It is that lace thing again, every now and then I must show it. The funny thing about this lace attraction of mine is- I do not use it. I do not sew it on my sheets, or pillow cases. I don't create with lace or attach it to my clothing. Nor do I doll-up a doll with lace. Nope, none of it. So why am I attracted to it?
It never fails, I spot it at each and every flea market. I tell myself, "Walk on by...keep going...don't stop..." But it is pointless, the directives I give to myself are not followed. How many times do I find myself stooped over a box, digging through lace, ribbons and linens? It is an obsession.
Obsession yes... but not to this point. This Chick-a-Dee likes her lace.
I was happy with my lace obsession when I found this full lace, 1880 baptismal gown and cape for my baby nephew's baptism. Happy because he looks like a doll baby in it, and because I had seen enough lace to pick out the old stuff verses the newer stuff.
Lace has such a feminine, bohemian, sweet summer feel to it. Lace invites the desire to touch, to feel... I guess that is why it adorns undergarments... it is sensual. Sweet sexy? How silly of me not to have some antique lacy undergarments to show you.... or do I?
Antique lacy nightgowns, but not very sexy. I gotta do better than this.... let me look in my files.
I knew I could find a photo of lacy undergarments. Sorry, they are not antique. Can you image paying 37 euro for a string? French Husband I bet would rather I spent 37 euro on a string instead of old lace that sits in a box under my bed.
Boy, how did I go from talking about my obsession with lace, to talking about what French Husband thinks? My mind is like that... it wanders. Okay, I gotta get back on track.... French antique lace and why I collect it and don't use it.
Maybe tonight.... I'll fore-go my oversized nightgown that looks like a parachute and dream up
something with lace.
I gotta stop now 'cause my obsession with lace seems like a hidden desire (!) I always knew my blog was my therapist... but hey Corey there are others sitting around this couch listening!
Therapy in Lace.
After months of living in a cute cracker-box studio in Paris, French husband and I found a large, bourgeois-style apartment by the Bastille. Since the rent was tres cher (very expensive, and we didn't want to give up eating,) we rented out one of our rooms toEllen, who was an American.
Having room-mates in Paris was a rare concept at that time. Can you imagine the eyebrows of the Parisians when they heard we were newlyweds with a room-mate? We were considered the oddest thing since Napoleon tucked his hand under his vest.
Plus, we liked peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, and didn't smoke.
A couple of years later our paths separated. French husband and I moved to the south of France, and Ellen rode her bicycle solo across India. She was a wild woman.
During the beginning of her amazing journey through India I found out I had cancer. I didn't have the heart to tell her, knowing that if I did she would ride her bicycle straight to my doorstep. My letters to her (via the American Express office) stopped.
After a year in India, Ellen flew into Paris on her return flight back to the USA. She was going home. In Paris she met up with mutual friends of ours. She mentioned to them that she hadn't heard from me. They told her why. Without a moment of hesitation, she canceled her flight to the USA, and flew to the south of France.
When I opened my door, I didn't see Ellen, I saw an angel.
Ellen and her husband, who live in North Carolina will visit us next week. I am already emotional about our reunion. A friend like Ellen is someone who is the fabric of my being and someone who just thinking about makes me cry with utter thanksgiving. I cannot wait to hug you Ellen.
It feels like old times (except we haven't seen each other in several years and have new roommates called, children....)
Friendship doesn't change at the roots, it blooms and flowers wherever it is planted and includes you in its landscape.
Their romance was that of a young girl's dream- love letters, candle light, tenderness and many midnight star gazing. Swooning under the moonlight, she tied their dreams, side by side amongst the stars.
Their heads had been in the clouds, and her heart in his hand, but their feet were well planted. They knew that love had more to do with letting go, then moments like this of holding on.
...and as the moon passed around the world a thousand times, and the days came tumbling one after another, attempting to tarnish their glow. That was when she took his hand and lead him under the midnight sky. She put his hand next to her breast, untied the ribbons from the stars, believing that they would become roots.
