08 March 2008

Thanks for all the comments this week

I want to take a minute to respond to all the comments I got this week, especially on the occasion of my birthday. Thank you all for the good wishes. Here goes:

DG, yes, there is life and more life after 50. Fifty seems very young to me now, given that Walt and some of my best friends haven't yet hit that milestone. I remember I didn't much like turning 50, but that was nine years ago and the negative feeling had more to do with my work situation at the time and not with the actual number.

Melinda, good for you, with prospects of a move to France. Best wishes to your daughter and new soson-in-law. I still find myself thinking that you are the Melinda B. that I had as a student when I taught French at San Francisco City College back around 1990. But you aren't, are you?

Claudia, happy everything to you too. You are one of my most faithful readers, and also a fairly new one. Isn't the Internet fantastic? It's so much better than TV, where the experience is passive. On the Internet forums and blogs, we can really participate, not just watch.

CHM, when you and I became friends in 1983, you were a lot younger than I am now. Sometimes I think you are a lot younger than I am now too! I've aged but you haven't, even though you are probably le doyen here. I'm looking forward to seeing you in May or June. And no, I'm not stopping the blog!

The Beav, I hope to get to Montréal at least once more in my life. But on my limited budget, given the worthless American dollar, it won't be right away. Keep those comments coming.

Louise, is the restaurant you mention Le Petit Nice in Marseille? I saw the chef on a TV show last night. He just won his third Michelin star. Chipping in would cost you all a lot, because there would have to be a travel allowance (train and hotel) in addition to the restaurant tab. Nice thought, though. And you are right: my story about leaving California for France just ended in the middle of the drive across the U.S. I need to pick up that thread again one day soon.

Chrissou, looking forward to seeing you in April or May. Tell Tony he' should come too. Is he cycling across the country again this year? Or up some mountain? Can you imagine we have been friends now for more than 15 years? Who knows where the time goes...

Elena, thanks for the wishes and the nice words. I appreciate your taking the time to leave a comment.

Mary, I wish you could come over to France. It was fun seeing Gabby in 2006 (was it already 2 years ago?). You are right, the first 59 birthdays haven't been bad at all. When we first met and I worked daily with CHM and Gabby, I was a veritable stripling: not even 35 years old yet. Unbelievable!

Donna, I hope you make (or made) and enjoy (or enjoyed) the borscht. You have the advantage of being able to get fresh beets easily out there in California. I think using raw beets would make a difference.

Loulou, I enjoy your blog and your food. You are right about weather being a major topic of conversation out here in the French countryside. It's great having a photo record, even if it is incomplete, to be able to go back and remember what the weather was at the same time a year, two, or five years ago.

PJ, thanks for all your comments and information. Callie says « ouah ouah ! »

Ginny (aka Anonymous), xoxo to you too. I would love to have the recipe for the Lithuanian beet soup. Is it served cold? Sounds good — beet salad is one of my favorites, so I'm sure I'd like beet soup. When we met and worked together, I had just turned 40. And it's true that a whole new phase of my life began then, in software. Without people like you to work with, I don't think I would have lasted 15 years in that business.

Claude, we haven't known each other very long, but you've been a personage in my life since the mid-1970s at least. Will you be in Paris in late May/early June? I might be coming to the city then. We could go on a long walk, no? I'll bring my camera.

Bob F., you win the longevity award. We must have first met in about 1971, when I arrived in Champaign-Urbana. Or shortly after that — maybe you were in France then. That's not quite 40 years ago. I can't believe we haven't seen each other in 30 years — I'll never forget your and Norma's wedding. Best to her, of course. Can you believe I finally met Claude because of blogging after all those years? And that I realized she was the Claude you and HW always used to talk about, but whose path never crossed mine?

AOB, wow, it is really nice to be back in touch with you after 20 years! Walt is thrilled, I know. The last time we saw each other, I wasn't even 40 yet, and when we first were friends in 1981-82, I was very wet behind the ears. My friend CHM, who will be in Paris this summer, lives just a stone's throw from where you lived back then, and I'm in that neighborhood frequently. Walt and I have always talked about you when we go to that part of town. Now your ears will really be burning.

Dan M., I'm so glad you had a good trip to Paris. Maybe your next trip will bring you to the Loire Valley.

Isabella, keep blogging in Naples. Florida, that is. I might have told you that a very good friend of mine lives there, so you never know when I might show up for a visit.

Karen, enjoy your trip to Paris. I wish you weather as nice and warm in early April as we have had for the past few Aprils.

