Category Archives: France

Happy Bastille Day! Cherry Clafoutis recipe

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It is cherry season, and I love to make a clafoutis for dessert. This one is very low calorie, about 4-5 WW Pts. Plus, I think.  I posted it in 2003, but have changed it a bit, doubling the custard.

Clafoutis

1 pound cherries, with or without pits

2 tablespoons kirschwasser, brandy, or lemon juice

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

6 tablespoons flour* or flour alternative

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 ½ cups skim milk

4 eggs

grated rind of one half of a lemon

2 pinches of nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1. Remove stems from cherries.  You may also remove the pits, if desired (Traditional French cooks usually leave the pits in. They say it adds flavor). Toss the cherries with powdered sugar and kirschwasser and set aside for at least 2 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a Pyrex dish (I have an 8 inch square white porcelain dish with high sides that I love to use – whatever size lets the custard come up over most of the cherries) with cooking spray.

3. In a bowl, pour the flour and granulated sugar, and stir together.

4. Pour in milk and whisk until thoroughly blended.

5. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, and then add lemon rind, nutmeg, and vanilla.

6. Pour liquid off of cherries (If it is a liqueur, and if you like, you may make this liquid part of the 1 ½ cups of milk – just add less milk).

7. Scatter cherries evenly on bottom of cooking dish.

8. Pour egg and milk mixture over cherries and cook for 30-45 minutes, or until brown and puffed.

9. Chill in the refrigerator. The clafoutis will deflate after it is removed from the oven. Serve cold.

Servings: 8

Notes: I have a bottle of Pineau des Charentes, a fortified wine from Poitiers, France, and I usually soak my cherries in that.

*I also have made the recipe gluten-free by substituting the flour for masa de harina, a corn product.  Almond flour might also be good.

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King Cake, anyone?

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roscas at the bakery

I am thinking about finding or making a king cake to bring to school on Wednesday.  It is Epiphany.  I remember well my different encounters with King Cake.  I am from Lafayette, Louisiana, so I have had all sorts of New Orleans style king cakes.  Being a gourmand, I have to admit that my favorite kind has always been one with as much cream cheese, fruit filling and icing as possible.

When I was living in France, I got turned on to the galette des rois, which is a puff pastry confection with frangipane inside.  Frangipane is a type of almond paste – coarser and more natural than marzipan.  I think it is also put in almond croissants.

When I came to Georgia, I had a great time sharing the king cake tradition with my students and friends.  I even would go all the way to New Orleans for Mardi Gras “just” to bring back kings cakes for my high school French students.  I know, the sacrifices we teachers have to make…  The most notable year was when I transported the aforementioned loaded cakes home and forgot to keep them horizontal.  Can I just say that we had a major collapse on our hands?

I used to have dinner parties in January, and I was so excited to find a bakery in Atlanta that made the frangipane filled cakes.  They were more expensive, so I was loathe to get those for my 6th graders that I taught at the time.  But I did buy a couple for one of my dinner parties.  My French friend clucked disapprovingly at my addition of a raspberry coulis, but I thought it went very well with the cake.

I only recently became familiar with the Mexican version of the king cake, called a rosca de reyes.  It is a relatively plain concoction – a yeast bread with fruit and maybe some nuts that is garnished with candied fruit.  I just happened to be driving home one January 6th when I passed a panaderia in Marietta.  They were making hundreds of roscas, and they were selling like, um, well – hotcakes.

I purchased a couple – one to share with my colleagues at school and a smaller one for my students.  I think they were pretty expensive:  $20 for the small one and $30 for the larger one.  Before I went home that night, for some reason I stopped by my favorite taqueria to have a couple of tacos de lengua.  I happened to mention to the proprietor that I had snagged these cakes on the other side of town, and she ended up buying one from me.

I was looking for recipes online and found this little group forum invitation.  You may go to the website, but here is the deal:

How to participate:
Please read and follow the instructions below. King Cake 2009

  • Bake or buy a King Cake, take pictures (if possible) and blog about the cake and your family tradition and don’t forget to mention who was the “crowned” king
  • Please link back to this announcement in your post, and eventually to the roundup.
  • Fill in the form below and your post will be listed in the roundup.
  • Last day of submission is January 8

If you click on the link to the right and look at last year’s contributors, you will see that there are all sorts of cake traditions for Epiphany.  I just read that even panettone – that Italian fruitcake that is on sale now everywhere – has been used for king’s cake as well.

Here are some more:  The Bolo Rei – from Portugal, the Tortell from Catalonia, Vasilopita from Greece, Banitsa from Bulgaria, etc.

Maybe I’ll make my old cheap stand-by.  One year, I purchased cans and cans of pop and serve cinnamon rolls.  It was easy:  I just opened up the cans, separated the rolls, and arranged them in circles or ovals – just like a real king’s cake.  I made some extra icing and either colored the icing green, purple, and yellow (Mardi Gras colors) or used sprinkles in those colors on white icing.  It was pretty good, too.  I just waited to hide the token or baby until after the cakes were done.

Hey, I just found a similar recipe from Sandra Lee of Semi-Homemade!   Here is another using crescent rolls and a filling…  I did NOT, however, find and “easy” rosca de reyes recipe.  Hmph.

Plum Clafoutis

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A couple of weeks ago, I spent a lot of time finding a recipe for something to do with the plums I bought.  I found several recipes for clafoutis, one of my favorite French desserts, on the internet.  This is the one I tried, and it’s very good.  I may have overcooked the one I just did tonight, though.  We’ll see…

Plum Clafoutis (Gourmet Magazine: September, 2008)
Serves 6

* Active time:15 min
* Start to finish:1 1/4 hr

The quintessential French home-style dessert, clafoutis is remarkably simple to throw together. Just whiz up an easy crêpe batter, pour it over fruit, and pop it all in the oven—it will puff up like a soufflé before settling into a tender, pudding-like cake. This version calls for regular black or red plums briefly macerated in sugar and Armagnac, but it’s also delicious with Italian prune plums, which reach their peak in September.

