Log in

No account? Create an account
03 January 2007 @ 04:29 pm
New Years traditions in France

There aren't really many New Year traditions in France except one: on the stroke of midnight, everyone gets on the phone and calls friends and family. (Before cell phones there was always a log jam in front of the phone as people jostled for position.) Now, as soon as everyone is done kissing every other person in the house (another French tradition - the smoochie on the cheekie) they grab their cell phones and start dialling.
The phone calling spree lasts for several days afterwards. This is why: the French do not send Christmas cards. They prefer to call.
It's nice, but odd to be calling people at midnight. No one is ever sleeping (or admits to be sleeping!) Everyone expects the call. Nowadays, there are the instant messages too - and "Happy New Year!" was flying around the phone screens. My husband made a list of everyone he wanted to call and spent three days on the phone.
I sent my traditional Christmas cards out, including e-cards that I really think are terrific. Just think: No trees were killed to make an e-card. No jet plane fuel was burned sending it over the ocean. No cars and trucks were started in order to deliver it. E-cards are instant, disposable, and non-polluting. The spirit of Christmas and the New Year lives on in virtual pixels.
(and in disembodied voices over the phone...)

New Year Resolutions

Everyone seems to be posting New Year resolutions, but I haven't made any - except to exercise more and I do that every year.
Maybe I should look for more resolutions to make my life better, but to tell the truth, there's not much else I want. I have a wonderful family, terrific friends, good health, and a roof that doesn't leak. I have a computer that only crashes a little, a washing machine that only leaks a bit, and a car that makes strange noises but gets me where I need to go. I have two dogs that are fun to take on walks, and a beautiful area to walk around in.
So, this year I decided that I'd spend more time outside walking around with my dogs getting more exercise, but other than that, I'm quite content.

Nothing much is going on here today. The village is quiet after a raucous New Year's Eve party over at the restaurant across the street. We came home from our (small but nice) party at 2 a.m. and heard the music blaring as we drove up the hill. As we parked and opened the door, the music deafened us. They were really rockn' in the resto! My daughter was tickled to hear a very silly song last night at our party. It was Quite rude, and had us all laughing hysterically. It was a song you sang and it had gestures, and was all about the Bedouin's daughter, a banana, and a donkey...and no, you do not want to know! LOL. We were woken up early by the church bells (as usual) and my hubby brought me a cup of coffee in bed (I could hardly open my eyes, lol) and he's napping now, my son is studying for his exams, and my daughter is writing a book about a horse named 'Pitou'. The weather is getting colder - which is good because yesterday it was balmy and rainy. At least the cold means dryer weather here. Well, we're off to take a walk now with the dogs!

I hope everyone has a wonderful, prosperous, and healthy New Year 2007!
29 December 2006 @ 04:38 pm
All vacation I have been working on a project. It's taken all of my spare time. I've been proofreading, formatting, uploading, designing covers, and writing blurbs. Exhausting. I'm thinking maybe a nice stiff drink (like a capaccino?) would come in handy now. Espcially if it has some shaved chocolate on the top and it's nice and foamy.
Anyhow - - -
Drumroll please.
For your reading pleasure, I am publishing my Alexander Series! They were published by Jacobyte Books in Australia before it folded. I got my rights back. (and lots of letters from people wanting the whole series.) Well, I'm in the process of uploading it now, and you can get the books as e-books (3$ - very reasonable) or paperback (royal format, not badly priced, I'm making a dollar profit on them, so go buy!)
Oh, and enjoy. They are a heckova lot of fun.
23 December 2006 @ 09:29 am
I wish you all a merry holiday season!

