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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Scaffolding installed

What was that crashing sound? A new roof from Bill’s point of view.

This is a bit of a long post about the experience we had with a roof renewal in Carcassonne and the final cost.

Scaffolding installed

The week before the work was to be started on the house, workers arrived to install scaffolding (échafaudage) on the street side of our house. They managed to keep it all on the tiny walkway and out of the street but our neighbors all moved their cars to keep from being a casualty as the road is very narrow. How many holes do they have to drill into the side of our house and do they know that they are drilling right into the electric panel on the other side of a very thick wall? They did move to another place on the wall before there was any damage from the drill but there was an unexpected consequence of having the walkways just below the top of the windows and doorway.

Continue reading “What was that crashing sound? A new roof from Bill’s point of view.”

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”

Are you rich?

The rich countryside surrounding us

How long is a piece of string? How high is the sky? An equally impossible question to answer might be “Are you rich?” but a report came out a few months ago with a potential response for France. An organization called “L’Observatoire des Inégalités” that addresses inequality here and around the world says that you fall into the wealthy category if you make 3,470 € per month after taxes as an individual or 5,205 € per month as a couple. So where did these figures come from and how many people qualify? Continue reading “Are you rich?”

Everything old is new again

14th century bridge leading to Carcassonne

Songwriters Carole Bayer and Peter Allen released “Everything Old Is New Again” in 1974 that went on to be the showstopper when Hugh Jackman performed it 30 years later on Broadway as The Boy From Oz. According to the lyrics, “Don’t throw the past away, you might need it some rainy day.” That rainy day seems to have arrived in the form of Covid-19 in Carcassonne that is fighting the pandemic just like most of the rest of the world. And like everywhere else, this isn’t the first health crisis the area has faced; in fact, they’ve been occurring in Europe since at least the 2nd century with a similar response from the population. Social distancing and confinement to your home have been around for a long time. Continue reading “Everything old is new again”