Sunday, April 21, 2013

Coming down to the wire

April 20 and 21

Saturday was our big rain day.  So what do you do when it’s raining outside?  You go to a museum.  Granted, most people look for one nearby but Kathy, Bev and I headed for the Fondation Maeght just north of Nice.  This a private collection opened to the public.  There was an exhibit of artist Gloria Friedmann’s work.  We agreed that her paintings (a whole series named LSD1, LSD 2, etc.) were more than a little dark, combining animals and humans in odd ways.  But her sculptures were interesting.  My favorite was a man all in white.  In his outstretched hands, there was a long “necklace” of keys and in the middle of his forehead was the lock.  I loved that one.

Other artists were Joan Miro, Giacometti, Fernand Leger, Chagall, Calder and some others I have never heard of.  It was a very interesting hour and a half.  Then we tried to find a place to eat, missed the turn to the closest village, stopped for gas at the bottom of the hill, missed the turn for the interstate and went to Nice!  Everything you have ever heard about the color of the water on the Cote d’Azur is absolutely true!  Gorgeous blues and greens with scattered white caps.  The wind had blown all the clouds away and the sun was out.  We ate a ridiculously expensive lunch in a hotel facing the water.  The view was well worth it.

And then we drove home.  Finding the right way to go with a GPS that asks questions in French was harder for some reason this time.  Needless to say, we spent about 45 minutes going in wild circles until I conquered the GPS.  We saw some areas of Nice and St. Laurent du Var that the guide books don’t mention (although not scary).  We did manage to bypass the really narrow “shortcuts” the GPS is fond of – we’re talking two-way roads that aren’t really one way in width – and we finally figured out how to tell it we were happy to pay tolls if it meant we could get home in 2.5 hours rather than 5 hours.  Also by going west rather than east and north.  Yes, it was the craziest the GPS has ever tried to make us.  Kathy was an absolute brick through the whole thing, driving wherever I sent her even when we both knew it didn’t seem right.

And home we came.  Lee spent the day resting and catching up on his documentary.  We brought home the goodies to make another frittata, this time with mushrooms, ham, cheese and red peppers.  As usual, there was good wine and nice chocolate to finish off the meal.

This morning, Sunday, we got up leisurely and wandered down to the market in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue again.  We all went and we all had a good time buying fun things for ourselves and others.  Eventually, we sat down for lunch and had a delightful young waitress who is headed to the States in two weeks and wanted to practice her English on us.  And the food was fabulous, right down to dessert! 

I had read about the church in Isle and suggested we head that direction and give it a look.  The church was finished in 1222 but the inside was redone inside in the 17th century.  So there’s this rather plain edifice.  Then you open the door and walk straight into the baroque!  And it was beautifully done.  We will go back tomorrow afternoon.  There was a statue of a saint that I cannot identify – I know, there are way too many for anyone to keep straight but this one looked like someone we should know.  The man was wearing a short military cape over a Roman-style toga.  His hat was round and hanging by a cord around his neck.  The really strange part of the statue was the dog sitting up at his feet, offering him a loaf of bread!  I’m stumped.  He also had scallop shells on each shoulder like epaulets.  Some research will be required.

Among our purchases today were another chicken, provencal potatoes, spinach pizza (more quiche) and a lemon meringue pie.  How balanced a dinner is that?!

And now the discussion has turned to retirement and insurance policies and healthcare.  It is friendly, thanks be to God, but I decided it was time to retire to a neutral corner. J  Soon, we will all retire to our various books and go to sleep.  But first, I am going to do the dishes.

Every time we make a meal here, I remember what our Untours host told us at our orientation meeting:  “Your hosts love you because American tourists clean up after themselves and eat out.”  Well, we do clean up after ourselves but we haven’t eaten but about three dinners out and we eat breakfast in every morning.  So we have done a lot of dishes, broken a few glasses and replaced them all. 

A bientôt and sleep well.

PS  I didn't tell you about our dinner in Chateauneuf du Papes.  First, when we left our gite, it was very windy and threatening rain still.  The GPS took us uphill and down dale and around at least one Robin Hood's barn and gave up giving directions before we got to the restaurant.  Fortunately, we began to see signs for the chateau and then for the restaurant - Les Vergers de Chateauneuf.  We were the first diners to arrive and had the staff of four waiting on us with grace and pleasure - two spoke some English so we had conversations as well as service.  Bev told our headwaiter that it was my birthday and it turns out his birthday was the next day.  So we exchanged birthday wishes - bonne anniversaire - before sitting down.  The wine was very good and reasonably priced (hard to come by in Chateauneuf).  All of the food was excellent.  For dessert, which none of us really had room for, the three ladies ordered a meringue filled with lemon sorbet and covered in whipped cream.  We did ask if we could skip the whipped cream and the young lady said, "I couldn't ask him to leave off the whipped cream."  So we had the whipped cream.  And the headwaiter placed an amazing sparkler in mine that went on forever - okay, only two minutes.  After all that, we took a different, less twisty route home, one that wouldn't shake anyone's dinner too much. ;-)

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