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Posts Tagged ‘France’

I hear small pieces of news from the states, like a dream I cannot remember all the pieces. Did Mika and Joe get engaged? Did Congress actually dismantle the ACA? Did somebody win the voice?

But I woke and forgot these snippets of memory to listen to coffee being ground and birds singing. My back is still tender, so after a rainy, magical walk around Aix yesterday we have decided to hang by the pool today and worship the sun. There is a medieval city across a field of wild thyme, and depending on our mood, we may take a stroll after lunch. 

Some people travel to live, and some live to travel. Like food, one can let it consume your life. And I have never been a good traveler, I’m more of a stay-at-home, non-traveler type. Maybe it was Nell and her agoraphobia, or maybe it was my semi-homeless upbringing, never feeling at home with one mother or the other, always between two families.

But our new “family” for this trip is a happy and healthy bunch staying in a secluded villa. It all started on Facebook with one of the Big Chill’s sister. Barb is a retired physician and organizes groups of friends who love food (check), love to cook (check), and love to hunt fungi (um no). Well at least I’ve never gone foraging for mushrooms, and wouldn’t know a real one from a poisonous one, but this group does. We are eleven Americans, nearly half in health related fields.

This is a different kind of trip. No traipsing through the forest on a fungi treasure hunt, just visiting open-air markets and sightseeing in the South of France. At the end of each day, our chefs have prepared fabulous meals with local ingredients. For instance, this area is known as Luberon and it is famous for wine of course, and melons! Last night we had melon ice cream for dessert and it was the freshest most delicious ice cream I’ve ever tasted in my whole life!

We are too early for the fabulous fields of lavender- that happens the end of June and early July, so as Bob likes to say, “We must return.” Because soon Bob will be getting his wings back, and I know he will want to fly away whenever and wherever the Mistral wind blows him. 

Today we miss the flower and farmers’ markets, the Roman ruins and the wine tasting at Chateauneuf du Pape. Maybe tomorrow we will be ship-shape for our trip to Avignon. I will stretch and I will swim, getting stronger every day. But right now, reading by the pool would be divine. On Sunday the French will decide their future, so who knows? Maybe Bob and I will be stranded here in Paradise. 

I had better brush up on my French, n’est ce pas?  

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Tell me something good
Tell me that you love me, yeah

This Rufus & Chaka Khan song has been spinning through my head for days. Penned by Stevie Wonder, it’s not so much a funky love song to me, as it is a plea to our newly elected executive branch to stop worrying about a nuclear arms race. And rolling back civil rights, including where we can take a leak. Cause it’s not about bathrooms boys!

So here’s something good Bob and I have been planning for weeks now – a trip to the South of France. And it’s OK that the French are ratcheting up their own particular brand of politics, because I don’t plan on reading anything about their election. This trip will be purely hedonistic; we’ll be staying at a villa with a group of friends and a CHEF!  And we will be learning how to cook French food!

As some of you may know, Bob loves to travel. His parents carted him around the world as a child. I recently saw some early footage of 7 year old Bob lugging a gigantic pair of binoculars off a boat in the Caribbean. Plus, since we affirmed our Ancestry DNA I’ve realized that he has a strong nomadic gene that keeps his eyes searching for the horizon, or an oasis, or something… If he sits still for too long in one place, his biology may actually change! His fingers and toes start to tingle and off he goes!

Me, travel? Not so much. Maybe it’s my biology too? After all, the Irish always knew to “Pay the rent first” since their Protestant landlords could throw them off their farms at a moment’s notice. And then there’s my Year of Living Dangerously, which lead to my own nomadic existence. Driving back and forth across the Delaware Water Gap to visit the Flapper who was recuperating from the automobile accident. I had a paradoxical upbringing, filled with unconditional love from two very different families who tried to share me equally.

Instead of thriving on this NJ to PA cross-cultural-border parenting, I became an adult who preferred to stay at home with a nice cup of tea, or a glass of wine. I might have become agoraphobic if it wasn’t for the Flapper. She instilled in me a love for learning about other people, for listening to their stories. And there’s only so much one can learn from their own front porch.

