20 December 2007

Did I Miss Something??

Today was one of those Thursdays where I:
1) got up significantly before the sun
2) snoozed myself another fifteen minutes of shuteye
3) stumbled around the apartment getting ready and eating breakfast
4) barely made it to the bus on time, barely fit into the bus thanks to the hundreds of thousands of junior high kids in there, and barely made it to the university on time
5) hurried downstairs to Linguistique Générale.

All that was normal. But there was no one there. Did I miss something? Not that I can think of.
I must have been at the right classroom. We have class there every week.
I did check the other classroom though (the one where we have Linguistique Comparée), just in case, and it was likewise empty.
The professor's office was empty.
The normal classroom was still empty.
There were no lights on on either floor where class could be.
None of the other students were around.
There was nothing posted on any of the information boards.
It really is Thursday. Yesterday was Wednesday and I didn't miss a day in there.
I did have December 20th written down as one of the dates I had class. I checked my watch and yes, it is December 20th.
There hasn't been a weird one-hour change in time recently. My watch is set correctly for the one last month.
There isn't a strike going on in my university.
The professor does have my e-mail address, so I should have heard about it if class was being cancelled. Plus, it's always posted.

Yet it's a 24-hour course, and I went through my notebook to count how many classes we'd had, and we'd had seven. So there is supposed to be another, and it was supposed to be today. What did I miss?!?

18 December 2007

Birthday Number Two

For some reason I feel more "21" than I did yesterday, which was my calendar birthday. Today was my France birthday.
Again, relaxing and nothing particularly out of the ordinary. I did a lot of thinking, went on an unsuccessful mission looking for ear warmers, went to choir practice (I'm getting a cold so I've turned into a mezzo), and then went to dinner at a crêperie with Becky. I had an excellent galette with ground beef, cheese, onions, and an egg on top.
I am very very excited about winter break, which starts in a few days. It's a good thing that I have very few classes left, because my mind is far away from academics.
I'm sure there's a lot more to say, but my verbosity has obviously gone out for the evening.

Incidentally, the most striking thing about the Golden Compass yesterday was how much that one character looks like Mark Twain. Courtesy of the internet, here are some pictures for you to compare:

17 December 2007

Birthday Number One

Strangely enough, I have two birthdays this year. I was born around 6 p.m. on December 17th, but at that time it was already December 18th in France. So I suppose I can celebrate tomorrow too!

Since I didn't have any classes, I just enjoyed a relaxing day of sleeping in, watching movies, and procrastinating. I never did get around to studying for my Dutch exam, but I didn't do too badly. I know what the mistakes I made were, but I wouldn't have been able to prevent them by studying. They were things I hadn't learned thoroughly enough.

After the exam I met a bunch of friends at the movie theater. I also brought along Sara, who's a German student from another university in my Dutch class. We saw the Golden Compass, which wasn't inspiring. If I hadn't read a lot of warning articles about it before hand, I wouldn't have thought that it was particularly anti-religious. There's a definite anti-government theme to the movie, but I wouldn't read into it more than that. The main problems, however, were with the rhythm of the plot. It didn't seem to me to be structured very well, and I didn't find any of the characters too interesting. Probably would have helped if I had read the book, but seeing the movie didn't give me any desire to. I would definitely not recommend this movie to the under-ten crowd, since it had a lot of violence. Afterwards we went to McDonald's (the only place open) for ice cream and chatting until the bus came.

Overall it was a great day! I don't feel any different though, now that I'm 21.

Christmas Party, in short

In short: everyone (eleven of us in all) came over to my place around 3. We ate, watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas (poor Max!) and the Adams Family Christmas episode from the 60's, exchanged Secret Santa gifts (everyone was happy with what they got), talked a lot, drank hot cocoa and other hot drinks, and then ordered pizza, which was delicious. It was a great day. I got stuck with all the leftovers, so if I'm happy living on chips and cookies I don't need to buy groceries for a month. (I'm not, so there'll still be a steady stream of fruits, vegetables and meat coming into my refrigerator).

It was a costume party, though only a few of us dressed up. Mandy and I were two turtle doves (i.e., winged turtles):

Notice the nearly life-size Christmas tree on the wall. Wrapping paper just doesn't smell the same though...
Strange year, when I celebrate Christmas before my birthday... (check back tonight!)

14 December 2007

Lots of random "news"

How's this for an assignment? For general linguistics, since there won't be an exam, I get to write a dossier. Assignment: "Everything we covered in the class. Your interpretations, observations, reactions. 7-8 pages should do."
Love the specificity. Shouldn't be too difficult though.

