Tuesday, October 28, 2008


This is terrible, shameful, and probably makes me deserve to have several dozen overripe tomatoes lobbed at my head: I am bored.

On day two at farm two, farmer Etienne surprised me with a new, French roommate. It took me three days to figure out that her name is Laura. She is staying at the farm for two weeks as part of some requirement for her university. She reads anime comic books and says "oh, la vache" a lot, and I'm not sure exactly what that means but I'm really glad she's there.

I am getting kicked out of a French library nowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Back in the middle of nowhere

After nine hours and forty-seven minutes on the road yesterday, I arrived safely at the farm. The man who runs it is very nice, but his wife has said exactly two words to me since I arrived. One was her name. At least I have a little cottage to myself and do not have to rub elbows with her too much! Though their house is much more moden than jocelyne's, they have dial-up internet also. Further, their j key does not work, so I have to find j somewhere on the internet and copy and paste it every time I need it (like when I log into my email)!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Chartres is a real pain in the butt to bike to, because the countryside around it has a lot of hills that might be called "gently rolling" if the guy describing them were driving in a car. The town features a humongous cathedral, which beckons the weary biker from about 20 km away. If the cathedral's steeples were the size of those of a normal town church, the biker would be quite close when she first caught a glimpse. Instead, the fraternal twin steeples tease the rider for an agonizing hour.

I realized last night in the middle of those hills that, when moving out of my apartment a month and a half ago, I accidentally stole my roommate's french press and gave it to my little brother. Oops! I'm working on repatriation.

I am pleased to report that I was not captured, robbed, or molested last night! In fact, the couchsurfer I stayed with turned out to be quite nice. His roommate made us galettes for dinner, and he showed me where the breakfast food was and left me a spare set of keys to let myself out the apartment with. Now it's time to scram so that I can arrive in Orleans before dark!

Hope you're all well. Write to me sometime!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Next stop: Chartres

Tomorrow morning I'm off again! My first evening's stop will be Chartres, home of the famous cathedral and even more famous internet cafe full of pimply adolescent boys. This time, instead of popping for a hotel, I'm going to try couchsurfing.  The idea is to connect low-budget travelers to other folk of dubious moral standing so that the traveler gets a free couch to sleep on and both parties are enriched by the cultural exchange.  I'm scheduled to surf another couch in Orleans on Thursday. Assuming I'm not taken captive by either of my hosts, I should arrive at a new farm in Vasselay on Friday.

Check out my route on a lovely Google map. Blue tacks mean I stayed with friends/family for awhile, green tacks mean I was on the road, and the little houses are the farms! You will probably have to scroll east to see France, because the map seems to want to show the middle of the Atlantic. If the little guy here doesn't work at all, try the bigger map.

View Larger Map

I promise to put more pictures up soon, but for now, my photo card reader is acting up. However, I did manage to start a companion site to the blog on Picasa. It has one lonely album of pics of my first week in Paris. More to come!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Blue nurses dirt park

I just learned that this site comes up on Google if one searches "blue nurses dirt park." Try it. I wouldn't lie about something so important.

As promised, here are the folks that often drop by Jocelyne's farm:

Nigel- Jocelyne's ex-boyfriend. British, grey wavy 'fro and 'stache, blue eyes, glasses, belly. She calls him her "ex-lover"; Kevin calls him his "second father." Has Tourette's and is bi-polar. Likes to call her while she's trying to teach her French classes; speaks to her in French on the phone so she'll respond in French and her students won't know it's him calling. Otherwise, only speaks English to her and pretends not to understand French.

Skip and Glee- Two of Jocelyne's French language students. Californian, recently retired law professors, in their seventies. Glee wears her grey hair in a long braid and has blue eyes. Skip has short, grey hair on the sides of his head and a huge brown patch on one cheek from some melanoma. He wears large glasses. Both speak very slow, choppy, loud French. Skip often tries to finish Glee's French sentences halfway through, when he gets irritated by her slowness. They winter in California and summer in France. Very sweet, despite their tendency to dominate the French class.