When my ancestors traveled from Portugal to the Azores Islands during the thirteen century, I was with them. I was under their skin, living within their cells, intertwined within their spirit. Their sense of wonder and awe beats steady within my heart.
When my Grandmother was a young girl she lived in the Azores when she stepped outside her front door she saw the ocean. The ocean she would set sail on to go to America at the age of fourteen. I saw the horizon through her eyes, the sense of adventure trickles down to my toes.
When my Dad rode his motorcycle roaring through the countryside, it is his laugh that echoes enormously in my soul.
And when my Mother jitter-bugged with her sisters on the dance floor I felt the beat from their rhythm, moving me to kick up my heel and twirl in the light of the moon.
We are connected past, present, and future.
Where do you come from?
Photo: A vintage calendar that hangs in my Godmother's house.
Going to our friends Denise (W.R., Panty Lady...) and Vlad's house, I have come to find out means that I must not eat for twenty four hours before I arrive, so when Denise serves lunch I have plenty of room to indulge in the feast she sets before me. This afternoon Denise treated us with freshly picked homemade confit figs with chocolate balsamic vinegar on goat cheese with fresh thyme and Kir royal.
That was lunch enough, but not for Denise who does lunch like most people do a wedding. I am the luckiest girl to have a friend who LOVES to cook, and does so like any starred chef.
It is a good thing I wear baggy dresses and elastic pants.
A Healing Bowl is what Denise called lunch:
Brown rice, turmeric sweet potatoes, lightly dressed arugula, a poached egg, roasted pistachios, and lemon herb dressing.
I called it a flashback to vegetarianism the 70's in California... There I was long brown hair, braless, unshaven legs, wearing cotton shoes that worn out in a week, no make up, praising Jesus and eating tofu, brown rice and Jerusalem artichokes.
But here I am in France with dyed blonde hair, a bra, no hair on my legs (a long time gift from chemo), wearing make-up, leather shoes, praising love in all religions dining on a healing bowl with a glass of rose.
Life is one helluva good ride.
Two hunks and a bestie.
Please take not that French Husband has a cork screw in his hand ...
Under my breath I am saying, "What are you doing?" as I feel him pinching me or something...
And tickle he did...
They look nice those guys, but one of them is poking my ribs and it tickled in an ouch sort of way.
A glorious twilight sky lead us back home.
Do you see the rays? It was incredible...
The entire day.
Our table last night in our courtyard.
Friends from blogging, I have met at least three hundred blogger friends, most at our home. Peggy and her husband are staying in the Tiny House, and like Gail, Jan, Sara... they love it. What is not to love about off the beaten path, in Provence, where dreams can spread there wings and fly?
Peggy and her husband came for drink last night, they told us how wonderful it was to be submerged in France where you senses are indulged, where even if you do not speak French you are cared for, and where there are a million trails at your fingers tips to walk off the calories that come with amazing cheese and wine.
Peggy, who goes by Coco is a cook and writes a lovely blog where there are recipes galore.
Sitting outside around nine in the evening, cool breeze, the end of summer, perfection.
We shared stories, personal, tender, antidotes of life, and what it is like to be in France living amongst history, another language and culture.
The house next door, the one we bought recently is nearly completed, I imagine by next week it should be ready to go. I will miss the creative adventure, yet very excited to get back to Cassis to wrap up the renovations over there. I wish I could do this for a living, I truly love it! If you or anyone you know is looking for a house in Provence and need someone to come in and do it up... let me know.
Guess what, the house on the other side of us is for sale. It is 2000 + square feet, has a small garden, on three floors, has a vaulted stone basement, needs complete renovations, would be a perfect B & B, has four bedrooms and three baths... and it is under market value.
On another note, Peggy went to a nearby market, and the vendor shared a recipe using melon. As Peggy told me about it I did a mental grocery check of my fridge, I had all the ingredients. I tried it tonight for Philippe and Patrice, who both love to cook, WOWOWOWOW was it delicious!
Melon with Avocado
Take a melon and cube it in big chucks
Crumbled Feta cheese,
(I added a table spoon of finely sliced green onion)
Chopped fresh mint,
You won't regret it.
You won't want to share it either.
