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November 30, 2001
The kindness of everybody (Russell)

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With Pascal, Catherine, and their family in St.-Paul-lès-Romans

We cannot say enough about how wonderful it is to able to land and settle in one place for a little while in the middle of our world trip.  The house in Crest has truly become our home, and we enjoy nothing better than being cozy and warm inside when the sky turns cold and misty outside.  Russell's routine includes going into town every day to buy the International Herald Tribune and the day's groceries, including milk and French bread.  Gail's daily routine includes her morning cup of coffee and reading the International Herald Tribune once Russell has brought it home.

We are trying to establish a daily homeschooling routine with the boys of one hour workbooks/lecture, one hour PC educational programs, one hour of reading, and at least one hour of outside play.  This has been less than completely successful, as the boys' own priorities include reading in bed, playing Lego, doing cross-stitch projects, and drawing comic books.  At least they play outside for several hours a day, usually on the tree swings.  They have met the neighbor children, Loic (aged 7) and Zoe (aged 3).  And last weekend, Timothee, their French friend from Geneva, came down to visit.

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Playing on the tree swings

Visitors to a foreign land must often depend on the kindness of strangers.  During our stay in France so far, we have received the kindness of just about everybody.  Our neighbors include a lovely elderly couple and two younger couples who serve as caretakers for the overall estate.  And our friends back home have helped us to make many connections with local people who have been willing to give us their time and their hospitality.

Thanks to Jacques, Cameron's French teacher in California, we met Pascal and Catherine, a young couple who recently relocated from Paris to the area.  Two days ago on November 28th, we drove an hour north to St.-Paul-lès-Romans where we had lunch them (Pascal was kind enough to invite us when his English-speaking Aunt was in town, so that Gail would have someone to chat with).  Pascal, also a teacher, has also invited the boys to visit his school and offered to play tour guide for us during future excursions.

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Cameron with 15-month-old Clément
Gail with 2-month-old Marie (practicing for grandson Keegan's visit in three months)

Next week, we have been invited to the home of Brigitte's sister Therèse in Charbonnières.  This will give us a chance to visit nearby Lyon during the annual "fête des lumières," when the old city will be completely covered in lights to celebrate Advent.  And in mid-December, we will accompany our friends Jean-Charles and Cecilia (who have just moved from California to France) to the annual "chickens and capons" fair in Bourg-en Bresse.  (Apparently, the people of Bresse have turned the production of chickens into an art form that rivals fine wine!)

The kindness of everyone has even extended to helping us plan the rest of our world trip.  Russell's sister back home in the US has found accommodations for us so that we can spend Christmas week in Paris and the week after in Bonn, Germany.  While in Bonn, we will celebrate the New Year with our longtime friend Jayne (also from the US), who will also play tour guide and show us around.  And our daughter Dawn is taking care of all of the arrangements for an upcoming month-long adventure in Italy, where she will join us with her husband David and our baby grandson Keegan.

When we planned our world trip a year ago, we worried that six months in Europe would be too long.  And as we began running out of preparation time before our departure, we worried that we would not be able to find accommodations or meet people once we arrived.  Now that we are actually here, we have had unbelievably good fortune in securing wonderful accommodations.  Our only worry now is that we won't have enough time to see everything and meet everyone that we would like. 

 

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