Monthly Archives: June 2008

Nap Interruption Rage

I was just sitting down to my computer to finally post pics of Claire’s Open House when my effing neighbour revved up his lawn mower for about the 15th time in the past hour.

This woke Clem up, of course, after a paltry 40 minute nap that only gave me enough time to scarf back my lunch and do the dishes.

Thank God we don’t have any firearms handy in the house because I swear I would have shot him. I had forgotten about the “nap-interruption-rage” aspect of having a baby.

Such is my life at the moment.

The Epic Tale of the Open House at Naudin-Ferrand

For a while there we actually thought we weren’t going to make it to the annual Open House at the Domaine Naudin-Ferrand in neighbouring Magny-les-Villers.

The reason wasn’t the stonemasons who are currently tearing up our front yard (although they are), or the fact my eldest daughter was thrown from a galloping pony this weekend (although she was).

The reason can be summed up in one evocative word: constipation.

Just for the record, I have already weighed in on my blog that that particular word sounds ever so much more elegant when pronounced with a French accent cahn-stee-pah-see-ahn.”

I think I should start a campaign (or maybe a strike, seeing as I have a French passport) for the french prononciation of “constipation” during my free time. But, I digress…

It just so happened that Clem was very constipated on Saturday, and her howls of pain grew into a mighty crescendo by 5:00pm. We were all so miserable that we were forced to conclude we just weren’t up to going to Claire’s Open House. In a last ditch attempt to help Clem and her constipation Franck hot-footed it down the la pharmacie in Ladoix-Serrigny to buy some glycerin suppositories.

When he came back with his little plastic bag I could see he was hopping mad. However, as Clem’s crying had gotten so bad since he had left that I was seriously beginning to contemplate selling her to the nearest pack of gypsies, first things first. I administered the suppository to my screaming daughter.

Only then did I ask my livid husband, “What happened?”

“Idiotic pharmacienne,” he growled.

“What did she do?”

“She didn’t want to sell me the suppositories.”


“She gave me this whole song and dance about how it isn’t good to give suppositories to babies, and how it makes them addicted to them so they can’t poo on their own.”

“So what did you say?” I said, reattaching Clem’s diaper.

“I asked her how many children she had.”


“She said one, a boy eighteen months old. So I told her I have not one, but three constipated daughters, and that I knew what I was doing, and that if she wasn’t going to sell me the suppositories to just tell me so so she could stop wasting my time and I could go and buy them at another pharmacie.”

So I guess we won’t be going back to that pharmacie again.”


And then it came, a sound of salvation from Clem’s diaper region, and all thanks to the suppositories. Clem was instantly transformed into a glowing, smiling, beatific child.

After wrapping up the diaper containing the mighty poo in the most hermetic as possible package, Franck plucked it out of my fingers.

“What are you going to do with that?”

“Take it to the pharmacienne.”

“No you’re not,” I grabbed it and chucked it in the garbage can. Sometimes my Canadian good sense has to prevail over Franck’s latin hot-bloodedness. “But we are going to Claire’s,” I added. “So get ready.”

Next time – Photos from the Open House…

The Masons and The Priest


This is what the exterior of my house looks like today; decor includes a huge truck from Dijon, wet cement, and stonemasons everywhere.

So there’s a wee reality check for anyone who is under the mistaken impression that renovations in France are any more glamorous than anywhere else in the world.

It’s a shame there were no little boys around, as they would have been as riveted as the big boys you see in the above photos, happily mucking around in the freshly poured cement in their rubber boots. This was lost on Clem, who was teething and like her mother, couldn’t give a toss.

To make life just a little bit crazier, at 7:00pm tonight we’re also expecting Père Frot, the Catholic priest who married Franck and I and baptised both Charlotte and Camille, for dinner to plan Clémentine’s baptism on June 21st.

Here’s the account of his last supper at our house, complete with with my very intimidated parents and mystical gougères.

Would love to write more, but have to go and make the house Priest-ready. Present overabundance of cement may make this difficult, as it does tend to stain priestly robes…

Learning Early

Remember in my last post how I wrote about that enviable wine tasting technique Burgundian youngsters possess?

As you can see from the above photo (taken at Claire’s Open House which we *gasp* almost missed – more about this drama tomorrow) we are trying to make Clementine a true Burgundian girl. As such, she is already starting her wine tasting lessons, and is a quick learner. I am very proud to point out that she isn’t looking at her mother taking the photo, but has her eyes locked on the wine.

That’s my girl…

Adolescence in the Old World Part II

Saturday Evening (cont’d)
In honour of the 17th Birthday party, the salles des fetes is festively decorated with lots of little crepe paper flowers that the grandmere has made by hand, and large artistic banners painted by the mother.

A huge industrial sized pot of boeuf bourgignon, an ideal dish for serving large numbers of guests, is simmering on the stove in the kitchen area, and the gratin dauphinois is sitting on the counter, all ready to go in the oven when the time is right.

The father (a winemaker) drops off a huge shipment of unlabeled bottles of red and white wine – the family always drinks the unlabeled bottles at home or when with friends – but inside the non-descript green glass premier and grand cru wine awaits the teenage guests.

7:30 or so

The friends start to arrive, and the new arrivals have to kiss everyone on the cheek and / or shake hands to say bonjour. Although this can talk up to 20 minutes for the last arrivals, no teenager would ever consider forgoing this essential act of politesse.

The aperitif is served and the teenagers all swirl the wine around in their glasses and taste it with enviable technique (probably because they have been doing this since they were in high chairs). They debate the merits and faults of the wine, and may just have a fun little game of guessing the exact appellation and cru.

They all sit down and are served by the mother, grandmother, and assorted aunts and family friends, and eat the delicious home-cooked courses, each of which is accompanied by the perfect choice from the family’s wine cellar. The evening goes very late, until around 3:00 or 4:00 am and may include music and dancing. In any case, the party invariably involves lots of animated conversations around the table. There is nothing Burgundians like better, and they start young.


On Sunday the French teenager, much like his / her Canadian counterpart, will probably sleep in. However, luckily for him / her very good wine doesn’t tend to give bad hangovers, unlike an overindulgence in Molson Extras or, god forbid, Bacardi Breezers.

In any case the french teenager will be expected to be up, dressed, and at the table for the big family lunch that happens on most Sundays and reunites anywhere from 10 to 30 members of the family.

An excellent multi-course meal will be served, perhaps including things such as escargots and coq au vin, and of course wine will be served along with each course as well.

The “lunch” will run from 12:00 or so until 5:00 or 6:00 in the afternoon / evening, at which time the French teenager would go upstairs, maybe do a bit of last minute homework, chew on his / her pencil and consider what to do next Saturday night.

It’s nice to know that certain things remain constant whether one grows up in the New World or the Old…