Do you have a summer treat to share?
French Husband has two rules for anyone staying with us in our home.
The first rule: You are not allowed to care anything heavy, especially your suitcase, up the stairs.
The second rule: Which I do not agree to but have to uphold for his sake, is that you are not allowed to do the dishes. No washing or drying, or putting away...
And to think when we were first married French Husband did not want me to wash clothes, or do the dishes and I fought him, until he gave in...one of the stupidest mistakes ever on my part. I still slap my forehand with the palm of my hand, "What was I thinking."
Anyway if you come over those two rules are two you must know and heed to.
Though 98% percent of the time I am the one doing the dishes, and I LOVE help. But when you are a couple there are some ding dong rules you gotta follow to keep your other half happy... in other words, "Pick you battles." Dishes and carrying heavy stuff, is a war zone I would rather not enter.
Christine, a friend I met through blogging and who lives next to my hometown in the States came to visit with her husband Preston for a few days. Christine has been to our home before so she knows French Husband's rules, and even chuckled as I repeated them to her husband
Before Christine left she gave Yann some gifts:
Some dish towels that read: Yann's dishtowel
I thought that was very clever. Also she gave him a dishwasher's apron and in the pockets with sponges and scrub brushes, tools of the dishwasher's trade.
The dishwasher's apron has three pockets in front.
In the middle pocket Christine had added sponges
the type that are compacted and enlarge when water is added.
And a scrub brush that Yann pretended to use as a barber's scrub brush.
This is a photo of French Husband asking Christine if the pop up sponge in the middle pocket signified anything. Then he started to imitate the sponge popping up, hum... you know where... in the middle pocket and over exaggerating the pop up of that sponge.
Christine knows French Husband's humor and yet even she was caught off guard.
As French Husband reads the label,
"Just add water and POOF the sponge expands."
He was on a roll with teasing over his gifts.
Thank you Christine for the practical funny gifts and for your enchanting friendship.
When Sacha asked, "Mom what is the most valuable thing in our house?" I thought it a strange question and told him so. He gave me that sideways look as one does when one is being sneaky and teasing at once, "Because if you and dad die before Chelsea or me, I want to pick the good stuff, to resale it you know. I want to be one up on Chelsea." Then he laughed at his own clever thinking.
Later I asked Chelsea, if she knew what the most valuable thing was in our house. She looked at me oddly, "No. Why?" So I gave her that sideways look that Sacha had given me adding, "Because Sacha knows. And he doesn't even have a masters in business. He is calculating what to scoop on to resale if Daddy and I die before the two of you."
Chelsea laughed, then mumbled, "Ding dong brother," then asked, "... and what should I scoop up first?"
Well considering most the stuff is our house is either:
ON ITS LAST LEG
and only valuable to one person's eyes namely mine.
I told Chelsea what I told Sacha earlier, "Take the orange armoire 'cause it has chocolate inside."
Both of them shook their heads, and had the same response, "Mom."
Yet I could tell they were going to go for the chocolate the moment I left the room.
The way I find happiness?
Taking time to be with another.
Listening not only to words, but what is inside of someone's
hearts (feelings), hands (what they are carrying) and their movements (what are they doing).
Trying to be a compassionate listener.
Cultivating that which I love.
Planting it deep within my being.
Watering it faithfully with my time and energy.
Remembering to share what I have been given abundantly.
Believing in those who love.
Believing that I am loved.
Believe it when the sun is shining and especially when the sky is dark.
Something I say and need to learn:
Stand strong in your beautiful self,
and when you cannot, ask someone for their hand,
Then hold on and trust.-
Trust that the gift you have been given is good,
even if it sometimes feels as worthy as a sack of potatoes.
And to laugh as much as I can.
Humor is a good medicine.
What are your ways to happiness?
Family, friends, health, chocolate and wine are a given...
Before Chelsea left to go back to her job in Paris, we went shopping. Do you know what it is like to go shopping with someone who no matter what they put on it looks like a million bucks? Well I do, and gee it is pretty darn easy to go shopping with that as the only criteria.
