Rivière De Loup

11 12 2009

It’s noon and I’m sitting in a Subway ‘Restaurant’ in Riviere du Loup. It’s hard to describe how I feel right now. My eyes feel like they’ve been exfoliated. My head weighs a ton. My limbs ache. And my train doesn’t leave for Moncton until midnight.

As usual I left my travel plans until the last minute. I’m a procrastinator, particularly when it comes to change. When I asked Felix and Jan what word they would use to sum up their personalities Jan (the Leo) chose ‘Confused’ and Felix (the Virgo) opted for ‘Indecisive’. Apparently much of their journey so far can be summarized as

Jan: “What do you want to do?”

Felix: “I don’t know. Where are we?”

Jan: “I don’t know” (and repeat)

but as a result they’ve been meeting some fascinating people and having amazing experiences.

It’s not a bad description of my own journey, just kind of bouncing from place to place, not having any kind of clear plan beyond crossing Canada over 6 months and spending most of my time on farms. I thought that this would be a learning experience, but my goodness I had NO idea what a learning experience it would be. I will never look down on roaming travelers again. We may not appear to be doing anything useful, but the experiences we have are incredible. I feel so much more prepared for my new life than if I had just tried walking straight into it.

So back to the present. When I looked up the bus schedule on Lucies ‘Oh-my-God-poke-me-in-the-eye-slow’ internet it kept coming up with an error message so I tried calling Greyhound, then Acadian Lines. The very nice man told me that the bus came through Riviere du Loup at 4. Fabulous I thought, I’ll arrive at 10 and just hang out for a few hours. But then he clarified that it was 4am not pm. Urgh! I asked if any other buses went through but was told that no, the one bus a day was scheduled for the most ridiculous time in the world (that’s for you Jan).

So I tried plan B. The train. I went on the VIA rail website and instantly regretted it. I knew that I wanted to travel from Riviere du Loup but I wasn’t sure if the trains made any stops between Quebec and Fredericton. The VIA rail website is heavy on pictures, loads at a prehistoric pace, and heaven forbid you try to click on any of the links.

After 30 minutes of getting precisely nowhere I decided to just call them. Luckily Lucie had no need of my help during the morning because I was on hold for nearly 45 minutes. During which time I had the pleasure of listening to 30 second snippets of Bach interspersed with a recording of a friendly man helpfully telling me that VIA rail has a website and why don’t I check it out, because you can find all the information you need there. Grrr….

Finally I got to speak to a person who, as with all of my VIA rail telephone experiences, had the strongest French accent in the world (and again), could only just understand me and was, quite frankly, patronizing. Sorry buddy, but I don’t know where your bloody train stops because your sodding website sucks. Grrr, encore! Anyway, the final outcome of my conversation with him was that the train only went to Fredericton or Moncton and went through Riviere du Loup at Midnight. Then he told me that there was one discounted seat left (which may or may not have been true) and I just caved in and bought it. I was out of options and at least my train journey experiences have been positive so far. After all the crazy journeys I’ve made so far, hanging out in Riviere du Loup in subzero temperatures for over 12 hours didn’t sound that unbearable.

I’d just finished paying for my ticket when Lucie et Les Gars came in for lunch. I casually asked her what time we would be leaving tomorrow morning and she, equally casually, replied ‘4am’. I sat there mouthing expletives to Felix and Jan, which Lucie politely informed me she could see reflected in the window.

So, after we loaded up the truck ready for the journey today, I went straight to bed.

Actually that didn’t happen at all. That’s what a sensible person would have done. Instead I opened a bottle of beer, packed my bags to the sound of Elastica and Terrorvision (getting myself psyched for returning to the Maritimes), opened a second bottle of beer and played the piano better than I’ve done in a long time (I also speak better French when I’m drunk). Jan played his guitar with me and I got to enjoy, for one last time on this journey, the joy of making beautiful music with a cute young guy:-)

We wrapped up around 10pm at which point I went off to bed.

Oh no, that didn’t happen either. Alex and the guys had got out the ‘Gangsters’ game and Danieve and I just somehow ended up playing it too. Until after Midnight. About half way though my eyelids were dropping and I could hardly focus on the game but I rationalised with myself ‘I’m going to feel like shit tomorrow anyway’. Somehow I managed to win again (I’d told Felix earlier that I always win, but the poor boy didn’t believe me) and at that point I did head for the bedroom.

After hugging Alex who has the best sense of humour for a 16 year old (after our initial awkwardness, I’ve grown to love the little guy), and Jan who looked confused, and Felix who looked indecisive.

