Thursday, December 27, 2007

Old meets new

I must admit this photo is recycled from a November 7 Wordless Wednesday post to La France Profonde, but with three blogs going, I do a bit of cross-posting when it is appropriate.

Plus things are pretty busy around here with all of that champagne to drink, all of that foie gras to can see life is tough at the moment.

And of course I'm dying to add some words to this photo!

I had noticed this odd juxtaposition for several years and on a sunny autumn evening, I finally stopped, got out of my car, and took this picture -- hoping I wouldn't be accosted by an angry farmer.

What better contrasts old and new here in the land of the Millau McDonald's incident?

(Click here for more Sunday Scribblings posts on the theme of New and Old.)

Can't I have just a little more time?

This was one of my Christmas presents. And a very nice one at that.

Yet, there's nothing like one of these "definitive" volumes to make me realize what a pathetic excuse for a cultivated person I am.

I don't even want to talk about the 1001 Books edition, which I gave my husband for his birthday so he could see what a pathetic excuse...etc.

At least that volume took a more positive tack to its title translation: the French version is entitled "1001 Books You Must Read in your Lifetime." But the translation of the film volume title take on the morbidity of the original: 1001 MOVIES to see before you die.

The hour is grave. Fortunately I got one of the movies from the book as a Christmas present.

I've got to start somewhere! The alternative is too terrifying to even think about...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas "news"

A December 25th UPI article entitled "Wild boars run amok in France" also featured a side photo of "the 2nd annual water-skiing Santa in Washington."

Rarely do both of my home countries benefit from such ground-breaking media coverage on the same Web page.

Personally, I'd prefer meeting up with the water-skiing Santa to having a run-in with the wild boar who "disrupted last-minute Christmas shopping in Poitiers, France."

How about you?

(Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to all...

...whether you be in the sun or in the snow!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

If Only in My Dreams

For this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt, "Holiday Memories," I'm going to be most annoying and do a rare post in French.

This article originally appeared in a local newspaper, Le Rouergat, which I wrote a column for in 2004 and 2005. The little weekly unfortunately shut down, so I hope there are no copyright issues involved in my republishing this article.

I suppose I should translate it into English, but I worked so hard to write it in French that I prefer to post the version originale. The general subject is how hard it can be to be so far from home for the holidays, and especially how difficult my first Christmas in France was.

Do tell me if any of you can understand it!

Les quinze années que j’ai passées en France sont jalonnées d’excellents souvenirs, pour la plupart. Quelques-uns restent, malgré tout, moins agréables. Parmi ceux-là je pourrais citer mon premier Noël français, en 1990. L’éloignement de ma famille en fut la cause principale, mais de petites différences culturelles amplifiaient quotidiennement ma tristesse. Il s’agissait pourtant de la même fête, mais les maisons manquaient d’illuminations, personne ne venait frapper à ma porte pour m’apporter des gâteaux de Noël... toutes ces petites choses constituaient pour moi le « Christmas spirit », avec notamment son enthousiasme et sa chaleur humaine propres à Noël. Expression dont on me dit qu’elle ne se traduisait pas en français.

Pour combler le vide, je passais des chansons de Noël en boucle. Bing Crosby qui entonnait « White Christmas » ou bien « I’ll be home for Christmas »… Parfois cela me remontait le moral. A d’autres moments, cela me réduisait en larmes.

Le froid, du moins, avait répondu présent pendant cet hiver albigeois. Gelée, j’arpentais les rues piétonnes en quête d’objets décoratifs pour égayer notre foyer. Je n’ai trouvé qu’un petit ensemble d’oies en bois peint…100 francs. Je l’ai acheté en dépit du prix que je trouvais exorbitant.

Avec le temps, et mon premier enfant, la situation s’est vite améliorée. Petit à petit, j’ai importé mes traditions à ma famille. Les cartes de vœux se font pour le Nouvel An ? Tant pis, je les faisais pour Noël. Et qui m’interdisait de faire mes « Christmas Cookies » et de les distribuer dans le quartier ? Personne, évidemment, et cela faisait très plaisir aux voisins !

Arrivée en Aveyron, j’ai fait la connaissance d’un groupe de collègues anglophones qui m’invitaient bien sûr à leur « Christmas Party », joyeuse fête où nous chantions à tue-tête des « Christmas Carols », devant des époux quelque peu perplexes.

Mon expérience personnelle m’a appris que Noël transcende bien sûr les différences culturelles, mais surtout que c’est à chacun de faire perdurer les traditions auxquelles il tient, et d’en créer d’autres. Désormais quand on me demande si je rentre « chez moi » pour Noël, je réponds sans hésitation : « Non, jamais, je n’aimerais pas rater Noël ici avec ma famille, et puis il fait un temps de chien en hiver là-bas! » Nous changeons vite de sujet et nous nous souhaitons de joyeuses fêtes, « Merry Christmas », j’ajoute parfois. Mais malgré la maison pleine à craquer de décorations, malgré la présence de mes enfants, malgré toute la joie que la saison m’apporte, je sais que je ressentirai toujours un petit vide le 25 décembre.

So I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Silent Night, Drunken Night?

According to the Daily Telegraph, many British churches will be starting midnight mass on the early side to avoid problems with tipsy worshippers.

Journalist Jonathan Petre reveals that some priests are starting "midnight" mass as early as 6pm out of fear for their parishioners' safety.

"In Newcastle Upon Tyne, the Cathedral of St Mary in the heart of the city’s entertainment district, is holding its Christmas Eve Mass at 8pm because of fears of drunken louts disrupting the service," writes Petre.

