Monday, March 20. 2006
miss and i were wandering around early friday evening, hungry as usual. places were just opening up for dinner at seven. we decide to scout out the other fondue place to see which might be better for future guests. (great excuse)
we decide to get the meat/oil kind since the full-on cheese was too much last time. after it arrives we start skewering the meat nuggets and dunking them in the pot of hot oil to fry. then to the choice of sauce and finally mouth for the win. the waiter comes over shortly and asks us if we understand the system. sure. what's not to get? dunk, dip, nosh. he shrugs and leaves. until i accidentally sear my lip for the third time on the hot metal i didn't quite get why he bothered to ask. i get miss to snoop on the other customers (she always gets the seat against the wall) and sure enough we're missing the crucial step of taking the meat off the red hot skewer before eating it with cool knife and fork. good on ya, college boy.
so really it works out to be a lot of labor and a whole lot of fat from the oil and the five different mayonnaises and the fries, even cut with wine. i feel ill for the next five hours and dream about fruit and fresh vegetables that night. i don't have the stomach for fondue (ok, dessert fondue is ok!) it's a great concept and fun to do as long as it's not about a meal. maybe i'd be better as an apprentice candlemaker.
Monday, March 20. 2006
every transacton still feels like a great accomplishment. there's a little shop on the other side of town that sells electric gadgets. not electronic gadets, only stuff that wasn't invented in the last forty years. i've always wanted to go in because the signage is from the late 50's and beautiful. the whole place looks like it wormholes out of the same vortex that portland does.
the tiny old lady with few teeth is so friendly and helpful. i show her the old bulb and tell her the wattage. she rummages around in drawers under the electric razors and alarm clocks and asks me how many i want. there's a little confusion as she tries to tell me i have to do something with the bulb. something about my rights. we work it through: hm, halogen bulbs. i can't touch with the hands? hands->fingers->"doigts" (not "droits"). ah, got it!
i pay her more money than the bulb is really worth, but if it keeps her in business i'm happy to help her. probably not enough people buying handheld back massagers and rotary phones these days. bon soir! merci!
then i go across the street to a fancy boulangerie and get a snazzy sandwich to eat at the park. yeah! i'm on a roll!
Wednesday, March 15. 2006
i've been hacking on my photo gallery software some. new design and some new features.
lately, i'm finding it easier to add little blurbs to photos than to write whole stories. i added an RSS feed feature to the gallery, so that those with feed readers ("aggregators" or whatever they're called) can keep tuned in to updates to the photo site. any directory in the gallery can be monitored, and it chooses the most recent files from everything in subdirectories too. so you can stay in touch with everything new in avignon by using this feed. or if it makes you feel better:
bonus: through the magic of xsl, the same link should render well in any recent browser. so you can still stay up to date by bookmarking it and checking in there now and again.
of course, let me know if things aren't working right.
also, i'll try to post to this blog when i put up a new set of pix. i'm only three weeks behind now!
while i've got you:
i don't know if i mentioned it specifically a couple posts back, but it was chocolate yoghurt. weird. also, the yoghurt drink i tried wasn't thin like an indian yoghurt drink, it was pretty much just drinking peach yoghurt. (you can get choco flavor and the other usuals too.)
also, am i the only one afraid of a thing called an aggregator? i can draw one for you in crayon and it's pretty scary to me.
Tuesday, March 14. 2006
a couple weeks ago miss and i took a train trip to go see corey, our portland friend who's doing the same program as missy a couple hours away.
the train ride was great. an unexpected snowstorm hit as we were leaving. it got pretty intense. the train couldn't run at full TGV speed so we missed our connecting train in paris (even with a harrowing action film taxicab ride from Gare du Nord to Gare Montparnasse) and coerced our way into having SNCF put us up in a hotel there for a night. we had just enough time for a midnight dinner and glass of wine and some bitter cold getting lost on the walk home.
miss had a $8 cheeseburger and it really was worth it.
