28 August, 2008

And the screaming continued unabated

B and I were lounging around on the balcony in the sun yesterday working our way through a plate piled high with fragrant watermelon. D panted happily next to us, the epitomy of doggy happiness.

B: D looks very happy, doesn't she?
Me: Yeah, I think she's always happy. Kind of like me!
B: What?
Me: ME! Because I'm just always SO happy!
B: giggles.
B: Well, you are almost always happy. Except for sometimes when you're not.
Me: (in mock horror) WHAT??? WHEN!?
B: Well, like when you're talking to the cable company.

The kid has a point. Internet providers make me want to go postal. Our supposed seamless transition from 1&1 has turned into a gaping Internet-less void. It's taken many heated phonecalls and three technicians to figure out the problem, which in the end, according to the hero who came by today could have been fixed within 45 minutes if the first guys had been paying attention. Oh, and did I mention that they erased all of my antivirus software in the heat of the battle? And then denied it? Grrrrr!

Anyway, all that Internet downtime had a silver lining, because it freed up lots of time to do important things like eat watermelon on the balcony with B. And read Eat, Pray, Love, which was a major treat in itself.

So I'm happy to finally be back online. As soon as I clear the spam out of my inbox and pay some overdue bills I'll be able to start surfing blogs again and catching up on your summers!

It's good to be back!!!

23 August, 2008

are we there yet?

We've been in the car for more than 11 hours now and any minute I might start screaming and not stop...

21 August, 2008

maybe she meant space aliens?

Last night I went in to check on the kids on my way to bed. I was tucking B back under the covers when I suddenly heard slow, stealthy footsteps in the woods right outside the window. I ran to M and whispered that someone / something was sneaking around our caravan.

M was out the door like a shot and quickly searched around and under the camper. Then he got out an enormous flashlight and shined it into the woods.

Just then our French neighbors returned to their campsite. I think they were a bit drunk. They saw M with his floodlight and started giggling.

They only speak French and our exchanges so far have been limited to my limited vocabulary and M's gradeschool French.

"What are you doing?"
"My wife just heard something!"
"Oh! Ha ha. Yeah, that! That's just a djkfkfkifrfkfc. We have a lot of those around here!"
"C'est quoi?"
"A dfdflgltoflck! You know! With the points!" (She sticks her fingers out next to her face.)

M smiled and nodded. It was obvious to me that he hadn't understood what they were saying either.

I whispered to him:"You think they mean a deer?"
"No idea. I think they mean a hedgehog."

I stifled a giggle.

The neighbors tried again.

"It's a dkefkfkivkj! They come around searching for escargots!"

M smiled at me triumphantly! "A boar! I think they're talking about boars!" He turned back to the women and said:

"They're this big, right?"

To which the women broke out into raucous laughter and bid us a good night...

20 August, 2008

popping in to say "HI!"

The weather has turned beautiful again and we finally seem to have found our groove. In the last few days we've hiked the tip of the Mont Ventoux, explored Uzes and Remoulin and have spent a lot of time at the pool.

Yesterday we took an 8km canoe trip down the Gardon River- we even paddled through the arches of the Pont du Gard! Today we took the kids go-karting and tomorrow we're off to discover Arles and the Van Gogh museum there.

I just finished reading Paulo Coelho's "the Alchemist". I liked many of the ideas in there, but found it a bit hokey in general. It came highly recommended, and was apparently a bestseller in 57 different languages. Have any of you read it, and if so, what did you think? Maybe it was just due to the mood I was in when I read it?

17 August, 2008

saving the day

(Cold + crappy)weather+cold shower+(cold + greasy)fries for lunch = crabby Betsy

But then came dinner.

We dined in the courtyard of an ancient farmhouse, surrounded by azaleas. The kids relished plates of gambas in pastis sauce. M savored a perfect steak and my ratatouille was fabulous; crisp and flavorful. Bats pirouetted gracefully above our heads, and when it got dark the owner came out and placed flickering candles on every table. It was a perfect evening...

