I haven’t been writing. It’s true. I have been taking photos though, watching the flowers grow and enjoying the good weather.
I took some time to recover after re injuring my back. Two weeks spent flat on the ground. Slowly with rehabilitation, Kino and Osteo massages and adjustments, I have managed to get back on my feet. Ever so slowly! I dream of riding my bike again, but it will be a while before I get the doctor’s ok. And then keep up with the kids and students over the summer holidays.
I will have to watch this for the rest of my life. Twenty years of repetitious movements does have a degenerative toll, leaving my lower back worn before my years. Eventually they say I will need surgery, but I plan to put it off until I can’t move at all. Right now I am bone on bone on one side of one vertebra , but am managing the pain well. Thanks genetics for my high tolerance, it does come in handy. The next three vertebra will follow suit. I need to keep fit and strong to combat this as weight is my #1 enemy.
With so much time around the house, I have taken up an interest in learning to cook curries. I started blending my own powders and pastes to make dishes from Thailand, India, and the Arab countries. These wonderful colourful dishes have made a big difference in my moods while dealing with my lower back pain. It is funny how learning, and creating can change your outlook of the world. Gathering ingredients, making plans to have visitors, keeping to a schedule… and making spicy food.
We have been spending much time dealing with Daniel, trying to figure out how to curb some of his growing pains, and to help him develop into a well rounded human being while experience some normal pre-teen issues. After discovering PS3, his grades slipped after Christmas break, from 17/20 (above average) to 12/20 (just below class average) and we are working hard as a family to regain ground. He failed a test on poems (not exactly life altering if you don’t know the structure of haiku), one in history (depends whose point of view we are talking about) and one in math (ok I get the importance of this one. There is nothing more annoying than an adult that can’t count back change, or you give them the change and they can’t round up to the dollar). Still, he is near the middle of his class and is building speed for a glorious finish to his first junior high school year. I always root for the underdog and the most improved student just might go to my son. I am proud of his 180 degree turn around and how he has managed to find pride in his work.
Daniel is popular and at eleven being cool or liked is the only thing that seems to matter. They try on different hats trying to find where they belong, pushing their boundaries. Sometimes he goes over the top with what everyone else is doing to be accepted which of course as a mother I hold my breathe wishing for the phase to quickly pass. I wish he had a better idea of where to draw the line. When everyone is yelling, he is the screaming at the top of his lungs. Whenever they are laughing, he is the loudest bellowing out deep lustrous chuckles. Being silly, he is the silliest. You get the picture. He is such a sensitive, loving, caring being, that I wish that is what he would convey to the world. Especially how smart he is. But he doesn’t want to be the smartest kid; he wants to be good at everything. Not great at one thing like the dictionary reading kids in class, (yup it is a thing) but a little of everything. If his skills could be put on a plate and described in food he would be a giant Chinese smorgasbord; colourful, vast variety and interesting. Jack of all trades… guess it runs in our family.
Alfonz continues to plug away sampling the wines of the world. WSET accreditation study is not as hard as others, especially when you have a keen interest in drinking. Lushes need apply! And now pairing meals has become a new experience for both of us. I create a new meal and Alfonz selects wines from around France to go with them. A perfect marriage! Before you ask us to give you our secret to the perfect marriage, I must confess it is only a perfect marriage some of the time. I assure you, we are a normal couple that has our fair share of ups and downs.
While my garden is blooming, so is my mind. My commissions at the Mairie have been an ongoing learning experience that pushes my French comprehension. I am constantly reading and listening to how people say things; sometimes with such intensity as if I were trying to break a military code. In my head I think, I know you are speaking to me, I see your lips moving but I have no idea what you are saying! Luckily these moments of sheer confusion are getting less and less. I have become very good at getting the gist of a sentence, searching for the words I know, and making sense of it in my head. I hope a year from now I will be able to read, talk and write as my kids do now. It is my only goal this year.
I ready the house and lesson plans for the 80 students that will pass through my doors over the course of the year. I find this calm before the storm a little unsettling. It is hard to always self motivate and some days I spend in my favourite green chair close to the window, sipping green tea and watching Private Practice or a whole season of some other random TV series. My personal pleasure and escape. Productivity is relevant, and I am learning many interesting things while watching TV, (I tell myself) especially about different diseases and medical conditions. Ok maybe not…
Alfonz celebrated a birthday last week, and we had an amazing weekend full of friends, food and fun.
In the afternoon we went karting and enjoyed a wonderful lunch with good friends. The food was delicious, very unexpected and reasonably priced. We used last year’s birthday gift from the group, and Alfonz got to drive the course with Daniel using the 9 hp carts; best time 1m7s. Then, he got to use the other gift certificate for the 28 hp racecar and his best time was 57.9s. He was thrilled! Best gift ever hands down!
In the evening, dancing in my living room, wine glass in one hand, microphone in the other and singing doesn’t get old. Three couples and 10 children accompanied us for the party where the adults enjoyed some heavy drinking and the random silliness that follows. (Be safe, don’t drink and drive!) It was a birthday weekend to remember, and I made sausages, salad and giant pot of minestrone soup. We served beautiful regional cheeses and made banana splits to follow. Then we played pool as the kids ransacked the upstairs. I don’t think any of cared about the destruction by then! Gotta love a good buzz!
Near the end of the night the doorbell rang. Our friends surprised Alfonz with a big wrapped gift with a dozen little gifts inside; silly things like a rotten carrot, a giant rock from the garden, tampax, ear plugs, a candle and at the bottom they all contributed to a gift certificate to a local motorbike store for him to buy new clothes so the men can go riding on the weekends without Alfonz getting seriously cold, or hurt! Best gift ever. Oh I just said that…
Their generosity brought tears to my eyes and as I looked around the room I truly felt grateful to have such amazing people in our lives. I was shocked at the amount. I was so happy for Alfonz that it felt like my birthday too!
Human nature is a strange thing. I wish I could feel content, but usually after setting a goal and completing it, like moving to France, losing weight, learning a new language, playing the piano, starting a garden, learning to cook, travelling, writing a book, starting a blog, politics or the other 100 things I set out to do since leaving Canada, the feeling of accomplishment lasts less time than the excitement of setting the goal in the beginning. SO, of course, I set another goal and continue dreaming. I feel as though I am constantly striving, personally climbing a ladder to better myself in hopes to better understand the world around me. If I didn’t, it would be the end of me.
My newest project is picking out new shutters (which is the perfect shade of blue in southern France? and other very deep questions on human existence) and ordering double pane windows for the house, re-insulating the attic and a beautiful new glass front door to let the light shine to where I cook everyday in the kitchen. Little things. Big things. And nonsensical things. Defrosting the freezer. Folding a towel just so, to fit exactly in my cupboard. Will I end up like my grandparents doing everything exactly like the last time to a level of utter perfection that straying would cause an aneurysm? Perhaps, but perhaps I will ease up and end up a complete slob. The choice is not yet clear, it really could go either way.
The renovation loan will be our first credit in France. We pray we can one day establish our new life in France to the point where we feel a part of the system. It was only a year ago there was no way any bank would even look at us and we had to pay everything in cash. Slowly our roots reach water. Our life starts to thrive. And perhaps with sun and some love we can get this life in full bloom.
Until then, I will be setting my goals. Just being was fun, and I learned a whole lot about just being me. And I really enjoyed my own company. But now, it is time to Go Take On The Day!