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Showing posts from May, 2016

244. HAPPINESS IS...

Happiness is a Wednesday afternoon with the kids. Yes, Madam!

Wednesdays in French schools is a day off or at least half a day off. So, my grandchildren come for lunch with me every Wednesday. Today we had a small appetizer of "mozzarella di bufala" with some cucumber slices dipped in balsamic vinegar. Quite danty! That Italian cheese is made with bufalo milk. It has a definite taste, not like the usual mozzarella with regular cow milk. For a main dish we had fried potatoes with steak tidbits cooked with shallots, not chives, the real "Èchalottes". For sweets we had a ready made "floating island" that you buy in plastic containers and that kids love, a floating island being a meringue floating on custard... you've got to have imagination in life.

What to do in the afternoon can be a problem at times. But today the weather being favorable for picking fruit outdoors, we drove (in my "sports car" of course) some 20 km to a place where you can pic…

243. Welcome home

"Welcome home" is a phrase you often hear in English. It sounds lovely. It stems from the heart and carries benevolent feelings. In the scriptures, it is what the old man could have said to his prodigal son when he saw him a the end of the path, coming home.

I have two examples in memory when hearing it stirred me to tears: that time in 1997 when we made it to port late at night after three days of howling weather sailing a boat into Auckland harbor. It is what the Customs officers said to the Captain. Welcome home! It was not addressed to me, New Zealand not being my homeland, but it felt real good.

The other memorable occasion is when flying from Europe to the U.S.A. in 1980, it was announced the plane was beginning its approach to the Kennedy airport. Americans in the plane clapped loud and clear. They were delighted to be landing back in their homeland.

I don't want to sound bitter and bickering here. I only want to state how it feels when you are a French expat coming …

242. ART de VIVRE

I often clash with friends and even members of my family about ways and manners of doing things. Specially, being French, about table manners. It is said that the French have a special ART de VIVRE concerning food and eating habits and other things as well. When looking for a translation into English of this particular phrase, I found that people were at a loss with it: "art of living" does not really translate the concept.

Let me explain my views on this. It has to do with esthetics and the epicurean philosophy. As applied to life it means: the manners showing your sense of beauty with which you tackle a given situation or activity. Your "art de vivre" shows you have an ideal for beauty. Linked with epicurian philosophy it shows you have the ability to see beauty in every simple gestures of human activity and you derive pleasure out of it. Your perception of beauty triggers a feeling of pleasure.

For my part I have a highly developed perception of beauty and it trig…

241. Know who you are (2)

We are in 2016 and in the Chinese zodiac we are in the Year of the Monkey. Yay! My year, this year!!! It had better be a good one...

In the effort of getting to know who I am, the Chinese zodiac can also help. We can shrug our shoulders today on what old wisemen in the depth of the past came out with. Who can be sure that the findings of an Albert Einstein will not look ludicrous to people in three or four thousand years from now? So I will not discard getting to know what it says about who I may be. And here it goes, as taken on websites on internet:

The Wu Xing (Five Elements) sign of the Monkey is Metal (Jin), so the animal stands for brilliance and perseverance. According to Chinese zodiac analysis, people born in a Year of the Monkey always have smart, agile and active characteristics. They are endowed with highly adaptable abilities because of their complicated living environment.

People born in the Year of the Monkey according to the Chinese zodiac always have enviable abiliti…

240. KNOW WHO YOU ARE (1)

An ancient Greek philosopher once said: translated into English "Know who you are", translated into French "Connais-toi toi-même". Having followed the classics at College I was drilled into this way of thinking in my teens in France in the 50s and early 60s. I wrote a diary trying to see through the lines who I was. I sent my handwriting to a graphologist, a would-be science in vogue at the time, in order to hear what they had to say about who I was. And then at 19 I hit the road! There in the action I quickly had to find out who I was. Now in my 70s I think I know. I won't paraphrase another Greek philosopher by saying: I know I don't know. I do know who I am and I can predict my reactions to various situations and people.

According to the European zodiac I come under the Aries sign. Believe or don't believe. I don't regard this as an act of faith. Simply facts you can observe. A theory to be confirmed or not. Take it or leave it. The thing is tha…