It’s summer! As of a few days ago, “summer officially began”. And the weather isn’t holding back either; it was 78 Saturday, was 85 yesterday, and will be even hotter today. Now I’m regretting my “I miss the summer weather” quote because working in the sun is frankly… awful – bugs, sweat, muggy, and more odors. I don’t mind it though because I saw that the temperature is going to return back to the lower/mid 70’s (at least for most of this week). There wasn’t much to my Friday except relaxing, watching Julie & Julia(if you’ve never seen this movie, I HIGHLY recommend it- especially if you’re a fan of food), and milking the cows. One interesting thing that happened was that the veterinarian came. There’s this one calf that’s having respiratory problems, but we have yet to figure out why. Thus, if I understood correctly, the vet gave injections under the tail of five calves. We’re going to monitor them and see if all of the calves develop the same breathing pattern, briskly inhaling and exhaling. If so, I believe we would figure out the problem- I just have to ask (again) exactly how that works. One additional thing to my Friday was the town celebration! Around 10:30pm we left the house and arrived at a location with hanging lights, live music, children dancing, and several inhabitants of the town. People were either talking, dancing, singing, eating sausage galettes or fries, drinking beer/wine/etc, or a combination of the few. The last song I heard was in English: “Bye bye my Roseanna” and was brilliant in harmony. Right after, we all headed to the field to watch the fireworks (at midnight)! I heard so many exclamations: c’est magnifique! O, c’est cool! O la la! ... It’s going to be so odd to come back home and have the sun set before 9 o’clock; it does not become dark until about 10:30pm here. Though, it was nice to be able to go to bed in the dark Friday night.
Saturday morning, after having about 5 hours of sleep, I woke up to help milk and feed the cows, fed the heifers and calves, restocked buckets of fodder, and helped move heifers to the farm(this time a success). Right before lunch, we all went to HyperU to do some grocery shopping. As compared to SuperU, HyperU is much bigger with small stores inside, a café, etc; I would say the comparison is similar to Wal-Mart and Super Wal-Mart. I was able to buy a coat for 2 Euros just outside the store, which made me very happy because I will no longer freeze during my evenings out! As a side note, I am often very cold and so wear several layers of clothing when it’s cold/cool out. Once we returned, ate lunch, and put Esteban to bed for his afternoon nap, I turned on Ratatouille and started prepping the dessert with Ines; that was the first time I ever watched Ratatouille in French. Unfortunately, Isabelle came in with Ines’ homework, but we were still able to enjoy the film and amiable atmosphere of the kitchen. Now for the guessing game. What did I make for dinner? Here’s your hint: dinner was an American dish, with a bit of Italy tied in- we are a melting pot after all. No, I did not cook pizza, but yes I made spaghetti and meatballs! The family loved it and I was relieved because the children were against the sauce and side of spinach, but after tasting the dish, they loved it! (Well, except Ines who dislikes spinach and practically refused to eat it- she’ll come around.) I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but the meatballs were delightfully scrumptious; I found the recipe on foodnetwork.com, under Tyler Florence’s spaghetti and meatballs. I forgot to mention that Isabelle has a well-stocked kitchen with several gadgets that you would find in a top chef’s kitchen; the costly mixing bowls, several rubber molds for cooking/baking, etc. Since I obviously needed ground meat, she was able to personally ground up the meat (that comes from the farm) by using an attachment on the mixing bowl (which can also peel fruits and veg’s!). We then enjoyed sandwiches for dessert, with a selection of homemade oatmeal raisin or oatmeal chocolate chip cookies around chocolate or vanilla ice-cream. After dinner, it was bedtime. It seems that everyone had trouble sleeping because of the heat, but I remain awake, in need of no nap – how odd.
Sunday morning, after milking the cows, I went for a sunny, God-filled, country run. It’s always great to get your daily exercise. It helps you keep a healthy, properly functioning, fit body and raises your serotonin level (exercise makes you happy!). Around 11:00, we all left to visit Jean-Michel’s grandmother! She is a 97 year old, talkative, jolly lady. She lives in an old folks home and her husband just died last year; either they knew exactly how to live to stay healthy, they have great genetics, or both. Mamie(“grandma”) also does a lot of sewing and knitting- I would love to learn. Despite her age, Mamie has the spirit of a child: she’s talkative, lively, and very sweet. Around 12:00, we left for the Kermesse (school’s celebration). After enjoying lunch together, all of the students dressed up in costume to march from their school back to the Kermesse. There were witches, gypsies, fairytale characters, and the more. Back at the Kermesse, the games started up: duck racing, dart throwing, pool games, a slip and slide, and more. The parents buy tickets for their children and the children use them for the games/rides or for the bake sale; all profits go to the kids for school field trips and such. I ended up helping with the bake sale, selling their assortment of cakes(made by the parents), crepes, galettes saucisses(galettes with sausage), candy, and the more. At one point I bought an éclair, expecting what I deem a “real éclair”, only to find out that it was basically a doughnut with chocolate frosting and chocolate sugary crème inside; after I took a bite, I gave it to Jean-Michel and he finished it for me. Around 7:45pm (~2 hours after the scheduled “closing” time), we got ready to leave. Right before then, several adults were thrown into the pool, wherein I was almost one of them! After crouching down in a ball, basically whining (in French), and having the women protect me, the guys(family friends) decided to give up (phew!). Even though it was 8:00, the sun was still very hot; I could have gotten a tan! The night was a difficult one because the weather was so hot (~90 degrees). Even more, today is supposed to be 95! However, a quick storm passed and broke a bit of the heat. Nevertheless, it’s still hot.
That leaves us with today- what did I do? Well, you know how you wake up in the morning and after an hour or so, you’re finally awake? That didn’t happen to me- I was tired ALL morning. I helped milk the cows and send them out to pasture, clean up some, retrieve heifer calves from the field, and watch another embryo collection as well as several inseminations. Jean-Claude was our technician, where he was able to collect 8 viable embryos (a good collect). Last time, we had to perform two collections wherein we only collected 7 viable embryos. While he was inseminating the last 3 heifers(of the 10-12), I laid down on top of the hay and tried to take a nap. Once Jean-Claude was done, we brought the heifers back to their grazing and went to the house. At this point it was 11:35 so I jumped in bed, set my alarm, and took an hour long nap. My timing was perfect wherein I woke up to a wonderful aroma luring me to the kitchen. Isabelle was making galettes(from the Kermesse) with bacon, crème fraiche, slices tomatoes and potatoes, and an egg; add a bit of freshly cracked salt and pepper and I was in heaven! For dessert, I tried “Le Far Bretons”; it’s a specialty cake in Bretagne made with prunes/raisins and is divine. I ended up getting the recipes for galettes, crepes, Le Far Bretons, and “French” lasagna(anyone have a meat grinder I can borrow???) from Isabelle; I can’t wait to cook them at home! I have only two days left here; I leave Wednesday. Perhaps I will return in the future, perhaps not…
Exactly 5 weeks left in France – where has the time gone?
The Vet with Isabelle
One of our newest family members!
The town festival/celebration
The view from my room
A part of Mamie's room - look at the knitted duck!!
Pirates at the Kermesse
Esteban on the mini float
Ines the witch!
At the right: a girl crossing the pool ; at the left: a boy racing with bunny ears