Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bienvenue, l'automne (Welcome, fall)




Short conversation between strangers heard all over Seattle for the last two weeks:

Stranger 1: "Can you BELIEVE it?!"

Stranger 2: "No, I can't believe it, but I sure love it!"

Stranger 1: "Obviously, this is not going to last..."

Stranger 2: "Yeah. We both know what's headed our way. Still, pretty neat, huh?"

Stranger 1" "I can't BELIEVE it..." 

... and so on...

These two strangers are discussing le topic du jour: La météo (the weather.) 

Oui, les amis, Seattle has been experiencing clear blue skies, warm weather and glorious sunsets for weeks now. And not a drop of rain.

Have I mentioned I can't BELIEVE it!?

School children have to spend their days locked up in a classroom while pining for long bike rides and picnics at the park... Pauvres petits. Their moms may be a bit luckier (at least the ones who are not at the office all day,) and I have been meeting many on the neighborhood trail as I walk the Yellow Dog.

Still, the chill in the air and the fog hovering over the valley in the early morning confirm what everyone already knows: Summer is on the way out. This is late September. L'automne est là. Fall is here. Canadian geese are all but gone already, and have been replaced by the ubiquitous and loud crows, cawing rhythmically: "Fall is here, fall is here..."

Yesterday, I had to know. I had to see it with my own eyes. It was 78 F outside. I was wearing shorts and sandals. I headed for everyone's favorite "happy place," Molbaks, a nursery, gift shop and restaurant all in one. If summer was still here, then surely, the folks at Molbaks would know. There would be colorful sets of patio furniture in the gift shop; containers overflowing with daisies and sedums outside; row after row of whimsical garden ornaments in the greenhouses; and everywhere, fragrant and cheerful blooms beckoning visitors.

I was right. The main greenhouse offered a brilliant display of color as far as the eye could see...








As I got closer, I noticed something was wrong... There were no marigolds, nasturtiums,  petunias, or daisies. Instead, I found pansies; chrysanthemums (they call them mums here;) ornamental kale and flowering cabbages. Fall plants. Autumn colors, I realized.

L'automne est là. Fall is here. 

There were two options. I could embrace fall, or I could dig a hole in the backyard and hibernate for at least six months during Monsoon season (an easy feat for me, you realize, since I would only need a few jars of Nutella to survive...) 

I chose Option 1. That's the new Moi. "La Zen French Girl."





Choosing Option 1 will involve picking a new pair of waterproof footwear at some point...




As I walked through Molbaks, though, there were things I was definitely NOT ready for... Christmas lights and tinsel, anyone?




The only tree ornaments I could bear to look at:
the Nautical-themed collection
Cute, but darn... too early for these little critters!


Finally, I found it. The best section in the whole store. These guys led me in the right direction...





Halloween! Halloween is in the fall. How could I forget? 




I hear the French tried to do Halloween for a while in the late 1990s, but it did not really fly over there. Kids liked it, as did some adults (who used it as an excuse to pop many bottles of champagne, and to dress up before the traditional New Year's eve celebrations.) But there were people who did not stand for it. Halloween was perceived as an American, not a French tradition. It smacked of commercialism. Above all, the French already had their way of celebrating and honoring their dead, and Saints, with La Toussaint (All Saints' Day,) on November 1st. Poor Halloween did not stand a chance. Jack'o'Lanterns were sent packing (many are still hiding at Disneyland Paris, I bet.) 




Dommage. The French did not get it. Halloween is a fun holiday, (and oui, c'est vrai, part of the American folklore.) My son has loved Halloween since he was a toddler. A commercialized celebration, but a fun one, très bon enfant, (good-natured) in fact. Or maybe I am just a bizarre French person with a soft spot for all things magical (my car's license plate reads "TONKS, our favorite portkey", and we will leave it at that...) 

Les amis, the good folks at Molbaks have outdone themselves this year... It was 78 F outside, but inside the gift store, it was dark, damp, cavernous... and downright scary! 

Everything was there for the perfect Halloween celebration... Il y avait des sorcières (there were witches...) 






