Today was a day of reconnecting with French friends. First was lunch with Jean-Marie Jacquème and Joyce Heard, who drove from their home in Aix-en-Provence to spend the weekend in Nice. Joyce and I were staffers together at The Harvard Crimson a long time ago, and Jean-Marie is the man she moved in with 20 years ago when she was a struggling expatriot in Paris and found out he had a dishwasher. I know this from editing a wonderful memoir titled "Just Desserts" that Joyce wrote and that will appear in the May 1st edition of Wazee Journal.
Jean-Marie is an impish, emotional man who seems always just about to say something hilarious, or else to break down in tears. He is tremendously good company and a fellow e-chronicler of various travels, in his and Joyce's case, to Morocco, Paris and all over. This shared passion made me look forward to seeing Jean-Marie outside of the virtual world, knowing we would both be toting digital cameras and probably writing about the day. Jean-Marie has not yet made the jump from e-mailed posts with photos to a blog, and I pitched him hard on the advantages of blogdom. For now, you can't see his witty posts, written in French, unless you are on his mailing list.
For supper, we reconnected with Françoise Philippe, our house-swapping friend who drove over from Cannes. She delighted Darlene by presenting her with a playfully ornate purse swirling with lace and brocade, a late birthday present, and then we all had lots of catching up to do over a dinner of mussels. Françoise's English and my French are about evenly matched, so we switch back and forth depending on who's getting the most tired. Darlene waits for English to return whenever we move along in French for a while, but that is likely to change after the two-month immersion in French. I appreciated Françoise's supporting me in worrying about Darlene's idea of buying a miniature Yorkie here in France and taking it home. "How will you travel?" she asked. "You must wait until you are old and stop traveling to have a dog." But for all my resistance to the idea of un chien, I found myself stopping a woman with a miniature Yorkie at an ATM on the way to lunch. Uh-oh. The impossible simply takes Darlene a little longer than the difficult. She has already named the dreaded critter. You guessed it: Fifi.