Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Morning walk

After being a slug because of the heat it is wonderful to get out and walk and walk and walk. My foray was through the gardens about five minutes out of the village. Early in the morning it is just the right temperature, the smells are wonderful. The brook to the left does the appropriate gurgles.

The gardens have grown even more lush since my last walk well before the Canicule struck.

Another attack of Happy Eyes with the combination of colours, smell and a breeze on my face.

A new painted mail box has appeared

Cat Karl Coke A K sound blog

What to do, what to do? I adore Coca-Cola and although I limit myself to one a month, it is almost time. I hate designer names. In fact if I am given a piece of clothing with a designer name on it, I hide the name in some way. Now I know that Coke is a brand name. Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds or something like that.

The new advertising campaign for Coke has a designer on the bottle, and I have to admit it is kinda pretty. Do I buy it and drink it? Do I look for a non designer Coke bottle? Do I buy it and hide it in a paper bag like a wino on Boston Common? Do I wait tell next month? Will I buy it just because it is pretty? The stress of it all.

It was a hot, hot, hot day. Whatever provoked Munchkin to place her body in a sunbeam can only be explained by the perversity of catsm

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Oprah speaks

"People who don't consciously renounce unneeded, unloved purchases end up with stuff--piles of mediocre, creeping stuff--that actually decreases their quality of life"

In preparing to go south, I came across a new issue of Oprah, and as I was thumbing through the pages (anything is better than packing) I came across an article called "The Joy Dividend" by Martha Beck. It says people spend about $700,000 in a lifetime and asks what you will do with yours. It is an article on financial planning.

As a confirmed minimalist and shopping-phobic person, I thought Aha, I am not alone.
Although she did not cite my three rules before buying only one which has to apply I patted myself on the back for them.

1. It has to be useful
2 I has to be beautiful
3. It has to have a memory

Yesterday's paperclips have all three. A sweater I wore yesterday, almost foreced on me by Rose in Mirepoix next to a 13th century jail turned into a fantasy hotel, has all three. I wore it yesterday and I never look at it without a surge of pleasure not to mention its warmth when I'm cold.

Thus when I enter my room in CH or nest in Argeles my eyes can sweep the room and love everything in it or respect it's use. I also adore the free space inbetween the loved items.

Even my frigo qualifies as a memory and useful as does the washing machine because of where I bought them. And although I don't have fond memories of the purchase of my food processor, its frequent use has piled one good meal memory on top of another (we won't discuss the disaster of a sauce when I used baby formula instead of cream)

I don't need Oprah to justify my habits, but I find it amusing when she does.

Minimalist style doubled

As a mininalmist, everyone knows I keep possessions to a minimum, one working pen (although I have my plumed and glass pen for calligraphy), one pencil and five paper clips.

Today I doubled my paper clips. I bought five more, but these are shaped like an elephant, a reindeer, a turtle, a hippo and a chicken.

Then again I may get rid of my five boring ones.

See Rose, I can shop.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chernobyl photo exhibit

The Chernobyl disaster, (Ukrainian: Чорнобильська катастрофа) Chornobylʹsʹka katastrofa, was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (then part of the Soviet Union), now in Ukraine. The following is Chernobyl time after the accident.
The Pripyat Ferris wheel as seen from inside the town's Palace of Culture.

From Wikipedia. The photos are from an exhibition along the lake.

Following the accident, questions arose about the future of the plant and its eventual fate. All work on the unfinished reactors 5 and 6 was halted three years later. However, the trouble at the Chernobyl plant did not end with the disaster in reactor 4. The damaged reactor was sealed off and 200 meters (660 ft) of concrete was placed between the disaster site and the operational buildings. The Ukrainian government continued to let the three remaining reactors operate because of an energy shortage in the country. In 1991, a fire broke out in the turbine building of reactor 2;[1] the authorities subsequently declared the reactor damaged beyond repair and had it taken offline. Reactor 1 was decommissioned in November 1996 as part of a deal between the Ukrainian government and international organizations such as the IAEA to end operations at the plant. On 15 December 2000, then-President Leonid Kuchma personally turned off Reactor 3 in an official ceremony, shutting down the entire site.

The photos are as beautiful as they are sad.

Globes along the lake

There is a wonderful display of globes all devoted to the topic of ecology along the lake. I think the one made of trash is my favorite but then again the one with sustainable farming theme was one of the prettiest.

Syrian night

With M. spending a week J and I cajoled her into making a Syrian meal. Of course this meant inviting some of her friends and some of ours. The day was spent chopping, dicing, slicing but at the end there was tabuli, a number of pies, lentils and rice. Originally we'd planned to eat in the garden but the house was cooler.

And what else to do after the meal?

Belly dancing of course. Work off those calories.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The first review of the my first mystery

07/05/2010 Fiction
Murder in Caleb's Landing: A Third-Culture Kid Mystery
D-L Nelson, Five Star, $25.95 (364p) ISBN 978-1-59414-897-2
In this intriguing first in a new series from Nelson (Running from the Puppet Master), Annie Young, a 33-year-old contract tech writer born in the U.S. who's spent most of her life in Europe, returns to the States with her Geneva-based parents after her father inherits a house in Caleb's Landing, Mass. There her father and some of his friends persuade Annie, a passionate historian, to make a CD about "the founding of America the way it really was," but the program she produces, previewed at the town's elementary school, offends many with its evenhanded depiction of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. Meanwhile, in the basement of their new house, Annie and her father discover a skeleton dressed in pre–Civil War rags and a diary written by a runaway slave. Later, Annie and her mother try to save a young woman from an abusive husband. The action moves at a fast clip to a dramatic and surprising conclusion. (Sept.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tribbles come to Argeles


A classic early Star Trek was the trouble with tribbles (see URL) above. These cute little creatures got on the ship and then reproduced at a speed that would make rabbits look sterile (Faster even then a hampster, Mighty Mom).

