Sunday, September 28, 2008

from LA to Chicago

Well, we got out of Los Angeles around 10:00 am on Wednesday, n not the 4m we had hoped for but we didn't stress about it.  The accountant who finally showed up at 9:00 didn't do her calculations correctly (she actually had our rent listed for about 800.00 more than we were paying) and she reimbursed us 2 extra days of rent so we actually made about 600.00 by waiting around.  Good things come to those who wait!

here are  our bikes, the dogs crates and all our luggage for 1 year

We were on the road for about 2 hours and all of a sudden Stella started to shake and pant. We were not sure what was going on, she's never done that before.  We stopped to let the kids go out, gave them some water and let them walk around a bit.  Back in the car and 1/2 hour later she started it again.  Poor little thing, she was miserable the entire day.  We never knew she got car sick, but then again, we have never taken a long trip with her.  We made it to Cedar City, Utah around 7pm (they are mountain time so we lost an hour).  We found a good hotel, fed the dogs and went to get something to eat.  We all got a good nights rest and woke up around 7:00 am ready to hit the road.  

So, Bruce goes out to the car and comes back with "we have a flat tire".  WHAT!  Crap.  We called Alamo and they sent over a guy to help fix it.  He told us that it was probably a slow leak and that he would fill it up and then we should take it over to the tire place.  We did and they found a razor blade in the tire, he fixed it and $15.00 later we were on our way, heading to Carbondale Colorado to spend the night with Chris.  

All I can say is that if you have a chance to go to Bryce Canyon or Zion or Moab through Utah into Colorado on the I70 I highly recommend it.  It was the most beautiful scenery for hours.

waiting for the tire to get fixed

nice shirt & pants (studio clothes to be thrown away)

  We stopped a few time for the dogs and had a picnic lunch at one spot overlooking the rocks.  The colors range from white to tan to yellow to pink to red to purple...stunning.  We drove about 8 hours today.  This morning before we left we googles "dogs sick in car" and some of the things to try are: ginger snap cooking (sounds good to me), Rescue Remedy (we actually have some of this, a gift from Jamie & Elijah) and Dramamine.  So we gave Stella some cookies and the rescue remedy and she actually did much better today.  Only shook a couple times.  We'll pick up some Dramamine later today.

We had a great time Carbondale, Colorado with Chris.  Carbondale is right next to Aspen and it's so beautiful.  We'll were only there for the night.  Friday was a long long driving day from Carbondale to Omaha, Nebraska.  We were in the car for 12 hours.  We stopped at 9:00 pm, went to bed and got up early on Saturday to get to Chicago before 4:00 pm.

We arrived at Chicago O'Hare airport at 4:00 and took the rental car back.  We are staying at the airport, the Hilton is attached to the terminal.  We figured with 2 dogs, 2 crates, 2 bikes and 3 pieces of luggage it would be easier.  We are going to take all of the luggage over at 2:00 pm and then we'll take the dogs over around 4:00 pm and then we leave at 6:00 pm.  I know the dogs will be OK, but I'm nervous about putting them under the plane.  It's only 7 1/2 hours but I still worry.

We are just hanging out, relaxing and re-packing to make sure none of our bags go over 50 lbs..because if they do they charge you $378.00 extra.  Yikes.  We arrive in Paris tomorrow morning and then we'll stay in Paris Monday night and then leave Tuesday morning to go pick up the car we bought and then drive down to our place for the year.  We still can't believe that we are going for a year.  Probably won't hit us for a couple weeks.  We have internet at the house, but I'm not sure if will be a smooth set-up.  We will post as soon as we can.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

So here we are, sitting on the floor of our empty apartment waiting to leave Los Angeles.  We wanted to be on the road hours ago, it's now 7:30 am.  But we found out yesterday that they won't cut our deposit refund check until we turn in the keys and if we turned in the keys yesterday we couldn't have stayed here tonight.  So the bookkeeper told us that we'd have to wait until this morning....BUT she said "I'm probably going to be in around 6am, so I'll call you when I get in".  Right, sure you'll be in at 6am, she just said that because we were pissed off that we had to wait around.  She's still not here.  We got up at 4:00 because we both couldn't sleep and packed up the mini-van with our life.  I just ate oatmeal with a knife because we don't have any spoons or forks.  

