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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Early AM, the South of France, Dining Room Table

Welcome to life in the laid-back south of France, in the home of the retired, but not elderly grandparents. The bread is crisp (until the rain hits), the cheese is extraordinary, and the wine is fine. Everyday conversations, seen from an observer's perspective, go something like this;

My husband; "Mama, how do you like the Essentrics DVD I sent you? Doesn't your back feel so much better?"

(Thierry loves Essentrics as much as I do; so he bought his mom a copy of a DVD in French for Christmas and sent it to her.)

Mamie; "Oh, mon cheri, I haven't had a chance to try it. You see, I can't use it because our DVD player doesn't work anymore. I've been waiting for your father to fix it or something, I don't get those things, but I haven't been able to play the thing."

"What's wrong with it? I'll buy you one of those little 10-bit plug-in ones so you can try it."

Papy; "Mais non...it doesn't work because of the new tv regulations and standards. It can't read DVDs anymore, it's been a year now since they changed things and we can't connect it. We have to have one that can handle the new kind of tv."

"No you don't, let me see."     

DVD player plugged in, working, after a good, long session of pinched fingers, irritation and maneuvering behind the television set by the fireplace; "here, hand me that; no, the other one, mais non, that one goes into here. Does not. Hold on, no, unplug that, ouch! grumble, grumble."

"Now look; the channels don't work!" (Papy)

"What do you mean, the tv doesn't work if the DVD player is plugged in?"

Papy; "We can't get these three channels; look!" Fuzz on screen.

"But Channel 3 works...that makes no sense, the DVD player is blocking some channels and not others?"

"The tv doesn't work now, that's what I've been telling you. The DVD player messes up the whole thing. I don't miss it at all. Stupid tv, hated it anyway."

"Is this new?"

Papy; "No, we haven't had any channels since the takeover, it's all a conspiracy to make us buy new televisions every year."

"So, since when has it not worked?"

Papy; "Well, since December or so."

"Then it's not linked to the DVD player being connected."

Papy; "Whatever, I hate tv anyway. I could totally live without it. Stupid thing."

Heeeey! I have found a new ally in my anti-screen campaign! It is like the 21st century never arrived here, I love it. The kids are practically never on their phones; too much to talk about with their cousins and grandparents, too much to eat, games to be played (at least two tournaments of Mille Bourne yesterday with Mamie), and just the novelty of not being at home. 

We were here all day; day one was spent sleeping until noon to catch up after a long journey. Lunch was lovely; we grilled out and ate on the terrace until just before coffee, when the rumble of thunder and then rain sent us scrambling back in. We stayed at the table inside for forever, talking and drinking tiny cups of coffee, nibbling at dark chocolate, joking with the little cousins, Remy; 7 and Alice, 11. None of the six cousins did much talking during the whole meal, everybody still shy of each other, but they were all warmed up and playing together by nap time. Remy and Gael had the little cars out and zooming all over the floor, Valentine went to curl up with a book and Alice followed. We could hear giggling from down here. Cate (who, naturally, not only survived, but THRIVED in Paris, loving every minute and learning how much she has yet to learn on the sticky topic of refugee hosting and immigration, is here now, hurrah!) had Remy on her lap at every meal, and Charles was in deep observation mode, except when it came to practicing naughty words and "helping out" his cousins. Duncan is missed by all, but I bet Tuxy-dog is happy to have one of us at home with him.

The trip? Exhausting, but no hitches. Flying through Ireland was a milestone for me; I've finally touched down in the isle of my ancestors, or the Irish half of them. We had salmon; a "must" for Thierry, at the airport, along with an Irish beer, not the best choice in the middle of a long trip, but another "must". The kids were so tired that they decided they were not happy at all about the opportunity to spend three days in this magnificent country on the way home. What they do not know is that they will be full of energy and happy to explore, just coming from a month in France, with rest and good food, and not 15 hours of travel and bad airplane food and not enough water. I know it. And if not, I will dump their sorry selves in a roadside inn and go exploring on my own. New journey, new hopes and dreams...and new set of expectations.

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