Monthly Archives: October 2016

Southern hospitality

Serving Roland's homemade cassoulet

Serving Roland’s homemade cassoulet

If you live in the US you will be well-acquainted with the words in the title of today’s post. Having been residents for 20 years in Atlanta, often considered the unofficial capital of the South, we were surrounded by reminders of the heritage of that region: friendly people, big smiles, warm welcomes and tables full of comfort food always generously offered. We’ve been in France for less than a year, but I can happily report that we’ve found exactly the same reception in this southern part of the country. Read the rest of this entry

Scaredy cat

This cat was at the front gate

This cat was at the front gate

Since we walk a lot, we are always making discoveries that we probably wouldn’t ever see if we were driving. When you’re on foot it’s pretty easy to take a quick detour to literally smell the roses, take a photo, or stop into some place inviting since you never have to find a parking place. That’s exactly what happened when we were walking on a road beside the river on what I’ll call “Wharf Street” when it turned to go uphill and changed names to St. Michel’s Cemetery Drive. When we got to the entrance, Bill took this photo of who was there to greet us. Despite what seemed to be a less than warm welcome, and my allergy to cat fur, we ventured inside. Read the rest of this entry

Instant French

Amsterdam: bikes, canals, tall narrow buildings

Amsterdam: bikes, canals, tall narrow buildings, and English everywhere

When you move to a new country where the language is different from the one you grew up speaking, naturally there are going to be challenges. Not only do you have to learn the basics that you might know as a tourist, but now all of the nuances of how you say something or where you put emphasis come into play as well. Before we left the US, I had been studying French for a while and now that we live here I’m continuing with that online while Bill attended some classroom instruction with a live teacher and fellow students and has now gone the online route too. As effective as these classic methods are, we’ve discovered a simple, fun, and instant way to suddenly speak French. Read the rest of this entry

Mistaken identity

Well, it looked like BBQ sauce

Well, it looked like BBQ sauce

There are many variations on the phrase that starts with “A little bit of knowledge” and none of them end well. Every few weeks (or days) we fall victim to that concept and our most recent encounter could have indeed made us victims but Bill’s keen sense of smell saved us from that fate. We were looking at outdoor grills and everything that goes with them when we spotted this huge bottle you see in the photo that seemed really cheap for such a quantity of flavoring to give your food the smell of smoke. Just look at that delicious corn on the cob, steak, sausage, and asparagus and the words “barbeque, liquid, and grill”. Just don’t look at anything else on the label! Read the rest of this entry

What goes around…

Wine festival poster from the city's website

Wine festival poster from the city’s website

We’ve only lived in France for 7 months and already we’re returning here to an annual event. How’s that possible? Once we had decided that Carcassonne was going to be our new hometown, we had to find a place to live. Thanks to Bill’s Internet searching skills and to the generosity of our landlords, that part was easy, although they insisted that we visit the property in-person before they would accept our rental deposit. Darn, that meant that we would have to fly over from Atlanta to France to cement the deal. I wondered at the time if there might be some kind of festival going on since we had been following the city’s website for quite a while and noticed that every weekend there seemed to be a party. How about the 2-day Fête du Vin wine festival? Read the rest of this entry

Milk, paper towels, and a rental van

Grocery store truck rental

Grocery store truck rental

We go to the open-air market on the main square in Carcassonne at least a couple of times each week to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s fun to talk with the woman who grew those delicious tomatoes on her farm or the man who picked those luscious peaches from his own trees and now was “picking” them a second time to place in a paper sack for you to take home. While we can usually find any kind of produce we want there, it takes a weekly trip to the supermarket to get most dairy products, cleaning supplies, and the occasional rental vehicle. Read the rest of this entry

How polite

Just a mention of danger

Just a mention of danger

This morning when I was brushing my teeth, I noticed a label on a bathroom cleaner bottle that was hard to miss since it had a big universal symbol of “Attention”, an exclamation point in a red box. What I read was Mention de Danger and thought “What a polite way of warning people that you shouldn’t pour the contents of the bottle into your eyes.” Can’t you just hear an Everglades tour guide saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I just mention that you will be in danger of death from alligators, snakes, and other wild creatures should you step off the path that we will be following.” Read the rest of this entry