We are ready, anxious, excited and frustrated.  We want to leave now!  But it's always something, isn't it.  Nothing is easy.  I hate it when someone else holds you up  and for a stupid reason.  But if we would have left without getting the deposit check they would have mailed it to us in France and then we would have paid a heafy fee to convert it to euros.  And who knows if it would have arrived at all.  So here we wait.

Today we hope to get to either St. George Utah or maybe to Cedar City, Utah which is a little further.  That's about 8 hours of driving and should be OK for today.  The last time we drove to St.  George Utah was probably 6 years ago when we still rock-climbed.  There is a climbing area just south of St. George called the VRG.  It's right off the freeway (15) not the most beautiful area but amazing climbing.  Bruce actually took a 30 foot fall (we called it a whipper) while climbing there once, actually it was early on in our relationship and I (the green one) was belaying him and it freaked me out.  He was working on this super hard climb and he lost his grip, the rope twisted behind his leg and flipped him upside down and he fell 30 feet.  It was crazy.

St. George is a very strange city.  Very mormon and very weird.  But it was the closest city to where we would camp, so we'd go in for dinner if we didn't feel like cooking.  We'd eat at this Chinese restaurant that was the shape of a big boat!  I hope that we can get further than St. George, so that our next day we get to Carbondale Colorado a bit early.  We are staying with our good friend Chris and we'd like to spend some time with him instead of rolling in late and going to bed and getting up and leaving.   

I'll be posting pictures and updates from the road so stay tuned for the adventures of Bruce, Alisa, Dashell & Stella.

Friday, September 19, 2008

5 days without shopping

Our Fridge (today)

Our Pantry

Here is a picture of our fridge...what do you see:  Rice milk, eggs, pickles, leeks, arugula, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, pancetta, tomatoes, peanut butter, blueberries, turkey, string cheese.  Below that is a picture of our pantry, what do you see here:  soup, spinach, beans, tomatoes, peppers, tuna, rice, lentils, pasta.

So, we leave in 6 days..actually we'll be here for only 5 more days because we have decided to get up at 4:00 am Wednesday morning and leave.  Why not, we are so antsy to go, if we could leave tomorrow we would.  So we have Friday-Monday left.  I looked in our pantry and decided that we have enough stuff to live on for 5 days, it might not be the "perfect" meal, but it's fine. We are not going to shop at all anymore (except for diet coke and wine).  We are just going to go for it and make what we can with what we have.

I have decided to donate all our canned and frozen food that we don't eat to a local food bank on Saturday.   So I'll plan our meals until we leave and give the rest away.  We don't need to shop anymore, we have plenty to keep us fed...we are so spoiled!  I will NOT throw anything away.

So tonight I pulled out an orange pepper, 3 zucchini, buffalo mozzarella, whole wheat pasta, garlic, tomato sauce and tomatoes and made a pasta primavera of sorts.  We warmed up the left over lamb chops from last night.  Turned out great.  

Tomorrow we will be at B&B's for dinner and Saturday with E&K for pizza night (make your own on the bbq).  Sunday we'll defrost the salmon and do a salad, Monday we have dinner with L, and Tuesday we'll have Talpia tacos and then we are gone. It kind of feels good to not shop, we are so used to going to the market because we don't have the "perfect" meal for the day.  I'm so used to just going to the market and getting what sounds good that night, because the salmon or lamb we have in the freezer doesn't sound good.  We will be on a pretty strict budget in france and we need to plan our meals and not just shop because we feel like getting something different.  I vow not to throw away food that I bought and didn't eat.  That's so pathetic and I know most of us do that. If you don't do that then I so admire you!