I've discovered a great use for those cheap wooden boxes that you get five pounds of clementines in: sock/underwear drawers! My wardrobe just has shelves, but it is becoming steadily more organized. And cheap little wooden cheese boxes are nice for organizing my desk.

I heard "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!" in a store today, and I was pretty impressed with the English pronunciation until I heard "With the anzh-lic hosts proclaim." If they had too many syllables (not the problem) I wouldn't mind if one of the other vowels were dropped. "With the 'ngellic hosts" wouldn't bother me, nor would "with the angel'c hosts." You can't drop the stressed vowel. What were they thinking?! At least it wasn't "All I want for Christmas is You."

I'm getting to the stage of learning Dutch that I feel like I have a handful of pieces for the puzzle. I can start trying to put them together, and sometimes the pieces fit.

Judit from Hungary knows the first two verses of Jingle Bells. Most anglophones I know don't know more than the first.

Tomorrow I'm hosting the exchange student Christmas party, so I've been attempting to get ready for that. It's a costume party. I'll post pictures tomorrow!

Thanks to my talent for putting off doing laundry, I have more new socks. Just one more clean shirt though, so I have to go to the laundromat tomorrow. I hate going to the laundromat. (In case you're wondering, to do my bi-weekly large load of laundry, it costs me about $15.)

I bought my train tickets for Paris. Why am I going to Paris? Christmas in Paris and New Year's in London with my parents. They arrive in a week!

Two jokes I've told too often recently:
- How many general contractors does it take to change a lightbulb?
I'll get you an estimate by next Thursday.
- What's the difference between trumpet players and seamstresses?
Seamstresses tuck up frills.

Happy Gaudete weekend!

12 December 2007

First Exam Over! And other news...

Exam past:
My first exam has come and gone. It wasn't that hard. And, just like I have my philosophy for explaining to myself why I don't really study, I have a technique for making myself feel better about mistakes I know I made. Such as that one with the verb suffire: I don't even know how to conjugate that in the present tense. There's no reason for me to know it in the passé simple (a literary past tense) so I don't need to feel bad about not knowing that one. However, it turns out that for the other two possible errors I had (that I noticed), I guessed brilliantly. So overall I think I did fine on the exam.

Exams future:
I got most of my exam schedule.
- Comparative Linguistics: 8 a.m. (grumble) on January 10 at some far away place.
- Translation and English grammar (the grammar one is the exam that I have to take to get the full credit for translation, even though I've never been to one of the classes): 8 a.m. (grumble grumble) on January 15 in the same far away place.
- Introduction to Anthropology: 2:30 p.m. (yeah!) on January 16 in that same random far away place. I don't understand why they didn't schedule all the exams at the actual university.
- Choir: there's not supposed to actually be an exam, but it says I have some sort of assignment for the evaluation. First I've heard of that.
- Translation from English to French: it also says there'll be an assignment, but I know that's code for "We haven't scheduled the exam yet so ask next week."
- Dutch: that one's next Monday. Lovely, having an exam on my birthday...
- General Linguistics: this is the interesting one. You see, the course is open to people in both the translation and the teaching French as a foreign language master degrees. They have to choose one course out of about four options. Most of them go to all of those classes, and then sign up for the exam they think they'll do best on, and therefore get that credit. Apparently I'm the only one signed up for the General Linguistics exam, which means that they can't really have an exam for me. So tomorrow I need to ask (beg?) my professor to do a paper instead on an exam, which would be easier on the system.

The good news is, I only really have to study for Linguistics and Anthropology.

And more news!! I got a nice form letter (it sounds like a form letter) from Air France apologizing for inconveniencing me, and with it was a gift certificate type thing for 60 Euros, which is a bit more than what I spent on the hotel. So I feel reimbursed. Not quite as nice as being given normal money that I could spend anywhere, but it'll do.

So to all my poor American friends with their exams actually before Christmas break, good luck to you.

I should be studying, but instead I'm blogging.

I have my first exam in three hours, and that's a problem. Not because it'll be difficult: it's my French as a Second Language exam so I'm not expecting it to be hard in the slightest.
It's a problem because I'm fighting with myself over my exam philosophy. See, the logical part of my brain thinks that I should be studying for the exam. The rest of my brain thinks it doesn't matter.
Besides, procrastination is fun.

