Tag Archives: school

Lyon lightning

School’s pau …

for the moment.

Leaving Lyon tomorrow for Germany. Gonna hang with good friends and change the channel on the language network.

Time to really mess with my brain. ;-)

Coming soon:

Pedrata’s Take on Lyon

✫ Sj ✫

pau = finished

I’ve hit the CELTA wall . . .

You know that “wall” they talk about in marathons. That place where your legs supposedly turn to jelly and you just want to sit down and call it quits? It’s supposed to happen around mile 20. Twenty divided by 26.2 = .76. Or, think of it as you’ve run 76% of the race and have 24% more to go. The percentage is similar for little ole me sitting here at my desk in Bangkok. 20 days of school; I’ve just completed day 13. Thirteen divided by 20 = .65. There’s only 35% more to go. And there’s a hill facing me. A hill with two bumps in the shape of a lesson plan and written assignment. I hadn’t realized that this moment might come. But just google “marathon wall,” and you’ll see how much has been written about it.

What the heck are you doing, Susan Jane, comparing an English teaching course to a marathon? You’ve got to be kidding!

Well, I’m not. That’s how it feels. I’m at that point where I just want to lie on my bed and watch one Lucy show after another. (I just watched one but somehow managed to kick myself out of bed and up into this chair.)

But we thought you wanted to do this course?

I did. I do. I just gotta find the will to keep going.

What do all those blogs say about getting over the marathon wall?

Essentially, stop thinking about it, and just keep going. Ignore the fatigue. Take one step and then another. One step and then another. Until you’ve distracted yourself and forgotten that you were tired, until you find you’re almost there and can sigh a huge sigh of relief.


(yes, I’m indulging myself and calling my “sigh” card now)

And with that, I’m going to get back to work.

It tasted as good as it looked . . . and the roses smelled delicious too!

Hi Everyone,

It’s 7:01 p.m. on the 12th day out of 20 at this most wonderful CELTA course in Bangkok, Thailand.

Whew! It’s downhill from here on out! (I think : )

I was on my way home from yet another action-packed day (complete with practice teaching, today it was #5 out of 8).

So how is it? I can hear a chorus of you yelling across the byways, highways and seas.

Well, it’s intense.

Duh, it IS an intensive course I hear the teachers saying.

Yep, it is.

But it’s good. The people involved are absolutely wonderful. The teachers are very knowledgeable and caring. The students (who we’re teaching) are excited to be in the class and participate (mostly) fully with an excitement that can be contagious. And my cohorts are absolutely darling people, from the collection of beautiful and smart young ladies from Australia, England, and the U.S. to the varied men of all ages and nationalities.

We’re all here for different and similar reasons. To be with a sister who works and lives here. To be with boyfriends who work and live here. To be with Thai wives who work and live here. To be able to go back home and work (home being Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines). To gain experience before starting a business in Thailand based around language schools. I’m sure there are even more reasons, but those are the ones who raised their hands and said, “Pick me! Pick me!”

What’s a typical day like? I think I mentioned before that the mornings are generally devoted to learning about all (and I do mean ALL) the different types of lesson plans. The below picture I took today during our one-and-only review session with all three teachers present at once.

We (okay, mostly me) were trying to get a handle on all the different types and their particular stages (sections, really, chapters. Pick a word, any word; I bet it’ll fit).

Then we meet with our tutor of the week and go over our plan to see what we’re going to do and if the tutor thinks it’ll work. Gradually, we’re becoming more and more responsible for the exact structure of the lesson.

Then, some people go out for lunch for a hot and spicy 30 BHT soup (30 BHT = $1). Some run downstairs to the British ex-pat who makes a mean tuna fish sandwich for 35 BHT (and a cookie’s only 15BHT), salads are around 80BHT. Some go to the Subway downstairs (haven’t gotten one, so I don’t know the cost). Regardless what they eat, they’re sure to not run out of choices. I’ve never seen so many food vendors in my life.

The mango smoothie in the shot at the top of the page? 30BHT. The veggie spring rolls that I ate (but didn’t photograph) were 100BHT. The going rate for a smoothie is between 30 (watermelon one, yum!) to this high-end mango one for all of 60BHT. I suppose the extra 10BHT are to pay for the wonderful ambience of this little tropical paradise in the midst of Bangkok madness. I feel a bit of Kauai-ness here, AND they have wi-fi. Can’t beat that!

When I left school this evening (around 6:15 p.m.—I generally arrive at 8 a.m. so that I have an hour to get my head on straight, papers in order, copies made, etc.), I thought I was going to grab a quick bite and then head straight home to start in on Written Assignment #3 out of 4. Well, I do still have plans to do the assignment tonight (or at least make major headway, it’s due Thursday by 6 p.m.), but this pleasant outdoor Thai café called out to me. “Susan Jane! Here’s where you want to have dinner. Remember that wonderful smoothie you had last week; you can get pupus too. And there’s wi-fi. And beautiful roses that smell wonderful too.”

Who could resist such a seductive call? Not moi, that’s for sure. So here I sit and type. It’s now 7:24 p.m., the smoothie is just about pau (finished for non-Hawaiians/Kauaians), and the spring rolls are long gone. And the assignment sits in my heavy backpack saying, “Ah, I won’t be too hard on you. Just a little this and that about writing lesson plans on reading, using skimming, scanning, detailed reading . . . it’ll be easy!”

Ha! I’ve heard that mischevious call before. Just last week it came from Written Assignment #2. The assignment that somehow turned into the exercise from *:#(! It just didn’t want to end, couldn’t say goodbye, wanted just one more peck on my cheek before it turned its back on me and found another. But end it did. Just in time for me to be free and go for a pint with all my fellow students at Molly Malone’s. An Irish Pub in Bangkok, you ask? You’ve got to be kidding! That seems so ordinary compared to: Bei Otto, a German restaurant; Chela, a Swiss restaurant; suchandsuch, a Mexican restaurant; somethingother, a Scandinavian restaurant; ad infinitum. You get the picture. There’s EVERYTHING here in Bangkok.

