a few more photos from the film festival

Below are a few more photos taken at the Cannes Film Festival, before it ended on May 25th. Cannes is set right on the sea, which explains the boats in the background. The first is of Stasha with her friend Pascaline. The second is of Stasha and me, in front of the hotel hosting many of the actors and actresses in the new Indiana Jones film. Stasha's bad is from a little sussy. Hopefully now she'll stop saying she wants a "Todd's bag."

The third photo was taken about 10 minutes after the second, after I'd decided I could no longer take the aimless milling about so went and sat down while Stasha stood on street barriers looking for stars. The fourth is about half an hour later, when I'd become so sick of the star-watching that I sat down on the street and started begging. I made 20 euro cents in about 2 minutes, which translates into about $6 an hour.

on tv

Photo by Nicole Hill. Sam's eye-scab by Brian.

This link is today's news report with Jean-Pierre Pernaut, broadcast every day on TF1, or channel 1 throughout France. At 23:35 they begin a report about the schoolchildren of Mougins between the ages of 5 and 7, who got together yesterday in some gym somewhere and sang a bunch of songs as they "get ready to celebrate the end of the school year."

At 24:12 they zoom in on a blonde boy on the left of the screen, who is our five year-old son Sam. Most of the other kids they show are either in Sophie's or Sam's class at school.

Sam will be signing autographs (complete with backwards S) on the 4th floor of FNAC Cannes next Saturday. What a breakthrough performance.
Dear Brad and Angie,

I know you are anxiously awaiting the birth of your "unknown sex" and "unnamed" twins, but I wanted to send you a quick note to put you at ease.

I've got the cell phone with me at all times--yes, even under my pillow at night! As soon as I get your call, I'll be at the hospital to cheer you on. I know there's a little less work required with a scheduled c-section, but still, from personal experience I know it's not painless.

I hope we don't have another mix-up where it turns out you actually already gave birth, like when Shiloh was born. Phoenix is not that far from Namibia, I don't know why you felt like it would be better if I stayed home with my own newborn baby.

By the way, I hope you have the babies in Grasse, because I've already been to that hospital.




I love the fact that right now my kids are on youtube listening to Christophe Mae and singing along!



My secret is that Dave uses my deodorant. Apparently he ran out of his own a few months ago and tried mine in a pinch. But he quickly decided he prefers it to his own, so now he doesn't even have any deodorant: he just uses mine every day. It really is like that commercial from the early 80's: "strong enough for a man but made for a woman." I asked him if it made him feel pretty but he said no. I was glad.

thursday on the cote d'azur

It's raining cats and dogs. Or as they say in French, "it's raining ropes." This makes four days in a row, and the sun hasn't shown itself in a week.

Anyone else get the blues when it rains a lot?


A la Saint Glinglin

Rembrandt van Rijn’s 1661 painting “Saint James the Greater.”

Saint Glinglin
is a fictional French saint. The name probably represents humorous onomatopoeia. The exact origin is unknown, but there are various fanciful theories. The expression dates back to the year 1897.

The French expression À la Saint Glinglin (on Saint Glinglin's Day) means "some day in the indefinite future, or quite likely never".

Similar concepts in other languages are the German Sankt Nimmerlein, the Portuguese São Nunca (Saint Never), and the Dutch Sint Juttemis.

I believe this phrase will come in quite handy when I explain to my children when we will be getting a dog.


thanks emily

Playdates for my kids here soon, I'm sure

Thanks to Emily from Sacramento for letting me know that my good friend Angelina may be purchasing a $60m estate in France, instead of the run-down pile of stones she was supposedly buying two months ago for $10m (now it turns out she might be renting...). Interestingly, this new house is an hour closer to Mougins. Since she hasn't called me yet I can only assume she realized the other place was just too far away from us. Plus it was a dump. I understand.

new for me

I don't eat yogurt. I always think it should taste so yummy when I open the plastic and see that creamy smooth dairy product glistening back at me. But as soon as I get the yogurt up to my nose, my tongue says "oh no you don't!"

Until now. "La Fermiere" yogurt* (vanilla flavour) is not only delicious, it comes in these cute little ceramic pots. Normally the pots are made in this terracotta color, but new for spring, it comes in these lovely lilac-colored pots as well.

