Thursday, May 8, 2008

My life in France is unreal.

The librarian Krystyna is immensely helpful in choosing ability-appropriate and engaging novels for me to read. Zadig by Voltaire was fantastic; Le rouge et le noir by Stendhal was way too thick; I am now in the middle of Claudine à l'école by Willy et Colette which is so far very accessible. I may not be entirely illiterate.

Mass job applications may not prove as fruitful as I would like to believe given the status of my NYS certification: what does "Not ready for review" mean? And why is there no one I can call about this? Why does Albany make this so hard. Sad. A trip to the Credential Office at Cortland is in order this summer.

Today is a national holiday. Victoire 1945. May 8 marks the victory of the Allies over the Axis powers. I knew something was going to go on in Ussel; I did not know I would be an active participant!! I found the "marching" band (oh WG how you have spoiled me) at the Hotel de Ville. Along with pretty much everyone else: Monsieur Modeste, Marie-Pierre, Madame Cousty, Monsieur Barbe, Alexia and Antoine, Anne-Sophie, Catherine, Monique, Christophe and Valérie, Sylvie, Madame Laugier, Fabienne, and about 30 of my students from all three schools. Marie-Pierre waved me over, so I went to say hi. Of course, Monsieur Modeste couldn't just leave it at that: "You're going to walk with us to the Monument aux Morts?" So instead of just watching the parade, I walked in it. Yes. Right in between Anne-Sophie and Alexia, behind my students, and in front of the firefighters. Oh, did I mention the mayor was there? Yes. Madame LeClerc said hello to everyone before the parade started. I shook her hand. I don't even know who the mayor of Camillus is! So we got to the Monument aux Morts, listened to some prepared speeches sent by the Secretary of State, a poem read by some students from School Three, and flowers were laid at the monument. The students sang two songs: one was the anthem of the résistants, and the other was La Marseillaise. Repeat it all at the Monument aux Résistants. Apparently, at Place Voltaire which incidentally is where the middle school, the monuments to the dead and resistants, and the tourism office are, there was a small battle between the Germans and a troop of French soldiers. 42 Frenchmen died. Monsieur Modeste didn't mention which side won. In any case, it was a super cool morning.

There are three weeks at the beginning of May. May 1: Labor Day. May 2: Friday after Labor day but what the heck, let's make it a long weekend. May 8: Victoire 1945. May 11: Pentecost Monday (what?). May 15: national education strike, during which only two of my three teachers are striking. How has this completely thrown my lesson plans for a loop? If anyone recalls, I was the only person at ESM or Spencer who didn't want a snow day. ACK!! So this is fun. Random days off.

Françoise was supposed to go to the family house in Bugeat last night. But her boyfriend Patrick called and said he was coming up! Best not to surprise Françoise like that; she got very flustered. So we went shopping for dinner. Seafood with red wine. Who cares! The minute she got home, she got a phone call from a good friend. So imagine her on the phone and me trying my hardest to not annoy her too much but at the same time get dinner ready with her sign-language instructions. It was fairly successful! And now I have a neat recipe I'd like to try: scallops, mushrooms and baby shrimps in a creamy crab sauce, baked. YUM. The wine totally didn't match but we did not care. Patrick is a tuba player. I picked out the cheeses - a St Nectaire fermier and a Cantal entre deux. I love cheese! Patrick brought the desserts: Paris-Brest and a crème brulée tarte. The entrée was supposed to be grated carrots, but Françoise forgot that she had left the carrots in Bugeat last week! After dinner we went for a walk farther south than I've ever gone before. Busy day + wine + walk = very very sleepy Rose.

An "organic" store opened in Ussel. I don't know why they call it organic; isn't all food based on carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen? In any case, it's all very healthy and environmentally friendly. There's even environmentally friendly house insulation. In 10kg bags. Next to the whole wheat pasta. I like their tea selections. I'll be back, for sure.

I miss home but being able to keep myself busy with school and job searches and going for exploratory walks and maintaining my yoga and exercise routine and reading real books and trying to figure out why Tahini hates me is really good.


Kaci L. said...

Hey Rose!
Thanks for your comment on my blog :)
It's great to get in contact with people that know whats going on, especially since you're familiar with the region. It sounds lovely!
I'll have to read through your blog now to hear about your experiences. I'm so so excited. Thanks for saying hello...and stay in touch!

Au Soleil Levant said...

That sounds like so much fun, I almost wish I had been in Soissons to see if they had something similar. Almost.