Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The rock candy is meltin' and only diamonds remain

It snowed today. I always wonder how they can predict rain when in lozere, without a doubt, it snows instead. They were big, fat, wet flakes. The kind that get you all wet but make you smile cause the landscape is covered in a white blanket faster.

I've booked my tickets for Paris my last weekend with Sophie. We got a great deal because the tickets were cheaper in 1er classe! I just couldn't resist. I'm also hoping we get to see the movie "tout ce qui brille". It seems like my kind of movie and after Arnacoeur, I'm less timid about seeing French films. (It's never the french that bothers me much, its the lame films that seem to come from france that gave me this prejudice.)

Some days are harder than others and today was no exception since I had my favorite (NOT!) class. They test my teaching and discipline to a point where I feel like a failure. It probably did not help my back pain was bad last night thus I got about 5 hours max sleep. I keep thinking ... 2 more sessions, and none of those alone anymore!

Lately, I also been thinking about my return and how much I'm going to miss France. I feel many weird emotions and I can't seem to define any of them concretely other than a general sadness for what I feel is my last time living in France. I hope I can live up to my old friend, chris' quote : "profitez-en". I shall profit, indeed I shall.

Monday, March 29, 2010

La Truffade: My favorite dish

S decided one night randomly to show me how to make La truffade, a traditional lozerian dish. Of course, in France you start with an apero, so we had wine and brebis cheese which is from a sheep. IT WAS AMAZING!
Here is la truffade cooking. It's almost done! Look at all that cheesy goodness.
This is S and I sitting down to eat this wonderfully delicious meal! Merci S!!!
I liked it so much, and as you know one of my goals is to learn 5 lozerian recipes so I thought I'd make it myself last week. Here is how you do it. If you find this cheese in the usa tell me where!!!

Here is my version of La Truffade. Step one: Dice potatoes and lightly fry with oil for about 5-7 min, then add minced, (in my version i cut them), garlic. Lots of it. 1.5 cloves per potato.
While this is cooking some more, slice La tomme du Cantal. This cheese has virtually little flavor and is soft, sticky but actually low in fat!
Then when the potatoes are almost done you add the sliced cheese on top like this and let it melt down.

When the cheese is gooey, melted you flip it over as much as you can and it should be brown like this. Wait until is gooey and brownish.

Then finally, you eat this with jambon sec which is cured ham. SO GOOD!

Some more randoms....

Bonjour! I thought that I'd post some pictures, even though I'm currently against picture taking. (See my post on 3 x 5) Here is where I spend the majority of my time while waiting for my next class or just hanging out talking to other teachers. Here are the regulars.... Mme B, my responsable and the two math/science teachers. I think. lol. In the background there are our"casiers" for each teacher. Mine is to the right-ish and second from the top.
This weekend we celebrated F and B's birthday's chez S. I have a cool video I'll try to upload on how to open a wine bottle with a traditional "tire-bouchon". Trust me, after my 15th bottle this year, I have yet to master it. I dream of the days when I'll go home to the old, easier bottle openers.
On sunday I had lunch chez M. and Mme G. M. G has lots of old cars so I had him take a picture of my on his very very old vespa. I so wanted to ride it but this was the first time it had been out this year so he couldn't verify that everything was in working order after the winter in order to drive it. I also am experimenting with my new camera and the color accent mode. Pretty cool eh?
After lunch we all went for a walk around La Garde (where they live). This little chalet was cute. It's not inhabitable but with the grey sky and trees, this was so typical lozere I couldn't resist capturing it.
Next post: Truffade!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Books and fond flashbacks of Pogs

This week has been quite interesting! I finished my second book, Vol de nuit, which was an easy read but not very good. I found some very thoughtful quotes and things like that but all the same, it was a book about night flights and pilots which don't interest me much. The next book I'm reading is La prochaine fois which is more my style. Its longer and a bit more difficult but I like the story line way better.

Last night I sort of signed up on the 'market place' for exchanging magnets for le gaulois boxes. I realized that I have eaten about 480 nuggets so far. Grossss. Suddenly after signing up and marking my doubles on my map people started emailing me to exchange. It was quite wierd and then I really started to get into it. I've traded with 6 people and I expect 9 new ones to come in the mail monday or tuesday. Cool eh? I should have 38 more to go after I receive them. Mme S and Mme H have more to give me too!!! I am so close yet ...so far away! After forgetting to eat dinner and freakishly obssessing over people emailing me, I realzed this reminded me of my 'pog' days. For those of you who never had them, they were a fad in the mid nineties of little flat discs with designs on them that you played with. I never knew how to play so I just traded all the time....oh memories.

