30 September 2007
29 September 2007
27 September 2007
So, there you have it: ATTENTION, LE CROTTE DE CHIEN! Learn this phrase and practice it over and over for you are sure to need it when you come to visit!!!!
Hugs to all!
P.S. do you think I should learn English grammar before trying to learn another language?!!!
***I failed to mention......prolific as it is......even the dog crotte in France smells like lavendar!!!!
26 September 2007
But today's trip to the post box did not yield good results. Inside was a letter addressed to me from some entity within the French government. I opened the letter and read the heading at the top: Avis de Contravention au Code de la Route. A closer look at the return address showed the letter was from the Centre Automatise de Constation des Infractions Routieres. Yes, I got a speeding ticket! Can you believe it. Apparently I was clocked on camera heading home from Antibes going 76 kmh in a 70 kmh zone. For those of you who love math conversions, that means I was going about 4 miles per hour over the speed limit -- and for that the French government is charging me 45 Euros.
This speeding ticket is now sitting on the fireplace mantle next to the parking ticket I got last week! while visiting the Prefecture in Nice. If my cars fails inspection next week I'll hit the voiture trifecta! Do I win anything for that?
This video is worth watching if only to see our new car -- the ever-popular Renault Scenic! As always, you can see all our video by clicking the video link at the top of the page.
24 September 2007
By the way, I did a quick search and do you know how many Chiptole restaurants are within 2,000 miles of Nice, France? Zero!!
23 September 2007
22 September 2007
So it's Friday afternoon (by the way, who schedules a parent-teacher conference for 4:30 on a Friday afternoon?) and I make my way into the class. The teacher is incredibly nice and offers me a chair at a table in the back of the room. So far so good, thanks in large part to some obvious hand gestures and few elementary French words like bonjour, cava? and merci. As she begins to talk there are several things that are running through my head: 1) this is going better than I thought -- I think I actually understand some of the things she is saying, 2) it is clear that my ego is flaring up a bit because I am giving this teacher the impression that I understand far more than I actually do, 3) why was this meeting scheduled for 4:30 on a Friday afternoon?, 4) I am nodding my head and saying d'accord and oui a lot, even when I'm not sure what the teacher has just said -- this could be a problem, 5) why did I just say j'ai compris when, in truth, I didn't 'compris' at all?
After nearly 40 minutes, the meeting was over and it was actually kind of fun. The teacher could not have been nicer. She even answered a couple of questions that I asked in broken French and English. Things are going quite well for the kids -- thanks in large part to their French immersion school in the States -- and they are understanding everything the teacher is saying during the day and they are progressing well in this very new setting.
And now Kerri and I have a new goal: to be able to actually converse with the teacher in French at the next meeting in February. Wish us luck!
20 September 2007
But it's the fresh ingredients that make a meal great. On my way home this evening I stopped off for a few items and decided to buy some fresh tomatoes. I don't know why, but I had a desperate craving for a tomato and fresh mozzarella salad even though we had the same salad two nights ago. [Note: I think my craving stems from the fact that I can by gorgeous tomatoes for about $1.25 per pound, a far cry from the $4.00+ I often paid in Maryland. It also helps that I can get a very large chunk of fresh mozzarella for just under 1 Euro.]
So our simple plat du jour this evening included the following:
- tomato and mozzeralla salad (with fresh olive oil made from the trees on the property where we are living -- a gift from the owner of the house)
- a tomato soup (from a box, no less...but we don't need to mention any more about that)
- a wonderful salad that Kerri made - with greens, apples, strawberries, chick peas, shredded carrots, and a sweet-tangy vinagrette
- two warm baguettes that the kids picked up after school
- a bit of cheese (comtè)
But the reason Patrick and Julia wanted us to mention the meal on this blog was because of the dessert: two crisp, fresh, succulent...Twix bars! Ah, now that's good eats.
The head of super-union CTG called the speech a 'declaration of war' and the nation's largest rail union called for a national strike to begin in mid-October. The last time the government attempted this kind of reform, the national rail union crippled the country with a three-week strike and the reform measures were called off. Boring for many of you, I suspect, so I won't go on. But full details will certainly appear even in the US and British press.
And I'll follow the story closely because if I stay in France long enough there's a chance I can retire in about 15 years.
18 September 2007
16 September 2007
15 September 2007
13 September 2007
So far, in 3 weeks time the phrase that has become second nature to my mouth, day after day is: "Je suis desole (there is supposed to be a little thingamajig on top of the e but I have no clue how to insert it!), mais, je ne parle pas Francais. Parlez-vous Anglais? You do? Okay, phew.....blah blah blah blah in English!!!"
