French folklore says that church bells are silent on Good Friday because they’ve flown off to Rome to see the Pope. When they return on Easter morning they are filled with chocolates that they drop to all of the children eagerly waiting below. Public health travel restrictions this year canceled all of those flights so Plan B(unny) went into effect to ensure that we would all have our goodie-filled baskets today. Our young neighbor went door-to-door, socially distant of course, with an order form from one of the local artisanal chocolate makers who agreed to share the profits with the school system to support extracurricular activities.
The title for today’s post is an adaptation from an 1897 editorial by publisher Francis Church who was answering a question from 8-year-old Virginia about Santa Claus: “He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist…how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus.” For safety purposes, we may be temporarily staying home, but with that plateful of chocolates you see above, it’s definitely not dreary. Happy Easter!
We’ve seen those words “until further notice” or to be precise it’s been the French phrase jusqu’à nouvel ordre many times during the past two weeks as new measures have been announced in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The first affected us immediately since it was to close down all schools all across the country. That meant my weekly French classes were canceled as were the English classes where I volunteer that take place in the same building; therefore, in the spirit of Shakespeare, neither a student nor a teacher be. Accompanying that official decree were suggestions about keeping your distance from others, not shaking hands, avoiding gatherings of any kind, etc. but the concept of not being convivial seemed totally foreign. Read the rest of this entry
Our neighbor loves Italy and was delighted to know that we were going to be visiting one of her favorite destinations (in February, before the virus, thank you). She describes Milan, where we stopped over for 2 days in October 2018, as a city with some beautiful buildings and one especially well known artwork, da Vinci’s The Last Supper. On the other hand, she assured us that in Florence we would be treated to buildings that stand out as masterpieces themselves on every corner and sumptuous works of art on display inside each one of them. Wow, that was some recommendation and we did our best to plan out an itinerary that would prove her right. This seemed like a perfect winter vacation where we could spend hours inside art galleries and museums and hope that the chilly outdoor temperatures would encourage some of the 13 million tourists to come back at a warmer time of year. Read the rest of this entry
To live in France full-time for our initial year here, our first step was obtaining a visa from the French consulate in Miami. Once we arrived in Carcassonne we then had to make an appointment with the Immigration Office in Montpellier for a medical checkup that would qualify us to stay here legally for the duration of that one-year visa. Three months before that expired we visited our local Préfecture (think, Federal Building, in US terms) to arrange for a time to drop off copies of our financial statements, utility bills and a few other documents to prove that we actually lived here and had the resources to support ourselves. A one-year carte de séjour (residency card) has annually been the result. We’ve been repeating that process each winter since our arrival in February 2016 and you can read about that in our blog post Fort-unate that includes a link to the post from the prior year. This week we obtained our newest carte de séjour with only a few minor changes from the previous experiences. Read the rest of this entry
According to the refrain of singer Chaka Kahn’s 1997 number one dance single, Never Miss the Water, “you never miss the water ‘til it’s gone”. We would add the word “hot” to the song to make it especially relevant to us. We have a tankless water heater, truly not much bigger than that breadbox of days gone by, that gives us an endless supply of hot water to our sinks, shower, and radiators…except when it doesn’t. That was the situation recently when the 9-year-old circulation pump started making funny little noises that gradually grew into louder bangs each time we turned on a faucet or changed the setting on the thermostat. In the 4 years that we’ve lived in France we’ve never needed to call a repair person, thanks to Bill’s handyman savvy, but this was beyond even his skills. Time for an expert. Read the rest of this entry
Radio station Europe1 had on their website an article that was headlined, “The Three Most Attractive Cities in France.” Since Bill and I enjoy traveling, especially here in this country, I was anxious to read about some new destinations. The lead-in said that at the top of their list of 30 places were Besançon, Orléans and Saint-Étienne while Bordeaux was at position 20, Paris at 26, Nice at 28, and Nîmes at the very bottom. Interestingly, we have visited all of those cities that came in at the low end, some several times, and always found them inviting. In contrast, we only knew one of the top cities, Orléans, because we stayed overnight at a pet-friendly hotel when we moved here with our dog, Heather, and were driving from Paris to Carcassonne, but that doesn’t really count. What that headline meant, we thought, was lots of new discoveries to make…until we read the rest of that first paragraph. Read the rest of this entry
Our friend Larry tipped us off to an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal that addressed the topic of retiring abroad. The newspaper contacted about a dozen of their previous contributors who had written pieces about moving from the US and settling elsewhere in the world. Because most of those original articles were so optimistic about this big change in life the editors were especially interested to see if that initial enthusiasm continued years later ranging in time from 4 years to 14 years in residence. Some discussion suggestions were provided such as what’s changed since you’ve moved and what advice do you have for others considering living outside the country, but to get things rolling they asked everyone, “How did your decision to retire overseas turn out?” Read the rest of this entry