* 1 lb black or red plums, pitted and cut into eighths
* 2 tablespoons Armagnac or other brandy
* 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar, divided
* 4 large eggs
* 1 cup whole milk
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
* Confectioners sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400ºF with rack in middle. Butter a 2-qt shallow baking dish.
Toss plums with Armagnac and 1 Tbsp sugar in a bowl and let macerate 15 minutes. Transfer plums to baking dish with a slotted spoon and pour juices into a blender. Add eggs to blender with milk, butter, flour, salt, extracts, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and blend just until combined. Pour over plums.
Bake until puffed and just set in center, about 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then dust with confectioners sugar.

To be honest, the clafoutis that I fell in love with and bought and ate compulsively in France was more of a pie, with a custard filling and cherries.  This is still very good, though!

P.S.-  I am eating some now.  FYI, it’s great!

Canneles de Bordeaux (Secret Recipe)

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Tonight, I had my first taste of Cannelés de Bordeaux.   I have lived in France for two years, and visited there several times since.  I visited Bordeaux for the 1986 Jumping de Bordeaux with a friend.  But I did not try the cannelés – they did not have the internet back then, or I might have known!

Here is a description and recipe from The Food Network:
These extraordinary little confections are a specialty of Bordeaux, where nuns were said to have created them more than 200 years ago using the flour they salvaged from the holds of sailing ships anchored in the Port de la Lune. I like to call them “portable creme brulee” because they contrast a crunchy caramelized exterior with a moist, custardy center. This recipe is a bit particular. You really need authentic copper cannele molds and you really do need to coat them with beeswax (which you can find at some health-food store and farmer’s markets). The wax makes the unmolding easier, and – most important ? gives the canneles their distinctive, crunchy crust. Make sure you let the batter rest for the full twelve hours. The best way to eat these is with a cup of strong coffee. You can also serve them as a dessert, cut in half and drizzled with caramel sauce.

3 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
7 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pastry flour
1 extra-large egg yolk
2 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons dark rum
3 ounces beeswax, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

In a small saucepan, combine the milk, vanilla bean, and its scrapings. Bring the milk to the scalding point over medium high heat, then remove the pan from the heat and add the 3 tablespoons of butter. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, eggs and rum. Whisk the egg mixture into the sugar and flour mixture, then whisk in the lukewarm milk mixture. Strain into a container; cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

To prepare molds for baking, melt the beeswax in a saucepan over low heat. Add the remaining 3/4 cup butter to the melted wax and stir until the butter is melted. Remove the mixture from the heat and, using a narrow pastry brush, carefully coat the inside of 18 (2 by 1-inch) canneles molds. (Dedicate this brush to canneles making because the wax will get into the brush.) If the wax mixture starts to set up or thicken, return it to the heat for a moment until it thins.

Remove the batter from the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before baking it.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the waxed canneles molds on a heavy baking sheet with a rim to prevent any wax and butter that melts from the molds from dripping onto the bottom of your oven and creating a fire hazard. Fill the molds 3/4 full with the batter, whisking the batter frequently and well to ensure that the sugar and flour remain evenly distributed.

Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the surface of the canneles is dark brown. Remove from the oven, being very careful not to spill any of the hot wax on yourself. (It is wise to keep children and pets out of the kitchen during this part of the process.) Using tongs or an old towel, pick up each mold and tap it upside down to remove the canneles. If it doesn’t come out after a few taps, using a paring knife to loosen it from the sides. And…viola! Serve warm from the oven.

Here are a couple of other recipes:

From Tartelette’s Blog

Chocolate, Ginger, and Cardamom Cannelés

Tutorial with great pictures FXCuisine.com.

Let me add that this is one of those delicacies that challenge far better self-taught cooks than myself. You need to find beeswax, for example, to line the tins.  You also need special copper molds.  I found a couple of sources:

Individual Copper Molds – Cookware.com and Williams-Sonoma – expensive, too expensive.  An alternative is the Nordic Mini Bundt Pan.  They make 12, I think.  I actually got one for Christmas, but traded it in for other stuff.

Silicone Cannele Pans are available from Cooking.com and Amazon.com.  No need for beeswax or butter, but less authentic results.  But the advantage is that you get molds for 6 to 8 for a fraction of the cost of the copper molds.

OR….

(drum roll, please)

You can just buy them from Trader Joes’!!!!!  Yep – they are selling boxes of 6 frozen Canneles de Bordeaux for under $4.  Beeswax and all!  You just pop them in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds, and voila!  France on your plate.  Now, I thought they could use a bit more rum, but that can be remedied.

I can’t wait to serve them at a dinner party.  Maybe one or two on a plate accompanied by poached pears, vanilla ice cream, and that lovely Pear Cinnamon Caramel Sauce from the King’s Cupboard.  Doesn’t that sound divine?

Oh, I just found packages of two Cherry Clafoutis at Trader Joe’s! (11/15/08).

The Project

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Okay, if you are a middle school teacher, you will probably relate. I have only 10 weeks and one day until the end of school (yes, I’m counting). And I am trying to have my students do a project.

It usually starts around the middle of the first semester. Kids start asking “When are we going to do a project?”

What they really mean is:

“When can we stop working and spend a week or two with our friends, basically doing nothing until the weekend before the project is due, wherein we try to throw something together – then try to get you to extend the deadline for the project until we beat you into submission and you forget about asking for our overdue project after a while.”

You get the point. I hate to sound so cynical, but – there it is.

So, I have been working on this idea using the Game of the Goose – I wrote a post about it in the past, in connection with my abrupt placement this year in French. I am interested in games and gameboards – not to play them necessarily, but to alter and use as an inspiration for art. I have been doing this with the Mexican Loteria for years. Now is the time for the Juego de la Oca. AKA Le Jeu de L’Oie, or The Royal Game of the Goose.

I will document in more detail the process – both hilarious and pathetic – of motivating my students to be creative.  Wish me luck.

The Fleur de Lis

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Now that I am teaching French, I am trying to find interesting things for my students to read about. Tonight, I am researching the Fleur de Lis. I may even have my students do some sort of coloring – maybe on a large blank fleur de lis.

Most of this information is gleaned from internet sources.  It would be up to me to outline and write my own little article.  I have no idea whether or not this will interest my students – they are very unpredictable.  Actually, some of my new students are New Orleans transplants – courtesy of Hurricane Katrina – so they should be familiar with the symbol.