Okay, so there are lots of restaurants, Susan Jane. But what about the teaching? What’s that like?

Well, you know how you got ready for your first date? Did you hair (alright guys, this relates to you just as well as girls!) and nails. Took days to pick out the right outfit. Which shoes to wear? Should I bring that purse or the other one? Should we go to a movie? Do we get pizza first or after? And what if she/he doesn’t like pizza? What if we don’t have anything to talk about? What’s the best move to get my arm around her? Or hold her hand? (And with that: How can I get him to move his arm? Hand?) . . . okay, you get the picture. Remember????

It’s kind of like that. You plan and plan, but somehow it all falls part. Or, the pizza is served cold. Or, something gets caught in your braces and you don’t realize it’s been hanging out of your mouth all night. Or, you reach over to kiss her and you butt heads; your glasses get tangled in hers/his. Stop! Stop! I hear you all calling out! (It’s amazing how you’re all able to speak in unison from all parts of the world. : ) We get the picture; it’s painful!

Yes, it can be painful.

But it can be pleasant too. Remember when you looked over at him/her and exchanged the most precious smile? When you held hands and that warm palpitation rose up your entire body and made your cheeks glow?

Well, it can be like that too. In the midst of the uncertainty, the doubt, the worry. Sweet little moments rise up and say, “Keep going; it’ll be alright. Just smile. A smile goes a long way.”

So with that, my friends, I shall bid you adieu. Yes, the date bells are ringing that it’s time for my next rendezvous.

I wish you all well and thank you so very much for your little notes of encouragement. They mean a lot. Like that timid smile, they’re just what’s needed when you’re painfully aware that you’re in new territory, and the course is unclear.



p.s. photo collection from the past week . . .

Friday watching out the window . . .

What’s all the fuss?

That’s what. A election campaign parade. They’re the same the world over.

Then it was time to head to Molly’s somethingorother Irish Pub.

This was the first time we all got together to blow off steam. End of week two.


It was Howard’s birthday too!

I managed to find a grocery store on my own, and then celebrated (e v e r y t h i n g: end of week 2, being healthy, being in BKK, having wonderful friends, family . . . yes, everything!) with a delicious café latte and chocolate cup of something yummy.

Yep, this is his hang.

Saturday afternoon/evening some of us gathered at one of the student’s beautiful home; she had graciously invited us over for a barbecue and dip in the pool!

And on the way home from the party, I saw yet another political rally. Nope, I didn’t linger. Good night ya’ll!

So much has happened . . . !

But there’s just not time now to write about it all. I completed my third of eight practice teaching sessions this afternoon. Today’s was definitely the best. : ) I turned in my first written assignment this past Monday and am looking at a 13-page document that is the second written assignment; it’s due this Friday.

A rhythm to the school day has slowly emerged. Eighteen people are in the group. Morning sessions run from 9 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. with one of the three teachers presenting information regarding lesson plans, language systems, etc. They somehow manage to do it in an interesting way. Generally, they’re using the teaching methods that they want us to use.

Then, every afternoon around 1:45 p.m. the students begin to arrive. They come from all parts of the world: Thailand, Japan, Pakistan, Somalia, you name it! The 18 split up into three groups of 6. Two groups are currently teaching students at the intermediate level; one group is teaching more elementary level students. Next week we’ll switch so that we all have an opportunity to experience both levels. We’re each teaching two 40-minute classes per week (the first three weeks). The fourth and last week we’ll each teach two 60-minute classes. (I’m down to teach on the last day, Friday the 24th. Talk about coming down to the wire!)

So, that’s the deal pickle. I’m enjoying it, but I’ll admit that when we came across the sentence, “She’s looking forward to the end of the course” in one of our exercises the other day*, I had to chuckle to myself and say, “Well, yes, I too am enjoying it, but I’m also looking forward to the end of it.” What’s the saying? It’s not the destination; it’s the journey? Fortunately, this girl IS enjoying the journey.

Love to you all. Below are some shots of Bangkok life, which the school accurately calls “the charming chaos of your new environment.”



*We were making CCQs (concept checking questions) to see if they students understand the meaning of the underlined portion. This statement’s CCQs were: “Will she be happy when it is finished?” (Yes), “Is the course finished?” (No), “Does she often think about the end of the course?” (Yes is the “official” answer, but from where I’m sitting, there’s not time to think about anything but the course! : )

The dog days of Bangkok

Do you see what I see?

Found a park about 10-minutes away (by foot) from where I’m staying. : )

Soccer-like Volleyball (really fun to watch!)

A nice place to hang-out

Plenty to look at . . .

There are construction sites everywhere!

View from Sky train when enroute to school one day

Thank God for flowers !

First time to practice teach is today . . .


Vocabulary: phrasal verbs connect to family

grew up

look after

tell off (hah!)

carry on

get on with (we say get along in America . . .)

look up to

take after

Wish me luck!

Danke sehr, mahalo, merci bien, kapu kah (how it’s pronounced, don’t know how it’s spelled ; ~ )


It’s official; school has started!

Hi Everyone,

As you can see from the shot above, I won’t be making a lot of long and involved entries to my glob over the next 4-weeks! My job tonight is to organize all the many papers for this-and-that, read an assignment, look through my notes to make some sense of all I learned today, and just generally, get my head on straight!

The school’s in that building across the way.