I have about 5.5 weeks left till I get home which is making me sader by the day. I remember back in the beginning how excited and nervous I was, then lonely and sad but now that things have gotten wonderful with friends, activities and work I really am going to miss everything about St. Chély d'Apcher. I relish this experience for giving me the confidence to speak in French no matter how bad I was to begin with!!! I have learn a lot from being in the hospital, to playing the french paper work game to questionable and questioning kids that I will never, ever forgot how much I've grown and succeeded on my own in France. Thank you Oli for giving me the push I needed to do this and always supporting me in every way imaginable!

Bisous all

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oh soleil, promise me more!

The sun was amazing today! The sky was cloudless and I went to the park to finish vol de nuit, a book I had been reading. I ran into some students who invited me to have sit with them and drink coke cola and smoke cigarettes. I promptly thanked them and declined. I think it's funny that the french kids smoke and drink coke on a regular basis after school. I see them all the time at 8 à 8 buying stuff for their afternoon snack.

This friday I am going to clermont with S because she has a car thingy and an apt at her family's store there. I hope I get paid before that!

Oli's company kind of screwed him over and he can no longer take the may vacation with his dad. I have mixed feelings about this trip mostly because it's nature and rving and he has no experience or any clue what this is going to be like. He told me today there are no bugs in the mountains of colorado. You could probably see why I am worried after this statement....

My nose got some redness from the sun (sorry mom! I put 30 on before I went out!!). I hope tomorrow is the same. I'll wip out my bathing suit by saturday if the weather continues this way...

Spring has finally come!

March 20th, 2010 ....

I’ve found the theme song for this year finally. I find that every year of my life there is a song that represents it or reminds me of that period of my life because it was on the radio so often. This year, it’s more the lyrics that attracted me to it as it is quite old but all the same how I felt about this year : 3x5 by John Mayer. I encourage all of you to go out and listen to it, and maybe, think of me. J

Today I’m able to sit in the courtyard where it’s not that windy and the sun is coming and going. I wish I had brought my book out to read too ! I could definitely spend forever outside on days like this.

This past week I went to Montpellier with Mme H since she had a formation on “the voice” within the classroom. I thought it would mostly be language teachers and that we would learn how to effectly teach pronunciation but alas I was wrong. It was how to get the students to effectively listen to us teachers while we are teaching. I don’t really need help on that front as my voice can carry pretty well but I could definitely see why some of the teachers were there. I spent all of Wednesday in seminar and the Thursday I told Mme H that I preferred sleeping in a little and going into town all day. On Wednesday night we decided to do a little shopping and see a movie. The movie was so funny and cute! I definitely recommend L’Arnacoeur to everyone! It was just like a normal American chick flick but in French! (this is jackpot gold for me.) Since it was St. Patrick’s Day everyone was out about in the streets and Mme H really wanted to find this pub and have a beer. I wasn’t really in the mood but I went along anyways since it was only 10 p.m. We found this brasserie and she seemed so disappointed and wanted a pub but this place was packed and I said if anything this is the place to be! We each had a pint and after that decided to head back to the hotel since she had to get up early the next day.

Thursday morning at breakfast we decided to meet up for lunch at the seminar building cause the lunch there is cheap. We took our teas in town though since it wasn’t that far to walk. I bought two more books at fnac during the morning. Vol de nuit and la prochaine fois. I am almost done with the first and I’m sure I get to the second this week. After tea I stayed and read a little while Mme H went back to her seminar. I had been looking for this used bookstore all morning and after I left I finally found it. Needless to say I spent about an hour in there (I bought la Chartreuse de Parme) after which I went on my search for the carafe d’eau that Mme M has. I had no luck on this front but I figure that I’ll find it somewhere soon. She said she got it long ago at some random cheap store so it’s got to be sold somewhere!

It was wonderful to spend some time in a city but I was glad when four thirty rolled around and Mme H and I headed back to St. Chely. I haven’t done much since because all my classes on Friday were cancelled due to an internship with the 3emes. I had a pretty relaxing weekend because no one was really around to go out which is fine with me cause I spent way too much in Montpellier!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Restos du coeur

I've got to preface this post by saying the following is utter ridiculousness.

