Saturday, November 29, 2008

30th Anniversary of Frejus Vous Accueille

There were fifty-eight of us on Saturday, November 29, 2008, Frejus Vous Accueille celebrated their 30th anniversary of welcoming new comers to Frejus. Since this has been our saving grace for getting to know some of the best people, we were anxious to go to this celebration.

We even decided that since we'd been learning Hula with Lisa that it would be a great opportunity to show the association this beautiful dance and everything it represents...harmony, peace, tranquility, oneness with nature, with self, with those around you...itself a celebration of nature.

Though our hula lessons each Friday afternoon included Christine, she was unable to make the fete so it was up to us four to convey this art to those present...there was of course Lisa, (the belle teacher), Helen (the spunky), Nathalie (the gracious) and myself (the mascot).
This little group of women have meant so much to me, they represent my core group of friends here...they have made me feel so at home, so at peace in their presence

And we must not forget the two strikingly handsome men who hold this little group of women in line (so to speak) first you have Laurent (Nathalie's husband) and Rick (Lisa's husband). They are both very kind, generous, funny, outgoing and keep me in stitches or blushing one. They have many things in common and enjoy taking long bike rides to get away from all the women, one thing they do not share in common however, is a common language and yet they are fast becoming good friends.

Here are two of the final four girls that encompass our group, Abigail (the mischievous) and Irie (the mischievous) can they be the same? Anyways they are best of friends and at times Lisa and I wonder if they are not glued at the hips because they NEVER want to leave each other's side. As I type this blog, Abigail is spending the night at Irie's...she couldn't take being apart for a few hours. The two girls that are missing in these pictures is Fanny and Laure (Nathalie and Laurent's beautiful girls, ages 13 and 16). So all in all there are eight women that surround Rick and is no wonder they want to go for such long rides!

Here we are seconds before "going on", all dressed up and nervous...and yet...not. As the saying goes for Lisa and I "this was not our first rodeo". For Lisa, of course this was probably her 1000th time of performing and for me, I had danced countless times at my church in Maui a version of Hula that could be called Christian Hula where the song is either a popular praise song or a song praising the attributes of God, this was to be my first "official" Hula.

For Nathalie and Helen it was their first time and it was such a blessing to be a part of their first experience with this moving dance. When we returned into the dressing room after the dance, the room was flooded with emotions that went unchecked. The emotions were happily released and during those precious moments, that will forever be embedded in my memory, the very essence of Aloha warmed the cold room. I watched quietly, drinking in the moment, feeling honored to be in the room where tears flowed freely...being shed for joy, for pride in this accomplishment and mainly for the realization that the worries of the world, the pesky things of life that all too often suck the joy of of life were revealed for what they were...nothing. That this feeling, this "aloha" was what life was REALLY about and what it should be about. No one wanted the feeling to end, or the was to precious...too sacred and shared only by four women. Four women who will be forever touched by the spirit of the south of France!

Here is the link to the video:

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving in France

This year we were graciously invited to a Thanksgiving feast by our lovely American friends, Rick and Lisa. We had thought that this holiday would just simply go unnoticed in our new country, but not to be. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful friends. They invited Abigail and I as well as our new French friends, Laurent, Nathalie, Laure and was to be their first Thanksgiving.
We arrived a tad early to see if there was anything to help with as it is such an undertaking especially with the small French kitchens. I had not been there but a few minutes and the evening was off to a rocky start...Rick shattered their coffee pot...notice his expression here. Later in the evening it was funny, but not at this moment.

So off I scurried to get out of the way, as I was of no use in the tiny kitchen. I was told by Irie that the family tradition is to write down 3-5 things that we were grateful for, to fold it up nicely and then at the table we would pick one out of the bowl and try to guess who had written it. The difference this year was to be that it should be written in French. So here were my 5 things to which I am grateful for:
1. Thank you Lord for the 16 years that I was blessed to have Devan in my life.
2. Thank you Lord for the chance to follow my dream to live in France
3. Thank you Lord my beautiful little girl, Abigail
4. Thank you Lord for my new friends
5. Thank you Lord for all that you did for me on the Cross

This beautiful bowl that Lisa painted contains the gratitude of nine people. I hope that we always remember to be thankful for what we are given in life, no matter how hard it is at times. Well needless to say everyone figured out it was me who had written these thank yous...I thought perhaps Devan's name would be the give away, but was that I was thanking the Lord. Everyone was able to guess who had written what fairly easy by what they were thankful for and it was a fun game to play.

