Monday, August 3, 2009

I'm Home

but i want to go back.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Here and There

Mom is right, I should be writing in this just for the sake of having some written documentation of my last week here. I mean...lets face it, my memory sucks. I barely remember yesterday, let alone what I did last year! So here's the skinny:

Last weekend Andreas drove me to Thirsk and we went to the James Herriot Museum! I have wanted to see it ever since I came to England, and since my plan to seek out David Attenborough and give him a hug doesn't look like it's going to pan out, I'm glad to have accomplished the other important thing on my 'must do in England' list. We left after lunch and didn't get back until seven; I always get the scale mixed up. I think, okay England is way small, it takes barely any time to get anywhere--wrong! Anyway, the museum was really nice, it was cool to see the house he lived and worked in, and now when I read the books I can picture it all in my head how it really was! Andy had invited me for festive supper at Botton Farm, so we got back just in time, had a nice supper and...accidentally fell asleep at 9:00! We had intended to go to a gathering at Rowan, the last hurrah for Ben, but, well, oops. Woke up around eight the next morning and Andreas cooked me a nice egg and bacon breakfast and we lazed around until 11. At that point I figured I should go home since I hadn't been there in 24 hours. Things in Rock House are going really well, Lucie and Jonas are really cool, and actually just before writing this I had a nice talk with Lucie. It's cool to have young houseparents who can relate to how I'm feeling. Lucie and I had a long talk about life and love and relationships coming and going in our lives last week on a day I was feeling particularly distraught about leaving Andreas behind me.

This week I had planned on doing a detox diet. For two days I cut out dairy, sugar, gluten (which I obviously shouldnt be eating anyway), caffeine, and alcohol. On the third day I drank just vegetable juice, and the plan was to do so for three days. I felt totally fine with my first day of fasting, not even very hungry. Good willpower too. I even resisted the mother of all chocolate bars. The second day of juice, I woke up feeling like a drug addict in rehab. I was shaking and nauseas and for a brief moment thought I had swine flu and then realized this is a sign of toxins leaving the body. I decided to eat some porrige and go back to being gluten/dairy/sugar free for two more days. Clearly my body has some crap to get rid of, but I think this is not the time or the place to be so incapacitated. Ok, time for farming. Today is the last day to see Geno, he goes on holiday tomorrow, so tonight we are going shooting together! :) Later.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I know

I've lost most of, if not all of my audience. I have been a very bad blogger. But hte truth is, these days I need to ever more involved with the here and now, and thinking about the there and then (aka going home) is immensely painful. Its gotten to the point where my emotional fragility causes fits of crying at the slightest thing. We went to the cinema last night and saw a violent movie that I thought would be kind of violent but still good (Public Enemies, Johnny Depp) and after a while the voilence really got to me...I mean...I was like DAD! I was gripping Andreas's arm so hard I hurt him! Anyway, thats never really happened before, and after the film I was still feeling a bit shaken up, which led to negative thoughts which automatically led straight to 'oh my god i dont want to go home.' My top secret plan of getting pregnant didn't work (just kidding...) but I dont like kids much anyway, so it was kind of a bum plan. So I have to go home. I know it. But I cant face it right now, and writing to all of you back home just reminds me of leaving and that leads to...well, we covered that. So do pardon the lack of entries. I apologize if this poos on anyones blog parade. Wish me luck with this whole coping thing....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Its that time of year!


we farmers. we make hay. justin cuts, attilla turns and rows, justin bales, we the people grab the bales and make big stacks, then i go and bring in the cows and milk them and wash up all the milking machines, then we the people unload the bales into the barn.

we started wednesday afternoon after the saint johns picnic. everyone else had the whole day off, but it was so nice out all the farmers were like go go go!! i had really bad stomach pains the whole day on wednesday, no matter what i ate (and i didnt touch any gluten), and last night i felt so awful i was nearly puking, and this morning I was in bed and had nothing but a bowl of porridge all day. I went late to the farm, just barely pulled myself together enough to milk and stack bales in the barn. eventually the fresh air and movement seemed to help because i got pretty much better. we finished everything at half past eight, justin gave me a lift home, i had some more porridge and now here i am at botton farm and now iäm going to shleep. nighty night.

Friday, June 19, 2009

the worst of the worst

basically...the worst thing that can ever happen to a 21st century human being happened to me. my computer crashed last week, just after that last post. i lost everything. i took it to the IT guys here and they spent a whole morning trying to recover stuff, when i'm sure they have better things to do, and when i went to collect it after lunch pete, the main IT guy (and posible lover of Donna, the woman who covered Bracken and broke her foot while Paule and Nick were away, remember?) told me I might want to sit down for this news. I thought he was kidding. he wasn't. i cried. a lot. donna hugged me.
all my pictures. all my music. all my school documents saved as keepsakes. but the real bitch is the pictures. documentation of Paris. when am i ever going there again? never. thank god i püt a few up on this least i have some proof. the one i miss the most is the one i took of the homeless guy after I gave him a sandwich. the ones of botton were mostly landscapes, which i am trying my best to replicate.

i lost the camera, then the computer crashed, then my iPod started malfunctioning. Bad luck comes in threes I guess. The ipod thing is simply a bad headphone connection, costs me 12 pounds. for now i'm using andy's computer and trying my best to keep in touch. i should have the iPod back by the end of next week and the computer as well i think....pete ordered a 250G hard drive for me (an upgrade from 80 G!) and it was like 60 quid...i thought it would be like 200! so thats all okay. i'm over it. Im growing and all that. hope you guys didnt give up on the blog! i know theyve been fewer and further between as of late.
love to all.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I found it! The internet!!

