Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Something strange happened last week, a house behind mine blew up. IT BLEW UP, like BOOM.

It was late Tuesday morning and I was busying myself with work and getting ready for Gregory's arrival the next day. I walked into the laundry room and turned on the washing machine, and as I stood there measuring out the detergent, a loud bang rumbled through the house shaking me and the room. I steadied myself to catch my breath. I had no idea what had happened, but whatever it was, I had felt it through me.

A couple of seconds later and I was running down the stairs, I was sure a large truck had caused the bang by ramming into the front of the house. But thankfully no, the house was intact, and my mother and Fifty were OK. Pulling on my shoes, I ran outside and looked around. From behind house a few doors down, I could see a large cloud of black smoke began to billow into the sky.

It wasn't a normal house fire, it had been an explosion.

The next few minutes were manic; a few of my neighbors came out onto the street and the police arrived, and then miraculously, the survivor of the explosion made his way onto our street. He was walking and lucid but a reddish-black color and his clothes had been blown off of him and were hanging in shreds. He said that all he had done was turn his television on. GAS!

The police said that those of us on my side of the street needed to clear out. Another woman and I made our way down the street banging on doors urging people to leave their homes, no answer, no answer, no answer. And as I ran back into my house to grab Fifty, I was terrified and holding my breath.

Soon police were positioned in our neighborhood blocking off entrances and sirens were heard all over. The smoke cloud changed from black to white, and we were allowed to return home.

It had only been an hour. How had it only been an hour? In only one hour, a house directly behind mine and only three doors down had exploded so ferociously, that it blew out the windows of one house next door, and completely destroyed the other, the police had come, the ambulance had come, Air Life had flown in, the gas company had come (THANKFULLY), and then we were back inside to carry on our day.

And we're all OK; the poor man is doing well, recovering in the hospital with burns covering 80% of his body, Fifty is fine, Gregory arrived, and other than randomly panicking because I constantly think I smell gas, I'm alright.

So here it is, you never know what a day will bring so use them wisely. Use them wisely.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

le deuxième

// Did you know crayons can burn like a candle for twenty minutes? Yeah, me either. But apparently they do and in case of some blackout emergency, you can use crayons to replace candles in a pinch. My mother informed me of this the other day and after she told me, I said, "but we don't have crayons", so she said, "maybe you should buy some", and then I said, "maybe I should just buy candles." These are the conversations you have when you move back home as an adult.

// Back in December I saw Night At The Museum 3. It was cute, and sweet, and funny, and at the end when it was Robin William's last scene as Teddy Roosevelt, I bawled like a baby. Tears upon tears rolled down my face like I was a distressed infant #ohcaptainmycaptain

// At the movie theater, there were all of these empty seats around us, like loads of them. But guess where a family of five chose to sit? You guessed it, all up in my grill, as in the seat right next to mine. Who does that?! Why do people do this?! Those people bug. I don't like those people.

// My friend Amy is having a baby next month. It's a boy and we're all completely over the moon. She hasn't picked out a name yet but I'm doing everything in my power to get her to name him Fraser, as in Jamie Fraser. She totally should, shouldn't she? Of course she should.

// Is anybody on Poshmark? I am. Just thought I should tell someone.

// There's this viagra commercial on TV here with a Cindy Crawford ripoff in a blue dress who just walks around this empty house brushing her hair and staring at herself in the mirror or out the windows. It's weird and it totally skeeves me out. Does it skeeve you out too? Please say it's not only me.

// Confession: I don't like Target. There, I said it. (Pretty please don't tell the Blogger Police I said that.)

// Tomorrow's my birthday (aka: International Day of Awesomeness), and despite Gregory's and my best efforts, he will not be here for it. Unfortunately he has something in France that he simply cannot get out of on the 10th, but, he will be here on the 11th, so yay. That also means that I get to stretch out my celebrations to another week. Yay, again.