My philosophy on exams is as follows: exams are tests that are used to demonstrate how much you have learned. That's in the past tense. They're not meant to show how much you reminded yourself of at two in the morning the night before the test. Therefore, if you study too much, in a way it's like cheating, because you're demonstrating knowledge that you haven't really internalized. Doing practice problems in math is acceptable studying, skimming through notes is okay studying, but quizzing yourself and rereading lots of things is, in my procrastinator's brain, unfair. Studying for foreign language exams, in my opinion, is wrong. If I get a B on an exam (which has been known to happen once in a while) then I know that I acquired a B-level of knowledge from the course. If I were to get a C, I would be disappointed in myself for not learning as much as I should have. It's about learning, not about memorizing.

But I'm in France, and they grade harder here, and what would be my usual A-work at home might get me a C here. And I do not get C's. So I should be studying, right? Even if it's just French for Foreigners?

So I decided to study. So far, I have pulled out my notes and decided which pages I should reread. That's step one, and maybe I'll actually read them once I'm done watching the Abduction of Figaro and playing Scrabble. And if I don't get around to it, it doesn't bother me too much.

09 December 2007

Deux Châteaux et Deux Caves

Saturday I went on a trip organized for exchange students to two castles and two wine places. Those are called caves. They chartered a bus for us and we went to Chenonceau and Azay-le-Rideau. We had to leave at 6:45 (translation: got up before ten on a Saturday) and the weather wasn't great (translation: cold and rainy all day), but the castles were beautiful. I don't like wine, but it came with goat cheese. Here are some of my pictures, with rather wordy commentary :)

This is a line of trees by one of the outbuildings at Chenonceau. This type of tree is very common at French castles. As far as I can tell, they cut off all the branches and foliage and get it to grow as knobbly as possible. I think they're nice for the funniness factor, though I don't find them really attractive.

This is a view of one of the turrets (now the gift shop) and Catherine de Medici's garden. Why did Catherine de Medici have a garden there, you ask? Interesting answer. The castles most famous owner and resident was Diane de Poitiers, Henri II's mistress. She was about twice his age, and there are lots of adjectives that I will not use to describe her. She wanted a nice home, so Henri "encouraged" Chenonceau's owner to put the castle up for auction. Lucky for the king, no one else wanted to bid against him. So Diane de Poitiers had her own castle, and complete with incredible gardens. Catherine de Medici, Henri's wife, was not very happy about this. When her husband died, she kicked Diane out and did her best to change all the improvements Diane had made. She redid the whole garden. [Unfortunately, after I took this picture the screen on my camera decided to stop working. It just shows up grey, but the camera functions perfectly well. So after this picture, you can see how good my point-and-shoot skills are, since all I could do was aim as well as possible and guess for zoom.]

This is the chapel. As you can tell, the people who run this place decorated for the holidays. That was Welcoming Factor Number One. Welcoming Factor Number Two was the fact that they still heat the place with fireplaces, so there were crackling fires in most rooms. This was especially nice in view of the horrible weather outside.

Here's me and one of the Christmas trees. How festive. It's in the gallery, which is one of Diane's additions to the castle. She had the brilliant idea to construct an arched bridge over the river to connect the castle to the other side, and build this neat windowed gallery across. In later pictures, you'll be able to see how the castle stretches from bank to bank.

This is a picture of one of the four rooms of the kitchen, which was my favorite part of the castle. Welcoming Factor Number Three was that they didn't rope everything off and turn it into a museum. It felt like exploring a real, working castle. You could go up to things and look at them from an inch away, if you wanted. There was a very impressive collection of pots, a neat display of meat cleavers, and even baskets of oranges and peppers to make it look like a kitchen. It's really impossible to put into words how amazing this kitchen was.

Here's a view of the front of the castle and the turret gift shop.

Here's Diane de Poitiers' garden, which I think is much prettier than her lover's wife's attempt.

This is the side of the castle, which gives a good view of the gallery stretching across the river.

This is the castle again, partially obscured by me.

This is the other side of the castle. I'm very impressed with how well the picture's composed considering that I couldn't tell for sure how I was aiming. There's a little drawbridge, which makes me happy. I like drawbridges.

Here's the labyrinthe, which despite the name isn't really a maze. If you go to a castle in France as see on some English sign that there's a maze, don't get excited. It's basically artfully arranged hedges that make it take longer to walk to the gazebo. Thanks to the Renaissance ideal of symmetry, the openings in the perfectly trimmed concentric circles of hedges are even equidistant. Plus, they're waist-height, so if you "get lost" you can see the rest of the "maze" anyway.

