Sunday, January 13, 2013

U of Oregon Purpose Statement

In an attempt at alchemy, I present a draft of my purpose statement for my application into the University of Oregon doctoral program.  Any feedback, jests or insults would be very appreciated.  Thanks.

I have always been a reflective practitioner.  In other words, I ask the question “Why?” far too often.  I have the inability to be completely satisfied with the learning experiences I am associated with as a learner or as an instructor.  I need to understand if students are absorbing the content and transferring this knowledge to unique future experiences.  Even if this trait does not make me popular with my cooperating teachers, I refuse to accept the simple and good enough but strive for something deeper.

In a Cultural Foundations of Education course that served as a prerequisite for my master’s degree, I found a professor and curriculum that asked the questions that I ask myself and beyond.  These are the questions that make the traditional educator squirm and seek the comfort of the known.  How are we using gender-biased language when we instruct students about mathematics?  Does this curriculum reference content that is dependent on the prior knowledge gained only by wealth?  Can you evaluate all students upon a normative scale when the resources each student do not reflect this normative distribution?  I love these questions.  They require me to reevaluate my beliefs and prior knowledge.

As I began to look deeper into these questions, I became enthralled by Paulo Frieire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Michael Apple’s concept of “official knowledge.”  I began to connect many of the concepts that I found with the writing by John Dewey on democracy that served as the foundation for experiential education.  I also began to reevaluate much of the fiction that I was reading through this new sense of culture.  The stories of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude held greater weight when read with a critical mindset.

When the semester concluded, I began to focus more on the content of what would become a M.Ed. in Educational Technology.  My career goals of becoming a university professor made this an advantageous selection because of the increasing demand for the teaching of online content.  As the coursework progressed, I realized that I was evaluating the technology curriculum from a critical perspective.  I began to understand that technology could provide students access to vast new amounts of information.  My role as an instructor transformed from a giver of knowledge to a facilitator.  I realized that the best way to empower my technology students is the same was to empower underserved students.  I saw for the first time that technology is a tool that democratizes information.

With this excitement of a connection I was ready to move to the next level of scholarship but life threw me a different challenge.  Twenty-two 3rd grade students wanted to put my beliefs to the test.  After moving to Wyoming, I applied my undergraduate degree in the traditional format for the first time and became a “first year teacher.”  Through these impressionable youths, I began the application of my pedagogy.  I am proud to say that I found success with the students that I will always cherish.

The greatest challenge that I found in this traditional educational setting was the concept of the institution.  A new superintendant and principal at my low-income school translated to little “official knowledge” to serve as a guide of operation.  My team of teacher coped with this transition by resorting to past years of experience.  This left of a void of instruction that I began to develop and mold independently.  I depended on my skill to form relationships and was rewarded with teachers and specialists excited to share their knowledge.

A process that began with a prerequisite course in the foundations of education has lead to this reflection and a petition to continue to the next level.  I now seek a chance to further develop my critical questions of practice into research through scholarship at the University of Oregon.

Finding my Niche at the University of Oregon
In reviewing doctoral programs with degrees focused around the continual asking of the questions I wished to ask, the Critical and Sociocultural Studies in Education program stands apart for me.  The first point of distinction is the sense of community that is built in the cohort structure.  I value a sense of community within learning and working to the extent that I have developed and delivered curriculum on the topic.  Community allows each student knows the expectations for success because of direct communication.  It provides a support structure where resources are shared for mutual benefit rather than competition.  I can foresee myself providing as well as accepting the benefits of my cohort.

The second aspect of value that I see within the program is the alignment of my past experiences and interests with the program faculty.  Because of this broad appeal, I have difficulty selecting one individual for isolated study.  I only see future resources.  (Hopefully you do not object to this dehumanizing act of transformation into a resource.)  I am interested to further examine the work that Jill Baxter is doing around teacher education for the elementary classroom.  I see avenues for evaluating the use of technology in the classroom with Joanna Goode.  The work that Ronald Beghetto is doing with teacher education aligns with my research goals below.  I am also interested to reevaluate many of the problem-based learning curriculum with his work on creativity.  One of my requirements for a program is an opportunity to work with Native students.  I am excited that CHiXapkaid can provide this opportunity even if it may not be the focus of my study.  I hope that each of the faculty can find the same component of their emphasis in my CV that I do.

