Articles les plus consultés

dimanche 29 mai 2016



When we settled down in Charentes,we didn't have the foggiest idea about what living in the countryside all year round really meant. The only thing we knew was that we had had enough of the hustle and bustle of Paris.What we had enjoyed years before had turned into a draining humdrum routine.We were feeling like bees trapped in a jar of jam with a tightly closed lid ! We desesperately needed to breathe some fresh air and it  was high time to change postcode !

So, when my husband was offered a job in B., we jumped at that unexpected opportunity to pack all our stuff (I  had not read chapter 66 yet), and take a French leave. Bye bye Paris, hello the countryside !

We arrived there mid-July, and time to unpack, do up the house a little, enjoy some walks in the marshes,sip some shots of Pineau, and Autumn was already spreading all over the country.
A total change of scenery, and of way of life,as well...

My ' gentle as lambs ' neighbours turned out to be die-hard fans of hunting. Canaille, our English Springer Spaniel, who had spent Summer lazing in the sun, away from prying eyes , suddenly became the centre of their attentions.
They kept asking questions about his breed, his age,his temper and his stamina.
Sure there was something fishy going on ...

And so, what was to happen happened !

One morning they knocked at my door, dressed in all camouflage, and offered to take Canaille for a hunting party.
Jeez, a hunting party ! How could they call that a hunting party ??

I felt shivers all along my spine, but managed to pull myself together, and answered politely that my four-legged comapnion was not trained for the job. The only preys he had ever hunted were squeaky toys and cookies, and the sofa was his favourite hunting ground !
As they were insisting, I added that even calves running in the meadows gave my poor dog nightmares, and that the only time he had seen a deer, he had nearly had a heart attack !
They exchanged glances as though reading in each other's minds :

" Those Parisian dogs ! Good-for-nothing ! Just lapdogs !! ".

I didn't mind, and of course, Canaille, either ! He went back to his comfy basket, curled up and uttered a deep sigh of relief as if saying :

" Phew, I had a narrow escape, didn't I ? ".

All day long I could hear barkings and shouts in the distance, and each gunshot made my heart fall into my stomach ! Sure, the nerve-racking hunting season would chip away my mental health !!!

Anyway, in the late afternoon the village got quiet again and so did I.
Not for long, unfortunately !!

After dinner, I was browsing through a magazine about animal rights, when I heard a knock on the shutters and a muffled voice calling my name ( somebody who knew me , so no thrill like in chapter 57).
When I opened the door, one of my neighbours was standing on the threshold. She handed a large paper bag to me and whispered :

" My husband's been hunting, here's for you, but don't tell anyone ", and off she went.

I locked the door and opened the bag ...

OMG !! A pheasant !! Still warm but dead ! Too late to give it mouth to mouth (or mouth to beak ?) resuscitation ! What could I do ?
I left the lifeless victim in the kitchen and went to bed.
As the saying goes, ' sleep on it '.

I had an awfully rough night haunted by Hitchcocklike birds, and unfortunately, at breakfast time ' The Eye was in the tomb,looking at Cain !', I mean the poor pheasant was still lying on the countertop, staring at me as if saying " How dare you ? ".

As I had been told not to tell anyone about that present, I couldn't ask for help.
Whenever I had bought poultry and game fowl in Paris, I had never attended the strip tease !
What's more, in those days, the area was not Internet-covered and then Mr Google was not my right hand man yet.
So, you can imagine my dismay !!

Well, I thought first thing was to get rid of that accusing and resentful look !

A sharp knife should do.

Poor me !! Hardly had I laid the victim on the carving board and put the tip of my knife on its neck when it began shaking its head right to left as if saying :

" Please don't ! Stop ! ".

Things were going really wrong. I was not wired to be an executioner, and before turning the kitchen into a slaughter house, it was high time to find a way out.

Perhaps once plucked , the rebellious bird would feel naked and ' lose its head '.

Unfortunately plucking a pheasant has nothing to do with plucking one's eyebrows !
Don't get me wrong, I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but yet I didn't use tweezers !!

Anyway, half an hour later my bird was still dressed to the nines ! The few feathers I had plucked out were just peanuts.Not enough to make an Indian feather hat and have a scalp dance around my prisoner (not sure it would have scared it !).
What a mess ! I would never be able to find a way out by myself !