Now on to the food! Oh it was delicious! We had chicken as there was no turkey to be had in all of France as it is not tradition here to celebrate Thanksgiving and they do not eat turkey till Christmas time. So a chicken had to do, and it did quite nicely thank you! It was followed by a wonderful and different type of stuffing...cornbread with blue cheese. Those of you who know me know I despise blue cheese, but this was actually quite good. We also had green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy and corn. This was followed by a to die for apple pie and chocolate cake with chantilly cream. Yum!

It was no nice to share this meal with my new friends, the Bailey Brownes who have different traditions and the Bruzzones who had was a great mix.
Sadly we had to leave as today (Friday) is a school day here in France so everyone left around 10:30...a very late evening for Abigail and Irie and I know they are feeling it this morning. Hopefully they will be able to share at school the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Yes it started with the Pilgrims and the Indians, yes they were fleeing religious persecution in their home country....but I find that the true meaning of Thanksgiving isn't what other people WERE thankful for way back when, but rather what YOU are thankful for right NOW. Don't forget that gratitude is an attitude...the world doesn't owe you one single thing, the things you get, the people in your life, the life you's all a gift. Remember that and be grateful for them!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

VTT at the Base Nature

Well this blog was to be about Abigail's VTT experience (recently started up on Wednesdays) but it turns out it is "our" experience. Yes, I know it is hard to believe for some (my body being one) that I climbed back on to a bike after 30 years! It was hysterical, scary, exhausting, fun and exciting all at the same time.

Abigail of course had no problem, having only been on a bike a few short months ago, though I don't think quite this complicated of a bike...for me it was a technical disaster. What happened to bikes in the past 30 yrs? When I was a kid you had a big cushy seat, handle bars and you hit the breaks by turning the peddles backwards...tres simple. Mais non! Now it's the smallest seat imaginable and about as comfortable as sitting on a brick and about the same size. The handlebars had the breaks on them in a squeezing motion as well as some numbers on both side that corresponded to something....still not quite sure what. The left had 1, 2, 3 and the right 1-9, I was instructed different times to move the 2 to 3 on the left and back again but never dared mess with the right.

Abigail and I both went for a detour in the trees, me more bike seemed to like it best really "off road". My bike also like the taste of my pants and chewed up a nice hole in the right leg...I was told later by Lisa that I was supposed to roll them up or tuck it in my socks..oh well. Abigail got "brushed" by a few trees and had her ankle chewed up. Neither one of us fell but we did crash into one another one time.

However despite our mini-adventures inside our adventure we were able to conquer some scary looking hills that our compadre Nicolas (not my Nicholas) thought were amusing and then tired of them quickly. But for Abigail and I, it was like conquering Mount Everest.

Now as we near bed time, my thighs are screaming and my bottom is surely bruised. There must be a better way!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


As promised I have more pictures of my new friends here in France. Today's blog will concentrate on my "French" friends, more later on the wonderful "American" friends I've met thousands of miles from the United States.

In this picture you see us returning from a gourmet lunch at Abigail's favorite restaurant no matter the country...McDonald's (or as it is called here McDos). You can see Laurent and Fanny along with Abigail and myself as Nathalie is running backwards to take this great shot. I love France as you walk everywhere you go practically. That is how I am still managing to loose weight despite these little trips!

Now here is Nathalie and Laurent, the happy couple. They are two of the nicest people I've ever met. They are so incredibly generous with their kindness and offerings of help that itat times catches me by surprise that they would go so out of their way. They are truly a gift from the Lord, plus they make me laugh!

Here is a picture of Nathalie and I after my English class, she joins me for class every Thursday morning and complains that her English is not up to par, but she is a wonderful student. She

speaks fluently, with an accent of course, and needs help only now and again. She is every teacher's dream student!