Il y avait des chats noirs, des  chouettes et des hiboux... (There were black cats, and owls...) 







Il y avait des squelettes, des gargouilles, des rats, et puis de gentils monstres aussi. There were skeletons, gargoyles, rats, and nice monsters too.






There was everything, and more... A commercialized holiday? Oui. Don't you just LOVE it?!






Bienvenue l'automne. Welcome, fall.

A bientôt.


To get you in the mood, voilà a traditional French kindergarten song, Colchiques dans les prés. (Colchiques are a type of crocus, growing wild in nature.) 





A special "Merci" to Molbaks. As I always say, "Si Molbaks n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer!" (if Molbaks did not exist, someone would have to invent it!)



All photos by French Girl in Seattle
Please do not use, reproduce, or Pin without permission.

55 comments:

  1. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday! Looking at all of these decorations has put me in the mood for some pumpkins and goblins. Enjoy l'automne!

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    1. I will, I will... I like l'automne, at least the beginning of the season, before the rain starts...

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  2. I am loving fall and getting ready for all of the fun fall activities..including Halloween!! Great photos!! I loved the little song too.

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    1. Merci Heather. I can only imagine what a crafty person such as yourself can make during this blessed season! :-)

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  3. Such a beautiful post, Véronique, particularly the little video. I have a feeling that the whole Halloween thing is a bit too Anglosaxon for the French. It's originally a British holiday. The French and the British have always had an uneasy relationship, although they often marry each other (as in the case of my British Grandmum and my French Papi on my Mother's side, who never really understood each other -- Grandparents on my Father's side were cent pourcent français de souche)

    I am not a big fan of Halloween, but I adore the colors of Fall, which suit my complexion and hair to a Tee (or should that be to a Tea, as in a cuppa).

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    1. Bonjour M-T. So cool to think you could have practically had a "100 Years' War" within your family! I hope everyone kept things civilized during big family celebrations :-) I agree with you, these fall colors flatter the complexion! (love these browns, greens and oranges...) -- Bon weekend!

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  4. Beautiful photos, Veronique! What a colorful post.. and i agree.. way too early for the Christmas decorations! But i admit i love the Halloween felines, very sophisticated, and not the least scary. :) And those chocolates! Oh the chocolates. Magnificent any season. Hope you're having a wonderful late summer/early autumn week!

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    1. Hello Mary. I do love these felines, too. Aren't they just adorable? Did you notice the "chi-chi" witches, too? They looked like they were wearing pearls for crying out loud! :-)

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  5. Miss Chef would love to move to Seattle, but I spent too many dreary gray winters growing up in northeastern Ohio. Since moving south, though, I have, for the first time in my life, grown to love fall. The drop in humidity and temperature, the change of local food, the beauty of fall leaves...I can finally emerge from the house again without drooping into a heat coma.

    The only time I saw the French give much attention to Halloween, I was in Paris, and it seemed to be a drinking holiday imported by way of Britain. My students are always flabbergasted that the French don't celebrate it.

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    1. Dear Alison: How far south are we talking about here? Don't listen to Miss Chef. Sounds like you have much better weather where you are! Tell your students that some brave French people DID try to celebrate Halloween for a while (see Malyss' comment below...) Too bad the Halloween fever did not catch on in France!

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    2. We're in North Carolina--a lovely balance of all four seasons, if a little heavy on the summer heat and humidity. But compared to our earlier home in Mobile, Alabama, it's much more livable.

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  6. I'm thrilled you are having such gorgeous weather. We are too! It's unusual for a Texas September to offer up autumn temperatures. Hope it is here to stay. ;-)
    Thanks for sharing all these fun images..........Sarah

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    1. Hello Sarah. I just know how relieved you must be now that cooler temps are here. You've just had a HOT summer! Enjoy, enjoy...