There is internet in the sitting room! Woot! Now I just have to keep up with this blog. Seems like more of a task now that I'm out of the routine of daily writing. So here's whats up:

I moved to Rock, ages ago I guess! Things were pretty hectic at first, it was har to get into the swing of things with morning gatherings for Whitsun, a week of duty driving and other things. But now we're getting there. There are three villagers, me, and Lucie and Jonas and their two-year old daughter Nouria. The villagers:

Jean is a 42 year old "small lady" who loves pink and sparkly things and tells me I am beautiful all the time and is generally complimentary and kind. She is sometimes a bit of a drama queen, squeezing out the water-works every now and then for a bit of attention. Oh, and she is Tom Woodward's long lost sister or something. I have never heard a more monotoneous voice.

James is 27 and...really annoying. I know this sounds just a smidge hypacrytical, but HE TALKS SO MUCH. HE NEVER STOPS. And he goes on and on and on for ages about politics and global warming and religion in the most annoying voice and he DOES have a learning disability so he says weird things and inappropriate things and just NEVER. SHUTS. UP. Don't even get me started on him and Bible Evening. It's hell. I'm sure he has some good qualities....I just can't find them yet.

Fiona is in her 50's, and I don't know her very well. Neither do Lucie or Jonas, so we're getting to know her slowly. I'm supposed ot give her a shave every morning (she has a beard) but it doesn't work out so well. Plus her shaver sucks and I don't know shit all about electric shavers so....she remains hairy.

My room. It's amazing. On a trip to the beach with Ben and Andy I lost/someone stole my camera, so I don't have any pictures of it, but I just ordered a new camera today and when it comes I will go crazy with pictures of this amazing house and my super duper amazing room!!! Oh and me, because, well, I look good too. Hehe. No but really, at least externally I feel pretty great. My hair is healthy and loonnnggg, I haven't had a single pimple in like, three months, my broken toe is un-broken, or at least painless, and I haven't been compulsively cracking my neck and back nearly so much. Internally, things could be better, but it's my own fault. I love gluten, okay? I don't love the subsequent belly pain and farting and lethargy, but sometimes it's worth it, okay? okay?! :)

I have to say, as this is something I have been thinking a lot of recently, I am not going to be fun when I come home. Leaving here means a lot of heart-breaking goodbyes, and while I absolutely LOVE my friends back home, and I do want to see you guys, I gotta say, I'll be in a right state when I get back, and I think curling up in bed and being depressed sounds optimal. But then again, I can see myself partying it up with Molly and elke and Liz and Aimee Olivia and all these wonderful wonderful people I havent seen in forever. And I can see myself going mad with turning my house into a home and bringing all this Camphill stuff into my life and using my new found cooking skillz and home-decorating enthusiasm and getting up at half five to walk my dog and weed the garden....all in the three weeks before classes start. I have to pick one?

I'm going to the Mount this weekend, leaving Friday morning and coming back Sunday evening. It's a youth conference south of London; a bunch of young co-workers from Camphills around the UK coming together to eat, drink, play games and talk about Camphill. A right good time. :)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A few weeks ago Andy and I went to Whitby. The next day was my farewell with Tourmaline and we went to a garden with an outrageous cactus collection.

at some point i will write to you

But i still dont have internet in my room, i lost/someone stole my camera, and my cute german left me for a week. Next weekend i'm going to The Mount, a camphill place south of london for a youth conference. Well, its a bunch of young people sitting round a fire drinking and chilling out DISGUISED as a youth conference. We have three houses here for a big Arabian afternoon with amazing food I can't eat. This gluten thing is making me severely grumpy and whiny and angry and depressed recently. I just want to eat a fucking sandwich!!!!! Anyway, I gotta go pretend to be social. Pppttthhht.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

cant find the time

or the place, to write a new blog entry. rock house is amazing (it rocks! hehe) and lucie and jonas are the coolest, and nouria (their 2 year old daughter) is super cute but sometimes annoying but thats just cuz im not so much a kid person. theres no internet in my room so im on andys and now we gotta go set up the IVS hut with a new sound system.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Yooooo its like you dont even know me.