From the Skytrain, I can walk directly into the building. Upon arrival early this a.m., it looked a lot like the Kuhio Mall of days gone by. Tones knows what I mean. : )

So what the heck am I doing typing this to you right now? Well, I wanted to let you know what’s up, and that all is well. We each already stood in front of a group of students (who we’ll be teaching this week) to introduce ourselves and practice the very first points we were taught. And what were those points? Don’t talk too much; keep what you say simple and concise.

But we want to know more, I can hear you saying. So I’ll give you Susan Jane’s down-and-dirty-off-the-cuff list of FAQ’s:

1) Where are the other students from?

Australia, England, Malaysia and the U.S.

2) Do they plan on teaching in Asia after the course?

Yes, some have jobs already; some have family here; some have boyfriends or girlfriends here.

3) What are their ages?

Most are in their 30’s though my unofficial guesstimate is that they range from the mid-20’s to the mid-40’s (with moi being an exception : ). One guy’s wife just had a baby boy on the 21st of May; yes, they live in Bangkok.

4) What are the teacher’s like?

Two males and one female—all from England. The guys make a perfect mutt and Jeff set of bookends. She’s got lots of energy and makes teaching English to Thai students look easy!

5) Who are the students?

Here’s a quick run-down of the few I met today.

One young lady wants to be an airline attendant.

One young lady moved here from Japan and wants to be able to talk to the foreigners in her apartment building.

One young lady is in college and is planning to go to grad school in Psychology.

One young lady studied English is school and now, 10-years later, wants to improve her English since she teaches computer classes.

There are a few guys, but I just didn’t meet them yet.

They seem to range in age from the mid-20’s to late 30’s.

6) What’s the school itself like?

It’s on the 7th floor of this buildingm just off of a Sky Train stop on the Silom line. The rooms are narrow and FULL of students. It’s a hopping kind of place with classes taking place all the time, even on the weekend. Three or so beautiful young Thai ladies greet you once you enter. The restrooms are not in the school area, but rather outside just past the elevators. Fortunately, I remembered to carry some of my own tissue with me today. If you don’t know what I mean, just think about it for a moment.

Okay, I think I need to get going and busy with my school work.

Below are also some shots I took this weekend when I went to play golf with my girlfriend’s *husband and a German couple, all expats working here in Bangkok. And yes, I had fun speaking German with them. The golf? It was fun, and I definitely got my money’s worth, if you know what I mean . . . yep, think about it for a moment and you’ll get the picture.

Until the next post,

Sawasdee kha

At 6 p.m. every day, everyone stops while a short version of their national anthem is play.

Looks like he’s happy with his game, and there is a lot of the same foliage as on Kaua‘i.

The golf course was a 45-minute drive north of Bangkok. And yes, we each had a caddy! That was a first for me. I can hear some of you saying, I didn’t know you played golf. Exactly, I don’t; hence, I got my money’s worth!

The golfers said that balls often land on these huge lily pads!

So beautiful! I couldn’t resist stopping during the game and smelling the roses, I mean hibiscus.

Sunrise from my private lanai
Private lanai? Yes, it just keeps getting better and better.

*Why wasn’t my girlfriend playing golf with us? She’s in Singapore working until she ties up her job there.

-pau for now . . .

Six weeks of School in Lyon have come and gone . . .

 date:  Fri, Feb 20, 2009

subject:  J’ai fini l’école ! ! ! pour maintenent . . .
Hi Everyone,
Alors, its vendredi the 20th and I’ve finished school . . . at least for now.
It’s 2:30 pm and we’ve all made a date to meet at Pub Johnny Walsh, très francaise don’t you think? We met there last week and it’s a good hang.
Moi, Jonathan and Monika
at Pub Johnny Walsh the previous week
There was a rock band playing and I recorded just a bit simply because the lead was singing a Jack Johnson song  . . . .
Alors, highlights of school this week?
A game. Well, we just finished my last classing playing the game “Taboo.” (I had asked Marion the other day if we could.) As Jan knows, I love to play games . . . and it’s so fun to play a game and learn French at the same time.  Only bizarre thing is that a LOT of the words are American, as in internet, Mickey, etc.  I think I explained this one already . . . you say things to get the person to guess the word(s), but you can’t say certain words . . for example, I said terroiste for World Trade Towers and got buzzed!
Here we’re playing “Battle Ships.”
Cookies.  Jan sent the most delicious cookies!!!! Merci beaucoup!  A thank you card is on the way.  Many students wrote a short note in their native language.  Have fun figuring it out Jan  . . . and Katie . . . and Logan! They arrived Monday and I shared them with the school Tuesday at our “coffee” break at 10:30 am; I also gave Madame a bag.  They ALL said Merci Beaucoup!!! C’était delicieux!
Bowling.  David, a 21 year old Swiss “boy” who is at least 6’4 inches and quite handsome, and I won . . . with the whopping score of 106!! Yahoo!!   
Les champions !
I was the last to bowl and it worked out perfectly . . . I remember very clearly Dad telling me to not beat boys in sports . . . and I replied, “You gotta be kiding???”  But in this instance it was absolutely perfect, especially since I’m old enough to be ALL of their mothers (expect Jean-Laurent’s, I suppose . . .)  It was lots of fun because us girls hung out on one side and the petite little Columbian girl who wasn’t going to go because she had never played before came and had a good time.   
Da kids !
(I told her that I promised it would be a kick . . . she got a strike once and we all hooted and hollered for her! She’s the cute gal sitting behind the lovely lady in red.)  A good time was had by all.
BTW, there were several Brad Pitt sightings at the bowling alley while we were waiting for our turn to bowl.

