Friday, June 24, 2011

Cherry, cherry

For a summer that seemed a little bleak, things have been shaping up quite nicely. I had zero plans coming back to France after my trip to the states. But I haven't seemed to stop since I got home. I spent last weekend in the Camargue with my friends and what seems to be my new family. I spent time at the beach and attended my first Course Carmagaise (a bullfight...more like bullplay, native to the Camargue, which does not involve killing the bull or hurting him in any way, although I do think he's got to be traumatized by the whole thing).

Tuesday night I went to my friend Lynn's for dinner. As usual, I was asked to bring dessert. I'm always happy to do this because I can't make desserts simply for myself and expect to stay away from them. But I see so many great recipes from fellow bloggers that I am dying to try and my friends know it.

 It's cherry time here and I just can't stop eating them. Numerous varieties which I never understand, but the venders always know which is the best fruit for my purposes. I saw this recipe on Sharon's site over at My French Country Home.  Yes, again. Sharon's going to be the death of me, I swear!  But this recipe, Cherry Clafoutis, is typically French and this was my opportunity.

As I said,  I love cherries. I just don't like anything...ANYTHING...made with them. Not ice cream, not yogurt, and especially not cherry pie. So I made this recipe with low expectations. In spite of the fact that is was just "good" for me, my French friends loved it, said it was honestly the best Clafoutis they've ever eaten and asked for the recipe. So if you like cherry stuff...try this. (by the way, when she says corn flour she means corn starch...oh yes, and don't bother pitting them...just warn people ahead of time)

So anticipating ONE MORE TIME boarding a bus with baked goods, I stopped at the culinary store. I asked the vender if he one of thoses boxes made to carry les tartes. He said, "you mean one of those round, plastic boxes with a handle?"

"Yes, yes...exactly!"

"Madame, this is a German idea...or perhaps American."

"What do you mean?"

"This is not in the spirit of the French. We make cakes....we eat cakes...but we DO NOT carry them around."


"No madame, when we are asked to dinner....we take flowers."

Well, I guess I've been told! You have to understand that this guy is a comedian and all the old ladies hang out at his store just to laugh with him. But still...I've been told!

And I don't care one single bit. Sharon and all the rest of you, keep bringing on those recipes. They rock! And I will continue to board buses with my cakes wrapped in Glad Press n Seal, squished at the bottom of my ever-present bag...

I'm off to Malta for the weekend. Have a great one whatever you are doing.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Desperately Seeking Solutions

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am an expatriate American living in the south of France. I have been meaning to write to you for the past 2 years but this morning I used up my last roll of Glad Press-n-Seal and this loss has moved me forward.

It is astounding to me that a country like France continues to struggle with unusable, antiquated plastic wrap. I am continually watching people fight, contort, cajole, and often finally give up when trying to cover their leftovers .  Their defeat often leaves refrigerators smelling like cheese. The cheese here is divine… tastes like a dream but it smells like a nightmare! What is so amazing to me is that a superior product has been invented. Why do the French people continue to suffer?

Those of us Americans who live here always make sure to return with several roles of this magic. I have given it as gifts to my French friends and have found that demonstrating its efficacy is a great party game!

I may sound light-hearted but, in fact, I’m dead serious. I propose that you begin marketing your Press-n-Seal products here in France. This is your opportunity to open a new market as well as save a nation.

Of course, I would like to be the person to help you. With my background in marketing and my passable French, together we could bring this country out of the depths of despair. A mercy mission with monetary rewards. A “Keep It Fresh” D-Day if you will.

I look forward to hearing your response. We are suffering.

Deepest Respect,


Yes, I really did send this. Perhaps I have too much time on my hands!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rabbits and Rats

I got up early this morning after 3 1/2 hours of sleep, in a rotten mood. Crabby Appleton...rotten to the core sort of rotton!  Monsieur Rabbit, who lives just below me, and his amour, have spent the last several days and nights, moaning and groaning in sexual ecstasy. I have written about these two before and you can read about it here if you feel the need. The problem is, their hormones and pheromones…and loud moans… seem to be rolling at full force around 3 am. Always. And at 1 in the afternoon...and 6 at pm. This seems to work nicely around his schedule as a musician. It does not work nicely around my schedule as a human being. She has been absent for quite awhile and life has been serene. Well, SHE’S BACK!

Last night around midnight they started a discussion. I can never hear him but she...SHE has a big, fat mouth and doesn't seem to care what she says and who hears it. My friend Holly, who has been staying with me this week, was experiencing this “group living” phenomenon up close and personal for the first time and because she can understand French better than I, came up to tell me that The Mouth, was itching for a fight. I let her know that this can only mean one thing… the inevitable reconciliation. But I was placated a bit because they seemed to be starting earlier than usual. Au contraire!  After 3 hours of high volume “discussion”, they made up. LOUDLY, as usual.

