Monday, February 24, 2020

A New Vocabulary Word

Maggy and I are showing off my latest pre-trip acquisitions: new hiking shoes and gaiters.  Never knew the word gaiters  until my neighbor  Diana in Monflanquin  displayed these anti-mud  pants protectors. They come in different sizes and are held together with velcro and a strap to buckle underneath the hiking shoe.  Will let you know how well they work.  I participate in two hiking groups  around Monflanquin. The Tuesday coed Francophone group and the Friday ladies only, mostly English, which culminates in lovely cakes and catch ups. To their credit, the English women choose to speak French most of the time. I have met really interesting people through both hiking groups. Each hike varies in length and location. Usually 10 k is my limit, but I have been known to make exceptions.  It takes a lot of rough weather to cancel a hike.  Looking at Maggy's snow white dog legs and her penchant for puddles, what do you think about gaiters for dogs?

Sunday, February 16, 2020

It's Not As Easy As You Think

Delighted to get my renewed American passport in the mail!
Passport Renewed!

My next trip to France is coming up in exactly one month from today.  In a bold self-affirming move, I am taking spring term off from PCC. I will continue tutoring private students and  teach my French Book Club Class.  Also on the menu  for spring is a French Cooking Class chez moi. Date to be announced.

You may think traveling must be a breeze for me since I do it so often. Non, non, et non!  I just spent at least six hours online arranging my next flight to Paris this summer.  Indecision and pickiness plagued me. I want a reasonable fare in a comfortable duration of time with a not too early  morning departure.  What!  Ce n'est pas possible! Actually, it is not. I finally made peace with the ungodly early departure time and the not quite such a bargain fare. Oh, I forgot to mention that I also want to earn air miles.
Well, it's done now.  The next steps will be car and hotel rental and purchasing train tickets before I can finally arrive at our beloved home in Monflanquin. You know what they say. The joy is in the journey. At least, I tell myself that.

As I write this pre-trip blog, I am going to share my pre-trip anxieties and pass along any tips that  help me and might help others who struggle with the pre-trip jitters and the myriad of details necessary to leave husband, home, and dog in a somewhat sane state of mind.

Tip #1: At least a month before a trip, take a clothing inventory.  Have I gained weight? Yes! :(  My favorite jean skirt no longer fits.  My body seems to have read the article on what to expect during menopause and  followed all the unwanted changes exactly.  Time to make a few new purchases of roomier basic clothing items. If anyone wants details, I am happy to share. In the meantime,  my foot size remains a diminutive six or six and a half worthy of rejoicing.

More later. Would love to hear any tips you might have about clothing and packing. I allow myself only a carry on no matter how long the trip so it is always a challenge.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Medieval Magic

Daniel arrives in Monflanquin in time for the annual Medieval Festival.  We are similar in many ways.  He fits into my sweat shirt and other apparel. We share the same opinion about many people we know.
And he eats dark chocolate every day like his mother.
Costumed to celebrate the day. Above the door, the grapes grow fatter, but still not sweet enough for snacking.

My cousins from Israel with Daniel's friends and their adorable baby.

Baby Elenor got her first tooth here in Monflanquin.She did not suffer silently.

I am looking at about two weeks left of my stay. A dear friend will visit the last week of August.  Thinking about priorities, there are a few more  sweet people to see. More time will be spent in the pool. Delicious French cheese will be eaten and amazingly fresh produce enjoyed.  I cannot duplicate my village life style at home. The uniqueness and charm of the place do not translate. Most of all I will miss my friends and the ease of conversation and conviviality.  The  surround sound French  will be sadly absent.  Planning my next stint in the village is the only way to cope with the loss.

And the Medieval Beat goes on..........

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Petite Excursion a Villereal

 A new coffee shop opened a few weeks ago in Villereal.  To my delight, it is called Maggie's, though my Maggy's name ends in a "y"
Maggie's coffee shop is more English than French.   I love its shabby chic decor and comfortable cushioned chairs.  The story goes that the coffee shop's namesake Maggie encouraged an apprehensive young English couple wanting to move to France to take the risk and helped them every step of the way.  Now the coffee shop stands as a tribute to this lovely woman who recently passed away. It makes me think about all the people in my life who encourage me every step of the way and for them I am grateful. It's the little things isn't it? The neighbor here who offers to lend me warm clothes as the weather has turned chilly.  (It wont' last.) The artist in the village museum who invites me over when she learns I  do collage.  The fruit seller who wants to be sure the delicate fruit won't be crushed......

Bookshelves of French and English books
hug the coffee shop walls. Also board games and coloring books.

 I will be back!!!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Missing Maggy

Maggy turns 10 on August 19. I found her birthday gift by chance at E. LeClerc.  You may recognize this brand as it is very popular state side. These dog toys are super sturdy and even Maggy the Masticator can't destroy them. At the Thursday night market, I met a young beagle. The owner and I agree that beagles eat everything, sniff everything, and are hard to walk. They are also the sweetest most loving adorable dogs in the world. Maggy seems to be doing okay without me. Luckily she gets to accompany Bill to Starbucks for extra admiration.  I tried doing a video call with her, but she just doesn't get it.  I think about Maggy a lot and hope she knows how much I miss her.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Vase That Got Away

At the antiques fair this weekend, I spotted a pretty oriental vase which I thought would look good in the living room.  An identical vase in green was also for sale.  Undecided about the purchases,  I went to the pool to mull it over.  Suddenly, it occurred to me that both vases would look really nice together. That was it. I had to have them both. After lunch, I went back to the antique's fair. I told myself the vases might be gone and under no circumstances was I to  get upset.  One vase did indeed sell.  The one above remained. Despite my vow, I immediately felt my mood tank.  The vendor told me someone had come along immediately after me and bought the green one.  What to do? I bought the red one. Went home and did an extensive search online for a comparable green vase. Nothing. Hours later, I wondered about my obsession with the vases. Did I mourn the loss of something I wanted? Was I kicking myself for my indecisiveness? Was it just not meant to be? Why did I struggle so hard to accept that the other vase was gone? Was some ulterior symbolism at play here. After all, I am a twin.  I am still at a loss to explain my strong reaction.  Any ideas?

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Growing Grapes and Cooking Caprices

The grapes above my door are flourishing in this hot summer weather, and suddenly last week, gorgeous sunflowers, cheerfully greeted us on the departmental  roads. Driving by their  amazingly abundant fields  is glorious.  I am trying to figure out how to safely take a decent picture. We've got a  bumper crop of apricots this month,
and I can't wait to go the outdoor market tomorrow to fill my basket with delicious summer fruit and vegetables.

What fun to try out new French recipes here!   Pictured to below is an olive loaf chock full of black and green pitted olives whipped into a cheesy batter. It makes for a nice aperitif snack.  I enjoyed dinner last night at Angela and John's my former house partners and brought the olive loaf to complement the first course. Sitting on the terrace watching  the sun set, I was reminded of how absolutely exquisite the village is on a warm summer's evening. 

 My latest culinary experiment is called LA FLAMMEKUECHE from the Alsace region of France. This "low cal" beauty consists of creme epaisse, fromage blanc, lardons, and onions. The traditional flammekueche is baked in a bread oven, surrounded by embers. Thus the name flammekueche signifies " cooked on flames". In the past, it was prepared on  farms the days bread was baked. As the bottom  is made from rolled out pizza dough, it  can be thought of as an Alsatian pizza.   A definite possibility for my French cooking class in my Beaverton kitchen.
Miam Miam