Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 29 - dimanche

27 fevrier 2011
It rained on and off again last night. I took my umbrella with me when I walked to the 10:30 messe at Notre Dame. I was hoping that Vesna might be there, but not so. The Italian woman in the front row was kind enough to speak with me again. I could understand about half of what she was saying this time, and I could communicate a little bit, too.
When I got home, I read through the thoughts for the day on the liturgy bulletin. There was a prayer on the back that we read together after communion. The pastor suggested that we say it everyday. I will share my translation of it with you here in both French and English:
Seigneur, quand je suis affamé, donne-moi quelqu’un qui ait besoin de nourriture.
Quand j’ai soif, envoie-moi quelqu’un qui ait besoin d’eau.
Quand j’ai froid, envoie-moi quelau-un à réchauffer.
Quand je suis blessé, donne-moi quelqu’un à consoler.
Quand ma croix devient lourde, doone moi la croix d’un autre à partager.
Quand je suis pauvre, conduis-moi à quelqu’un dans le besoin.
Quand je n’ai pas de temps, donne-moi quelqu’un que je puisse aider un instant.
Quand je suis humilié, donne-moi quelqu’un dont j’aurai à faire l’éloge.
Quand je suis découragé, envoie-moi quelqu’un à encourager.
Quand j’ai besoin do la compréhension des autres, donne-moi quelqu’un qui ait besoin de la mienne.
Quand j’ai besoin qu’on prenne soin de moi, envoi-moi quelqu’un don’t j’aurai à prendre soin.
Quand je ne pense qu’à moi, tourne mes pensées vers autrui.

Lord, when I am hungry, give me someone who needs food.
When I am thirsty, send me someone who needs water.
When I am cold, send me someone to warm up.
When I am hurt, give me someone to comfort.
When my belief becomes heavy, give me the cross of another to carry.
When I am needy, lead me to someone in need.
When I do not have time, give me someone who I can help in a moment.
When I am humbled, give me someone who has need of praise.
When I am discouraged, send me someone to encourage.
When I need others to understand me, give me someone who has need of mine.
When I need somebody to take care of me, send me someone who needs to be taken care of.
When I think only of myself, turn my thoughts toward others.

Do you think this prayer sounds a bit Ignatian?
The sun never really came out today, but it was sometimes brighter and darker throughout the day. I wasn’t really looking to go out again unless I could find something to do at an indoor spot. No such luck. It’s just as well. I needed to study since yesterday’s efforts felt scattered.
Yesterday online, I found a French audio novel for beginners, all in the present tense. I downloaded the script and audio file for each chapter. Today I listened to Chapter 1 twice without the script seeing how much I could determine, then once with the script. The story is not exciting, but the level is just right, so I will work my way through the next 15 chapters bit by bit.
More often I am trying to “think” French by creating sentences that describe what I’m planning to do or where I am. This is getting easier. Before I leave, I hope the process of moving from a “constructed” thought to speaking will come more quickly.
I have another dialogue to memorize for class tomorrow, but since I won’t be in that group, I won’t feel too disappointed if I don’t get it down perfectly. Then I spent time writing about the weekend, because I need to practice speaking in the past tense. Michele looked it over and made corrections as we shared a cup of tea.
Afterwards, because I had been sitting inside most of the day, I went for a neighborhood walk. I found the Russian palace just above us on the hill. It is now a high school. I took quite a few pictures so that you can see it, too.
Enjoy the rest of the day, Dear Reader, and have a good week.

Day 28 – samedi

26 fevrier 2011
Today I planned a quiet day to study. I’m not sure that I accomplished a lot, but it was quite nice to stay home. My only outing was to Monoprix, a large grocery store – on Jean Mèdecin Boulevard.
The sun never really came out, but there were brighter and darker moments. The walk to the store was pleasant. I’ve been listening to Maria Callas – so beautiful – sing French and Italian arias.
Once at the store, I took the escalator up to the second floor. Here one finds clothing, and office and school supplies. I found a coloring book and birthday card for Nate who turns 5 soon. I couldn’t find an envelope big enough to send it in, but I think that might be at the Post Office.
The ground level of Monoprix has a large section of fresh meats, fruits and vegetables, and cheese. It has a bakery, too. I found what I was looking for – no peanut butter – I think I will not look anymore. The fruits and vegetables were pretty expensive, so on the way back I stopped at a corner market to get those items.  His produce was fresh and reasonably priced – half that of Monoprix. I noticed he even had eggs. Since this is just two blocks from school, I will likely stop here again soon.
When I returned to the apartment, Michele was just on her way out to visit her friend Corinne who has a newborn baby boy. This gave me a chance to Skype people just getting out of bed in Iowa. It also gave me a chance to find some French practice sites.
This evening I checked email and sent a letter to some contacts in Paris. That trip must be planned soon. The weeks go by so quickly at school where I am doing well enough to be promoted up a step. I’m looking forward to this, as it will give me more opportunities to practice speaking and learn from others who have been in the learning process a little longer than myself.
It’s always good to hear from you, Dear Reader. Have a good day.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 27 - vendredi

Matisse museum day
25 fevrier 2011
The morning class gave me an opportunity to spend the afternoon out and about. The weather was lovely, so it was a good opportunity to go to the Matisse Museum and Greek/Roman ruins! For this, I was very excited. This area has been inhabited for a very long time.
Marina decided to come along. Our first stop was the Catholic bookstore – I found a mass guide and a small prayer book so that now I can participate more fully – both for less than 7 Euros.
Next we went looking for bus number 17.  There it was across the street. But by the time we crossed traffic and the two sets of tram tracks, it had pulled away from the curb. No big deal, we decided to get a soda (Coke for me and Fanta Orange for Marina) and wait for the next bus, which came later than expected.
However, the ride to the museum was only 15 minutes. We arrived at the museum stop at 4:45. The museum stays open until 6:00 so we had a reasonable amount of time to look around. The building sits in the middle of an archeological site surrounded by a park filled with olive trees. There is a Franciscan monastery next to this – the church there is from the 17th century.
Pictures were not allowed in the museum, so all I have are from the outside surroundings. The Matisse collection gives one a real sense of his development from his school days through his life. A good deal of space is given to his design plans for the Dominican chapel in Vence, France (about 2 hours from Nice by bus, along the coast). Included in the museum is an interesting collection of “souvenirs” that Matisse collected during his travels around the world.  One gains a great appreciation for the artistic process with such a concentrated view of one’s work.
The park was filled with people of all ages and their dogs. In a section of the park, in front of the museum, is a lowered field defined by a rock wall. The field is filled with olive trees. I doubt that the trees are all that old, but it may be that the field has been an olive garden for many, many years.
Next we visited the chapel of the Franciscan monastery. The church was not large, but of fairly good size. The statues all seemed to be carved and painted.  Every inch of the church was painted in dark colors. It had a warm and welcoming feeling. We did not stay long as it was already 6:20 and we had to catch the bus back downtown.
Outside the museum, the ruins include foundations of buildings and a circular theater. There seemed to be an archeological dig in progress – there was a canvas awning over a small portion of this area. All was behind a fence. The theater was slightly more accessible. We were able to climb onto one of the arched openings. It looks like this area is being prepared for future use. The theater is not large, just two levels, it seems. I am amazed that I could touch bricks that were cut and laid over a thousand years ago.  It’s good that the city continues to conserve this area.
We got on the number 22 bus but not in the right direction. This meant that we had to get off the bus while it waited to start the route downtown.  This bus took us to Place Massena. From here we walked to an Indian restaurant. The food was very good and slightly more reasonable than most of what I have encountered here.
The apertif seemed to be a red wine diluted with rose water - a delightful taste and scent. The dinner was very good, too. I’m glad we had a little distance to walk to get home.
So it was a big day here. I expect to sleep well tonight. I hope you do, too, Dear Reader.