14 August, 2008

very sorry I am. (oui oui!)

I am spoiled. And I'm not just talking about luck and love in the usual sense, but in the ease that comes when one can finally articulate one's thoughts well in a foreign language.

German has become very comfortable for me lately. If I'm not yet ready to stop with my lessons it's only because I'm fascinated by linguistic acrobatics and niggling grammatical nuances.

With French, however, it's a completely different story. Despite my best efforts it's never really "stuck". In Flanders there was little opportunity for practice and I was never able to get up enough momentum to speak more than the most basic French.

So suddenly here I am in a French-speaking environment and am struggling with even very rudimentary phrases. Probably I should just give up and teach myself how to say: "Ignore that gibberish I just spit out! Despite all evidence to the contrary, I'm not actually stupid!"

The other day we were in a restaurant and I decided to swallow my pride and place my order myself. (How else am I ever going to learn if I don't practice?) So I ordered a salad, and then explained that I'd like a pasta dish with vegetables. No meat and no dairy, please.

I was so relieved to have it all over with and proud of myself for my excellent language skills!

Much later the water returned bearing trays laden with food. He doled it all out and I was left sitting there with my drool-soaked placemat and a stunned look on my face.

He didn't bring anything for me!

The only thing I ended up eating that evening was a big slice of humble pie!

Back to le old drawing board...

12 August, 2008

Wissenswertes ueber die Roemer

We just had one of those "aha!" moments that every homeschooling parent dreams of!

I'm doing workbooks with the boys everyday- B is working on English spelling / grammer, and S on German. Coincidentally S's chapter this week focuses on the ancient Romans, which fits right in with many of the sights we saw in Nimes yesterday.

Today's lesson is about aquaducts, and includes a large picture of the one at Pont du Gard! He was so thrilled!

This afternoon we're off to go see the real thing with our very own eyes! I love it!

11 August, 2008

just checking in...

Hello from Pont du Gard in southern France! We're camping next to the Gard river. I'm devouring French chocolates and German literature in copious amounts. (So far dark chocolate with sesame and Erich Remarque top my list!)

This weekend M and I lounged around topless in the dappled shade of an ancient tree while the boys caught frogs who all seemed to be named either Bob or Speedy.

S and B spent an inordinate amount of time yesterday paddling upstream in an inflatable boat. (Which meant, of course that I then spent an inordinate amount of time rescuing them from the groping tentacles of river algae.)

Today we explored Nimes, which is a lovely city! There's an extremely well-preserved amphitheater which saw its share of gladiator fights back in the day. I also really enjoyed the Jardin de la Fontaine with its Roman baths and Temple de Diane. (I'm composing this via M's Blackberry, otherwise I would include Wikipedia links, because it was really awe inspiring!)

Today I dined on cheeseless pizza and coffee with rice milk. Blech. (And to think that up until now you were probably feeling jealous!? ;-) Just thought I'd throw that note in there to even out the playing field...)

It's raining cats and dogs (and loaves and fishes) right now. Have I mentioned how grateful I am not to be sleeping in a tent on a leaky air mattrass?!

I hope the summer is treating you all well! A bientot!

04 August, 2008

when I leave the sun behind me...

An open courtyard in the middle of a 16th century farmhouse. I am jumping on a trampoline. Or flying, rather. The Kink's "This Time Tomorrow" is blaring through my iPod headphones. Suddenly life slows down and I am living a scene straight out of a Wes Anderson film. There are children tumbling around everywhere. Their mouths are open but I can't hear what they're saying. Bubbles float up over my head and drift off to seek their freedom in the clear blue sky...

01 August, 2008

Change of plans

A neighbor here has suddenly died. of cancer. he was only 57. So we will wait to leave until later on today so that my father-in-law can help with arrangements. My mother-in-law is busy baking quiches.

I seem to be the the only connecting factor between all of these disperate people. Those of you who know me personally are probably breathing a sigh of relief that I'll be out of pocket for the next three weeks. At least you're safe for now...