The Fleur-de-Lis History
The English translation of “fleur-de-lis” (sometimes spelled “fleur-de-lys”) is “flower of the lily.” This symbol, depicting a stylized lily or lotus flower, has many meanings. Traditionally, it has been used to represent French royalty, and in that sense it is said to signify perfection, light, and life.
In the twelfth century, either King Louis VI or King Louis VII (sources disagree) became the first French monarch to use the fleur-de-lis on his shield. English kings later used the symbol on their coats of arms to emphasize their claims to the throne of France. In the 14th century, the fleur-de-lis was often incorporated into the family insignia that was sewn on the knight’s surcoat, thus the term, “coat of arms.”

This is from Fleur de Lis Creations, a jewelry and accessories website:

Fleur de Lis Facts
•The fleur de lis is the emblem for the city of New Orleans, with even more meaning now because of the rebuilding efforts of the people of the city since Hurricane Katrina.
•The fleur de lis is the emblem representing the New Orleans Saints Football Team.
Joan of Arc carried a white banner that showed God blessing the French royal emblem, the fleur-de-lis, when she led French troops to victory over the English in support of the Dauphin, Charles VII, in his quest for the French throne.
•The Roman Catholic Church ascribed the lily as the special emblem of the Virgin Mary.
•Due to its three “petals,” the fleur-de-lis has also been used to represent the Holy Trinity.
•Military units, including divisions of the United States Army, have used the symbol’s resemblance to a spearhead to identify martial power and strength.
•The fleur de lis is inseparable from the history of scouting.

Easter Bells and The Sampler

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This weekend has been a bust so far – well, work-wise, that is. I have slept until almost noon yesterday and today. Yesterday, my husband, the dog, and I drove to Dallas (GA) to visit our Brazilian friends. I brought cake and belated birthday gifts for the two youngest sons (Magic Treehouse and Time Warp Trio books, of course…). We stayed for a couple of hours, then drove back home.

That took up the whole afternoon. I really wanted to take a nap when we got home, but I had dinner, THEN went to bed to read the latest Prevention magazine. Even getting to bed as early as that, I slept late today! Man, I’m old!05c8d56d08.jpg

The weather today is gorgeous, as it was yesterday. I plan on doing some painting out on the back porch. I have two Blue Dog Shrines sold that I need to decorate, and I am also going to work on a set of samples to send to The Sampler. I haven’t done that in a couple of months, and it really is good exposure. I am sending 25 sets of Loteria Quilt postcards, 25 sets of recipe cards to promote my Pour Deux baker (photos coming soon), and 25 sets of wooden painted eggs and 25 decorated bells to promote my Easter Bells.

Cloches volantes or Flying Bells are another important part of the French Easter tradition. French Catholic have a tradition that on Good Friday all the church bells in France miraculously fly to the Vatican in Rome. They carry with them all the misery and grief of those who mourn Jesus’ crucifixion on that day. These flying French bells then return on Easter morning in time for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. They of course bring with them lots of chocolate and eggs which are left in yards for the children to collect in their baskets when they wake up in the morning. In keeping with the tradition, French church bells do not ring from Good Friday to Easter morning.

There is a great article by Susan Hermann Loomis (of On Rue Tatin fame) called Bells and Fishes that addresses this strange tradition.

Two years ago, I sold my bells filled with Hershey’s Kisses and wrapped in cellophane with irridescent Easter grass and colorful curling ribbon. I also included a card with an explanation of the tradition. I really need to move them – but first, I need to decorate them!

I DID IT!!!! No, I’m not finished, but I took a b…

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I DID IT!!!! No, I’m not finished, but I took a break, because I reached my 50,000!!!! I received my T-Shirt yesterday as well! I printed out my certificate, and I also added this icon to my regular blog:

I also got this lovely note from the NaNoWriMo website:

Dear Novelist,

It is our supreme pleasure to inform you that our internationally renowned team of word-counting robots have completed their judicious assessment of your manuscript, and have passed on this final, binding decision:

Winner.

Wow. You’ve really done it this time, writer. Where the vast majority of National Novel Writing Month participants abandoned ship at some point in the journey, you bravely persevered, continuing your literary quest in the face of ridiculously long odds.

In one month, you have written more fiction than most people create in a lifetime. You have dared to dream big, to throw long, to say: “Enough of the self-critical crap, and the hemming and hawing. This time I’m going for it.”

And you pulled it off with aplomb. In just four weeks, you built vast worlds and set them in motion. You created characters; quirky, interesting, passionate souls with lives and loves and ambitions as great as yours.

And most admirably, you managed to find time to do it all while juggling the demands of work, school, friends and family. Most people barely have the strength to make it through dinner at the end of a tough day. You dug deep, and found the energy and resolve to make wild, deliciously imperfect art in the midst of a horribly hectic life.

It’s an amazing accomplishment, and we’re proud of you for seeing it through.

Before we let you head off to your celebration (or nap, as the case may be), we have some NaNoWriMo Winners’ booty to share with you. The first is a small winner’s icon, meant to be posted on a website or blog. It was designed this year by artist Claire Robertson. You can find the icon, and instructions for downloading it here.

Since many people don’t have a website to call their own, we also commissioned an official NaNoWriMo 2003 winner’s certificate, which you can download and print out. It was drawn by illustrator Lindy Groening, and can be downloaded here.

And that’s about it. It’s been an unforgettable month, and we’ve been very glad to have you with us.

With warm regards (and much applause and whistling),

Chris Baty

Director, NaNoWriMo

Hooray for me! I still have to work on the March through June part, as well as the “epilogue” that tells what happened to certain people after our year in Angers. I was even inspired to try to contact the real-life “Pablo” – I hope it’s not spoiling too much to know that I am married to someone else (Big Surprise!)

Ch. 34 – Letters To and From Home Dear Claudine…

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Ch. 34 – Letters To and From Home

Dear Claudine,

Sorry about my laxness in writing – I sort of got out of the habit, with you being gone for so long. Guess I should have continued writing, and you would have had a stack of mail when you got in.

I have finally had a few “turn arounds” plus I am working at my new business pretty hard. I may have a job for you when I get things together. There really are a lot of things I’m looking at. How does camouflage toilet paper sound? Don’t laugh!

I have made a “big lick” already this year and I have a chance to continue on this project. My boss and I have bought the royalty under two wells and I am trying to buy some more and the boss is over in Houston trying to get some more money. He is going to try to see your uncle and try to get his brother to come in on this and another deal (your uncle’s brother is rich!).

