wayfaringwordhack: (art: guitton - housework)
...at least I hope I am.

I am very much dreading the "etat des lieux" tomorrow, the handing over of the keys, the verification of the inventory and the state in which we have left the apartment.

I always leave a place spotless. Spotless. I am not a tidy person, but when I leave a home, you could eat off the floors, the walls, out of the dishwasher*...  We have replaced what we have broken and have not damaged anything irreplaceable.

However, the lady who is coming to do the état des lieux has not been...friendly whenever we've spoken on the phone.

When we had to replace the broken induction stovetop and called to find out the procedure for insurance purposes, she was downright witchy, practically accusing us of trying to rip off the rental agency when all we were trying to do was follow the proper channels.

Then, the other day, in setting up the appointment for the "check out," she told me we were going to have to pay a plumber to do the annual maintenance for the heating. We lived here from March to 1 Oct and had no need of the heating. I asked her to discuss it with J, citing we had only been here six months.  She went ballistic and said we were going to HAVE TO pay so no need to discuss anything. To which I politely insisted she talk to J about it. 

When we moved in, the realtor (different agent) said the maintenance was our responsibility, at which time J asked for a receipt showing the last upkeep done on the boiler.  We never received anything.  

Anyhow, the witchy lady never called J. He called the agency instead and repeated the need to see a receipt for the last maintenance because, hey, why should we have to pay for something we never used? And the agency kept dragging it out, claiming to be waiting on the plumber to send them the last bill. Only the thing is: They handle this apartment for the owner. It is their responsibility to have all of these documents on hand, already.

Witchy lady finally called back, leaving a message, in which she said, "Lucky for you, the last maintenance was done in Sept 2010, so you don't have to do it." (Remember the maintenance is ANNUAL, so they dropped the ball in 2011.) Lucky for us? Why lucky for us?  If we had bowed to her attempts to cow me, then we would be stuck paying something that is not our business to be paying.  Luck plays no part in it. They messed up; they have to pony up. Who wants to bet they try to fob off the expense on the next renters?

All day today, I've been tormenting myself with scenarios of her trying to find something wrong with the apartment and succeeding, thereby getting to keep all or a part of our deposit.  I'm making myself miserable. I'm borrowing trouble from tomorrow, when perhaps there will be no trouble.  I know that, but I just can't stop. Stupid mental playback of misery!

OK, enough whinging. Time to get back to cleaning so as not to give witchy woman any ground...

* that might seem an odd thing to say, but have you ever cleaned a dishwasher filter? Nasty,greasy things...
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: my loves)
Some tears, some rain.

Yesterday, I drove 2 hours to rendezvous with my mother-in-law.  We picnicked together, at a parking lot just after a toll booth--there were no tables, so we had to sit on the tiled flooring...surrounding the public toilets--and after we ate, we each drove back our separate ways. Only the Sprout was no longer in my car; she was with my mother-in-law, going to stay a week with her while Julien and I clean and pack the apartment.

Just before I arrived at the drop-off spot, a song by French singer Renaud "Morgane de toi" (link opens YouTube video) came on the radio. The first line of the chorus is: "J'suis qu'un fantôme quand tu vas où j'suis pas" (I'm just a ghost when you go where I can't follow), and hearing it, I started crying. The Sprout just turned 23 months old, and it is the first time I've ever been separated from her.  

And driving away from her, I got weepy again. Not with sadness, just with the realization of time moving on, of longer separations to come.

Last night, I was planning on sleeping hard, finally catching up on almost two years of broken sleep. Wouldn't you know I woke up at least four times. So much for a little R and R without the wee one to care for.

After seeing her on Skype this morning at her grandma's, Julien and I decided to take a little overnight trip to Spain.  The weather forecast said the day would be cloudy, with some sun. We saw only clouds and, after passing San Sebastien, buckets and buckets of rain.

Oh well. The countryside is still beautiful. I just hope we have a wee bit of good light and dryness tomorrow morning to enjoy the hermitage of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. And if Julien feels up to it (he's coming down with our crud. >.< ), we'll go visit the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
wayfaringwordhack: (kickin' it island style)
A scene-setting photo of the special spot, a panorama to try to capture some of its geologically-crazy glory:

(click to see larger photo)

All the stuff in between )

sun and moon

Sourdough, surf, sand, swimming, sunsets...a very satisfying Sunday all around.
wayfaringwordhack: (critters: egret fishing)
For lunch, we have sourdough pasta, which the Sprout helps roll out.  We take a hilarious video of her weilding the rolling pin; sadly it is not yet edited. Perhaps I will post it along with the recipe for the noodles.