I made up my mind and phoned a nearby restaurant manager I knew quite well.
I explained the whole matter and asked her for help.
After the lunch service,she came to my place to put an end to that unbearable eyeball to eyeball encounter :

Perky Busy Bee versus Gloomy Feathery Bird

She showed me how to 'behead' a pheasant (jeez,no wonder Mr Guillotin was born in Saintes in Charentes !) and she gave me the infallible tip to go through the plucking process.
Before leaving she even jotted down her own recipe to cook my heartful gift.
The day after to thank her for her precious help, I invited her to taste it.

All was well that ended well, except that .....the wild boar hunting season would soon be in full swing !!!

And Canaille still didn't care !!!

dimanche 22 mai 2016



I hope things are getting on smoothly for all of you, and that, wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you are a perky busy bee like me.
I guess some of you are not done with the Top Shelf Challenge yet, but the photos I have already received prove the Top Shelf is a hoarder maker and not an order maker, as often advertised !
Thanks a lot to all those who have racked their brains to find out what my third 'give-away' item was. Some of you said it looked a bit like a sieve, a colander or a strainer, but what for ? That was a puzzler !! And yet, you were very close !
Congrats, dear Frankie, for helping all of us to solve the mystery of the ULO (Unidentified Lying around Object) !
That do-dad is an egg white separator !
Jeez, did I really buy that, or was it a free bonus gift ?
Separating the egg whites from the yolks isn't that tedious, is it ?
Well, anyway, it has made my 90-year-old neighbour happy. She said that, as she is getting older, her hands are sometimes a bit stiff, and that little gizmo will help her to crack the egg without turning the countertop into a sticky, mini skating rink. Great, then !
The anger I told you about last week ? Vanished into the thin air ! I don't even remember why I flared up and got so jumpy.
Perky Busy Bees are not wired like that.
So, forget about it !
Anyway, it gave me the opportunity to search the Internet and learn more about bees' temper.
An then what was to be a quick web search and started quite innocently turned into a curious bee's cyber field trip.
Have you ever gone on such a Web Tour ?
You know, when you can't resist the urge to know immediately the answer to every bit of trivia that pops up in the course of your websurfing ride !
So, a few sites deep, and, quite a few clicks later, I had fluttered a lot and collected enough nectar and pollen, and was on my way back to the hive.Oops, sorry, that's bees' language ! I mean, I had learnt a lot about bees, bumblebees and beeswax, and was about to turn off the computer and prepare lunch for my sweet honey.
It was high time to unplug myself from Internet, otherwise I would have to go to a rehab center (there are plenty all over the world cause Internet addiction is a growing epidemic).
Easier said than done .......
A last scrolling through the website names to make sure I had not skipped any first rate information about bees.....and of course, I had !
Naughty me ! How could I have missed " The Foreign Language Spelling Bee " ?
Have you heard about that competition in which contestants are asked to spell a wide selection of words, with a varying degree of difficulty ?
A good way for students to practise and improve their vocabulary, spelling and memory skills in a foreign language.
Currently it is held all over the world and is pretty popular.
Quite surprising, isn't it ? All the more, as in the era of texting, spelling and grammar seem to take a backseat to the need to communicate with finger high speed !
Do I sound a bit old-fashioned if I tell you that to learn that there are students all over the world who fret about proper writing has really made my day ?
Can I even go a bit further and confess that spelling and grammatical errors in newspapers and other news media sometimes get on my nerves ! Over-reliance on computer spell-checkers can really ruin an article !
Anyway, don't get me wrong ! I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer and I often happen to be befuddled by tricky word and conjugations.
So, forgive my 'roaming ' mood, and let me end this chapter on a humorous note.
When I was at university, one of my mates was a die-hard fan of grammar.
In those days, being a grammar stickler did not make you a lonely bookworm, and that girl was anything but a party pooper !
Yet,when she came up with " The Articles in English language " as a thesis topic, her choice left me a bit puzzled.
But, as long as her supervisor had agreed on it, why not ?
One year and a half later, I came across her at the library and asked her about her research.
She told me that actually she had realized her topic was way too broad and vague (??) and had narrowed it to " The definite Article in English
language " !
More definite, indeed ! Definitey !
The noose was tightening ....
Years went by, and once, during an alumni meeting, we found each other sitting side by side. I could not help asking her if she was done with the " THE " thesis.
She answered that she had given up, cause after dozens of nightmarish rewritings, she had at last seen the light at the end of the tunnel, but unfortunately, her poor overaged supervisor had not survived her "quest " for the Holy Article.
He had gone through the tunnel and had seen the light (smart words to say he had passed over) before penetrating all the mysteries of
the THE !!
That's all for this week, folks, but remember :
One grammar rule a day keeps the mistake away
But too many can ruin your day !
( a brand-new saying for foreign language learners)
Have a nice week and be perky !

