Friday, February 23, 2007

Make 'Em Laugh

Dr. B has a brother who lives in Montana. I always leave him alone when he's on the phone with his brother--I know he'll be laughing so hard he'll have tears rolling down his face. Though Dr. B and T are polar opposites in just about every way, his brother is one of the only people Dr. B always feels comfortable talking to, and besides me and his parents, is the only one who can really get through to him.

T and his wife have 4 kids (fraternal twin boys, then 2 girls), 2 of whom we've not met yet, because they live so far away, and he works so much (he owns a finishing construction company.) We've either missed them at the in-laws, or not had the money to travel there, or been living in France... there are always excuses. For them to travel, with four kids, is really difficult. We've been trying to figure out ways to get out to Billings to see them, but things always seem to get in the way.

We decided that Spring Break would be a great time to go visit them. I had a week off, I wouldn't be too big to fly, and then we'd get to finally meet our goddaughter. It would cost us two plane tickets, but we were determined.

Then, I didn't get any sub jobs in January. And haven't gotten paid since mid-December. And then I found out that my first paycheck, with all of 5 days of work on it, won't even show up until March 1st.

So, we called them with the bad news.

(Dr. B and Brother T)

"I've got some bad news. We aren't going to be able to make it out in April. Ronnie hasn't gotten paid, and we are so broke. Flat busted. We've even completely wiped out our savings."

"You guys have savings?"

Happy Birthday, T. Thanks for making your brother laugh, and for always making him feel good enough. We love you.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


While going through my mom's cedar chest, looking for baby things and wedding things for my sister, I found my photo album from the first year of my life. I brought it home with us after the Christmas holiday, and spent a little time going through it with my husband, who was a very cute baby. In fact, many people referred to him as a "Gerber baby" and thought he should model. Of course, this hasn't gone to his head at all.

"Wow, you were bald."

"Yeah, I know."

"No, I mean really bald! You didn't have any hair at all. No eyebrows, even. And you were as white as a ghost! And the way your mom dressed you, people must have wondered if you were a boy. All those striped shirts and jeans and the Batman sweatshirt and funky little sunglasses. Nothing pink anywhere."

"Yeah, she wasn't into the frills back in the early 70's."

"Huh. Boy. Still bald. Bald. Bald. Bald, but happy! Still bald..."

It went on like this for a while.

Then he got to a picture of me at age 2 1/2, in my Christmas dress, my blonde hair in carefully curled ringlets to my shoulders.

"Oh, you got better."

Thanks for that.

So, needless to say, I've been a little worried that our child would be born looking more like me than him, and I would spend the first year of her life explaining that yes, she is a girl, and no, she is not Sinead O'Baby, but will eventually grow some hair, like I did.

Then I read this.

No worries, then. Heartburn, check.

(Thank God for Gaviscon.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day (from Snowy Wisconsin)

Who needs a dozen roses when you've got snow and tires?

Happy V-day to my Honey! I love you infinity cubed!!!

And happy V-day to everyone else, too! May you eat lots of candy and not gain 5 pounds. :) Hugs from Madison!

Friday, February 09, 2007


When we returned to the US, the thing we missed perhaps most was our local boulangerie. The French are known for their breads and pastries, and despite all of the advances in commercial baking in the states in the past 15 years, we still couldn't find a baguette that compared to our local bakery in Paris. We tried loaves from every source we could find, and were always disappointed. Too heavy, too smooshy, too tasteless--none of them came close to the crispy, light and wheaty loaves we could pick up for a euro on our way home to our tiny pied à terre.

Then I read about a new bakery in town, and had to try it. After teaching French at a local middle school yesterday, I swung by Madeleine's Patisserie, at the corner of the Speedway and Mineral Point Road, before picking up Dr. B for my OB appointment and then my prenatal yoga class. I walked into the bakery, and was immediately greeted by a wonderful smell--baking butter. A good sign. I perused the case, noting the delectable cakes layered with buttercream and fresh fruit, rich chocolates, tiny cookies, quiches, pizzas and even an Italian onion, mushroom and ham tart. It didn't look exactly like a french bakery, but fairly close, so I made my way to the ordering station and asked about the empty madeleine tray. She said they'd be out of the oven in about 3 minutes, so I chose a baguette, 2 pain au chocolat (to save for breakfast), and ordered a quarter pound of madeleines. After she rang me up, she offered the box of mini-madeleines to me with the note, "they taste so much better when they're still warm." I popped one in my mouth, and she was right. Delicious. Light, buttery, not sconey at all. Mmmmm...

