we instead look at this:

This is me and two of my lovely daughters last night at the church of Saint Joseph in Annemasse.  We were just getting ready to perform at a big Christmas concert there.  Since September, the girls and I have been rehearsing for it with the Ensemble Vocale of the conservatory there. 
This year's piece was Mendelssohn's Psalm 115.
The Ensemble usually sticks to Baroque music, so it was fun to try Romantic for a change...

Saturday, December 08, 2012

So, it's December and we have a bit of snow up here in the French Alps. 
Here- I'll prove it:
That's our backyard.

 Sadly, the snow didn't confine itself to that area and had to be cleared so that we could leave the house to get food and not die....
I consoled myself with the fact that shovelling is a good form of aeorbic exercise.
Luckily, I didn't have to do it all myself!
I'd been thinking of putting the Christmas lights up...but then it started dumping snow on us.
 As the weather calmed down today, I finally got it done.  There are no pictures of me doing it...but I'm sure they would have been pretty funny.... Maybe tonight I'll take a picture of the final result.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Halloween 2012 
Our annual party was lots of fun and very successful, as always.  Half the joy is the lead-up preparations....and I can say with no false modesty that we kind of outdid ourselves this year.  Mallory cooked some AMAZING food and the other kids did a great job decorating the house. 

That's Sev in the Darth Vader costume...

Valentine was SO cute as WWII icon Rosie the Riveter

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cats, chickens and Germans....but mostly cats

September mainly involved cats and Germans. But no German cats.

 Mid-month, the twins and I took our two most presentable felines to a big show in Bourg-en-Bresse.
 The inhabitants of that town are referred to as "Burgiens", even though "Bourg-en Bressiens" would be way more fun to say. Burgiens are inordinately proud of their chickens, which are very tasty and expensive and famous throughout France. In 1814, the city was entirely ransacked by Austrian troops.
 IMHO, the incident was probably poultry-related. I'm just sayin....

So anyway, once again we entered our cats in the "chat de maison" category and took home all the prizes. This time, though, there was COMPETITION! However, Dexter was much admired by the judges and mercilessly ground the competion into the dirt.
The fact that said competion was a teeny tiny little black kitten was quite beside the point.
We didn't feel bad.
 At all.
Above you can see the twins posing in front of our cats' cage displaying their many fabulous trophies and ribbons, some of which were wrested from the tiny paws of a pathetically weeping baby kitty  - but I digress.....

Below we have a picture of Bill.  In the catshow world, Bill is called an "Exotic", which is much nicer than calling him a "Big Fat Bastard".
 Actually Bill is a real sweetie.  And his name is really "Neo".  But we all thought he looked more like a "Bill"
Neo Bill won second place in the overall category "Best in Show"  and is no doubt destined for a life of fame and glory. 
Below you will find a helpful guide to some of  the many cat breeds.
(You're welcome).

Germans showed up at the end of the month in the form of two 14 year old exchange students from the Lake Constance  region.    Apparently people in that lovely area of Germany have lots of spare time to fuss over their food requirements.  Or maybe they just eat fish out of the damn lake three times a day.  At any rate, I had quite a time feeding these two, as they were both not only vegetarian, but one wouldn't eat eggs, either!  The other liked eggs ok, but wouldn't eat any cheese.  We had veggie burgers twice and I counted the days until they left....
Next week, Alexa heads to Germany to make a visit in return.  I'm tempted to send her with instructions to pose as a macrobiotic vegan or possibly a fruitarian.....

Saturday, September 01, 2012

I don't like August much.  
To be specific: I hate it more than couscous, but somewhat less than clowns and lighthouses, 

But September is a month that I can really get on board with. 
 It kicks off with my birthday, which is nice and festive.  
And then the weather really starts to cool off and segue into Autumn, which is my favorite season.

Not that birthdays are SO great, what with getting older and all that...but I usually manage to have a pretty good time- generally thanks to my four wonderful children.
This year, Mallory made me a stunning Fall-themed birthday card that I LOVE.
She also made angel-food birthday cupcakes (only 85 calories each!)

Valentine organised the funding with her siblings and bought me a cute lavender candle, gorgeous flowers and a bottle of my new favorite perfume: Dahlia Noir by Givenchy, which supposedly "embodies the mysterious, singular radiance of a woman’s graceful power."
 This seems pretty unlikely, but I'll try wearing it for a few days and tell you what I think. If my graceful woman power starts giving off  any mysterious and singular radiences, you, my faithful blog readers,  will be the first to know 
Then I might phone my doctor....

