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It’s not THANKSGIVING TURKEY, it’s just one tiny Croissant

Imagine  another place and time………..

It’s not a THANKSGIVING FEAST, it’s just one tiny croissant and I’m THANKFUL 

Oooooh, the alarm clock rings so early, it’s so dark, but I get up anyway, after hitting snooze two times.  Quietly dressing, I eagerly throw open the shutter door from the french glass door and walk out into the dark cold. no coffee, no mange, because PAUL is waiting for me and will bestow upon me a magnificent early morning petit dejuner.

If you are not forced to get up pre-dawn while on vacation in Cassis, you would have no reason to go down to the big city of Marseille at that time.  But I have a class, and it’s mandatory and also thrilling for me to get there.

EVERYthing becomes big, – huge to moi at this hour.  First, the fact that I’m even AWAKE is a biggie.  Pink – pink grey in the far distance  creeps from behind Cap Canaille as I stand in the crisp cold air blowing in from the sea as I gaze into the distance and wait for  La Ginesste Bus 13 to take route D559.

Once on, I can trade the heavy hand knitted flea market scarf with tiny roses for the plain cotton cooler one, but I don’t because it’s snuggly now in the bus, and we glide ever so gently down the steep mountain;  my venue always on the LEFT side of the bus so I can experience the scariest and most beautiful side of this drive.  When the tires squeak as he makes the turns, it could be disconcerting, but I know that I shant worry because if he values his  job like most French seem to value theirs, I am in good hands, and I needn’t worry.  Finally on the final sharp hairpin turn, the  tallest of the Ginesste ranges comes into view and I honestly say the loudest  thank you to God that I can because He has allowed me to experience one of the most breathtaking mountain views ever in my life.  I can’t even believe how this was formed………where it was 50 zillion years ago, if under water, if not, if from a glacier, all that matters is that it’s in front of me and I get the privilege of SEEING IT in all it’s pre-sunrise glory.

Once off the bus to the PERRIER stop I say the usual Merci Monsieur Bonjournee and walk slowly down the steps. It’s an average oversized walkway – could be in Michigan, could be Saint Louis, could be in Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, but alas, it’s in Marseille.

I join the throngs of highschool students and wait patiently for the green man far away across the gigantic Prado Avenue. It’s green now and everyone crosses. A semi comes barreling down like it’s not going to stop and I know it better stop because I can’t stop and then I see one of the pedestrians waving to the truck driver as a “thank you for stopping” gesture and I’m thinking, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”  He does NOT have the right of way just because he’s huge – it s’ OUR turn to cross and yet , you are THANKING him???  Yes, that is France.

I cross, survey my reflection in the store window that greets me at Perrier and Prado – see that my last night’s (huge) Indian dinner hasn’t brought too much more weight to my frame  and cross onto the next cross street happily. …………..

Marble curbs, worn shiny from pedestrian traffic, reddish asphalt sidewalks, greet my steady pace and  glancing sideways I see an Asian Gardien  cleaning the steps of her apartment building furiously. It reminds me of something long ago. What?  Oh yes, my mama who made me sweep the steps constantly before company came.   Slowly, carefully, I climb the steep hill and can almost smell it.  Smell what?  Ooooh la la…….

if I could only transport that scent to this paper.  It would be a bestseller.

IT  is divine.

PAUL appears and I am one happy little grandmere.                   

I walk in , – it’s crowded this morning.  I see the display case and am momentarily sad because – where?  where are the Amande aux Chocolate Crossiants.?  This is the reason I have come in huge anticipatation, and do so only one time each week to enjoy one of the most sensual pleasures known to man.  It is a tongue/nasal,  oral “avoir bon gout”  experience that keeps on until it lays sufficiently in the bottom of my stomach.