Finding Myself as a Researcher
Through this program, I see my greatest potential for growth in my abilities as a researcher.  The majority of my experience with research has been focused at the practitioner level.  I have evaluated, reviewed and applied research in the traditional and nontraditional classroom.  A unique experience occurred when I assisted a doctoral candidate at NAU, Chris Cavert with his pilot study and doctoral thesis.  This gave me a brief introduction but I want to expand my research knowledge through the development of a study with a dissertation focused on the subject matter of my selection.

I am unable to provide a distinct question that I hope to research and present before a committee but I do have a mental tract that I am currently considering.  I am very interested in teacher education and way that curriculum in teacher education programs is conveyed within the elementary education classroom.  I wonder if the questions posed in an educational foundations course changes the practices of teachers.  I hold a great interest in what is often referred to as “values”.  Do participants of a teacher education program revert to their “values” when pressed into service?  Too narrow and too focused is the research muddle that I hope to clear through the program coursework.  My greatest hope is that I achieve a clear research topic that can be carried to a complete dissertation but also inspires a career of questions.

Finding the Future Challenges and Successes
When I examine the Critical and Sociocultural Studies in Education program at the University of Oregon, I find a dedication to scholarship and community that I value.  It is easy for me to draw parallels between my interests and emphasis areas of the faculty.  I see a path to success for the next five years of my life.  Much like the students of every classroom, I seek only the opportunity to capture this success.  If given this opportunity, I will work to transform myself as a scholar, researcher and defender of equity.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 2 and 3 of My November Novel

College promised to be the promised land of opportunity. All the movies displayed the copious amounts of interaction and sex that was guaranteed to lead to the commitment of a longterm relationship. For me the promise of the party held true without the ending of a desire fulfilled. Much like high school, the need to display a sense of masculinity took president and hoped to attract a mate through shear force. In college the sporting arena was replaced by the garage, rundown house or basement of the college party. Within these confines, card games provided the window for uncontrolled consumption. Nights became filled with noise. The other sex was viewed in glances of absence from falling clothing and the occasional saliva filled grope session. When reality returned from these booze soaked evenings, rejection through indifference usually followed.

For some college served as the proving ground. High school relationship were put to the test of distance and the numbing sensations of drugs and alcohol. Since I had no relationship to evaluate, I made only brief attempts to impress my objects of high school attention and/or try to lure the feminine half away from her suitor. For me, the break though of a kiss after much build up would lead not the onslaught of passion that I expected but rather a quick retreat of shame. Left on the many outdoor stairways, porches or stoops, beer and future vomit would be my solis.

Needless to say, I lived my life to the fullest but out the fulfillment of the relationship that absorbed many others. It was not that I was not looking but that I had not found. Reasoning and logic had defied all of my attempts to justify one girl over another and simply left me.

When I finished my degree in accounting, I headed south from my university town of Madison to the big city of Chicago. That is where I was when I saw my fixation for the first time. The small coffee shop was a often frequented out of pure connivence. Despite my dislike of the chain, it was hard to avoid a caffeine fix located in the bottom of my apartment building.

Lately, the coffee shop had become a place to escape. It was as if the walls of the apartment would shrink in the few waking hours that I would spend in the place that I was supposed to call home. Each morning, I would awake to her appearance. Despondent and devoid of the signs of life, Kristen would sleep on as I prepared and departed for my office job. In the evening, I would return to the minimal acknowledgment from her silhouette against the light of the lap top screen. Dinner was prepared and eaten in relative silence. Time on the internet or reading concluded the day.

It was the vacancy of passion that would drive us downstairs into the coffee shop. In this well lit and uniformly trendy designed environment at least life existed. Even if it was contained outside of the bubble that contained Kristen and myself. I would slowly sip my chai and watch the others from the outside.

For me the entertainment that I derived from watching others could be isolated to the analysis of the relationships that were shared. Why is she with him? Whoa! Look at the pomposity of that man-child and the self delusion that he must suffer from. She is so unattractive but it must work for him. All blanket judgements, I know. I find this to be my search for truth rather than judgement. When my peering eyes have left their world, it is they who return to each other arms and leave me stranded.

With a particularly happy couple who painlessly flaunt their pleasure, my focus becomes two part. First, I focus on their faces. I notice the joy and warmth that is conveyed solely with expression. A smile is all it takes to inspire a laugh. Eyebrows lift in anticipation. Little insignificant details in speech inspire such anticipation.