I got to the car, and cracked off the end of the baguette. The crust shattered in my hands (and all over my coat and the front seat of my car.) It was crunchy but not too hard, a good start. The scent was wheaty and yeasty. The mie (the squooshy inside part of the bread) was not as good as some of our favorites in France, but it was OK. The flavor was good, though it was a bit dry (though what isn't this time of year in WI) and not quite how I like it. But, it was very similar to bread one would find in Paris, just not the best stuff from my favorite bakeries. (I prefer the mie with the big, irregular holes, more chew, and almost an "eggy" texture to it--I don't know if that describes it how I mean it, but Dr. B agreed with that term, so I hope it makes sense to you! Of course, a multi-grain baguette [baguette aux céréales] is my absolute favorite.) This is the best baguette in Madison (much better than the ones at the world-renowned Café Soleil/Harvest/L'Étoile, and light years away from the horrid not-even-glorified hot dog buns at La Brioche. Blech!)

When I arrived home, Lucy greeted me at the door with lots of kisses, happy to see me and eager to be put out back and run around her little yard, since she'd been alone for about 6 and a half hours. I was busy setting down my handbag, bakery bags, yoga mat, yoga bag, etc., and told her she'd have to wait a minute. She sniffed the Madeleine's bag with interest. I set the crinkly paper baguette bag on the stair railing, and of course, it fell off, with a smattering of crumbs ending up on the floor. I pointed them out to Lucy and said she could eat them (she usually won't touch it unless we tell her it's OK for her to have), and she happily licked them up.

Then she looked at me.

With the crazed Crack-eyed look of a dog whose Bag-Dar has begun beeping wildly. BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP!

She began to nose the baguette bag, dancing around and wagging her tail. I told her she still needed to go outside, which now had become something she really didn't care about at all. She came in a few minutes later, and I set her filled food bowl next to her water dish. She looked at the baguette bag, then at me. I pulled out the baguette, and she began to dance again, even hopping up on her hind legs a little to get a bit closer to the bread. (Note, she never does this. She is usually strangely well-behaved.) I laughed, and broke off a hunk for my snack, since Dr. B was going to be late for supper. The crumbs and shards that broke off I brushed into my hand and dumped over her bowl of kibble.

She wolfed it down in about 20 seconds flat. (Very unusual--she makes a grand production out of eating, including waiting until we're done eating our own meal, bringing out a certain number of kernels and carrying it from room to room, eating one kernel at a time and crunching loudly, asking to be petted between bites, putting some in her bed, etc. For her to just eat is very rare.)

I went to check my email, munching on the buttered bread. She followed me, nosing me with her snout, a wild look in her eye. I offered her a chunk, and she nearly swallowed it whole.

After I was done eating and she had licked every morsel of a crumb off my hand, lap and the floor by my feet, she went back to the foyer and spent a good ten minutes hunting on the floor for a stray crumb or two she may have missed.

Bag-dar (baguette radar): not gone, just hibernating.

Monday, February 05, 2007

"Too Cold"

In January of 1999 in Grand Forks, ND, every day had temperatures of -40 degrees Fahrenheit (in Celsius, -40F is also -40C. This is where the twain shall meet.) Add in the wind chill factor, and it felt like -60 (-51C). This lasted the entire month.

It was officially Cold. (We had a scale. If your snot didn't freeze your nose shut when you walked outside, then it was "cool" or maybe "chilly".)

I layered tights under my wool pants, wore a heavy wool coat, hat (cute hairdo be damned), gloves, scarf, and gritted my teeth against the Alberta Clipper winds as I made my way across the school parking lots three or four times a day, traveling from school to school as the Band Director, grades 5-8, at the middle and elementary schools across the river.

I also ate chocolate "for energy". Unfortunately, my body wasn't listening, and I also gained 15 lbs that year.



These Wisconsinites, despite all their varied charms, are WIMPS.

-15F (-26C) and they cancel school.

Sheesh. I would have missed 4 months every winter in North Dakota had we been that wussy.

And of course, this also means I don't get paid for today.

Dangit anyhow.

Sunday, February 04, 2007



After being hired mid-December, doing all the interviews, paperwork, fingerprints, photocopies, forms, and Tuberculosis tests, I am finally a substitute teacher in the Madison public schools. I got my official number on Tuesday, and tossed and turned and laid awake most of that night, hoping for a 6 AM wake up call, which didn't come.


So I spent Wednesday writing an email to all the Music and French teachers in the district with my credentials and information, and heading over to the school across the street with my name and phone number and a promise that I could be there in 10 minutes if something came up in the middle of the day, along with ironing every single wrinkled thing in the house.

It's paying off. And I'm not just talking about my ever-so-smooth tablecloths.

Thursday and Friday I taught across the street for the PE teacher who got sick in the middle of the day, 1 and a half days, and this week I already have 1 and a half days booked for two French teachers. I have a guaranteed Tuesday off (inservice in the district), but am hoping for another day or two. I even found out someone requested me last Friday, when I was already booked. I guess that email was a good idea.

Unfortunately, tomorrow is supposed to be very cold, and I do have to travel mid-day, so now I need to find something to wear that fits and is warm. Oh well, at least I'm getting paid. Yippee!
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