Tuesday, December 14, 2010
French menu items are traditionally worded very flowerily. To the point that distinguishing what the actual dishes are may be difficult. Every time I've seen an English translation, it either tries to be flowery and fails or goes for more straight-forward, but then leaves off actual elements of the dish (not just the extra words.)
Just the first one is all it took : Caviar on a fennel cream served as a surprise
Oh, really? As a surprise? But it's on the menu! How is it going to surprise anyone? The French version, Le Caviar en infusion de corail anisé, en surprise, implies it's going to be stuffed, or covered. If you're interested, this girl took pictures of almost the whole meal: http://cravingsofafatgirl.com/blog/?p=1693 She shows it was served in a cute little tin, with caviar on the top with the fennel cream (& something in between) underneath.
But, really, is the poor translation supposed to be for 'authenticity'? Or do they require the chef to do it himself and lock him away in the kitchen so long that he doesn't ever find out the proper English equivalents. Maybe it 'adds to the mystique'??? Whatever, I ain't buyin.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
All classes for the day have been canceled, so I will be sure to stay safely away from campus. Apparently someone had a gun (maybe an AK-47) at the library, fired shots, killed himself, didn't hurt anyone else. Someone else is possibly in a building next to mine (but I'm NOT there) so we will just have to wait and see what turns out to be true.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The DREAM Act is a bipartisan legislation ‒ pioneered by Sen. Orin Hatch [R-UT] and Sen. Richard Durbin [D-IL] [...] Under the rigorous provisions of the DREAM Act, qualifying undocumented youth would be eligible for a 6 year long conditional path to citizenship that requires completion of a college degree or two years of military service. (From their site)
It's not all undocumented (illegal, if you prefer) people who could use this, but just those who came here as kids before age 16. You know, the ones who were brought over by their parents, some of them when they were 3 or 4. Who have never even been back to the country they're from because they wouldn't be allowed back into the US. Which means the only culture they know is the U.S. The only country they know is here.
Some people say they didn't arrive legally, and that's the end of it. To them, I would say, you work on fixing the holes that let them arrive here in the first place, but if they can make this work, let them stay.
For them, completing a college degree is no small task. It takes a whole lot of money. A couple of states offer some aid to undocumented students, but most don't. The federal government certainly doesn't. They're not getting free college educations. Somehow, they and their parents are getting the money together every single year for it. And it's not like getting into college is any easier for them than it is for a regular citizen. They qualify in the same way as everyone else.
A recap of these students: They come here as kids, having no choice, they go through our school systems, they make their way through college, and then face crappy jobs and the possibility of being sent back to a country they may not remember.
And the military option - I hope you all can appreciate the risks associated with that. Fighting for the US. Right now, likely to be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. Possibly dying. Things that a whole lot of citizens would rather NOT do, me included.
I do think that our whole immigration system is messed up in a lot of ways. I think that the ease with which people come into the country illegally needs to be fixed. I also think that more people should be able to get visas. If they are here legally, it is better for all involved. They would have responsibilities as well as rights. They would pay taxes and be able to fully benefit from living here. But we can't go back in time to change things for the kids, or some now young adults, that are all here now. Fix the source (make sure people get in the right way) but fix the current problem, too. Let educated, contributing members of our society continue to contribute. Don't tell those with a college education that the only jobs they can get are day laborer or field worker.
One of the reasons I'm writing about this is because four students were arrested in Arizona yesterday to try to raise awareness. Three of them were undocumented, which means they are now facing deportation. I have tried to look for information about it, but very few news sources actually have anything. Here's one, if you're interested.
K, putting away soapbox now :)
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
I hate you.
With all the energy not put towards my paper,
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
My favorite part? At the end, the anchors are talking to the reporter and saying "wow, gotta do your research before going to the grocery store."
To which the reporter replies, "that's right, read those labels!" I swear she sounds serious. I think she just missed her own whole piece. If the label says organic and the audit says it's not... right, lady, read those labels.
Still not as good as this guy, also from a news station.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
At least the weather is gorgeous, right?
Oh, right the point of making a post. I am picking up my room in search of my keys. And there are 3 boxes that keep staring at me, every single day, begging to be sent. I apologize, boxes. As well as to the people that have not received the contents of the boxes. Like LeAnna's nearly 3-month late Christmas present. That's no good at all!
