Saturday, February 26, 2011

I've gotta get out of this place...

You know it's February when Rodez looks like this

My daughters just started two weeks of school holiday.

My students have one week of school holiday.

I have half a day off on Friday afternoon, and I am sure as hell going to make the best of it.

Mind you, this is not a complaint. Although my particular education job doesn't give me "les vacances scolaires," I have a generous vacation plus R.T.T. plan that will allow me to take much of the summer off and still have a few days left over here and there.

In other words, the amount of time off from work is not my point here.

The point is, when Rodez starts looking as it does above...I've got to get away! I've got to run away!

So this morning, I planned out a little one-night escapade with my youngest daughter to a nearby, yet sunnier clime.

I'm already looking forward to posting next week, when I should have much more of interest to say!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Deadlines looming, weather glooming

I'm learning to play one of these

For the past two years, I have been enrolled in the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Départemental de l'Aveyron -- what used to be known as l'Ecole de Musique; but, as the French say, "pourquoi faire simple quand on peut faire compliqué?"

I take harpsichord lessons with a wonderful teacher, and have been relishing the challenge of learning how to play a new instrument.

I grew up playing the piano, so keyboard instruments aren't totally unknown to me. However, the harpichord has a totally different sound and feel, as you can imagine if you know anything about musical instruments.

Also, I don't have one at home, so I practice at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement...etc... on a lovely, flowered harpsichord (not the Wikipedia Commons Image one above.)

Last year, everything was "just for fun," but this year I have somehow ended up in the bilan du premier cycle, where I am going to have to play in front of a jury on April 7.


As my wonderful teacher keeps telling a panicked me, this is not an examen, just a bilan to "see where I'm at."

Relax, girl. Oh yes, in the meantime I'll be playing my pieces in a "little recital" in late March, which is suddenly more or less tomorrow.

Double yikes.

Deadlines, deadlines. I also have a huge one coming up at work that I really have to get on this week.

For all of these projects that need energy and élan, the weather is not cooperating:

The world from my window, February 20 2011

I've done very well chasing off the February blues this year until, shall we say, today?

Cheery comments are welcome!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Honest light

(The road taken, Sunday morning, February 13, 2011)

Even as I have promised myself to get away from the "French countryside" image that was a part of La France Profonde, I have also decided to explore a few back roads that are not that far off my usual paths.

Thus my Sunday morning grocery shopping trip to Bozouls turned into a mini-adventure. I took a detour that leads to the tiny village of Gillorgues, and motored my way up this steeper-than-it-looks dirt road.

I found myself in a quiet place with a lovely view of the town of Bozouls in the hazy distance.

There was one slight problem, though: I knew the light wasn't very good.

Yet why do we so often prefer to take our photos with stunning blue skies and stark contrasts?

These shots certainly aren't as striking as they would have been on a gloriously sunny day, but they sum up what I saw.

Call it honest light.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Why I tweet

I'm pushing towards 4,500 tweets, which I find a little hard to believe.

I signed up for Twitter relatively early in the game -- July 31, 2008. That seemed to be the year that a lot of the people I tweet the most with got chirping.

But I had a slow start. I didn't really see the point...or maybe the point wasn't the same in 2008 as in 2011 -- or even in 2009, when I reactivated my tweeting life.

I love Twitter now for browsing the news, exchanging teaching information, and keeping up on some favorite sites like The Oatmeal, Brain Pickings, and Chez Loulou.

I can also indulge in fun mini-conversations with the lucky members of my "friendsandfam" list...whenever I want.

Also, for some reason Twitter is not guilt-inducing to me.

I feel bad when I don't come up with good blog post ideas (in fact, I'm feeling that way right now.)

I feel guilty when I don't keep up with my real Facebook friends; even though I've ruthlessly eliminated hundreds of peripheral "friends" and stupid games from my newsfeed, I still have trouble keeping up.

And let's not even talk about Google Reader, or "keeping up with stuff on the Internet" hell.

Twitter seems easy come, easy go...and full of fascinating information.

How do you feel about it?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Old meets new in Rodez, or who was Désiré Malzac?

What's really strange about this photo is that I had never noticed the "D. MALZAC" on this building in Rodez's rue Neuve.

I have unfortunately noticed the Pimkie and Promod signs more times than I care to mention, daughters obligent.

This got me wondering what the D. MALZAC establishment used to be, and none of my books about the history of Rodez were able to enlighten me.

I was convinced that this search for knowledge would be un-Googleable, but I was mistaken.

Désiré Malzac was clearly a printer/editor of some sort; at any rate, his establishment turned out postcards that are now for sale on eBay, or on display on the cool site Europeana.

There was definitely a little "thrill of the knowledge chase" involved in writing today's post.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Les voeux, or late again...

If you read any France/expat blogs, or if you live in France yourself, you know that the French don't send Christmas cards.

Between buying gifts, decorating the house, and preparing (elaborate) Christmas meals, who has time for it? Indeed, this is one French concept I really like.

The tradition here is to send New Year's greetings, and, in typically leisurely fashion, the French allow themselves the whole, long month of January to get it done.

Of course, les voeux du Nouvel An used to be cards sent by the post. Personally, after a lull the past few years, for 2011 I have noticed a huge increase in electronic cards/photos created by families and companies.

Betwixt and between, I have managed not to do any type of holiday greeting the past few years. No -- make that for the past decade.

But this year, we got organized. My husband and I created three versions of the above e-greeting, and one of my daughters even made up photos to send out by snail mail.

I've managed to send a few of the photo/cards, but hardly any e-greetings. Oh well.

Happy New Year...or Bonne Année 2011...anyway.