Tonight, I decided to put tf1 (principal television channel in france) on in the background while I messed around the apartment. When star academie (french idol but way better than american idol) stopped I went through a sadness of the loss of my one favorite french t.v. show and I haven't really connected with any shows since but tonight, god must have been smiling on me cause "restos du coeur" was on! I must explain: all famous old, young, recent and past songs and singers are sung by alllllll my favorite french stars. I love french music and when every single one of my favs are on t.v. on stage doing their thing- I'm in 7th heaven. No joke here. I don't care what anyone says cause I love french music and musicians. The thing that got me into french to begin with was their music so naturally I'm a little obsessive. So tonight, I get from 8:40-11:30 goodness, frenchie goodness. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Surprise Surprise! There's no food in the fridge!

Today I had a wonderful surprise at the middle school! Mme G prepared a surprise birthday party for me with les 4emes. (equiv 8th grade) All the kids brought little treats and drinks from home and we had a little "gouter" before lunch. I was amazed, shocked and so happy! Mostly because I didn't tell anyone it was my birthday last sunday at the collège.

This first photo is of some of my 4emes in the section euro. This class is a special test in english class so all these kids want to be there and have a higher level of english than my regular 4emes. That doesn't always mean they behave but they are a great group of kids.
These boys are so funny. They like to joke around with me a lot and they make fun of my accent sometimes but its all good natured. We're missing one because he was off winning the champion de france running competition in Corsica! Congrats to Collège Haut Gévaudan for winning over all schools in france!
This a group photo. I'm in the back and Mme G is off to the right.

On a completely separate note, here's a photo of the sorry state of my fridge. I cleaned out the bad stuff tonight in a fit of cleaning everything I could get my hands on and then realized that all I had to eat tonight was pasta and pesto or pasta and butter. Notice how much freakin' butter I have. I'm not sure why... I bought it before the vacation and I think I thought I'd make cookies or something. Nonetheless this is a very typical french thing to have bricks of butter. (the 2L is not mine mom! Mme G gave it to me today!)

For the next couple of weeks I have class on friday with the 3emes at the middle school. They are working on a theatre production of love songs transformed into poems I think and Mme N asked me to help them out working on theatre techniques, pronociation and the like. I really have fun with them despite having to be there at 8 in the morning! I technically don't have to go since my hours are full but I want to and the kids I hope benefit since Mme N is the weakest english speaker of all my teachers. It's not a rag on her cause she's fluent for sure but she's also THE youngest teacher in St. Chély therefore it's logical that the others would be more fluent than her if there are degrees of fluency. I really love working with Mme N too cause she always does fun activities and I never have to prepare for them. I guess that makes me lazy but when I see a kid every other week for an hour and I have no idea what theme they are working on, it just makes it easier if the teacher gives me ideas or lessons and I can adapt them to my personality.

I don't have plans for the weekend but next week I might be going to Montpellier with Mme H. She's got a formation training for two days and asked if I'd like to come down with her. I have to see about rearranging my classes on thursday so I'm still undecided. Also, Oli was upset about me going so I don't know if I will either. It's completely unfair of him to deny me any opportunity for amusement since I rarely get that here but I don't want to start another lipstick war.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

An Unforgettable Birthday

The pictures are a little out of order so I'm going to start with the end of the night and then go backwards. Mme H invited me over for a soirée pizza to celebrate the birthdays of her husband, my birthday and little Paul's. (He's the son of Mme I) It was the perfect party to warm me up from my busy day with S and I'm starting to feel quite at home here in St. Chély.

Here is a photo of all the older guys at the party. The guys like to make fun of me cause I'm american but it's all in good fun. Here we have all the husbands of my women friends here in St. Chély. Aren't I lucky to have some good guys to watch out for me?

Here are my two of my birthday gifts! I got flowers from Sab, the sister in law of Mme H and a beret from C. They handed me a baguette and a bottle of wine and I started to feel french....NOT! lol. I love the photo cause it shows just how much I love french!

Here I'm blowing out my "happy birthday" candles and the 24 candles. The cake was sooo good even though M. L and I were the only ones who ate it. The others wanted my apple pie which was fine with me! Less to take home!
All in all my birthday was great! I got a manicure gift cert from Mme H, a lozère recipe book from S and E, 3 bottles of wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon, the region where I'm living (lesser known for its wines but all the same they are amazing!) among other things I'm sure i'm forgetting.

