September 24, 2012

Wringing A Dry Towel

Ok lets start with some things you might not have realized about France....

  • Washrooms are often unisex, so strange for the 4 of us to walk into a bathroom together and pick a stall. Seriously!
  • Lined paper like loose leaf is unusual. The majority of paper is this really thinned lined paper like cashier paper. Strange?
  • Shelf milk is more popular than fridge milk
  • The majority of men seem to be better dressed and they all seem to wear sweaters and fancy scarves
  • People seem at first pass a bit grey (not sure this is the best word to describe it but the best I can come up with)but they laugh easily and with HUGE color
  • People tend to stroll rather than walk
  • Cars are extremely small
  • There are a lot of roundabouts
There are many more but these are off the top of my head...and must be sitting there :-). I love it though. I love it all. I love experiencing all of these new things and struggling to make sense of the strange ones and I especially love doing all of this with my family.

For the past 3 days we have been in Paris on a road trip due to bad weather crossing the Bay of Biscay. Tomorrow we are off to Normandy for a day and night. Then we will be back to Salty Ginger and off on our first passage. 

We found the cutest little apartment here in Paris. It is just a stones throw away from the Eiffel Tower. At night just at the end of our street the tower is beautifully illuminated. Gorgeous. The apartment is in this cool old typical Paris building. It has a neat loft with a bed up this steep staircase or maybe ladder better describes it. There is a huge window that opens wide up and you can see the entire apartment within. I hope the picture does it justice. 

Highlights from the trip so far:

Day 1 we went to the Eiffel Tower and walked around it and stood beneath it and took pictures. The line up was huge an we agreed to come back in the morning and go up. For the past 20 years I have told the story of how Graham and I travelled to Paris on a budget and never went up the Tower and what a tragedy it was.  Funny thing is, the next morning on our walk over we see that we had missed this gorgeous platform overlooking the Tower and totally square on and a ways above it. The view was spectacular. I whispered to Alex as Amelia and Graham walked ahead that I hated to admit it but that I would much rather look at the tower than go up it. He quickly jumped on my words and said "Me Too". I couldn't believe it. I said, "Do you think Amelia and Dad would feel the same way?". So we caught up to them  and it was one wanted to go up? It was so strange to be deciding not to go up after all these years of wishing. Life is funny. We have spent time each day admiring it and I will never forget looking at this wonder with my kids and hubby. 

My other favorite part was shopping with Amelia. I knew she wanted to spend $$$ and shop and I also knew she and I had a budget. Luckily in the middle of the night it hit me......Paris has to have some awesome second hand stores?? and guess what.....IT does and we found the best one. Oh what fun we had in this tiny shop with a spiral staircase and huge bins to rummage through on our Parisian shopping spree. I will never tire of seeing her happy. We got some fantastic buys and a ton of stuff and only walked away $41 dollars poorer. 

Other noteworthy moments:
  • trailing a pick pocketer with the kids and laughing hysterically that he might see us
  • Amelia forgetting she was in public and belching loud and proud on the double decker bus tour
  • Buying roast chicken from this stall with the locals on a Paris street with Graham... big crowd lots of french shouting and tickets...but we figure it out and man that chicken was good!
  • Lighting a candle for my bff in Notre Dame and feeling for a moment the presence of something bigger than us or unknown
  • Buying the kids crepes from the vendors whenever they asked...."YES" was the name of the game
The kids are getting older and sometimes I feel like my time with them as kids is like me trying to wring water from a dry towel. Our relationship is changing...not for the better or worse just different. It makes me so happy to think that as they grow older they will never forget the first time they saw Paris with Graham and I. 

If you haven't been to Paris get it on your bucket list. Off to Juno beach in the morning! Check out Amelia's blog. Miss you all

September 20, 2012

Just a Kiss

Slowly life on board is returning to normal.Everything is finding its place on board and we are all falling back into a routine.

Homeschooling started in full force on Monday. Amelia and I have had a tough few days trudging through Algebraic equations. Yuck. She learns best when we move through the lesson together and do the examples together and then she does the final test questions on her own. It isn't a walk in the park though. The material is hard and we both get frustrated and tired and grumpy with ourselves and each other. The end result is always good but it is one heck of a mountain to climb.

Today once she was finished her test questions, she switched gears and started her grade 9 art course. I couldn't help but laugh as she exclaimed from my room, "OMG Mom this whole course is about drawing and making things! I love this course." I laughed to myself and thought, "Yes you do not have to be a mathematician there is a whole other world out there!"

So now she is still happily singing and drawing and designing in my room and I am happily sitting at the kitchen table doing my own thing. Oh how I love Art. LOL

We took Salty Ginger off the dock yesterday. Always a bit nerve racking moving on and off the dock for us. We got away, stopped and got gas and motored off through the channel with no problems though with Graham at the helm. What a feeling. Felt like a christening. This was the first time that Salty Ginger felt the ocean move beneath her hull.

