Monday, December 22, 2008
There was an occasion, prior to marrying my Australian-born-and-bred husband, when he stated intent to make fruitcake. I thought he was teasing. Seriously. Fruitcake? To eat? I never ate fruitcake. I don’t even remember seeing fruitcake. Although I think I saw a neighbor use it as a doorstop once. And I remember hearing a claim that fruitcake made a good boat anchor.
Rumor had it that one fruitcake circulated around America and had done so for a hundred years, maybe and likely longer. To the best of my knowledge, no one doubted the rumor. Mostly no one wanted that fruitcake. In America the fruitcake legend begins each December when people discuss where it is, who will receive it or how to use it. Eating it is never ever an option.
Unless of course an American (that’s me) has a wedding in Australia and the traditional wedding cake just happens to be fruitcake. Since we were married on April Fool’s Day, and not one but two fruitcakes were on the bridal table - they were large and round and I’m sure sort of staring at me - I naturally thought: ''joke''! I searched the room for the 'real' cake. Instead of seeing what I thought might be a four-tiered butter cream-frosted cake draped with vibrant sugar flowers, my eyes landed on my mother-in-law. She was looking at those cakes with great pride and stated the love and care she took in creating them. So, apparently not a doorstop or a boat anchor, my groom and I carefully cut through thick marzipan and I had my first taste of fruitcake. In that moment, still loyal to the fruitcake legend, I became a closet fruitcake fan.
This is a happy time of year for me. I look forward to sharing the same time zone on the same side of the ocean, in our French home with our American family. We will laugh about that lost fruitcake traveling aimlessly around America. We will generate new ideas for the use and function of fruitcake. And as everyone tucks into La Bûche de Noël, I will think of my mother-in-law and tidy the closet.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
1) relaxing comfortably on the plane
2) dining on fine cuisine
3) enjoying the USA Today newspaper
I have to imagine it this way because their trip to France included:
1) seats that did not recline AND located next to the toilets
2) rubbish food (at best)
3) no sleep (see 1 and 2)
Can we all give the raspberries to Northwest Airlines?
I have many days as an expat when I feel the glass is half empty because my closest relationships are many miles and too many hours away from me. But - and it's what comes after the 'but' that counts - when family is here that glass is, indeed, Half Full.
Monday, November 17, 2008
It's always been better, for me, to use a hammer privately. I don't have the patience for a ruler, and I don't think my use of a hammer is good for Tony's heart rate.
One problem has been not having my own hammer. I always have to borrow Tony's hammer. Which brings us to Problem Number Two: Tony's hammer is either a) no where to be found or b) he is using it.
Years ago Tony gave me my own hammer and I was delighted! Until, that is, Tony kept taking it for his own use because a) his was no where to be found or b) someone else was using it.
Eventually my hammer was lost (?) and I was sad sad sad.
The other day I needed a hammer and, as usual, I went to the garage to get Tony's. It was, as usual, a) no where to be found.
Tony gave me a hammer for my birthday...Happy Birthday to Me! And while many women (or men) may not have liked a hammer for their birthday, I said hallelujah! The thought behind the hammer is lovely. There are nails to pound in the wall because I add or rearrange wall decor more often than I should admit. And that hammer, MY hammer, is a) going into hiding because b) it is MINE! Whoo-hoo!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
America is celebrating the first, how would you like me to say this - Not Both Parents of White Skin (?) President-elect Barack Obama. Guest laughed and I continued:
Seriously. This is a tremendous event in our history. I can and I do feel proud that an enormous racial barrier has been broken. This is a monumental moment to celebrate. I think our President-elect demonstrates to America, and to the rest of the world, that we chose the best candidate for the presidency and that race did not prohibit his candidacy or his victory. You see, yes, it is about race and, no, it is not about race.
One day, perhaps in another generation or two, there will be a level of diversity in American government that will prompt people to wonder what it was like in 2008 when the FIRST African American became President.
Thanks for listening.
Oh look, my glass is empty. Please pass the white wine...it was made with black grapes. Cheers!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Kudos to Alexia! Please say with a slight Southern Belle accent for theatrical purposes: she's talkin' American now! Bravo to Me for not breaking The Rule. Much. Well, okay, here's the deal...I just had to say bah-oui a couple times. Right, maybe twenty times. Thirty. Who counted? I might have said merci occasionally. Then there was that time I said bonne nuit. Twice? ANYWAY. The entire weekend was fantastic! Alexia spoke or read or wrote or listened to American words, phrases and jargon for 3 days. YAY!
Alexia receiving her Certificate of Achievement:
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings. Remind me not to do this again! Humble?
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Did I harm anyone this evening? Probably not. But, if I had to repeat this evening on a regular basis it is highly likely someone would be harmed. Dreadful.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
American Elections in November
Words of Americans
McCain? He is worse than Bush!
When I say to the French that I am American, I feel first a hesitation in response. But when they understand that I am not pro-Bush, they give me a lot of kisses, relates Pam Roadknight.
