Blog Archives

Need anything?

Exercise mats become carpet pads

We have some very kind readers of this blog. About once a month we’ll get an email from someone who has been following our adventures saying that they will be staying in or at least passing through Carcassonne and could we get together. Because it’s in the heart of town, we generally meet them at the 18th century fountain in the main square and then settle into one of the many surrounding sidewalk cafés for an espresso or a glass of local wine. It’s very rewarding to chat with someone who has sought out the information that we try to provide for Americans considering a move to France. One question that always pops up in advance of one of these get-togethers is “Can we bring you anything?” with the follow-up question in person over that coffee or wine being “Do you miss anything from the US?” After two years of living in France we can now say without hesitation, “No”. Read the rest of this entry

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The games we play

Cable TV & Internet boxes

About a month before we left the US our Internet provider notified us that the price on our basic service was going to increase to $145 per month. This was the minimum bundle offered giving us high speed Internet access, 300 television channels, and 200 minutes of landline calls within the US. The first year that we lived in France we were in a house that included wi-fi and TV in the rent so that charge was not a concern. When we bought a house, however, Bill started investigating getting us hooked up to the outside world and we were both amazed. He found a package with the second largest provider in the country that gave us high speed Internet, 200 channels, and unlimited calls to most countries around the world, including the USA for a monthly fee of 17.99 euros. As the end of that 12-month contract approached, bringing with it a price increase, it was time to play that same game we were used to before: seeing if you can find a cheaper price. Read the rest of this entry

It’s Linky, it’s Linky ♫♬♫

Our Linky communicating electric meter

When I was growing up, a favorite toy was Slinky®—a long metal spring that could walk down stairs or slither from one hand to the other. The company also made a version in the shape of a dog and of a train that you could pull along the floor, always with the rear half hesitating and then suddenly springing forward to meet the front. Perhaps you remember the television commercial jingle that included “It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, it’s fun for a girl or a boy”. Fast forward 60 years to another place and time where we received a similarly named product but with a totally different, but fun (?), function: the Linky communicating electric meter. Read the rest of this entry

How much is that house in the window?

Real estate agency window listings

Long before we moved to France, we visited here annually. We generally stayed in one location for 2 weeks, typically renting a fully furnished house or apartment so that we could pretend that we actually lived in that city, town or village. Fruits and vegetables from the weekly open-air market; fresh bread from the bakery around the corner; fish just off the boat right next to the harbor; frequent walks around town saying “bonjour” to shopkeepers or even local residents we had seen before. A favorite activity on at least one of those strolls through the city was to stop at the real estate agencies and look at the listings in their windows and then dream about owning a home there. That practice came in very handy when we finally moved to Carcassonne and lived in a holiday home for the first year while we were deciding what to do. We knew after less than 2 months here that this would definitely become our new hometown. Read the rest of this entry

Not too taxing

Copper street lights at the train station

Now that we’ve been homeowners for more than a full calendar year, it’s time to talk about paying the taxes. We’ve never been ones to shy away from “render(ing) unto Caesar” since we understand the importance of sharing the cost of maintaining a civilized society. For example, when we take the city bus or a regional train instead of using a car, we might be helping the environment but at a fare of only 1 euro/dollar per trip, a lot of people are chipping in to make that possible. So where does this money come from and how do we pay our portion? Read the rest of this entry

Cat on a hot tile roof

This is not a prison wall

Well, most of that title is correct. There was a cat. We have a tile roof. The cat was on the tile roof. It was however, at 3:00 AM, so it probably wasn’t very hot and he wasn’t up there the whole time. How do we know that? There is a motion detector in our courtyard that turns on a light if it detects any thing/one. Since our bedroom is upstairs well out of sight of being overlooked by any neighbors we don’t have any window treatments. That means when the summer sun comes up at 6 o’clock there’s no sleeping late. It also means that when the pitch black is interrupted in the middle of the night with a very bright spot light, we are suddenly awake, even from a deep sleep. Read the rest of this entry

Just say “no” to pot(s)

Miniature olive trees in pots

With the Mediterranean Sea only about a 30-minute train ride away, I guess that puts us into the climate with the same name. There’s a diet that goes with that too, featuring fresh foods we find in abundance grown around us such as fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish, and red wine, but that’s for another blog post. What made me think about today’s topic was when we walked by a display of dwarf olive trees just begging to be taken home with the promise that they would never outgrow their pot. As promising as that sounds, it was going to be a problem for us. Read the rest of this entry

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