Matryoshka

A castle within a castle

A castle within a castle

Today’s language lesson changed from French to Russian because I had to look up the name of those nesting dolls (and this blog post’s title)  that stack inside of one another, each getting smaller and smaller. This folk art was started in a craft workshop near Moscow in 1890 by an industrialist searching for a new style for his country. Carcassonne has its own bigger-than-life version, as in 10 meter (32 feet) tall stone walls, that got their start at least 800 years before those tiny carved dolls. Read the rest of this entry

Now we live there

Keyhole connection for the phone/TV/Internet cable

Keyhole wall connection for the phone/TV/Internet cable

Although we bought our house here in Carcassonne a few months ago, I haven’t felt as if we really live there…until today. One of the requirements for getting a visa for our first year in France was to have an address, so we rented a fully-furnished house. It’s really comfortable and truly came with everything we needed to live, down to the knives, forks, and spoons, and the all-important Internet. The only problem is that once we venture outside of our 2-foot thick (60 cm.) walls, there is no wi-fi, so when we go over to work on the house I feel a bit out of touch…until today. Read the rest of this entry

Not like I recall

A very fit and trim Père Noêl

A very fit and trim Père Noêl

This time of year was always fun growing up because lots of Christmas catalogs would arrive and you could spend hours sorting through all the latest toys, games, and all the other items you never knew you wanted. As an adult in our fantasy land called France, it’s really no different except that the amusements that now catch our eye are likely to be centered around food and drink but it’s still fun to peruse all of these catalogues de Noël looking for everything we didn’t know existed, seems unusual, or we just don’t recall ever having seen before. Read the rest of this entry

MEET-ings

The mayor welcomes the new arrivals to Carcassonne

The mayor welcomes the new arrivals to Carcassonne

When you’re working it seems that there are always meetings to attend; sometimes so many and on such a regular weekly schedule that you can’t get your work done. The higher up the corporate ladder you go the more time you spend away from your desk and around a conference table giving and receiving information. Once you retire and have the luxury of choosing which meetings you will attend, that word takes on a whole new meaning with an emphasis on those first four letters—MEET—as in becoming acquainted with new people and that has definitely been true here. Read the rest of this entry

Fill in the blanks

No blanks to fill in this castle wall

No blanks to fill in this castle wall

It will be a long time before Bill and I speak French well enough that there aren’t pauses between thoughts while we search for words. Luckily, the French seem to be very skilled at filling in the blanks both in real life and in what we see on television. In an effort to increase our knowledge of the language, we watch game shows with the subtitles turned on since that doubles our chances of connecting the words we hear with those same words we see on the screen. In programs with names like Slam, Don’t Forget the Lyrics, and Questions for a Champion, there are dozens of blanks to fill in daily, some of which we’re starting to understand ourselves. Read the rest of this entry

Coming clean

Lavoir (wash house), Pontivy, Brittany

Lavoir (wash house) beside the river in Pontivy, Brittany, France

Having a washing machine delivered to our house was a big event in more ways than one. There was one in place when we bought the house but its continued grinding, squeaking noises were a clear indication that we’d have to replace it sooner than later. Whenever we’ve had to buy an appliance here, Bill has done a thorough job of investigating our best options both online and in bricks-and-mortar stores. Once he settled on a specific machine, it was no surprise to me that our local, in-town appliance store that we lovingly think of as Western Auto® ended up being the best place to get it. Read the rest of this entry

Stripping

A stripped door frame, ignore the burn marks

A stripped door frame, ignore the burn marks

No, not what you think; this is a G-rated blog. It’s all about paint, maybe almost a hundred year’s worth. Although our house was built in 1925, from what we can tell, most things like doors, windows, electricity, and plumbing have all been replaced and that’s a good thing. I remember as a child crawling around the attic of my grandmother’s house that was built about the same time as our new place and being fascinated by the knob and tube electrical wiring, a process that Thomas Edison had patented only a few years earlier in 1892. There is one interior door and its frame, however, that appear to be original and we set out to discover what was under all that paint. Read the rest of this entry

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