Monthly Archives: October 2017

Escargot progress…

rain drops

Raindrops keep blocking the view of my basil plant in kitchen window — now try singing that to raindrops keep falling on my head; twas difficult typing it to that tune.  Yep, I’m even off key when I type sing.

It’s a lovely cool, rainy Sunday morning.  The perfect day for me to assemble another Ikea puzzle after I sip coffee, read and write a bit.  I’m all snuggled up on my comfy, corner yellow chair and embracing the fact that I have the next week off.  Normally, I’d book a weeklong adventure, but my big shipment from America is coming tomorrow, the plumber is coming tomorrow, and allegedly the Internet guy.  May it all pan out the way I hope it should!  I am going to visit my family in Germany later in the week though, and I’m sooooo looking forward to that.

So, I bought a car on Friday.  A cute little 2009 VW Golf diesel from a really nice Frenchman who also works on the base.  I couldn’t have asked for a better experience in buying a used car.  He did everything he was supposed to; I got it insured and did everything I was supposed to, and we met at the admin building to register the car in my name (something the previous owner did not have to stay for, but he did to help me out).  I feel great about buying this car.  Are you sensing a hiccup?  Yep.  Two numbers were wrong on the VIN number on my insurance card, “Sorry Madame, you must come back Monday with correct number on card.”  Monday is a busy day!  My car rental is the equivalent of $600 a month, and I just paid a few thousand for this ‘new’ car, so you can imagine I’m not liking the evaporating euros.  That said I wouldn’t be able to drive the car this weekend anyway because it has to sit in the parking lot until my tags arrive 5 to 15 days from when it’s registered.  Temporary tags do not exist here.  So, what’s an extra weekend?  I was never meant to save money anyway.  C’est la vie

     Before:  And Twingo is its Nameoh! Le rental.              After:  my poor baby waiting for me to rev her.

In September I went to a salon to get my hair done, which turned out to be worse than letting the roots grow out on their own, so my hair has been part witch, part “can you spare a coin?”  It’s a good thing I smile a lot because people would have run from me otherwise.  Anyway a coworker and new friend suggested I try her place out, which is in some god-knows-where village.  I met my friend 7:30 yesterday morning to follow her through the woods, the deathtrap construction, even alongside a canal, to the lil shop on the side of some curvy road.  Who in the hell does hair that early on a Saturday?  Turns out she needs to begin that early because this little shop gets busy, busy, busy, and for good reason.

Not only is the stylist known for her talent, but also the place is just what stressed out women need on a Saturday morning.  Her adorable attendants pamper you, while she works her magic (although Jill, my stylist in Arizona, and Gina, my stylist in Al Ain, if you girls are reading, you’re still my faves).  One guy takes my coat and serves me a Starbucks-worthy cappuccino, the other makes two sisters giggle and pretend orgasm (maybe it was real) while he massages their scalps.  Speaking of which, those two sisters didn’t speak much English, and I don’t speak much French, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time together — and I dare say they were two sexy mamas when they left the place.

There are two tables.  One where we women sit together while our colors are painted on; the other divided by a mirror where the stylist cuts and styles our hair — it’s sort of like a beauty salon whack a mole; she finishes one of us and another pops into a chair.  Meanwhile women cackle and tsk, tsk over the stories of their lives.  It’s the perfect set up, and my GPS better serve me well because if I can find the place,  I’ll go back again.  One day I might even know enough French to offer more than one or two word responses.

See, bathroom selfies are not just for online dating!  Thank God you can’t see the heap of clothes on the floor.

So, things are moving along, and I’m nestling into my version of normal.  Ohhh, I even bumped into a friend and chatted for a bit while lugging my old-lady shopping cart on a cobblestone street to get me some wine and goodies, so I’m turning into a local foreigner.

I’m relaxed and content, and that is exactly how things should be — anywhere in the world — on a weekend morning.  May you all be snuggly and well in your corners of the world.

