My son and I are leaving our small town in southeastern United States to live for a year in a small town in southeastern France. It couldn't possibly be THAT different, right?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dominique saves the day!

    During one of the first days of school, a very petite French woman with a British accent approached me and asked if I was the American mom.  Her name was Dominique, and she told me that she had lived in Boston for a year and that she had returned to the US many times since.  She offered to help me and Jed in any way that she could, and I thanked her thinking that she was just being polite.

    In the days that followed, however, Dominique made specific offers to help us, and I took her up on those.  She showed me around different parts of town on foot and by car; she took me to buy shoes for Jed; she invited me for coffee, and she made inquiries about sports and cultural options for us.  She even volunteered to go into Jed's classroom a few mornings a week to translate the lessons for him, but the school principal turned her down.

    She has been very worried about Jed's adjustment to this new culture, particularly since she is the mom of Néo who is almost the same age.  She cannot stand the idea that Jed probably spends many days hungry since he does not like French cuisine.  This Tuesday, she took Jed home with Néo, and she plans to do that every Tuesday as long as we would like.  That way, Jed can bring his peanut butter sandwich to her house and have a break from school once during the week.

    Dominique invited me and Jed to lunch on Wednesday, and we had a wonderful time with her.  The poor woman made three meals for lunch:  plain baked chicken and corn on the cob for Jed, a fried chicken patty for her own little picky eater, and samosas for the two of us.  We spent four hours talking and eating and drinking wine on a Wednesday afternoon.  I could get used to this!      

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Parents' night at Jed's school

If you don't have anything good to say, say nothing at all.  OK!

Teacher strike

    Jed and I experienced our first-ever teacher strike today, and I have to say that we both feel a little disappointed.  There was a lot of excitement in the air beforehand (sort of like a snow day in South Carolina), but the reality was pretty dull.
    1.  Jed's teacher did not strike so it was business as usual in his classroom.  He was so angry!  The other kids got to play in the gym all day while he had to do math problems and conjugate verbs.
    2.  Although many teachers at my school participated in the strike, the students still showed up in fairly impressive numbers and attended the classes of those of us who were on campus.  Translation:  normal school day for me too!  I'm with Jed----no fair!
    3.  There was not even a picket line to cross!  I was kind of looking forward to seeing the signs and hearing some good chants.  My striking colleagues apparently just stayed home and got some more beauty rest, though.  They probably all met for lunch and made fun of the suckers holding down the fort at school.

Oh well, it wasn't exciting, but the positive side for me was that the really lazy kids are the ones who decided to show their support of the teachers' cause and stay home today.  To that, I say, "Vive la grève!"      

Sunday, Monday, Happy Days

    Sunday, an English-department colleague, Anne, invited me and Jed for lunch at her home in a small nearby village called Bégude-de Mazenc.  Her house, which is in the middle of hilly farm land and horse pastures, was started in 1867, and the final section was completed in 1940.  It is a large stone home with a "hangar" in which there is a trampoline and a "babyfoot" table, a summer kitchen next to the swimming pool, an outdoor fireplace, and terra cotta roof tiles.  If you like relaxed country living, it's a dream home.
    Jed thought that he might be bored at Anne's, but her 12-year-old daughter showed him her tree house and the neighbor's horses, and let him play video games on her computer after he had already gotten tired of riding her bike and jumping on the trampoline.
    For lunch, we had a delicious salmon tartare, salad, bread, and cheese followed by the dessert, Ile Flotante. (a custard with caramel-covered meringue floating in the middle like islands)  Jed ate bread and drank water, of course.  He didn't even really like the dessert.
    Monday's treat was a knock on the door near 9:00 p.m.  It was our next-door neighbor, Djavar, with a plate of Armenian desserts.  Jed and I devoured those in under five minutes, I'm sure.  Now I need to think of something that I can make for them.  Jed suggested Grandmom's peanut butter bars.  I think that might be just perfect!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jed speaks a little French

These are the words that Jed says that he hears all the time in France.  