Day 26 - jeudi

24 fevrier 2011
I felt a lot of energy for the day as I headed to school. Last evening I found two helpful websites with rules for French grammar and some practice quizzes, too. Even on these sites I am very much a “beginner.” Ce n’est pas probleme. It is an exciting learning experience.
Class was a comfortable challenge today. I am enjoying more writing out our dialogues/sketches. Mariette was very affirming of my written efforts in French to describe yesterday’s visit to the Chagall museum. Every little bit of praise boosts my confidence to speak. The fourth week is nearly over; I have 8 more weeks to go. It is hard to imagine speaking with any of the facility the advanced students have, but  somehow, little by little, it does get easier.
I met a new student today, Fang Xu (Isabelle) from China. She is a singer, too. I hope that we will find each other several times a week. She knows a little English, but speaks French fairly clearly, so that will be our first language of choice.
This evening, thirty of the students got together to celebrate Claudia’s twentieth birthday and to say farewell to four students. We went to La Pizza restaurant on Rue de la France – about a 20-minute walk from school. We had the upstairs room nearly to ourselves for the evening. The pizza there is excellent.  Everyone had a good time.
I’ve just gotten in at 10:50 p.m., so this entry will be brief.
Good night, Dear Reader.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 21 - samedi

Sorry, I forgot to post this one on time! 
Carnaval day pictures19 fevrier 2011
Happy birthday, Eileen!
Today was another sunny day, warmer than yesterday, I think.
After breakfast, I did a load of laundry and studied for a while. At 12:15 I headed out to meet Rose at school. We are going down to the parade of flower floats. There were many barricades up along the promenade. The parade route is along the bay. We walked along a parallel street, stopping occasionally to look at shop windows. I did purchase a few post cards. Then we found a chocolatier that had beautiful candied fruits in the window. Rose had tried these before, so I bought a slice of melon (canteloupe) and a clementine orange. Of course a truffle came along for the ride, too.
We tried to find Marietta, but we were unsuccessful. We stopped at a coffee shop very near the parade route watching the families with children pass by in their costumes: Snow White, Buzz Light Year, Princess Leia and Darth Vader were all coming to the parade.
After a fine cup of java – café crème with 3 lumps of sugar – we walked along the barriers and occasionally got glimpses of the floats. Be assured, this was not the Rose Parade, but it was a very impressive abundance of tropical blooms and mimosa. There was a strong Brazilian presence in the music and the costumes – with large plumed headdresses.
I got back to the apartment about 4:30. Michele was out visiting friends, so I got onto the Internet for just a short time. I found Eileen, and Dean and Maria all hanging out near their computers, so we had brief chats.
Then I was off to meet Rosa again to go to 6:00 Mass at Notre-Dame. After Mass we looked for a light supper. We ate at a little pizza place – I had a ham panini with french fries and a salad, and a German beer – the world on a plate.
Afterwards we headed back towards the church, but we were really turned around. Gratefully the concert of the King’s School Choir and Chamber Orchestra from Worcester, England had not yet begun. The bus had not arrived by 8:30 when the concert was to start. A small group of supporters had gathered at the church, and the pastor let us all in.  The musicians finally arrived about 8:50. The concert began at 9:15. They did a beautiful job – intonation was phenomenal for a group that had been traveling all day.
Afterwards I spoke with the director. They had been traveling for 28 hours by bus from Worcester. The students had not had time to change into their concert attire or even to eat. They sang all of Mozart’s Missa Brevis among other shorter things. It was quite delightful. They did look a bit tired, but they also seemed to enjoy themselves.
I know I feel and look a bit tired now too, getting in after 10:30. So it is time to turn out the light. Have a good evening, Dear Reader.

Day 25 - mercredi

Click here: works of Chagall; pictures of Nice
23 fevrier 2011
Class was in the morning and early afternoon today, so there was time to visit the Marc Chagall museum, just a short walk away and up, up, up a hill. Elisabeth and I made our way there, arriving about 3:30. We bought our tickets and went into the galleries. Each of us was able to get the audio information in our own language – English and German.
The building was designed to hold Chagall’s large works depicting biblical scenes. I have a few photos to share with you, but they capture only a meager essence of works. Size and texture and the vibrant colors are diminished by my photos. Chagall worked not only with paint, pencil and glass, but sculpture and tapestry, too.
On the way home, Elisabeth went searching for the chickpea flour to make socca. After three stops at small shops, she found it!
Once home, after tea with Michele, I attempted to write about my experience at the museum in French. Michele was willing to correct my mistakes, which was very nice of her.
Thought for the day: when I look back at all the dialogues, sketches and practice sentences that I have written, will I believe that I was able to do this, or will I smile at my apprentice-attempts? Only time will tell.
Have a good night, Dear Reader.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 24 - mardi

22 fevrier 2011
The weather was better today than expected. It did not rain, and the sun warmed us a bit. Classes were in the afternoon, so I worked at home until 10:30, made my lunch, and headed to school to meet Marina. She did not come, which was fine, but then she was not in either class this afternoon, either. I hope she is not sick.While I was waiting, I had a lovely chat with Elma from Switzerland.
She has strong morals from her Muslim faith and, yet, leans left politically. She has not been able to attend the mosque in Nice because it is just for men here. This upsets her, but she is only here for two weeks. We talked a lot about the choices of a young woman to be sexually active or not. She said it beautifully: (the essence of her words; not exact) “A woman, who says ‘no’ before marriage, is like gold and more treasured than one who gives a little to everyone. If everyone can have some, it is not valued.” A very fine framework for a young person to hang onto, I think.
Mariette is a superb teacher. She had us talking about the various little tasks that one can do around the house. She encouraged us to think of other ways to say things. She makes me feel successful despite my mistakes. Today I understood nearly everything she was sharing.
Tissa, from Japan, is new in both our Standard and Intensive classes. She speaks a little English, so both of us struggling in French is better. This will be very good for my practice in French.
In the standard course, later, I found that I comfortably understood the explanation of les adjectifs. My success on the worksheet, however, proves that I need to study more.
As I was leaving school today, I met Margrite. She appears to be my age. She does not speak any English, but does fairly well with her beginning French. She will be another person to connect with regularly in order to practice my French – it’s still the listening/comprehension that I struggle with.
Walking home today, the traffic was jammed at every intersection. I’ve never seen this before. Michele found out that there was a parade for Carnaval down at the promenade today, so that snarls traffic everywhere. The other observation I made on the way home is that it is no longer completely dark when I get home at 6:15. Yeah! (Or as the French write it – ouie!- pronounced oo-ee-ae, very quickly.)
As Michele and I were having tea, a game show very much like Family Feud came on TV – it is called Les familles d’Or, I think. This game is just my speed because the question comes across the screen, I have time to consider what it means, the contestants give their answers, and if they are correct, that answer shows up on the board. This is a great way to learn new vocabulary.
So it was a good day overall. I hope yours was, too, Dear Reader.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 23 - lundi