I really feel like I'm becoming a part of something here in St. Chély and though I count the days (54) until I got home it's almost as if I'm counting them because I don't want to go home and I want to stay here. I'm sure that I'll be content at home but this year, I've changed a little (hopefully for the better) and I've made myself a little life here. I'm really going to miss the people that have welcomed me into their homes and took care of the little blonde american english assistant.


The real Lozère

This post is long, mostly filled with photos but this is what I did on Saturday before the big birthday bash. The weather was gorgeous and not that cold and S and I had a blast seeing the wonders of western Lozère. Her parents invited me to lunch with them and then we embarked on our adventure as follows.

These are S's horses. I've seen horses before but never this close and never horses this gentle. They are old she said but still it was a pleasure to finally not feel fear whenever I see a horse. Next project-get on one and ride! (Hopefully in april when the weather is nicer!)

This was the first place that S took me. This is a lake that is very deep and looks sort of like a river because its squeezed between two gorges. The water level was pretty low but that allowed us to go a little further than normal. She told me that this is her favorite place to go in the summer and enjoy the water.
All my pictures look like its warm but this is just a reminder that it is still very cold in Lozère. Look at the ice accumulating in the boat. Definitely not time to go swimming!
I sort of look like I'm conquering the lake but I'm not. I'm try to balance on the rocks so I don't fall in the mud. There is a spring behind me mucking all the dirty up and I really didn't want to get stuck in the mud so early on our adventure!
This is on the way up from the lake. See how it looks like a river? We had to weave and climb on this small road to make it back up the mountain and on our way to the next destination.

We started out our hiking here. The woods are a little dry and barren now but that makes for better hiking. This is S and scott. Scott is a border collie and he lives with S's parents.
Woah. We made it! Look how big the rocks can get here. This is proof at how rugged the terrain is here in Lozère. I felt so small under the big rocks.
At the top! There were three crosses side by side at the top of this mountain. It was fairly windy but it felt nice after the little hike. Look at how blue the sky was!!!

S and I went to St's village since it was on the way to the volcano. St was supposed to come with us today but something came up I guess. He did manage to join us when we visited the church on the hill by his house. I asked if anyone he knows is buried here and he said said he has some family members, grandparents and such. The graves were gorgeous! Unfortunately the church was closed.
I saw these people down at the ledge that is "interdit" or forbidden to go there and it was so tempting that I hoped the barbed wire fence once they left. S and St thought I was nuts but they of course joined me.
Here is S and I on the ledge. We could have easily fallen into the gorge below but it was so much fun to feel on top of the world.
These crosses are typical of the lozère. I saw at least a dozen during the day.

Here is the Volcano that we have in Lozère. It's dormant and they are pretty sure it won't erupt again. (The others in le puy de dome will erupt in the next couple hundred years!) This view is from Sophie's pasture where she keeps her horses. I really wanted to climb to the top of the volcano so we did!
Here is the opposite view from the top of the volcano. This is S's village. It's about 15 km from St. Chély.
This is about 45 degrees to the left of the other photo. Still from the top of the volcano. In the distance the snow covered mountains is the Super Lioran Resort where everyone goes skiing around here. It takes about 1.5 hours to get there because their isn't a highway there.
This was the last thing we did. I got to visit S's uncle's cow farm. Unfortunately these cows are grown to eat, not make milk so soon they will be on some french person's plate. All the same, this experience was interesting for me and also a little gross. (I won't go into details)
The next post will be my birthday dinner! Stay tuned!

Toronto Pictures

I finally was able to upload some pictures from the high school so look forward to many posts today. I've got lots I've not posted on!

Here is a view of downtown Toronto from Oli's room in the corporate apartments. I think this shows just how built up Toronto is and gorgeous despite the crummy weather.
After I met up with Oli and his coworkers for all you can eat sushi I decided to walk back to the Eaton Center. It was my last day in Toronto and despite the wet wet snow, it was a cool experience. I saw this building and thought it out of place among all the modern high rise buildings so I snapped a quick photo. I'm sure its some sort of municipal building.
Here is another photo from Oli's room of the CN Tower. That's how downtown we were!!!
This is us at dundas and younge after a movie. It was snowing and we were hungry so we headed to hot house (amazing pasta) for dinner. I love date night!
There's Toronto in photo summary. Look forward to my next post: St Chely, encore!!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Simple Pleasures

I've been back in France for a couple of days now and I've realized there are some things that I've really missed and some things that have changed for the better around here!