And here are some of Jed's favorite new discoveries at the grocery store.  The tall cans contain syrup that he uses to flavor his water, and the pouch in front contains apple sauce.  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Short jazz concert

I am a little under the weather so Jed and I did not make any plans to visit the area this weekend.  Instead, we saw an advertisement for a free show at the Calepin theatre and decided to go.  The ad said that they would be presenting the 2011-2012 season and serving apéritif.  Not one to turn down free food and alcohol even when I have a cold, this sounded like a good idea to me.  Jed saw this poster and thought that surely we would see acrobats and magicians.  
Well, for he second time this week, I got the two of us terribly lost within blocks of our apartment.  On the map, the theatre appeared to be right around the corner.  Ah yes, but WHICH corner?  I am truly a geographic dyslexic.  Poor Jed!  We walked around in circles for an hour before stumbling upon the theatre.
There, much to Jed's disappointment, we found that the presentation of the season involved well-spoken, well-dressed theatre people DESCRIBING the season's offerings after which we were treated to some fine jazz performed by four young musicians.  Due to our detours around the neighborhood, we had missed apéritif, but I was perfectly happy to sit and rest and listen to the music.  Jed was too---for about ten minutes.  Then he started asking when they were going to juggle fire or make someone disappear.  I decided to make us disappear instead.  We sneaked out after only four songs and went and bought a pizza from a van on the street. 
The Shaka Silva Quartet

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

En garde!

Jed has decided to try fencing as his main sport this year.  I have repeatedly told him that he will not actually get to behead anyone, but he still wants to sign up.  He gets three free visits, and today was his first.  He was in a class with twelve other boys his age who probably thought that they looked pretty fierce in their white suits.  To this mom, they all looked adorable, though.  Jed made his way through the lesson without any translation by observing everyone else.  He's probably going to get pretty good at that between school and sports this year.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


This post is for my public-school friends in the U.S.  who have always teased me about my cushy private-school job with my small classes and well-behaved students.  Well, guys, I am really earning my teaching badge this year---and possibly my place in Heaven one day.
My largest class has twenty-seven students, and the smallest has twenty-one.  Their bodies take up almost all of the physical space in the room so that I am never more than about one foot away from any one of them.
My students range in age from eleven to fifteen and have a wide range of abilities as well.  There are learning disabilities of which I am just becoming aware and a few psychological issues that have become obvious as well.
Four of my six classes are doing pretty much what I expect of them, but I have two classes that kick my derrière and hand it to me on a platter on a daily basis.  I spend at least half of the class addressing disciplinary issues.  I am not allowed to remove anyone from the room so I have to address the problems immediately within my own four walls.
I have tried it all.  I have seating charts.  I write names on the board and then write notes home to parents.  I have assigned detention, and I have made students copy a long poem in English.
For the occasional offender, these methods work, but for the hard-core professionals, nothing so far has worked.  They continue to talk while I talk, throw bits of paper, make rude noises with their mouths, knock on the underside of their desks, elbow each other, use bad language, steal each other's pencils, knock each other's books off of their desks, ask idiotic questions to make everyone laugh, etc.
Jed loves hearing my stories when I come home from school every day.  He says that it sounds like the bad kids that you see in the movies, and he just giggles and giggles.  I end up laughing too, fortunately.
I think that I will wear the kids down before they wear me down if I can keep my sense of humor.  Surely, they will get tired of detention!  Won't they?      
The view on the way to work keeps me smiling.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cathelin retrospective

Today is Heritage Day in France---and in all of Europe, I think.  I'm not sure exactly what else happens on this holiday, but I do know that museums are free.  Jed and I stumbled upon this news quite by accident this afternoon.  I needed to get out of the apartment after cleaning all morning so we took a picnic to the park by the Contemporary Art Museum.  When Jed had to go to the bathroom, we went inside to look for one and saw that entrance to the Bernard Cathelin retrospective was free.  Jed was not exactly thrilled to interrupt playtime to look at art, but after we got inside, he didn't want to leave.  We spent at least an hour looking at Cathelin's paintings, lithographs, and tapestries and picking out our favorites.  When we left, Jed thanked me for taking him.  I sure do love this kid!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