School pictures - click here21 fevrier 2011
Today marks the beginning of the fourth week in Nice. It was a beautiful day with a clear blue sky. It was warm enough to sit outside for lunch. Class began early in the day. There was a good energy in the classroom today.
Each class we listen to one or two dialogues and need to determine what we have heard and what it is about. This has been very tricky. Today, the first one went fairly well for me, so I was patting myself on the back. Then came the second dialogue, and I had to admit that I understood very little of what was being discussed. Humility is a virtue, and helps one get past the awkward moments.
After classes, I stayed at school to complete our assigned exercises with Elisabeth. She left to catch the train to Antibes. I finished up and decided to walk to the Chretien librairie, i.e. Christian bookstore, around the corner. It wasn’t open today, but I will return another day to look around. The other bookstore near the Church may be more specifically Catholic - I’m not sure. Tomorrow it is supposed to be raining again, so that trek will be scheduled for another day.
When the bookstore was not open, I decided to go to the papeterie, the office goods store. It is quite close to the school. It is very modest compared to Staples, but you know, it had everything I was searching for: BIC mechanical pencils (sold individually), a notebook for class, and a smaller one for my purse. They also had un perforateur – a hole punch. I’ve been looking for one in order to organize all the worksheets I get in the classes. In France and around Europe, as I understand, four (or two) holes are the standard. Hence, this device makes 4 holes. It will stay in France with Michele when I leave.
For such a lovely day, there is not much else to report. Have a good night, Dear Reader.  

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 22 - dimanche

20 fevrier 2011
It was another rainy day in Nice. My plans to go to one of the nearby festivals with a friend from school did not materialize, but that was just as well since watching a parade of flowers or citrus can’t be much fun in the rain. Since I had gone to Mass last evening, I had the morning free. I took this time to study – mostly attempting to translate the church bulletin and other pamphlets that I have accumulated.
Michele suggested that I might go to the Matisse museum. This sounded like a good way to spend the afternoon. So after lunch, I made a trip down to Place Masséna to catch the no. 15 bus. The area was abuzz with Carnaval. I found the bus stop, but no no. 15 came. When I checked the bus schedule, it indicated that that bus did not stop here on Sundays. (If I had known to walk to the next bus shelter, I would have found it, but I did not venture there.) I studied the schedule with my umbrella open. Bus no. 17 goes out that way. I had seen that bus earlier, and the schedule said it would come at 2:35. When it was 2:50 and it had not come, I checked the schedules of the other buses that were coming by. The no. 22 had just left and it went to the museum, too. At this point, having stood for an hour at the bus stop, I decided to abandon the idea and head back towards home.
I stopped in a few clothing stores to see what was being offered. There are lots of pretty things for young people. I must keep in mind that if I get anything, it must be something I would wear to work, otherwise it might just hang in the closet all year.
As the day was damp and chilly, I decided to stop somewhere for coffee and a treat. On Sundays, most of the shops are closed, so I was quite close to home before I found anything where I could sit down for a bite. The pastisserie where I stopped is not far from the school. I ordered a café crème and a slice of the chocolate-almond torte. This really was a treat for two, but I managed to put it all neatly away. Then I could feel the sugar surge, because the coffee needed 4 lumps of sugar, too. (Aye-aye-aye.)
Since there is a small grocery store just across the street from the pastry shop, I made a list of things to get for the week. As small as the shop was, it had quite a nice selection of things for quick-cooked meals. Still no peanut butter, but I found out that the word for “peanut” is “arachide.”
It was good to get back home. Though I was disappointed that it was such an uneventful day, it was good to have gotten out of the house for a little while.
This evening I returned to “reading” the latest copy of the local free paper. The articles are just short enough that I can make my way through them without spending too much time at it. However, the dictionary is a necessity for even the shortest blurb.
There is so much to learn. I am happy that I now recognize more of the verb forms, and my reading vocabulary is rapidly growing. I continue to struggle with being able to listen and understand the locals. My brain seems to shut down. This can only get better with time, so I will try to be patient.
Have a good week, Dear Reader.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day 20 - vendredi

Carnaval pictures
18 fevrier 2011
It was the first sunny day since last Sunday. It feels very nice.
Afternoon school today, so I took the morning to study. Since we were going to work on restaurant skits, I started a French-style menu. Once at school to meet Marina, we completed the menu with three “plats du jour”.  It gave us a chance to practice.
After class, Mariette, our intensive course teacher, led a group of 12 of us by tram to the old city. There we ate at a little restaurant that was situated on the two corners of the street – one side was for the food, the other for indoor seating and drinks. This was my first taste of “socca”, a local dish made from eggs and chickpeas. It is like a thin, fried pancake – not unlike a salty crepe. It was very good and filling. After Mariette treated us to a nicoise pastry treat, and we had finished our drinks of choice (mine was a Coke, but many people had sangria), we walked back toward Place Massena where the Carnaval event was to take place.
We were able to find enough seats for the group near the top of the stands, just in front of the speakers. I estimate about 10,000 people were there tonight.  The theme of the Carnaval this year could be “Under the Sea.” The story played out by the balloon characters seemed to be that Nepture was asking the fish and sea creatures, including a mermaid, to retrieve a pearl from a clam, which the clam was happy to give. The tension mounted a bit when two sea serpents came head to head. All in all, the balloons were magical and the floats were colorful, but it was over way too soon. I’ve included some pictures and a video for your viewing pleasure.
Afterwards, I walked with Elisabeth (Austrian, from my class) to the train station, and then completed my walk home, another 15 minutes or so. I got home right at 10:00. Michele and I chatted briefly, but I was looking forward to a little alone time after the long day at school and the crowds.
Happy Carnaval, Dear Reader. How will you celebrate?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day 19 - jeudi

17 fevrier 2011
Up by 7, the rain is still falling lightly, and it is an early day for school. By the time I finish breakfast and make my lunch – a cheese sandwich and homemade applesauce – I must hurry to get to class on time.
The day went quickly with lots of new vocabulary words and an introduction to future tense. We spent some time talking about the things one gets at le papeterie – an office supply store – naming each thing we could pull out of our school bags.
After class I chatted with Melodi as she was just moving in to the apartments above the school – it seems that things were somewhat unpleasant with the host family – I am most grateful for Michele, who is a great host(ess).
I connected with Rose briefly to determine a time to meet in the evening. Michele had told me about an open house at the Hotel Windsor. There was to be a big reception for the artist Ben who recently finished designing the lobby and one of the rooms. Ben (no last name) lives in Nice and is known internationally. I had seen some of his work, an installation, at the Museum of Modern Art just a little over a week ago. Elaina, Rose and I went. It was an artist’s affair. Ben’s room was very “dark” and he used the room for performance art – there was a woman on the bed who greeted everyone with a box of Uncle Ben’s Rice. There was a mannequin on the balcony, and Ben’s nude self was in a video on the television. It was unusual to say the least. I will add pictures for you soon. Please see the link for the Hotel; you can see pictures of all the artist rooms.
After the hotel event, Elaina wanted to walk to the old town. It was a quiet evening all in all. On our way back along the Rue de la France, Elaina was hungry for steamed mussels, and I thought tiramisu would be nice. We moved into one of the many restaurants on the street. When we had finally made our decision – tiramisu and coffee – the waiter told us “this is a restaurant, for a meal.” So we were kicked out. I will have to inquire about this – but I think we experienced a cultural difference.
After this, we did not look for anything to eat, but headed back to the school. The Place Massena was busy with lights and smoke in preparation for the beginning of Carnaval tomorrow evening. We did pop into Le Havana – a bar with live salsa music and dancing – for a few moments, because Rosa knew the place. It might be nice to return here another night, but for now, it was time to get home and put up the feet. It had been an enjoyable evening. I got home about 10:15, ready for sleep.
I hope your day was a good one, Dear Reader.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 18 - mercredi