Today I am cleaning the house (thrilling) and shopping (oh, the crowds!) and getting everything set for the weekend with the family. In my spare time (hysterical laughter here) I'm perusing Miss Snark's Crapometer and learning a heckova lot about writing hooks. I'm impressed with so much of the writing - a few of the hooks have me hooked, and there are one or two books I'd actually love to read! (thinking about a YA fantasy hook with two princesses duking it out over the kingdom...)
My son installed a new patch for my computer and it's working really well. The joys of having a computer literate child! Too bad he goes back to college on the 27th. He's looking for a place to stay in Columbus, Ohio while he goes to the university. Know any cheap, clean, decent places?
My daughter thinks we've forgotten her Christmas and is moping. She's too cheerful a person to do any serious moping, but I can't wait to see her face on Christmas morning when she finds out we did not forget her, lol.
Today I also have to take the meat out of the freezer for tomorrow - (note to self: Please don't forget!)
Everything is glittering with frost here - the sun is just peeping over the horizon and it's making a lovely, peachy-silver light!
May your day be Merry and Bright!

18 December 2006 @ 01:52 pm
Das Versprechen

My daughter just came home from school with a surprise. Her German teacher had read my book 'The Promise', and liked it so much she translated it into German! She is a native German speaker, and I think she's done an awesome job. So here I am with a German manuscript of 'Das Versprechen' - which is a science fiction YA book about a world without adults. They all died during a plague brought on by a meteorite. The teacher is now busy translating 'Red Sky', and I absolutely have to call her. I never knew she was doing this, you see. She told me daughter, who sort of said one day that her teacher loved the Promise and was translating it - but I thought she meant she was translating it for herself to read, lol.

Anyhow, I'll try to get hold of an electronic copy of this so I can send it to friends in Germany!

link |

And here is a wonderful sculpture that I found in an antique shop here. It's called the Voyager, and it's a protrait of Napolean Bonaparte leaving the battlefield. The cold wind is in his face, it blows his cloak, and pins his horse's ears back. The sculpture is amazing - and if you have about 55,000 euros, it can be yours! *sigh* I wish I could win the lottery.
17 December 2006 @ 08:31 am
On the twelfth day of Christmas, jjsass sent to me...
Twelve mizkits drumming
Eleven crevettes piping
Ten agentobscuras a-leaping
Nine politics dancing
Eight zombies a-milking
Seven paris a-swimming
Six vampires a-writing
Five bo-o-o-ooks
Four ya books
Three ny times
Two virgin islands
...and a france in a comedy.
Get your own Twelve Days:
16 December 2006 @ 08:35 pm

This week has been a whirlwind, and if you know me, you'll know I hate whirlwinds. I am calm. I am collected. I am half comatose most of the time, lol, but this week has been a busy one. And of course, I get my edits! My editor is on vacation so I don't have to hand them in until After the holidays, but it just seemed funny that they arrived precisely this week.

It started with Saturday and the Village Christmas Fête!
Every year the village has a party for 'decking the halls' sort of thing - when they decorate the village tree and have a little 'tea' for the elderly. The kids in the village get together and present some sort of act. (This is amazing to me - the kids practice every Wednesday for two months to perfect everything. The little kids have their parents to help out - this year they dressed like cowboys and did a little square dance - too cute!)
And my daughter and her friend did a sort of modern dance with lots of high kicks and lifts, and it was pretty cool! Santa came with his donkey. (Yes, his donkey, lol)
Here is a picture of the village Santa:

He gave presents after the fête - and I wished I'd gotten a picture of him with his glass of champagne, lol!

Then Sunday was the Horse Fair, and of course I had to take my daughter to Paris to see that. Millions of people. Crowds. No parking. Driving in horrific traffic. My daughter was Thrilled.
I was exhausted. Monday was almost calm - just a lunch with friends, and then Tusday another lunch with another set of friends. Wednesday was the busiest day - five English lessons and then a trip to Paris for a book signing!
A friend of ours wrote a wonderful book about polo, and he asked me to do some illustrations for it, so I did and he took six of them and used them in the book. Here is a picture of me sitting next to him in Paris last night!


Charles Emmanuel de Bourbon-Parme and Moi at a book signing for the book 'POLO - A Sport to Discover' (by Charles-Emmanuel de Bourbon Parme). It's written in French and English - it's got wonderful photos and art work in it, and some very funny drawings by yours truly.