     Jed and I do not have school on Wednesdays so I look forward to this eventually being our favorite day of the week.  I envision us sleeping in, going to the market around 11:00, having lunch in town, playing in the park, coming home to read or take a nap, and then heading to fencing practice before thinking about homework for the next day.
    We have not been here long enough to lounge around yet, though.  We are still trying to get ourselves established in Montélimar.  Today was our third or fourth trip to the bank to open one simple checking account, and we still need to return on Friday morning to pick up our bank cards.
     We also spent some time today inquiring about sports options for Jed.  He wants to do both soccer and fencing, but I'm not sure how much that will cost because both are year-round commitments here.  We are going to attend a practice for each before making our final decision, I think.
    In the meantime, though, we went to the Centre Medical du Sport in town and got Jed's required sports physical.  We have a letter from Jed's doctor in Spartanburg stating that he is healthy enough to participate in sports, but it is not recognized here.  We had to see a French doctor.  Fortunately, the visit cost us absolutely nothing.  We did not even have any papers to fill out.  After a ten-minute exam, we were out the door!
    I like to post a photo with every entry here so here is my dinner:  a goat cheese salad.  I bought the onion, tomato, and lettuce at the market and the cheese at the grocery store.  I made my own vinaigrette and ate fresh bread with it.  Yum!

Monday, September 12, 2011

We're not in Spartanburg anymore!

My colleague in Narbonne inspired me with her list of things that she likes the most about living in France so I thought that I would adapt that a bit.  Since I'm not quite as positive as she is, I will call this list "How I know that we're not in Spartanburg anymore."  Some of these are Jed's observations.

1.  There are not many public restrooms, and typically, when you do find one, you have to pay to use it.  The grocery stores do not have them, and something about shopping for groceries ALWAYS makes Jed have to pee so we have to cut our trip short.  I have already had to let him pee behind a trash can in downtown Montélimar.  I hope that's not against the law!

2.  Speaking of grocery stores, you have to pay to use a shopping cart, and you have to bring your own bags and bag your own groceries.  I am not opposed to any of these ideas.  I just forget my bags at least half the time that I go so I now own lots of bags with the store logo.

3.  The grocery store is a magical place of discovery.  I could spend an hour in the yogurt section alone.  I have never seen so many different types of yogurt!  And we buy our bottled milk unrefrigerated.  Can someone explain that to me?  It is in the section with the bottled water, and we buy a case of it and keep it in our cupboard until we open it.

4.  I used to pay someone to make me exercise.  I have done Zumba, boot camp with Clyde, Jazzercise... You name it, I've probably given it a try.  Now I get my exercise by walking into town several times a week and walking across the street to the grocery store every other day and then lugging my grocery bags up four flights of stairs to the apartment.

5.  It's hot here, people, and NOTHING is air conditioned!  I sleep with the fan inches from my head, and I teach twenty-six squirmy bodies crammed into a small classroom six times on Mondays.  Fall weather cannot come soon enough for me.

6.  We do not have a dishwasher or a clothes dryer in our apartment, and I could not care less.  I no longer see a need for either appliance.

7.  There is this driving rule called "priorité à droite" that I do not quite understand.  I think that drivers on the right always have the right of way, but I'm not sure.  At the moment, it does not matter too much to me because I drive so slowly that it is easy to avoid an accident.  If I ever get up the courage to drive above 50 MPH, I'll need to figure out that rule, for sure.

8.  I love the rond-points or roundabouts.  The traffic seems to flow much better here without so many intersections.

9.  People talk softly in public.  You can be seated inches from a couple in a café and never hear their conversation.  Needless to say, we are the loudest people in town.

10.  Almost everyone has a cooler cell phone than I do----even senior citizens.

11.  Young men wear capri pants and carry purses (although I'm sure that they call them something much more macho), and they are more fashionable than I am.  I have my British genes to thank for that, I guess.

12.  Most businesses close from 12:00-2:00.  Restaurants are open, of course, but grocery stores are closed.  If you're out of toilet paper or milk, you had better not sleep in!

13.  A lot of things are more expensive than at home, but you can buy a jar of Nutella the size of Jed's head for about $5.00.  (See below.)

14.  Recycling seems to be much more a part of the culture here than in Spartanburg.  It is very convenient and easy to recycle almost everything.

15.  Despite huge warnings on the packages stating " Fumer tue"  (Smoking Kills), I see a lot more people smoking here than I do at home.  I am still taken aback by teenagers standing in front of the high school smoking.   That is SO 1970's USA.

I'll probably add to this list as the year progresses.  It is fun to notice the things that make people and cultures different, but it is also fun to see the ways that we are all the same.  I hope to comment on both so that Jed and I never forget this amazing experience.