I am also hopeful that the book business is going to do something. I have talked to people who have one nice hardback cookbook – Louisiana Crayfish Recipes – and they have more than they can handle. They opened a restaurant in the new Catfish Town in Baton Rouge and are thinking of opening of opening another place in Tampa or on the West Coast. They are looking for someone to handle their cookbook business. I am looking at this book and my other goodie, Camouflage Cuisine, and am considering finding a way to buy them and resell them.

Your mom’s car died and she is facing one of the big decisions in life: buying a new one or getting the old one fixed, $350 a month notes, etc. The engine broke. I pray daily for mine and it seems better each day, even with 120,000 miles on the speedometer. I hope to get a new one by the middle of the year, but will drive this one until I have no other choice.

Guess you’ve heard enough about my happenings. I haven’t gotten by to pick up the gift from my daughter yet – not that I don’t think it’s worth the trip but I hope you understand – It’s still hard to go by.

I put $1033.23 in the bank for you yesterday so let me know what and how much you will need. I’ll stay loose and will have it ready when you get home if that’s what you want.

Well, I guess I will get this in the mail. I love you and miss you and am looking forward to working out living arrangements when you get home. My boss has a condo near the club – it is brick with a fireplace. I may be moving in there.

See you! Love,

Dad

Dear Tim and Rita –

I hope you are doing well. Mom said that Rita had an operation – is she feeling better? Is it as cold in Texas as it was in Louisiana? Someone told me that it snowed in West Texas. Well, it sure was cold here! – I fell twice on the ice that was covering the sidewalks and ground over here. Nothing hurt except for my pride, though.

I’m sure you’ve talked to Mom by now and heard about our trip. I has a really great time. I got to spend about ten days in London – it’s a lovely city. I may get to visit again for Easter because I am going to Birmingham to visit my roommate and her family.

I also went with Mom and William to Paris, which is always nice, even though I have been there twice before. Mom had a cold, which kind of put a damper on things – especially for her.

Mom and William seemed to really like Angers even if the snow kept us from renting a car and touring the chateaux. The did get to see the chateau in Angers, and the one in Saumur, though. We also went to Strasbourg and Baccarat. Mom and William bought some crystal and I’m having a catalogue and price list sent so I might choose some wedding gifts – a lot of people I know are getting married this year.

(cont.) Right now I’m on a train headed for Barcelona. I’ve finished my exams (I’m so glad they are over with!) and a friend of mine and I are going to spend this week off that we have experiencing Barcelona and Madrid (with maybe a day trip to Toledo). I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been boning up on my Spanish but it will not do me much good in Barcelona because they speak Catalan there. Maybe Madrid will be easier. We are planning on taking in everything – flamenco dancers, gazpacho, sangria – I hope it will be warm… The weather, that is – not the sangria.

The weekend after we return from vacation, we (the whole Louisiana group) are going back to La Fleche to spend the weekend with our adopted families there. We have volunteered to make a “typical” Louisiana meal, so I think that we are going to fix red beans and rice, and maybe pralines for dessert.

I also need to find time in my busy schedule to call up a woman in Angers with whom I had dinner a month or so ago. We met through the Family Welcome. I just put my name down and people who want to meet American students are given my name. Anyway, this lady was really nice – she’s a widow with a fourteen year old daughter. When I noticed she had a lot of pictures of trotting horses around her apartment, I asked her about them. She explained that her brother raises and trains trotters and he has a farm not far from La Fleche. She invited me to go spend the weekend there in March or April – after the racing season in Paris is over. I would really like this because I would like to learn more about French trotters (anything to do with horses…).

Two weeks ago, the France-Etats-Unis Association threw a big galette des rois party – complete with a huge cold buffet, a disco, and – of course – Kings Cakes. We all had a really good time.

I’ve also been ice skating twice – I may make a habit of it. It was nowhere near as difficult as I thought it would be. Mind you – I’m not good, but those years and years of roller skating didn’t hurt at all. I can skate both forward and backward with no trouble at all – that is, unless the occasional small child gets in my way. I sustained a rather nasty tailbone bruise last week. It still hurts a little now, but it will be healed by the time I skate again.

I got to talk to Elaine and Chad both for Christmas and when I called for Chad’s birthday (it wasn’t really for his birthday – I was calling to leave a message for Dad on the day that just happened to be Chad’s birthday.). I’m really looking forward to coming home and being in the wedding. I hope that the bridesmaids’ dresses are nice. Mostly, I hope that the reception will be fun. I certainly am looking forward to seeing you there and all the cousins that will be able to make it. After being away for so long, I will be ready for a family reunion.

I hope that you will write me and tell what’s going on in the big town of Fort Stockton. Things are doing well here in France and I’ll send you a postcard from Spain.

Hasta la vista!

Con todo carino,

Claudine

P.S. – Thanks again for the Christmas gift. I bought the neatest kilt and matching scarf in the family dress tartan pattern. Now I can wear the family colors with pride!

P.P.S. – Enclosed is a photo taken of me in September at St. Malo – a resort town we visited on the way back from Mont St. Michel.

And another one from Pablo: (another sentimental card)

A smile is a light in the window of a face that signifies the heart is at home and waiting. – Henry Ward Beecher

Sending you a smile today, until you’re back to get one in person!

Hope it’s soon.

Dear Claudine,

Here I am, back on the track one more time. This is a different card. I’m reading the first card I was planning to send and cannot understand my own handwriting. Like I mentioned to you, I live now with Chico and Victor (his younger brother). So far, so good.

I was glad we had a chance to talk. It was a while since the last time. I like to give my sincere thanks for my presents Today I saw Elaine and Chad, it is his birthday and your sister is going to take him to dinner and something else – a surprise gift.

It must be exciting to be able to go to Spain and all of those other places. Try to have a wonderful time and enjoy yourself while you are there.

This weekend, I will be working and studying. I have so many things to do. Well, my special friend, I will be receiving your letters soon and I will be answering immediately, okay? In the meantime, be good, study hard, and have a good time.

Love you,

Pablo

Ch. 35 – Lovely Barcelona

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Gosh! Here I am in Barcelona – what a gas! I’m lying on my bed at the Casa de Huespedes Marie Luz – an address straight out of my Let’s Go guide to Spain and Morocco! – and it’s just 6:30 PM. I have had, at most, 10 hours of real sleep in the past two days.

