31 October 2007
Except that we found out it was, you guessed it, the wrong line. So instead of being 15 minutes early, we ended up getting into the correct line about 20 minutes late and had to wait 6 hours until our we finally had our card.
It was a nice gesture by the nice man, but it actually may have cost us about three hours.
I can't make this stuff up, folks.
30 October 2007
On the bright side, I think we might have better luck tomorrow. I told the kids that if we got any grief they should do their best to look cute and sad, in an attempt to get some sympathy. After telling us the office was closed, the gentleman at the counter looked at the kids and they put on very convincing cute/sad faces. The guy must have felt sorry for us because he gave us his cell phone number and told us to call him at 8:45 am tomorrow morning --- 15 minutes before the doors officially open.
Might mean nothing. Might save us a few hours tomorrow.
28 October 2007
Boy, I realize there are about three of you who will get that reference (that's you KR, DT, and JCES).
27 October 2007
Wow! That’s a lot of Tony Sopranos!
The report (released by the Italian government) claims that Mafia crime accounted for $128 billion in receipts last year, up from $105 billion in the previous year. The report adds: ‘from the weaving factories, to tourism to business and personal services, from farming to public contracts to real estate and finance, the criminal presence is consolidated in every economic activity.’ I wonder the Mafia had anything to do with the game-fixing scandal that rocked the Serie A, Italy’s highest soccer league, in 2005-06? (That was sarcasm in case you missed it.)
We may feel the effects of Italian 'crime' early in our trip when we experience the criminally high prices you have pay in tolls on Italian motorways.
- Tomme de Savoie
- Emmental (French and Swiss)
- Epoisses de Bourgogne (I'll have to comment on this later because you can't get it in the US)
- Saint-Nectaire (the kids' favorite so far, not counting the 'baby belle' that comes in the red rind!)
- Camembert (although haven't tried the real A.O.C kind yet
But I'm certainly not a chef, which is why any comments I make about food will be in the spirit of a 'pretend chef' who wishes he could quit his job and work at a 3-Michelin star restaurant. I'll leave it to the pro bloggers to write seriously about food (see some links on the right for real food writers)
But from time to time we'll talk about our food experiences here in France: the cheese, the fresh vegetables, the bread, and the rest. Seems kind of silly not to.
25 October 2007
Now that the weather has become cooler (quite cool in the mountains) I find myself craving coffee even more than usual. But not just the nice cup of espresso you can get an any of the dozens of cafes in the area. No, I find myself craving the most American of all coffees: Starbucks. But before you scream 'how American of you,' understand that I'm not craving Starbucks because it tastes any better than the coffee in the south of France, but because you can get a cup of Starbucks coffee and take it with you! In the car. Into the classroom. Shopping. In the car. You get the point.
24 October 2007
I love this phrase because I have heard it many times having a 2 1/2 year old in tow! Just the other night as we were enjoying our weekly pizza night out at one of our kids' favorite pizza spots, "L'elephant", we heard this phrase! Henry was given a very special, provencal style, petite assiette of his own! When he was finished eating his 3rd piece of pizza, he got up, took his special plate and began walking it over to mommy saying, "all done" when much to all of our surprise and utter horror, the beautiful plate went shattering onto the extremely loud, tiled floor. My useful phrase, je suis desole, came pouring out of my mouth repeatedly about 100 times and a very sincere and patient mademoiselle repeated a new phrase which I adore......."c'est pas grave, c'est pas grave!" Phew! the French are soooo understanding!!!
21 October 2007
This video is some footage from a recent game against a team from Cannes. This video is especially for Uncle Jeremy. For a full-screen version of the video watch it at YouTube.
20 October 2007
19 October 2007
18 October 2007
Let me see if I can explain: today’s strike was announced as a national SNCF strike (the largest rail workers union), but other unions decided to hit the picket line as well as a way of supporting the rail workers. So, for example, some electrical unions were also on strike today. So were some bus unions. So were some public sector unions. Oh, and many school across France had teachers who walked out today as well. At one local school, 4 of the 26 teachers went on strike so the students in those classes were told to go home while the others had to go to school. How great is that?
Many of those on strike in Nice met up for a march and a rally. Apparently stopping all the trains in the entire Cote d'Azur wasn’t enough, they wanted to march through the streets and tie up traffic as well. Fantastic! You can see from the photo above that turnout was pretty good.
This national strike was scheduled to last for 24 hours, but I just heard tonight that some elements within the union are now pushing for it to go on longer. Vive les citoyens!
AT THE SCHOOL where I teach we have a cinema that plays recent releases in English. On Tuesday the other 2nde teachers (think sophomores) and I took our students to see Sicko since we are dealing with a unit on world health issues. Imagine 175 (mostly) French students watching a movie about the US health care system. Ouch!
I won't take time to write extensively about my thought on the movie (perhaps you want to mention some of your thought in the comments section!), but I will make these generalizations about the film:
- I understand Michael Moore is going to be Michael Moore and he is going to produce a film that is stimulating, funny, controversial, well-made, entertaining, and -- partly propaganda.
- This film, like most of Moore's films, raises more questions than it answers, but it is also better (although perhaps less 'entertaining') that some of his previous works. In fact, I'd argue it's his best film.
- It is quite clear that the US may be a difficult place to be if you are any combination of old, poor, and sick. The system is not working and something needs to be done to fix it.
- While insurance companies are not evil -- they certainly are making a lot of money these days. A hell of a lot of money!
