Friday, May 01, 2009

France is The Biggest Country in the World and Whales Are Drinking All the Planet's Water

Those are just some of the things I hear and think and contend with. Not every day, but often.

Today I successfully made an international call to the Netherlands, where the young woman answered in a very foreignlanguage. When I asked her "Please, do you speak English?" she replied, "Yes of course." She meant it. Of course she speaks English. I speak English and a smattering of Pig Latin., and I have been known to embarrass myself en Español, when I am either hungry or tired. Now we have four days reserved in a rural cabin, somewhere in Holland, where rabbits are known to frolic and we are an easy drive from a monkey zoo. We can go there and pet free ranging monkeys... a notion that makes me laugh uncomfortably. But there are still days in both London and France that we have not settled, confirmed, resolved or translated. And when I try to map a drive from somewhere in France to somewhere in Spain, I realize that France is ginormous. And until I master the Rosetta Stone French language program, I am not sure I really want to spend much time in France. Incidentally we might want to order the Rosetta Stone French language program real soon.

Alex is making progress painting his frog, Gilbert.

I am trying to be sure I memorize the French word for frog, so that we do not have any unfortunate restaurant incidences. Grenouille. No Grenouille, merci beaucoup. Max's commitment to this trip is tenuous enough as it is, so we do not want to see his favorite animal served up or even referred to as a menu item.

I keep reading our collection of guide books and my mom sent us a great assortment of European travel books with suggestions and ideas for children. Geoff and I have also been watching any and all PBS travel programs and learning all we can about places we will go, places we may go, and places we will consider for next time. Alex, Geoff and I are more and more enamored of Belgium. It looks like a friendly place, with a healthy mix of history and art, delicious food and interesting sights. I would like to scale back our time in France for more time in Belgium, but I think any extended visit there will have to be for next time. Anyway, we still need to make final decisions and reserve more nights in hotels, or barns or something and of course we are kind of holding our breaths and covering our sneezes, hoping that H1N1 influenza A behaves and does not put an end to all of our plans.

It's May Day and Friday and I love it, because the children came home early. We are drawing and reading and playing and thinking about dinner. And now I think I should actually start dinner...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

We Are Not Quarantined

.... but we have had to make some changes in our weekend plans:

1. Pig wrestling in Oaxaca

And we had to add some things to our plans

2. (urgent) Secure cancellation insurance for summer trip, a.k.a. Chickens Abroad

I know Swine Flu H1N1 influenza A is not a laughing matter, and yet it has provided moments of hilarity for me. Particularly the article on MSNBC the other day, and from it I offer this quote:

"Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman said the reference to pigs is offensive to both religions and "we should call this Mexican flu and not swine flu," he told a news conference Monday at a hospital in central Israel.

Both Judaism and Islam consider pigs unclean and forbid the eating of pork products.

Am I to infer that they can eat Mexicans and therefore calling H1N1 influenza A "Mexican Flu" makes it palatable? I would think that a flu that may become pandemic would be crisis enough without people fretting over the name, and that anyone's sensitivity over pork would be trumped by the notion of singling out one country by making it share the name of a deadly virus. Talk about insensitive.

Well, whatever you call it, I hope it stays away from You and Yours.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Technology and The Simple Life

So. This post is all about technology. This post is all about how I hope that something I did will generate huge traffic and lots of buzz for Chickenblog, and that I will finally take that call from Terry Gross and earn more than $00.08 of revenue from Google hits. Sure, I blog for the love it, for the purity of the process, but come on! Don't think for one second that cash and book deals would offend me. We have mouths to feed!

In the Kingdom of Blogosphere there are Queens, women whose blogs reign supreme in popularity, finesse, ad revenues and enviable success. I was visiting one such blog and found a link to Hewlett-Packard and their HP Makeover Contest. At first I was like ¡Wow! A makeover! I totally need a makeover. My feet look like Medieval peasant feet and I'm not sure how I am feeling about going gray naturally. Turns out the makeover is for computer equipment, copiers etc. Cool. Maybe I can digitally color my hair. So, to make a short story long, I entered the contest, submitting a 200 words or less story about How Technology Has Simplified My Life.

I do feel slightly disingenuous writing on this topic, because while it is true that my Netbook is really fun and I do love it and I did use it a lot while I was Chicken Abroad, it is also true that I rarely ever feel like anything has simplified my life. But I did put on my optimistic, idealistic, cheeryistic thinking cap and entered the contest and if you click on the mosaic link you can see my picture there among the Queens of the Blogosphere. What a poser.)

My children are the ones that really know about technology. They blow me away. They amaze me. They are so clever and creative and inspiring. William has this tremendous patience and wonderful ability to share what he knows without being condescending or too technical. Using correct terms, he patiently guides Maria through Spore and he's taught her how to use tools in 3-D Studio Max. Most recently William sat with Maria and together they made a stop motion animation. She chose to use her Playmobile figures, and in no time at all she was independently operating the camera, using the computer and moving her characters. She made a movie! And can you see the camera hidden in the Lego contraption? That is a special stabilizing dolly that William designed and built. It keeps the camera in the same place between shots and it moves with the soundstage. Very cool innovations. Seriously.

My children, my husband, my ridiculously abundant fabric stash... these are the things that matter most in my life, so really there is no cause for disappointment, no excuse for whining. But I do have wishes and dreams, and I am hopeful that somehow I can do more to support this great family, to ensure our security and provide more opportunities, and to buy a frickin' house. Is the path through Chickenblog? Through online contests, ad revenues, wishful thinking? Maybe not. Maybe not if I don't have the savvy to include my blog name and a link in my 200 word HP blurb! Honestly, what was I thinking? "Natalie Chickenblogger?! From this I thought something would happen? Good grief. What a poser.