Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Book Mark

Tucked back on a quiet road
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?

I can select 4 books in exchange for the 6 books I brought in today. I always look at Today's Arrivals first. I am filled with joy to be surrounded by these books and slightly overwhelmed by the selection lining the walls.

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.

Alan recommended authors Tom Sharpe and David Nobbs and I chose Madeleine Wickham. From the Today's Arrival table, I took blink. I know, not exactly humor, but I'm an easy target for one word book titles.

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.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Think Right

I need a French driver’s license and, because I am American, I am facing written and road tests. For European Union and Australian expats, you are able to saunter into your local Préfecture, surrender your current drivers license, and receive your French drivers license sans the testing. I find this exchange with the EU and Australians bizarre because I have been driving, as the French do, on the right side of the road! I have a British friend that drives with a yellow post-it note indicating THINK RIGHT on the center of the steering wheel. This reminds me that some left side of the road drivers do find the right side ''odd'' and, more importantly, I remember to wear a seatbelt in their car.

The good news for Americans is that your license is exchangeable for a French license if it is from one of the following states: Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. In case I missed a state, please ask your local Préfecture if your license is exchangeable. If you are able to exchange your license, you have one year from the date you entered France: the date stamped on your passport or Carte de Séjour, to make the exchange.

The bad news for me is that Minnesota is not one of the reciprocal states. Consequently, I must go through the process of getting a French license rather than going through the enviable motions of an exchange.

First, I located and registered at a driving school. I purchased the drivers manual and a CD with practice tests for the written exam. I also added an additional hour to my weekly French lessons to expedite my knowledge of French! Apparently, there are some driving schools in metropolitan areas that offer classes in English and a translator may also be available, but exams are in French. Check with the driving school regarding exam and class fees, as the cost will vary.
The written test has forty multiple-choice questions. You have thirty seconds to answer each question and a minimum score of 35 correct is required to pass the test. Sometimes it seems I need thirty minutes to pass one question and I am certainly far from a passing score.

The driving test is approximately twenty minutes. Driving schools offer classes to prepare you for this test. Again, check with the school regarding fees. I heard that preparing for the driving test is much more difficult than the written test. Yippee.

One day, when I have my French license, I will celebrate a benchmark of learning French and success getting through another life in France challenge. I may be in awe of my French license because of the odd road to obtain it. I may also carry, just as a reminder of course, THINK RIGHT post-it notes for my Left Side of the Road Driver Friends.

For further information on obtaining a French license:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lazy Days

No one, and I do mean NO ONE,
mixes a cocktail as well as John!

Never ask John about his blend
liquor, juice, liquor, fruit and did I mention liquor?
It's not that
he isn't happy to share
his cocktail recipes,
he is and he will...
it's just that
ooooooh la la
if you KNOW....
well, lemme just say,
intoxication may occur
with that kind of knowledge.

Best just to
the smooth fruity flavors
(John likes to keep glasses full)

I just happened to have my camera on
(note to self: buy stock in camera batteries)
to catch John's mother-in-law, Patty,
with a kitten...
it was one of those rare occasions
when I actually captured
what I think
is a wonderful portrait!

I hope everyone
has a fun weekend!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Long Straw

our very good friends
Dave and Lin
came over
for a fun filled (?)
day with soap
garden tools.

scrubbed, washed and polished
our C8

and now it looks new!

Tony and Lin worked in the garden

Flowers popped when weeds were plucked!

Through all the
bending, twisting, yanking and pulling
of weeds,
did not complain,
not ONCE!
(I had to have a cup of tea after watching her work)

Lin kept a steady pace
what some only dream
(''some'' meaning me and this really wore me out)

Frankie, as usual, had to participate!

I think I drew the long straw...

I picked these gorgeous raspberries...
there may have been more
than what you see here.
I may have done some tasting during picking.
(but I'm not saying.)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bravo Elsie!

Paris, juin 1900

Le jour se lève sur une petite impasse de la Butte Montmartre. C'est qu'une bande de gosses orphelins a élu domicile. S'ils sont abandonnés à leur sort, ils n'en sont pas moins débrouillards et luttent jour après jour pour échapper à leur condition d'enfants enchainés au travail de l'atelier ou de l'usine....Luer rencontre avec trois enfants de la bourgeoisie va leur permettre d'entrevoir un autre avenur : Guignolet (un homme aux multiples talents) pourra peut-être les aider ? Nul doute que leur courage et leur amitié triompheront de tout !

Elsie's first school play....
in French, of course.
The program is another reminder to me:
study study learn learn practice practice

directrice d'école
checks the audio
welcomes the audience
this, I could figure out

cast enters

and I wait
somewhat impatiently
for the appearance
of my Star Elsie

you know, I don't even really care
what she is saying
I am beaming
with delight
to see Elsie
up front and center stage
think that is a spotlight on her face?
think again.

yeah, that's my girl
what a natural!

tell her off Elsie!
if that's what is happening here...
only those with a command of the French language knew for sure

Pam: hey, look dear, those are our cups on stage!
Tony: they are?
Pam: yeah...there's your metal camping mug
Tony: MY mug? She has one of MY mugs?
Pam: seems so.
Tony: do you think we'll ever see it again?
Pam: doubtful. very doubtful. I'll take a photo...

Pam: um, dear, is that your top hat?
Tony: it IS my top hat!
Pam: say no more, I'll take a photo...

The wee ones dream of their future on stage...

Was it that long ago when Elsie had the same dream?

I think
Elsie is expressing
an intelligent thought

but I'm not sure...
have I mentioned my French stinks?

Pam: oh, dear, oh dear, oh, dear...
Tony: What? YES! That IS my other top hat!
Pam: and now we have it on film, dear.

The play ends with the cast
tossing their hats
(and the hats that used to belong to Tony but you know we'll never see those again)

a little dancing
a lot of cheering
an American Mom
(guess who!)
Bravo Elsie!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Joyeux Anniversaire

10 June 2008

Opening birthday greetings and gifts
from family and friends
around the world
was a happy start
for a
Joyeux Anniversaire !

Just look at that concentration!
or maybe Mom was being annoying with the camera?

The birthday girl went to school...
I pleaded with Elsie to stay home
she insisted on going to school....
or did I just make that up?

I had the table to prepare, food to assemble,
a last minute gift to purchase and note to JW:
France Telecom owes us BIG.

You may remember that Elsie received a tent
for her 13th birthday.
Yes, well, seems she has outgrown that ''old thing''.
(how does that happen?)

Conversation upon receiving the Big Girls Tent...
Elsie: Wow! Can I put the tent together NOW?
Dad: No. Wait for the sleepover Friday.
Elsie: Okay. Can I take it out of the package?
Dad: Sure.
Elsie: I'm unfolding it, Dad!!!
Dad: Just unfold. Do not assemble.
Elsie: Okay. Jeez, this is big! I'm taking out the pieces, Dad!!!
Dad: Just take out. Do not assemble.
Elsie: Okay. Look!!! I think this pole thing goes in this loop here. Dad?
Dad: Wait! Do not assemble.
Elsie: Okay!

Frankie! Stop helping Elsie!

Christine decided to read the instructions
and voila !

Tent done.
Teen scores!

Let's have cake!

Is that a skimpy cake or what?
Elsie requested a blueberry tart
and whipped cream...

and Mark was surprised to have
his own candle
on a Lion chocolate bar

Mark is happy now...

Blow out those candles!

May all your wishes come true

and remember Elsie:
Do Not Assemble.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Coming Soon...

...more Wedding photos
Elsie celebrates
14 years
next week!


photos by lifemagical