- The issue of health care should transcend politics and it's a shame that it doesn't. Is it not an issue of basic human collective responsibility? (yikes, my conservative friends aren't going to like that!)
- This film makes France look better than heaven! I could quibble with several of his points on that front, that's for sure.
- Like a review in Salon said, 'at the very least, he's raised a warning flag that shouldn't be ignored.'
What do you think? Did anyone else see it?
16 October 2007
14 October 2007
12 October 2007
The school in our town claims to have France's first (and only) 100% organic cantine (at least that's what they tell us). All the ingredients used for the meals are completely organic and are cooked fresh each day. But I can't explain it very well so I'm asking P & J to 'dictate' the rest of this entry.
Just for fun, take a look at today's menu:
P: First of all, we eat lunch with real dishes and real forks
and knives -- not plastic.
J: Except for the cups, we have plastic cups...and they're too
P: The first thing we do when we walk in is wait for our name to be
called so we can get in line. Then we go through line. The first
thing we put on our trays is silver wear, a piece of bread, and the
J: After we get our food we take it to our table and start eating --
except there are some very strict rules which I hate. We have to sit with both hands on the table at all times and sit up straight in our chairs...
P: I got in trouble for both of those things the first time.
J: ...and we have to finish everything on our plate before
we get up and go out for recess.
P: But the food is so good. Oh my goodness, I always want to have more but we can't go back for seconds.
J: How do you know, Patrick? You've never asked.
P: I'm not going to just ask for more food!
J: It's the salad that is so good. I wish I could have 20 of them.
- Fresh bread
- Salad with olive oil and vinegar
- baked Salmon with white sauce and herbs (the photo is, of course, a stock photo from the internet)
- steamed carrots and green beans
- Apple Tart
That beats my lunch today -- a couple bites of baguette and some licorice.
11 October 2007
In class the other day my 2nde's (think sophomores) were debating the issue of Iran's nuclear energy program. As part of the exercise, each student was representing a different country in a UN-style debate. Each student made a name card that identified their country and put it up on the desk in front of them so it would be clear who they were representing. The student representing Britain wrote 'Great Britain' on their card; the French representative wrote 'France', the US rep wrote 'United States', and so on. As I scanned the other cards, I noticed the card in front of the student representing Iran. On the card the word Iran was clearly written. However, instead of an 'a' the student had a large, red, heart -- like this:
Propaganda is alive and well in my 2nde class.
09 October 2007
Just for the record, the phrase Il est sang doesn't mean, Is he your son?
The other day at Patrick's soccer (football) practice, I was providing entertainment for Henner by allowing him to apply my bright, red lipstick to his own lips. The cutest little football player came running over looking at Henry quite intently and asked me in the most adorable way, "Il est sang" which I of course hear as "is he your son?" I feel so proud of myself for understanding French even though I interpreted in in English and I answer him quite matter of factly, "Oui, bien sur!" The boy now looks at me with concern and says a whole lot in French which I did not understand until I heard the word "tombe?" Okay wait, I know the word tomber, it means, to fall!!! Oh, I get it now. This precious little boy believes that Henner has suffered a nasty fall and has blood on his face (all because I answered "Oui, bien sur" to his emphatic question, "is it blood?")
Now begins my panicked attempt to convey to this concerned boy, the correct story. I rapidly begin pointing to my lips and using many lip gestures/smacks/puckers to convey to this little guy that what he is seeing is not blood but lipstick (maybe in retrospect I should have just showed him the lipstick I had in my pocket but again, I was panicked as is the case with all my faux pas'). The little boy is standing in front of me being patient with all my attempts to get the message across when out of the blue he nods his head as to agree to something he thinks I have said, steps closer and plants the biggest smooch on my lips then takes off running!!!! Ahhh, how cute was that for a faux pas. He thought I was asking for a peck, what with all my lip smackin and puckering I guess! C'est la vie!
08 October 2007
Upon our arrival in France, we immediately went exploring the various areas surrounding our lovely villiage of Le Rouret. In doing so, Jonathan found himself circling the same point-rond (I think that is how you say round about) about 20 times so he decided to abruptly pull over and ask directions. Fine, but he decided to pull up on my side of the car and rely on me to ask for directions. I have rehearsed this over and over again in my head so you would think I would have been completely fluent, however for those of you who know me, you also know that I can stress out very quickly, especially when being pushed and timed. I suddenly felt like I was in highschool preparing for my SAT's when Jonathan pulled up, rolled down my window and shouted to me, "okay, ask her." Oh my goodness, I almost peed my pants. I panicked and blurted out at this obviously French girl, "Parlez-vous Francais?" She stood there for what felt like an eternity until responding, "Eh, Oui," at which point I finally noticed my faux pas and was able to correct myself. There you have it.....faux pas numero un!
07 October 2007
As I write,the Argentina-Scotland match is playing on the television. But to be honest, I'm going to be paying more attention to my computer as I 'watch' the Redskins host the Lions on the internet. If history is any guide, the Skins should win by a lot -- they always seem to crush Detroit. I'll go on a limb and say Washington by at least two touchdowns. (Did I just jinx it?)
04 October 2007
02 October 2007
Happy Bday to:
Cuz Jennifer and Rob
Jake the snake--Happy 9th-wow!!
Zoey poey--Happy 8th-hope your slumber party was great!
Hope you all enjoyed your birthdays and had lots of yummy cake and candy! We wish we could have been there to celebrate with you but alas, we enjoyed a croissant du chocolat for you!!!