While the Sprout snoozes, I slip through the shadows, down hills and up, to our special spot on the coast.


Amongst the things I see there is this:


Can you guess what it is? Find out in part 3.
wayfaringwordhack: (kickin' it island style)
First, sourdough pancakes for breakfast. We need a bellyful of fuel for the busy day to come. After licking (just kidding) the last drizzles of maple syrup from our plates, we head to the bay. Other surfers are leaving, making more room for J on the waves.  While he paddles out, the Sprout and I go a-bird tracking. 

surf and birds

The tractor that cleans the seaweed and small rocks from the tideline scared the ruddy turnstones before we could get close enough for pretty pictures. We decided to do some art on the beach instead.  Photo of finished project coming your way soon(ish). 

beach art

Art on the beach is fine...for a little while. Then you need to play with the sand. Building things is fun. Like a sand fish. The sprout added a mouth and turned it into a sharkfish, but then the waves came and ate it.

sand fish

Time to get revenge on the waves before heading home for lunch.

playing in the surf

That chapel-esque structure on Sainte Barbe is nothing of the kind. It is some sort of housing for a power or water unit...or something. I wanted to verify the last time we walking up there and forgot.

The rest of the Ss in post number 2...
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: Soëlie eating)
I wanted to post about our sea-filled Sunday, but I have to make some room on my laptop hard drive before I can play with photos. Instead, have a post about something else. How about food?  You good with that? OK.

I've been wanting to make this delicious-sounding recipe for "Chilli Chicken[livejournal.com profile] khiemtran posted about a while back.  However, I could never conspire to have all the ingredients on hand at the right time. The other day, after having chicken three days in a row, I thought, "To heck with it, I'll make Chilli Chicken with pork instead."

Only I didn't have dried chilies. No problem; I had fresh ones. I didn't have soy sauce, neither light nor dark. No sweat. I had miso. I just mixed that with a bit of water.  No Shaoxing wine to be had either. No worries. A splash of Genmai Su did the trick. And I didn't really know how much sichuan peppers to throw in there, so I guestimated based on [livejournal.com profile] khiemtran's photo. 

Thank goodness, I remembered to drizzle on some sesame oil just before serving. Otherwise, the dish might have been too far from the original. ;)  Despite all the changes, it was verrrrrrry tasty. J was relieved, though, when I told him he could stop eating the chilies. "You could have told me that earlier," he said, dabbing sweat from his forehead. >:}

In other spicy news, I made another batch of kimchi based on [livejournal.com profile] barry_king's recipe, linked to by [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume.  It isn't fermented yet, but I had a bit that wouldn't fit into the jar and decided to eat it today. 

S asked for a bite, and I told her it was spicy. She insisted she wanted some (she regularly tastes my "spicier*" food, like the Chilli Chicken Pork above), so I dipped the very edge of the spoon into the juice and let her lick it, thinking that would be enough to suit her.

"'picy," she said. "More!"


"More 'picy."  She grabbed the spoon with a bit of cabbage on it and shoved it in her mouth.  "Mmmmmm. More!"

"More kimchi?"

She dropped the spoon, snagged the almost-empty bowl of kimchi from me, tipped it to her lips, and slugged down the rest of the juice...then used her finger to scoop the remanents into her mouth.  "Mmmmmm, kiiiiiiimchi!"

Needless to say, the jar I made is not going to last long...

* She's always eaten the same things we eat, but if we are eating something spicy, I make sure hers isn't as piquant as ours, and I'm using "piquant" in the true French sense of "stinging/hot."
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: my loves)
[livejournal.com profile] asakiyume, last night, I dreamed we were shapeshifters. You were a veteran who knew what shapeshifting was all about, but I "lost time," and it was you who explained to me that I had shifted...into a bunny!  I wish I would have posted about it right away because there were so many details, fresh in my mind, to record. I know you had two shapes you could do, but now I can't remember them. I believe one was gazelle/deer/antelope... And I know there was a guru and an island and raiders and a penalty for running from the raiders (they were promised a kind of tithe according to the number of people on the island, and when I got frightened and escaped with the guru, they were shorted...) Yeah, it all made a lot more sense in dreamland. :P

But the day happened, and I'm only sitting down now at the laptop.

