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Showing posts from November, 2017

The Venn Diagram

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The past several days have created that space where the newness of my life here has intersected with my life's familiar realities: a sort of Venn diagram space, if you will.

My brother, Cleve and his wife, Gill, came for four days, arriving the evening of November 23, the date of this year's Thanksgiving (celebrated in America, not here in France).  They now live in England, as Gill is English and wanted to be back close to her family, after spending seven years in the U.S. with Cleve. 

Since they were arriving Thursday night, I planned a "Thanksgiving meal" for the next night, Friday, and invited my next-door neighbors, Linda and Sam, who are also my landlords.  I also extended an invitation to another woman I had met, whose husband is working in Afghanistan.  Of the six of us, two were American (my brother and I), three British, and one -- Sam -- Moroccan.  I made turkey breast and legs, stuffing from scratch with stale French bread (which turned out quite good), …

C'est normale!

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I'm starting to get in touch with the nitty-gritty of life in France; only three weeks in, but things are starting to become clearer, less "foreign", more grist for the mill by which I'll decide whether and where to stay.

Today, for example, could have been a day anywhere in the world; it's the kind of day I've had in California, Indiana, the three cities where I've lived in Pennsylvania, in the three countries in Africa where I've lived, or in Silver Spring, MD.  First a doctor's appointment -- a consultation with a local general practitioner to find out about my prescriptions and a reference for an opthalmologist to follow my post-surgical eye.

On the plus side:  doctor is readily available, very affordable (consultation was only €25, maybe $27); drugs cost a lot less (e.g., if I hadn't had insurance in U.S., one of my drugs would be $400+ a month; here it's $69, and that's without insurance); health care will be available to me after…

Martyr Village

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A sobering visit on this overcast, rainy "Armistice Day" Sunday to the ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane (meaning "on the river Glane), the "martyr village" here in the Limousin (about an hour's drive from me) where on June 10, 1944 (four days after the Normandy invasion by the Allies), German Nazis and "against-their-will" conscripted Alsatians massacred 642 men, women and (193) children.

The men were shot and burned. The women and children were gathered into the Catholic church and burned to death. Then the village was burned. There was no known "reason" for this atrocity: the village wasn't Jewish; it wasn't a known "resistance" town (i.e., overtly against the German Nazis or the pro-Nazi Vichy government , for territory outside German-occupied France). It was just a normal country village in pastoral southwest France.

This remains a very difficult and controversial topic for the French -- their complicity (willing or…

Laundry in the Limousin

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I realize this sounds like quite a mundane topic, but it has actually taken up quite a bit of my time and mental/physical energy, so I thought it worth mentioning.

First of all, I am not a duvet person.  I'm a fitted sheet-flat sheet-blanket (electric in winter)-comforter-pillows/pillow cases + pillows/shams person. My marriage bed for two was made that way; my marriage bed for one was made that way; the B&B beds were made that way (my then-7 year-old granddaughter, Summer, was my go-to person for putting on pillow cases).  Here, though, the bed is made with a flat sheet as the bottom sheet, a duvet, and pillows with cases that match the duvet cover.  It's the duvet that flummoxed me.

Now mind you, I know people in the States and actually around the world use duvets.  I've even slept with them (the duvet, not the person who owned it..I don't think...), though am not crazy about my feet coming out from under it. But I've never made a bed with one -- as in having…

The first quinze jours

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The French say "quinze jours" (15 days) instead of "two weeks", and this evening (Tuesday, Nov 8, 2017), marks the end of my first two weeks here in southwest France.

It's quite different from any other time I've been in France (or traveled anywhere else for two week), as well as from every other move I've made -- certainly different from all the moves in the U.S., and even quite different from the times I lived in Africa (Ethiopia, Rwanda and Ghana).  And in Africa, I was mostly in the employ of an organization that had people to help me through the adaptation process.  Nevertheless, I always seem to get hung up on electricity:  what needs a converter (nothing electronic, just electric, but I have everything electric furnished in my gite -- rental); what needs an adapter; what length extension cord do I need (in meters??); oh, dear, it has holes for British plugs.  Why is there no outlet in the bathroom (not allowed in France, or at least in this part …

Not a bad start!

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I'm actually feeling quite good about my "accomplishments" so far (as opposed to feeling good about being in France, which I ALWAYS feel!).  I've learned how to find the stores I need without the GPS; I went into Limoges WITH the GPS and actually bought some items in a mall; I've made a couple of (possible) new friends (everyone here is very friendly, French or English); have traveled around a bit; done laundry, and know where to dump the recyclables.  The "habituation" process continues, but I think not bad for just over a week.  Haven't made my own wood stove fire, yet; need to find kindling.

Yesterday (Friday), after taking care of some mundane chores (including finding out that to open a bank account I need papers that I have back in Maryland!), I did a little exploring.  First went to look at the Dolmen Bouéry (see pic), the 3-to-4,000-year old megalith grave site, of which there are many in France (LOTS of pre-historic sites, Gallo-Roman ruins…