Sunday, March 13, 2011

Want to Move to the South of France with Me?

In case you've found this blog and are wondering why in the world this person is listed on blogger and why hasn't she posted anything in a million years....the answer is simple. We've moved to France. You can find me at Conjugating Irregular Verbs, my blog about our lives in the South of France.
And in case you are also wondering what in the world the title of my French blog means, I'll give you clue. It's a line in one of our favorite Hitchcock movies starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. Interested?
Come have a look.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Miss Emerald Isle

Today is cleaning day. And to make it more fun for myself I like to turn on the music and dance like Hank Azaria in The Birdcage. Today as I swept and the Baby followed me around with the dustpan, the Chieftains began to play. And their resonant fiddles and Gaelic rhythm pulled me in, transported me to another place, blew sound through the tiny hollow left from leaving Ireland.

I did not expect to miss the small, green island so much. To be honest, I couldn't wait to leave the constant chill and grey skies. I longed for sun and warmth and now I've found them. I just didn't know how warm all my Irish friends made me....all the tea, laughter, talking, talking, talking.
Being taken back this morning made me remember what unique joy there is in rushing into a warm, dark, pub from the frigid cold of outside; shedding coats and scarves, warm greetings beckoning, cheeks flushed from the wind, sitting down to a pint of Guinness.

I love it here in France, no question, and there are things here that are just as lovely in their own way. We all know them and you've heard countless people rhapsodize about them. And this is because they're true.

But what is also true is the love of good friends, the common misery of braving cold, slicing rain, the richness and sadness of the music when it's sung and played genuinely in a small pub, and laughter that fills your eyes.

I'm homesick for you Ireland. Homesick. It's true.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Happy Easter.

Today is Good Friday as most of you know. It's one of the few days we get off school in the States but most other places of business are open.

Not so in Ireland. It's the one day of the year that all pubs, off-license (liquor stores), and any restaurant that sells alcohol of any kind is closed. It's a 'dry' Holy Day.

I tell you this because I found it so odd and also because it shows you how seriously the Irish government, Irish Church, and correct me if I'm wrong, but most Irish in general, take Good Friday.

It is a day of mourning and redemption. Of being repentant and thankful. On my first Irish Good Friday, Paul was off work. We went out with some American friends to lunch and were astonished to find that every pub and restaurant were closed for business, even though it was a perfectly rare and gorgeous Friday in March. We ended up eating at a sandwich shop and twigged it when we tried to order wine with lunch. 'No drink on Good Friday.' So it was.

Turns out that particular Friday was the most drunk I ever was in Ireland. We went to the corner shop, bought all their limes and went to our friends' house for margaritas. Lethal. Sitting in the fading afternoon, overlooking Dalkey Island from floor to ceiling windows, the tequila went to our heads. The walk back to the train station, meandering down the hills at dusk, I imagined all the penitent souls peeking at our debauchery through lace covered windows.'Ya just don't drink on Good Friday, sure ya don't.'

It was because of this that I was shocked to hear that the Irish government were considering loosening the Good Friday rules on pubs this year. The reason is that a national rugby match, Munster v. Leinster for those of you who are interested,  is to be played tonight. Just think of all the money not spent, euros not pumped back into the struggling economy if the pubs were to be closed today. Looks like Limerick got an exemption for the day and this incredible move even made US news.

Is this a slippery slope? I only wish I could be in Ireland next week to hear the talk; on the news, radio, and streets of town.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Night Music

Les grenouilles have been treating us to an evening symphony.

It's been many years since I've lived far enough from people populated areas to enjoy nature's sounds. For being so quiet, it's really quite loud.

I love the songs of the birds, the neighing of the horse next door, have even gotten used to Monsieur Coq and his hourly reveille and now the frogs have begun their courtship rituals.

The sound is fantastic—a deep, throaty croaking, calling out to princesses everywhere, 'Donnez-moi un bisou!'

