Monday, August 23, 2010


We have been back in the Bay Area for exactly 7 days. The difference is striking. Baguettes are close to $3 here, while they are 0.90 euro in France. Cars are big and shiny here, while they are small there. People are very straightforwardly nice here, while they are quirky nice there.

We have decided to go off cheese and wine for a while. The kids say they cannot bear eating the cheese here, when they still have the French cheese lingering on their palates. I thought I should give my liver a break. Tonight, I break down and pour myself a glass. Not bad I say, as the full moon rises over the East Bay and the night settles in. In France, I was afraid I would not think so, but in fact, it is very nice to be back in California. Charlie evidently thinks the same. His appetite is good, and his coat is thick and smooth. Good thing I bought weight control food for him at Costco.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

All you need is love

This morning, we deposit our niece at the train station in Antibes. Two weeks together. I find her unchanged from the first time I saw her 16 years ago - the same sweet child. Normally full of life, she is not feeling well this morning, as she needs to face the real world tomorrow. 23 years older than she is, I feel the same heading back in two days. Life is not easy, but full of love.

As we look for train 6174 car 5, we run the full length of the station twice, only to find that she is in train 6074 car 5 after all. I thank my stars for having supplied me with the required exercise for the day.

It rains all day, and our roof leaks in several spots. For a grand house 50 years old, this is not too bad. We prepare for our departure in our own ways - I face the world with mucho laundry, mucho nap, and mucho wine. Others with mucho violin and mucho computing.

Tomorrow will be full of sun, according to the young lady at the supermarket cashier. I sure hope she is right.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Been there, Done that

Today was a been there done that kind of day. Tomorrow my niece leaves to Paris, and she wants to say she's been to Italy. So do my kids, and so do I. So we take the train to Monaco and connect to Ventimiglia, which is the first stop in Italy where the train of the Principality of Monaco deposits us. Fridays are market days. We descend on the Italian town, and head to Pasta Basta, which we learn is a restauraunt featured in Nice-Matin, and is also featured when you Google Ventimiglia. Anyhow, we ate 6 full plates of pasta, which were all good, and said "Basta" to the place, and strolled off to the market. This summer is very much Roman in fashion. Young and old are wearing Gladiator sandals with Roman tunics and Turkish pants. It feels a little like the '80s with Olivia Newton John and Travolta. The kids bargain in French, Italian, English and Mandarin (as the Chinese have penatrated Italy). I acquire a half kilo of Gorgonzola, which is much appreciated back home. Speaking of home, my mobile phone was destroyed upon the return of Julien from violin camp. It was found in the washing machine the morning after. I forgot to borrow my husband's, and my niece forgot hers as well. None of us remember our house phone number. When we finally return to Antibes, I call my husband's office number in San Francisco, then my sister's in Paris, leaving messages to please get in touch with us. My niece calls her friend in Paris to get our number in Biot as well. In an hour, we are transported home thanks to my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, showing off our Roman outfits and our cheese.

Tonight is rabbit, which turns out coming from Carrefour with the head attached. My sister-in-law turns green in the face, and I summon my husband (her brother) who gleefully attacks the head. I hear him call my name and wisely run the other way. As predicted, he comes with the head of the rabbit attached to a fork, with an entourage consisting of my youngest son and my sister-in-law's vegetarian boyfriend giggling like infants. They spend the next 30 minutes traumatizing all around them with the rabbit head before succumbing to the charm of Gorgonzola. I am convinced that the French are all savage Gaulois, like the Asterix and Obelix cartoon I have studied this summer.

As I wind down, my husband comments that I have spent the day doing things I don't like - riding crowded trains, eating heavy food, and shopping. But I love watching the children having fun doing all this. And so, I feel content tonight.