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Now that I live in this building, it's taking on a different aspect. Here, making food is not a requirement. Other people make food for me every day of the week. If I don't make lunch, someone else will. It will likely be edible. If not, I can fall back on the cereal or canned soup in my room. Once or twice a week (max), that's not a bad lunch. So making food is completely a choice.
There's another difference here. Lots of people to eat my stuff. I like making sweets. Cookies. Cakes. Chocolate ganache. Most ingredients are readily available in the house kitchen. But if I make it, I often eat too much of it. Here I can share. With 106 students in the building, even if something goes wrong (hasn't yet) there are plenty of people who will eat anything. And when it goes right, there are plenty of people to let me know. Like tonight's gingerbread. After at least 15 happy faces and happy tummies, how can linguistics hope to compare? For the immediate satisfaction, it certainly cannot.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Over the summer, they moved the Audiovisual library from near the student union (i.e. convenient location for me and many others) to the east side of campus. Now, instead of a 10 minute walk to go check out a dvd for free, I would have a 20ish minute walk. Yes, the 10 minute walk is also on my way to/from classes, but still, it's just a little further.
Well, apparently enough people complained, and now they are willing to send your dvd/cassette/cd to any campus library. Like the one just one minute from my office and classes. It will take 2-4 days, which seems a little inefficient, but I suppose that lazies in Texas win this round.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Also, I was looking at one of my cookbooks, and it had a recipe for dark chocolate or for milk chocolate. I know that milk chocolate there does not equal milk chocolate here. I also know that the percent of cocoa beans is always included on the label in France. I'm not sure if it's required, or if people just won't buy it without that info. So I looked up the percentage of cacao mass/chocolate liquor (the English terms for reduced cocoa beans) in one of my favorite brands of chocolate chips. Yeah, according to their site, in the US milk chocolate is only required to be 10% cacao. That is... amazing. No wonder Hersheys is so lame. Luckily, the brand I like has 38% in their milk chocolate. And chocolate only needs 35% to be called 'semi-sweet' or 'bittersweet' - the choice being left to the manufacturer. Crazy, crazy...
Sunday, January 17, 2010
If you can't see it all very well, that's ok. Many pieces will be headed in different directions over the next few days, so the pile will decrease, too.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
For couch surfing, you fill out a profile, put up a pic, tell people a little about yourself. And then you can search people to stay with. And, of course, host other travelers when you are at your own place. Which I fully intend to do. It’s all free, no payments expected, and the site actually discourages them. It’s up to your host when you can be at the house, whether they feed you or not, what you have access to. But I stayed with such incredible people and had so many fantastic adventures, many of which I never had time to tell you about. If you go for karma, I must have done something pretty amazing. (Chloe sort of does karma.) If you prefer a supreme being, then s/he/it likes me. Personally, I’m just happy to have had a great trip. K, I am going to look for water before my flight boards.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Today, I walked around with a camera glued to my hand, taking pictures of loads of things. Things that I've been walking around without really noticing. Or that I noticed at the beginning, but have gotten used to. Or that I noticed the first time I was in France and now sort of take for granted. But is actually really cool. Tomorrow: cinnamon rolls! And probably more pics to take.
I forgot to tell you! I found the second half of my present from V! It is super cool, she did a good job. A small book called 'Aperitifs Dinatoires.' A very nice little cookbook with party-type food. Drinks (avec ou sans alcool), cold finger food, warm finger food, and single-serving size sweets. One of the things I love is that there is a main recipe on the left page with a picture on the right page. On the left side of the left page, there are 3 or 4 (usually 4) variations. I mean, I can dream up my own variations, but it's cool that they have some there for me to start with!