After my brief facial examination, my focus returns to the face of my companion. Brow furrowed with intensity. A scowl begins at the crest of the upper lip and cascades forth pulling her cheeks over there protruding ridges. Her expression is not one of anger. Anger would show too much emotion and betray her indifference to the world. Under her eyes shows the dark circles that indicate a lack of sleep even though she slumbers more than she is awake.

Active and in motion, my analysis returns to the hands of the couple. The woman's dominate hand always seems to venture out but return faithfully to her face. Here it rests. Delicacy in touch highlights the angle of the chin as she brushes it softly. The motion created to flip a stray hair behind her ear continues down the side of her face. The weight is transferred to her elbow as a sigh releases her to a closer examination of her desire. His dominate hand has been placed gently between her thighs with modesty. Here it is clinched by her in a way that could only display a desire to be closer. His other hand smoothly transitions from his drink to cradle her weight bearing hand.

Kristen's hands hold action but action that is far more brisk. Quick flips of her magazine pages allow for the only revelation of skin from bundle of clothing. Her hand is withdraw just as fast as it is revealed to the world. Where her hands return to within her cloak of warmth is a mystery. I can only assume that they caress and hold those parts of her body that she longs to have held. The habit of loneliness has left her to become self-reliant when it comes to touch.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

First Entry for the November Novel

This month I will be attempting to write a 50,000 word novel. Hopefully this will spark more writing on my part. (I know that my writing has been lacking) I hope to post my writing here for your enjoyment or pain and misery. Please note that this is my first real attempt at fiction. This will be a very rough draft with lots of errors and misspellings. Proofreading is so December.

My goal is to take the basic plot structure of a short story from a Herman Melville short story called Bartleby the Scrivener and repurpose it into a modern tale of relationships. Time will determine my success at this effort. Chapters and organization will be absent. With your own desire for punishment acknowledged, read on...

The first thing that I noticed was the lively tap of her toe against the coffee house table. It was a tap that betrayed the rest of the image that she was attempting to project. Jumping from one side to the next, her oversized boot indicated a liveliness and energy that the rest of her posture tried to place under a veil of nonchalance.

Following the motion northward. She wore European style tights that pulled close to her legs and moved the eyes further. The tights allowed her to wear a shorter but not over revealing skirt that defied the cold snap that had landed over the city of Chicago early in November. She wore a plain white V-neck T-shirt over a half buttoned sweater. Her glasses were thick framed to match the trend but still cut in a unique fashion. Red hair fell softly from back point of control in front of her face. Large headphones provided her the halo that would highlight her beauty.

As she embraced her drink in a manner that gathered its warmth and displayed a sense of endearment, she focused solely on a small paperback. All around her motion and noise attempted but could not penetrate her focus. I remember feeling a sense of jealously towards the written characters that could capture the attention of someone who seemed so interesting.


"Have you not been listening to me?"

Ah ya, I'm listening. You were talking about visiting your parents.

"Like I was saying..."

Oh I forgot. I should tell you that even though my attention is sitting at the table with my new found fixation, I am sitting a few feet away. Here I sit captured with my current live in companion. She may have been the exact opposite of my fixation. Her name is Kristen. Although I am focused a little more to her story, my eyes still betray my attempts to focus. I seek the respite of my new interest but force myself into an understanding nod.

Kristen speaks in a low, monotone voice that openly displays a lack of commitment or energy. As she drones on, her gaze slowly looks up and to the left while her face still projects my direction. As she speaks, the fingers of her left hand slowly pulse up and down on the table.

This cold snap has taken its toll on Kristen. Even though she is always cold, the winters of the midwest ensure that she wears a collection of layers that transform her slender body into a shapeless collection of gentle sloping cloth ridges. Her body crosses itself in as many places as possible to seal in the little warmth that her body produces.

Before I enter into this tale of attempted love, I should tell you a little about myself. First and most importantly, I am no expert in relationships. I am like all of you out there. I am seeking the one word that seems to allude most of us, happiness. It is not that I am unhappy but that I feel that I would be betraying you if I said that I was happy.