Okay, so now you have the phrase of the day for our 1st 3 week period. Hopefully, I will be able to update you on a daily basis but I think that may be a tad optimistic! Oh wait, I just remembered, I do have a new phrase of the day but ONLY because P and J are starting to help me out more now---not for my sake but for theirs because they don't want to be embarrassed by their mom's poor speaking habits anymore! Just today on our walk home for lunch we approached a work crew making new pavement to cover the many bumps on the tiny country roads we frequent on a daily basis (do you see what I mean about my chattiness? By chattiness I also imply my lengthy run-on sentences minus appropriate punctuation---please forgive me---I am only human!!!). Now, these tiny chemins (small roads) leave no room for a stroller to pass by when a car is approaching so as you can imagine, with a big tar truck working in the middle of this chemin there was no place to go. So, as we approached the French workmen, they all stopped, stared, I panicked, looked at P and J and said, how do I say, "may we pass by" and without hesitation and mostly out of fear of being embarrased beyond all belief Patrick whispered quickly to me, "Pouvons nous passer, s'il vous plait?" Oh my goodness, Phew!! They understood me thanks to Patrick! Although, Patrick tells me my accent needs help but, hey I don't give a rats terd! As long as I am understood, I'm good, as Uncle Jeremy would say!!!!
So, there you have it! You got 2 for the price of 1 today. Practice those phrases! You will be sure to need them upon your visit. We are having to pass by many people throughout our days and we are having to rely on the Europeans excellent command of a second language to help us out so our 2 phrases above have been most helpful!!!
A tout a l'heure (oh, look I know another phrase!)
Oh, and by the way, instead of eating in Mougin last weekend we stopped off at a pizza stand in Roquefort-les-Pin -- it was delicious. I'm not sure Alain Llorca could have done much better!
11 September 2007
- buying milk (lait) by the six-pack
- paying $5+ for a gallon of gas
- not ever getting coffee to go (closest Starbucks is about 5 hours away)
- remember that eating out for dinner will take at least 1 1/2 hours -- minimum
- eating chevre
- understanding that motor scooters pay no attention to the rules of the road
- remembering to bring our own bags to the supermarket
- everything is closed on Sunday afternoon
- peanut butter is difficult to find
- Dr. Pepper is impossible to find
- trying to learn the passé composé form of verbs
Some getting used to, yes. But these are minor things that will so be second nature -- with the possible exception of that damn passé composé.
Was it my passion for the topic? No. My charm and wit? No. My ability to convey inportant historical concepts in a captivating and innovative way? Not even close. The reason: I like Dream Theater. Since it was the first day of class students were asking me lots of questions, and one was what kind of music I liked. I told them I like all kinds, from Bach to Grieg, to The Police, to Dream Theater -- adding that Scenes From A Memory was currently in my car CD player. An Italian kid in the back (who lives in Beruit of all places) immediately expressed his love for Dream Theater and made the 'favorite teacher' declaration
See. There are lots of ways to connect with students.
10 September 2007
Take this afternoon, for example. I was waiting to pick up the kids after school when another mother came walking up to say hello. I had briefly met her once and we had chatted a bit. As she walked up my mind began to race: should I initiate the two cheek kiss? If so, which side should I go for first, the left or the right? Do I even know her well enough yet (the kiss greeting only takes place among those who know each other)? In a brief instant I made the decision to go for it. As she neared, I began to examine the angle of her face so as to know which side to attack first. Because she was coming from my left I decided her left cheek would be the best place to start. We made eye contact and greeting each other with a warm 'Bonjour'! Then, just as I began my lean toward her head, she stuck out her arm to offer me a handshake.
Oh no! I hadn't planned for this. Besides, it was too late, my upper body was already at a severe angle toward hers. To abort the kiss know would be a disaster, full of awkward torso twists to the left and to the right. But her arm was extended toward my body and I couldn't just let it hover there in mid air. So I did the only thing that came naturally at that instant: I extended my right arm and we shook hands AND kissed...sort of a Franco-American greeting. I'm sure it was not a pretty site to see, but when you're new to a foreign country, you can't be afraid to look like a complete idiot sometimes. It's the only way you'll eventually figure things out.
09 September 2007
07 September 2007
Photo Right: Menton, France
So we've been busy: opening bank accounts (what a nightmare in France!), looking for a car to buy (we have finally found one -- a Renault Senic 2.0), enrolling the kids in the local village school, settling the visa issues with the local Prefecteur in Nice (still working on that one), learning our way around, finding the best supermarkets, figuring out how to by regular milk (I think we were buying half-and-half for the first week -- no wonder the kids loved it), and a host of other things.
But we've managed. In fact, we've even been able to visit with friends and spend some time at the beach. You can see a video of our first week in France by clicking the videos button at the top of the page.