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Showing posts from July, 2011

I’M NOT A DIARIST

Do you know that guy who pulls out his cell phone as soon as the plane stops at the gate to tell his wife that the plane has just stopped at the gate, then calls again at the baggage claim and once again in the shuttle? I’m not that guy.
Do you have a Facebook friend who describes her evening in little bytes, every detail concerning the kids, the pets, the hubby? That’s not me.
For instance, In France our breakfasts were always light…a pain au chocolat or a croissant, maybe a one-egg, herbed omelet. Occasionally, we’d add a couple of rashers of bacon. Once, we finished off a bit of merguez sausage left over from dinner the night before. And don’t forget bread fresh from the artisan patisserie, some of that fine butter from Normandy, maybe fruit jelly fresh from the farm purchased on market day in the town square. Having said that, do I really have to document the fare at every one of thirteen or fourteen breakfasts? For some, I suppose, it’s necessary information. To me, carefully chron…

A TYPICAL STORY…OR NOT

Our story is a typical one.
My wife Catherine and I have always loved to travel. Ten years ago, when we first visited the Languedoc, we fell in love…in love with the weather, in love with the pace of French village life, in love with the smell of fresh bread every morning.
In love with the wine…
In 2005, we purchased a little holiday house in a small village north of Beziers. Nothing fancy. No garden or pool so no maintenance. We visited when we were able, rented it out to defray some of the expenses.  We came to think of our visits to the Languedoc not as vacations, but as coming home.
That’s why we were pleased to read in an English-language online newsletter that the French government has loosened access to the French healthcare system for early retirees. That’s important to us. If we don’t qualify, we will have to purchase private insurance at a heavy price. We’re not wealthy. Solid middle class. The cost of healthcare could negatively affect our standard of living when we retire perm…

SETTLING IN - JUNE 14

It didn’t take long. 
Cathey asked me to pick up a croissant along with the usual pain au chocolat for meand baguette at the bakery in the morning. Warm, flakey, buttery goodness. Not her style…except in France. I bought two desserts in anticipation of UK Sharon’s arrival that evening – a chocolate 'brownie' with the consistency of a super-thick mousse and a saucer-sized, sugar-coated, raspberry-filled butter cookie sandwich. Cathey wondered why I’d bought the sweets, didn’t believe that it was already Wednesday and that Sharon was due, so a 15 minute discussion ensued about what day of the week it was. 
To my discredit, I won.
We wait for the Live Box.
Our long-term tenant – we’ll call her Kerry – came by later in the morning. Neat and petite. Dark tan and blonde and Brit. She’s a very nice lady who lost her husband suddenly not long ago and is renting her villa down the road over the summer for at least three times what she’s paying us. And we've solved the problem on storag…

FIRST FULL DAY - JUNE 13

The day broke bright and sunny. Another beautiful day in Paradise. You can’t help but notice the light. This is our first time in the Languedoc in June and the sky is a delight – Mediterranean blue with wonderful cloud formations. Very much like Big Sky country in the American west. And such long days – it stays light until after 9:00 PM. And that Languedoc light has a texture all its own. It’s no wonder that great painters flocked to this part of the world.
Again, light breakfast – coffee, a pain au chocolat, a scrambled egg. Then a meeting with Berangere, the real estate agent. I would use the word gamine to describe her but I'm not certain if it carries negative connotations. She's young, slender, and dark with close-cropped, boyish dark hair and piercings not limited to one on each ear lobe. But she speaks better than passable English and is quite business-like. She took pictures. She measured with one of those laser devices. She came back in the afternoon to take pictu…