Banana bread with quince jam
Homemade yogurt, using half milk half soymilk, with honey stirred in
Tea from a bowl
I scribbled down part of a post during intermission, so I'll start with that:
Well, here I am at the Lille Opera house. Chloe wanted to see the show, but the cheapest tickets (5E) are in sections where you are quite high and can't see all of the stage. The next step up is a bit better, but is 11E ($15ish) and starts to be more difficult for students. Chloe has a friend who works here so she called her Monday to see if the audience was full for tonight. The friend said no, so Chloe asked me to come wait at 7 for last-minute tickets. I get here at 7, and the ticket girl tells me they are available at 7:45. But at least that made me the first in line (other started showing up literally minutes later, so that's probably why I was told to be there at 7. Chloe was babysitting so she wasn't there.) I waited, wishing I had brought her Lille guidebook with me. At 7:45 the ticket girl says it's time, I ask for 2 tickets, hand her the 10E and am handed two category 1 tickets. The usual 5E tickets? They're category 5. Category 1 is... the opposite. You know, down low with a great view. Chloe was thrilled, she's never had seats that good before. She didn't even know where exactly we should go, but with the help of an usher (her friend, who was also impressed by the seats) we found our way. To the ninth row, middle section, on the aisle. Everyone around us clearly paid a lot more than $7.50. Most of them are over 40. In the Opera house info booklet, Chloe flips to the page with the categories and pricing. WOW. Regular price for our seats? $93. Each. I shit you not. I definitely don't mind waiting 45 minutes for that. The show so far is great, too. Lyrics in Russian, subtitles in French (they're supertitles, actually, they're above the stage and to the sides as well.) I don't think I've seen a full-on opera before. It's pretty fun and in many ways like other theater. Except things happen V E R Y S L O W L Y..........
I could spend all day writing, but I'd much rather go out, with the giant chunks of snow drifting silently to the ground, and do something. For now, then, just this: it was fantastic - the singing, the music, the costumes, the dancing, the lights. All of it.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
About my current host then? Fine, if you insist. She is a student in Arts & Culture - a sort of practical blend of sociology and anthropology for students who intend to later work in... hmm, how to explain the sector? Bah, not really sure. Well, students that plan to work with sort of community-based organizations. Vague, sorry, but will have to do. Personally, I like subjects that incorporate lots of different things, kinda like linguistics. :P She has a studio with a cool set up. There's a door that leads to her and her 'flatmate's' studios, so they have their own little section and a bit of shared hallway, but they each have their own space, complete with corner kitchen (rather typical for student studios here.) The bathroom is outside of the shared area because the building used to be a big house. It's a nice, big bathroom, though, and a much more practical use of space than trying to squeeze that into her studio.
I haven't done much here yet, just talk, had some food, watched some TV. I am very excited, though. Chloe likes to cook, likes to learn new recipes, AND has an oven!! Ok, in the US it would qualify as a toaster oven, but they work somewhat differently here, so it's a small oven. She also has a bread machine. So someone will be making cinnamon rolls today. She also has a small notebook with recipes copied from other people. Like her grandma's recipe for tarte au sucre that she got from her grandma. (Tarte au sucre is from this region. Yes, it means sugar tart. Yes, it actually has chunks of sugar on top. Yes, almost all of the regional specialties are horribly unhealthy.) So I will have a few recipes to copy down for myself as well as sharing mine with her. I made a shopping list this morning, she doesn't have any classes today so we'll be doing some shopping. K, she'll be out of the shower soon, so that's all for now.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Saturday, January 9, 2010
The day started off ok. I had set my alarm, but of course hit snooze once out of habit. Then when I forced myself to get up, THWACK! Ouch, yes, that is the cross beam of the low, sloping ceiling of the bedroom. I knew that. Wander downstairs, have a nice bowl of tea (side note: traditionally, morning drinks are served in a large bowl. Like probably holds 3 cups. It’s nice to have steam and a pleasant aroma in your face and a warm bowl in your hands.)
Then, to the metro! We get to school, and it is a small building. A former gym, actually, but with 15 students, that’s fine. It works because there are separate changing rooms and different spaces. The day starts with hip-hop class. It was only their 3rd class, so I wasn’t too worried. A little worried. Not the world’s best dancer, here. Was supposed to start with hip-hop class, anyway. Turns out the prof had car trouble and couldn’t make it. The students practiced what they’d learned for about 30 minutes (basically til it was confirmed that the prof was a no-show) and then went to the kitchen to have coffee, tea, and lament that they got up 1 ½ hrs before they really needed to. They are still students, after all!
