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Married! Again!

No, no, I’m not married to someone else.  And no, Hubby and I didn’t get remarried.

On May 18, 2013 same-sex marriage became legal in France.  Because we were already married elsewhere, we couldn’t just get remarried, instead we had to go through all the hoops to get official copies (and translations!) of documents to have our original marriage recognized.  We finally got everything and a friend submitted our paperwork on Friday.

Guess what we got today!

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Our Livret de Famille!  This is the equivalent of a marriage license and with it I am now covered by the French social system and can now apply for my carte de sejour, which gives me the right to work and puts me on the road to residency/citizenship!

As I was making my appointment today for my first meeting with immigration, I asked the woman behind the counter how long the process took.  She responded, “Oh, as the spouse of a French citizen, it’s very fast.”  I felt relieved because until I have my carte de sejour I can’t work.  Then she continued, “It should only be 2-3 months.”  GASP!  If 2-3 months is very fast, what does “not very fast” look like?!  (And given that the country all but shuts down for the summer, I’m guessing it’ll be closer to 4-5 months).

Until I can work legally, my plans for opening an American bakery are on hold.  Well, that and the fact that even if I could work right now, I can’t open an American bakery because “patisserie” (pastry chef) is a protected occupation (formerly a guild) and hence can’t be entered into without a diploma.  So for now the plan is to get my carte de sejour and get into a training program for the fall for pattiserie.  That is supposed to take a year, after which I can work in the field.

So until then, it’s as usual.  Well, life as usual in France.  😉

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How Does My Garden Grow 6/24/2013

We have a very large yard by French urban standards and along the side of our gate we had to have a bunch of trees removed because they were mostly dead and definitely overgrown.  Unfortunately the landlord didn’t have the roots removed, so they’re still down there.

One of the things I was looking forward to in having a large house with a yard was to have a garden.  So Hubby had dirt and compost brought in and we created a raised garden (to avoid having to remove the roots).

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This is the view from our bedroom window on May 6, just after we finished setting up the garden.  The idea was to subdivide the garden into triangles, which you can kind of see.  At this point I had planted head lettuce (towards the right end, in two triangles), peas (on either end, back by the wall), some tomatoes and basil (left end), and marigold seeds (front end, by the curved edges).

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This is also from our bedroom window on June 17.  Unfortunately we got rain most every day in May and a lot of June so my poor garden didn’t do much.  You can see I’ve added some flowers, some more tomato plants (near the center) and a potato box (on the left end).

The following photos were all taken today, June 24.

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This is the left side of the garden.  I’ve since made cages for some of the plants.  They’re not easy to find here, so I made my own using 1 meter high fencing.  To the left are about a dozen tomato plants and the potato box.  Behind the potato box are sweet peas.  There’s a squash plant in front and one by the wall (yellow).  Further to the right are eggplants and peppers (both of which are suffering due to the lack of sunshine).  Finally there are bush beans (which I thought were climbing beans, hence the cage!).

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This is the middle of the garden.  There are some glads poking up in the middle of the mesculin on the left then some tomatoes in their cages.  In front of them are some melons in cages.  Then cukes, leeks, corn (that my mom sent me from the US!), beets, and onions.  In the back on the right is “l’amour en cage” (caged love) otherwise known as a physalis.

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Finally, we see again the onions and physalis, in the back the tall plant is sorrel and in front are TONS of carrots (I was too lazy to thin them!), then the head lettuce plants I started out with, mixed with some onions.  Then on the right in the back the peas are climbing up their rope trellis and you can see some basil plants and chives that were recently planted.

Intermixed throughout the garden are various flowers, including lupine (near the back), carnations (in the front), fuschias, some other low plants I can’t remember the names of, and in the back I planted morning glories, but those guys don’t seem very happy either.

The best part about having all this right outside our front door?

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Fresh salad any time we want!

What about you, did you plant anything?  How is it doing?

Now THAT Was A Weekend!

In looking back at our weekend, all I can say is, “Wow, now THAT is what a weekend is supposed to look like!”  The perfect balance of spending time with friends but having time to yourself, being busy and being able to lay on the sofa.

Our weekend started early by having friends over on Thursday evening for dinner.  They ended up inviting us over to “prendre un verre” (have a drink) with them before we all headed out to enjoy “La Fête de la Musique” (The Music Party), an event started in the 80s whereby cities around the world sponsor musicians to play in the street.  But in addition to the sponsored musicians, there are many, many more music lovers who set up their bands, instruments or even their speakers on a street corner and entertain passersby.

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It was drizzling for most of the evening, but that didn’t stop private entertainers from setting up wherever they could find a dry spot to play their music!  This group set up under the awning of a bookstore!

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Despite the drizzle and cool temperatures, the streets of the “centre ville” (downtown) were jam-packed.  This is a panoramic shot of Place de la Republic with their stage (in the center of the photo) and the crowd the government-sponsored act drew.

