Zacharie & Luce Revisited (Day 365 + 22)

July 22, 2011

Zacharie & LuceAs you can likely tell, I took this picture right after I took the one I used in yesterday’s post. I have been imagining at least one person (my mom) reading yesterday’s post and saying something to the effect of, “But I can’t see their faces!” So here they are, Zacharie and Luce, in all their glory.

Let may say it again. These are adorable children. And they speak fluent French. Go figure. I’ll tell you, there are few things cuter in my world than hearing a small child speak French. Luce, especially, just melts my heart. Chloe has a video of her singing, too, that is priceless. If listening to a small child speak French is cute, hearing one sing in French is over the top cute. Given both parents are professional musicians, there isn’t much surprise that Luce has some musical ability.

Switching gears, today Melinda and Christine went out together for lunch. Back at home, Chloe tried to coax the sun out from behind the clouds by sitting by the pool. It didn’t really work. For you Seattle folks, the last couple of weeks in Nantes have mirrored the weather we hear you’ve been having. Ella finished up Book 9 in her math series, meaning she’s right on track. Me, I cleaned the pool. In a few minutes, Laurent and Frédérique are picking up Melinda and me. The four of us are heading to a garden party at the home of Alice’s parents. Chloe is going out with a girlfriend from China she met at the University of Nantes. Ella has a date with some fan fiction, I think.

A year ago we went in search of cheeseburgers…
Day 22 (22 July 2010) – In Search Of…

Saying Goodbye to Zacharie & Luce (Day 365 + 21)

July 21, 2011

Luce & ZacharieIt’s astounding to me the mix of emotions I am feeling as we near our departure date from France (a week from today). I’ll be communicating with someone from Seattle and get all excited to be home. For instance, I talked to my parents by phone yesterday and exchanged email with Steve, a co-worker at PSCS, and felt the build-up of excitement that comes with looking forward to an anticipated event. Then today we were invited over to the house where Chloe did most of her babysitting this year to say goodbye to Zacharie and Luce, the incredibly adorable children she took care of, and Penny, their mother. The profound sadness I felt in saying these goodbyes is palpable.

When we arrived, Penny and the kids had decorated the house, baked a cake, and created a beautiful table complete with strewn flower petals. The kids provided bissous all around, something I will never tire of from children and will desperately miss back in the U.S. Chloe had made special videos for each child of their year together. Since Penny’s DVD player isn’t working, we all came back to our house to watch them. I don’t think there was a dry eye among the older set as we watched. Luce and Zacharie just had ear-to-ear grins watching themselves on TV.

Today’s photo is of the two kids sitting at their table in their house, having just been served cake and grape juice. I snapped this picture just as they clinked glasses. This was a complete surprise to me, watching a 6 year-old and a 4 year-old touch glasses before eating. It was beyond sweet and undoubtedly contributed to the emotion I am feeling tonight.

A year ago today everything was so fresh and new. We were in Pornichet, still 10 days before we would move in to our house in Nantes. We were having fun on our rented bikes. Wow. What an incredible year…
Day 21 (21 July 2010) – Tour De France

Pas de souci (Day 365 + 20)

July 20, 2011

Carib's Birthday ToastThere are some inside jokes that when you try to explain them, they just fall flat. I feel that may be the case here. You see, Frédérique, Laurent, Romain, Melinda, Chloe and I went out for a sushi dinner tonight. It was a long-standing idea, Melinda & me introducing Frédérique and Laurent to sushi. Deep into the dinner, Romain made a comment that cracked up all the native French speakers at the table. I mean Laurent, Romain and Frédérique (especially) were nearly besides themselves with laughter. Romain’s comment? “Pas de souci.”

Chloe seemed to catch on first, then Melinda. To a certain extent, I’m still trying to figure it all out. Here’s what I’ve got. “Souci” sounds a lot like “sushi,” part of what makes this funny. Literally translated, “souci” means worry. So the expression “pas de souci” means “no worries” or “no problem.” Suddenly, anything anyone at the table said got a “no problem” (“pas de souci”) response. It has gone down as the expression of the day. In fact, I think it’s one I might remember.

Okay, maybe you just had to be there (and, as in my case, there is no guarantee that you would catch on too quickly).

Say, it’s my mom’s birthday today. I talked to her earlier and promised we’d toast her birthday at dinner tonight. Chloe took the picture (and I’m back manipulating pictures, as you can see). And sorry, mom – we chose beer over red wine to go with the sushi.