Those legs. Makes me want to take up running. Though my legs would never be so long.
I told Chelsea, "If I had your legs I would never wear pants again."
After two dresses to take home we walked along the
It was slightly windy today... or as they say in Provence, "Oh la la quel Mistral!"
Via Chelsea's snap
My phone battery ended so I could not take a photo of the unbelievable collection of boats gathered:
Big boats, little boats, row boats, the incredible The Sea Sheperd, tug boats, fishing boats, sail boats, boats that I wondered how they even got there and how were they ever going to make it back, canoes, water jets, Kayaks, beautiful boats, motor boats...
"Belem was originally a cargo ship, transporting sugar from theWest Indies, cocoa, and coffee from Brazil and French Guiana to Nantes, France. By chance Belem escaped the eruption of the Mount Pelée in Saint-Pierre de la Martiniqueon 8 May 1902. All Saint Pierre roads were full of vessels, no place to anchor the ship. Captain Julien Chauvelon angrily decided to anchor some miles further on in a beach - sheltered from the exploding volcano.
In 1922 Belem became the property of the beer baron Sir Arthur Ernest Guinness, who renamed it the Fantôme II (French spelling) and revised the rig from a square rigger. Hon. A.E. Guinness was Rear Commodore of the Royal St. George Yacht Club, in Kingstown, Ireland from 1921-1939. He was Vice Commodore from 1940–48. Hon. A.E. Guinness took the Fântome II on a great cruise in 1923 with his daughters Aileen, Maureen, and Oonagh. They sailed the seven seas in making a travel round the world via the Panama and Suez Canals including a visit to Spitsbergen. During its approach to Yokohama harbour while sailing the Pacific Ocean the barque managed to escape another catastrophe - an earthquake which destroyed the harbour and parts of Yokohama city. Hon. Arthur E. Guinness died in 1949. The 'Fantome' was moored in the roads of Cowes, Isle of Wight.
In 1951 "Belem" was sold to the Venezian count Vittorio Cini, who named it the Giorgio Cini after his son, who had died in a plane crash near Cannes on 31 August 1949 . It was rigged to a barkentine and used as a sail training ship until 1965, when it was considered too old for further use and was moored at the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice.
In 1972 the Italian carabinieri attempted to restore her to the original barque rig. When this proved too expensive, it became the property of the shipyard. In 1976 the ship was re-rigged to a barque.
Finally, in January 1979, it came back to its original home port as the Belem under tow by a French seagoing tug, flying the French flag after 65 years. Fully restored to its original condition, Belem began a new career as a sail training ship." via wiki
Chelsea and Sacha came home this eve to celebrate French Husband's birthday tomorrow. Though we started celebrating the moment we picked them up from the train.
Golden light reflection along the coastline in L'Estaque (way off the beaten path).
Watching the sun go down creating a landscape of pale blue and white ribbons with cotton candy stripes lining the sky.
Tomorrow birthday candles.
Soon to be the Birthday Boy.
(P.S. I have been adding videos to my Facebook account, I hope you enjoy them.)
next door to Cassis and nearby to us.
At times I have to pinch myself living here feels like a dream.
Earlier this morning on my way to the grocery store, a neighbor stopped me to say that a Franco- American family had been in town visiting their uncle. I asked where the said family lived in the States, and he replied California, Sacramento. I told him my family lived nearby Sacramento, and the conversation went hyperbolt.
He asked if I missed California. I told him after twenty nine years it was hard to know, but that I missed my family that I was certain. "Oh you are like my friend's family, his son has lived over twenty years in the States and he too feels like both places are home."
I nodded. Then he added,
"After living anywhere for twenty nine years home becomes where you are. You might as well say you are French."
I laughed, "Yes with an accent."
"Where we love is home
Home that our feet may leave
But not our hearts."
Olivier Wendall Holmes.
and yet if he had said the same thing to me twenty nine years ago I would have never agreed.
Where do you call home?
The house next door is nearly completed. Rene is not sitting in the corner other than to put in the electrical plugs. The layers of chaux (lime) paint Rene (the contractor, artisan, clever one man show...) was stripping layers of wallpaper and eventually came to layers of paint. I love the effect so I had him keep two walls intact creating a Monet like painting.