So there I was, tucked up in bed, wondering if it was possible for me to function on 3 hours sleep, when all hell broke loose in the room next door. Shaggy had, once again, moved into Felix’s bed and was snarling angrily at them when they tried to move her. I had shown Felix a couple of days ago that the best way to deal with a sleeping Pollox was just to grab him by the collar and drag him down the corridor. Shaggy on the other hand is a she-dog and you don’t argue with she-dogs, because you will not win. I tried tempting her, unsuccessfully, with meat, but then Alex turned up, picked her up in his arms and walked off with her. My hero:-)

I woke at 3am to the sound of my alarm and muttered expletives internally. Lucie, Danieve, Celine (Lucie’s Mom) and I had breakfast together and then we piled into the freezing car with a load of chicken in the trailer behind. They were heading to Gaspe for their biggest market of the year. I was heading back to the Maritimes.

I always feel a sense of loss just before I leave a farm. I will truly miss Lucie’s warmth and wisdom, Alex’s biting wit, Guillaume’s sweet nature, Danieve’s perpetual enthusiasm, Christian’s fascinating perspective and affection, Pollox’s constant adoration, Pirate’s energy, Shaggy’s protectiveness, Jan’s raw talent and humour and as for Felix, he may be far too young for me, but I’m an absolute sucker for musicians and I’ll readily admit to fancying the pants off him anyway.

For every place in the world there is a word that sums up its essence. I believe that Quebec’s word is ‘liberated’ and, for this week at least, my word was one and the same.

p.s. after 4 hours in a Tim Hortens I conceded that it was physically impossible for me to stay keep myself awake until Midnight, so I decided to treat myself to a warm bed and a hot shower at an Auberge. I still feel like death warmed up, but at least I don’t smell bad.





Last days in Quebec

10 12 2009

I can hardly believe it, but my 6 months on the road are finally coming to a close.

When I first flew out to BC and started Wwoofing in Saanich, each and every day seemed to last a lifetime. Now they fly by and I’m doing my best to grasp on to each of them and truly appreciate this opportunity while it still lasts.

On a less deep note, I have company right now. Two cute young German Wwoofers who would hold my attention anyway, but they also happen to play the guitar like Gods. There have been quite a few late nights of beer drinking, some long walks in the snow, snowball fights, philosophy discussions in three different languages, awesome music and me doing my best not to be a lecherous old woman. I must have done something pretty darned amazing in my past life to have earned this kind of Karma.

Thanks Felix and Jan, it's been a lot of fun. All the best with your own travels across this amazing country.

Today we will load up Lucie’s truck to take her biggest delivery of the year up to Gaspé. I will be hitching a ride with her to Rivière du Loup tomorrow, from where I hope to be able to take a bus down to Harland to stay for a couple of days with Andrea Berry of Hope Seeds and Perennials.

6 months ago I desperately needed to get away, to rediscover my sense of self, get some kind of sense of balance and learn to like myself again. Now I feel ready for anything and I am truly excited to be returning to the Maritimes and spending Christmas (and the foreseeable future) with Melanie and her family in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Melanie is one of these amazingly optimistic, happy, fun people that benefit my sense of order, lack of spontaneity and general boringness no end (come on, I’m a Virgo, I’m supposed to be self critical!).

I will be stopping in Moncton on the 15th and will be at the Old Triangle on Main St for a couple of hours around noon and again in the evening, from 7pm. It would be amazing to see you there, but of course I won’t be offended if you can’t make it.

Lots and lots of love to you all,

Rowena





Les quatorzième, quinzième et seizième journées a Ferme Poulet de Grain a l’Ancienne ou ‘Les Poulets’

7 12 2009

When I told Kristine that I was going to a chicken farm with a twenty year old guy for company, she told me a story about how in Cuba you should always order ‘fried chicken’. If you order ‘chicken’ it means that you want a young man.

Two days ago Lucie and I went to pick up two young German Wwoofers from the Greyhound Depot. Randomly we saw the Olympic torch on the way there, which was cool. Anyway, I’ve spent the last couple of days with Jan and Felix who are a pair of honeys. They are playing guitar duets in the living room at the moment and I’m feeling a little like the lady on the Philadelphia adverts. When did I become old? Really, I don’t remember it happening, but 20 year olds have gone from being fair game to fluffy little babies.