16 fevrier 2011
Today was another long day at school – it was a clock-watching day. It was not that the presentation was less engaging, but more that my body and mind was tired. It also rained all day long: sometimes just sprinkles, sometimes steady rain.
The memorization of the dialogue went more easily than expected, so I had time to look at other things. I decided to begin translating a few song poems each day, as time permits. It is amazing how much easier it is already.
When I got to school at 11:00, I met two students from Switzerland (Suisse). Elma is Muslim and already speaks four languages, including French. She is just 18 years old. Her current job is with a health insurance company. She wants to stay with this profession, so she needs more French. She will be at the school for just two weeks this time.
In the classes today, we learned more rules for the past tense and words to talk about time in days, months and years. We are doing a lot more speaking in class now. The teachers use English sparingly – I suppose when we all have longingly blank looks, that means it’s time to explain with a few words of English.
After class I met with Rose briefly. We will go to mass together this Saturday evening, then supper, then a concert by the King’s School Choir at the church. On Sunday we hope to go to the Mimosa Festival in Napoule. This little place is beyond Cannes, so we will need to plan the way and the day well.
Not much else to report, Dear Reader.  Have a good day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 17 - mardi

15 fevrier 2011
Today class started at 8:45. Since I got to bed later than usual last evening, getting up at 7:00 was not so easy. And it was raining heavily, too. When I got to school, I walked into the assigned classroom and there were two new students. When the bell was about to ring and no other students had yet arrived, I began to question whether or not I had the right room. After checking the board, I returned to the room, still without a teacher or any other students, though they started streaming in shortly thereafter.
Because of the new students, we had a comprehensive review of what we’ve covered in the last two weeks. It’s good to see the progression – now if only I could remember it all when I need it.  After the break we learned one way to do the past tense. (I remember this still from the class I took years ago at Clarke.) This will be most helpful. It is a real handicap to only speak in the present tense. Try it for even an hour, and best wishes!
At lunchtime, all the smokers stood in the rain puffing away. Why they want to leave the door open, I don’t know, but I just keep pulling them shut. It’s also chilly and damp, so the doors are best kept shut anyway.
Today was the last day for Antoine to be our Intensif Course teacher. He was quite fine, making us laugh frequently in the hour and a half class. I know I will miss him. But we were able to meet our new teacher at the end of class today. She has been teaching the same group of students in the morning and the afternoon. This is irregular, so Antoine will take her group for the Intensif and she will come to us.
After class, I stayed at school to read email. Dean was on Skype, so we texted for a short while. My other task for the day was writing letters of recommendation for my colleagues, so I’ve worked on that most of the day. Now that that is finished, I must get to studying. We have to memorize another dialogue for tomorrow. Even if it were in English, it would be a challenge. So off I must go.
Good evening, Dear Reader.

Day 16 - lundi

14 fevrier 2011  Bon St. Valentin!
Today was a long day. I had class in the afternoon again. In the morning, however, I wanted to get to the religious bookstore near Notre Dame de l’Assomption, so I left the house at 9:45. I would like to get a simple prayer book, with the words of the Mass and/or the basic prayers – Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be… Even a children's book would be fine.
On my way, I took a little detour and found a 2-Euro store called Minimax. This is like our Dollar Tree. I found some plastic food storage containers and some washcloths that will be useful.
When I got to the religious bookstore, however, it was closed. There was a sign on the door that announced new hours - now Tuesday through Saturday. Well, that just means another trip later in the week.
Back at school, there was a whole new group of students who were being tested. I met a lovely woman from Serbia who is working for United Emirates Airline. She is only here for one week, though. Maybe I will catch up with her tomorrow. Since our classes start in the morning on Tuesday, I might see her at lunchtime.
At 11:00, Marina and I worked on giving directions. Then at noon, Kate met us, and we went upstairs for lunch and to practice our dialogue – “theater”-piece. Kate was heading off to buy some clothes while the best sales are still going on – this is the last week. Many places have up to 50-70% off.
When it was time for class to begin at 2:45, there was no Kate. Oh, well, we read for those who were missing. I’m sorry that Kate missed it all, because she was doing really well.
We did a lot of free speaking in class today – asking questions of one another and trying to answer. Our teacher Eric is quite patient, and has a silly sense of humor. When we don’t pronounce things correctly, he often tells us what it sounds like we are saying, usually with a good deal of laughter from the class. It is quite evident that we need more speaking practice.
I was invited to join a group of students who were going to an Indian restaurant for dinner at 7:30. This sounded like fun, so I walked home after class, for the first time in the rain, worked for half an hour, and then walked back to school to join the group. We walked almost all the way down to Masséna Place to a restaurant called Hollywood-Bollywood. It was a delightful evening of food and friends. We laughed a lot. Radovan was the only guy who came along. He always sees the humorous side of things. The owner of the restaurant was enjoying us, too, I think, despite the noise level.
Since I returned home at 10:15, I did not have a chance to use the internet, but I will post this before school in the morning. Now it is time to finish my homework and go to bed.
Have a good night, Dear Reader.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Day 15 - dimanche