After that, tai chi. Why so many physical things? Acting is all about presenting your body, so being able to use it in different ways and trying different things really helps to expand the ways you move. They have a strength training class once a week. And I think other physical stuff in other mornings. Some of the energy focus stuff in tai chi I had heard before myself, but the way their instructor explained it was really cool. He’s a real instructor in the area who comes for an hour (I think - maybe two) each week for their class. I had seen tai chi before had a teacher in high school who was into it, but all I remembered was that it was about slow, fluid movements. Well, it’s not really about slow. You start out slow, you practice slow, but it is totally a type of martial art. Practicing slow creates the muscle memory to react without thinking. The instructor spent about 5 minutes explaining how the placement of your arms is important - the angle from your shoulder to your hand. He showed us how to do it, and then demonstrated why with a large guy in the class. With the guy’s arms in the proper positions, the instructor tried to push him. No go. We could see both of them shaking a little. Then he had the guy lower his arm 2 inches. Pushed him back in about 10 seconds. Had another guy show it. I was impressed, but a little skeptical. These were guys, after all, who had been in the class. Were they cheating at all? Then he had me come up. Arms in right position, I could feel him pushing but it really wasn’t difficult to hold it there. Elbow lowered, I expected it to be just a little harder, so I didn’t prepare myself very well. Yeah, pushed back in about 3 seconds. By this fit, but not super muscley 71 year old man. Cool.
Then it was lunch time. Everyone ate there, some people went to get lunch, some people had things in the fridge. There was a double hot plate, so people also made lunch. We talked, ppl asked where I was from, why I was there, I asked them the same, asked them about expressions when they lost me (so rare now, it’s so cool and sort of unbelievable.) They had 2 hours for lunch (typical here) so after eating, they cleaned the kitchen started rehearsing scenes they’ve been working on, napped, or wrote thank you letters for a recent internship sort of thing.
Then, their current director came. They’re working on stuff by Marivaux, a **th century playwright. I didn’t recognize the name, but I am sure I know one of the plays. I must have read it in high school. It’s a sort of Adam & Eve ish story, where several people are taken and raised apart (or is it sort of ’created’ as adults? I forget) and then introduced to the world and each other. Two guys, two girls from what I recall. The scenes were so familiar, a guy and girl meet and are instantly attracted in an innocent way. The two girls meet and immediately hate each other. The two guys meet and immediately are friends. Le, V, any bells? I could have also read it in French or theater, tho…
Enfin, bref, the director is from Paris and comes to work with them on these scenes. They are almost done with this unit, so they rehearsed from 2:30 til 7pm. (or was it 7:30?) It was fun to see what they are doing, and how they do it, and what the director says. That length of a day is nothing new. Sometimes they work til 10 at night, rehearsing together. And some have part-time jobs at the local theater. It is seriously intense. They will be with the same 14 other students for 3 years. For a very large portion of their waking hours. They’ve been there about 3 months, and all get along. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have so few people in my world. Many are from different cities and regions, too, so the only people they really know are each other, so a lot of them end up hanging out after classes, too. Last night we all went to one guy’s apartment that lives about 15 min from here. (I had dinner with some girls, and we had an adventure on the way, so maybe later you can ask me about the Great Metro Escape.) Everyone hung out, we played a game. I know that loads of group games are culturally-based, and this one was somewhat, too, and I always wondered what it would be like to be the one who didn’t always know. I certainly found out. Although it was based around people, so I did know most of them. Trying to get someone else to guess a person in a second language, even if you both know the person but from completely different angles… it was fun. I’m glad I didn’t have a competitive partner. K, I meant to eat breakfast while writing and did not at all. So I’ll stop here. Maybe I’ll get something from the bakery… my hosts aren’t up yet (I wouldn’t be, if I were them!) and that may be a pleasant surprise…
Thursday, January 7, 2010
I continued on, finding several cute items at different stores. It's difficult to shop for a warm climate when it is COLD outside and there are so many cute sweaters on sale. But I forced myself to look for things that would work in Austin. I got 3 things at one store that I didn't like that much before, and nothing at two that I used to really like. Either the stores have changed, or my tastes have. I vote it's them. I actually got a cute short-sleeve shirt from my "make other women jealous" store. It's very tame for being from there, which means I can really wear it. I had fun wandering in and out of stores along one street, moving from one center of heat to the next. I didn't put on my hat and gloves even, just kept them in my coat pockets. After finding a funky t-shirt that I absolutely needed at one store, I came out and realized that I'd gone through all the stores on that end. (Don't worry, there were plenty where I didn't buy anything, I won't start begging for spare change on my return.) I turned and started to walk back. And remembered how cold it is out. Left pocket, grabbed hat, put it snugly on my head. Right pocket, grabbed - ANGRY![insert your favorite expletive here]! - the inside of my pocket. I somehow lost BOTH gloves this time! And they were cuter! And one glove of a $3 set isn't too bad, but losing a $4.50 set 10 days later... I was not pleased. I shoved my cold hands into my pocket, and decided to eat the yogurt and granola I'd brought with (borrowed a small container from the house.)