I do not believe the French are anti-Americans. I believe they do not like the politics, the current administration. I don't know if Bush is the worst ever American president. I do know he is the worst one in my lifetime. And you wonder why I live in France!
This ''chevalier de la route'' (Roadknight), native of Minnesota stopped her route at St Martin sur Oust three years ago. I have had a vacation house near Rennes for many years. Visiting Brittany led us to living here. I like the lifestyle, the climate, the economy and the education system for my daughter.
Trade chemical dependency counselor, Pam has no intention to return to live in the United States. I enjoy traveling in Brittany and throughout France. I am happy being here. My difficulty is not having family and friends near. Fortunately they visit and we have the internet available to stay in contact. My greatest challenge is learning the French language. I do take courses but I find it difficult. If my French were better, I would find it easier to expand relationships with French people.
Tonight is September 11 2008. In this conversation, her eyes are sad, remembering seven years ago, explaining her morning of September 11 2001. I was in my car driving to work, listening to the radio. As usual, the traffic was heavy. When I heard the news, traffic slowed considerably and I remember looking at other drivers, others looking at me. I remember the expressions of disbelief. Traffic continued to slow down. It was just, clearly, shocking.
The official version of the terrorist attacks is sometimes different. Why? I want to remember how this tragedy united Americans, particularly those living in New York. How others remember it, I can’t explain that. No matter what official versions are, or are not, September 11 was, in a word, horrendous.
On the internet, Pam gets information regarding the presidential elections. She consults the programs of the two presidential candidates, the news, the polls. McCain is worse than Bush! I wonder how one can even consider this candidate in 2008. Haven’t we had enough?
In France, it often is said that the rest of the world does not interest the Americans. True? I think there are, unfortunately, some Americans that have a myopic view of the world. I found that international news was sometimes limited in the media. And although many more Americans are traveling and seeing more of the world today, there are still some that never leave America and/or have little interest in the rest of the world. It’s hard to make a blanket statement about that. I know it’s an impression the world has of Americans and that’s a hard impression to change when it carries a bit of truth.
In the secret of the voting booth, some French voters were able to vote in favor of Nicolas Sarkozy, against Royal Ségolène, because she is a woman. Can one imagine the same happening because of the skin color of Obama? For the undecided voter, in my opinion, yes. For example, if I’m not sure of who to vote for, and I’m not informed about the issues, I will probably vote for what I do know: a white male. I believe that the supporters of both candidates, the strong supporters, will not change their vote in the privacy of that booth.
Will a new president bring change in the world? I think there will be change but what, how and who - we have to wait and see. Every president has brought about some good, and some bad. Although off the top of my head I can’t think of a ''something good'' Bush has done. I hope there will be change. And I hope it will be world-wide good.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Notaire: I saw you in the newspaper today!
Me: oh! May I see it please?
Notaire: Here, voila!
There, on the cover of Les Infos Pays de Redon, I see me. In color. Big. gasp. Article on page three. Another photo appears.
Note to self: I must remember to wear sunglasses.
Me: When did this come out?
Me: How long will it be on newstands?
Notaire: 7 days!
Deep breath. I am translating the article as quickly as possible and will post here either later today or tomorrow...
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
With La Maison Rouge around the corner, I think it makes sense that Robin and Jane name their new home *La Maison Blanche. Stay with me here...white window treatments, white sofas, white cushions, white furniture and could those be (nearly) white chips in a white bowl?... I say, La Maison Blanche! Now, Jane, I do like that you refer to your home as, quote, ''My Home'', but I think this is confusing Robin. Or not. Come to think of it, he also says, ''My Home''. hmmmm.
What do you think....My Home or La Maison Blanche? Or maybe My Home La Maison Blanche? The winning name will be announced here!
Welcome to the 'hood Robin and Jane !
*blanc/blanche correction per my French teacher and American-speaking-French-fluently friend...merci !
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
More importantly, much more importantly, I voted. And I voted as an expat. More than ever, my vote does count and today, it becomes much more meaningful both personally and publicly.
On a personal level, my view of this election is much more global. Literally. How am I, an American living in France, impacted by this election, the issues, American politicians? That also becomes a public matter. Within my French community, which includes a sizeable number of Brits as well, I am the only American. Political questions, comments and opinions flow between us...sometimes we disagree, most of the time we agree. That doesn't matter so much. What does seem to matter is the one thing we all agree on...the change that could, rather needs, to happen in America, will impact the entire world.
I know that France is watching. All of Europe is watching. I believe the world is earnestly watching America right now. I hope you believe in your ability to bring change to America. Vote...vote for change...our world is counting on it.
Monday, September 15, 2008
And then, today, as I sauntered through the village it occured to me that I have a performance review nearly every day. Each time I go ''out there'' I encounter a French person or two that I know.
Standing in line at the bakery, I conversed with the mayor. At the grocery shop, I conversed with an acquaintance. I always say bonjour to others walking by me.
I have moved from quick eye contact and a cheesy smile to a simple (but enthusiastic!) bonjour to struggling through some resemblance of a conversation. It's not much, certainly not outstanding, but the scrap of progress gives me a shot of gusto to keep going, keep trying.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
A: Are you serious?