I went hunting with Andreas Sunday evening and we shot bunnies. It was sweeeet. I couldn't see through the scope so I didn't actually shoot anything, but the first one he got was twitching and kicking so we ran over and he showed me once again how to properly break their necks. See, I was walking through the woods on Saturday and found a little dying rabbit and I wanted to put it out of its misery and I tried to break its neck but i think I just broke its jaw instead and I was like "AHHH I'M SO SORRY!!!" Because, much as we want to kill them and keep them off the fields, we dont want them to suffer. So after Andy finished it off I carried it around the whole time and cuddled it and named it Fuzzball. I want to go again and possibly shoot something, or at least try. I know. Seriously. It's like you don't even know me. :-P

Rauiridh and Kathryn got back from Denmark last night; they've been gone since Thursday morning and Lisa and I ran the house. It went fine really, no big problems. Sleeping in my own bed was weird though...
Oooh and I move to Rock House on Monday!! Gonna move some clothes now though, no space up here!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Gotta Love that Bank

Its another bank holiday weekend! I'm not entirely clear on the whole bank thing it so all the bank people get a day off? Whatever, i guess I shouldnt look a gift horse in the mouth.

Thursday evening after milking and supper I was just gettin out of the shower when there was a knock on the bathroom door. Andreas was like "helooo there are a bunch of people waiting for you in the car what are you doing!??" And I was completely confused and having no idea what he was talking about. Apparently a pub outing had been planned, and Lukas or Andreas were supposed to call me but they both thought the other was doing it! So they were getting all in a huff in the car like where the hell is she she is always late lets go without her, but oooo they put their feet in their mouths!! We always have illegal numbers of people in the car, so I sat on Lukas and tried to squish him a little extra every time we hit a bump, and later I made Andreas buy me a drink. :-P
Friday afternoon I went back to work, loading branches and covering muck heaps and milkin and doing the dishwash. Got home around 7:00, had some supper and a shower and went over to NBF (New Botton Farm) where I promptly fell asleep.
Saturday morning got up, went home, did chores and had lunch and hung round and went to the coffee bar for a few minutes before heading over to HBN for milking. Justin asks me to do one evening milking on a bank holiday weekend. I hurried home, got changed and hustled up the hill to Sherwood, where our whole house had been invited for supper. After a lovely meal with lots of food I went over to Lusmore for Geno's birthday barbeque. Music, people, and more food. Andy and I left around 11:30 and once again I was out like a light. Not sure why I'm so tired.
Sunday morning we got up at quarter to nine and I very descretely used NBF's shower (so sneaky) and had some breakfast and we met up with some other long term co-workers and a Eurythmist and went to Great Ayton Quaker Meeting! It was Andreas's first Quakery experience. I think he liked it, but his lapsed Catholic conscience was probably thinking 'THIS is a religion?'
Afterwards we went to Pinchinthorpe Hall for a beautiful three course meal. Got home full and tired and took a brief nap. Well, brief for Andreas, who had to milk and got up at 3:45. I, however, slept until half past six. Went home, had a shower and some supper and went to the hall for a Eurythmy performace from a group from Stuttgart. A nice fairy tale, but a bit long.
When it finished we went to Skylark for beers and games, which was SO much fun!! We played MAFIA!!! I had no idea it was an international RPG!! The murderers won every time, but everyone had a good laugh. Then, when some people had left, we played Clue, which of course Andreas won both times. He's annoyingly good at that kind of mind game stuff. I lost by the hair of my neck and almost threw a tantrum. Almost.
As we were leaving Andreas couldn't find his shoes anywhere, we search the whole first floor and got nothing. So he took someone else's shoes and just as we were going out the door I saw the shoes: hanging from a hook on the wall right in front of us! A little trick courtesy of Lukas we were sure. So he'll get his soon enough....
Yesterday was the laziest day in the history of Botton. Dreary outside, so we stayed in bed aaalllll day watching films. Got up one time to go home for lunch while Andreas got fish and chips from the fish and chips van. No one cooks on Bank Holiday mondays, so the fish and chips van comes and everyone queus for hours on end. By the time I had gone home and had lunch and washed up and sorted my laundry out and got some films for the afternoon Andreas still hadn't gotten his food. So we went back to NBF, ate some greasy food until we almost barfed and then spent the rest of the afternoon digesting and watching O Brother Where Are't Thou and Chocolat. Came home at half seven for a house meeting to discuss the upcoming week. Ruairidh and Kathryn are going away from Thursday to Monday and Lisa and I are running the house. Should be fine, just lots to remember. Grabbed another film (Failure to Launch) and went back over to NBF. Seriously, it's like I live there. I wonder sometimes if it annoys Ben and Valeska. I mean I dont think it should, it's not like I'm taking Andreas away from any house responsibilites or anything. Anyway, it was a great weekend full of relaxation. But now I'm totally wracked with worry about Dylan, who has a mysterious disease that keeps getting worse. If you pray, pray.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Not so Bad

So I saw the doc and got this thing sorted out. It's called Costochondritis, an inflamation of the cartilage under the rib around my heart. And the rest of the breathing problems he chocked up to nerves, which is probably true; I mean, this shit is painful enough that I kind of live in fear of the next attack. He said to take some ibuprofen twice a day and also gave me some stomach things, like antacids or something to try to calm things down in that area cuz he did feel some swelling in the stomach/intestines and such. I had two attacks this morning so I'm chilling at home for the afternoon but I'm gonna go milk the cowsies in a bit cuz the walk will be nice and its a lovely day and I love cows and it's not such heavy work.
And shit! Dylan! If you're reading this, hope your crazy disease goes away right now!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


