mardi, septembre 30, 2008

it's that time of year...

September 30th and I just broke out the trusty bouillotte...

watch out Mystery Guest there's going to be cuddling competition :-)

lundi, septembre 29, 2008

allll good!

Busy day but a good one!

I had a short meeting at the lycee where I'll be teaching. They were so friendly and nice and the school seems relaxed and there seemed to be a good atmosphere between administrative staff and even among the students (love country schools, the kids - even if they pretend to be - are not punks :-) er.. hopefully I'm not eating my words next week! lol)

I met a lot of the other teachers and it's always funny these days to be introduced as the new "assistante anglaise" because 1. even though I know they're referring to "anglaise" as my language and my status I am not English 2. the "assistant" is usually a freshfaced just out of college student. This just confuses the hell out of everyone because I'm neither "anglaise" nor "freshfaced" so they start speaking very slowly to me "WEL-COME to the SCHOOL"... er, gotcha :-)

It's not that I mind that they're speaking slowly, I would have appreciated it 5 years ago but it does crack me up. Then when I start talking they look all taken aback which makes me giggle inside. I was talking to one of the English teachers and she told me, wow you've been here a while, your French is so good no one is going to want to speak to you in English. Which is always nice to hear but I don't want to think that I'm putting off some sort of vibe that makes people think I'm going to make fun of them! Oh well.

Anyway seems like a nice school, they haven't figured out my schedule yet so I'm going to go on Thursday to a meeting to try to sort that out.

After lunch Mystery Guest dropped me off in Cherbourg for my meeting with the unemployement people. It went really well, they were nice and told me what to do. Looks like I can get benefits for the month of September and since I'll be in the system when my contract runs out in 7 months I'll automatically start getting benefits again unless I tell them I've got another job. There's just some paperwork I have to ask the university for since they'll pay my unemployment and not the government directly. Should be fine though.

After the meeting I had time to kill before my train so I went into town, Cherbourg is a really nice town, especially when the sun's out! It was such a nice stroll along the port and in the old center (not bombed out during WWII like the rest of Normandy was..) I stopped a few bookstores to browse and treated myself to a "double pain au chocolat" which I've never seen anywhere else - its a pain au chocolat with 2 bars of chocolate inside and then doused with chocolate on the top.. yum. :-)

So the good news is that besides my meeting Thurs it looks like I'll have the rest of the week fairly free to stay home and FINISH this memoire!!!

Need. To. Work.

dimanche, septembre 28, 2008

camera fun!

I bought myself a little treat this summer, a new Digital SLR - the Canon 30D. My dad brought it over a few weeks ago but I didn't buy a lens with it nor had any time to play with my toy! A friend of Mystery Guest's has a Canon as well and bought a super-duper lens to use with it so he's lending me the basic one that came with his.

Today we went on a late afternoon drive to catch the last few rays of sunshine... and try a little geocaching. Sadly we didn't find our caches but we found some amazing areas of the region lost in the middle of nowhere!

I've never had an SLR before so I know diddly squat about ISO etc (need to read the manual) but the great thing about digital is that you don't pay to develop film, so these pictures are just to play around with :-)

(since I don't know diddly squat some turned out a bit flat as far as color and shadows go so I did a liiiiitle bit of touch ups with Picasa ... I admit it.)

This is an 12th century fortification that has remains that date back to William the Conqueror.

Acorns in the forest, I was practicing my close up...

Inside the church, my old point and shoot would never be able to do a dark indoor shot like this without a flash (or being blurry..)

vendredi, septembre 26, 2008

most powerful country in the world?

Wow it's amazing reading the news these days... between the housing crisis, my bank going under (just to be bought out by JP Morgan yesterday), President Bush declaring a nationwide economic crisis and the political hubbub surrounding that with the candidates... you would think I was from a third world country instead of the "most powerful nation" ... humm...


So people time to get out there and VOTE! I've had all my American friends in France calling and checking in to make sure everyone is all signed up and ready to go! Don't worry I am!

mercredi, septembre 24, 2008

good news!

Wow it really is true - when one door closes (or you close it I guess!) another opens!

