Fifty Summers with Odysseus
25.06.2011 - 26.08.2011 25 °C
Fifty Summers with Odysseus
by Peter Sims
Who is that man in bell-bottom pants
Nursing the water pipe
Who is that man with long hair
Bound up in a hairnet
Working in the college kitchen
Who is that man gathering beer
Cans and bottles in penance for
Drinking beer with friend Pedro
Who is that man in the van
With the swivel chair in back
Is it the same man who
Sleeps on the floor of a small
Condo apartment his
Dreadlocks and beard a terror
To a small, curly-headed child
Is it the same man who
Has his picture taken at Fenway
With unknown pretty girls
Is it that man on the island
Again with a pretty girl
Is it the man who writes letters
Dutifully to far-flung friends
Letters in an age where letters do not exist
And how wonderful!
Is it the man whose life is the world
And whose world is his life
France, Bahamas, Corsica,
125 Electric Street Manchester New Hampshire
Is it the man
Of fifty summers who
Has finally found his Penelope
Yes, it is
It is Eric LaMARRE!
Something really strange happened to Eric this summer… he turned 50!
Bon anniversaire Eric!
On June 25, 1961, a little boy named Eric Edward Lamarre was born in Grenoble, France. Fifty years later, Eric turned, well, 50! Little Eric Edward was not too happy to be turning 50, but turn 50 he did. And we celebrated in royal style.
Some of you may remember Eric as a baby…
Or as a cute kid…
Or perhaps as an unruly high school student with equally unruly long hair
Actually, the long hair persisted beyond high school. And later, there was a beard. But obviously, that was all a LONG time ago.
Eric's 50th birthday started with Nespresso coffee, fresh croissants (his favorite), and fresh beignets or donuts (my favorite). I ran to the bakery early in the morning when everyone else was still sleeping. Finally they roused themselves for coffee and pastries.
Loose translation: Rediscover your childhood and taste donuts like our grandmothers used to make
Mmm sugary goodness
Eric's father Don and wife Mary Ann, who journeyed all the way from North Carolina to visit
Mary Ann and Aunt Thelma aka Teddy, who traveled all the way from New Hampshire, really enjoyed the French breakfast
So did Eric and Fanette
Look at the way Eric torments her
After Eric finished mowing the grass (interesting birthday choice!), we went to the very pretty village of Tourettes-sur-Loup for lunch. We found an amazing place to eat called L'Epicerie, right on the main square. The food was absolutely fantastic!
Birthday lunch in Tourrettes-sur-Loup
Our waiter bringing us beautiful "big salads" for lunch
The most beautiful, delicious salad ever! Fresh, local tomatoes, pesto, black olive tapenade, and goat cheese
Teddy and Don really enjoyed the wine… maybe a little too much!
These sugar cubes reminded me of Starburst candies
After lunch, we walked around the village.
Don admiring the panoramic view
We saw some amazing sights from up above
We met a nice Swedish man and his dog, who gave a little history lesson about Tourettes-sur-Loup and invited us to take a look at his home.
Our new friend telling jokes
The view from his house
We think Teddy had a little crush on the man, as she "accidentally" left her sweater at his house. Luckily, he ran after us so she didn't have to go back to get it!
We really enjoyed visiting Tourettes-sur-Loup!
Fragonard perfume factory
Afterward, we went to the nearby town of Grasse so the ladies could visit the perfume factory, and so I could surprise Eric with a birthday massage! I had to walk him about two miles down the road, so by the time we arrived chez Masseuse Natalie, he had figured it out. He said, "You're not giving me a massage, are you?"
Surprise #1 figured out.
Back to Roquefort-les-Pins we went. In the evening, we had a little birthday party and invited Jan to join us. We had pizza, wine, French macarons, and of course, presents!
The gang including our neighbor Jan gathers for pizza
Teddy loved the French macaroons
Eric being spoiled with presents
Don and Mary Ann bought Eric a new oven for his birthday!
Teddy gave Eric a new Red Sox jacket and also a magnet for the fridge
The real surprise was a big box of cards and "small" presents that people sent to New Hampshire, which we delivered personally on his birthday (thank you so much, special friends!)
Surprise #2 figured out.
Fanette helped Eric open his birthday mail
Thanks, Suzanne, for the lovely portrait of Eric!
Eric trying to figure out if the guy really looks like him
More artwork - Eric's cousin Tania sent one of her father's drawings of Bob Dylan, as well as some other Dylan material - thanks Tania and Jill!
Red Sox lottery tickets from Aunt Lorraine (unfortunately, Eric played but didn't win)
A cool parrot magnet and some reggae music from Joe and Risha
A handmade bookmark from Amy and Pete, who also wrote the splendid "Fifty Summers with Odysseus" poem
"Don't let turning 50 stress you out!" from Mrs. Juneau aka "Lady Bug"
"Know why older guys dress like this? You will soon!"
