Monday, 2 December 2019

The argument, the French lady, Duo Lingo......

Hello, here I am again. Been away from you for a while, but have been busy doing other things, which is no excuse I know. One of the reasons I have become a tad constipated with writing this blog is because it was supposed to be about the farm and our life as smallholders, but since we have had this slow down with the farm while my partner earns us a living on his computer, not much has happened outside. I did try and take over some of the farm work, but we have just had a humungously long, hot, wet, and humid summer, which stopped me in my tracks. So.........

We are living in France, so need to speak French, which we do. I can write it, and Lester can speak it, but not really to any high standard. Actually it is quite a low standard if I am to be honest. For a long time I have been thinking that we ought to improve our language skills, but this would have probably only stayed in my head if it had not been for a French lady asking me:
"How long have you been in France?" she asked chattily.
"About eleven years" I said, still in chatty mode myself.
"......but your French is not very good. Don't you want to speak it." she went on, still quite chattily.

Now you know when someone presses your button, the button which happens to be sitting over a sensitive subject, a button which needs to stay not pressed, because if it is pressed then you know you will go off on a rant? ........ Now feeling unchatty, and not even attempting to speak in French, in English I went off on one, defending the reasons as to why my French was not as good as it should be, all the while, in my heart, I knew that she was right. She was the prod I needed.

Duo Lingo was recommended to us, and  is an easy and addictive web site to use. We are both easier when speaking French, and are likely to engage with the French people a lot more as we continue using it.

 However: recycling ……… at the recycling bins in the village just across the river, in the Gers, …. Saturday morning …… raining (again) ... Lester emptying our dustbin bags of recycling into one of the several bins lined up by the lake. ..... up comes a big, black, four by four car and stops inches  from our little white van, ….. out gets a big man …. who puts on his fancy dancy cowboy-type of hat ….  Ah, I think to myself, a chaise man …… ( local hunter of deer, wild boar, and anything else he can shoot) … he puffs himself up ..... and out comes a bunch of French words  .... they do not sound friendly …. I see Lester puff himself up as well, ..... and I hear him come out with a bunch of French words .... "good ole Duo Lingo I thought to myself" ...... and so on it went.....two men, one French, one English, which already could put them in opposition to each other,  one from the Gers protecting his village's recycling bins and the other from the Haute Pyrenees which is a region who does not have recycling bins. They argued, and argued, and argued, for ages. It was fascinating to watch. All the while I could hear Lester holding his own. I was very proud of him. I saw the French chaisse man deflate, become smaller.

We await the fallout from this confrontation. Apparently we are not allowed to put our recycling in the Gers. It looks like there is still territorial divisions between the various regions, but only with a certain generation of people. I suspect the younger people will not care.

We hear the  news about plastics. We want to recycle our plastics. The Haute Pyrenees does not have any facilities for this. We are obeying the pressure from social media to cut down on our plastics.
So we have bought a little incinerator so we can burn our paper and cardboard. But then that would fall into me encouraging global warming, which we already presumably do with our wood burning Rayburn. This is a no win situation all round. As for our plastics? Oh I shall just put them in the normal dustbin and not sort them out. We keep being told to recycle but.......

And I began thinking that perhaps it was not such good idea to do Duo Lingo. Because if you have a good  French vocabulary then you can have a stupendous argument with someone who is irritating you, but if  you don't have the vocabulary then all you could do is just turn away, or speak in English which is what irritates the French people no end.

Oh well...... such is life....... 

- the good news is that our French is improving.....the not so good news is that we can argue with people if they need to be argued with, or rather, my partner can!
- the good news is that after having months and months of rain, our fields have not flooded, ....  the not so good news is that  the river has remained full up for months, and that when it drops again we expect that a lot of our land will be gone somewhere else because of erosion.
- the good news is that I have become more supple in myself due to the twenty minutes I spend doing Qi Gong from a YouTube video. There is no bad news for this one, but it is proof that at seventy plus the body can be encouraged to move again if it is encouraged to do so. 

Oh! I have a sudden image of chocolate. And blow me down, but there is a bar in the fridge. Sorry, will have to go and satisfy me.

So, bye for now,

Hope all is well with you,



northsider said...

Lovely see your post again Vera. I missed your blogs.

DUTA said...