The music . . . oh my goodness.  Did I ever have so much fun last night! I went to hear “Ginkgoa.” They have a website that’s simply their name, I think.  I haven’t had a chance to check it out.  I want to write an email simply about the music I heard in Lyon, but I don’t have the time right now.  Suffice it to say that last night’s music felt like being in a David Lynch film.  Red velvet draped over the cellist’s and guitar player’s chair . . . pink lights on stage, purplish flowers on the singer’s mic stand.
It  was also alot like what I imagine it would have been like to go to a club in France in the 1930’s for 1940’s. I bought their CD  . . . and shot a little rogue video (which I did EACH time I heard music; granted it’s always been dark and you’re seeing the tops of people’s heads, but at least it’s sumthin.)
 Ginkgoa in action !
Le musée.  The same one I mentioned last week but this time I went with the school group.  I ditched them on the first floor and hightailed it up the third floor to see an exhibit just of this one young woman’s art.  Sorry, but I don’t have her name on me right now . . . M. something,

WoW! I loved her style. Not everyone else did, but I did. (though many did too . . .)  Essentially she creates lots of figures of different sizes so you have the feeling of Liliputainism . . . with lots of bright colors and whimsical, fantasic settings.  Things inside of things, people inside of people.  Lots of people flowing together like tiny minnows . . . lots of globs of paint that up close look like a glob, but far away you see the 2 specks are now eyes on the little female character, dog, whatever.  Some really tiny paintings, but mostly very LARGE paintings.  I really dug her work (though not all, there were three or four that were dark and depressing.)
Now that takes some balls !

Two other musées.  The Roman . . . learned how Lyon was formed, you’ll have to look at the photos to learn . . . I took a few clandestine photos . . . also read about the PIERRE Scize.  A Pierre is a stone . . . and to think that I had the grand luck to be placed in a beautiful apartment with part of THE pierre scize in ma chambre!!!

Musée Gallo Romain . . . from Wikipedia: 
“Lyon was founded on the Fourvière hill as a Roman colony in 43 BC by Munatius Plancus, a lieutenant of Caesar, on the site of a Gaulish hill-fort settlement called Lug[o]dunon, from the Celtic god Lugus (‘Light’, cognate with Old Irish Lugh, Modern Irish Lú) and dúnon  (hill-fort). Lyon was first named Lugdunum meaning the “hill of lights” or “the hill of crows”. Lug was equated by the Romans to Mercury.”

The museum about the war (THE) war and the resistance which was based in Lyon.
There was a special exhibit with lots of old letters that soldiers who were in a stalag wrote to their sweetie back home.  One was especially sweet . . . and it was really bizarre . . . in this one little letter the author used at least 10 specific things that I learned since I’ve been in Lyon . . . needless to say, it made me feel very good to be able to read it (fairly) easily.
 Sculpting.  I’ll have to explain this one later . . .
That’s Emmanuel the teacher . . . my work in progress is the small one on the table . . . can you spot it?
Went on another bike ride on Sunday.  It was FAB.  Really, really clear but cold. I had a grand time tooling around and STILL discovering new areas, new plazas and grandes rues à Lyon.
 Now THAT’s a playground !
 I couldn’t believe that I had never “happened” upon this place before — Place des Jacobins, that is!
This I didn’t “happen” upon. I read about it and that it was too . . . well, something NOT to miss! 
Kindof cool . . . kindof weird . . . 
I’m not exactly a “cat” person.
School is out for moi . . . I received a certificate stating that I participted for 6 weeks in the “intensive” (25 lessons a week) version. Jean-Laurent wrote that I have a “slight” (léger) accent anglophone and that I can talk easily without hesitation (yep, this girl can blab!). Marion wrote that I have a good basis for continuing to learn. That I can write easily and without a lot of major errors, °BUT I still have problems with comprehension (when the people parler). Yep, I do. She recommends that I continue to practice and do things like watch films, listen to the radio, read (in French) and talk French (with people who speak French . . . though I’m sure Rocket Girl would be game to participate!). 
 Prof Marion’s classroom
She also told me that she recommends I take another course at some point (after I’ve continued to practice, study, etc.) to make sure I’m on track with the grammar, etc. I’ve really enjoyed being in Marion’s class. She’s a nerd like me and loves getting into the heart of difficult grammar points. We did some stuff this week that she promises us most French people don’t know . . . that most of it is really just recognized in the written form (because it’s darn tricky), but I think I was really starting to grasp the different points.
Right now my head, my brain feels like it weighs about two metric tons. It is completely and utterly F U L L . . . it’s exactly why I wanted to stay in France two more weeks after taking a course . . . to give myself some time for it all to filter down into my gut . . . (and hopefully stay for good and not pass on out!!!).  I look forward to reviewing all or at least part of what I’ve studied . . . and see how much I’ve really learned . . .
Alors, to all of you I now say au revoir.  Tonight it’s dinner with Madame, her two sons, the elder son’s wife and little nine month old baby.
Madame’s family . . . all very nice. And very French.
I read a really good memoir recently by Sarah Turnbull (a native Australian) called Almost French. In it she described how she often dined with French people (and with her husband, who is completely French) and she would be COMPLETELY ignored. Really, completely. As if she were NOT there. People would look right through her. As time went by she apparently became more and more visible. Her premise (in my humble opinion) is that the French are shy. 
Unlike Americans, they are not accustomed to meeting new people and immediately opening up completely, without reservation (like Americans tend to do).
Well, I experienced exactly what she was talking about that evening. An amazing phenomena. Really.
Then it’s off to da kine for a pint (or two) and some general joviality . . . but first I plan to look for a couple of galleries I missed as I weave my way home. And I reckon I should get back to the flat early enough to pack so that tomorrow there’s no stress. My train departs Part-Dieu at 10:30 a.m. about and I arrive in Annecy two or so hours later.
Ciao for now brown cow, love you all!!!
°It’s kind of bizarre. When I was learning German, there was a moment when I essentially heard a “click” and all of a sudden I could understand German. Granted, there were (and still are!) a lot of words to learn . . . but I could follow the conversation relatively easily. BUT to speak was really difficult.
It’s the complete opposite for me now with French. Most of the time I can speak fairly easily . . . and yes, I get caught up LOTs of time, but . . .  but to understand the  people parler-ing . . . wow, c’est vraiment dificile! Alors, I think I’m going to start at THIS very moment expecting to be easy . . . I’ll keep you posted.
Ricardo; David; Marion, la Prof; Janine, Hugo et moi.
Au revoir !