Leave it to the Brits to discover the true meaning of Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Put on Your Dancing Shoes; Stop Wasting Time

Shall we dance, or keep on moping?

Shall we dance and walk on air?

Shall we give in to despair? Or shall we dance with never a care?

Life is short. We're growing older.

Don't you be an also ran.

You've got to dance, little lady. Dance, little man.

Dance whenever you can.

(Extract from "Shall We Dance" by George and Ira Gershwin)

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau)

Click here for more Sunday dances courtesy of Sunday Scribblings.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Glamorous World of Freelance Writing

On this cold and dreary Sunday, all I feel like doing is reading and/or floating around the blogosphere.

But I have an educational article due for a publishing company in Taiwan. So I must tackle the fascinating subject of Pulitzer Prize categories, carefully adjusting the vocabulary level to that of a Taiwanese senior high school student.

That's today's glimpse into the glamorous world of freelance writing...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Walking off the Train: The Road Not Taken

" I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference."

For other Sunday Scribblings posts on the theme of "Walk," click here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday's Feast 1

I haven't posted here in a long time. The past weeks have been so work-filled that I can't come up with anything hugely imaginative, but did feel like reviving And So Forth with a post.

What could be better than Friday's Feast to get back on track? I've subscribed to their prompts on Google Reader for weeks, but never seem to get around to looking at them until Saturday.

Appetizer: What is your favorite carnival/amusement park ride?

Huge, old-fashioned carousels.

Soup:How do you react in uncomfortable social situations?

I usually stay in the background, but am capable of intervening directly if I feel the discomfrot stems from somthing really important.

Salad: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy discussing deep, philosophical topics?

Three. I got annoyed with "heavy, deep and real" conversations back in high school and haven't gotten over it yet.

Main Course: Did you get a flu shot this year? If not, do you plan to?

No. No. Is this really the main course?

Dessert: Approximately how many hours per week do you spend watching television?

Zero. We don't have a television connection, just a TV set to watch videos and DVDs.

That was fun! See you again one of these days...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

So British?

I just love having access to the British press on Internet.

Between reading the news on the BBC and getting in-depth information from the Guardian, I can also run into pearls like this.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dylan's Best?

I have been trying all day to listen straight through Blood on the Tracks without too many interruptions. It's 7:30 PM and I'm practically halfway into "Shelter from the Storm," so I think I'm finally going to make it.

If not, I think I can do without "Buckets of Rain." It's one of the two songs on the album that doesn't do it for me, along with "Meet Me in the Morning."

Those two songs aside, though, I don't think I will ever tire of this album. Sometimes I think it's Bob Dylan's best. And I have to disagree with Jon Landau when he wrote in 1975:

"Blood on the Tracks will only sound like a great album for a while. Like most of Dylan, it is impermanent."

So why does it ring so true 32 years later?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ten Songs That Bring Back Memories (and why...)

I get notifications for Ten on Tuesday, and it always sounds like a good idea at the time. But putting together a list of ten of anything ends up being quite a challenge.

I might be better at a blogging event called "Four if I frickin' feel like it."
I had to do this subject, though: "Ten Songs That Bring Back Memories (and why...)"

In a somewhat chronological order:

1. I Want to Hold Your Hand: This could be one of my earliest musical memories. Thanks to my mom, I met the Beatles.

2. Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondelles: This was the first record I could call my very own. Naturally, I listened to it...over and over...

3. The Flintstones Theme Song: At some point in my early childhood, my parents only had black and white TV. But my grandparents, who lived across town, had COLOR TV! My great folks used to drive my sister and me over there, mid-week, to watch our favorite cartoon, which I loved all the more because it had a character named Betty. For some reason, the show was on in the evening, so we were usually put in our jammies before we left. A memory right out of history...

4. Crocodile Rock: This song was covered a lot by bands at the junior high dances I went to. I have good memories of hopping and bopping to it.

5. Stairway to Heaven: This song was also covered by a lot of bands at the aforementioned junior high dances, usually as the last "slow dance." I have bad memories of lurking on the sidelines while it was playing.

6. Gold Dust Woman by Fleetwood Mac: No comment.

7. It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine) by R.E.M.: When I was a high school debate coach in Olympia, my students introduced me to R.E.M.. Later, the word got out that "It's the End..." was actually about debate tournaments. Were we ever excited! I remember spending hours with my debate students analyzing the lyrics (which we had to Internet, remember?) to try to prove our theory. A debatable theory which is now all over online R.E.M. forums, of course.

8. Life During Wartime by the Talking Heads: My strongest memories of this song postdate its release by many years; I listened to it obsessively during the first weeks of the current Iraq war. "This ain't no party, this ain't no disco..." It sure ain't.

9. Let Down by Radiohead: The first time I heard this song, I listened to it about twenty times straight. A chemical reaction, I guess.

10: Unchained Melody: Undefined memories.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Morning Grace

Just because I want this song on my blog. No other reason.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Temperature change: a burning issue?

First, I'm going to play Miss Smarty-pants and point out that I speak both Celsius and Fahrenheit, although I'm not absolutely sure I'm spelling them right.

Maybe they have a point...which, by the way, would be a comma if a malevolent world government forced everybody to read temperatures in French.

This could be a slippery slope situation. First Celsius, then kilometers, then kilometres...where would it end?

Holding our silverware European-style, being required to learn a foreign language, having a decent health care system?

Some changes just scream out "danger."

(Photo extracted from a site that looked like it was called Physical Science , and as such was definitely not going to be bookmarked by this blogger!