Julien was supposed to go the Farmer's Market and I was supposed to go to the store this morning, but as we were getting ready, I noticed a putrid smell coming from S's nose, the kind of smell tha that J had when his incisions got infected after his surgery. So, plans changed, and J took S to the doctor. The doctor didn't dare touch whatever it was and told J to get an otolaryngologist (hereafter ENT) appointment instead.  The ENT could only see S at 5pm, when S had an existing appointment to see a dermatologist about a rash on her scalp, possibly eczema, . Thinking an infection trumped itching, we cancelled the dermatologist (who was angry about it and hung up on J).

The unplanned morning visit to the doctor comprised J's trip to Pau (1.5 hrs away) to get his and S's diplomatic passports for our move to Egypt, so he had to reschedule to tomorrow. 

Instead of spending a day alone, relaxing and writing, I had to nap to try to nip an oncoming headache in the bud. It helped only marginally, and at the ENT's office, the headache came back full force.  Not because of anything seriously wrong with S, though, thank goodness.  The little squirt had stuck some stuffing from one of her toys up her nose, and the ENT was able to pull it out in no time.  We were very relieved that the problem was quickly taken care of.  She has to wait until Saturday now to see a dermatologist about the itching.

In other Sprout news, I bought her her first pairs of underwear today. They are too big for her, intended for 2-3 year-olds, and she'll only be 22 months tomorrow. She is very excited to have undies and has had no accidents. She hasn't had any accidents for a while yet, and she often goes to the bathroom by herself without us offering her a potty opportunity, just goes to sit on her potty and does her business. We've been taking her out without a diaper for several weeks now, even in the car, which we didn't dare do before (even though she is diaper free at the house, if we were going to the doctor or the store, etc. we'd put on a diaper just in case). She is not completely potty trained, but she also had her first diaperless nap today.
wayfaringwordhack: (neener)
I tossed my sourdough starter out!  I had put it into a different jar so I could clean the one I normally keep it in, and when I came across this "different" jar of starter in the fridge, I thought it was some extra that had been forgotten.  I just poured it down the drain.  Then today, when I went to feed it...no more starter. >.<

It had just reached a stage where I was finally getting good, consistent results with my bread. Now I have to start all over.

wayfaringwordhack: (glass ball)
that hitchhiking gyspy I picked up today?

My momma never told me not to pick up hitchhikers [which makes a lot of sense considering my mom hitchhikes a lot] )

Strange perhaps to make a tag for "gypsies" but I'm sad I can no longer find my entry about the gyspies gifting me with the trout. :-<  I'm sure I'll have more gypsy encounters to blog about to make it worth my while. :P
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: !!!)
Dear Cheeky Monkey,

Tis really impolite to huff and puff in imitation of the person who just biked your little tush up that gigantic hill. 

Your out-of-shape Mother
wayfaringwordhack: (art: thé)
I saw a twist on hibiscus tea the other (sweltering) day and just knew I had to make it. Score that I had all the ingredients on hand. The only problem was that I didn't read the directions all the way through and didn't realize it needs a night of chilling before being ready to drink. I cheated and tasted it after a couple of hours, when the chia seeds had had time to gel, but the beverage really is best when very cold. So think ahead!


hibiscus chia fresca2

Hibiscus Chia Fresca
Adapted from recipe by Heather Lionelle via Real Food and Health

What you need:

1 T hibiscus flowers, dried
1 t lavender flowers, dried
2 t mint, dried 
1 T organic orange peel, dried
1 quart/950 ml water
1-2 T honey, depending on how sweet your tooth is
1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries, mashed
2 T fresh lemon juice
3 T chia seeds (you could actually omit these and just make Hibiscus Fresca. Different texture, but the taste would be the same)

NOTE: All the dried ingredients could be substituted with fresh, just increase the amounts a tad.

How you do it:

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil. Remove from heat, add first four ingredients, cover and allow to steep for 20 minutes.

Strain liquid and stir in honey. Once it reaches room temperature, stir in mashed berries, lemon juice, and chia seeds.

Refrigerate overnight.

Shake before serving.
hibiscus chia fresca

The Sprout really loved it, so I think next time I'll have to double the recipe. I'll also add a cinnamon stick to the mix. (ETA: I did add a cinnamon stick to my last batch, and while it was tasty, next time, I will take it out of the steeping ingredients after 10 minutes so it doesn't overpower the other flavors.

By the way, I think the tea is better served without ice, but since I slurped down so much of it, there wasn't enough for another full glass...after I knocked over the one I was photographing. >.<  Hence the ice cubes to fill it back up. :P

RIP Tiboy

30 Jul 2012 02:43 pm
wayfaringwordhack: (flora: sunflower - closed)
I found our cat Tiboy dead in the litter box this morning.  The vet said he died from internal hemorrhaging, probably from getting hit by a vehicle or ingesting poison. 