A few more things about Lyon . . .

date:  Tue, Feb 17, 2009

subject:  a few more things . . . .
Hi Everyone,
I thought of a few more things of note to pass on your way from that weekend past.
1)  It rained so hard that la Saône was chocolate, like the rivers in Hawaii get when it’s rained a lot. 
That lasted for well over a week. There were HUGE things floating very rapidly downstream (south in this instance, though I must add that la Saône is technically not a fleuve, or is it rivière?, because it doesn’t flow to the sea . . .). Large things like trees and who knows what all else. There WERE parking lots below the road level on the Saône-level, which have yet to open because the water was so high. So maybe this is why I see more canal-type boats on le Rhone rather than on la Saône.
2) For the first time ever I took a pair of scissors to my hair and cut, and I do mean chopped! I took off a good inch all around! I’ve cut my bangs plenty of times but never something so drastic as this!
First of all, I ventured forth and cut my own hair because I noticed that Madame’s hair was considerably shorter one day than it had been the day before. I asked her about it and she said she had cut it herself. If you remember, I got the MOST-LAYERED haircut known to man a few weeks back. Alors, the other length still was too long, so I thought, What the heck? All I cut was the part that hits the shoulder. And here it seems to be the style to have your hair all different lengths (at least to my non-professional eye, Laurie), so now I fit right in!

It was incredible watching the pile of hair on the newspaper grow. (I had laid newspaper on the floor next to the very large mirror in Madame’s chamber.) Needless to say, I did this when she was away visiting her parents.

3) “n’importe quoi” = anything (at all)
4)  I went to another restaurant with the school last week. Only thing is, I was the only student to sign up! I signed up because there were only places for 4 students and this was supposedly/allegedly a restaurant where you had to make a reservation for at least a week in advance. Romy, who is the “head” of the school and all of 31 years of age, said she’d never done this before, but she wanted to go with just one student, moi. Now I don’t think it had anything to do with my magical power of persuasion or interesting personality but rather simply because she was dying to experience this restaurant. And I reckon it was on “company” time . . .
Donc . . . it was super!!
It’s called “l’ourson qui boit.” The thing that drinks is a little bitty bear. I have the card with the cute bear wearing a pink shirt and black pants holding a little green bottle (in the same shape of a wine bottle, I must add!)

The chef is Japonais. The restaurant is in France. It was the coolest combination of the two cuisines!!! I loved it!!! Alors, Michele, I got the wonderful meal I was wanting.
For entrée I had a potage of spinach with 3 large dumpling like things that were the Japonaise version of St. Jacques. There was a wonderfully lemony flavor in the soup.
For my main plat I had the poisson. I don’t know what kind of fish it was but the waitress said it came from the sea. It was also served in a bowl over soupy risotto with a wonderful lemony and mushroomy sauce. On top of the fish was what I swear (sorry Mom, it’s the only word that really fits!) were little bitty pieces of sashimi, fresh, fresh ahi. Wow!
For dessert we decided to order two different dishes and share. She LOVED the creme whatchamacallit with a caramèl sauce . . .  but not the bizarre tiramisu ala Japonaise. So I just had two bites of the pudding thing and gobbled up the other . . . imagine a small, flat round dish like the ones used for crème brulèe (but a bit deeper).  Now imagine a cream like substance covered with little green flecks which were a lot like seaweed. The crème wasn’t very deep. In just the slightest press of the spoon you discovered the “cake” part of the tirimisu. It was deliceux; but I think just a bit too weird for Romy (yes, another Romy!!! She didn’t believe me at first when I told her I had a friend at home named Romey, Romey).
We decided to pass on the café after or apertif (both before and after) since we drank an entire bottle of wine between the two of us. I’ve found that most of the French just have 2 glasses of wine with dinner . . . now what they have before, is another story. Non, not really. But what do I know, I haven’t really hung out with LOTS of French people besides by hôtesse and her friends.
Today is mardi the 17th of fevrier, my last week. The week’s activities are as follows:
mardi (aujourd’hui)  bowling
      yep, you read right! bowling! we leave in 15 minutes.
I might go to a play tonight toute seule . . . or not, I saw a poster today that looked interesting. It’s a one-man-show (it said that in English on the poster so I THINK I’m sure) and it opens tonight. It’s tonight or never if I really have the urge . . . (I didn’t.)
mercredi the 18th is dinner night at Via Toscana. Yep, Italiana. I’m going. There’s a movie Wed. too but I think I’m going to pass because I want to go to the greco-roman musée and it’s then or never (maybe Friday I could but I’d rather not leave it to my last day in Lyon).
jeudi the 19th is an organized visit to the same museum I went to last Thursday night. Remember when I told you about the Vernissage? The opening night? I want to go again.
Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon
Vendredi soir Madame has said that her oldest son of 27 years and his wife and little 9-month old baby girl are going to join us for dinner. Should be very nice! And then hopefully afterwards I’ll meet “the gang” for a sending off. I think that’s when I really find out what they think of me . . . probably the only 48 year old they’ve ever hung out with.
And then samedi I depart for Annecy . . . it feels like the place to go at this point of my life . . . T booked the hotel last night and I’m going to purchase my tickets after bowling . . .
So, for the moment I think I’m all up to date.  Today I sent off a packet to Tones with a few things including the 4MB chip with a LOT of photos . . . maybe he’ll post them, or maybe he won’t.  It might be best to wait till I return and can add captions . . .
So for now mes bons amis, au revoir, bisous et à bientôt,

