Day 4/5: 30 Days of Animals

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Challenges

Didn’t have WIFI yesterday so please excuse the lack of post! Bought an incredibly last minute train ticket to voyage from Normandy (the North of France) to Montpellier (the South of France). I am now living in an “eco village,” a community of, in this case, six people who aim to live in a more socially, culturally, economically, and environmentally sustainable way. Today I was told that BBQ is carcinogenic. Also, just simply when oil bubbles on a pan, it will give you cancer. And if you eat tomato sauce (a.k.a. fruit sauce, apparently) it will make you obese, which is why we have an obesity problem in America.

Okay.

Day #4 of Challenge #1: 30 Days of Animals

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Day #5 of Challenge #1: 30 Days of Animals

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There are two beautiful donkeys here!!

 

Day 3: 30 Days of Animals

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Challenges

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Today we transported three béliers (rams) from one of the barns to the other. Before embarking on this journey, we placed the rams in a seated position (imagine a slumping teenager eating cereal on the couch watching television) and then clipped their nails. The nails are clipped twice a year and grow incredibly fast. 

Tomorrow morning I leave this sheep farm. Bittersweet. More on that later peeps.

Don’t forget to send your drawings during this 30 day drawing challenge to me!

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shout out to Audrey Darnis for sending me the progress they are making on a doodle!! 

Day 2: 30 Days of Animals

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Challenges

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Day #2 from Challenge #1: 30 days of animals. Check it out here. 

This is my favorite petit agneau on the sheep farm I am currently WWOOFing at. I name him moo moo. His mum doesn’t produce any milk for him, so I feed him and his friend twice a day from a bottle. When I walk into the barn, they run to me. I try to hug this baby every day, not only to show it love but to feel loved as well. Today I learned that mon petit chou (my little cabbage a.k.a. moo moo) is sick. We gave him antibiotics but apparently little lambs, especially those who drink from bottles, are the first to pass away when any of them get ill. My moo moo was shivering a lot today and I held him and tried to warm him up. Think about my poor moo moo lamb baby. I love him so much. 😦

30 days of Animals

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Challenges

Today I watched as a farmer stirred his tea with a giant cheese knife the size of his head at the market.

On the subject of sharp stuff, today I embark on the first 30 day challenge on chapstick (this blog) and I invite you to join me. Doing what? Sharpening our drawing skills!

The challenge: Every day for 30 days draw something. (And be at least somewhat proud of it! Enough to share the drawing with other people).

The motivation: I love to draw but often can’t find the “time,” whatever that is.

If I get drawings from you I’ll feature you on the blog! With your permission of course.
Different levels of the challenge:
1 star: Send me one drawing.
2 star: Send me a few drawings.
3 star: Send me 30 drawings.
4 star: Send me 30 consecutive, daily drawings.
5 star: Send me 30 consecutive, daily drawings of ANIMALS. (I am drawing only animals, if you’re up for the challenge, join me baby baaaaah baaah black sheep have you any wooooollll)

To begin, here is a sketch of an adult sheep who let me pet his face for a moment.

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An Old Man and a Candle

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Anecdotes / The Llama Restaurant, New York, NY, Summer 2018

Working at the Llama I lived in constant fear of a few things. First, that my dress was see-through. Quite rational fear, I believe. Especially when you forget to pack a bra and have to make a makeshift one out of scotch tape in the bathroom. Second, that I would not recognize an important person by face and make some grave mistake, like ask the owner of the restaurant if he is planning on “joining us for dinner this evening”? (a previous host did in fact do this, poor girl). Third, that a guest would ask me a question to which I did not have the answer and somehow embarrass me or yell at me.

One night, one of these things happened. It was a moderately pleasant evening. I was wearing one of my standard outfits: a long black dress that I found in my closet and had no recollection of purchasing. I was re-setting a table in the main room of the restaurant. Typically, I can succeed at this task with minimal human contact. Due to my attire, most guests understand that I am not their server, nor am I a chef, and thus only concern myself with chairs and tables and plates and napkins. I don’t even mess with forks and knives. I only deal with crumbs and “good evening,” “greetings,” “hi there,” “would you like me to check that for you?” “have a good night,” and “yes let me take you to the restroom right this way.” But this particular evening, an old man got my attention, waving over to me although I was standing right next to him.

“What is that delightful dish over there?” He said, straining his neck and gesturing with his thumbs.

To my horror, I saw that he was pointing at a candle on the other table. A candle. It was now my job to find a way to tell him that the mysterious item of food on the other guests table that he was so fascinated in, was in fact, a candle. I needed to do this, in a similar way I have to suggest the elderly use the elevator when making the long journey to the bathroom: without deflating their egos. I brace myself.

“That right there?” I say slowly, gesturing with an open hand to the candle.

“Yes, yes, that, what is it?”

“Well, sir, that is a… well, that’s a candle.”

I had to just tell him. I couldn’t make something up in enough time. Not that I should have lied to him, but perhaps there was a better way to go about it. I try to ease the awkwardness of this exchange.

“Yeah, that is a candle. We put them on every table, ha, to brighten the table…”

“No. Not that. What is that over there?”

