dimanche 26 décembre 2010

Just a quick post to say Merry Christmas from Thailand! We arrived here in Bangkok a week ago and have been staying with my sister and her family, and my parents are here as well. On Christmas Eve we went to see a Thai boxing match- ringside seats.
Today we are going down to the beach for a few days, and are returning to France the 1st of January.

lundi 13 décembre 2010
Saturday night we were invited to Alain's coworker's for raclette. (Hey, that's my easy to make when people come over fallback!)

I hadn't seen him and his wife since our trip to the waterpark in the summer. They have a little girl who will be two in February. Also invited were an Italian couple. He is doing his PhD in the same lab as Alain, and she is also doing studies here in Marseille.
Alain had invited the guys over for poker night several times while I was up in Strasbourg, but I had never met them.

We arrived a little after 6, two folding chairs in hand. For anyone who knows French people, 6 pm is rather early to start a get-together. I guess that is what having kids will do to you though.

They live at about 20 minutes walk from our place. We decided just to walk, even though it was cold, because we didn't want to deal with having to find parking at 11 pm.
Because Alain's colleague and his wife are Muslim, they don't drink alcohol (or at least, she doesn't and he doesn't when she is not around) so Alain bought some Champony. For anyone who doesn't know, it is a sparkling apple juice, often given to kids at holiday parties while all the French adults are tippling away at the champagne.

I had a stuffed elephant bought at Ikea a long time ago (right before Lucie, Alain's sister, informed us "No more stuffed animals as presents for Manon!") that I brought to give to their daughter, who was quite pleased.

We sat and talked for a few hours, then sat down for the raclette. I'm sorry but it just isn't the same with Coke instead of wine. After dinner, we had a tiramisu that the Italians had made and the Champony. We left at around 11 pm.
It was fun, but now I am out of ideas for what to make when they come over.
dimanche 12 décembre 2010

There is nothing quite like trying to convince a whole bunch of French that pumpkin pie is in fact edible.

Alain hates it with what can only be described as a fiery passion and refuses to even take a bite.

At the end of October I bought a pumpkin from the local Casino grocery store. It was marked as a pumpkin for decoration, so I wasn't sure if it was really the right type for pies.

I scooped out the seeds, baked them (those he'll eat), and baked the pumpkin for about two hours. I didn't however have a mixer, so I froze the baked pumpkin flesh, and order a mixer from Amazon. Two weeks later, mixer in hand, I defrosted the pumpkin, followed the directions as best I could, made the pie crust, and baked two pies.

I tested one, and it was in fact edible (perhaps not as good as the canned pumpkin purée, but definitely better than the one we had two Thanksgivings ago at the Anglo-American Thanksgiving feast)

I bought some whipped cream and brought them in to work. I sent an email to everyone in the office, wishing them Happy Thanksgiving, telling them about the holiday, and that there was a traditional pumpkin pie in the kitchen. I also said that it was an acquired taste, and that French people usually don't like it.

All of my coworkers tried it and they all said it was good. Though I noticed that nobody had more than one piece. Hmmm.

Not sure what to conclude. Though I probably won't be going through all the trouble again next year.

Anyone know of a French who really and truely likes pumpkin pie?
samedi 11 décembre 2010
A few weeks ago, I made some bread using our bread machine.

We only ate about half of it, so I put the rest in a tupperware container, and well, rather forgot about it.

About a week and a half later, I opened it up, and this is what I found
Appetizing n'est ce pas?

I have never seen such hairy-looking mold before. (and believe me, I've seen a lot of mold)

I had to take a picture for posterity.
jeudi 9 décembre 2010
Had my appointment with the Prefecture today, to hand in the next round of papers for my nationality file.
Wasn't quite sure what to expect. I am always leary of when French administration gives you a list of documents, with check marks next to the things you are supposed to bring. You can be almost certain that they will ask for something not on the list.
"No passport?" I already gave you a photocopy of my passport when I turned in the file in June. "Come back another day then."
"No certificate de scolarité of your kids?" We don't have kids. "Well, then you should have thought to bring an attestation from a local school saying that you do not in fact have kids. Come back another day."

Anyway, my appointment was for 10:30 précise.
I arrived about ten minutes early, and around 10:45 got called in. She asked me questions like what language I speak at work, what language I speak with Alain, what language I speak with friends and family. (Obviously trying to figure out my degree of integration)
How many times do I go back to the US? Do I have all my family there? How long did I work in the US? How long have I worked here in France? When will our apartment be paid off?

Actually, I am rather glad that I am not requesting nationality by marriage. It doesn't seem like it would be any faster, and besides then Alain would be subjected to all kinds of doozies like "How long have you known each other?" and the killer "When is your anniversary?"

So she said I should hear back in about 8 months. Apparently, they send the file to Nantes.
So now, the wait part 2 begins.
vendredi 3 décembre 2010
Got back from Strasbourg just fine.
My wallet however, did not.

After my long train trip back home, and being called "sale race" (always a highlight) I arrived in Marseille around 11 pm. Alain met me at the train station, and we went underground to the subway station. I took out my subway ticket from my wallet in my purse, and....
that was the last I saw of it.
The next morning I went for groceries, had a full cart, and when the time came to pay...
Nothing. Nada. Rien.
I had my other wallet which had about 10€, my carte de sejour, and my permis de conduire. I managed to pay for most of the cart of groceries with the 10€ and some tickets resto, then came home and searched. Couldn't find it. Somewhere between taking the subway in Marseille at 11 pm and going to the grocery store the next morning at 9 am, my wallet disappeared. Lost or stolen, I don't know, but if I have to guess, I would say stolen on the subway.
I called and canceled my credit card and remaining checks.
On Monday I sent in the form to cancel my Carte Vitale (health insurance card) and the registered letter to La Poste, confirming the Opposition of my card.
Luckily, my harder to replace cards (ie carte de sejour and permis de conduire) were not in there.
On Friday, I received a notice from La Ville de Marseille, service des Objets Trouvés - something of mine had been turned in.
Knowing that it was my wallet and hoping there was still most of it left, I went in on Monday morning (over in the not-so-good part of town). I gave the woman the piece of paper and she looked it up on the computer. Behind her were piles of clothes, backpacks, and other stuff that I am sure didn't have any ID on it and is probably given to charity after a month.
I got back (wrapped in a rubber band):
- credit card (which did me no good as I had already canceled it)
- check book (which did me no good as I had already canceled it)
- health card (which did me no good as I had already canceled it)
- the receipts that were in my wallet
- my points card for Casino grocery store, and
- a business card from another student at the course in Strasbourg

By this time, the only thing that was really worth it was the Casino points card.
But really, who steals a wallet, keeps the wallet (Louis Vuitton I might add) and the money (about 50€), and carefully puts the credit card (which he know he can't use because it has probably been canceled), check book (ditto), health card, bothers to take out the receipts and business card, and puts them in a nice pile for the subway officials to find and turn in to Lost and Found?
Le Sigh.
Got a new credit card, still working on getting another checkbook, and haven't heard back from about the health insurance card.
And am back to my 10€ wallet which at least isn't a temptation for theives.

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