Monthly Archives: April 2008

Laura’s Writing Tidbits

I’ve created a separate blog on which to post my bits of writing and works-in-progress that are not exactly appropriate for a very public blog such as “The Grape Journal.”

This writing blog is mainly so my writer friends and I can keep up with each other’s latest output, and cheerlead or critique accordingly (both useful). On this blog I take off my French Vacation Rental Manager hat and don my writer’s cone of subjectivity.

This means that stuff on my writing blog springs from my own unique and highly biased perspective. If I had to worry about offending people or being politically correct while writing for myself, I would lose interest in approximately a nanosecond. So, only visit this blog if you are;

a) not the sort of person who is easily offended, as I seem to have a knack for being unbelievably unpolitically correct most of the time, and the older I get, the less I give a toss

b) understanding of the fact that these excerpts are rough bit of works-in-progress, and therefore deserve your kindness

c) willing to chime in occasionally with a useful comment or critique, which I will accept with immense gratitude

d) not likely to blame Vacation Rental Laura (generally magnanimous, people-pleasing person)for Writer Laura (narcissistic delusional egomaniac, similar to most other people crazy enough to spend their spare time writing).

I just posted the Third Installment of “My Interview” there;

Visit / bookmark at your own risk!

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Can You Guess What Franck Was Doing in Paris Yesterday?

Franck happily trained it up to Paris yesterday to complete an important mission. From Beaune you can catch an early morning TGV that has you in Paris by 8:40am. This gave Franck plenty of time to complete his mission, have a leisurely cafe around the Sorbonne, then meet up with his friend Nicolas to share a chilled bottle of Chablis and lunch in the quartier Montparnasse.

Clem and I picked him up at the Beaune train station in time for dinner (which here in France is at 7:00pm). Mission accomplished.

The Real Côte D’Or

As many of you readers will know, our département here in Burgundy is called “La Côte D’Or” or “the golden slopes”. The tourist brochures will tell you that this name originates from the golden colours of the vineyards in the Fall. Locals, on the other hand, will protest that it more aptly describes the wealth generated by the local wine industry!

However, during the Spring here in Burgundy, which just happens to be one of my favorite times of year here, there are another kind of golden slopes.

Here’s some photos taken during one of my daily constitutionals this week with Clémentine around the Mont Saint Victor.

Can anyone hazard a guess at what crop makes these bright yellow fields?

Clem knows. or at least I says she does as it gives me an excuse to throw in a gratuitous photo of her in her stroller.

Kirk/Spock Amok Time Good Lovin’

My sister Suzanne reminded me that I had neglected to broach the topic of “Pon Farr” (known to any Trekkie) in regards to my temporarily Vulcan French husband.

I found this clip from the famed “Amok Time” episode that pretty much sums up the state of things at our house these days.

Because enquiring minds wanted to know…

International Very Good Looking, Damn Smart Women Must Read This!

This was sent to me via email from Cindy Costello, one of my very good looking, damn smart former guests.

Today is International Very Good Looking, Damn Smart Woman’s Day, so please send this message to someone you think fits this description. Please do not send it back to me as I have already received it from a Very Good Looking, Damn Smart Woman! And remember this motto to live by: Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!

Love this. Love her. There were also a bunch of funny quotes at the end of the email, my favorite of which was;

“If you can’t be a good example — then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.”


Now there’s a motto to live by.

Living with Vulcans

I just went to get a drink of water from the kitchen and saw Franck reading to Clem.

Looking at them both from the side I realized I am not only living with an adult male Vulcan at the moment, but a mini female Vulcan as well.

“Live long and prosper,” I tell them.

Vulcans are not easily distracted, however, and they don’t even deign to look up from their book. Must be some sort of extra-terrestrial mind-meld thing. Those Vulcans sure can concentrate.

Live Long and Prosper

In an effort to reign in our household budget and because he likes his hair cut short during the summer months, Franck took it upon himself to invest in a hair clipper.

He proudly brought it home and asked me if I felt up to the task of cutting his hair.

Bien sûr,” I said. “Especially as I won’t be the one who has to live with the results afterwards.”

The clippers stayed in their box for over a week after that. However, when I waltzed home yesterday afternoon after paying almost 100 Euros for a cut and highlights in Beaune Franck must have been goaded by my wanton spending. He broke out the clippers and insisted that I come and do my wifely duty of shaving his noggin just as I was also simultaneously bathing the two big girls, jiggling a crying Clem, unloading the dishwasher, and getting dinner ready. I know us women are supposed to be hard-wired for multi-tasking, but there are limits.

