a few words about miss chelsea elizabeth...

she likes: making kites, dancing in the rain, adventures, little-while friends, letters, whole-leaf tea, crayons, bare feet, jumping in rivers/streams/creeks/waterfalls, language, catching the clock as it changes numbers, sleepovers, trains (big or small), cuddling & waking up before the sun rises, among other random things.

oregon-born, seattle-raised, bellingham-bred and franco-refined, she had moved back to the states from her affairs across the atlantic & now resides in columbia city with french husband & love of her life rémy. they spend most of their time taming the garden, taking care of their three chickens & two cats, and preparing the urban homestead for a new little chick of their own.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

decisions decisions.

we've been doing a lot of thinking around here lately. about our lives. about the future. typical questions for those of us in our mid-twenties. trying to figure out where we want life to take us, or rather where we want to take our lives. and it feels like the pieces are coming together. they all fit, the pieces. and i dare say i quite like the picture they make.

the past few years have been spent planning and re-planning a voyage around the world on bicycle. it has been put on hold time and time again. money issues, diplomatic issues, visas, marriages, etc etc etc. we've had second thoughts, then third thoughts, we've changed our itinerary and our agenda more times that i care to think about. now i'm a strong believer in will power. i think if you really want something, generally you can acheive it. not necessarily without a fight, of course, but i truly believe anything is possible. so why can't we just get our shit together, hop on the saddle & ride off into the sunset? i think we've found the answer.

the will just wasn't there.

don't get me wrong. this trip will happen. a long voyage, to many countries, on bicycle. it just won't be happening now, or any time in the near future. in the future, yes, but long-term.

i turned twenty-five this year. that's a quarter of a century. when i was younger, i always saw myself at twenty-five with one kid popped out and another bun in the oven. i never saw what i was doing, but the kids were very clearly there. and when confronted with the big question, the What do you want to DO with your life, who do you want to BE? the same answer has come up for a decade. Mommy. that's who i want to be. i want my babies and i want them now. i'm a modern woman, a strong feminist, who wants to be a stay-at-home mom. riddle me that.

a few years ago i would have gladly popped one out without thinking too much about the consequences. i wanted babies for me, not for them. i'm older now. i know that a baby turns into a kid turns into a teenager turns into an adult. i want to create a stable and loving environment for my children, opportunities to learn, to grow, to explore, to discover the beauties of this world. i want to be there when they get home from school and i want to be able to take them on vacations. hiking in the rockies, camping at national parks, swimming in the ocean. i don't want to be living in france and especially not in auvergne. visits to papi and mami, sure. but not for good.

the decisions started falling into place almost on their own.

we are starting paperwork to immigrate to the united states. i've spent the last five years trying to discover a place to call home, and in my travels across the globe i think i've found that the northwest has always been that place. washington state has always had my heart, from the very beginning. maybe it would have been easier if i had never left, but oh all the wonderful things i've seen since i've been gone. and now coming back it will feel just that much sweeter.

baby, i'm coming home.

we're going to settle down, i'm going to get my master's in teaching and become a high school french teacher like i've always known i would, and rémy's going to work on his english and try to get a job in a national or state park somewhere. doing something outdoors, for the environment. we are going to have a house, with a garden. tippen will have a nice big yard and maybe even some chickens to harrass. we'll make wine from our own vines and we'll make the cutest babies ever. and we'll live happily ever after until our kids are grown up enough to fly the coop and then we'll go on and explore this world through different eyes.

it's easier to sell your business and leave everything behind when you have something to begin with. we're too young right now. we have nothing to sell. nothing to leave behind. we're still moving forward.

and i am so damn excited.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

an experiment in housewivery: episode two

today started incredibly.

i woke from some rather sensual dreams (apparently i really really miss my hubby already) with a giant smile on my face that i just couldn't wipe off for most of the day. i felt fabulous. i felt confident. i felt strong and beautiful and capable of anything.

the very very first thing i did after waking up was to call one of the places i really would like to work to see if they had looked over my resume and if they were interested. surprisingly i was not nervous at all, my french came out like a dream and i found out the reason i haven't been called back yet is because the guy in charge of hiring hasn't been in but gets in tomorrow. splendid.