I ask the patissiere gentleman, “Oh! Do you NOT have ay of the Amande aux chocolate’s left?”    —”Mais Oui” he says – and brings a fresh one out and shows it to me, then places it on my tray with a huge smile.  Then he adds a steaming hot  “cafe creme”  as well.    Thanking him, ” Merci Monsieur! Bonjournee!” –  I take the tray as if I have just received the most coveted of ‘holy of holies” – ever.  As I walk, I glance at it as if I’m disinterested as I don’t want the other patrons to know that I am secretly devouring it as I walk to my seat , this time in the back of Paul, because it’s too cool for me to eat outside. The Amande aux Chocolate Croissant does it for me, because it’s jumping in front of me now, doing ludicrous jumping jacks saying, “i’m all yours, I’m all yours, go ahead and devour me!!!!!!! I’m YOURS!!!! “   I look sheepishly above the heads of all those sitting and enjoying because I can’t believe this crossiant has come to life in front of a bunch of strangers like this.

Ah well, – I’ve found my seat.  and……….

The sip of hot café crème is delectable and doesn’t even need one bit of sugar.

I put it down with a sigh.  The croissant looks up at me. I look down at it.  You have no idea the love affair going on at this moment.  This is the ONE DAY a week that I allow this kind of pleasure and it’s almost more than I can bear.  Should i pick it up now?

or wait?

Okay. ….long enough. pick it up.  Warmth and amande-y  fragrance emanate from my trembling hand.  My left hand slaps my right.   It comes closer……….I close my eyes, I open my mouth, and then!  Someone’s fricken cell phone rings with a rap tune breaking the moment.

Ahhhhhhhh…….I put it down, I sip the coffee and eye it closer. I repeat. It’s next to my lips now and – well, I’m afraid that i cannot explain anymore of this experience because there are children reading this and it would be – not for their virgin ears/eyes.

Suffice it to say, that the woman who wrote “French Women Don’t Get Fat” is full of it.

Because even though SHE says that French women go into patisserie and order this same thing and only eat HALF……  oh PLEASE!!!!!!   That is just ridiculous.  If you are given such a piece of absolutely drop dead delicacy, and every bite is like the first, and when it’s at the last teeny thumb piece size left on your tiny plate, the last possible piece is devoured joyously.  And then,  if that’s not enough, you start to pick apart your scarf for any remaining almonds that might have slipped down that way )- believe me, eat the ENTIRE thing and never NEVER look back.

It is more than worth it.

French Pastries

French Pastries

It’s not a Golden juicy Thanksgiving Turkey, nor any of all the side food baubles adorning it, but it IS my thankfulness amid much much more, today……….

 

http://www.paul.fr

http://www.paul-uk.com

 

 

 

 

Grab the Knife, Part II, Garlic in FRENCH = Ail

Slicing a smashed clove of garlic

To catch you up, Part I is lounging on the Cassis beachwalk, studying French, overhearing private fone conversations and then  deciding it’s getting too cold to stay out – as the sun sets behind the calanques……

So – I headed back up the steep hill – hobbling all the way  with my ridiculous knee, and dropped my things into the  apartment trying to decide if I should use the French I had been so diligently memorizing for my proprietors.  I mustered up the courage and grabbed my dictionary & my MAC and went to the other side of the Grand Maison.   I knocked and they opened the door – all smiles  and I smiled back and said the things I had memorized…….(after the usual “Bonsoir Jean et Danielle;)    Comment s’est passé votre sejour au Maroc?  and  Etait le beau temps? ”   “How was your vacation in Morocco? and Was the weather good?”  Well!  I had hardly  allowed those freshly memorized phrases escape from my lips then they started into big time French greetings for atleast 30 seconds ushering me into their very big……no – very white, white WHITE   GINORMOUS   living room  over looking, I might add, that beautiful CAP CANAILLE,  that I honestly wonder if they heard me, and then the Madame says,

The southern France wine region of Cassis (pic...

The southern France wine region of Cassis (pictured) is one of the few places in the world that is still growing Pascal blanc.

”  Oh, si vous parlez bien français maintenant   —   Oh so you’re speaking French well now”……..Oh how untrue that was………

But nevermind, they pleased me to no end asking me FIRST THING, if I had gone to the United States to VOTE!!!

Ofcourse I told them that it was invigorating and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.  The media coverage – ad nauseam, I could do without.   (The political – Presidential scenes are wrapped up in 5 weeks, here in France!) Oh for that to be a change in the US!!!

Day after new French President elected, Le Poi...