13 fevrier 2011
Today was a little cooler – the sun had a difficult time making its way past the clouds, and there was a steady breeze. I went to the 10:30 mass at Notre Dame de l’Assomption. Kate Wong (from Hong Kong) accompanied me. We met up at the school at 9:50 and made our way to the church. It is only a 15-minute walk from school, so we stood outside for a little while. As we sat down, another woman from the school sat down with us. Kate has met her, Rosa, because she lives in the dorms. I think the pastor of this little church is quite a good homilist. His face is kind and lively, and he makes the people chuckle frequently. The music was low key. The mass that they sing is mostly in Latin/Greek, so I’m learning the Kyrie, Gloria (refrain), Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. The even sang the Celtic Alleluia this morning, so I threw in the harmony the second time around – that always gets heads turning, but I’m not sure if they like it or wonder who is so bold to do such a thing!
Rosa is about my age or a little older. She is originally from Brazil but has lived with her husband in several countries around the world. Now she and her husband call England home. She is here for eight weeks. She has a good friend who lives in Nice, but she did not want to live with her because she did not want to speak Portugese, just French.
After Mass, we all decided to find lunch together. We walked down to Rue de la France, about 2 blocks from the waterfront. There are lots of restaurants there. Rosa knew of an Italian place there. It was very good, and we each took home the remaining half of our dishes – lunch tomorrow.
Kate and I worked on our dialogue for a bit at the student residence. Rosa made us Costa Rican coffee. It was a lovely afternoon.
At 3:30, Kate and I headed to the church of St. Pierre d’Arene to hear a recital of love songs. Now, I was hoping it might be more serious music, but in reality, it was the older, popular love songs. The church was abuzz with anticipation. The altar was set as a stage, the pillars were colorfully lit, and there was no place to sit. We ended up on the step-ledge of an altar alcove. Others filled in around us. We could not see the stage.
When the music began, the people were very happy. They were invited to sing along, and they did. There were a few melodies that I recognized, but the songs sounded so “natural” in french. After about 45 minutes, I knew I had to get up from my spot, and I was ready to go. The prête-chanteur (priest-singer) had a very nice tenor voice, but I had had plenty for today.
Kate and I headed toward the beach. The gulls were flying very low and close to land. There may be some bad weather coming. Despite the chilly air, we each got an ice cream cone to walk along with back to school, and then home for me.
It was good to get home to a warm pot of Earl Grey tea and a couple of cookies.
My evening task was to read/translate the story on the front of the church bulletin. It was lovely, and I want to share it with you:
This is a story of two friends who were walking through the desert. At one moment, they began to fight and one slapped the other. The other was saddened, but saying nothing, wrote in the sand: “Today my best friend hit me.” They continued walking when they found an oasis, so they decided to bathe. But the one who was given the slap began to drown, and his friend saved him. When he recovered, he wrote on a stone: “Today my best friend saved my life.” The one who had hit him and saved him asked: “When I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now you have written on a stone. Why?” The other friend responded: “When someone hurts us, we ought to write in the sand, where the winds of forgiveness can erase it. But when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it on a stone, where no wind can erase it.”  (Learn to write your injuries in the sand, and to engrave your joys in stone.)
Dear reader, here’s wishing you a reason to engrave a stone today.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day 14 - samedi

12 fevrier 2011
It was another beautiful day for being outside. Since I had to get groceries, this made a great excuse to walk about. My first stop was the Marché des Fleurs for some fresh fruits and vegetables. Along the way, I needed to stop at an ATM because the market seems to be a cash-only place. Today I timed it; it takes nearly an hour on foot.
There were lots of people at the market when I arrived, but I found some carrots, lettuce, green pepper, tomatoes, onion, strawberries and apples to enliven the week’s meals.
My next stop was Carrefour (this means “crossroad”) After asking directions a number of several times (we’ve been working on understanding and giving directions at school all week), I finally understood why Michele inquired as to why I wanted to go there. Students and teachers at Azurlingua have mentioned it, so I thought it must be THE place to go.
When I finally found it, I was hungry. Today I tried the French version of McDonald’s. Since I still wanted to try something French, I ordered the meal of hamburger with bleu cheese, fries and a coke.  The young woman who took my order immediately switched to English when I stumbled through her questions for my order. After explaining that I was learning French, she obliged me by continuing in French. We did OK together! I must say, the Coke at McDonald’s tastes like it is “supposed to taste.” For that I was most grateful, especially since I was parched after the long walk. The burger was very “bleu.” A nice treat for taste, but the quality of the hamburger did not call for another visit later. (Sorry, Mickey D.)
Carrefour is a big store, mostly groceries, but it also has other items – clothes, toys, etc., like a large Hy-Vee. I found some small cuts of meat - pork chops and hamburger. I looked for the peanut butter, but was not successful finding it. (My feet were not willing to go much further.) By the time I had made my way through the store, I was considering the weight of my goods and the long way back home. Michele had asked that I get some laundry soap; this added quite a bit of weight, but I was planning to do 2 loads when I got back.
Gratefully, the tram stop was just three blocks away. It was very crowded, but it would bring me within about six blocks from home without having to transfer – just what I needed!
It was about 2:45 when I walked in the door. A nap would have been good right then, but I really needed to review my vocabulary and practice my “scene” for class on Monday.  Michele helped me get the laundry going. She has an apartment-size wash machine, but not a dryer, so I am able to hang things on the line outside my bedroom window. It won’t dry overnight, but after church and a stop at school tomorrow, I will finish drying things at the laundromat down the street, if needed.
Those are the adventures of the day, Dear Reader. Have a good one yourself.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 13 - vendredi

11 fevrier 2011
The expectations continue to ratchet up at school – next week we will be doing much more reading and repetition in order to be able to speak with more ease. For Monday, we are assigned in pairs to memorize a short exchange. (I dislike memorizing – my brain does not do it as easily as it used to.) I am working with Kate Wong from Hong Kong. Our situation is set at a travel agency. Each day I feel so much smarter.
Tomorrow I plan to go to the open-air market – Marche des Fleurs – in the old city – for fresh fruits and vegetables. It is about a 40-minute walk from the house. I may be going with another student from Azurlingua. Also, I plan to go to a larger supermarket to pick up some things to make quick meals in the evenings. I’ll see what I can find for meat.
For the last two weeks, I’ve become an unwilling vegetarian. As much as I love bread and cheese, I’ve been mindful to eat fruits or vegetables at each meal, too. It is easy to find a salad-to-go at the little shops around school. My evening meals have all been vegetarian, and quite good, I might add. But I do like meat, and I think it is necessary in small portions. As at home, meat is expensive, but it seems especially so when looking for just a small portion - there isn't a lot of storage space.
Last week I went looking for peanut butter for lunch sandwiches. Nutella (a popular European chocolate hazelnut spread) is readily available. The little store around the corner had the smallest jar of smooth Skippy peanut butter for nearly 5 Euros – that’s about $6.75. I did not pick it up then, but I might get it this week – it would help in making a quick lunch - the jury is still out.
Another thing not available at the local store is crackers as we know them in the US. There are crackers that look like dried toast, but I could make that at home. These are certainly not a necessity, but their absence here surprised me.
Michele would really like to taste an American-style cherry pie. She brought home sweet cherries today. Does anyone have a recipe for a pie made with sweet cherries? If you do, please send it my way. I know it would not have the tartness of the sour cherries, but it might be fine, too. This fancy baking will probably not occur for at least two more weeks. Michele is going on a crash diet – protein only for two weeks– like the South Beach diet, I suppose. So, you have time to look up those cherry pie recipes.
I hope that you all have had a good week, Dear Reader. Love and prayers for each of you.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 12 - jeudi

10 fevrier 2011
Somewhere I got off a day - I even had to ask what day it was. (Now I'm good, thanks.)
I am most grateful for a good night’s sleep last night. The cool night air is a great complement to the warm comforter on the bed. For all who have been asking, my cold has quickly cleared up. I am feeling like myself again.
Again today, I met Marina (not Martina) at 11:00 to study. The group grew by one – Fatima joined us. Fatima is from Nigeria. She has been in boarding schools in London since she was 10. Now she is waiting to see if she can get into the Royal College of London in the fall. She wants to study city planning there. Studying French in Nice is just a way to pass the time, I think. Today she has resolved that she needs to take her studies more seriously, (Good for you, Fatima!) so she joined our group.
Classes went well. The teacher for the Standard (i.e. Basic) Course had to leave early today. This explains the extra 10 minutes we’ve had each day this week. It was nice to get home before 6 pm.
It was announced that beginning next week, the class start times will alternate between mornings and afternoons. On Monday, we will start classes at 1:00, ending at 6:00 again. On Tuesday, we will start at 8:45 and end by 2:30 (my preference). I understand that this is to accommodate the young people who want to stay out late some nights and go to the beach (when it warms up) other days. This may be a challenge to remember from one day to the next, but we all must try. I’m sure the schedule makes someone happy. 
Tonight I made some fresh asparagus to go with my rice and eggplant dish from the other night. I turned over the bunch to find that the asparagus came all the way from Ecuador. This was disappointing, because I really expected something more local. Nonetheless, it was delicious. (Thank you, farmers of Ecuador.)
That’s all for today, Dear Reader. Have a good night.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 11 - mercredi