Funny guys on the beach from Cindy
A vintage book about France from Sandee G!
The elusive "butt-ox" creature and more new music from Maria and Art!
A great collection of old photos from Coco
And perhaps most importantly, Eric got some new reading glasses from John aka "Pee-Pee"!
Later, Eric tried out the new glasses
A card from moi!
And last but not least, a woodcarver pen from a mysterious admirer (?)
Fanette watched patiently while Eric opened his presents and cards…
cards that stacked up all around him, from Jane (Mom), Catherine (Nana), Vlasova (who enclosed a picture of her family), Susan and Gary, Dave, Gianna, Diana (including a fabulous drawing from daughter Michelle), Dan and Anne, Venisha and Chris, Nana, a super-big card from Wendell, and even a "penmanship" letter from another John - thanks, friends of Eric!
Eric also received a very "cool" Red Sox cooler from Dan and Anne, which arrived later, in a very pretty pink box - thanks again Dan and Anne!
Also later, a few new Polo shirts from Aunt Cecile and Aunt Sylvie. Finally Eric is à la mode!
We ended the evening with a big bonfire, really loud music, and spectacular feux d'artifice (fireworks) right in Roquefort-les-Pins. We told Eric we had ordered them just for him, but actually, the town just happened to be celebrating the festival of St. Jean. There is a saint, and a holiday for the saint, on almost every day of the year in France it seems.
The day after Eric's actual birthday, we hosted a big lunch for family and friends in town. We began preparing days before the event, in fact weeks before as Teddy, Mary Ann and Don did most of the birthday party shopping. As well as the very important receiving of surprise gifts and cards.
Eric made quite a lot of caponata for the event
Don helped make the sugar curried pecans
Teddy and Mary Ann making party favors
Chocolate chip cookies!
Teddy, Mary Ann and I baked chocolate chip cookies with "imported" chocolate chips and "imported" vanilla extract. Yes, these simple ingredients are very difficult to find in France. In a true Teddy moment, I forgot the white sugar (just the brown sugar went in), so they were a bit sablé (sandy). Just like the French love them, it turns out.
As a special surprise, during the week I snuck over to our friend Jan's house to make homemade vanilla ice cream. Not once but twice, of which Eric was highly suspicious. "Where are you going? What are you buying?" he said. Jan and I started by finding a half-priced ice cream maker from one of our women's club friends. Then we had to figure out how to use the machine and assemble all the ingredients. Believe it or not, it is hard to find fresh milk and cream in France. I guess most of it goes into making 80% butterfat butter and yummy cheeses.
In Jan's kitchen, making ice cream
The guests started to arrive… Uncle Jo (George) and Aunt Sim (Simone)
Marina and Luca traveled all the way from Rome
Aunt Hélène and Uncle Alain, who simply could not believe that Eric was turning fifty
We decorated the backyard and served drinks by the pool
Check it out - a "practical faucet" filled with Hélène's delicious ginger lemonade
Alain and Don hit the pool early - it was hot out!
So did Hélène, who always has a big smile on her face
At approximately 12:30pm, we realized that all the sausages were still frozen
Not to worry, Jo to the rescue!
Fresh veggies to tide over the crowd
We also wowed them with Mary Ann and Teddy's deviled eggs
Eric went to pick up Claire from the airport, and when they returned, it was time for a big party!
Alain, Claire and Jean-Pierre
Eric helped Jo out on the grill
Lentil and couscous salad and Eric's caponata
Hélène brought a delicious salad from her garden
And I made leek quiche
À table! Time to eat!
Luca, Claire, Marina and Fanette
Teddy, Jan and Mary Ann
Mary Ann and Don
Fanette doesn't go hungry around here
When it was time for dessert, we brought out cake and ice cream. Eric said, "Oh you made ice cream?"
Surprise #3 figured out.
Time for cake and champagne
Hélène figuring out how the ice cream maker works
Jo and Sim's granddaughter Lana delivers the coffee
Eric opening a rustique package from Hélène and Alain
What's this, motor oil?
No, it's Eric's favorite - a jug of olive oil!
Jo and Sim gave Eric a beautiful book about the beautiful Côte d'Azur
The ladies moved on from learning about ice cream to learning about the Cote d'Azur
Lana delivers a couple of Payday candy bars (also imported from the US), and the birthday is complete
Gin and tonic time, thanks to Mary Ann, Don and Teddy who brought the duty-free gin!
Thanks again to everyone who helped make Eric's 50th birthday a wonderful success!