I then showed them the note from my doctor and asked them in horrible French if they could make the “rendezvous” (appointment) for me – for my knee.(GENOU in French.)  They understood, but things became more complicated after that as they wanted to know specifics, as Madame was relaying her story of her knees, both of them, and how the doctor had done ( something something) and I was straining to hear her words- just ONE that I could understand.   Finally, confused and frustrated I opened my MAC and started writing her with Google Translate.  It worked!  But then she had to write in FRENCH, and the keyboard is so different, and that frustrated HER. Then she said a word about her knee that didn’t appear in the dictionary or google, and suffice it to say, it was MAL, (BAD) and I nodded. VERY BAD KNEES.  Got it. They did explain that I was too young for knee replacements, that they didn’t do this so much in France as it’s too invasive, and that there are GEL treatments and other things  to do first.  Good, I don’t want a knee replacement if I can possible do without.

Knee skeleton diagram

Knee skeleton diagram (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, She proceeded to tell me that her knees were now fine and when I asked what they did, she said, ‘They gave me pills” (in French )  and some injections – and I said , ‘What kind of pills” and  well,  whatever she said – didn’t translate – and I had to take it at face value that they  were wonderful, they did the trick, and that was pretty much that.

When we started into the conversation of my trip to Saint Louis, and my grandchildren, I was able to speak about this, fairly well, and when they asked me about pictures of the 4 grands, I gladly, opened the MAC again and showed them my kids.       They seem very delighted.  They have 3 of their own.  Which makes me want to talk to them more than ever.  I love hearing about other people’s grands, kids, family.

ERRGGGGG!  The FRUSTRATION of not being able to speak to people.  You have no idea. We said our avoir’s , Merci’s  – and “Bon Soiree’s” and I hobbled down their  outside staircase. When I entered my teeny  apartment, I took out my frustrations with my big fat knife, slammed a huge piece of raw garlic on the cutting board,  smashed and cut it up in the tiniest of mincing possible, heated up the olive oil, threw in the ground beef, minced up some green peppers and  shallots and once again found some semblance of relief by these actions.  🙂

I made some dish that looked something like this……………………….

Tomato and herb spagetti

Tomato and herb spagetti (Photo credit: :Salihan)

(I forgot to take my OWN picture, sorry) and     yes, this was accomplished  on just 2 small HOTPLATES in my Ironing board size kitchen.

I want to speak to THESE PEOPLE  SO VERY MUCH.   I’ll fight on – and learn the bloody language, come hell or high water…….even if I only learn to speak it like  a 4 year old!!

Grab the knife, smash the garlic, take a big breath…..(Language Issues)

 

But First, before I do smash the living daylights out of this garlic, I am going to go back to 3 hours ago when the sun was setting on the Mediterranean, in the brightest orangey red color imaginable setting off the deep blue of the jumpy sea.

 

It was here, on the long cement steps, that  my French workbook beside me and  the cool evening tide breezes were my only company.   I gazed at the sunset, saying the same French phrases over and over.    One little boy playing kick ball was out there on a beach area the size of an American Football field when just weeks ago there were hundreds of sun lovers.  It’s the end of Fall now in Cassis and the tourists are still here, but only in dribbles.  It’s actually very serene and quiet and when you travel the teeny narrow cobble stone streets down to the port and then the sea, you feel very much like you are a real Cassidien, which we are, because the sticker on our little car says  we are. Yeah.  🙂

 

Well, it became quite cool, as the sun set behind the CalanquesEnglish: The Calanque de Port-Miou, Cassis, Fr...

 

English: The Calanque de Port-Miou, Cassis, France Italiano: La Calanque di Port-Miou a Cassis, Francia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

and  the 2 women and the little boy,  the two British gentlemen (advertising executives, I guessed, from listening to their cell fone conversation over at the café 10 minutes earlier while I had my chocolate crêpe)  were talking once again, on their phone next to me by the sea…..

 

I had the strongest urge to ask them if they had  a car.  Not wanting to seem “forward” I kept my mouth shut, but wish now that I had said something, because he made a comment to the person on the other end of his  phone line that he had not been here in Cassis  for 30 years.  If I had said what I had wanted to say, it was, “If you have a car, please take it up to the top of Cap Canaille as it is one of the most superb viewpoints in France.  It looks west to the mazy coastline of the Calanques with offshore islands and rock pinnacles that seem to float in the air!   Alas, it didn’t get said, and they disappeared. .  The sun was now behind the cliffs  & the Calanques by now and I started to put my stuff together to head home,  along with the other few people on the beach.