 

 

Foie gras and Paris!

It’s been a great, much-needed weekend of food, wine, laughs, new friends and new experiences.  Just up the street (a 5 minute walk if I’m wearing shoes I need to carefully navigate on cobblestone) from my place is this adorable little place called Osmose.  It seats only 12 people at a time.  Your waiter is the chef and owner. Two of my new friends, now neighbours, made reservations for Friday night and were kind enough to invite me to join — and thanks to them this will be a go-to place every time I have guests in from out of town.

They suggested I just go with what the owner says to try, which meant me eating things I never really saw myself liking.  The entree (appetiser) of the night was foie gras, but he also had an alternative scallops dish for those of us who aren’t fans of the foie.  I got those, but Beth Ann said to heck with it and gave the goose liver pate a try, so I tasted a smudge and it really was delicious.  The main dish was duck — again not a fave of mine, unless it’s the crispy Asian kind — but I went with it.  OMG I didn’t know poultry could be served medium rare, and I didn’t know a bird could taste like steak.  It was an amazing meal with little surprises here and there, fantastic wine, and fun times getting to know the owner, chef a little bit.  Our reservations began at 6:30; I didn’t roll down the hill back to my place until midnight.

Way too early Saturday morning I had to drag my carcass out of bed to rush to work.  For 25 euros all of the staff at the international schools on base had an opportunity to hop on a day-trip bus to Paris.  In a little over three hours, I could spend the day eating, drinking, etc. in PARIS.  I crawled into that bus with absolutely no idea of what I was going to do, or whom I was going to do it with — other than I was getting out of town for a day and walking the streets of Paris.

A group of new friends lured me into their day by saying they were starting off with champagne at a cafe — win!  It’s amazing how quickly a wine hangover and not enough sleep disappears when you’re sipping bubbly on the street.

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Then we had lunch at Le Procope, the oldest restaurant in Paris.  It’s where the male (thinking women not yet welcome at that time) revolutionaries, philosophers, artists, writers, etc.  met and some of its guests included Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson — just to name a few.  Love that I’m teaching American History and some of the historical figures I’ve made my kids remember sipped and burped right at the same place as I did in Paris.  I wonder if they too marvelled at the creme brûlée,

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Ignore the wine stains on table (we had a few) and inhale the goodness of this giant brûlée.  I should’ve known it was going to be huge when they gave me a soup spoon to eat it with.
Anyone else think of Beauty and the Beast here?  I know I’m a terrible teacher since I should be pointing out all the historical amazingness of this place, and I did take it all in, but you aint got time for my geeky side.  Just know I loved being here touching the banister so many great minds have leaned on — while wondering what their women counterparts were doing elsewhere.

After lunch it was walk, walk, walk on over to Notre Dame and then the Picasso museum.

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It’s funny how the Picasso experience haunts me.  While in the museum I was mostly just hot and tired and thinking to myself “dude, why so much dick in your work?”  A funny side note:  one of the middle school teachers asked us if we saw the penis on the face of his famous painting The Dream.  We all did, and she was amazed because for years she’s been having her 8th graders do a replica of this and never noticed the phallus until someone pointed it out to her today.  Oh Picasso see what you’ve made good women do!

Unknown-1 It’s all I see, plus the naughtiness I think she’s up to.

I honestly don’t get a lot of his work, and as a woman I find the portraits of the women he loved disturbing, BUT some of his paintings pulled me in and stuck with me.  His sculptures not so much. The black and white sketches made me want to understand this world of his, but then again I’m thinking the whole point is I’m not supposed to understand.  I can’t tell you why his paintings keep coming back to me because … lol like his art I don’t exactly understand it … but his work haunts me.  Some of it I found funny and some of it scared me.  So, I’m glad I went because now I’ve taken an interest in getting to know what the Internets have to say about him, and for whatever reason it makes me think.

