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.