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August 29, 2010

The subject of my bouquet has been brooched

You may remember my fleeting idea to carry a button bouquet in lieu of real flowers at my upcoming nups. My groom dissuaded me from that notion because it was "tacky," but no one has the power to divorce me from my more recent obsession: a bouquet made entirely of brooches. Sparkly, divine, hypoallergenic brooches, as seen here.

My mom and her crew of crafty buddies have taken this idea and run with it. Generous ladies from my temple and her office have procured baubles from estate and garage sales all over town. My future mother-in-law has also gotten in on the fun with her sisters-in-law, amassing some real finds. We recently decided that my bridesmaids will also be sporting some major broochiness, so we need all the help we can get.

Here's what we've gathered thus far:


And now a selection against a black backdrop for extra fanciness:


It's really a rather neat idea. I'll be able to keep this thing as a keepsake forever, and it has mementos in it from all the important women in my life.

August 28, 2010

More taxidermied meese than you could shake a dead marmot at

I've been a bit off the grid lately, as I prepared to leave Portland and go eastward, ho! to Minnesota. The past weeks have been a blur of saying tearful goodbyes, gorging myself on as much Lovely's Fifty Fifty ice cream as my gut could contain, and discovering long-lost gloves. My ma flew in last Saturday and got right to work stuffing our woefully underpacked apartment into cardboard boxes, despite my frequent attempts to distract her with a cone of Lovely's salted caramel, which was, after all, only a twirl, leap, and a sashay away....

We somehow got everything packed and cleaned by Monday morning. After giving Fatty Fat Cat a final hiss we hit the road.


We spent an uneventful night in Missoula, and had a lovely breakfast that morning at Food For Thought. That was followed by a truly terrible meal at a Cracker Barrel somewhere in eastern Montana, and by nightfall we had almost reached our destination of Belfield, ND. On Sunday I had researched hotels in Dickinson, ND, our traditional post-second-leg-of-the-journey resting place, but they were all full. I looked at our options for Belfield, the next town over, and was delighted to see a vacancy at the family-owned Cowboy Inn. I immediately called and an 11-year-old-sounding lass took my reservation for Tuesday night.

Bleary-eyed and stumbling, we made it to the inn's main office minutes before their 9:00 closing time. We produced our surname and confirmation number to the proprietress, who found no record of our reservation for that night in her computer. We had been booked for Thursday night instead. And now they had no vacancies. "Zounds!" we exclaimed at each other, along with a few other choice words. We dragged ourselves to the only other prospect within miles, the Trapper's Inn.


An entire menagerie of taxidermied animals was pinned upon the lobby's walls. A bobcat sneered at us from behind the front desk. Rows of buck busts stared down upon us in betwixt a trio of gigantic moose. The back section of the gift shop was cordoned off to make room for a lifelike scene of beaver, grouse, and yet another deer.


These creatures were not for sale, but there was some particularly beautiful antler art that was. The piece below was an especial favorite of mine:


Thankfully our room did not include a single critter-- not even bedbugs, which my dear m'ma was quite concerned about. We took our breakfast in the inn's restaurant, which was populated by stuffed pheasant, grouse, and even a swan. Old iron traps were artfully strung along the wall like a garland. I asked our waitress where all this poor fauna came from, and she told me the entire lot had been shot and killed by the inn's owners and their family members.

We certainly weren't in Portland anymore...

August 1, 2010

Digoin, the tiny French town where dreams come true

On Monday morning, I finally got the call I've been waiting for since hatching this crazy plan to move to France.

"It came! It came!" my dear p'pa sang to me. "Your contract is here!" I asked him what city was listed on the forms. "Dijon!" he cried.

Oh, jubilation! It was my secret wish to end up in this city of 150,000 dear French souls. I would be a mere 1.5 hour train ride from Paris. I would make legions of amies at the Université de Bourgogne. Restaurants, cafés, and yarn stores would abound. I asked Pa to email me the address of the school listed on the form so I could start researching the crap out of it.

Oh, woe. The lycée was actually in Digoin, not Dijon. Digoin, population 8,500. Digoin, which barely even has a Wikipedia page.

But then I did a bit more research using French Wikipedia, and discovered that this fair city is known for having a cool-looking bridge with a canal running through it, a ceramic factory, and an old church, and for really, really loving escargots. In 2007 they broke the record for snail consumption by hoovering 100,800 of the slimy little guys. The more I learn about it the more I've come to like the idea of living in this charming hamlet.

Photo from projetbabel.org
My main concern for the past week was how to get there. The first site I used told me it would take me more than 13 hours and five connections to get from airport to Digoin. The thought of lugging all my  possessions with me from bus to train to train to train to bus after a seven-hour flight was far less than appealing. I also tried looking on the national railway website and it came up with errors every time I punched in Digoin as my destination. (I realize now that I was using the fields for getting real time arrival/departure information, which is why it didn't work. Whoops.)

I was getting a little freaked about the whole situation and the idea of being so inaccessible from Paris, so I got my creep on and started searching Facebook for Digoinais who looked nice and might give me tips. I sent a message to a kind-looking dame and didn't really expect a response. But! She not only wrote back and was super helpful, but it turns out she used to teach English at my future place of employment! And! She wants me to hang out with the adults she teaches English to now! In no time at all I suspect she'll ask to be my honorary French grandma and she'll teach me the secret art of making escargots de bourgogne.

She also confirmed something I've been wishing for on every detached eyelash: my school will in all likelihood provide me with free housing in their dormitory. That's many hundreds of euros saved that I can now spend gallivanting across the continent.

It feels so good to know there will be at least one friendly face waiting for me when I arrive in less than two months. If I'm really lucky, she'll be a knitter juste comme moi. I'll save my next five eyelashes to ensure that comes to pass.