Julianne’s Blog

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Smarch 27 March 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 4:29 PM
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It was the 13th hour of the 13th day of the 13th month… It’s SMARCH!

Another month, another blog posting. I’m never online for more than a few minutes, just enough to check emails and never long enough to post anything. But today is my birthday so we’ve taken the day off of work (also because it’s raining) so I am able to go to the library in little town Bonnat to use the computer. Also we are doing laundry! I’ve been wearing my hoodie for at least 23 hours a day, every day since the last time it was washed in January. And it’s kinda gross. But I’m cold without it, which is why it hasn’t been cleaned in 2 months.

I’m still in France with Jason working on his house. We’ve been replacing a section of his roof. It involved putting up new beams and all new woodwork, although I didn’t really participate in that project. I was scrubbing the mold off the terracotta tiles that we are now putting back up on the roof. It’s slow and boring, but its almost done. Then there’s just the other 3 sections of roof, and putting in floors, and getting electricity and plumbing, and making walls, and you know, it’s almost done. Uh huh.

This morning (really closer to noon) Jason made crepes with lemon juice and plenty of vanilla sugar, just how I like them. We’re going to make an apple pie this evening, although our official pie maker Clint went back to Chicago after his stint in Le Vignaud. Also there will be a pizza with homemade crust (finally those years working at Papa John’s are paying off) with my new favorite topping: capers. Really quite delicious. At the farmers’ market in the bigger town Gueret there is a vendor who sells olives and sundried tomatoes and capers, and we always make a purchase from him, although these capers were actually bought from the grocery store. Maybe I will even pick up a coke to go with my birthday dinner, but let’s not be too extravagant.

At the farmers’ market last week we wound up meeting a coupe from Minnesota who are living here for a year while the girl Gigi teaches English in the school system, so last night we went to their apartment in Gueret for drinks. Jason and I brought wine and they bought a bottle of champagne for my birthday, and we had a really fun and very late evening. It was good to hang out with some other Americans.

When I was in Paris 3 weeks ago I bought a vintage duvet cover with a really cool flower print on it. Many hours of hand sewing later, I’ve turned it into a great little sundress that I certainly can’t wear in this weather. I bought elastic at the Saturday market in Gueret, 6m for €1,50– a bargain and a great experience buying sewing notions from an open air stall in the middle of the French countryside. But I don’t have any shoes that go with a dress at all, just my hiking boots and my Converse sneakers. Also I wound up getting a new iPod when my old one inexplicably broke after I dropped it on the floor ($180 from ebay UK, 6 Gen and it’s sooooo cool) and I made an awesome case for it out of some vintage French comics Jason found in the attic. He was so jealous of my case that I had to make him one too. My mom sent me an extra pair of glasses I had, which somehow ended up being painted white. The paint’s not dry yet though, so I can’t say how they’ve turned out. I had seen some white frames in an optometrist’s office in Amsterdam, so I consider this a belated souvenir of my first stop in Europe. So even though I’ve got no supplies, workspace, or storage room, I’m still as productive as ever. Lorraine’s dad Will once said I had making disease, and I guess I still haven’t recovered.

So on Monday I am packing my bag again and heading to Marseille for some more girl time with Izzy. This is the best international slumber party ever, and it doesn’t stop. It will be so good to have some warmer weather, and I’m really looking forward to updating my wardrobe! I’ve been wearing the same 2 shirts for about 4 months and it’s getting boring. After that I suppose I’ll backtrack west to Spain, and then make a big loop through Italy, Croatia, Prague again, Krakow, Germany, and then back in Paris at the end of May to meet my dad for a few days. After that some UNO people are going to be in Venice for the Biennale, so why not me? And then it’s just another month until my flight back to good old USA.

And then… I want to buy a car, probably a station wagon, big enough for me to put a mattress in and drive down to NOLA, then west to the Pacific Ocean with whatever drifting friends I can dig up making a pit stop in the middle of the Nevada desert in the beginning of September for Burning Man, and after that I’ve got nothing.

Some other things: I’d bought some underwear in Prague in January, and I just realized the other day that the tag on the inside is in 20 different languages. Also my mom sent me a pack of Peeps (but Jason says since they’re bunnies they should be called Flops) that I roasted for s’mores, made with some delightful French cookies called ecoliers, butter biscuits with slabs of chocolate on them (thanks mom). Also on the subject of biscuits, I finally found a perfect biscuit recipe after many unsuccessful attempts.

Funnily enough, I should have more regular internet access when I’m on the move again, so hopefully the next few weeks will see more postings.