So a while back I was getting this chest pain thing, pre-cordial catch syndrome. Can't breath, gasping, pain, popping sensation in chest and then it's over. It sucked. It pretty much stopped happening though. Until Thursday. Since I got back I've been having six or seven incidents per day, I'm shaky all the time and can't take deep breaths without a bit of a pinch at the end. Sunday night just as I was falling asleep I had two heart attack/spasms in a row and I was panicking a lot and Andreas was like ahhhhhh what do i do!!??? I went to the health centre yesterday and talked to Veronie and Karen and they told me I should see a doc right away, but I didn't want to miss work on the farm. Justin's really struggling right now without Luis, even if he doesn't show it. So I went to work, and okay, it was a bad idea. I felt like someone was sitting on my chest the whole time which made me hyperventilate and feel dizzy and panicky and then I had another heart attack thingy and was spontaneously crying from the stress and poor Geno was totally freaked out and worried about me. He said it's so strange to see me like this cuz my cheery moods are always so infectious. He spent the whole afternon trying to make me laugh and feel better. Eventually it worked. I spoke to Justin about my weirdo health problems and he said I should take some time off from the farm and figure it out. So I'm going to the doctor's today, and considering the symptoms I might get some chest X-rays or whatnot.
The second, kind of separate issue is my whole ruddy digestive system. I haven't had much of an appetite since I got back, and when I do eat I feel nauseas...oh wait, this is exactly what happened last year. I'm thinking it's all the Parisian gluten catching up with me. I've been really good the past few days and plan to continue. But basically all I want to eat is my gf toast. Even the smell of cooked food makes me gag a bit. Weird. Okay, finished with the annoying health problem complaining.
I cooked a nice lunch today, complete with good timing. Woot.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Berry Botton Birthday

The day had nothing to do with berries, I just like aliteration.
At breakfast there was a beautiful flower arrangement at my place with a candle in the middle and when we sat down instead of a prayer everyone sang happy birthday to me! I was so surprised and embarassed but it was great. Spent the morning cleaning, doing my laundry and Mike's jobs since he's on holiday. Lunch was really nice, and the cake delicious. Around 2:30 I went to Hall North and helped Lucie and Jonas move a load of stuff to Rock House. So I finally got to see the house!! And my room!!! WHICH IS FUCKING HUGE!!!!! ITS THE BEST ROOM EVER!!! I even have my own outside door!! On Tuesday I'll go and clean it up and figure out how I'm gonna arrange it and everything. There was a bit of thunder and then it started pouring right as we were moving the stuff.
Then I went over to NBF and got Andreas up from his nap and we took some stuff to the IVS Hut to get set up for the party with Magda. Went back up to the house, got ready and off we went to Kirby Moorside! It was such a cute little town. We got some chips (french fries) since we hadn't had any supper (andreas and i, evryone else had) and then went to the Town hall for the folk concert. The first act was really loud drumming, and one of the Botton School kids who I used to have lunch with in Bracken twice a week came over and forced me to dance with her. I mean really. It was so embarrasing. Lukas and Lisa and Andy and I went outside for a while and Lisa and I walked around the block--the piano in the drumming group was REALLY loud and hurting our ears a bit, so the fresh air was nice. The next act was the funniest guy I've ever seen. I haven't laughed so hard in a really long time. I was crying! Actually half the room was; we were all totally losing it and falling out of our chairs. He was a singer/songwriter and had some nice quiet tunes as well as these funny ones with actions to do along with the words. Just ask me about it next time you see me and I'll show you, cuz if I describe it it's not funny. By the end of his act I was pretty tired and ready to go, but the next one was good too. A group of older people recently formed into a folk group. Thye sang a really beautiful rendition of Scarborough Fair though.

We got back and got ready for the party, all dressed up in our tackiest outifts and went down to the IVS Hut. The party was SO great! I got everyone dancing and so many people came and went crazy but not too crazy and I got pleasantly intoxicated and had a blast.

Came home just in time for lunch today. Starting to feel like maybe I spend a little too much time away from the house, but it never feels like enough (time at NBF) either.

Anyway, gotta go watch a film.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Why my stomach has hurt for three days.

Eating snails!

The Louvre

Broken Statues behind Malmaison

Eiffel Tower

Up top!