9 fevrier 2011
Last night I did not sleep well at all – I’m going to blame on the 2 cups of French coffee that I drank after 8 pm. But they were SO small! Anyway I hope tonight sleeping is much easier.
For breakfast this morning, Michele served me a slice of the almond galette that she made last evening. For all my housemates: what was I thinking as I ate this not-too-sweet treat last night? [That’s right !] – this would be great for breakfast. And there it was, right alongside the frosted corn flakes, juice, toast, and tea. What a lovely way to start the day.
I got up a little earlier this morning to begin my homework so that I could meet Martina at school by 11:00. Martina is from Germany. She is a server at a 5-star hotel in Stuttgart, Germany and is taking this time to learn French because many people from France stay at their hotel. I think she will eventually move up into management. She is a real go-getter, and she has a wonderful ear for this new language, picking up on the details of the grammar steadily despite the fact that she missed the first week of classes. We will meet again tomorrow. It’s a great way for me to review (and to spot any mistakes I had made in copying.)
M.D. directed me to a little restaurant just 2 blocks down the street that has a lunch special – demi (half) pizza and salad for 5 Euros. That’s a good deal. Off I went. I had a little difficulty understanding the parameters of the special, but the waiter, an older black man spoke English like a US citizen, so he set me straight. I told the chef that I wanted to carry it out – in French, of course. Well, I waited as he made my pizza and put the salad together – about 20 minutes all together. When it was time to pay, the chef said, “only 10 Euros.” I was surprised, but didn’t mind at all when I realized I had a big special salad and a whole pizza. He was too kind to me. I walked out with my box of thin crust pizza with an egg (still wiggly) on top. I determined that I would eat the salad and take the pizza home for supper. However, this meant that the pizza would be traveling around from class to class with me. This was not the worst thing, except Radovan was ready to eat it by the end of our late class. So was I!! When I got home, the pizza warmed up quite nicely and quickly in the toaster/oven.  It was delicious.
Each day when I get back to the apartment, Michele has made a pot of tea. We sit down together and talk about the day.  Then I prepare my supper and she concludes her work on the computer for the day. After supper, I have the line all to myself while Michele watches the news and sometimes a movie, but often it is Cold Case, Grey’s Anatomy, or CSI – all dubbed over in French. That must be quite an art. The strangest thing is being aware that the vocal quality of the actors is not the same. The language is way too technical for this beginner, so I only tune in occasionally. Each day I catch a few more words – yeah!
Have a good evening, Dear Reader.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 10 - mardi

8 fevrier 2011
This morning, I woke up before the alarm went off, so I did some reading (in English). Because Michele is still asleep, I don’t want to make much noise, though very little can be heard from room to room.
After a shower, I needed to wash out by hand all the little things that I had so that there would be some hope that they would dry during the day. I am trying to keep my use of the washing machine to a minimum.  Speaking of minimums, here I am being well reminded of the abundance of things that I own – much more than any one person could use in a month, much less in a year. What I’m experiencing with Michele is a sparseness that I have not considered for a very long time. It will make me reconsider what I have at home, I’m sure of it.
After breakfast is the time for studying this week since my classes are all afternoon until 6:10 pm. More and more words are accessible. I really need to practice number recognition.
Today’s lessons were naming body parts and understanding directions. Maybe we in the class understand more French than a one year old, but maybe not. What I am noticing is that I’m catching more words now. Not phrases yet, but lots more words.
When I got home by 6:20, I made a quick supper of a packet of basmati rice and eggplant. It was quite good overall. Michele was hungry for a Galette de Roi – an almond pie. She mixed it up and baked it. What a picture! With it, I had my first French coffee – that was a lot better than I expected.
Going back to last night, we watched The Truman Show (with Jim Carrey) in French. Now I can’t say I have seen the show more than once before many years ago. What a hoot to hear it in French. Unfortunately, the cable box memory was full, so we did not get to see the last half hour or so – Truman (try saying that with a French accent, please) was just making his escape from all the cameras. We’ll have to try to catch the rest of it another night. By then, I might even understand more of the nuances of the language.
Here’s wishing you a pleasant evening, Dear Reader.  Bonne soirée!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 9 - lundi

Today’s schedule was different at school so I was able to sleep in (again – wow, what if I get used to this?). After breakfast, I reviewed vocabulary so that I would be prepared for the day.
After packing a light lunch, I headed to school about 11:45. I spent the lunch break reading email and trying to find out if the Steelers or the Packers won. Now that I am in France, Google goes French, too. That means French “hits” are put first. There may be a way to change this, but it is interesting even if it is frustrating.
There are new students at school today. The first course of the day was the “intensif,” which is all about pronunciation and listening for vocabulary. There was some juggling that needed to go on since the new arrivals were at many different levels. Only one person really belonged with us beginners.
When that was over, we had a break until the regular course continued. We met another “new” teacher, Eric. I think he spoke 5 words of English the entire time. Good for him; better for us!  I think he believes that I know more than I do because I can pronounce the words pretty well already. I’m sure he will figure it out shortly. The class went until 6:10 PM. That meant that the building was locked tightly and I was walking home in the near dark, but there are still plenty of people on the streets at that hour. This schedule will continue for the rest of the week. Next week, I hope we are back to the regular schedule. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 8 - the first Sunday

Day 8  Dimanche, 6 fevrier 2011 (There are pictures linked to the end of this entry.)