On this trip I did not get to go to all the other museums I want to visit, but that’s okay because it’s just a short train trip away, and some of my new friends said they’d totally do an art weekend with me.  I’m a very happy girl!

I’m also procrastinating because instead of walking to the market like I had planned today, I’ve told myself I’m putting together another Ikea thing — my version of Picasso hell minus any sexual play — and I’m here typing to all of you looking at that damn box waiting for me to open.

Okay, gotta go do this thing.  Hope you all have had as lovely a weekend as I have.  It feels good to have gotten away from the stress of moving and working!

 

My series of misfortunate events

Okay, so on Friday I came really close to exploding.  I almost threw a temper tantrum in the middle of traffic on my little street.  Instead I counted to 10 while realising “Eeets not Posseeble” is the Belgium English version of Inshallah, although there’s no hopefully or maybe attached to it.

Flashback to Thursday:  I go to Ikea asking if I could add a bed and mattress to my delivery expected to arrive the next day.  I paid 100 euros for a truck with a lift, so that all my shit could go up through my windows versus the elevator.  The receptionist at work called the police to reserve a front spot for me, so I was nice and ready to move much-needed stuff into my place.  Anyway, I figured adding a bed to that order would just make my life easier since I need  bed.  After some phone calls and whatnot “whalla”  it’s done.  My bed was scheduled to arrive with another delivery; they couldn’t get it on the same truck, but a note was written to lift driver to wait.

Oh and then I ask if the bed will be assembled with the rest of my furniture.  Pause, “Madame, there is no assembly in your order.”  What?  I asked when I bought it if assembly was included, or did I need to pay extra (which I would have!), and I was told it’s all included.  I even repeated this to make sure it was.  Yes, Madame.

Well, the reality was No Madame it is not.  Okay, whatever I will figure this out, just bring my shit:  which, by the way, is three chairs, a sleep sofa, a day bed, four armoires, a high table for my kitchen, and three dressers, oh and now that queen sized bed and mattress.

Thursday night I get home and see two spots out front reserved.  One under my window and one near the garage entrance.  I assume the one under window is mine.

8 a.m Friday, big ass truck and small ass lift truck are there.  Parking spot under my window has an SUV in it, so guess what?  that one’s not MY spot.  Lift guy says he can’t reach my window from the other spot.  I point out ways he can manoeuvre his vehicle to do it:  “Eeets not posseeble.”

Furniture truck guys say it’s better for me if they unload my furniture, and I call another lift when a spot opens up.  “But, I paid 100 euros for this one!”  Oh, and we’re still waiting for the bed and mattress too.  I show lift guy the note that says he needs to wait.  He looks at me like I’m bat shit crazy if I think he’s actually going to abide by it.  So, we agree that the furniture guys will unload my boxes, and we’ll pull into lobby, and hopefully a spot closer to my window will open up.

The furniture guys feel sorry for me and manage to lug boxes up the stairs and put some stuff in the tiny elevator, which we’re not supposed to do, but at this point I’m desperate, so I’m literally praying it’ll all work out.

It’s going great until an elderly couple cuss us out because of all the boxes and because they caught the guys putting some stuff in the elevator.  They are not happy at all, and we keep trying to explain what had happened, and they yell at me in French that I should’ve called police to reserve a spot.  I point to the one I did that with, and blah, blah, blah.  I just know at this point I’m getting a call from my landlord (whew! so far that’s a no).  Anyway, they leave all pissed off (yay me on making new friends).  Another little old lady comes down, and bless her soul offers to move her vehicle in the front.  This is when I learn the lift guy left!!!!!!!!!  It’s okay, I’m told, that spot wouldn’t be close enough anyway.  I’m still like, but I paid 100 euros for that guy.  All I want is my shit upstairs without pissing off my neighbours!