Anonymous who made bagels, I'm glad the pictures were helpful and hope the bagels were delicious. Walt made another batch yesterday and we're going to have some for lunch today with fresh local goat cheese, some roasted home-grown red peppers from our freezer, and maybe some jambon cru from the farmers' market in Saint-Aignan, where I will be headed after my walk with the dog... right now.

Susan (and Ray), when are you coming back to France? Yes, looking back a few days, you were right, I did have the birthday blues. The sinking dollar was one contributing factor. We get poorer and poorer. But what the heck. Expenses are low, life is good, and maybe we will have a good garden this year so our grocery bills will go down.

Anonymous (in Virginia I think), thanks for your kind comment. You are so lucky to have Evelyn as a friend, as am I. It's nice to know you are there reading.

Evelyn, xoxo to you, and grosses bises too. Thanks for the birthday wishes. You and Lew need to get busy planning that next trip to France. When will it be? Maybe I'll see you in Alabama again before then. I'm thinking of going to spend next year's birthday in North Carolina.

Susan and Simon, I went back and looked. If the thorns on blackthorn are needle-like projections an inch or more long, then that's it. They are not like the thorns on roses or blackberries, that's for sure. I don't know if I will make slow gin but I might make sloe confiture. And no, I haven't seen any cowslips yet. Only primroses, cyclamens, and some dandelions, plus some varieties of other small flowers I can't identify.

OK, off into the vines with Callie and then to the market in town for goat cheese.


  1. Happy Belated Birthday from me too! The others have basically said it all, but I really enjoy your blog and your photos. You guys are living a whole different life than I am (et pourtant, on est dans le même pays !), and it's good for me to see that side of France.

  2. Wow! What a lot of friends--and it's easy to see why. This is just to let you know that Eveyln's anonymous friend is indeed in Virginia, and was anonymous because my comment was my first posting ever and I couldn't figure out exactly how to do what I wanted to. Now I know, since Evelyn told me. Where would be be without friends.

  3. Friends, rock! Thanks for sending personal notes to all of us- that makes us feel special, but it's you that are special to us. You bring us the joy of living and cooking in France, merci.

    It's snowing in Alabama this morning! Zut alors. It is the fine slow snow that is layering tree branches and the grass, but not the roads;-)

    Congrats, Eva- you're no longer anonymous.

  4. thanks for the personal note.....no, I wasn't a student of yours....but I was in Paris 1969/70 for jr yr abroad.....so yes, I'm 58....I love reading the day to day details on your blog......ur living in my fav. area of france too......we even looked at a house near Montrichard & toured St Aignan while in the area....I will hopefully be able to spend more time in france when my daughter & husband move back there (he's from paris)in a few yrs....i live now in Richmond, VA & spend summers in NC mntns

  5. Hi again Melinda, sorry for the confusion. The other Melinda I know, who was a student in my French classes at SF City College and maybe the best student I ever had, has recently bought and renovated, with her husband, an apartment in Paris near the Bastille.

    I can recommend Montrichard, Saint-Aignan, and the surrounding area as a great place to live. Ken

  6. Ken, with all the friends you have, it wouldn’t take that much from each of us to chip in for your trip and meal in Nice. (Said she with a gulp, looking through her wallet.)

    Yesterday my posting didn’t go through, so I'm trying again: Somehow I bet the price of wood will have gone up in the past two years. Maybe you can buy a woodlot nearby and become firewood barons.

    Are you saying that you only need to take the chill off your house twice a day, and that suffices to keep the house warm? Does an evening fire in the woodstove keep the house warm overnight? What temperature do you aim for? I'm trying to figure out just how mild your climate is there. In winter here the woodburning furnace is going night and day.

  7. Claudia in Toronto08 March, 2008 21:11

    It's an honour to see my name, among your friends, on your post today. Thanks! Your blog, with beautiful photos and interesting comments, is a daily joy. Plus it's so much fun to add my two-cents-worth. Sometimes, I feel that you and wcs live right next door. The best neighbours I ever had.

  8. When you came to work with us, I was not even one year younger than you are right now.
    As a sign at my dentist said : "Age is a matter of mind, if you don't mind, it doesn't matter". I think that's the way to look at it. Les médecins, eux, disent: "On n'a que l'âge de ses artères."
    I'm glad you decided to keep on with the blog. Too many people depend on it, for whatever reasons.
    I too am looking forward to see you and Walt in May. Cheers!

  9. Yes, blackthorn thorns are like black needles. Do make some sloe gin or at least syrup - it's terribly trendy at the moment. We went to a private view at the Tate last year and they were serving sloe gin. The nice preserves lady at our local market in London does a syrup of sloes. You add a dollop to your gin, and hey presto - sloe gin. It also makes great icecream - a dollop in the custard mixture with a few blueberries, then into the icecream machine. Miam miam.



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