all trains go through paris, even if it makes the journey twice as long as it would be direct, like this time.
the next day we get to poitiers and there's lots of snow here as well. the most anyone's seen in a really long time, says carole, corey's french sweetheart. there's a small open source art conference going on in town (the other, lesser, reason for coming) so carole drops me off and everyone else trundles off to drink tea and stay warm. interesting presentations. half of them in french, the other half in english and translated into french (good practice!) learned more about some things i'd heard of but never investigated and met the folks that make em. hard to summarize. worthwhile.
that night we had a nice meal in a french restaurant that had american road signs and posters plastered inside. probably named Arizona or something. who would think to check for those things first? also the rarest steak that can exist. the french call it bleu, but that's absolutely backwards. too much for carole even, we politely ask for a little (more?) heat be applied and right on cue leather comes back. good fries though.
and then off for the real piece of resistance, the night wander! we walk through the blanketed town, bordeaux in hand, checking out the old town and cathedrals. great architecture here. the town houses have the swiss wooden X embedded in white stucco thing and severe second story street overhangs. really cozy/claustrophobic. it's saturday night, so there's a buch of other loud drunky wandery folks out too. they're friendly if we share our wine.
later: corey lives in a small room in an odd wing of the school he teaches in, which he describes as Hogwarts from Harry Potter. yeah, it really is like that, especially at spooky quiet night and we're the only ones around. we decide to snoop around the huge old school and see what corners we can poke into. mostly anything interesting is locked, but we find a cavern near the base of an out of service elevator. it's a brick arching catacomb place, not unlike in Poe's Cask of Amontillado. the floor is made of scattered old wine bottles. some of the dates on the bottles go back to the 70s. the ones with labels. so either people are drinking well-aged wine, or there's ghosts of old malcontent students about. i gather it's the "smokin' in the boys room" of france. the girls won't come in. corey and i goof a dead poet's thing for a while until the girls have had enough. i wish i could find those photos.
the next day all the snow has melted. corey and carole show us the main huge poitiers cathedral in the morning. i cram in as much art conference as i can in the afternoon before the tired train ride back.
Sunday, March 5. 2006
we've been eating pretty well here, whether from our own slowly developing culinary skills or from eating out, despite a few bumps in the road to our stomach. thanks to all, by the way, who have contributed recipes. i've made quite a few of them and they've made us happy and full.
now that the weather is getting warmer, all the cream and butter, bread and chocolate, wine and undercooked meat that are so beloved by the french (and now us) are starting to feel heavy. all the mental and physical sluggishness of winter needs to be sloughed off. the crocus bulbs that i planted in a window box when we arrived are beginning to bloom. they say, "the spirit is in need of renewal!" in their flower language. they urge me to clarify and purify. and they push a radical diet transformation. they tell me that we'll call it the 10 day cleanse. no dairy, no wheat, no sugar, no meat, no caffeine, no alcohol. add some daily yoga and meditation, candle-lit essential oil baths, and a massage from the significant other and we have a diy home spa retreat, "nestled in the south of france." hurry! for a limited time only!
i was vegetarian for a couple years in high school, having gotten bitten by the animal rights bug. then dropped the stringency and started eating chicken and fish occasionally, and this pseudo-vegetarian diet was with me for almost a decade, that is, until i met seth. i won't blame him wholly; it was about the same time that many of my previously vegetarian and pseudo-vegetarian friends started reverting back to omnivores (ironically, about the same time we moved to portland, one of the most vegetarian friendly places in the western world). i will say that having never been a vegetarian, seth didn't attach any special importance to eating a steak or italian sausage. it was natural to him, guilt-free. it might sound strange, but having only dated the vegetal variety, being so comfortable around someone who is so comfortable about eating meat, naturally transformed me in into a meat eater once again.