As this was night number two of no sleep, I came downstairs this morning...just plain pissed off! I pushed my massage table over on the floor (this is an explosive sound) and then kicked around a few things just so they would know I was serious. And because I was so crabby, I kicked things around some more...just to feel better. Holly and I loudly made fun of her groans and moans, hoping she would hear us, while we made our much needed coffee. But the coffee was of no help and I got no rejoinder from them. And I think I really wanted one. I was also itching for a fight.

Then it was off to the prefecture to pick up this year's carte de sejour. In my cantankerous state of mind, just the idea of going to the prefecture irritated me and I armed myself for (the usual) battle.

I had received a letter while I was in the states that said my card had arrived and designated this year’s price.  There is a weird, antiquated system here in France where one has to buy tax stamps to pay for the carte de sejour and other such documents.  You have to buy the proper amount of stamps and the correct type of stamp for whatever is being paid for. These are available at the tobacco shops, so it's a bit of a process and makes for a few extra steps.

Upon my arrival at the prefecture,  I happened to land at the window of Monsieur Willard (the gray rat) who had been my nemesis during my first application in 2009. I told him I lost my letter and needed him to remind me how many stamps I needed to buy to pick up my new card. I waited for him to tell me,“no madame, you can’t have your card without the letter. You will have to reapply and then run around the periphery of the town in under 10 minutes with your feet tied together, at which point you must eat 3 pounds of tripe washed down with 2 litres of straight pastis, then we’ll need the original birth certificate of your 2nd cousin’s great uncle, translated into French by an offical translator and if all goes well you’ll get your card by December 2013.

Instead, he smiled at me…let me repeat….he smiled at me, made a little bit of small talk, told me that lucky for me, this year it was only going to be 85 euros and then wrote down everything I needed on a piece of paper. I took off to buy my stamps and returned immediately to take advantage of the small crowds this morning.

I ended up at his window for the second time. All I’m saying is…what a difference a few years make! He again greeted me with a smile, chatted a little more about this and that and then informed me that he thought my photo held a striking resemblance to Melina Mercouri. He explained that she was a Greece actress popular in the 60's, nominated for an Oscar, married to so and so, her son was so and so, and she became the minister of culture in Greece in the 80’s. Not that I give a hoot nor did I know who he was talking about, but I was so stunned he was actually chatting that I just wanted him to keep going! (Now that I've seen her photo, I AM flattered, though I see no resemblance) So we talked as he did all his stamping, sticking, and paper arranging. Wow!  What happened to the gray, surley, sluggish, rodent that had made that first application so nasty?

I really think these government workers must play some sort of game with the “debutantes” for their own amusement.  As in “lets see how difficult we can make this process for the newbies. We’ll call it a test to see just how badly they REALLY want to live in France”.

As I left, he said, “Goodbye Dear Madamoiselle Delana. See you next year”. I guess I’ve earned my stripes! And I didn’t even have to try to pull my usual trick of bringing chocolate chip cookies!

Needless to say, I skipped out of there, copulating bunny neighbors, major fatigue, and crummy mood completely dismissed from my head... feeling more like Tom Terrific than Crabby Appleton. Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

C'est l'heure

Yes sirree's time. My last post was May 9. May 9th?!?! Just before I went back to the U.S. for a 3 week trip. Which means I've been back in France since the 2nd of June. Which means....well, what does that mean?

In fact, I do this disappearing act every time I go away and stop writing for awhile. It used to worry me. Like I would never be able to write again. And I'd feel a bit like I had lost all my friends and that I deserved it. Out of touch and off the map.

But after many trips and far too much internal wrestling, I realize it is just my M.O. My way of reintegrating back into my other french life. Apparently I need the time to feel at home again, relearn the language (every time I come back I feel like an infant in the language department), enjoy my city....and get comfortable with not being near my family.

So first, I need to share this photo with you. These two fabulous young, college graduates are the reason I went back to the States this time.

The dog did not graduate but he's my other boy and felt the need to be in the picture.

I love visiting them simply because they are such cool human beings. This time it was even more joyous. They've accomplished what they set out to do. One step in a long line of many more exciting and creative steps. And I couldn't have been more proud. I really don't think I could have! But it was a serious day. We're a serious family.

And now I have made la rentrée. It wasn't so difficult this time in spite of the 6 days of non-stop rain that greeted me. 

I've dined and wined with all my friends, I've meandered through the annual home show...doesn't this beat the home and garden show in the local convention center?

I've had my coffee in the cafés where I've already had the pleasure of arguing love and politics, listened to jazz in the streets and delighted to an evening circus on Cours Mirabeau.

I've spent a Sunday in Isle sur l Sorgue at the fabulous market. 

Stay tuned for more on these lovely rugs. They will be available soon at an internet site near you!

And Arthur and Maurice are back together again in our apartment.

 I sense for some reason as if a page is turning. Life was different upon my return for a variety of reasons....not all so comfortable. Yet, I feel as if new and wonderful things are going to happen....I can just feel it. This must be the way my beautiful boys feel right now.

So, after a couple of weeks of getting my feet back on French ground...

Je suis confortablement installée.

  It's good to be back and can't wait to find out what's new with all of you.