If you want a copy it's 29€ plus shipping from France. Just let me know.

Alex is home for the holidays - and his brother actually cleaned up their room for him!

03 December 2006 @ 10:35 am
Still writing. Not done with the mystery book yet. Is getting to the exciting part. Bodies left and right now. Killer getting carried away.
I was wondering if I wasn't taking out some frustration on my characters. Sort of a therapy. Maim and kill with words and take out imaginary characters instead of losing one's temper and driving over the neighbor's cat who insists that your front garden is the only place it can pee.

Actually I don't have a problem with the neighbor's cat since it mysteriously disappeared a few months ago.

No, I'm making up stories again. The poor thing died of old age and obesity. I kept it out of my garden by shutting my front gate - it was too fat to leap up over the wall. My neighbors have a wonderful gourmet restaurant and the cat obviously got the leftovers.

In the village next door, there was another restaurant. It closed after two people were discovered buried in the back garden. A couple. Rumor has it that the man found his wife with another man. And that is what I heard for ages, until I found out from a policeman what really happened. Supposedly the couple were gypsies and had been blackmailing the owner for quite some time. Finally he snapped, shot them, and buried them in the garden.
How many people had dinner in the restaurant while the couple rotted in the ground? I never ate there - when we moved here that was already old news. It took me a while to find out the true story.
Even older news was the story of the man who lived in Gambais and he would go to Paris on the train, find a woman to come clean his house, kill her, and incinerate her in his oven. He's a famous French serial killer. They caught him because of the train tickets. A ticket to and from Paris, and just one ticket from Paris. A one way trip for some poor cleaning woman. That affair, heavily covered by newspapers at the time, was easy to verify. But people living in the village are not eager to talk about the affair. Not unusual - it must bring the property values down quite a bit...

In Houdan, not far away, another mystery was recently solved. A hundred years ago, a woman had been accused of putting arsenic in her husband's meal and poisoning him. His body tested positive for arsenic. So did her children, her mother in law, and everyone in the house. She was put on trial and convicted of murder and attempted murder of over fifteen people. She died in prison. About a hundred years later, a scientist and historian, curious about the affair and about the unusual geographical nature of the area, convinced the town to let him exhume and test the people in the cemetery. Turns out nearly everyone was full of arsenic. The ground water, it turns out, is poisoned. A sort of natural arsenic spring. The woman was declared innocent posthumously, but most people still talk about the 'Houdan poisoner'.