Being serenaded by Jan and Felix

Yesterday we all worked on some re-organisation in the shop, and then today Jan, Felix and I built another set of shelves for the cooler, restocked all the shelves with chicken and then went out into the snowy woods to fell ourselves a Christmas tree.

Jan and Felix the Builders

Playing with Pirate in the snow

First Snow Angel of the year

I can’t think of a more perfectly Christmassy thing to do than to fell your own tree, carry it home and then decorate it with lights, tinsel and plastic dinosaurs.

Le Dinosaur de Noel

Last night was a bit crazy. Guillaume usually doesn’t get up until noon, so he stays up til the wee hours of the morning watching TV and listening to music way too loudly. He’s at the other end of the house to the others so its normally not an issue, but now that there are Wwoofers in the house it very much is. I’ve been politely dealing with it (or not) for the last couple of weeks, but I tend to become more proactive when problems affect others. Last night I woke up at midnight to an angry snarling sound. Poor Felix had the three dogs in his bed and Shaggy went nuts when he tried to move them. He came running down the corridor in a panic so Guillaume and I went to deal with the dogs. I figured that it was time to sleep then, being midnight, but Guillaume went back to his room and watched TV. The walls are thin so he can’t really turn the thing down enough not to disturb anyone, but still the question is begged ‘is it really necessary to watch TV until 2am?’ It was Indiana Jones on Friday night and really, really I was losing my patience.

Remarkably I managed to fall asleep anyway. However, when I got up this morning it was obvious that Jan and Felix had not slept well so I decided that the only way to deal with this was to fight fire with fire. Polite requests had been met with smiles, apologies and no flippin’ change. I cranked up the radio, put the TV on full volume and played ‘O come all Ye Faithful’ on the piano with great gusto. Followed by Jingle Bells, and then Bolero. I enouraged Jan and Felix to slam the doors as loudly as possible and talk loudly, but they are far more polite and patient than me so, while they found the exercise amusing, they didn’t actively participate.

Before we left for the shop I locked the dogs in one of the rooms upstairs, threw in some meat for them to fight over and then left with a wicked smile on my face. It was 8:30am.

When we came in at 11am Guillaume offered us some coffee with a bashful smile. Later he made cookies. Felix and Jans don’t understand French very well (I’ve been the translator for the last couple of days which has done my ego the world of good) but when Guillaume muttered ‘Je suis fatigué’ to Marie-France under his breath, Felix glanced over at me and smiled.





Le Treizième Jour a Ferme Poulet de Grain a l’Ancienne ou ‘Ensemble, Nous Sommes Puissants’

4 12 2009

Lucie didn’t leave me with a list of anything to do today, but I knew that a large amount of chicken would be arriving from the abattoir tomorrow and space needed to be made, so I went out to the shop and cleaned up. There were still two chest freezers in the back of the trailer outside that needed to be brought in, and I knew that the boys would not actually want to move them, but that they needed to be persuaded.

Guillaume didn’t get going until noon as usual, and Alexandre (who had a day off school) was upstairs killing things, so I had to wait until lunch. I broached the subject in the best french I could muster up. ‘Guillaume, do you think, with the four of us, that we could pick up the freezer and move it to the shop?’ Right off the bat he replied that maybe we could, and even if we couldn’t , we could at least try. Fantastic! I tried the same approach with Alexandre and he thought it would be worth trying too. I wondered if either of them had ever tried to move a chest freezer before…

Alex asked when I wanted to do it. I tried to politely say, ‘When everyone is ready’ but I’m really crap at figuring out how to say things off the cuff (give me five minutes and a dictionary and I’m way better) so said ‘Quand toute est prêt’ which I guess means when everything is ready. Which is was. So Alex went straight for his coat and called for Guillame. Sometimes, not being able to make my point accurately pays off.

Yesterday I tried to compliment Guillaume on his piano playing, but instead of saying ‘the sounds nice’ I managed to say ‘that smells nice’. Thankfully he corrected me that time.

With the aid of a number of sturdy planks, a small cart and a fair amount of grunting the four of us managed to get the first of the freezers into position in the shop without losing any fingers or toes. Alex actually let out a small cheer. Bless him. Sixteen year olds are that funny mixture of too cool for school and fluffy little muppets who would much rather be playing in the sand box.

However, that was that. Guillaume (who granted had done most of the grunting on account of Marie-France being no bigger than I am and Alex quite possibly being smaller) announced that that was enough for one day and we could do the other one tomorrow.