I had no problem whipping the clipper through the bulk of his hair, shearing it off in a very satisfying manner. Things got a bit dicey around the ear area, however.

By the time I attempted to clip over the left ear my attention had wandered to contemplating whether my pot of pasta was boiling over in the kitchen, and what exactly Charlotte and Camille had done to Clémentine to make her suddenly stop shrieking. The result was a very strange looking bald spot. Hmmmm.

“It doesn’t look so bad,” I pre-empted.

Franck examined himself in the bathroom mirror. “Laura!” He yelled after me as I scooted out of the bathroom. “What have you done to my head!?”

I busied myself with draining the pasta while trying to stuff down hysterical laughter. He kept calling after me to “get back here” in an enraged voice but I knew I couldn’t yet face his dismay without totally cracking up.

Franck’s roars died down eventually and were replaced with a few minutes of silence in the bathroom. When I had managed to collect myself I went back into the makeshift salon de coiffure to get the girls out of the tub. I was surprised to find Franck staring in the mirror at the other side of his head (the one I hadn’t decimated). I drew in for a closer inspection.

“Oh my God.” I gasped. “You screwed it up even worse than I did.”

Indeed, Franck had cut the hair over his right ear very high up and in a strangely straight line instead of a curve.

“Take me to your leader,” I said.

He sent me a black look. “Quoi?”

“You look like Spock from Star Trek.”

He was about to protest, then we both looked back at his reflection again and cracked up. Several minutes later, after we had wiped our eyes, I tried to salvage what I could with a pair of huge kitchen scissors (all we could find) but truth be told the whole ear vicinity still looks like something out of a bad science fiction movie.

“I guess it can’t be perfect the first time,” Franck admitted with admirable equanimity.

“And you don’t look like a Vulcan from the front,” I added.

However, every once in a while when we meet up in the hallway I can’t resist flashing him the Vulcan “V” sign of greeting.

“Live long and prosper, husband.”

Better Photos of La Maison de la Vieille Vigne

I found a few highly superior photos of La Maison de la Vieille Vigne, taken by somebody who is a much better photographer than yours truly, to tide you over until I go and do another photo shoot myself.

You can sort of make out our statue of Saint Vincent in the farthest niche along the wall over the sofa. I love him.

Antique Tour – La Maison de la Vieille Vigne (cont’d)

I can’t seem to find photos of two of my favorite things in La Maison de la Vieille Vigne; the statue of Saint Vincent (patron Saint of winemakers) that stands proud in a “niche” in the living room wall, and the huge and gorgeous old key that the carpenter who is responsible for the beautiful woodwork in La Vieille Vigne gave me to commemorate the end of the project. I’ll have to whip out the old camera and go over there on the next turnover day. Anyway, in the meantime, here’s what I’ve got.

Of all of our properties La Maison de la Vieille Vigne, while boasting some amazing original features like huge oak beams in the living room, ancient stone walls, and an old stone fireplace, is the smallest so it logically has the least number of antiques.

However, I still continue to love this simple pine table and bistro chair that we picked up at a videgrenier (France’s equivalent to a garage sale), where guests can surf the Internet, scroll through there photos, write, draw, or simply dream. That window looks out on to the private flagstone courtyard.

Here is the cupboard that our beloved carpenter Phillippe (he of the huge, old key) created, and above it the little tchatchkas I have collected over time; a ceramic water pot, a seltzer bottle in a lovely shade of turquoise, an enamel coffee pot…

Here is our lovely stone fireplace which heats up the cottage like a hot darn. It has been there for a few centuries, and the stone comes from the local quarry. Since this photo was taken we’ve added a cushy armchair by the fireplace which is a nice place for curling up with a book, or hey, we’re in Burgundy after all, why not a delicious glass of wine?

The kitchen table and chairs are typical 1940s french antiques. Well, actually these solid pieces of everyday furniture aren’t really old enough here to be considered “antiques” so they as a rule are still relatively inexpensive. That wicker basket to the right of the table on the wall is filled with corks from all the wines guests have enjoyed over the years. It’s so full we’re going to have to add another one soon!

Ah – here’s a photo that shows the armchair by the fireplace, and also the wooden coffee table with spiral legs that we found at one of our favorite brocantes.

And we also picked up these cool wooden bedside tables there as well, to go with our new (I never go the antique route when it comes to beds) queen sized bed. Doing this post has made me realize that I really need to go and do another photo shoot of this property – another thing to add to my very long to do list!