*purchased at Champion, 2 pots for 2.08 euros. More expensive at Casino. Don't know about Carrefour, Auchan, or LeClerc.


memorial day

Coat of Arms of the Largest American Cemetery in France

Dave posting again. I just want to say this...

Our neighbor down the lane, Roger (Ro-ZHAY), is 71 years old and one of the nicest people you'll meet. But he is also outspokenly critical of the Bush administration, the Iraq War, and American energy consumption. Sometimes it's hard to hear his criticisms. After all, we'll always be proud Americans.

About two weeks ago I stopped to talk to him when we saw each other on our street. During our conversation Roger told me that during World War II his father had housed and fed soldiers from the French Resistance, who were fighting to liberate France from the occupying Germans. The penalty for helping the French Resistance was arrest and prison, if not death on the spot.

One night, when Roger was six years old, German soldiers knocked on the door of his house. Because his father had recently been hiding some Resistance soldiers there, Roger said he and his brother were terrified. Afraid that they had been found out by the soldiers, afraid that the Germans would take their father, afraid that they might never see him again.

Turns out, Roger said, that they were planning a party and just wanted to buy an animal or two for the event. They agreed on a price, the soldiers left happy, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

"But I will never forget how frightened I was," he said. And he leaned towards my car window and looked at me. "And I will never forget what the Americans did for us," he said. "And my children will never forget it. We will never forget it."

He's not the only one who feels this way. I drove away with tears in my eyes.

today on the cote d'azur . . . .


what are you watching?

The French are in blue. The miracles start at -3:15.

This is Dave. This blog can't always be about cherry pie.

On Saturday June 7th in Basel, Switzerland is the first match of the 2008 European football (soccer) championships. This tournament isn't well-known in the United States, but in Europe it evokes passion the likes of which Americans can only understand when they watch this.

In 2004 we had just returned from living in England when the French played the English in the Euro 2004 tournament. In one of the most improbable matches in years, the French were losing 1-0 at full time when in injury time they scored a goal to tie it, and less than a minute later scored to win the match. Incredible.

Having just returned from England I was terribly disappointed to see Beckham & Co lose to the French. Our English friends felt much worse than even I did. But now, four years later, as I watched the above clip tonight, being able to understand the announcers (for the most part anyway) and knowing many of the players, I felt great pride as I watched the French win. I realize that I've changed: I root for the French now because I love them. I love them because now - at least in my own way - I understand who they are.

One of life's great secrets is that the joy you get from it often just depends on how you feel about what happens while you're watching.

I have a problem

The problem is that a lot of refrigerators in France do not have built-in ice-makers. I personally am not in possession of this luxury. Luckily my good friend is, because I have another problem:

It is called "crushed ice." I love to chew crushed ice. I don't know why. Maybe I am iron deficient. In the US, I could get crushed ice at my house, Circle K, and the best crushed ice at a Mexican food chain called Bajio. You know, the kind they give you in the hospital. Oh, it's so good. Soft and crunchy at the same time.

So my friend thoughtfully brings me little freezer bags filled with crushed ice from her "American" refrigerator. Every time I pour some o.j. or my .27 euro cent per litre version of diet coke over those little slivers of frozen water, the sound of the ice crackling makes my taste buds water and my teeth get all happy with anticipation.

I hope I don't break a tooth, because I'm sure I can't afford a large dental procedure in France.


a lovely couple

Casino supermarche sells this cute little couple for just a couple of euros. Seems like yesterday that they got together.


another job well done

Bry Carter (right) is relieved of duty May 22, 2008

I'm so proud to have a brother who served for more than 20 years in the United States Navy. After many long tours at sea away from his family, I hope he can spend the next 20 years or so taking some voyages with his family!

Love you, Bry.

job well done

The cherry tree yielded a good crop. Everyone had a great time picking the cherries! If my sister were here, I'm sure she would make cherry pie or something. Oooh, maybe I should learn how to make cheesecake from scratch!


no nationality

Today the kids went for their first real swim of the year. The water in the pool in my opinion is freezing, but the kids didn't seem to mind. I was standing literally three feet away from Carter with my back turned when he fell into the water. I heard nothing until Sam said in a fairly regular voice, "Carter fell in."