19 in 2.5 hrs

It's my birfday. :-P

Kathryn's making me a birthday lunch complete with cake. Yum. Going to a folk concert tonight with the house and Andreas and Lukas (couple central: houseparents, andy and me, lisa and lukas) and two villagers. Come back, have a crazy co-worker party. The theme: tacky dress, bad taste.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Phew! It's nice to be back. One week was just the right amount for sure--too much city and I go a little stir-crazy, needing that good ol' country air back in my lungs.
I spent the last full day, Tuesday, wandering around the Latin Quarter and looking at all kinds of great things. I had no problem with the metro system this time, knew where to go and how to get there, so that was a nice feeling. Came out of the station on Rue de Rivoli and easily found my way to the Seine, following it to the bridge by Notre Dame and crossing over to the Latin Quarter. I ended up getting a bit turned around in those streets. Cross-walks every which way and streets here and there, so tightly packed the names don't fit on the map. I found a huge cathedral, Saint Sulpice, then figured out where I was and went on to the Pantheon. I didnt plan on staying for very long ut it was so fascinating I was there for at least an hour and a half. Then I slowly worked my way on to the Arenas (stopping for a nosering and the best gelato I've ever had), some Roman ampitheatre ruins now used as a sort of park. Watched some kids play football for a bit, then kept walking; through the Luxembourge gardens and into the park around the Natural History Museum. Took off my sandals and walked the place barefooted. Got a few strange looks. Got myself a ticket for the zoo and walked all around it and saw a bunch of very cute animals. I have mixed feelings about zoos. For instance, some of the animals seem happy enough, but then...the vultures, the owls, the macaws, these birds are meant to soar in the sky and feel teh wind in their wings, but they can only flutter from perch to perch in their big outdoor cages. The galapagos turtles had hardly any room, indoors and noisy and hard concrete. The orangutans seemed to be having a ball though. Perhaps these creatures are inherently fun-loving and can create fun in any setting. I stayed with them the longest. For some reason I am moved to tears every time I encounter orangutans or gorillas. I had a revelation. I will continue the animal science path, but before going to vet school I MUST go to borneo and do research with orangutans.
OH! AND A BIRD SHAT ON MY HEAD!!! That sucked.

I'm cooking in Tourmaline twice a week starting today, so I gotta go do that. More later!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Paris V

A VERY long day! Got up at ten past seven and got something to eat and all pretty and dressed and eventually, with much prompting, Teddy got up and got ready for class. Phillipe drove us to the train station and we got on and went to La Defénse, the business district where Teddy goes to school. From there I got on a metro and, after getting on the wrong one and getting confused and asking random people for help and trying not to get run down by fast-paced business suits I got to Châtelet, the stop I was told to get off at. Unfortunately, I came out in some weirdo mall area and got completely turned around again, but my main concern was how badly I had to pee!!! So I spent a good portion of an hour running in circles trying to find a bathroom. I stopped in a beautiful old church (there are a LOT of those in Paris), looked around, but alas, no toilet. Finally I found a little café that had a toilet...with no seat. I could have gone into a nice place, but I felt awkward about it cause most places look too fancy and like they'd say very complex things in French and turn me away.
Outside the café I sat down and tried to figure out where the hell I had ended up, and I must have looked severely confused, because a man came over and said something in French, and in response to my even more confused face, he said, "oh, I said 'do you need help?'" He spoke English very well and gave me the simplest directions to Notre Dame: go two streets down, turn right, go straight to the Seine and turn left and follow it until you see big bell towers. So I did, and I found the place. But before I went to Notre Dame I walked past Saint Chappelle, a really famous 13th century church. I was told I had to see it, so I bought a ticket and went in and DANG it was the most incredible church I've ever seen. 15 20 meter high stained glass windows tell the story of the Bible from start to finish, and one giant Rose window depicts a prediction of the apocolypse.

So then I went to Notre Dame, and after the stained glass I'd just seen, nothing seemed quite so impressive. But it was still really cool, and there was a service going on while I walked around inside. Then I bought a sandwhich and some water and gave it to a homeless guy and his two dogs I'd seen on the way there. I took their picture as well. Figured it wasn't rude since I'd just given them a meal. Then I walked back to the Louvre and lazed about in the sunshine in the Toullerie gardens. I fell asleep...and got sunburned. :-/

Then I walked back across the river to the Musée d'Orsay, a 19th century art museum, but it was closed. I met two ladies from Texas and Oregon who had grown up in Pittsburgh and have friends in State College--what a small world! So I walked back the the Champs Elysèes and up to the Grande Palais. After waiting in line for at least 45 minutes I got into the Andy Warhol exhibit. It was really good. I remember going to the AW museum in Pittsburgh in middle school, but it was great to see it again.
So then I was completely knackered, but still had to get home. Feeding that guy must have given my karma a real boost, cuz I had no trouble getting to Saint-Germain en Laye where Maguy picked me up.

We had gluten free pasta for supper and I am stuffed and tired and sunburned and getting up at eight tomorrow, so I gotta go to bed!

Love to all.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Paris II III and IV

So, back to Friday. I took tons of pictures at the Place de Concorde and then walked back up the Champs Elysèes. On the way down I had seen a homeless guy laying on the ground and I thought I should buy him a sandwhich to re-boot my karma. I used up the good stuff travelling here. Unfortunately the homeless guy was gone by the time I got back to where he was, so I bought some chocolate for myself instead. :-P But then I gave a euro to an old woman with a cane and a cup in her outstretched hand.

Maguy picked me up back at the Arc de Triomphe and we drove to the Seine and got on a nice big boat with oodles of orange chairs. As we meandered down the river the voiceover told us about all the historic places on starboard and port in a dozen different languages. It got a bit chilly towards the end, but it was a great way of seeing the sites. We passed the Louvre, Notre Dame, the first castle in France that was later converted to a prison which held Marie and Louis before they were beheaded, the Eiffel Tower, and many others.

