Wednesday, January 2, 2013

On the 12th day of Christmas...


Part of our Christmas village, which, if 2013 is like most years, will probably stay up until March or even beyond

... I will take stock of these 12 glorious days of vacation. 

First, you may be asking yourself why, as a teacher, I have made such a big deal out of having 12 big days off at Christmas. It's true that many teachers get two whole weeks. But my building closes for a minimum of one week at Christmas, and a bit more if the dates work out right.

Also, although teaching is my main activity, I am contractually a regular French employee, subject to "normal" French vacation rules. So no, this gal does not get two weeks off every two months. And honestly, I don't think I'd really want to.

So 12 days represented a truly generous Christmas break. And the fact that we didn't fill it up with a trip means that I got a really good rest. 

Of course, I had many things I wanted to accomplish. I accomplished some of them; others will wait. And I won't bore you with the long list of what got done and what didn't. 

But one accomplishment was getting this blog moving again! My "12 Days of Christmas" theme was like my own personal little NaBloPloMo. Which, by the way, I think I will never do again...


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

On the 11th day of Christmas...



...I quietly recovered from the New Year's Eve party we went to.

We had said we would leave at 1:00 am at the latest; we left at 2:30 am and got to sleep at about 3:00.

It was quite the evening but we were up to it!

In the French tradition, everything was set up very festively, and in the French tradition, we had a royal feast.

There were five couples and each one brought one course, but I still say hats off to our good friends Eric and Véro who hosted the event. They love to entertain and do it so very well.

Today has not been a day for reflection on the year to come...in fact, it hasn't been a day for reflection on much of anything! Just a very lazy day, preparing myself mentally for going back to work on Thursday.

But I do wish all of you a very happy and healthy new year -- with special thanks to those of you who have migrated back to comment a bit on this space.


Monday, December 31, 2012

On the 10th day of Christmas....


Rodez, Place Foch, Dec. 31 2012
I wonder why her shadow looks like "The Thinker"?


...I had some minor preparations to do for the New Year's Eve party, or "réveillon," that we are going to. 

As I posted two years ago on my "old blog," I'm not too big on this celebration. Too long, too late, too much food...at a time of year when I am usually too tired.

But since this year I have had longer Christmas holidays than usual, and also we didn't spend any time travelling, we both felt up to accepting the more or less standing invitation we have to celebrate New Year's with friends here in the village.

I think they know we are both pretty frazzled these days, so I got an easy but pleasant food task -- buying cheese and the wine to go with it.

For the bottles, I went to my favorite wine merchant's, La Cave Ruthène, and then I went uptown to buy cheese at another favorite Rodez place, Chez Marie


Chez Marie is a fab address and Marie is a fab person. Not only does she sell the best cheese in town, but her little shop, right behind the cathedral, is also a "cheese restaurant" with great food at reasonable prices.

I feel a New Year's Resolution -- no, intention, coming on. During the week, I have got to get out of my work neighborhood and into the town center more. Because, as my daughter just pointed out to me a few days ago, downtown Rodez is a very pleasant place.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

On the 9th day of Christmas...

....I delved into two very different types of books.

After taking about a 3-week post-DELTA Module One break from reading books about English Language Teaching, I decided to go back to the basics with Jim Scrivener's Learning Teaching.


I had already read some chapters from it, but with the emphasis on practice that is coming up in DELTA Module Two, I thought I would go back to the beginning.

I really love this book. First, the new edition has the Millau Viaduct on it, so that can't be bad for someone who lives in Aveyron.

Second, Scrivener has a way of dividing language teaching stages into such easily comprehensible steps. He never seems to get preachy or dogmatic, and slips in the occasional bit of classroom reality by making statements along the lines of "at this point, you may want to stop the activity because your students are tired of it."

I think I am going to try to read, or re-read, the whole darned thing before going to my first DELTA Module Two session in...10 short days.

But all work and no play does not a vacation make. After spending the afternoon "learning teaching," I settled down to read in one of my Christmas presents:


I would have loved to have gone to the Edward Hopper show that's happening at Le Grand Palais until January 28.  But it looks like it probably isn't going to happen...then again...I just saw that it's open until 10pm on Thursdays, and I will be spending one night in Paris on January 24!

I'll see if I can squeeze it in. If not, the book is a lovely replacement.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

On the 7th and 8th day of Christmas...

...reality struck in the form of a good look at what is awaiting me in the Cambridge DELTA course, Module Two.

I think I had been so obsessed with trying to pass Module One -- results are in February, so I'm not crowing too soon -- that I hadn't really looked that much into Module Two.

Today, I really plunged into the description in the official handbook.

All I can say is that it looks tough. I just finished an initial "reflective" paper...due date December 30th, they show no mercy! And I will be back in Strasbourg for a 9-day session very shortly -- departure on January 10!




Thursday, December 27, 2012

On the 6th day of Christmas...


...I will be shamelessly materialistic and write just a bit about one of my Christmas presents. 

Despite my interest in communications technology, I was late to the smartphone game. But for Christmas 2012, I said good-bye to this...


...and hello to this:

I couldn't be happier! This is a really great gift that should make 2013 a lot more fun. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

On the 5th day of Christmas...


(Image source: http://www.daytimer.com/)

...I was going to brag a bit about "how much I had got done today."

But somehow it didn't really feel like that much.

In the meantime, through Twitter I ran into a very thought-provoking post from my old blogging buddy My Inner French Girl.

It was thinly veiled as "best wishes for the holidays," but it was actually about the multitude of online organizational tools that we can now use,  whether they really help us pare down our "to-do lists."

I haven't used a lot of those tools, but I have also given up on a tight paper system. I guess I'm 'twixt and 'tween.

As I commented on her post, I remembered that in the 80s, I had proudly adopted a Day Timer. I used it religiously, seemed to race through my "to-do lists," and have never felt so organized since.

Was it the Day Timer, or is it just the times that have changed?