A year ago today I celebrated my mom’s birthday by sending her a picture of a sign…
Day 20 (20 July 2010) – Happy Birthday, Carib!

Buddies (Day 365 + 19)

July 19, 2011

BuddiesAll the other images for this month I’ve been manipulating with an online photo enhancer called Be Funky (I’ve been using the “Underpainting” feature found in the “Artsy Effects” section, if you’re interested). I decided that today’s photo deserved to be left as it is. Actually, I didn’t want Melinda telling me that I messed up such a good photo.

This photo is from last Thursday, July 14, when we went with the Bertails to see the Bastille Day fireworks in Nantes. I suggested to Melinda & Christine that they pose for me so I could have a picture of them together. Seconds after I took this one, Christine leaned over and planted a big fat smooch on Melinda’s cheek. I was late getting THAT photo. If I had gotten it, you can bet I would be using that on the blog.

For Melinda, it goes without saying the importance Christine has in her life. I mentioned recently that she is easily the best friend Melinda has made since we’ve been married. Beginning last summer when Melinda helped Christine with her kitchen remodel, the two have spent hours together. Right now they are involved in a series of workouts each morning. I’m sure they plan to continue this with Skype or something.

A year ago today we rented bikes in Pornichet and I snapped of picture of Melinda riding away from a bakery with a baguette poking out of the top of her backpack…
Day 19 (19 July 2010) – Bikes!

Oh, The Places You’ll Go (Day 365 + 18)

July 18, 2011

Saad at OrangeOnce upon in a day or was it several of them,
I went to Orange with my wife (in French that is “femme”).
I went with my wife not to go it alone,
We went to make sense of our cellular phone.

We met a young man with a nice smile, a nice bod,
He gave me his card that said his name, it was Saad.
He wanted to help, he wanted it bad,
Three hours later I think he was mad.

You see, our phones were a mess, wound tight like a clock.
We wanted them free but they wouldn’t unlock.
Saad called up Nokia, he called up his boss.
In the end all he could say was that he’s at a loss.

The phones are the same as they were at the start,
Saad is still nice; in fact, nice, kind and smart.
My wife is concerned ’cause our friend’s in misuse.
And me, all I can do is make rhymes like ol’ Seuss.

I’ve looked for a moral to the day’s repartee,
And decided it rests in trying to be arty.
I’ve written this rhyme in hope of gaining a laugh,
But just like today, I think it’s been a gaff.

Day 18 (18 July 2010) – The Beach

Reflecting… (Day 365 + 17)

July 17, 2011

Bus RelaisA year ago today we had a crazy, crazy day. Not knowing Nantes very well, we walked from the Boudeaus to catch Line 1 of the tram, a fair distance with the luggage needed for two weeks in Pornichet. We took Line 1 to the train station, our first of what has become many uses of the station. But on July 17, 2010 it was all new to us. How funny that seems now. The biggest deal, though, was not objecting when people on the train wouldn’t relinquish seats to which we had tickets. What did we know? We were Nantes newbies.

Today has been a much calmer day, spent indoors due to the windy and rainy weather that is persisting. Other than a morning run, during which I got drenched, I’ve been organizing the Tom Waits section of my iTunes library. This is a significant task, mind you, Tom Waits being one of my favorite singers. Melinda has been doing laundry, and Chloe & Ella have been tying up some of their own loose ends.

Today’s photo is from a Line 2 tram stop. The orange sign is indicating that from July 22 to August 21 several stops will be closed while construction work takes place. A bus will move people from stop to stop. You might remember this from last August. In fact, there is much roadwork taking place in Nantes, the summer being the best time to do it.

Day 17 (17 July 2010) – Crazy Day

Kebob Brownies (Day 365 + 16)

July 16, 2011

Trampoline KidsJohn’s family will be heading out on Wednesday for a little vacation, meaning this is the last weekend we’ll be seeing them. He and Ann-Marie had suggested having the Bertails and our family over one more time before they go, but Bernard and Christine were having none of that. They insisted it was their turn to host so we all met at their house last night for a BBQ dinner.

While the older adults (I’m referring to those who qualify as parents as opposed to the younger set that included a couple of 18 year-olds) chatted around a table, the kids and younger adults (yes, Christine does qualify as a “younger adult” but was disqualified from such status here based on being a parent) all climbed on the trampoline and started tossing a ball around. I risked my membership in any group by separating from the older adults to take this picture. That’s the ball leaving Ella’s hands. Moving to her right you see Benoit, Céline, Celeste, Alexandre, Claire, Maxime and then Chloe. Théo was absent, having been out of town with a friend for a few nights.

