I have a friend who regularly reads my blog and periodically sends me kudos for my sense of humor and/or for chronicling something about family that reminds him of his childhood, extended family or things he most cherishes about his family of origin. I guess regardless of the country in which you grow up, there are similarities regarding the things that make a positive difference. We’ve never met in person, but the shared electronic friendship is one I value.


He has mentioned more than once that I have a good life. He has ascertained that from the references I make regarding life experiences and my family. He recently asked something closely akin to: “Is you wife really on your case when you don’t pick up after yourself?” I smiled as I scripted my answer to the affect that I’m not writing fiction. Of course it’s true.  I started to ask him if his wife subjects him to the same regime, but then again the answer is probably self-evident. Don’t most wives?


The other evening I thought of my friend when I was attempting to figure out plans for dinner. After all, how many times a week can you eat Mexican food and still have any hope of convincing the General that I’m conscious of my need to drop twenty or thirty pounds? At any rate, I stopped by a grocery store in Houston to get distilled water for my nighttime ritual of sleeping with a bi-pap machine and a facemask designed to reinforce my breathing and access to oxygenated blood.


I never ever dreamed that it would come to this. I had a couple of surgical procedures to ensure that I wouldn’t need access to the things for which I now find that I need access. Long story short, I’m immensely grateful for the bi-pap machine. It has restored my ability to sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. It has become a welcomed traveling companion. I never saw that coming.


You know something is amiss when the highlight of you day is the sense that air is being forced into your lungs. How many years did I take all of that for granted until one day my brain stopped telling my diaphragm to breathe? I guess you live and you learn and you make do the best you can. My friend from France is right. I do have a good life.


At any rate, I thought of him when I stopped by a grocery store in Houston. I was attempting to figure out what I wanted for dinner and I saw a “la Madeleine” restaurant in the corner of the shopping center in which the grocery store was located.


My first thought was “French food” which intuitively reminded me of my friend. Was it really French food? I don’t know. The author of “A Year of Living Biblically” describes himself as a Jew. However, he says to say that he is a Jew is like saying The Olive Garden is an Italian Restaurant. “Not very”, is his take on that. Maybe the same is true for French food? At any rate I opted to eat at at la Madeleine.



My friends name is Jean, but I think he is using that in the USA instead of telling people that his real name is Jacques. I like the concept of being an explorer and charting uncharted territory. This guy and his wife left their country of origin and are making their home in the U.S. That sounds more like something Jacques would do, but I really don’t know for certain. I’ve never confronted Jean with my suspicion regarding his identity. Perhaps if he reads this blog, he will let me know. As a second thought, I checked a listing of French explorers and discovered there are more French explorers named Jean than named Jacques. Consequently, I’m letting go of my theory.


How many years has it been since the General and I periodically had dinner at la Madeline? We were introduced to the restaurant over twenty plus years ago and for a period of time made our way to the restaurant located on 34th and Lamar Street in Austin. That restaurant has changed names a couple of times since then.  LaMadeline is no longer in that location.


So is it really French food? I don’t know. My only time in France was under the confines of a tour bus out of the city of Monte Carlo in Monaco. We only made a couple of stops in France. While we were in route from Monaco to the medieval village of Eze, France, we passed a luxury, contemporary, open glass hotel built by the Germans. Its presence was a sharp contrast to the period architecture of the area. The structure of the complex defies gravity and extends out over the edge of a mountain cliff. It has an absolutely breath-taking view of Monaco, but its location would be a problem for anyone with a fear of heights.


Our visit to the village of Eze located on a cliff 1,400 feet above the sea required a lot of climbing. Everything from the cobbled street leading to the entrance, ancient architecture of the buildings, narrow walkways and too many steps to mention were an open invitation to one of the most quaint villages we visited on our entire trip. The landscaping coupled with the design of the buildings was incredible.


A few miles from Eze, the tour guide called our attention to a home that reportedly has the notoriety of being the most expensive home in the world. At the time of our visit, the home had recently sold for $500 million Euros. We could only see the roofline of the home, but my ability to calculate such extravagance was beyond comprehension. The owner of the home is a Belgium banker who reportedly also owns six yachts – one of which has 2 helicopters on the special helicopter pad on top of the yacht. We did see two of his of yachts anchored in the bay.


From Eze, we went to Nice, France. I’m not sure what I really was expecting, but the enormity of the city and the scenic surroundings placed it high on my chart of places I’d like to visit again. It was absolutely incredible. It, too, like Monte Carlo, seems very aristocratic. The magnificent architecture, deep blue harbors, multiple beaches, and heart-beat of the city made it very inviting. In addition, the tour guide pointed out the home on a distant mountain belonging to Elton John. The scenery was incredible.


We had lunch in Nice, France, but I don’t remember the menu. Consequently, have I really had French food? I don’t actually know the answer. What I do know is that I have a good life and I have a French friend named Jean though we’ve never actually met.


All My Best!



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