i ate breakfast in the sunshine through my kitchen window surrounded by the bajillion sprouting plants covering all surfaces of the room and was completely happy. i walked through the market then downtown to the library to return some books and decided that i've waited long enough. today was THE day to chop all my hair off.

and i did!!! this afternoon. and i was not afraid to tell them exactly what i wanted, even when i wasn't sure of the words, and i explained about locks of love and no one had ever heard of it before and there is no equivalent in france and they all seemed really impressed by it. i think it made the lady cutting my hair want to give me a really good haircut, too. she kept telling me "you're so courageous for doing this and for such a good cause!" hahah courageous to chop my hair off. i tried to explain i've wanted this for a while but i don't think they truly understood.

well she did a fantastic job and my shorter-than-shoulder-length hair is gorgeous!!! it suits me great. she even said she prefers me with short hair, which i take as a compliment because i damn well liked my long hair. the catch is rémy has ONLY ever known me with long hair. as is true with most of my friends, too. i mean, it's been, what... since my freshman year of college, so SIX years since i've had my hair short!! crazy. it feels fresh, it feels spring it feels right.

then there was trying to figure out if i can enter the masters program for teaching here in france. it seems ridiculously complicated but i'm confident i'll find a way.

and then i called grandpa and that's when my smile dropped. apparently he was really sick last night and didn't want to talk and that's not a good sign because he's going into surgery TOMORROW MORNING and if he's not feeling good and confident that can have a huge impact on the success of the operation. i'm really worried about him and wish i could be home and want to know what exactly happened last night and have been waiting for a call from my mother for about four hours now so i'm trying not to rip my hair out due to anxiety. not the best note to end the night on.

i just have to remember how amazing 95% of the day was and then worry about tomorrow tomorrow. it's going to be a hard and stressful one with the surgery and job stuff and no rémy to keep me calm, but i've invited my guys over to watch some arrested development and paint all afternoon so that should keep me distracted for the most part.

time for destress herbal tea, meditation and bed! i hope i sleep as well as i did last night!

...and here is the rest of it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

an experiment in housewivery: episode one

i walked my husband to the train station at approximately 04:30 this morning to send him off to paris for a week-long seminar for his work. now we were married in june, which i believe means we're still relative newlyweds, and this will be the longest time we've been apart since tying the knot. since i am currently unemployed and generally spend the time i am not trying to find a satisfying job that helps change the world by tending to my lovely hubby (i.e. cooking, cleaning, nagging & the like) it will be interesting to see how my sentiments of being separated from him for a whole work week play out as the week progresses. as the love of my life himself always says, why not?

day one:

watching the train pull away i teared up a little bit, but probably not enough that he saw from his window seat. (then again he is ridiculously nearsighted, almost to the point of being blind, so maybe he didn't even know he was looking at me anyway. no no, i joke. i'm pretty sure he had his glasses on.)

what is it with us women that makes us have horrifying visions all the time? seriously. i mean we wake up in the morning cuddling a gorgeous and sensitive man who whispers romantic sweet nothings in our ear with the winter sunlight shining through our dewey window and our first thought is "oh my god what if he gets into an accident today on his way to work and this is the last time i ever get to feel his tender embrace?!!" ahhh estrogen.

well these are the types of thoughts that were rushing into my head. the "it's pretty icy this morning, i hope his train doesn't derail" or "i hope there isn't an 8.8 earthquake in paris while he's up there" or "if any skinny french bitch tries to steal my man i'll hunt her down & jack bauer her ass" sort of thoughts. but mostly i thought about what a horrendous week this is already looking to be, really quite stressful, and how much harder it's going to be without him here to make everything seem so much better.

so i rode my bike home in the -3° weather, climbed back into bed just before the sky started to turn light, and when even tippen wouldn't agree to cuddle with me (not that he ever wants to cuddle when i do) i couldn't help but get in a good cry. at least now it's out of my way.

the rest of the day was spent studying medicinal plants, waiting for callbacks from jobs (which never happened), browsing random job search engines, thinking about starting training for a marathon, talking to a woman about the possibility of getting certified as a public school teacher in france (which was of absolutely no help whatsoever), grocery shopping, deciding and then subsequently deciding not to be a midwife and watching clips from last week's the daily show. not the most productive day of my life, but not the least productive either.