So we abandoned the other one until Lucie came home from a long hard day at work and announced that she had to leave at 6am tomorrow morning to get the chicken, so we needed to get the other freezer into the shop now. It would have been a whole lot easier if we had done it by daylight but once again, with yet more grunting, the use of some levers and rollers, we got it into place.

After which, the young folk swiftly disappeared leaving Lucie and I to move boxes around in -18C conditions in the freezer. It’s done now and while Lucie is clearly exhausted from working two jobs and being the sole carer for three growing boys, she looked much happier to have everything done..

While we were tidying up bits and pieces in the shop Christian arrived and announced loudly that he couldn’t find his shorts. He’d looked in the bathroom and in the bedroom and in the laundry basket and he just couldn’t find them and he needed Lucie’s help NOW. ‘But MA! J’ai besoin d’aide maintenant!’

Christian Arm Wrestles his Mom

Christian is 13 and fairly Autistic. Not extremely, but not mildly either. He is both the most wonderfully entertaining, loving and present-living person ever, and the most utterly exhausting. Every evening we play the ‘Do you know….’ game where he tries to come up with TV shows and films that I might have heard of. He also tells me the schedule of every show that is going to be on this evening, who the characters are, how they are related and who else they play in other shows. My latest favourite game is one where he shows me a pen and I have to guess the name written on it in both French and English. In many ways he is the perfect French teacher because, having no concept of what is and isn’t rude, he readily corrects my grammar and pronunciation. He is also willing to play a game in which I learn my colours for quite literally hours and genuinely enjoy it.

When I gave Christian my camera, this is one of the first pictures that he took

I help him with his English homework too and sometimes he will only answer a question if he can give me a kiss first. And on a regular basis he tells me that I’m beautiful and have lovely eyes. For Lucie he is both an adorable son, a constant education and a royal pain in the neck at times. Particularly at times of crisis when he lacks the ability to understand that the fact that his pen has rolled under the sofa is not as important as Alex’s arm. Empathetic, he is not.

This evening it was his shorts. He really likes his shorts. I think I’ve seen him wear them virtually every evening and  they are part of his routine, along with having his colouring pens in two neat lines on the rug, and needing to watch Kaboum and Taktik every evening, The world could be coming to an end, there could be a mushroom cloud on the horizon, a giant bird could have just swooped down out of the sky and snatched Lucie up in it’s beak and Christian would still be yelling ‘Mum! I need my shorts!’.

When  we got back into the house and Lucie and I had tried to find Christian’s shorts, Lucie told me that it was a God-send that I came this week. I told her that I’d not done that much, but she said ‘It’s more than just doing stuff, it’s having someone here. It’s the moral support that I need’. Lucie, I hear you!.





Le Onzième Jour a Ferme Poulet de Grain a l’Ancienne ou ‘Je Me Parle Tout Seule’

2 12 2009

Guillaume making his home-brew

Today I was home alone with Guillaume. He’s a sweet guy. He really does try to make conversation with me and I know it’s hard. It would help if he were a little less shy because he tends to look away when he talks to me and as they say, 80% of all communication is non-verbal. I was able to understand conversations in Rwanda before I leaned to speak Kinyarwanda because I could see from their expressions and gestures that someone had broken into the lab to steal chemicals. I remember very effectively communicating to one of the builders at the school that I had a swarm of bees in my kitchen by jumping up and down and making buzzing sounds, then gesturing at my house and saying ‘Mu rugo, Mu rugo’. Mu Rugo means ‘My home’ or ‘in home’, the buzzing is obvious, as for the jumping up and down, I think it was my way of demonstrating that I was panicking.

We were washing the dishes together. He’d helped me to install some more plastic insulation for the windows, we’d made lunch and now we were experiencing that awkward silence that falls when all of the obvious conversation has been expended. I decided that it was time to bring out the ‘True, False’ game. I managed to explain it fairly well and then, based on his language skills, asked him to go first. He looked shy and muttered something. It could have been his attempt at playing the game or he could have been explaining that he  didn’t want to go first. Either way, there was another awkward silence, followed by him turning on the radio. I admit that I did feel like giving up at that point. I’ve realised that one of the lessons I’ve learned from being here is to be persistent. It is SO much easier to just speak in English, but I need to speak French. So, I told him that I would go first.

Five minutes later I found myself in the midst of a conversation about bungee jumping, abseiling and rock climbing, for which I had ZERO vocabulary, but with the aid of a lot of hand waving we were getting by just fine.

p.s. I`ve spent the last hour or so teaching Guillaume how to play a piece of piano music, in French. And that’s a whole lot of new vocabulary!