I’m not going to try to explain what a “kebob” is in France. But it’s NOT skewered meat and vegetables like Bernard served last night. Whatever it is called that Bernard fixed, it was delicious.

Christine again proved her baking wizardry by providing brownies. Chloe & I have dubbed them “Crack Brownies” due to their addictive nature. Christine prefers the name “Pin-Up Brownies.” I’m thinking I might just call them “Kebob Brownies.” Believe me, they’d still taste just as sweet.

A year ago today we moved in to the Boudeau house for a night in preparation for our trip to Pornichet…
Day 16 (16 July 2010) – Chez Les Boudeau

All Humility Aside (Day 365 + 15)

July 15, 2011

Day 365 + 15All humility aside, let me just say that I really like this picture. Framed by the huge plastic blow-up Nantes arch, I think I look like a man who has spent the last year relaxing on sabbatical in France. I’ve got a little tan going (true) and I look like I’ve lost some weight (also true). With some pleasure, confidence and excitement I can say it’s about time to head back to Seattle.

Although as soon as I say or think that I feel a profound sadness about leaving Nantes…

Melinda took this picture using my cell phone. It was taken along the path we’d walk to take Ella either to or from school, right next to the Nantes racetrack. In fact, I’m standing on a gravel path that is often used for overflow parking for the track. The crazy blow-up arch, and many other things, were placed here as part of a three day fair of some kind. It’s like paradise for kids. Go-carts, archery, a climbing wall, ropes course, mini-soccer and more, including a stage for live music, have all been set up here for summer fun. Melinda and I had fun just walking through.

A year ago today I wrote about crêpes. At the time I did not know that a savory crêpe is called a galette. We are referring to ourselves from last summer as “Nantes Newbies,” especially when we see things like this that I posted on the blog…
Day 15 (15 July 2010) – Crêpes

Our Second Bastille Day (Day 365 + 14)

July 14, 2011

Ella's AlgebraIt’s French National Day in France, Bastille Day or le quatorze juillet. To this point, we haven’t done anything special to celebrate but we are thinking of heading in to town for the fireworks show later. Last year we watched it from the balcony of the apartment at which we were staying. But the apartment was much closer to town than where our house is so to see anything we’ll have to leave the house. The small problem with that is public transportation is on an abbreviated, holiday schedule.

What we’ve spent most of the day doing is lounge by or in the pool. In preparation for the effort involved in such lounging, I went for an early morning run while Melinda worked out with Christine. For you Seattle folks, we are intending to come back with some serious tans. Chloe commented that on days like this Nantes feels like California.

Another thing happening this month is me spending time each weekday morning (including this morning) working with Ella on algebra. She had completed half of a year-long high school course at PSCS before we left and wants to complete the second half before school starts in September. She’s well on her way. Tomorrow she will have completed the eighth of ten workbooks she needs to finish to meet her goal. Today’s photo shows her graphing linear equations.

Learn more about our first Bastille Day in France from last year’s entry for this day…
Day 14 (14 July 2010) – Bastille Day

Shopping Sisters (Day 365 + 13)

July 13, 2011

Shopping SistersHere are Chloe and Ella, off on a shopping excursion today, just the two of them. Chloe learned that Ella had not yet been inside the Nantes chateau so set about rectifying that oversight. Before that, the girls did some shopping. I know Chloe came back with some shoes she’s been wanting. You may be asking why she’s buying more items so close to our departure from France and you’d have a point. But I think the answer has something to do with not being able to get THESE shoes in Seattle.

I volunteered a few Euros for the girls to get some gelato, which they gladly did at the yummy gelato shop in town. Chloe raved about it afterwards, saying it rivaled what we had in Italy. That’s saying something.

I’m writing while sitting next to Frédérique and Laurent who came over, along with Romain and Manon, to watch the US-France women’s World Cup match (won by the US 3-1). Minutes ago, Chloe took off with Romain and Manon to see he new Harry Potter movie which was released in France today. Ella declined an invitation to go along, preferring to wait to see the movie until she can see it in English.

A year ago today I acknowledged it being my father’s 76th birthday (happy 77th today, dad!)…
Day 13 (13 July 2010) – Happy Birthday, Al!