Saturday, March 23, 2013

As smart as a pickle

Add to Google Reader or HomepageFood and cuisine hold prominent places in French culture. As one might expect, food is the topic of many French idioms.

« Occupe-toi de tes oignons » or “Mind your own onions” is the French way of saying “Mind your own business”. One of the kids at the crèche was more interested in the puzzle that another child was working on so the teacher said: “Occupe-toi de tes oignons” and finish your own puzzle. The teacher was stereotypically French: « maigre comme un haricot, mince comme une asperge » (skinny as a string bean, an asparagus).

Our friend was taking his French friend to the store and driving slowly as they talked. The French passenger said: « Appuyez sur le champignon et allez plus vite ! » (push on the mushroom and go faster !) or “Step on the gas!”

We were at an apéro and our hostess was talking about her son-in-law and some of the stupid things he did and she referred to him as a « cornichon » (literally a pickle, figuratively a nitwit). The week following, I arrived at the crèche to see all of the children and teachers dressed up in costumes representing fruits or vegetables. I told one teacher that I did not have a costume and she smiled and said: “Then you can be the 
« cornichon ».” I decided that « le ver est dans le fruit » (the worm is in the fruit), i.e., it is too late to do anything about it. This is the truth. I am not about to « raconter des salades » (tell salads - stories).

My hair is « sel et poivre » (salt and pepper – the same as in English) though much more sel than poivre these days…

And don’t forget: « le poisson d’avril » (April fish – April Fool’s Day) will soon be here. Watch out for children who stick a paper fish on your back and then run away shouting “poisson d’avril.”

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Add to Google Reader or HomepageWe have been taking care of a dog for the past three weeks. The owners (our friends) needed to go to Amsterdam for business and asked us if we would like to care for their “berger” (mostly German shepherd). Ellen jumped at the chance.

We have enjoyed having her here. She is well-behaved (mostly) and very quiet - except for loving to chase cats when I walk her. And Vaison has a lot of feral cats!

Since I always enjoyed the routine of walking our dogs, taking this berger out three/four times a day has been enjoyable. Walking her at night around 10:00, I realize how small our village is in winter. It is quiet and there is rarely anyone on the streets – except other dog-walkers and feral cats. This village is truly a “roll up the sidewalks” kind of town in winter. I know that the population will double in summer but in March it is VERY quiet at night.

A downside of the dog-walking routine is bad weather. In the past three weeks, there was one heavy rain day (pleuvoir comme une vache qui pisse) but when the north of France got all of the snow earlier this week, we got the Mistral and its 120 k/h COLD winds.

She adapted well to our little apartment and made herself quite “at home”. In a place this small, one might think that supervision would not be a problem but she managed to clean Ellen’s plate one evening when I was out and Ellen went to wash her hands before eating. Like the deerhounds we used to have, she loves butter and emptied the butter dish that was on the kitchen counter – twice! (we should have remembered that behavior!) 

The owners were supposed to return to pick her up last Sunday but their car broke down (requiring a rebuilt engine that had to be shipped from Spain) and once it was repaired and ready to go, the snow storm closed the roads. They managed to arrive here late yesterday afternoon.

Now that Anna has returned to her owners, our little apartment seems larger – but empty.