Frédérique & Laurent,
This post is for you, complete with this photo that Melinda took of me inside of Toyoda Sushi, our favorite sushi restaurant in Seattle, about an hour ago. Ella was off with some friends and Chloe, of course, is away at college. Melinda and I had ideas about going for a long walk but then saw a feature on TV about bluefin tuna and we couldn’t resist the desire to go get some sushi. For a minute we talked about walking to a lower quality sushi restaurant not far from our house. But given our “sans enfants” status and it being Saturday night, we went to Toyoda.
We sat at the sushi bar in seats from the past and where the sushi chef at one time would recognize us. It’s the same chef (in fact, it’s the same chef since the restaurant opened in 1989) but I’m not sure if he identified us as former regulars. Still, he gifted us with a fresh octopus salad and we knew we were back.
We ordered this plate of chef-selected sashimi (believe it or not, this is the “small dinner plate”) and a Rainbow Futomaki roll. It was the kind of sushi that melts in your mouth, demonstrating that what is referred to as “sushi” in one restaurant would not dare be called “sushi” in another. We wish the two of you were there with us to experience it.
Now you know I love Nantes and French food and everything. But the sushi we found in Nantes was nothing like this. When you come visit, we intend to take you there.
PS – Some readers may be interested in reading more about Toyoda Sushi at this link.
PPS – I bought the shirt I’m wearing in today’s photo at Decathlon.
This picture and post is directed at our friends in France, specifically the Bertail and Boudeau families, both of whom I hope/think will find this interesting.
Today’s photo (click on it to enlarge it) is of the entire 2011-12 PSCS student body and all of the staff, minus Melinda. The picture was taken on Wednesday afternoon, just moments before we climbed onto a yellow school bus for our 30 minute return trip to catch a ferry back to Seattle and after a night of little sleep. All things considered, I think we look pretty good.
I’m in the front row on the left in a red shirt, relaxing on my left elbow. Ella is smack-dab in the middle in the row behind me, a nice smile on her face. Okay, maybe she is slightly to the left of being in the middle.
Melinda isn’t pictured because she did not attend the retreat, left behind to take care of things back at the school site. Poor Melinda, right? She got to sleep in a nice comfy bed at home (instead of in a sleeping bag on an mat in a cabin with a large, loud group of adolescents). Yes, please pity Melinda.
To Théo — Word has it that you are reading this blog every day. That’s great! Let me know if you have any questions or if you want to try to connect in with PSCS.
With Ella now in high school, she felt it was time for a makeover of her room. Gone are the yellow walls she had for several years. In is a combination of off-white and a shade of gray. Other memorabilia of the younger Ella is being packed up. In is coming both some newer things and a few “new” pieces of memorabilia.
As has been the custom in our house, if walls need painting, Melinda takes on the project. Color assistance came from Melinda’s sister, Brenda, as did a series of room design suggestions complete with sketches Brenda sent to Ella by email. This resulted in a red chair being taken out and a purple chair being brought in, as well as a taller dresser being moved out and a wider dresser being moved in.
Me, I just try to stay out of the way.
Which reminds of a cartoon I remember seeing for years on the refrigerator in my brother’s house. It was of a man banging a can on the kitchen counter, a can opener in easy reach. The caption read something to the effect of, “The less you show what you can do, the less you have to do.”
I actually took this picture yesterday morning, just before Melinda took Ella and me to the ferry terminal. You see, the first day of PSCS this year was held yesterday on Vashon Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle. And as I said at the end of yesterday’s post, it was the first “night” of PSCS, too, given the spot on Vashon Island where we stayed was an overnight retreat center called Camp Burton. Today either was the second day or the end of one very, very long day…
You see, both Ella and I are very tired. I’m about ready to call it a night and it’s only 7:30. Maybe it has something to do with being the “adult” assigned to one of the “louder” cabins. In and out all night, it seemed, came the students while poor little ol’ me tried to get some shut-eye. I wasn’t too successful.
Anyway, this marks the beginning of Ella’s high school experience. It’s a far cry from what she was experiencing a year ago, an American student being fully immersed in a French school. At one point last night we held a traditional PSCS “appreciation circle,” during which I was pleased to hear Ella appreciate her teachers and the students from last year in front of the entire school.
I took this picture soon after we returned from France, setting the self-timer on the camera and posing with boxes of some of my favorite French cookies. I brought these back from Nantes and have been very slowly enjoying them, each time savoring not only the cookie but the memory of France eating them evokes. I think of our little grocery store at the end of the block, how much I came to appreciate it’s location. I dubbed it the “pantry,” given it was so close to our house.
On the subject of French foods, Melinda made a point of picking up authentic French croissants for our breakfast last Friday, Chloe’s last breakfast in Seattle before heading off to college. Combined with the Bonne Maman jam, croissants are another incredible way to evoke France memories.
Speaking of French memories, here’s a happy birthday to Romain who is 19 today!!
And changing subjects, today was the first day of school at PSCS. Technically, it’s the first “night” of school, too, considering the students and staff (including me!) are on an overnight retreat right now.