i'm now on my fourth day of my cleanse and my diet has thus far included: cooked buckwheat, pumpernickel bread, spelt almond and sesame cookies, kasha pasta with mediterranean galettes vegetal (flat vegetable and whole grain cakes) and olive tomato sauce, apple and prune compote, pears, strawberries, pineapple juice, rice milk, hazlenut & almond rice dessert, tofu and pepper stir fry with brown rice, chickpea and tomato curry with red rice, herbed spinach with carrots, green vegetable soup, rye crackers and rice cakes with curried vegetable pate, herbal teas, and lots of filtered water.
some of these things were bought at the local health food stores and organic co-op. i was happy to find out that they exist here too, in almost the same configuration as they do in the states, and with almost the same patrons. now, one doesn't need a natural foods store to do a cleanse. you can be even more basic about it - just fruit and vegetables and whole rice. you can make it about eating humbly. or you can eat all raw food, or go a step further and do a juice fast. the idea for me was to invert my ordinary dietary patterns, thus altering my daily choices and considering ones that i take for granted.
so far i'm keeping the cravings under control; my self-discipline is intact. but i'm curious as to when exactly i'm going to begin dreaming of cheese wheels and baguettes.
Friday, March 3. 2006
our next door neighbors are in their 60s and pretty well-to-do. we don't see them that often; mostly we just hear when their dinner parties let out and the stairway reverbs with the boistrous end of conversations and bonne soirées. from our crow's nest windows we caught sight of the guests in the street leaving tonight's episode. nice suits and eveningwear. clean cut silver hair. real classy. i was a little sad because i realised that even in our heyday we threw way fewer parties than these guys do now. oh well.
it's almost midnight now, on a friday night. that means in exactly one hour there's going to be tons of loud singing drunk people walking below our window. you can set your watch and calendar by it. "hey, it's thursday!" "must be 1am!" to the minute accuracy. there's a second wave at 4am thursday through saturday of folks that somehow know the right people or the right places. and usually a couple stragglers now and again until 7 or 8.
makes me feel like a real square every time. they seem to be having so much fun. we were never allowed to sing in public in the states! and with my working hours being everyone else's partying hours i get a seussian grinchy attitude peering down on the whoville frolickers.
so anyway, the image. maybe it's offensive to some of you but i get a kick out of it. a german art project idea "aimed at" helping to clean up cities. it's a life-sized iconic ceramic tree that could be planted variously around urban areas. it's got a small trough at the bottom that drains into the sewer. use the canine part of your brain and you'll catch right on. some things about europe really are awesomer.
Thursday, March 2. 2006
i had three yoghurts today. everything dairy is so great here. except, for me, the milk. it's way more MILK than i'm used to, and i got out of the habit of drinking milk a while ago. i'm sure it's the same quality that makes butter, cheese, cream, and yoghurt so good.
yoghurt ("yaourt!") is more obviously a cream derivative here. you can get them that are still pretty much clotted cream. not as hard and jello-like as in the US. and new strange yummy flavors! nectarine and apricot are my favorites. also fig, nuts and grain, and the usuals.
there's cream and custard desserts, and yoghurt leans in this direction too, probably trying to be the healthy alternative or something. one of the ones i had today was chocolate truffle yoghurt. a little too weird for miss.
but she goes right for the chocolate milk. "cacolac" doesn't exactly ring my salivation bell, but it's serious chocolate and serious milk, so miss was plenty happy. i guess it translates to lake of chocolate. so it was each to their own for dessert tonight.
Tuesday, February 21. 2006
how can such a freakish amazing thing exist?
(note: read the other barcelona posts first to get the context. the main page top-post ordering kinda screws up rapid related posting, just like in email.)
the next day we set aside to see antonio gaudi's work-in-progress cathedral, the sagrada familia. it was started in 1883 and is a ways from being finished. there's still lots of skylight falling in where there ought to be roof, and the main central spire, which will be 500 feet tall, has yet to be started. and there's plenty to do before that. more impressive than the size is the style. it's instantly recognizable to any child that's ever made a sand castle by dripping wet mortar through your fingers. god did that and this is the result.
