Monthly Archives: January 2008

She Actually Looks a Bit Like a Tomato

Coming back from the hospital with my parents the other night, Charlotte was explaining to my mom about Clémentine’s name.

“You see Nana,” she said. “A ‘clémentine‘ is the word in France for one of those Christmas oranges, so she’s named after an orange.”

“That’s nice,” says Nana.

Charlotte ponders this a bit more. Clementine had been feeding all day that day and her face was all red and chapped from dribbling milk.

“But actually, I think she looks more like a tomate.

Countdown…

Went to the hospital this morning to get my blood work done, and I’m officially checking in at 8:00pm tonight. I can’t quite fathom that if at goes as planned (notably no flash strikes on behalf of the french civil servants) that at this time tomorrow the glow-worm will no longer be in my stomach.

Going on past experience I’m pretty sure I won’t be up to blogging over the next few days, but my little sister Jayne has promised to post news and photos here as soon as she can.

Yowza…I still can’t believe the day has (almost) finally arrived. Send me courage and Bonne Chance vibes if you get the chance!

A Bientôt

Life, and Death

It has been a very emotionally charged few days for my family here in Burgundy. Just as I am rather ineffectually trying to prepare myself and my family for our new baby’s arrival on Wednesday, Franck’s dearly loved and indomitable grandmother, known to everyone as “La Mémé” died suddenly on Friday night

I suppose it seems a bit absurd to say that a 96 year old (almost 97) woman has passed away “suddenly”, but “La Mémé” was one of those people imbued with such a strong will and remarkable personality that you somehow believe they are immortal.

Besides, we had all believed her near death many times over the past fifteen years, particularly three years ago when she suffered a significant heart attack and the next morning the hospital phoned the family to warn them the end was near. They all rushed to her bedside, bringing clothes they had picked for her to wear in the coffin. As they converged in the hospital hallway, they took a moment to discuss funeral plans and to decide who should go in first to say their adieus.

Franck’s mother Michele was elected the first person to go in. She opened the door to the hospital room, taking a deep breath to brace herself and fighting back tears.

She found La Mémé sitting up in bed, nicely primped and with her hair newly styled, polishing off a hearty breakfast. She promptly lit into Michele that they had taken too long to come and visit her after what had been “a bit of a bad night”.

For years it went on like that – La Mémé’s health failed her often, but her iron will always made her rise up like a Pheonix from the ashes.

Even this time she fought until the end – Franck thinks strongly motivated to see her 18th great-grandchild come into the world this Wednesday – but her body gave out on her and she quickly slipped away surrounded by family, including her beloved Franck.

Needless to say there have been a lot of tears shed over the past 48 hours, and there will surely be many more tomorrow when her funeral is held in Beaune, and afterwards her burial on top of the Mont Saint Victor here in Villers-la-Faye.

Birth and death have this in common; I don’t think that us humans can ever feel ready for either of them.

Saint Vincent 2008 had been Saved!

At the eleventh hour the nearby winemaking village of Saint Romain (only 10 minutes from Beaune and 20 minutes from Magny and Villers) has saved the 2008 edition of the Saint Vincent Tournament – the traditional winter festival honouring the patron saint of winemakers which always takes place during the last weekend in January.

The event had became so overblown (and financially disastrous) over the past five years that for the first time in history no village wanted to host the 2008 edition. However, the picturesque little village of Saint Romain has finally stepped forward with a scaled down version that maintains the spirit of the event but frankly looks like it will be even more homegrown and fun.

Here’s the official website, although it doesn’t appear to have an English version.

www.saint-vincent-2008.com/

And here’s my blog – one of the first ones I ever wrote – about the Saint Vincent Tournament we had in our villages two years ago.

http://grapejournal.blogspot.com/2006/01/fait-accompli.html

The Name Game – Part III

Seeing as I am about 99% sure the glow-worm is a girl, my time is better spent conjuring up a nice girl’s name, I figured.

We had, of course, already used up two of our possibilities, so I had to put on my thinking cap yet again. I still loved the name “Capucine” but my best friend Charlotte’s second daughter sports that name and inhabits it so entirely that I just can’t imagine any other child as “Capucine”.

I have always been in love with the name “Chimène’ since I read Corneille’s “Le Cid” during my first year over here in France (not understanding even half of it, but discovering I really dug the name of the heroine). Unfortunately Franck, while giving me rather free reign on the name front, has maintained a serious dislike of the name.

Moreover, the parents of a cheesy female singer with bad acne who emerged a while back from the French version of “American Idol” (known as “La Star Academie“) had the gall to name their daughter “Chimène”. I don’t think I have the patience to respond to all the people who will inevitably ask, “did you name your daughter after La Star Academie girl?” not to mention Franck’s inevitable “I told you so” looks.

Around my fifth month of pregnancy I had a brief love affair with the first name “Colette” but Franck’s out-the-blue choice for a second name for our potential daughter, “Agathe” (pronounced “a-gat”) didn’t have an accent. Besides, when I say it several times in a row “Colette Agathe” sounds a little heavy on the “T’s” to me.

So in the end we have gone back to the girl name we both agreed on in the early days of my pregnancy, “Clemèntine” (pronounced “Clem-on-teen”). I’m just hoping the other kids in school back in Canada aren’t going to treat her to rousing renditions of “My Darling Clementine”. But as in all other ways the name “Clemèntine Agathe” is perfect, that’s a risk we’re willing to take.

