Homme Don’t Play That.

“Homme” is how you say “homie” in French. It’s basically the same word. It means “man.”

While Callaghan was busy drawing a hermaphrodite tin can with a pair of mismatched rocket man-boobs and its lid flipped up like a hat and a skirt around one of its tentacle knees, I went down to the bergerie to retrieve a few things. Along the way, I encountered a donkey and a large snail, and I found two lizards hanging out on the terrace when I got back.  Down in the laundry/storage room, the largest spider I’ve ever seen here in France ran across the wall when I walked in. Up here in the front room, the morning’s scattered ant swarms have finally died down.

Nature is active today, and we’re having a relaxed and productive afternoon. The house smells pleasantly of ginger and cardamom from the Ethiopian chickpea wat (stew) I made yesterday for tonight’s dinner – it’s one of those aromatic dishes that’s good to make a day in advance, so the spices can mingle overnight. I’m going to serve it with brown rice, since I don’t know where to find injera around here (Ethiopian flatbread), or the teff flour I’d need to bake my own.

I miss Ethiopian restaurants! Soon. In three weeks, we’ll be back in the States. First thing I’m going to do is find an Ethiopian restaurant and attempt to eat two years’ worth of injera in one sitting.

Ah, food. Bread. The plight of carbs’ reputations crossed my mind the other day when we were in the supermarket. It’s odd how popular it’s become to believe that carbs are “bad.” It’s like, one day, everyone became aware that allergies/sensitivities to gluten are common, so, alright, let’s be hyper-aware of that. Millions of people now feel a lot better on reduced-gluten or gluten-free diets. Great! But then, somehow, that entire category of food came crashing down from grace with a sweeping, extended indictment: Carbs make you fat. The problem with this is that it’s only half-true. Not all carbs cause the metabolism-compromising biochemical reaction that leads to weight gain.

I generally avoid simple carbs (white sugar, white flour, white rice, white pasta and white potatoes), but as far as I’m concerned, life’s not worth living without complex carbs. I love whole grain breads, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes. I’m lucky that my body gets along with wheat, because I’d be forlorn without it. I could never do a raw food diet; after a while, I’d go crazy without pasta. I eat it for lunch almost every day, as I have ever since Callaghan discovered my pasta with garlic and olive oil obsession. Though I maintain that just plain old garlic and olive oil would be fine with me every day until the end of time – it’s something I’ll never get tired of eating – he’s undertaken the challenge of creating variation after variation on this heavenly theme. He should write a book: 365 Variations on Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil.

So he makes lunch, and I make dinner, usually. And he draws hermaphrodite tin cans with mismatched rocket man-boobs and lids flipped up like hats and skirts around their tentacle knees. We’ve got our division of domestic labor all sorted out.

Here’s Your Root Canal. Cream and Sugar?

This hen thing provides as much excitement as you can get living in the middle of nowhere, but I know it’s only exciting to me, so you have my promise that I won’t barrage you with hen updates – no one needs a blow-by-blow account of what I stick in the hen. This reassurance is brought to you by the fact that we went grocery shopping yesterday, and I can now report that there’s 155.00 euro in the hen. Okay, I’m done bragging about it. I just think it’s a good idea to stash things away. I never used to be like this. It probably began out of paranoia when I moved here and a bunch of things vanished in the shipping.

The other day, Callaghan and I were upstairs in la bergerie (a building for the shelter of sheep. We have the building, but not the sheep), looking for the long screws we’d bought specifically for the shower fixture in the house. We diligently searched the entire place until our fingers turned blue with cold. It’s colder in la bergerie than it is outside… I mean, meat freezer cold! Just before giving up, it occurred to us to peek inside the beat-up old antique metal dentist cabinet that Callaghan accidentally got from a dentist office in Antibes. (Yes, by accident. It’s long story.)

Dentist Cabinet

Dentist Cabinet

I’d always thought there was something creepy about this dentist cabinet. The cabinet’s wide, shallow drawers had come filled with all sorts of little instruments and drills – dentistry’s accoutrements of bygone times – that Callaghan had removed for use on various projects. It could be, we thought, that the missing screws had made their way into those empty drawers at some point.  Ghostly, pain-inflicting screws, I couldn’t help but think. I peered over Callaghan’s shoulder with a bit of trepidation; it wouldn’t have surprised me if the dentist cabinet turned out to hold supernatural properties, transforming everyday objects into tiny medieval torture instruments. Contents of its drawers were not to be trusted.

Callaghan pulled open the top rusty drawer and found… six boxes of Nespresso capsules, cold and forgotten.

Nespresso

Nespresso

For Callaghan, it was like one of those cheesy fantasy movie scenes where someone opens the treasure chest or caldron or whatever and soft golden streams of light emerge to illuminate his face with the warm glow of unexpected wealth and knowledge. Here we’d been out of Nespresso for a month, and a haunted, cold dentist cabinet yawns open to reveal this stash. It was marvelous. For a person who lives and dies by coffee, Nespresso is crack. It had been heart-breaking to see Callaghan standing in the kitchen looking mournfully at the Nespresso machine as it started to collect dust from disuse.

So the next time we’re in need of something that can only be obtained via mail order because there’s no specialized boutique in Rhône-Alpes, we’ll look in la bergerie. That dentist cabinet seems to be a larger version of the hen, except I always know exactly what the hen holds. I guess this is why the dentist cabinet is more compelling. It’s one thing to stash things away for future use, but another thing entirely to stash it away, forget about it, and find it again, completely by accident and just when you need it the most.

I think I’ll let Callaghan make those discoveries himself, though. I’ll watch the pretty hen. He can watch the creepy dentist cabinet. Sounds like a fair deal to me.