And finally here we are the three amigos, Nathalie, myself and Helen (my little friend) I call her this as you can see she is quite is a hard translation to make into French...I think it has a different meaning all together but we get a kick out of it everytime, so I continue. Helen is one funny lady and she never fails to make me laugh at least one time everytime I see her. Everyone should have a Helen in their lives..if not be a Helen!

Hopefully the next writing will be on my wonderful American friends....till then.....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Previous Trip to Monaco

I was given a wonderful opportunity to visit Monaco in group through Frejus Vous Accueil, the place I will be volunteer teaching at, as well as taking several classes myself. It was only 25 euros for the day and we were transported in a nice big bus and since it was on Monaco's Fete de Patramonie all the museums and tourist buses were free! So we were able to cover much ground (not that it's huge..the country itself is in fact just a city) in little time.

It was interesting place, it is not a kingdom for they have no king, but they do have a prince (the son of American movie star, Grace Kelly) and he was "in" as the flag was up on the castle where we tour and he lives...but alas I did not meet my prince today so I won't be a princess after all. What a shame! We watched (or tried to) the changing of the guards at the palace, went to the exotic gardens, a museum of the prince's own car collection (impressive if not a waste of money) and strolled the streets in general. We had a lovely meal at this cafe along the narrowest streets I've seen yet...I'm not sure a bicycle could pass without touching the buildings! I had a 3 cheese pizza that was the size of a medium to large pizza back home and that was supposed to be for one person! It was delicious but couldn't finish it completely...c'est triste!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fanny's 13th Birthday Party

Last night we were honored to be invited to our friend's (Nathalie and Laurent) daughter Fanny's 13th birthday party. It was doubly special as it was just the family and closest of friends, we've truly been blessed to have these precious people as friends.

We arrived around 4:00 with our other friends Lisa, Rick and Irie, parked in the free parking lot of Frejus Centre and strolled up the street of the old town to their century old house where they live and have divided it up into an additional six apartments to rent out. It is a spectacular house and the refurbishing is to die for, they've really done the house justice. More on their house later hopefully accompanied by photos for your enjoyment.

In total we were, Laurent, Nathalie, Laure and the birthday girl Fanny, Laurent's parents Serge and Gennette, Laure's boyfriend Aurillian, Fanny's two friends Layla and Charlotte, a friend of Nathalie's Corrinne and the the American entourage. There were cakes and candy and coffee, tea and champagne to be had by all. We talked and talked and laughed and laughed. The girls (Abigail and Irie) enjoyed time with all the young people. They played Wii, fought with balloons, played with the pet rabbit and generally made a ruckus.

We discussed many topics ranging from the process of Foie gras to hula to innuendos to the differences between America and France. The American contingent started asking each other what was the etiquette on leaving, "do you leave early?" or "do you leave late?" which is better, so finally we decided that around 8:00 we'd gracefully make our exit and hope that we hadn't over-stayed our welcome. I know with Nathalie and Laurent it would not be a problem but you just never know.

So as we strolled the still lively streets of Frejus Centre, we discussed the evening and Rick's rendezvous with Laurent, a buddy and Serge tomorrow morning at 9:00 to go bike riding together. Rick is an amazing guy, really wanting to have some male bonding time and it is difficult to come by as men do not in general make friends as easily as women and then you throw in a language barrier and it really messes things up. So Rick with very little french is going with the guys who speak even less English! Bon courage a tout!

Happy birthday Fanny!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Athena....a new friend

Well, I promised new pictures of new friends and here's a great one! Athena is the best friend of of my American friend Lisa and came to visit them and I got the chance and opportunity to spend several hours with her and share some special moments....she's a new friend for sure. Is that friend-napping? If so I'm guilty cause she was so much fun, out-going, talkative and funny.
It was really sad to see her go, she lives in the next town over from the Bailey Browne's and she does the same work as Lisa. So they will get to see her often but I know that we will keep in touch.

