Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Chloé Lebelle-Thomas joined the family on June 27!
Sorry to be so tardy with this announcement. I've been delinquent in getting the photo.
 It was rather early in the morning and I wasn't around. I had gone down to Provence with the car to see the rest of the Pickar clan in Roussillon. That means that Paul, the babysitter, didn't have easy transportation in the middle of the night, so Louis came and picked him up and then took Gwen to the hospital. That was cutting it close and added a bit of stress to the whole thing, but everyone got to where he or she should be in plenty of time. I woke up early on Friday morning to a phone message with a picture. Not this one, but another. This one is the one Louis posted, so I feel I can share it.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Rambling thoughts

Well, before I started writing this post,when I signed in, the site opened to my stats. I don't have many readers and that's fine, because this was never intended to attract more than family and friends. I'm not surprised to see that a lot of my readers are in France and the US. Of course, some readers are not family and close friends and they are welcome. I guess, from time to time, I do write about subjects that might interest them. I am befuddled as to why I have so many readers in Russia. If any of the Russian readers are reading this particular post, could you tell me what attracted you to it? Then again, it might just be robot site scrapers.
 Paul and I got back from a short week trip down to see Emma and Gabriel and their renovation project. It's coming along fine. It's still got a long way to go, of course, but they seem to have plotted the time and are on schedule. One building now has a new roof and all the exterior masonry is finished -- joints cleaned and re-cemented. Windows are about to be ordered, and in the mean time, they will finish top the floors and figure out their heating system so that they can move in for next winter. The hangar, too is coming along: the floor of the smaller room is ready to surface and when that's done, they can move some things there that will free up the area in the main house so they can start work there in 2015. In the mean time, they will have some fresh vegetables from the garden, soon. It's a small garden for this year, a trial run. I'm of no use for hard physical labor, but I'm ready to rush down and help any way I can (have sewing machine, will travel), whenever they want me.
 What you notice when you arrive is the stacks and piles: tiles in usable, big broken pieces, and little broken pieces; stone in masonry size, rocks, and small stones for filler; wood as usable lumber or fuel; metal scraps that they have found here and there and just pile it up as they clean off the land. Among the stones are some beautiful fossils of the ancient sea-bed. When you think that they are far inland at the top of a hill it makes you wonder! Anyway, these stacks will grow and decrease as things are found and used.
We couldn't stay with them (not yet, maybe next year), so Emma found us a very nice hotel in Najac, Le Belle Rive. This hotel was just on the river bank (Aveyron) with the medieval town up on the promontory above. We had a view of the château from our window and the sound of the river. The hotel had a nice restaurant -- well-prepared good, fresh, local food. For those who go in season, there's a big swimming pool and a tennis court.
 From Najac, we went to Six-Fours to see Pierre and Gillette. The weather was just beautiful, not too hot. We took a walk down to the seaside, to Brusq -- and talked and talked and talked. Quite pleasant. We caught up on all our aches and pains and the marvellousness of our grandchildren. The next day, Pierre took us up to the Collegiale St. Anne just outside the Six-Fours fort at the top of the hill. Until the mid-19th century, this is where the village of Six-Fours was, like all of these towns at the top of the hill. Gradually the population moved down to the seaside, where the fishing and fields were. The remains of the village were razed and the fort was built in 1875, probably started during Napoleon III's time. It's a beautiful view from there. You can see Toulon and the navy ships on one side and Six-Fours, Sanary, Bandol on the other. Then we all had lunch with Charlette and Yves.
 From Toulon, we went to Avignon to see T and her parents. After a bite to eat at home, we went for a walk around town. Again, the center of Avignon is at the top of a hill. Behind the Palais des Papes is a beautiful park with old pedal horse-carts. We talked and talked and talked -- and watched the kids pedal their carts around a planted circle. There was also a young guy practicing some hip-hop dance routines on the grass. We watched and admired. People-watching is a great activity. After a while, though, we got up and walked back to T's for dinner at the little restaurant at the corner.
This is the château du Roi René across the river from Avignon, from the park. You can also see the Pont d'Avignon from there, more to the left. I decided not to include a photo of the bridge -- there are plenty of post cards of that.
Then, we came home and got back into our regular routines -- meetings, etc. We went to an interesting talk at the American Library, Paris before Haussmann. Joan DeJean  tells us that the transformation of Paris into a modern city started under Henry IV, in the early 17th century. I found it interesting. Paul probably would have liked to delve deeper into the subject.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day, in France

For the second year, I represented AARO at the Memorial Day ceremony at the Esquadrille Lafayette Memorial in Marnes-la-Coquette yesterday. Why Saturday? Well, Memorial Day, the US holiday, is not celebrated here. Veterans Day, November 11, is for memorial. I spoke to an officer who was coordinating with the Mirage pilots for the flyover and he explained that Saturday was the only day that air traffic control could clear the passage for the flyover. The 4 jets did indeed fly over, at precisely 11:01, but because of the cloud cover, we didn't see anything. We could hear them, though. The rain came and went several times during the ceremony.
The speeches were excellent. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. I especially appreciated hearing the mayor of Marnes-la-Coquette, Mme. Barody-Weiss, again. As she did last year, she gave two different, but similar speeches in French and English. One is not the translation of the other. The texts she quotes from are different, but you can tell that time was spent finding texts with similar messages and composing the two speeches. The US Ambassador was represented by the excellent Chargé d'Affaires, Mr. Mark Taplin. In fact, we still do not have an ambassador, here, in France, since Mr. Rivkin left. He, Mr. Taplin, spoke movingly about 100 years ago, in May, how no one was really expecting war, but the world wasn't dormant, how quickly the young men of this group switched gears from whatever they were doing to join the French forces. Would we (or rather the young people of today, 16, 17, 18 years old) do the same? After all, we are not at war, but the world is not dormant.
There were other fine speeches and the ceremony was not boring, nor did it seem like anyone was itching to leave because of the rain.
Here are some photos from the day:
Flowers from AARO

The US Air Force color guard, arriving

After the speeches.. That's me, behind the speaker, laying down the cushion of flowers from AARO


The US Air Force color guard, departing

Friday, May 23, 2014

Overseas Americans Week 2014 Recap Video

I have neglected this blog for a month! And I'm not going to write, now. I just want you to go to the AARO website and check out the video of the recap we did last month at Joe Allen's, in Paris. I'm not embedding it because I really want to you go to the website and get a pre-rollout peek at changes. So, after the video, take a stroll through the site and send in your constructive comments.
Overseas Americans Week Recap