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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Home at Last

Is it my meds or is it my age?

For some reason I don't bounce back from jet-lag as fast as I used to.  I got home last Thursday and have spent the past few days enjoying the lovely Versailles weather.  From -16 to +6 (Celsius) and the latter feels downright Florida-like to me after a week in Québec.

As always, I had a wonderful time in Montréal.  Most of my time was spent spoiling the Frenchlings with shopping trips (books and clothes) and a visit to the new planetarium.  In exchange the girls allowed me to sleep on the sofa bed and follow them about during the day.  I got to exercise my culinary skills learned from my American mother/French mother-in-law which involves making tasty nourishing dishes with very VERY cheap ingredients.  That, mes amis, is the real secret to French and good old-fashioned American cooking.  No matter how limited your budget, you can always make boeuf bourguignon and biscuits (or dumplings).

We shopped at  Provigo (discount supermarket), walked most places instead of driving (or taking the public transportation) and paid close attention to the thermostat and the lights (dark overcast days, electric heat, and no insulation).

The best part of coming home was seeing the changes to the garden.  The daffodils and crocuses are up, the forsythia is about to bloom, and the rose bushes are budding. Yesterday I decided to trust the universe and prune the roses.  And, as always, the French side of the Franco-American Flophouse came out and said, "Aren't you cutting them back too much?  We won't have any roses if you do that. Stop!"

Ahem.  The purpose of pruning is for the health and beauty of the plant. Roses (flowers) are merely a happy by-product of the process.  I prune hard (and if you think I'm bad you should have seen my grandfather who learned his pruning skills in the orchards of Eastern Washington) but I prune well.  Yes, it looks ugly at first but my roses look pretty darn good in the summer and that is the whole point of the exercise.  After 23 years of marriage, why do we still have this conversation every spring?  It's a mystery.

To my surprise I am now sharing my garden with wildlife (one welcome, the other not so much).
As I was lazing around on the back porch the other day a green bird with a red cap swooped down from the neighbor's apple tree.  At first I thought it was a parrot (an escapee).  Nope, it was a European Woodpecker:

From Woodpeckers of Europe

The other "guest" is a rat.  He/she is using the back perennial bed in front of the stone wall as a highway to get from the neighbor's yard to mine.  And what are our two cats doing about it?  Absolutely nothing and makes me wonder why I bother to feed them and let them sleep on my bed.  Ungrateful useless beasts...

The sun is shining and the garden is beckoning so I will leave you now with this picture of the garden I took early this morning.  Have a lovely Sunday, everyone.


Ellen Lebelle said...

Welcome home. After 29 years in this house, we are still having the pruning debate!

Anonymous said...

observation from Zorro and splash -- open meow you don't understand your place, it is a feline centric world humans are not the pinnacle of creation/ -- close meow

Blaze said...

Now you know why I said only a true Canadian like P Moore could say Montreal is not too cold in February!

I'm envious. Our spring blooms are still hidden under snow.

I'm so happy you're posting again. I was going through Flophouse withdrawal.

I hope you'll tell us more about Montreal when you have time. Did you ever try poutine?

Christophe said...

Welcome back!
Yes, jet-lag becomes harder as we age...
Glad you had a great time in Montréal.

Christophe said...

One more comment about jet-lag.
That is interesting. I always suffer from it a lot more in the France -> US direction. Not so much in the other. Some people say traveling east to west is harder. Some say it's always the second lag... Not sure if there is really a therory behind it!

P. Moore said...

@Blaze, maybe you have a point. I thought the +3C we hit the other day in Toronto was a bit tropical compared to the winter we have been experiencing this year. I was actually sweating a bit under my jacket when walking on the street. There is still a lot of snow to melt, but I bet Victoria waded through even more in Montreal.

Victoria, glad you had a good time in Montreal and that your daughters are doing well. Also sounds like maybe you should fire the cats!

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Blaze, I didn't. It just looks so gruesome. :-) Hey, the crocuses bloomed today and the tomatoes in the living room finally came up. Spring has sprung!

@Anonymous, Guess I better reorient my perspective. If course, *I* am the ones with the can opener, right? :-)

@Ellen, Merci, Madame. We should form a pruning club.

@Christophe, I think there is something to that. The second trip close to the first one just wipes me out.

@P. Moore, Oh yes it snowed while I was there. Quite a lot the first day and then it tapered off. Had lunch with Allison by the way and then walked back to the center of town. It was very cold but sunny. Not so bad until the wind began to pick up as I reach downtown. I still have red marks on my hands where the wind and sun dried out and abraded the skin.

Of course, that could have been avoided if I had just not smoked cigarettes while walking past Mont Royal....

Catherine said...

Enjoy being home again. It is such a gift, even with jet lag, I figure. Enjoy that lovely garden!

Ian said...

Welcome home, Victoria... great photos.

I just wanted to drop you a note to say how much I love your blog. No clue how I stumbled in here, but I'm so glad I did!

I'm also originally from Seattle (North Queen Anne, right near the Fremont Bridge), also a "Gen-Xer," and also now live in France. I've been living in Paris for about eleven years now.

My French nationality request was recently approved and it's been stirring up all sorts of thoughts about what it means to be an "immigrant," identity, allegiance, "global citizenship," and a zillion other things that you have addressed so eloquently in your posts.

So THANK you for taking the time to write. I feel like a space alien here most of the time. My French friends don't understand what it's like to be an American in their culture and my American friends back in the Old Country can't even imagine what life is REALLY like in France. It's great to read the thoughts and experiences of someone else who is both American AND integrated into French society.

I'm currently working in Versailles, so perhaps we will run into each other somewhere someday... In the meantime, I'll keep reading!

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Caroline, Oh yes there is no place like home and I'm loving the garden these days. The two beds you see coming toward you from the trillis are new. Part of the plan to have less grass, more garden. In the space I planted two apple espalier apple trees and I want to create a natural low fence. Hope it works

@Ian, Love to meet you! Another Seattleite and I do remember your neighborhood which was not far from mine (Wallingford). Thank you for your kind words about the blog and I'm glad you are finding that my words resonate with you (as yours resonate with me). I completely understand feeling like a space alien. If you ever want to have a coffee in Versailles, feel free to send me an email