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rose Colored Glasses

When you're somewhere new there are so many things to figure out. Even in English it can be challenging to know the norms and customs of a place—which is the best grocery store, where's the post office, where do you find a bike rack for the car? Now put all this in French and it becomes even more challenging and, to me, more exciting and fun. Well, on a good day.

So, you create this filter to get through all the newness, just to manage the essentials and maybe have a bit of personal connection there too. The grocery store has been fairly straight forward. I know the context of the checkout situation. You smile, say hello, and frantically pack your groceries to avoid impatient tuts from those in line behind you. Same in Ireland. Then, you hear the total spent, here it's said at rapid speed but I'm trying to figure it out without looking, you pass over your cash or laser card, smile again and say goodbye. This is easy enough. Last week I even got the courage to ask for a carte de fidélité. It was so gratifying to be understood and to communicate. I am now a proud and loyal card carrying Carrefour customer.

La Poste had me totally intimidated. I don't know why except maybe for the memory of being on honeymoon and being cut in line a few times and then not being able to figure out how to get a stamp for my postcard. Post offices in general kind of freak me out…..make of this what you will.

Anyway, I had to mail some things and kept putting it off. The word for stamp, le timbre, kept eluding me. It doesn't have a similar root or sound to it like some other words. For example, ascenseur is elevator and that makes sense; you ascend, elevate, are lifted. So working up my nerve and having Sofia help me repeat, "Je voudrais un timbre, s'il vous plait', we headed in, Leo bumping up the stairs in the buggy and the two big kids under threat of something awful if they embarrassed me.

It turned out to be easier than I'd thought. There was a line with people sizing each other up, wondering who was the weakest and therefore most easily queue jumped. But there was also a very nice machine where you can weigh and appropriately stamp your post. I was staring at it, trying to decipher which region I needed when Sofia suggested, 'Mommy why don't you choose English?' Oh, how easy! It's usually this way with me. I worry over something, make it HUGE, nearly insurmountable and then poof! piece of cake.

We still have to buy the bike rack but I've navigated and found one at a shop called Feu Vert. Who can guess the English translation? It's a clever name for an auto/bike and sundry shop.

I am reminded daily why I went along with this particular adventure. Vive la différence!



Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ouverture Non Stop

The shops in France are closed on Sunday. I should have known this. It is romantic, a balm to the consumerism of Ireland and the US. People take time off for lunch and still believe in a day of rest. A slow and easy lifestyle is what we've dreamed of for years.

It's only that in our dreams we didn't arrive on Sunday afternoon with three hungry and tired children. We decided to give it a go and find somewhere for a quick take–away or maybe one shop open with bread and lunchmeat. We drove and drove, shops taunting us from behind closed shutters, kids complaining and tired.

Then, there it was. The sign of life we'd been searching for--an InterMarche proclaiming: Ouverture Non-Stop! As Paul turned into the strangely vacant parking lot our hearts fell. Again, closed shutters, no sign of life.

The ouverture non-stop carried a hidden message that we Americans didn't at first decipher. Of course it meant non-stop, but only between the hours of 8am to 8pm and only Monday through Saturday. Non-stop is something different here. The closed on Sunday is implied, understood.

So it was back to the house, which thankfully had dried pasta and jarred sauce in the cupboards from previous holiday makers. There was even a bottle of red wine. I whipped up a quick dinner like on one of those cooking shows where you have to make something in 15 minutes using only four ingredients. Et voila! Our first home cooked dinner in France was cheese tortellini with Sainsbury's basil and garlic pasta sauce.

Tomorrow is Sunday again and I'm ready for it. Cupboards and fridge stocked. This easy going way of life is for me after all.



Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Blog

I've started a new blog to cover our experience here in France. If you'd like to take a look it's just up and running at conjugatingirregularverbs. I will still add posts here periodically but most will be on the new French blog.

I'd like to incorporate a linked map of Ireland if anyone can give me advice on how to do it here.

So, onward and upward. I have boxes to unpack and kids to put to bed. Love to all my Irish friends. I miss you.