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As we wound our way around the city, we heard it all: French music, world music, American music (all genres), classical music, rap, pop, and even country music, complete with country line dancing!

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And of course there were food vendors.  Oliver’s favorite was the “barbe á papa” (Papa’s beard, or cotton candy as we know of it!)

Then Saturday was “La Fête des Ponts” (The Party of the Bridges).  I can’t really find out the purpose of the “fête” other than to celebrate two medieval bridges in the city, Le Pont St Etienne and Le Pont St Martial.  The former was rebuilt in the XIII century over the foundations of a Roman bridge built in the 1st century!  (It always amazes to find out the age of things here!  In the US something built in the 1800s is old!)  The former bridge has a similar history, except that it was destroyed in the 11th century Henry II, Kind of England and the lord of Limoges had the original Greco-Roman bridge destroyed to punish the city of Limoges for it’s infidelity.

The weekend of “La Fête des Ponts” is traditionally considered the start of summer for the area (although Oliver still has two weeks of school left!).

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Along one side of the Vienne (the river running through the city) a carnival was set up with the carnival games and some smaller rides for the kids to enjoy.

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UntitledOliver had a blast in the plastic bubbles (which were a little too close to the riverbank for my comfort!).

The other side of the river had a music stage, food stands, and plenty of space for us to sit and wait for the fireworks (which didn’t start until 11pm because it doesn’t get dark until then!)

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UntitledThe fireworks were definitely worth the wait and wet feet (while we were waiting they had a “spectacle” which consisted of a couple of boats going up and down the river, which in turn caused waves and doused my sneaker-wearing feet!).

UntitledThen finally, Sunday it was back down to the river to check out the “vide greniers” (empty attic, basically a community rummage sale).  We found a pair of framed prints that Hubby liked, and of course Oliver wanted every toy he saw.

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Then it was home to take care of the 5 kilos of strawberries we got at the farmers market in Panazol that morning.  I ended up freezing three 4-cup batches, and then making this and this, which turned out like this:

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Definitely a great weekend!

What did you do this weekend?

Long Time

How is it that I don’t work at a paying job but I don’t have any time during the day to do the things I would like to do the most?! *O*M*G I’m a…  a housewife! (I say that with all the love, admiration, and respect for all the housewives out there!)

So if I’m correct, my last post was September 17, 2012.  Almost 9 months ago!  (I almost could have had a child in that time.  Except that THERE WILL BE NO MORE CHILDREN in this family!  I always wanted two children, until I had one.  Whew!)  It’s not that I haven’t thought about my blog, but Facebook makes it so much easier to just put a snippet here and a photo there without all the commitment of writing out a full blog post.  But I recently discovered a new blog I love and as I was reading along (as in, I started from the beginning and am reading toward today.  I hate missing something!) it hit me: I love to write!  I love to entertain!  I love being the center of attention (even if it is only the center of my own little corner of the Internets!)!  I miss the community I created on my other blog.  It was then that I realized I needed to start making the time to sit down on write on my blog.  For me there’s something creative and therapeutic about putting into words what’s going on in my life.

So I look forward to spending more time sharing what’s going on in my heart and my head and giving a little peak of my life and those I share it with.

Bises (French for ‘kiss’)

First Trip Back!

I can’t believe it’s already time for me to make my trek back to California!  How can FIVE WEEKS already have flown by so quicky?!

To make my first trip a little easier, we arranged to spend the weekend with our cousin Emmanuel (Manu) and his family in the northern ‘burbs of Paris.  It was SUPERB!  Talk about a wonderful weekend.

We arrived Friday evening to an incredible meal and delicious wine (Manu is a bit of a wine connoisseur so he had some very delicious wines FOR.EVERY.MEAL! (Well, not breakfast!)).  We spent a good deal of the evening talking and catching up.

Saturday morning (after some really delicious pastries and coffee) we ventured out to Ikea for, ahem, a few things we needed for the house.  Moral: NEVER doubt the interior capacity of a Mini Cooper!

Mini-Ikea Love

After our Ikea-escapades and a delicious lunch, we went out for an afternoon troll with the kids.  Oliver had his first long bike ride WITHOUT training wheels!  It was incredible!

Bike Riding

Saturday night was another evening of incredible food, wine, and time with the family.  ❤

Sunday morning we took the kids for a pony ride through the neighboring forest.  Super fun!

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Then we had another great meal (and wine!) (is anyone seeing a pattern here?!)  Manu’s children, L & M, made a Top Secret dessert for us (bottom photos) which was the perfect ending to a perfect lunch.

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Unfortunately after lunch Hubby & Oliver began the 4-hour drive back home.  I stayed with Manu’s family and helped M with his English lesson.

