Letter to an American friend moving to France. Lettre a un ami Americain demenageant en France

Dear Friend
I amazed you actually preparing to move to France. It really is incredible. I understand the stress you have to endure everyday in the US. All this freedom you have to face, this Constitution that allow to think for yourself, taking responsibilities for your actions, it has to be horrible. Although I must say, this dude Obama is trying real hard the suppress it. He is doing even better than his predecessor, the Bush guy. Luckily for you there is no freedom in France. It disappeared over 2000 years ago when Cesar invaded the country land it no one has heard of it since. Of course the land was not called France at the time, it was called Gaul by the Romans but in fact each region had its own name. When I wrote no one ever mentioned freedom it wasn’t entirely true. This fellow Etienne de la Beotie tried to bring freedom back in 1552 with his book : Discours de la servitude volontaire ou le Contr’un (Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, or the Anti-Dictator). He died in 1563 and thank goodness no one ever heard of his book again. In France no one even know this Etienne de la Boetie.
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France Idiocracy

Few years ago a French dude wrote an essay called France Orange Mecanique (France Clockwork Orange) in which he describes the state of insecurtity in the country.  Laurent Obertone is free of his opinions and many French folks tend to believe him, mainly (and unfortunately) the far right movements.  So I figure if one dude can compare this country to a movie (and a book) I could do the same.  But I don’t want to talk about violence, heck other medias are doing a fine job of it.  No I choose to compare it to Idiocracy.  The subject is quit different.

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Black Madonna of Puy en Velay, la Vierge Noire de Puy en Velay part 2

scan0053Like most pre-twelve century Black Madonna site, this one is built on an ancient Celtic temple.  It  is difficult to say the word “temple” while talking about the Celts.  Indeed, they did not have any.  They did not worship statues or any representation of a god.  They worshiped trees and stones.  This is why Cesar ordered to cut all major forest in Gaul right after the conquest of 52 BCE.


It seems however the Druids worshiped at least one form of divinity in the shape of a woman:  Black Madonnas.  The statue destroyed in Chartres Sion Vaudemont are proof of an antique tradition of Goddess worship.  Who was she?  New Agers are mentioning the Name of Isis as seen previously.  But Goddess worship pre-dates Egyptian culture by far.  In a fascinating book, first published in the UK as the “Paradise Papers” then in the US as “When God was a Woman” Merlin Stone shows how in Europe, Goddess worshi.  p was not a vain word.  Everywhere statues have been found, but never actually processed in archaeological/historical research proving matriarchal societies.scan0054


Could the Celts have venerated a Queen mother of all the Gods?  She is found in many places and in many forms.  Celts saw feminine spirits in the watery places.  Near by Piennes there is a river which is name Woevre, a misnomer for Wouivre, a Celtic spirit associated to the snake and to oak trees and of course a Goddess.  There is a whole lot of research to be done on that subject.


The statue in Le Puy (which by the way means Mount in old local Celtic language and not a well like some people would translate using today’s terminology) is undated.  The construction of the Church goes back to the IV century CE.  A Celtic woman being sick and finding no help in local medicine remember a Druidic tale.  In the days of Druids, when someone tried to heal, he would go to a certain “dolmen” on a mount near by and spend the night sleeping on it, to awake healed in the morning.  The woman was carried to the mount, found a large flat rock of volcanic origine buried in the dirt, remembered that this may be the “dolmen” of the folk tale and lay on it.  As soon as she sat on it she feel asleep.  The legend she saw a beautiful woman in her dream.  The later had a following of celestial spirits.  The old woman asked in her dream:

“Who is the Queen so gracious and so beautiful who comes to me in my distressful situation?”

It’s the Queen of Heaven and our Queen answered an angel.She likes this rock and would like you to say so to the Bishop his servant.  And o prove this is not just a vain dream, wake up woman, you are healed.”  (just a reminder that Queen of Heaven is also another name for Isis).

In the morning she awoke and all traces of her disease was gone.  She went to see Saint Evodius, also known as Saint Vosy (he was bishop of Le Puy from circa 365 to circa 385).  A procession took off and went to the rock.  Despite the fact it was July, the top of the mount was covered in snow.  An elk jump out of the woods and drew a line in the snow, the markings of a church.  The bishop marked the line with wood sticks and few days later ordered the construction of the cathedral.


Just like in many other Black Madonna sites we find the same artefacts:  A horned male animal, water (here it is the snow) a fire (which in this case is the dream of fiery picture of a beautiful queen and her procession of angels and spirits).  The only thing missing is the Rose, which was not known at the time.  The only rose in existence was the mayflower which can not grow at this altitude in Auvergne.


This is certainly a place I would like to go in the future.  Although today the modern statue has nothing in common with the original, I believe it is the place that is sacred, not the statue.

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Growing up in Piennes Lorraine, the war years continued grandir a Piennes les annees de guerre 4

War years weren’t rosy even for this area.  Although protected from bombs and real physical abuses by the German High Command, many young boys without jobs ended in STO, Service du Travail Obligatoire aka forced labor camp.  One of my Grandparents’ neighbor, a miner’s widow, hid her two sons in a hole she dug in the ground for nearly 5 years.  Without revenues, without food except what she was growing she managed to save them.  After the war, this hardcore communist went to Poland to help rebuilt the country.  After a few years, one of her son managed to escape that country and because he was born in France was granted political asylum.   Mom met the women who came to visit France in the late sixties.  And crying she said she was spending her time in church praying, because the commies were taking everything, leaving the people with tears only,  for crying.
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Black Madonna of Puy en Velay, la Vierge Noire de Puy en Velay.

