This Year Brought To You By The Letter ‘F’

looking for gold
F is for Family.

F is for Farm.

F is for Fun.

F is for Food.

F is for France.

a very big zucchini

F is for Fevette.  Who taught me early on what cows were capable of.

F is for Fuck.  As in “what the fuck have we done?”

F is for Firetruck.  Thank you Michael for providing an alt word for “fuck.”

F is for FuckYeah.  This steak … “FuckYeah!” tastes fantastic. (need alt word for FuckYeah)

F is for Fantastic.
water dish clean

F is for Friends.


kevin and the kids

F is for Four.  Three was great.  Four kids is better than great.

F is for Feu.  Pot au Feu.  Yummy, soul satisfaction.  Feu.  Bon Feu.  They lit our vineyards on feu.  Feu. The villa was on feu.

Lightning Strikes
F is for Fat.  Pig fat tastes good.  Pork chops taste good.

F is for Finances.

F is for Freebies.

F is for Fencing.

F is for Fencing.

F is for Fannie Farmer!

F is for Fancy.  We dress up all fancy on Saturday night because it’s date night.

F is for Fit.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call Brent fat, but this farming stuff makes you fit.  Brent is fit.

F is for Fix.

F is for Fowl.

F is for Fart. Maximet le Cacahuète Qui Pet

F is for Fleather.

F is for Fluff.
legend with mud smudge

F is for Fuzz.

Kitten Pile

F is for Fremont. F for Freezing! implied.
loyal hounds

F is for Finish this post already.

Have a FABULOUS night and a FAST and FURIOUS new year.

What Are Those White Tsings?


I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m very proud when I don’t have to leave the farm.  I was a girl who had to go out at least once a day to feel like the day was a day.  Now I’m up to my nose in projects that I love getting stuck into, I can’t be bothered leaving.  We have all we need right here (I know, so very Dorothy-Scarecrow of me).  While I secure my dairy connection, I have to leave at least once a week to get fresh milk.  The kids are ALL AT HOME (weeeee!) and Brent is a bit ill.  Minty is full of beans.  I felt I should take her with me (and Z) to the shops so she wouldn’t wake Brent up every five minutes.  I’ve had this happen.   It’s torture.  It takes one, maybe two minutes to fall to sleep.  Another minute to slip into deep sleep and BAMN – “Mommy, mommy.  Isn’t Lamby cute?”  Off we went.

As we approached our closest big village (population 3,628. Big city compared to our 301.) Minty asked me, “Mommy.  Mommy, what are those white tsings?”  She, of course, meant “things.”  I wouldn’t go so far as to say the girl has a lisp, I mean she’s learning two languages.  What’s the brotha gonna do.  She’s four.  “What things?” I asked.  “Zose lines in the road,”  she clarifies.  Then I realized she meant the dashed white lines dividing the road.  Yes, Minty is developing her country roots.  I explained that  those lines divide the road in two.  I drive on one side and those people coming the other way drive on the other.  Can you imagine only knowing back country roads without dashed, white paint?  Don’t even get me started on ten lane carriageways.  Not this city girl.  She’s a very special Mint, our Minty.



** notice though, that she does the “hollywood hand-on-hip” to lessen any tricep spillage.  Totally organic.  I taught her nothing.  She’s a natural.

Today, In Farmville …


Brent and the boys moved material.


fairy lulu

Lucy played “Musketeer Fairy.”


9 degrees Celsius

Minty Played with Lucy.


lil muffin

Muffin moped.


z zz

Zélie Macked.



G moved a ladder under the Gascon Sun.


Purse In A Tree

Two chinese-made purses hung in an evergreen tree.  One later broke.


Leg End

Legend surveyed.


Another Year, Another Tutu

Kids frolicked.  Majority avec tutu.


Tosca not photographed as she was guarding the fire and providing the finest quality assurance for any dropped crumbs created by resident one-year-old.  She’s good like that.  It’s a tough job, but some dog’s gotta do it.


