Friday, November 7, 2008

Welcome to the family!

Well, it's official, Josie's 'period d'essaie' (trial period) is over, the girl is in!!

Ok, like she wasn't already a certified member of the family, she had us at meow on that dark country road! But today, she earned her keep and will be added to the family insurance policy--yes, in fact, this is actual fact--she gets her own medical coverage and insurance policy!!

I walked out this afternoon, and there, laid on the terrace, with pitiful eyes open to heaven, was her first kill--a little mouse. Our mouser is on the j-o-b!! Now, before everyone gets all teary eyed, I am an animal lover of the ridiculous degree, but here 'dans la campagne' (in the country) tolerance, at the level of little creatures we cohabitate with, must be established. And so, if Josie does her job as efficiently as she pole dances (see action shots present), the end is achieved swiftly and little mousy heaven came quickly!

I was a little worried at first that she may just become a comfort cat, based on how much she enjoys cuddling with Freya in her bed (my favourite is the paw on Freya whilst sleeping), and with us in ours (in the morning only), her gourmet food/cat milk tendencies, but she has shown her true colours (and wow has she really turned into a beautiful feline!) and now escapes to the grange (barn) for hours on end, expands her zone of exploration daily--wearing a halter of course--coming in to use her new restroom (closed and with her own private door I might add!) and nourish herself for more exploits. However, let me be clear, when the rainstorms pour down, that delicate creature doesn't leave the warm comforts of home...can't imagine who she got that from---FREYA!

It amazes me how fast she's grown, seems just yesterday she was a tiny ball of grey mewing fuzz, now she's become a sleek, loving & lithe tigress, albeit one that still looks to her big dog-sister for nap time cuddles and first thing in the morning romps & licks! The two of them and their antics have us in absolute stitches and are great company for me when T is on his work travels. I still miss my Big D immensely, it will never be the same, but the new laughter and love make the wound not so tender.....

So, until further updates....feast your eyes on our beloved, beautiful growing Josephine!
p.s. Do note the crazy curly-Q tail she runs around with, sometimes earning her the nickname Josie-Q....but when she's scared, boy does it go straight one ever said the M-J's had run of the mill pets, that is for sure!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

O (bama) Happy Day!!

Not to go on and on and on about really great, so I will!!

But when I woke up this morning and heard the confirmation, of what was noting at 3am when I was up with a scratchy dog, I have to say that for the first time in a very long time, I was actually proud of the American side of my heritage. And usually I avoid political speeches like the plague because all I hear when I listen is "Citizens of X (fill in your locale here) I am here today ...blah blah blah...BS...blah blah blah". However, exceptionally I searched out Obama's acceptance speech and when I found the full version on YouTube, played it. And at the end my pride overflowed into tears. Wow. I'm not a crier, and I'm certainly not one usually moved to tears by a speech, from a perfect stranger. But wow. Obama's words were perfect, and the story of the 106yr old woman who voted, didn't even sound contrived, but truly genuine. I'm not naive enough to think he wrote that speech on his own, I'm sure he contributed, but I certainly hope he keeps those writers on his Presidential (woo hoo, love that!) staff, because they are good, real good.

Now the real work begins though, and the new government has a huge task list to address in order to fulfill the promises of change that have been made. We'll see what happens, but on this side of the sea we are feeling the breath of fresh air and damn, it feels good, so Congratulations America on getting out there and doing what America was meant to do, and showing the world that democracy and your rights aren't something everyone there takes for granted!!

And hmmm....wonder what kind of puppy they're going to get for the girls...

(Apologies for the poor photo, had to take it with my I-phone and upload it instead of trudging out to the car in the pouring rain to retrieve my camera.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Things you don't expect to find in...your BRA!

There have been a backlog of blog entries queuing up in my bloggy brain as one thing or another jumped to the front and got a posting, and so, as relative calm surrounds me (life has taught me to enjoy this calm as chaos quickly follows!) I'm going to try to play catch up.

Let me set the scene so you can fully appreciate the moment:

This was a couple of months ago, so the weather was, uhm, A LOT warmer (says me sitting here bundled up, drinking hot peppermint tea and sitting intimately close to a heavenly hot oil heater). I was heading outside to do something in the yard and decided that my manual labour would be better served if I could get some sun on my body. And no, I'm not that kind of sun whore people, I wear SPF30 & hats, but it just feeeeeels good. As I was saying, I'm upstairs rooting around in the disarray of boxes littering our bedroom, no order, thanks to the @#$%^!& packers of April yore, searching for my jog bra. A jog bra is appropriate attire in the country for yard work--skimpy enough to allow sun to meet my skin, yet supportive and enough coverage should farmer Jean-Pierre show up for yet another random task in his field.