it's a construction site, really, through which you can piece together images of the future glory of the whole structure. intricate scaffolding grows up the walls 200 feet inside the curvy main vaults. the floor is full of hoists, concrete molds, and makeshift workshops. this is artist architect engineer paradise.
everything about the design is fluid and naturalistic. in form and decoration, gaudi based it all on deep research of natural phenomena. trees provide the main metaphor, with trunks as columns angled inwards to safely channel down the weights above. the nave ceilings imitate the splayed branchwork that protects while letting in dappled light. the rose windows borrow structural strength and visual inspiration from tiny ocean protozoa radiolaria. it goes on. there are informational bulletin boards inside explaining, with diagrams, many of the practical and artistic methods and decisions. i ate it up.
structurally, it was all designed as one unit. in older cathedrals, you can see the large lego pieces, how side blocks got snapped on to the main block, some neighbors differing in date and style by centuries. it's a practical way of dividing the engineering problem. the blocks don't have to interact, and can be added whenever funds allow expansion, and the architect can solve the smaller challenges of isolated forms.
it's also less efficent in terms of materials and less elegant in design, in the same way a lintel beam across a doorway compares to an arch. it was designed with the help of a crazy inverted rigging model. small sacks of shot are attached to a twine web outline of the structure. the shot pulling down impersonates the weight of the stone pushing on the finished building. it naturally stretches out the web to make the most ideal form to handle the forces. brilliant.
there's plenty more to say on it. the photo page captions get into more detail. but it was a great contrast to seeing the van der rohe the day before.
Monday, February 20. 2006
were you wondering? the last entry i wrote included a cliffhanger - we were going somewhere for my 30th birthday and i didn't know where. so were you curious? or did you already figure it out, maybe cheat and sneak a peak at seth's photos. i could hardly blame you. we are taking a long time to talk about it. and now i'm prolonging it even more. and now even more. okay enough.
through some schedule changes, i was able to secure an extended weekend, from friday january 20th to monday the 23rd. the only clue seth gave me was the time that the train was supposed to leave - 10:30am. should i bring a swimsuit? maybe. should i bring a winter jacket? sure.
did we rush to the station?, you wonder. we did a little bit, yes. but then we sat down in the train car with five minutes to spare. and in those five minutes seth gave me two presents to unwrap. the first, a coupland book, "to read on our long ride"; the second a lonely planet guidebook, en francais, to barcelona, spain.
it was a long train ride. the first leg was about seven hours through the south of france on the t.e.r., the slow train. we did not mind much; the scenery was lovely. it was not lush, it had a high desert quality to it. and there was graffiti, lots of it, most of it improving the train sides and industrial areas it decorated. we saw goats, sheep, horses, and vinyards. the buildings would change from familiar french Mediterranean architecture, red tiled roofs over beige stucco buildings, to spanish mediterranean architecture, which was very similar but more strikingly archetypal, more starkly contrasted, more dried up and rich. when that first stretch was over we found ourselves in port bou, spain.
this was the station where we would catch the local train into barcelona, but that wouldn't be for 2 hours. so we took our bags down a flight of stairs to the entrance of the station. it is good that we did not exit too quickly, lest we fall down a steep, long flight of stairs outside the doorway. the station was atop a big hill; the town was carved into a mountain along side the sea. we walked a small horizontal path alongside the station that led to a statue, a bench and vista area patrolled by feral black and white cats.
the best description of the town is windswept romantic. every section of the panorama belonged on the cover of a pulpy romance; seth belonged in a bullfigher regalia and me in an off-the-shoulder peasant dress. our drama would be the train is coming.... too soon... will we ever... meet (the town) again?
the train that would take us to barcelona is a new commuter rail. it is like a max, but with uncomfortable seating, and the ride is two and a half hours long. it is a train etap. we get to the central station and then we hop on the subway and then viola! we are at la rambla! the main street in barcelona where our humble hotel is located, the pension dali...