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  7. Dearest Véronique,
    Well, I feel a bit French too I guess... as I've never been too fond of the entire Halloween thing.
    Loved the owls you show here, they look cute. Neat idea.
    And fun to end up inside a greenhouse of all places. That's what my Dad and Pieter's Dad did for a living. Growing veggies inside a greenhouse commercially. Pieter's Dad also grew peaches and grapes inside the greenhouses... Fond memories!
    Hugs to you,
    Mariette

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    1. Bonjour Mariette. Greenhouses are magical places, aren't they? Molbaks is a very special place, and I can't tell you how often I have gone there when the weather was horrible outside, especially in the winter. Molbaks always cheered me up! Thanks for stopping by.

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  8. Such beautiful photos, Veronique! Thank you for this lovely post, it was one great nostalgic ride for me. It hasn't even been a good six months since our move back to India, and all this reminds me how much I miss Seattle, and more than that the autumn. Pouring sighs!
    We also love Halloween; true, it's something very "American", but as long as it's fun, why complain! Wish you a delightful autumn.

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    1. Hello Suman. You miss Seattle, but not so much the rain, I bet! India, eh? Come to think of it, I did mention the monsoon in my story. I bet you are very familiar with that :-)

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  9. Mes enfants avaient pile-poil le bon âge quand Halloween est arrivé en France. On en a bien profité, et fait le plein de deco. Heureusement, car maintenant , on ne trouve plus rien ; Et que de reproches avons nous essuyés.. je continue à decorer la maison, mais avec des choses hand-made, et je me sens un peu seule. :o)
    Alors , moi, ces vitrines d'Halloween americaines , ça me fait rêver, ça me plait, ça m'amuse et ça me fait envie, et tant pis pour les ronchons que ça derange.Par contre, un peu tôt pour Noël, mais je trouve les decos que tu montres très ...inhabituelles!
    C'est joli de finir avec les colchiques,nostalgie...
    Bises et à bientôt!

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    1. Alors là, je ne suis pas surprise du tout. Après avoir visité quelques boutiques niçoises avec toi, je me doute bien que tu serais complètement "gaga" en voyant tous ces petits (et grands) objets chez Molbaks. Peut-être qu'un paquet-colis express est de rigueur, puisque les magasins français ne sont pas achalandés pour la saison des sorcières? :-)

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    2. Minerva est ravie quand je deballe la collection de deco pour Halloween. Ca lui fait de la compagnie! :-) J'etais serieuse pour ton adresse. Fais-la moi passer par email asap. Quand reviens-tu a Nice? Avant Halloween?

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  10. Happy last day of summer, Veronique! This sunny September has been such a dream - I can't believe it, either. But I'll be embracing the fall colors they wash in. But I will miss the sunshine! Now, where did I put my rainboots? XOXO

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    1. A dream, Jeanne, a dream, I agree. Time to wake up now. Summer ended today, and the weather took a turn for the chillier, did you notice? A friendly warning from Seattle, no doubt. Time to pull out those sweaters! Bon weekend!

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  11. Terrible, cette jardinerie ! J'aime beaucoup des décorations d'Halloween proposée à la vente, certaines sont vraiment originales !

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    1. Salut Tsuki. Grande sélection garantie aux Etats-Unis pour Halloween. Il y en a pour tous les goûts...

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  12. What a fun post....love all the color. When my son was young I didn't want him Trick or Treating & collecting candy that I didn't want him to eat. So we'd have a dinner party, go to an evening parade in town, and make it a special treat. Gave out healthy apples and made a donation to UNICEF. It was still fun...just healthier.

    Love this time of year....and it's beautiful weather down here too, Veronique!

    Happy Fall!

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    1. Hello Suzanne. How good you are/were! I bet your son skipped a few trips to the dentist, unlike his friends! :-) I am glad my kid does not go crazy over candy. He usually forgets "his loot" somewhere around the house a couple of days after Halloween, and I just toss everything. Phew.

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  13. What a colourful post, Véronique! So many wonderful photos - the first one just sums up autumn colours - every shade is there! I certainly enjoyed the tour round your wonderful garden centre and the commentary about Halloween. So much choice ....the beautiful pumpkin lanterns and the pretty witches (not scary at all!) It's true that it's still a popular tradition the UK ... carving lanterns, toffee apples and apple bobbing - great fun!
    It does annoy me somewhat that we see Christmas decorations in some shops before we have had Halloween.
    Bon week-end!
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Hello miss b. Thank you for stopping by. I do like that first photo. The folks at Molbaks are very talented, and some of their displays never fail to impress me. Like you, I get annoyed when the retail industry tries to "push" some holidays on us before we are ready for them. That is why I stayed away from the Christmas section (they were still working on it anyway...)