any questions ?

dimanche 15 mai 2016


Some days ago I was in a grumpy busy bee mood. Quite unusual, but it can happen.
Ask beekeepers and they'll tell you that their bees - normally nice perky bees - can get grumpy and even feisty suddenly. Why ?
Either because they are too thirsty, or too hot in the hive, or weather affected (Bees know when a storm is on its way).
Anyway, nothing to do with the reason for my anger, but I prefer to let it fall off and let you know in another episode.
Yet, I'm sure most of you have already experienced that kind of anger that makes you feel like you could smash something or someone (our inner warmonger).
How do you deal with that ? Do you exercise and sweat it out, do you let music soothe you, do you sit cross-legged in the Lotus position, or do you just let your anger boil over and scream your head off ?
As far as I am concerned, whenever something wrong hijacks my good mood and triggers angry feelings, my favourite way to let steam off and pull myself together is to declutter !
Strange, isn't it ? But sorting out, throwing away and so, turn a messy spot into a spick and span place calms me down.
Um,...when I see all the stuff I have been hoarding since we settled down here, I wish I got angry more often.
Well, anyway, last week to tame my stormy temper, I decided to take it out on my pet peeve : a huge cupboard crammed with energy and time saving kitchen gadgets,or,to be honest, with money and space wasters which never met my expectations, and are now taking it easy in the Cupboard Of Shame. When I look on the bright side of things, I call it my Aladdin's Cave, but last week I was not in the mood...
So, there I was, standing at 'The Gates of Hell ', armed with my " give away/put away/throw away " boxes , ready to conquer my mess.
Unfortunately, hardly had I opened the door of the damn place when I realized I was about to tackle a mammoth task !
Then, I decided to break down the decluttering process into manageable chunks.
Cleaning a single shelf should be enough to turn the bundle of nerves I was into a gentle lamb !
A few seconds later, perched on my stepladder, I was ready to take up a challenge I named The Top Shelf Challenge.
Nothing to do with The Ice Bucket Challenge, but yet some common points...
Let me explain.
The Ice Bucket Challenge is " an activity to promote awareness of the Amiotrophic Lateral Disease (ALD , known in the US as Lou Gehrig's Disease and in France as Charcot's Disease).
The Top Shelf Challenge is an activity to raise awareness of a new kind of disease, too. Of course, way less serious and painful, but anyway worth knowing about, I mean : overconsumption and one of its awful side effects , impulse buying !
According to a recent survey carried out in many different countries, an increasing number of people suffer from that momentary thriller, that ruiner of budgets, while others say they have felt the symptoms at least once or twice. You know, purchasing something because it looked so good in the shop, and, once back home, feeling guilty and angry cause no use of it !
A lot of them also confessed that the only efficient 'painkiller' they have found up to now to forget their 'off moments' is to keep their impulse purchase out of sight. As the saying goes , out of sight out of mind !
Then, all agreed to say that the best rarely-checked and never-combed hiding place is the Top Shelf of a cupboard or a closet.
They even added that no matter how big the place where you live is, there is always a Top Shelf turned into a cemetery of brand-new shoes a bit too tight and thus worn just once, dry-clean-only woollies or weird kitchen gizmos ( Jeez, they must know me !!).
Getting interested in The Top Shelf Challenge ? Well, let's go a bit further and have a look at the second common point of both challenges.
What does The Ice Bucket Challenge consist in ?
Well, in throwing a bucket of ice water on your head to encourage donations to research for ASL disease.Daring, isn't it ?
Don't worry, taking up The Top Shelf Challenge does not mean freezing your head and turning into an ice-cream bar !! Nope !
But yet, throwing is part of the challenge and it encourages donation, as well !
I mean, once climbed on your stepladder (warning : rickety stools absolutely forbidden !), peer into that dim, clutter-shelter place , furniture makers call the Top Shelf.
Now, you've got 10 minutes to throw 3 never-loved or never-used things into a give away box.
Sure, there'll be somebody among your relatives or friends who will feel like getting your so long hidden treasures. Otherwise, you can donate them to a nearby charity.
So, ready for The Top Shelf Challenge ?
Oops, I was about to forget. Participants in The Ice Bucket Challenge were asked to shoot a video of themselves pouring the bucket on their heads ( you can see a lot of them , some very famous, on Youtube).
Well, why not take photos of your give away box and send them to, or post them on the Facebook page I have just created to welcome all of you. Just enter :
The TOP SHELF Challenge
In the meantime, look at my 3 photos ! My clay chicken roaster and my soda water maker have already been adopted.
As for the third one, I don't know what it is, so difficult to promote it ...
By the way, for the record, a cousin of mine took the clay chicken  roaster, but when she came back home, her husband told her they had already bought one years ago and eventually shelved it !!
Cut to the quick, she replied that, whatever the pot, she would never be a chef , but that she would turn the 'new comer' into a flowerbox !!
A great way to promote second life of objects,isn't it ?
Now roll up your sleeves and take up The Top Shelf Challenge !!