Here’s just some of it.  The wine table is perfect for my kitchen.  Love, Love, Love it! And, the black sleep sofa is my bed right now and is quite comfy.  Thanks, Doug!   Leslie and I laboured away on a big closet, which has one more thing that needs to be done, and she also got a tricky little drawer thingy together for me.  There are lovely chairs to sit on as well, so it’s coming along.

Anyway, long story longer the furniture guys did manage to get everything upstairs, and I do appreciate them working so hard to help me.  I think they felt sorry for me when they saw I was lugging up smaller boxes myself, and the bed and mattress never showed up!  Until 8 a.m. Saturday, when I get a call saying the bed is on its way.  Oh hell no it’s not!  At this point I’m so frustrated I cancel the bed and demand a refund.  I’m told I’ll get it.  I’m sure that’s a process too, but I’ll deal with it this week.  There was just no way that early on a Saturday morning I was going to risk pissing off the neighbours again trying to lug stuff up those stairs and that elevator.

Now, on to the good stuff!  There are always heroes in a bad tale.

Thursday night I message Leslie and Doug, a couple I’ve become friends with.  They’re new here too and Doug hasn’t started his new job yet.  I offer to pay Doug to help me assemble furniture.  Friday morning I send out an SOS if he could come sooner (this was when I realised I might just explode but thankfully didn’t).

Doug gets here to help out while Leslie finishes work and arrives later.  Both of them stayed here until almost midnight helping me put furniture together.  Of course we sipped wine and nibbled on cheese, but we were so busy working that we never even left for dinner.  I cannot believe they gave up their Friday evening AND dinner to help me.  In return all they ask is for me to pay it forward.  Don’t worry,  we’re all headed to Paris for a day trip next weekend, so I’ll be sure to treat us to some good wine and food.

We didn’t get everything assembled, but that’s okay because they brought me back to reality and made me realise it’s okay, Efff that lift guy driver because anything EEES Posseeble, and when there’s chaos, there’s also always someone to the rescue.

Another treat was there’s a leak under my kitchen sink.  The plumber came on Friday too, since I was home, and I almost cried tears of joy when he told me the landlord said I spoke some German, did I understand him now (after my now common “I have no clue what you’re saying” look to French).  I was soo happy to be able to clearly communicate!  The poor guy, I just rambled off about how his day was and how grateful I was for him, and blah, blah, blah.  He’s coming back on Monday to replace my kitchen hot water heater, and I think he’s bringing a buddy to divert some of my rambling.  And, I really appreciate my landlord sending a German-speaking plumber since she didn’t have an English-speaking one.  It’s the little things that matter oh so much!

Another good thing I got to do was chaperone the Homecoming Dance.  It was so nice to see teenagers from around the world decked out and having fun.  I got to see some adorable moments when parents hovered in the lobby to take pictures of their kids, or when boys waited, corsage boxes in hand, for their dates to arrive and then nervously slip them onto the girls wrists.  I know there’s a lot of effed-up mess in our world, and much of it is government (from all countries) botch ups, but I’m going to put all that aside and point out one of the things done right: and that is the effort that is put into making these kids lives as normal as possible.  They didn’t choose to live on this base, but they’re still having sports and school-sponsored parties — and by the looks and sounds of them on the dance floor, they’re having fun.  I am very blessed to be a part of that effort.  Despite all the nonsense of moving in, I am right where I want to be.  Come on Joe and Badger, I can’t wait to have you be part of all of this with me!

And on that note, it’s time for me to brush my teeth, get dressed and go to a bizarre on the base.  I hear there’s a furniture store selling stuff — maybe the bed that is really meant for me is there waiting.  I’ll just have it delivered the same day as my stuff from America (which is arriving Oct 30th — woo hoo!).

p.s. same day later on:  No bed; but I discovered that you can fit a 55 inch t.v. into the back of a Twingo — click here if you’ve never seen one —if you drive with your face squished against the windshield (okay I’m exaggerating but not by much).  Joe will be so happy.  For the first time in my life I bought a t.v. that big — ewwww and it’s curved too.

 

 

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