I have jumped in the pool many times before to help one of my struggling children. And today was no different. Dressed in jeans and a white shirt, with just once glance to locate my baby, I was in that chilly water.

Love, whether it is for your child, a friend, or a stranger is a powerful force that needs no translation and lives within no boundary.

from a 17 year-old's blog

Found by 'mon cheri' in Southern Utah

What a hidden gem this post is. A picture of 34 gallons for $2.06? In France you can't even get 34 gallons for two hundred six dollars. Great post, my dear! And she loves Travis, too. How cool is that?

smells good around here

When some friends came for lunch, they brought me this lovely bottle of "pillow water". I couldn't resist spraying it everywhere.

Fragonard, in the nearby town of Grasse makes perfumes and all kinds of lovely smelling things, but you may also recognize the name from this:
"The Reader" by Jean Honore Fragonard
(cousin to the perfume Fragonard's)


dear readers

By visiting my blog, you have knowingly entered a very small slice of my life. As with any blog, you have made the choice to visit.

While I appreciate and love comments, if you feel offended in any way, please keep your negative energy away from my blog.*

I write to keep track of my experiences in France, the good, bad, ugly and weird. Who's to say what is good, bad, ugly or weird? On my blog, it's me. On your blog, do what you like.

Have a happy Wednesday!

*p.s. don't be afraid to unblock your e-mail when making a comment! That way it is easier for me to respond directly.

on may 21, 1927

Charles Lindbergh landed in a field near Paris, becoming the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. You can read the entire New York Times article here.

It does a beautiful job of describing the euphoria that was felt in France more than 80 years ago when Lindbergh landed:

"Vive l'Americain" the Cry
For several minutes [in Paris] this cry was renewed until the proprietor of a motion picture house unfurled a little American flag, which was greeted with cheer upon cheer and which became the mightiest pro-American demonstration seen in France since the days of the war, when, as the Yankee troops landed, three large American flags beside the French Tricolor hung from Le Matin's window in the glare of searchlights.

There could be no mistaking the sincerity of these cheers which were prolonged as a Frenchman in the crowd rushed up to the American demonstrators, wringing their hands in congratulations.

Even in 1927 the French were as nice as ever. I love them.

a few more

a little sussy posted a bunch of photos of our family yesterday, taken on Saturday May 10th. This is one of my favorites, but go to her blog to see them all. People like us don't look this good without a great photographer...

cannes is crazy this week

From last Sunday evening in Cannes: Behind those two white tents are Harrison Ford, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Cate Blanchett standing on the red carpet. We only knew that because they were projecting images onto a giant screen.

These two crazies came out of the Carlton Hotel last Sunday about 5:30. The guy's face looked like it was made of wax, and his hair like a silk scarf. I love the pinkie ring and the pink pinstripe pants.

beauty in small things

Carter denied sweets in Valbonne, by Nicole Hill

A Little Sussy took this photo with her Polaroid last Tuesday in the small village of Valbonne, about 15 minutes from our house.

She posted more than twenty photos like this on her blog on May 17th (she made multiple posts on that day but I've included only one link here), so be sure to look at all posts on May 17, 2008 to find them all. Who knew there could be so much beauty in the simplest things?


brad. angie. in front of me.

You are looking at a (very bad) photo that I took with my friend's camera about one hour ago. There they are, my good friends Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, getting ready to walk up the red carpet at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes. Look how pretty the back of Angelina's head is! ;)

The millions of people taking pictures, combined with the umbrellas blocking the view made it hard to get a great shot, so I took one of the giant television screen on the side of the building.

The film "The Changeling", presented by Clint Eastwood, starring Angelina Jolie, opened tonight at the festival (May 20, 2008).

Too bad I didn't get a photo of me falling backwards off the railing that I was balancing on!

found at paintmap.com

Cardiff Reef, Solana Beach, CA

This site need some paintings of Mougins, Nice, Eze, St. Paul de Vence, etc. I'm sure that artists like Paul Ferney could make some very memorable stuff. As far as I'm concerned he's already done enough memorable stuff to last half a lifetime.


