Friday, June 1, 2012

Life in Le Cannet France

Travels Sans Roulotte

So, what have we been up to you ask?  Up to our eyeballs with getting rid of old magazines, newspapers, now useless folders of a saved life's history.  It continually amazes me that neither my grandparents nor my mother ever threw anything away.
My grandparents started living in this house in 1958.  They had been living in New York City since 1949/1950.  They had moved to the US to be closer to their daughter, my mother and their grandchildren, my brother and I.  While in the US, they worked in restaurants in the City and upstate New York, did housekeeping jobs and worked at the French Consulate.  I have many vivid memories of running around in the Consulate when it was closed. They then decided that they wanted to return to France and to the photography business that was their passion.  So, they moved to Cannes, the most logical of places for them, with its warm sunny weather and the International Film Festival.  They loved it and prospered and accumulated "things" along the way.
My mother moved back to France to live with them in 1970 and brought with her the "things" that she had grown to love in the US.  In addition, she then started adding new things to the house, without ever having to throw anything away.  It's a big house with lots of places to stash what you no longer needed or use.
So here we sit, going through the life history of 3 people that I knew and loved.  The past few days I have been sitting and sorting what seems to be a lifetime of correspondence: cards from friends traveling all over the world, yearly Christmas cards from my uncle Herk ( father's brother), letters from another French girl that my mother had met on the boat when coming to the US, letters from her best friend who she knew since both where very young, letters my grandmother wrote to her brother-in-law Andre, letters my mother wrote to her brother telling him about her travel to the US as a new war bride, letters from Aunt Betty (the English side of our family) and so many more letters.
We have also been going through boxes of pictues, sorting out the multiples and seeing some that I never new existed.  We are still working on gathering all the pictures, have not even started to scan them yet.  Yes, we even brought two small scanners with us in our suitcases.

yes, this is a real gator purse
treasures found

AND, slides!!! boxes and boxes of slides to sort and look at. My mother had been organizing the slide collection over the past few years, so some are labelled with dates and places.  Others are just in their little boxes as they have been for 50 years. Fred is giving them a first look, with me occassionally looking over his shoulder and saying good bye to the many that are just plain scenery. As I look at some of them I am seeing some slides of pictures that will be scanned and others that I had already scanned from my own collection in the US.  We are talking about the possibility of sending slides to US for later work.  At this point we have no idea how many that might mean or what it might cost.
Oh, and let's not forget the rolls and rolls of 8 and 16mm films that date back to the 1930s. Some had been transferred to video/dvd, not exactly sure which in all cases, by my uncle Noel.  So those are easy to deal with.  Lots to be discovered there.... Just read a postcard that Noel sent his parents in early 1950s, he was traveling the country, asking if they received the film he made while in Los Angeles.  Oh!  Where might such a film be now?  It's all about exploring or better yet a cat and mouse game.
In addition to all of the above activity, we have been gathering items to take to the local Church for a rummage sale they will be having mid June.  We have now taken them two boxes of French and American novels and non fiction books, a suitcase full of old records, a dozen large framed Japanese prints.  I had not remembered seeing the prints in the house, but have now seen them in some of the slides taken in the house.  Aunt Lyne told me that my grandmother loved all things Japanese, which now explains their being here.  We will continue to take to the church, since this seems to be a good way to share with others and move things out of the house that do not have great sentimental value to the family.

busy sorting in one room of house

We have also discarded the box spring of the bed that we sleep on and have just put the mattress on the floor.  We may get another box spring, but it will have to wait for now.  The bed had been my grandparents, so you can imagine how uncomfortable it had become.  We tried to get it down the stairs to put at the garbage pick up.  Well, the stairs are curved and narrow to get down from the second floor ( first floor in france).  We  were unable to get it to fit, so took off the legs, hoping it would help.  It didn't!  Fred ended up having to saw it in half so we could take it down the stairs in two parts.  Once he did that we saw that it was just old straw stuffed in over large springs.  It had seen better times!
Our first night sleeping with the mattres on the floor was more comfortable than sleeping on the box spring!  Hopefully it will continue to be true.
The whole time we were struggling with this bed we kept wondering how they got it in the room in the first place.  Once we were done, we started looking at the stairs going up to the third floor (second in France) and saw that there was not the same low level restrictive ceiling as on the lower half.  We then realized the bed and other large furniture pieces, were probably hoisted up from the street, to the top floor of the house, by way of what is a large shuttered opening that is located at that level.  It may have been there to load hay or other large items inside. In the 1800s animals would have been kept in the basement of the house. There is still a large pulley located at this opening and some good rope would have been used to haul furniture up and into the house.
Saturday we will be working with our neighbor Pierre to finish cutting back the Bouganvillia.  It hs been very interesting to hear the neighbors around commenting on how much better it looks, all the while bemoaning the loss of its wildness.  Fred has unfortunately developped an allergic reaction to the thorn scratches he has gotten while doing the cutting and bagging of this monster.  A medicated ointment is helping, but he is dreading having to start again with this work.  It should be completed with this one more attack at this plant/monster.

Saturday evening will end with a candlelight concert, in a historic 15th century church, which is not far from us.  The church is not often open, weekly services are no longer held there, so it is a real event.  Coincidentally, we went to a clavicord and viola gamba concert there while we were here last summer.
Sunday is Mothers' Day in France.  Our family is getting together to have a big lunch in Mandelieu, cousin Philippe and Carole's house.  Should be a fun day, since this will be the first to see Aunt Lyne and cousin Florence and her family.

Fred's new hat...speaks Texas to him

Stay tuned for more adventures,
Michelle and Fred
Traveling sans Roulotte in France