So I'm sure by Tuesday night we'll be eating eggs and pancakes, but what the hell, that's a great meal!  Bruce is packing up the bikes right now and on Saturday we are taking everything to the POD (our storage unit), I'll keep 2 wine glasses, 2 plates, 2 forks, 2 knives, 2 spoons, 1 skillet and that's it.  The rest is going away in the POD.  If you could see our apartment you'd be in shock, I'm in shock, the horror!  I'd love to be more "organized" but there really is no way when you have no dressers, drawers, etc...and just have to keep things on the floor until you leave.  It's been good for me, the miss anal virgo that I am!  This year in France will change me I'm sure.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

8 days baby!

Villefranche-De-Rouergue (3 miles from our house)

I'm back and very refreshed! Sorry I have been away for so long, I finally don't feel totally exhausted. We actually took 4 days off from riding and 3 days off from running around and visiting and drinking loads of red wine (well actually we didn't take a break from that) . Now there might be some of you who don't think that's a big deal to take 4 days off from riding, but let me tell you, for us it's huge. We only take that many days off when our bodies tell us to and they did. We just got back from a lovely 30 mile ride and it felt so so good to be back in the saddle. My throat doesn't hurt anymore and I don't feel like taking a 4 hour nap in the middle of the day (a 1 hour nap is just fine though). 

I remember back in April I put a countdown widget on my old typepad blog and it said something like 180 days until we move to France. It seemed so far away.  Je ne regrette rein told me "it's gonna come up fast". I didn't think it would. So much was in our way - 12 weeks of camps was the biggest hurdle, we knew that when they ended we were almost there. Well, we finished camps the last week of August and our fall classes started back up last Tuesday the 9th. It was so great to see all the kids that we haven't seen since June. We spent all week at the studio so we could say hi and goodbye to all the parents and students. We are going back this Tuesday and Wednesday just for 10 minutes to say goodbye to some others. Then we'll have 5 days to get everything in order.

There are things we still need to get done. We have an appointment with our vet Dr. Carlsen to get the dogs california health certificates. Then on Monday we'll go down to the local USDA vet to have our french health certificates, california health certificates and proof of rabies signed and officially stamped by him. I have heard that although it's required that you have a USDA vet sign and stamp these papers, you are never even checked at the airport in Paris. But the last thing we want is not to have it and then the dogs woudn't be allowed in France. Better to follow the rules and be safe.

We have to take the couch and tv and kitchen stuff to our POD, which is stored at a POD location. We'll probably do that on Tuesday 23rd. We are not keeping our mattress so we'll have until we leave and then put it by the dumpster.

The apartment is a disaster. We did a "mock" pack yesterday and it went well. We have 3 different piles. Pile #1 is all the clothes/shoes for France. Pile #2 is for a carry-on, you know, an extra set of clothes, toothbrush, etc...and Pile #3 is for the trip from Los Angeles to Chicago. Clothes we are not taking to France and don't care about. We know we are going to have to pay for excess baggage, but it's no big deal. It's hard to try and pack for fall, winter, spring and summer though and it's hard trying to decide what I will want while I'm there. We'll have our bike cases, which will carry our bikes and biking clothes and we'll have the dogs and their travel crates. So basically 3 bags, 2 bikes cases, 2 dogs and 2 crates to check-in. Then we each will have a carry-on and our computer. I'm a bit nervous how we are going to manage once we get to Charles de'Gaulle. I'll have to check with nrfm, because I know it was just her with her bags and the 2 dogs...we'll see how she did it.

I had a lovely visit from La Framéricaine on Saturday. She and Mr. LF stopped by and gave us 4 excellent French text-books. I have already started to go through them and I'm still doing my 40 verbs in 40 days...each and every day I study and read aloud. I will miss her, but luckily they are going to be moving to France in the spring, so we'll see each other then.