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  14. Hello French Girl in Seattle...........I love that name! How delightful to meet you through Vicki's blog and it looks like I should have visited you before my trip so I could have kept pace with Vicki's french. Hardly, she speaks impeccably so it might take me years and years to catch up. Even though I live in a bilingual country and had a french-speaking mother, I just didn't do so well with French (was better at Spanish) something I now regret of course. I loved your photos today (what camera do you use?) and certainly can see why you enjoy your visits there. Lovely to meet you and thank you adding me to your following list. xx

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    1. Welcome, Sande. I have not met Vicki yet, but we will have to eventually. Now I am curious to see how good her French really is :-) I am glad you enjoyed the photos in this story. My camera is the incredible, amazing, [almost] infallible, Panasonic Lumix LX5, aka "Le Lumix." We have been on most excellent adventures together! Hope to see you again here soon, and for what it is worth, would love to know the brand of these cute Oxford shoes you purchased in Paris - the suspense is killing me!

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  15. What a wonderful Molbaks place you have! Images are so colorful and cheerful. The vignette on the first one is so L'ETE INDIEN. Design and sense of humor and fantastic owls of all kinds. And ceramic pumpkin lanterns - ah! A great place to visit, a theatrical one, everything is done in style. Sure it's a family fun. Thank you Veronique for taking me there.

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    1. Bonsoir Natalie. You are correct: Molbaks is a favorite place with local families. In fact, the place also welcomes dogs of all shapes and sizes. At Christmas time, people will come in and have their kids' [and dogs'] pictures taken by the giant poinsetta tree! A good place to be.

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  16. Ha, I was in a garden shop tonight and did some damage ( the good kind $$$) but yours is very cute and has so much to choose from. Meeps thinks we need the chat noir but I want those colorful glazed pumpkins!

    Glad you are seeing a bit of ciel bleu dear one,
    xx
    V

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    1. Hello V. Just saw your pics on FB. No wonder you spent money there! I would have too :-) Well... I will know where to take you if you ever visit Seattle... Bon weekend!

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  17. First of all...Christmas ornaments??? Already? Yikes!
    Seattle in September is usually the best time of year, so I'm happy that the sun is smiling on you and you're taking advantage of it.

    Though after seeing all your photos, I'm feeling sad that I'll miss the festivities of Halloween once again....

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    1. Come onI I am sure that if you look around, you can find some French "résistants" who will be celebrating Halloween this year! I know they are out there... Bonne chance!

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  18. Bonjour French Zen Girl:-)
    Please do not hibernate ever... First, we would miss your colorful blog posts! Second, eating Nutella only is not the best way to survive...
    Any chance Molbak relocates one day in Florida? It's such a nice place. Although I totally agree: it's way too early for Christmas decorations. But the pumpkin pots in all different colors are to die for. Glad I could enjoy them thru your photos without spending "un sou". Sinon j'achetais tous ces jolis pots!
    Have a great Sunday and enjoy the Seattle Indian summer.
    xo,
    Anne
    PS Any useful advice to remain zen? Zen attitude needed here.

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    1. Do not fear, Anne. Hibernation would be the end of me - and my waistline! :-)
      I plan to stick around come what may. As for the "Zen Attitude," I have noticed it works a lot better when the sun shines every day. Will update you as more traditional fall weather arrives in Seattle. Definitely NOT considering myself an expert of ""Zen attitude," yet! :-)

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  19. Comme je suis heureuse de te retrouver après ces longues semaines d'absence !!! En ce moment encore je suis extrêmement occupée (remise en route de la vie "normale"!! d'une maison!)...
    Je te remercie pour l'ensemble de tous tes très gentils messages...
    Je suis aussi ravie de découvrir ta dernière publication qui fait honneur à Dame Automne que je n'aime pas beaucoup !!! Je le susurre doucement! J'aime tant le printemps et l'été! mais c'est ainsi...
    Cependant les photos que tu nous dévoilent sont magnifiques. Il est vrai que vous avez l'art et la manière de fêter Halloween... c'est extraordinaire. Effectivement comme tu l'écris si bien nous autres, français, nous ne réussirons jamais à nous attribuer cette fête et je trouve sincèrement que c'est bien ainsi. Chaque pays a ses coutumes...
    En attendant ma chère je te renouvelle ma joie de te retrouver et te fais de gros bisous.

