Monthly Archives: August 2015
We’ve moved a lot over the past 30 years: from the Midwest to California to Pennsylvania to Georgia and Florida. Be it north, south, east, or west we’ve always had to say goodbye to favorite places, comfortable routines and of course, friends. That won’t be any different this time when we move across the Atlantic except we’ve already started wishing one set of friends a fond farewell: the birds.
In this part of north Georgia the winters are generally just warm enough that birds who would normally fly further south during those cold months will stay here as long as there is an adequate and consistent food supply. That’s the problem. Since we don’t know if the new owners of this house will want to continue feeding the birds as we’ve done for years, we’re slowly tapering back the seeds we put out. It’s currently still the middle of summer but want to make sure that everyone realizes the food supply is drying up and it’s time to move on. Read the rest of this entry
How civilized! I read today on an expat forum that France has countrywide noise restrictions. Specifically, you are not supposed to make excessive noise outside of these hours:
Monday through Saturday 8 AM until noon and 2 PM until 8 PM
Sundays and holidays between 10 AM and noon
That shouldn’t be a problem for us, outside or in, for two reasons: 1. We won’t have a yard to mow or much outdoor space, and; 2. We won’t be hammering or drilling holes in the walls because we’ll use Command products to hang any pictures and then just pull them off when we leave.
There’s no definition of “excessive noise” but I’m sure there would be an exception for the popping sound of champagne corks, the crunch of a crispy baguette, and the crinkle of the paper wrapped around a creamy brie. Priorities, you know.
Someone once said that a house with a soul is a home. We can verify that because every time that we go on vacation and leave the house alone, its soul gets lonely and breaks something. It knows when we’re away and wants to convince us never to go again. We’ve had minor things happen like light bulbs that were not on while we were gone be burned out when we returned. A plastic bottle developed a leak and emptied its contents onto the shelf. A framed picture has fallen off the wall. A bit more major was when the refrigerator thermostat went berserk and froze everything inside.
But today was worst of all: we returned home and the Internet wasn’t working!! Yes, double exclamation marks are warranted since you’ve probably been through the same horror. No phone, no TV, and no Internet. How are we to survive? A technician from AT&T is scheduled to be here tomorrow between 4 PM and 8 PM. At least my Kindle has 276 books on it so I might have something to read until she/he shows up. It feels like the old days before copy machines when we had to use carbon paper. Where IS my typewriter?
So now you’re wondering how we are going to deal with a similar situation in France. To be honest, so are we. It’s hard enough to understand someone in another language when you are face-to-face with them and especially challenging if you are on the phone with them. Because AT&T seems to have most of its customer service agents in India, we already sometimes have difficulty understanding what these folks are saying, and they are speaking English! Too bad that Google Translate doesn’t do audio yet.
When we were in Florida recently we took advantage of the good weather to spend a substantial amount of time outdoors. Because St. Augustine, America’s oldest town dating from 1583, was nearby, we spent the morning walking around the cobblestone streets admiring the Spanish influence that is clearly evident there as well as throughout much of the state. A bit north from there is Amelia Island where we took a 2-hour boat tour (yes, Gilligan’s Island fans, it looked as if it might turn into 3 hours) around part of the island with promised-views of dolphins, manatees, wild horses, and a glimpse of where John Kennedy, Jr. got married on Cumberland Island just across the Georgia border. As we approached that imaginary state line we all looked out towards the horizon where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Amelia River to see the Spanish Armada approaching with tall masts filling the sky. Talk about Spanish influence! The captain quickly explained that we were witnessing a returning nuclear submarine being escorted by numerous gun boats of various sizes to the marine repair facility there on the coast. In those waters the sub cannot easily maneuver so the other ships keep everyone else at a distance to ensure its safety.