All along the channel on the wall there were old French fishermen in their blue fishing pants with their grey sweaters and their bicycles next to them with their tackle boxes, fishing. I definitely need to get a picture. It is exactly how you are picturing in your mind. For some reason it made me feel good to see them. I so wish I could speak French and get to know some of these people....ok back to the sail. It was a beautiful day with blue sky and gorgeous french town with a picturesque wrap around beach as the back drop. Wind was perfect for a trial but unfortunately once we had finished calibrating all the new instruments on Salty Ginger, which basically involved driving around in very large circles with no sails up for a couple hours, it was getting late. We only had a few moments to pull out the main and basically bring her back in, so for now the sail will have to wait for tomorrow!
The drive back up the channel went fine and then we get back to our slip (dock spot). We thought we would try backing in, since the boat seemed so easy to maneuver....ummm not as easy as it seemed though.....abort, abort, abort. Ok, time to go bow first in but unfortunately Graham brought her straight in and we were to far away from either dock on either side to jump, so Salty Ginger kissed the dock up front....her "official christening"! Finally Alex decided to just leap for it and then I finally leaped (ok yes I took to long to get off) and we all worked for way to long to get her tied up. Needless to say each day is an experience and we learn. All in all it went pretty well though and I am so grateful that I get to have these crazy, fun, high energy moments with 3 people who I love so much! We will get better at this and we get to do it together. Afterthoughts...we are all just sitting here having happy hour trying to decide whose fault it you might enjoy this...

Graham, "First of all it is just a kiss and can be fixed with a bit of polish. Secondly, if Mom had just let Alex leap off the boat he could of stopped Salty from kissing the dock"

Amelia, "I should have told Dad that we were going to touch"(she was at the bow)

Alex, "If Mom had let me jump I probably could of stopped the boat"

Mom, "Ok, even if I had let Alex jump he was only thinking of grabbing a line and we found that there wasn't a cleat for him to wrap the line. He wasn't thinking of running to the front and stopping the boat."

Kids, "Picture mom dangling her feet over the side of the boat trying to touch the dock and Alex leaping over her."...they say as they laugh uncontrollably

September 17, 2012

Ebbs and Flows

Ok, so if anyone ever asks you if it is possible to decide to buy a boat and move to France within 4 months you can tell them yes....but there is a cost to your mental and physical health! Why is it that we always seem to have to endure pain for gain and tell me this...why does it seem that we (being The Perry's) seem to have made these ebbs and flows of pain and gain, our "normal"? and why...I ask you I always forget the pain so quickly. It seems to wash off me like water but in the moment I am asking myself "WTH"!

Well let me tell you this past month has been filled with loads of these "wth" moments. You might of thought I was a workaholic before well August took me to new heights as I tried to wrapped up the two contracts I was working on. Luckily the kids were out west and Graham was here in France readying the boat, so there were no distractions. Graham arrived home the evening of the 24th of August and we gave ourselves two days to pack and move out of our house. Then for the past few weeks we have been living out of duffle bags between Toronto and Alberta as we prepared our lives for this next journey and attended my little sisters wedding.

Finally everything was done and the four of us were once again together and at my brothers condo packing our lives into duffle bags to bring to the boat. We have done this type of packing 5 times now, where you bring as much as you can within your limits on plane and that's it. The rest of the stuff stays behind. This time though...I had a funny thought cross my mind..."Why don't we just pay for a couple extra bags?"....I tried running this thought by the captain and his response was that we were each allowed a second 20lb carry on and a purse or handbag and that this should be considered a second bag for each of us. So we had 4 * 50lb duffle bags, 4*20lbs duffle bags and 3 hand bags. Keep in mind that many of these bags were filled with boat parts and even a boat sail! He needs 1 week with a women who wouldn't stand for putting her stuff in a duffle bag, wouldn't be ok with leaving her blowdryer and straightner behind and wouldn't be ok with the one vaccum sealed bag for clothes and then he would see what a catch he

We landed in France with all these bags and the fun or should I say "Pain" ensued. Read Amelia's blog to hear all about it (link to the right). Couple funny points...we get to the car rental place and I ask the fellow to add me as a driver. Graham says, "Thats an extra $39 are you really thinking of driving". I say, "Of course! I am sure I will be running around getting stuff for the boat over the next few days." He says...(in a very grumpy, hasn't slept in 10 hour voice) "Well, you can start with the next 5 hours to our boat". Love it...welcome home....exactly as I left it. LOL. and I think in my head..."Damn straights I will drive because then you can NAVIGATE." Funny thing I learned later that day though is that it doesn`t matter what seat I sit in...I am expected to navigate! Picture us sitting lost in our volkswagon van in downtown Paris in rush hour traffic and not sure what the heck to do. Kids in back seat tired and GP and I in front seat screaming at each other...let the good times roll. Didn't take us long to rebound though. We switched seats I rolled down the window in traffic and took the chance that a fella in hippy van might speak english and luckily he did. He pointed us to the right and Alex confirmed on a map and now nothing left but a 5 hour drive. 2 hours into the drive though, GP and I realized we had to sleep. We pulled over in a highway pullout and fell quickly alseep in our seats. Amelia said at one point she woke up and it was like a strange.."Walking Dead" scene. She said there was no one around and everything was quiet and we were so still, right up until the moment she saw me snore. Well what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and nothing good is suppose to be easy right?

The good is pretty damn good though. Salty Ginger is a proud, gorgeous, curvy, strong,vivacious ginger! I am NOT dissappointed. She is everything I expected and more. Graham did an amazing job getting her ready for us. Due to the hydrovane, bimini, dodger, cushions, and electronics, she does not feel like a factory boat, she feels like a home that could cross oceans and WILL. We have jumped full on back into our old life. The kids started school the next day and we have completed our provisioning of the boat. Everything seems so cheap here. I stocked up our liquor cabinet with 14 bottles of wine, a 26 of gin, rum, glenfiddich and baileys and guess what the total was??   $108. Shocking right!! The promise land.

The plan is to return the rental car tomorrow, do a practice sail on Wednesday and then sail away on Thursday, if the weather is good. OMG....lying if I said I wasn't a wee bit nervous but totally ready to take the helm with Captain Graham. I will try and stay in touch more often now that I should have some free time :-)!