28 March 2006

La Greve!

Strike Causes Disruptions Throughout France
Authorities Brace for More Protests Over Law on Youth Job Rights
Molly Moore
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, March 28, 2006; 2:00 PM

PARIS, March 28 -- A nationwide strike cancelled flights, curtailed trains and buses and disrupted other public services throughout France Tuesday , as hundreds of thousands of students and workers staged the largest demonstrations in three weeks of protests against a pending labor law that will remove job protections from young people.
Union organizers estimated a national turnout of 2.7 million, with 700,000 of those in Paris. Police figures were much lower.
Late in the day, as the protests were winding down, scattered skirmishes erupted here in the capital, leading police to use tear gas against youths hurling bottles and molotov cocktails. Groups of masked hoodlums darted through the crowds, snatching cellphones and purses.

The reality behind the news is always a bit different! My friend went into the center of Montpellier all day and reported that it was deserted. This is a university town of about 200,000 people where at least 25% are students. She enjoyed a calm day of shopping as if everyone else had gone off to vacation. I, on the other hand, spent the morning at Castorama (Home Depot in French) and Jardiland (a garden center) and found myself the lone female in a sea of Monsieur Bricolages (Mr. Do-It-Yourselfers). A gentleman even joked with me about this fact. When my friend and I connected that night, we compared notes and decided that all of the men out on strike were put promptly to work on the To-Do list at home. The last strike, Europe 2 (one of the largest radio stations in France) was calling cafes in Paris to see how the strike was going. According to one waitress, the cafes were doing quite well and selling a lot of beer that day. Oh the French method of protesting!

23 March 2006

Jazzy's New Friends

The white dog is a neighborhood dog that has learned to jump our fence to play with Jazzy. I was sitting on the terrace having coffee the other morning and this dog suddenly appeared in our fenced yard. Fearing a hole in the fence, I walked the fence and then finding no holes, let the wayward dog out the front gate. I did not even have time to sit down again when I spied him happily running to Jazzy in the yard eager to play. It took three repeats of this before I let him out of the gate and RAN to the back of the yard to see where he was coming in. He had figured out that he could jump a two foot barrier to come in. As soon as I let him out of the gate, he ran to the garage and jumped the barrier. Needless to say, Jazzy now has a new friend that visits from time to time to play. Jazzy has taken on the role of village bully so the poor thing must tease Jazzy to get him to chase him and to play.

The other dog is Celia's friend Alex's pet. Jazzy is happier playing with her as she is a female. She has asserted her place as his superior and things are fine between them. She chases him around the yard and then he chases her. Some things between the species are familiar!

Academy Awards 2006

Our first/sixth annual Academy Awards party in France was a hit! Our friends the Fords taped it off of British tv...it aired live from one in the morning on. We all were able to stay away from the results so they were all a surprise when we watched Tuesday night...such as Crash winning best picture!! For my fellow Academy Award fanatics, the red carpet was very disappointing (no Joan and Melissa - just a badly dressed brit talking with people we didn't know about things we didn't know about) The company and food were fabulous and we so enjoyed having this bit of home here.

05 March 2006

Winter Wonderland in the Alps

These are pictures of the last day in the Alps when a great snow fell...big fluffy beautiful snowflakes! Only 20 minutes down the mountain this turned into St. Louis slush! (my Missouri relatives will know exactly what I mean!!)

Winter Break Week 2

We spent a wonderful week in the French Alps about a three hour drive and a stone's throw from Italy and the Olympics. The snow was wonderfully dry unlike the California concrete we are all used to. Nathan took snowboarding lessons with Carol for the first three days while Celia hung with Amy and Becky in lessons with the very charming and flirtatious Sebastian. He had them jumping and going over moguls while pushing them into the snow and causing quite the ruckus. Celia vacillated between teasing him and thinking he wasn't so different from her 12 year old brother. Speaking of Nathan, he did so fabulous at snowboarding and then changed over to ski lessons with Alexandre for a couple of hours to come out a true ski bum!

The Auberge we stayed at was so much like staying with family. Monsieur Arnoe played the perfect host. We would come home from a long day of lounging in the bar...I mean skiing...to a nice drink and card game with the kids before dinner. Dinner was at eight and served family style. It was French mountain country food and as much as you could eat. We would push ourselves out of our chairs around 10 to collapse with a good book. Breakfast was huge cups of coffee with warm milk and chocolate and French baguettes with butter and jelly.

Suffice it to say we had a really tough time leaving the mountain, but we look forward to next year and another season of great skiing.