Saturday, May 21, 2016

cowboys and dancers

Halle handed me this clue as I got into her car for a "surprise pre-birthday adventure day" with her. I was super excited! We had reserved the date for a while, and since she wasn't going to be here on my actual birthday, we were celebrating early. Although, I had no idea what we were going to do! And this was my clue.

She said I had a while to think about it, she was going to start driving anyway. I figured out that we needed to go west, into the setting sun, but the rest was so hard! All she told me was that it was helpful I was bilingual... hmmmm.

On our way to this mysterious destination, she handed me several other wrapped packages, that were clues revealing what we were going to be doing. A bottle of barbecue sauce... the Gettysburg Address that we recited out loud...two plaid shirts...oh and a bandanna and straw hat. I was getting the western theme, but remember we're in Brittany, France -- American Western culture isn't a big thing in these parts. Plus, what did the Gettysburg Address and her first clue have to do with anything!? I was stumped, but very excited!!!

I fiiiiinnally figured out the clue, the name of the city was Pontivy, but I was stumped as to what this cute little Brittany city had in common with plaid shirts and cowboy hats. And then I saw this:

Do you see the American flag, cownboy hats, American scarves, etc? 

Halle had found country line dancing-fest and we were going to take some classes in the afternoon! She had sneakily asked Joel for my shirt and hat, and gave me two pigtail braids and we were ready to go. I was very excited. I never imagined it would be possible to do this kind of thing, only an hour and a half away from Rennes!

And it was HILARIOUS seeing how America, especially the cowboy/western theme was portrayed by French people. The little stands selling stuff was full of random junk, trinkets, cowboy hats and boots, and native American stuff. We wondered if they actually sold stuff during their week-end event. 

There was even a big semi truck that was all decked out. How many different American symbols can you fit onto one truck?!

So contrast some cliché American-ness with the beautiful, ancient castle that was the backdrop to all of this. 

Not exactly the same style. It was really cool to walk all around the castle, dating back to 15th century. 

But back to #cowboysanddancers

Remember how one of my clues was the Gettysburg Address? We don't really know why, but at the entrance of the main building, there was a historic Civil War tent set up, with 4 people dressed up to match. We don't really know what they were doing there, or how it related to line dancing. When we took this picture, they were enjoying a leisurely French meal with wine, a baguette, some cheese and ham. 

And then the dancing (see the cowgirls up front?)

What we didn't know was that, though it was an afternoon open to anyone who wanted to come and learn how to line dance, 98% of the people there seemed to be a part of a line dancing club, and over the age of 50. They all seemed to know each other, and most of them knew the dances really well! 

Not Halle and I! But that wasn't a problem to us! We jumped right in line, and did our best to learn all of the steps. They were HARD dances to learn! 

Several times I found myself face to face with someone, and realized my turns hadn't quite been what they should have been. A couple other times, I stepped a few too many times to the left or right, and bumped into the older guy next to me, who had his thumbs in his belt loops and just nodded a curtesy nod as if to say "it's ok, but don't let that happen again." I was dying laughing. We realized halfway through the songs that the names of the steps they were teaching us were actually English words, and then a "ooooooooh that's what they're saying!" moment happened. 

It was so much fun to spend the day with Halle and laugh and talk and enjoy seeing how a part of our American culture was perceived by some of these French people. We felt so cool since we were actually from America! :) 

It was such a thoughtful, creative and unforgettable birthday gift!

Oh, and here is a little clip of one of the dances: 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

may the fourth

Today is my middle sister's birthday! May the 4th. She is a star wars fan, and I am pretty sure that she is proudly sporting her new "May the fourth be with you" shirt today. She even had a star wars party to go to in the evening.

Creative. While she doesn't consider herself super crafty or artistic, she is very creative. Creative in her lesson planning, her teaching, her classroom activities, and her writing. She has written many short stories and vignettes of life in Africa, and she has a way of finding exactly the right words and phraseology to make the reader feel like they are there, experiencing everything for themselves. She has written some beautiful children's stories, and I am so excited for the day when she will publish a book, illustrated by our very talented cousin! Right, Mel?

Teacher. She is constantly telling me new and innovative things she has done in her classroom, and her students just love her. I would absolutely love to take one of her French classes:
fashion shows, singing in her awesome microphone, movie quotes, and live French visitors! She knows how to communicate a love for the French language all the while, making learning fun!

Hilarious. She makes people laugh. She is SO much fun to be around.

She is the best big sister to Shorty! Always taking care of her...

Wow, handsome man!! It is so fun hearing them speak "gangstsa French" to each other and Joel being a go-to person for cultural insights, awesome French music, and hipster language.

I love my sweet middle sister so very much. It gets harder and harder to live so far apart. How often we've said how much we'd love to go grab a cup of coffee and just be together.

Looks like she feels the same way. Happy May the Fourth Birthday Didster!!