Benjamin #1-  Lives in a boys' home and spends one weekend per month at Jocelyne's. Pipsqueaky for a sixteen-year-old. Travels with his Playstation and "Grand Theft Auto." Wears a green hooded sweatshirt. With no apparent provocation, Kevin acts obnoxiously around him.

Benjamin #2- Recently released from the funny farm for trying to off himself, he spent a week at Jocelyne's for some R&R. Very scrawny thirteen-year-old, wears dark hair in baby faux-hawk. Goofy and playful to the point of occasional obnoxiousness. Starting making pervy jokes with the 19-yr-old German wwoofer staying at the house. Giggles and likes chewing gum.

Wilhelm- Aforementioned nineteen-year-old German wwoofer. Tall, dark hair and eyes. On his way from high school to a job at Euro Disney in Paris. Speaks lovely English and a bit of French. Clearly out of place in a dirty farmhouse, but earnestly interested in learning whatever he can.

Nicole and Lauren- Two American wwoofers from Washington state and Oklahoma, respectively. Nicole is tall with curly, chin-length light brown hair. Lauren is petite with blue eyes and blondish, straight hair. Lauren, a former student of art and French, is taking time between one college and another to work on her French and see the world. Tried to convince her parents that they didn't need to hear from her every other day. Nicole, a self-described clinger to her own small bubble, was convinced by Lauren that wwoofing through France would be a good way to kill a few months and a few thousand dollars before applying to marine bio grad school. Nicole used to work at a boat parts store and is excited to visit the home of her patron saint.

Two dozen assorted Brits and their small children- Between thirty and sixty-five, mostly married couples. Some raise animals on neighboring farms. Others work as builders and handymen. Several of the women do not work. Many come to French class; other show up at random hours to purchase ready-to-eat rabbits and vegetables.

Sophie- Jocelyne's nephew's fiance. Wears her brown, straight hair twisted up in a clip. Has glasses and wears neutral colors. Hosted a tupperware party at Jocelyne's house.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Holy creepy $#@&

There was a murder in the restaurant next door to my old apartment in Chicago, complete with a victim found tied-up in the basement. Thanks, Gabi, for tipping me off. Are all you Lakeview folks okay?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Les Mesnuls

I've been slacking for the better part of a week on updating the blog with my whereabouts, because it's a bit difficult to explain. I'm in a little town called Les Mesnuls, not far from Paris--this much is simple. I'm staying in a house where my sister spent a good chunk of time growing up; I'm with her mom and her mom's husband. My sis is in Chicago. Confused yet? So are we. We've decided that I'll be introduced to their friends as their "niece."

In any case, it's lovely out here, but I can see how a fourteen-year-old could consider it hell. We're sort of out in the country (there's a farm across the street) but one can drive to Paris in half an hour if traffic is light.

I cheated and took the train here from Jocelyne's farm. It was straight back the way I had come from, and my bank account couldn't tolerate another five hotel rooms on the way back. In a few hours of train travel, one can cover as much ground as in a week of biking--amazing. But as soon as a kindly French farmer answers my request to come work for him or her, I'll be on the road again by bike. The exhilaration of being at large in the world with everything I need loaded on a two-wheeled, motor-less vehicle is inimitable.

View from my lunch table in the town of
Versailles. Check out the loaded bike on the
left side next to the windows...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

View from the kitchen of the "potager"

Voici Jocelyne's kitchen window, complete with an enormous daddy long-legs. She has loads of nasturtiums planted around the house and garden! Apparently the French word for veggie garden is "potager," though I didn't learn it until I left the farm. I'd spent two weeks asking J. if the things we were eating were from the "jardin," which actually means "yard." Potato, potahto. 

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lots of fall babies

Happy October!

Yesterday one of the cows managed to pass a calf out of her body. Ow. Before we sat down to lunch, the front feet were sticking out a little bit; by the time we finished, the little guy was laying down getting a tongue bath from momma. Today there are 12 or 13 baby goslings, and two new stray kittens.

Have you ever cut an Italian sausage in half and then cooked it on the stove in a frying pan? It is sort of greyish brown and the meat pillows out the cut end? That's what the end of my thumb looks like. Loup the dog has been sniffing interestedly at the bandage at mealtime.

I'll be leaving the farm late this week. Next destination: undetermined.