We also share many passions, talking, walking and shopping! Here she is looking for her boys a take home gift and also for thier girlfriends....what a great mom!
By the way Athena....still waiting to know what a barmitzpha is! (I know I killed the spelling)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Neuf is Working!!!

This...ladies and gentlemen, is what a Neuf Box looks like when it is working! That's right you heard me Neuf works as of today.....after 11 weeks of badgering, crying and what is working!!
France Telecom sent a wonderful man to fix my line and after working on it for about an hour and a half, it was fixed! We are in by divine intervention my friend Nathalie and her daughter Fanny were here helping (or doing..depending on how you saw it) Abigail decoupage her heart box when he came. So there was no french barrier when it came to all the technical words. I gave the nice man several big hugs and sent him on his merry way. Then (and here's the funny part) I tried to call Nicholas and Maman....and they were not home! I wanted it to be a surprise, but the surprise was on me.
Anyways as I was jumping up and down (literally) in pure joy and being connected to the world, I decided to have a "fete" (party) to celebrate and asked the key people who'd been helping me here in Frejus Nathalie and her husband Laurent....Rick and Irie had shown up to return the car and see if Abigail could spend the night so I asked them to join us as well. We all headed downstairs to the restaurant next door and ate wonderful food and even better company! I love my friends here, they are keepers the lot of them!
In all seriousness, this day was huge for me as I have not been able to keep contact with my friends and family and my special honey Nicholas. I've tried via the wifi connection of the restaurant downstairs but it comes in huge minute you were on and in a deep "chat" IM style and the next second you're offline and it took you 5 minutes at least to get back on...very irritating when trying to have a deep conversation or just a conversation period.
But now I can email, IM or call anyone!! Ain't God good!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lilly has moved to another home!

Well, depending on who you ask this can be an extremely joyous day or perhaps a somewhat sad one. After much discussion and the start of her "heat cycle" Abigail and I decided that with me going to all my different functions and now starting to teach every Thursday morning, it was not fair to her to be couped up all the time on the terrace.

So we placed an ad online and received several people who were interested in her...finally a young lady came yesterday with her little 2 year old girl and fell in love with Lilly straight away and of course vice versa. So, Lilly has gone to live where the movie stars roam the streets (Cannes). The young lady doesn't work and will be able to take Lilly on walks every day, several times a day so I feel that she has a better home.

This was yet another expensive lesson for me to learn, I seem to only go to the school of hard knocks...but I learn! No more animals for me!! Though Abigail woke up missing her, I think it'll be better for her as well as she had grown tired of having to clean up all the messes that the dog made everyday.

So farewell Lilly, hello freedom!

A Prayer for Our Nation

I know this doesn't have anything to do with my stay here in France but I was sent this prayer and found it quite profound and worthy of meditation, so I wanted to remind myself and those of you who are choosing to take this journey with us.

Thank you.

Michelle et Abigail

This was in front of the Kansas Senate by Pastor Joe Wright in 1996:

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem.

We have abused power and called it politics.

We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and Set us free. Amen!'

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Les Vacances Scolaire

Oh how wonderful to have 2 weeks off for All Saints day! Oh the plans we had, plans of travel and site seeing within our little village. And then....the weather....well, the weather was uncoperative with our plans. It has been cold, windy, rainy to the point where some parts of France were severely flooded, entire towns under 2 meters of water!

So needless to say, our adventure was cut and we spent the entirity of our vacation inside...oh can anyone say cabin fever? So here are a few pictures of the miserable weather...not sure if you can tell from previous pictures but this pictures shows how much the water has ripped away the sand of our beach, it's almost completely gone.

From this picture you can see the huge waves, you see the man between the railings and see how much taller the waves are than he? Not exactly Hawaii waves, but pretty big none-the-less.

We were able to escape two times during this time, once to go to church in Valluris, this is our home church while here in France. You see a picture of Abigail standing in front of it, it's actually in the Picard building (an excellent store that sells frozen goods). The other outing we had was to my friends Nathalie and Laurent's beautiful house in Frejus Centre, where we spent a lovely day and evening just socializing. It was nice to see different surroundings. And that was our holiday...