This drawing was done based on the description left by Fanjas de Saint Fond

This drawing was done based on the description left by Fanjas de Saint Fond

Although not the oldest by far according to historians, the Black Madonna of Puy en Velay is most likely the most important. Actually no one can say how old the statue was since she has been destroyed. However despite the destruction by Revolutionaries in 1792 or 93, we know more about her than many others who have been hidden by the Catholic Church, like that on St Victor in Marseille, where the church condemned the Basilica for “safety” reason after the publication of “Holy Blood Holy Grail”,  the one of St Germain des Pres, destroyed by Cardinal Briconnet in Paris 1514.
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Panga filet “au Boursin”, Filet de Panga au Boursin.

The thing about living alone is that cooking becomes quickly a chore.  When you cook for others, chance are you will tempted to prepare something that will be either nasty so they will not come back or something scrumptious if you do.  However when you’re alone you actually don’t care about what your next meal will be.  Not entirely true but almost.  Personally when I make a Bolognaise sauce, I will make half gallon of it and freeze it in small containers, so I don’t have to fuss when I’m busy or feeling lazy.  Same goes with chili, soups and all sorts of things.  When I make meatballs I make them generic, no particular spices except of onions and garlic salt and pepper so I can serve them according to my wish of the day: with spaghetti in marinara sauce the Italian way, or in brown sauce with mash potatoes the Swedish way.


But every one in a while, I want something different.  Not being a great beef eater (not the Gin), I enjoy poultry eggs rabbit and of course fish.  In Piennes it’s difficult to find fresh fish except on Thursdays and Fridays, Friday being a fish day in Catholic country (Catholic but I don’t know for a long, since the trend is switching to an other religion of piece … yes I wrote piece three dots  not peace).  Anyhow, fish here not being always very fresh, I often buy it frozen.  So Friday I looked in the freezer and I found a bag of Panga filet.  Don’t ask what is Panga, google can help you.panga au boursin raw


I was kind of tired of making it meuniere or piccata or even like snietzel (breaded and pan fried) with light lemon sauce.  I didn’t know what I really wanted until looking in the fridge I found I half full (I’m an optimist hiding his pessimism) of Boursin cheese.  Well it wasn’t really Boursin, just the generic kind which is half price of a brand name and just as good.  I had an idea, why not try to bake it with boursin which I did.  I took a pie pan lightly oiled the bottom, place my fish, salt and pepper it, then spread a healthy amount of cheese on top of it just like you would do it on a slice of bread.  But somehow it just didn’t look right to me.


Bread is not something that appears regularly on my diet.  So I often have a piece that is so dried up I can’t use it for anything but breadcrumbs, so I always have some breadcrumbs in an old tupperware, souvenir of mother folly.  I sprinkled a line of breadcrumbs on my cheese then added a sprinkle of lemon juice.  I bake it for 8 minutes in preheated oven a 425 degrees.  I made some rizotto a while before, this with a side of salad.  Nummnumm.  Trust me, it was a success and I patted myself on the back.panga au boursin 010

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The Black Madonna of Liesse, la Vierge Noire de Liesse

The making of a legend.





Liesse Notre Dame is a small town in the North Eastern part of France, about 150 miles of Paris and the town was built around the cathedral,  The construction started in the XII century par order of Bartholome de Vir, Bishop of Laon the nearest great town.
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Recycling in France worldwide lesson giver, recycler en France donneuse de lecons mondiale.

For as far I can remember, French government and French people enjoyed placing themselves above the rest of the world as lesson givers.  How do I know?  Heck I was one of them.  When  I arrive in the States I found myself being one the lesson giver.  OK I do have an excuse:  after nearly a quarter of century living here I was brainwashed like the rest of the local population.  Thank goodness I’ve changed for the better I hope.

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Growing up in Piennes Lorraine, Radio Caroline the making of a rebel, Grandir a Piennes la creation d’un rebelle

Recently I decided to sell stuff  on Ebay.com rather than use the French counterpart.  At the end of every description I wrote about “Growing up in Piennes Lorraine” which is a way of explaining  buyers who I was.  One day I received a question to buyer and to my surprise it was from a gentleman living near Piennes who had a youth very similar to mine.  His neighbor was an American from the 49th Fighter Bomber Wing based in Etain but living in Landres.  I slipped him my local number.  He called.  I will of course not make any references to his name.  He did stop by the following week and we talked for nearly two hours.


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Growing up in Piennes Lorraine, the war years continued grandir a Piennes les annees de guerre 3

What make people changes, make him communist one day fascist the next. If the majority of Italians who moved to the States were ordinary folks looking for work and freedom to do so, if some made it to the Front page of national media for unfortunate reasons, the majority just wanted to make it by working.  Those who came to France on the other side came as known communists. France after WW 1 had returned the its tradition of socialist government, which failed miserably one after the other until 1940 but this post is not about socialist program failure.

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