Wednesday, December 31, 2008

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday 42

Happy New Year!
Bonne année 2009!

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau -- click on it to enlarge. I promise it's worth the trouble.)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

La France Profonde: Three years and three hundred posts!

A few of the guests at La France Profonde's third anniversary party

Today I am celebrating La France Profonde's third anniversary -- and my 300th France Profonde post.

I'm a few days late, as I actually started this blog on December 23, 2008. But I thought it would be nice to coincide with the 300th post. Plus, after three years, what's a day or two?

For this significant event, I took a look back over some old posts as well as my comment history.

First, what has been the most commented-on post on La France Profonde? I thought it would be this one, but actually it was:

Is life really a bitch without big chocolate chips?

So I guess among my readers, food wins out over politics any time.

I also made a list of a few of my favorites posts, in no particular order:

Traces of cafés past

Good-bye little bird -- and don't forget to fly home

An Odd Couple

La Gare de Rodez at Dawn

Old reflects against new

The latter post also contains what may be my favorite photo -- at least among those that I've taken:

After that, I also took a rather quick look at my early comments. I had been writing this blog for over a month before I got a comment that just "came in" from somebody I didn't know: on February 4, 2006, on a post about the local Bosch factory, I received a comment from Stéphan R., who kept up the Toulouse, One Day, One Photo blog very nicely for almost two years before disappearing from the blogosphere in May 2007.

I often wonder what happened to Stéphan, and I suspect if I went back carefully over my comments, I would find plenty of bloggers that I was in touch with for months before either their blog or our communication dwindled down to nothing.

But for now, I'm here, and La France Profonde is going into its fourth year with no plans to change much of anything.

Un grand merci to all of my readers for your comments and support!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Looking up, things are

These photos of Notre Dame de Rodez won't put a song in your heart, but they reflect a certain mood that she can get in -- a decidedly chilly one.

We've been through quite a cold snap, and Wednesday my daughter and I went into town for lunch. I was struck by the difference between the weather "up there" and "down below" on the sidewalks. It was certainly cold both places, but where we were walking, it was totally clear with no sign of fog.

But the Rodez cathedral can be in a totally different weather dimension from the city it dominates. The bell tower is 85 meters, or nearly 280 feet, high -- and this can mean a real difference in atmospheric conditions.

To give you an idea of how ethereal the cathedral can appear compared to the world below; my crystal clear Wordless Wednesday photo this week was taken only a few minutes earlier and only a few streets away.

Notre Dame de Rodez has often been described as "brooding." Perhaps these photos can help illustrate that image.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rodez: a basic street scene. What do you see?

I have so many photos of Rodez on my computer that I think it would take me a lifetime to post them.

When trying to capture the spirit of Rodez, I often put up scenic shots, or quirky takes. But I am also stocking a mounting collection of photos like this one that I don't quite know what to do with. It seemed interesting at the time, but...why again?

Now that I take a closer look, there are a few intriguing details:

  • The two very pale pink buildings are what stand out the most to me. That's a color which is fairly frequent in Rodez, but yet is never really associated with the town.
  • The street is empty, even though the shot was taken during the afternoon. You can find plenty of empty streets in the center of Rodez if you get away from the rues commerçantes.
  • The photo is marred, of course, by the big cable running between two buildings. What are those all about, anyway? I see them everywhere, but don't know why they still exist. I'm sure one of my readers can offer a cogent explanation -- I'm not much of an electricity geek.
  • The curved roof on the bottom right house is intriguing, and not very typical of the area.
What do you see?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday 39

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

An open message to the French media : He's black. (And white.) Get over it.

This post has been a long time coming. Bits and pieces of it can be found on inspired comments I left on other people's blogs, but it took some distance from the election to put my thoughts together on how unbearably annoying the French coverage of Barack Obama's campaign and election was to me.

It takes a lot to get my husband to turn off France Inter, one of France's public radio stations, but a few days before the election, even he couldn't take it anymore. "Le candidat noir, le candidat noir, le candidat noir..." The two words had become a collocation in the French press, one rarely appearing without the other.