Just as I turn down the job I had I sent off a letter to the Rectorat asking if they might need anyone, they called me today saying they have a job for me in a high school 15 minutes (by train) away!!

The only thing is that it will start later than I had expected so I gotta bust a move on my memoire but otherwise it is 100% good news! It makes all my other little odd jobs fall into place which is just perfect. Plus its an easy commute!

Who would have thought? wow..


I finally decided last weekend to turn down the job, it just wasn't well paid enough for me to survive with the hopes of eventually getting a CDI... It was such a relief to finally make a decision. I sent off an email explaining and said that if they needed me to teach the 2 classes I was scheduled for this week I could while they're looking for someone else.

I also signed up (for the first time) with the ANPE (unemployment agency) to help me look for a job. It was all done online and yesterday I received my convocation for an appointment next Monday. The money would be nice but its also a great job resource and although I have a few leads they're mostly just odd hours here and there - nothing more full time. It would also be nice to get a job closer to home. I sent off a letter to the Rectorat as well just in case they need an assistant at the last minute.

I figure the month of October I'm gonna bust my butt to 1. finish my memoire (getting there! had 2 great meetings with my profs yesterday, I'm on the right track but lots of work left!!) and 2. passing my French driver's license, which will open up tons of doors on the job front.

All this to say that yesterday I took the train early in the morning to go teach, as long as I get to bed at a decent hour the train ride is so nice! Its dark now when I leave the house but as I was on the train there was the most beautiful sunrise... I wish I had had my camera! As we went towards Caen we passed through some semi-marshland and if you can picture it there was the minty green of the fields covered in a low fog, the cows were already out grazing and there was the pastely pinks and purples of the sunrise in the background. It was so quiet and I was glued to the window looking outside. The commute really wouldn't be a problem I think, it is such a relaxing way to start the day, the train is quiet with commuters reading newspapers, catching up on homework or sleeping. I sit there with my ipod (often listening to K&K!) and just zone out, my own little me time :-)

I also happened to catch the sunset on the way home (god the days are getting short!) it was spectacular as well! Hot and orange really lighting up the clouds with a neon light. wow.

I'm feeling good about the decision, I have 1 more class to teach tomorrow and after that its time to buckle down and get this Masters wrapped up!!!

lundi, septembre 22, 2008

un air de famille?

A few days ago I did a little procrastinating online and came up with this picture of "me" from 1960. I said that I was really reminded of a picture of my mom from her high school yearbook. She left me a comment on that post saying she couldn't upload pictures there but she'd send them to me...

so given the embarassement that kids are made to go through when parents pull out the baby pictures and videos here's my version ;-)


and Dad:

vendredi, septembre 19, 2008


Yesterday I went to Caen to work and then stayed the night to catch up with friends and to avoid paying for another round trip ticket before my meeting Friday morning.

After the meeting Sarah and I walked back to her place through the remains of the Friday market there, to our dismay most of the stands were closing up shop for the day but as we neared her house I saw something I have never seen in France (save growing in fields)


yes, ladies and gents CORN ON THE COB - TO EAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The only other one I have seen was pre-cooked and vacuum packed in Monoprix (although I have heard rumors of decent corn to be found in Picard... never tried that though).

Not looking at the price I snatched up three, a huge smile on my face as I told the vendor that this was the first time I had ever seen them (I think she thought I was a little crazy for jumping for joy upon seeing corn...)

I brought them home and took a picture for you to see, I love how they look in the bowl next to my basil plant, cherry tomatoes, market pumpkin (waiting to be soup...) and free market parsley from last week)
Then I shucked those bad boys, look how pretty they are! I chose pretty well, trying to see the tips through the husks and silk. I got 2 beautiful ones, big plump kernels and on so-so one.
The water is on the stove boiling away and I'm about to go chuck them in!

I'll give the taste report in a bit - and Mystery Guest's reaction to corn on the cob - he's never tried it!

Ok, so verdict is that it was very tasty but the corn itself was kind of...gummy which is weird. Maybe it sat a bit too long after being cooked waiting for Mystery Guest to get back from work? Who knows, yummy nonetheless!!!