 

Port de Cassis

Port de Cassis (Photo credit: Med PhotoBlog)

 

It was so different than at noon today when it was bustling with maybe 20 more people than now.  Of those 20 , FIVE of them  were old people, and I’m talking OLDER than me by 20 years who, – get this………stripped out of their very interesting Fallish Marseillese clothing, in full view – down to their one piece bathing suits, donned a bathing cap and walked briskly into the cold sea……..to SWIM………for atleast , (I counted)  20 minutes!!!!!!  Stunning!!!   Remarkable!!!!!!  Could not believe it.  I watched them come walking out of that sea – invigorated and seeming much younger than their 80+ years……..

 

 

and had a new found respect for these 5 people, who all knew each other and were laughing and carrying on with one of the most amicable conversations that I have witnessed with this particular age of people.  It was the most entertaining and enlightening 1 hour I have ever spent anywhere. And the SWIMMING…… I can’t even put my big TOE in that water…….maybe I should try ……

 

PART II  of Grab the Knife & Smash the Garlic – – Tomorrow

 

 

 

For the NON-REVs in this world…..another True Story, plus Watching 1960 B&W TV French Comedians and Singers at 3 in the morn

……and have no idea what people are laughing about……but I can tell that the entertainers are having a fabulous time.  It’s 3:12am and I’m jet lagged, so I suppose my sleeping until NOON today means I may be up for a long time – cause even the sleeping aid is not working.  I’m “Frankensteins Wife WIDE awake” It’s that bad.  Oh, wait – someone is speaking English just now on this comedy  show.  Yippee!!!

I forgot to tell you that when we took the flight over, from Marseille to Paris to Detroit to Saint Louis – whew!  – ( it was an un-named Fr. Airline Carrier ) that  because we are airline personnel we heard (at the last possible moment…..  -” yes –  there are only 2 seats left and you can have them” (This was when a full orchestra broke out in  ‘Hallelujah” ——somewhere. )

We needed to get in and out-of-the-way of SANDY, the monster hurricane heading towards the EAST COAST.     We live in the midwest, so when he said 2 seats, well, I almost fainted . I would have actually fainted had someone told me at that moment, “Uhhh, did you know Detroit is hosting the WORLD SERIES – TONIGHT?!?!”  Yeah, I learned of that after the fact.   Then we discovered one of our coveted seats was the JUMPSEAT…….for David…….and I felt very sorry for him.  But here is a picture of what that seat actually looked like – as it was a BED……the crews bed…….. which , thankfully, they did not need on this particularly long flight.

I was scrunched between 3 people in the very back -with my arms crossed over my chest,  but who cares – I got ON the flight.  The person to my left was Armenian and had flown already for 6 hours.  I felt lucky.  The couple next to me were complaining about their travel agent making them rush to another airline, were not keen on me when I said “Bonjour” to them (they were American) so I sat there and felt grateful.  Just GRATEFUL.     Our non-rev experiences are just so full of anticipation, angst, and eventually an incredible release of pent-up adrenaline from the first words of “Let me see your tickets”  as this nice French agent  smiles a great big smile – (meaning we got on the flight) so that SLEEP – or should I say Passing OUT  from relief, is not at all hard to do!!

David’s lucky jumpseat/bed with a night table!  INCROIABLE

OH!  The above true story was GOING HOME to SAINT LOUIS

now – rhe reverse run looks like this ……………..

(written to all of my friends –  all TWO of them)……….   :-0

 

We MADE it HOME!!!!