Finally, I spot my old Energizer bag (see Papa M, like the bunny, just keeps going & going & going :o) ) askew under the skylight, with some workout clothes peeking out half an opening. Aha. Shuffle over. Stick hand in and grope about (appropriate as I'm searching for my bra, no? haaaaaa.) in irritation as my body temperature mounts--I'm in the 'grenier' (attic) on a hot day, and those of you who know me, know I don't do well hot. Spot red, Bingo. Reach in, pull out the bra.....and "aiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeee"..."ayyyyaayyyyeeeeeeeeyeeyee" (please say this in an operatic, high pitched tone for true effect) all that can be heard for acres around.

T downstairs: "Are you OK?". Clump, clump, clump. (T running to the bottom of the stairs as I don't emit operatic screams often, usually only because he has snuck up and scared me.)
Me upstairs: ha ha ha hee hee hee (nervous, hysteric laughter)....clump, clump, clump. (Me carefully descending our precipitously angled stairs.)

I push T outside and lay forth on the white bench exactly what, shall we say surprised me- In. My. Bra.

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, that is a bat. A cute, furry, sweet little bat that died in my bra. T says "now, I know that's where I want to die someday (me giving him the eye), but that poor little guy...".

So, apparently a couple days prior, when we left for Paris for two days, and I shut up all the windows that normally stay open all day/all night during warm weather, the little guy flew in. Then when we left and we shut the house up he couldn't fly out and ended his little bat days in my red jog bra. Collective sigh, I know.

And now, I'll leave you to enjoy the other pictures my morbidly inquisitive self took (if you click on them they enLarge!)--I love bats and am happy that after this sad affair we continue to see a couple fly about in the evenings, ridding us of pesky insects. In fact, I'm already forming the plan to make sure we disturb them as little as possible when....IF....the renovations ever start.I know, all the fun stuff happens to me, you're jealous.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

'Allô-Weeyn' Sarthe style...

Well, no Trick or Treaters came to the door last night....siiiiigh....guess I'll have to eat all the candy myself!!...nah, just kidding....we didn't buy any candy....but we did decorate!!Talk about having the work done for you....I had an early morning appointment with an architect here at the house....and no, not a keeper, for those of you wondering.... and this is the stunning decoration nature had prepared for us to celebrate 'Toussaints' or All Saint's Day (Halloween in candy grubbing lands) here in the Sarthe. I got so many amazing shots that just took my breath away with their exquisite intricacy, it was hard to pick a couple favourites for the blog! (to truly see the real shot, click on the pic and it will enlarge) Every which way you turned a web was woven, using even the tiniest thread of grass as support--sometimes nature still astounds me at her capabilities. And these are done every night, but today's dew levels only now let us mere mortals see it--apparently we are in the busy spider season, lucky us. Of course, I'd like to know where these diligent arachnids were when all those pesky flies were annoying us up until recently....ah well, I shall just have to live with the mysteries of nature's timing.

Keeping with the theme of our scary 'Allô-weeyn' (as the French say it) surroundings...check out this cow we met on one of our recent walks....Boo!For once I actually miss the crass commercialism of the U.S. Yes, you read that correctly. I have always loved Halloween--and not just because I was on the world's biggest quest for SUGAR to quench my insatiable sweet tooth--or more to the point, chocoholic leanings, especially of the Peppermint Patty persuasion :) But since early childhood, loved the opportunity to live it up dramatically and be as creative and crazy as our costume trunk, handy supplies & imagination allowed. My favourite is still the year I dressed up us a viking (imagine a blond haired 10-12 year old here), complete with viking attire created from a burlap bag, aluminum covered cardboard sword stuck in belt, drawn on 'beard' with an eyebrow pencil & halloween makeup kit, and viking cap (Anyone remember those bouncy balls you sat on as a kid & hopped around? Well I cut off the top of our old ones as the handles were perfect replicas of viking caps! Talk about recycling...), but the kicker, and extra candy benefit for me on collections, was that I made a perfect matching outfit for my dog Jr. (a black standard poodle & my soul's companion) complete with matching cap...of course she didn't need the fake beard ;)

