Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Chalk and Cheese

Ant Nancy here (after surviving another giant ant attack):
We met up with Veronica (our "estate" agent and M. Lamand, the owner, yesterday to view the house once again before our 7-day cooling off period expires. I still marvel that, after numerous face-to-face meetings and even more phone calls with Veronica, she still continues to call Doug "Mr. Reid." And we still refer to M. Lamand as "M. Lamand. I guess we're not quite into the good ol' boy network here yet.
Veronica greeted us with an exclamation that the weather lately had indeed be "chalk and cheese". Was she daft? No, just Brit. Upon demand, she explained that it was an expression to describe the wild weather patterns we had been experiencing. Well put!
Our purpose was to nail down specifically what items stayed with the house and to negotiate purchasing furniture. We have heard these nightmare stories about the French removing doorknobs and lightbulbs, but M. Lamand is more than a reasonable man. He and his wife are hoping to build on a piece of nearby property with their profits, and we anticipate that he will be a great resouce during our continuing renovation phase. We understand they have recently adopted a baby from Tahiti. We sat around the dining table to "discuss" the furniture. They had some pieces that I couldn't touch in the States, some pieces that would be great to already have here when we arrive. We counter his proposal, he pulls out a piece of paper with individual prices and I'm assuming the head-butting will begin. But once again, M. Lamand proves to be a reasonable man. We do not get away with a steal, and this is good. We pay a fair price and I think this is as it should be.
Tomorrow we will head to the Notaire's office and write a cheque for the deposit. The only thing I worry about at this point is how we are going to fit this on the Payee line: "SCP Barbe Barbelanne Aude Bruno Barbe et Jean Cathala Notaire Associes". I think I better write real tiny.
Yesterday when we were in Chalabre for a meeting with our banker, I stoped in the Pharmacy to see what hoops I had to jump through to get my "drugs" here in France. I took my bottle (illegally ordered online from the UK), showed it to the pharmacist and asked if I could get without a prescription. She responded "apres mange" and we took it to mean that I should take it with food; after further dialogue we interpreted her to say that it would be available 'after lunch'---no prescription needed and cheaper than buying them online! Voila! Gotta love the French. This could never happen in the good old USA. I'm now the proud owner of my first French drugs.
As we have been driving and touring around, I have the habit of religiously carrying a tiny pocket dictionary. It fits in my back pocket, but because it's small, it does have its limitations. Today we took off for Castlenaudry and its environs, and ended up in Belpech for dejeuner. The plat du jour offered choucroute as an option, so I inquired, because it wasn't in my book. As is my habit, I tend to hear what I want to hear---something about cabbage and vegetables I thought. I imagined a stew, yummy. Guess I missed the part about sauerkraut and maxxxxxing out on MEAT---ham, salt pork, sausage, and an honest-to-goodness Oscar Mayer hot dog! But the tomato salad and citron glace was worth it.
Our patrons, Alan and Eileen, return on Friday. We have tons of questions for them about the purchase process regarding hooking up utilities. We have also learned that we may have to get a French marriage contract, a "community universalle", that will ensure me as the sole heir should something happen to my beloved husband. French law does not favor the spouse otherwise.
The "chalk and cheese" of the French and American cultures is just that---chalk and cheese.


Judy said...

So, Nancy, on the handicap sign...does that say "if you take my spot, you take my handicap too? What a sense of Humor?! Since Ron now makes use of handicap parking, I look for those places to park whether he is in the car or not!

And is a German/Polish type dish; heavy on the meat and sauerkraut and we have it every so often. It really fills you up! Judy

Noah said...

Right she is, Choucroute garni is the full name, its from alsace. Its like descibing a submarine sandwhich as bread with garnish. Except the garnish is meat.

Speaking of meat, the town you went to, Castelnaudry, is very famous for its Cassoulet. That and Toulouse. Try it next time you go. Its handmade sausage, duck confit and beans. very hearty food.

Nancy said...

Yes Judy, that's exactly how we interpreted the handicap sign---pretty to the point! Maybe we should steal you one, eh?

And, Noah, our intent was to have cassoulet in Castelnaudry. Rumor around these parts is there is a feud between Toulouse and Carcassonne regarding the true 'origin'---probably to never be determined. As restaurants don't serve until the strike of 12:00 (that's noon not midnight) we were way too early and moved on. But we've partaken the succulent treat before...and will again.

Anonymous said...

Luke is glad to see you in the pictures with the giant ant...even though you are mostly in profile I get a great sense of what you look like these days! I haven't seen Doug in so many years, I'm not sure I would recognize him...was that him in the top hat
and "disguise goggles" in Durfort? You are forcing me to stretch my own marginal French vocabulary as I read your commentaries...I took Spanish and Latin...over 30 years that's not helping much! I feel like I'm getting a little extra education in my "old age"...and I am enjoying it so much...thanks to my old get an "A" from me!

leslie said...

ooh, la pharmacie, you can get all kinds of stuff. The pharmacist can dx your problem and then dx for it. If they can't they will send you to monsieur, le docteur.

Nancy said...

Lukas: Sad to say, the lovely gent in the top hat and goggles is not Doug, tho he does bear some resemblence. I will attempt to capture the dear boy one of these days, but he is a bit camera shy unless he hoisting a ridge beam or whatever. And your praises of my language abilities are much too generous, my friend. My repertoire is now up to about 10 words I think.