And the latest news flash after my last ob/gyn appointment today is that Clemèntine / Clovis, otherwise known as the “glow-worm” will be coming at least a day earlier than previously planned.

Things were all lined up (besides my courage, but I suppose nobody will be waiting on that) for my C-section to happen on January 24th (next Thursday). But just in case I had forgotten I was given a stiff reminder this morning that this baby is being born in FRANCE. When we got to the doctor’s office we found him hopping mad that a hospital strike had just been declared for that very same day, which really isn’t as much a coincidence as one would think considering the sheer number of strike days in France in any given year.

Ah, the joys of living in “l’hexagone” where presently our President Nicolas Sarkozy is far more interested in empregnating his girlfriend Carla Bruni than dealing with the unrest of the civil servants…

Read this article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=507506&in_page_id=1811

All in all, the French including me are finding Nicolas’ total disinterest in anything other than his love life very annoying.

So thanks to Carla Bruni and many thousands of peeved french civil servants it looks as though the glow-worm will be making his / her appearance on January 23rd (next Wednesday) instead. However, this is all contingent on no further strikes being announced, which as Clemèntine / Clovis will soon find out about their country of birth, is far from a sure thing.

It’s Her Party

Six years ago today at 12:05pm in Victoria, Canada, Camille Agnès Germain hollered her way into our lives. She kept it up for two years, but now that she’s stopped she’s just about the most delightful child you can imagine

This means that we’re not only gearing up for my C-section next week, but also for a “fairy” themed Birthday party this Saturday and Birthday crèpes tonight.

Joyeuse Anniversaire ma petite Camille!

The Name Game Part II

So for the glow-worm’s name I have two requirements; the initials have to be C.A.G. again so as he / she doesn’t feel like the odd one out, and there has to be an accent in there somewhere.

This of course nixes our “reserve” boy name, but there are so many little boy Hugos here in France at the moment and I’ve noticed that most of them are absolute hellions. Besides, my little sister Jayne and her husband Mark have been making noises about claiming the name “Jack” so I figure one Jack is enough in the family.

So a boy name that starts with a “C”…….Luckily a few months before we decided to throw caution to the wind and try for baby#3 I stumbled on a boy name that I absolutely loved.

It’s “Clovis” and was the name of the king who united Burgundy and the rest of France in the Middle Ages. Meaningful to us, original but not too original, masculine, and pronounceable in both English and French. Bingo.

In my first trimester I began to search around in vain for a middle name that began with an “A” and preferably had an accent. No luck. Finally my mother reminded me when she was over here this Fall that Franck’s own father’s name is “André“and that, you guessed it, it has an accent. Duh. Despite a frightening lack of brain cells (due to pregnancy, I am sincerely hoping) I had against all odds found our boy’s name, “Clovis André“.

Unfortunately when I announced our boy name to my friends and family in Canada the response I got was not what you would call enthusiastic. While the french contingent heartily approve of the name, the English contingent is definitely not as wowed.

Although they expressed this in the most diplomatic way possible (they are fellow Canadians after all) they strategically let it slip that they had, what a coincidence, recently learned the name “Clovis” is frequently used in the Southern States by red-neck bible thumpers or families deep in the Appalachians who have been marrying between cousins for generations. I had never heard of that before, but was not dissuaded. I still love “Clovis”, and now my response is that even if they don’t like it now they will GROW to like it, and that in fact I believe I would, if I had a boy, actually start a new baby name trend in Western Canada.

However, maybe my insouciance with the Canuck consensus also had something to do with the fact that around this time my ob / gyn started referring to my baby as a “she”. I really wasn’t about to be overly fussed about a boy’s name seeing as I was becoming increasingly convinced the glow-worm was going to be a girl.

To be continued…

Our Lady Charlotte of the Holy Pink Rosary

I will continue my “Name Game” Post on Monday but seeing as we are approaching Sunday here in France, I thought I’d take up a religious topic.

I have long thought that the Catholic church has a serious public relations problem. Its antiquated attitude towards thinks like birth control, Heaven and Hell, and punishing (or rather NOT punishing) pedophile priests has not exactly inspired new recruits to hustle off to Sunday Mass.

However, they at least have found one extremely effective strategy in the demographic category of girls aged 7-10; doling out cheap plastic pink jewellery.

At lunchtime at the girls’ school Saint-Coeur (translation “Sacred Heart” – you guessed it, it is not a Muslim institution) the students from Grade 1 (CP) onwards are invited to the Chapel after lunch where they are taught how to do useful things like say their Hail Maries and avoid the Diable.

Charlotte goes because they hand out plastic rosaries which she thinks are necklaces. Before the vacation she received a white one, but as she lost that in the constant flow of flotsam and jetsam that is their bedroom she was given a NEW one this week, and better yet it was PINK!!!!!!!!!!!

After getting an eyeful of Charlotte’s new accoutrement you can bet that Camille will be hurrying her little self to the Chapel next year as soon as she is able to get her pink plastic rosary.

But in the meantime Charlotte gave Camille her old one once she found it (a very Christian act, natch), has not taken off her pink one since she was bequeathed it, and is constantly murmuring Hail Maries and Ava Marias under her breath. The Catholic church finally got something right.