Hey kids! Sorry Mama had to go away for a month, but you know how it is. I truly did miss blogging, but I was in a particularly testing situation (good and bad). I know myself. I would have gotten on here and blurted out everything I was thinking and feeling at the time and that information being out in the ether for sensitive eyes to read later, just wouldn't have been good for my karma budget.
But I'm back now.
Easter was fun. Ryan, A and I dyed eggs one afternoon. A little over two dozen. It was fun until A started asking about the Easter Bunny--apparently he doesn't EXIST over here *eye roll*... Her questions were along the lines of, "Okay, so this rabbit... He comes to your house, takes these eggs and hides 'em for you."
"And does he bring gifts like the Little Mouse (French version of the Tooth Fairy)?"
"Uh... Yeah. He brings you a basket with candy and toys in it. Then, you unload your basket and use it to carry the eggs."
"And the rabbit brings the basket?"
"Um, no, well, it depends. If you already have a basket, you leave it out for him. Remember how we left our stockings out at Christmas?" In France, they leave out SHOES to be filled, not stockings, though it IS starting over here though because I saw some in the store at Christmas.
"Well, if you already have a favorite basket, you leave it out and the bunny fills it up. If you don't have a basket, he brings you one." At this point, I start worrying about how detailed I'm getting. I realize by her intense interest that she is going to pose these same questions to her mother later.
"And this is a normal everyday rabbit? I mean, how can a RABBIT carry BASKETS? Wouldn't stuff spill out?"
This is not a stupid question. "Um, well, see, the Easter Bunny is like Santa Clause. He's magic. He can do things that normal rabbits can't do."
"Have you ever seen him?"
"No. But I've never seen Santa Clause either, but the cookies and milk are always gone the next day."
This seemed to placate her. But, I have a feeling she talked to her mom about it and her mom revealed to her just how elaborate a liar I am, because A didn't ask about it anymore until AFTER Easter, at which time she asked me "Did the rabbit bring toys and candy and stuff?" but she did so with her eyes slightly narrowed, like she was trying to catch me in the lie or something. *shrug*
So, I guess you'll all remember that the AMD's assistant told me to send him the first 30 pages of my France memoir. I did write about that, right? Well, so, I did some revision, sent out the pages to some readin' peeps (THANKS DUDES!!!), got it back, made some more changes and then finally sent it out. For three days, I had the constant urge to throw up every time I checked my email. As if the AMD's assistant were going to write me back right away and tell me he had no desire to read swill. *eye roll* Look, I know my book's not trash. It's not. But sometimes I wonder if it's a necessary book. I wonder if it's not "obsolete" in the sense that is just isn't applicable anymore. But, then I read a few more pages and the memories and images come rolling back in like a tsunami and I realize that yes, somebody needs to read this shit. I hope the AMD sees a glimmer of potential. If he doesn't, I'm going to try my last ditch effort by sending him my other book (another memoir). If that doesn't work, I'm moving on to a new agent search. But I REALLY REALLY LOVE this guy, (hence the name AMD), so I'm crossing my fingers.
While Grumps was here, we took a few side trips... Day excursions, if you will. One of them was to the medieval city of Perouges. I wish there were more towns like it... in the same shape as it was (oh, sure, with a few cemented patches) back in the Middle Ages. We had a cool galette (like a sugary tortilla) and went out to a TERRIFIC restaurant close by. I had the chicken *gasp* but the rose (ro-ZAY) was really good (I was schnockered the rest of the day). Ryan loved that trip and pretended to be a knight the whole time.
We also went Annecy one day. That was cool, too, but a leeetle too touristic for me. Crowds of people, street after street of souvenir shops, 5 Euros to see the castle. Nah. Not my bag, baby. But the snow-capped, Alpy mountains were perty and the park near the lake was pretty nice. Oh, and I did get one of those zen head tickler thingies (two, actually) for a pretty good price.
We spent another day in Grenoble. Let me preface this by saying that I don't DO cable cars. Hell, I wouldn't do bridges and tunnels if I could avoid them. I don't like scary, man-made, high-altitude vehicles. Planes I can do because it just feels like you're in a car the whole time. But a slow ride up a hillside with nothing under you just isn't my thing. Ugh, I'm getting woozy just thinking about it. So, in Grenoble, one of the big things to see is the Bastille (which, while in Paris is a prison, in Grenoble is a fort). There are three ways up: These teensy tiny four-person "bubbles" that hang from a teensy, thin, metal cord (cable cars), a hiking trail and a road. Well, I voted for the walking trail, but since Grumps said he wouldn't be able to make it and I didn't want to walk the whole damn hill with Ryan by myself, we found the road.
Let me just cut to the chase here...I almost passed out. Not only was the road terribly steep, but it was ridiculously winding (to the point that several times, while trying to turn on a curve, Sam actually had to back up a little). AND it was barely wide enough for our van. I hyperventilated almost at the start and by the time we reached the top, was seeing stars. I decided that if I was ever coming down off that mountain, I was going to walk. Still, the Bastille was cool. Not really the Bastille itself so much but the view from up there (and the nearby cave passages).
