Saturday, August 24, 2013

Morning Ritual III

Here I'm, 4 years later, writing about morning ritual III, after morning ritual II.

Several months ago, we moved to a new office with open space environment. That was when I decided to establish my own rule for the morning greeting : air kiss with women, hand shake with men. So every morning, once arrive in the office, I go to greet everyone, have a small talk before starring at my computer and keep pressing the keynotes (my mother's expression, that's how she sees people working in front of a computer lol).

Well, at the beginning some men were a bit confused, as they actually do the contrary : shaking hands with every man and air kissing every woman. But little by little, they get used to it.

I'm glad I made this decision. I read a woman's blog (a Chinese married to a French), after several years of air kissing her guests, she decided to just stop. She didn't appreciate the ritual, now she is just telling everyone that she doesn't "faire la bise". Some people were shock, but gradually they accepted it. I found this to be too extreme, but I admired her gut to tell people what she actually thinks.

This only applies to office environment though. I can accept air kissing people outside of work in informal occasions. Maybe one day I will accept to air kiss my male coworkers. It actually happened. One day, I don't know what got into me, I just went to air kiss a team mate, naturally. I think that was because I start to treat him like a friend, a good sign I guess.

Baguette = Pain

I was cleaning the kitchen counter top and it just dawned on me that in French, bread = Pain. It suits my feeling for the French bread : a pain in cleaning.

Hubby is a big fun of baguette (a long load of French bread), that you can buy easily in the bakery (except in Aug when some of them are having their annual leaves). He can swallow one in within half an hour, spread it with some butter, cheese, ham... I like it too, but not at his level. He has passed down the tradition to Aelig, these days she is not satisfied with plain butter, she wanted cheese too.

Back to my rant.

This evil scrumptious bread has crispy crust. It lasts for two days then it becomes stone hard.

Since we have baguette at home regularly, its crusts are on the counter-top, on the floor, on the dining table, 24/7. Ok I exaggerated, I should deduct the two minutes after cleaning, but it would just come back as soon as someone goes to the kitchen and take a bite of baguette.

Since it doesn't last long, we have to store it in the freezer. So, in the process of getting it out, you have bread crust in the freezer, on the floor, and worst, inside the toaster and on the counter-top that hosts the toaster (well, you need to thaw it before eating right?). And to not waste the ones that turned into stone before we could save them, I need to put them aside so we could feed them to ducks in the park nearby.

Since changing someone's habit is more difficult than climbing the stairs to the sky (a Chinese expression),I have been looking for a solution, and been observing how other families do it.

Ginger is spicier when it is old (another Chinese expression), after many years of experience, my FIL came out with a conclusion :  you need to cut and eat the baguette on the dining table, then take the table cloth to the garden and throw those crusts, the birds will clean them up later. True, his sparkling clean counter-top lasts longer than mine, but that's because they don't eat baguette as often as my family. And he cleans his counter-top 3 times per day.

Now, we don't have a garden as we live in an apartment. It is unethical to throw breadcrumb just outside the window I guess? Someone bought us this planche à pain (the one in photo), yes it does store the breadcrumb, but you still have some on the counter-top so now I have to clean the counter-top PLUS the planche à pain.

It seems that it is hard to find a solution, or one that suits me. I prefer American sandwich bread (pain mie) but hubby would probably throw me out of the window if I suggest this to him. So I have two options:
1. Clean as frequently as possible the counter-top just like my FIL
2. Close an eye on the breadcrumb and move on with my life.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Oh boy oh boy

During the long weekend, we had gatherings with friends, so the little girl got to play with kids around her age.

We were having picnic around the Erdre river. Now the adults can chit-chat non-stop since the kids can play by themselves. She didn't even complain when I took a baby in my arm. When she was younger, she cried and nagged when she saw me holding someone else rather than her.

Going to the beach and play with kids is of course different than being the only kid and playing alone.

She learned how to accept refusal. She placed the towels nicely and invited her pals, but they ignored her as they preferred to sit somewhere else. She didn't take it badly, she was just disappointed.

It was fun watching them playing. They would just stare at each other and laugh. They were wrestling, jumping, running around, then laugh. So easy to be happy.

She had a lot of fun, so did we.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Who don't go for vacation?

I watched on TV that around 40% of French do not go for vacation this year. Tied budget is the main cause for this phenomena. A sociologist calls it as injustice between the poor and the rich.

This is a topic that pops up on TV every summer. How many percent of the population didn't go for vacation, how much on average they spend on their holidays, where are the hottest destinations... Well, a topic that I don't see in Malaysia.

The first time I heard about this I thought this was not a big deal. Stay at home during school holidays, I did it my whole life. The more I'm in France, the more I see it : vacation is in French's blood. It is a right, not a privilege. Not going for vacation is a big deal, as everyone around you is going. To the beach, to the mountain, to the South (South of France, Italy, Spain, anywhere with a better guarantee of sunshine), to a foreign country.

So now we are talking about injustice to people not able to join the wagon.
"Too bad for them", that was what I thought the first year I heard about this.
"If they want to go for vacation, they need to work for it." My thought on second year.
"That's ridiculous, how many countries in the world can have 60% of the population going on vacation?" My take the year after.
"That's too much, there are asking for donations so that kids can go for vacation!" I cried out to hubby.

And then I have Aelig.
My perspective has since changed.
I would like to see every little angel in this world going for vacation with their love one.
I'm willing to donate my "cheques vacances" to anyone who need it.
I'm grateful that my family gets to go every year.

Aelig on vacation in Perhentian Island.

Her vacation continues in France...

Bonnes vacances everyone!

Where is great-grandma?

Sometimes there are things I don't know how to explain to Aelig.

We were in Malaysia, and my mother informed me one day that she was going to be busy as it was my grandmother's death anniversary (做忌). As a Chinese custom, my mother has to hold a memorial service for the ancestors from my father's side. 

The day came, she woke up super early to prepare foods for praying. My grandmother was represented in a wood frame (神祖牌位) with her name written on. I told Aelig that we were going to pray for my grandmother, who is her great-grandma. She asked me where is great-grandma? I showed her the wood frame, she was very confused. 

I helped my father laying out a praying table and presented foods my mother just cooked. My father then lid some incense and passed them to me. I was a bit confused as he didn't give any to Aelig. Was it because she is not considered a descendant from his family? Anyway, I explained to Aelig that I was inviting my grand-parents for lunch. Apparently during the death anniversary the death spouse is invited too. Aelig looked around, it seemed that she was trying to spot my grandparents, but in vain.

 After a while, my father threw two half-moon shape woods (擲筊) to communicate with my grandparents. If one wood is facing up and one facing down, it means that they are well eaten. It was the case at first try, the ceremony is considered conclude and the family can start eating. 

"Where is great-grandma?" After I told her that great-grandma has eaten and has gone, she posted the question with her curious eyes. I don't know how to explain that it was in a form of spirit and normally we won't be able to see them. Anyway, after some discussions with my family, we all think that this is just a tradition that we continue. It is served as a day we remember a family member. After all, our tradition believes in incarnation, my grandparents should have already reborn since long time ago, there is no way they could turn up for lunch lol.

One of the praying foods : fried glass noodles.

The main dish was popiah, a popular dish among the Hokkien. It was mainly made of jicama, a kind of vegetables that I have never seen in any Asian stores in France.

Side ingredients that go with the popiah.

The concept is similar to Fajitas (Mexican dish), but it has less meat and less oily.

I hope grandma enjoyed the lunch. I did!