Also happy late birthday to Unkie Rick and happy anniversary to Michael and Kami (4 years, right?), who I love very much and miss all the time, along with everyone else.


All of February in under 986 words (not counting the title) 2 March 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julianne Dodds @ 5:17 PM
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So much has happened in the last few weeks. I’ve been too busy and having too much fun to be spending all day online! But mostly, I haven’t had internet access for more than a few minutes. So now where to begin?

Izzy and I convinced Jason to drive to visit us in Prague. One morning I went out to pick something up, and when I turned around the corner onto Izzy’s street there he was. We all spent a week together in Prague, doing a little bit of sightseeing, but mostly hanging out. One night we went to a bar that was actually an old train car, called the Vagon. It was strange, but the cheapest whiskey I found in Prague, and they served fried cheese (a staple of vegetarian dining in the Czech Republic).

Then Jason and I piled into his Renault truck and headed south on the small roads we found on the map. Southern Czech Republic was covered in snow, and at one point the truck skidded off the road and got stuck in a snow bank/ditch. Luckily two cars of Czechs stopped, and with the help of a big van we were able to pull and push the truck back onto the road.

Eventually we got to Vienna. We found a place to park and crawled into the back of the truck, where there was a futon mattress and two down blankets waiting for us. In the morning we went to a gas station to brush our teeth, and then hopped on the tram into the city center. It wasn’t really any colder than Amsterdam, but at least in Amsterdam I was staying in heated places where I could take a hot shower and had lights. Also, our first day in Vienna it was raining, which eventually turned into snow. The weather made the city kind of miserable. Although it was south of Prague, Austria is Alp country, so the elevation is higher. I hadn’t thought of that.

So why did we go to Vienna? Well, Vienna was the center of the Secessionist movement, whose most famous member was Gustav Klimt. I just finished my thesis 3 months ago, so I had to go and stand in front of the paintings I had been researching for months. This was the pinnacle of the 5 years I spent studying art history. I went to the Secessionist building, which was an independent gallery space for the members. Klimt has a long frieze in the basement (it was originally in the main hall, but was meant to be only temporary) and got the see the entire thing at once, not broken up into images. And then… I went into the bathroom and washed my hair. I’m pretty sure I am one of the only people in the world who has washed their hair in the Secessionist building. Of course I froze when I stepped outside, with my wet head, but I feel like I made my mark.

After two very difficult days in Vienna, we started heading west to France. We drove on the small roads and passed through so many little villages. We saw an amazing Baroque monastery in Melk, and were afterwards completely enveloped in a crazy sudden snow storm. We drove through Linz, which was Hitler’s favorite town. We detoured south to St. Gilgen and Halstaat, which was amazingly beautiful, even under 2 feet of snow! In St. Gilgen, where we spent the night, I ate a giant Austrian cinnamon roll that had me singing and skipping for the rest of the morning. We stopped in Salzburg for pizza, home of The Sound of Music, but we couldn’t really stay. Austria was too cold. We took the Autobahn through Germany, and by the next night we rolled into Bonnat, France.

Jason’s house is actually in Le Vignaud, but while he’s working on it he is staying a friend’s second home in the nearby village of Bonnat. This house doesn’t have heating, but it does have plumbing and electricity, which is nice at night. We spend all day in Le Vignaud working, about 7 hours a day. The most work we’ve done is in the yard. There were massive piles of vines, branches, and thorns that needed to be burned. The house had been uninhabited for 50 years before Jason moved in, and the front yard has been used as a dump. We’ve pulled out tons of broken glass, plastic bottles, a wide collection of whole bottles (some match), endless rusted metal, several shoes, and at one point there was a door with wood veneer (which does not decompose) and old metal fixtures. There was a bit of detective work on that one. We also dug up a hibernating toad the other day, with bright red eyes, and watched it wake up to the spring. Despite all the trash in the yard, there are also some beautiful white wildflowers that keep the honey bees busy all day.

A week of hard work and the yard is almost finished. I’ve been using a pick axe to break up the dirt, which also pulls up the rocks and exposes more garbage to be collected. We’ve leveled out the yard, removed some old trees and nasty vines, and have done some extensive building of stone walls. The transformation is really amazing, and in March it will be time to plant the clover and wildflower seeds we got instead of grass.

But for the next week I’m going up to Paris, about 4 hours by train, to meet a friend I met in Amsterdam. I’m excited to get another change, to let my muscles relax for a week, go out at night, to sleep in a heated room, and to be clean. I might even wear mascara! I think somewhere under this dirt and the layers of the same 4 shirts I’ve been wearing for 3 months I’m a girl, but I can’t be sure anymore.