Friday, July 27, 2012

Click the Links!

July is about over, but  it has been reasonably fun for me. And now you can have fun, too- just by clicking all of the assorted links that appear in this post!
Not that they're really all  actually fun...but some are quite entertaining.
I promise.
We've  had some visitors from Australia. It had been ages since we'd seen Stephen and Adrienne, so it was great to get together again.
They looked just the same- but their two daughters had certainly changed over the last 14 years or so... So grown-up and lovely!

Mallory and I made some pasta together a couple of times.... It was tasty and was the latest episode in the long and glorious pasta-oriented history of my paternal ancestors (I used to make noodles with my Grandma Lillie when I was a little girl)
 Our cats laid around a lot (Which is what they do when it is NOT July, as well.  So, not much of a surpise there)

Severin and Max made a video parody for Valentine's 19th birthday.  The original is to be found here and their rather funny masterpiece is to be seen here.
Valentine had a lovely party with her friends. Karaoke and Jungle Speed were featured activities and a good time was had by all.

In a late-breaking birthday event, Valentine got a shout-out from one of her favorite YouTube personalities. (Can one really call a naked plastic baby doll a "personality"?  Let's just say, "yes", shall we?)

As for the rest...Our old neighbors from Ouaga (Tony and Kirsten, for fans of the African chapters of my saga) stopped by for a day as they drove up to Germany.  Hopefully they'll stay a bit longer on the way back down next month.

Robert and Aminata have been here this week...

And tomorrow we're leaving for the north to go visit my MIL for one week.  We'll be staying here.

That's it!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Taylor Swift vs Avril Lavigne Death Match

To mark the end (FINALLY!!) of the school year here in France, a friend of the twins held a party last night. The theme was the eternally (and apparently internationally)  popular "Dress as your favorite celebrity" concept.  This allows teenage girls to dress up,  wear lots of makeup and look all awesome without seeming to be trying too hard.
 I know this is a true thing, as I did it myself back in the day.  In one particularly memorable incident in 1978, I think I was supposed to be Olivia Newton John .   Don't mock me.  She was quite the style icon back in the day.

On second thought...go ahead and mock away.
Luckily, my daughters have much better taste than I ever had.  They decided to go as country star Taylor Swift and pop rock girl Avril Lavigne.

As I quickly rummaged through teh interwebz looking  for a couple of pics to accompany this blog post, I immediately was made to understand that there is much online bickering about which of these two young ladies is "more awesomer".

The facts?  Well, let's see...Avril Lavigne's name means "April vineyard" in French. 
So, she's got that going for her.
Also, she looks a lot like my daughter Alexa!
I guess that makes her awfully awesome....

But then we have Taylor Swift, who grew up on a Christmas tree farm - and  that gives you special powers beyond that of other humans. Christmas trees provide a lot of happiness, so I'm pretty sure that being associated with them earns one mucho good karma.  
On the other hand, she once dated one of the Jonas Brothers and wrote a song about him. Sadly, that may cancel out all xmas tree-related cred accrued.
Then again, Taylor is about 6ft tall and could crush Avril like a bug.
So there's that.....

I don't's all mildly confusing, which is no doubt why thousands of teen girls are ready to spill blood over this question.

Luckily, my own little Taylor and Avril get along quite well..

This morning's verdict on the party? 
"Meh" pretty much sums it up what the girls had to say about it.

But at least they had a fun time getting dressed.  Me trying to glue false eyelashes onto Mallory was priceless, I assure you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Speech of Angels

Between the various concerts, plays, dance recitals and assorted events we've been involved in lately, it's been hard to even take a stab at keep this blog up to date.( And I still have FOUR more concerts to sing in before this month is over!!)
 But I'll make a valiant attempt...
Ensemble Vocale of the Music Conservatory of Annemasse
Mallory singing "Nel se ben"

On June first, Mallory and I performed in the end of year concert of the music conservatory where we both study voice.

The Ensemble Vocale did five pieces: two by Purcell (in English, FTW!) and three well-known French Renaissance works.

Mallory did her first-ever solo performance- a really lovely Italian Baroque piece by Stradella;

She did so well!!!! I'm so proud!!!!
For my solo piece,  I sang one of the songs that I performed for my music exam in May.  I chose "If music be the food of love" because the jury (two music specialists from Lyon) pronounced my interpretation to be "flawless"!!! And they are not easy people to please, so, it seemed like a solid idea.

