Every time I think I am moving forward something happens to make me realize that, if I'm moving forward, it's in reverse.
Last week I called the chimney sweep to arrange the annual summer cleaning.
I was prepared.
First: He had cleaned our chimneys last year. As we are the only Americans in the area we should be somewhat memorable.
Second: I was prepared to identify our house as 'the house that used to be owned by….'
Third: I was prepared to identify both of our neighbors, whose chimneys he also cleans.
And, last: I'm getting darned good at spelling my own address, giving out my own phone number and directions to our house. I mean, I have manged to get heating fuel delivered by perfect strangers, as well as getting the septic tank pumped, our electrical box upgraded and the leaky water connection repaired.
I thought I would be able to arrange to have a repeat visit by the chimney sweep.
As is so often the case, I thought incorrectly.
I gave him all of my prepared information and everything seemed to be going well.
Then he asked for my address.
I told him.
He didn't understand.
I spelled it.
He didn't understand.
This went on for about 5 minutes: Me giving the information in as many different ways as I could think of; him not getting any of it.
Magically, all of a sudden, he understood.
He asked for my phone number.
I told him,
He repeated it correctly except for the last digit.
He said: quatre (4).
I said: non, sept (7)
He said: oui, quatre.
I said: non, sept.
He said: oui, quatre.
I said: non, cinq, six, SEPT.
He said: huh? (in French, of course)
This went on for a very long time, both of us getting more and more frustrated.
I finally gave up and agreed.
He said he would come this week and we both hung up.
One of two things would happen: something would jog his memory and he would check last years files for the right info about us or he wouldn't show and I would have to do this all again.
He was here at 8:00 this morning.
I had been thwarted by his Minitel. Apparently the info he was reading on his Minitel didn't agree with what I said.
But he had remembered me and did check his records for the right phone number.
All's well that ends well.
We now have 3 squeaky-clean chimney's and a wood stove so sparkly that I will never again light a fire in it.
What, you might ask, is a Minitel?
Back when the Internet was just a spark in some geek's eye, in ancient times, 1982 to be exact, France launched the Minitel.
The Minitel consisted of a screen and a keyboard, (sound familiar?) and they were distributed free to everyone with phone service. It allowed users to shop online, make travel arrangements, check stock, weather forecasts and had phone directories. (Sound familiar yet?)
By the time the internet came around, it was all old hat to the French.
At least it wasn't my accent causing the problems…..
Anyone still have zucchini in their garden?
I used 2 small yellow squash for these, about 7" (18cm) long but only an
inch (2.5cm) in diameter.
Stuffed Baby Zucchini (Courgette)
2 small yellow squash or zucchini (courgette)
4 tbs finely chopped tomato
2 tbs finely chopped red onion
2 tbs shredded Parmesan
4 tsp fresh basil, snipped
2 slices Prosciutto or other dry-cured ham
4 cherry tomatoes for garnish
Cut each squash in half the long way. Using the tip of a small spoon, scrape out the seeds and a bit of flesh, leaving about 1/4" (.5cm) all around. Divide and spread the onion, then tomato, basil and cheese into each of the halves.
Cut the Prosciutto in half the long way. Wrap each half slice diagonally around a squash half, tucking the ends under the squash. Place on a baking sheet and bake, 400F (200C) for 25 minutes.
To Serve: Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Remove Stuffed Zucchini, arrange on plates, garnish with tomatoes and serve.
week of July 16 we have Cod with Olive Caper Sauce, Gazpacho de Andaluz, Barbecued, Stuffed Pork Loin, Steak Caesar Salad, Cumin-Scented Chicken….
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