The massive 1800s French doors I found. I will give you one guess where I found them
Yes at the:
B R O C A N T E
The doors led in to the bathroom where the giant copper tub is residing.
Straight across from the Monet Wall is the kitchen, I am standing in the space before the doors.
The bottom floor has a large open space kitchen living room and a bath room. Upstairs is a very large bedroom. Altogether it is 700 square feet.
We are renting it out for week or longer stays to friends and family. Our steady flow of guests will have their own space to hang out.
Decorating is around the corner and I cannot wait to unload the things accumulating in our house.
The early 1900s oil painting (also a brocante find) depicts the landscape of the region. It looks tiny compared to the boxes of tools though it is nearly four feet wide.
At the first brocante I ever went to years ago I found a postcard of a woman impeccably dressed carrying eggs in a basket, water from the fountain in a zinc watering can, and carrying vegetables in her white crisp apron. The framed postcard is one of the first things I ever bought at the Brocante. It is worth nothing, but it spoke sweetly to me pointing in a good direction.
"Land for sale in the heart of Paris, where the Eiffel Tower will be built..."
That was what the article said in the massive 1854 book full of newspaper articles, some of them written by Balzac. French Husband found it on a friend's stand.
Land for sale in the heart of Paris, unheard of now, but back in 1854 you could buy a lot for 19,000 French Francs which today is roughly $3,800.
What would you do if you could go back in time?
The language of color do you know how to speak it? Those facades! How that must have been a conversation: What color should we paint our house? And the shutters?
Language of color:
Outside the lines.
Pretty in pink.
Stone house. Stone steps
Door not as old, though nevertheless older than anyone hanging around.
Painted Pop Splash Blue as the Sea.
Would you be as daring?
I doubt I would, but gee it was like a movie star on that street; Talk about an attention grabber.
Did you know that church bell towers in Provence are covered with an elaborate forged iron dome? The Var region has the most forged iron domes.
A handful of photos from the charming village of Lorgues.
Far away from the beaten path, nearly out of town, a plain wooden door with a century old lock that looked like it hadn't been used in a very long time.
Cinderella and the glass slipper.
I liked it best.
Over twenty years we have known one another, and yet at times I feel I don't know him at all. He will say something, or do something that I have never heard or seen him do before. As if he turned over a stone and a sprout shoots up.
I see a moist fertile ground underneath,
aching for a seed and
one is planted with a whisper,
"I never knew that before..."
Have you ever felt the air change, though there isn't a breeze.
Something new takes root.
Relationships are like a garden. We hold seeds waiting for the right season to plant them. Waiting can be hard, but if we plant them too soon they might not take root... When the sun warms and the rain softens the ground, a seed drops, we gently cover it wondering if can take the entirety of our soul and grow...
Waiting carefully not to pull at it, or stomp out the little green things that might appear, believing in it we water it, shelter it, give it room to grow without weeding it to death.
...With a gentle hand.
Tender and true through the seasons it becomes, changes colors, grows anew, endures pruning and stagnation, blooms...
She sees for the first time.
As he went on with his day I thought to myself isn't life incredible, challenging, fearless... It is easy to become caught up in the day forgetting to see the tender new growth, the underline hope, the smell of rain, the sun warming our back, more so it is easy not to notice the person right in front of us... the inner song of their soul, their spirit, the beating of their heart, the source that passes between us.
My friends Denise and Vlad are back in France!
For the last forty eight hours I have been utterly spoiled
by their loving attention, catering and swimming in their paradise.
Soaking it up with thanksgiving!
What made your heart swell today?
A long time blog reader, Faith and her friend Lisa came over for lunch yesterday afternoon. Faith lives in France, works with W.H.O. and also is an artist.
The summer day was hot, and nearly too uncomfortable to sit outdoors, fortunately that did not stop us from enjoying the moment.
Faith brought over blanched almonds with rosemary and rose wine. The rest of the menu came from the town's village gardener: Melon, salad, zucchini, tomatoes...