The dogs have no idea what's in store for them. They will soon have a house in the country, with loads of land (all fenced in) so they can run and play. We are also very close to a river and loads of wood and forests so we'll be doing lots of hikes. We are also going to buy "commuter" bikes when we get there, so we don't have to ride our "road" bikes to and from the villages. I'm planning on getting a basket on my bike too so that Stella can ride it in. They will be so welcome at all the restaurants and will go so many places with us. It's going to be such a different life for them, I can't wait for them to experience it.

We are trying to sell our car this week, which is such a pain, but we have to do it. Hopefully we'll find a buyer soon who will give us a good price. It's a great car in great keep your fingers crossed. We pick up our rental car on the 22nd.

We have to take back our cable boxes, turn over our business check book to L. who will take over invoicing, receiving payments and paying all of our bills for the studio. We have some more people to see before we go. E&K of course, Bruce's Mom and Dad, B&L and LL. I'm going to see Diana, who cuts and colors my hair today and she's going to cut my hair and teach Bruce how to cut and color it. I'm so excited.

I had my yearly check-up, my mammogram and yesterday I went to the dentist for a cleaning and a filling. Glad that all of that is out of the way for a year. Bruce has to go to the dentist on Thursday for a crown and a cleaning.

We are winding down and actually wish that we could leave tomorrow, but Wednesday the 24th will be here before we know it. I'll be updating from the road too. It will take us about 4 days to get to chicago. We'll stop in Utah and then Colorado (to see some friends) and then St. Louis and then arrive in Chicago on Saturday 27th. It should be a fun road trip...although the car is going to be packed and I'm hoping that Ms. Stella doesn't sit on my lap the entire way! We then leave Chicago for Paris on the 28th. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Je suis fatigué

We ended our summer camps on August 29th and have had the last 10 days off.  Well, off from work that is.  Almost every day we have met with friends for breakfast, a bike ride, lunch, coffee or dinner.  Now let me tell you, we are not social people, we are homebodies and usually only go out once a week (if even that).  Our busy social schedule has me very tired.  

It all started about 3 weeks ago when I was a the studio.  The phone rang and I answered it and a lovely voice asked for "alisa".  "This is her" I said.  "Alisa, this is La Framéricaine!"  I was so shocked, my blogger friend LF was calling me.  We spoke for some time and she asked Bruce and I to meet her and Mr. LF for breakfast at a lovely crepe place in Santa Monica called Cafe Crepe. Yes, yes I replied, so we set the date for last Saturday, August 30th at 10:00 am.  I was so excited to meet LF and Mr. LF.  

We arrived via velo (of course) and there they were, sitting patiently waiting for us.  I instantly felt comfortable and welcomed and I knew that I had met two special people.  LF is beautiful and graceful and full of life and Mr. LF is such a handsome french man!   We had a lovely breakfast, LF speaking perfect french, Mr. LF speaking great english, Bruce and I trying to speak french.  Time went so fast, too fast.  We left with smiles on our faces knowing that we had just met some wonderful people who would become great friends. LF was the first blogger that I have ever met.

That night we had dinner with K&L, Sunday we had dinner with E&K and W&C,  Tuesday we went to Paul Weller, Thursday we had dinner at J&J's house, Friday I had a lovely lunch with La Belette Rouge, the second blogger I have ever met.  I was so excited to meet the lovely red weasel.  We met in Manhattan Beach at La pain quotidien and spent 2 hours talking about everything!  She is beautiful and warm and smart and fun.  I was so happy to meet her, but I am a bit sad because now she in Los Angeles, I'm leaving for France.  

Friday night we had dinner with Bruce's mom, and this Saturday we got to see LF again at an art opening for a woman who works with Mr. LF. It was great to see them again, we actually feel like we have known LF and Mr. LF for a long time.  