I definitely want to go back to Chenonceau, since there's a lot more to see that we didn't have time to explore. Our next stop was a cave somewhere nearby. I don't know where it is, and I also don't remember the name. It's not a production cave, their business is aging wines. I wasn't particularly intrigued. Then there was a tasting, but I don't like wine. The cheese was good though.
Most of us ate our picnic lunches in the bus, since it had started to rain pretty hard. Some ventured into the deluge to buy food, and came back very wet.

After a "scenic" drive which I slept through, we arrived at Azay-le-Rideau. This was one of the first Renaissance castles in France, and they went overboard with symmetry. Here's a picture of what I will call the front, which is what you see first. The keep is open, which is another sign of Renaissance architecture because it no longer had to double as a fortress.

Here's a picture of the inside of the keep. Admire the symmetry. Ooooh.

We had a tour guide, who in general I really liked. She did, however, have two speech quirks that bothered me: the first is that she asked questions in a manner that made me think she wanted an answer, and then didn't want an answer. The second is that she likes to accentuate important words by separating their syllables, like the "I-tal-ian staircase" and all those "ta-pest-ries." It was a good tour though, because she pointed out the important things without going into details about things no one cared about. One interesting thing she told us was the reason why beds were put on six-inch high platforms: the floors used to be tile rather than the hardwood they are now, and the extra height would isolate the bed better from the cold.

Here is a picture of some incredibly well-preserved tapestries. Most tapestries are very faded, and it's difficult to tell what the original colors, and even sometimes the original designs, were. These were probably never hung for very long in direct sunlight, and may not have been hung for long at all. Even the piece that had been cut out to allow for a door was preserved (trimming tapestries to fit the wall was a common practice, but all too often the pieces were thrown away). It's been rewoven and it's difficult to tell where the cut was made.

Here's a room on the ground floor of Azay.

These two pictures show the "back" of the castle, which looks pretty front-like as well. It's also incredibly symmetrical.

Here's me blocking part of the castle. I put my umbrella down just long enough for Becky to take the picture. It was raining a lot at this point, which made the walk around the grounds rather muddy and squishy feeling.

Back to the (dry) bus for another bit of driving, and then we arrived at the second cave. This one actually produces wine, so the tour was much more interesting. I learned a lot, and now I feel like I have a better appreciation of wine, even though I still don't like it. For example, I learned:
- 20% of the oak barrels are replaced each year, and each bottle of wine has a fifth of its wine from each barrel generation to keep a uniform taste.
- Their wine is basically just like champagne except that it's from the Loire Valley instead of Champagne. There's a special name for it, but I forgot.
- The "small" pressing machine only holds one ton of grapes.
- The pressing machines rotate the grapes so that they don't get squashed too much in one place, which gets too much of the skin-taste in the juice.
- The way they get the sediment out of the wine is really clever. The bottles of double-fermented (bubbly) wine go through a week-long process of spinning to settle all the sediment and yeast into the cap (which at this point is like a bottle cap). Then the bottles are loaded into a machine which exposes the cap to -25° chemicals, which freeze the yeast into the cap. Then a machine pops the cap off, and adds either more alcohol or extra sweet juice, depending on the taste the particular buyer wants.
- The labeling process is the most complicated part, as far as machines go.
Here's a picture of some of their barrels. Each weighs about 250 kilograms when full, and they're priced thusly: if you can carry one away you can have it for free.

There was another tasting, and again I didn't like the wine (not surprising) but loved the cheese. They had a really good chèvre, plus dried ham and some sort of meat spread on bread. It wasn't paté, but it was somewhat reminiscent of paté.

Peaceful bus trip home, and again I managed to sleep a bit. After the morning's ride in a seat with absolutely no leg room, I sat by very-tall-English-boy Michael, who was by the middle door in a seat with an extra six inches of space. Heaven.

So ends my Saturday castles and wine tour.

08 December 2007

Gladys Miller: 1919-2007

I wrote this a few years ago while visiting my Grandma, and thought I would share it as a bit of a tribute. She died about twenty minutes ago. It was peaceful.

