Monday, September 29, 2008

Chuck Norris to the rescue I must have gotten into something, because my computer is acting all kinds of crazy. It won't let me search on certain things or rather when I click to be connected to a link from Google I get redirected to a porn site. Uh! It's a grose one too! Every time I accidentally see it I feel the need to go take a shower. Ewe...

So since my wonderful Cyr is now home he is going to attempt to fix it for me. I even installed a new Antivirus and after I ran a scan it said I had nothing wrong. Cyr said he think's he knows what is causing the problem. Some IP thingy directing me to blah, blah...then I lost track of what he was saying because I think I saw a bird outside. Anyway, should be all fixed up tomorrow.

So today I leave you with a little entertainment I recieved in an email. I have not thought much of good old Chuck Norris since I don't have "Walker Texas Ranger" playing on the WB (or wherever it plays now) when I surf by. When I first read this I didn't laugh at first, then it grew on me the more I read. Like a litterary fungus...

Why Chuck Norris should be feared;

-The Great Wall of China was originally created to keep Chuck Norris out. It failed miserably.

-There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live.

-The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.

-Chuck Norris originally appeared in the "Street Fighter II" video game, but was removed by Beta Testers because every button caused him to do a roundhouse kick. When asked bout this "glitch," Norris replied, "That's no glitch."

-There are no weapons of mass destruction. Just Chuck Norris.

-Chuck Norris CAN believe it's not butter.

-If tapped, a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick could power the country of Australia for 44 minutes.

-Chuck Norris once roundhouse kicked someone so hard that his foot broke the speed of light, went back in time, and killed Amelia Earhart while she was flying over the Pacific Ocean.

-Chuck Norris recently had the idea to sell his urine as a canned beverage. We know this beverage as Red Bull.

-If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris you may be only seconds away from death.

-Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.

-The quickest way to a man's heart is with Chuck Norris's fist.

-What was going through the minds of Chuck Norris's victims before they died? His shoe.

-Chuck Norris has an unbeatable poker face, concealed beneath an even more unbeatable poker beard.

-Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

-Chuck Norris has counted to infinity. Twice.

-In an average living room there are 1,242 objects Chuck Norris could use to kill you, including the room itself.

-Chuck Norris is the reason why Waldo is hiding.

-Chuck Norris Isn't funny, stop laughing.

-Chuck Norris has already been to Mars; that's why there are no signs of life there.

-Chuck Norris doesn't own a stove, toaster oven or a microwave... Because revenge is a dish that's best served cold.

-Since 1940, the year Chuck Norris was born, roundhouse kick related deaths have increased 13,000 percent.

-Chuck Norris can set ants on fire with a magnifying glass. At night.

-Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chinese Translations and Menu Offerings

Cyr is in China this week and sent me a few photos of the signs he has in his hotel room. One of my favorites is this sign by the bathtub:

In case it's hard to says;
Our honorific guests:
For your safey and preventy the wed and slippery floor. Please put the bath curtain into the bathrub when you are washing for avoiding the water spatter out of the bathrub.
At the same. We prepare the nail-clipper for you in the house-keeping.
Thanks for your cooperating.

I also like this one he took of the laundry bag.

It says;
To serve you whole heartdly makes you feel convenient and happy during travel.

Nothing like being served "heartdly". Being the agreeable eater he is he also told me he tried a dish that looked very much like snails that had forked tails. Well, turned out it was duck tongue. Seriously, how many duck tongues would it take to make one meal?! There was also donkey served I believe in the same meal. Such a lucky fella to have all these fun things thrown after him!

He sent me some pictures of menus but they are hard to read so I will just tell you what some of my favorites were;

Steamed Mouse-Shaped Fish (Maybe a children's favorite? Also known as the "Mickey Fish"?)
Crispy Freid Loach (Please don't let that be a typo with the "L")
Sauteed Chicken Feet (no thanks, I like my feet fried)
Jew's Ear with Chrysanthemum (I just can't say anything about this one...)
Flavored Crispy Elbow (after the previous entry I am not sure I want to know what kind of elbow.)
Sauteed Crispy Stomach with Pickled Peppers
(Peter Piper's favorite I'm sure, but again...the stomach of what?)
Spicy Ox Spinal Cord (Whew, I just hate the dull flavored spinal cord)
Chicken Stomach with Chili Pot (if this is like Amsterdam "Pot" I might need it to eat the "Chicken Stomach")
Sauteed Duck Lips in Maggie Sauce (So that's why I have never seen a duck's lips! They are all in China being served for dinner! With Maggie apparently...)

I don't think he actually tried any of the above. But in case you are offered, I hear the duck tongue is nothing to spit at. Ha...actually he said it was pretty chewy...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rozoy Continued...

I have now recovered from my lunch with Mr and Mrs Belly and am ready to post the other pictures from the weekend. Of course today I did meet my friend Irina and her new husband for lunch to talk about how the quest for a carte de sejour is going for them. She is Russian and he is French and they are going through the same process that Cyr and I will go through in November with getting a work permit and a residence card. More on that fun stuff later....

This is the garden she has. It is in a sort of valley I guess you could say. Above the garden floor to the right is a very old church and then further to the back there is a wall remaining from a castle that was there in the 1600's I think. Check out the tree looking thing on the left side of the photo.

Everyone was finding jobs to do, I decided to pull weeds. Once I was done with my wall I asked about the odd tree that looked to have been taken over by ivy. H told me that it was actually a very old water pump that was taken over by plant life. "Oh! Do you want me to try to cut it away?" I asked hopefully. She agreed and my treasure hunt began!! I clipped away and found brick, then on one side I found a pump. It took hours just to uncover one side. After two days of work, this is what was underneath!!

It was amazing! If we could have stayed another day I would have tried to figure out how to reach the top part. Do you remember the really big and tall brown muppet that had the HUGE mouth and would dance during The Muppet Show? I felt like I was cutting his hair. I actually talked to it while I was clipping away. I think it helped. H was so excited too, she said since we cut through the large roots that she was hoping the top part would die and be easier to remove after a few weeks. I don't know about that, the thing looked like an animal ready to spring back to life and devour the pump again, but maybe not.

This is the view from where we were burning some of the brush we cleared. That is the church up top. I just kept getting carried away with the thoughts of a castle being up there next to the church. You can see H and B very small at the bottom of the photo.

So it was a really fun weekend. I typically don't do much gardening other than killing the small plants I buy or people try to give me. Really, unless you hate a plant specifically, don't give it to me. I will kill it. I won't mean to, but it will happen. Plants and Susan are like Lenny and small mice. It's completely unintentional, but it happens. That is why I stick to fresh cut flowers. I know from the moment I pick them out they are going to die. Plus no one expects me to be able to make them live longer than a week so that I look less like the Jeffrey Dahmer of horticulture and more the like the Florence Nightingale of flowers trying to help her patients live as long as possible.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Long French Lunch...

Oh my goodness...I love my neighbors!

I went walking today with my friend/neighbor Lillian, she is a retired chemist and her husband is a retired pharmacist. While walking I told her I was out of my asthma medicine so she walked with me to the pharmacy down the street, told them what I needed, and they had it ready for me when I returned with my money a few minutes later! Voila!! C'est facile non?

Once I returned to chez moi (my house) I bumped into Belly, my neighbor that lives above me. Yes, that is his name, his last name actually. He is so cute, he and his wife have lived here for like 30 years. They told me they have been married for 60 years this year. WOW! That is so cool. I will have to live to 96 to be married that long. I better start eating more fish and veggies right now. So anyway, as I told you in my previous post; I have a lot of apples from the garden of H (I think I told you this) so I offered some to Belly and told him I would bring him some. I packed up a bag and walked up the flight of stairs to drop them off, but of course you can't just drop something off here, you must come in for a drink! (Have any of you seen Bienvenue Chex Les Ch'ti? It's just like that, no kidding!) So...I came in and met Madame Belly and had a bourbon. A Kentucky Bourbon at that! Then of course they asked me to stay for lunch, being the gracious guest I am I didn't want to be I accepted. We had stuffed tomatoes, eggplant and round zucchini (yes, somehow they have round zucchini) it was fantastic. And yes, I had one of all three of the things. Plus of course it is France, so we MUST have a red wine with lunch. Bien sur!

Once the meal was complete there was (of course) a cheese plate. Mmmm...five different kinds. Surely you know that you can't just end a meal right? NO!! You must have a digestive, an after dinner drink! So out comes the "Swiss liquor that is like vodka but is not vodka". That is as close a description as I could decipher/translate from them. did wonders for my sinuses. Seriously, I can totally breath right now. Though I can't actually feel my nose, I can breathe.

I was supposed to post the rest of the pictures from my weekend trip, but seriously folks, I have to go take a nap. It's only 4pm here and I have had a Friday nights worth of drinks. I love the 3 hour lunch though. There is a possibility I might wake up in an hour with a hangover so I think I will post the other pictures tomorrow. :-)

Vive la France!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rozoy Rocks...

So there was no sex trade to sell me off to so feel free to breath the sigh of relief I am sure you have been holding. I'm back and safe and sound! Turns out I didn't even have the right story with the other two guesses either. H, who owns the house and garden now, inherited them from her Grandmother. Her Great Aunt (Grandmother's sister) still lives in the town. She came over and had lunch with us both days. They said she was 97!! She walked over from her house without a cane and seemed to be all together. Man, what a lady...I tried to speak with her a little, she was so sweet and very easy to understand. I think the older generations here are much easier to understand, they speak slow and seem to really enunciate their words.

Here is the house...

It was built in the 18th century. Crazy eh? So about the time the Declaration of Independence was declaring my country a country; they were putting up wall paper. H said that much of the house was built using older materials taken from older houses, so the wood used for the stairs and some of the floors dates back to the early 1700's and maybe 1600's. Nutty. It's just so strange to wrap your mind around the time.

I stayed on the 3rd floor with my Brit friend Karen, there were 6 of us and there were multiple beds in the upper room so we decided to camp out together. Every time my feet would walk down the stairs (barefoot because I am completely aware of my propensity to slide down stairs on my arse when I try to walk down them with socks) I would wonder how many other feet had touched them. They were beautiful. I tried to capture the warmth that the stairs held, but I don't think the pictures do them justice of course. I don't know why I was so captured by the stairs. I loved how smooth they were from the wear of over 200 years of use. If you look at the pictures you might be able to see that in many places the nails showed through and were worn as smooth as the wood that surrounded them. Sometimes I would see a scar in the wood and make up a story of how I thought I was made. Maybe a young girl was trying to carry a tray of food up to third floor for her sick uncle and dropped it. When the tray hit the soft wood on the second floor it scared the wood it's still there today.

The house had a great back yard with a bridge made out of concrete and cave built into the side of the house that kids could play in. When H was a child she and her sister drew buffalo cave drawings on the raw rock and mud walls. You could still see two of them. I would have done the same...

I can't seem to upload anymore photos so I will have to post others tomorrow...I will make sure to include the cave as the first one!

We worked in the garden that she has on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. It's about two blocks from the main house. The garden is a lot that backs up to an old church and what used to be a castle with three towers. It is nestled in at the bottom of a slop that the church sits on and where the castle used to be and is in the shape of an L. There were tons of apple trees that were just bursting with fruit. As I type this I am wondering what all I can cook with all the apples I have. I have a few ideas, one of the girls there AS, she is an amazing cook and we had apple tart, apple cake, chicken with apples and even red cabbage and apples made by Karen!

We worked really hard in the garden and ate fantastic food all weekend. It made me wish to live in a simpler time, where people worried about keeping their land and storing enough food to survive the winter, not failing economies and wars in other countries. I know it must have been very hard, but they all had focus. Even if the focus was just to get a crop in. Ah, I have been reading too much Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series. But if you have read the books, I did feel a bit like Claire working in her garden while Jamie (Cyriaque) was off hunting...although Jamie didn't hunt in China (where Cyr currently is) and Claire didn't have a hot shower to go back to. Now that I think about it, 2008 has been one the best years of my life. I think I'll stay...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A weekend trip!!

I received a really nice surprise when I read my emails yesterday. You might recall that I went to my first cocktail party in France about a week ago (sorry...not sure how to link to that dur...) and made some new friends. of the girls invited me to spend the weekend in Rozoy with a few of the other girls! "H" has a Great Aunt in Rozoy and every year she makes a trip with friends to the property to help clear the garden of weeds. Either that or she inherited the land from the Great Aunt and wants to clear it for herself. Or I could be on my way to being sold into the sex trade. Only time will tell, check in Monday I guess.

The good news is that I know the other girls that are going and I really like them all. As I type this I have my camera battery charging and am thinking of what to pack. I was told to bring sheets and boots. No problem!! I have both of those! Not sure the "boots" are what she meant though, my work boots are brown cowboy boots. I'm sure they look just like hers, or her Great Aunt's. Oh well, as a continuation of the previous post I guess I am just determined to bring my own style to France. "Tex goes a-gardening" might be the next post you read.

I think it's about 2.5 hours away from Lille. I am going to dinner with one of the girls tonight and staying at her place. Tomorrow the group will pick us up at 9am and we will head off to have a quick weekend in the countryside. I'm looking forward to this for a few reasons; 1) I get to see a new part of France, 2) I get to spend time outdoors AND getting exercise, 3) new friends, yeah! Of course I could end up feeling completely awkward, be allergic to everything, have an asthma attack, get eaten by strange French bugs, get a horribly ugly sunburn/tan line and look like a freak at my wedding and generally have a completely awful time while feeling like an outcast. But let's not think of that. Let's focus on those first 3 good things.

1999 Called....

...and they want their baggy pants and man undies back!

These cool cats were on the train this past weekend from Paris to Lille. I cropped their faces to protect the innocent and avoid a lawsuit. I love people that can walk around in something completely different than the rest of the world and not be self conscious. I don't think I could pull this look off. Maybe because I never really understood this look. The "check out how big I can wear my pants are and please also notice my underwear, they are clean" look. I don't get it, I thought men would want to show how big and manly they are. Not that they can't find pants that fit. To me it mostly says "these are my big brothers pants and someday I hope to be able to fit in them!"

NO, I don't think everyone should dress the way I do. I think that would be boring. So if any of you out there are actual wearers-of-baggy-pants-that-show-underwear, you keep sporting your style my friend. Keep the world colorful, wear some fun undies for us. I like the plaid idea...hey, maybe it's growing on me now that I think about it.

Truth be told I am probably in one of these guys' blogs wearing a brightly colored shirt. I stand alone in Lille and wear my bright colors (occasionally) while others wear their black, grays and browns. I too like to be a little different.

As I finish this post I find myself less disliking the clothes and more admiring their attitude. I should be less self conscious about what I choose to wear. Why is it that I don't dress how I did in the US? Seriously, not once have I donned a baseball cap, shorts and tennies and left the house. The times when I do wear a bright shirt I wear black boots so calm it down a bit. I wear black shoes 80% of the time just like the rest of Lille. I guess I don't want to feel like I'm sticking out in the crowd. Ewe, I sound like a lemming. Oh man, I hope everyone doesn't jump off a bridge...

Tomorrow I am wearing color. And I'm not wearing black shoes. I'm a rebel.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A few things German

It's a little after the fact...but here is a short blog about my trip to Munich last week.

I arrived on Monday and my friends picked me up at the airport. From there we went to pick up their little cousin S who is one of the most beautiful children I have ever seen. I think she is 6 years old and has the face of an angel. Once we picked her up from school we did what all good people do while looking after a small child, we went to a beer garden. There we grabbed our huge mugs, washed them in the fountain located by the rack of glasses (my friend promises they are already clean but people just like to wash them off, plus it makes the glass colder for the beer) and take them to be filled with the hoppy goodness that is German lager.

Once our beers have been poured we then saunter over to buy a huge pretzel and two fish on a stick. They still have the heads on them and though I did feel like the pink one was watching me pick away at his insides, they were actually very tasty. The saltyness of the fish and pretzels went perfect with the cold brew. Check it out...
Bordering the beer garden was a fence that had some deer in it. Here is one of the pretzel loving animals. I believed she posed especially nice for this photo and managed to let us all know what she thought of the damn fence. "But thanks for the pretzel." I'm sure she would add.
Once finished with our beers we headed to the city center after dropping S off at her mother's house. One of the first things I saw was this angular fortress-like building. It didn't fit the surroundings, it was strong looking and not inviting. The first word I thought of was "defensive".

Then I saw the doors as we approached.

It's a synagogue my friend told me. Actually it's the Ohel Jakob Synagogue
located where another Jewish place of worship stood but was destroyed in 1938 by the Nazis. It was really a site. So strong. It didn't shout it's message, but instead seemed to quietly and without doubt say, "This is a safe place for all who enter." It was simple, yet very moving. Some people had left prayers between the stones as if it was the Western Wall (the Wailing Wall) in Jerusalem where many Jews go to mourn the destruction of the first Holy Temple and offer prayers written on paper placed in the cracks of the stones. The symbols on the door represent the 10 commandments I read. Cyr got some much better photos, but of course...they are on his computer or in his camera and not within my reach at the moment.

So alas I leave you with the thought of the Ohel Jakob Synagog. A place that is new but represents something very old. A belief that countless numbers of people died for and that some are still persecuted for today. I hope this building will live up to it's appearance and be a safe and protecting place for those that remember, along with being a reminder of things that should never happen again. To anyone.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Braderie Review

First, before I tell you about the Braderie I would like to say "miss you" to my blog friend "Le Tigre" out there. I go to Munich for a week and you have taken your blog off line! Email me when you can, or post...we newbies have to stick together.

SO! The Braderie (which happened the first weekend of September) was great! I really do think that the estimated 2 million visitors came to the event. There was everything you could things, old things, crazy things, fantastic local food vendors, and beer. Fantastic beer sold on the street in plastic cups so that you didn't break anything and could walk around while sipping. Here is our grand place with a few tents. It seemed that all the streets downtown were lined with vendors. There were miles of them...not exaggerating!

Here is my first picture that I thought was funny. People were crowded around this table and I just had to know why. What was such a great deal? Ah, yes. Converse...the crack cocaine of the French casual shoe world. They are friggin crazy expensive here. They thought this was a good price, I had to take a photo.

Back home Target sells them for $20-$30 a pair. As you can see, these are 70 euro, which converts to about $105 a pair. I should stock up on my next trip.

An then there are the moules, known as mussels in the US. The food item of the Braderie weekend is moules and frites. That is steamed mussels with a bowl of French fries on the side. Mmmmm...fantastic!! Many of the restaurants take the shells and pile them outside the restaurant to show how many they sell. There is a competition amongst the owners. Not sure who won, but this picture was taken on Sunday morning, they still had the rest of the day ahead of them!

Known fact: France is not exactly customer oriented.
Example: Our friend Crystal wanted just an order of fries. They would not sell them to her. She HAD to order moules with her fries. Think of this...they could have charged her more, she was willing to pay. There were three of us, after she had her conversation (she is French so she could tell them what she thought) we left and found a place that would attempt the very difficult task of separating the fries from the moules.

Here is some kind of pita with some kind of meat in it that I ate. I always have them put the samurai sauce on anything that I can. It's like a mayo based spicy reddish sauce. The first time I ordered it the man told me "It very spicy!" Cyr said; "she's from Texas, she can handle it." Oh yes, I can handle it. Really frites are just a vehicle that enables me to consume the samurai sauce.

Notice the little red fork? They love these, you get them with fries when you order from the baraque a frite (french fry sales guy on wheels, like a French mobile taco stand). So cultured, you don't get your hands dirty! Well, I do of course, but that's me...

I didn't find my bicycle, but I did find some cute gifts for folks and two great scarves that were 2 euro a piece. The weather was great Saturday but on Sunday it rained off an on. It didn't seem to bother many though, people were out in force again. One thing I love about the French is that they don't seem to get bothered much by the crowds. This picture was taken Saturday at what seemed like the busiest time. The streets were packed. Sometimes at certain areas you had to take baby steps and make it through a narrow passage until it thinned out. But not once did I hear someone yell "mooooove people!" in French. We all just packed in and ambled along. There was shoving, but not shouting or frustration. I guess everyone here is used to standing in lines and living with a million folks around them.

It was a great weekend. I hope next year we get TWO sunny days to enjoy it. Not all the streets are so crowded either. The best ones, with all the used junk, are in the back of the city and the sides. Easily walkable from the grand place and sure to have many hidden treasures. And of course great food and beer...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hurricane Ike

As most of you have read, I am a Houstonian transplant here in Lille, France. Most of my family in friends live in Houston and are now either weathering the aftermath of Ike without electricity or have scampered off to other cities to avoid the hassle.

From the looks of the pictures I have seen in the news and the internet, Galveston was just devastated. It sounds like my family is alright though. My Mom went to San Antonio and is staying with friends. I hope she stays there for the rest of the week at least. Word is my little pink house has survived without any obvious damage. Everything I read says that roads are blocked with trees, electricity is out in most of the city, gas is scarce, ice is rare and some fo the stores are price gouging and selling bags of potato chips for $10. Bastards...

