Showing posts with label France. Show all posts
Showing posts with label France. Show all posts

Monday, July 19, 2010

Almost eleven...that's five pm in France...

I can't seem to get back into the swing of non-vacation life.  Is jet lag supposed to last a week??  Hindering my return to day-to-day life is the arrival of our newest family member, Lily-poo.  She's a shy, rescued 10-week old kitten who's needed lots of love as she adjusts to our lively home.  Wait until you see her.  She's a real beauty!  (Pics to come...)

Also, my friend and next door neighbor went into premature labor at 34 weeks, and gave birth by c-section to sweet baby boy.  I'm helping her out, watching her two older girls and anything else I can do, while baby and mama are gaining their strength.

But the real problem is my head and heart are still in France. *sigh*  Here are a couple pics of the Eiffel Tower, taken the night before our flight home.  It was the Sunday of the World Cup Finals between Spain and The Netherlands. (Bravo l'España!!)  

These pics were shot at about 9:30 at night.  It doesn't begin to get dark in France in the summertime until well after 10 pm.  

Each of the four anchor towers house an elevator to this first level, as well as staircases for those brave enough to climb, or too reluctant to stand in the long lines for the lifts.  Other elevators can be taken from this first level to the second observation deck, and a single elevator from there takes you to the very top.  In the early years, the top of the tower was the location of Mr. Gustave Eiffel's personal office.  Today it is a restaurant.

We didn't go up, and the growing crowds of World Cup enthusiasts awaiting the match on the giant screens erected on the lawns around the Tower shortened our stay.

Cody, me, and Sidney, beneath the Eiffel Tower

I've only made it to a couple blogs, but I'm looking forward to visiting yours SOON!!!  Have a fab day!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In Ten, Nine...

I leave for France in nine days, and counting.  I'm going to share a slice of my vacation adventures with you!

On June 17, the day before I leave, I will announce a contest for One Significant Moment at a Time followers, old and new.  The prize?  Something cool I pick up in France!  I'll be on the lookout for interesting, regional souvenirs, things that represent la France but which are impossible to buy here in the States.  Both my State-side and international follower-friends are eligible to win.  Be sure to check in on the 17th for full details!

I haven't written a word for my WiP in a couple weeks.  However, I have printed all the chapters and organized them in a ring binder, along with a copy of the outline and blank pages for notes.  After a little break from the project, I'll have fresh eyes when I read it over on the plane.  I won't be editing, but brainstorming ideas on how to make the story stronger and outlining future chapters.

My daily writing has taken on the form of entries for a two-week long creative writing contest at  The contest is called "15 For 15" and runs from June 3rd to June 17th (finishes up just in time for my trip!).  Each day for fifteen days the contest judge posts a photo prompt.  Contestants are challenged to write off-the-cuff for exactly fifteen minutes, producing a flash fiction piece, vignette, poem, song, letter, article, etc. based on the image.

Timed writing is a wonderful way to stretch my writing muscles, and believe me, fifteen minutes is not long when you're trying to get a cohesive piece of work finished. Once I've posted my daily entry, I love reading all the entries by the other contestants.  It's fascinating how many interesting and creative directions writers take with the identical prompt.  (Should you be interested, here is a link to my collection of entries.)

My writing goals have also included preparing a series of blog entries that I'll schedule to post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays while I'm away.  Each post looks at a facet of French culture and discusses the most jarring differences with American life, which caused me culture shock when I lived there.  I'm having a blast writing them, and I hope you'll enjoy reading them.  And -- they will play into the contest I'm announcing on the 17th!

How have you been tweaking your writing schedule to adjust to summer vacation plans?  Have you packed your journal yet? :D

Monday, February 22, 2010

It's Like Riding a...Rollerblades

I had a fantastic time this weekend with friends from France, who spent Thursday through Sunday at my house. All five of them can speak some English, but we spoke French ninety-nine percent of the time. My husband was born and raised in France, but since he learned to speak English, it has become his preferred language for day-to-day conversation. This is unfortunate for me, who desperately needs to practice my French. More often than not, when I begin a conversation with him in French, he responds in English, even though it's generally considered bad manners among bilingual people to answer in "Language B" when someone initiates a conversation in "Language A" (provided, of course, that both speakers are fluent in both languages). As a result I am perpetually out of practice, and the first two and a half days of our friends' visit were torturous for me and my tongue.

It struck me, as I stumbled over pronunciation and searched for every third word, that there's actually a lot in common between being thrown back into using your second language and picking up rollerblading after a couple years off skates. How, you ask? I believe it comes down to muscle memory.

A few weeks back I took my daughter and her friends to the roller skating rink. In my twenties, I lived on the coast in Los Angeles (Hermosa Beach) and clocked more time on my rollerblades than I did in tennis shoes. However, tying a pair of skates on after all these years proved deceptively challenging. I could keep up with the girls, propel myself forward, glide, and come to a reasonably quick stop, but all my movements were jerky and barely in control.

After a few dozen laps, I felt the muscles in my shins relax. My inner thighs remembered to do most of the work. As I sat back more on softer knees, I noticed my weight transfer from over my toes to over my heels. I got my glide on. It was as if the clock had turned back a decade and the fluid, slolam sashay returned to my movements. With little effort, I sped down the straightaways and crossed my outside skate over the inside one on the curves. It was awesome, like flying.

This kind of muscle memory also comes into play when picking back up a second language. English speakers keep their tongues more or less in the center of their mouths when they speak. When speaking in French though, your tongue must perform crazy acrobatics in order to push the correct sounds out. Also, English is spoken from the front of the mouth, where French is throatier and more nasal. It took several days for my throat to relax and my lips to adopt the proper pouty purse. It wasn't something I could force, because the more I concentrated on how French I sounded, the more I lost track of the words I was trying to say. Either way, I stumbled. It was frustrating, but sure enough after a little time, my fluency came back.

Of course, as soon as that happened, it was time for our friends to leave. (*sigh*) Oh well, at least I won't have as much trouble getting back into the swing of French this summer when we spend three weeks at my husband's family's home...I hope :)

How was your weekend? Did you do something you haven't done in a long time, or did you try anything new?