Tag Archives: Texas

Last Call From Texas

The clock is ticking down on my Texas time and if Air France is on its game this time tomorrow, I will be watching Texas disappear beneath me as I make my way back to Paris. As is my habit, I am feeling a tad conflicted- wistful about leaving family, friends, and dog, but excited to be rekindling my love affair with Paris and sharing it with the multitudes of visitors we will be receiving in the next few months. And I’m stressed. Of course.

I wasn’t stressed last weekend when I paid my goodbye visit to Central Texas. I spent some good time with my mom and my sister, and then drove out to our lake house that is not a lake house, to button it up tight and hug my neighbors’ necks. The welcome rains of late have resulted in lush green grasses and abundant flowers along the roadsides and in my garden. Even the cacti are blooming. It all makes me ridiculously happy.

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This old abandoned building sits on the road just before we get to our house. I have always loved it and imagined what I would do with it. Pies? Cold beer and peanuts? Picnic lunches to take out on the boat? Palm readings? The possibilities are endless. I am open to suggestions.

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A few short years ago our lake neighborhood lost an angel of a man to brain cancer.  Brent could build or fix anything. He was an amazing guy. Fortunately, one of the legacies he left us was this gorgeous vegetable garden he built for his wife. He gathered the stone from his property and made a pretty little wall around the beds, which are loaded with rich soil and watered by an ingenious irrigation system he installed. Another neighbor sowed seeds and small plants earlier this spring, and now the garden is abundant with tomatoes, potatoes, leeks, onions, peppers, and herbs. The bounty is shared by the neighborhood, one final gift from Brent.

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I love this old tractor that sits quietly in Brent’s yard.

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Goodbye, Ricky and Lucy, our next door chickens.

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Can I tell you how happy I would be if this dry cove in our backyard were filled with water when I come back? Pleeeeaaaaasssseeee!

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From the lake house I drove an hour away to a little German town called New Braunfels. My book club spent the weekend together at the house of one of our members.  We had such a good time eating, drinking, shopping, and yes, even sneaking in a little talk about books. New Braunfels is full of precious old homes that I was dying to go explore. I had to settle for pictures of the exteriors.

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After dinner we were lured into an open-air bar by the great live music drifting out into the street. Amazingly, we were not the oldest people in the place- always a good thing.

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While shopping the next morning I spied this “vintage” purse, which is just like the kind my friends and I carried in college. Isn’t it weird when possessions from your past are labeled “vintage”? Weird and just so wrong.

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On my way home Sunday morning I couldn’t pass up this restaurant, which has been feeding lunch to church-goers in Schulenburg for many months of Sundays. I gave in to the lunch plate of fried chicken, which was tastier than the mushy green beans and bland boiled potatoes that accompanied  it. I’m pretty sure it will be awhile before I see fried chicken on a menu again.

 

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I always look for the “Eating Out Is Fun” sticker on the door!

 

Thanks for hanging out with me here in Texas for a while. Keep your berets and cigarettes handy because we will be back in Paris before you know it!

Until then…

Go Team USA!

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Filed under Austin, gardens, Texas, Uncategorized

Giving Thanks

Bonjour mes amis, and Happy Thanksgiving!  Although there are many days that I miss Paris, Thanksgiving is not one of them.  Having spent my last two turkey days there (where my daughter did not have the day off school, there was no football on TV, and turkey, cranberries, pecans, and canned pumpkin were scarce commodities),  I am beyond thrilled to be in Texas for Thanksgiving this year.  We have even had a well-timed cold snap, lending the season an authenticity that is so often lacking in these parts.  I had forgotten how  much I enjoy the plethora of radio and newspaper stories about pie crust, lump-less gravy, and the never-ending variations of dressing and squash recipes.  Food, food, glorious food!  For a few short weeks I am surrounded by talk of food and how to prepare it, serve it, and eat it.  It has been heavenly.

My two daughters came home from college yesterday, completing our family of five and filling our little townhouse to capacity.  I think Sawyer the Wonder Chien is as happy as I am to have them all home.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the abundance in my life.  For family and friends, of course; for the joy I receive from good books; for my love of preparing food and feeding it to my family.  And, of course, for the amazing opportunity  to write a blog about my experiences in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Thank you all for reading it, and for celebrating my good fortune with me.  Sharing it with you all makes it even more amazing.

For Paris

For Paris

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For Texas

For Texas

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For food

For food

For my precious kids

For my precious kids

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And most of all, for my husband, who heightens my joys, softens my sorrows, and makes my life more abundant each day.

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I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving, wherever you may be celebrating it.

P.S.- Technical difficulties are preventing me from updating my “On Top Of My Nightstand”.  I am reading a great book called Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

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Filed under family, Paris, Texas, Uncategorized

There Is No Place LIke Home. Unless It’s The Other Home.

