Friday, July 6, 2012


We've been living with boxes for weeks.  First it was the unpacking of them, then it was the breaking down and stacking of them.  They occupied most of the floor space.  We had a path between the boxes so we could get to other rooms.

I began listing the boxes for free on Craigslist and other list serves and I asked anyone within yelling distance if they were moving soon, please, please?  Getting rid of boxes became an obsession.  And little by little, the boxes went away, so there was joy throughout the kingdom.

Yesterday I sorted all the kids' clothes that were in storage.  I divvied them into a "donation" pile and a "things I love so much I must keep for no damn reason" pile.  The donation pile grew very large.  Later, Alex asked me what was wrong when I stomped past him grumbling.  I said, "I don't have anything to put these things in; I need a big box."

Al looked at me with an undefined look.  I think it can best be described as "frustrated by irony."   

Goes both ways, buddy -- Alex is on my last nerve.  When he gets too warm in the middle of the night, he tosses the covers off.  But he doesn't kick them down to the foot of the bed or pull them off the bed completely -- he throws them aside, directly onto my unsuspecting and sleeping body.  I wake up half an hour later under a mountain of blankets thinking, "Why am I sleeping in a sweat lodge on the Equator?"

I guess I should look on the bright side; we finally found our sheets and blankets. Up to this point it's been sheetless beds coupled with bath towels.  I'm grateful the prodigal sheets have returned along with the prodigal schnauzer but I probably should have kept the box they were in.

There will be several future posts dedicated to the people of my neighborhood.  We've moved into crazy town, mostly in a good way.  Our neighborhood is full of characters.

Two of my favorites are Angel and Dorita.  Angel and Dorita are cousins of Mr. Cool and used to play hide-n-seek in the attic of Banister Abbey.  They live in the area and walk in front of the house nearly every day.  They first saw me standing outside Banister Abbey with Supermodel Neighbor discussing fence design ideas.  I ran across the street to introduce myself when I noticed they'd stopped and were staring at the house.

Now we're friends.  As they say, sometimes in unison, "We like you cuz you friendly, girl!"  Angel and Dorita are a fast-talking comedy duo the likes of which I've never seen before.  I've never left their company without a smile on my face and a stitch in my gut.  Now when they walk past, they stand outside Banister Abbey and yell, "MJ!  YOU IN THERE, GIRL?  COME TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS ANGEL AND DORITA."

One time the door was open so they came up on the porch.  I was standing in the dining room looking at a rather large wooden chip-n-dip tray I'd just purchased.  I was thinking to myself it was way too large.  When I used it, it was going to look like my chips and dip floated into the party on a piece of driftwood.

When I saw (more heard) Angel and Dorita on the front porch, I asked them, "Hey, is this thing too big?" and Angel said, "Aww hell no, girl, I LOVE me a giant chip-n-dip."  Then I laughed very hard because that's just the most delightful thing I've heard in a long time.

Another time, when discussing their childhoods in Banister Abbey, Angel said, "We used to play hide-n-seek up in there.  Or as I used to call it back then, 'hide-n-come-get-it-cutie.'" Then I said, " old were you when you played this?" and she said, "First grade" and then I said, "Wait...what are we talking about?" and then they laughed.  I don't know what was going on with that one.

The other neighbor I'll mention today is Widower Peter.  Widower Peter lives in a house even bigger than Banister Abbey, all by himself, directly across the street.  He's in his mid-to-late-seventies, an Englishman, with a wonderful accent he's retained even though he's been in the States over forty years.  His wife (whom he calls Precious Wife) passed away last year.

Even on the few warm days we've had, Widower Peter wears a full suit complete with tie and newsboy cap.  He doesn't have many teeth left and has a hard time staying on topic, but he's already adopted us as a second family.  I foresee many long-winded and rambling conversations in our future. 

Widower Peter loves to talk about Precious Wife.  One of our more memorable conversations took place on the front lawn of Banister Abbey.  He very much wanted to share with me the three things that make a marriage great.

The first thing was "togetherness."  The second was "give-and-take."  The third one was..... dang, Widower Peter couldn't remember the third one no matter how hard he tried.  We stood there for awhile and it went like this:

Widower Peter:  Did I mention "togetherness?"
MJ:                     Yep.  Got that one.
Widower Peter: .....did I say "give and take?"
MJ:                     Yep.
Widower Peter   But did I say "togetherness?"
MJ:                     Who cares about that -- just tell me where "blanket inferno" fits into the list.

Widower Peter eventually got so frustrated he said he was going home to check on the third thing.  He'd written all three down on a sheet of paper once and was going to find it.  He asked if, to save himself another trip across the street later, he could just yell the third thing across the street when he found it?

I said that would be fine and walked away fervently hoping Widower Peter was about to stand at his front gate and yell "MIND-BLOWING SEX" in the direction of my house.

(He didn't.  He yelled, "TRUST," which was pretty good, too, I suppose.)

I LOVE me a giant chip-n-dip,


  1. Jesus M, I was ROLLING at the visual of Widower Peter potentially yelling about sex across the street. You crack me up and I can't wait to hear more about the neighbors.

  2. Thanks, Michelle. Hey, I'm back! I'm far enough out of the boxes I may be able to reply to people when they say I'm batshit crazy!

    Hugs, Michelle. You pretty damn funny yourself, girl.