But it turns out that "Physical Science" is part of, a pretty spiffy-looking site for teachers. Just what I need! Another bookmark!)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Coming soon...

What could be better than a musical -- given the subject matter, I won't say "musical comedy" -- starring Johnny Depp? These are truly a few of my favorite things...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Fun stuff abounds...

I tend to use the Internet for relatively serious purposes. Listening to music and keeping up with my blogs are about as fun as it gets -- and even those activities often carry some work-oriented or educational connotation. Listening to Radio Paradise or Sur La Route, I feel good about improving my musical culture. And who knows -- maybe I'll run into a song I can use in class.

Then there's blogging -- I try to be relaxed about it, especially on And So Forth. But the fact that I am a "slightly-published" writer is never far from my mind. Whatever I post is out there for anybody and everybody to peruse: a rather daunting concept.

So with all this latent seriousness lurking behind each blog post, it's a pleasure to dive into a fun, silly subject: cereal boxes.

Did you know there is a whole virtual world out there devoted to the packaging of our daily childhood breakfast food?

Topher's Breakfast Cereal Guide focuses on cereal-box characters. Do you remember Count Chocula? I do now, but he sure hadn't crossed my mind for a few years. (OK, let's say for about thirty.)

If Topher's doesn't pour out enough grainy information for you, there's The Boxtop, a "seasonal cereal net newsletter written for cereal enthusiasts."

Yes, readers, this is the type of thing you can find when you spend a bit too much time on the Internet, as I am doing this morning.

Sorry, I've got to wrap up this post. I promised my daughter I'd make her something for breakfast...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: My Dream Job

My dream job is intellectual, yet involves a lot of contact with people.

My dream job is extremely creative, yet not artistic.

My dream job involves speaking in public and has a certain performance aspect to it, but includes some special quiet time too.

My dream job is objective-driven. One must constantly strive for success -- but not the financial kind.

My dream job changes constantly: with the years, with the time of day, and with the seasons.

I have been working at my dream job for 25 years now. Not all of my friends and acquaintances were pleased with my choice.

"We always thought you'd make something out of yourself, Betty," announced a high school friend when she found out what I was doing. (Ironically, after a number of years in various sales positions, she is now doing the same job as I am. I guess she got tired of making something out of herself.)

My dream job is my current job, and it was my first "career" job. If--and only if -- I can keep my energy up, it will be my last.

I am a teacher.

(This post was inspired by the Sunday Scribblings subject of "First Job, Worst Job, Dream Job." I'm sure this will be a really interesting scribble, so click by and take a look at the other posts.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Death of a Blog

As some of you may remember, last summer I started a new blog on Typepad. I was intrigued by the subject -- the title of the blog was "My European Scrapblog." I had hoped to write up all sorts of news and cultural snippets related to Europe.

I still think I have a good concept here, but I just don't have the time to keep up with it.

So I killed "My European Scrapblog." Since it was on Typepad and I was paying good money for it to sit there, I actually had to send it to blog heaven.

No regrets. I'm really getting into writing for La France Profonde at the moment, and am even starting some historical research into the Aveyron department to beef up that blog's content.

One thing I've learned about blogging is that it's all about change...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A Few Words About Reading

What a nice surprise! Matthew of Common Misadventures tagged me for an interesting meme about reading. Then, of course, I put off writing it for a few weeks because it actually took some thinking. But here goes...

My Reading: I used to be a voracious reader. When I was in high school, I read at least a book a week. I devoured as many of the classics as I could get my hands on, including things I would never read now (like Dostoevsky!) Despite thoughts of majoring in history or political science in college, I ended up majoring in English Lit -- so plenty more reading ensued.
Once I got out into the working world, though, I turned away from the classics. I pick one up occasionally, but I really prefer to read high-quality but easily readable recent fiction.

Although I read French fluently, I don't read in French that often. I think reading is a good way for me to keep in touch with my native language, and I also find much current French fiction soupy and too self-consciously intellectual. I will make an exception for one of the five books on my list below, though. I also know that I have just made a sweeping generalization, and anyone who wants to suggest a list of great recent French novels to read can feel free to do so!

Total number of books owned: Probably several hundred, but I don't buy all that many books -- other than cookbooks, which are a guilty pleasure! I had quite a collection of classics sitting back home in the USA but got rid of them a few summers ago.

Last book read and bought: The last book I read was Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. I enjoyed the cultural observations, but had to skim over the endless details about house renovation.
The last book I bought was The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami -- but I haven't read it yet.

Five meaningful books: Not necessarily favorites, just books that have meant a lot to me and that come to mind...

Les Jeux Sont Faits by Jean-Paul Sartre

Ensemble, C'est Tout by Anna Gavalda

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover

Now for who to tag -- how about the last three people who have commented on And So Forth?
That would be Rachelle, Christina and Katie...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A tale of two racisms

Which country do you think is more racist: France or the USA?

Hop over to La France Profonde for a more fully-developed post on the subject...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Say it ain't so...

I know Seattle has mushroomed since I left the Pacific Northwest in 1990. The city that was once America's best-kept secret has become a sprawling center of urban chic.

But have living conditions there really gone downhill?

"The top five cities in the Americas were:

Vancouver (3rd)
Toronto (15th)
Ottawa (tied for 18th)
Montreal (22nd)
Calgary (24th)

The lowest ranking Americas city in the top 50 was Seattle (tied for 49th)"

All right, Seattle is still in the Top 50 of the Mercer Human Resource Consulting Worldwide Quality of Living Survey.

But it ranks after those "real" big cities, the East Coast ones: Boston, New York City, and Washington D.C..

