Tuesday, August 28, 2018

My French Morning

Life here is very different than it was in the States, but a lot of that difference might be because I had to get up and go to work when I lived in Columbus.
For those who know me -- personally or via my blog -- you may be surprised to learn that I don't get out of bed until after 8 a.m. most mornings here in France.
In Ohio, I was always an early morning person. Many days I'd be out the door before 5:30 a.m. to go for a walk with a friend or a run on the silent streets of our town. Heck, I've even made it to the hospital ER at least twice by 6 a.m., which means I had time to go for a run and injure myself. Once for stitches in my knee and the second time for a broken nose.
When we arrived in France during the winter, it was dark and the roads were unfamiliar in the morning, so I started running later and later. I felt guilty about it, but my guilt has abated. I usually wake up, look at the news on my phone and finally hoist myself out of bed.
If I get up early enough, I can enjoy a beautiful sunrise over the mountains.
Gathering clouds framed by the mountains

A golden sunrise
Today, I headed out on a run close to 8 a.m. and finished my 5 1/2 miles before 9.
Sweating profusely, I found a hand towel and mopped at the drips running down my face and hair before I decided to put a load of clothes in the wash, but that meant peeling off my running clothes. My favorite running pants are capris and I'd wear them every day for my run if I could.
I also stripped the sheets off the bed and threw them in the washer.
While the clothes tumbled, I showered and finished in time to give the clothes an extra spin, something I wouldn't do in the States, because they'd be going straight in the dryer. Not here in France. Dryers are rare.
I always thought French people didn't use dryers because of the high cost of electricity here in France. But since Earl and I have been paying our own utility bills, the monthly cost for gas and electricity combined has ranged from 23 euro to 56 euro (that's $26 to $65) for a month. At home, we paid about $100 a month for electricity and around $90 for gas.
So, two more trips down the stairs to gather the clothes and hang them on the line.
The laundry hangs on the line outside our balcony.

There is something satisfying about hanging clothes to dry, but many times, the towels feel too scratchy. One thing I've learned is that the clothes should be shaken out with a sharp flip of the wrist, both before they're hung to dry, and again before they're folded as they come off the line. I'm not sure if this really takes out wrinkles or makes them softer, but I follow the rule.
The clothes dry very fast here in Southwestern France. If I'm doing more than one load, a lot of times the clothes on the line are dry before I bring up the next load.
Wet clothes hanging on the line, I turn my attention to breakfast.
My favorite part of the morning is having coffee.
I've once again transitioned to decaf, but it's a dark, strong decaf that I mix with some heated half n half.
The cafetiere slurps along on the gas stove

I love this coffee maker, known as a cafetière. There are practically poems written about the gentle sound of the shushing as the coffee rises from the bottom chamber to the pot, but what I'm impressed with is the taste. It's the best coffee I've had in France. Better than what I can get in a café.
While the coffee pot is percolating, I slice a loaf of pain a l'ancienne and toast it very briefly because French toasters always burn the bread, in my experience.
Butter and raspberry jam are my next steps. Another thing I've learned, from some British friends, never dip the knife into the jam. Instead, use a separate spoon to retrieve the jam so no toast crumbs fall into the jar.
Many days, I walk to the bakery and buy breakfast, a pain au chocolat or croissant. Sometimes my favorite a chausson framboise, like a flaky, folded apple pie but with raspberry filling.
Here's a picture of the display in our local bakery.
The cakes are not for breakfast, but they all look yummy
But today, I decided toast would suffice.
Finally, I can sit and have breakfast. Earl is traveling so it's a solitary breakfast these days, but I can't wait for his return. He'll read portions of the newspaper to me while I read a book or scroll through stories on my phone.
French bread toast and café au lait

Next I move to my computer. I'm still teaching university classes, although not as many as I'd like, I've had at least one every 8 weeks, and I also am teaching English to Chinese kids via VIPkids. Today I had a VIPkid class to prepare for. I get all my props ready, take notes on the important parts of the lesson, and make sure my technology is working.
Sometimes I wonder how different it is from my mornings at home in Ohio. I still exchange messages and Facebook posts with friends and family (well not family so much because it's the middle of the night there) but I catch up on any messages or posts they might have sent while I was sleeping. I do miss walking or running with my friends, but I don't miss having to get out of bed at 5 a.m.
I think I've adjusted to this new life pretty well.
And any of these plans can be thrown to the wind if we decide we want to visit a nearby chateau or take a bus to Perpignan and explore the city there or bike to a winemaker and taste the various wares. So nothing is set in stone, which is one of the things that makes life here delightful.