  3. Feet for scale? That chip 'n dip looks like Australia!

    1. Joan, girl, I love me a giant chip-n-dip. I'll never stop saying it.

  4. So excited to see a new post today, and you never disappoint! Love the colorful descriptions of your neighbors. (Just imagine how they are describing YOU on their blogs!) Two things I must ask/comment - why is Lucien often wearing rain boots? And there's just not room for enough dip compared to the chip space on that tray!

    1. Thanks, Lora. And yes, why IS Lucien always wearing rain boots? Ask him -- they've just always his go-to shoes. Hottest day we've had so far yesterday and that kid was tromping around in rain boots. Weirdo.

      Agreed, I think I'm going to use one of the giant sections for the dip and put something stupid, like a vegetable, in the tiny dip section. Everyone knows the dip is the whole point.

  5. Now, that's a chip n' dip bowl!:)

    Ahhhhhhh blanket inferno... much like in the duchy:) But we have numerous fans AND central AC, so what am I complaining about:)

    Time is dragging on at work until the 18th of July/beginning on my holiday, so I've rolled out the old Parisian blog (yes, AGAIN!) and have started to read about your first days in Paris:) My God, the Loosh was small! :)

    Write the book about Paris, Dear, I can't keep reading your old blog!;)

    Debs hasn't commented yet... I'm shocked! Must be at the cottage!:)

    Chips n' dip, mes choux!
    The Duchesse

    1. Hellooooo Duchesse! Dang, you aren't going to need me to write a book at this point. You're going to know the whole story backwards and forwards, probably even better than I know the story, especially with that photographic memory of yours.


      How you feelin' back home? Still happy to be back?

    2. Loving every minute of being back home! The weather is so great and I feel lighter here. My mojo is back!

      I do miss being three hours away from Paris, though... so we're flying there to ring in the New Year and celebrate my 40th birthday in December!:) The Duke has already agreed to take me to the Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower for my birthday luncheon (isn't he sweet?;)) But until then, Ottawa will have to do:) Mind you, Paris came to us last week in the form of the Crazy Horse in Gatineau! Boobies and strass, yes Ma'am! In my next life, I'll look like that, I swear!;)

  6. OMG. That chip 'n dip is huge. Hugely funny, too. 'Specially WP and the mind-blowing sex. Glad you're settling in nicely.

    1. Hi Country Girl. Thanks! I have a feeling Widower Peter is going to give me a few good tales to tell.

      Next time we throw a party, it may have to be chip-n-dip themed because that's the only thing that's going to fit on the table.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I don't want to be a trouble maker or cause unecessary fear but maybe
    Alex is trying to murder you and make it look like an accident. "Yes officer she complained about me shoving the blankets over to her side. She even blogged about it". If you wake up with heavy ply plastic sheeting over your face, I would hire a private detective.

    The children pic - Is this how they sit when aren't speaking to each other but still want to teeter-totter. A violent quarrel over the health care act perhaps?

    Have to give the older English gent an F for originality. His formulatic sucessful marriage rules are the same trite drivel parrotted by Ladys Home Journal and Readers Digest for the last 40 years. The old English also freqently bring up Word War II. Damn close thing but through steely resolve they whipped them Germans.

    The chip-n-dip platter big? I think it could save your live if struck by a tsunami. It would make a great raft.

    1. Ah Bill, you always know what to say to make me think, "What the...?" I agree Widower Peter's advice wasn't the most original, would've been better if he'd said the sex thing.

      Funny enough, he did mention World War II. Twice. He also brought up the ages-old rivalry between the English and French, said he didn't know if he'd get along with my husband chuckle chuckle.

      I tried to explain Al is Canadian but Widower Peter didn't care, chuckle chuckle.

      Bye Bill, you one funny dude.

  8. First of all that bowl is quite beautiful so who the eff cares if you can put enough chip-n-dip in it to feed France? (Not that the French DO chip-n-dip.) But I'd keep the bowl simply because I could now refer to it as the "I love me a giant chip-n-dip" bowl. You can say that at every party for the rest of your lives. SO worth the extra storage space needed for that huge thing.

    And second of all... well, there really isn't one.

    Can't wait for next neighbor story.

  9. Finally get my internet back after three weeks, and first thing I do is get me a little MJ (batteries not included). Thanks for the laughs, wacky girl.

    I'm procrastinating from unpacking my own boxes by looking at your boxes. Sigh.

  10. I think moving into Banister Abbey and unpacking has given you your old edge! I love me a giant chip and dip too! I think Widower Peter wanted to yell, "mind blowing sex" but was just not at that place in your relationship yet. Sounds like you are embracing the 'hood wholeheartedly.

  11. hi guys...I am here...I was "in the county" Prince Edward County (not the Island)..the county is in Ontario visiting my sister and her hens...yup...5 hens...we worked hard on getting the chicken coop that was sitting unused on her "estate" and now 5 working girls have moved egg a day from's like magic...

    and I agree....who doesn't like some chip and dip...

  12. Hey Debs!:)

    Well you did say in your comment to the last post that you actually liked the EGG thing, so no one could ever accuse you of not being coherent!;)

  13. MJ, can't believe how much the kids have grown, wow, really good looking kids. That Lucien is going to be trouble, I tell ya, he's very handsome.
    Such an interesting collection of neighbors, why don't I get at least one like that? Really.
    Thanks for taking the time to feed our insatiable need for stories, you must be up to your nose with work.