We had a party the last day of classes, and I got up and ready bright and early the next morning at 7:00 AM (despite not getting to bed until 2:00…). Sandy and I got to the train station at 8:15, only to find out that the train that usually leaves at 8:31 for Nantes doesn’t run on the weekends. We went out and had a croque monsieur and headed back to the dorm, because the next train did not leave until 10:45.

As it happened, I was lucky that we took a later train. I got a chance to check my mail. Joy of joys, I had a letter from Pablo, and Dad sent me a 500 franc bill with his letter. Pablo’s card was brief, but it was warm and he signed it “Love you” this time. I once read in an astrology article on Geminis that they fall in love with their minds first, then with their bodies, and finally, they give their hearts. I’m working as hard as I can to capture his mind right now – I’ll worry about the rest later.

It was a long day of train travel. It only took an hour to get from Angers to Nantes, but then we had a two hour wait for our next leg. We went to a Chinese food restaurant for lunch, and I sat and listened to Sandy prattle on about Tim, this guy she has a crush on. Many of us think that he is gay, but I haven’t told her that. I am not complaining (yet) – I shared a little bit about Pablo, too.

Our next train took us from Nantes to Toulouse, and it was a seven hour trip. It was 9:00 PM by the time we got off the train, so we decided to spend the night there. We found a hotel across from the gare (train station). While the hotel looked pretty clean, our bed was supported on one side by a stack of bibles (talk about having faith!), and the room reeked of new paint.

We spent quite a while searching for a place to eat at that late hour. Not much was open, and at one place, we sat down for a while and were ignored – so we left. We finally ate and got to bed at 11:30. Our train was to leave at 5:00 AM. Sandy got sick twice during the night – probably because of the paint fumes and the rich food. We got up early, however, and made our train.

We found a compartment, which a kind lady evacuated so that we could each lie down on a bench and close the blinds and sleep some more. We managed to sleep a little bit, although the benches were not very comfortable, and there were loud, drunk men in the compartment next door, laughing and carrying on.

After the sun rose, we got up and opened the blinds on the windows so that we could watch the scenery. The sun shining on the snow-capped foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains was spectacular. I wish that I had had film in my camera! When we got near the ocean, we kept walking from one side of the train to the other to catch glimpses of each spectacle: the majestic peaks, and the vast Mediterranean Sea. The sky was clear, and it was a gorgeous day.

We finally made it across the border to Spain, where we had a two hour wait at Port Bou. We made our pass through customs, and then decided to go outside for a while. We bought a wedge of cheese, and sat on a bench near the beach. I would not have called it hot outside, but it was warm. Compared to the frigid weather in Angers, it felt fantastic – I actually was down to only two layers of clothing!

A final three hour trip brought us to Barcelona. We didn’t have much trouble finding a room, because we took a taxi, and there was space available at our first choice from the guidebook. The price was right: $9.00 for a room with two twin beds. The showers and bathrooms were down the hall, but, for $4.50 a night, I wasn’t going to complain.

After we got settled, and I took a shower, we set out to find something to eat. It was like trying to find our way through a maze – the streets are narrow and the walls are high. However, we managed to find our way out, and walked along the portside waterfront to the statue of Christopher Columbus. He is high atop a column, looking out to sea. The weather was so mild that I was able to take off my sweater. We saw a copy of the Santa Maria, as well as an old German battleship that was anchored in the harbor. There was a teleferique (one of those cable cars that glides from one high point to another) that crosses the harbor, but Sandy didn’t feel like riding it just then.

We walked down the Ramblas – the famous boulevard that begins at the Plaza de Catalunya. Sown the center of the Ramblas is a promenade with a flea market atmosphere – there are all sorts of vendors and musicians. Some little boys were drawing pictures on the sidewalks in colored chalk (just like that guy in Mary Poppins!) – for a price, you could take a picture. They were quite talented. One little girl was dancing in Spanish costume to flamenco music. There were sleazy parts of the street, but I loved the things I saw so far!

We ate at a restaurant off of the Ramblas. It was hard to find something that was open on a Sunday, but I was determined that we wouldn’t eat a McDonald’s meal as our first one in Spain! Sandy had paella – saffron rice with seafood in their shells, chicken, and sausage – but she didn’t eat much of it because she said it was too rich. I had the Ensalada Catalunya – lettuce, onions, and tomatoes with an assortment of cold cuts. It was delicious, and would have been a meal on its own, but I also ordered pulpitos – baby octopi. They were boiled in a bowl of butter and served with crusty bread. They were so good, and I had the added pleasure of shocking Sandy by piercing them in their heads and eating them whole! I soaked up the butter with the bread. I was absolutely stuffed when I was done. There was a television in the restaurant, and we watched Inspector Gadget and Fame in Spanish while we ate.

Then we went back to the hotel and hit the sack. I can’t wait until tomorrow! If the weather is as nice as it was today, then I’ll walk outside all day!

2/5/85

Well, we walked and walked and walked – I’m tired of walking! Yesterday morning, we woke up at about 9:00 and set out at about 10:00. We stopped at a pastisseria and got these big round pastries that looked like pizza, except that they were topped with apricot jam, raisins, walnuts, and almonds. We saw the Catalonian version of the Arch de Triomphe and headed for the Templo de la Sagrada Familia – Guell’s unfinished masterpiece.

After that, I decided that we could make it to Montjuic on foot and then take the funicular (teleferique) back down to the port. After several wrong turns, and a couple of hours of wandering, we found ourselves at the foot of the Montana Pelada, which was not a good looking part of town. I don’t know how we got there. We ended up taking a taxi back to the hotel. We bought a bottle of cava (Spanish sparkling wine) and ran cool water over it while we rested.

We asked Marie Luz, the proprietress, to recommend a good restaurant nearby, and she told us to go to Casa Jose. She also recommended Los Tarantos, a club nearby that had a great flamenco show. I put on my red dress, ready for a night on the town. Casa Jose was down a dimly lit alley, and we were a tad nervous, but Marie Luz had been careful to draw us a map, and even warned us about certain streets to avoid. I had the paella that time, and it was good and very filling. This time, we watched an episode of Get Smart in the television.

