Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ma Soeur

My sister has a new post about her French "jardin." People who insert foreign words into English speech crack me up. I am pretty sure my sister does this because her husband does it so much. He'll just be talking along with his rural South Carolina accent, telling me about what the work day is like in France and suddenly "we have pain au chocolat" (italicized words only in a very French accent). And it is funny because it so easily translates: bread (croissant) and chocolate. Why doesn't he just say "bread and chocolate?" But he would probably say "croissant" like "kwasaw" if you asked him. Who are the people that say "kwasaw?" Just say it like it looks, "croissant." Oh, he's great. I am just teasing. But it is funny. Giada de Laurentiis is always doing that too on her Food Network cooking show, Everyday Italian. She has such the American accent except when she says "mozarella" (comes out sounding like "mootzaurealla") or words like "pancetta," "prosciutto" or "biscotti." Suddenly she's Italian? It cracks me up!

I am always trying to get my sister to post about life in France. She feels a real need to be positive. I know, it's like we're not even from the same gene pool! Someone has got to be adopted! Anyway, I don't see what's so negative about saying that people there have hair every color of the rainbow and that's just sort of normal to see. Or that the cookbooks have hysterically vague instructions that include measurements like a "glass" (no, this does not translate to mean "cup" and is not a standard unit of measurement) of something or a "spoon" of something (what kind of spoon?!). I mean, I think daily life there would be so very different that for me, sharing would be a must just so I could laugh. Because really, other cultures can be very shocking. It doesn't mean any one culture is better, it's just kind of strange being suddenly immersed in a whole different world. I keep telling her to share these practical everyday things. I think the practical, everyday is tiresome more than funny when you're in it. Maybe she doesn't think she could spin it that way. Well, we know how hysterical I am; I'm doing it for her. Hopefully she won't shoot me. There are just so many funny things. Imagine moving over there and just knowing you would be there for five years and also, you don't know the language or anyone else except your husband and child in the whole country!

She says everyone has dogs and no one picks up after them. In Paris there are paid "pooper scoopers" as it were, but in most other cities, just watch your step when you're getting out of your car or strolling home from the bakery (oh, except she never says bakery about a French bakery; it's always the "boulangerie"). And the butcher shop, which probably has an equally funny Frenglish word but I can't remember now, has an assortment of really interesting items. The one I remember right now is the "blood sausage." I told her she should take pictures. She is afraid to offend. I think I would just say I wanted a picture of my butchers for my American friends. Wouldn't y'all love to see the friendly French butchers in my sister's village? And then she could just casually point out the blood sausage in the case they are standing behind. I know, it's brilliant. But she is busy in French classes and seven months pregnant. So the blood sausage pictures will have to wait. If I go, I will be sure to get pictures for all of you- the blood sausage, the rainbow hair, the yogurt aisle at the grocery store (which is evidently as varied and well stocked as the potato chip aisles over here- nice!), the gypsies, the frighteningly narrow roads, the poopy sidewalks, and every other thing I can't remember now. It's not negative or making fun; it's just exploring another culture! I mean, it could be negative or making fun, but I think we can manage to just enjoy our cultural differences without making judgments.

So she's in this French class and it is the middle of summer and she's pregnant and it's hot, you know. She said all the people in the class are also non-French people and they are all hot and want to leave the windows and the doors open to get the breeze. But the instructor is French and evidently, the French are very concerned about breezes and getting sick. She keeps shutting the door. Finally my sister asked if she could bring her fan and plug it in at her desk. She's like 32 and she's asking the teacher this! And the teacher says No! She is all worried about the breeze. Where we welcome a nice breeze on a hot day, they get all grumpy, so no way would they allow you to create a breeze with an appliance! And this is the very interesting thing, that's why they wear those neck kerchiefs all the time! To keep the breeze off their necks so they won't get sick! Who knew?

Oh, there are so many hilarious stories. Maybe she just doesn't have time to write them all down. Maybe if y'all respond to her here, she'll start posting more over there. Or maybe you don't care. Oh, and this whole thing was going to be about her "jardin" and I was going to have my own pictures of my own garden (which is really just the produce section at Dierbergs). And I was going to talk about how I really like bottle trees and how I have always said I would have one whenever we finally have a home and a garden. And that was going to branch out into two things (get it, "branch?" bottle trees! branch!), one of which was the article about bottle trees in Southern Living and how I'm a little annoyed that you can just go buy one now instead of having to make your own, and the other of which was that April finally has her home and her barn and 5 acres for a nice big garden and it's in Kansas and I am so happy for her because she has always been homesick just like me. And whoa, that was a run on sentence! But also no, I don't mean that now I am thinking that I am going to have all my dreams come true or anything, but I am really encouraged because you know, it just reminds me that God really does care about the desires of our hearts. And I have been so sad and overwhelmed about Amelia and just feeling like "when is this going to turn around?!" and just feel like screaming for mercy for this family. And to see God's mercy to April's family about a "little" thing like a house makes me really hopeful (again or more so or renewed or whatever) that he can and will be just as merciful about a really big thing the life of this baby girl. And I don't think I would have been so encouraged had it not been for April's being really vulnerable in the past. I would've just thought, "oh, sad, they're moving." Not "Hurray! Praise the Lord! This is wonderful!" See, so that's why I think we really should be negative sometimes. I think it's okay to just humbly put it out there, just be faithful to keep putting it out there so we can rejoice in the changes God brings, whether they are in our hearts or in our circumstances! That's why you get melancholy Abby so much, because when things get better, as my dear campus minister put so lovely well back in Auburn "you can look back and say, 'this was the Lord's work.'"

That seems like a good place to end for now. Peace!


jennifer said...

Je dit "kwasaw" on occassion when I am not with people I know will make fun of me ;). I have also been known to say "Kaalvaan" when referring to my oldest son since when he was an infant, I would occasionally take him with me when I was teaching a homeschool co-op French class and that is what all my little students had to call him.

I think your sister should post about the oddities of French culture. After all, it was good enough for Peter Mayle to write more than one very popular book about the strange things he experienced in his life there.

Abby said...

Jennifer, that reminds me of another funny thing. You know how when someone foreign comes over here, we say their name how they tell us to (ie "Jean" "Pierre" etc.) and don't presume to change their name to our American norm ( "John" and "Peter"). Maybe it is because we are the "melting pot" so not many names are "American," but it cracks me up that they won't call my sister by her name. It's the French version of her name, the same with her husband and baby. Consequently, in choosing a name for their second baby, they are concerned with all the usual like meaning, how it goes with the rest of the name, spelling, how it sounds, but now they have the added consideration of the French pronunciation because they know she will be called that for at least three years. They love the name Grace for a middle name, but the French name Grace sounds very similar to "Gras," the French word for "fat." This is quite the dilemma for them!

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