Sunday, July 15, 2007

Photos from France

The first three photos show me amongst my favorite things: food and shoes, in my favorite place: France. We went to a different marche in different towns every day or two to stock up on provisions (i.e., food and shoes). The produce was fresh, beautiful and mouth-watering delicious. We managed to get there right at the end of strawberry season, and I'm not talking about the big tasteless ones we have here, but the little sweet ones they have in France. Not as easy to dip into the dark French chocolate, but worth the effort. We were also smack dab in the middle of Cavaillon melon season. We bought and ate two melons every day. The photo at upper left shows the spice stand. Note the huge pile of lavender. I'm standing in front of a basket of herbs de Provence. They also sell bread, cheese, sausages, clothes, fabric, tablecloths, towels, jewelry and temporary tattoos at the marche. As for the shoes (next photo down), are they cute or what? I couldn't resist for only 20 euros.
Which reminds me: the cost of living in France seems to be more or less the same as in Los Angeles. The food at the marche is about the same, the food in restaurants is about the same, and the food in the supermarket is way less. Gas prices were somewhere between $4 and $5/gallon (sort of difficult to calculate, since it's sold in euros/liter), but the gas mileage on the cars is way better. We rented a Volkswagen Touran SUV with a diesel engine and got something like 35 miles/gallon. As for the cost of healthcare in France, I suggest you see "Sicko."

Below is a photo of us standing on the banks of the Rhone River. In the background is the city of Avignon. Lucky for us, they have built a new bridge across the river (to the right of us; you can't see it) since the Pont St. Benezet bridge (to the left of us; you can't see it) of nursery-rhyme fame ("Sur le pont d'Avignon, on y danse, on y danse ...") was flooded and partially destroyed in 1668. In Avignon we toured the Palais des Papes as well as the Pont St. Benezet. Manny liked it because he's Catholic, Paul liked it because it's historic, I liked it because it's France, Ashton liked it because he likes everything, and Nicky sat on a bench waiting for us.

Here we are at a picnic winetasting and Provencal lunch in the vineyards of Sablet, hosted by the Autrans, the owners of Domaine de Piaugier and our not-so-petite gite. We tasted many of their EXCELLENT wines. The French have no concept of a legal drinking age ... and the most that could go wrong would be someone getting tipsy and tripping over a grapevine ... so all the boys joined us. The "lunch" lasted until dinnertime. The photo on the left is Sophie and her husband. He works in the vineyards and makes the wine. She manages the business and sells the wine. And, oh, yes, we are expecting our case to arrive in San Francisco in about 45 days, by way of the Panama Canal. Homeland Security wouldn't let us bring any back on the plane. They even confiscated our sunblock in Chicago, after we had already traveled with it from Marseille to Madrid and Madrid to Chicago. Gotta fight those terrorists.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bag Lady

Did you know that grocery stores in France do not provide you with bags to pack your groceries? You have to take your own. We found this out the first time we went to Leclerc in Vaison La Romaine. The checker rang up the items and just left them for us at the end of the checkstand. The kids and I just stood there, amazed .... waiting for no one to pack our groceries. We finally figured out that this is the norm there. I was like, "Do you guys see the irony in this?" because I am the only one at Ralph's in La Crescenta every Sunday who brings in my own bags to recycle. In fact, Ralph's gives me 5 cents/bag, and that's one of the ways I saved up enough money to even go to France. I don't know the exact reasoning behind this French tradition, but obviously it's better for the environment. When I went to Target today to buy Nicky some pillows for college and the checker was trying to shove each individual pillow -- already in plastic wrap -- into a plastic bag, it was apparent to me how wasteful we Americans are without even thinking. Vive la France!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

Memorial Day 2007. The Drum Major and his Mom.

Nicky's Concerto Concert May 23, 2007

Photos from Nicky's performance at Lanterman auditorium.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

To My Children

The intended purpose of this blog is not as a forum for you guys to trash and criticize each other. Start your own blog if you want to do that.
Love, Mom

Monday, January 15, 2007

Paul & Nicky

Paul and Nicky at the start of the Rose Parade 2007. Apparently the MMB staff saw Nicky, thought he was Paul, and became confused as to why Paul was in the wrong uniform, playing the wrong instrument. Nicky is just hoping that his AP stats teacher doesn't ask him to calculate the odds of two brothers both marching in the Rose Parade, one band right before the other, with Paul in the very back row of the parade block and Nicky in the front row, right behind Paul.

Ashton's braces

Ashton got braces on Saturday. The very nice USC orthodontist gave me his cell phone number and his email address in case of emergency. Needless to say, the topic of conversation at family dinner that night was what would entail such an emergency that one would need to call the orthodontist on his cell phone. Ashton wants to, though. He is disturbed because the instructions they gave him said he could have only one carbonated beverage per day because the carbonation could unglue the brackets. We were unsure whether it was the bubbles or the carbon dioxide itself that would cause the damage. Ashton thinks he should call the orthodontist on his cell phone to ask because he wants to drink more sodas.


Scott's first winter

Ann Arbor – 32 deg F
Berkeley – 35 deg F
La Canada – 46 deg F

Looks like it’s cold in California. So far it has been a very mild winter in Michigan.

Mom (Jovauna disregard) – I woke up to the most beautiful thing this morning. All the trees and grass were completely iced over. Everything is a winter white. The trees are all dropping down because of the weight of the ice. It’s so cool. I’m walking around breaking icicles off of trees while everyone is looking at me like I’m mentally retarded.

Updated 1/19/07:


IT'S SNOWING! It's like being on vacation at Lake Tahoe. Little kids are sledding outside and everyone has a smile on their face. I wish I had a camera to send you pictures. Speaking of, the Explorer looks like it wants to take a gun to its head. It's iced over and covered with snow. I'm concerned about the bottom rusting out.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Favorite George Bush quote

"The key for me is to keep expectations low."

Ashton, regarding Nicky

"Mom, your son isn't the brightest tool in the shed."