Los Tarantos, the flamenco club, was nearby on the Plaza Real. The show started at 10:00 PM. We got there on time, only to attract two Japanese guys. I supposed that they recognized us as fellow foreigners, and they followed us inside and sat down at the table beside ours. We made polite conversation, and they went so far as to ask us if we wanted to go with them the next day to the Picasso museum. We made non-committal answers and turned to concentrate on the show.

The night was wonderful and the dancers were marvelous. There were three women dancing, and the took turns performing. While one of them danced, the others sang and clapped. The show lasted four hours, and I got up and went to the bathroom frequently to stretch a bit. I was able to talk to our waiter a bit in Spanish – he, of course, could tell that we were Americans. Sandy, the Spanish major, actually was timid to speak. I had been counting on her to do the talking for us, but it looked like that wasn’t happening. Besides, the more wine I drank, the better my Spanish became!

The next morning, we rose at 10:00 and walked to the port to finally take the funicular to Montjuic – it seemed the only way not to get lost! We had a wonderful view of the city, and it made us aware of just how huge Barcelona was. This time, we landed in the right place, but it still took us a long time to locate the Poble Espanol. This was a group of buildings erected for a world exposition some years before. The buildings were in all different styles, meant to represent the diversity of architecture in Spain. I really enjoyed the walk. The weather was great, and Montjuic was like a big park – covered with trees and trails. Sandy showed signs of tiring, though.

We passed by the Castello and the amusement park and even a riding school before we finally found the Poble (Pueblo in Catalan – it’s a very interesting language. It is sort of a mix between French and Spanish and maybe Gypsy dialect). It reminded me of La Villita in San Antonio, but it was larger and more extravagant. There were a lot of shops selling artisans wares and souvenirs, so we had a great time shopping there. I think that Sandy finally admitted it was worth the walk.

We took a taxi to our next destination – the Parque Guell. Antonio Guell was a famous architect from Catalunya, and he designed many of the buildings in town – as well as the church of the Sagrada Familia. His designs were very organic, with lots of curves and natural shapes, and he seemed fond of tile mosaics and intricate ironwork. The park was lovely. As Sandy said, it looked “just like gingerbread houses” – with all of the red clay walls and the “icing” of tiled mosaic roofs. The park was on a mountain, as well, and the integration of architecture with nature – there were many trees –was astounding. I decided that Montjuic and the Parque Guell were the most beautiful parks I had ever seen.

I loved Barcelona so much, and was sad to leave it. I bought a red University of Barcelona sweatshirt with the bold red and yellow coat of arms of the city on the front, as well as many stickers with coats of arms on them. We decided to take a night train to Madrid, with the hopes that we could sleep on the train and arrive in the morning. We went back to our hotel, and packed up, and I had to ask Marie Luz how to get there, since Sandy took too long to compose sentences in Spanish. I didn’t care about being perfect, so I would just blurt something out, then have to explain that I didn’t speak Spanish when the inevitable torrent of answers came back. I asked her to call a taxi to take us to the train station.

Suddenly, a distinctly American (male) voice called out from a side room, “Why don’t you take the Metro, you guys. It’s easier.” We had actually avoided taking the Metro because of some irrational fear that it would be difficult to make out the signs in Catalonian. We also were taking advantage of the lovely weather, and staying above ground. Still, I didn’t think that this was the time to take our first ride on an unknown system. I called back in a deliberately whiney voice, “Because we are afraid…” As it happened, the guy – a law student from Maryland – was on his way to the train station himself, and offered to accompany us there.

We managed to find a train that was leaving at 10:30 PM. Jay, the law student, had been very helpful and friendly, and we gave him the phone number of our dorm in Angers. We told him that he was welcome anytime, and then we parted so as not to take up more of his time. I really hoped that he would come to visit – he was extremely cute. In fact, I knew that he was out of my league. Interestingly enough, we met again as he was going to his train, and he called out to us one more time and he actually gave me a kiss goodbye! Sandy was pretty impressed, because he did not kiss her – I say, I was pretty impressed, myself!

We shared a compartment with a Catalan gentleman and his son, and they took a fancy to us, too. They offered us soft drinks and some of their food. Even thought I wasn’t hungry, he practically forced bread and sausages on us, so I accepted. We actually managed to talk to them for two and a half hours – in Spanish! I got him to write something in Catalan on my postcard to Pablo. It was fun, but we got very little sleep, and we were exhausted the next morning when we arrived in Madrid.

One of my postings on the other computer was out o…

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One of my postings on the other computer was out of sequence, so I am posting last night’s writings now. If you want to read Ch. 31, see the previous entry:

Ch. 32 – A New Year

Card from Pablo: (Picture of chimpanzee) Even though I can’t be there at midnight this New Year’s Eve…

(Picture of chimpanzee, puckering up) …Consider yourself kissed! Happy New Year!

How about that? Kiss me now!

Love,

Pablo

Postcard to Tim and Rita (Picture of the Houses of Parliament in London): Hi! Thanks for the phone call on Christmas – it really made my day! I loved London. We even had tickets to a play (Cats), and we were right close to the stage. It was great. Right now, we are in Paris and I’m playing translator for Mom and William. Mostly, we’ve been eating a lot – and sightseeing. I’ll write a longer letter when we get back to Angers.

Love,

Claudine

Mother and William returned with me to Angers, and I was able to retire to my own room – they shared one at a little hotel between the dorm and my school. They had a great time walking down to the boulangerie, charcuterie, and small grocers to buy little picnic meals to eat in the hotel room. I believe that they even took pictures of their food – they like doing stuff like that.

The downside was that it was still frigidly cold outside, and had even snowed. Our side trips, for the most part, had to be cancelled. We didn’t rent a car, because we were unsure about driving in those conditions. Even the French were having trouble – there were a lot of fender benders happening on the streets of Angers. We managed to bundle up and visit the chateau – I finally got to see the famous tapestries. We also took a train to Saumur and visited the chateau there.

I had a good time introducing my mother to my friends – she was feeling better, and was actually a pretty cool mom to introduce to people. I believe that Andrew’s note of regret was referring to overzealous inquiries he had made as to the exact nature of the relationship between my mother and William. He was such a nerd – when Elaine’s parents visited, he followed them around, trying to get their views on the coal miner’s strike in England.