La cuisine . . . as experienced by moi

date:  Tue, Feb 3, 2009

subject:  la cuisine
Bonjour mes amis!
A few of you have asked about the food . . .. alors, Lyon is known for its food, its (notice Mary Hunter, c’est parfait comme ca) gastronomie.
Where to begin?
Okay, I’ll start at the apartment first.
The French do no eat breakfast.
****I should add a disclaimer right off the bat that this email contains MY views only and are in no way to reflect those of others . . .
Instead of breakfast they smoke cigarettes. They DO drink a lot of café espresso with sugar and maybe they will drink a cup of orange juice. When asked what I normally ate for breakfast, “Muesli,” I replied. Thank goodness I said that because the bread she has for toast is très horrible! It’s the ultimate in white air-bread, even worse if that’s possible. My hostess is very nice but she is a bit of a space cadet at times. Fortunately Teri had given me Anahola granola to give friends. That’s what I had for breakfast for about the first week until she remembered to buy a box of Muesli. Alors, for breakfast I eat a bowl of muesli with yogurt, a banana and for a hot beverage I have a pot of tea (which I also brought along–the tea that is, not the pot–thanks again Marty!) and then I also bought some tea later.
Seems like tout le monde eat sandwiches these days, and they even CALL them sandwiches here. I can imagine many professors of French rolling over in their graves.
At school we have a separate room where we are to hang out and eat lunch (or a snack on the break). There is a microwave oven in there that we are free to use. In the hall next to the bathroom is a machine which dispenses warm beverages for 40 cents (about 60 American cents, I suppose). There are a variety of beverages to choose from: espresso with or without sugar, with or without milk, with or without vanilla, hot chocolate, etcetera. But MOI, I bought a white cup (actually I bought 3, it was a set and it was THE cup I liked the most, the 2 office gals are now happily sipping their beverages in similar cups! Maybe that’s why Marthe let me make a print copy yesterday in the office workers and professeurs’ bureau . . .).  I leave it on top of the microwave and make hot tea when I wish. But of course I do BUY a coffee now and then, this is France after all, and the sweets which are occasionally passed around do taste better with coffee.
Back to lunch.
Today I ate half of a most wonderfully crispy and fresh whole wheat (just a little really, whole wheat that is) baguette which I purchased this morning.  On top I spread some butter (I just bought the 16 little packets of butter yesterday.  I figured life was too short to not enjoy the wonderful French butter!) and then I had 2 different types of hard cheese which I bought last week and have stored in Madame’s fridge.  I also had a hard boiled egg with a little bit of Uncle Mike’s wonderful Kauai-made, guava smoked salt. In addition I crunched on a raw carrot (to clean my teeth, of course). I brought an apple too but I was satisfied, so I stopped. Now I have a snack handy for after class.
Lunch during a weekend bike exploration

I have also gone to a couple of restaurants during the hour lunch break. Once I had a demi-pizza margharite avec une salade.  It was good. Not the VERY best pizza (compared to the place in Sarasota that Tony and I went to twice, but very good). They also served a complementary apéritif . . . I think because it was the new year.  But Tony and I have a saying. I don’t really know why they gave me the apéritif for free, AND I’ll never know.  I went back to the same place because I had a hankering for spaghetti bolognese.  Mistake. It was terrible. One day I went to a café and for 3 euros got a simple jambon sandwich on a baguette. It was very good and the bread was incredibly fresh. The grand café crème was very good too.
Before I got a hang of the buying cheese and bread on my own I bought a sandwich or two at the place called “American Sandwiches.” That’s where most of the guy/male students get their lunch. Needless to say, I decided to get my own supplies.  They’re giving us Americans a bad name!
I did one day buy a petite quiche avec champignons et fromage. It was very good. I heated it in the microwave and the cheese dripped all over the mushrooms. C’était super!
Time for class . . . I’ll continue a bit later.
Okay, I can hear you all groaning, we don’t want to hear about what you eat, what YOU prepare. What about the “French” food?
Okay, la Madame makes a very wholesome dinner every evening. There is usually a meat, a vegetable and a carbohydrate. And lately, there is usually wine which is a good thing. If I want to know what she’s going to prepare for the evening, I just crack open the cabinet where she stores her square glass dishes. 
On top of a plate is either a chicken (frozen and set there to thaw) or a filet mignon de porc (like last night) or some other type of red-colored fleshy stuff. 
Looks like it’s poulet from the South West tonight !