In fact, it went quite well at the concert, despite the fact that I was a bit sick.
Upcoming concerts are on June  16 (a concert in the village of Marignier where I'll do my solo piece plus three duets with my friend Annie), June 19 (a programme of gospel music), and then , finally,  two different concerts on June 21- one at 4pm and another at 7pm.

After that I don't have anything musical planned until we sing at a small medieval fair in mid-August...

* "Music is well said to be the speech of angels"
 -Thomas Carlyle, Scottish philosopher and music-lover

Monday, June 11, 2012

Grandes Medievales: Weekende the Seconde

Waiting for Sev's show to begin.

No, the picture on the left  is not a cast photo from "Game of Thrones".  (Though I did keep calling Sev "Lord Snow" all day long)

It is my four kids and my eldest  daughter's patient and good-natured boyfriend Mat.

My offspring are quite used to going out in public in unlikely costumes (see here and here), but it was more than I had hoped that Mat would ever be willing to play the game.
But it seems that Swedish people are, perhaps, more amenible to dress-up than the French are.  He was perfectly willing to be outfitted by us.
Valentine, Alexa and I stayed up until 1am the night before, hand-sewing a shirt for him.
I personally designed and sewed his cap, which turned out, I believe, to be rather fetching.

He's such a good sport....

As usual, Sev was in the daily parades and in the daily show "Two Centuries of Combat", in which he plays an English soldier and generally avoids being killed.                         
Sev in his black slashed doublet,holding a pike.

Sunday started out a bit overcast, but by noon it was POURING rain. This deluge of epic proportions seriously put a crimp in our day.

Not that it was a total loss.  Tya, Alexa, my friend Annie and I had a good time hanging out in a tavern and entertaining  other performers and the few tourists still around.with some acappella period music. Fortunately, we know lots of medieval drinking songs....

By 4pm, though, we were ready to leave.
Sadly, my car ended up stuck in the mud.  And I have to admit that pushing a big car out of a mud pit while wearing medieval clothes and shoes is NOT an activity I'd highly recommend.  But we managed....

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

A Musical Interlude: Fa La La etc....

While Sev spends his days at the Grandes Medievales
I performed in a Purcell trio with a couple of basses.
hacking away at people with a sword, I pass my time otherwise....

On the first Sunday of the event, I was (like last year) joined by some of my pals from the Music Conservatory of Annemasse. 
Happily, they are all a big bunch of geeks like me and think that dressing up in medieval gear and singing period acappella music sounds like a really fabulous way to have some fun.

We performed at five different venues throughout the park.

Considering how huge this festival is, there is very little music being performed there. 

There's a cool group of singing monks, but my group is the only mixed vocal music ensemble.

People really seemed to appreciate us and we even had a few people ask how they could join!

Monday, June 04, 2012

Grandes Medievales d'Andilly: Weekende the Firste

 First of all, I'd like to take a moment to consider the colorful colloquial phrase from American English  " I'ma get medieval on your ass".
Apparently first used in the popular 1994 Tarantino film 'Pulp Fiction, it means "to use violence or extreme measures on, to become aggressive."

This seems very unfair.  It is highly unlikely that all the European people  who lived between the 5th to 15th centuries spent all of (or even most of) their time inflicting violence on each other.

In all fairness, "getting medieval" could just as easily refer to playing the lute and eating marzipan...which, frankly, sounds like lots more fun.
 (The irony of writing this and then posting it next to a photo of Severin wearing armour and holding a pike is not lost upon me, btw.) 

But still.... our first weekend of medieval-type activities at the huge Andilly event was NOT a never-ending bloodbath of horror.
Which is nice.


 As you can see, Tya and I were  in the daily parades (that's me in dark blue and Tya in green beside me) and  the twins even brought along a pal (who also dressed up and got into the spirit of things).

I also kept busy helping out with things  at the soldiers' guiding small children through the "Become an Awesome Knight" obstacle course.
And then there was answering all of the questions of the many, many, many tourists.

Did I mention there were a LOT of tourists?
On Saturday alone they sold 16,000 tickets to this event!  And that number translates into lots of lost small children weeping along the charming forested paths.  The ones with smart parents had their folks' cell phone numbers written on their arms (Well...semi-smart parents.  I guess the really bright ones managed not to lose their offspring...)  At any rate, I did manage a few child-rescue operations, which was a feel-good kind of thing.  I do love a happy ending...

As for my medieval faire "stardom" consisting of (if you will recall) being featured in the program photo this year-  I actually had a woman recognise me! She was sitting near me at the falconry show and asked "That's you, right?"...Which was astonishing, as the photo isn't very large and I was wearing totally different clothing.  I'm still completely  mystified by her apparent super-power....