Maguy had a doctors appointment at 3:00, so she dropped me at the Eiffel Tower and went to do that. I waited in line for a while and listened to people around me (pretty much the only thing one can do when travelling alone--eavesdrop) and saw a woman sucker a few Euros out of a kid. She didnt even look very poor, and it was totally unfair of her to ask a kid who couldnt have been more than 12. After the usual security hurdles and more queing and ticket-buying, I got myself into a lift full of excited people and went up to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. The view was wonderful. After walking all around and taking pictures for people (met some nice kids from LA and New Jersey) I qued for the next lift to the top floor. Hol. It was higggghhh!!! The lift was the only really scary that voice in the back of my mind saying ooooo this better not break!! You can always spot the English kids in the crowd--the ones without coats. They would always rather freeze and show off their fashions than be sensible and warm.

Maguy picked me up at half past five. I was getting a headache and feeling a bit ill, due to a combination of gluten intake, squinting in the sun ( packed my sunglasses and forgot to wear them), and city air. So I fell asleep in the car and took a nap when we got home. The plan was to go out for chinese food, as Maguy and Phillipe do every friday night; but upon waking I felt even worse. So I stayed in and slept the night through.

Woke up at ten and read a bit and got up at half past. I have no idea what happened mind-blank out right now. But I know we had lunch in...oh but we went out... got some gluten-free bread...but I did something before that...cant remember what it was. Great. Swiss cheese brain. Anyway, after lunch Maguy drove me to Versailles and got me all set up with an English audioguide and left me to explore. Dang that place was crazy. Glitz everywhere. Yikes. Beautiful though; I cant imagine building it, the amount of work that went into it is mind-boggling.
I rang Maguy and Phillipe when I was finished and we arranged to meet at a restaurant/tavern place just down the street. I found the place but it was way early, so I strolled around Versailles in the rainy foggy weather (made me feel all cozy...thank you England) and bought some ovverpriced hot cocoa from some nice french guys and then found the cutest little shopping place ally type thing with amazing little stores and boutiques and restaurants. And one store was the best of all. A TEA SHOPPE!!! Thè et Cafè. It looked closed so I kept walking, but then went back to check again because, well, I love tea. The sign said they should be open for another 10 minutes, but the key was already in the door. I could see a little old man inside so I knocked on the glass and waved and he smiled and came over and said bonjour and I the same and I asked, in french, if he spoke english, and he said NOOO! But then he smiled and said, "a little bit." So I asked him what his favorite kind of tea is and said I would like some of that. Then I asked him if he had any lavender scented teas and he said, " one moment," and left the shop. He came back a few seconds later with another man, presumably from next door, who spoke better English and served as a translator. It was so great! I got some really nice Russian Earl Grey which I tried last night and it was delightful. Oh and then I got some chocolate because he recommended it and this little old man was so precious I would have bought anything.

I had a lovely meal with Maguy and Phillipe--I ATE SNAILS!!! They were delish; kind of earthy. And a salmon salad and creme brulée and a very nice white wine. Came home full and went to bed.

This morning I got up around nine and Phillipe said if I hurried he could take me to Le Mal Maison (home of Josephine and Napolean) on his way to tennis. So I did, and I gave myself a tour of the mansion and the grounds and educated myself with a bit of French history. I suffer through daily quizzes from Phillipe about everything I saw and what did I learn and I'm expected to remember the name of every friggin thing and the history behind it and its just impossible and makes me feel stupid. Maguy picked me up and we met Phillipe at the Hippopatomus restaurant and i had the biggest burger you've ever seen and loads of bread rolls and yeah, I felt kind of sick afterwards. But it was so cute, all these things happen in french tat I dont understand, and then theres a big suprise! Like Phillippe was talking to the waiter and Maguy said he was negotiating about getting us a cup of coffee, so I thought okay we'll have coffee. Wrong! We got espresso and chocolate mousse and creme brulée! Yummmm.
Then Phillipe gave me a tour of the Opera (beautiful!) and took me to the Louvre.

I walked the grounds just a bit, then went into the big glass pyramid and down the escalator and got my ticket and walked around and saw the Winged Victory and the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper and David and Goliath. But then they started closing things up and I looked at my ticket and it turns out they close things at I wroked my way back outside, stopping first at Starbucks (dont judge me) then at a gourmet chocolate store where I got a small bag of champagne truffles for €13.26. Again, don't judge. Then I walked barefoot int eh Toullerie Gardens for an hour or so, basking in the sunshine with everyone else.
Phillipe picked me up with Teddy, whom he had picked up at the train station just before. Teddy's cool. Yummy supper, writing this, now time for bed. Yawn.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Paris II

Yesterday was big. Big statues, big boat ride, big BIG Eiffel Tower.
I didn't bring an alarm clock, and my room doesn't have a clock, so I wasn't sure what time it was when I woke up. Just to be safe ( I needed to be ready to leave with Phllipe at 9:30), I got up and went downstairs. It was half past six! Phillipe and Maguy were already up; she had to teach at half past seven, and he's an early riser anyway. So I ate some toast and drank some juice and, with nothing better to do, went back upstairs to bed, where I was promptly joined by Putz the Cat, who kneaded her way along my legs while I drifted back to sleep. I had to keep getting back up to check the clock downstairs, and around eight I officiqlly got up and showered and got all dressed up in my new Paris outfit. Jeans, beautiful brown leather boots, green mini dress (with pockets!), white cardigan, blue and white linen scarf and pink peacoat. Woot. In an attempt to be french I put my hair in a loopy little twist thing and threw in some pearl earrings for kicks.