When the plate is empty, I’m left to wonder.
She has made potatoes au gratin, squash au gratin, haricot vert boiled in water and then slathered with oil or butter and garlic, pork cutlets, frozen hamburger meat thawed and then fried in a pan (this usually goes with the green beans), spaghetti bolognese (hers was good, just lots of meat and light on the sauce), plain ole rice (that was with the pork chops), steak (sometimes tough, sometimes not; again, simply fried in a pan), creamed spinach and a couple of hard boiled eggs (this was Saturday night, it was quite good but I think I’d make it with less cream) . . . . and with all of this we sometimes have salad.  The salad is either simply just that, green leafy lettuce, or a mélange of lettuce with corn, tomatoes . . . and I think that’s about the extent of it. Oh, we did have a casserole one evening that was endives covered with cream and fromage and at least 2 times we’ve had a roasted chicken, once simply with garlic and once with lemons. And she made a pot-au-feu once. When I told her it was like my Mom’s pot roast that she bakes in the oven she became offended. It has to be cooked slowly on the stove-top, not in the oven!
But it did taste just like Mom’s pot roast, complete with carrots and potatoes. It was good.
When I write this now, it seems that it might appear that I’m not happy with the food, but au contraire. I’m quite satisfied with it. Granted, it’s a lot more meat than I’m used to eating. The only odd this is that she must cook with a lot of salt because many mornings I awake with puffy eyes. This especially happens after eating out in a restaurant. Unless they cook with a lot of MSG here, that’s another possibility.
And oh, we had saumon one night. Those of you who know me well know I love salmon.
We usually eat anywhere between 8 p.m. at the earliest and 10 p.m. at the latest. Though we have been eating at 8 more regularly, which makes me happy.
Mom asked why so late? It’s their custom to eat between 7 and 9 p.m. (at least that’s what my trusty little guide from the school said). La Madame usually stretches out on the couch between 6 and 7 p.m. to possibly 7:30 and smokes her petit cigarettes (I figured out what she meant when on the day of my arrival she said that she smokes “a little.” She meant a little cigarette. But trust me, she smokes a lot. Perhaps that’s why she’s so thin.)  Around 7:30 she jumps up and says something like, oh the dinner!
But to be very fair to her, she very kindly peeks her head in my room where I am usually studying or reading and asks, “Un verre Susan?”  “Bien sûr,” I reply. “I would love a glass of wine.” Sometimes it’s cider but usually it’s wine.
And also to be fair to la Madame, she has a lot to think about with her parents. Her mother who is 90 years old is blind and I think is suffering some from Alzheimer’s.  Her Dad is a young 77.  Fortunately, he is in good health and can take care of his wife, but this must cause la Madame a good deal of worrying.
Okay, and finally on to the restaurants.
I haven’t eaten out a lot because to be blunt, I’ve paid for dinner at the apt. and will be in Paris with Mom later in the month when we will have to eat out (or cook dinner for ourselves at the fabulous loft studio apt. I found for us).
The St. Jacques (scallops baked in a little dish) I had in Paris was by far the tastiest morsel I’ve imbibed during this trip. A close second was the fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil and pesto salad, which my friend from Finland ordered (she left Saturday, she works for an aide company in either Senegal or Kenya . . . she asked if Tony and I would be willing to travel to Senegal to make a video  . . .  Bien sûr!!! I replied.) before we met the others in front of the opera for our night out at the “swanky” restaurant run by the best chef in Lyon.

That meal was “okay.” But it really wasn’t magnifique like we’d been led to believe. I had the salad of meat followed by the fish, which was fried in a pan. It was fine but nothing to write home about (so why AM I writing???)  Nothing like the fabulous poisson I’ve eaten at Roy’s or Sabella’s or Pacific Cafe. To be honest, it felt like a tourist trap.

 Angélica, Dominique et Marie–happy just to be here !

Tony and I were happily able to come back to Lyon 10 months later . . . we dined out at a sister restaurant with Jean-Laurent and a friend. It was the wonderful meal I’d been wanting during my solo trip. But I didn’t see any students dining there. Maybe they indeed did take us to “tourist traps.”

The next week we ate at a typical Lyonnais place that serves their regional cuisine.
It was a much finer restaurant but vegetarian beware! They served tripe and liver and sausage of porc . . . lots of meat.
Presentation is everything . . .
The classic salade Lyonnaise is essentially tiny pieces of bacon with a bit of lettuce and croutons.
Perhaps I exaggerate . . . I enjoyed it the most that evening, and the roasted potatoes; they were very good too. I entertained the idea of simply ordering something I knew I’d like but chose instead to do like the Romans. I ordered the meal with all the typical dishes; I copied my nice teacher Jean-Laurent.

Do I have regrets? No, but I don’t have to try that stuff again. The next restaurant I want to go do is on rue Lantern next to quai de la pecherie and le Rhone. It’s a pizza joint très elegant where they make their pizzas in a wooden fire. I can see Tony drooling already!

 A good time was had by all . . .
So, I think that’s it for the food for the moment. Oh, and the meal I had 2 Saturdays ago. It was very, very tasty and satisfying. To remember that meal go cherchez in that other email . . .
So for now, au revoir mes amis and best wishes for a very pleasant day.
One of the many cheese carts at the open-air markets

A few observations . . .

date:  Mon, Feb 2, 2009

subject:  a few observations . . . .


Bonjour Tous!

I hope you are all well and enjoying the wonderful weather on Kauai, in NYC, Tennessee et other parts unknown!

It’s been a great week here à Lyon.

First of all, I thought I’d start off with some observations:

1)  There is a LOT of dog poop on the roads and sidewalks of Lyon. I will be so bold as to wager that there is a LOT of dog poop on the sidewalks all over France! You really have to pay attention when you walk here. ‘Nuff said.

2)  There are a LOT of dogs en France. They are really sweet. Like the one I petted yesterday when I went to a flea market (les puces) avec Madame. I splurged and spent dix euros (about 13 dollars now, the exchange rate is getting much better!) on an old, rusty trivet. I thought it’d fit right in at our house when we entertain friends . . .

and it does !

3)  There are a lot of manifestions in France. Last week there was a large grève pour l’écoles. Seems Nicholas Skar . . . what’s his name wants to change the system of the schools and the entire population is in an uproar about it. Over 30,000 people marched this past Thursday, ma hôtess included. The schools were closed that day as well as the Greco-Roman musée which we WERE going to visit on Thursday.

the Théâtres Romains de Fourvière 
(window in back is where the museum is)
 Some of the other “kids.” 
Wearing black was definitely “in.” I wasn’t “in.”