Sitting at La Noisette and watching the end of the marché in the heat a sudden and powerful wind sent merchandising flying including a box of tribble-like sponges that covered the street. But then again maybe they weren't sponges, but leftover tribbles from long ago.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Any expat or someone who wants to understand

please read my writing mate's blog. Although each expat experience varies, she sums up the emotions that confront us as we juggle labels and identities.


I'm in Vegas this week

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

And I am also in the South of France.

No I have not been cloned.

Vegas is where the World Council of Credit Unions is holding its conference and I need to cover it for my newsletter. I have gone to their conferences in Spain, Ireland, France, Italy and Poland. The events always renew my hope in mankind and a better world.

Vegas is probably on the bottom of my list of places to go but higher than Afghanistan.

Still thanks to the wonder of the internet I am getting copies of presentations enough to give meaty coverage for my clients who could not be there.

Next year the conference will be in Glasgow. Is it too early to book my ticket?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Vitu visits

The house across the street is occupied this week by a friend and her dog. As different people stay there whom I know, we talk window to window. When she appeared this morning, inviting her in for coffee and conversation and of course she brought her friend Vitu.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Moth wars

Normally, I am a peaceful person. I am anti war, anti death penalty. When a wasp enters my house I try and catch it in a towel. I can feel its vibrations as I carry them in towels so they won't sting and jettison them out of my window. I doubt if they feel gratitude to their second chance in life, but that is all right. I have not killed.

For the first time last year my studio nest was invaded by moths not the kind that eat your clothes. Instead they nibble away on your flour, polenta, rice, oats leaving them clumped.

One I could coexist with, but they invite their brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, friends, cousins, second cousins, third cousins, fourth cousins and hold conferences where moths come from all over France and Spain. I won't say their little wings are deafening flapping in unison, but having them flicker by unleashes my inner warrior.

Someone told me the laurel leaves makes them go away.

Someone lies.

I gathered laurel leaves from the river bank, and another friend gave me several branches from her garden.

The moths appreciated the decoration and invited more of their friends and relatives and had another convention this time with moths from Germany and Italy with which they probably negotiated mutual aid treaties in case of laurel decorations.


I debated using drones, but was told at A Dix Balle, an store that sells everything under 10 Euros, sticky strips with some sexy smell (if you are a male moth) would get rid of them. I bought two strips and within days they were covered with dead horny moth men who probably died happy because they thought they were about to be surrounded by sexy female moths. There may be a lesson in that, but I am not sure what it is.

So far I've spent 60 Euros (far less than the Pentagon budget that is more than all other countries in the world spend on warfare) but a large amount for me to fill the cards and try not to fill guilty when I yell die baby die.

I guess we all have a hidden violent side.

Does Obama need a new defense secretary?

In the heat of the day

Argelès is hot. K. is a wonderful cook and interesting to talk with. She lives in the foothills outside of town beyond the olive groves in a farm house. Where she lives is always cooler. The combination made acceptance of a lunch invitation a no brainer.

Thus B and I wended our way off the main road and up, up, up, up, up a dirt path into the woods.

The menu:

Cold carrot soup
A green bean and mackerel salad
Pasta pesto
Chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream

The breeze was just slight enough to be pleasurable. After the meal, K. gave us a variety of herbs to taste, not the ones we are used to but the kind that grow around her house whose exotic flavors excited our palettes. The last one was a lemony mint, more refreshing than any palete cleansing sorbet.

As we were leaving, K told us to giver her bottles of olive oil and she would add some herbs for original salad dressings.

The bottle is bought, the taste buds are waiting.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Making hay while the sun shines

No, no...I haven't given up writing to become a farmer. I went to a Democrats abroad picnic outside of Toulouse this weekend with friends on a wonderful spot of ground between a lake and a farmer's field. It was fun to eat kosher dill pickets and get Heinz sweet relish and talk with people whose politics are close to mine. One brave Republican did show up. It must have been the hamburgers and hot dogs that drew him.

A box of kittens with an adopt me sign was there and they all went to homes. My favourite was a milky beige, fluffy male who luckily was adopted before I did anything stupid like take him home. He was christened Cappuccino. Good thing no one brought Japanese chin puppies.

After the picnic we went to Auch, the home of the The Musketeers and D'Artagnan's statue was there in full plumed hat and caped glory. However, it was this 15th century building that caught my eye. To keep the international spirit we ate at an Irish pub where I had a Hawaiian salad and one of my friends had a Belgian cheese dish.

The couple I was travelling with wanted to check out the different Armagnac domaines. I have to admit that I found the taste just slightly left of spitting out,* except for the
relatively new floc and the fruit-flavoured versions. However, each domaine was in a wonderful old building surrounded by vineyards. The grapes were originally brought to the region by the Romans. This domaine was in the 16th century château that belonged to the Bishop of Condom (the name of the next town. Does anyone see the irony of having a Bishop of Condom when the Church disses their use?

When my daughter was little she always had to visit the toilets of any restaurant we went to. In fact if she forgot the restaurants, she never forgot the toilets. So Llara this interesting toilet paper dispenser is for you.

*My first boss at IEC would probably consider this a sacking offense only because burning at the stake is no longer allowed.