    Jed and I were supposed to go to the beach at Narbonne to see Fulbright family Jeanne and Alex with another Fulbright family, Carrie, Mary, and Nate, but plans changed at the last minute when Nate awoke in the middle of the Friday night/Saturday morning with a sore throat.  We then looked at the weather report and saw that it was supposed to rain all weekend on the coast so we decided to postpone our trip for another fall weekend.
    I have to admit that Jed and I were very disappointed.  We had had a tough first week of school and were looking to rewarding ourselves with some good company and sunshine.
    Fortunately, Nate rebounded from his allergies, and the weather in our area was quite nice so Carrie, Mary, and Nate came to visit on Sunday, and we all took a drive across the Rhône River to the department of Ardèche.  We wound our way through the mountains for about an hour until we came to the Gorges de l'Ardèche where we stopped for the day at a natural limestone bridge called the Pont d'Arc.  We had a picnic by the Ardèche River, and then the kids swam, jumped off of rocks and swung from a rope.  There are beautiful campgrounds by the river as well as places to rent canoes and kayaks so I'll keep that in mind if any of our friends actually do end up making the trip over for a visit.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Jed's birthday

My sweet boy is eight-years old today.  Because we knew that we would be in France, we had his party with his friends from home in August and had planned just to go out alone today, probably to McDonald's.  Plans changed when Jed made friends with the boys from the apartment complex, though.  We did not have a big event, but all five boys that he likes so much were able to come out into the courtyard after dinner to have a donut feast with us.  We spread out a blanket and had a sugary picnic, and then the boys ran off most of their extra energy playing tag.
I am so grateful for these kids!  They have no idea!

No longer a lady of leisure

    The party is officially over!  I now have to work for the privilege of being in France.  I taught five of my six classes today, and all but one of those were pleasant.  The last period really tried my patience, but I'm sure that I will either win them over early next week or crush them.  Either way, I win!  :)
    Despite the few clowns in that class,  I have found the French students to be excessively polite.  They wait in line outside my door until I invite them in, and they then wait beside their desks until I tell them that they may be seated.  Whenever an adult enters the room, they all stand until they are told to be seated.  They are accustomed to raising their hand to speak in class, and they Madame me to death.
    I have never taught middle school so I have a lot of things to get used to that  have nothing to do with the French culture.  For example, I had no idea how needy younger kids are.  They ask SO many questions.  They want to know when to write, where to write, how much space to leave, what color to use----everything.  Then they want to show me what they have written to see if I approve.  It's exhausting!  I certainly have new respect for ALL middle school teachers everywhere!
    I am teaching two classes of cinquième (the equivalent of 7th grade), three classes of quatrième (8th grade), and one class of troisième (9th grade).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kindness of strangers

    After finishing last night's blog post, I received a nice call from a neighbor.  She said that she had thought about nothing but Jed all day.  She could not stop wondering if he was sad or if he was adjusting well.  Her kind words really sent me over the edge, and I started crying on the phone with the poor woman.  She told me that she would do anything for Jed and that her sons would make sure that school turned out to be a good experience for him.  I only met her days ago yet she spent time comforting me and telling me that she admired the opportunity that I was giving my son and that she would love to be able to do the same.
    This morning as I waited for Jed to be let into the school courtyard, another mom approached me and said in perfect British English that she had heard through the grapevine that Jed's first day had been difficult.  When I filled her in on some of the details, she said that she just had to help us.  She is a stay-at-home mom at the moment so she said that she was going to call the school principal whom she knows very well to see if she can shadow Jed a few mornings a week to help him understand his teacher until he knows French better.  I told her that I did not want her to go to all that trouble, and she replied in the same way that everyone who helps us has replied, "C'est normal!"  "It's normal!" I suppose it is.
    Jed was over feeling sorry for himself before his head hit the pillow last night.  He told me that he would like to stay here for two years so that he can really get to know his friends, and for dinner, he formed his pommes noisettes (mashed potato balls) into a smiley face.  I won't worry about him until he forms them into a sneer, I guess.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rough first day, but we're still standing

    I knew that this day was coming, but I've been trying to delude myself into thinking that it would not be THAT bad.  Kids are resilient, right?  They're tough, right?  Well, yes, they are, but they might need to cry and kick and scream a little before they decide to rise to the occasion.
    Jed was not as apprehensive about his first day as I would have thought that he would be.  He woke up in a good mood, got ready quickly, and he even let me take the obligatory first day of school photo.  When I look at these now, though, I can see a bit of fear in those beautiful brown eyes that I love so much.