Hi Vera,
I'm glad to hear from you.
Indeed, it's very important to speak the language of the country you live in.Every effort is worth making to achieve proficiency in the local language.

As for plastics and recycling - it's a bit of a headache, but we must do it for our planet.

Vera said...

NORTHSIDER DAVE: I missed posting them as well!

DUTA: We already spoke enough French, but we felt that we ought to be able to be more efficient!
Recycling? We are willing to recycle if we can have somewhere we can put the recycling! We don't, so we won't!

Rhodesia said...

Lovely to hear from you. My French is terrible. I was doing OK while I was here on my own. Once Nigel retired and moved as well he took over (his French is good) and I went backwards. Now the memory is rubbish as well and with no practise, well I have just gone backwards.

I am stunned re your recycling. Here in the Charente it is incredible. Our black bag for rubbish is almost empty each week while they collect everything recyclable in a yellow bag and sort it for us. Only glass is collected separately. See my post on French recycling here :-

Keep well. Diane

Vera said...

DIANE; I was encouraged when I read your blog about the recycling facilities in your area, and thought the same was for all of France. It has been sad to realise that it isn't, and that the only place we could put our plastics is banned for us because we are not in the same department as those bins are. Perhaps it is because we are considered to be too rural. Do you have to pay for your rubbish bins to be collected? We do, and are allowed a certain number of collections a year with a limited weight to the bin, any more collections over that number and we have to pay extra for them. This is only in the Haute Pyrenees. The Gers, which is the region beside us, do not have to pay anything for their collections.
We are not being encouraged to recycle in our particular area, and that is sad.

On a lighter note, I have been the same as you....I learn French, but Lester speaks better than me, which has made me lazy. He also likes translating for me! But I am using the Duo Lingo web site to get moving with French again, and I have joined a French choir and French crafting group, and that short sort me out with my French language practice!

Hope you are well, and not minding the grotty weather we have had lately. I know you need the warmth of the sun, so are you going to get away to a sunnier climate during the winter?


Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Vera - Glad you are back (and all well). We have started using Duolingo for our upcoming trip to Italy. I am not sure how much grammar it will teach, but just the power of repetition can work wonders.

We have recycling here in the States, but (honestly) recycling will never either 1) be profitable to get industry fully in or 2) ultimately cut down on the amount of items. I am trying to work through buying less - not that this really works either, in case you were wondering.

Vera said...

TDH Beucail...... Hi there, hope all is well with you.
As for Duo Lingo, I find it very good for pronunciation, which helps when actually speaking to a French person, but I do take notes from DL. I learn by writing things down, but my partner has a more instant memory than me so does not need to do that. Good luck with DL.
And you are coming to Europe! That must be a very looked forward to trip!

Recycling! We try not to buy products packaged in plastic, which was easy to do when we grew our own food, but not so easy to do now we can't do that. Meanwhile, it seems that more and more products are being wrapped in plastic!

Barbara said...

Trying to do the right thing by the planet can be frustrating. I would be interested to hear what justification the chasse guy had for discouraging recycling. Our local council in the UK makes money from recycled items, which goes back into services. I can’t imagine a younger person would have the same attitude as him towards someone trying to do the right thing. In the meantime, perhaps you could return some of the plastics to the supermarket, if that is where they come from, or leave them behind after purchase. It would encourage them to think more about how their goods are packaged, perhaps.

Vera said...

BARBARA: This is the argument my partner made to the Chasse Man, that the village made money out of the recycling. But I think that Chasse Man was more enraged that someone from the Haute Pyrenees area of France was daring to use the facilities of the Gers area of France!

We are not going to do any returning of plastics to the supermarkets we shop at, as they are all a distance apart, and there are four of them. What we can do, and are going to do when time permits, is to go back to growing our own food again.

Thanks for visiting Barbara, and for your comments.

Tommo said...

Hooray, you're back. Hope all's well. Er..., my French is crap, but no worries, I get by.

Vera said...

TOMMO, Hope all is well with you also. We get by with speaking French as well. It is surprising how you can manage a foreign language if you have to.
Hope you are keeping dry and warm. Vx

Rhodesia said...

Vera we do not pay for recycling as it either goes into a black bag or a yellow bag which they supply. Generally, we have a tiny black bag and 2 or 3 yellow large bags every fortnight when they collect. Cheers Diane