We walked into the old city instead and had a drink. Some had orange juice, some hot chocolate, some café; moi, I had a beer.

Angelica & Ricardo

The first Saturday I was here I also witnessed 2 LARGE manifestations in Bellecour–THE largest plaza in Europe the Lyonais say.

Vous êtes ici. 
You are here.

You can read up more on it at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Place_Bellecour. There was also a smaller one on the adjoining street, rue de la république.

a. smaller one was about the abundance of paper used for making print ads

There was a man covered in paper and with a box torso and mask. There were lots of people tossing around printed ads (magazines, flyers, brochures, etc.). There was even a camera man who looked a LOT like Tony (from the back and side of the camera, that is) and a sound person who looked NOTHING like me.

I enjoyed watching it all. I sent Nancy the little piece of paper THEY were passing out protesting the abundance of such paper things.

b.  a march for the aforementioned school topic

When Madame and a fellow friend told me about the changes N.S. wants to make (over wine of course, it was in the evening on a Friday, I think) they became quite adamant that their school system right now is wonderful, it’s very democratic and EVERYONE can get a good education. According to them, the changes which N.S. wants to make (I think already HAS put into place, but don’t quote me, remember, I’m here to learn the language . . . : ) would/will make the school system more like the one in the U.S. where only the rich really have a chance for a very good education . . . .

Schools are not a business. 
Education is not merchandise!
Before you all get in an uproar and want to jump on me, please remember the saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” I’m just passing on what I observed . . .

c. a protest over the Israeli agression in Palenstine

Boy, did I ever get a few cool shots. It was quite fascinating because each spokesperson was speaking very slowly and clearly (on a raised platform with a PA system) so I could actually understand. It really was interesting until they started chanting “Assasinate Israel!!!” That gave me a real pit in my stomach and it was then time to move on.

Why in the world people the world over can’t just chant “Love your neighbor!”, or “Let’s all be friends!”, or “Come to my house for a cup of tea and some pleasant conversation whenever you have a free moment . . .”    ????

Later in the evening when I was up on the top of the colline where le fourvière is, I could still hear the chanting. It wasn’t until then that I thought to record a little video. That’s when they stopped chanting and talking. Maybe there’s a message there. Exactly that is what does not need to be passed on and shared with others. It just keeps the cycle going . . . just my observations.

That’s Bellecour below where you see the Ferris wheel.

4) Nearly every host here is a hostess, divorced and with a grown child or two.  Either they’re lonely or they need to raise some extra cash quick–or both.

5) This is a correction really, but here goes:

faire DU ski

faire DU vélo (I cheated and corrected it when I posted that letter on my glob.)

faire de la voile, etc . . . I was incorrect last week . . . je suis très, très désolée!!

6) I’m improving at the pace of a snail.  But I AM improving.

Last night la Madame said something to the affect (and with a VERY shocked look on her face, I MUST add!) “Everything you’ve just said was absolutely correct! Each sentence!”

I thought it best then to simply reply with a grunt. No need in spoiling my record, plus . . . that means . . . well, you can figure it out for yourself. But, being the optimist that I am, I choose to reach for the positive. Yahoo! I said a few things correctly! Yahoo!!!!

7) A person doesn’t do well when they’re tired.

Each Friday we have a little test. And I do mean little. It’s nothing serious. It’s for the teacher to have an idea of how we’re doing and for ourselves too to have an idea of whether or not we’re retaining what we do in class. I did just fine on the first two tests.  But this past Saturday I completely (and I do mean completely!) forgot some stuff that’s really very simple. So this little optimist (who when she sees horse poop asks her parents, “Where’s the horse I’m getting for my birthday?”) figures that NOW surely I won’t forget the simple thing I thought before. AND it was after this that I could feel myself improving a bit. I think the old adage of take a few steps forward, a few back, and then even more forward may be true.


8) They don’t always have popcorn at movies here.

I saw Che #1 last week and then Che #2 this past weekend at a large theatre close to the school (on rue grolèe for the inquisitive) where NO popcorn or anything else is sold.  It cost seven euros fifty each time. When I went to see Slumdog Millionaire at the only cinéma which showed the original version (in Indian and a petite peu en l’anglais) with French sous titres; it cost nine euros fifty (almost 2.75 dollars more) and they DID sell popcorn and candy. (This one was on cours Vitton, which is also cours Franklin Roosevelt.) What this signifies, I have no idea. Just passing on a few observations.

On a side note, when I arrived at the cinéma there had just been an accident in the middle of the road, directly in front of the film house. I don’t know what happened but a man and a woman who were riding on the same scooter somehow crashed. The bright orange scooter was on its side. There were fragments of the red brake light scattered to the opposite side of the bike. The man was up walking around. He was wearing black leather with a bright orange pulli underneath (like the one my Dad wore and that I now have). The woman was NOT moving except for a trembling hand and arm. It looked like she too was wearing an orange pulli underneath her black jacket. Her elegantly clad feet (in black leather boots with a very high stiletto heel) did NOT move until the paramedic moved it.

Why do I tell you this in such colorful detail?  So you can SEE her AND him and pray for them both. I couldn’t help but think that she had had some type of injury to the brain . . . again, ’nuff said.

May the wonderful prayer chain begin . . . .


Okay, after that, I’m not quite sure what to write, so I think I’ll stop.

Love to you ALL and thanks for being the kind of friends that I know I can send a prayer request to, and immediately you’re already praying . . .

Merci beaucoup.

until next time,


or Suzanne en France

p.s. a friend at school sent this . . . .

I think you might enjoy watching this video too. ciao

salut Susan,

je crois que tu vas aimer ce video.