We received an email from Laurent today that including a couple of photos, one being this quick shot of our beloved tram, Line 2 (Ligne 2) in Nantes. I doubt Laurent thought his photo would end up on the blog, but I so much appreciated receiving it that I couldn’t resist. I mean I know life has gone on in Nantes without us, but Ligne 2, too? It hasn’t had to close down, mourning our absence? I all but proposed to it (in fact, I think I may have back on March 15th).
The other photo sent by Laurent was of a band playing at Les Rendez-vous de l’Erdre, the city-wide jazz festival that takes place each year at this time in Nantes. We absolutely loved it last year, attending several days with Laurent and Frédérique. You can see what I had to say about on Day 60 last year.
Getting emails like this and looking back at my blog entries provides me with such a warm feeling. What an incredible experience we had, the kind of thing that we’ll be referencing for the rest of our lives.
And at the rate I’m going, I might be doing that right here on the blog…
One bonus to Chloe attending college in Canada is the fact that Canada is a bilingual country and the two languages featured are English and French. As we entered the border crossing area on Friday we were excited to have this made quite plain to us and took a picture of this sign (and a couple of others, too). Having both languages side by side this like is kind of like having Google Translator right there on the signs. I could have used this kind of thing in France.
Another thing Chloe liked was the return to the metric system after we crossed the border, further harkening us back to France. Speed limit signs and distances are in kilometers and temperatures are in Celsius. Melinda and I both smiled on Saturday morning when Jenny, wife of my cousin Eric and whose house we stayed at Friday night, mentioned it might reach 30 degrees over the weekend. That’s hot!
Say, I just got an email from Chloe and guess what. Her Canadian cell phone isn’t working. What is it with us and foreign cell phones? We went in on Friday and tried setting her up with the simplest of prepaid plans, text messages only. The service didn’t come on in the allotted time so Melinda and I went back on Saturday and started the process all over again, assured it would work this time.
We’re back from taking Chloe to her college in Canada and I’m more than a little bit tired. Not only is there the drive, there’s the border crossing AND the emotional part of dropping off your first child at college. So yes, we’re back home and the house already seems a little different. The door to her room is open at 11pm and it’s not because she’s out for the night. She’s out for college.
Today’s picture is of Chloe and her roommate, Andrea. Andrea is from Bolivia and is extremely sweet and nice (I think she could pass for 14 or 15 but that may be more a reflection of my age than Andrea’s). We also met Andrea’s mom who accompanied her from Bolivia and was experiencing all of the same parent reactions that Melinda and I are feeling.
It was a great two days. Quest University knows what they are doing and puts on a great orientation for parents and students. We participated in sessions on the neurology of what is happening in both parents and their children, details about college life at Quest, and a couple of casual receptions that allowed us to schmooze with the entire faculty (referred to at Quest as “tutors”).
Chloe had sessions of her own, including one on how to co-exist with the wildlife in the area, namely coyotes, cougars and bears. How’s that for an initiation??
We’re off to take Chloe to college today, something I’m sure I’ll post about tomorrow. I’ve created this post in advance of our departure, and set it to publish while we are away.
This photo was taken in France 11 years ago, meaning Chloe was 7 years old. We were taken to France then, along with Melinda’s ENTIRE family, by her grandfather who wanted to celebrate his 90th birthday in style. It was an incredible two weeks in France, the first in Paris and the second at a villa in southern France. For anyone who cherishes family and wants to be part of a celebration of your life in its sunset years, a celebration that includes you, I recommend something like this.
As you may have figured out, I’ve chosen this photo today in honor of Chloe. I’ll tell you, taking your child to college certainly gives a parent pause to think. Rising quickly to the top of these thoughts is, “Where did the time go?” Her first day in kindergarten seems like last week, for instance. And I can see her proud preschool face when the sun came out in February and she asked us to fill her kiddie pool.
Today is one of those benchmark days, indeed.
This is the last night in our Seattle home as a family of two adults and two children. Tomorrow, Melinda and I take Chloe to Quest University in Squamish, British Columbia where she begins college next week. It’s one of those very exciting moments in a family, shown in emotional scenes on TV and in the movies, the child all packed up and being delivered to college. I can safely say that we are feeling all of those things a family is expected to feel right now.
Most significantly, though, I’d say we are all feeling excited. Chloe is well-prepared for this next step and as parents, Melinda and I are excited for her to take it in her life. We aren’t lamenting the loss of her daily presence in our lives (as much as we will miss her), but are focusing on the naturalness of what is happening. It helps that she won’t be too far away, about a 3-4 hour car ride (depending on the border).
I asked Chloe what she wanted to do tonight, expecting her to want to go out to dinner. Instead, she wanted the four of us to eat together around the table at home, a tip of the hat to the importance she places on the routine we’ve had for over 18 years. Her lone request was, get this, rainbow sherbert for dessert.
Before eating, Ella gave Chloe a going-away gift she had found – Milka chocolate! Ella was pleased to find it at a local drugstore, especially so when we thought it was only available in Europe.
Changing subjects, my dad is home from the hospital and resting comfortably. The news continues to be excellent.