Oh, and I added a new post to my cooking blog: gluten free apple pie! And with my spaghetti sauce recipe I made gluten free lasagne! (the noodles were gluten free, the rest naturally is...) I'll try to post that recipe soon :-) No pictures though... Mystery Guest and I scarfed it down!

mercredi, septembre 17, 2008

just a wee bit of procrastination

I've been seeing these pop up all over facebook and people's blogs... had to go see for myself.
How much fun is that??

and how much do I look like my MOM! lol :-)

(Mom, break out your old yearbook and tell me if that doesn't look like you!)

dimanche, septembre 14, 2008

gone fishin'

Photo: the harbor in Saint Vaast on Wednesday September 10th.

Mystery Guest is out and about fishing with his Dad and I'm going to virtually go fishin' myself... too much to do these days - the finish line for my memoire and job are rapidly approaching! Time to buckle down and get to it!

jeudi, septembre 11, 2008


Agah! Job crisis!
This is SOOOO complicated and I don't know what to do... let me explain:

I have a job at a private school, they finally just gave me my contract. There are, however, some problems. One is that I'll be paid less per hour than expected (around 15e/h before taxes instead of 20) because I'll get the remainder at the end of my contract. I also get paid for the hours I actually work each month (instead of adding them up and dividing them out per month...) So September I'm only working 2 hours a week (you do the math!)

The advantages are:

1. But having a job (like this one) allows me to do some extra hours at the university for 45e/h (but just found out today that I'll get all of those hours in a lump sum at the end of my contract, maaaaybe at the end of each semester if I'm lucky.) It also allows me to do some side jobs at the university (notably scripting BBC broadcasts that I've been doing for the past 2 years and working during the April break for cha-ching!)

2. The private school basically said I could have a full time job if things go well this year (a full time job - CDI - would allow me to wrap up my application for citizenship and allow me to apply for a loan at the bank for a car/house)

3. The school is really nice, good atmosphere among the admin staff and the students.

The disadvantages are:

1. I'll be making peanuts all year long, ie not enough to pay rent or my train ticket from V-town to Caen, but I have enough savings to be ok.

2. It's far away and to feel like you're loosing money by commuting seems silly. I could be working chez McDo and making more...

I'm just not sure what to do, I mean knowing I'll get money at the end of the year is good, but I feel like I'm making a career move backwards even if maybe its a yearlong sacrifice for a better situation in the future.

What should I do? I just thought of maybe backing out, hoping for a recrutee locale job in this area (I'm sure there must be some) as an assistant and make about 750e a month after taxes and then still be able to do my Uni job - but I wouldn't find out until mid-October! This could be good because I just read on the assistant's forum that if you've worked (and are still working) for the Education Nationale for 3 years you can pass the CAPES interne which is easier than the normal one (the competative exam to become a full time teacher) but you can't legally take the job if you aren't an EU citizen...

Gah, I just don't know what to do!!! I thought that now that I have my full carte de sejour with all the rights (through the PACS) it would simplify the job situation, but its all so complicated!!

I have until the end of September to back out of this job if I want to... but do I want to be unemployed? I guess I could get chomage...

mercredi, septembre 10, 2008

playing tourist!

Whew! Busy Busy and no time to blog! ;-)

On Saturday I hopped on a train to Paris where I met up with my dad and my step-mom who were in town for the weekend before they head off to Zurich on a business trip. Mystery Guest joined us Saturday night after work and the 4 of us spent a great weekend in Paris. Luckly the weather cooperated with us and we even got to go on ze fly boats!

Monday we had to take the train home, and it was the same day that Miss Cassandra flew in from the States to come visit before Fullbrighting it in England! We (barely) managed to meet in the station 5 minutes before the train pulled out and headed off to Normandy.

Yesterday it rained (surprise surprise) but today the weather is supposed to be nice so we're going to leave soon and visit the port town of Saint Vaast la Houge (keep your fingers crossed for us!)

More updates and pictures to come soon ;-)

mardi, septembre 02, 2008


I know I've been on a youtube posting kick recently, but I found this short really touching. The animation was based on a poem by Billy Collins (and is part of my memoire research, so no, I'm not officially procrastinating but researching!)