Too Many Cockerels On The Dance Floor

Pot Pie Awaits
Well, we eat meat.  More specifically, we eat well-raised local meat.  Even more specifically, we eat our own meat.  The cows are still working their magic and just about ready.  The chickens are snugging in a bit not laying like they used to as they tough it out through winter.  In the meantime, we have some cock-a-doody cockerels running about giving anything hen-like a bit of a fluff.  They’re not at all aggressive towards the kids or me, but that’s mainly because we’re not their cup-o-soup.  Kevin has actively chased them out of the coop for the first time today, which let me know that their time has come.  And so, I’ve mounted the blood-cone of death.  There are those who can’t imagine eating animals with a name.  I am not one of those people.  I would much rather know EXACTLY where my meat comes from.  In fact, every cow in France has a name, though you will not know of it if you buy your meat in abstracting white cassettes covered in plastic wrap.  It’s the law.  All those cows have names.  2011 was the year of ‘G.’  2012 is ‘H.’  Chickens are different. The first two to try out the cone will be C1 and C2.  They’re plump.  They’re ready.  They’ve got green-chook-curry written all over their future.  Though I think I will try them as a roast to see how free-range chicken on this farm tastes.  See, when I use the words “free-range chicken” your taste buds fired.  The cockerels have had a happy healthy life here and it’s time for them to meet the cone.


Owning your very own Toyota pickup can only be improved by owning your very own digger. Which can only be improved by owning your very own tractor.


Cinnamon Buns

Well, cinnamon rolls really.  Our family loves the word “buns.”  I make buns every so often.  I could even see myself running a line of Jean’s Buns in the future.  I’ll stick anything in a bun with sauce.  My mom every so often would make cinnamon rolls for Christmas day.  I thought I’d giver ‘er a go this year and makes me some buns.  It was my first effort.  Though they were edible, they were also a bit delayed.  I was hoping to pop them in the oven when the kids giddied around the house on Christmas morning.  Not only do you need to raise the dough once, after you roll your cute, little buns, you need to raise them again for a couple of hours.  And according to Nutella WeatherCam ™, it was a bit frosty today. Which means inside this Gascon house, Nutella spreading requires heated crêpe to spread.  This is all to say that my dough doth not riseth.  I did nestle it in all cozy like next to Mr. Green, but I think the yeast had checked out.  I did get a little rise out of it and decided to stick it in the oven to see what would happen.  After twenty minutes, delicious buns emerged.  I popped a quick sugar glaze on those babies and off they went.

Now with each passing day, I find myself more of a Fannie Farmer kinda girl.  It’s the cookbook that instructs recipe after recipe to stick shit in a bowl, mix it, cook it.  After twenty minutes, everything comes out just fine.  I do, however, have a pile of Cooks Illustrated material.  I often start there when I’m trying something new.  Quickly I descend into a mumbling housewife, looking for her wine and wondering when this damn Cooks Illustrated recipe will get on with it already.  They tend to go ON AND ON about how they determined this recipe to be “the best” recipe.  And, I don’t care.  I do enjoy many of their recipes, but I wish they were five double-clicks removed from what they publish.  So many times have I started with Cooks Illustrated, got pissed and began to abandoned steps left and right.  It’s rebelish.  It’s liberating.  Then I consult Fannie Farmer and low-and-behold, my missing steps match up with the Fannie version.  Fannie is for people who want to cook good shit without all the pots, pans and nonsense.  This cinnamon roll recipe was the makings of Cooks Illustrated with the execution of Fannie.  Even with sheepish yeast, the buns tasted a’ite.

Christmas Eve Eve




It’s a holiday unto itself.  On the sixteenth of December, Otto collapsed into his desire to eat the entire advent calendar.  Despite some counsel regarding taunting sisters, he ate his way up to and including the twenty-second of December.  Did he eat Christmas Eve Eve?  No.   Because Christmas Eve Eve is a holiday.  It’s a day of excruciating cheer.