They invited their friends B&B who we found out, we have so much in common with.  Let's start with B being a potter, I'm a potter.  They went to costa rica for B's 50th birthday, we went to Costa Rica for my 40th birthday.  They have a house in Mallorca, we spent a month in Mallorca. They own a house in St. Antonin Noble Val, our very very favorite village in France, near where we are moving.  A village that we visited last year and both had the feeling that this is the village for us. Now this is NOT a huge village, it's a small beautiful village in the tarn-et-garonne.   30 years ago, B&B decided to pack up and move to europe with their 3 month old son.  In 2 weeks we are packing up our dogs and moving to europe.  I could go on and on with the similarities but it might freak you out, like it does us...there are so many.  We are now having dinner with them next week so we can talk more about St. Antonin, our stay, their lives, pottery, etc...

We actually had to cancel "homemade crepes" at our french friends L&B on Sunday because I woke up with a sore throat.  I think that I'm run down, exhausted, tired, overwhelmed, stressed, etc...  Our social calendar is packed and I'm not used to going out almost every day. But, we need to see people before we leave.  So, lets see...Sunday and today we had nothing planned and it was wonderful, we biked, hung out by the pool and relaxed.  Tomorrow we have breakfast with an old student of ours, he started when he was 11 and left when we went to college and now he's back in LA. On Wednesday we are going to a lesbian party - yes, you read that right.  Our L friend is having a big party and we are invited, even though we are not, well, you know.  Friday we are having dinner with B&G at their house, they are professors here in LA and want to take a 1 year sabbatical in france, so we are going to talk about specifics.  Saturday we have dinner with I&A, Sunday we are going to our rescheduled our "homemade crepe" visit with L&B, Monday we have dinner with K&E&B, Tuesday we have our dinner with our new friends, B&B, Wednesday we have our dentist appointment, Thursday my hair appointment (cut and color) and to teach bruce how to color my hair...yikes. Friday dinner with L and a thai massage, Saturday dinner with E&K again and then we are done...and gone on Monday.  

I love seeing everyone and it's sad to say "goodbye".  I'm also so happy that I met LF and LBR, they are 2 very special people and great bloggers too!

But tell me, wouldn't you be tired too?

Now you know why "Je suis fatigué"

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My first tag - Things of no consequence

Today I was tagged by the lovely je ne regrette rein.  It's an easy one (thank god). All I have to do is answer these questions and then tag some other bloggers to do the same.  Sounds fun.

1.  Where was I 10 years ago?  Bruce and I were packing up to move from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.   We had been together for 2 years and I was still a corporate monkey, selling computer software.  I hated it, but knew nothing else.  My territory was the southwest west - (Colorado, Utah Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California).  We were die hard rock-climbers, travelling around the world to climb.  My company wanted me to move to another part of my territory to get it going and I got to choose where.  Colorado and Utah (great climbing) but too cold.  We usually drove to Vegas every other weekend to climb and camp, so we decided to go with that.  We rented a rocking house up by Red Rocks and stayed for 8 months.  We couldn't do it any longer...too strange.  I actually quit my job while I was living there, but I quit from the airport in Boston.  Was tired of flying every day, tired of the pressure, tired of the stress, tired of wearing a suit every day, just tired.  We moved back to Southern California and that was the start of our studio and my vow never to work full-time again.

2.  What is on my to-do list today.  We are moving to france in 17 days.  Well, we are leaving Los Angeles for Chicago in 17 days and then well fly to france from there.  But we have to have everything ready to leave in 17 days.  Here's what on the list, knowing that we can't get everything done in one day, some of these keep getting put on the next days list.