I kept walking and was reminded about the stupid seam on my socks and my need for shoes, so I looked for shoe stores. Found two right next to each other, but still not really anything. I was kind of thinking short boots with little to no heel, probably laces, cute, not necessarily super girly, and comfy. The things that seemed to generally be lacking was comfy and cute. I'd find something almost cute, then look at it... and realize there was something weird about it! I left the second store and realized I was close to the train station, which is right next to the big mall. Destination determined.
I got there, and went into a couple of stores, but still nothing. I was getting seriously annoyed. I looked at my watch and realized the time, and how little I'd eaten since lunch. Probably a partial source of the annoyed. I stopped for a pain au chocolat, but of course the place was out. Luckily they had something else croissant-ish with chocolate to have instead. After that, I realized that my feet did really hurt, too. I looked at the map. 5 shoe stores. I went to two on the lower level. Gross. I went to two on the upper level. Still not right. I went into a clothes store that also had shoes. Crappy crap for too much.
Then I thought about how much real shoes cost at home. And how much they were likely to cost here. I couldn't go looking for shoes for like 30 euro and expect comfort and looks! duh! So back downstairs. Tried on a couple. One or two that might have worked, but not in my size. No, still don't like. Decided to return to the previous two places within sight of the train station. Even looking a little higher priced, just no good! I started to leave, defeated, when I spotted a more expensive place. I started to just walk past. Then decided, no, it's the sales, why not see???
The sales floor was FILLED with shoe boxes, quite similar to many of the other places. Even on sale, a lot of them were still 100 euro. $150. Not gonna happen, especially for a brand I don't know. I saw one pair that just might work. Black, no heel, laces, and some sort of buckle across the laces. Tried them on. Fairly comfy. Ok price. And looked down with my jeans over part. No, just very unattractive. I decided to give up, go home, and hope for better luck another day. Then as I was on the way out, I noticed two different shoes sitting together atop a pile of boxes. Usually one shoe is set on top of a stack of its boxes. One of them was a short, brown boot. With laces. And no heel. I held my breath and... they had my size! I put it on. ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh........ comfy. So nice. Finally, the price (crossing fingers) - YES! woo-hoo! I had been thinking black, so I looked at them again. Put both on. walked around a little. yes. I took them to the register, the guy rang them up and asked if I wanted matching polish. I said no. And then saw that there were 10 colors behind him. Well, if I'm gonna have leather boots from france, i may as well make sure they can keep their original color! And told him, actually, yes, I probably should since i am not from here and can't be sure of matching the color later. So I have my lovely boots. I am ok with them being brown. I hardly every wear black pants, and if I do I can wear other shoes.
To the theater!!
I am staying with two theater students now, a guy and a girl, let's call them Tom and Lynn. Last night there was a play that they got tickets to see as part of their school. Tom happens to work part-time at the theater, so he offered me his ticket since he'll see it 6 or 8 times while working there. Of course I couldn't turn that down! I asked what it was about, and they didn't really know. It's the fifth one they've seen since October. They did know it had two alumni from their school in it.
I met Lynn downtown in Lille, and we walked over to where the shuttle was waiting. Apparently, there was some question about how the seats had been reserved and how many people would really fit, but we all got on without a problem. About 20 minutes later, we were in front of the theater. We all walked in, waited around for a little bit (since we were early) some people got food, some people got drinks, and then we filed into the seating area. The set was very sparse, and the program listed just 5 actors. The title was "Dehors peste le chiffre noir," which means "Get out black number plague." Really didn't help give a clue about the play.
The show started. Lots of lights. Some music (piano, violin, and guitar on stage.) There are some cool lighting effects with the cast moving around behind a screen, so all we see are vague colors and their silhouettes. Then they come out. And start talking. Talking about whose fault it is, or isn't, when bad things happen. They talk about stereotypes of poor people, of people with money, of how people get in debt and how easy it is. I quickly realize that there is no plot, it's more of a social commentary piece. Even so, it seems a bit... odd to me. I keep watching, thinking maybe it will all come together. How statistics lie. How many people have trouble with money. The twisted ideas we have about how those with (or without) money should act. Or are allowed to act. It was interesting in a way. The whole thing basically talked about how as a society we have a very strange, unhelpful relationship with money. But was still seriously weird, I thought. Maybe it was just me.
