Sunday, December 5, 2021

Sad to Leave

 After much deliberation at the Delta counter this morning, I was finally permitted to fly. I was chastised for not having my maiden name in any ID…like any of that was my choice! Something, something patriarchy.

We were advised to arrive four hours before the flight and that didn’t leave much wiggle room! The terminal has some choke points in the flow, but it is mostly empty. I dread the days of crowded travel yet long for the freedom and openness of Covid-free life.

The TSA agent was puzzled as to my lack of a belt. (?) I explained that thanks to pastries, I didn’t need one. Ahh, he laughed and waved me on.

Here at the gate, we begin our readjustment to American life. The voices are louder and people are more gregarious. 

Some final photos as we prepare for our flight to Seattle. 

Truth in advertising? I don’t think I would trust “Adequate “ condoms.
A plant wall in the terminal.
The down arrow indicates straight ahead. It took us a while to learn that. Many unnecessary trips down stairs and escalators!!
Excited to see planes.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

A Rose by Any Other Name…

We cannot begin to describe how much fun it is to travel and have the correct Covid test and timeframe. The US government changed the requirements on the day we were to test and we had to scramble.

It was going to be a leisurely test in Angers, three days before our flight. No, no! The rules changed and now we had to take our test within one day of the flight. This meant testing at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris with thousands of other people. What confusion!

Fortunately I registered with the online French health scheduler, so we had a time to appear. Upon entering the airport we were greeted with the sounds of Frank Sinatra singing “New York New York”. Weird. 

We showed up over an hour early at the airport test site for our appointment and barely made it in on time. When the number was called to get the brain poke, The system skipped over John’s number and kept going. Luckily I found the nicest person who was able to sneak him into a testing room and get it done.

I was required to give my birth (maiden) name. This is not on any of my travel documents or personal identification.  When our NEGATIVE test results were emailed to us, mine were delivered in my maiden name with no mention of my married name.  Crap.

Back to the airport again, this time to check with the Delta flight team to ensure they would take my test results when the name didn’t match any other travel documents. After being referred to three different people, we were assured I would be able to fly tomorrow. I still don’t feel totally confident. 

We had a light lunch at the airport and debated whether to go into Paris to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up for Christmas. During this discussion a pigeon joined us in the cafe. The man at a table across from us kicked the pigeon and laughed, whereupon I yelled at him and called him an ass. He said it was just a pigeon and I said it doesn’t matter, you just don’t kick animals. His wife said he was afraid the pigeon was going to eat his food. The pigeon was on the floor his food was on the table. 

At this point we determined we have had enough of people and decided to return to our room and call it a trip.

So, if Delta decides my documentation is good enough and I don’t get in a fight with another animal abuser at the airport, we should be on a plane home tomorrow.  :-)

Pigeons are people, too!

John managed to grab an image of a few of the armed soldiers. They walked by with their trigger fingers at the ready. They must’ve heard about an altercation between an animal rights person and an idiot in a café in the airport. :-)
France has banned single use plastic and takeout cutlery is made of wood which is pretty cool.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Time Flies, Will We?

 Has it really been a week? Wow.

Thanksgiving at the library was delightful. The next morning was “Conversation Group” where the first folks mingle and practice English, then the second hour they practice French. Such nice welcoming people…without exception.

Our confirmed and paid AirBnb for the coming week never gave us check in information despite repeated messages and calls from me. Airbnb provided no assistance whatsoever. (Jean-Noel with the garden apartment next to the Château, you are a jerk.) I am sharing that here because there was no way to rate him on Airbnb. After realizing we were going to be homeless, and Angers had practically zero vacancies, I was able to find a guesthouse 2 blocks from our current location followed by 4 nights at the place we first stayed.

Arnaud at the 2 night location let us in super early to beat the rain. Turns out he worked with the folks at the Bibliothèque Anglophone to make masks at the beginning of the pandemic. John and I agreed that he was one of the most genuinely kind-hearted people we have ever met. And that is saying something, because overall the French have been incredibly generous and helpful.

We spent an afternoon volunteering at the BA with a group of 19 students from a local agricultural college to help them with their English. If they don’t pass The their English exam with a score of 550 or higher, they don’t graduate.

Almost every student lived on a farm. Most farms were 100 hectares (250 acres). The dairy farms had between 80 and 120 cows. Family farms are alive and well in France. This is so much better for the farmers, the animals, the environment and the consumer. The quality of food here has been consistently high.

Remember when I mentioned we would be discussing noses? Here we go… I have decided that noses are the ugliest part of a face and when people wear their masks blow their nose, the nose becomes their predominant feature. When worn properly, the predominant feature is the eyes. Much more appealing.

75% of young people here wear their masks below their noses and they are SICK. Cause and effect people!!  Now with Omicron, we have seen far fewer noses, even on the street.