The Tallest in the Room
I sat on the pale green carpet as they talked, lost in my own thoughts. Five minutes earlier, as they came in, my aunt and uncles had seemed shocked, saying thing like, “I hardly even recognized you!” and “Well, you’ve grown a bit since I saw you last.” I looked absentmindedly at my mom, who sat beside me, as I thought about this.
I finally had joined the ranks of most of the Miller family, now standing nearly six feet tall. Grandma Brown had been at least six feet two inches, and most of my family is about as tall as her. A few Miller women are “short” at around five feet eight inches, but they are a minority.
I looked around at those gathered in the room: my mom and dad, my grandma, my dad’s brother Ray, sister Sue, and brother-in-law Leroy. Then I leaned over to my mom and whispered, “You’re the shortest one here.” I occasionally tease my mom about being short, since I can see over the top of her head when she is wearing shoes and I am barefoot. She teases me about having big feet, even though one of mine is the same size as hers.
“Am I?” she responded, frowning a bit. “Aren’t I taller than Aunt Sue?” Mom is about half a foot shorter than me: you can tell she married into the family.
“No, she’s only a bit shorter than me.” I whispered back. We both looked at my aunt and then a thought struck me. “Grandma,” I said, shocked that I hadn’t noticed. “You’re taller than Grandma.” My grandma is under five feet tall, though she was taller before shrinking in old age.
“Oh, you’re right,” my mom said, and she smiled a bit as she returned to listening to the discussion: a spirited comparison of produce prices in various grocery stores, in Missoula, Seattle, and Chicago.
It is very peculiar, how a person’s height does not always match his or her stature. I am tall, but I feel average around other people, and I don’t find it difficult to blend into a group. My grandmother is short, but her personality is strong, and she has a commanding nature. She and her family in England had a very hard life. Her father had been a prisoner of war in Germany for three years during World War I: he and the other English P.O.W.s escaped only a few days before the armistice was signed. Grandma was only ten years old when the Depression hit England. Her family suffered a lot; she had to leave school right before her fourteenth birthday to work as a scullery maid. She has always been incredibly smart, but her parents could not afford to send her to school, despite the scholarship she was offered, since they needed her to earn money for the family. When the Second World War started, Grandma became a Land Army Girl, running the farms men had left when they went to war, so that the country’s food supply would not slow. She then left her home country behind to move to a small town in rural Montana with her new husband, an American GI, and their small son, my dad. It was imperative that Grandma develop a strong personality to survive; she left her family to move into a town where everybody knew everybody else (there were about a dozen residents, so it wasn’t hard), few understood her thick accent, and she had to learn to live with American customs as well as a new family. Grandma faced more challenges than most people in our generations can even imagine.
So I know why my mom and I had not originally noticed that she was taller than another in the room. Because in a way, she is not. Over a foot shorter than most of us, my grandma was the tallest in the room.

07 December 2007

A Mini-Adventure and a Recipe

In between the university and home I see two domes, each from two different angles. They're pretty domes, and I've always wondered what they are. Today Becky and I had lunch at my place (recipe below!) and then walked to the domes to see what they were.
Here's the first:

Turns out that it is (I think) a Benedictine monastery. The gates were locked so we couldn't go explore, but the sign said there's a Gregorian chant mass Sundays at 9:30, so I'm planning to go.

Here's the second:

This one is a church, which was closed for the afternoon. It's in a really nice neighborhood: old-fashioned but modern.

In between the two there was a third dome, which was rather unattractive and green, more of the observatory style than the church style. It was very walled in though, and we couldn't get a decent view. Thus ends the mini-adventure.

Egg drop soup
Put a quart/liter of chicken broth on the stove. [If you use canned broth, try to get a brand that uses as few western-style vegetables (carrots, celery, etc.) as possible. If you can find a broth that only has chicken and water as the ingredients, that'll work best.] Add a liberal amount of powdered ginger (about a tablespoon) and a bit of cayenne, if you like that. If you have chives, put some in. Important: use soy sauce, not salt, to get an appropriate flavor.
Meanwhile, mix a few tablespoons of cornstarch with cold water.
When the broth comes to a boil, slowly add the cornstarch mixture. Give it a stir and stop adding when it's as thick as you like.
Let this simmer while you beat three eggs.
Stir the broth continually in one direction, and as you stir slowly pour in the beaten eggs. If you stir in multiple directions the egg will get broken up more and it won't be as pretty.
Let the egg cook for a minute or so, then serve and enjoy!

04 December 2007

In case you were wondering...

... it is possible to eat two pounds of clementines in two days.

... my Grandma is still hanging in there. She's very peaceful and happy, and has been amazing everyone with her attitude towards death.

... the past few days it's been about 55-60° out and gorgeous. Today I could even go out without a coat.

... in French there's no difference between "less than" and "fewer than" so the checkout aisle's grammar is always correct.

... putting the alarm clock on the other side of the room doesn't help much with the snooze button addiction. But is it really necessary to get up at a reasonable hour if you don't have class until the evening? (Yes, it is)

... Route A to the supermarket is eleven steps closer than Route B.