// At a party a few weeks back, an old school chum said how much she envied myself and another friend because we chose a different path, that, traveling/ expat/ gypsy path, and she wishes that she had gotten to experience all of the things that we did. I smiled and told her that yes, experiencing different cultures was wonderful, and I wouldn't trade my life choices for anything, but (and this is a big ol' but), it's a trade off, and I pointed to her kids running around the backyard and the beautiful home that she and her husband have made. You see, we don't have that, we have experiences, and they've been amazing, but, we don't have anything concrete, and as another birthday looms, I can honestly say that that blows (RE: HURRY THE EFF UP NVC). So I'm really, really looking forward to Gregory getting here permanently so we can start to pour some foundation and build something concrete.    

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The First Raclette

For those of you who have been with me for awhile, I'm sure you're looking at the title of this post and are all like, "first Raclette, my hiney the first Raclette!" And you would be right, because heaven knows, I've been around the Raclette block more than once. But this post is about the first Raclette in Texas, ours anyway.

It all started a couple of months before Christmas, when I knew that without a doubt, I'd be getting Gregory a Raclette for his present. It seemed like the perfect choice, December being prime Raclette season and all. Plus, it would bring Gregory a little bit of France to Texas, and I'm not going to lie, I wanted that little bit of cheesy France too... it was a win, win.

As the holidays approached and Christmas meal plans came together, I decided that Gregory's opening of his Raclette grill on Christmas morning would only be the first part of his Christmas present, because the second part would be delicious Raclette for our Christmas dinner (I like to give the gift of food). My mother agreed (mostly because of the easy peasy nature of it all I'm sure) and that was that.

After Gregory arrived and the holiday grew closer, my anticipation and glee grew as well, and every time I'd here Gregory speak of the wonders of Raclette to our Texan friends, my heart would pound in excitement. (By the way, you'd be surprised at how often Gregory can work the word 'Raclette' into a conversation with people here, like the time he was scooping Queso onto a chip and he looked over at Miss Vicki and said, "have you had Raclette? You need Raclette. The next time I come I bring the Raclette." And Miss Vicki and I smiled at each other because we knew that the Raclette was coming.)

Then early one morning, a couple of days before Christmas, I ever so gently lifted the duvet, and slipped out of bed as quietly as possible trying my best not to wake up Gregory, because if he stirred he'd ask, "where do you go Skippy" and I didn't want to have to make something up because he'd insist on going with me anyway, and he couldn't because I was making a super stealth trip to the grocery story for Raclette supplies.

By 7:30, I was back home, wrapping meats and cheese in tin foil and hiding the delectable parcels at the bottom of the vegetable crisper because of course he wouldn't look there, and saying that the breakfast taco line at Mary's Tacos was so long and that's where I had been for the past hour. My cheesy plan was coming together and Gregory was none the wiser!

Finally Christmas morning arrived and I was so excited and Gregory opened his present (which had been hiding at the back of the tree because Gregory cannot be trusted to not shake things and guess wildly) and then he was excited too and Fifty was excited because we were excited and we were all excited! And when I told Gregory that part two of his present was that we were having Raclette for Christmas dinner it was practically pandemonium!

I was happy, Gregory was happy, my mother was happy (Raclette for Christmas dinner means she didn't have to cook again, and since we do our fancy pants Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve every year, we've decided that going forward, Christmas day will be all about Raclette... that grill is the gift that keeps on giving), and we were all so happy that we had Raclette, like three times, in one week. So technically this post could have been called, The First, Second, and Third Raclette. The end. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

like whoa

Well, that was a busy couple of weeks.

It was almost two weeks ago that Gregory left, and since he did, I've been a spinning top, whirling about here and there, trying to do this and that.

First off, Fifty got sick. Somehow he managed to get something stuck in his poor paw and it caused an abscess and the abscess got infected and the infection made him sick and his nose dry and him miserable. He's been on antibiotics and is well on his way to being at 100% Fifty power again, so that's good.

Then, last week my mother had a big birthday. The kind of birthday that can't be ignored and demands something spectacular be done, so I decided to throw a party for her which I had been planning and pinning for weeks. And even though I was sure it would be fantastic, something more had to be done, I had to go bigger, and I did, with a surprise.

On Thursday night, while my mother sat sipping her birthday Margarita at her favorite Tex-Mex joint, and waiting for a couple of her close friends to join us, in walked her surprise... my brother, who hasn't set foot on Texas soil for twelve years managed to sneak in and sit down in her seat while she was standing up greeting her friends. Unbeknown to her, I had flown my brother in from Dublin earlier that day and managed to pull off the surprise of the century. To say she was shocked is an understatement of epic proportions. (I'm expecting to collect my Daughter of the Year Award any moment now).