    Right on time, we headed out for school on foot along with lots of other excited/ nervous parents and children.  When we arrived at Le Bouquet, the gates were still locked, and there was a huge crowd waiting to be allowed to enter.  At 8:30, the gatekeeper swung open the doors to the most uninviting playground you can imagine (all asphalt, with two soccer goals and nothing else).  The parents then pushed their way to the cement wall of the after-school building where each teacher's class list was posted.  The scene was like general-admission seating at a heavy metal concert because everyone needed to see (for the first time, as far as I could tell) who their child's teacher would be for the year and then find the teacher among the crowd (which wasn't easy since they were not carrying signs or wearing name tags) before the bell rang to enter the building.
    When we finally found Jed's teacher and introduced ourselves, I said with a big smile, "This is Jed, and he does not speak French----yet!" to which his teacher replied, "Yes, I've been told."  That's it.  No "Hello, Jed." No "Hello, Mom."  Nothing.  Great first impression, Madame Vanlaer!  Fortunately, Jed was oblivious to the snub.  There ARE advantages to ignorance after all!  Jed didn't really want anyone to make a big fuss over him anyway, and when he saw that his friend, Ange, would be in his class, life was good.  He fell into line and kissed me goodbye.  Easy for him to do!  I felt like bursting into tears.
    I came back to the apartment and began to prepare for my own first day, (which is tomorrow) but all that I could think about was Jed.  I was just getting ready to leave to run some errands around 11:45, when I heard a familiar voice from the courtyard below.  "Mom!, Mom!"  I ran to the window, and there was my sweet boy waving up at me.  "What are you doing home?" I asked.  "I don't know.  They just let us go."  
    I buzzed him in and got the full story.  It appears that when it came time for lunch, Jed just left school with his friends and their parents, and no one questioned him.  French kids can come home for the two-hour break or stay at school and eat in the cafeteria if their parents work.  I signed Jed up for the cafeteria so he should have stayed.  In theory, someone at school should have known that!  
    Fortunately for both of us, I was here when he arrived.  I don't know what he would have done if I had not been home.  When I walked him back at 1:30, I told the gatekeeper about the incident, and no one had noticed that he was missing.  Now that really makes a Mom feel good about leaving her child in the school's care, doesn't it? 
    Negativity alert!!!  Read no further if you are sensitive to real feelings.  Jed was so upset when he came home for lunch that I did not think that I would be able to get him to go back in the afternoon.  (Turns out they wouldn't have missed him!)  He said that the teacher kept asking him questions and that when he could not answer, the other students laughed.  He just broke my heart!  We both cried on the sofa for a while before I could give him a pep talk.  I told him how proud I am of him and that he is the bravest boy in the whole world and that things will get better.  My speech must have worked because he did not protest when it was time to return.
    At 4:00, I had a meeting with Jed's French language teacher, Madame Estivale.  She will meet with him twice a week during the school day, and a local volunteer will meet with him once a week after school.  Madame Estivale assured me that he will learn very quickly.  I really hope so!  
    She saw him today because his teacher wanted her to evaluate him to see if he should go back to first grade.  The teacher was shocked, apparently, that Jed could not write in cursive and that he could not read the word Gerard in an English-language book that she gave him to read and that he did not know how to add columns of three-digit numbers.  Poor little Jed had to go to the principal and to the psychologist and to the French teacher for evaluation today.  It sounds like his teacher just doesn't want the extra hassle of having him in her class. 
    School lets out at 4:30, and today at least, the scene was just as crazy as the morning rush.  The gate keeper opened the gate, and kids poured out into the street looking for their parents.  As I walked by Jed's teacher, I asked if I should tell anyone that he would not be in aftercare today, and she said yes.  I went over to the building to inform them, and they had not even received the list of kids to expect yet.  They said that it should arrive from City Hall sometime this week.  Great!  
    I told Jed that the goal of this first day was just to survive, and he did----no thanks to the adults running the school!!!  Jed has a much better attitude towards this first day than I do so I am sure that he will be fine.  Most of the kicking and screaming and crying that I referred to in the first paragraph came from me.  It remains to be seen whether the adult in the household can learn to rise above!