I have been back in Texas for exactly a month now.  It has been great  re-connecting with friends and resuming a (minimal) level of productivity.  It’s nice to wake up and have a purpose for my day, other than simply wandering, slack-jawed, around the most beautiful city on earth.  That said, I am very much looking forward to flying back to Paris this Thursday for a 10-day visit with my sweet husband and the city I have grown to love.    As I have mentioned previously, my ex-pat experience  has been a constant state of embracing one home and missing the other.  I am always happy to be in Paris, while simultaneously missing my first home in Houston.  And when here in Houston, I luxuriate in the comforts of home, while pining for Paris and all of her allure.

After a month in Houston, here is a sampling of what I am loving and what I am missing.

LOVE:

1.  Being close to my family

Having all three kids in my time zone feels like a luxury, and how nice to say goodbye to my family  in Austin without tears!

2. The quiet of my bedroom

A month of not hearing car horns, car alarms, drunks, or crazy people outside my bedroom at all hours of the morning.  Guess what I hear?  BIRDS!  I had almost forgotten about those little creatures!

3. Familiarity

Good Morning America as I make breakfast, NPR in my car, knowing where to go to get anything I might need.  It’s such a relief not to feel like a total  idiot every single day.

4. Friendliness of Strangers

I know many French people think we are shallow and phony because we tend to smile at people we don’t know (and sometimes even people we do), but to me it’s a way of acknowledging that everyone around us is sacred and worthy and struggling.  Is it so hard to smile at  people we may never see again?

5.  Customer service

It’s a beautiful thing.

6.  Regular gym attendance

Yes, I walked much more in Paris, but not at a pace that elevated my heart rate.  Unless I was worried that the boulangerie was about to close, of course.  And yes, I did join a gym in Paris, but for some reason it was much more difficult to get myself there.  Maybe because there were always 999 things that sounded more appealing on any given day?

7. Well- stocked grocery stores open all day every day

You know how I feel about that.

8. No cigarettes

If it weren’t for my next door neighbor, who smokes on our shared front porch, I wouldn’t have inhaled any second-hand smoke in a month.  Ahhhhh.

9. The livin’ is easy

SO much easier, in almost every way.  The daily challenges of Paris can be wearisome.

MISS:

1.  My husband!

2. The eye-popping beauty that is everywhere you look in Paris

Buildings, streets, bridges, the Seine- they’re all so beautiful, and I never get desensitized to it.

3. Hearing French

Yes, while the language contributes to much of my Paris frustration, I never tire of hearing it spoken around me.

4. Walking

Walking, walking, and walking some more.

5. The bread and butter

You knew I would sneak that in somewhere, didn’t you?

6. Sitting at cafes for as long as I want

7. Riding the bus

8. Gorgeous fresh produce grown locally, still wearing the soil it sat in the day before.

9. The stimulation

Everything is a mystery to me in Paris.  What did that guy just say?  What is that thing in the street for? How does she walk in those shoes? What is that green drink everyone seems to be drinking?  Constantly trying to figure out the world around me, and how to make a dinner reservation over the phone, while exhausting, is also very stimulating.  My life in Paris is never dull or ordinary.

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If you want to see anything special from my upcoming trip to Paris, let me know and I will try to get it on here for you.  I suspect that the unusual snow of last week will be gone, but I would be thrilled if I could capture  the magic of Paris in white.  The pictures on Twitter have been amazing.

Last Saturday I happened to hear a radio clip of David Sedaris reading from his book Me Talk Pretty One Day.  The segment included his account ( I wish it were fictional but it’s probably true) of being on the Paris metro with four Texans who were discussing (loudly) the relative merits of Paris and Houston.  I found the segment in an archive of This American Life (which I also miss when I am in Paris, even though it’s available on the computer, because I never think to listen to it there).  Here it is:

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It was July, and Hugh and I were taking the Paris Metro from our neighborhood to a store where we hoped to buy a good deal of burlap. During the summer months, a great number of American vacationers can be found riding the Metro, and their voices tend to carry. It’s something I hadn’t noticed until leaving home, but we are a loud people.

On the first of our two trains, I listened to a quartet of college-age Texans who sat beneath a sign instructing passengers to surrender their seats and stand, should the foyer of the train become too crowded. The foyer of the train quickly became too crowded. And, while the others stood to make more room, the young Texans remained seated and raised their voices in order to continue their debate, the topic being which is the better city, Houston or Paris?

[LAUGHTER]

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It was a hot afternoon, and the subject of air conditioning came into play. Houston had it, Paris did not. Houston also had ice cubes, tacos, plenty of free parking, and something called a Sonic burger. Things were not looking good for Paris, which lost valuable points every time the train stopped to accept more passengers.

The crowds packed in, surrounding the seated Texans and reducing them to four disembodied voices. From the far corner of the car, one of them shouted that they were tired and dirty and ready to catch the next plane home. The voice was weary and hopeless, and I identified completely. It was the same way I’d felt on my last visit to Houston.

I don’ t know if David Sedaris still lives in Paris, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t live in Houston.  He clearly has never had a Sonic burger.

Au revoir, mes amis!  Next stop- Paris!

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Filed under homesickness, Paris, Texas, Uncategorized