30 July 2005

It's Catch Up Time!!

Phew! Where do we start?? It has been quite a while since we have posted. I guess it would be best to give a short overview.

July 13-16th was spent with our FIRST guests from the US. And the winner is...Carol, Christy, Lucas and Nickie. We showed them Montpellier, the sea and the beach, the Tour de France (was that yellow flash that went past Lance??) and Paris. It was so nice to see familiar faces and to have kids for Celia and Nathan to play with! Christy and Lucas had many adventures including their first brave taste of snails! Carol allowed us to test the French medical system out using her as a guinea pig...a sandal rubbed blister on her foot quickly turned nasty in Spain. We felt that a French amputation couldn't hurt all that bad if enough wine was consumed. The doctor was so nice! We had to fill the prescriptions (which included the syringe and tetanus vaccine) across the street and bring it back to him to administer. Carol's ever helpful French phrase book gave us the correct phrasing for Could you use a clean syringe? so we felt fairly safe with the communication!

After a quick tour of the City of Lights, Carol and the clan were off to Germany and Celia and I took the train to meet Nathan and Mike in Dijon. It was then off for 10 days of slow barge drifting with our dear friends from St. Louis - Tom and Trish. It really taught us to live in very small spaces and to slow the pace down even more than we had. We could ride our bikes and get ahead of the barge and did so on many occasions taking in the incredibly peaceful French countryside. Ruins, chateaux, cows, sunflower, picturesque villages...it was beautiful. We went through the canal and lock system from St. Jean de Losne up to Besancon. Jazzy decided to test his guardian angels on this trip. His first test was when Nathan was walking Jazzy and our friends' dog, Emma in the pasture where we had moored one day for lunch. There was a bucolic scene replete with horses and pastures..peaceful until Emma decide to play tag with them. As she was weaving and bobbing to avoid their hooves and teeth, Nathan and Jazzy were running as fast as they could to the boat. Just as they reached the boat, the horses pulled up fast and turned their backs to the dogs as if to say Take that! Everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief when that game was over!

The next run in with Jazzy's angels was during a bike ride we took to get a break from the boat. I had put Jazzy into the basket on my bike as I had during the last market day in La Grande Motte. We were riding on a beautiful country road. Jazzy decided to take a dive straight out of my basket and onto the asphalt while a car was passing me on the left. After I jumped off my bike to avoid him and taught the French some choice American four letter words, I scooped him up to assess the damage. Fortunately, he came out with only a scraped bottom and shoulder.

His last escapade was by far the worst. We were on the last leg of our barge ride. It was pouring down rain and we were all huddled in the wheel house. Suddenly, Trish heard a splash and saw a ratlike head in the water. I looked right after she cried out and saw...yes! Jazzy swimming alongside the boat. We quickly ruled out the few alternatives we had for pulling him out. He made no indication that he was going to wait for us to find a solution...He headed straight for the shore that had a bicyclist and two other angels standing on the side of the river in the poring rain just waiting to rescue him. There was a sharp drop off on this part of the river, but there also was a small rock ledge that just fit him. He huddled on the ledge until one of the men shimmied down the steep hill and scooped him up. The bicyclist then held him like a baby until we were able to dock the barge and make the hand off. Every piece of the above story was Jazzy's angels at work as none of it fit what should have happened...people on the shore in the pouring rain, Jazzy picking the right shore to swim to (the other was a overvegitated and inaccessible island), Trish seeing him fall in to begin with...Suffice it to say that Jazzy is no longer choosing to ride in boats or bikes. We are quickly running out of the preferred methods of transportation!

Are you still with us? That pretty much caught you up to date...except that Mike left us to return to the States for the month of August to get some face time at work. Everyone at Schubert...work him hard so he can return as quickly as possible! Everyone else...remind him daily how nice France is so he will miss us terribly!

A Bientot, nos amis!!

09 July 2005

Une Baguette

Nathan is a true French garcon! We bought an incredible loaf of artisanal wood fire baked bread at the market (for only 1.5 euros!). We were enjoying it with an outrageous tomato mozzarella salad. I was putting a bit of the fabulous farm butter on a morsel of the bread and Nathan pipes in with "Don't put that butter on it...you're insulting the bread!"

The food here is just mindblowingly great! Whether at the marche or the local Carrefour, it is a gourmand's delight. At the marche, the vendeurs are so proud of their wares. If you are interested in a melon for tomorrow's petit dejeuner(breakfast), they will personally smell and touch to find the finest one for your morning meal. When they find out we are locals, they are quick to let us know that they are at marche Thursdays and Sundays.

03 July 2005


Biking Faigles

Now that we are proud owners of Trek bikes (yes...an American brand!) we have been biking maniacs! We bike to the store...we bike to concerts...we bike to market...we bike to church. We LOVE our bikes! We must make for quite a sight the four of us in a row like ducks. It is such a fun and beautiful way to get around.

We have gotten into a bit of a routine now. Thursdays and Sundays are market days here in La Grande Motte. A wonderful mix between a flea market and a farmer's market. Sometimes we even go to markets in other towns nearby.

We went to the local Catholic church here...St. Augustin today. The service was basically the same as we are used to except in French. They do have a thing or two to learn from Good Shepherd on passing the peace...much more sedate, but friendly all the same! Celia really misses Happy Hour after church. The service was held on the outer courtyard of the church under the boughs of trees with the stained glass windows opened to display the reverse side of the altar. There was quite a large gathering at the 9:30 am mass. They enjoy singing which Celia really enjoyed.

Speaking of songs, we went to a concert last night at the church. It was a group from a village close by. They sang a very eclectic mix of songs. Celia was over joyed when they sang her absolute favorite song from West Side Story. This Thursday there is a gospel concert featuring a group from New Orleans that we are looking forward to.

As you can see, we are trying to experience as much of the culture here as we can. I am continually surprised at how well attended everything is here. The people really take advantage of the diverse events that are available. We are enjoying this part of our French life immensely!

À bientôt nos amis!