... the French are familiar with the Adams family theme. Verdi, in fact, stole the melody for part of his Requiem, which prompted the bass and tenor sections to sing "Libera me (snap, snap). Libera me (snap snap)."

... that was only funny the first few times.

... chocolate mousse mixed with yoghurt is delicious.

... one of the other sopranos in the UCO choir was a Rotary Youth Exchange student in Macomb the year I went to Russia. Which means that we were at Grand Rapids at the same time. Quelle coïncidence, n'est-ce pas?

... I have tragically lost five electronic chia pets so far this semester. That's worse than usual. You only have to feed them every three days, and somehow I forget.

... I despise doing laundry at the laundromat.

... crêpes with cinnamon sugar inside are delicious.

03 December 2007

A Good Recipe and some Random Comments

Open a can of artichoke bottoms (it would be way too much work to use fresh, but if you're in the mood for spending three hours instead of two minutes, go for it).
Arrange them on a microwave safe plate, concave up.
Put a slice of brie about 2cm x 2cm x 1cm in the center of each artichoke bottom. More if you want.
Microwave them for about 3 minutes, or until the cheese is good and melty and the artichokes are hot.

Random comments:
• When making hot chocolate, even if the metal handles of the pot don't look hot, it's quite possible that they might be. So if you pick up the pot in your bare hands, it's quite possible that you'll get a nice shiny blister on each of the four fingers that was in direct contact with the pot.

• It is possible to fry an egg inside a crêpe. However, it tastes gross so I do not recommend it.

• Snooze buttons are for occasional use. They are not meant to be used to sleep an extra forty-five minutes, punctuated every five minutes by beeping.

• It's December!! Can you believe it?? I most certainly cannot.

02 December 2007

Psychoanalyse me, if you want:

I remember the dream I had last night fairly well, and what's interesting is that I also remember that I'd had the dream before. I only remember one section of the dream vividly, and through it I remember a short section of the previous dream vividly.
I'm walking around downtown Angers. I'm on a shopping trip with Kristen this time (note: Kristen's currently in America) though last time I was shopping with Becky (who actually does live in Angers for the moment). We wind up walking past Place Ralliment, which is where the bus stops are, among other things. On the next corner, where in reality there's a men's clothing store, we see a preppy type clothing store that is a bit reminiscent of J. Crew. However, we both know for sure that although there's that name in the window, it's really a Gap inside. (There's no Gap in Angers) I want to go in, because I always want to go look at Gap. However, when we get in we discover that, although we know it should be a Gap inside, it's really a Carrefour, which is the enormous Super Wal-Mart type store. That's odd. However, perhaps they do still have what I wanted to buy at Gap: a yoga mat. (This is actually on my shopping list, since stretching while wearing socks on a hardwood floor is very slippery. But Gap doesn't sell those.) In the first dream, Becky and I were just exploring this clothing store that was supposed to be hiding a Gap but was really hiding a mega-mart, and in the second I knew that you had to walk through the shampoo isles and around the cheese section and past the huge displays of boys' clothing to get to the exercise stuff. And voilà, there it was. But in yesterday's dream we got slightly distracted by the beach and the grassy hill. We played in the sand for a while, then rolled down the hill to help get the sand off our clothes. Then I looked for a yoga mat, and didn't find one. I did, however, find my weights: "my" as in "the ones I have in my room at home." I didn't think it would be fair for me to have to pay for my own weights, so we left without buying anything. Then I woke up.
So we can conclude that: yes, I really am looking for a yoga mat. I miss Gap. I see Gap as being the store where you can get anything you need (and for me, this tends to be true). I want to go to a beach. I miss my weights.
Feel free to read into this as much as you like!

In other news, my parents have safely arrived in Montana. (If you're wondering what that sound was, it was my huge sigh of relief.) I was really worried about them driving fast on snowy mountain roads in a semi-distracted state of mind, given my Grandma's health, but they made it. If you're the praying type, pray for my Grandma, that she won't be in pain and that she'll be able to feel the love we all have for her. It's really hard for me that I'm so far away, because there's really no one I can talk to that understands the whole spectrum of emotion I'm feeling, since no one knows my Grandma. I love France, but I wish I was 5000 miles away (I calculated the distance online) in Missoula right now.

Final piece of news is incredibly joyful for me, though depressing for my wallet. It's clementine season!! My Euros will now start to disappear more quickly, but boy will I have enough vitamin C :)

Happy December!