Another nose thing, if you are in line and leave more than a foot of space, quite often, someone will step in. (In Italy, this is more like 2 inches.)

When a French person is talking and taps the side of their nose, they mean they are being clever.

Smells haven’t been much of a problem (perfume, smoke) but 🛵 scooter exhaust reeks! They are incredibly high-pitched, loud and lay down a plume of gassy stink that is an assault to one’s senses and they are allowed in pedestrian-only zones. They sound like wound up chainsaws and smell like old boat motors.

One thing that is rare to hear is the beep, toot, honk, chirp of car alarms being set or disarmed. Yay! Also, there is no idling when arriving or departing. 6€ a gallon gas may have something to do with this, but it really cuts down on fumes. Nice!

We are on the TGV (high speed train) to Paris. There is to be a national “perturbation” (protest) at 5. I would like to see it from the sidelines, but we have Covid tests tomorrow, so we will pass.

Failing the Covid test means isolation in a hotel room for 10 days. My dear mother asked what happens if one of us fails, then the other fails 10 days later? Egads. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Where is the door? Angers’ tram wrap
Angers’ Château 
View from our “rescue” gîte.

In a retail store in Angers.

A cat coffee shop. So many kitties 😍…and people😤.

Sexiest man alive!

Angers’ football team mascot!

Fashionable folks
Hérisonne (hedgehog) we didn’t know they live here.(or technically, die here.)
My mom made a New Years outfit from the same material in the 1960s!

Soleil d’Hiver Part of the winter lights celebration.
Soleil d’Hiver
View from our room
The Mia…a one-person van not to be confused with the Ami.
University students role-playing in English.
Soleil d’Hiver

A pizza vending machine!
Love these animals! Zoom in.


Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

 A very Happy Thanksgiving to our friends and family. This is our favorite holiday. It reminds us to reflect upon all the blessings we have in our lives. We have so much to be thankful for…especially each other and you!

Today, we are thankful to be in Angers, France. We will be celebrating this Thanksgiving with our new friends at the Bibliothèque Anglophone where we begin our volunteer duties next week! We met S, a retired international exchange student program coordinator from...Corvallis! Can you believe it? Another PNW connection!

We love the Brittany area and may eventually move there, but the people in Angers provide a connection that makes it feel like home. The size of the city still concerns me, but we have access to plenty of open, green space. Yesterday, we walked 8 miles on inter-connected parks to the ville of Bouchemaine and only saw a handful of people. Summer won’t be like that, but we are hopeful to be housesitting in England during the summer. 

Our Airbnb hosts are adding another property to their collection this spring and it looks like that may be our new home! It turns out that acquiring a rental is a special form of torture in France. Without a dossier that includes about 30 pages of documents, references, and someone to guarantee they will pay your rent if you don’t, you can’t even look at properties. Our hosts are willing to bypass those steps. It would be great to have a long term rental for the first 6-12 months. It will even have A/C! It is 2 houses from a bus line and 3 blocks from Parc Saint Nicolas. Exactly where we wanted to be! Nothing in stone, but pretty likely.

Anyone want to buy a house in Salem? When we return, we will begin the process of selling everything we own!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sorry, these are a bit out of order…

Our potential new neighborhood.

A wetland in Angers. So many birds!
Another Ami. (it was locked. We will get a picture of us inside one at some point. We keep our promises, Gary!)
A wisteria arbor in Angers.

Kouign  Amann  A Bretagne pastry. Pronounced queen-a-mahn. We tried our first one on our walk in Lèhon. Now we understand how people get addicted to meth. One bite. One bite is all it takes. This pastry is like the flaky layers of a croissant basted in a sugar water syrup with extra butter and then is caramelized so that it is just crispy and buttery on the top. They serve them warm. Crack cocaine could not be as magical as this.

John took his first bite and looked at me and said, “I bet this has lard in it.” and I replied. “I don’t care if it’s made from kittens.” Oh my God ! This is a high we will never experience again. 


We don’t know what these are, but they are shrubs on the side of a path and they possess incredibly sharp thorns.
The path from Lèhon to Dinan.
A bookstore in Angers.

On our last Sunday in Dinan, we decided to walk back to the bakery for one last hit of our crack/meth/pastry. Fisherman lined the path with super long fishing poles. They would chum the water and then pull in little tiny fish. One after the other. It looks like they had thousands of dollars of equipment to catch something smaller than a sardine. 

An Angers grocery store. (Leclerc)
Sunset in Dinan
Dinan kitty

Angers to Bouchemaine.

OK, I know this is stupid, but when we returned to Angers and talked with our host about renting, I made a little bet with myself that if we found a coin in Angers it would be a sign to move there. We haven’t found a spare coin anywhere in France. An hour after the thought, look what appeared.