samedi 7 mai 2016



Have you heard of those three sailors who got stranded on a desert island in the South Pacific Ocean after their boat capsized ?
Do you think they felt in utter despair and just waited for their last hour to come ?
Not at all ! Those modern Robinson managed to gather dark palm leaves and used them to spell a huge 'HELP' sign on the white sand !!
Boy, can you believe that ?
Three castaways marooned on a tiny uninhabited island ( no survival kit, of course) who, thanks to their cleverness (and their lucky star,as well) could ,against all odds ,come back home safe and sound !
Those tough guys really deserve praise,don't they ?
Jeez, when I read that 'robinsonade', I was flabbergasted !
All the more as, in such a situation, I would have been a real drag for the others !
I mean I am stressed out easily, and in risky situations I turn out into a good-for-nothing in a wink !
Actually, to be honest, I should say in ' might-be-risky ' situations.
Yes, believe me ! Even though I always try to look on the bright side of things, I often happen to see danger everywhere,even where there is none !
In terms of anxiety, I guess I am second to none !
You see, when asked the spoof question " What would you do if you had only 24 hours left to live ? ", I always answer " I would cry " !
But let me give you a more striking example.
The Summer I met my husband (yonks ago), once, he offered to go on a sea-excursion on his grand-father's small sailing boat.
In those days, my vivid imagination already played tricks on me. I thought it would be a kind of " The Love Boat " episode : you know that TV series from the 70's set aboard a cruise liner with the captain, the crew and some passengers having romantic and humorous adventures.
So, I immmediately accepted !
Well, first,a cruise liner is not a ' 4.20 ' sailing boat, then,a Caribbean cruise has nothing to do with a ride on the Iroise Sea...
Even though the weather was set fair, hardly had we left the harbour when small waves started lapping the boat. As I was getting a little high-strung, my favourite skipper said there was nothing to worry about.So, I snuggled up and tried to enjoy the landscape.
Yet, as we were moving away from the coast ( Gosh, how tiny people on the beach looked !), I couldn't help peering into the murky water.
How deep was the seabed ? No clue !! What about the threatening lines of white foam around the hull ? Was it normal or was it a kind of warning of stormy weather on its way ?
The sea was getting choppy,wasn't it ?
My carefree spirit was just ' stardust memory ' !
My idyllic day of cruising was turning into a real pain !
I guess I was just looking like one of the shipwreck victims on 'The Raft of The Medusa ', cause my husband said we would sail back to the haven.
Had he mispronounced it or had my ears played tricks on me ? I understood  ' heaven ' ! I uttered a sigh of relief !
Then he told me the boat would rock a little, but all I had to do was to stay where I was not to be at risk of getting caught in the main sheet or hit by the boom.
He started turning away from the wind and that's when everything went wrong ....
The boat was leaning a lot (quite normal during such a manoeuvre, but frightening for a budding sailor like me !) and a sudden overpowering feeling of fear overwhelmed me !
I thought we were about to capsize and .....I jumped overboard and started swimming as fast as I could.
Neptune would not wreak his revenge on me ! Thanks to my lifejacket I would swim to the seashore.
Well, I couldn't see it in the far distance, but never mind, I was a pretty good swimmer.
The only thing required was stamina and cold blood (Cold ? No problem,
in the Iroise Sea !).
So, I tried to pull myself together : I managed not to pay attention to the sneaky seaweeds tickling my calves, I slowed down and breathed deeply.
And then,I could hear my husband shouting :
" Come on ! Don't panic ! Get back onboard ! ".
" No way ! ", I yelled out of breath, " I'll swim all the way back to the 
   haven ! ".
" OK, then ", he replied, " but listen a sec, Christopher Columbus , if I
   were you, I would swim the other way round, cause right now you
   are heading to America ! ".
Then he steered the boat towards me and fished me out.
To blow away my shame, he told me I was the most beautiful catch he had ever had !!
That's definitely when my crush on him turned into a love story (still going on !).
Anyway, since then I have never been sailing, but never say never..
But, by the way, are panicky sailors welcome onboard ?
Time will tell ...
That's all for this week ! Have fun !
Dany The Perky Busy Bee ( formerly known as 'Dany The Landlubber ')