I grew up in the Midwest with the typical working class family. I lived most of my life in a small former industrial town of 10,000 people. Traditional sports controlled my youth. Late nights under the diamond lights soaked up my summer vacations first as a spectator and then as a mediocre catcher. The crisp fall weather brought the aggression of the football field and the eventual pursuits of the middle linebacker. When the snow began to fall, I would teach myself to jump once again and pound the basketball court. Spring brought the only sporting respite as I was always to big and slow for track and too uncoordinated to hurl the shot or disc.

My parents always had a loving marriage that could only be acted upon in the cracks of the Midwestern work ethic. They sacrificed everything for me and my brother to be able to pursue whatever venture we sought out. In exchange for this sacrifice, we would embark on week long summer vacations that consisted of painfully local museums to satisfy my Dad and shopping to satisfy my Mom. It never felt like we had money but we also never struggled. Sure we were always unable to compete with that one kid that has everything but creative work arounds usually brought satisfaction.

Through life in a male dominated family and sports, the opposite sex was something that was considered but never the fixation. Adult friends could always predict that I never had a sister from the hidden mannerisms I wold regularly display. I had my middle school flings. Holding of hands and phone calls about nothing always lead to little more than nerves and embarrassment. Misunderstanding is the word that would best describe my understanding of the desires of the girl.

High school provided new display techniques of masculinity through sports as an attempt of attracting attention and betraying this misunderstanding. Playful violence against other males and to a lesser degree to females drew notice but not a mate. This was the first of the periods of life that leads to coupling that passed me by. Most waited until legality endorsed their union but a few children ensured a relationship status and a healthy dose of Midwestern shame. This was multiplied if another race was involved and betrayed the values that were intended to be held above the feelings of desire.

I followed the traditions of the typical high school student. Plenty of sweat accumulated on my palms as I participated in the rites of passage. Organized dances defined and redefined the thin veil between friendship and a relationship. Nights were covered with stupid humor and movies as an attempt to conceal the desire to grope and be groped. No one ever wanted to admit anything that could possibly be interpreted as reality. If you displayed actual feeling, you would be held to that position and more than likely ridiculed.

I lost my virginity on a dirt road outside of a cheese factory. Returning from a date with the girl from the next town over, I had stopped for an innocent viewing of the stars. This stop held a different meaning for her. Innocence faded quickly and with more confusion than pleasure. Reality had betrayed the plots of movies with uncontrollable movement and passion. Instinct replaced sentimentality and lead to a silent drive to her house. Just as quickly, I was replaced by another with more confidence and skill.

College promised to be the promised land of opportunity.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Struggling to Write

I'm on the second week of traveling since leaving the farm and I am struggling with the act of composition.  It is not because of a lack of ideas or experiences but rather the general malaise that sets in when the turn of a phrase will not come. (Perfect example: turn of a phrase will not come.). I sit down to write at a cafe, in the hostel or on the train and only struggle.  Self-doubt plagues the page.  Spelling becomes a stumbling block as vocabulary becomes only as good as spell check's translation abilities.

I know that part of my problem is the lack of focus that holds this trip together.  At times, I know and understand my purpose but later erosion is all that remains.  I find myself to be most satisfied when I retreat to self-determination but suffer from the loneliness of this isolation.  The occasional attractive female that gives a little attention, leads to acts that lack deliberation, quickly become beer soaked and are usually left marked by longing and lust.

I have trouble balancing the now with the then.  Every Euro spend now is a more than a dollar less to spend then.  Then is holds many questions.  Where do I apply for grad school? Do I get in? Should I spend money when I return to meet those who will determine my fate then, now?  What if I don't want to be poor but rather hold the advantages of wealth?  Are there even any paths for this option?  Could I live abroad?

One of the biggest questions that dominates my thoughts is the return to the sorrowful Midwest.  I say this statement at the expense of my family but with the past filled with unrewarded passion.  In traveling, I have the hope of proximity with the female species.  Drinking with money that I don't have in the Orangeville bar leaves little in the way of comfort foreseen.  (How do I even go about reentering the dating scene at 32 in a environment where 19 is the marrying age?). Even if the exception turns her attention in my direction, will pure desire deceive with a failed promise of future happiness?

With all of these thoughts, I bring to you a plea of honesty.  I desire only to find meaning along the path.  I will work to live deliberately.  Seek to control the lust and thoughtless action that seeks only pleasure.  I make a recommitment to defining, elaborating, reflecting and composing.  May the page reflect my life and hold my truth for inspection.  