I tried to make pancakes from scratch. I read somewhere that "levure chimique" is the same as baking powder. If it is, it is NOT used in the same proportions as baking powder. Unless pancakes are meant to be the consistency of cinnamon rolls.


it's cherry pickin' time

everyone can love travis

It's been raining an awful lot here, making me think of this wonderful song by Travis. I may get sick of the rain but never of this song.


it's my birthday

At 1:08 p.m. on May 17th, 1974, my parents welcomed into this world their 5th child. They already had two boys and two girls, in that order. The perfect family! But I guess the idea of (at least!) one more tiny bundle was too much to resist and I was born.

So here I am now, 34 years old. I've had my lovely days doing cartwheels, made it through awkward skin problems and terrible hair style choices (sun-in bangs!), and now I'm just one year away from being 35.

Turning 34 is kind of like turning 11. You're already double digits, but you're not a teenager yet. So the birthday sort of comes and goes without much thought.

Luckily for me, I have a great family to send me birthday cheer from afar, a great husband to make me french toast, great kids that can sing to me in french and english, and some great friends who know how to put a smile on my face on my special day.

A handmade cake, gifts, and 41 macarons--now that's a great birthday!


The world's #1 ranked women's tennis player isn't French but the French love her because she's from Belgium. Justine Henin retired abruptly on Wednesday at age 25 and held a news conference with her coach, Carlos Rodriguez, who is often credited with helping make her a great champion.

Henin was the one retiring but was totally composed during the news conference. Rodriguez was the one who had a hard time and it was touching to see. It was reported this way:

Dressed in a simple white T-shirt and jeans, her brown hair in a ponytail, Henin spoke in French for nine minutes before taking questions Wednesday. She never lost her composure and held the microphone firmly.

But her coach, Carlos Rodriguez, broke down in tears.

"Because of her," he said, "I am somebody."


photographer on a plane

A Little Sussy left this morning and we hope to see her again soon, hopefully when her sister marries Dave's brother (they haven't met yet but that's just details). She was incredibly patient with the kids and so easy to get along with, which made it easier for everyone to smile (bad shoes, beat up faces, hurricane-like winds and all). But beyond that we think she's a very talented photographer.

A special thanks also to her mom, who decided at the last minute to come with her, and we couldn't have been happier about it. A professional stylist, she cut Abby's hair right before the photo shoot and Abby has never looked better.

If you want memorable photos taken for any event (especially those of you in Australia, which it turns out she's itching to visit...), reach out to her. I'm really glad Dave did!

clickable family photos

In the old village of Mougins
At the beach in Cannes

In front of the house

my friends have yet to visit

My friend Angelina Jolie is in town for the Cannes Film Festival and yesterday was just 1 or 2 minutes away from Dave when he went to the train station in Cannes. Unfortunately they weren't able to meet up and she's yet to stop by. She knows where I live, though (I think?) so I'm hoping she'll drop in during the next couple of days. It's raining now so is a perfect day to just hang out at the house together, Angie. Dave's not working so bring your husband around if you want, they can talk baseball, etc. I'd prefer that Jack Black not come by.


looking out at mougins

A view from the house last Saturday.
go here if you want to know more! I saw them putting up a big tent at the Moulin de Mougins. go to this article on CNN.com. Could I put anymore links into one post?


My sister-in-law sent me a cute email about these shirts from Gap. She said they remind her of us, because almost every day my husband wears a t-shirt like this (mostly from Target).

If you have a good sense of humor and are not offended by the title of this blog, you might have a great laugh about t-shirts (and lots of other things).

some photographs from last saturday

These were all taken by A Little Sussy in the old village of Mougins last Saturday afternoon. She took more than two hundred pictures that I really like so I'll post some others later, taken at the house and at the beach in Cannes.
I'm very happy with how the photos turned out. What do you think about them?


another holiday

The beginning of May in France full of holidays. We've had three after only twelve days. The first of May is a holiday virtually everywhere in Europe. I can't remember why. Anyone know?

Last Thursday was also a holiday, called "Ascension", which commemorates when Jesus ascended to heaven after his resurrection. You can see it happening in the tapestry above, which looks great for something knitted in the 6th century. Based on our experience last Thursday, everyone near Mougins spends Ascension at the beach.

Yesterday was Pentecost and now I think the holidays are over. The kids are back at school, we got the mail, the garbage has been taken away and the house is quiet again. I'm happy for that too.