Click. Sound over. We were free to discuss the real issues going on in the US election.

But it was perhaps that day, a few weeks before the election, when one of my colleagues (all of whom supported Obama and supported me throughout the stressful electoral process, I must add) sat down and grimly announced that he "had heard on TV that the polls were all wrong." He then proceeded to give a highly simplistic interpretation of the Bradley effect.

I took a deep breath and explained precisely why the Bradley effect was most likely not applicable to this election (hoping against hope I would be right) and my colleagues remarked that they wondered if they were really getting the full picture from French TV.

Now I cannot pretend to have kept up with ALL French media coverage and ALL American coverage of the 2008 presidential election -- who can? But I can say that while France was clearly in the grips of a type of Obama-mania, its citizens also couldn't get past the concept that Obama was, above all, le candidat noir. On the other hand, even when I gritted my teeth and watched Fox news from time to time, I got the feeling the US media were by and large ignoring race by the end of the campaign.

So what's the deal? Why, in the country of liberté, égalité et fraternité, was Obama's race constantly an issue?

For one thing, I have noticed that many French people are -- or were, hehe! -- extremely fond of pontificating about American racism. Nowhere is this more present than in the national school programs, where French schoolchildren spend what seems to me an inordinate amount of time studying Rosa Parks, the March on Washington, and the Ku Klux Klan.

Now don't get me wrong. These are worthy subjects and we can admire the fact that the French educational system cares so much to delve so far into American history. I'm sure that stateside, the same number of hours aren't spent on the 2005 French race riots or the presence of Jean-Marie LePen as a final candidate in France's less-than-glorious 2002 presidential race.

The image of a racist America died hard in France. Only days before the election, Télérama, a left-wing cultural magazine, issued a "Special USA Edition." Among the feature articles: Il n'y a pas de littérature noire! and Universités d'Alabama: la ségrégation toujours dans les têtes (original title from the magazine version.)

The articles proved more measured than their sensationalistic titles, but I couldn't help but think that the journalists were grasping at straws and just couldn't resist taking one last stab at their precious image of the USA as a bastion of racism.

Now French writers, especially schoolbook authors, can start to construct new chapters about race relations in America, preferably chapters that deal with events after 1963. They've got some catching up to do. And I hope when they do it, they will also be capable of occasionally disconnecting the word président from the word noir.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

C'est fini!

Thirty days and thirty posts (spread over my three blogs.) Technically that parenthetical detail may disqualify me as a NaBloPoMo survivor, but it counts in my book.

Posting daily didn't actually change that much for me here at La France Profonde, but it did give my two other blogs, Cuisine Quotidienne and And So Forth, a boost.

And although I didn't get into the social networking or post-uploading aspect of the event at all, I did make one great blogging buddy who encouraged me and vice versa: Le Laquet of chez le laquet! I suspect we will stay in bloggy touch.

We will now return to our regular programming.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The end is near...

It is November the 28th. I am going to make it through NaBloPoMo.

To manage the daunting task of posting to (one of my three) blogs every day, I even set up an editorial calendar. I can hear your awe from here.

Today's blogging task was noted as "FP Tag from "Je ne regrette rien."

I must admit that when Non, je ne... tagged me or awarded me or whatever her Marie Antoinette eat my cake post was about, I thought it was pretty cool because she has a new banner photo of the Millau viaduct and I had just driven over it about an hour before.

That's all, folks.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Link to my Thanksgiving post

I know to some of my fellow expats, Thanksgiving is a big deal. You either go home for it, or you somehow manage to cook a turkey and all the trimmings during the workweek.

I don't do that. But I did write a Thanksgiving post, and you can find it here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

An American dream coming true

My daughter is fitting into American high school life to a tee. She got invited to her school's Homecoming dance (above) and was also lucky enough to be invited to a neighboring high school's Homecoming too:

Not to mention Halloween. She has always loved that holiday and our house here in France felt pretty empty that night without her traditional Halloween party. But she was able to participate in a Jack-o-lantern cutting session with a friend, and go to a party afterwards:



Notice that only the pumpkin's expression has changed.