How can this be?

(Photo from

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The immensity of it all...

If you drop by here from time to time, you may have noticed my distinct lack of blogosphere presence these days.

I think I am cutting back.

For me, there have been stages in my blogging adventures. When I got started, I really didn't know what I was getting into. As I've said before, I thought maybe -- just maybe -- my parents might read my blog from time to time.

Several blogs? I didn't even know that was possible!

Then I started to get into it. Really into it. Too into it.

When I look back on the last year or so, I realize a huge percentage of my home time was spent blogging, commenting, and reading blogs.

Now some of my home time is going to be spent on those activities.

I'm in the stage of trying to get handle on the immensity of it all...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

On vacation!

Cuisine Quotidienne was the first to go...on vacation. Then La France Profonde. Now, as I face my last four days in Olympia and prepare for a one-week trip to Colorado, I have to declare And So Forth officially on holiday until September.

I have noticed a lot of bloggers taking time off this month -- so if that is the case for you, relax and I'll see you in the blogosphere in September!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ouway le montagne bike trail?

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's vacation in the USA seems to be cause for plenty of chuckling.

I had to laugh at the big flap in France about Nico Sarko daring - -and deigning -- to set foot stateside for his vacances. Who does he think he is, anyway? Shouldn't he just go to some two-star campground like everybody else? Maybe he'd run into some of the Socialist party mucky-mucks who are criticizing his choice of destination! Right...

And Meredith over on Poppy Fields brought up an interesting hypothesis about Cecilia Sarkozy's sudden case of a sore throat right before she would have been spending the day with Bush. Could she have faked it all to get out of the photo... "ops?"

Now Bush is claiming he would be delighted to holiday in long as he could hit the open mountain bike trail:

" Asked by reporters if he would be willing to follow Sarkozy's example and take a vacation away from home, Bush said: 'Of course I would ... there's some spectacular spots around the world ... great places to relax.'

What about France, if Sarkozy should invite him? 'Absolutely. Absolutely. Particulary if he could find a place for me to ride my mountain bike,' responded Bush, who is an avid enthusiast of the sport."

(Extract from "Bush would holiday in France, if he could go biking," The Economic Times)

S'il vous puh-leeease!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Back to School Resolutions

Some people make New Year's resolutions; I make back to school resolutions.

Sure, it may be a little early to write about going back to school. After all, I have well over three weeks left in my decidedly generous summer vacation.

Yet, as August advances, I can't help but think about getting back into the classroom and back onto a routine...a better one than last year, of course.

I will streamline my lesson plans, all the while trying out new methods and activities.

I will better organize my grocery shopping in order to cook simple and delicious meals on weeknight evenings.

I will use my long ( I do teach in France, don't forget) lunch break to good avail.

And so forth!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Decision

I can see why some people are tortured by choices. Not by what to eat in a restaurant, or what to wear in the morning -- although, come to think of it, some can get pretty worked up by those seemingly minor questions.

We often feel we would have made better decisions with hindsight. ("If I had known that, I would have..." or "In retrospect, it would have been better to...?") Yet I would posit that the consequences of any major decision are so vast that knowing them beforehand would only paralyze us more.

18 years ago I decided to move to France to be with my future husband. Of course, if a voice had told me "You will be happy there and have two beautiful children, but if you stay in the USA you will be killed in a car accident at the age of 33," the decision would have been all the easier to make.

But what if a voice had laid out several equally attractive and fascinating life paths? How could I have ever made a proper choice?

It's likely a good thing that most life-changing choices are made relatively rashly, with little understanding of how overwhelming their consequences will be.

(Read more decision-oriented Sunday Scribblings posts here.)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Greetings from my home town

By the way, I'm spending the summer in my birthplace and home town: Olympia, Washington.

I'm in no way taking a vacation from blogging or writing, but lately posting on this blog has depended on my inspiration -- which was really the point of creating And So Forth anyway.

To tell you the truth, this entry is mainly just an opportunity to post this great image created by my friend and former student Siouxfire.

If you've dropped by here and aren't finding enough of interest to read, check out his excellent cultural "blogzine," Siouxwire.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Wicked

Originally posted in April, I thought I'd bring this one out again for this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt: "wicked."

While America mourns the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre...

"guns don't kill, people do," right Mr. President?

Don't forget to read articles about other massacres like in Iraq and Afghanistan ...

but maybe "bombs don't kill, people do." What do you think Mr. President?

Well, look behind the eyes.
It's a hallowed hollow anesthetized
'save my own ass, screw these guys'
smoke and mirror lock down...

We're sick of being jerked around,
We all fall down."

(Lyrics from
Bad Day by R.E.M.)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Blog Bulimia?

All right, so I was going to hold off on announcing the creation of my fourth blog until I had really set up its layout, until I had figured out how to insert this incredibly cool banner that my friend Siouxfire created for me, until I had lined up many fabulous links, until I had Typepad totally figured out...

Then I remembered that if I had thought about all of that before launching La France Profonde or Cuisine Quotidienne, I wouldn't even be writing a single blog -- certainly not this one.

And hey, I kind of like the post I just wrote over there. So feel free to stop by.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Favorite Childhood Flicks

I have been wanting to post to Ten on Tuesday for several weeks, but find it is pretty hard to think of ten of anything on short notice. I always seem to come up with five, but then struggle with the rest.

This week's subject struck my fancy, though:

Ten Favorite Movies from your Childhood

I haven't looked at the other posts yet, but know I will sadly realize that my childhood must seem practically prehistoric to many of the bloggers.