Monday, February 20. 2006
so we could talk about the art museums, how i like miró now, or how the only floor of the contemporary art museum open during rehanging packed in more than three normal museums. but boy i want to talk about architecture.
we found out that in the huge montjuic park, along with tons of other stuff, like the miro museum, is mies van der rohe's german pavilion from the 1929 international expo. some better photos than i took. he's one of the early defining modernist architects and i've been in love with some of his other buildings for a while but never seen any in person. this was billed as being one of the most important too, so i was really excited.
well, it definitely lived up to reputation, for good and bad. mostly it's a few low rectangle walls, some glass and some marble, barely holding up a rectangle roof. there's a couple shallow reflecting pools too. you can't get any sparser. it was shocking for being so barely there, yet so strongly defining the space it was in. you had to look hard to see it, but not to feel it. it's hard to photograph for exactly this reason. the difficult part for me was remembering that it was designed for people to stroll through, sip cocktails, and talk about Important things, not to live in. it works great for that, but it was so incredibly impractical for anything resembling normal human occupation. and that spun me out drawing parallels of course to writing software.
there's nothing nicer than looking at a clean algorithm, clean code where you can see the structure laid out and logical saying just what it does for anyone to read. it explains itself in the minimum number of words. that's the code everyone wants to write and read. but if you feed that code something it wasn't expecting, like "orange" instead of -34, all hell breaks loose and it collapses into a smoking pile. for instance: the pavilion didn't have a welcome mat to wipe your feet on when you walked in. i understand architecturally why it didn't, but at some point, someone's got to interact with the mathematical purity, and that's just going to mess things up unless you take care to check your input.
facing that building was facing the impracticality of idealism and that hurt. i knew i had the same fundamental problem with building. you can get away with it for a single-use structure whose point is idealism, but the real world doesn't permit living buildings or living code to operate like that. in living things, robustness is a virtue. being able to accept what the world throws at you, having that integral to the design is a different, maybe lesser, kind of beauty, but it's what we're stuck with.
Monday, February 20. 2006
it's not really spilling the beans if it's a month late i guess. miss was tired of planning our trip logistics always, so for her birthday trip she wanted me to handle everything. transport, hotel, sites to see, even the destination was to be a secret. fun! all her fellow teachers thought it was so romantic. she's writing up how it went down (spoiler warning!), but basically i walked her onto a nameless train and handed her the gift-wrapped lonely planet barcelona guide (in french) as we departed.
i'm not going to get too in-depth about the normal eating, walking and looking facts because i got so jazzed on the city that i have to run my mouth about some of that. contrasts to avignon: lots of other tall skinny friendly scruffy bearded guys (zero french guys with beards). bars are much more comfortable if you can squeeze into one and are open late. food was good but not awesome *except for tapas*. spanish doesn't come automatically if you know french.
barcelona is huge and has tons of culture of all kinds. lots of young people culture - great graffiti, lots of live music, lots of interesting looking people and cats wandering around. you could just breathe it in. partly i've been stuck in this small city for a long time, and stuck in my apartment and stuck in my head trying to get stuff done. barcelona has a lot of the same winds blowing through it as new york, but without the coffee jitters. really perked up my art/thinking-nose.
Wednesday, February 8. 2006
i'm getting a little behind here. so many great stories stored up, but january's been a busy month. let's start at the start - 1 janvier 2006, 0h00!
backstory: i've had some good new year's eves. i had a string of them over a decade ago (ugh, that long?) that got me to appreciate the holiday. it's a rolling global party! miss thinks i have a special connection to it and is a little leery of the nostalgia i have sometimes. but really it's nothing mystical.
the last couple have been of the wrong kind of silliness. some growing pains (sorry about the furniture, travis) and some misplaced bad energy at times. this year i was definitely not excited for it. i was in a winter funk, feeling very introverted and not of the necessary gregarity.
we'd had a club recommended to us a while ago. from what we heard (and were able to understand) le délirium was decorated with secondhand furniture, no two chairs alike, had lots of couches and cushions, was dimly lit, and regularly had live gypsy music. this was in direct contrast to (what corey's well described as) most french bars, which are overly-lit standing room only places for people to smoke heavily, drink bad french beer and watch television.
