French Country

My life in France is not what I expected.


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My future kitchen

dining room demo

Yes, construction has begun; this is where all that oak in the previous post came from. This is the former dining room, soon to become new kitchen. The floor is gone because we are prepping for the heated floors. How handy that we have all that crawl space beneath the floor. It will make rough plumbing and electrical much, much easier.


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The contractors are here!

worm holes

We have contractors and pretty nice guys they are, too. Here is one of them, holding up a piece of oak flooring that he has removed from the former dining room. When I squealed “You’re not saving that???” he did not groan and say “Lady, knock it off.” He explained why. After some 180 years, those floor boards, thick oaken beauties that they are, had become worm eaten and were no longer usable. He showed me the worm holes. I thought about pointing out that folks pay good money to have worm holes put into their furniture but then I thought nah, these guys like old stuff. If it could be used, they would keep it. I deferred to their expertise. So we shall see. For now, I’m just glad to see someone on site.


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My night at the World Cup

My grandson and I were sitting in a cafe watching a World Cup game, Netherlands vs. somebody, I forget. When he asked who I was rooting for I said it had to be Netherlands; I live in Europe now. Little did I know at the time how much fun it might be to root for the other side.

Moses was back in the States by the time the finals came around, so I decided to head over to my favorite pub, the Highlander. I was a little curious about how much interest there would be in the game when there was no one to root for. Is this whole soccer thing about the game or is it the tribal ritual?

So, Metro to Odeon, the center of tourist life in Paris. Of all things, the tourist joints were filled with French families. Go figure. The TVs were on but the French were all there having proper family meals, pretending they weren’t actually watching. I’m not nearly cool enough for that, plus there’s the no family aspect, so I moved on and hit pay dirt.

I had the great good fortune to wander past Le Nesle, that night’s home of the Argentines. I imagine the Germans keep a pretty low profile in France these days but the Argentines do not, or did not that night. They were in full Argentine team tribal regalia, most of them having adopted the name Messi. Baby blue and white, sweet, gentle colors, clothed these wild maniacs. They had cheers. They had songs. Amo amo, Argentina! They had a skinful. Every close call was greeted with cheers, with cries of grief, with loud protestations against yellow cards given or missed.

But, you know, soccer, hardly anyone ever actually scores in that game. At half time, tired of standing on the street looking through the window at near misses and fake falls worthy of a stunt man — I was far from the only one, believe me — I moved on, down the narrow alley that holds the Highlander.

I love the Highlander. It rarely makes the ten best lists, for one thing, which means you can get in and not have to fight your way to the bar. And so it was that night. Pelforth in hand, I leaned against a column — hey, it wasn’t that empty — and joined my own tribe, I guess, a convivial group who figured one pint would do for the evening, thanks, or maybe two, interested in the game but not all that worked up about it.

End of game, no score. There would be another 30 minutes of play. The Highlander was filling with girls looking for boys, wondering what all those adults were doing there and as disappointed as I was that the game was not yet over. I had to go, so I did, back past Le Nesle.

It couldn’t have been more different. The Argentines had taken to the streets, where they were spending the break engaged in tribal dances. No bare-breasted women, hoping for their Nat Geo moment, but lots of singing and dancing. Traffic just stopped and waited; this is Paris and we are all used to delays here. At a signal from within the bar, they finally headed to their seats for the next period of play.

I headed home. By the time I got there the Germans had scored — wailing and gnashing of teeth at Le Nesle, no doubt, or maybe just another round ordered to ease the pain. Okay, both. A few minutes later Angela Merkel was smiling and shaking hands all around. I live in a French neighborhood. The streets were silent.


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Summertime!

Grill

A lot of what I do over here is exorcise demons. What may look to you like an unassembled Weber grill is, to me, rewriting history. My family had enough money for a Weber grill. Let’s face it, even if you couldn’t afford a stove, you could afford a Weber. But I didn’t have the kind of childhood where my parents could stand each other enough long enough to plan the barbecue, so it never happened. In college I had a baby Weber but somehow it just wasn’t the same. Now, here in France, I have a full-on Weber grill, bought at the local garden store no less. I will assemble it. I will cook one thing on it. I will be happy. One more demon, gone. That’s all it takes.

Jacques Report

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Messy Jacques

As there is absolutely nothing going on at the house, I will give you an update on Jacques.
He is six months old now and is making his move into adulthood. In a couple of days we’ll be cutting that short, so to speak. Still, I expect him to keep busy in his newly self-appointed role of house guardian. He does his best to be where he can keep an eye on both me and the door. At night he generally chooses the door. Basically he walks on me until I let him move downstairs.
You can see what’s going on outside. He is perpetually covered in burrs. He smells from rolling in dubious substances. He patrols the yard, keeping the ducks out of his pond and the leaves on his trees absolutely still. He flattens molehills; I can’t wait to see what will happen if he actually finds a mole. The other day he had a great time with our pond rat, almost caught him, too.
He gets tougher by the day but still is devoted to me and to Hortense, his big drink of water on the other side of town.