As I have shared, it has been an intense week. I have had my moments of self-doubt where I have wondered if I can really master this language, and also why I didn't pick an easier hobby for myself. But I am way too far in to turn back now so forward I will go.
And then, as I know happens from time to time, you get a moment of affirmation. That was today at the pool, and I am still just so excited about it! It will sound like such a small thing. As I was leaving, I asked the lady at the cashier station what the hours are tomorrow at the pool. I had my question thought out, and thought I delivered it well: 'A quelle heure est-ce que la piscine ouvrir demain?" To which she responded with emphasis: "A l'heure." And then I realized for the first time since I have been studying French and interacted with a stranger, I did not get the immediate jump to English but instead a grammar correction!! I know it may sound crazy but you have no idea how exciting that was for me!! Progress in a big time way!!
This happened after a couple of riotous discussions this afternoon in class. Peter was back; so good to see him. He is just a delight to work with, so positive and cheery and with such a quick wit. And one thing I really like about Laura (our teacher) is that she leaves plenty of time for open dialogue, and I just love the twists and turns that takes. I think the discussion started with cows. This AM I went to a goat farm (to learn about how they make goat cheese). I was hoping that they also had cows, as I love the cream colored cows that they have here in France. I rarely, if ever, see a cow of such color in the US, and especially herds of them. (Ok, so the truth is, I rarely see cows.) They didn't have cows at the farm so I still have to get that picture. Laura was interested in what the cows are like here, so I described the typical black/white (I think Guernsey?) very common in the MidWest. Peter described Texas cattle. Laura was interested in the difference, so we explained the black/white cows, for instance in Wisconsin, are primarily dairy, while in Texas it is all about beef. From there it was an easy leap to the "Cheeseheads" of Wisconsin, which Laura did not understand at all. So Peter and I are trying to describe what a cheesehead is, which translated in English, went something to the effect of "someone who wears a hat on his head in the shape of a wedge of cheese, and the hat is made out of sponge and it has holes in it so that it looks like Swiss cheese." The further we got into this, the more Laura is looking at us like 'All you Americans are crazy", so we really had little choice but to google some pictures of Cheeseheads. I am sure you can all imagine that brings up quite an odd assortment of characters.
But we did not spare the Texans. Peter is a Canadian who now has AMerican citizenship because he and Zeb are married. WHenever they finish their world travels, they will settle in Texas, where Zeb is from. Peter likes to poo-poo the whole Texan thing, and swears he will never do anything like wear cowboy boots. I told him I bet within a year of being there, he owns a pair. (Zeb already does. Peter will not be outdone.) I even told him where to go--Allen's or Cavenders (I know this from my brother from Austin). He insists Dallas is not into cowboy boots. I think he is in for a big surprise with that one! I have reliable data on that; my brother is convinced that the people in Dallas where the flashiest boots around.)
And then there was the goat farm this AM. That was fine, though getting there was harrowing! We had a guide, another Laura, who showed up in her minivan to pick us up. Laura looks and speaks so much like my sister-in-law Melinda that I did a double take! Anyway, en route to the goat farm, we traveled over the vineyard hills, stopping periodically for a few lessons in vignoblease. She is very knowledgeable and I learned a lot about agricultural aspects of grape growing. But it was the driving that was nervewracking!! Roads here are so narrow, and everyone zips around on them. Some of them are barely wide enough for one car, let alone two, yet they zip by each other without batting an eyelash. And for that matter, Laura was just as likely to be looking over her shoulder to us in the back seat, rather than watching the road. She has some mirror contraption where she can look towards the back of the van and see out her windshield, but I, personally, prefer that the driver of a vehicle I am in has a more direct line of sight. I don't think we need to import that particular invention.
I have only one day left here, and then on to Paris and then home. It has been magical. I have worked harder than I may ever have worked in my life. I was thinking about that earlier. I don't know that I have ever studied anything so intensively. The closest I can think of is getting my MBA, where I did 2 3 hour classes a week while working. But that was only twice a week, not every day, and I had plenty of time to digest it. That has been the toughest thing. Plus, it has been many years since I have been a student. It has been amazing, but I don't want to reflect just yet. I am going to save that for once I am home, and I will share my thoughts then.
Also--still having photo upload issues. But I think I have earlier photos not yet shared, so will share some of them. And once home will pick up where the new photos left off. I have some fun things to share, and more to come. I am looking forward to sharing shots of that pool at the Hotel Molitor.
Also, I know I owe a little French to those of you who speak it--will do that tomorrow.