live gypsy music? that strikes a deep chord. when i was in high school, the family went into Boston for First Night one year. aside from the big red plastic horn i bought (*bad* thing to give to a trumpet player that knows how to use it), the highlight was stumbling on a klezmer concert. an "i had no idea music could be like this" moment. fantastic. and i've been a fan of the movie/soundtrack latcho drom and the director emir kusturica for a long time. to an uncultured american like me, they're all operating in roughly the same sonic and emotional territory. fiery passionate rooted colors.
so that's kind of a draw. but i don't have anything to wear. i brought only like four short sleeve shirts hoping to get some french swag when i arrived, but never did. a last minute shopping run doesn't net anything but frustration. so now i'm going to stand out even more in a fancy crowd. and reservations were recommended, but i was too nervous to call and make them. ugh.
i was all set to stay in, call it a night, and fall alseep before the embarassment of being lame at exactly midnight could hit. luckily, missy was in no mood for that. she had her good lipstick on already, and i learned long ago that that represents an unstoppable force. so out the door we go.
délirium is down a side alley, through an improbable door, up strange steps, down a dark hallway, and into a short line. peering through the door crack i can see folks in their 50's in tuxes and gowns, a well-stocked hors d'oeuvres table, and champagne glasses everywhere. a bouncer type peers out and announces something to the line. something about cards. oh, you're supposed to be a card-carrying member. 6'4" and american is the wrong size for right now.
well, missy's in charge and so we make it to the door, where a nice woman takes our names, (cash), and issues us cards and drink tickets for free champagne. ?? it worked!
it's nowhere near as nice as in the picture. it's not all tuxes. it's all ages (i mean from age five to 75). and most of the snacks are gone already. and it's comfortable! bianca's very much at home here. missy's not as content as i am to stand in the back corner, so she finds two cushions right up by the stage while i get our champagne.
one of my favorite games is to imagine the possibilities of the instruments on a stage waiting for the musicians to arrive. on this one there's three accordions, some with pieces off of them, a mandolin, classical guitar, a small jazz-style drum kit, and a tuba with a mic duct-tape-suspended in the bell. outstanding!
the night is billed as a cabaret. throughout the evening the attention shifts between dancers, various musical groups, projection, and jugglers. i almost don't want to call them jugglers. it's not the same activity as in even the best circuses, in the way that playing fiddle and playing classical violin are not the same. different art forms entirely. it's as much modern dance as brute mechanics. it actually made me question whether mimes might be equally misunderstood.
the music is wonderful. powerful dark dissonant uplifting stuff. the main band, est à l'ouest, plays tzigane (gypsy) flavors in the jazz format of head, solos, head, with lots of great wandering in the middle. the mandolin player encourages miss to dance, but there are enough tipsy couples doing just that in the small space, knocking over champagne flutes with flying hems.
i couldn't be happier. it's not the kind of place i could ever hope to stumble on, or even guess about the existence of. what a gift. when the countdown happens, it's rushed, disorderly, and almost an intrusion into the evening. but quick as it appears, the music flows back in after it, returning us to the unreality and time suspension that lasts for a few more hours, until the transition to the new year is smoothed permanent.
Wednesday, January 18. 2006
have i mentioned how fast time is going? it zips from here ⎜-------------------⎢to here like this ⎜---⎜. i am exactly at the halfway point in my contract and i want time to s-l-o-w down. here it is clarifying and relaxing. i get to read, write, learn french, dabble, cook, and teach. i have, like, one friend, a fellow english teacher from australia, but in my solitary activity i'm becoming anti-social anyway. i made an account on myspace a year ago after someone sent me an invite, but then promptly forgot about it. on new years day i was on my computer and found the window still open (on account of my sister just visiting). so i went on and found a great blog by an old friend noah about all the penn state kids and their zany misadventures. i was feeling sentimental as i called my friend alexa to wish her a happy new year. she picked up and announced, "it's a reunion." coincidentally, she was at an old friends house in philly with some of the people i had just been thinking about. she passed the phone around and it was great but so strange to hear peoples voices that i was separated from by such time and distance. and in those brief conversations i realized that i forgot how to communicate. mostly what i said was, "wow," and "gee, good to hear your voice," and then i'd hear my voice sound so strange to me and i wouldn't know what more to say.