The lights go out. After a bit, people start to clap. It's sort of slow, restrained clapping. It was a heavy topic after all. Then we all go out into the lobby. Questions are being asked. "Did you get it?" "What were they going for?" "What was with them all repeating the same thing so much?" Ha. It wasn't just me. It was seriously weird. Still, a neat experience, and I'm glad I went. I'm just also VERY glad I wasn't the only one who wondered what the heck was going on and why. :)
Tomorrow I am headed to school with them, they got permission for me to come. I am rather sure it will be better than the play!
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I don’t know if that’s how it’s spelled. It’s a kind of shutter that blocks out pretty much ALL light. I am not very good at waking up, even if I’ve slept 9 hours, when there’s no light. Every night here, I’ve told myself that I was gonna wake up earlier the next day. And yet, each time I have not. Oh, well.
I went to the market again yesterday! It is apparently biggest on Sunday, but also on Tuesday and Thursday. A friend of Valerie’s mom from
When dinner time rolled around, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of his great cooking plan. I didn’t know if he knew how to cook or anything. The spices he was putting together I recognized, and they seemed pretty normal. And I’d like to tell myself that I *didn’t* see the bottle of olive oil both before and after he used it… It was almost done, and he asked Valerie’s mom if she had a mortar & pestle, or something to crush the whole spice that I hadn’t figured out the English name for. She did not. So instead, she ended up crushing then on a plate with a glass. It worked pretty well, and very quickly everything smelled like… gin. Sort of pine tree-ish, but sweeter. I now know the word for juniper berries in French. Honestly, I was seriously wondering about his recipe after that. Then everything came out, and it looked and smelled great, and he sprinkled on the final ingredient: orange tree flower water. (K, not sure that’s its real name in
Changing apartments again today, likely will not have internet for a bit. But can still drop in now and then to say hi to you all!
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Yay, put this in the right format to share today!! An extra note - changing places again tomorrow, so we'll see what the internet situation is there.
As you may have guessed, I don’t have internet where I’m staying now. I’m actually writing this from the apartment and plan to go out and post it later. I am staying with a girl around my age who is a comics artist. I’ll call her Valerie (nope, not her real name.) Don’t go thinking Batman or Snoopy - comics here have a really wide audience, with different ones for all ages. She had one published that she was the illustrator for, it’s a short book for kids, and it’s cute. Now she’s working on something bigger, with a collection of short stories. She has a terribly cute little apartment in the same neighborhood as I stayed in after Paris.
I arrived here Saturday afternoon, so we mostly talked a bit, then she worked a little (adding colors to a comic on the computer). After that we went out for pizza and beer. Beer is the drink of choice in this area - definitely more than wine. The climate here is a lot like wester WA/OR - it’s mild and wet. A good climate for growing hops (that are later made into beer) but not for wine grapes. And yes, I like pizza here even though I don’t like it at home. It’s completely different here - thin, crispy crust with a different sort of sauce and less cheese.
Sunday, we went to the Wazemmes market. It was cool! There were vendors for EVERYthing: vegetables, fruit, hair dye, boxed candy, pick-a-mix sort of candy, clothes, roasted chicken, and even live chickens. I kid you not, the first guy she bought vegetables from (and they were CHEAP!) was also selling live chickens. They were in these sort of stackable pens that reminded me of over-sized milk crates lined with straw. Someone would ask for one, he’d ask what size, then pull one out of the crate, tie its legs together, weigh it, ask them if the size was ok, and if so, he put it in a cardboard box, tied the box with twine, and cut some holes in the sides so it could breathe. I was impressed that people would know what to do with a whole chicken. I did notice that it was foreigners buying them, at least when we were nearby. I also replaced my gloves and hat. Because it was COLD. Plus it was cheaper there than anywhere else I’d seen. I also bought two persimmons because she’d never tried it, and they are much bigger and cheaper here than at home.
After that, we met her mom in a café, had a drink, walked around a bit (her mom was supposed to be meeting a friend who never showed) and then had lunch. It was fun. Her mom is a teacher, so it was interesting to talk about the differences in the school systems and how teachers are paid at different levels. After lunch, we headed down to the museum. It’s a pretty good size! Even better, since it was the first Sunday of the month, the permanent collection was free. I might try to go back for the temporary exhibit later.