Le Dixieme Jour a Ferme Poulet de Grain a l’Ancienne ou ‘Je Sens Comme la Merde et Je Me Sens Comme la Merde’

1 12 2009

Last night I fell asleep to the sound of angry music and people killing each other in virtual reality. This morning I was woken by Danieve sweetly informing me that it was 4am. ‘Merci!’ I responded with far too much enthusiasm.

Gathering up the hens

Guillaume and Alexandre were already up and about. We grabbed a quick breakfast, got our work clothes on and went out to gather chickens. Lucie and Alex were responsible for grabbing the chickens by their ankles using a special ‘crochet’ (hook) to catch them. They then brought them over to the flatbed truck where I took them and handed them up to Danieve who placed 6 of them into each crate. Guillaume in the mean time was bringing us more crates to fill.

Guillaume passes the chickens as carefully as possible to Danieve

These are fairly docile birds so Lucie could just leave them sitting on the bed of the truck for me to gather up and only one or two of them made a break for it. Even then, they just headed back into the barn where they could be caught again. It took us a couple of hours to gather, pack and stack about 1100 birds. By the end of it my hands had taken a beating from some of the more energetic birds flapping their wings at me, my body ached from all the lifting and I smelt, quite literally, like shit. Which is unsurprising because when I looked in the mirror I saw that I was covered in it.

Danieve filling and stacking the chicken transport cages

All the while Shaggy, who is a herding dog, was running loop the loop around the trailer barking. She was loosing her flock and she could not contain her anxiety.

Guillaume climbed up on top to put the strapping on, only for use to discover that the crates had shifted a little to the right and we couldn’t access the points to where the strapping needed to be attached. It took another hour or so and the aid of some iron bars and a truck to push the crates the couple of centimetres back into place so that we could tie everything down and hit the road.

The truck, fully loaded

Jean, a neighbour who has the lease on Lucie’s pasture for his cows, came over to drive us to the abattoir. It’s his truck and flatbed trailer and he prefers to drive it. Jean is very French so between the two of us we chatted in a franglais melange so there were quite a few moments of total confusion, but it felt good that we could both make ourselves understood, sort of. Lucie told some stories about growing up in a mixed Franco, Anglo community and how they used to throw rocks at the Anglo kids, who of course were throwing them back. At the time she spoke no English so when they yelled ‘Shut up!’ at her she replied (confusedly)  ‘Je ne suis pas une échalote!’

Jean asked me what differences I saw between the Quebecois and the Acadians. I replied that I had only been here a week, so I wasn’t sure what to say ‘Mais je sais que les Québécois aiment bien le groupe ABBA’. He agreed, vigorously, and talked with enthusiasm about British music from the 60’s and 70’s. I’m not sure if he knows that ABBA are Swedish.

The abattoir was something else. Lucie asked if I could take some photos but they said no, at which point I regretted asking as there was no way that I could take a sneaky photo then. The problem is this. An abattoir is a place where animals go to be killed. There’s no two ways about it. If you don’t like the idea of animals dying (and most people don’t) then an abattoir is not going to be your hang-out of choice. It’s not a pretty place. There’s a fair amount of shit which has to be constantly disinfected and hosed down. The crates of chickens are thrown (not vigorously, but not gently either) onto a conveyor belt which takes them over to where two staffers pull them out by the legs and hang them upside down on coathanger-like things which carry them through to the bit behind closed doors. There they are stunned, have their necks chopped, are defeathered, cut into pieces etc etc and two days later Lucie comes to pick the meat up all nicely wrapped and frozen to be sold to enthusiastic localvores.

One of the other local producers collecting his processed birds

The Abbatoir, which  is a provincially inspected facility, is a full hours drive away. Birds slaughtered there can be sold direct to consumers. To sell to supermarkets the birds have to be slaughtered at a federally inspected facility. Lucie has one of those about 1 hour in the opposite direction. The production line at this facility was pretty swift – 1000 birds were unloaded in just over an hour. The federal one is 4 times faster and the workers have to keep pace with a huge volume of birds coming through. Lucie told me that one time they missed one of the hens and it got thrown through the crate washer and came back out the other side. They just grabbed it and put it back on the line. Two birds out of this batch made a break for it and sprinted behind a pile of crates, but were swiftly caught. It was nice to see that some of them actually had some kind of willpower. One bird was set to one side for a few minutes because it looked fairly limp. It might have had a heart attack or suffered concussion from being bounced around in the crates. They can’t process birds that are already dead, but neither can they accidentally dispose of an apparently dead bird that is still alive because that constitutes animal cruelty. It made me ponder a little who defines animal cruelty. Apparently sticking birds into crates, trucking them for an hour in the cold then throwing them around in their crates is totally humane, but accidentally throwing out a live bird can bring in a huge fine.

