Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tools in Living Skills

Les fous américain have landed

We are now successfully installed, if not yet fully functional, in the 15th arrondissement.  Walking around the quartier a little today revealed all we were looking for.  Les parcs.  Les boulangeries.  Les boucheries.  Les magasins of all kinds.

I think we're going to love living here.  Though I don't know how we could love this any more than we already do.  I'm sure we'll figure something out.

Reflecting a little on how we arrived in this place at this time, I realized there are a few tools that have facilitated the transition nicely.

Life skills tools
... so many problems to solve, such little time...

Tools.  Well, we're les fous américain, right?  We tend to do many things ourselves.  We like to avoid spending money when the job at hand can be done ourselves.  We will spend money on tools.

I can't tell you why.  All I know is that some silly little things in life bring great pleasure.

Take, for instance, the Grand Opening of Jami's Jam.  Abricot and quite tasty, or so it was reported.  There was a problem.  To get at the abricot jam, we needed to pry the lid off.  Alas, what to use?  Hmmm... nothing seems to be working.  I don't want to cut myself or make a mess of things that might lead to a hospital visit.  My French is not up to explaining strange wounds to Gallic Doctors.

Ah!  I have it.  We have a Leatherman.  Yes, it's the self same Leatherman that used to live in our Emergency Prepardness Kit back in the States.  We brought it with us after reading of another fou americain's experiences of how good a tool it was to have here in France.

With a satisfying rrrrrip of Velcro(tm - no doubt), I pulled the Leatherman out of it's case and proceeded to lever the lid off of Jami's Jam.  Two seconds.  The deed is done.  Five seconds later, the abricot jam is spreading into the creases and crevices of one of Paris' many fine baguettes on it's way to bringing a healthy smile to my face.

Life skills tools
 ... um, how wide is that bed sheet?  Exactly?...

Then there are things which need measuring.  Like les matelas.  Is it "full" or "queen" sized matelas, Dear?, or some odd size we've never heard of?  Well, let's head down to Castorama to see what kind of trouble we can get into, shall we?

Castorama is one of France's Great Stores pour faire le Bricolage.  For us Yanks, think in terms of Home Depot and you'll come close to understanding what Castorama is.

Wandering the aisles I find Just the Tool I've been looking for.  It measures things.  It's yellow (not that color matters much).  It's laid out in millimeters and centimeters with marks at every meter up to 3 meters.  It's cheap at 3Euro50.

Hmmm... yes... um... hold on.  What's this?  Oooooh!  A much cooler tape measure.  It's orange and black (and here I thought color did not matter).  It has a magnet on the end of the tape.  It is 5 meters in length.  It has a WONDERFUL locking mechanism.  Quel est le prix?  Wow!  Would you catch a gander at this?  4Euro95!  Still cheap.  Even more fun!  We'll take it.

Now we know exactly what sized sheets to get for our new bed.

Life skills tools
... tools of food preparation must be tended to periodically...

The last tool we've found incredibly useful is a grinding stone, a whetstone, and a few drops of special oil.  Again?  A grinding stone, a whetstone, and a few drops of special oil.  It's part of a two step system.  All of which we brought with us.

First you use the grinding stone.  Then the whetstone.  A bit of oil on each.  You work these until a very fine sharp edge has been achieved.  Jude is an incredible chef, after all.  Dull knives will NOT do.  Nope.  Simply will not do.

So there you have it.  Our top three favorite tools for living in France.  A Leatherman.  A metric-ized tape measure.  A knife sharpener (grinding stone, whetstone, oil).

Very useful, all of it.

Of course, the most useful tool of all still escapes us; speaking intelligible French.  It seems the impossible will take just a bit longer.

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