Today I have to say it makes me sad to see all the kids in their bought costumes, half the fun was the creative process and seeing what people came up with, and planning my unbeatable costume for the next year. Halloween day at school was hysterical every year. I realize now, as an adult, that a lot of the creative aspect came about because my mom just didn't have the money to buy any kind of costume, but that forced frugality of our life instilled a creativity in me that I still harbor today. Yet, as much as Halloween isn't what it once was when I was young, and perhaps commercially it's out of control, I still miss it. But, hark, a small ray of hope emerges as I see the tendrils of commercial teasing reach across the ocean and Halloween creeps into French society, I may just get my excuse yet to dress up again...boowahahahah....(evil laugh)...I know, I know, what am I thinking?!

Happy Halloween, All Saint's...whatever scares 'ya!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Shrooooms & Shots....

A couple days in Paris, our bellys full from a phenomenal 'Menu Chef' from our favourite little sushi restaurant in Paris--this is a menu where you just sit down and eat what the chef puts in front of you--all fresh and his creation for that day--風味がよい!! (tasty in Japanese :) ) A couple hours spent running errands near the Hotel de Ville area, and a wonderful dinner party at some new friends' apartment--I might have spent a good portion of my time ogling the phenomenal view of the blue Eiffel Tower from my spot at the dinner table--it's an addiction, what can I say?

Back at the house we are definitely settling into for acclimating to...errr....certain country Fall habits, well, that's a completely different story!

So....Sunday morning we wake up, the sun is shining, brisk air dresses us in warm clothes and we are partaking of steaming cups of java to conclude the morning crawl when we hear..."BANG BANG ...bang bang". A flash of gray means Josie has torn into the house, closely followed by a flash of white-Freya. Neither are a fan of gunfire for some odd reason.

Ah yes, the ringing sound of gunfire on a Sunday to relax a person....and why is this you may ask? Weeeeeell--apparently in the lovely, idyllic French countryside that we have chosen to call home there is huntin' season--yep, the dress up in camo, grab the dogs & gun and go shootin' for stuff just 'cause it's fun season--September to March. Now, I personally don't have anything against hunting, along the principal that you eat what you shoot, but what I have a particularity against is....when you freakin' shoot a gun within 100 meters of my front door where I'm enjoying my coffee!!.....and based on the corners that the farmers cut in other areas of life, I'm just not convinced of their skill in hitting a target, nevermind a moving one....and thus fear for my, my beloved's, my pooch's & my kitty's rear ends staying intact. Call me vain. Oh yes, and did I mention they were within the bounds of the law and it is apparently us who must now apply to the regional hunting Poobah for limitation of hunting on our newly acquired property? Ah yes, the continued joy of educating ourselves on la vie rural.

And so it was that T had his first encounter with a local hunter (wearing a flourescent yellow vest at my behest) and we are researching the various methods of making the surrounding property to ours completely undesirable to hunters and the animals they stalk--loud music, fake signs, anything legal, suggestions are welcome!In the meantime, we decided that perhaps exploring further rural paths on this particular Sunday was no longer a good idea, but a certain puppy was in desperate need of serious outdoor time and thus we packed off in the car to explore a huge public park/forest just outside Le Mans. It is fabulous! I won't go into the description, see for yourself @ (they have an English button!), but it was a most educational, exercising and entertaining time for all three members of the family! Most importantly, no fear of shots ringing out at any moment AND a haven for all the cool 'champignons' (mushrooms) I have placed pictures of throughout this entry (didn't have any hunters captured on film...yet). I swear some of them looked fake--but I promise you, real as can be! Now I know where Disney traipses around looking for plant inspiration--incredible! As the forest browns there is all new life erupting around...and then again, there is life ending....shooting & shrooms folks....I'm off to search for any remnants of the 80's fluorescent trends in my clothes boxes!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Scared Stiff

This little guy took one look at the task before us and just keeled over, stiff as a board.

