Tuesday, February 12

2012 Missing in action!

                                                          Not one post for 2012!
     After my mother visited in November 2011( my last post), we feel deep into technological despair and the Gypsy Table blog was the first victim. We found various ways to send emails here and there: the library, the tourist office, an internet cafe. Where there's a will there is a way. But without a computer the blog was an impossibility. 
    This November we inherited a computer from our dear "guardian angels" Bill and Kris, who carted the heavy thing on their trip all over Spain before meeting us in Biarritz for four glorious days of friendship. It was the perfect end to a very challening year and now it is time to get reconnected with the world around us.
    This is the first time I have posted on the blog since november 2011. I won't say much about 2012...yet! But stay tuned, because what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. 2012 didn't kill us-yes it did make us stronger-much stronger and one day I will write about it. But for now-let's move in a new direction...2013!

Thursday, November 3

Two Wonderful Weeks in France with Mom!

     Sitting at the kitchen table in front of the sea and waiting to see mom's plane fly over the house on her way back to Paris. It had been over a year since she had seen little Coco and Louis. They are at school this morning and will come home to the quiet house without Gramma. This week will be a sad one, realizing that sometimes in life the "different" path isn't all it is cracked up to be! I won't write anymore for today...cause it will just be pathetic. But I will post some of the wonderful photo's of our reunion with Gramma when I stop feeling sorry for myself! May God bless her journey back home and keep her safe with all her new memories of the Deconinck grandkids.

Young at heart!!!

Gramma and her grand daughters in St. Tropez.

Friday, September 23

It's Officially A Year In Provence...

     We did it! We celebrated our one year anniversary in Provence. We left California on Sept. 5th, 2010- our oldest daughter's birthday.
     Ines had the misfortune to turn seventeen in an airport with 15 suitcases, 5 brothers and sisters, and two exhausted and confused parents.  This year as we celebrated her 18th, we thought back on the hundreds of first images and impressions that seemed so dramatic and took us so much by surprise. And though we are far from settled and cannot considered ourselves "installed" in the french way of life, we are starting to live like a family that belongs in two lands. 
     There are many things that can be said about moving to a foreign land and living in a new and different culture. If there is one thing that stands out to us (Marc and I), as almost miraculous, it is watching the evolution of our two younger children become bilingual. Louis was seven and Claudie was three when we arrived. Neither of them spoke french-nothing more than a few vocabulary words. They could not make a sentence. They did not know how to say, "My name is Louis", or "I do not speak french", or "I am American". They both started school a few days after we arrived. Louis had never been in school before, as we had homeschooled most of our children for most of their education.
      From day one, Louis went to school from 9am to 4:30pm four days a week. ( In france, there is no school on wednesday, for the elementary children) Claudie went only occasionally, as I felt she was still young, and she is not a morning person. Most of the time she was not ready and Louis was screaming from the gate that he was going to be late. (He is not like his mother...I love to be late!) Claudie missed alot of school. And when she went, she did not say a word. Being stubborn and steadfast in her ways, she even  refused all snacks, cakes and treats, as she would not give the required "Merci", after receiving her goodie.
      So she had no marks on her progress report all year, because she did not seem to be making progress. Then one day I was sitting on the couch reading and she was playing and talking to herself in the corner. It caught my attention because she was scolding her doll. So I moved a little closer and kept on reading. Sure enough...she was playing school and scolding her doll in french! "Va au coin, maintenant, et met les choses en place tout de suite"! Out of the mouths of babes.."Go to the corner, right now!"  And "Pick up your toys, immediately".
     I stopped worrying about her progress. She was definately listening and learning everything her teacher was saying! And I can't say I blame her for not wanting to talk. I might even shut up if Marc made me pick up my toys and sit in the corner!
     I don't tell that story with any judgement on the teacher. She is a very nice young lady and a good teacher as well. And in the little village school, she is really teaching two grades in the same class 3 to 7 yrs. old-a big difference in skills. So frustration is a given and order is a neccessity.
     This year Claudie has a new teacher. One of the moms warned me about her. She has a very loud voice and yells alot. She didn't think Claudie would do well and wanted me to know in case I wanted to change schools. The first day Claudie cried because she didn't want to have a new teacher. But when I picked her up for lunch, she was fine and has not cried since. Actually, she has been speaking french everyday for the last two weeks. So Marc and I  asked her about the teacher, kind of expecting some dramatic reponse. "Do you like your teacher, Coco? Is she nice?"  "I don't know", she tells us. "Well does she have a loud voice? " "I don't know". "Does she yell in class?" "Oh yeah, she yells alot!" Well doesn't that bother you?" "No". she laughs. "She's nice".  Then it dawns on me. Well of course it doesn't bother her. She lives with me, Louis, and three teenage sisters. She feels right at home with all the yelling and now she feels comfortable- not like with strangers- so she doesn't mind speaking french. I think it says a lot about frustration. If you try to hide it, it just makes people uncomfortable. Let it out! Yell if you need to, then give a big hug and keep on teaching!
     Just a funny story, I don't really condone yelling. It is actually one of my faults that I pray often to be freed from. I know yelling is so abrupt and can be hurtful. Once I even told God to just take my voice away so I would never yell again. Luckily he was not listening to me.
     So the children are becoming bilingual but I must admit, it is much easier to make the transition before 12 or 13 years old. Santi was 11 when we arrived. She cried the first day after school and said she was never going back again. By the third week she was in the swing of things as well. Like Louis, she had never been in a traditional school setting. She had some lazy habits and was behind in math and spelling. But she finished the year with high marks, a good foundation of the language, and excellent study habits. She is well on her way to  being fluent and is now very inerested in language. She is thinking about learning spanish and chinese! Probably two good choices. The older girls, 16yrs. and 18yrs. old have struggled. Let me just say that teenagers are special. I don't think I have much advice and remain open to any and all suggestions. I think I will save the "teenage" story for another post. It deserves special treatment! Abientot, Monica

             Snapshot of the children visiting the village Le Barroux in the Dentelles mountains.
                                          Lots of stones...walls, steps, streets, houses, castles!

