We wouldn't have believed this while we were back in San Francisco working full time, but just giving up your job doesn't insure that you will have extra time on your hands. That doesn't seem possible, but it is true. Somehow chores and social events rush in to fill up all of your newly found free time. In our case, it probably doesn't help that without our alarm clock we get up later, or that breakfast is now a leisurely meal instead of one eaten on the run.
Without jobs we don't need to wear watches anymore, but we couldn't do without our calendar. Our calendar is still an important tool, it helps us keep track of the days of the week. Without a job it is easy to mix them up, because Saturdays and Tuesdays flow by at exactly the same speed.
The seasons dictate how our time is spent. While cruising, our days are full of travel and discovery, and once we return to our home port, we are busy with boat maintenance and improvements. No matter the season, we always need our calendar to help us know what month it is, and whenever we hear about an interesting upcoming event we jot it down, because otherwise it is just too easy to miss something when the days flow by so fast.
La Table Ouverte and Le Salon de la Gastronomie were two recent food events here in Roanne that we might have missed if we hadn't marked those days and then checked the calendar.
La Table Ouverte was held at the covered market place and it was an evening event where local food producers, from vintners to restaurateurs, provided samples to a hall full of people jostling around with a plate in one hand and a wine glass in the other. The crowd was jolly and joking, a happy and well fed group of people, so even as crowded as it was, it was also fun. We went with friends, who we kept losing and finding again with the ebb and flow of the evening and we all agreed that it was a great event.
Le Salon de la Gastronomie lasted all weekend. It was held in a large hall in Le Coteau, the town just across the Loire River from Roanne. We went with friends on a Saturday afternoon and we liked it enough to go back again on Sunday. The hall was full of booths with vendors from all over France and we not only found some great wines, but we also found great hot dogs from Alsace, where the German influence means that these will taste more like American hot dogs. American hot dogs are something that we had been looking for ever since we started our Monday Night Football parties.
During the winter, Tuesday nights have a big red circle around them. This year, with Californians as our next door neighbors, Monday Night Football, which is broadcast here on Tuesday nights, has become an important American cultural event for all of us.
We have hosted a few World Cup Rugby parties with English and New Zealand neighbors, but it's good old American football that really makes us feel at home.
Actually, we probably don't need to look at our calendar to remember Tuesday nights, because our neighbors always show up right on time with big smiles on their faces. That's because this has become a favorite night for all of us. It is when we all comfortably slip back into our own culture. For one night a week we understand all the rules and the familiarity relaxes us.
Back home, we had 49er season tickets and we always tailgated with friends before the game. We took turns bringing the food, but whoever was in charge always brought something healthy. It's different here in France.
When you live in a foreign country, no matter how happy you are to be there, you miss your own culture, and on Tuesday nights we enjoy wallowing in ours.
Foods that remind us
of home have become favorite treats, just because of their warm and fuzzy memories. That's why our weekly football menu is hot dogs and Pringles, with ice cream bars as a 4th quarter treat.
Watching the fans, reminds us of much we like Americans. Since we have been in France, we have come to appreciate the friendliness and warmth of Americans that we meet in our travels. This year we were lucky enough to have six other American boaters around our Thanksgiving table and it was wonderful to enjoy our favorite holiday with people who understood and relish all of the traditions.
Living in France has also given us a greater appreciation of the endearing little quirks of our culture. What we might have once considered silly or annoying, we now find charming. Who couldn't love a fan who could wear a silly hat with such confidence.
As soon as the local firemen come by with their 2004 calendars, we'll buy one so that we can put a big red circle around Superbowl Sunday and all of the other events that we won't want to miss next year.