Christmas Eve comes with its own minty ooze of false hopes and visions of presents tightly stacked and packed under the tree.  Oh there will be presents, donchoo worry, but it’s never as high or as packed as a kid can imagine.  We latched on to a tradition my mom used to curb the excitement.  Though, technique would be more accurate.  On Christmas Eve we let the kids pick one present from under the tree and open it.  Any present they want.  Any one of these four presents right here.  Pick any one.  Pick any one with your name on it.  We all know what’s inside.  When you open a brand new set of snuggy jammies the night before Christmas, it’s when Christmas really begins.

We’ve received a handful of Christmas cards this year.  I love the cards!  It is so much trouble to send a card to France.  You can’t simply stick a stamp on it and be done.  I really appreciate seeing the pictures of families and receiving that little dose of spirit from other parts of the world.  Some include Christmas letters summing up the wonderful year that was had.  They are always a hoot to read.  I’ve launched a blank document of a popular wordsmith application a few years in a row to pen some such letter.  After the first sentence (e.g. “Whoah what a year!” – “Gee has time whizzed by or what?!” – “Hi folks!”), I close without saving because writing a Christmas letter is not for me.  I had thought about wrting an anti-Christmas letter describing how dismal it all went and maybe send it out sometime in July.  I also toyed with the idea of sending out a non-Christmas letter similar in design to Paul Taylor’s “dance” where he stood still for the entirety of the piece.  Or similar feeling to Bert and Ernie’s broken television set that flashes the letter of the day over and over until Ernie fixes it.  Our Christmas letter would be a sparse piece of A4 with one word in the middle summing up the year.  I’ve thought of a few words like cow, farm, holycrap (is holycrap one word?).  This could only be improved by summing up the year in a letter.  With that in mind, this year has been brought to us by the letter ‘F.’  Sure, I could tell you why, but that wouldn’t be very Taylor of me.

Happy Holidays to y’all and to y’all a good night night.













the letter f











We Have Boolb



Here are a few tidbits …

Our neighbor told us that this is the time when the foxes and other chicken eating creatures hit the hunt during the day as the cold nights approach.  I’ve not had any fox problems.  I think Tosca and Legend keep the foxes away.  But chickens have gone a-missin’.  So, the poor things are kept captive in CoopaCabana until I get my eggmobile on.  It’s so on the list.  I want to build it and love it and move it and call it Steve.  It’s just … it’s just … I don’t know … it’s just not getting done.  But gaddammit, that fox ate FattyPat.  She was mine!  She was fat.  We wanted to try an old, fat chicken in the pot, cook it for hours and hours and see how wonderful it would taste, but no.  Mr. Fox beat me to it.  Kevin and the babes are shut in until I get this thing built.  I will do it.  I said it out loud now, therefore it must be so.


The kiddies are out of school.  France enjoys a lot of vacation and I am fully amenable to this tendency.  Lucy had her last fencing class in Musketeer-ville.  She was the only one in class on the last day due to extremely high winds.  Her teacher gave her a one-on-one lesson and taught her some new things.  She calls Lucy her “little champion.”  I’m not sure if she’s any good, but she is VERY good at learning it and loves it, so I can’t be happier.


While Brent was at fencing with Lucy, Otto walked off the bus with a “boolb.”  To you and me, it’s a bulb.  More specifically a hyacinth bulb.  They grew them at school.  Now it is at home with us.  The kids speak French very well.  Occasionally we hit a little franglais.  This kid hasn’t hit the word “bulb” before and now he calls it a “boolb” because it’s all he knows.

Are You Brave Enough?