If you have questions about how things are different in France, be sure to ask. I'm happy to share my experience of this ex pat  experiment.


Emily Taylor said...

I love this slice of life post! And I would say that, despite what you claimed in your last post, you are writing (blog posts count -- you are gathering details here that you may use at some point, in some way).

Paulita said...

Emily, Yeah, I'll give myself credit for the blog posts. Thanks for reading

francetaste.wordpress.com said...

I have a dryer but use it only for towels, even in winter. If it's raining, I hang the clothes on a folding drying rack. Air-drying is much better for your clothes. But the only way to get soft, fluffy towels is a dryer.

Just Me said...

What a lovely morning. I sometimes sense a smugness from morning people even though there is nothing intrinsicly superior to waking at one time verses another. Being a morning person myself, nothing superior about having to retire at an early hour. Whatever works for you. Interesting laundry story .

Mystica said...

It sounds very nice doing what you like at your own pace.

Tamara said...

J'adore votre vivre aujourd'hui...loving the slice of life in France. Of course here in Australia we mostly hang our clothes on the line. The suns such a great resource. The sharp flick at the end gets the bees and bugs off before you fold the clothes up... good practice. When we came home from one of our trips to france I bought two new implements..,a cafeteria, and a barmix. The french make great soups.

Sheila said...

Your mornings sound lovely! I also just hung my clothes out to dry. You get used to crunchy towels. Tracie and i went for a walk around Grandview yesterday. I’ve had just a handful of walks since you left. I am trying to walk during my lunch break at school, when the weather is not 90 degree. I get to explore the community garden on my walk since the school is practically next door.

sillygirl said...

I hang my laundry out when it can possibly get dry and I like crunchy towels - they are good for my skin and they smell great from the outside. Fabric softener stinks and coats fabrics. When I take my walk and people are using it the smell permeates the neighborhood. In the winter I hang wash in our front window for the southern sun and several women have said to me "right on!".

Emma at Words And Peace / France Book Tours said...

So glad you are enjoying your life in France. looks like you adapted well and quickly. As for drying clothes outside, I always do it when the weather allows it in the US (Chicagoland), yes because it's cheaper, but mostly to save energy and because the clothes smell the sun! Maybe I imported French habits without even realizing it. The trick to have soft clothes even when dried outside is to add 'baking soda', a natural softener, to your water for the wash. Plus it helps make your clothes cleaner. In French, it's called Bicarbonate de soude or Bicarbonate de Sodium

Jeanie said...

It sounds like you have adjusted quite well -- and rather idyllic, too. I love the idea of hanging out laundry. It seems like a good fit for you and reading this makes me smile.

Paulita said...

Wow, thanks everyone for commenting and more importantly for your support and non-judgement of my new laid-back lifestyle
Francetaste, I can see the draw of a dryer for towels. Maybe when we get our own place.
JustMe, I do still love the early morning, but I've set aside my guilt about staying in bed.
Mystica, It is a luxury to do things without a schedule. I know I'm fortunate to experience it. If my husband wasn't older and retired, I'd still be on the daily grind of teaching at 8 a.m.
Tamara, Good point about getting the buys off the laundry. Is a "barmix" one of those blenders that purees soups? I need one of those too.
Sheila, I'm glad you got to walk with Tracie, and also a little jealous. When you move away, you kind of picture life standing still until you return, but it doesn't. Miss you
Sillygirl, Yes, I've never been one for fabric softeners, and we always use laundry detergent and dryer sheets that are unscented. Maybe someday I'll look back and think that the laundry smelled like the sun in southern France.
Emma, Thanks for the tip about baking soda. I had found the bicarbonate in the grocery store for baking but hadn't used it in the laundry. Another friend suggested vinegar. I won't try them together.
Jeanie, Yes, everything feels peaceful now. But it might be making me less tolerant of handling difficulties. We'll see when I return to the real world.

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