today i am excited because on friday we leaving for a trip to celebrate my 30th birthday. it is a present plus, because not only are we going on my annual birthday sejour, but seth is planning it all. i don't have any input on the place or how we're getting there, on where we're staying or what we're going to do. seth has taken to walking around laughing and taunting, "you don't know where we're going, you don't know where we're going." i don't mind though. when you're the trip planner in a duo, there is something so freeing about not having any choices.
Sunday, January 15. 2006
i think with seth not around i was a little more scattered then usual, and i packed in a rush right before we were ready to leave to catch an afternoon train. the reason we were taking a later train was that april was waiting for lufthansa to deliver her misrouted baggage. but then the airline said that they were going to deliver the baggage to our hotel in paris, so voila.
so we're rushing to the shuttle stop a few blocks away and then arrive to watch it pull away. we had to wait 20 minutes for the next one. when we got to the station the line for tickets was long and we couldn't use the machines because we had the passes. one of those familiar situations when i'm watching the digital clock and then the line, the clock, the line. it is an inexorably slow yet nerve wracking race. one of the participants is taking their time at the finish line, arguing with the referee. i predict the outcome to april: we're not going to make it. but then there's two quick sprinters in front of us and we make it with five minutes to spare. but is it good enough? yes, it is. with a wink and smile, we are processed quickly and we qualify. so we run a quick lap up some stairs to the train directly overhead, and we run towards the front, where first class* is, and jump on board. but wait we are train number 12 and this is train 2 and the train is actually two trains strung together; the first part is completely separate from the the second part and the trains are full. we disembark with our awkward baggage and run towards the second train. i dash up to the first door and hear a ding and the door closes right in front of me. all the doors closed at the same time. there is no conductor saying "all aboard" or staff removing a set of stairs. it's all automated -- of course it's automated -- and we are not getting on that train.
we waited for two hours for the next train. i was in a rotten mood. i was right. there. but april, besides reminding me, "we were on the train," is more upbeat. after all, we are going to paris.
(they were having a sale on france passes: $99 for 2 trips anywhere; $129 for first class. my sister angled for first, and reasoning that it was still cheaper then buying our tickets here, i thought, well, pourquoi pas?
Monday, January 9. 2006
i just updated our profile on couch surfing and thought i'd post it here as a gentle prod to those of you still on the fence about visiting:
a host and host's door in béziers
i'm a professor de langue anglais in ecole primare, and am in the midst of fulfilling my life-long goal of living in france. my fiancé is in midst of fulfilling his life-long goal of programming in the closest to solitude as he's likely to find. content as cats we are with our chocolate, wine, and bread. want to stop in? if we are not hosting other travelers or traveling ourselves, you might be able to find a spot on our clic-clac. it sleeps two comfortably (well, relatively comfortably).
for those of you who don't know, couch surfing is a great site that allows people to connect to, well, couch surf. it's developing friendster aspects but it started before all that in the spirit of egalitarian travel. last year we stayed with a nice woman in tokyo for three days who we with met through there. on a related note, i'd also recommend servas, a more formal hospitality program that has been around since the 60s. we spent several days with servas hosts in ise-shima, japan and it was one our most connecting and profound travel experiences.
i traveled alone at the end of october to nearby béziers and stayed with servas hosts yvette and claude. both are artists, but most remarkable are claude's abstracts, which due to a handicap in both arms are painted with a brush held in his teeth. see him in action here.
short accounts by missy and seth, at least tangentially relating to life in avignon, france.