Be that as it may, this was still a fun list to write.

My parents encouraged my love of musicals, and I am carrying it on to my own children, who are participating (as I blog this) in an excellent summer musical comedy program in Olympia, Washington.

Most of these movies aren't really "kids' movies" as such, and a few are definitely adult movies. In fact, 2001 and Dr. Zhivago are among the first "grown-up" flicks I saw -- which may be why they left such an impression on me.

I'm not sure these are in order of preference, but they are roughly in the order of the number of times I saw them. For the top five, that was an awful lot.

1. The Sound of Music

2. The Wizard of Oz

3. Mary Poppins

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey

5. Oliver

6. The Pink Panther

7. Doctor Zhivago

8. My Fair Lady

9. Pinocchio

10. The Aristocats

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Long, beautiful hair

I am relieved to see male college students once again sporting hair. I grew up in the sixties and seventies, and long hair gave boys not only a young, rebellious look but also hid a multitude of ills.

When I arrived at university in 1977, most of the older boys were still frequenting hair salons...infrequently. But by the end of my college experience, it was morning in America, and barber shops were sharpening their scissors and razors for a haircut-intensive decade.

Recently, I've noticed that long hair has crept back into young men's psyches -- and onto their heads.

This is as it should be.

(Click here for more hair, courtesy of Sunday Scribblings.)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

From read to reel

It's been so fun participating in Sunday Scribblings that I feel like I could use another group to give some direction to And So Forth. Enter Booking Through Thursday -- a fun site I ran into through a fellow Sunday Scribbler. Every week it posts a question related to books, and this week the query is:

"1. In your opinion, what is the best translation of a book to a movie?
2. The worst?
3. Had you read the book before seeing the movie, and did that make a difference? (Personally, all other things being equal, I usually prefer whichever I was introduced to first.)"

I couldn't really come up with a "worst" rendition, but as far as a great movie version of a slightly sloggy book, I would have to go for The Wizard of Oz. It's one of those movies where the film version achieves such perfection that the existence of the book seems almost unnecessary.

I'm actually not sure if I read the book or saw the movie first, but it doesn't really matter -- all things are not equal in the two versions.

Sorry, L. Frank Baum.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hilarity Guaranteed

Laughing hysterically while reading a book in public is not something I do very often, but Notes from a Small Island caused me to chortle, snort and sob in the most embarrassing places.

Although Bill Bryson's book about Great Britain is already 10 years old, and presents more about Thatcher's legacy than may be relevant today, it still gives a delightfully hilarious vision of the small but mighty nation.

Whether you're an Anglophile or an Anglophobe, you will find something to enjoy in Bryson's caustic, keenly astute, and ultimately fond portrayal of "the Small Island."

Monday, July 09, 2007

Salute to Sunday Scribblings

I was a bad girl and didn't do my Sunday Scribblings last weekend.

Not that I didn't want to. Let's just say the word "slippery" didn't inspire me to new heights of blogging brilliance.

73 scribblers did have something to write about "slippery' and as usual, the variety of their interpretations is overwhelming. From prose to poetry to posts, Sunday Scribblings presents a merry cross-section of writing genres, and the best thing is that it doesn't take itself too seriously.

I can't wait until next week, when my jet-lagged mind should be recovered enough to scribble a few lines...

Saturday, June 30, 2007

In the Stars

It's been decades since I read my horoscope. What I won't do for Sunday Scribblings!

Today happens to be my birthday, and the first horoscope I googled gave me this sound advice:

Don’t be too surprised if you start to feel you need some space. The Cancer/Capricorn opposition could put you in quite an aloof or detached mood today. Schedule yourself some time, and if possible postpone any decisions or discussions relating to romantic matters!

"You need some space...schedule yourself some time..."

I think this is a good motto for my coming year.

Check up in one year on how well I followed the suggestions: same time, same blog.

This post was inspired by the Sunday Scribblings writing prompt for this weekend: "What's your sign?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Just What I Needed - 100 More Blogs!

If you're reading a blog as unfocused and diverse as And So Forth, I'm sure all you need is a hundred more blogs to feed into your aggregator.

But here they are anyway.

What do you think of this list?

My conclusions:

1.) Having read few or any of these "Top 100" blogs, I am totally out of this loop.

2.) Any list that would rank Slashfood as a top food blog needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

3.) One cool entry: The Barenaked Ladies' contribution to the blogosphere,

(Cartoon courtesy of Dave Walker)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I have a secret...

I have a secret....

The kind only very important politicians are in on.

What was it again?

Merde, j'ai oublié!

Click here for other not-so-secret Sunday Scribblings.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Shelter from the Storm

Following my flurry of communication with ex-students on my last post, I did something I swore I never would do: I created a MySpace page. It is too lame to link to for the moment, but at least I'm friends with my daughters and one of my nieces now.

Seriously, I thought this move might help me keep in touch with the younger generation, which is important for a teacher. And it has already allowed me to waste my time on a funny musical activity that my niece had posted on MySpace. Try it out, it's a great way to be unproductive at your computer for an hour or two.


1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle.

2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.


Now my niece admitted that she didn't totally follow rule 3, which means her answers are all clever and she ends up sounding like the arbiter of musical taste that she probably is at the ripe age of 20. (Well, weren't you?)

I, on the other hand, followed the rules and even accessed my WHOLE music library, including some of my daughters' songs that they have probably disowned by now. The only change I made was to skip artists who had come up more than twice -- my "shuffle" function doesn't seem that random sometimes.

