Sunday, September 19, 2010

The 117th day in Sceaux...

...was beautiful, and still is, even at 4pm.  The photo below was taken this morning:

Taken from my balcony on Sunday, September 19, 2010 at 11:15AM

The hill running has caught up to me a bit, all in the name of progress.  I am building good stamina in my running, so I decided to burn a little more by running uphill a little faster, and of course, I added the BIG hill (80 feet climb in 800 feet laterally), and this is what strains any one of the groin muscles (lateral movements do, also, but hill running is a known culprit).  I had to sit out of my Saturday run, hoping for a Sunday run.  I did the "readiness test" described on the web, and I failed.  So I rest another day (today).  Because of the long walks I do going to and coming from church (just to bus stops and church itself), I decided to not to go.  But I joined in for worship at the time the family of faith was gathered from my apartment -- not via the Internet, but the old fashioned way: in the Spirit.  I was surprised to find I had not packed my old Baptist Hymnal, or maybe it is misplaced, but I found my old Romanian songbook, and a few of the songs I had come to know well.  I spent some time singing in Romanian, worshiping, and then I work on my Bible study blog, where I am working through Ephesians.

The Great Cheese Experiment continues, and this week, after one of my "better eat these steaks as the expiration date is already a little past due" dinners, I had a cheese plate (the French do a cheese plate immediately after dinner, which is then followed by dessert) consisting of five different cheeses (and only a small portion of each): Camembert, Gruyere, Compte, Chevre Frais, and Saint Agur.  I left Reblochon, Babybel, and La Vache Qui Rit in the refrigerator.  Dried fruit is a nice complement to cheeses, or so I was told by my admin, Christine, who set me out on this mission (Clarissa knows squat, Christine Knows It All).  I still have three more cheeses on her list, but by then, I will be cheesed out.  Most have been nice, some I will not revisit.  I will post my report of The Great Cheese Experiment another day.

Guitar practice, with focus, has begun.  I went back to the fundamentals with Matteo Carcassi, whose works are still regarded as standards almost 200 years after their composition.  I do love the sound of the classical guitar I commissioned Aquiles Torres of Katy, Texas to make.  That was just over three years ago...the tone of this guitar is motivational in that it projects so well and sounds brilliant (not as in my playing, but tonality).

I think I am ready to begin traveling within France on weekend (Saturday) trips.  My French is still poor, but well enough to go and tackle some of the countryside.  Oh, speaking of my French, the French tutor at work, who is working with three of us, has kindly agreed to a standing "Dejeuner a parler la langue francaise" ("lunch to speak the French language") on Fridays, in addition to our normal class time.  The four of us will  sit together for lunch, and only French will be spoken, however broken.  I pity the poor woman, listening to a Brit, a New Yawkah, and an adopted Texan pummel her native tongue for an hour over a meal.  She'll probably lose weight after what she hears makes her sick...I think I will suggest to other two we buy her lunch.

Well, that is all for now, a very busy week ahead of me, and a quiet weekend almost behind me.  Thanks for coming along.

Au revoir,


PS: Follow me on Twitter @lonewillheath (it is an anagram, not a new name), as I start exploring more I will be "posting" more from my phone

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Turning 110 in Sceaux

Not years, days!

September weather has been better than August, and at least so far, our cycle of nice weather has given us 2 of the three weekend days (Friday afternoon being the beginning of the weekend so I count it) being sunny.  The days are growing shorter: back in June, the sky would be lightening up around 5AM; now I can clearly see Orion at 6:15AM.  I have been warned: the days are coming soon when I will got to work in the dark and come home in the dark, even if I leave at 5PM.  Oh, my friends in the American South, relish your sunshine!  I do!

Life is getting more settled; I am picking up more of the language (FAR from fluent), but enough that I can get around in the shops, and the occasional restaurant (a rare occurrence, as I hate going to a restaurant by myself). I am pan-frying my steaks now, sorta like the French: they use a pan with nothing else on it and get it hot, throw the meat down for about 2 minutes a side, and voila!  It is ready!  My take, and I tried their method, is a bit of a hybrid: I add a little olive oil, heat the pan until a drop of water pops on the oil, throw the steak down for 2 1/2 minutes a side, and voila!  I like my steak a little more done than the French, who seem to think medium-rare is on the verge of over-cooking a steak.  I have not got the routine of side dishes into my cooking, part of the problem of being male and thinking meat alone is enough, which is ample justification, and it is a pain, almost a waste, to keep that stuff around for one person.  I make sure and eat my veggies at work, Ma.

I got my bike "street legal" yesterday.  City ordinance allows bikes on any one way or two street, the bike can go any direction, but requires the bike to have a signal and front and back lights.  The first back light I had fell apart somewhere, and I do not how, but I suspect it was me going over something and it getting walloped by too many g's.  So, I had to get a new one, and I previously had no "signal", a.k.a., a bell, to warn pedestrians or other bikers that I am about to overtake them (for me, it is mostly for pedestrians, so they can avoid being run over; haven't overtaken many other bikes), now I have one (it is not cute, it is black and ugly -- on purpose).  Today, I was planning to ride into Paris, but it is supposed to rain, and I wanted to linger and enjoy Paris, rather than make a quick round-trip.

I am experimenting with cheeses.  There are times in the course of this work that I think the reason there are over 200 varieties of cheese in this country is that no one seems able to get it right.  Just kidding, I think I do not have a good palate for cheese tasting.  Let me say a little bit of any cheese goes a long way with me, and that also guarantees much fewer calories in eating cheese.  My favorites so far: Compte (one local to the Sceaux area), Chevre Frais (fresh goat cheese, do not let it stand more than 5 or 6 days, because it becomes a stinky cheese in the worst way), Saint Agur (the only blue cheese I can eat, and again, it is nice in small quantities), Emmental, the French version of Swiss cheese, and La Vache qui Rit (The Cow which Laughs), a soft pasteurized cheese.  I have more on my list to try, but Roquefort, Camembert, and Chevre Ancien are not on the repeat list...

Thanks for dropping by, and Chez Mark welcomes visitors, should you be in the neighborhood (for Texans, that would be anywhere in Europe)...

A bientot, mes amis!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Day One-Oh-2 in Sceaux

WOW!  A couple of days ago I passed the century mark in days living in France.  This was a good week, and I think, if my numbers are correct, the LAST KITCHEN CABINET arrived, completing the kitchen, on the 100th day of me moving into the apartment here in Sceaux.  I made videos of the kitchen and other rooms, and I think you can see them on my facebook page.

That was the big move-in event, and actually completes the move-in.

I attended a men's prayer breakfast today.  There were 18 of us, and while we did have breakfast, we also really prayed.  It was a good session.  I am attending a church in Versailles, Anglican by domination (thanks, Sharon) denomination, and evangelical.  Very "casual" atmosphere for worship -- not liturgical.  It is English-speaking, and it is a good place for me to go until my language skills, and more importantly, the Lord, leads me elsewhere.  I am not saying He will; I just want to be ready for anything He has for me here, wherever He wants me to serve.  I certainly enjoy the fellowship and worship -- quite needed.

Running continues to improve, and I am grateful to the Lord for such health.  I continue to study French, and practice guitar.  Developing better habits for both, and by 'better' I also mean I have a ways to go until those habits are solid and good.  Miss "all ya'll", comment or drop an e-mail to me.

au revoir,