I look back at where he is pointing and watch as a server moves out of my line of sight. With even more horror than before, I see that he is pointing at the special, free-of-charge appetizer we give to special guests, quite frankly, not him, when people are celebrating a special anniversary or event and we have deemed them special. I consider this information in my head. How can I explain this to him without hurting his feelings even more? I have already insulted his intelligence by explaining to him what a candle was and now I have to explain to him that he is not special and doesn’t get the special free appetizer? Not to mention if I decide to tell him about the appetizer, I have no idea what it even is.

Moments like this I wonder what I am doing at a respectable establishment like this one. Not to mention someone with a job.

“I don’t know what that is sir. But the thing next to it… I know it’s a candle. Sorry.”

And I walk away, hearing his wife mutter to herself, “she doesn’t know?”

In the heat of the moment, I didn’t use my line: “allow me to connect with a colleague and get back to you.” In the heat of the moment, I froze like a lost lamb and insulted an elderly man. I am here to say, it is okay to freeze in the heat. We all do it?

Week 1: Surviving on Sheep Farm in France

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Goals / Travel

img_3726My first word was “bouteille,” French for bottle. Every night, or rather, multiple times per day, my French mother would fill up bottles full of soy milk for me to drink (this being, of course, before research was done potentially linking excessive soy milk consumption to breast cancer and a slower mind). It’s okay, I turned out okay. Although I did forget how to spell “sewer” the other day and typed into google: “how to spell the poop place underground”. When that didn’t help me, I wrote, “where does the poop go” until I found it. Point being, maybe I drank too much soy milk for my own good. But any way, my first word… It was “bouteille”. I love to flaunt this fun fact when asked or not asked (let’s be real, after about the age of 2, nobody asks you or your mother what your first word was anymore). But to the world, I wish them to know, I am not merely American, I am also French.

But do I speak French?

Well, this has been a life long struggle. Hence, why I am here on the outskirts of Alençon, France as we speak, volunteering on a sheep farm as a WWOOFer (a.k.a. a volunteer with the organization Worldwide Work On Organic Farms where in exchange for food and a place to stay, you work on a farm). My main goal here is to finally, finally improve my French to a point where I am fluent. As fluent as possible.

How’s it going?

Well, I came in, as I usually do, thinking it’ll be no biggie. I have a solid base in French, I can say stuff, I understand my mom and her friends when they talk in French, I’ll be fine. Sheep are cute. And yes, I’m fine. And yes, sheep are cute. But I didn’t anticipate spending most of my day with a mumbling 16 year old apprentice and the farmer, who speaks French faster than news anchors. It often feels like a different language altogether. Sometimes I have absolutely no idea what they said. And having to say, “comment?” and “désolé j’ai rien compris” over and over again when all they’re trying to explain is how to milk a sheep or move this giant pile of hay over to the other side of the barn… well, it’s sad. After a week, however, I can confidently say it is getting easier. I also have some strategies to speed the process.

SPEAK: I force myself to say things. It’s so easy to become a wall flower when you are a foreigner in a foreign country. People become accustomed to you not knowing words and not knowing what they are saying. 16 year old boys might even say something in front of you that’s a bit inappropriate thinking you didn’t notice– oh, but you noticed! And you told him! And he was embarrassed. And it was great!

LEARN WORDS:

I carry around a little handy-dandy notebook (“mon carnet français”) everywhere and write down as many french words as I can that I don’t understand. Then I translate them and add them to an online quiz to study. Check it out. I add to it daily. (Often times French people don’t want to repeat themselves more than once and then spell out the word they just said quietly, quickly, and while mumbling– but you must force them. Respectfully, of course. But push, push!)

READ HARRY POTTER: As all sane human beings, I love Harry Potter and re-reading the books makes me feel at home. Currently I’m reading “Harry Potter À École Des Sorciers” (the first book) in French. I’d say the only downside is I learn odd phrases in French such as “une poursuite haletante” (a panting pursuit) and “des sifflements d’oie furieux” (furious goose whistles). 

MAKE LIL VIDEOS: 

Every night I record a little video where I speak to myself in French and check in. So I can map my progress with the language. This is what people do when they don’t have a thriving social life or friends other than sheep. Here’s a very short clip from one of them:

 

JOURNAL IN FRENCH:

I write a journal entry in French daily. Gotta get them memories of me pouring sheep yogurt into containers ingrained in my mind forever somehow.

CUDDLE CUTE BABY SHEEP:

While the family is very kind here and I get along with them well (better each day that passes)… I try to give these two baby sheep that I feed from a bottle a long hug every day. To keep me happy. These baby sheep and I can communicate without language. Plus, they don’t ask me to complete laborious tasks.

Here’s to hoping one day, I can speak fluent French. Let me know if you have any advice on how to speed the process. I must sleep now because I have to wake up early to give grain and hay to all the adult sheep, give the babies their bottles, milk the mommies, and maybe go to the fromagerie to make some cheese, yogurt, confiture du lait, riz au lait, creme fraîche, or something or other. Or clean things, lots of things to clean here. More on that later.

À toute à l’heure!