So my brother is here and that's swell especially since he was able to be my sous chef on Saturday while I chopped and mixed in preparation for my mother's party. (BTW... I made a batch of these nuts to scatter about, and they're pretty much the most delicious things ever. You're gonna want to make them post haste!)

The party was grand and everyone had a wonderful time and when it was all over on Saturday night, I crashed into bed exhausted and with the most pitiful, swollen pair of tootsies. (Of course I miss Gregory, but I'm missing his foot rubs something fierce.)

And what else, let's see... oh yeah, work has been non-stop, like NON-STOP. You know how sometimes work just is work, and other times it's like whoa, yeah, it's been like whoa.

So yeah, it's been a bit hectic around here, but it's time to get back into the swing of things, so I'm making a pledge to myself that I will be back here at least once a week for a bit, and then twice, until I get back up to thrice. Baby steps people, baby steps.

There are still loads of tales to tell, stories that you've missed out on, gaps to fill. So don't be surprised if you click into here one cold miserable day in February and find yourself transported to a hot summer day in Texas, or sipping Rosé under a perfectly blue Mediterranean sky, or it could just be me, telling you about now. Who knows. Lets just stay in touch and see what happens. I miss y'all. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

60 days, blah, blah, bupkis

Bonne Année tout le monde! Seven days into 2015 already... file that under 'mind blown'.

So Gregory is on his way back to France this morning after the fastest four weeks in history. It was a whirlwind of a visit, but a truly wonderful one.

Now it's time for us to get back to gloomy, January, reality with a Gregory Green Card update.

Here's the deal... the good news; the NVC (that's National Visa Center for those of you lucky enough to not be in the know) finally got back to us after our last 60 day wait (it took 64 days to be exact) and asked us for Gregory's civil documents that are the last step before his interview at the embassy in Paris (please, please, please let this be it). Since Gregory was here and some of the documents we needed were back in France, we had to wait a week for his mother to send them to us before we could send them to the NVC, but we did manage to get them off before the end of the year. Go us.

Now for the bad news, as we were sending the documents off to the NVC, (instead of Gregory just bringing them to the embassy in Paris for the interview as we thought would happen), we just knew that we would be waiting forever again, and sure enough, yesterday morning I woke up to another dreaded, 'please wait 60 days' blah blah blah, putain merde' letter (those last two words are very naughty and should be ignored, forgive me).

So yeah, we are still stuck waiting in 'the process'. That's what my Congressman's office calls it, 'a process', and they say that, 'the process takes time'... process my hiney! Sending out three letters; one after another, basically stating that 'we're too busy' and 'you're going to have to wait two months before we even look at your file' is not part of a process, it's inefficiency, so lets all stop pretending.

And here's the problem with 'the process', When you're in it, you have no idea how long it's going to take, and there's no one that can tell you. But one the one thing I do know is that it used to take a lot less time. I have friends whose spouses got their Green Cards in less than six months! Sure that was like five years ago, but c'mon! It's already been over thirteen months for us, and I can predict we're looking at at least another three, when we thought it would take like, 9 months, tops. Trust me, if we had any idea how long it would drag out (keeping in mind that it took four months for the processing of one form), I would still be hanging out in Le Petit Village, throwing back the Rosé and nibbling on baguettes instead of being roomies with my mother (my poor, poor mother), and I wouldn't have just said goodbye to my husband... again!

Alors, here's the deal, I, Sara Louise, am taking a stance. I refuse to let my life be ruled by the NVC any longer. Gregory and I spent six months of 2014 apart because of their inefficiency and that's not OK, that's not OK at all. So we've made a decision, Gregory will be returning to Texas in four weeks. He will be here for my birthday, he will be here for Valentine's Day, he will be here for our fifth wedding anniversary, and he will stay until his interview at the embassy in Paris is scheduled, or his three months tourist visa is up, whichever comes first. He won't be able to work while he's here, so we'll be broke, but so be it. At least we'll be broke and together. Amen. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Whipping Father

Not Le Père Fouettard, but Fifty, in his reindeer antlers. He hates me. 
Bonjour, la veille de Noël, we meet again.