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    1. Gros bisous a toi aussi, Martine A. Tout le monde a l'air d'adorer Dame Automne. Moi, je la regarde arriver avec circonspection, parce que j'habite dans un endroit du monde ou malheureusement, l'hiver dure tres, tres longtemps. Enfin, j'aurai toujours tes jolies peintures et les histoires de Leo le Toucan pour me remonter le moral... Bises.

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  20. We had Christmas ornaments up at our hobby stores in July! Whatever store you were at looks awesome! I just bought mums and pansies yesterday after most of my summer flowers gave up the ghost!

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    1. Mums and pansies... That's the spirit, Cheri :-)

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  21. wow I love this post so much! I love the flower pictures and your commentary. I wish we had such colorful flowers here in the 4 corners! fun Halloween photos as well. my cousin in France told me a few years back that halloween is pretty new there...n'est pas. Awwww j'adore the French fall song...I believe I have heard this one before but love how you get us ready for fall. :)

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    1. Colors are just different in your corner of the world, Sandy, but as demonstrated on your blog just last week, they are beautiful too... Thank you for stopping by chez moi. You are always welcome here!

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  22. Huh ? Halloween already ??? How could it be ??? Oh no, I didn't even notice, September is almost over... Cold nights are coming...

    Can we share the Nutella please ? :-)

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    1. Wake up and smell the hot cider, Mr Toad! Yes, fall is here (in Paris too, I hear...)

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  23. Yes, autumn (fall) is here, also in Paris - felt very strongly yesterday! Rain and strong winds cost me a new (cheap) umbrella! :-)

    Maybe it's as good that we keep our traditions locally. As you say, when they tried for Haloween here, it was felt quite artificial and commercial.

    ... and as I have been very busy lately, I didn't comment on your previous post, but read it now! A really great post about gourmands and gourmets! Bravo!!

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Mr Olson. Always wonderful to hear from you. Get a new umbrella pronto, or should I send you a special "Halloween-themed" one? :-)

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  24. We closed the pool last week....I cried. The hummingbirds left a few days ago for parts warmer than here.....I cried. I hated to see the end of summer but I am embracing Autumn with the delicious crispness in the air and our special apples and big fat acorns, and the hoot of the owl over the lake. AND I am planning a party. I love Halloween and have always wanted to have a party. This year is the year! yay! Thank you for that delightful tour of your special place. (did I detect a bit of Christmas there? :) I love that Witch Way sign and plan on making one for the party....posted on the lane. What fun! Thank you French Girl in Seattle! xoxo

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    1. Bonjour Lynn. Well I am very happy you are planning that Halloween party, otherwise you might be crying until the Holidays arrive :-) I have not cried yet, but might very well do so once the grey skies and rain return permanently to the Seattle area (in that case, of course, there is always Nutella to cheer me up :-)

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  25. You must love the colors of autumn (fall) Veronique, so very beautiful. We have such a place as Molbaks, it's always such a pleasure to go there and check out plants and goodies.Halloween is popular here but not so much as America, I can'believe it's almost here again, where did the year go!

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    1. The colors of autumn happen to be my favorite ones-- have always been, especially orange. So yes, this is good time of year for me. I despise winter in Seattle though. It seems all you see is grey (in the sky, on most trees,) and dark green (on some trees.) I am going to miss our long summer...

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  26. It's such a fun holiday..Often our kids in QC need coats..but most of the time. they can wear warm costumes.One of our daughters is hosting dinner for all of us..should be fun:-)

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Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle