Friday, December 4, 2009

A Good Cause

Those of you that know me are familiar with my attempts at athletic prowess. There was the mountain climbing phase which saw me undertake Mt. Hood, Mt. Humphrey and Mt. Rainier (twice thank you). There were others, but I have blocked them That lasted about 2 years then one day while slugging in crampons up a mountain carrying a 35 lb pack I couldn't find the motivation to go on. I just lost it.

Then there was running. I have tried to train for a marathon twice. Both times with HoustonFit, a group that takes non-runners and turns them into runners. Or is supposed to. Both years I got stress fractures in the same ankle. One year at 7 mile training point and the next at 8 mile. I have been to a bunch of doctors for my knee and ankle, they all tell me not to run. "Bike!" they say.

So I did. I moved to Sedona and mountain biked for the two years I was there. I loved it. It became a passion to go out for 3 or 4 hours on the trails, scare the crap out of myself, sustain a few injuries then come home and stand in a hot shower with a cold beer. I love that feeling of exertion after a long ride.

Then I went to Thailand and broke my leg (love me some Ko Phi Phi)and tore a bunch of crap up, got a blood clot on the 32 hour trip back (Phukette - Bangkok (10 hour layover)- Soel, Korea - Atlanta - Houston) and was on crutches for 12 weeks due to the broken bone, cartilage and ligament repair. After that it was for sure; no running. My doc and rehab people also said that mountain biking was too intense at first so to try road biking. I had moved back to Houston to have help (read Mom and Aunt Mary driving me everywhere because it was the right leg) with the leg so giving up mountain biking, though sad, was easier to do here because the red rocks weren't calling me everyday. Only Memorial Park.

My physical therapist said I should sign up for the MS150. So I did. I also dragged my friend Lori B. along the training rides and met some great friends like Cheri. Cheri's boyfriend was the lead of a team for the ride so I joined up and did it. I loved the biking, but the real motivation became what I learned about MS.

For those of you that don't know, the BP MS150 is the largest fund raising event in the United States. In 2009 the Lone Star (that would be Texas folks) Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation raised 17 Million, yes MILLION, for MS research and services for people living with MS. This is a staggering number and truly makes a difference in research and assistance in our state.

I also found out that I knew a lot more people that were affected by MS that I thought. A friend and co-worker told me her mother had MS. I sent an email to her mom and we started talking and I learned her story (which I will publish if she is ok with it). She told me about how she could see progress in MS but she knew she probably wouldn't see a cure in her lifetime. I took Doris as a Pedal Partner, which is like dedicating your ride to someone with MS. I wrote her and told her about my training progress and wore a bandanna with her name on it during the ride. I also had a friend diagnosed with the disease that year. She had numbness in her fingers, was dizzy and had other health problems. Come to find out, it was MS. She's doing well right now after adjusting her diet, exercise and medications. But it was a lot of work to get her up and running again where she felt she had the energy and confidence to do everyday things.

Oh, I guess I should tell you WHAT the MS 150 actually is eh? It's a two day bike ride from Houston to Austin that will take place April 17-18, 2010. It's actually a little further than 150 miles, I clocked in between 160 and 170 the two times I have done it before. The first day you ride from Houston to La Grange, TX where you spend the night. I think this day is about 80 miles from what I remember, then the next day at 8am you take off again for the rest of the ride to Austin. They limit the ride to 13,000 participants, and yes, it fills up. I felt lucky to get a spot when I did today. They only have 8,000 spots left open but I logged on today at the exact time, had two laptops running and got both Cyr and I spots. Whew!

A lot of people do the ride, you probably know folks that are doing it other than me. We all pay to ride, then we have to raise money in order to be able to ride. My goal is only $1,000, which I hope to hit before the ride in April, though we have until May to get it in I think. Any way...I will probably use this blog to tell you all about my training rides and how things go leading up to the event.

I'm thinking about putting a link on my blog so you can donate, but I'm leery about putting my last name out there so right now I'm undecided. If you would like to donate just email me and I can send you my link!!

Here are some photos of the last ride I did:

This is me at the start line. It was really foggy! Cyr and I had been dating about a month but he drove me there and took pictures to see me off!!

Here is a group shot...crazy eh?

You can see how foggy it was. The start was a little delayed, but not too bad.

Here is me finishing with some teammates including Cheri!!

Here are my sexy tan lines after the two days. Check out the little circle on my wrist. Interesting choice of gloves I guess...

I spend the entire summer trying to get ride of those short lines. Fancy pants for sure!

So...there you go. I have a quest. Stay tuned for updates along the way!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Baccarat or Waterford? DONT'T have to decide. I love Waterford. My family is Irish and it's a bit of a tradition to register for it when you get married. I only registered for champagne flutes, Lismore Nouveau, but I love them. I love, love, love them. Even if I only have 4. :-/ Gimme a break...I got married in France, people don't carry that stuff over seas people!

Back to Baccarat though. It was beautiful! I don't just mean the crystal either. Cyr and I parked and walked around since we had time before going to the museum. We had time because it (of course) was closed for lunch from 11:30-2. We walked down by a little river and I took this of the town hall.

Across from the town hall was the most modern church I have ever seen in France. A plaque on the door said St. Remy.

The inside was, as you might guess, colored by the light that spilled in through Baccarat crystals that made up the stained glass windows of the church. Here is a shot from behind the font, which was also made in Baccarat though I am not sure it was actual Baccarat crystal.

I really liked it. Cyr spent a while taking some really good photos that he will probably post on his photography site.

So there you go...I finally posted some more pictures!

Monday, November 30, 2009


Well, last week was crazy, just like everyone's week I'm sure. We went to San Antonio to visit friends like we always do. And it was great, as usual!

My Mom and her friend Kathy actually did the stake out thing for Black Friday. For those of you who are not familiar with this day of consumption; Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving Thursday and is typically the biggest shopping day of the year. By this I mean that more people go shopping on this one day than any other day of the year. Because of this, stores often have one day sales on items with crazy low prices. The trick is that they only carry a limited number of these items, so if the Wii is on sale for $149.00, they might only have 50 of them, so you gotta get there early. Well...Mom and Kathy did just that.

The Target: Nintendo Wii for $149.00
The Store: HEB Plus
The Plan: Get there early and be aggressive
The Players: Susan's Mom and best friend Kathy
Rooting on the sidelines: Susan, at home in bed wishing them the best

The store opens at 5am, so the girls arrive at the HEB Plus at 4:30am with 30 minutes to spare. When they arrive they estimate that there are actually about 300 people ahead of them and others are pouring into the lot to stand in line.

They have grocery baskets tied together to form one long aisle that snakes back and forth to keep the people in line. Once in line they hear announcements asking everyone to "please remember to remain calm", "remain in a single file line" and "there will be only one entrance open to the public and there will be no running once these doors open." I picture them having lavender incense to calm the nerves and playing Enya over the loudspeakers, but that could be a slight exaggeration.

After listening to a woman state to Kathy "I should have just come over here after the game last night" and being absolutely serious about this, 5am finally arrived. The doors opened and people walked in an orderly fashion to the entrance. Once inside the doors the speed walkers come out in force all heading to the electronics section. A slight frenzy of wide eyed fully awake men and women search for the special items they have come for. Mom and Kathy see the Wii display! They rush up to it, sick arms through holes and pull out one Wii each! Success I say!!

I'm sure it was a bit anti-climactic to stand there with Wii in hand, no blood having been drawn, no threatening words having to have been thrown around. Maybe the sounds drowned out in their ears and they heard silence...or...they started looking around and finding toasters for $5, cameras for $50 and other great things!! They did however report a wounded comrade. A woman was heard crying and talking to security because a man took her Wii out of her basket! The security guards then offered to have her identify the man and said they would get her Wii back for her. No news on if this happened, I wish her luck though.

So that and 2 extra pounds on my hips was Thanksgiving. Again, I didn't actually go on this adventure, but I almost feel like I was there. :-)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Friends in Epinal

The second stop on our tour, after Nancy, was Epinal. Epinal is a really cute city just about an hour south of Nancy. The hour flew by, it seemed so short compared to the painful trip to Nancy. Next time we might have to just find a place just outside of Paris to regroup. Although I really did like Nancy once we got there.

But I digress, back to Epinal. Cyr's best friend lives here with his wife and new baby. You can see here Martin with his little girl, Julietta, swaddled to his chest. Can you see? I looks like he has a big growth, but it's just little Julietta snuggly tied onto her Papa so she keeps warm and feels secure!
I can't believe I didn't get more pictures of the baby...but she will show up in later posts once I get Cyr to send me a better picture of her. In the above photo we were walking (hiking in the US) up a big hill to get to an old fortress that is still standing. While walking along I saw a sign that said "Parc des animaux" and I thought, "oh, they must have little statues or something." Well. They actually had animaux!
I really thought some kid was going to get his/her fingers eaten off by these pigs. They were pretty agile even with all that fat on them!
I think these were Alpacas. I was told they were not Llamas and that's all I can think of.
And Bambi of course!
Then we walked around and saw what I am sure is where women who wear short skirts or Daisy Dukes buy their bread.

Get it? Hoochie?!
And here is where women used to wash clothes for the men-folk. We actually saw TWO of these! I don't know if it was a very clean town or if people still use them, but this one was covered so I think I would go to this one. Yes. I would go to this one and supervise while some man did my wash for me. It would have to be a very small man that I could bully into it, but I might be able to find one...

If you notice there is a little Virgin Mary at the back. I think it's there so that the woman could immediately ask for forgiveness when they were cursing the fact that they were born women or that their men were so dirty.

I also thought it was quite interesting how the city was built. Here we have a very old church and right up next to it is a shopping area. Check out how they are almost fused together. Now the church is older than the shopping area, and there is a tunnel on the left side of the photo so you can walk through (the church wall, not the photo) to get to the other side of the church or the shopping area. My only guess is that there was a building there before that was replaced. Odd though eh? I mean...where does the property line end and why did they put the windows behind the church wall?!

To end this post I'll show you are friends walking ahead of us down from the main fortress area. The large columns used to support a bridge that went across the gap there. I have to say, I thought it was a really cute little town. I also really like Martin and his wife. They live so simply. They eat healthy foods they buy almost daily, they don't own a car and walk everywhere (we did have to help them buy and bring home a fridge, but once that is over they are set), they live in a really cute apartment where they can walk into town. Makes me want to simplify.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween Break!!

Ok - do plan to continue with the Tour de France blogs, but really wanted to post some of the pictures of our little Halloween Gathering we had!! I really didn't think people would show up, but they did.

Here is my darling husband and I. He was a cowboy, complete with bolo tie, hat. a big buckle and jeans tucked into his boots. I was a Germain Bar Maid. Or maybe St. Paulie's Girl. I bought this dirndl when we were in Munich and have been counting the days until I could wear it. It was so fun!

Here are the Grim Reaper and a Sexy Vampire;

Dorothy was there too..

Even Cleopatra stopped by with some friends!

The one in black and white might look like a nun. In fact she was "A Bad Habit" (harhar!) with a stickie of curse words and a drink always in her hand. :-)

Anyway...thought those were fun to share. There were a lot of others that showed up, but I didn't get pictures darn it.
Hope everyone had a good Halloween! We made sure and kept Duncan (our all black cat) inside and hidden away from creepy people who might want to harm him. So we all made it though the weekend with only a slight headache on Sunday to remind us of it. Not to mention about 5 lbs. due to all the candy and cupcakes I ate...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fancy Nancy

Dear Continental,

What ever did I do to you? Why hast thow forsaken me?! I am not quite sure what I have done to deserve to always, and by always I mean the last 4 flights to France I have taken, be sat in a seat that has a broken television, but I am sorry. I am truly sorry. Maybe it was that time I accidentally left a 1/2 a dozen used tissues in the thing that holds magazines. I was really sick and I actually just forgot. At least I put them in the barf bag and didn't just let them sick up the Sky Mall! I shudder to think what you would do in revenge for me spreading my germs not just within a bag made for puke, but in the seat back and onto the magazines. I just hope this public display of regret will find it's way to your little, cold, aerodynamically shaped heart and allow me a functioning entertainment system the next time I fly overseas.

Hugs to you Continental,

Ok, so now that that is out of the way I can get on to talking about our trip! Our flight, other than the 1/2 broken tv, was fine. It must have been our row, Cyr's only got 1/2 the channels too. He actually watched Ice Age II without the sound. There is a man with an imagination I tell you.

When we landed in Paris at 8:30am we marched our sleepy drunk (drunk from no sleep, not really drunk and about to drive) selves to the rental car place. The computer was down, so they couldn't tell us actually what we were going to be charged, but she is sure that it will be the same as on our receipt. Bien sur! Being the risk takers we are we decline the extra insurance and head out to find out little Citroen that will be our part time home while in France.

We then begin to drive to Nancy. I believe Nancy is about 3 hours from Paris. I say "believe" because we hit the road, got into a little morning traffic, then headed out. About an hour into it we needed coffee and a break. We stopped at a little roadside eatery thing. Those of you who have been on French highways will know that there is a gas station and typically a real restaurant thing near by. I get a cheese plate and a coffee, Cyr opted for an apple tart and coffee. I had to use the rest room of course. There I was greeted with the cutest little potty in France! It was right next to the baby changing station and was just for itty-bitty-butts! I took a picture but not sure if you can tell how small it is. You can see the little cleaner by it and those are usually about 2 foot tall. I wanted to put something next to it to show it's size but I wasn't about to put my purse on the ground in the rest room. Ewe, you will just have to use your imagination. Cyr thought I was nuts to take a picture but I just had to. :-)

We then get back on the road.

About an hour and half later I ask him; "how much further?" It says on the GPS but it seems odd we are so far. He taps expertly on the little gps making it blink and hop from screen to screen. How he knows that things so well amazes me. Then I hear; "Aach." then a "mumble, mumble" and maybe a "bordel" thrown in for good measure. Well friends, while we were taking our little break we wanted to be safe so we took the GPS in with us. Somehow it got all tapped about. Well, it had changed routes and was taking us to Lille. We had driven about 45 minutes out of the way. Please remember that this is after a 9 hour plane ride where Cyr got about 3 hours sleep and I didn't sleep at all.

I couldn't be angry, and I wasn't. I was however not a very patient or understanding person by the time we got to Nancy. I mean to tell you that I would have gotten out of the car and physically assaulted someone if they would have gotten in the way of our getting to the hotel.

Once we actually got there it was great. Here is a shot of our hotel room. High, high ceilings with crown molding, check out the door, it's put in at an angle. Odd eh?

The pictures of the room were taken on Day 2 of the trip due to sleepy irritation the day of arrival. I know you are not supposed to, but we fell into bed and had a good 3 or 4 hour nap. It was so tasty...but not as tasty as this:

Beer and fondue. Oh yeah. Welcome to France. Tune in next time for some animal fun!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Back in The States

So...vacation is over. No more waking up late, drinking wine/beer with lunch (or at least not without feeling a little guilty or lushy), marveling at how low the dollar is and how high the prices are, eating in restaurants that are old than my country...but Houston isn't so bad. My family and friends are here to welcome us back!

The last 2 weeks or so was spent traveling through France and visiting friends and family. We mainly stayed in the northeast going to places like Nancy, Baccarat and the Lille/Valencienne area. I have lots of pictures and am going to write the posts and set them up to be posted every other day so you can all see a little bit of where we went.

While we were there our 1st Anniversary passed as well!! October 25th was one year that Cyr and I have been married! We were in Paris and went to dinner at Ciel de Paris which is on the 56th floor of the only sky scraper in Paris; the Tour de Montparnasse. We ate dinner and looked out over Paris and the Eiffel Tower. Right when we sat down, at 9pm because the French do eat late, the Eiffel Tower lit up and sparkled like diamonds for it's hourly dance of lights. One of the things that really amazed me was that the lights on the horizon actually twinkled!! I asked Cyr if he saw it too or if it was just the good wine. Apparently the lights really do sparkle! I thought they just made that happen in the movies. Alas...I recommend that you don't take my word for it. Go and check it out yourself.

So...I am logging off for now and going to get my pictures in order to send out our trip highlights!
Thanks for dropping by...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Busy Days

So the French Days are going really well! I have even been getting extra practice because Cyr has two friends / work colleagues in town from France and we have gone to dinner a few times. They all speak French and I get to practice. It is such a nice change to actually be able to understand them when they talk now. In the past a conversation would go like this;

Group is talking in French.
I don't understand that word. I think about word.
I think I know word and try to focus back on the discussion.
Discussion has changed.
Another new word, what could that mean?
Oh, look at that bird outside!
I wonder if he speaks French.
Maybe it's a girl bird, why do I assume it's a male?
Male birds have pretty feathers. Huh.
Oh yea, focus on French conversation. I missed that whole thing.
Why are people laughing?
Laugh with them!
I don't understand that word...

Now I can at least focus more. We head back to France next week so at least my ears are ready for it. Don't know about my mouth...but my ears are ready!

I also have to take a quick trip to Florida for work. I fly out Monday and return Wednesday then we leave the next day for France. I booked an early flight Wednesday in case of delays. Am also going to pack before I leave Monday. Yes. I must remember to pack early...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A French Wednesday

So...we had our first day of speaking French yesterday!

Some of you have posted or emailed me and said "why don't you do it everyday?" While I can see how this would be a good idea, in practice it's pretty hard. For instance; Cyr wanted to tell me about something that happened at his work. He is an engineer in the oil and gas business. I don't understand most of what he does when he speaks English, so in French...super frustrating. I admit, we too some time to talk in English about a few important items, but then went back to French.

We actually did a pretty good job! I think I learned a few things that will hopefully be reinforced tomorrow when we have Day 2 of The French Language Project. There was a funny moment; Cyr was in the hall trying to tell me something in French. But he was looking at me with his head tilted to the side, brows furrowed, rubbing his tummy and speaking in a very halting and slow way, like he couldn't think of the words. It was so funny, it was like he couldn't speak French to me, literally! He looks at my face and English comes to his brain, he said it's pretty strange to speak only French to me, but he'll get used to it.

I guess I should also admit that part of the reason I wanted to start this now is that we are going back to France in October and I really want to be in the groove of speaking the language and maybe improve a bit before we get there. We will get to travel around a bit and then get to see his Mom and brother for a few days. I'm really looking forward to it. It's strange because I don't know them very well when it comes down to it, but I really like learning more about them. Getting to know about personalities and what makes them laugh and what doesn't. Plus she is a fantastic cook. Uh...yum...

So there you go. It was not 100% French Day, but I would say it was closing in on 75%. Tomorrow will be even better.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Julie & Julia & My New Goal

Has anyone seen this film yet? Julie & Julia? I saw it on Sunday with my Mom and I loved it. The movie was 2 hours and 3 minutes and I could have sat there for another 30 minutes without having to take a potty break. I really wanted to know more about what happened in Julia Child's life actually. The movie ends prior to (not a spoiler) letting us know about the televised cooking show. So yes, I recommend it. I also thought Meryl Streep was amazing...really...I know everyone talks about how she is one of the best actresses of all time...I have to agree. Love her.

Another thing it did, as you can guess, is make me think about my blog. When I started it I had a reason, I had things to share. Now it's just Susan in Houston. Living her life where she speaks the language, has no kids to make things interesting, has tons of friends she already knows, her family lives here and works at a job she has done before. Granted, the job is sales, so it changes all the time. But I'm selling the same thing I have sold before. Incentive Compensation Consulting anyone? Anyone?!

So now I sit here reflecting, as most ex-expat ex-bloggers do I think, and I wonder; "what now?" I like to have goals. Typically I have something going on in my life be it preparing for an MS150 bike ride, some kind of run, or as it was in Lille; learning to speak the language and survive in a new culture. Now my goals are things I don't really want to share with everyone I guess. Like trying to pay off my car. Is it interesting to post that I have three - count them THREE - more payments to go on my 4Runner? To me it is, but generally it's not that exciting.

I think I know what I want to do though. I want to keep on with part of what I was trying to do in France. I want to be fluent in French. I don't want to speak like an 18 month old child for the rest of my life. Or keep telling people how I love their horses when I am trying to say "hair". I also need to learn how to read and write the stupid phonetically challenging language. Therefore it has been decided. I have not even told my husband about this...but I have formed a plan and am putting my proverbial foot down!

GOAL: We are going to speak only French Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday until December 31, 2009.

Exceptions: 1- Emergencies, 2 - when we are around my family and 3- if we are with friends that don't speak French.

I am also going to make myself do at least 2 exercised in my French Workbooks every week. Yes...I know...I should do one a day right? But I don't think I would learn it. I would get through the exercise correctly and then move to the next. Like High School. I passed all my history classes with good grades but couldn't remember when the US was founded (yes - I know July 4th, but didn't remember 1776) until I started reading the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon. (side note - I have the new one, An Echo in the Bone, and I love it...mmmm).

This isn't even that long of a time period. I figure I will do this until Dec. 31st then take a language check. See where I'm at and determine what to do next.

So there you have it. Rather; there I have it! A goal. This need for something to shoot for must come from my over involvement with sports as a child...anyone else like this?

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Move

Not an actual move, but a laptop move. I think this can be as time consuming as a real move sometimes!

I have an old laptop, but it's been acting a bit suspicious lately so I thought I better take the plunge and actually start using the work laptop I was sent 3 months ago. The thing is I have everything already installed on my personal laptop. Outlook, all my bookmarks, ACT (our horrible contact manager database) and other things. Not to mention all the passwords to silly sites like that I have no clue what my password is but my laptop has it memorized. Those things are going to take forever to clean up!

Right now I am on my new computer but need a break. I realized I have not posted in a while so I thought I would knock out a quick one. is a question for the 5 people that read this post...can a person function with two computers or does one really just need to use one? I can't decide if I should move most of what I do to my work laptop or try to use two. I like the idea of keeping it separate, but I think I might get tired of working off two laptops. Do most people work from two? Please post your thoughts in the comments section.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Getting Outdoors

I did a little traveling last week with work and slacked off the blogging...but I was thinking about it!!

Cyr and I have been trying to get outside and do stuff, although in the 98% humidity and 97 degree heat it's been hard. We did, however, make it out to Brazos Bend State Park a few weeks ago. For those of you who have not had the chance, or really the desire, to make the trip; it's worth it!

I have lived here most of my life and had never been to the park. It's less than an hour from Houston and there are not only all kinds of birds to check out, but the main attraction...alligators! Here is a little beauty we saw on the trail almost blocking the bridge to cross a little river. You can't tell, but this guy is about 6 foot long. I'm not exaggerating either. If I was I would say he was 9 foot long.

No, there are not fences. Yes, there are signs everywhere saying "don't feed the aligators" and "don't poke the aligators!". I'm telling you these things were everywhere!

Cyr, the French guy, was telling me all about the gators and how you see them. I thought "Sure, so all the little children can run up and pet them...right...America is a safer place than that."


I for one will not ever be bringing a kid to that park under the age of 5. The child I do take there will have to be tied to me in case I need to jerk him/her back away from any reptiles. Here is one of the fellas swimming along in the bog.

Can you see him (or her)? He's in the back of the photo with his tail streaming out and his eyes just above the surface. No swimming for me thank you.

We did see some friendlier animals. Here's a bird.

And another bird.

And a cute French guy by a tree.

So there you go, a weekend in Texas! Now you know what to do when you come to Houston! Just make sure to bring the bug spray if you come in June or July. They actually were not that bad, but we also might have poisoned ourselves with the amount of Deepwoods Off we used....

Monday, August 31, 2009

I want to wear all black and dance with my eyes closed...

Last night Cyr,two of my cousins and I went to see Depeche Mode. It rocked. I could end the post here!

I don't know if you are a fan of Depeche Mode, or even if you know who they are. But I can tell you that I was all kinds of into them, The Cure, NIN, Violent Femmes, even Pet Shop Boys, OMD, Erasure, New Order and really anything you could dance to. So going to this concert I was wondering if everyone at it would be around my age (that would be mid to late 30's) and if any young people would be there.

Let me tell you...this thing was better than the airport! There were old people in skimpy clothes, young pale thin people wearing the white t-shirt with skinny black jeans outfit, stoners, a guy with a Dungeons and Dragons shirt, preppy people, it was all over the board! Cyr and I were out there representing the "we have real jobs but are still cool without being arrogant" crowd. It's a big statement but I think we got it.

The really strange thing was being able to purchase beer legally this time. You mean we don't have to sneak hard liquor from our parents bar or go buy Boon's Farm Strawberry Hill from the seedy guy that will sell to us?! Killer! It was nice to catch a whiff of the throw backs smoking clove cigarettes and witness the interpretive dancing of the cool kids. It made me want to go to Numbers here in Houston and see if the old gang was still there. Sort of. I mean, I kind of like my memories the way they are. I think I might be disappointed to see if everyone turned out to be consultants who cover up their tattoos and drive sensible cars. I like to think that many of those people actually did end up in music or dance or film (maybe they changed their names so I don't recognize them) or something like that.

I used to go dancing 3 nights a week when I wasn't in trouble with grades or for doing something stupid. Most of the time we didn't even drink, we just loved the music. We didn't have cell phones, we never called to see where someone was or who would be there. We just showed up and hung out with whoever walked in. Heck, we didn't even know how to get in touch with most of the people we knew from the club. We came home late, smelly with sweat and a film of cigarette smoke so thick it would discolor your bedsheets if you didn't shower before sleeping.

Looking back it was a great time. I don't want to go back though, I like my memories the way they are. I have a lot of good ones and enough bad ones to make me cringe every now and then so that I don't forget to try not to repeat stupid mistakes. It was nice to hear the music and walk (or dance) down memory lane. It was even nicer to dance back into reality and sleep with my husband in our home that we now have together.

Ewe...that was a little sappy. Sorry about that. Don't worry, something funny will happen soon that I can write about. I'm sure of it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Immigration Work

Well, I knew it would come. The day I actually took the time to see what it will take to get Cyr a Permanent Residency Card so he can work here without a visa. He is on an L1 with his French based company right now. Don't get me wrong - his job is great and he doesn't plan on leaving it, but we need to get him set up so that if something happens with the job he can legally stay here since he is my husband. Right now if he looses his job we have to head back to France. Hey...maybe I should hold off on this thing now that I think about it...

I called the US Citizen and Immigration Services to see how to proceed. Turns out it's a little different because we were married in France, so technically we are already married we just have to file a bunch of things. So...I actually have to file that I have a "relative" that I would like to bring into the US. That sounds so strange, a "relative".

So there are about 6 forms to fill out, fees of around $2,500 when it's all done and then we wait I guess. The lady told me we don't need an attorney, just to file all the paperwork. I'm trying to take it slow. I printed out all the forms and all the directions for the forms and have them organized. The next step is to actually start filling them out.

The truth is I hate paperwork and filing and things that require me to check up on them. I like to do something and be done with it. This process will surely turn into a huge monster and I'm not looking forward to it. Cyr will have to do most of the paperwork, but I know I won't be able to keep from taking charge. I just have that pushy personality that I think if I don't get involved it won't get done right. So be prepared, over the next few months I'm sure you will all hear bout how crazy this process is!

Feel free to post any tips if any of you out there have done this before! Remember...I'm American, he is French and we got married in France and we are living in the US with him being here on a work visa.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Work Redemption

Well, we made it back from Florida unscathed. No hurricane, not even any rain to speak of actually.

Turns out the meetings went really well. I think I even received a little work karma. One of the people I presented to responded to my "Thank You" email with the following:

"On a personal note…as I meet and work with many people from many companies I must say you personally provide an aura of energy and positive vibes that I rarely see in individuals…and you do an excellent professional job in your work…it was very much a pleasure meeting you and hope everything works out well!"

Get out-a-town man! I have to say...I was so flattered it was hard to not forward this to everyone I work with. Is that bad? Is it wrong that I want to parade my compliments around like a set of perky boobs and flat abs? I was, in fact, able to contain myself and only forwarded it to the person I presented with. Of course, he does own the company, and he did forward it to the rest of the group. Alas, I also posted it here, on the internet for all the world to see. Ewe...I think I'm done now. I have officially overdone my prideful display of a compliment.

I better be careful or my good work karma will bite me in the butt with the "pride" thing. That may have already happened actually. I mean, I have not heard if we won the deal yet...

The past weekend was great, Cyr and I just hung around the house, watched movies and relaxed. I also discovered that Duncan is shedding fur like crazy. It's like he is actually molting or something. So now I'm trying to brush him once a day to remove the hair in an orderly fashion as opposed to having black hair flying around the house. I hate it when there is a nice ray of sun pouring in a window and just when you smile and think; "Ah, the sun, how beautiful!" you see floating hairs and dust and think: "Ah, the sun, it shows me how I need to dust!" Poor Duncan, he's a little behind for the summer shedding thing, it's been hot here in Texas since March or so. Guess his little body is still on French time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Well, lucky me landed some meetings in Fort Lauderdale, Florida!! We came over Monday and had an hour to actually go down to the beach, it was so nice. The water is warm, the sand is white and the sun was out. There were also lots of surfers out there as the surf was up pretty good. I played around in the water but after about 10 minutes of being beaten to a pulp I decided to sit on the sand and feel what it's like to relax in the sun. I almost forgot. It was as good as I remembered. The only thing that could have made it better was if Cyr was with me. And I was naturally a size 6 but able to eat and drink whatever I want...

Yesterday we had two meetings. I think they both went well. I didn't say anything stupid and no one asked me to get my head out of my ass (see August 11th post). That's always a good sign isn't it? The second meeting was actually kind of funny. The woman who was meeting us brings us to her office. She tells us she will have work coming up she would like our resources to help out with. I tell her we don't have a contract, she tells me to send her one and we should be able to start in about a month. She ends the conversation and we leave. 15 minutes. No kidding. If this deal closes it will be the fastest deal in the East! She knows our resources so she feels good going directly with us for the work. She's also (as you might be able to tell) a no-nonsense kind of person. Very nice, I think you could even say "friendly" but not into small talk. I like that. You know where you stand.

So today we have the morning free. And today there is a hurricane coming to the area. Just when I thought I could get some fun in! At least we had the hour on Monday, that was good. So now we are trying to get back to H-town prior to the natural disaster that is potentially heading our way makes landfall. Wish us luck!

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Clean Colon

Not to get too graphic here, but Cyr and I went on a "cleanse diet" for three weeks. No, I did not talk him into this. Yes, he wanted to do it!

A good friend of mine did this and was talking about it when we were out with her a few weeks ago. We decided that maybe we should do a little detoxing ourselves. Now I know these things don't work. I have read many studies and seen the BBC "Truth About Food" episode where they take tests before and after a "cleanse" and the after results are just like the before. Only the people loose weight. To be honest I am not concerned about having a toxin free body. I'm concerned about being a little too heavy right now. So I say "Yeah baby, let's do this thing."

This, I can say, might also be another reason I have not blogged in a while. I have been in a bad mood for about three weeks. This cleanse thing involves taking all kinds of fiber pills and green seaweed pills and vitamins. It's 21 days long and you can't eat meat for the first 10 days. You can only eat fruits, vegetables and these protein shakes that you can add frozen fruit to. No bread, pasta, sugar or salt. You can eat 1 serving of lentils a day and you can have sea salt, just not regular salt.

You are also supposed to try to eat only organic foods the entire time. Being as I am not Bill Gates or a Rockefeller we did not adhere to the "organic only" portion of this cleans. Which really probably means I ate more pesticides during my cleanse than I do normally now that I think about it. So I would make trips to the grocery store and buy things I have never purchased before, come home and look them up on the internet to see how to cook them. I would buy things that I thought sounded good like acorn squash, or butternut squash. We also purchased a food processor! You laugh...but I have used that thing 3 times in the last 2 weeks and Cyr has used it a few times too! I wonder how long we will continue to use it though...

My favorite was the butternut squash soup and the eggplant babaganouch which is pureed eggplant, garlic, tahini and olive oil. Apparently I don't like to chew much. So anyway, we came out the end of this me a 11.4 lbs lighter and Cyr down 15 pounds! My goal is to keep 6 of it off. I am rather certain I have gained back 4 but am refusing to get on the scale. Denial ain't such a bad place you know...kinda nice.

The diet was hard though. We both became a little snippy. We actually once got into an argument at the grocery store. It went something like this:

Me: I need to get some lentils, they are over on this aisle.
Cyr: I don't want to go into the aisles because I don't want to look at what I can't have. I get frustrated. We can only eat the food on the outside of the aisles, the fruit and vegetables.
(He, bless his heart, only listens to hears the second part of my sentence.)
Me: I need to go get the lentils.
Cyr: I told you I don't want to go into the aisles!
Me: Grow up!
(continue as if listening to two children argue.)

Poor guy was so traumatized by all the fruits and vegetables in his system he couldn't bear to be even close to carbohydrates! I was also short tempered so I didn't much help the argument. We actually ended up laughing, but we were serious for a while there!

My advice to anyone looking to "cleanse"? Take a shower.

Just kidding, I actually feel great. I hope I can keep up all the veg a fruit eating. I also learned how to cook some good healthy meals. Not too bad, but really really not fun at all. One cool thing, Cyr and I each had two beers the other night and that was all we needed. I knew that diet was good for something...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Where my head is.

No, I'm not going to talk today about what I am thinking or how centered I am, or even about how I bailed on the blogging for a while. Instead I would like to talk about a sales call I had a few weeks ago that makes me smile when I think of it. I'm even smiling right now as I type this. It's one of those crooked smiles with a nasally "Humph" attached to it at the end.

So I started this new-old job about 2 months ago. I say new-old because though the job is new, as in I just started working for this company, the job is in fact old because I have done this job with these exact people at a different company. The great thing is that this new company is the cream of the crop of the last place. So it's the smart folks, the ones you trust, the ones that you are (fairly) sure they won't be looking for every opportunity to screw you out of something. Plus I'm good at it. I know the industry and who the creeps are, what to watch out for, how to qualify a lead and how to close them to become my client. It makes me feel good to be talking to people and dressing up again.

After a few weeks on the job I was able to book a meeting with a potential client that everyone at my company has had a hard time with. He is a no-nonsense guy who makes quick judgments about people, is extremely self assured and has a lot of influence with the software vendor (which he no doubt likes very much this power). He is also the decision maker of what company gets to do their software implementation. Well I want that to be us of course. So we go to his offices for a meeting. It's me and one of our Partners who is technical.

We get there early, get everything set up for the meeting and the Partner turns to me and says:
"This guy really likes you. I can see that he likes working with you."

I am excited that he has seen this and my chest sticks out a few more inches. Which doesn't hurt the sales presentation I tell you...

The "guy" in question has left the room so we can speak freely. He had to get something from his office and said he would return in a few minutes, so I am to watch through the conference room doors to see when he returns because he might need me to open the door to the area to let him in. He doesn't have his security badge.

Not 5 minutes after The Partner has told me how much this guy likes me, the "guy" walks in, points at me and says:
"YOU need to get your HEAD out of your ASS."

I think he is joking.
"Oh, you caught me, we aren't working right now."

I'm also shocked, I can't recall ever being asked to remove my head from my ass. I also note that I actually don't seem to have my head up my ass. I know this because although I am not sitting on the most comfortable chair in the world, I'm not particularly uncomfortable and I can see him clearly. I am sure my vision would be impaired in the "head up the ass scenario", but I see him fine.

"I have been waiting at that door for 10 minutes. I made so much damn noise that a person down the hall heard me and had to come let me in."

"No shit sir? A thousand humble pardons!!"

Ok, that's NOT what I said, but it did cross my mind. I actually apologized, I could not believe I didn't see him through the glass, across the waiting room through the other door. I am also a bit shaken, so when he poses his next question I don't really give the best answer.

"So, I don't have time for you to do your sales pitch in this meeting so just tell me why I should use your company as opposed to the other one."

"Uh. Because you like me? Well, you used to. You see, I'm really a great person and the people I work with are great and you would be just an idiot if you went with those other losers. Trust me on this Sugar-Bear, I have hear stories that would make your chin hair fall out."

Ok, I didn't say that either, but I wanted to. I actually stammered, gave some newbie answer then The Partner jumped in. I spent the rest of the prep time trying to blow it off and pretend I wasn't upset. The meeting went well, we showed them we were smart. Then we left.

I asked The Partner about it a few days later. His response:
"Really? That didn't even register on my radar. I thought he was pissed at you for giving a short sales pitch during the meeting when he asked you not to."

Damn...whoda thunk?! I spent the next two days trying to figgure out which I should be upset about; the missed door thing or the 5 minute pitch to tell the group the name of the f-ing company I work for and what we are here to accomplish today.

To bring you up to date:
It has been decided that I will be upset about neither one of these things. The truth is that I don't know if I want to win this deal. Ok that's a lie, of course I still want to win it, but if we do I hope I, along with our project team, can manage to keep our respective craniums out of our rectal areas for the duration of the project. If we loose it then I don't have to worry about it.

Is that the work-version of kissing a frog?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Are you still there? I have taken a little break. Ok, I flaked. I became, for a while, one of those people that you can't count on. One of those people that says "We should do something for your birthday! I will plan something!" Then 3 months after your birthday that same person says "So, what did you do for your birthday?" I don't want to be that person. So I'm back. Planning your birthday. Really I'm just blogging again...

I have decided to return!! I am going to log my first re-entry into the blogsphere with something I have been promising for a long while; pictures from our Honeymoon in Egypt. Yea!!

I was married last October in France to my wonderful French husband. Then we got transferred back to Houston. We had not taken a vacation, so we packed our things in a container to be put on a boat to sail to Houston. Two days after the container left France, we set off for Egypt for a week. The interesting part for me was that it was through a French tourism agency. It came with tours and guides and everything. Since it was French all the guides spoke French and the people on the boat spoke French. By day 3 I would walk down the hall and people would say; "Ah. Yew ah zee American no? Bonjour!" No kidding...even the staff knew who I was. I would typically manage a shy "Oui. C'est vrai. C'est moi." Translated; "Yes, it's true. That's me." Closest I will ever get to being a rock star.

But no more are a few pictures. The first one is our boat. Ok, it's not really our boat, but all mostly look the same so I thought I could pass it off as ours. They raft up next to one another about 5 deep and when you get off your boat you have to walk through other boats until you get to the land. Very interesting. It was a little old, but we didn't mind.

Next we have the Philae Temple. Now you know my secret to knowing where the heck the pictures were taken! Seriously...though they really were all different and had unique things about them, I could NEVER remember the names of the places we went.

The temples were so large it was mind blowing. The carvings were also done like 5 inches deep into the stone. It was just crazy! Some even still had color on them, but my cynical self things that things might have been touched up a bit...

Cyr taking a photo...

Arc of the Covenant.

Not really, it's something else but I can not for the life of me remember what. Isn't that awful? Sorry to all you Egyptian artifact buffs.

And here we are next to a huge granit statue. Yea, they had granit. Not found anywhere near where we were...but there they were, these huge statues. I really have a hard time imagining these places being built by mere human hands. I know they took hundreds of years to complete, but it just seems an impossible task.

And here we are, the happy couple...

So to end this post I will tell you 10 things I learned while in Egypt.

1 - The French really do eat everything with a fork and knife. Even even apples (cut with a knife then eat portion), oranges (peel with a knife), and dates (use both knife and fork). Learned on the boat of course.
2 - You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take the Texas out of the girl. I ate all the above fruits and other items with my hands.
3 - Don't sit on the high-pressure-suction-toilet when you flush. I never made this mistake after we felt the change in cabin pressure while flushing. That thing was serious.
4 - I thought Cambodia was a poor country. Egypt seems even poorer.
5 - Sometimes it's ok to pay an extra dollar for something. The person selling you things probably needs it more than you do.
6 - You get the best price on things you don't want.
7 - It is hard to travel in Egypt as a single female. I don't mean "not married" I just mean alone. Cyr would walk across the room and 3 men would be on me asking me questions and calling me "Gazelle". I traveled 6 weeks in Thailand and Cambodia all alone and never once felt as uncomfortable as I did in Egypt at times. Not all the time of course, but the markets are harsh.
8 - You have no idea what the term "hard sell" means until you go to Egypt. These people are relentless. You must develop a tough skin and be firm. If you do this you can have one of the best vacations in your life. If you don't you will be angry and frustrated ever time you leave the boat.
9 - It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and I can't wait to go back.
10 - If you are scared to go to Egypt don't be. I would suggest going on a river cruise if you are nervous about it because you have the guides that will help you and you can roam around alone if you choose. I encourage you to go and spend your money there. I still have some perfumed oil I wear and get compliments on it every time I do. I also don't think it's a very "kid friendly" place and was always surprised to see tourists with children there.

It was an amazing trip. Next time I want to cross over to Jordan and go to Petra.

Oh, thanks for the emails from you folks out there who check in every now and then. I'm alive and well in Houston. But I'm back in the world of blogging!! Until next time, Assalam o alaikum (Peace be upon you).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Unhealthy or Healthy Americans?

When I moved to France, and even now, many of my friends would comment on how thin and beautiful all the French women were going to be. I can not tell a lie; they were right. Most of the people are rather thin there, but you rarely see joggers or people exercising. At least they were not as common where I lived in Lille as they are here in Houston. Just a general observation on my part is that the French live a more active lifestyle. I don't mean they exercise, I mean they have to walk everywhere. Typically a person walks to the market and carriestheir groceries home. They just move more. Add that to smaller portions and you get smaller people. Not rocket science.

The thing is, when I lived there I only moved when I had to. When I worked I had to walk at least 45 minutes every trip. When I went to the market or to meet friends I had to walk to the tram or the store. But only once in 15 months did I lace up my tennies and go for a jog. However, I did walk with my good friend Lillian. We would walk about twice a week just around our neighborhood. In regular shoes. I always thought it was funny knowing that if I did that in Houston I would have changed and looked sporty. But she always just had on normal clothes so I matched by wearing jeans. It was always cold or at least cool so it's not like we ever broke a sweat.

I actually lost weight once I started working because of the increased walking. Well that and it took my body so many calories to keep warm on the way to and from anywhere. But I never changed my eating habits and I never once had a "light" beer. Living so close to Belgium I would think it a sin to even ask for a Miller Light. Actually I think you can only get Amstel Light or Heineken Light, but I digress. So I drank wine and dark beer and lost weight. But I never felt really healthy (shocker).

Since I have been home I have joined a gym and started a simple run walk plan. I even tried to swim laps last week! Who knew my ass was made out of lead? That sucker sank after the second lap. Solution: breast stroke and act like you belong there. I felt like a fish out of water while in the water! Let's just say I am not a natural lap swimmer. My point is though that I feel more healthy here now and have lost 9 pounds while living in Unhealthy America! Plus I really think Americans are looking more towards a healthy lifestyle, although that could just be in my neck of the woods.

Looking back I know I could have joined a gym and worked out, but I felt guilty spending 65 euro a month when I wasn't working. Then when I finally got my papers to work I had been there for 10 months and felt I needed to contribute to the bills, although Cyr always told me I didn't have to and to buy shoes. I married a good one didn't I?! Plus it was so cold from October until March that exercising outside was just too painful to think of. I didn't even bike because I just knew I would get in a crash and not be able to tell the people in the hospital what was wrong or that I would get lost and have to call Cyr for help. :-)

Lesson I learned: Looking back I did not find things to do or ways to exercise and feel healthy when I lived in Lille. I think it took me too long to feel comfortable with the language and I let that intimidate me and I sat at home too much. Thank goodness I met Steph and Marie Jose or I would have become a hermit! I should have pushed through it and found places to ride my bike. I used to ride an average of at least 40 miles a week here and then I did nothing when I moved. It was my own fault really.

Next Time: I'm going to get out more. Plus the fact that now I speak a little more French helps. But if any of you move to a place where you feel like you don't fit in, I would say take advice from Nike, Just Do It. I wish I had, it would have made my stay even better.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Back on Board

Or at least I feel that way!

We have unpacked boxes and have a fairly livable home now. I really love it and Duncan has settled in really well. I also found a job (yeah), lost 6 pounds and joined a gym! All good things really. :-)

I actually joined the gym after I lost the 6 pounds so I plan to be getting all kinds of healthy in the next few months.

I have to be someplace in 30 minutes but realized I have not blogged in weeks. I start my new job next week which will be good for me. I really need structure. When I am not working and I have a few things to do, I never do them. But pack in a work day with many things to do and somehow I get all of them done. Guess I work well under pressure. Guess that's a good thing since I'm a sales person!!

Thanks for all the emails from folks. I'm in a good place right now and even have pictures to post! (finally)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Swine flu and a new home

So first, neither of us have gotten the swine flu, but I was pretty worried Sunday.

We moved in our new house successfully over the last few days. I guess I consider "successful" having less that 12 boxes still lingering around the house, most of the furniture in place and only a few broken or missing items. On Sunday morning Cyr woke up and was not feeling well. He had 101 temp and was down all day with fever spiking as high as 102.8 and dropping to around 100. At one point I was sure he was going to grow a curly tail and start rummaging through the garbage (this is my lame attempt at swine flu humor). I had him drinking chilled fluids like Gatorade and water and had a cold cloth to wipe him down with. I was almost ready to sink him in a bathtub of cold water when it began to drop. I was also considering the possibility of an emergency room visit.

His fever started at 7am Sunday and didn't get better until about midnight that night. Monday he woke up with no fever but feeling exhausted. His work (wisely) told him to stay home so that he would not be contagious when he returned. I think I missed it (cross your fingers) and feel lucky. He was so sad on the couch, poor fella.

So with the move, hooking up all the electricity, phone and internet along with Cyr's two sick days I have been a little absent. Oh, a few really cool things; I spoke with Steph on the phone. I didn't realize how much I really miss her, but it's a lot. In reality we really didn't have a long time to hang out and be friends, but I know I will always feel a special kinship with her. She was my English speaking buoy in the sea of alien France. Plus she is just a great person. Shout out to you in Canada Steph!! I have also had a job interview that wants to see me again next week plus a few others that are talking to me. Good sales people are wanted in this economy thank goodness. Now all I have to do is convince everyone I'm a good sales person. To be honest...I can't wait to use my brain again. I am chomping at the bit to talk to a client or potential client about anything...

Sorry I have been gone so long, but now I'm hooked up in Houston. ;-)

Expect Egypt pictures withing the week. As soon as I locate the cable to download them...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A New Cat

Well, Duncan survived his surgery and is now lounging around the house taking pain meds three times a day. Although personally I don't really think he needs them, he just likes the relaxed feeling he gets from them...I have to watch that little guy, don't want him pulling a Rush Limbaugh on me.

I picked him up from the snippy place around 4:30pm the same day I dropped him off. I was expecting him to be quiet and drugged out, but he seemed fairly alert and even meowed on the way home a little. Poor guy was probably traumatized. Not only was he neutered, but he got a feline leukemia immunization and some other vaccine thing. Then, in my quest to be a good pet owner I tried to take a short cut home and it ended up making a 15 minute trip a 30 minute trip. Sorry tried.

Being that this is my first cat I had no idea of the aftercare but had looked up the info on the internet. Turned out I needed to use a special kind of little or news paper for a week after the surgery so that the incision didn't get infected. They don't use stitches any more in male cats, they just apply some super-glue type stuff and let 'em go. I bought the Daily News (cute name eh? It's litter made from recycled news paper) and paid for his surgery and the shots. It wasn't too bad, the whole thing cost me $95 at the non-profit SNAP (the Spay Neuter Assistance Program) place. I heard people talking about how their vets were asking $150 for male and $250 for females if the office did it. Crazy!

Now I love the earth and try to do my part as much as I can, but I might have to draw the line at recycled or newspaper cat litter. This stuff is hard to deal with because it doesn't clump plus it smells like a cat in here now. I hate that. Oh well, just one more week of this and we should have our new house (yeah!) and we can bring back the Fresh Step. He seems to be doing pretty well though, and miracle of all miracles...he has not cried during the night since we brought him home. I don't know if the night time crying is fixed (pun fully intended), and I hope not to jinx things with this email, but I am feeling optimistic about being able to let him roam the new house at night without him keeping us up. Especially with the pheromone thing we are going to unleash in the new place before he arrives. As my friend Steph says; I'm going to try to "Kitty Fung Shui" my new place. I hope it works. As you might have guessed from the title of this post; he really does seem like a new cat. Or rather just a slightly improved version of the original.

Monday, April 20, 2009

One more day...

...until Duncan gets his manhood cut off. I hate to be heartless, but I can not friggin wait for this cat to be "less of a man".

Lately Duncan has taken to meowing very loudly and frequently beginning at 11:30 and not stopping until about 6am. The little bastard. We have tried locking him in the bathroom with water and food. He then proceeded to claw for 6 hours (not kidding) under the door ripping up the carpet that butts up to the door. Then he would eat the carpet and throw it up. This is the first cat vomit I have had to deal with. Now I know why I never had a cat.

We have also tried the "squirting with water guns" approach. As a matter of fact I have two (one for me one for Cyr) double barrel hand gun style water guns to get him with. He runs off then is back a few minuets later. I'm fairly certain he thinks its a game.

I have read a lot on line about this and there are many thoughts. Let me share with you what I have found starting from the most commonly suggested:

  1. Ignore the cat at all costs and praise him during the day when he is quiet. --- I have tried this but I can't help but cry out for him to "shut the hell up" in my sleep. It just comes out.
  2. Shut the cat in a room by itself and pay no attention to it. --- See above tale of carpet destruction and puke.
  3. Get him neutered. --- Within 24 hours of this post he will be under the knife. If I didn't have it scheduled I swear I might do it myself with a Ginsu and some super glue to close the wound (no way am I putting a needle near an injured cat).
  4. Get another cat to keep the first one company. --- I hope this person gets over his/her crack addiction quickly.
  5. Play with your cat and keep him awake before bed. --- Yes, I am trying. I am poking and prodding and playing and such.
  6. Use a shock collar. --- Is it cruel that I actually thought of this first prior to reading about it online? Our new rental house should have a room far enough away from ours that we won't be able to hear him so I am hoping this won't be a big deal in two weeks. Plus maybe the neutering will help. I know this sounds cruel to many, but all I can think is that my Mom spanked me when I was a kid and I turned out fine. Sort of.
  7. Use Feliway, the cat pheromone thing to calm them down. --- Have looked it up and am thinking of getting some to put in the rent house before we move in. How friggin dorky is that?! It would be like "Welcome Duncan to your new abode. Sit. Relax. Be calm because you have nothing to fear here. Smell your acceptance little one. You are the King Cat in this castle."
  8. Realize you are not meant to be a cat owner and find a better home with a deaf person for your cat. --- Cyr and I are too attached to get rid of the little guy. He just might never get to sleep in the same room, or within 35 feet of us, again.
So wish us luck. We have one more tormented night of sleep ahead of us and then tomorrow it's off to the vet! Maybe he knows it's coming. Maybe that is why he's difficult.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You can't keep me down! For long...

"Welcome home Susan!" screamed the streptococcal bacteria that has made it's home in my throat over the last week.

I forgot how bad strep is. I never hear about folks getting this in France, other than my Canadian friend of course. Always being unique she is (wink at ya Steph!). I had a small irritation for two days in my throat. Then on Monday night I woke up at 1:30am because I tried to swallow and thought maybe I was eating a cactus in my sleep. After a desperate call to my old doctor, and $75 later including $25 for antibiotics, it turns out I have strep.

The good thing is that at least now I know why I was so darn tired. I also have this weird eczema thing on a small part of my scalp. My friend Missy said her hubby has the same thing and suggested T-Gel. I went out and bought some. Turns out it works. Turns out I also smell like a dog that has just been washed with flea shampoo. I'm hoping I can use it every other wash so that I can have the Gee Your Hair Smells Delicious (am I dating myself here?) thing going on again.

So today I am feeling pretty good after three days of meds. So good in fact that I went to the little gym in our temporary corporate apartment complex and did a light workout for the first time in over a year. Oh my how the body deteriorates. I am on a mission though. I WILL have arms that look more like actual arms than legs before June. Do not expect pictures of this folks. The leg-arms shall be hidden until the unveiling on June 1st. Mark your calendars.

OH - we found a house!! We are going to rent for a while until we see what the future holds for us then maybe buy down the road depending on our stay here. We both love the house, it's big and in a good neighborhood. Although for the first time in my life I will be an "Outer Looper". Those of you in Houston know what I mean. We are not that far out though. Less than 2 miles I'm more like a "Close To The Looper".

This weekend is the International Festival (Ireland is the country this year - go peeps) AND the Spring Crawfish Festival. Not sure which, if any, we will do, but I'm looking forward to a good weekend. Did I mention that Cyr LOVES his job? It's a challenge but I know he will be a success.

Thanks again to all of you who have emailed and posted to me about continuing my blog. I love my internet friends and family. :-)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Back in H-Town

Well...after two weeks of being away from a computer, we are in Houston.

Egypt was AMAZING. We did a cruise down the Nile starting from Luxor and going to Asswan and back. We had 8 full days there with sun and nothing to worry about except making sure to meet the bus on time.

I'm currently trying to find the cable to download my pictures to my computer. With the move I can't find everything. Half of what I thought I brought with me I think the movers packed. Currently most of our belongings are on a ship sailing towards the port of Houston. They should reach here in about two or three weeks. Cyr's company has us in a corporate apartment until we find a place to live. I'm actually waiting for the Realtor now and going to look at some places.

I'll post about Egypt and the trip later, I thought I would write a little about leaving Lille today. I think I already miss it a little. Of course there are things here that I am so glad to be back with such as family, friends and customer service. Now it just seems that life is right here in your face for some reason. Everyone is talking about the crisis and loosing their jobs. It's a much more talked about thing than I thought. People are really worried. I am too now. I also came home to some jerk writing a check on one of my accounts that I just found our about when I opened a letter from a collection agency. Looks like I will spend tomorrow trying to get that sorted out. Then I guess I will find a job. English lessons anyone?

I miss my friends there like Steph, Flo and K. A quick tale about the move. The movers came to pack us up in Lille and things didn't go quite like they did here when they moved us from Houston. Here three guys showed up at 9am and the truck pulled away fully packed and headed for the container at 4:30pm. In Lille we had 5 or 6 guys show up at 9:30am, take a two hour lunch, leave at 5, come back the next morning to finish packing and finished up at around 4pm. So twice the people and twice the time.

I was going to end with that thought, but I find myself wondering what I am going to blog about after we move into our new home. We are thinking about having kids, but I don't really want this to be just a summary of my ovulation cycle. ::yawn:: I wonder if I will have anything to talk about. But then I think of some of my favorite blogs and they are written by people in Utah and Austin. For some reason I think I might just not be that interesting anymore. I guess we will see. Hope you stick around. Maybe something fun will happen. I still have Egypt posts after all. :-)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Crazy Times

Wow...the last two weeks are a blur.

My friend Shari came to visit for a week and we had a great time. I will post all about our adventures next week. She left last Thursday, and Friday we had a dinner party to do to for Cyr's last day at work. Then last night we had a few friends over to help us drink all our liquor before heading out to the US. Not the best idea to have a party on a Saturday night when your movers are coming on Monday.

So tomorrow, actually later today if you want to be specific, movers will arrive at 9am to pack our belongings and ship them off to Houston. We move into a hotel for a week, then it's off to Egypt on Saturday for a week, then return to Lille for two days to pick up the cat and then our one way flight to Houston after that.

I have two bags packed; one for Egypt and one for the other stuff. I'm sure I forgot something important. Like pants. I'll make sure to blog about our move. Our successful move. See how positive I am?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A last visit...

Well, I have finished my classes at all my schools now! It's so strange, I even finished tutoring at my Big School for the faculty. I really liked doing that, the person I worked with was so nice and so much fun to talk to. It wasn't much like work at all. I do have one more thing to do though! I received an email yesterday from the Small School asking if I would please participate in interviewing potential students for their Fall Term. Ha...interesting. I said I would and it's on a day I am free so why not? Plus it's paid...

Tomorrow I am going to Paris to pick up my last visitor of this stay in France. My friend Shari is coming for a week long visit and we have a full schedule! Paris, Brugges, and even a VIP tour in Reims at some winery! She is in the know of the cool peeps one should know. I'm an acquaintance but am more than happy to come along for the ride. I will take photos and let you know what that is like. That is planned for the first part of next week. I have never been to Champagne so I am eager to see what it looks like. According to mapquest and GPS it's just under 2 hours from here.

There is also a big party of some sorts here in Lille on Saturday that we are going to go to. There are some CRAZY statues on the streets I will make sure to photograph and post. Just to give you an idea, they look like black lacquer babies with dragon tails. And they are wearing diapers. Some have wings like bats. They are about two stories tall. I'm intrigued.

So everyone have a great weekend and I will post on Monday!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Kitty Passport

I'm sitting on the couch still full from another great meal at my mother-in-laws. Mmmm...champagne, little appetizers, great wine, some lamb and green beans with bacon wrapped around them and then home made chocolate mouse to top it off. I am one lucky woman!! I was mad at myself that I did not take my camera to take photos of it. She always makes things looks so good. We had a salad that had smoked fish, caviar, tomatoes, lettuce and grapefruit pieces and hard boiled egg pieces on it. It was fantastic. Next time I will take pictures darn it.

As you might have read in my last post; Duncan will be riding with us to Houston in the cabin of the plane. To do this he will need a kitty passport plus some drugs. A quick visit to the vet and about 130 euros and it was all taken care of. Check out the little guy with his passport!

Notice it says "France". Guess he will have to go through the "Non-US Citizen" line.

He also got a rabies shot and a chip put in the back of his neck so that if he gets lost they can scan him (like a can of beans at the store) and figure out where he is from. I guess we register him when we get to Houston with our vet. His chip says he's French. "FRA" plus his number. He will be the tres cool cat on the block. I wonder if he has an accent...

I also asked about drugs to make him sleep on the plane and if I should put a shoe box with little in the bag. You can see the bag, it's like a duffel bag with one end that is firm so it doesn't collapse. The doctor said she would prescribe him a pill for the flight. She told me to give him half a pill and wait two hours. After that I could give him another 1/4 or the other 1/2 if he needed it. When I paid she gave me a box with the following.

Uhh...didn't you say ONE pill? They don't have dosing here in France. I forgot. When you get meds you get a box full and take what the doctor says. It's the same for animals I see. Maybe I can get rich at the airport selling these things...anyone need to make an animal sleep? Just call or email me. Concerning the shoe box and litter idea; she just said to put some paper towels in the bag in case he had to go. I'm bringing zip lock bags in case of poop. I don't want anyone to be subject to that stuff. It's amazing what a big smell comes out of such a small butt. She also said to take his water away about 3 hours before we left. Poor fella...he is going to be thirsty.

So it looks like Duncan is ready. We also walked around a bit after the visit just so he could get used to the carrier. I don't know if it helped, but it made me feel better.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A quick week of travel

Many of you out there live away from your families, I know this because I stalk read many of your blogs. Even those of you that might live close to your family and friends can imagine what a trip home is like. Here is a brief overview of how my trips tend to go:
  1. Before you leave you need to plan your time home. Who will you see what days? You might book lunches and dinners and movie times. Don't forget the family time.
  2. Arrive feeling like you have actually walked to your destination as opposed to flying. While carrying your luggage of course.
  3. Feel guilty that you have not made arrangements with more people than you have, so you try to blend a few groups together maybe. Or maybe not.
  4. Feel bad that you didn't buy gifts for some people because you know just what they would like but it was raining/snowing all week and you didn't have the will power make the time to drive to the big grocery store.
  5. Stand in amazement of how we functioned without cell phones once you arrive (because you don't have one). Sometimes I get a throwdown phone for the time I will be there just in case.
  6. Make the rounds, wishing you had more time to visit family and just hang out and watch TV, because you actually REALLY like to do just that. Sometimes just being in the same room with family is what I miss the most.
  7. Eat LOTS of Mexican food.
  8. Board the plane home knowing you forgot to buy gifts for people that you should have.
  9. Arrive feeling like you not only walked to France, but that that you had to push a cart with other people in it and swim across the Atlantic.
So I know many of you are thinking "oh I wouldn't do that, I would just let people know that I can't see them. Yes, I try to do that too. The problem lies in that I really DO want to see these people that I miss. So here is how my trip went this time:
  1. Pack up a few gifts to take but see #1 above. We also packed clothes to leave in Houston because when we move we won't have our things for another 4 or 5 weeks. We plan to take our honeymoon after our things are shipped and leave two suit cases here; one for honeymoon and one for going back to Houston that we will pick up when we return from Egypt. I made a few phone calls and sent one or two emails but didn't plan much (which I am glad).
  2. See #2 above, although after a good nights sleep it's not that bad when you fly west. Sunday morning we felt pretty good. Until I almost had a heart attack when the front desk lady handed me a note and told me there was a family emergency. Turns out it was a little serious, but my Dad will always tell me nothings wrong and he is fine (yes Dad, I am on to you and will still worry about you). He's at home now though and making a slow comeback.
  3. Spent all day, I mean all day, Monday looking at rent houses. We found some we liked and decided to fill out applications for them.
  4. Had dinner with my Mom and some friends throughout the week, even got to see my friend Missy, oops, Melissa (she is so grown up now) and her 4 week old baby. Hello there River!!
  5. Waited until Thursday to get responses from house folks. Turns out both of the ones we liked found renters that would move in during the month of March. We really need May 1st but would pay for April 1st. We lost both of them.
  6. Friday - stress a little about the housing thing but realize we can find a place when we get back. There is a ton of stuff on the market. Besides, maybe we should buy...prices are great and with the tax benefits Obama is talking about it could be good. Still have time to decide.
  7. Friday night - go the Houston Rodeo Cookoff!! Rodeo is starting and the cookoff was going on . We had tickets to some booths and proceeded to stay out until 1:30AM. Then we ate at IHOP at 2AM. An American tradition...though Cyr didn't eat, maybe it is just an American thing...
  8. Saturday - buy $25 Levi's for Cyr and $25 Converse for the beau-frere at Target. In France Levi's are about 100 euro and Converse can be found on sale for 60 euro. Crazy...should have bought some and sold them to my students.
  9. I think I ate Mexican food 6 or 7 times. :-)
  10. See #8 and 9 above.
I'm glad we went and I was able to see my Mom and Dad and Sandy (step Mom) and even my Aunt Mary. But the week was too short and we were so busy. Right now I'm recovering from jet lag and working this week at my Big School and tutoring three days. I need to start worrying about tax stuff and get that all to my cousin...sorry Sally!!

Looks like my days here are numbered. I have a friend coming in from the 12th to the 20th and we are trying to schedule the movers for right after she leaves. Then we will have our honeymoon, come back to France for one day, pick up Duncan and fly to Houston to live in a hotel for a few weeks until we find a place.

Oh...and on the flight back Duncan (cute little black cat) is going to ride in the cabin with us because he so small. I'm a little worried about this. We are going to the vet to get some Kitty Quaaludes to make him sleep, but this will be a 13-15 hour trip for him if you include the train ride from Lille and time to get to the hotel in Houston. I was told to put a shoebox with litter in it in his bag so he could do his business in it if he needed. Anyone out there have to make a long trip with a cat in a bag? I decided this week he is going to take some field trips in it around Lille to practice. I don't want him freaking out too much. Any advice is welcomed, please post a comment if you know of something!