Saturday, January 29, 2011

"Son des mots qui vont très bien ensemble..." et j'ai mal au dos!

Saturday here, but of course there is no rest for the WWOOFer. We were up and about for breakfast at 7:30am as per usual, and at 8:00am all five of us were out in the garden. Today’s morning mission: pave two sections of the path with concrete, and press decorative stones in on top to create a cobblestone effect. Thibaud and Rosemarie were in charge of the cement mixer, while Howard was in charge of placing and smoothing the cement, and Tom and I were employed pressing stones into the leveled surface. The whole operation went along fairly smoothly, although one of the sections set before we could press the stones in far enough; when we ran the wooden roller over it (to level the stones) they didn’t budge an inch! The resulting path, however, looks quite nice. The key to placing the stones was to try to lay them down in a random pattern, mixing up the varying sizes and shapes; when Rosemarie came over to help us she started putting stones of an identical size in rows!

By the morning break we had done two of the three prepared sections, but sadly (happily?) couldn’t do any more because we had run out of aggregate for the concrete. That wasn’t the end of my time spent with stones today, however; after lunch I was set to work sorting the decorative stones out of the pile of dirt and bark mulch in which they reside (apparently they are the remnants of a previous landscape job on the veranda). As such, my morning consisted primarily of sitting down (or resting on my knees) and handling small stones, which wasn’t bad for my back, but wasn’t really good for it, either. I didn’t sleep well last night because my back was bothering me, and this morning when I went to put on my shoes I found I could only accomplish that task by sitting down on the ground (instead of bending over). And yet, even with trying to be careful, I managed to make things a whole lot worse; I was winnowing the basket of freshly-collected stones, trying to remove excess dirt, when the weight proved too much for my already sore back muscles, and I found myself collasping onto the lawn with a searing pain in my left lower back. It was a couple of minutes before I could stand again and hobble back over to the pile of stones.

Fortunately, Rosemarie came out soon afterward and asked if I would like to come inside and help with lunch preparations and cherry preserving, so I limped into the house and took two ibuprofen, which I imagine helped somewhat. For the cherry preserves, I was in charge of minding and stirring the cherry/syurp mixture heating on the range, and after lunch I helped Rosemarie portion it into jars. She doesn’t use standard wide mouth mason jars for her canning; instead, we were using recycled jam and sauce jars from the store that she sterilized by heating in the oven. I was somewhat skeptical (to me canning involves a lot of boiling water and vacuum sealing), but Rosemarie assured me this method works well, particulairly because they will be eating the preserves well before the year is up, so the seal doesn’t need to last as long.

After lunch was the obligatory episode of Knight Rider; this one featured Michael Knight working as a stunt car driver to help breathe some life into an ailing track business. While I like the show because it reminds me of the Batman television series from the 1960s starring Adam West and Burt Ward, I can’t help but wonder if my friend Ron (as a youth of the 1980s) would have thought Michael Knight had every boy’s dream job - racing around in a wickedly cool car, performing death-defying stunts, and meeting with tons of pretty women and exciting adventures.

Tom cooked dinner for us this evening; he made risotto, which reminded me of jambalaya (minus the shrimp, and plus eggplant). Thibaud also tried his hand at cooking; he made us some brownies for tomorrow’s dessert, and Rosemarie baked some scones for tomrorow’s tea break. And I? I helped out by chopping vegetables for Tom, and then doing the ever-growing pile of dishes beside the kitchen sink (such excitement). During dinner I taught Tom and Thibaud how to speak Pig Latin, and Tom and I discovered our mutual love of the two first Austin Powers movies, much to the mystification of Rosemarie and Howard, who listened with disbelief as the two of us rattled off our favourite quotes. Rosemarie says she thinks I'm going to become an impersonator or comedian, whereas Howard is simply convinced my head is full of interesting but ultimately useless quotes and tidbits of information.

After dinner Tom, Thibaud, and I hung out in their room, swapping music back and forth from Tom’s computer to mine. I felt like we should have hung a French flag on the door, and written something like Personnel authorisé seulement! Parlez français!, as I brushed up on my French, speaking a mixture of French and English with the two of them. I felt bad for not socialising with Howard and Rosemarie this evening, but I think Howard’s in the doghouse a little bit for his endless teasing and word games, so the three of us retreated to the upstairs bedroom to let Rosemarie have a go at him (I personally think it’s funny, but then again, I’m not the one trying to learn English).

It’s now after 11pm and I must be off to bed; here’s to hoping tomrorow doesn’t involve moving too many stones around, because I don’t think my back can take much more of them!


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