1. I've missed french bread with my meals. I love sopping up the juices from my plate after I'm done eating, it's my favorite part.

2. The school installed a door handle to the massive green door at the bottom entrance to my apartment building. This all sounds silly I know, but before I had to reach around the little gap between the cement wall and the door to release the door. Now I can open it, like a normal person!

3. Speaking french. I missed it so and coming back wasn't nearly as hard as coming back from christmas vacation. I easily slipped back into talking with people. I'm sure I've lost a little progress (Mme H insists I did) but not nearly to the extent before.

4.) Seeing my friends at the gym. I talked with S tonight forever! We had so much to catch up on. I also saw C, St, E and so many more.

5.) Feeling at ease, however much I love being with Oli, in Toronto I feel this restlessness that eats away at me and by the time Oli gets home I'm crabby as hell. I think that despite my loneliness here I am even more lonely there. At least I have daytime interactions and work to do here. In Toronto its boredom that gets me. I'll need a job or something to help or else I'm not sure that we'll stay so long in canada if I'm so unhappy.

6.) French esspresso. The nesspresso machine me manque! I love it and it's not the same in the states for some reason.

In any case, it feels great to be back. I also miss calculated my time here. I have two months left but only 6 of teaching including this one. I have 5 before break and 1 more after. I really was hoping to visit Henry and G during break but because of the delta mishap I'm out 100 euros that I was hoping to use toward a weekend away there. I'm going to save like a fiend to make this work out.


Monday, March 1, 2010

La Tempête Xynthia and her effects

I've never been a big fan of traveling as I prefer the actual destination visits. This year mother nature has decided to test my stress management and bank account with her constant weather affecting my travels! Only on the days when I travel does mother nature think, what can I throw at Liz to test her ability to cope? Well this time, was literally the icing on the cake to convince me never to travel in the winter ever again. never.

I started out my trip on saturday morning in Toronto. I was scheduled to leave at 11:20 for cincinnati and then later that afternoon to paris. INSTEAD, due to the storm in New York (where the flight team was coming from) my first flight was cancelled and I was rescheduled for a 1 p.m. flight to detroit, then 3:30 to Pittsburgh then 6:15 for Paris getting me in a little earlier around 8:25. (I was thinking, amazing-I'll totally make my 13h01 train!) The even better part, I got to fly first class all the way!!! Even on the night flight!

So my first flight left 45 minutes late causing my luggage to never make it to Pittsburgh. Thats fine cause there are at least 1 flight from detroit to paris and it'll be there when I get there! Right? WRONG...

Storm Xynthia off the coast of France and Belgium caused high winds (some deaths too) all along northern france and my flight couldn't land. They diverted us to Amsterdam. Ok. I guess at this point I'm not making my train, thats ok I can catch the 16h or 18h one...think positive!

Nope. We sat in the plane for three hours until delta told us to get our luggage, proceed through customs and then we were going to be bused to paris from Amsterdam. Yes, I said bused. lol. It took about 7.5 hours due to the wind. Also because my suitcase never came, amsterdam KLM told me I had to file a claim in Paris. Yikes.

Once in Paris, the delta representative told me I officially reached my destination and there was no more they could or would do for me. All the hotels around the airport were full and so he told me to look in Paris. Oli took care of that for me like a wonderful future husband while I got into various lines to claim my lost suitcase and have it sent to me in St. Chely. That took about 3 hours. My suitcase was still in New York (don't ask why cause I don't know, I never went there!) and it should arrive on tuesday morning when flights resume service nyc-cdg. From there it could be 2-3 days until it gets here. I'm so lucky that I have some clothes here to wear and I left some toiletries. In any case I am to save all my reciepts to file a claim with Delta service care for my hotel, train and necessities until I get my bag. I hope they accept this claim because so far they have cost me a little over 100 euros surplus.

In the end, I made it to St. Chely in one piece, one bag lighter and semi-lucid enough to walk into town for some food.

I encourage all of you to look online at the french news because despite my horrible travels there are people in the north west of France that are suffering hurricane katrina like conditions. There are people missing, dead and the houses are destroyed and waterlogged. It makes me sad watching the news because more rain is heading that way again this week.