After that visit, I made my way back down the hill on foot and LOVED the walk. It was GORGEOUS. The walking trail was actually wider than the road we had taken in the van to get UP the hill. Plus, it was a thousand times less steep! And there were trees and flowers in bloom everywhere. It was incredible. There were little places here and there where you could detour off the main path and see cool stuff, but I had to resist the temptation most of the time. I knew Sam would be down the hill bitching (and he was).
We also went out to lunch nearby in the second oldest restaurant in France. It's called La Table Ronde. I had the cheese *gasp* and the sausage *swoon* and the meringue *passes out*... I know... NOT vegan! The food was good and the service friendly.
Other than that, Grumps and I spent some time walking around Lyon, seeing Fourviere, the Roman Ruins, the parc, the mall (we spent one whole Tuesday shopping for gifts to take back to the fam in Arkansas). And, well, we went back to Sam's parents' house a couple of times. His parents have been in love with my grandparents ever since before our marriage, so when my grandma died, they seemed to be just as struck with grief as my own family. So, they were ecstatic to see him again. In fact, my mother-in-law sat around talking about how good-looking Grumps is and how he doesn't seem to have aged a DAY! (It's true... he really looks good... and young!)
Well, I tried. And for the most part, I was able to hang in there. But it's just too damn hard to eat out in this god-forsaken country without eating some kind of animal product. So, while we were at home, I ate vegan (up until the end, when I started wondering if I might be pregnant because my cravings were CRAZY), but when we went out, I often had to take the chicken or fish option. It's okay. I'll live.
If you'll remember, going vegan wasn't supposed to be a permanent thing anyway. And while I LOVE the diet and the way it makes me feel, I'm going to concede that I may not be able to keep it up while I'm here. I have proven that it can be done. That I can go animal-less... I had a good three-month run there.
But, I'm NOT PREGNANT (and trust me, I should buy stock in Clearblue Easy as many tests as I have taken this last week). And I had already decided that if I didn't get pregnant in April, I was going to get back on Weight Watchers (on my own of course), take off the 22 pounds I've put on since I arrived in France in July, PLUS another twenty that I had been wanting to shed anyway. So, we'll try again in August on that whole baby thing. Instead of being vegan, I'm going to go first lacto-vegetarian and then eventually ovo-lacto (a slow transition). As much as I love being vegan, I don't think I'm going to want to do it while I'm pregnant... I'm way too much a slave to cravings. Plus, do you know how hard it is to be vegan AND on Weight Watchers in FRANCE? There's like NOTHING I can eat. Cabbage, sure. Oh, I might change my mind on this after my hormonally challeneged week... we'll see... but for now, I need the yogurt to help me through the WW transition.
Okay, here's the big stuff. Okay, you remember how it was going to be easier for us to go to Lynchburg, VA? Well, maybe not easier, but we could get more land for the same amount of money if we went to Lynchburg instead of Charlotte? And remember how I told Sam, "Just ASK them about the possibility. You don't have to ask them if you can transfer. Just at least plant the seed and see what they say." So, he did. WAY later. He threw it in to an email that he wrote to his boss back home... about how his wife would love if we could be transferred to Lynchburg so she could start her dream farm. They wrote back about everything else in the letter other than the Lynchburg reference. So, Sam was worried he might have made a faux pas in even jokingly bringing it up. But then he got an email back from them the next day that said if he was serious about Lynchburg, all they would need to do the transfer would be six months' notice. *eyes bulge* Could this really be happening? Could we REALLY have our farm soon? Could we really go straight back to Lynchburg instead of having to waste a year tying up loose ends in Charlotte (hey CLT friends, don't take that the wrong way... I'm not talking about you... I'm talking about administrative stuff... if you think a three-hour car ride is going to keep me from visiting, you gotta nothuh think comin'!)?
It appears so. We have to let them know by Thanksgiving. So, here's the plan:
We'll go back to the States in August for two weeks. We'll visit a few farms in the region (cuz really CLT is not that far from VA), see what they grow, ask about their soil, learn about some farming practices, etc. Then, we'll truck on up to Lynchburg and look around. Look at schools, libraries, grocery stores, the YMCA, etc. Land. We'll meet up with a real estate agent and check out a few farms in the area... let him/her know what it is we're looking for and why.
Then, we'll come back here and plan. The company allows us one free trip home per year. If that's not a fiscal year, then we could go back to Lynchburg in the spring time to do a more exhaustive search (this time looking at specific pieces of land... getting to know the communities better).
Then, because Sam says we should probably get the same relocation benefits as last time, we might be able to have a real house-hunting trip closer to time (giving us more time to save up money) during which we could actually do soil samples, etc. etc. all that stuff you do when you're buying a farm and whatnot.
I'm gonna have a farm.
Did you hear that?
Granted, I'll start out just growing veggies for just our family. And we'll have a few hens for eggs, a few goats for milk and a few rabbits for meat. And we'll add on little by little. We'll see where it goes. But the important thing is that my kids will be able to grow up in the country. I'll be able to say, "Go outside and PLAY, dammit!!!" when they annoy me.
Okay, so that's that. April. I'm sure there's more, but I doubt it's anything terribly important for now. Glad to be back!