Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Dirty Deux Ans

2011-2012Last year I posted on the first anniversary of leaving Australia (July 7), but now I’m going to follow up with a post celebrating our second anniversary of arriving in France.

First a big hug for friends and family back in Sydney, some like my niece Anna hitting their 16th birthday, others having more children to make my family-tree runneth over, or moving to Melbourne (hey Vinnie!) , or just being all round talented and lovely people. Try to remember me when you think of Munson.
I looked back over the posts of the year and saw that while we had some road-trips book-ending the time, that it was mostly the domestic and local pleasures that defined our days as we found our rhythm in this sleepy corner of France.

The first year was rather fraught with paper-chases trying to establish our identity for this and that service, with the usual catch-22's (e.g. you need an electricity account to prove your address for a bank account, which requires a bank account first...) compounded with language difficulties. My visitor visa has been renewed for a third year, so it will be interesting to see where that takes us.

The second year allowed us time to "just be" - at least as much as I've ever "just been". In this time it seems we’ve been pretty busy for having joined the class of nouveau paysant, having:

  • driven to Sweden and back, not once, but twice
  • walked half of Offa’s Dyke, unfortunately defeated midway by de feet wif de blisters
  • induced Gustav to leave Sweden to live with me and thus enjoy a colder winter than he’s had before, but somewhat better coffee
  • introduced Munson to Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands
  • reconnected with friends in several countries that I hadn’t seen in 5 - 25 years
  • connected with fellow-bloggers Walt & Ken in the Loire
  • had a wonderfully dirty time cleaning out my pond
  • collected a few hundred vine-posts for firewood
  • re-learned a lot of cooking skills, including roast lamb, cheesecake (of pumpkin and strawberry varieties), biscotti, beef bourguignon and other slow-cooked stews
  • hosted several sets of guests from the UK and Australia, some of whom have been inspired to start cooking real meals again
  • resumed knitting after a twelve-year hiatus with one pullover, one cardigan and a bunch of snoods to my credit
  • continued to work on my French, occasionally using French graphic novels bandes-desinées as a useful tool
  • written over 200 blog posts
  • grown tomatoes, strawberries, apricots, plums, peas, and an assortment of herbs
  • habituated Munson to both cats and free-range chickens
  • wrote and wrestled with my book-in-progress about living and travelling with Bondi
  • traced my Swedish ancestry backwards through five generations and then forward again to the present day
  • learnt a lot about grass that I hope never to be examined on
  • learnt a lot of about the letter F that doesn’t bear further examination
  • attended fêtes, marchés and the like all over Gascony and in Toulouse and Bordeaux
  • eaten lots of cheese and eggs, cooked liberally with duck fat and dropped both my cholesterol and total blood lipid levels for a second year sans medication.
  • vacuumed up a lot of dog hair (of which see 2012-13)
  • read a lot of books, played a lot of piano, turned off the light and gazed at the Milky Way
  • laughed a lot

You folks remember to live and laugh a little too and take care of yourselves, especially if you don’t have a guardian malamute to manage your life.

I love hearing from folks through the comments and emails you share with me. I’ve recently discovered that a number of people have tried to locate me through Facebook and literally years of those messages have gotten lost in that bottomless pit of “Other” messages that I thought was just group spam.

So I’ve recently set up an El Loco & El Lobo page to soak up those messages and to simplify sharing with RSS and web-phobic friends.

Mike / El Loco

Munson's year

1 comment:

  1. I recently found your blog so I was so glad to see this particular post as I’ve been unable to catch up on all your adventures. This post conveniently linked all the major highlights over the last year! I’m all caught up, thanks! ;-)

    There’s a simple serenity and pace to your posts/life that is extremely engaging but nearly impossible to digest for those of us out here not jaunting about Europe. I was secretly but not maliciously pleased that there are mundane tasks and the blight of bureaucracy in everyone’s life. Congrats on your Visa renewal, enjoy another year!