So here are my musical answers to twenty questions:

“I Can Love You Like That” -- Boyz II Men

“Just Go Ahead Now” -- Spin Doctors

"Hey Man" -- Jim Murple Memorial

"I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (with Flowers in My Hair)" -- Sandi Thom (Pourquoi pas?)

"Gold Dust Woman” -- Fleetwood Mac

"Sweet Hitchhiker” -- Creedence Clearwater Revival

"Johnny B. Goode"-- Chuck Barry

"La Fin du Monde"- Cali (That may have been the case a few times -- I hope it's not now!)

"Thunder Road"—Bruce Springsteen

10. WHAT IS 2 + 2?
"So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)"- R.E.M.

"South Side"-- Moby (Interesting, she has lived in two houses on the South side of our town.)

"Bad Day” – R.E.M.


"Candle in the Wind"- Elton John

"My Only Love"- Roxy Music (I'm not planning another one, but this is a pretty good choice.)

"A Simple Twist of Fate” – Bob Dylan (Ha! That's even better.)

"Hand in Hand” – Elvis Costello

"Kid"- The Pretenders (Pretty funny for a teacher)

"Sing It Again"- Beck

"Shelter from the Storm” – Bob Dylan

If you do this activity, post the link in comments to this post. I always like getting a glimpse inside people's music libraries.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Eccentricity Serendipity

As a French teacher in the USA, I was fortunate to have a number of bright and creative students. One of the most memorable was a young man who was crazy about all things French, and who traveled to France with me on a small group trip I led.

I suppose for a high school student in the late eighties, he was considered a bit eccentric. I considered him brilliant, and always wondered what his future would hold.

Years went by, and unfortunately I never stayed in touch with him, nor did I ever really find out where life had led him.

Then this very morning, I received a rather mysterious comment on And So Forth:

Salut. C'est un petit monde, mon professeur.-Pierre-Marie

Pierre-Marie? I can barely remember many of my former students' real names, let alone the French first names that they chose for class. And why did any of my students have silly names like "Pierre-Marie"? (I guess that's beside the point.)

Frantic searching through pseudonym-laden blogs and websites ensued.

Finally I found out who Pierre-Marie was. He's living in the Czech Republic and appears to be an excellent modern artist. Why am I not surprised?

Salut, Siouxfire.

Your message came just in time to inspire me for today's Sunday Scribblings.

Click here for more Sunday Scribblings inspired by the prompt "eccentricity."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My Campaign Space

Hello fellow lovers of Internet interaction!

I thought some of you might enjoy this article by Joel Stein about MySpace and the US presidential race.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Recent Spicefest

Rodez, the mid-sized French town where I do my food shopping, used to have two épiceries fines, or gourmet food shops. Unfortunately both have shut down, and I miss being able to find any spice, oil, salt or vinegar that I want. Internet shopping is a solution, of course, but it's somehow not the same as seeing and smelling spices.

So I was in heaven when I went on a weekend trip to Tours and was able to stock up on spices and seasoned salts in this colorful shop located in Les Halles, the city's covered market.

Immediately after coming home, my everyday cooking started to take a more international twist. Asian-style stirfry on Saturday; an Italian recipe for baked fish from The Silver Spoon cookbook on Sunday. A new stock of spices definitely inspired me to get away from French classics, which are generally not spicy, and perk things up in the kitchen.

(This post was based on the Sunday Scribblings writing prompt for the week -- "spicy" -- and adapted from a previous post on my cooking blog, Cuisine Quotidienne.

My time and inspiration was lacking a bit this weekend, so take a look at some spicier posts.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Intriguing: Les Chansons d'Amour

My daughters and I went to the movies Sunday evening, thinking we were going to see an upbeat take on love songs. My eldest daughter had -- apparently -- read the reviews, and Les Chansons d'Amour (Love Songs) sounded like a fun flick.

Not exactly fun, it turns out, but fascinating. The French don't make many musicals, and this one is a far cry from Les parapluies de Cherbourg. It is the first musical I know of to deal with death, mourning, and an authentic ménage à trois, all the while putting a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

I had to laugh at IMDB's "plot keywords" for the film: Lesbian / Homosexual/ Cigarette Smoking / Paris France/ Gay... and more! Only in the more do we find what I felt the film was about: death, love, and songs.

I'd say it's French cinema at its best: smoky, it's true -- yet strange and sensual.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

City Rat or Country Rat?

When I first looked at this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt, I was mainly intrigued to see the terms "the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse."

I thought it was all about less attractive rodents. Personally, I am familiar with the French concept of city rats and country rats, probably stemming from Jean de la Fontaine's fable "Le Rat de ville et le Rat des champs." (If you don't read French, you can check out the English translation at the bottom of the link.)

As you can see in the fable, the City Rat invites the Country Rat to a wonderful banquet which is unfortnately interrupted by some strange knocking that puts the City Rat in a tizzy.

The Country Rat concludes that the feast was nice enough, but he prefers to eat at home where his dining pleasure is not "so mix'd with fear and trembling."

My family and I are now country rats, yet in our lovely, quiet corner of La France Profonde we have been victims of one car theft, a mysterious night stalker, and threats of physical violence from a village-dweller.

Despite these events, our lives are hardly full of "fear and trembling." Yet somehow I always feel safer in cities. I suppose when it comes to country living, I tend to agree with Woody Allen in Annie Hall:

"You've got crickets. lt's quiet. There's no place to walk after dinner.
There's the screens with the dead moths behind them.
You got the Manson family, possibly. You got Dick and Perry

But don't get me wrong. We do have some very nice neighbors.