Dad, Sandy and my half brother Ralph weathered the storm at their house that is about 30 minutes north of Houston. They lost electricity on Saturday and have been told it could be 3 or 4 weeks before it is turned on. Everyone clap your hands for propane grills and my step-mothers propensity to pack her freezer for a two month shut in! Sandy's son is coming down all the way from Minnesota with a generator that they can use to power the garage apartment. And yes, they are smart enough to ventilate it so they don't all die from carbon monoxide poisoning. So far one child has died because his parents put the generator in the garage.

I hope everyone I know and love is safe. So far everyone I have emailed with or spoken too has just missed the worst. Two houses on my Dad's street were badly damaged with trees coming through the roves. I'm so glad his house is ok, with his healing broken arm and other things I don't know how he could have handled it! Thank goodness Ralph is there to help out. He is such a great guy. I have tons of photos and plan to blog everyday this week to tell you all about the fun things I did last week, but I don't feel right boasting about my good times today when so many are having to worry about their lives right now back home in Texas.

My prayers are with you all in the affected areas. I especially hope the Torres family in Groves (Port Neches) is ok, I think you guys were in a pretty hard hit area.

Hugs from Lille...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Word of the Day


Just say it.  Please?  You have to.  Say it out loud!!  Asfahrt.  If you are not smilling right now then something could be wrong.  That is the most fun word!  I see it all the time in Munich.  It means "exit".

Things are good here but if I were the bride I would have freaked out a few times already.  The people she ordered the appetisers from for the vin d'honour took her order, she confirmed Monday, then they called her cell Monday afternoon and told her they could not do it because they had another party.  WHAT??  They confirmed her two weeks ago and that morning!  But problem solved with another place and a fantastic family.  Her sisters are making the food now and I bet it will be fantastic.  

Well, I am going to asfahrt this post and head to get some rest for tomorrow.  Hehe...

Oh...I tried on a traditional Bavarian dress today, with the pushed up boobs and everything!  I looked like I should be bringing very large beers to people.  Promise to post the picture next week.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gutentag!! (??)

The Braderi was amazing!! I have a bunch of great pictures that I am going to post when I return. new bicycle though...darn it!!

I´m in Munich right now on a short vacation. Some friends of ours are getting married here on Saturday and the bride invited me up early so I could help her out and see the city a bit. So far it has really been a great time, though I do wish Cyr was here. He is at home in Lille being responsible and working.

I will try to post a bit this week if I get a chance, but I might just wait until I return on Monday. Right now I am taking a break and waiting for my friend in an internet cafe. I have already gotten some really cool shots of a beer garden we went to. They had wild life. I mean what else does one need? We had beer, pretzel, grilled fish (with heads still on of course) and deer! Love it...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Braderie Weekend in Lille!!

This weekend is the famous Braderie in Lille!!

I'm going to look for a new bike to purchase. One that is old, with character. Then I will buy a HUGE lock so no one will steal her. I bet I see my old bike there...grrr...

Here is a blurb about the Braderie:

The flea market’s origins remain a bit of a mystery. In the Middle Ages, servants obtained the right to sell their masters’ old possessions once a year. This custom soon combined with Lille’s fair, where the town’s inhabitants, as well as foreigners, could freely sell their goods.

Moreover, in the 15th century, two poultry merchants had the great idea to “provide meat” for the fair-goers. They obtained the right to sell their products to the passers-by and the buyers who were already numerous at that time. Braden, Flemish for roast, may be the term that gave the flea market its name.

Of course, in French, “brader” also means “to sell at a low price” and it is well known that you can sell and buy anything at the Lille flea market: antiques, clothes, jewellery, decorative objects, etc!

Transformed into one gigantic pedestrian zone, the city offers treasure hunters and visitors alike a vast number of stalls and buying opportunities in a friendly atmosphere governed by the rhythm of the swarming crowd. Ever since the Middle Ages, the tradition has lived on, and today, the Lille flea market remains the most awaited event of the fall season.

