February 4, 2010
As much as I am enjoying this amazing life experience, I occasionally succumb to little bouts of anxiety (that usually revolve around the financing of this “in lieu of ‘kitchen remodel’ as I like to call it). In fact, I am probably the poster child to be prescribed Xanax, but I am not going to go there as I am sure I will work this all out eventually and naturally (well, okay, once in a while a nice glass of Bordeaux does ease the symptoms). Anyway, I feel silly even writing about it again because I’m sure you must be thinking, “geez, get over it and just enjoy yourself.” Thankfully, that is exactly what Hank and Caleigh are doing, and it is actually beginning to rub off on me finally. But at times, I do worry about how this whole thing will actually pan out and exactly how long this adventure should be. For instance, last week, we were struggling with a few semi-emergencies at the house and tenants back home that prevented us from committing to the later part of our stay (April – June) and we ended up losing two of the available cottages we had recently visited. Maybe it was a sign that we should return home? Luckily, I wasn’t really crushed over losing either of them. But, the situation did bring to light the need to either commit to something (before all the spring and summer rentals are scooped up) or plan our return home in March or April. Well, things seemed to sort themselves out at our house and since we really wanted Caleigh to finish the school year here, we decided to continue our search for the perfect place this week. Hank had called a realtor in Duras (in the village that Caleigh goes to school) regarding a property he had seen online so we decided to pop in before we visited the Chateaux in the same village that afternoon. The British woman and her daughter could not have been nicer and scheduled a visit for us to see a cottage outside of town, but also mentioned that they had a 3-bedroom flat just above their office that had been completely renovated and would we like to see it? Why, yes we would, thank you. It was so weird, because the place was not even finished and they had never rented it out before, but the timing was perfect and it actually felt meant-to-be. So they proceeded to show us this incredible flat with views of the little medieval town square on one end and the Gironde countryside on the other. All beautifully decorated and every bedroom with an en suite bath/shower/toilet. It was gorgeous and about $1500 less than any other place we had seen so we went back today and secured it…so for all of you would-be visitors this Spring, call now and reserve your week(s)!
Caleigh and I also went to French class yesterday with Colette. It was Caleigh’s first lesson and I think it went fairly well - as much as a 13-year-old’s interest in learning a different language with an 81-year old woman could go, that is. Colette even recalled being 13 quite vividly because she began the class (if you could actually call it that), by telling Caleigh that she thought that her parents did not know anything, especially about “jazz.” But is difficult for
anyone not to be intrigued by Colette no matter your age, and I think Caleigh was kind of curious to see where this was going to go. She told us that had been a teacher in Paris teaching language and literature, written numerous articles and I believe a book or two. In fact, she is currently writing an interpretation of the Old Testament from a woman’s point of view in short hand. She comes from royal ancestry and Hank and I get the impression that she and her family were not happy with the outcome of the French Revolution (she has a family chateau in Severac that was confiscated and now belongs to the public). In the hour or two that we were there, she reviewed Caleigh’s school assignments, conversed with us in French and patiently corrected our grammar and pronunciation. Caleigh was able to hook up Colette’s DVD player, which delighted her as she has had a stack of movies she has been waiting to watch; many of which she would like to loan us as they are in historical in nature and in French of course. When we were finished, I asked if there was anything that she needed from the store (as our agreed upon arrangement) and she mentioned that her helper the day before had forgotten two items and would I mind picking up a lapin (rabbit) and some champignons (mushrooms). No problem, I said and Caleigh and I went to the local Casino market up the street. I went to the butcherie section and only saw one very long and kind of grotesque looking rabbit (with the head of course) that looked enormous for only one elderly woman and her cat, Lord Nelson. So, I asked the butcher if he had a smaller rabbit and he said he did and it was just around the corner on the left…This sounds simple enough, I know, BUT, all of this was said in French! He didn’t even try to respond in English. I didn’t pause, look dumbfounded or glance at Caleigh for help when he asked if he could assist me. I actually felt comfortable and just communicated. Wow, two years of instruction, countless hours listening to cd’s during my daily commute, not-to-mention, homemade flashcards, and I finally got it while asking for a rabbit. So, we drove back to Colette’s, dropped off the items and as she thanked us for them, she added almost solemnly that teaching again was giving her purpose and improving her life. If she only knew how she was improving ours.
So, tonight is volleyball with Isabelle and Thiery & their friends with only French spoken. It should be fun. It’s pretty casual and almost anything goes, including using one’s feet and head although we do actually, bump, set & hit some of the time. Will report back soon. Would also love to hear how you are all doing.