My daughter was thrilled to report to me that "Halloween is SUCH a big deal here!"

She's also been in her first high school choir concert. I had forgotten about those choir robes. Doesn't she look serious?

But that mood apparently didn't last too long!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

C'est ma fête!

November the 17th is Sainte Elisabeth day in France, so one could legitimately tell me today "C'est ta fête!" And in fact two people did, and that is one of the first times anyone has bothered to recognize this event.

I also learned today that my husband had no idea when my saint's day was...

I've never really understood these French saint's day "fêtes" anyway. Are they cause for celebration? Gift-giving? Or just saying "Bonne fête?"

(By the way, I of course know when my husband's is....)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Paris: a jumbled view

Today I'm taking advantage of Blogger's time warp to get my daily post up before midnight on Friday the 14th! I sure didn't have much blogging time on that date here in France, as I flew up to Paris for work and was lucky to get home on my scheduled flight.

One-day work trips to Paris are not times when I get to see a lot of the city, but I always take my camera and try to get s shot of something.

This was the view from the 4th floor conference room of the Maison des Universités. Like many views out of the back side of Paris buildings, it was a jumble -- but an ever-fascinating one.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday 35

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau; click on it to enlarge)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Plowing through NaBloPoMo

I knew that after the election, I would either be full of energy or need a place to bitch, moan, wail, and gnash my teeth for at least a month. (Fortunately, we find ourselves in the former scenario.)

So on November 1st, I thought what better time to sign up for NaBloPoMo?

Since I'm a triple blogger, my goal is to post at least once a day to ONE of my blogs. Once a day to each would be superhuman.

I've made it through the first nine days, and hope to cross the finish line!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Overwhelmed and overjoyed

My email inboxes are overflowing, my Facebook page is a maze of comments and congratulations, and even my little-used cell phone text message inbox is full.

I'm just savoring every moment, as I know so many of you are.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

When the ship comes in

Oh the time will come up
When the winds will stop
And the breeze will cease to be breathin'.
Like the stillness in the wind
'Fore the hurricane begins,
The hour when the ship comes in.

Oh the seas will split
And the ship will hit
And the sands on the shoreline will be shaking.
Then the tide will sound
And the wind will pound
And the morning will be breaking.

Oh the fishes will laugh
As they swim out of the path
And the seagulls they'll be smiling.
And the rocks on the sand
Will proudly stand,
The hour that the ship comes in.

And the words that are used
For to get the ship confused
Will not be understood as they're spoken.
For the chains of the sea
Will have busted in the night
And will be buried at the bottom of the ocean.

A song will lift
As the mainsail shifts
And the boat drifts on to the shoreline.
And the sun will respect
Every face on the deck,
The hour that the ship comes in.

Then the sands will roll
Out a carpet of gold
For your weary toes to be a-touchin'.
And the ship's wise men
Will remind you once again
That the whole wide world is watchin'....

(Extract from "When the ship comes in" by Bob Dylan)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Palin fakes her way through prank phone call from "Sarkozy"

With only a few more days to go in this stressful (for some of us) American presidential campaign, now for some comic relief.

Sarah Palin was the victim of a prank phone call from a Montreal comedy team, Les justiciers masqués, and fell for it hook, line and sinker. (This is true; her campaign has already reacted to the incident, saying "C'est la vie.")

Listen to the hilatious audio here, or on the above site.

Some can consider this questionable journalism, but do I feel sorry for her? With all the unproven garbage she's slinging at Obama? Not one bit!

And I find her inability to pick up on, and react to, the strange tone and content of the conversation pretty frightenin'.

Her answers actually reminded me of the now famous Katie Couric interviews, and I'm not alone in this analysis.

Except this time the questions were utterly ridiculous; Palin doesn't seem to get the difference, blithely blathering away and giggling like a schoolgirl who's been called by her celebrity idol through most of the "interview."

Anyway, enough of that -- time to channel some pro-Obama energy.
This may be my last pre-election political post on La France Profonde. If any of my expat readers want to join in on my virtual election night (morning) chat event, hook up with me on Facebook.