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
One of the best things about our Bed & Breakfast is that we have had many guests stay with us many times. Perhaps they really do like DIY? Our guests have never flinched when pressed to write a lovely note of thanks prior to the release of their belongings upon departure. I particularly favored ''the sausages were okay'' entry. And most have been delighted to smile for the B&B guest photo album. Those that did not smile willingly had their bags searched. Twice.
Another fantastic part about our Bed & Breakfast is that we have had guests that have become friends. I mean the sort of friends that you invite over and when they leave they are not clutching onto their wallets or twisting their faces into sour expressions saying silly things like, ''you call THIS a B&B?''
Our guests - our friends - gathered in our garden yesterday for an afternoon of fun and games and food. I didn't take many photos or conduct any strip searches. These folks ''passed'' all that business a long time ago. Copies of their passports have been secured.
Good news of the day: We may have figured out who pinched John and Anne's apple tree. I'm not saying WHO, but, um - Robin, you may want to count your trees next time you're here.
Who is going to host the next Garden Party?
photo by Elsie
for a closer look of this gorgeous group, click on the photo!
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
After breakfast Sunday morning, we left our guests on their own. Of course we left them clear and simple instructions...
Feed the cat
Lock the doors
Turn off the lights
oh! Help yourselves to lunch and dinner and snacks today, breakfast and lunch tomorrow...
Feed the cat
Wash the dishes
Take out the garbage
oh! We may need a few groceries, if you're out, and it's not too much trouble:
cat food milk eggs butter coffee juice a few cat toys would be nice tea bread baguette jam potatoes onions lettuce fish lamb chicken and some of those trés chic treats for the cat
oh! We may be very tired upon our return, we may just collapse into bed, so, after you have made your bed, done the dishes, cleaned the house, put away the shopping, will you feed the cat?
Thanks...and remember, leave payment for the B&B in cash.
HA! Whoever said a B&B was a lot of work? Hey!!! Where's the cat?!
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
having a baby on The Day
is a fairly good reason for absence, yes?
(and, please, can I babysit?)
Friday, July 25, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
and my baby becoming a Bride.
I want to remember
and family love.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
The only photos I took were at Père Lachaise Cemetery. (French: Cimetière du Père-Lachaise -officially cimetière de l'Est “eastern cemetery”). It is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris, 118.6 acres, although there are larger cemeteries in Paris suburbs. Père-Lachaise is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world. It is reputed to be the world's most-visited cemetery, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to the graves of those who have enhanced French life over the past 200 years.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
After taking Elsie to the airport, we drove about an hour east of Paris, following the Marne River Valley. This is an area we visited in April to see ''Champagne Country'' and, of course, taste and purchase champagne.
ENORMOUS thanks to Lin
for loaning us her mobile phone
so that we could contact Elsie upon her arrival in America!
It was 11:00 p.m. on Thursday when we found out that Elsie had arrived safely in Minnesota and was, at that time, happily on her way to the Dairy Queen with Keith and Sue. We fell asleep feeling both relief and gratitude!
We stayed at a B&B (photo above) operated by an American couple. Bill and Meredith have lived in France for over 25 years! Their B&B is a beautifully restored old stone farmhouse with stunning hillside views over villages and vineyards of the Marne River Valley. It is located in the heart of the champagne region between Reims, Epernay and Château-Thierry. Click here for more information regarding their B&B. Bill and Meredith have an impressive website with loads of travel info, tips and links.
the rosé has been carefully stored in our cave just for you...
your precious cargo is also being well guarded!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
is going through Iffendic,
a village located near, very near, to our holiday house,
we're missing it this year
watch this space...
Champagne and Paris!
for Le Tour de France news
Sunday, July 6, 2008
I recently surfed the 'net about How to Operate a Successful Bed and Breakfast. We are now well into our 3rd season and, consequently, I thought it was a good idea to see what the ''experts" say about running a B&B. Maybe I should have done this sleuthing a few years ago?
Thursday, June 26, 2008
leading to the center of Malestroit,
a garage door becomes the entrance
to my sanctuary: The Book Mark.
Here is where I enter the English word, both written and spoken. It is British English, but it is English, and that comforts me. Well, let's face it, ''British English'' is quickly becoming my second language. Crikey!
Once inside I can count on a warm welcome, delightful grin and bisous from Alan. Today, when Alan saw my camera, he jumped (no kidding) back a few feet to strike an enthusiastic pose!
How can you not love that?
Today I was looking for what I call the Easy Read: make me laugh and I don't want to think too much about it. Alan explained that the Book Mark is divided into 2 sections. On the left, there is passion and on the right, crime. Erma Bombeck is not here but Alan helped me through the Passion section to find the funny stuff. We agreed the Crime section was not going to offer what I was looking for.
I stopped at a picnic area on the way home for no other reason than to just stop. Seems the countryside here has a way of pulling me into it.
I felt a little sad to leave this spot... but knowing it's there, and looking forward to reading about 1500 English words makes all right in the world.