Click here to read more Sunday Scribblings posts from city rodents and country rodents all over the world.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sidebar Switches; Sunday Scribblings

And So Forth is evolving, and I have made some changes in my sidebar. So if you used to be on this sidebar and you're not anymore, don't despair! I've just moved you to one of my other blogs, which is probably a good thing for all concerned as they have much bigger readerships!

France Fanatics have been moved to La France Profonde.

Favorite Foodies and Wine Links have been moved to Cuisine Quotidienne.

And So Forth started out as my "just for fun" blog, and I am trying to keep it diverse and light-hearted -- the latter does not apply to any posts about George W. Bush, though.

I have found an anchor for ASF through my participation in Sunday Scribblings, a site that gives weekly writing prompts and posts bloggers' takes on them.

Usually I post my Sunday Scribblings on And So Forth, but this week my post was food-oriented, so you can find it here on CQ.

(Cartoon by Dave Walker courtesy of We Blog Cartoons.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Speak Out, Jimmy!

These are the times that try men's -- and women's -- souls.

So even if former presidents are not supposed to lash out at other members of "the club," I think many of us can understand Jimmy Carter's recent remarks.

Does anybody feel like comparing the Iran hostage "crisis" with the Iraq war debacle?

I'm sure you do, Jimmy. So speak out. You're 83 years old. You deserve it. And so does he.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I'll Be In Paradise...

I'm leaving on Thursday for a six-day trip elsewhere in there won't be any Sunday Scribbling for me this weekend.

I know I'll see people so busy, but will I see Terry meet Julie?

And if I did, would I recognize them after all these years?

Sha la la...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Why I Live Where I Live - An Interview With Myself

Sunday Scribblings ' prompt for the week is "second chance."

I had just been thinking how fun some of the earlier prompts were, and I'm definitely up for this idea:

"Is there a Sunday Scribblings prompt you would like to use again?"

Technically, I'm not "using it again" since I wasn't Sunday Scribbling at the time of this prompt: "Why I Live Where I Live." But I look as it as a second chance for me to do write about this subject, and also a first chance for some of you to learn a little more about me.

1. Why do you live on the planet Earth?

Because I'm a human being and I think it's the only place we can live.

2. Why do you live in France?

Because I married a Frenchman in 1990 and professionally, it seemed like the best choice for both of us. He was in a professional field that would have been difficult to exercise in the USA; I already spoke French, had teaching experience, and was a committed Francophile. So here we are, seventeen years later.

3. Why do you live in Aveyron, in the deep depths of la France profonde ?

When French people ask me what I'm doing "lost in Aveyron," they usually figure my husband must be Aveyronnais. It's hard for them to imagine why else an American would live here. But actually our move to this area was strictly a professional decision -- we had been living in Tours, and my husband found a better job here. I followed.

4. Why do you live in your village?

When my aforementioned husband first moved down here, three months before my daughters and I did, he rented a house in this "village." I moved into it -- both the village and the house -- sight unseen. Later, since we wanted to buy a home, we limited our choices to the same village, because we liked it here, or Rodez, where we both worked.

5. Why do you live in your house?

Like a lot of expats, I always imagined that in France I would buy vieilles pierres -- an old stone house. But that never worked out. After looking for a house to buy for over two years, we finally decided to have one built. My husband designed it and did most of the construction work. We may not stay here forever, but it's a great home for now.

For more about second chances, click here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pink Departments and Blue Departments

When it comes to election time, the USA has red states and blue states; France has pink departments and blue departments.

In France's election this year, it is amazing to see the clear-cut geographical boundaries between the departments that voted for Ségolène Royal (pink) and those which went for Nicolas Sarkozy (blue.)

I can't vouch for the total accuracy of the map though, because it shows the Aveyron (third up from the bottom center) department as voting for Ségolène Royal, but the official site of the Ministry of the Interior shows the opposite. I assume the latter site is correct!

By the way, the choice of pink is not related to Ségolène's being a woman --pink is simply is the traditional color of the French Socialist party.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Google Bayrou, Find Sarkozy?

I was just writing to my parents in the USA about the French presidential race, and I wanted to send them the name of the new party François Bayrou is forming. I couldn't remember if it was "le mouvement démocratique" or "démocrate", so I did a Google search for Bayrou, and this is what came up at the top of the page, the day before the election between Sarkozy and Royal:

Sarkozy-Royal au 2nd tour Réactions, interviews, commentaires Suivez l'événement sur Europe1
Le Vrai Sarkozy Ce que vous ne savez pas de Sarkozy Son expérience et son talent

All right, Bayrou isn't in the race anymore, so maybe the first link is legitimate. But how did this extremely pro-Sarkozy YouTube video come up in second place on a search for "Bayrou" the day before the election?

Well, first I suppose I should point out that it's a commercial link. But doesn't it seem a little wrong for Google to sell space for that link under searches for Bayrou?

By the way, by not removing the actual links above, I am not in any way trying to work as a secret force for Sarkozy! I'm just "showing it like it is."

In a country where equal media time for the candidates is controlled to the second, it's interesting to see how the world's biggest search engine has been harnessed in a last minute attempt to reach out to Bayrou's voters.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Et moi loin de toi...

English-speaking expats in France come in two categories: those separated from home by an ocean, and those separated from home by the English Channel.

The latter hop back to see their family for long weekends. They take low-cost flights, sometimes only paying less than 75 euros round trip -- taxes included. They don't deal with a significant time difference. They are really no further from home than a Parisian living in the South of France.