After a stop at a café for hot chocolate and a snack (pear tart - mmmm!!!) we went to a small movie theater a good bit away (we took the metro) where she works as a ticket-taker on Sunday nights. It’s really basically volunteering, but then she gets to see the movie for free, as does the person she brings with her. Yay, me! The movie was Vincere, about the secret second wife of Mussolini. I want to look up how much of the story is known for sure, and how much is made up. Apparently, the lady had his first son, who was officially recognized by Mussolini for a bit, but afterwards it was all completely hushed up. Both the secret-wife and her son died in psychiatric hospitals where they had been hidden. Both also died before the fascist regime was brought down.
Today, she’s working some, I washed some clothes, am now writing this. After lunch, I might do some more thesis reading, and then I’ll go out. I have to remember to go by the supermarket, too, because I’m gonna make some fajitas for dinner tonight… as long as I can find tortillas. I have seen them some places in town, so hopefully there are some around here, too.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Friday, January 1, 2010
That makes: check, check, check, check, check, check and check. I sort of new that it was mostly going to people a bit older than me and their kids. When I arrived, everyone said hi and was very friendly. I even got some wine splashed on the bottom edge of my pants (khaki cords!) to start the night. The dancing started pretty much right off. And I realized rather quickly that I had three options. Hang out with kids (oldest ~12.) Watch people dance. Join in the dancing.
Join in it was. Here, meals are often (compared to home) very structured. An aperitif (we'd consider it a snack with a drink, or an appetizer, depending.) Then a main dish. Then cheese. Then dessert. And so it was at the party. At first, actually, they fed the kids chicken nuggets and fries. There were also a few little things on the table, like endive leaves with tuna salad on them. Once the kids were full, out came the foie gras. The tapenade. The smoked salmon. The other kind of salmon, in a sort of tuna salad. One that was gone, one savory tart was brought out, but everyone was pretty much full by then (it got saved for lunch today, don't worry.) Then a bit later, a platter with 10 kinds of cheese (I kid you not!) Then around 1, out came the dessert - la buche. It's a Christmas (and apparently New Year's) sort of cake. That is very rich. Very good. There were three, chocolate, raspberry, and orange. I had two slices of a raspberry one at the Christmas part I went to, so I went for chocolate and orange here. They were both quite good.
That's the food, then what about the music? It was a bit of everything. American. French. English. Abba. Other. Some sort-of-recent stuff at first, with current stuff. A 2008 or 9 'hits' was brought out for the 12 yr old girls. And then once the kids went to bed (when the parents pulled out the whiskey and gin) it was mostly 80s stuff. 80s French music? It's mostly like American 80s music. As far as I could tell, anyway. A lot of the stuff was American for sure. It was fun listening to some of them sing along. There was a good bit of 'yaourt' - yogurt. Means indistinct singing along when the person has no idea of the real words. One of the songs they played for the younger girls was Katy Perry's "I kissed a girl." Everybody seemed to know the one main line. And sort of went mushy after that. A pretty dumb song anyway.
We were out at a house not far from the Channel, so everyone slept there. And got up in the morning, the adults cleaned up while the kids played in gorgeous sunshine, even though it was cold out it was a beautiful day. Had lunch. And went up to see the channel. Or started to. Right before we left, it started doing a weird hail/snow thing. Looked like little styrofoam balls all over the windshield. The other cars turned around, but we continued on, to at least *see* the water. Then - miracle! - the snow let up! It was still FREEZING and the wind was blowing really hard, so just 3 of us got out and walked down to the water. And Valinda now has wet Cap Gris Nez sand waiting for her.
I had fun. As I got more tired, it was sort of frustrating because I kept having to ask people to repeat themselves. Especially with the music and everyone talking in the background, it was really tough for me to understand sometimes. And then a few people were joking around, and I understood, but didn't think I understood because I wasn't expecting sarcasm.
This morning I also read a bit of a graphic novel (i.e. long comic-style book for adults) made from Howard Zinn's 'A People's History of the United States.' I knew that the book was interesting, but it was extra interesting to see it in that format. It's bits of history, but told from the point of view of people involved. Not of the main actors that we normally think of, but people who made a big difference and are often left out. It starts out with Wounded Knee, but from a Native American who arrived on the scene after the massacre. I am sure the full book has a lot more.
Well, I'm super tired, so I believe that's it for me today. I am headed somewhere new tomorrow and you should know by now to have patience :)