Sunday, May 24, 2009

Vide Grenier results etc…

Well, basically, the vide grenier was a bust, in financial terms.  It was so frustrating.  Everything seemed perfect.  We had a great location.  There was TONS of traffic (hundreds of people probably wandered by).  The stuff was priced to go.  The kids were looking cute.  In the US, this combo would have netted us at least 100 or more.  Here, alas, everyone looked, but no one was much interested in actually buying anything.  I did not paint ONE face (except my own munchkins, of course) and I couldn’t believe more people didn’t buy baked goods from the kids! We probably made about 30 Euros total – so maybe that broke us even in terms of supplies and renting the space – but, of course, that doesn’t count the tons and tons of hours spent cooking, sorting, preparing etc…    It wasn’t just us, by the way, I noticed our neighbors weren’t selling lots mini_DSC08503either, although their prices were very low and their stuff was cool.  Of course, that left bargains for us to find.  I got a shirt and a DVD, Callie got a Polly Pocket house and a book, Griffin got a Mickey Mouse box and a book and Zander got a Galileo Thermometer (just like grandpa!), a glowing globe night light AND a used Lego set.   It was cool to make them earn the money first and then use it to buy something.  If nothing else, that is ‘tres educatif’ as my next door seller said.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and we were very fortunate our space was shaded. The wind was a problem all day and finally became so strong it literally blew our whole table set up over at one point.  After that, we just got discouraged and so we tossed in the towel at around 3pm – hopefully our neighbors didn’t' sell out between 3 and 6!  Guess I will be donating lots of items to Emmaus, where, on Saturday, I went when the store opened hoping for a miracle and found some brown shoes!!!  So, in the end it all worked out – but I think we’ll wait for the US to try selling our used junk again – French don’t seem to know how to do impulse buying.  We American uber-consumers could learn from this….

mini_DSC08368We have been experimenting with having pet snails lately.  mini_DSC08336They are abundant locally, easy to handle and easy to care for (air, water, fresh leaves…. voila!)  They can live up to 15 years, as well. We have seen them, lately, migrating across our streets and sidewalks, sometimes getting crushed underfoot. This inspires us to want to “save” them of course!  So far we have had a small group of tiny snails and then, later, a giant snail.  When the kids won’t take care of them (shocking), we just release them back into the wild. Here are some of our recent detainees!  

mini_DSC08378Zander is back on his bike again, and willingly gave up his 50% to help pay for the glasses – which I was grateful for (even though it was only like 5 euros – but that wasn’t from lack of trying!)  Of course, he got mad and bent the other pair (missing a lens) he’s been wearing in half earlier yesterday because he couldn’t see the video he wanted and today he snapped that pair into little bitty pieces because I put him in time out for kicking Griffin - so has this lesmini_DSC08505son been learned?  I would say no – but I am at a loss to know what to do to get this one through his  head.  Maybe the shrink will help?  He had his first session Wednesday with the psychologist and was sad to leave her (or her toys, at least) which is good.  Andre’ and I also met with her briefly – still can’t get a handle on this woman – not sure what her m.o. is.  Zander also had a play date with his new friend Elie on Wednesday.  They are pictured, right.  I hear him trying to speak in French so much more lately – and his teacher says he is talking much more - but man, his accent is terrible – like mine!

mini_DSC08367 We got a wonderful Grammie package the other day thatmini_DSC00437 included sponge paints – we put these to use immediately to make our yard sale signs and Griffin went crazy over the sticker box included.  He is so creative, doing quite well these days.  I was late earlier in the week and his Tuesday teacher (who I wish was his everyday teacher) was tickling him like crazy.  Here they are together.  He has had quite a few accidents this week though – I think he is trying to figure out whether he really wants to be potty trained or not.  Great, just what I need.

It is clear his future may be in art as well - wondering if any other moms let their kids ‘waste’ this many stickers.  Look at these unique sculptures!  We also loved the foam craft. Thanks Grammie!mini_DSC08371 mini_DSC08373mini_DSC08376 mini_DSC08500 

mini_DSC00428Thursday was another French holiday – ascension (put another checkbox in the ‘yes, religious, mini_DSC08518but NO they don’t see it that way’ column, please). Hooray, hooray, this means that Andre’ has a 4 day weekend.  Anticipating weekend trips, I put the 2nd ever tank of gas into Mr. Liberty yesterday and he still had 20 litres left.  I love the fuel efficiency of this vehicle!  We spent the morning at the nearby Foret de Challiuz.  Of course, I was on the lookout for new wildflowers – and I wasn’t disappointed!  My favorite were these beautiful purple ones – In English these are Columbine in French Ancolie.  The rest are below.  The first two are (I think – and remember folks I’ve never claimed to be a pro…) Daisy and Brown Rayed Knapweed (even though it’s purple – this reminds me of the red clover – why the prejudice against purple?).  I don’t know what the third is even though it is absolutely EVERYWHERE in the forest but the fourth is either wild strawberry or barren strawberry – I can’t tell the difference.   Lastly, I show some shots of poppies.  Yes, the ones they grow in Afghanistan for opium.  They grow wild here and they are so beautiful.  Showy and bright.  I can’t ever see them, though without thinking of The Wicked Witch of the West chanting, “Poppies, Poppies….”   Run Dorothy, Run!!!

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There were lots of other folks around, notably several HUGE groups of Muslim picnickers – they were even roasting 2 pigs!!!  The joyful families hanging out together reminded me a bit of similar groups we have observed in America – these were mainly made of Hispanic folk.  We were wondering why this type of similarity existed and theorize that, in both cases, this is the population less likely to have houses and yards to picnic in – so they come to the park.  Is this because they are more recent immigrants, often living in apartments and don’t, perhaps, have family with houses and yards to visit on days such as this?  Does it have something to do with the fact that both communities tend to have large, close-knit families?  Do they just like the woods more?  This could be a great anthropological study…

We walked through the woods for about 2 hours looking at some fenced in sanglier (boars) and cerf (deer).  We tried to get the kids to be quiet, so we wouldn’t scare the animals, and they actually did pretty well, in terms of keeping their voices low.  Their feet, however, were another story. I remember my dad always mini_DSC08509saying I came up the stairs like a herd of elephants – these guys walk and run like a herd of elephants!  It’s funny to see how much more noise they make, even though they are so much lighter.  The boars were easy to find, people toss them stale bread so they were quite close to the fence.  One of my earliest memories involves boars.  I was very sick, with a high fever, and resting on the cot next to my parents bed.  (This was reserved for if we were truly ill, and I actually can’t remember it ever mini_DSC08528happening another time in my life).  I was dreaming that I was in the forest, being chased by wild pigs with razor sharp tusks.  I bolted upright in bed and, then, I heard it again, ‘snort, snort, SNOOOOOORT”. I started screaming and screaming.  “There’s a wild pig in the house!  There’s mini_DSC08535a wild pig in the house!”  My mom grabbed me and shook me saying “It’s your father! It’s your father!”  Yes, it was him – snoring! Who can blame me?   The deer were harder to see but then we got luckier with another variety of spotted deer that came quite close to the fence. It was neat to see the animals in their (almost) natural setting.  We also saw what I think must be an albino cocinelle (ladybug).  It is actually the first one I’ve seen in France so maybe they are all like this here.

After our picnic the kids spent about half an hour racing around the bottom of this sinkhole near our little bench.  They were having so much fun together that Andre videotaped some of it.  Enjoy!

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