My only photo of the laughter house, oh no, that`s slaughter house

But is there an alternative? Yes there is. Farmers (or groups of farmers) could become licenced to process their own birds. Wow, that’s radical! If farmers could process their own birds they could select for the largest birds and just slaughter small batches at a time, meaning that a) they don’t have to truck their hens for long distances, b) they only need to slaughter as they go so they don’t need huge amounts of freezer space, c) they could keep smaller flocks (Lucie pointed out that to make it worth driving to the slaughter house you have to bring a lot of birds) d) the farmer gets to keep the money that is currently paid to abattoirs e) there is MUCH less risk of cross contamination between flocks because everything is kept locally f) the farmer slaughters the hens as one small part of his job description.

Having just spent time at an abattoir I’d say f) stands out at the most important. Right now the guys who work in these places kill chickens for a living. They must have fantastic home lives to compensate or I’m sure they’d go mad. It is one thing to raise meat animals and eventually, respectfully, take them over to the other side. It is quite something else to be a professional animal killer. Particularly with this degree of efficiency and mechanization. When a chicken escapes, to you or I it’s a living thing trying to stay alive. There’s empathy there. But I can’t help thinking that these guys must distance themselves from the birds so as not to be upset by it, in which case an escaped chicken is just an inconvenience and might not be handled very kindly.

I truly believe that everyone who eats meat should have to visit an abattoir. The only possible outcomes of doing so are a) to accept that this is a ‘necessary’ part of the cheap meat production chain, so shut up and deal with it b) to refuse to accept that it is necessary and instead raise your own birds and kill them yourself (you can’t pay anyone to do it for you, because they HAVE to have their birds slaughtered at an inspected facility) or c) become vegetarian.

I guess there is an option d). Lobby for farmers to be able to slaughter their animals themselves. That’s the option I’d rather take, but for the time being I guess I’m seriously considering a combination of b) and c).





Le Neuvième Jour a Ferme Poulet de Grain a l’Ancienne ou ‘La Psychologie des Chiens’

30 11 2009

Pirate miles ahead, Shaggy trotting behind, Pollox taking a break

There has been snow on the ground for a few days, but it’s been slushy underfoot and the kind of damp cold that gets into your bones. I’ve been constantly grateful that I decided to come here instead of to somewhere where I would have had to live in a trailer or cabin.

This morning it was grey again, but cold enough that the ground was frozen and the snow was falling as gorgeous flakes instead of clumps of mush. I started off down the road towards a trail that Guillaume had pointed out to me, but the dogs were so upset that I was abandoning them that I backtracked and took them up across the field, past the hides and into the woods again. It’s Pirate’s first snow and she’s loving it. She spent the entire time racing around like a lunatic. Shaggy is a little older and wiser. She plodded behind stepping carefully into my footsteps so as not to expend too much energy. Pollox was not at all sure what to do with himself. He has a sore hip and limps when he walks normally, but this was just too good an opportunity to waste. “Pirate, you’re it!”

As I walked over the crest of the hill I was greeting by a gorgeous view of the Appalacians and the sound of happy dogs trying to kill one another. I’m not a dog person. Not by a long shot, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love dogs. Their constant enthusiasm is infectious though their adoration can get a bit wearing. I am by every definition a cat person. I may appear completely disinterested, caught up in my own thoughts, but when I do want to play or have affection, watch out. I will sit right in the middle of your book until you can’t ignore me any more.

p.s. Guillaume has just brought me some freshly backed cookies! Lucie’s boys are really nice, in a boyish kind of way. They really, really like killing t hings on the computer (even until 5am, when I finally put my foot down and two very sheepish looking boys apologized and crawled bleary eyed off to bed), they don’t like doing the dishes or keeping the fire going and they do anything to avoid going in the chicken barn. However, they do bake, do the dishes under duress, lift heavy stuff, make supper (though, this is more likely to happen when Marie France and Danieve are about) and both Alex and Guillaume insist on speaking French to me now even when Lucie lapses. Were I thinking about adopting, I’d pick Danieve (she’s enthusiastic about everything and loves helping out on the farm) but for guys, they aren’t half bad:-)








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