Phillipe dropped me off at the Arc de Triomphe, where I proceeded to do the tourist thing and take loads of pictures from every angle, immersing myself in a herd of Asians making peace signs and grinning ear to ear. I took the stairs under the road and came up underneath the Arc, and I think I was suppoed to pay for a ticket or something but I went up the exit stairs and didn't pay a thing. Heehee.

On I went down the Champs Elysèes (Shawms Eleesays), making my first stop in a delicious smelling bakery called Paul. I snapped a few photos of the goods before being told off by the woman behind the counter. Any feelings of negativity towards the place were immediately squashed when I sank my teeth into an almond croussaint. Mmmmmm gluten be damned.

My next stop was Sephora. Now, I'm not a huge fan of perfume. Get stuck in a lift with a heavily scented woman or two and one is likely to feel a bit nauseas. But I figure, I'm in Paris. I want some Parisian perfume. Having never given any thought to perfume until this moment, however, I was suddenly confronted with a large task--what do I want to smell like? Flowers? Fruit? Love Hurts? Lust? Midnight Poison? Dark Goddess? One Chance? I sprayed and sniffed for at least '( minutes until I found something I liked that was reasonably priced. Perfume is friggin expensive! The one I liked the most was €100, so I opted for the €38 Amor Amor "Sunrise" scent. Doesn't smell much like sunrise to me, but who am I to judge? Waiting in the que I met a woman from Massachusettes. She put two sons through Villanova, so she knew PA pretty well. This was her first big travel experience, her first time in Europe. She was really nice.

Feeling a bit pressed for time ( I was to meet Maguy back at the Arc at 12:30), I continued down the Champs Elysèes, taking pictures of all the gorgeous architecture: the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais, lovely gardens and fountains and everywhere I looked and listened, people from different places. Spanish, Polish, Russian, French, English, American ( two different languages), Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese--it was fun trying to guess people's origins.

Eventuqlly I made it to the Place de Concorde. This is the place where Marie Antionette and Louis the XVI were beheaded, among many others. From there I could see lots of things that I will have to tell you about later because I need to go take a shower and go to Versailles!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I have problems with travel.

I should start by saying that I did make it to Paris; in case the title is worrying anyone. But let me start from the beginning. I went with the duty run to the Danby train station along with Marietta's mom and Jana's sister, both of whom had been visiting Botton. While waiting for the train to arrive I rescued a sheep and a lamb from becoming smears on the tracks by shoving them back through the my nice pink peacoat. You can take the girl out of the farm...

Upon arriving in Middlesborough I sat on a bench and struck up a conversation with an old woman named Esme. Esme used to drive herself around the UK, but must now rely on public transportation due to a torn achilles tendon. She wore a beautiful purple scarf tied round her head like a babushka (sp?) and purple eyeshadow and a purple paisley dress; she was on her way to the Lake District to see her family.

On the train to York I sat across from a buggy little man of forty-something reading a newspaper. Halfway to York I checked my tickets to make sure I had everything in order. I didn't. I had the print-out tickets for London St. Pancras to Paris, but not the ones for York to London! Where were those!? I remembered that I had given myself plenty of time in York for lunch, so I wasn't completely panicking yet. So when I got to York, I did what I do best: talked to people. I went back and forth to tons of different people, all of whom were extremely nice and kind and helpful, and they let me use their computer to try and print it out again, and since email couldn't be accessed on the computer ( to encourage a working environment) a station guy had me send the tickets to HIS email and he found a printer and printed it out, but the York part still wasn't on it!! But we found a booking reference number, and I took that back to one of the first people who had helped me, and he discovered the problem: I had thought that it was an "e-ticket" because I had purchashed it over the internet, but it was separate from the London-Paris ticket because that's from another rail company and blah blah blah but woohoo! we figured it out. I was gonna be really pissed if I had to buy a same-day ticket to London--it would have cost around £100. So, with my tickets all sorted, I sat in a cafe and munched on the trail mix I had brought with me, and sipped a hot chocolate. I bought a pre-packaged brownie labeled "gluten free" but upon reading the ingredients discovered that it had wheat in it! Right underneath the ingredients it said Allergy allert: contains soya, milk and wheat. What. The. Hell. People are stupid. Anyway, I got my money back and went back to reading Travels With Charley and watching all the British people be British.