and now it's almost bedtime for someone who got up at 4am and i'm wondering what it's going to be like to sleep alone. i usually complain about rémy snoring, taking up all the space in the bed and/or almost pushing me off, stealing all the blanket and generating enough heat to power a small country. i'm thinking i'll be missing all that tonight, though. i'm feeling almost pms-y. like i could burst into tears for no reason and that i wouldn't change out of my pajamas for almost anything in the world. anything except having rémy back next to me, of course.

i'm hoping to get at least some sleep tonight, so it's time for herbal tea, dark chocolate and project runway. let's see if i can make it through day two without any tears!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

hidden treasure

the past few weeks have been spent preparing the garden for the coming planting season. all surfaces of the kitchen are currently covered with various young shoots; four varieties of tomatoes, yellow onions, leeks, broccoli, catnip, lavendar, oregano, thyme. and this week means the addition of many more. plus our usual household plants and sprouts means tippen has had many many opportunities to be a naughty little kitten. he's pretty cute so we usually forgive him.

then there's the preparation of the soil in the yard. we've decided to expand our garden this year. it's going to be about two to three times the size of what it was last year. this is partly because of our desire to know exactly where our food comes from. what better way to eat local and organic than from your own back yard? and also partly because we love gardening! but expanding also means eight to twenty-seven times more work!!!

for now we are laying new beds and turning the soil, adding our compost and making sure the beds are well aerated/moist. and part of digging up new beds is unearthing unknown territory. patches of grass that have been that way for years, decades even. and what i dig up has sometimes made me question the people who lived here before, has occasionally made me frown and has certainly made me smile.

when we dug our first bed last spring we were very surprised to find a very high quantity of
a) glass, and
b) red roof tiles.

now when i say high quantity, i mean high quantity. since digging the new beds i have become literally astounded at the amount of junk we have found in our dirt. we have found enough red ceramic shingles to roof at least one house, probably two. these are almost never fully intact, but they are large enough chunks to wonder how the heck they ever got into the dirt? was the back yard just littered with roof tiles and plates of glass and someone decided "hey, let's throw a ton of dirt on top and problem solved!"?

the glass is a mystery to me, too, because it's not just window glass or beer bottle glass. it is glass of EVERY imaginable color!! clear, of course, but also browns, greens, blues, hues of red, even something somewhere between an orange and a yellow. where did this glass come from? at the beginning i tried to pick out every piece of glass i ever saw glimmer in the winter sun, but this soon became exhausting! now i grab the medium to big sized pieces and any little pieces near my trowel, but don't go out of my way to search & rescue a tiny glimmer in the middle of the plot. it could be like finding the jackpot of all jackpots of beach glass, except dirt doesn't erode as quickly or efficiently as sand. these babies are sharp, trust me. you would not want your children digging in our dirt. even i won't dig in without gloves on anymore, which is too bad because feeling the dirt under your nails is one of the best parts of gardening in my opinion.

so why we find the things we find in the garden remains a mystery to me. but i'll keep digging and maybe someday i'll find an answer. hopefully i won't. it gives me somewhere for my mind to wander during all those hours of zen in the garden.

so here it is. a comprehensive list of every little treasure i have dug up in the garden so far:
- at least a small shopping cart full of red ceramic shingles
- glass (clear, green, brown, blue, red, orange/yellow)
- a rusty sardine tin from the 1920's
- two marbles (one standard size, one a mini and slightly chipped; both of the toothpaste variety, one white & brown, one white & orange/yellow)
- a whole series of what appears to be mini marble-sized balls of red metal, possibly copper or just super rusty. i have found at least twenty of these and have not yet figured out what they could be for. maybe something for the nutrient-content of the soil? i don't know.
- blocks of what appears to be home-made concrete, complete with cement, roof tiles, glass, old magazines/cardboard/paper, large rocks, pieces of scrap metal & nails. super safe, no?
- seven clothespins, some made of colored plastic (easter pink, yellow and blue), some made of wood
- a very rusty rather large nail
- plenty of cigarette butts
- occasional tippen poop
- a bit of trash

may the treasure hunt continue!!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

dear onionhead

please hang in there. i know you are a stubborn bastard and i know that it won't be too hard. not for you. so please, make it through this surgery and hang the hell on.

i need you there on my wedding day.


one third

i have officially completed one third of my list. to the t. as of today i have accomplished 33.333% of the stuff i set out to do 240 days ago.