Is it May Already?

Trip Start Oct 26, 2006
Trip End Aug 2007

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Has Spring arrived already? Did we sleep through winter? The south winds came into town and have brought warm sunny weather. It is hard to believe we are living at 6,000 feet in the French Alps and it is January. It is funny, depending on who you talk to, you get a different answer on what we think is crazy weather. When you talk to a younger skier-type, typically they will try to remind you that winter starts late in the Alps. This happens from time to time. Just wait til March and April they will say. However if you talk to an older "townie", they will shake their head and say this is not normal. There should be snow on the ground. It is funny to hear the different conversations around town. In a broken English/minimal French conversation I had with the lady we get our daily baguette from, she indicated that the town elders think this weather will last til the middle of March. When we repeated this theory to the local Rossignol rep, he laughed. The elders are always sleeping he remarked. He countered with the comment that this fall there was a good mushroom harvest and the honey was sweet, therefore the winter will be good. As he said this he finished off a shot of Chartreuse (local liquor). Who is right? I guess we will find out.

With the sunny skies during the day and clear skies at night, the snow (that is left) has fully transformed into spring corn. With avy conditions low, we have been free to check out more of our backyard. We have to gain about a thousand feet before the patches of snow connect, but after that the turns are actually not bad.

But enough about skiing, some people have requested to learn more about our daily lives. Here are some questions and answers:

Where do we shop? - Shopping for groceries has been an adjustment for us. In Seattle, with our lives we tend to make hectic, we seem to visit the grocery store every other, if not every, day. There is no grocery store in Les Terrasses. The grocery store in La Grave is pretty minimal and expensive. There is a market that comes to La Grave on Thursdays but this time of year it doesn't offer much. So we have been borrowing a car or sharing a ride every 7 to 10 days to a nearby city with a larger grocery store (Briançon or Bourg D'Oisans). Needless to say we have become better at planning out our eating and making up meals using the ingredients we have left. With the majority of our food coming from our once a week shop-a-thon we still do buy our bread and cheese locally. Our bread typically comes from one of the local boulangeries. We try to buy from the same one on a regular basis, but we have to watch the signs on the door for regular hours, as well as "feriés", or random days that they will be closed. And of course, for those of you not familiar with the French hours, all stores are closed for approximately 2 ½ hours each day for lunch, so you have to plan wisely and do shopping either in the morning before noon, or after 2:30 or 3, or sometimes not til 5. We buy our cheese from a local cheese maker. He is about a 10 minute walk from our house. The problem is finding him when he is there. We still don't have any idea. It is a total crap shoot, but man is it worth it. He makes a goat cheese and a goat/cow mixture cheese (I think the mixing is done after the milk is drawn). It is almost worth the trip over just for the cheese. Who knows if we will be able to smuggle any back.

What do we eat? ¬ Besides Colin giving me a piece of pizza to keep me occupied while I waited for him to finish his lunch before we took a run together, we have not eaten out yet. For one, it is kind of pricey. But the bigger reason has been cooking and eating a nice sit-down meal together has been a big part of this trip. We have enjoyed trying out some new recipes. Holly in particular has made some good ones. Many have been French meals she learned from a cooking class she took in Grenoble, but we also have done some experimenting. Most of the time it has been with great success, but of course there were a few learning experiences. Don't ask about the barbeque sauce reduction or the left-over fish curry chicken soup concoction. Let's just say my reputation is still good as a dishwasher.

Are we drinking a lot of wine? -Typically, we have a glass of wine at dinner most every night. Except for Christmas Eve where we had a few too many, typically we keep it to just one glass. And yes, for the people who paid close attention to the attached picture of our kitchen we do have boxed wine. Like the bottled wine in France the boxed wine is also better.

Where do you do your laundry? - Well, our washer was down for a little bit. For the first week or so Holly got good at putting up with my smell. After the washer has been up running we have been doing laundry in our apartment. Cleaning the clothes in the washer and hanging them up on a make-shift drying system (clothes line hung from all corners of the room). As you probably know the most French don't use dryers. We should be taking advantage of this sunny weather, and hanging up the clothes outside. Of course as soon as we run a clothes line up outside it will probably start snowing......mmmmm a good project for this week.

Do you do anything else but ski? ¬ Well, we have been skiing a lot, but we do manage to fit in other activities. Holly's has been dedicated in studying her French skills, her cooking skills, keeping up corresponding with friends and family, and helping Colin with some of his business stuff. I have worked on troubleshooting and eventually fixing the washer, gas stove, and kitchen faucet. Plus also have spent some time helping Colin with some business stuff and (hold on to your seats) actually finished a book. It was Barack Obama's first book. A good insight on where he is coming from if you're interested. All and all we have not accomplished a lot, but that is not the point of this trip. We have lived life at a slower pace and learned to pay more attention to the present.
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