Monthly Archives: May 2008

Scots Blood Runs Thick

I had just finished posting my “My Most French Girl” post and then went into Camille’s bedroom to find her engaged in one of her favorite activities.

She pours out her sous from her pig-in-drag piggy bank that I bought her at a fabulously gay store in the Marais in Paris, organizes the coins into separate piles, counts her scheckles, caresses them, then puts them back in the pig-in-drag piggy bank again.

Turns out some of my Scottish blood must have slipped into my middle girl after all.

My Most French Girl

I am struck by the fact that although Clémentine is the only one of my daughters actually born here in France, in the long run she may turn out to be the least French of all of them.

We’re still planning on moving back to Victoria, Canada next summer (2009) so by the time she starts talking, outside of our household and aside from the occasional trip back here to Burgundy, Clémentine will be living in an English-only world.

Charlotte was almost 5 when we moved here to Burgundy, so she still has lots of memories of our pre-France life in Canada. Like her parents she consequently suffers from a great deal of confusion as to where her “home” actually is.

For Camille there is not a shadow of a doubt; home is France. Petite and dark, she just so happens to look very French. She was only 2 when we moved here so when she started speaking fluently it was in French. She doesn’t remember anything from our life in Canada before we moved to France; Canada for her is a place where we go to visit family and spend vacations.

During our last trip we toured the school that the girls may be going to when we move back to Victoria. We were led into a classroom where a bunch of grade three girls were sitting in a circle on the floor eating their lunches out of paper bags.

Camille tugged on my pant leg. “What are they doing Mommy?” she hissed (in french).

“They’re eating lunch.”

“But why are they sitting on the floor?”

“That’s the way they sometimes do it here in Canada,” I explained.

“And why are they eating their lunch out of a bag?”

I realized that my middle daughter knows nothing different than hot lunches of a minimum of three courses (most usually four) served at a table on proper plates with proper cutlery.

“It’s like a picnic lunch,” I tried to put a good spin on it. “Wouldn’t it be fun to have a picnic lunch every day?”

Camille glowered. “Non.”

Shortly after we came back to France she let out a deep sigh of satisfaction while we were driving her to her first day back at school in Beaune.

“What is it Camille?” I asked.

“I’m just so happy to be home again.”

Us Shoddy Shoemakers

Just for anyone who needs proof that Franck and I won’t always be the worst shod shoemakers in the village, here is a photo taken of my friend Andrea who was visiting last week in my newly renovated (and yellow) kitchen with Clem.

This is what that wall looked like at the beginning of November, and there was no pretty Clem to pose in front of it. No doubt about it, progress is being made.

A Shutter Shame

Before we attack our Spring project of repainting La Maison des Deux Clocher’s shutters (and oui, I’m still gunning for raspberry) turns out there is a more pressing priority close at hand.

Remember in my last post I mentioned the hideous brown stain for shutters that came into fashion in the mid 1980’s here in Burgundy and proved maddeningly tenacious?

I am cringing as I type this, but I just so happen to know all about it as the photo above illustrates what the shutters currently look like at my house, La Maison des Chaumes. I know, quelle horreur. There is a French expression that is very eloquent in this case; “Le cordonnier est toujours le plus mal chaussé” (the shoemaker is always the worst shod).

So there’s a wee reality check for anyone who is under the mistaken impression that my life here in France is some sort of picturesque Peter Mayle utopia. I have to open and shut these hideous shutters every day, and I have hated them for going on four years now. Assez! THEY MUST BE PAINTED!!!

So out has come my favorite thing in the world second only to my husband and three daughters, my palette of Sikkens paint swatches.

I have to pinch myself to convince myself that I’m not actually dreaming, but I can hear Franck sanding off that hideous brown as I type this. I’m thinking of a nice deep Indian blue…maybe I may one day attain a Utopian existence after all.

War of the Shutters

As I have seen with my vacation rental guests over the years, shutters can be a tricky business for the uninitiated.