I like the fact that people prefer to think of the woman as guilty. It's more exciting, and besides, she's dead poor thing and can't defend herself. I wondered about other historical reputations, like that of the infamous Tokyo Rose, who was also acquited of spying, and yet still retains her reputation. Does history ever tell the truth? What about the princes in the tower? Did Richard kill them?
I think so. But there are people who disagree with that, saying that history has distorted the facts.
Since it's obvious that even history that's only a few years old (the man who killed the couple in his restaurant) and a hundred years old (the poisoner from Houdan) can be twisted, imagine what many centuries of propaganda can do? I suppose we'll never find out what happened to the two princes in the tower.
30 November 2006 @ 06:32 pm
For many years, I was the only cook in the house. My husband grew up in a household where he wasn’t even expected to set foot in the kitchen, and so it fell upon me to prepare the meals. I didn’t mind. I’m a creative person who likes to cook, although cleaning up is on my ‘ten worst things to do’ list. So the deal was made. I’d cook and he’d help clean up. I bought a couple pork chops and proceeded to render them inedible. My first attempt at cooking a whole meal was a fiasco.
I learned slowly.
My first success was turkey breast with cream sauce served with peas and carrots. I mastered this, and proceeded to serve it every night for three months. My husband’s uncle, who lived with us at that time because he was consulting surgeon for the Paris Ministry of Health, tells me that he cannot look at turkey without feeling ill now.
My husband, who is funny like that, would still be happily eating turkey with cream sauce – sometimes I wonder about him.
My husband & I moved to Florida around that time. Cooking, for me, was taking the car and going to the Kit’s Kosher Chicken and getting a grilled hen, then stopping at the supermarket for a ready-made salad and mashed potatoes. Or I’d put a hotdog in the microwave.
Then I had the twins, and when they started eating solid food, I became obsessed, no, let’s just say I was determined to give them a wide variety of food so that they wouldn’t become finicky.
As a child, I’d eaten only five things, and that until I was eighteen. I decided my kids would not be like me. So I had to expand my cooking abilities. I asked friends for recipes. I went to my grandparents' house and watched them cook. I bugged my mother for lessons. I’d left home at seventeen, and I’d never been interested in cooking, so my mother tried to teach me a few basics. She gave me a crash course in gravy making, how to boil an egg, and how to roast a whole chicken.
And then we moved to Argentina. We had a cook and a maid living in the house with us. I watched as Suzanne made empanadas and rice and beans. I learned how to barbecue beef. I found out how to make a tomato and onion salad, and I tried to learn how to make the delicious squash and chicken stew the Argentines make – but could never master it. Mostly in Argentina, we ate grilled meat and green salad. I learned how to make a spicy barbecue sauce and how to serve coffee there. After we went to Ureguay, where I learned how to make steamed mussels.
Our next stop was in the Dominican Republic. Again we had a maid and a cook, and again I begged to learn their recipes. So Luz showed me how to make red beans and rice, sliced beef and onion stew, and baked chicken, Dominican style. She also showed me how to make banana fritters, potato pancakes, and a delicious orange and onion salad.
By the time I moved back to France, I’d picked up a fair array of different recipes from all over the world. And to that, I added classical French cooking.

So what’s on the stove now, you ask?

Chicken curry with coconut sauce and cardamom seeds.
1 chicken cut up
4 or 5 onions, chopped
1 apple – chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons curry
2 tablespoons coriander
1 can coconut milk
1 plain yoghurt
2 lemons
2 cups water
1 bouillon cube

Put chicken, onions, garlic, and apple in hot oil and fry until lightly golden. Add juice from one lemon, curry and cardamom, stir well. Add half the coconut milk, the water, and the bouillon cube. Bring to a boil then lower heat. Cook on low/medium heat for an hour. Add yoghurt and rest of coconut milk. Sauce should be thick. Add the coriander. Stir, add salt and pepper if needed.
Serve over rice with lemon wedges.
27 November 2006 @ 07:33 pm
There is a group called Truth in Science trying to pass off creationism as scientific proof. It has exported its curriculum to the hapless children in England, and is now being taught as science in some schools.
There is a museum being built somewhere in Kentucky that will showcase creationism. For those with a good sense of humor, the website FAQ is a riot.
How can a normally educated person equate creationism with science and discredit evolution? How is it, in this modern age, mythology is being touted as science?
The group 'Truth in Science' should be called Myth in science. I loved science and I think that Darwin's theory of evolution is fact, so I'm pretty sure that most of these creationists will not be around in a few generations. Especially after reading the letters they wrote to the Guardian protesting an article about creationism. One woman complained that she really didn't see why kids couldn't be shown both theories because science and religion were compatible, and then said that for example, Newton was a creationist and didn't believe in Darwin.
Well - d'oh! Darwin was born two hundred years after Newton, but I suppose for a creationist time is relative. After all, according to them, dinosaurs frolicked with early humans. Oh, and humans were never neanderthals or Cro-magnon. Those skeletons were of deformed humans.
Throw science away and return to the dark ages.
I am SO glad my kids are being educated in France.
25 November 2006 @ 02:39 pm

You are The Moon

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.

The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

(Um, I just want to reassure people that I am not, in fact, on drugs or drinking. Although I did open an Excellent bottle of wine for Thanksgiving!)