This Sunday marks one complete week in Nice. I have found the people to be very kind and understanding. I do hope that I will learn to use and understand more words, phrases and concepts – how could one not? – this next week, but right now it seems like I might be stuck in this state of unknowing for a long time. When I had planned to come, I knew it would take about a month to feel at home with where I live as well as the language. For the most part, where I live is already comfortable. I’ve learned processes for dishes, cooking (heating things up, really), the internet, and laundry. That answers many basic questions regarding life.
Today I was off to Assumption church (Notre Dame de l’Assomption) on Jean Medecin street for Mass. It is about a half hour walk from the apartment. The church was buzzing with activity even half an hour before the start of Mass. The choir was warming up, the children (the future first communion class?) were lining up, and the chairs were filling in with cheerful people. Today the bishop was making his annual visit. (Lucky me! No matter.) I found the guide for the day with readings and song texts – also a copy of the readings in English.
The music was good. The organist was quite good. The bishop’s homily was not too long. There was plenty of incense. I was able to sing along a bit. The woman next to me was singing, too. The whole mass took about 1½  hours. The only slightly uncomfortable moment was when I had to refuse to shake people’s hands at the sign of peace – they understood when I pointed to my nose and shook my head. Afterwards, I used my best French to introduce myself to the woman next to me.
Her name is Vesna, and she is a medical doctor who works at a hospital outside of Nice. She spoke a little English and inquired about my health. She apologized that she could not write a prescription, but she found a few samples of pills in her purse. I don’t think I will take them unless I have a fever, however, or if the sinuses would not clear up. I think I’m doing much better today anyhow.
Vesna and I walked together to her house. We exchanged emails and she gave me her phone number. We definitely hope to see each other again next week at Mass. This was a very nice encounter for the first day at a church.
After we parted, I walked the rest of the way home. It was a beautiful day for anything outside. Once home, Michele had done a load of laundry for me. Now I had to hang it out on the line. There is a laundromat not too far down the street if I need things to dry faster, but this is fine for now. I put in one more load – 4 to 5 kilos max – the machine is very tiny – and washed out two blouses by hand in the bathroom sink.
About 2:20 I headed out to meet M.D. (from New York) for an outing. We met at the McDonald’s (the only one I’ve seen, but you should see the menu) on the Promenade, near all the BIG hotels, at 3:00. Many people were out with their kids and dogs today. It was pleasant as long as one was not in a hurry. Since she did not have to meet anyone else today, we took our time.
I expressed my hope to get an ice cream treat somewhere today. Yesterday Michele had pointed out the best ice cream place near St. Repartate church. We headed in that direction. That particular shop will not be open until next week. The stand on the corner was quite busy, though. I had 2 scoops – tirimasu and vanilla – in a cup. She had the tiniest cup of coffee. We had a great time chatting about things to see in Nice and the surrounding area. M.D. likes the opera and art. I think I may have found a companion for these things in Nice. She has a friend who is a musician who may be able to connect me to a place to practice. She herself is a professor of English.
We walked to the Museum of Modern Art (Musée d’Art moderne et d’Art contemporain). The museums are free, except for the Chagall museum, so we went in. There were many, many art installations. For those interested in a little research, these 3 artists were featured: Assan Smati, Vincent Ganivet, and Sarah Sze. I only took pictures of a few things because a picture does NOT say a thousand words when it comes to these. I will include a few in my photo album for you.
The coolest thing at the museum was that the roof was a work of art, too, and a garden, and the view from there was amazing. There are a few pictures from there in the album.
As we came out, M.D. and I both decided that our feet had had it for the day. She knows the tram and bus system pretty well having lived in Nice already for 9 months, so we took that way back home. She lives a few short blocks beyond my stop, so I hopped off, so very happy that I had less than 200 steps to my door.
That’s where today ends, Dear Reader. It’s time to make a little something for supper and maybe study for a bit. And I’ll just add this – because I’ll be sleeping when the big game is played – Go, Packers!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day 7

Samedi, 5 fevrier 2011   Pictures from the day are first, and text below them.

It felt good to sleep in this morning until 8:30. By then the sun was shining brightly, ensuring that the day would be pleasantly warm. After breakfast and a shower, Michele walked with me down Gambetta street to the promenade along the bay. The stretches of beach are sometimes private, but for a fee of about 15 Euros anyone can spend the day there. There are open air restaurants below the promenade at the beach level, too.
There were lots of people out today. I expected to hear tourists speaking English occasionally, but I only heard it once at the Flower Market. Since Michele had work to do at home, we parted ways a little before noon. I headed back towards the market.
Along the way I found the Dominican abbey church, St. François de Paule, because the church bells were ringing and I saw a few people going in. I decided to stay for the mass. The chapel was small; maybe it could hold 150 people seated. On the altar were 8 Dominican priests, one older than the next. Most of them looked quite tired considering the hour. The youngest of them looked to be in his late 40s or so. He was the leader of song. It is the feast of St. Agnes, so it was explained why the priest was in a red vestment. In addition, a family had gathered to commemorate the passing of its father. It seems it may have been a year ago now that he died. It was extra nice to have the music for this occasion. Quite a number of people had gathered and the homily was emphatically given. The responsorial psalm was Gelineau’s “My Shepherd is the Lord, nothing indeed shall I want,” the melody of which I recognized, of course, but the words were French, as Gelineau intended. All in all, it was nice to go to mass, even though I was a stranger.
After Mass, I moved toward the Market. The flower arrangements are amazing, and about the price of going to HyVee for a bouquet. This morning Michele had introduced me to the yellow showers of small brush-like flowers on the mimosa tree in her garden. There were many bouquets of mimosa here, as well as roses and irises.
At the far end of the market the farm fresh foods were for sale. The vendors usually seem to have someone who can manage a little English, but I did not expect it. Before approaching a stand, I get myself all revved up with how I need to say what I need/want. Today I bought fresh vegetables (eggplant, scallions, asparagus, green beans, zucchini) and fruit (apples and strawberries). 
On the way down, Michele had pointed out several good restaurants for regional dishes, i.e. nicoise cooking. So I stopped at one along the marketplace called “Le Saleya.” The place was very busy. I was seated inside. The owner took my order – I had the “plat du jour” – filet du Merou au citron, riz et legumes frais – i.e. fish with a lemon sauce, rice, fresh vegetables, and a salad with pesto sauce. It was excellent. I saw many beautiful dishes being served, but I would not even know where to find them on the menu. My goal was to find something that was not too expensive, yet comprehensive. The dessert menu looked fabulous, too, but that will have to wait for another day. I was too full. In a French restaurant, I determined, one should never be in a rush. It takes time to get the bill 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day 6 C'est vendredi!

Friday’s are always special. This day, our “beginner” class said goodbye to the three women from “la Russe”, i.e. Russia, and its nearby states.  They were at Azurlingua only a week, but I think it was part of their vacation. They were always dressed to the nines. They were with another woman who knew more French, so I think they were fulfilling her desire to learn the language better.
Please note: My professor Miguel said that next week all our classes will be held in the afternoon. This just means that I will be online a little later in the day - more like 10:30 AM Iowa time - after classes here.
After school today, and after checking email and Skype, I took a walking tour of the nearby city in search of real restaurants and the church where Michele thought there was a Mass in English on Sundays. I found the church – it is Anglican – but there is no English language Mass. Ah, well.
On my walk home, I stopped at a bakery to buy a croissant sandwich with cheese and ham. This would be the basis for my supper. Once home, I found that Michele was still out, so I decided to go back to the little grocery store just a short walk away to get some things to eat and drink for lunches and suppers.
I found that anything there with meat is very expensive, so I did not buy any. The fruits and vegetables I will get this weekend at a little produce stand – there are many of them in the area. The one across the street from here might be OK, but one will have to look through the produce carefully – from what I’ve seen, much of it should be made into sauce or soup.  For today, I tried to find crackers, but there is nothing like that here. The “biscuits” are like dried toast. So instead I purchased a loaf of sliced wheat bread and cheese for sandwiches for lunches, a box of rice for suppers and a liter of Coke – just for variety from water ad without drinking all the milk that Michele has purchased for me.
Michele was home when I got back this time. She was in the process of reconstituting the dried tomatoes that she bought in Italy yesterday by boiling them, then putting them in a jar with oil. Then she made an Arabic salad with couscous, onion, mint, olive oil and fresh tomatoes. It was delicious! It went well with my ham and cheese croissant.
Online I looked for a church to attend on Sunday morning. From what I can tell, there is a Jesuit pastor at L’Eglise (church) de Notre-Dame de l’Assomption. The website said the pastor was known for his preaching. It seems like a good place to start. Hopefully the music will be good, too.
There was no indication in anything I read online that there is a Mass in English anywhere in Nice. At school, my friend M-D (from New York) said she is attending an English Mass at an Anglican church near the beach. This will be a good alternative if the French proves too daunting.
That’s all for today, friends. Have a good night.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Neighborhood pictures

Up and down the street pictures - I believe I have repaired the link to these pictures.

