Monday, August 30, 2010

Shepherd dwellings.

Yesterday, Monsieur J and I set out for a hike in the Pyrénées. I'd picked this one out because of the orris -shepherds' dwellings used as early as the 1300s. Not only did we see the ruins, but cows and sheep galore -evidence that these mountain pastures are still alive and well.

We parked just above the lake at Soulcem and set out for the valley where we immediately saw not just one or two cabins, but several. A sign explained the complexity of the arrangements; the huts weren't used exclusively for shepherds, but for their flocks, milking, cheese production, etc...

We picnicked in the valley before climbing up to a little pond nestled in the mountains.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What do you miss?

What do you miss the most about home?

It's the question I invariably get when people in France learn I'm going home. And it's a good one, even if it's not so much the things I miss, but the people -especially my family.

Of course I miss things like readily available ice, corn on the cob, crabcakes and cold beer. But I really miss the people and the time we share.

baking cupcakes.

celebrating birthdays.

being silly.

enjoying vacation.

building sandcastles.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Baby sea turtles.

We had a great family beach trip -eleven people in one house!

One of the highlights was seeing three baby sea turtles emerge from the nest and make their way to sea. I'd seen a loggerhead lay her eggs when I was younger and I saw the lifecycle completed watching these little Kemp's Ridley (a rare find in NC) skibble into the Atlantic.

I went up the dune to check the nest around 9:30 that morning with my nieces Kate and Alice. We were about to turn around when I saw something that appeared to be moving in the sand. Under closer inspection, I realized it was a baby sea turtle!

The poor little guy was on his back, so I flipped him over while my mom called the phone number listed on the nest, aka Charlie the turtle man. There were about 8 of us watching as he crawled instictively toward the water -he knew exactly what to do!

By the time Charlie the turtle man arrived, our little friend had already made his way out to sea.

Charlie proceeded to dig up the rest of the nest, in case there were any stragglers. Judging from the tracks surrounding the nest, the other 102 turtles had hatched during the night.

He found two little turtles that were very sandy and slightly overwhelmed -by this point, around 25 people had gathered on the beach to watch their descent. But they made it!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Name change fail.

My father in law always says that the worst any country has to offer can be found in its administrative offices. Truer words have never been spoken. After three years of dealing with French bureaucracy, I got a taste of America's today and here's the verdict: it's no better.

My parents had warned me not to go to the Social Security office in the city. Per usual, they were right. I did heed their advice to take a book, so I passed the time reading Water for Elephants, a very appropriate choice given my circus-like surroundings. I did my best to concentrate and only paused once to eavesdrop. I couldn't resist.

The couple sitting next to me were having a very heated discussion about the months of the year, or more specifically which comes first: July or August. He was convinced that July follows August, while she adamantly maintained that "it goes June, July, August -you's stupid!" This went on for quite a while.

I could have attempted to settle the dispute with my planner, but since I purchased it in France I can only imagine the chaos that juin, juillet, août might have caused when added to this equation. I shudder just to think...

There were also technical difficulties with the number system, so the clerks would call out "C202" in their wimpy little voices and then the security guard would bellow, "C202, C202, where's my C202?" The whole thing was like being at an auction sans items up for bid.

If no one responded, he would check outside to see if any of the smokers' held the ticket in question. And if he still hadn't found that ticket holder he would then proceed to knock impatiently on the bathroom door, shouting "C202 -you in there, C202? Hold on a sec' we got C202 here in the restroom!"

I wish I were making this up, but I'm not that creative.

Since my French marriage documents confused the heck out of everyone, even the supervisor and led to questions like, "why ain't this in English?" [Ummm, because they speak French in France.] I guess I'll have to try this dog and pony show again at Christmas, perhaps in Henrico County instead.

Wish me luck!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Adventures in Toulouse is paused for...

Adventures in America!

I can't even begin to describe how wonderful it is to be home, to see friends and family and revel in all things American. Crunching on corn on the cob, hugging instead of kissing, enjoying the miracle that is air conditioning -does a body good!

Though I don't plan on blogging while I'm home, I will be taking pictures to share with all of you at some point. But now it's time to pack the car in preparation for the family beach trip. We may not all be arriving in the wood paneled Oldsmobile station wagon like we used to, but then again maybe that's for the best...

Happy Summer!