Ruth and I bought an entire collection of antique fabric from a textile artist who recently retired, hence the old matelas (mattress cover) textile now is a tablecloth. We will be selling the pieces as soon as we stop admiring them.
Through FB I found out that Faith was celebrating her birthday. Since I am not known for making desserts I went to our local bakery, lucky me that the bakery is literally around the corner or 105 steps away... Yes I am haunted by the aroma of baked goods and baguettes everyday.
Raspberry, macaroon, chocolate, tartlettes...
In Provence it is a tradition to take one of the lit birthday candles and let it burn down, instead of blowing it out. As the candle burns down it is a way to remember the pass year, to say goodbye to it as you welcome in the new year ahead.
What do you wish for?
Faith at lunch
enjoying life at hand.
French Husband came home with a twinkle in his eye, handing me a note that had the name and phone number of someone I didn't know.
"A certain Monsieur wants you to decorate his home on the French Rivera, and possibly other properties he owns! He wants you to call him today." Saying this his face beamed brighter than the moon on the Mediterranean! He added, "At a meeting today I told him about you, and he was intrigued and told me to have you call him."
French Husband is my biggest fan. He believes I could redecorate Versailles. He believes my fingers are golden. He thinks way too much of how I can fold fitted bedsheets and put the linens away.
I looked over at him and then back at note. I licked my lips wondering what this was about.
"Call him now!" French Husband said as he nearly shoves the phone down my throat with excitement.
Words stumble through my head in French, my heart beats faster, my fingers wiggled, I awkwardly smiled at the plunge I was about to take.
Dialing the number a woman's voice greeted me. Introducing myself my American accent gave more than I wanted it too. Silence lingered... I swallowed doubt, a thought raced through my head, "HANG UP!!" I stayed on the line chasing nonsense out of my desire. Finally after ages of silence that occurred in a split second, that only mathematicians can explain, the woman barked at me,"WHAT!!! What, what??? Who are you??? What has my Husband done??? WHAT??? NO! Oh no no no no!! Certainly not!"
I wanted to say I am not his mistress. Somehow that is what I think she thought.
Folding fitted sheets and putting the linens away is a simple art. One man's admiration is enough. I wonder what I said? I wonder if even mentioned it to his wife? I wonder what she found in her laundry?
To this day I do not know the real story. But this much is true. The guy was probably being nice, and over admiring Husband took the guy's words for real. Either way it made a good story.
Spent a lovely day antiquing with my friend Gina.
Who end up buying more than she could possible carry home.
I offered to keep it for her until she returned, but she knew that
was risky business. Not really. I offered to carry her bags back to
our native California.
We packed boxes this afternoon on
my kitchen table. Honey, jam, soaps, wooden bowls, copper platters,
We went strolling in villages, peeking into whatever caught our eye.
The weather is changing, but it doesn't matter, anytime is a good time
to be in France.... no matter what.
Do you know what these are?
I bet you do.
Cherry tomato provencal salsa is what I call it.
Simply diving on anything: Bread, fish, rice, vegetables...
or on a spoon will do.
Gina I will miss you.
Instead of buying antiques today I bought two very modern paintings by a man in his late eighties.
The first painting is nearly as tall as me, but wider than me...whew.
I never thought about yellow as one of the colors for the house in Cassis. But as you can see I took a giant leap in the direction of unexpected and colorful. And it feels scary and good all at the same time.
I also bought the painting below.
The Inky blue black wall is look closer to reality.
You know the saying, "Do something that scares you everyday?"
Well I took a step to doing something I have never done before,
Oh la la.
It is going to be a fun challenge in the scheme of scary things.
Thankfully I had a blog reader (Gina) with me, and she coached me through it.
A new baby is born, lol.
The French book I found at the brocante was titled, "I Shall Read". The images are just too dang cute. When I found it I thought what darling wallpaper it would make. I have a thing about using old paper as wall paper. The second thing I thought... was a flood of memories when Chelsea and Sacha were mere wee ones. They grew up bi-lingual.