With these thoughts, I travel on.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Finding Writing to Break the Block

I'm struggling to bring back the discipline of writing to my travels. In order to revive myself, I am hoping to use the writing of others bring it back. I have selected for this post and may continue to select other pieces of writing that I read on the road with parallels to my existence and are stated more clearly than I can manage at the moment. (Cite this last sentence as a prime example.)

This is a reflection of the Levin character in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. I purchased Anna Karenina in Edinburgh, Scotland. My hope was to finish another Russian masterpiece on my travels. So far I read about half with great enjoyment. There are certain methods and arguments that make Tolstoy's writing transcendent.

This section displays the thoughts of Levin. He is a noble that proposes to his true love only to be rejected. He recovers from this denial by redoubling his efforts at farming, physical labor and the pursuits of writing. In this scene, Levin has just awoken from a night sleeping in a meadow on a stack of hay.

'Well, what am I to do then? How am I to do it?' he said to himself, trying to put into words all that he had thought and felt during that short night. All those thoughts and feelings were divided into three separate lines of argument. On was to renounce his old life, his useless knowledge, his utterly needless education. This renunciation gave him pleasure and was simple and easy for him. Other thoughts and notions concerned the life he wished to live now. The simplicity, the purity, the legitimacy of this life he felt clearly, and he was convinced that he would find satisfaction, repose and dignity, the absence of which he felt so painfully. But the third line of arguement turned around the question of how to make this transition from the old life to the new. And here nothing clear presented itself to him. 'To have a wife? To have work and the necessity to work? To leave Pokrovskoe? To buy land? To join a community? To marry a peasant woman? How am I to do it?' he asked himself again, and found no answer. 'However, I didn't sleep all night and can't give myself a clear accounting,' he told himself. 'I'll clear it up later. One thing is sure, that this night has decided my fate. All my former dreams about family life are nonsense, not the right thing,' he said to himself. 'All this is much simpler and better...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Found Writing Paris- Shakespeare and Company

I found this poem while reading in the library of a book store called Shakespeare and Company in central Paris. This is a bookstore often frequented by Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein.

We Live Our Lives
Marcus Reichert

We live our lives as we choose,
here on the street, without pride
or grievance, or longing for much.
We drink our drinks and smoke,
we say only what we must, or
what we will, in our abject euphoria.
The sun shines and the wind blows,
cars pass beyond a distant window,
legs adjust, feet stop and start.
Someone just spoke to me, but
I don't know what he said, only,
conceivably, what he didn't.
His face in profile is the face of
a ruined king, a lachrymose cardinal.
Now when he turns to me, if he does,
I will know him utterly as himself,
without his work, without his wife,
without his children, or his dead father.
His mother is beckoning from the hill,
calling silently for him to make her meal;
these are the things they've grown
in the garden they share with their God.
Their Gos speaks through this man
in mate testimony to all that is unknown
to me and will never be known to me-
here in this bar, in this sweet purgatory
of unnumbered days and evenings.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Life of the Paysanne Makes the Beard Grow Long

As my time on the farm comes to an end, I am left to reflex on process of transformation that has happened. When I entered, every experience presented itself with novelty and a sense of uniqueness. As I grew into my role, tasks became routines and chores became habits. I have carved a niche here in Normandy that has changed me.

Some of those changes can be seen in my body. My hands have become hardened and filled with the tiny cuts of labor. Dirt has sunk into the crevasses my skin in ways that soap and water can not cure. The beard grows long and full from the effort to insulate a rain soaked face. Even my sense of smell has been altered. Smells that once showed their intolerance now have faded to become a feature of the landscape.

Even the pigs have grown comfortable with my presence. Rather than nervously pacing in anticipation they push a shove their way into the food trough. Noses that were once guarded, now sniff and press their moisture against my pant legs. They know that the squeaky wheels of the wagon being pushed by the big fellow in the floppy Norman hat will bring them sustenance and not harm.

With the hesitation of an unforeseeable future, I leave the farm to again take up the life of the traveler. The dirt and cuts will fade with time but the neurological grooves that have been plowed will persist. I will forever hold the memories of this place and its people close.

