19 December 2008
18 December 2008
- Find someone to cover my classes on Friday. Check.
- Finish some last minute shopping. Check.
- Finish as much of the perishable food as possible so it won't spoil. Check.
- Let the owner of the house we rent know we will be gone. Check.
- Check the sports schedule on U.S. television to see what I get to watch as soon as we get there. Check.
- Let Kerri's parents know our flight number so they can pick us up. Check.
- Arrange for someone to take us to the airport. Check.
- Pack. Ah, crap...I gotta go.
16 December 2008
I mention this only because I find it interesting to see how or if countries alter their stance on 'terrorism' when it strikes -- or comes close to striking -- in their own country. Stay tuned.
Anyway, I get to teach a lot about American foreign policy, politics, and economics. And tomorrow I begin a unit on America in the 1920s and 30s. I'll start with a lesson on New York. I use New York as a symbol for the rise of the United States in the first part of the 2oth century. I also use this time to introduce French students to baseball -- the sport that dominated the 20s and 30s, particularly on the East coast.
So I'll spend half the time talking about rise of NYC in the 20's (Empire State building, banking, business, trade, culture, Wall Street) and I'll spend the second half of the lesson explaining how much I hate the Yankees! Should be a good lesson.
14 December 2008
On Saturday night Patrick invited 6 friends over to celebrate his birthday (a few weeks late) and go to an ice hockey game in Nice. This was the first hockey game that any of his friends had been to (they're French, remember). It was a fun game with quite a bit of scoring, some nice open-ice hits, and one big fight right in front of where we were sitting (no need to guess what their favorite part of the game was). In the end Nice defeated Montpillier 4-2 so everyone was happy. One of our friends from Le Rouret went with me to help drive and keep an eye on the boys -- that was a great help.
The same group. Only Patrick had ever been to a hockey match before.
But it all worked out well and we had a nice relaxing party with lots of good food and conversation. By 6:00pm everyone had left and I thought it might be a good idea to drive our other car to my car, which was still at the bottom of the hill, and try to start it. At this point it will just be easier to show a timeline of the next couple of hours:
- 6:15 - my car starts and I drive to a gas station to fill up for the week
- 6:25 - my car stalls again and won't start
- 6:35 - I begin the 15 minute walk back to where I had left our other car (yes, it pouring; yes, it's about 4 degrees; no, I do not have a coat on)
- 7:00 - my family laughs at me as I walk in the door
- 7:30 - I decide to drive back to the car to see if I can start it with the hopes of at least getting it to a garage or to our house
- 7:40 - it starts right up and runs well
- 7:41 - I realize that I am now sitting at a gas station with both our cars; I call Kerri and ask if I can come home, pick her and the kids up, return to my car and have them follow me as I drive home. She says yes.
- 8:00 - as I get near our house the rain that has been falling all afternoon turns to hail and picks up in intensity
- 8:10 - I pick up Kerri and the kids just as our electricity goes off
- 8:12 - there is now about 2 inches of hail/snow/ice on the ground
- 8:20 - we reach my car after creeping up the road in the hail/snow/ice/rain
- 8:30 - both cars reach the main road that leads to our house but it completely blocked by high water and ice (a car is stranded in the high water -- the very place, ironically, where my car stalled earlier in the morning!!)
- 8:35 - we try to go another way to our house but the road is way to steep and we can't get up due to the ice
- 8:40 - we head back to the main road to our house and find 5 other cars waiting to get through. None of them can.
- 8:41 - Patrick and Julia start getting excited because they think they might not have to go to school tomorrow.
- 8:45 - a guy in a Volvo stops next to us and says, 'I know another way. Follow me.
- 9:00 - it worked and we reach home.
- 9:02 - I flip a switch outside our gate and our electricity comes back on.
We don't cook a lot of meat at home, but on cold, dreary, raining afternoons I get in the mood for some slow-cooked meat. So on one of these days last week I asked Patrick if felt like helping me make a big pot of beef and vegetable stew while Kerri and the other two kids were out doing some errands. He thought it would be a good idea but wanted to make the entire dinner so we run down to the supermarket to get what we needed. 4 hours later we sat down for a delicious dinner. Our menu de jour:
- Chianti-marinated beef stew with vegetables
- Mixed gree salad with carrots and pine nuts
- Fresh bread with and cheese
Our main dish. We kind of made this up as we went along. The key: we never let the stew boil rapidly -- just a long slow simmer!
The delicious Cantal cheese -- cantal fermier, to be precise. I think I love this cheese so much because it's like eating a bit of French history. It's one of the oldest in France, dating back to Gaul. I think Pliny the Elder wrote about it (seriously).
The chef just before dinner. (I served as sous chef on this day)
12 December 2008
That made my point.*
* Yes, I know this is not a perfect example and that Britain de-colonized after WWII in a (mostly) organized and intentional way. But I'm talking to 16 year olds and my general policy in class is that if facts get in the way of a point I am trying to make then damn the facts.
11 December 2008
* Prizes may vary, but they won't stray too far from 'absolutely nothing'.
10 December 2008
I don't know why the United States doesn't use the metric system, but it is interesting to note that the US is one of only three countries that don't. The other two: Liberia and Burma.
In case the last bit of information didn't sink in, here's a visual: a map showing all the countries in the world that do NOT use the metric system.
09 December 2008
I'm looking foward to: Grape Nuts, Dr. Pepper, stores that are open after 7:00pm, restaurants that are open before 7:00pm, garbage disposals, normal fitting jeans, interstate highways with no toll booths, spicy food, smoke-free areas, iced-tea that isn't peach flavored, newspapers delivered to my door, Dunkin Donuts, NHL hockey, beef hotdogs, cottage cheese, big bookstores, clothes dryers, free parking, The Office, free refills, complimentary chips and salsa, ice in my drinks, giving waiters a tip, wearing a baseball cap, Chipotle, and pies -- not tarts, but pies!
There. That's my list. Did I miss anything?
07 December 2008
Of course there is also food and products to buy. We walked to the market empty handed but returned with a few bags of goodies.
The village center filled with artisan tents.
This one is in our yard and it will catch the olives and they fall off the tree. Mr. Feyn, who takes care of these kinds of things at our house, told me on Friday that the first tree he 'harvested' brought about 40 kilos of olives. 40 kilos from one tree!
06 December 2008
Every year! And this year there is even more snow (so far).
05 December 2008
02 December 2008
CJS (but this time, for KRS)
I've mentioned before that I have a colleague who has relatives who manage the Château Palmer, a winery in the Margaux appelation of the Bordeaux wine region. [I origanally wrote they the relatives managed the Château Margeaux, but I was wrong -- it's a château in Margeaux. What do I know?]. Anyway, for months she has been promising to bring in a bottle of the Palmer for me -- something I've been discouraging because giving it to me would be a waste of a good bottle of wine. She persisted, and today she brought in bottle and presented it to me in 'honor of Barack Obama'. Geez, this guy really might be The One.
Anyway, We'll probably never open this bottle of wine (would we 'appreciate' it?) but it will sit down in our cave and look pretty.
01 December 2008
After lunch we drove up the mountain a bit further to the Col de Bleine (about 4500 feet) where we jumped around in the snow until mommy and daddy got so cold we had to go home.