Category Archives: Family

The Case for Sundays

A picture is definitely not worth a thousand words.

No matter how skilled the photographer is, no image could truly capture the splendor of a beautiful Sunday in France: a day so completely reserved for time off that your body is physically forced to lower your blood pressure.

Park time.

In the city, the usual roar of traffic dulls to a rumble, leaving space in the air for the sounds of bicycle gears clicking, leaves scratching across the sidewalk, and the knives, forks and laughter of your neighbors’ rose garden luncheon. In the country, it’s the best day to go for a long, car-free run, then share a picnic by the river. You become incapable of speed beyond a leisurely stroll, you listen to jazz, cook big meals and catch up with friends and family you haven’t seen for weeks. Continue reading

The Sauce Brigade

I only realized how much my two-burner, ovenless, toasterless, and spare kitchen was slowly killing me in France after spending Sunday morning at the stove for about an hour. Making hollandaise sauce for the first time ever, poaching and frying eggs, and toasting up the English muffins might all have been possible in my mini-kitchen, but it certainly wouldn’t have been as enjoyable.

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La Maison Forestière

A nearby forest-bound sculpture garden.

The more idyllic the scenery, the harder it is for me to take pictures. That was the case this week when I visited one of my fellow teachers in Hennezel, France. It’s home to less than 450 people and completely surrounded by woods, but somehow cozy anyway. My host’s husband is a forestier; something like a woodsman or a forest ranger, who spends most of his days walking through the woods choosing the best trees to cut down while allowing the forest to prosper. Their house is a “maison forestière” heated entirely by wood with vegetable patches against the lean-to, and blossoming pear trees and lilac bushes.

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I Won’t Be Home For Christmas

It’s here. The moment I’ve been nervous about since September. By tomorrow morning most of my friends will have trained or planed home to other parts of France or Europe, or even back to the States. I will be in Epinal until Dec. 21, which happens to be exactly three months after my arrival and what many people would pinpoint as the end of the “honeymoon period” of culture shock.

Christmas 2010

I’ve been terrified that the timing and the fact that this is my first holiday season away from home would be a one-two punch to my happiness and health in France. Not to jinx myself, but I think I was more prepared this time around. I could be facing a rough week, but so far I’ve been busy menu planning for Paris and the worst I’ve done is break into my aunt’s Christmas present because I have no wine in the house. (Don’t worry, it’s replaceable). And there’s a promise of snow over the next few days, which is perfect timing for a lady who has no place to go but out into it. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! I’ve also been able to do a lot of things here that I am thrilled about, such as reveling in Christmas markets, tasting chestnuts actually roasted on an open fire, and seeing Christmas in Paris.

That said, there are definitely things that I will be missing. Continue reading

How My Parents Feel

I’ve been really busy, therefore my super awesome “I moved” post is on hold. Instead:

My parents are the bomb.

For the past few months, every time my move to France comes up, people ask me “how do your parents feel about this?” To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t considered how they felt about it. I love my parents very much, but I’m an adult, very independent, and my parents have always supported my decisions from a distance. They’ve also known every minute detail of my plans since I decided to apply last fall.

But I started to get curious. I asked them point-blank last Friday night, pre-move:

Mom: “I think …. Cool!”
Dad: “I tell everyone about it, that you’re moving to France. I’m impressed.”

Hence, why I am not concerned. They know I’ve already lived in France, I’ve traveled alone a lot, and I’ve been to at least one country (Colombia) that makes secretaries tremble about what could have gone wrong.

I know my dad is impressed because later he asked me which actress I would choose to play the role of Rebecca in the fictional movie made about my life. Not just any part of my life, but this part, right now.

I said Marion Cotillard, who looks nothing like me.

He said, “it’s your movie.”