When Chelsea went to first grade, I thought how was I going to help her learn her spelling words, or listen to her read since I could not read or write French myself? Imagine your child reading a language you barely understand.
It was an education in humbleness.
"Mommy, are you trying to say "jAune" with an A, or "jEune" with an E?
"I am saying the one with an A."
"Oh okay, the one with an "A" is J-A-U-N-E, that means yellow, the other one sounds similar but it means people."
"Oh thanks, I knew that, but I pronounced it badly."
"That's okay mommy, you are a good learner, like me!"
And so I started to learn how to read a French first grader's book when I was 38 years old with the best teacher in my five year old daughter.
Living in a foreign country without speaking the language was a challenge. The simplest things became mountains to climb. How to ask for something without words, or how to ask for something with only the few words I had in my pocket.
Pointing was a good tool.
Smiling was a good tool.
Not feeling stupid took courage and grace.
And using my children to do my bidding help.
How does it feel to be a child growing up with a parent who doesn't speak their other mother tongue?
I cried watching it.
back in 1996-
Sacha and I were at the hairdresser's. I was looking at a magazine. Sacha was checking out his surroundings. The women waiting, were admiring Sacha's curls and his perfect English vocabulary.
"Mommy, do you know how to say, "haircut" in French?" Sacha had something up his sleeve, I could tell by the twinkle of mischief in his eye.
"Oh no, I don't. What am I going to do when it is my turn?" I lied.
"Do you want me to tell you how to say, haircut in French?"
"Please, Sacha you are so helpful." I couldn't wait to hear his reply.
He leaned in closely, whispered in my ear, "Just say, rouge!"
"Rouge", means "Red" in French. Rouge, which at the time was the "in" color to dye ones hair and Sacha's favorite color.
Do you speak French?
If so you know the three words written below:
When I met Yann he did not speak English, and I did not speak French.
Yes, it was tad hard to communicate. You might say it was the language of love. Which it was with a lot of sign language.
After one year of living in the States, Yann was speaking English.
We moved to France.
I thought that when we arrived in France, Yann would speak to me in French.
We kept on speaking English.
I gathered French words here and there.
At the grocery store, at the post office, at a dinner party...
The first words I learned were basic:
Merci = Thank you.
Bonjour = Hello.
Combien = How much?
Oui = Yes.
Sortie = Exit.
Rue = Street.
Enchanté... Which I heard people say to me when they first met me. "Nice to meet you."
Learning French was not easy. It was frustrating. I was frustrated. Twenty five years ago when I would ask a French storekeeper, or someone on the street, "Parlez-vous Anglais?" They gave me a frustrating, "Non." Smiling was not in their vocabulary.
Yann kept speaking English to me. His English improved and my French, well, did not.
A few years later we had some babies.
I wanted them to speak English, to be bi lingual.
If you have ever lived in a bi lingual household you know the gift and the grit of daily conversation. Yann spoke French to the children, as did the rest of the land. I spoke English to them. I soon learned that if my children were to be completely bi lingual I was going to have to talk, and talk alot. Otherwise their vocabulary was going to be limited to: Get yours shoes. Come and eat. Button your coat. Sit still. Go to sleep. Yes, no, please..."
I read books. Many of them. Suitcases full of books.
Chelsea and Sacha are utterly bi lingual. Flawlessly. No accents. It is my pride and joyous accomplishment. During that time my French took a back seat.
I could go on and on, story after story, day after day, gift and grit of learning French while, teaching English to two little people.
But I will save that for another day.
I speak French. With the heaviest of accents,
but understandable nevertheless.
Though the real challenge isn't the speaking part, it is the feeling that I am not me. I feel like I am a different person...
French lessons. I should have taken a few of those before I came to France. Unfortunately, I learned to speak French on the streets. The words you can pick up on the street can be very.... um.... flavorful to say the least. Mostly, I learned how to speak French at the brocante. Later it improved when I was ill... being ill in a foreign country can encourage one to learn the language quickly.
Though my French has taken me a few years to grasp, my accent has remained strong and steady. It is something that just sticks around.
Kind of like an old coat, loved-worn and true.