The poison could date back as much as three months the vet told me, but I think Tiboy may have been hit. He went exploring two days ago, and when I picked him up to bring him back in, he was fairly quiet and didn't fight that much. The next day, he slept under the bed, coming out only to have some mackerel at lunch time.  Last night, we cuddled on the bed together and he was calm for once, not trying to do his disturbing humping thing on me.* For that I'm so grateful. I already feel guilty enough that I didn't notice he was suffering without having him pass away while I was disgusted with him.

He was a dumb, frustrating, not-very-hansdome** cat, but he was also sweet and affectionate and faithful. I'm going to miss him.

*I could have sworn I typed an entry about this way back when, but a quick search will not reveal it. I don't have the heart to type up an explanation.

** We adopted him in March 2002 when he was only about 6 weeks old from a woman in our apartment building. She no longer wanted him because she was going to get two purebred Burmese kittens. Three cats would have been too much, you know. It is being judgmental on my part, but seeing the woman, her impeccable dress, her airy, impeccably decorated Parisian apartment, it did not surprise me that scrawny piebald little Tiboy, with his wide murky eyes and fur that couldn't decide if it wanted to be short or long was getting the boot. He got better looking with time, and he never lost that sincere affection he showed us from the moment we met him.
wayfaringwordhack: (Brio)
First, brekkie by the sea.  Then J lovingly and obliging took S to run some errands so I could stay and write.  Got lots of scene cards written before someone mistakenly told me the wrong time and sent me home in a rush, fearing J was stuck at home with a starving baby.

Second, a delicious lunch of fresh mackerel, common whelks, homemade mayo, sauteed aubergines (eggplant), and mashed sweet potatoes, most of it prepared by the aforementioned loving, obliging man.

I then read a charming little book called Oracle Gretel,* sent to me by the generous [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume.**

After which, I did a couple of sketches. I've now sketched consistently for a week. Don't want to jinx myself, but the habit feels like it is back. :)

When S woke up from her nap, we went for a walk in Saint Jean de Luz and had supper together before J had to catch his train back to Bordeaux.

S went to sleep of-so-easily, and I shall now do the same. Who knows, I might actually make it to bed before 11 if I hurry off now. 

Bonne nuit, LJ!

* by Julia Rios, aka [livejournal.com profile] skogkatt, illustrated by Erik Amundsen, aka [livejournal.com profile] cucumberseed.

** Thank you, thank you, thank you for sending this little gem to me. J and S haven't read it, one being busy with Egypt stuff and the other too young, but they both greatly appreciated the pictures. :D
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: chocolate - animated)
Actually, I feel like I've been having "one of those" for the past three days, so today is just icing on that cake.

For the last three nights, every night, I've been woken up between 5 and ten times by a crying baby and mrowling cats. This morning, I couldn't take it when Tiboy started his awful yowling* at 4:00 a.m.--because once he starts, he shuts up just long enough for me to doze off before going at it again--so I stuck him and N'Djema, who also decided she wanted to meow at me, out on the terrace. Naturally, when I woke up this morning, Tiboy had jumped ship. I saw him across the road and went out to fetch him, but by time I got downstairs, he was already gone.**

Baby stuff under the cut. Move along if that's not your thing. )

wayfaringwordhack: (Default)
- Had a productive writing morning; was able to plot out Bax's arc/scenes across the trilogy, give or take a few scenes that will either become redundant or be added as/if needed.  I am doing this plotting on index cards for all the POVs, just jotting down the basic scene ideas, sometimes no more than a couple of words. I'm OK with this part of the plotting process, but every time I expand the ideas into actual scenes with scene-essential ingredients like goal, conflict, disaster, I get stumped. I think I don't need to know these key bits of info just yet and I can write on, trusting the point of the scene to magically metamorphose into something plot-relevant. Only, I ended up writing pointless scenes at worst, low-impact scenes at best. So this time, I'm realllllly trying to stay focused.

- Gathered some crithmum (rock samphire) at my special writing spot and ate it for supper. Very tasty raw (and steamed, which is how I served it to Sprout).  Can't wait to experiment with it some more. I also gathered a new-to-me mint.  There were two types: the one I picked, which was tasty; and the other, with small, deep red flowers. The second did not have a distinctive smell and the small nibble I took seemed OK, but I'd like to be sure of it before gathering a lot more.

- Napped for almost two hours.

