Thursday, July 27, 2006

Is anybody in France 'normal'?

I was thinking about this today as I talked to Jacques. Now Jacques is truely a Jacques of all trades. He's done all kinds of work on our house. There seems to be little he won't tackle AND do a good job of it. For example here he is building a new fireplace - single handed! Note the cap; we'd known Jacques for months & months before we ever saw him without his hat.
So far so normal. Turns out, however, the Jacques has spent several years in the middle East teaching French to foreigners after that he was a social worker in Paris. He & his wife decided to move down to the country when they decided to start their family (they now have 3 children) as they didn't want to raise the children in a city enviornment. What to do? Elizabeth still works with the elderly locally, but Jacques decided to work for himself. HIs father was a great handyman & taught Jacques a lot so he decided to make a business of it. Given his background, education & intelligence he can work out almost anything. He's much in demand.

A few months ago we were bemoaning the fact that we couldn't find a good school or teacher to improve our French. Jacques volunteered & now gives each of us an individual lesson every Monday. He's a great teacher. We're learning not just 'proper' French, but everyday French as well. We always have lunch together when Jacques is here. Not only is this good for our French, its good for Jacques English. No doubt that his English is better than our French. We all enjoy getting each other's perception of world events, French politics and whatever topics come to mind. As I said this is a very bright well informed man.

A 'normal' workman? I think not. Actually I should call Jacques an artisan which is what the craftsmen here are called. Its a priviledge to know him.

We thought Jacques was the exception until we met Gerard the falconeer who also happens to make beautiful cabinetry and then Stepan the gardner who climbs mountains most of the time. I'll tell you about them in a future post.

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