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Learning how to make friends

I have been fortunate to have the same close friends for most of my life.  My support system in the United States is pretty incredible.  I am surrounded by people who listen to my problems and make me laugh and who have helped me out in many, many ways.  If I need a babysitter, there are people that I can call.  If my car won't start or there is a leaky faucet, the handy people show up to rescue me.  I have friends who are incredible cooks who share their talents with me, and I have friends who have tried to turn my black thumb green.  I have people to go to the movies with or to go out to eat with, and I have wonderful colleagues who share their teaching ideas with me.
Because I have known most of my friends for so long, I have not had to make much of an effort to meet new people in quite a while.  I have just stayed in my comfort zone for years.  Now, however, I find myself  in a new town in a foreign country where I know no one, and I don't really know how to go about making connections.  I live on the fourth floor of an apartment building so that does not exactly facilitate human contact.  People keep to themselves in a community like this unless someone is bothering them.
Jed has not had any trouble at all meeting kids despite the language barrier.  He just goes out into the courtyard in front of our building with a ball, and boys show up from all directions.  Just this morning, twin boys (Kylian and Mattéo, I think) brought him a note in English that said, "Do you want my friend?  Welcome in France!"  It was adorable!
Jed is starting to feel a little guilty about all of his social success, though.  He told me yesterday that he would try to help me meet people.  I guess that he is used to me talking on the phone more or going out with the girls on Wednesday nights.  I try to tell him that I am not lonely, though.  I am enjoying his interactions, and I am just trying to figure out how to do my new job.
My new best friends are cheese and bread and wine and Facebook.  These might not be the healthiest relationships, but they'll do for the moment.

Friday, September 2, 2011

La rentrée des profs

I attended my first faculty meeting at the Collège Olivier de Serres today.  It started at 9:00 and ended around 11:45.  It was different from my school's opening in quite a few ways.  First of all, it was pretty noisy.  The principal and assistant principal led the meeting, but if people felt like talking to their neighbors, they did.  There was a constant murmur throughout the meeting, but it did not seem to bother the principal so I tried not to let it offend my goody-two-shoes sensibilities.
Secondly, it was a fairly democratic gathering.  The principal had made some final decisions, but the teachers felt free to openly challenge those, and he opened the floor for discussion on more than one occasion.  It was all very informative but relaxed.
Finally, at 11:45, we stopped to have an apértif before going to lunch.  We toasted the new year with wine and ate delicious mini-quiches prepared by the school's chef.
After lunch we briefly met with our departments and then headed home for one last free weekend.  I really like the three teachers in the English department (Caroline, Françoise, and Anne) and think that we are going to work well together.
Jed spent the day with Françoise's 18-year-old daughter and seemed to have a great time.  She watched Avartar videos with him and took him to the park to play soccer.
The entrance to the school.  These gates will be closed and locked during the day.

The entrance to the building.

The courtyard where the children line up to enter the building and go to play during recess.  Note the beautiful mountains in the background.  My drive to work is breathtaking!  I am surrounded on all four sides by mountains.  

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Jed and I have not been here a full week yet, and we were already craving some English-speaking company today.  Fortunately, there is another Fulbright teacher living just forty minutes from us in a town called Crest.  Since my new school is almost exactly halfway between us, I took the opportunity to see if I could find my way to work on my own and then go visit Carrie and her kids.  Despite my worst, most embarrassing driving job to date, we arrived in one piece (albeit with jangling nerves) around one in the afternoon.
Carrie's children, Mary and Nate, seemed to be glad to see other Americans too, and they played really nicely with Jed for about six hours.  We might have overstayed our welcome, but it was hard to leave their lovely garden and swimming pool.  Their home away from home for the year is a two-story stone house that is about one hundred and fifty years old.  We loved it!

While we were there, a welcoming committee of teachers from Carrie's school showed up, one with vegetables from her garden, another with a big bowl of grapes from her yard, and another with a gorgeous raspberry tart.

  It was hard to leave all of this hospitality, but Jed and I nervously took to the road again before dark.  Tomorrow is my first day of faculty meetings so getting to bed at a reasonable hour seems like a good idea.  Bonne nuit!