We even managed to have a little King’s Cake party in our room – it was during the day, so we didn’t get in trouble with the neighbors. We had a great time – it was just the guys and us – and maybe Keesha and Trisha and Carol. Elaine was not yet back from vacation, so she didn’t get to meet my mother. On January 12th, Mom and Williams returned to Paris to board a plane to take them back to Louisiana. I had already begun classes, and had nothing to look forward to except for exams and my report card.

And there was still snow on the ground. This was a new thing to me – walking to school in the snow. Running errands in the snow. I had only experienced snow for short periods of time, and was always able to go immediately inside and warm up. Now, I was being forced to walk on cold, icy streets, where the danger of slipping and breaking my tailbone was always a danger. Let me just say that, the first time you fall on your ass, it’s funny. After that, it’s just a nuisance.

Another card from Pablo (Smaltzy Hallmark card with poem):

Dear Claudine:

Before I write something else, I want to tell you I’m sorry for not answering your letter quickly enough. I had started, but I do not like it and start all over again. But, the reality of everything is that I think about you all the time – even when I’m sleeping.

Good news: starting the first of February I will be moving to a new place. I’m moving in with one of the assistant managers of El Torito. His name is Jim. He is a super guy. I like where we are going to live – a townhouse with a fireplace, nice bedroom. However, during the coolest weather of the winter, I will be alone (me and my fireplace). Perhaps when you come back – even though it will be summer – I will make a fire in the fireplace!

I’m in the best of moods – I feel great. School starts next week. I will probably take not many courses. I need to buy many of my things for my bedroom.

Well, I’m so impolite! How is my favorite lady doing? Are you speaking French like a Parisian? (French speaker) I do not know if I spelled that right!

I saw this card and thought that it was perfect for us. Do not you agree with this? Circle your answer: Yes or No. If it is “yes” you get a trip to Nicaragua. If it is “no” you still get a trip to Nicaragua. (cont. inside)

I’m writing you sitting in my bed – that is why it’s so sloppy. Claudine, I like to ask you for a big favor. Please, por favor, do not show this and any other letters of mine to anyone but yourself. It is such bad spelling that I feel bad enough having you read it. Okay? It’s a deal. Let’s secure this deal with a kiss (drawing of lips) mmmm, hum hum that was good. May I kiss you again?

This weekend I will be going to New Orleans. I will be picking up Chico. I may go to Pat O’Brien’s and have a beer (cerveza) around 4:00 AM, just like we did once. How did your mother enjoy her trip? I’m sure it was wonderful.

Well, Claudine, amore, I do not want you coming back speaking English to me. I don’t care if we have problems communicating. However, I will do my best understanding your French. Okay, so study hard, practice a lot and think that the countdown is less than six months.

Be good, girl, look our for the French guys – they work fast. Your always friend, and, more than that.

Your bartender,

Pablo

P.S. – I miss you. Pablo

Invitation from France-Etats-Unis: Soiree Galette des Rois

After the success of the Thanksgiving Day soiree, held at the Centre de Congres, The Angers Committee of the Association France-Etats-Unis will bring together again the friends, members, sympathizers (American or French) dedicated to developing ties between the United States and France, to a friendly party.

This soiree is organized around the holiday of Epiphany, which commorates the arrival of the three kings at the birthplace of Jesus. This is a typically French celebration – we will begin with a cold buffet accompanied by the wine of Anjou, and we will finish with a galette des Rois. After dinner, guests will be able to dance to music from America and from France.

The celebration will be held at the Salons Welcome-Curnonsky, on Friday, January 18 at 19h30. The cost will be 35 francs for children and student members, 50 francs for association members and students, and 70 francs for friends.

The tradition of the King’s Cake was not unknown to people from Louisiana, who celebrate from Epiphany to Lent, but the cake is very different. In Louisiana, the cake was really just a glorified brioche dough, iced and sprinkled with the colors of Mardi Gras: purple, yellow, and green. It was sort of like a big cinnamon roll. They also made versions with fruit filling, that were sort of like coffee cakes. Inside the braided dough was a plastic baby. Whoever got the slice with the baby was the king (or queen) for the night, and got to wear the crown that came with the cake.

In France, the cake was made of two layers of puff pastry, with a layer of almond paste (called frangipani) inside. It was really good! It also had a much nice token to secrete inside the cake – it was a ceramic figure called a santon – I believe that they were figures that could be added to a creche – or manger scene. The game was played wherein someone was positioned out of sight (we made them sit under the table.) and, as the cake was sliced, that person would name who would get each slice. This was actually quite wise, because it was often possible to see a part of the santon if it was on the edge of the slice.

We had a great time at the party, and even managed to dance the night away. The people of France-Etats-Unis were very good to us. We drank and ate a lot, and managed to get back to the dorm on the icy roads without hurting ourselves.

Ch. 33 – Back to the Grind

While I was living in Angers, I tried my best to keep a diary. I was more faithful at some times than others. I had so many letters to write that I had to choose to do that at times. I became re-inspired by reading a quirky book from England, called The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 1/2. It was so funny, and I became really attracted to that style of writing. I had been sporadically writing in a journal since I was in elementary school. I got off track, with my travels with Mother, and then the focus on exams.

Starting off again on yet another foot at the end of January, I decided to write about everyday life, and to just let the big topics flow – whatever that meant. I think that it meant that i was going to try and write, even when I didn’t think anything exciting was happening in my life. School was still awful – I think that most of the members of my Louisiana group would have backed me up on that opinion. I had missed a couple of classes, and had to take make up tests. I took a make up test in Expression Ecrite (that would be Written Expression), and managed to make a 21 1/2 out of 25 in Business French. And final exams for the semester had not even started.

The French have a very different system of grading than we do in the United States. I had even heard that grades were not even given in secondary school, but I was pretty sure that there had to be some system that let students know how they were doing before end of the year exams. Many grades were given on a scale of 20 or 25, but you could not simply multiply by 5 or 4 to get an average. It was more complicated than that. That is why they were required to add an American grade – off to the side. I made mainly B’s and C’s.

We had all returned from our various destinations. It seemed like things were cooling off a bit between Chuck and Carol. He was being a bit of a jerk to Carol, and I didn’t know how much more she was going to put up with. That was the thing about making the decision to do something as drastic as traveling to a foreign country together.