We travel light, two carry-ons. And this time no children, or grandchildren, which is only the second time for us; we did that Viking cruise last year. I’ve heard that the first ten to fifteen years of retirement people travel quite a bit, and knowing Bob I had better be prepared with travel-size toiletries. I will keep a bag packed.

This morning i stumbled upon an article in the Travel section of BBC News, “50 Reasons to #LoveTheWorld.” Stunning photographs and insight into why (some) people love to travel. My reason might be “Because widening my experience of other cultures deepens my capacity for compassion.” It also helps me live in the NOW, since I love to leave lots of time unplanned to discover the unexpected.

http://www.bbc.com/travel/gallery/20161122-50-reason-to-lovetheworld–2016-edition

But first I have to make a poster for the Town Hall we’ll be attending this weekend at the local high school. The one our GOP Rep Tom Garrett refuses to attend after hosting two cowardly Facebook meetings: “The Facebook event couldn’t really even be considered a town hall. It was more Tom Garrett reading pre-written statements into a camera. Constituents continually said that the Facebook event was insufficient and that they needed an in-person town hall where there could be an actual conversation between Tom Garrett and his constituents. Garrett ultimately refused to hold such an event, saying of his events during the congressional recess that ‘most will be online’”  http://bluevirginia.us/2017/02/tom-garrett-tried-avoid-constituents-holding-virtual-town-hall-facebook-not-go-well

Sorry for that bit of Bad News Garrett from the 5th Congressional District of the Old Dominion. On a lighter note, Ms Bean always wants to go outside to her slice of sun on the deck! Enjoy this beautiful Spring weather everyone.  ps, that’s a pomelo we didn’t pick from a tree, like we did in California (insert smile emoji). And it sits atop a French waxed tablecloth of lavender from the French West Indies.img_0125

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I remember what our cousin Jamie said to me a few days after 9/11. Her husband worked on Wall Street and she lived just a few blocks away from us on the Jersey Shore. “This is how the Israelis live every day.” It made me stop and think. To live in fear of the next suicide bomber on a bus, of a woman totally covered with hijab or a burka, or a terrorist, dressed as a policeman, with a bomb-exploding vest strapped to his chest. You learn not to trust anyone unless you know them, you build a safe room in your house, and then you go about your life.

I had to tell myself that the 9/11 terrorists shaved their beards and tried to look “normal” when they boarded our planes if I found myself profiling people in airline terminals. I remembered the Irish girl who’s Arab boyfriend packed a bomb in her suitcase the day before we landed in Heathrow. She was flying ElAl, so of course even in the 80s they found the bomb and arrested them. When the Bride lived in Paris her Junior year at Duke, she was profiled while trying to attend high holy day services at a synagogue. Could she recite the Hebrew prayers? After all, she didn’t “look” Jewish. Terrorists don’t all look like ninjas.

One news affiliate reported that one of the French suspects wanted to kill Jews, but his handler told him it was better to avenge their prophet by killing cartoonists. In a way this was a mistake. Because explaining the massacre of Jewish people, even today, fits into a tidy European notion of the Mid-East Conflict playing out in their neighborhood. It’s like saying black-on-black or gang-on-gang gun violence in the US doesn’t really matter because it doesn’t affect US. Mais non, let them kill each other is what conservative talk radio will say. Arab vs Jew? It’s a biblical dilemma right?

The Islamist terror campaign in Europe has focused on Jews and cartoonists, but it will not end with Jews and cartoonists. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/01/europe-is-under-siege/384305/

But flying planes into the Twin Towers, and now this massacre at a satirical French weekly, Charlie Hebdo, this brings the utter monstrosity of these Islamist zealots to light. It’s not just that they hate Jews, which they do, but they hate all of us…Westerners who speak freely and allow our art to be exhibited and our women to walk without covering our hair in the street.

Yes we allow photographs of a crucifix dipped into the artist’s urine to be displayed, and a painting of the Madonna in elephant dung to be in a museum. I am rather peeved that only the Huffington Post had the balls to publish the offending prophet cartoons. I guess the NYT doesn’t want to employ armed guards for its editors? Maybe every publication in the free world should pick a day to publish the offending cartoons? We should be like the Danes in WWII.