Day 5 - around the neighborhood

The cold is progressing nicely – I think I had a fever last night, but I was fine during the day. There is a pharmacie around the corner if I need anything more than what I brought – cough syrup is the only thing I might look for there. For now, comme si come ça (?)
Michele was going to Italy with friends today – it is just a short drive past Monaco. She said that the farmers of this French region are being driven out for the sake of developments. That is why the vegetables are expensive and not so good here, because they are imported. Italy is still has lots of local farmers and markets to buy the freshest foods.
School was a rather ordinary day. The morning classes again were rather slow in the second half, but the afternoon intensive course is more engaging because there are only two of us in the class. I stayed for a bit afterwards to look at Facebook and Skype – Matt, I hope you were able to figure out the problem.
On my way home, a woman tried to get money out of me by feigning to have found a gold wedding band. She wanted to sell it to me so that she could buy food. There are lots of panhandlers here since the climate is moderate.
Nice is a very Italianate city. There is much pizza and pasta to be had. Though this weekend, maybe I can convince Michele to go out with me for a real meal, i.e. with hot meat.  (Can’t believe I said that. Anyway…) After getting home, I went around the block to take pictures of the neighborhood. It is a mix of old and new, but generally it is a very nice area. Apartment living is not my thing, but because my building is well-constructed, I’m guessing 1920s or earlier, there are few sounds from the neighbors next door and none from above. I’ve included pictures of the inside of the apartment for you, dear readers.
Across the street from my house is the Russian Orthodox church built by Nicholas II. It seems that Nice was a summer home-away-from-home. Besides their home, there is a mausoleum of his 21-yr-old son and the church. (See pictures.)
That’s really all I have to share today. I love hearing from you all no matter the format. In Nice, the double cheek [air] kiss is used for those who are dear – (smack, smack). Love ya!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 4 - a regular day

This morning I woke up with a dry and heavy cough. I may have a cold, I think. It’s hard to be sure with all the smoking and cats that are part of my days here. But it seems more like a cold. Otherwise, today went well. I got up in plenty of time to shower and eat leisurely, and I had plenty of time to get to school.
Our teacher was too sick to come in today, so Miguel, the acting director of the school, filled in. For lunch I made my way to a boulangerie where they had salads. I really needed this since I’ve not had any vegetables or fruit since I’ve come – only orange juice. While waiting, in came 3 students from Azurlingua. So we walked back to school together.
Of this group, Erika is most interesting. She is an Hungarian who calls Hamburg (Germany) home, but she has moved to Nice with her boyfriend, who works in the shipyards as an engineer. She, if I understand correctly, is a child psychiatrist.
Another woman at the school (“M.D.” is what she calls herself)is from New York. She and her husband have moved to Nice to live. She is only in the morning school. They live not far from where I live, so we hope to hook up for lunch from time to time, too.
In the afternoon, for part of the time Antoine worked with us on numbers and being able to write them down as we listen. (French numbering is kooky, by the way.) He occasionally resorts to English, but he usually gets his point across in French. It’s only the third day of class, but it is getting easier to distinguish words and ideas.
Yesterday I had signed up to go to the art museum after class, but I missed the departure time altogether. Nonetheless, it was for the best, as I was tired and should take care of my cold. I was glad to get home and rest.
Michele was out when I arrived home. I think the cats were ready to defend their space if I had moved into the living room, but I was happy to go to my room. I heard Michele come in about 4 pm, so I got up. Then the doorbell rang – friends were visiting – so I stayed put and studied for tomorrow. Only to find out that Michele was disappointed that she did not know that I was home. She wanted to introduce me. Next time I will not be so shy.
Because of my cold, soup sounded good, so Michele gave me directions to a nearby grocery store. It is less than 3 blocks away and packs many good things, though I suspect it is a little expensive. I found the soups – all were packed in cardboard boxes (like chicken stock would be). But chicken soup or something that was no pureed was not on the shelf. I chose carrot/potato/cauliflower soup was very good, and there’s more for other evenings ahead, also I picked up 2 potatoes for future suppers and some yogurt for my lunches. I will have to visit here again so that I can pack my lunches occasionally.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 3 - Late start to the day

Last evening, I asked Michele, my hostess, to have breakfast ready at 7:45.
At 7:48 she calls me - my alarm had not gone off and I really needed to wash my hair and shower. Gratefully I had laid out my clothes for the day. I moved very quickly through the drops - it's still frustrating to adjust the water temp - every bath/shower is different, you know. Barely dried off, I jumped into my clothes - it is now 8:03. I sat at the table and drank my juice and tea; then buttered my toast and added marmalade deciding it could go with me as could the pastry (the chocolate filled ones - some of you may know them!). I went back to dry my hair with the petite dryer that Mary Agnes had lent me. It was red hot in less than 5 seconds - it looked like it was going to burn up - scary! So I would go to school with wet hair pinned back, and buy a dryer meant for the electricity that is provided. I should have packed my school bag the previous evening, too. (Lesson learned.) Hopefully I did not forget anything. Then I quickly (rapidemente) walked to school. I made it there by 8:30 which gave me time to use the restroom (I had forgotten that little routine in my rushing) and eat my toast. Uhff - I left my water bottle at home, so that meant buying a bottle from the machine - only 1 Euro.
Then off to class. Gaëlle, our teacher, was not feeling well today - if she sneezed twice in our 3 hours, she sneezed 50 times. I felt sorry for her, but I was also feeling sorry for me being in close-quarters.
Today we studied the names for (achoo! achoo!) professions and nationalities. (Achoo!)
Since I had not time to pack a lunch nor stop for a sandwich, I needed to go out for lunch. So off I went. I dined on a KEBAB BURGER at a middle eastern diner/restaurant. It was delicious. There were lots of shops to peek into on the way back, so I stopped into a store rather like our Dollar Tree. There I found a hair dryer and a notebook and binder for class materials. Now I am really set!
In the afternoon, those of us in the intensive program met Antoine, our teacher for conversation. He carried on what we had learned in the morning class and is willing to go whatever direction we feel needed.
After classes, I went straight home to study. About 5:30 I took a break to go find something to eat. Since I've been here I've not had a warm meal - the burger was the first warm food I had had. So my goal was to find a "real meal."
I walked up Rue de Gambetta - already many shops were closed and few people were out. It's chilly enough that I am shivering even with my coat. Nothing looked like what I wanted except a pizza place, and it was not open - because it was before 6 pm. So I marched on to a bar and had my first biere/beer. It was very good. I ordered an cheese sandwich - wow, was it good, with fresh provolone. The bartender and the cook were oohing/ahhing about it. It was delicious. The people gathered there were sympathetic of my plight. The men there all tried to engage me politely - for the most part, I think. As they were closing at 7 pm, the one woman who could speak a little English approached me. Her name is Christelle, she's 47 yrs old and is a nurse. She knew English well 10 years ago. We may meet again to practice our speaking. I think I will. She made me feel comfortable.