Thursday, December 7, 2023

Guarder la Tête Froide (Keep a Cool Head)

 Hi Everyone,

It has been 5 months since my last post. Life has been so busy and at times very challenging. Today, I am going to share a fun moment that encapsulates why I love it here so much!

When the French are unhappy, they express their displeasure.

More than 200 years ago, the disparity of wealth led to a revolt against the monarchy which became a revolution. Thousands lost their heads via the infamous guillotine. This ushered in the First French Republic.

Today, the French love a good grève. (Rhymes with rev.) If they disagree with a policy, they strike.  They demonstrate. They make their displeasure known.

When we lived in Oregon, our neighbor’s house became a rental. One year, the day after Thanksgiving, the tenants put up a grand light display. Cool. 

That evening at 4:00, I heard a strange sound. It turned out that light display was accompanied by a loop of digital Christmas songs that sounded like they were played on a kid’s tiny toy piano that was paired with an amplifier. 

We could hear it in the house. Over the TV. Every day from 4-10 this went on. On Christmas eve, it played round the clock, no silent night here, until Christmas night at 10. Then it finally stopped.

The next year, the day after Thanksgiving, it started at 3:30, turned off at 10 and went until New Year’s Day. We ran a fan on a timer to try and mask the sound. Year number three arrived and my full-on hate for every bit of Christmas music began. 

The atrocious top-40 loop blasted in the stores beginning the first of November. The worst of Christmas music…Michael Jackson, George Michael, John Lennon, Mariah Carey, Bruce Springsteen, etc. You know the songs. Pity the poor people who work in retail and can’t escape this!

In February when the tenants left, I rejoiced. 

Last month, we went to a neighboring small town here in France where we volunteer at the library to lead English conversation groups. Imagine my horror, when we arrived early, went into a boulangerie for a coffee and heard…digital Christmas music. 


There in the hallway was a Christmas display with a 4-foot tall musical Nutcracker whose mouth moved to the digital music (without words). NOOO!

After the conversation group, we reluctantly returned to the boulangerie for lunch. I was dreading the music, but in a small town, food options can be limited.

Much to my surprise, it was silent. No music. We peeked down the hall.

Proudly displayed was a now 3-foot tall, headless, silent Nutcracker. 

We absolutely guffawed. I have found my people.

More than 200 years later, the French still know how to revolt.

Now, some photos…



Magnificent bark

A horse track in the country by a chateau.
 There are 44,000 chateaux and 30,000-ish towns in France.

Virginia creeper in the fall

I made these doigts de sorcières for Halloween.
They are witches’ fingers.  FINGERS!! (Mom will understand this one.)

Finally, we have had rain and our drought declaration has been lifted.

Sunrise this morning

The “Welcome to Angers” statue in front of the train station.

“I am outta here…”