dimanche 1 mai 2016




As you already know, every two or three chapters I am used to starting my post with a question. So, I guess that right now you must be wondering whether this week it will be a spoof question or something more personal.
Well, whatever the topic is, I know that the bold readers (and their number is skyrocketing) will roll up their sleeves and post a comment or send a mail, whereas the shyiest ones (Don't shy away ! Even if you are brand new and feel you have little to add, you're welcome !) will just think that Perky is really pushing things too far.
Come on, I have never asked any embarrassing questions, I have never made you uncomfortable, have I ? I always weigh my words and pay attention not to intrude into your privacy. To use  a more colloquial expression, I try not to poke my nose into your business !
And yet, ....I often feel like being nosy ! For example ??
Well, I could ask you a naughty question such as :
" Do you happen to use Google Translate ot any of its competitors to read my blog ? ".
Hey you, my English,Irish, American, Australian and New-Zealander readers, don't laugh, ok ?
Even if reading English is a teeny bit easier than speaking, actually if you are not raised with the language, grasping the meaning of some words or phrases can take forever and turn into a headache, not to say a chore !
So, for all those who sometimes rely on an automatic translator, don't let the others call you ' lazy slobs ' !
To be honest, if I had had that kind of tool when I was at grammar school, maybe I wouldn't have murdered " The Gallic Wars " ( Julius Caesar must be still rolling over in his grave !).
Yet, pay attention ! It can be good with single words (  but you can say that about any traditional dictionary), but if you try to translate a whole passage, you'll end up with a lot of mistakes,sentences which don't make sense, and a short story way different from my own !
I remember a student of mine who wanted to play the wise guy with me. He swore up and down he had not used any website help, even though his weird translation proved otherwise !
To give you just a sneak peek at it ( Max is now a juvenile judge, so sure he will forgive my indelicacy), " cuir chevelu " thanks to Internet became " hairy leather " !! The right word is " scalp ": it rings a bell with western lovers, I guess...
So, when you get stuck, don't hesitate to ask for help. Perky Busy Bee at your service on
I check my inmail box twice a day. I do my best and usually manage to answer the questions you submit within two or three days.
By the way, I hope that now I have relieved all those who were afraid of GOMO and YOLO viruses (chapter 62 : Lost in abbreviations) !
Well, by now, you, my English-speaking readers, you must think his week you won't be hassled by any inquisitive questions. Right ?
Then, you are entirely mistaken ! You won't get away with this !
It is my " kindness week " !
So, let me be nosier and cheekier, and go a bit further.
Here is a question for all of you. Ready ? 
" Up to now, how many people have you shared my blog with ? ".
Feeling ill at ease, aren't you ? Blushing, getting as red as a beetroot ?
Don't worry, no spy cam on my blog !!
Of course, some posts are not irresistibly sharable : too mawkish, too girlish, too schoolish and so on !
Of course, on your weekly to-do list (sometimes a mile-long one) increasing Perky's readership is not task number one.
Of course, life is not always wine and roses and you have other fish to fry.
But as The Beatles used to sing :
" ...Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
   Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends ".
So, as soon as you've got some spare time, share the link to my adventures with your relatives, your friends, your colleagues and whoever you want to.
As the saying goes : the more, the merrier !
Be good sharers ! You are my best advertisers : I count on you and on word of mouth !
Anyway, before ending this unusual post, I want to pay a tribute to my earliest fans*, so a special thanks to :
T.L. and A.C. : two of my best friends
C.M. :            : the most cheerful horse and P. cars-lover I have ever
                       met !
J.A. and G.S. : former students and now true friends who whatever I try
                        stand by me.
D.B.                : a classical music lover and wine connoisseur.
C.G.                : a bright ambassador of the French language in America.
J.M.                : he knows I have a sweet tooth, and after chapter
                       " always for a good cause ", he sent me Swiss cakes to
                       test and taste ! Absolutely delicious !!!
Your enthusiastic encouragements " fly me to the moon, let me play among the stars, ..." (humming that song always cheers me up).
So, keep at it !!
More adventures to come ...
*IO do it to my  relatives every day !