How in the name of all that's Christmas is it December 24th again? If it wasn't for the big move and the whole Green Card brouhahah, I swear, it feels like I was just in Toulon for Christmas Eve last year, like a couple of days ago. (That was a good one, remember? Except for the BB gun part of course. Stupid boys.)

So yeah, Christmas Eve snuck up on me, but even though it's here, and the big show is only a day away (and closing in quickly down under, g'day Aussie friends), there was no way I was going to let it pass without my annual re-telling of the tale of Père Noël's (that's French Santa by the way), evil sidekick, Le Père Fouettard.

You know, now that I'm safely ensconced back in the States, I feel like I'm out of Le Père Fouettard's evil grasp. But since there's a Frenchman and a French dog in my house, what if that means he can still get me? Like, he can sense the Frenchness in my Texas home and find his way here. I'm sure if he looks closely, he can follow the baguette crumbs Gregory dropped along his way. Damn you Gregory! Oh well, I guess I have to make sure to stay on the nice list for another year. Yawn.

Originally titled: Nothing Says Christmas Like A Flogging and posted, December 15, 2009.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

OK, this is weird.

I was doing a little reading about French Christmas traditions. I figure since I'm here, I might as well find out the happenings of my favorite holiday, French style. And there is absolutely no use asking Gregory, he is useless at relaying this kind of information.


In France, Santa Clause is Père Noël, nothing strange there, but Père Noël has a partner, and it's not Rudolph. It's an evil man named...dun dun dun....

Le Père Fouettard
(Sounds a bit scary doesn't it, thought it needed that dun dun dun.)

According to my sources, the ever reliable Wikipedia, Le Père Fouettard was a guy who kidnapped three little boys, robbed them, killed them, and then chopped them up and put them in a stew.

Holy Reindeer Droppings! How the Fudge does this guy end up having anything to do with Sugar Plums and Mistletoe?

Apparently, Jolly Ol' St. Nick some how discovered the crime (maybe when Le Père Fouettard's name was flashing in red lights all over the naughty list) and magically resurrected the children (nice tie in to J.C. there - it is his birthday after all). Le Père Fouettard ends up feeling bad and becomes St. Nick's partner and goes around with him on Christmas.

But get this, Le Père Fouettard doesn't become all full of holiday cheer like Ebeneezer Scrooge, he's still sinister, so instead of handing out pressies, he punishes all the naughty children instead. Usually with a good old fashioned flogging.

Nothing says Christmas like a flogging.

Safe to say, I'm usually a well behaved girl, but after reading about you know who (don't want to type his name again in case it has some sort of Beetlejuice effect) I'm going to be on my best behavior this holiday season.

Don't want you know who coming to town.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Very merry holiday wishes and Christmas kisses to you and yours!
Joyeux Noël et Bonne Fête! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

one week

Here we are, one week into Gregory's winter visit already and I have to say, it feels like he never left. We morphed back into real, normal, life right quick, but I'm pretty sure that the rotten colds we had helped that out some (key takeaway: mucus is not sexy).

As what could probably go down as some of the worst timing known to man, last Wednesday, as I drove to the airport to collect Gregory, a nasty, chesty thing began to wrap its slimy hooks around me, and when Gregory hugged me hello, he stepped back, scrunched up his face and said, "Skippy, you sick?"

Yes, Skippy was sick, and within 36 hours, Gregory would be too.

Our first few days together were spent drowning ourselves in Robitussin and binge watching Outlander (sadly, Champagne not included), but on Saturday night, we did manage to go out on a date. Although I use the term, 'night', loosely. We earlybirded it, as in 5:30 earlybird, and within four hours, we were snoring off our cold medicine.

And then Sunday came and Monday, and then yesterday, and now here we are, Wednesday and one week gone already. But it's nice, and life and all, and that's what I've been waiting for all these months.

Oh, and if you're wondering how Gregory's reunion with Fifty went, here's the clip. Gregory and I were both surprised by Fifty's initial reaction. I told Gregory that maybe next time, he should go easy on the cologne.  

P.S. You'll have to excuse my horrible, shrieking voice, I was a tad emotional. 
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