English Lesson

Sunday evening was a light meal (indeed with wine!), then a sleep, and up bright and early to arrive at the airport.

I’m guessing the seven days I’ll be in the U.S. will fly given I’ll be working 10-hour days most every day and trying to catch up with friends in the evening.  Let’s hope it does because I can’t wait to get back to my family! ❤

Almost Home!

Meet two of my new best friends!

Clio

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and TomTom!

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(And look at how cool TomTom is, he tells us when there is a radar (Upper left, 325 meters away!), what the speed limit is (middle left, 130kph), and many, many other things (like the temp, which was 22 degrees C)!

To say I adore the Clio/TomTom duo would be a severe understatement. It was with their assistance that we made it out of Paris and into Limoges.

On the way we stopped at a rest area where we got to see some real French people having a picnic on their way down south! (I’m not sure, but I think they might be GAY French picnickers as well!)

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And we also got to experience a real French rest area Turkish toilet. It was, um, an experience. Let’s just say that the whole experience depends on the person in front of you NOT peeing on the pedestal on which you are about to stand! Let’s just say the people before us didn’t quite understand the concept! Blech!

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And this is the countryside as we approached our new hometown of Limoges. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but it was really beautiful!

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After a lovely lunch with our Limogeaud (I found out someone from Limoges is called Limogeaud (Lee-muh-jo)) family and then we were off to see our new house!

Our new street! (Well, really it’s a deadend, but still…)

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And a peek at our home (on the right, yes attached to the other two homes), it starts at the chimney near the center of the photo and continues through the L!

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The overgrown front gate.

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And THE BEST room in the house: our atelier (studio)! My sewing/creative space will be in here, as will a space for Oliver to paint/draw/craft, and maybe even some room for Hubby (although he is getting his very own office, so maybe I won’t have to share!).

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The view from our bedroom window.

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The inside of our bedroom (with lots of dust all over because they’re doing work, which I’ll get back to in a later post!).

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And a shot of one of the streets in our new hometown (yes, that’s hubby being pushed UP the street by Uncle).

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I will definitely be having sweet dreams tonight because I CANNOT wait to be in our new home!

Nous Sommes Arrivés! (We’re Here!)

Since the last photo where Hubby was trapped under a mountain of boxes, A LOT has happened.

The next day the movers arrived and packed all of our belongings into the 40 foot container that will be their home for the next 6(ish) weeks.

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This one was a little precarious because it didn’t fit down the stairway so they had to put it over the bannister and onto the ground (right next to the pool!).  Luckily there weren’t any wrong moves as this is our beloved mirrored buffet!

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Shoot, we had room to spare!  I could have bought more to fill it up!

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After the house was empty, we stayed for three nights (Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday) in what used to be Hubby’s office downstairs but which is now a guest room for the new tenants.  It was a very sleepless three nights as all of us were in a full-sized bed.  Definitely a memory (and I’m glad it’s a memory!).

Then we spent the next two nights (Friday & Saturday) with my stepson and daughter-in-law.  It was tight quarters but it was worth it to spend time with them before we left.  There might have been some champagne and some wine while we were there.  (I was a man on the edge by that point.)

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Sunday morning was spent trying to cram six suitcases worth of belongings into four suitcases.  (Hey, you try to bring what you’re going to need for 6 weeks for 3 people in less luggage than that!)  Then it was off to the airport.  Not a good experience, let’s just leave it there.

The flight however was really, really good.  We were on the new A-380 (I didn’t realize it but the 380 means they can fit 380 people on the double-decker plane!)  It was very comfortable and very high-tech.  On our personal screen there were movies, games, music, and we could even put on a map of our trip or look outside with the cameras that were mounted on the nose, the belly, or the tail.

I got to watch the take-off…

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And the landing…  (I wouldn’t recommend the latter to anyone with a weak stomach!)

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Oliver hardly ever took his eyes off of his screen (except for the three-hour nap he fit in).

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Even Ella’s trip was mostly comfortable (with the help of modern medicine!).  We did have a little incident where she tried to snap off the tip of my finger when I tried to give her more meds, but other than that she was great.

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And when we arrived, what did we find?!

(in my best Bob Barker voice) A NEW CAR!

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This is the Clio TomTom, which I ADORE!  It’s a rather inexpensive car (about $12K US) but it is awesome!  It’s got a spacious trunk (the better to carry Hubby’s wheelchair!), all the bells and whistles, AND navigation (which if you’ve ever driven in France is the difference between making it there OR not.)

Most of our day today was spent hopping around among the stores to research how to equip our kitchen (did you know that many people take their kitchens with them when they leave a rental!) and how to decorate our house.

Tomorrow is some holiday (of which there are many!) and I think it will be low-key.  Then we head to Limoges early on Thursday to get the keys to our house, see our family there, and begin figuring out our new hometown.

A bientôt!  (See you later!)

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