Nah nah nah....and a double nah nah for those of you wondering if Josie has begun earning her keep--she's still attacking bugs and leaves, though she is perfecting her stalking & kill of T's hiking boot--vicious creature!
The last couple of weeks have illuminated more of what we want from our little maison, but she as well has shown us a few surprises, the most exciting of which is that the house AND the grange hide facades of beautiful Sarthe stones! We had harboured a small hope that this was the case, but being a quintessential pessimist when it comes to things like this, I already loved the house for the crappy 'crépi' covered maison she was (crépi is the lumpy layer of, cement/paint covering the stones...the French love to cover their houses with this). The winsome vines that portray the seasons passing will have to come down, and my heart aches at this prospect, but I am going to do my best to preserve the root and train it to accent the stone later....I hope.
In the meantime, as the work list grows, we don't grow daunted by the task at hand, in fact, the exact opposite is occurring. A sense of excitement is building between us as we see the dream unfolding before us. Visits recently to several friends who have renovated, or are in the process of doing so (Hi Faith & David! Bonjour Amy & Laurent!) lets us see the future, and folks, that future is bright and beautiful--stone and light--woo hoo.

So, I'm hunkering down to the mission of today- FIND ARCHITECT- ok, small clarification after meeting with an architect last week, Find Architect who gets It. It is our vision, what we see as the end result...not what they want us to see (and this is not pretty, I can assure you--remember the crépi people). So if there is anyone out there who knows this visionary, residing in the Sarthe, Sacré-Bleue--send me their details!!

In the meantime I'm off to pack for a couple days in the city...sushi calls....Freya needs pet pal time....Josie--well, she likes to sleep and play in the fireplace....and I have to re-focus all these visions of grandeur I have for La Maison M-J, none of which include fear.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

THE 27s

I'm a couple days late in getting this up as a 'Star Attraction' on M-J Destiny...but alas, as much as I would like to send rays of destruction unto those at France Telecom who block my fully functioning internet access, I must take comfort in the zen of my surroundings and...well, work with what I've got!

So, without further ado, please let me shamelessly and very proudly plug the release of this fabulous book The 27s (1st day out in the world was Thursday...Félicitations!) by my cousin Eric Segalstad & Josh Hunter. This book creation has been many years in the making, and I know describing the work that has gone into it as extensive, is probably the understatement of the year!

Please hop on over to and have a the very least I promise you'll be impressed by the funky graphics, and soundtrack, again done by the talented Cuz Eric, that present the book and it's associated content in such a fabulous format. The artwork has amazing detail and tells a story all it's own.

I've always been a great fan of the is my birthday after all...but history has apparently appointed other significance to that number and the story of this signifcance is The 27s. An extract from the site says, "The 27s is the grandest story of rock & roll, firmly ingrained in popular music and culture yet the saga somehow slipped through the cracks of time—until today. If you’re reading this you probably know that Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain’s lives were cut short at age 27, but the same fate happened to thirty other musicians. Sure, they weren’t all equally famous, but every one of them pushed rock in new directions, leaving lasting legacies that continue to inspire fans and musicians."Limited wearable art t-shirts have been done with 'The King of Rock Bass' and MOST importantly the book is available--for pre-sale only on their website--and yes, the price is $27....coincidence? I think not ;) I'm holding out for the logo on a t-shirt myself, but the book is a done deal.

I don't promote things often, and I certainly don't gratuitously praise family accomplishments just because they're family....but in this case, I find the work exemplary and consider myself lucky to be related to such talent.

Stor klem fra La Cousine!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Surprises

As the trees begin their seasonal striptease, leaving their coloured coverings laying about....Wisps of grey cloud the sky now, a scarf warming the land for the cold approaching...a nip in the air wakes us up to what is coming and what has left.I am sad to see such an amazing season depart. Summer here at La Maison M-J was perfect for me, and nature never ceased to tickle us with all the things we discovered as the months passed. The time spent outdoors playing, walking and just watching life was priceless--our city souls are soothed and as we move indoors with shorter days and longer nights I begin to see the work ahead. But before I bore you with humdrum life inside, let me share just a couple of the Fall Surprises our new home has given us.

As the jungle of green along the creek began to shrink, the red vines enrobing the house tumbled to the ground & the tall grasses along the fence turn wood brown, new life began alongside. We came out one morning to see a blanket of beautiful, varying shades of pink, cyclamins circling the Tilleul tree in the front yard. (I'm learning the French garden words, forgive me if I don't translate them is your friend people!)

On the front of the house, the window high rosebush had a last, magnificent bloom of all the branches that spent the summer growing.And out and about we focus again on a landscape that takes our breath away. Summer made it a green vista and now the technicolour coat of golds, reds and browns accentuates the rolling hills and land divisions.The rain has let up outside now, so I have to take Freya out for some mole digging in the newly bare cornfields....her Fall horizons are looking up....or is that down?!