- bathe Dashell & Stella
- go buy Bruce new converse (that's all he wears)
- grocery shopping at trader joe's
- go by our studio to pick up tuition checks
- go to the bank
- do a mock pack to see how much stuff we are really taking
- call United airlines to figure out our return ticket...will we return???
- go on a bike ride 
- meet friends at an art opening (more about that friend tomorrow)
- order art supplies for the studio
- buy a cooler to take with us in the car to chicago
- print off dogs health certificates for california and france
- order new dog tags with our french address & phone number
- book Hilton hotel at O'hare airport in chicago
- book bfast, lunch or dinner with 8 friends before we leave
- sell the car
- take a nap 

3.  What would I do if I was a billionaire.  Well, I wouldn't get plastic surgery.  But I would buy a farmhouse in france and maybe one in Italy and maybe an apartment in Paris, because Bruce loves Paris.  I'd buy another road bike and one for Bruce and I'd build an amazing studio for me and an amazing studio for Bruce, at both of our houses.  I'd have a beautiful kitchen, because I love to cook, and in that kitchen I would have a Lacanche range.  I would love to cook on this range. I would travel all over the world and see new places and meet new people, but I would NEVER fly commercial again, I would charter a plane, because then we could take the dogs with us everywhere and not have to put them in the belly of the plane. I would pay off everything for my Mom, my sister and Bruce's parents.  I would pay for my niece and nephews college education.   I would use wealth to help animals, the environment and people who live in poverty.  I would try and make a difference and would hope to stay a nice person.

4.  Five places that I have lived.

- Michigan
- New York City
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
wait that's only four....I will have five soon
- France

5. 3 bad habits

- being a backseat driver
- not putting the laundry away...sometimes it's just easier to live
out of the laundry basket.
- pulling out the scissors and cutting my hair after 2 glasses of wine, 
big mistake, but I never seem to learn!

6. snacks that i like.

- chips, chips and more chips
- red vines
- anything sweet
- toast with butter and honey
- apple & peanut butter
- crepes
- dill pickles

7. People I'm tagging

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A lovely surprise

Today is my birthday. It's no big deal, just another day. Usually we are travelling on my birthday because we are done with camps and have a couple weeks before classes start. On my 40th we were in Costa Rica, 41 we were in Mammoth, 42 we were in France, 43 we were in Palm Springs and last year we were on a plane headed for France. OK, you guessed it, I'll be 45. yikes.

So I was just planning on spending the day biking, relaxing and hanging out by the pool. Maybe we'd go out for dinner, but that's it. Until I got the surprise...the BEST birthday present EVER. Paul Weller, whom I hope at least one of you have heard of. He started The Jam and then The Style Council and now he's on his own (has been for quite some time). He's The Modfather, from England and a super star over there, he's huge! Not so huge here in the states, but we love him. Bruce introduced me to his music about 10 years ago and he's been my favorite ever since. We have seen him about 8 times (he doesn't come over the states very much).

Have a listen to one of his songs.

If you haven't heard this one, try's one of his big hits.

Anyway, we are going to see Paul Weller tomorrow, on my birthday, how great is that. The venue is called the Wiltern and it's small and intimate and has a great sound. I'm so excited that Bruce got these tickets, it's a great present.

About 3 years ago we saw him at the House of Blues, we actually went to all 3 shows. Our friend is an agent and he got us into the "vip lounge" and we had a drink and hung out...but no Paul. So we went outside to have a smoke (not me but Bruce) and who comes out onto the landing, Paul Weller! OMG. I almost fainted. We talked to him for about 15 minutes, about his kids, music, LA, etc... Then the next night I got to meet him again I got my picture taken with him...what the hell! Bruce said he was so nervous that he wasn't going to get the shot, but he did.

me and Paul

Bruce had 3 vintage Vespas (he sold them all when he got hit by a car and was almost killed). But many people who follow Weller are total MODS, they wear their big parka's (like paul's above) and ride Vespas. We would ride our Vespa to the shows and park them right out front with all the others, it was so much fun. Bruce was really sad selling his vespas, but LA isn't the right place for them, but France is!!!!

This was our P200e, 1985

I'll let you know how the concert was, but Paul never disappoints!