I'll post about my fantastic findings on Monday!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My First Cocktail Party in France

I think I forgot to mention, but Cyr and I went to a cocktail party last Saturday. After spending time over my morning coffee thinking about which black dress to wear I decided to ask Cyr what the invite said the dress-code was. I figured it would be a bit dressy (as France is a dressy country to me), basically what in the US we call "After Five" dress.

"It's black tie." He says. Completely serious.
"Are people wearing tuxedos and formals?!" I ask.
"No" says Cyr; "I am wearing a suit. The girls just wear nice dresses."

Well what do you know, it's like a 1970's adult dress up party!! I felt the urge to go look for some AquaNet and a Jackie O type dress. I settled on a black satiny number and added pearls as an homage to Jackie. My mother would have been so proud! The translation of "black tie" wasn't what it is back home (thank goodness). No one wore a tux, just a sort of dressy after 5 really. Cyr has all the pictures and is in Scotland until Friday morning, but I will post a few if I remember.

The party was actually pretty fun. The people were very nice. We arrived and found our way through a maze of hallways with the aid of a friend who had to come down to get us. Once there, it turned out to be a small apartment with Champagne and Mojitos flowing. The later in the evening it got, the more they flowed. The funny thing was that when the only bottle of rum left was Bacardi, everyone agreed that there would be no more Mojitos, "Because all we have is Bacardi." They say matter-of-factly. Then everyone sighs and nods their heads in agreement. Apparently everyone is aware that Bacardi white label is crap. Well it ain't no Caribbean rum that's for sure. But are mixing it with mint, sugar and lemon-lime! How much can you really taste I think to myself. Maybe it's how much you feel the next morning, not how much you taste the night of. thinks I understand now.

I love that there were people from all over the world there. I talked with people from Estonia, Hungary, Benin, Italy, Sweden, different areas of France and a Brit! Cyr met a group of them on the train he takes to work in the morning. They all speak English too which is nice. I did practice my French though. There was probably about 15 or so people there throughout the evening. At one point there was dancing in a little space by the stereo. If you know me you will know that I did in fact participate in this cultural ritual where the women all dance together. At times this primitive behavior bothers me, but after an aperitif of Champagne and a Mojito (with good rum I might add) I had a hard time finding fault with it. I mean hey, I wanted to dance.

I ended up making some new friends and am going to have dinner with one this week while Cyr is out of town. The best thing was that on Sunday I wasn't too bad off. But I tell you, one more Mojito with the white label Bacardi and it would have been a pretty uncomfortable Sunday I bet. Cheers to limiting the Mojitos!! Or is that Mojitoes?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Pictures of my other bikes...

...that have not been stolen.

I had a request to show you my other bikes and since I love my girls I wanted to share, but alas I can not find a picture of Lana in her element!! So alas she is pictured below pouting in our storage unit. Here is Blue Bell, she's a Fuji, this picture was taken after the last Houston-Austin MS150 I did in 2007. It's with a bandanna that has my friend's mother's name on it. Doris, now my friend too, has MS and I wrote her name on the red bandanna so she could ride with me in spirit. She helped me get through the 162 miles I logged on the way to Austin.

Lana is a Turner 5-Spot. I used to live in Sedona, AZ where the single track is AMAZING. I don't get to ride her enough any more but I can't bare to part with her. She was the first bike I spent some real money on and had her built from the frame up. I don't deserve a bike as good as Lana, but she makes me look good! I joke that I should have named her Tina because I am so rough on her, but I thought that was just mean. She has sexy pink hubs and matching headset so I settled on Lana. Lana really misses Sedona, and her best friend Bonnie. (Bonnie is a person, not another bike.)

And her is a picture of our key to the storage unit. I love that France still uses these old looking keys. They sure do take up a lot of room though. I wanted to post the picture because you never see keys like this in Houston any more!!

Oh - and my date! We had a great time today. We walked for an hour! Lillian showed me the Hippodrome just down the road. I thought it was a sports arena, but it's a horse track! We walked around the track a little too. It was so pretty. I plan to walk back and take pictures later this week. She said they have races on Monday evenings and you can sit in the stands and just watch for no fee. Wow, I have been to the races in Houston, but I remember having to buy a ticket for a few bucks to get in. Who knows...maybe my new friend is actually a handicapper! The exciting new friendship will only be revealed in later blogs. Stay tuned to find out if indeed I become an apprentice to France's best horse race master handicapper...