- Biked down to the beach with Sprout and J this arvy. Had ice cream and played in the sand. Sketched a bit while J pretended to be a zombie in pursuit of of Sprout for supper. We get such a kick out of hearing her exclaim, "Encore 'ombies! Encore!"

- Kim chee is my friend. Finally got around to tasting the batch I made, and it is yummy.  J thought it was good, too, but said, "I don't know what you would eat it on, though."  Eat it on? I thought. Just eat it out of the jar! :P 
wayfaringwordhack: (Brio)
Yesterday was stifling; heavy air, 38 degrees Celsius/100 F. It was heaven to go down to the beach and wade up to my knees in the cool bay. See-through shrimp and tiny fish came to nibble at our feet. Who needs to go to Thailand or a spa and pay to have their feet immersed in a fish tank?

Last night, thunder rolled omniously; lightning purpled the looming clouds. Wind snatched leaves from trees and tossed them like confetti to greet the coming storm. The storm disappointed, spattering us with only a few drops before going somewhere else, where the party was perhaps better.

Disappointed, I closed my shutters, left open the better to watch the light show.

We woke up to a day that topped out in the low 70s, the sky still gray from last night's unkept promise of rain.

The Sprout and I had sourdough pancakes for breakfast and then headed to the seaside to pick a bouquet.

photos )

We came home with this cyberbouquet of flower photos to share with all of you and , this last one in particular for you, [livejournal.com profile] pjthompson, if you want it :)


Oh, and my new icon. Brio. I like a little brio in my life.
wayfaringwordhack: (web)
Pretty much in our backyard...

On the Basque coastline, La Pile D'Assiettes (the stack of plates), which is just two-minute walk from where I like to go to write:

la pile d'assiette - st jean de Luz - close up

  For a billion years the patient earth amassed documents and inscribed them with signs and pictures which lay unnoticed and unused. Today, at last, they are waking up, because man has come to rouse them. Stones have begun to speak, because an ear is there to hear them. Layers become history and, released from the enchanted sleep of eternity, life's motley, never-ending dance rises out of the black depths of the past into the light of the present. — Hans Cloos Conversation with the Earth (1954)

And in context:
la pile d'assiettes - st jean de luz

Gradually the sunken land begins to rise again, and falls perhaps again, and rises again after that, more and more gently each time, till as it were the panting earth, worn out with the fierce passions of her fiery youth, has sobbed herself to sleep once more, and this new world of man is made. — Charles Kingsley; 'Thoughts in a Gravel Pit', a lecture delivered at the Mechanics' Institute, Odiham (1857). The Works of Charles Kingsley (1880), 282. 

Quotations from TodayinSci
wayfaringwordhack: (writing: food for thought)

If you want a lovely start to your day...nay, if you want a recipe for an entire day chockfull of loveliness--not just the morning--pack a tasty breakfast (in our case: chorizo, ewe & goat cheese and cow cheese from local farmer, homemade bread slathered in butter with a side of (also local) honey, some fruit, coffee and water), and head to a place with a nice view for an early-bird picnic.


When all are sated, in both tummy and vision, send the significant other off with your child so that...


with only skinks, sparrows, and petrified whales for company, you can work on your story before the pages calcify like those of the tome below:

The rest of the recipe for a wonderful day )

If your day goes anything like mine, you'll come back home feeling lighter and freer and more in touch with everyone and everything around you.
* Bay of Loya sounds a whole like Moya, in Mayotte, which is what the view from above reminded Julien I of (last photo in this post).
wayfaringwordhack: (Default)
shall have to wait for another day. Had (minor) surgery today and just don't have the will for doing said posts justice. In the meantime, I share with:

Flower mandalas by Kathy Klein. Wouldn't these be lovely "gifts' to leave along city streets or wooded paths?  I really like the lighter, rounded petals in the second photo because they appear to be little trees.

This short post about space because I, too, have been considering space of late. The quilt in the photos in that post is one Jude Hill is making for her Magic Feather Project

And now I shall walk off into the sunset. Have a happy week, flist
(photo credit: Fernanda Credidio via National Geographic)
wayfaringwordhack: (critters: chameleon)
Julien happened to see a mythical llama. Knowing what a rare and lucky event he was witness to, he scrabbled after the only materials within reach--a pen and newspaper--and valiantly, risking life and limb to the creature's horrific ejaculations of saliva, sought to capture its likeness so that the curiosity of my flist might be satisfied.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a mythical llama:

mythical llama

Those are not earrings, those are, and I quote, "testicles that allow the llama to hold more spit." *rofl*


wayfaringwordhack: (Default)

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