I wish I could go party it up in Toulouse, but I have eight hours of class on Wednesday the 5th! God knows what state I will be in! Coherent enough to teach, I hope...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Watching the Washington State world go by

MSN, Facebook, email, cheap international phone calls -- all of these are making your absence bearable, and even kind of fun.

Every morning I hop out of bed at about 6:00 AM and connect to MSN, an application that I installed to communicate with you. I just can't wait to get the news of the day that you experienced while I was sleeping.

Still, I get mixed up:

- Have a great day honey!

- Mom, I'm going to bed!


-How was your voice lesson?

-Mom, that's tomorrow!

Why can I still not get that straight after all of these years? Maybe because I never had to apply the time zone difference to one of my children.

Anyway, all of the means of communication at our disposal make exchanging information and getting news so easy -- and the immediacy of it is reassuring.

I know what you're doing at practically every moment of your American life.

But nothing can tell me what you're thinking when you're sitting in a car, sipping a Starbuck's caramel macchiato, and watching the Washington State world go by.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Monday, October 06, 2008

We will now take a break from our regular programming

The polls over at, which I've been following more feverishly the past few weeks than my "American" daughter's Facebook status, show Obama winning the electoral vote 340 to 198.

340 TO 198!
(Update: now 344 to 194!)
(Update: now 345 to 193!)
(Post-Debate Two Update: now 347 to 191!)
(Update: now 348-190!)
(Update: now 349-189!)

It's the first time McCain has slipped under the 200 mark since I started consulting the site right after the Republican convention. At that point, McCain was leading by a couple of dozen electoral votes. But the times seem to be a'changing...

Dare we believe? Not just in a victory, but in a landslide?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Blog suspended

No, not really. But I sure got you worked up, didn't I?

Actually, I'm being vetted as a possible replacement for Sarah Palin in case she drops out of the race.

I mean, why not? I'm an American from a small town. I look pretty sharp when I wear glasses, too.

And hey, the country I'm living in now shares borders with a whole lotta foreign countries! That certainly qualifies me to be Vice-President, and maybe even President, of the USA.

I mean, I can see Spain from here! And I even know the name of its president!

No seriously...

It-- it's funny that a comment like that was-- kind of made to-- cari-- I don't know, you know?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

New look at Cuisine Quotidienne

Faithful readers of this blog probably know I limp along with two other personal blogs: Cuisine Quotidienne, which is ostensibly "devoted" to everyday French food and cooking, and And So Forth, where I occasionally write about whatever I feel like discussing -- which, these days, has meant a number of political posts.

I'm grateful, and at times amazed, that readers keep up with even one of my blogs, but I did want to tell anyone reading La France Profonde that Cuisine Quotidienne has undergone a facelift, with a brand new design created by Madeline Miller of Made by Madeline.

I haven't played around with the new template at all, but if you have a minute, hop over and tell me what you think.

I'm also hoping to get away from the "photo/recipe/look at what I ate" format and write more about cooking and eating habits in France, which was my original intention for the blog anyway.

Hope to see you here and there!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wordless Wednesday 27

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau -- click to enlarge)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

On the road again

My daughter and I are skipping off to another area of France this weekend for a one-night trip to see friends.

It's always great to get away and see new -- or in this case, familiar -- parts of the country. It will also be a chance for eldest daughter to work on her driving skills outside of Aveyron, which she knows so well. (She has the equivalent of a driver's permit now, and will be practicing with us until she can get her permis de conduire at the age of 18.)

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we will be having the same weather as in the above photo, but we will be near the same place.

Any guesses as to where?

(Photo courtesy of Cath at Grain de Sel, a very nice blog en français that combines music experiences and travel photos.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday 26

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Are they having fun yet?

(Example of a French high school student's schedule -- click to enlarge)

Oh, there are plenty of good things to say about the French public school system. But today, I'll be leaving it up to my readers to say them.

While one of my daughters is discovering the joys of finishing her school day at 2:37 pm, the other is gritting her teeth and bracing herself for another year of the 35-hour workweek -- 35 hours a week of class, that is.

