Sunday, August 2, 2015

Summertime and the livin is easy… (George Gershwin)

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We have been back in the states for two months now. I have stopped interjecting French words into conversations. (I find that most people just look at me strangely when I say “voila” instead of “see” or “there you are”.) I try to remember to say “yoo-hoo” instead of “coucou” when I’m trying to get a neighbor’s attention.

We have acclimated fairly well to our state-side lives. Even though we have been living our schizophrenic lives for seven years now, I find that I still get surprised when we make the transition.

·         I lament the fact that I cannot walk to a grocery from our Lansing home. (The City Market is a little over two miles from here – but there remains only one produce stand (and the good cheese shop). There are neighborhood weekly farmer markets but nothing quite like market day in any village in Provence.
·         Americans dress far more casually than the French. Sweat pants and T-shirts seem closer to the norm than the aberration. We seem to have forgotten Jerry Seinfeld’s comment that ‘people who wear sweats in public are announcing that they have given up’.
·         Dining out in the states usually includes taking home a doggy-bag – more accurately, a styrofoam container – for the second portion that was served as part of your meal. The size of the portion served here is much larger than what we expect in France. (There are now some French restaurants which have begun offering take-away containers.)
·         For a long time, we have thought that food in France was more expensive and wine in France was less expensive than here but my perceptions are changing. Meats, cheeses and local vegetables seem to be equal to or less than American prices. For instance, a log of goat cheese that costs almost $10 in the states sells for about ¼ th that amount in France. ‘Exotic’ meats, e.g., duck, quail, rabbit, even lamb, are far less expensive in France and more often locally produced. Eggs are more expensive but bread – a baguette – is about a third of the US price. (Clothing is more expensive in France.)
·         We are fortunate to have a home with a backyard large enough for my vegetable garden. Many fewer houses in our village have enough land for a garden and at our apartment, we can manage only a few herbs grown on the balcony.
·         It seems easier to find a good craftsman/mason/carpenter in the states. We have heard horror stories about craftsmen and their work here but not nearly as often as we hear the stories of poorly done work in our village. not sure whether Angie’s List covers France

This past weekend, we went to the christening of our godson’s first child. While the baptism was the main event, driving to North Carolina permitted me to reconnect with a high school friend and to see my sister and beau frère who drove from Wilmington to meet us in Raleigh for lunch. The events and gatherings were all fun: what beats family and friends?