Some things that I want to remember about the farm but did not have the time, energy or discipline to write about:

-House rule. One of the first things that I learned dining at the maison is the specific way that you eat grapes. Often a bowl of grapes is served as a final complement to a meal. The first time this happened, I picked a grape here or there off of the community bunch. The second time grapes were served, I was informed of the house rule. Philippe explained that you should not pick a single grape from the pile but rather pull off a clump that you can enjoy to yourself. Eku later told me that in France (at least according to Philippe) it is impolite to share food from your plate with others. You ordered or served a plate of the food that you desire. Be happy with your selected contents. Lucky for me, this is not the rule in Japan. The few times that I dined out, everyone was concerned with feeding me a sample of their dish in exchange for a taste of mine.

-Bill's Birthday Feast. One of the experiences that I was fortunate to have that not many travelers are able to experience is a Norman feast. One of the first Saturdays at the farm, Philippe's brother in law celebrated his 60th birthday party in the Auberge. This was truly a feast to make the viking heritage of the area proud. The dinner began on the terrace overlooking the pond. Here we drank champagne and a blue alcohol filled punch and ate fried mackerel in a tomato cumin sauce, sea snails, blood sausage, cheese, bread and a collection of tappas. I would have been satisfied with this buffet for dinner but we had not yet begun. We headed inside to the tables and secured ourselves a beer. An apple liquor with a small scoop of sorbet was served to all. This was said to be a Norman tradition that renews the appetite. Prime rib, curry, bread and couscous soon followed. A massive wheel of brie and salad served as yet another course. Red wine matched the flavor of the cheese better so slurped a couple glasses. Finally, a dessert of chocolate cake, tira muissue and an apple tart were served with coffee. A final round of apple liquor was served as I retreated to my bed for a night of digestion.

-Dining with the Japanese. One of the strangest but most delightful aspects of my time on the farm was the constant presence of Japanese culture and food. Philippe spent a great deal of time earlier in his life in Japan and spoke (what I am told) very excellent Japanese. Combined with the fact that Eku is Japanese, the farm provides an excellent window into France for Japanese volunteers and tourists. On the second day of my stay on the farm, eight Japanese tourists were staying on the farm and presenting at a local ecological fair. I made an idiot out of myself when I introduced myself by stating one of the few Japanese words that I know, arigoto. Of course, this means thank you and not hello. Three female volunteers from Japan stayed the majority of my time. MeeWah was a child of one of the ladies that provided me endless entertainment. As it turns out, goofy faces work in every language. Also taking a child's socks when she hands them to you and placing them on your ears brings down the house. Finally, a Japanese couple provided excellent English conversation and a chance to reflect on the farm with others.

Each of these folks helped me consume a vast amount of japanese cuisine. Most meals were served with a bowl of rice. I ate at least one bowl of a variation of miso soup each night. Fish served as the main source of protein for these meals. I was taught which fish bones were good to eat and which ones to discard. I fell in love with a cucumber and seaweed salad that contained a vinegar flavor that I always crave.

These meals contained a atmosphere that I interpreted to be very Japanese. Conversation occurred in hushed tones but generally met an affirmative "hhhmmm!" in response from everyone. Everyone was always very polite and attempting to feed me before themselves. The few times that we used forks instead of chopsticks, I felt ashamed of my vulgar fork technique.

-Dining with the Paysanne. On one of my last days on the farm, we traveled near Coutance to pick up some piglets for the farm. The first farm that we stopped at presented itself with the many out buildings of the typical farm and a Saint Bernard. We saw know no at first and decided to knock on the door of the main house. A muffled clang suggested life before the door was eventually opened. We were invited into a room that had been suspended in history. In the Viking style, the roof held wooden beams separated by white plaster. A large stone fireplace poorly heated the stone floor. The long main table held the remnants of past meals and a smattering of mail and bills.

Conversation quickly took president over the work at hand. The animation and few words that I understood signaled politics. The farmer was a well built man in his 50's. His humble wife, kids and grand kids displayed themselves on mantles and cabinet tops.

When the conversation began to fade, the farmer disappeared into another room. I was informed that we would eat here. The farmer returned to spread the wooden coals in the fireplace and placed a grill firmly in the warmth. A handful of sausage was then rolled onto the grate. A can of three tuna (I think) was opened a displayed dripping in olive oil and served with bread and a bottle of cider. When the sausage was ready, a bowl of plain pasta was placed on the table and covered with a huge pat of butter. Philippe is on his grape fast and left the farmer and I to devour the bread, pasta and sausage. (We each at three sausages) More bread and cheese settled any residual hunger that may still exist. Finally coffee was reheated and consumed.