She doesn't have it quite as tough as the student above who finished four days a week at 6:00 pm or 7:00 pm. My eldest will be getting out of class twice a week at 5:00 pm, twice a week at 6:00 pm, and at 11:00 am on Wednesdays. (High schools and middle schools do, mercifully, have Wednesday afternoons off.)

Is she having fun yet? Well, "fun" and "school" don't seem to be associated very often in France. And maybe they shouldn't be. American schools, with their pep assemblies and dress-up days, must look absolutely ridiculous to French educators.

And as a teacher, I certainly know that learning isn't a Disney ride.

But I do wonder what added value is France getting out of a high school system where students have to be in class as many hours a week as many French employees work, and then are expected to slog through a ludicrously huge homework load on the side.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Good-bye, little bird...and don't forget to fly home.

(My youngest daughter playing Chava in a summer production of Fiddler on the Roof.)

When you were barely 6 months old, I bundled you up and took you on the train from Tours to Paris to get your American birth certificate and Social Security number.

A formality. Just a bunch of papers. A long day.

For years, I never really thought of you as American. You've always spoken perfect French, of course, with no American accent -- amazing! You look so French, too. And you were always referred to as "one of the French girls" whenever I took you and your sister back to the USA.

Little by little, the American side of your dual nationality pushed its way out, and four years ago your 6th-grader's voice announced to me that you wanted to spend your sophomore year in the USA.

An interesting idea. A fantasy. It would go away.

It didn't.

So, after years of nurturing this plan, after two months of transition, our family came back from our American summer notably lighter.

I'm happy for you. I know you'll love your new school -- it's one of the best around. I should know: I went there as a student and spent eight blissful years teaching there:

A long hallway that will bring you plenty of memories.

"Je m'envole," I saw you write this summer as a photo caption on MySpace, Facebook or some such. That's a wonderful feeling.

I hope you can keep it up all year, but there may be a few times when you get the blues:

But you will have four generations of your American family there to buck you up.

And we'll be here too, of course: across the miles, across the ocean, across the wires.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

I'm back.

What sort of music will I be making this year?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Quick update

The best-laid plans of mouses and blogging seem to have gone awry for the summer.

I've posted a little over on And So Forth, where I've also started to weakly Twitter since I realized I wasn't going to be crowing out all of the great posts I had imagined for the summer.

My husband is flying in from France today and my daughters will be opening their two musicals this week and next, so times will be even busier. But I did want to say hi to my blogging buddies.

I will return!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Let us out!

A few summer flowers being held prisoner in a tiny village in Aveyron.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The look of love

If you're wondering what I've been up to, suffice to say that I was involved in organizing a 50th wedding anniversary for my parents which was held last week.

I thought for this special occasion, I would share a family photo with you. I imagine you can pick out my parents. As for me, I'm in blue and my sister is next to me.

Finishing the planning for this event took up most of my first week here in the USA, and recovering took the beginning of the second week!

We had exactly 100 attendees at the party, which my sister and I hosted at my parents' home. The location was their choice and it was a great one because they have a lovely, shady back yard and the weather was out-and-out hot: nearly 90 degrees. (Yes, I'm speaking Fahrenheit again.)

I'm having a little trouble getting back into the blogging routine after a crazy end of my school year, the trip over, and this intense family experience. But not to worry -- I may be slowing down on writing my personal blogs this summer, but I'm not giving up.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My village seen through other -- known -- eyes

(Photo courtesy of Rares Serban of Rares Serban Photography)

Not many bloggers write about Aveyron, and certainly few, if any, have ever posted about my very own village of residence, Gages.

Personally, I avoid communicating about my home town, preferring to focus on Rodez, where I work, or other parts of the local countryside into which my husband forays for his job.

And, increasingly, I find myself wanting to share places beyond...

So imagine my surprise when a Google alert came along for a lovely post about Gages. And imagine my further surprise when I discovered, after a little digging around, that it was created by a colleague of mine!

Here's to you, Rares. I think you have a great eye and I loved the way you captured familiar views of my village. I hope you expand your blogging activity.

PS: Click here for a rundown on the summer status of my three blogs.