As I’ve said before, if you’d like to run a hit song in France, simply include the word “fuck” into your chorus and let FUN radio take it from there.  Today’s installment of “gawd I love France and how lovely is it they don’t censor,” I bring you “Peacock” by Katy Perry.  Sure, I’m prolly late to the game.  I’m a mama of four with cows and shit, so who can blame me.  It’s just when you’re dashing in the equivalent of Safeway for your milk or what have you, and “Peacock” is blaring as you browse in aisle nine, you can’t help but think, “hey! That’s Katy Perry!  What the heck is she on about?  Why is she talking about big cocks while I’m shopping?”  “oh!  Peeeacock she’s saying” how cute.  A song about Peacocks.  I love Peacocks.  Catchy tune.

and let me tell you right here right now, there ain’t nothin’ finer than a French person saying “Katy Perry”  as well as “Lady Gaga” and “Facebook.”  Absolutely rad.  “FAhZ-booook” is completely unintelligible out of context.

That Holiday Haze Is Approaching


I don’t care how curmudgeony you might be about Christmas.  If you have kids or are best friends with kids or have kids in your life, you can’t help but absolutely fall in love with Christmas all over again.  Lucy, the nine-year-old, has had this house primed for Christmas since before America’s Thanksgiving.  Which is right on schedule with local Costco and FredMeyer-like establishments.  France doesn’t do America’s Thanksgiving so they hop right in to Christmas a.s.a.p.  We had our advent calendars WAY ahead of time.  So much so, I toyed with the idea of buying a pre-advent calendar to count down to the actual, real advent calendar that counts down to Christmas.  The kids have their countdown chocolate each morning.  Otto wants very much to eat the whole calendar (who can blame him!) each day.  I told him he can do that, but he’ll have to watch his sisters eat their little chocolate yummy each day without eating a little chocolate yummy for himself.  He hesitates and then hands me back the calendar where I put it in the “hands off” area, which is on or around the top of the fridge (don’t tell Brent cuz that’s where I hide the Nutella).



We’ve been struggling with our Christmas tree installation.  Last year, we found a great evergreen in an awkward place just waiting to be brought inside and decorated.  This year, we’ve come up short.  Instead of cutting a tree down, we’ve decided to buy a live tree and plant it when the holiday season is over.  Our first live tree is GORGEOUS.  I can’t wait to get it in the ground.  Zélie, Minty, Lucy and I went to the shop to pick out a tree and to my peasant farmer surprise, the live tree was eleven dollars cheaper than the dead/cut one.  I almost bought three, but I couldn’t fit them and the kids into my Skoda.  I could barely fit the one.  Back in the day, they say, this farm was full of trees.  Many were cut to make way for the Armagnac vineyard.  It’s my goal to plant a tree every week.  So far, I’ve planted zero.  I say this out loud so I might shame myself and get on with it already.  We now have one beautiful evergreen ready to go when we’re done recycling all the wrapping paper.

I’ve located the “holiday” music from around the world on Brent’s Roberts Internet Radio.  I can now sing Santa songs while making cookies or dinner or feeding Zélie.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it is deliriously satisfying.  Christmas tunes are in my vocal sweet spot.




I’m shocked that I bought stockings so big … so much to fill.  Thankfully I’ve found a peluche (peh-loosh, that’s a stuffed animal cuddle toy) connection to fill in the gaps.  My mom used to stick a large navel orange in the toe.  Knowing what I know now, I suspect she would find the biggest navel orange she could find.  France doesn’t do large navel oranges, they’re more of a mandarin orange type of country.  With the large chocolate Santa and the little peluche toys, I think I’m covered.  These things are important as these are the memories you talk about with friends over beers when you’re older.  We’re getting our groove and laying down our Christmas traditions.  I’m really feeling it this year.


Two other things,

One, Lucy is extremely angry at people who title their music with words that are never used in said song.  If you do that, please note, you are upsetting my nine-year-old.

Two, every time I see Santa I can’t help but get angry with Coca-Cola for making him red and white to promote their brand, but at the same time remember how a small sip of ice cold Coke on a hot day after a long walk that is made with real sugar and not corn syrup is devine.