The train to London was long and tedious, made better by the nice English gentleman sitting beside me until Peterborough, and made far worse by a bunch of head-banging drunken idiots playing AC/DC at top volume out of a laptop and cursing like sailors. Okay I know, I sound like a grandma; but there WERE grandmas around, and little kids, and I was trying to sleep! When my iPod ran out of batteries and I could drown them out no more, I asked them to please turn their music down, or, preferably, off. They were not so pleased to be told off by a little American lass, so of course they ignored my request with a "it's the middle of the fuckin' day, she wants to sleep, tough shit." The older woman to my right gave me a wry smile as if to say, "thanks for trying." When we arrived at Kings Cross, there were many murmers of "I am SO glad to get off this train."

From Kings Cross I followed signs pointing me across the street to St. Pancras, where I proceeded to walk around and take pictures and spi a glass of wine, thinking I had oodles of time. But I didn't. I failed to read the fine print on my print-out ticket that said I needed to check in half an hour before departure. Shit. So I missed my bloody train. After rushing through the security and passport checks ( at least I remembered my passport) I went to the counter to ask if I could still board, and was promptly turned down. Even thoug he looked a bit grumpy, the man behind the desk bumped my ticket forward and put me on the next train to Paris--free of charge. I had a non-refundable non-flexible ticket. To change it would have cost over £200. This grumpy man is a saint, and I will remember him forever. My next good samaritan was a guy on his computer. I didn't bring mine, and I needed to get to my email and find Maguy's number to let her know I would be half an hour later than planned. This guy loaned me his laptop, another guy let me use his pen, then a woman showed me where the phones are, and I was able to leave Maguy a message and pray that she got it.

The train ride itself was very quiet. I shared a car with a dozen Koreans (Whenever I see Asian people I just assume they're from Korea since most Asians I know are Korean...) eating sushi, and after purchasing a salad (the only food I'd had since breakfast besides the trail mix, and the only gluten free food available), I dozed in and out of sleep. I didn't notice going underwater. It's really strange; on land the train went through a lot of tunnels and my ears popped like crazy and it was relly uncomfortable, but underwater they were fine! When we came out the other side, since I'd slept a bit I wasn't sure how long we'd been in the tunnel and therefor unsure which country I was in, I kept looking for french signs. What finally clued me in was people driving on the correct side of the road. ;-)

When we got to the Gar de Nord I followed everyone to the exit and immediately saw Maguy. SUCH a relief! She had waited for a while before checking her phone, but she got the message in the end. She drove me around the heart of Paris and told me absolutely everything about it and was like my own personal tour guide all the way home. Phillipe was already in bed, but Maguy and I stayed up talking for a while, and she fed me a stuffed tomato with rice and pork and a glass of red wine. Dee-lish! I'm staying in Elizabeth's room, which has a nice view into the backyard, and into the neighbors as well. ;-P I awoke this morning to the sound of a chainsaw, only to look out and see two strapping young men hacking down a tree nextdoor. Fell back to sleep, woke up later and had a nice hot shower, then went downstairs and had some toast. I have decided that while in Paris I will toss aside my gluten-free diet and say poopoo to the consequences. But I did bring a loaf of gluten-free bread for breakfast. And theeennnnn...we went shopping!!! It's been a long time since I went shopping, and it was funnnnn. But first we went to St. Germain en Laye, the birthplace of Louis the 14th, and Maguy gave me a little history lesson. Then we shopped qround and found a very cute little store called Promod, where I proceeded to try on absolutely everything. I bought three dresses and a bag. Yay! I am not saying how much I spent. But it's completely guilt-free cuz it's my holiday money from Botton! We got some flan and tea from a little cafe, and then went on to a more mall-ish place where I found the most wonderful boots in the world. Mommy this was my treat from you, so you can definitely borrow them sometime :) Then we got some Haagen Daas and came home. And now I'm gonna go eat some lamb. Yes, you heard correctly: lamb. It's like you don't even know me anymore!!

Tommorow I'll see the Champs Elysées, the Latin Quarter and the Boul' Màch. Saturday we'll all go out and see some museums. Haha, SOME museums.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Landscape I meant to Post a While Ago

My new Home


My computer is full! I've deleted things I don't need, from applications I don't use to old documents I won't read. The thing is, I don't even have that much stuff on here! I think my computer just doesn't have much memory. I remember we bought the one with less memory or ram or whatever, but I didn't think it would fill up this fast. True, I do have 3,897 pictures and 20 gigs of music. Anyway, I need to get an external hard drive.

This picture was taken up on the moors on a walk last weekend with Nastaja Lisa Ben and Matt.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I'm a terrible updater. No okay I refuse to take blame for this. There is no time in life. Ever. For Christs sake I didn't have a chance to call my own mother for a month! Ooh, it's Holy Week, probably shouldn't say things like that. Anyway, things in Tourmaline are still going really well. Kathryn is so great, the other day she straight up asked me, "So how's your romance with Andreas going?" Um, it's going fine, in case anyone is wondering. Actually we broke up. But not really. Whatever. Actually I was supposed to meet him a few minutes ago. Seriously, there is no such thing as free time.

Oh I should mention that Luis left. Asshole. I'm now the only real co-worker on the farm, meaning I carry the work and the questions come to me and blah blah blah I fucking miss him he was so wonderful. He's doing the farm training in Germany now. And working things out with his ex-girlfriend/girlfriend/whocaresican'tbelieveheleftme. :-(