Get the notary on the line

Le Bugue
Le Bugue

In the 2008 movie Mamma Mia!, hotel owner Donna Sheridan comments that her soon-to-be son-in-law will be publicizing her Villa Donna to the world by putting her “on the line.” She claims to be current with the new technology of “the Internets” wondering why no one has invented a machine that makes the beds. We had a similar thought recently regarding those “Internets” when we had to have several documents notarized for use back in the US. Given that a notarial act must generally be conducted within the state where the notary holds a commission, it was going to be a challenge with the Atlantic ocean between us and travel heavily restricted. Time for an “on the line” search for a solution.

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Double shot

No, not a double shot of whiskey, cappuccino, an amusement park ride in NJ, or even “of my baby’s love”. How about the Covid-19 vaccine, or at least part one. People especially prone to disease or otherwise fragile were the first to be inoculated and now it’s being rolled out to the rest of us as fast as it becomes available. Dentists, medical students, lab technicians and even veterinarians have been recruited to use their skills in getting everyone covered. Our booster shot is scheduled for a month from now and then what? Given that we have a year’s worth of travel to catch up on, that’s pretty simple to answer; except, as we hear so often from our French friends, it’s complicated.

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B1 to be one

To apply for French citizenship requires a lot of documents. Some of them you have to request from the US, such as your birth certificate while others like your electric bill can be printed out at home. None of that is really challenging but anything that is not already in French has to be officially translated. There is one item, however, that does involve some work: 400 hours or about 18 months of study is what I’ve seen estimated online. An applicant must prove that she or he can operate independently in the French language, understand main points in conversations, cope with most situations that could arise while traveling in the country, and describe dreams, hopes, ambitions, and opinions with supporting reasons. This intermediate level is classified by the CERL (Cadre Européen de Référence pour les Langues) as B1 and this week I received my successful test results.

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Flowers and chocolates for Easter

In France, the end of Lent is called Pâques, a word derived from Latin for food, pascua, while in modern day English, Easter may have come from the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, Eostre. Despite the different names, the day itself is celebrated in a similar manner in both cultures with egg hunts, baskets of candies, and a big family meal often featuring lamb. We took advantage of the beautiful weather to get some photos of the flower beds and the window displays of the chocolateries in Carcassonne. Whether you are waking up this morning to chocolate bells or fish as we are in France or rabbits, hens, and eggs (or maybe even marshmallow Peeps) we wish you Joyeuses Pâques!

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France’s favorite village

France 3 TV program

To be called a “village” in France the population must be less than 2000 people and the houses can’t be further than 200 meters apart. According to the Mayor’s Association, that describes 29,000 places around the country and even if you lower the number of inhabitants to 500 you are still left with 18,000 communities. Each year television channel France 3 runs a contest to whittle down those thousands to just 14: one village to represent each region in mainland France and one from overseas. Now that the shortlist has been announced the fun begins because everyone (as far as I can tell) gets to vote for their favorite village, link below. Continue reading “France’s favorite village”

Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly

From the government’s website on aging

One of our local newspapers had an article entitled, “How much does it cost to be old in France?” so I just had to read that. With homage to Ethel Merman’s character Annie Oakley on Broadway, aging just seemed to me to be a natural process with no admission charge. However, if you want to stay for the whole show you have to pay the price which depends on where you sit from the orchestra to the balcony. It also depends if you are like 85% of the French who say that they want to spend their retirement years at home rather than moving to group living arrangements or to a medical facility. A website that specializes in banking and insurance for seniors (Retraite.com) teamed with another site that helps people live and age well at home (Silver Alliance) to calculate the costs. Continue reading “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly”

Raise the roof

The original 100-year-old roof

It was 1954 when singing cowboy Stuart Hamblen released his hit single “This Ole House” that included lines such as:

Ain’t got time to fix the shingles

&

This ole house lets in the rain

Until recently he could have been singing about our own house but it was reasonable to expect that after nearly one hundred years, the roof was going to need some repairs. Prior to selling our house in Atlanta we had to have the roof replaced and all of the price estimates came in at about $10,000 for new asphalt shingles on a 4000 square foot (372 m2) 3-story house. Last summer during lockdown we had plenty of time to investigate a similar project here on our 1-story house measuring 1055 square feet (98 m2). Granted, now we had terra cotta tiles (on the main house and on an attached room) instead of asphalt but the surface was about 1/4th of what we replaced in the US so we should have been in for a pleasant surprise, right? Well, the cost certainly was a surprise! Continue reading “Raise the roof”