Thursday, August 4

Happy 16th to Elise...

Made a quick trip to Paris yesterday to send the three older girls off to America for three weeks with Gramma. Elise is lucky to have spent her 16th birthday on two continents. This morning breakfast at Starbucks in Paris and this evening, dessert at the Cheesecake Factory in Roseville! Not a bad way to turn sixteen.
We had a very sweet birthday-day shopping and visiting in Paris. Quick trip to Sacre Couer and Notre Dame...I guess we could call that a "church" trip! We also did some fun things...bought makeup at Mac at the Place St. Michel, found great august sales at Pimkie and the train station, had a swim and hot tub at the Hyatt and Ceasar salad, Turkey club, and Peperoni pizza from room service! Then beddie by for the big travel adventure...first time overseas on their own! Iam not even sure they have arrived yet. Took a few silly videos to share, but not sure if I know how to down load them. So here goes...

Friday, June 24

Guess who's back???

   I am temporarily borrowing my daughters computer to get back current on all the crazy happenings in this french adventure.  My last post was in April...so much has happened, of course I won't bore you with all the details. I did, however, loss some weight! That is only worth mentioning, as it was one of my father's last requests for his children. At christmas, my sister asked him what he wanted and he said he wanted his four children to lose weight! "Ask and you shall receive" So to you dad, I offer 20 ugly pounds...and more to come!
   In addition, other things worth mentioning, Marc and I both got jobs in May. Guess what we are doing? That's right!!!! We are both working in restaurants! Funny how life goes. Marc and I are now "competitors". Venasque has two restaurants right next door to each other- Les Ramparts (traditional/regional provencal menu) and La Cote  Fontaine ( gastronomic menu with a touch of japanese accents). I am at the gastronomic and Marc is the provencal. Our dear friends Bill and Kris Moore were here last week visiting and they ate at both restaurants. I will ask them to write a review for me.
    Working is great! Working in a kitchen for someone else is also great. But I have to admit that being back in the kitchen is not a dream come true. It was a matter of neccessity. Money is the name of the game sometimes and you do what you know. We know the restaurant business. And when the job opportunities presented themselves, the circumstances were almost Providencial. Two restaurant jobs right next door to each other and a house available three doors up the street and across the parking lot from Louis and Claudie's school... "Ask and you shall receive"!
     So for the moment, we are both expanding our knowledge of food, learning many new things that we would not have taught ourselves otherwise and most importantly, paying our debts.
Tomorrow we will welcome longtime, dear customers from Le Bilig Kitchen. Gary and Peggy Gubitz and their young men will be stopping by on their "Reunion Tour". You can check out their adventure on their blog www.gubitzeuropereuniontour.blogspot.com .
     I will have some pictures posted of our visit with friends from California soon. We had some real adventures with the Moores. I am sure they will remember this trip to france as much as the other nine they have had. Filled with family adventures...trials and tribulations of life at the Gypsy Table!  Be back soon...

Wednesday, May 4

Temporarily out of commission!

It has been a long while since my last post and I have so much to share. However, my dear little "notebook" has a big crack across the screen and I am forced to pile all my ideas, research, photos, videos, and beautiful visits around provence into a box and paitently wait for a practical solution that costs less than 25 Euros! Be back in business soon...thank you for your patience.  
The weather in provence has been beautiful. The cherries are turning red and almost ready to eat. Asparagus and strawberries are everywhere-even though they are expensive-and the streets are coming alive with visitors! I think we are about to see the evolution of the region into the world destination that we have been hearing about. The death of winter and the ressurection of spring.... stay tuned for the rise and fall of the Sorgue river, the Cherry Festival of Venasque, Spring visit to the Riviera (Monaco, Cannes, Nice, Antibes), and a special feature of the Fete du Transhumance in St. Remy. Abientot...

Thursday, March 31

Le Marche...L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

Thursday morning, two double espressos at the Cafe de France in L'Isle-sur-la Sorgue 2.60 E... that is something to smile about!

Our farmer friend from the market...I asked him this morning if I could take his picture because his San Francisco hat was where I was from. He was happy to get the attention and as we walked away, we heard his friend laugh and ask him why he was wearing Francisco's hat? He took the hat off, looked at it, and kinda puzzled said, "I don't know where I got this, I didn't know it was Francisco's!"  Two cute old farmers, having a good time.

Typical French Market
Thursday morning market in the heart of the old part of town. What a great way to spend the morning. A curiosity at every corner-folklore, tradition, the colors of provence, the sharp smell of the sea, the earthy smell of the farm, people gathering and departing from every direction. The world is a very strange, yet beautiful place and the market reminds us that technology can never replace that which the heart longs for...community!