While giving his explanation the captain revved our tour boat’s engines to get us rapidly across the approaching sub’s path saying that if we did not cross now, the tour would indeed be much longer because we would have to wait until the entire entourage passed by. Safely away from the no-go zone, we paused the rest of the tour long enough to get a few photos of the Navy’s finest. Here you can see the submarine in the center, flanked by two large warships, and preceded and followed by much smaller vessels, all with guns clearly displayed.
Once ashore ourselves, we stopped into a family run bakery where we picked up the key lime pie that you see here for that night’s dinner. It made for a delicious end to a perfect week in the Sunshine State.
We’re back! Nine months ago we were here in northern Florida, looking out at this view you see above when we decided it was time to move. You can read about that decision on our first-ever post that kicked off this blog by reading our blog post This is where it all started.
So, what’s changed? Not very much with this view except now the marsh is light green since it’s currently summer instead of light brown as winter approached last Thanksgiving. For us, the changes revolve around narrowing down our options which were wide open when we first began the blog. For example, we now know that we’re moving to Carcassonne, we’ll be taking a flight with the dog rather than the Queen Mary II, and we’ll be living in a small house rather than an apartment starting in the spring of 2016. If you’ve had the chance to read our earlier posts you’ll know all of the details that got us to this point.
One thing that has changed, however, is the creation of this blog. The initial inspiration came from our friends Tracy & Alan who have their blog about moving from the US to France and the motivation to help others in a similar situation propels us to write. Now we always have the camera with us searching for an interesting photo to include and we talk constantly about what topics might be useful to post. It’s great having a new hobby that doesn’t cost much or take up any room but provides hours of entertainment.
Whenever we go on vacation, instead of staying in a hotel we usually try to rent a house or an apartment since you get more room, a kitchen where you can prepare a few meals, and it’s easier to pretend that you live in the community to see if you might want to make it your home. Since we’re house sitting this week along the intracoastal waterway, it’s confirmed our desire to move here once we sell the house in Georgia. When applying for a visa, you have to use the French consulate that has jurisdiction over your state, which in our case would currently be the Atlanta office. They have to deal with applicants from 6 southeast states; consequently, getting an appointment simply to apply for a visa is very difficult during most of the year. On the other hand, the consulate in Miami is responsible for Florida and some of the Caribbean so appointments appear to be much easier to obtain.
A second advantage of being a Florida resident is that there is a reciprocal agreement between this state and France which allows for an easy exchange of driver’s licenses between the two. A few other states, not including Georgia, have the same agreement avoiding the application process that can involve driving school, a written exam, and possibly a medical evaluation. The price for this can be close to $2000.
Lastly, Florida has no income tax. Although we are certainly not opposed to paying taxes we would be foolish not to take advantage of opportunities offered to us.
Bill and I used to both work in the travel industry where part of our jobs was to attend consumer trade shows as representatives for our respective companies. At every show one of the comments we consistently heard from potential travelers was their desire to go on a “trip of a lifetime”. They might describe a week-long stay in Scotland with one night in a castle or perhaps a visit to Tuscany, Provence, or some other well-known region of western Europe. We would always compare notes after these shows and quickly realized that we had already taken all of these “trips of a lifetime, sometimes several in one year, with many more planned for the future. We recognized how lucky we were and to remind ourselves of that we started repeating the phrase “live in the moment” when we would be on one of our European trips. Now, instead of dreading that uncomfortable, sleepless night for 8 hours on a plane it meant that we would wake up in a magical place like Paris. That cold, icy, 45 minute windy walk up the side of a German mountain would culminate in the wondrous Neuschwanstein castle said to have inspired Walt Disney himself. In other words, take nothing for granted; enjoy what you have right now.
As consuming as making a move overseas can be, it’s easy to forget the day-to-day pleasures that still exist around us right here. On the surface it might not seem as exciting as what the future holds for us in France, but real beauty can be found as close as the deck on the back of our house. We have window boxes there full of brightly colored portulaca flowers that the bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds find irresistible, not to mention how often we stare at their brilliance in the sunshine. Here’s a photo Bill just took of a Swallowtail butterfly sipping the nectar. Long live these moments!