What this Paris attack has shown us, is that we are all living like Israelis now, whether we admit it or not.

If you want an in-depth look into how disaffected, home-grown terrorists are recruited from Europe and the US and taught to hate and kill in Yemen and Syria and Iraq, I’ve found this Foreign Policy website to be most instructive: http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/09/live-coverage-multiple-hostage-standoffs-in-charlie-hebdo-hunt/

The terrorists in Paris want to die as martyrs, I say let them, and change the word to criminals.

By Ruben L Oppenheimer

By Ruben L Oppenheimer

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It’s enough already! Every day I wake up and wonder if they found that missing Malaysian plane. How can a triple 7 just disappear in this day and age? We have satellites circling the globe, Google maps looking into our windows, radar and cell phones and the latest idea is that this was a “deliberate” act; or maybe it’s somewhere in the Indian Ocean?

So I’m redirecting my thoughts this morning. No CNN, no more Meet the Press. My brain needs a rest from speculation and erudition. I tuned in to CBS Sunday Morning like the Flapper always did, for a taste of feel good news. Happy Iranian hikers are reunited with their families! And then, there was Catherine Deneuve.

Deneuve always reminded me of my sister, Kay. A beautiful woman who was in some ways, burdened by her beauty. The interviewer asked her what it is about French women? She said you mean how they can do or eat anything they want? And he said no, it was more about the flirtatiousness, which was not necessarily the right word IMHO. She smiled coyly and said “No, I hadn’t thought of that.”

French women embody style and mystery. I remember being told when I was younger that even the shop girls will save their money to buy one beautiful thing every year. Something classic, that transcends time and trends. Think of Audrey Hepburn when she returns from Paris in the 1954 movie, Sabrina – not ready to live above the garage anymore with her chauffeur father.

But this week Deneuve, at the ripe old age of 70, is debuting a new movie, “On My Way.” It’s about a woman of a certain age who disappears. Yes, she dumps her family and its restaurant woes after her lover dumps her, and she goes on a road trip. Her character takes up with a younger man; it would seem I like the idea of a woman disappearing! I love her answer to the question of how she ages so gracefully:

You have to try not to fight so hard against time, you know. It’s not that I enjoy it. It is just not that much of a problem. Maybe because I have children and grandchildren, it’s a different rhythm. It’s a different way of looking at things other than yourself. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/12/us-catherinedeneuve-idUSBREA2B0RU20140312

So here’s to that joie de vie, that je n’est sais quoi! To French women everywhere, we salute you. We American Boomers have decided not to age so gracefully. In fact, we like to be disgraceful as much as possible so as not to be invisible. We’d rather not disappear after all. And if you haven’t peeked at Ari Seth Cohen’s blog about NYC women in their 60s, 70s and 80s, here’s your chance. To The Barricades Ladies!

http://advancedstyle.blogspot.com

this is what 65 looks like - sans makeup!

this is what 65 looks like – sans makeup!

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Birds do it, bees do it. But apparently if you happen to be the next single woman to serve as a university president in some parts of these Southern United States, you won’t be allowed to do it – that is, live with a partner in the usually big, beautiful, university-provided campus president’s house.

Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd, is leaving Johns Hopkins, and is slated to become the first Black female president of her alma mater, Alabama State University in Montgomery, next month.

“Her contract requires the 58-year-old engineer to move into the president’s home…(one) clause states ‘for so long as Dr. Boyd is President and a single person, she shall not be allowed to cohabitate in the President’s residence with any person with whom she has a romantic relation.'” http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/01/17/263484808/no-cohabitation-for-alabama-states-first-female-president

She seems to have no problem with this clause, after all she signed the contract. Still, it makes me smile to think about the “scandal” happening in France right now. President Hollande jets around at night on his scooter, disguised in his helmet to visit his lover, a film actress. He is only discovered by the fashionable French press because of his shoes! It’s all over the papers, but knowing some French people as I do, and listening to the interviews on the streets of Paris, his citizens could care less! Alors, Les Liasons Romantique!