Ocean-separated expats live a different experience. We never go home for a long weekend. We save money for a very expensive trip every year, or even every few years. We try to extend our stays as long as possible, which may pose career or family problems. The time zone difference and ensuing jet lag make the trip a major undertaking.

An ocean, for all its wide open space, remains a formidable barrier.

Tu es à huit heures de moi
Je suis à des années de toi
C'est ça être là-bas...

(Extract from the song "Lettre à France" by Michel Polnareff . He wrote the song about his exile in the USA, but it can work both ways...)

This post was inspired by this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt: "ocean."

For more "ocean" posts, click here.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Add Bush's veto to the list of grievances...

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sunday Scribblings Serendipity

I didn't think I would participate in this week's Sunday Scribblings session, with the prompt of "wings," because I was away on a trip. As I explained in a comment on the site:

"I won't have a post for the wings prompt because I am taking off on a little trip to see a friend who will be flying away from France to the USA...possibly forever."

It was a very emotional trip. Not only did I have a great visit with the woman who is moving back to the USA, who was my best friend in France from 1992 to 1995, but I also returned to the part of the Touraine region where I lived for those three years, and where my second daughter was born.

On the first leg of the journey home, I noticed the name of the regional bus service that was taking me from Tours to Châteauroux: "L'AILE BLEUE," or the blue wing.

For more Sunday Scribblings about "wings," click here.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Blogger, Mozilla and Internet Explorer

I downloaded Mozilla Firefox a month or two back, and have been able to make a few observations about how it interacts with Blogger compared to IE. This may not be the same for you, but the realizations I have made have helped me work out a few problems.

1. When I post using Mozilla, Blogger will not display the "comments" function

Once I got Mozilla, I started using it with Blogger because I liked the navigation tabs, which helped me to avoid shutting Blogger down accidentally and losing whole posts or parts of posts that I hadn't saved as drafts yet. (Sound familiar to anyone?)

However, around the same time, I realized that some of my posts were not coming up with comments enabled. This was most annoying and I had never had that problem before, but didn't immediately make the Mozilla connection. Out of habit, I was still doing some posts on IE, so it was not a constant problem.

The other day though, I posted using Mozilla, saw that the comments weren't enabled, and immediately reposted using IE. Presto, change-o: the comment function was there.

2. With Mozilla, I can cut and paste my photos on Blogger.

Posting multiple photos was very complicated for me with Blogger and IE because the cut and paste function would not work, and also photos were always automatically loaded to the top of the page (this may still be the case.) So I had to pre-plan the order of my photos, load them in the correct sequence, and write my text around them.

With Mozilla, I can move my photos around and cut and paste them -- a big time-saver for me.

3. In conclusion:

I now write my posts on Mozilla for the tabs and photo possibilities, save them as drafts, then do the final post on IE!

Kind of complicated, but I hope this information might be useful to someone. Mimi, for example, has mentioned to me that she was having some comment enabling problems with Blogger. Maybe I've found the solution!

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Plant a baby girl in the late 1950s
Water her regularly with Pacific Northwest rain
Watch her grow up; no pruning needed
Transfer her to a ceramic pot and move her to a warmer climate for four years
Rush her back to the Evergreen State before she dries out
Let her roots take hold there for nine more years
Dig her up and replant her in three different French climates:
Heat, more rain, a little of everything,whatever
She's low maintenance
Two offshoots sprout up
Where are their roots?

(This post was inspired by the Sunday Scribblings prompt of the week: "rooted." Read more "rooted" posts here.)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

While America mourns the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre...

"guns don't kill, people do," right Mr. President?

Don't forget to read articles about other massacres like this one and this one ...

but maybe "bombs don't kill, people do." What do you think Mr. President?

Well, look behind the eyes.
It's a hallowed hollow anesthetized
'save my own ass, screw these guys'
smoke and mirror lock down...

We're sick of being jerked around,
We all fall down."

(Lyrics from
Bad Day by R.E.M.)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Internet Identity - -Comments Enabled

When I started writing on Internet, I assumed I would use a pseudonym forever, thus never revealing my true identity. Although one of my blogs deals with the area I live in, I tried to be vague about my exact geographic locale.

Since nobody I knew wrote a blog -- at least nobody over the age of 16 -- any feedback I got fueled my decision to opt for anonymity. "You've got to be careful with all those nuts out there" seemed to be the conventional wisdom.

Little by little, though, lines got fuzzy. My blogs allowed readers to write emails to me, and when answering, I found myself wanting to use my real name. Then, of course, some of these contacts started to leave nominative comments on my posts.

I knew the gig was up when I had lunch with a local writer and he started to talk about posts of mine that he had read -- even though only my immediate family "officially" knew about my blogging life.

Finally, with the publication of a freelance article that linked to my blogs, I had to drop my secret identity and come out of my blogger's closet. I'm more comfortable this way, but find that my lack of anonymity carries a certain responsibility.

What's your Internet identity comfort zone?

This post was inspired by Sunday Scribblings and its writing cue for this week: Secret Identity.

Thanks to Meredith of Poppy Fields for the link to this site. Or maybe you'd rather look at her secret identity?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

One Good Question: Who writes blooks?

If blogs are written by bloggers,

who are blooks written by?



Sunday, April 08, 2007

Here he comes! With his twin, too!

"Here comes Peter Cottontail

Hopping down the bunny trail

Hippity, hoppity....?"

Can you continue the lyrics? How far can you go?


Friday, April 06, 2007

Pour Ceux Qui Parlent Français...

Et par la face arrière, ça passe mieux, peut-être?

Sorry for the lack of translation. Let's say you either get it or you don't.