I would say about one group out of three at our gites don’t realize that shutters need to be clipped back with the little latches so that the breeze doesn’t keep blowing them shut them all day long.

Then there are the people that don’t seem to want to participate in the French tradition of opening your shutters in the morning and shutting them at night fall. I drive past our properties and wonder how my closed-shutter guests can stand living like moles, but when I try to tactfully ask if they are having problems figuring how to open the shutters they say no, not at all, that they just prefer not to.

Unless you are catching up on jetlag or it is BOILING outside and you are keeping them shut to keep in the cool (a widespread and very effective practice) I just can’t wrap my head around preferring to live in the dark. However, when you come right down to it, personal preferences like that are really none of my business; to each his (or her) own, live and let live, etc.

As for me, I love shutters. Not only does their opening and shutting lend a ritual commencement and closing to the days here in Burgundy, but they provide yet another surface to paint a fun colour. And for those of you who have ever stayed in one of our vacation rentals knows, I like to paint things fun colours.

When I first painted our shutters at La Maison des Deux Clochers there were no other coloured shutters around. According to Franck’s mother (and a lifelong resident of the stone house she was born in in neighbouring Villers-la-Faye) coloured shutters were commonplace up until the 1980’s. During this misguided decade, dark brown stained shutters came into fashion and relegated coloured shutters to the past.

However, I decided to buck the tradition. As anyone who has stayed at La Maison des Deux Clochers knows, the house is in the centre of the village. As such, the hanging of our freshly painted periwinkle shutters hardly passed unnoticed. Cars would stop in the middle of the street, and villagers would gather by the church to whisper and point.

We quickly became known as “the house with the blue shutters” but then a funny thing began to happen – everyone else began to paint their shutters too; mainly variations of blue and purple, but some other neat colours as well such as oxblood red. Then last year the stone house next door to us was renovated, and they painted their shutters almost the exact shade of blue as ours. While this undoubtedly beautifies the centre of Magny-les-Villers, it makes it a little confusing when directing guests to our place.

So now the time has come to repaint La Maison des Deux Clochers’s shutters, and I am once again thinking of rocking the boat. There’s this certain shade of raspberry that has been beckoning for some time now…

Link to Writing Blog

For those of you who could no longer find my writing blog, here is the link;

Before you click remember that the disclaimer remains – vacation rental Laura is not to be confused with writer Laura!

And yes, that’s an entirely gratuitous photo of Clem and her new mobile that I just bought her in Beaune.

Goat’s Cheese Escapade

Must be my post stomach-flu state of mind but I alluded to the Goat’s cheese excursion in yesterday’s post without really explaining what it was all about.

And, guess what? I’m not going to! This is because I’m currently writing a new “Grape News” which highlights this fun little outing, and as soon as it’s ready I’ll post the link to it here on my blog.

However, suffice to say kids (especially Camille) and the baby goats are kindred spirits.

Have a look at this series of pictures – especially at the bottom left hand corner – for a glimpse of what I mean;

Magny-les-Villers in the Springtime

Coming home from our goat escapade the other night I stopped and took a photo of Magny-les-Villers, where La Maison des Deux Clochers is located just across from the church steeple you see there in the centre of the village.

A New Beginning

You may have noticed my postings have been a little on the sparse side over the past week. This is because once again Murphy’s Law has reared its head and Camille brought home a bubonic plague-like stomach flu from Nature Camp (along with head lice) that she magnanimously shared with her mother.

During the peak of the BARFAGANZA (yes, this is a new word I have coined during this last week) I couldn’t believe that I would ever feel human again. Stomach flu is like colic, depression, or winter that way – when you are in the midst of it you can’t imagine ever finding a way out.

However, we’re eking our way back to normality here, and you will notice from my heavy-handed metaphorical photo of the vineyards right now that hope and rebirth are always with us, even if we can’t see them.

Now off to take some more Gravol.