24 hours later
Tons of sitting, tons of waiting….
but for $130  dlrs roundtrip – – – who can complain
MY RETIREMENT BENEFITS at their BEST!!!!!!!!
(my ONLY retirement benefits) ha ha
(David says “all those planes you cleaned, and all those bags you loaded, (which killed my knees)
and all those  IRATES  that you took care of at the ticket counter………. – that’s the prize!!!!!)  ha ha
OH! And we won’t forget all the hugs, love, pasta dinners, jacuzzi spa night, AMERICAN hamburger nights, beautiful
lunch with close friend
and WINDSOR (our church) with family………Loved it, loved it, LOVED it !!!
Love ya all & miss you already!
Babcia/Marti/Mom
10:35pm Marseille time
Weather:  Rainy, misty,  and in the CLOUDS – but not cold
(I love it here)

 

There’s something to SOCIALIZED MEDICINE…let me tell you a true story

This might appear as a bit of a WHINE,    but this hurts like heck and  could be a problem in getting back to France.
I CAN’T WALK!!!   You realize ofcourse that I live in a place where we walk everywhere and in order to even get back to our “Port Village of Dreams” – I must walk in countless airports to the long gates to more transfers to the trains and metros and to my little awaiting car to take us up and over the mountain to our petit maison.

My knee went out.  It’s swollen and stiff and it’s probably from standing too much.  When we come back home to Saint Louis we never walk.   It’s a strange phenomenon. We don’t have to walk – we have a car sitting in our driveway.  And, we’re  busy, we have grands and we have things to do and errands to run …..IN  THE  CAR.  I am 64 and I cannot NOT walk or it’s very bad. This move to France has been the healthiest for us ever as we both lost 25 pounds each, dropped our high cholesterol counts, (despite all the cheeses) and  Therefore, I am determining how and what I shall do in the upcoming days to get ready to go back to France with a knee that will not cooperate.

Maybe you’re thinking, “WHY don’t you get a doctor to take a look at it , or get a Cortisone shot or something?”   Well, I don’t see a doctor at all here  because I don’t have health insurance here.  Yes, I have CATASTROPHIC health insurance,  a huge $5,000 deductible, in case I get hit by a BUS, –  but I don’t have insurance to see a doctor for a bad knee, or a cold, or a planters wart.  NADA.   I do, however, have a full complete coverage in FRANCE which is one reason we are there now.  I have one year until my MEDICARE kicks in, here in the US, but for now, when we need anything, eyes checked, prescription glasses, colds/flu visits, even doctor visits to our HOUSE – we pay a minimal amount ( 10- 20 euros) and then everything is reimbursed to us straight into our bank account.  This wasn’t necessarily easy to get started, (the French love paper) and there was tons of paperwork, but it’s done and we pay little out-of-pocket for absolutely anything that we need to have done – checked – or in worst case scenarios – surgeries.   I’m hoping this doesn’t lead to another knee surgery (like I’ve already encountered on the RIGHT knee and in which my Orthopedic surgeon in the US is still nickel and dime-ing me to death even though I had full insurance when that knee was operated on…) it’s disgusting, absolutely –  how we are treated here, even those WITH insurance!!  My treatment after the right knee surgery was physical therapy.  Guess what?   My expensive health insurance did not pay for that at all and I did not have the $45 – 3 times a week which was prescribed, therefore I could not get the therapy on the right knee.  I said to my doctor, “Since I cannot afford this physical therapy what can I do on my own?”.  He said to me “Use a stair stepper, or walk up and down stairs that are not too steep”  And that is exactly what I HAD to do anyway, because when moving to Paris, I had to walk an average 100 +  steps a day to get in and out of the metros.  My knee completely healed and fast, well, relatively , since basically it’s “bone on bone” on my right knee and eventually will need to be replaced. But for now……..the walking and the steps – were my beautiful and free – FREE – therapy.

Now, I’ve screwed up  my left knee from whatever I’ve done while being back home in Saint Louis and I must get back to France to get my treatment. It will be a relief  to  know that I am not being financially hijacked when my doctors in France find a solution for me.

Prayers would be nice……if you are a believer in such an awesome habit……as I am.

I know this is temporary, and there will be some pain in getting from here to there…..a long long travel back to France, and have to say, “I AM SO THANKFUL for the great care we get at minimal cost – in France – which has one of THE BEST HEALTH PLANS in the world!!!   Don’t even get me started on citizens of the United States not wanting a  much needed and improved health care system!!!!    You’re all crazy !!!  Crazy not to want this!!!!!!!

Hope your wonderful jobs stay wonderful and you never are made “REDUNDANT” and lose everything, because then, you’ll be wishing for what should have been  already in place years ago…….a decent HEALTH CARE PLAN……..

That’s all I’m saying…….

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