Archive for September, 2011

The fan gently hummed. The clock tower five feet from the headboard of my bed chimed the hour of four. I was tucked into crisp white sheets under a fluffy white duvet. I was about to slip back into slumber when I heard it.


Too loud for a fly or a mosquito. This was a healthy, robust buzz. Powered by what I didn’t know, and wasn’t sure I wanted to find out.

I turned on the light. Hovering four feet above me was a massive winged creature. Like a yellow jacket that sampled the “Alice in Wonderland” cake. I squelched a squeal. (It wouldn’t do to yell; it is a very small village, and a noise like that surely would have awakened my coworker next door, or the students in the apartments across the narrow street.)

I grabbed a sweater and whipped the sleeve at it, Indiana Jones style.

The beast dropped out of the air. And disappeared. Completely. Like Michael Myers after Dr. Loomis shoots him over the railing.

There was no way I could go back to bed without knowing where it was, dead or alive.

I got a book and waited.

After about 10 minutes, I heard the tell-tale buzz (Poe had nothing on this). The winged devil rose from the floor on my left, a foot from my head. I sprang to my sweater. It flew out of the bedroom into the living room.

For about 10 more minutes, the beast and I created a spectacle straight out of a Looney Tunes cartoon. I finally trapped him in the folds of the sweater and flung him outside. He clung tenaciously to the fibers and demanded to come back in. I cursed (quietly) and shook harder. His creepy little legs at last released my cardigan.

Before I could close the window, he flew back inside.

At this point, I was really thankful no one could see in my windows. With renewed vigor (and while choking back a panicked gurgle), I sweater-snapped him again.

He stopped, dropped and rolled.

I pounced again with the sweater, gathered him up, tossed him out the window again, and shut it quickly.

I have no idea if he lived, but I know I didn’t go back to sleep.


After posting this account, I did some research (prompted by a comment on the post). I think I tangled with a European hornet, or Vespa crabro.

And perhaps I need to change the pronoun in the story to “she.”

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Flora of France

Lavender season is almost over. Harvest season is just beginning. Who needs flowers when you can feast?

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Anyone can post postcard-perfect pictures. (And yes, I will too.) In the past two days, though, I’ve been more interested in capturing critters.

A puny French version of the late Trish the Chicken

Puny Trish has a friend.

A literal version of "pigeonholed"


From birds to beasties (the praying mantis, that is, not me)

There's a whelk on that there limestone! (Say that with a Southern accent, please.)

Flowers? No.


Apparently, if you put them in saltwater, the snails leave their shells. Then you put them on salad. Um ... yum?

Un escargot grand

Un escargot grand avec des amis

Next post: flora of France

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Peeping at Tom

Eddie and I visited Lacoste in 2006. I found out Tom Stoppard lived here. I took pictures of his garden. I hoped to casually run into him on Rue Saint Trophime. I went home disappointed.

Five years later, Tom has moved on. One of Lacoste’s local characters has a connection to Tom’s place, though, and I got to go inside. I saw what he saw and where he sat.

The starstruck aspiring screenwriter in me squealed at this: the desk where he wrote “Shakespeare in Love.”

I imagined him taking writing breaks to walk through his garden or lounge in his pool.

I imagined him eating brie on a baguette while sitting on his terrace.

That's not Tom.

I imagined him gazing up at the Marquis de Sade’s chateau, seeking inspiration.

I imagined myself writing this blog post as an ode to a former Lacoste resident whose work I appreciate. Sadly, this post won’t lead to any Oscars.

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Foyer, doux foyer

Home, sweet home.

This is my temporary home in Lacoste, France:

My street and apartment

I left my real home on Sunday with tissues stuffed in my bra to help me through the emotional experience of leaving Eddie and the kids. After many hours breathing recycled airplane air (three planes), wrangling suitcases (one large, three small), and enduring the wrath of Sue Sylvester serving as flight attendant on the longest flight, I made it to my final destination in the south of France.

It has been an action-packed 20 hours since I arrived. I’ll spare you the play-by-play. Here are the highlights:

  1. I live 10 feet away from the clock tower. It chimes twice per hour.
  2. It is scorpion mating season. Here’s one that won’t mate again.
  3. It is harvest season. Carl, another professor here, shows off the goods.
  4. The village’s hills will be assets as I whip my own assets into shape.
  5. The place has interesting little cubbies everywhere. Here’s a cool hobbit potty, for example.

One of the best parts of the town tour today was an impromptu peek into Tom Stoppard‘s former residence. I’ll share the photos later.

For now, though, je suis fatigué!

À bientôt!


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It’s been a busy week for me as I prepare for my Provençal adventure, and it has been a busy week for this blog’s eagle-eyed contributors.

Apparently, it has been a tough week for those who write for public view.

For example, Max found a syntax mistake made by a WTOC Web writer.

“[This] has me imagining 81 ambulances lined up in front of the McDonalds in Pooler,” Max wrote. And then do they snap the victim into nine pieces so they can each get a part?

Aileen wants to know what “homous” is. I don’t know, but I don’t think the Tea Party would approve.

Daniel wrote of this sign, “Do they want us to kill our garbage instead?” Good question. Perhaps that will make it easier to be “procesed.”

Cheryl noticed this headline:

That must be one large ensemble if they can lay off 30,000 and still have members. It gives new meaning to the term “big band” (or Band Aid, even).

Finally, Aimee spotted this sign at All-American Gymnastics:

At least someone had the decency to cross out the offending word. Adding the correct one would have been a bonus.

Thank you to this week’s contributors! (And I really hope I didn’t make any mistakes in this post … )

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In one week, this village will be my new home:

It’s only temporary, though.

The university that employs me has a study-abroad campus in the South of France. I was lucky enough to be selected to teach writing courses there in the fall.

Here are the answers to the Top Five questions I’m asked:

  1. No, Eddie is not going. He and the kids will join me later in the quarter.
  2. Because the boys have school and he has work events planned.
  3. Yes, of course I will miss them. Skype will save us.
  4. Yes, I’m excited, mainly for the chance to gorge myself on wine and cheese and a variety of other treats for which the Luberon Valley is known.
  5. No, I don’t speak French fluently. I will be able to carry on conversations with French toddlers based on what I remember from two years of the language in high school. And I can inquire as to the whereabouts of my sunglasses.

Although I’ll still post images of grammar mistakes in the wild, this blog will change focus a bit.

Perhaps a temporary blog title is appropriate.

Perhaps “A Redneck in Provence.”


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