In the meantime, Alan still was infatuated with Elaine. Elaine, however, had been back home, and had a chance to reconnect with James, her boyfriend from the University of Wales. Nora was getting on Elaine’s nerves – they were spending too much time together. Nora also did not like Alan because he was too opinionated. Trisha was still catering to Didier, even though they had decided to cool it – he obviously was feeling some pangs of guilt about his other Louisiana girlfriend. Nathalie was sick with the stomach flu, so we were avoiding her. The health craze was going strong, and we were spending more time in the gym to work off our holiday pounds.

At the end of January, I had another call from Pablo. We must have talked for 40 to 50 minutes – I didn’t know how he was going to pay that phone bill! We talked about a lot of things, but there were times that I felt like he wanted me to say something, and I wasn’t saying what he wanted to hear. I didn’t think it was fair of me to encourage him by long distance because I didn’t really know what our relationship would be when I got back home.

He said that he hadn’t dated anyone since I left for France, but he did own up to taking Kris, the Bennigan’s waitress, out for drinks. I acted casual, and said that I hoped that he had a nice time with her. He assured me that they could be nothing but friends. I felt a lot better – at least I had someone, even if he wasn’t in the region. From what I could see from my friends’ present relationships and those complications, I felt like I was the lucky one.

Maybe we were suffering from some form of cabin fever – there was still snow on the ground. Our teachers, who had lived in Angers for years, assured us that this was atypical weather. Generally, it didn’t snow for more than 2 or 3 days in that area of France, and the snow rarely stuck. Ice on the streets for such a long time was unheard of, and the city had long run out of their alotment of sand and de-icing agents for the roadways. It was a state of emergency, and yet we were expected to attend classes – which were a 30 minute walk away. I actually went on strike for a while – if I looked out of my dorm room window and saw ice and snow on the street below, I just rolled over and went back to sleep.

We did attempt to make the best of things – we had the necessary snowball fights (I forgot to wear mittens, and almost got frostbite), and we even made a snowman or two. We found an ice-skating rink and tried our hand at that. I had never been ice-skating before, but found it simpler than I expected. I suppose that it was due to all of those years of roller skating. I was surprised that I could balance on those thin blades as easily as I could on four corners of wheels (there were no roller blades then). I laughed and pointed at Alan and Chuck as they became too ambitious and floundered about the rink, yelling and cursing and sliding into each other. They finally got fed up with my upright, dignified state and chased me around until they could make me fall. I should have known this would happen – they had already tried to push me off the short flight of stairs on their floor when I had been roller skating in their hall. They were such boys.

The thing that was keeping me going was the promise of yet another vacation – we had another week off at the beginning of February. We had to hand it to the French, they sure had a lot of holidays. I was determined to go to Spain. At that time, I was not very confident with traveling solo, so I had to try and find travel companions. Sandy was the first to step up – and she was actually a Spanish major. I was so excited – for one whole week, I wouldn’t have to think of what to say in another language. I was going to leave it up to her.

At first, Chuck expressed interest. I was very excited – I really didn’t know Sandy very well, and I didn’t know what it was going to be like to travel with her. Then, Chuck invited Carol along – apparently their off-again, on-again relationship was on, again. Then, Carol told us that Chuck was thinking of going to Amsterdam with two other girls from our group. I focused my attention on Carol, then, trying to get her to commit. In the end, Carol’s dad was going to visit Brussels on business, so she and Trisha were going there to meet him. Sandy and I were on our own.

I made a phone call to my sister and Chad, and talked with them for a while. I had bought Chad a wool cap made with the family plaid, and Elaine said that he wore it all the time. Mom misplaced the tie that she bought for him, and gave him a scarf instead that matched the cap. That meant that Elaine was short one gift. I vowed to get them a really nice wedding gift – the dollar was very strong and I had my eyes on a bottle of Dom Perignon for them to toast the wedding.

I got a “care package” from Emily that month – it was such a surprise! She sent a daily zodiac calendar. I was a great fan of astrology, and had already devoured the Cosmopolitan magazine Yearly Bedside Astrologer that I had purchased in London (it was worth the $7.00). Now, I had a personalized horoscope for each day! She sent two Harlequin romances, which I devoured in a week and passed along to the other girls in our group. She even taped the yearly top 40 with Casey Kasem and sent it to me on a cassette. It had all of my favorite songs, and even some new songs by this singer named Madonna that Emily was wild about. I was so happy to have new music – Chuck had threatened to throw my Big Chill soundtrack out of the window if I played it again.

So, we whiled away the days, waiting for vacation time. Sandy and I purchased tickets, and I read up on Spain in my trusty Let’s Go guide. I spent time with Alan, and he annoyed my next-door neighbor with his loud laughter. He was trying to get over his crush on Elaine, who had received a letter and mix tape from James, her other love interest. In the meantime, Carol found out that she got the job she applied for to be a nanny in the Vosges mountains for the summer time. There was never a dull moment in our group.

On the day before we were supposed to leave for Spain, I took my last final exams, and Sandy and I went to the CLOUS office to purchase our tickets for Spain. I had to borrow about 3000 francs from Sandy, since my latest check from home had not arrived yet. Friday night, we had a little party in our suite. It was on the level, because “Jeanne Emarre,” my upstairs neighbor, had gone home. We had a pretty good number of people there. The usuals were there, plus two students from Northern Arizona joined us because they came looking for Keesha, who AWOL. Keesha was supposed to go with them to Italy, if she could raise the money.

Chuck was indeed going to Amsterdam – with Mindy, Marla, and Miranda. They were going to try their hand at hitchhiking. Carol and Trisha were headed to Brussels – I think that Chuck had plans to join them later, after experiencing Amsterdam. Alan and Elaine were staying in Angers, but were planning a trip to Saumur on the weekend.

The party broke up fairly early, but Alan stayed around to talk. He was actually quite drunk, and he sat on my bed and we talked until 2:00 AM. Elaine stayed, but she mostly listened. As usual, Alan tried to turn the conversation to sex, so she had little to add on that subject. Alan got really deep in his insights, the drunker he got – he was so funny. With his new haircut, sitting at the foot of my bed, he looked like a little boy. I just sat there and joked around with him, wishing that he would realize that Elaine was not right for him – I was. (Of course, I was also right for Pablo… I was supposed to play the field that year!)