Fidelity is over rated in France. “When it comes to extra-marital affairs, the French are the most forgiving nation in the world, according to a recent study. The U.S., however, is still as unforgiving as ever, ranking 27th on the list, right between Brazil and Ghana.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/16/infidelity-study_n_4611674.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

What I didn’t know until I read the above article, is that President Hollande is simply cohabiting with his First Lady, Valerie Trierweiler, who was his previous mistress. Yes sirree folks, they are NOT married, but have been together since 2007. I am trying to imagine this arrangement in the USA. My brain just cannot do it, sorry. But let’s try…it would be like Bill living cohabiting on Pennsylvania Avenue with Gennifer Flowers, and then seeing an intern on the side. You can see how the first part just wouldn’t work!

If there’s one thing I learned from moving South, it’s that things move a lot slower down here. We talk to strangers, we help each other in airports, we drive slowly in the left lane. In fact, I’m pretty sure our Governor would never close any lanes in a grudge match, after all we can snarl traffic just fine by stopping to talk to a neighbor on the road. And no Virginian would think of honking their horn!

So maybe this cohabitation clause wouldn’t work at NYU, and it certainly wouldn’t be considered at any French university. I doubt that the clause would have appeared on a male president’s contract. But I’ve got a feeling that Dr Boyd has bigger fish to fry. Might I suggest she give our single female UVA President Teresa Sullivan a call? After all, somebody always gets hurt when all those glass ceilings shatter. http://www.virginia.edu/presidentsreport/

Here is the Bride with Great Grandmother Mamie and some of her great grandchildren after a lunch at the MSU President’s gorgeous historic home that honored my brother and sister-in-law last year. And The Love Bug with her cousin, Frankie.IMG_1554IMG_1558

 

 

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A six picture memoir for SBH. Did you notice the matching polka dot bikinis? We noticed the Love Bug pursing her lips. The opposite of her reverse Elvis pout. And sure enough, she said, “Mama.”

 

IMG_3579 IMG_3592 IMG_3625 IMG_3656 IMG_3705 IMG_3694

 

 

 

 

Lots of firsts on this trip: a dip into the aquamarine Caribbean Sea; a sail to a secluded island; a bath in the open-air kitchen sink; organic French baby food, “Legumes et cereal.”
We are ready for her first Spring!

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Good Morning Followers! Finished your coffee and croissant? It’s back to work for Bob and laundry for me. Sorry to say, I like getting very little French news on our island. Diving back into American culture photo copy and listening to CNN has left me with a headache; the Pope is leaving (really?), Woodward has been “threatened” by the White House (I doubt anyone could threaten this man), and John Kerry has announced we’ll be giving Syrian rebels some “non-lethal” aide (so we send them money to buy our guns?).

Being an old newshound, I found my way to Politico for the Woodward story. Instead I clicked on the piece about John Kerry speaking French, mon Dieu! “Secretary of State John Kerry decided to show off some of his French-language skills during a press conference in France Wednesday.” Ha, not all reporters have gone to Rome! It seems that while running for President it’s better not to speak French, but knowing how to speak a few different languages might be helpful for a Secretary. http://www.politico.com/politico44/2013/02/kerry-busts-out-some-french-158056.html?hp=r23

Now about our old friend Bob Woodward: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/02/exclusive-the-woodward-sperling-emails-revealed-88226.html?hp=t1_3 Breaking News!! It’s semantics people. The word “regret” was used about implying that sequestration was a manufactured idea by POTUS. I find it fascinating that a little tete a tete between two people is more newsworthy than the actual bit about those humongous budget cuts that just may cut the legs off of our economic recovery. Hello!

Needing a break from such serious matters, between the rinse cycle and the 2nd cup of coffee, I thought I’d leave you with this little pick-me-up. Our First Lady, in her continuing effort to fight obesity, taught Jimmy Fallon a few, fine Mom Moves. Couldn’t help but rock that cardigan Madame Michelle! Altogether now, get up and dance!

PS Thank you Aunt Cait for the picture of Fourchue Bay!

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