October 23, 2011

In this town we call home…Everyone hail to the pumpkin song!

In honor of Halloween, I set out in my car on Friday determined to find a pumpkin to carve. They really don’t celebrate Halloween here the same way we do in the States, so after driving around for over an hour, I realized carving a pumpkin might be a tougher task than I’d originally thought. I remembered from my trip to Oradour sur Glane that there was a sign along the main road advertising a shop for vegetables and flowers (a perfect place to buy a pumpkin around Halloween in the U.S.) a little ways down a side road. So I drove Ethel (the name I’ve assigned the beaten-up old car I drive over here) down the dirt path with every hope that I’d leave there with a great big pumpkin. (Side note: I’m glad I watched Children of the Corn AFTER my quest for a pumpkin.) After butchering the French word for pumpkin (citrouille) to the gardener and getting a blank stare and shake of the head in response, I was just about ready to give up my hopes of finding a pumpkin. I hopped back into Ethel and was headed back towards my apartment when just outside of Limoges, I passed a little vegetable shop that looked like it had a pumpkin-esque vegetable on a stand out front.

After investigating the small shop, I knew I wouldn’t be saying, “It’s the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” anytime soon, but it didn’t matter, because I was 25% certain that I actually found a little citrouille to take home and try to carve. My skepticism fully disappeared after I got the top off my vegetable and found none other than pumpkin seeds inside! So after popping some seeds in the oven with a little olive oil and salt, I turned on a scary movie and got to work on my design…

I guess I should mention that living alone can be… well… lonely. After my first couple weeks here I noticed that I wasn’t entirely alone however. In my bathroom there is a spider that lives in a hole above the pipes and comes out to say hi every once in a while. I have tried to capture her and put her out the window, but I think she might be related to the same spider that bit Spiderman, because she has super-spider speeds. Anyways, I gave up trying to catch her, named her Charlotte (I admit, originally with the hope that she might suffer the same fate as the spider from the classic story), shortly after became attached, and now consider her a pet.

So, in honor of my pet Charlotte, and in honor of Halloween, I present my great pumpkin!

Happy Halloween!

October 10, 2011

Team Win

team with our fans after the win

I think one of my favorite things in basketball is when a team pulls together to get a win. It’s like a good boxout, or setting a good screen that gets one of your teammates open…a strong team win just feels so…communal. Like everyone did just what they needed to in order for the team to accomplish what they set out to – win.

Our game this weekend, was in Le Havre, France (in the upper Normandy region)…a loooooong hike from Limoges.  After losing our last two games, we knew this game would be really important to keep us in the running for the rest of the season. Le Havre was also 1-2 going into the game, so we knew getting a win in their gym with the same things at stake would be a challenge. Even so, I could tell my teammates and I were collectively determined to come away from this game with a “W.”

After what I could call the worst toss of a jump ball in the history of my playing basketball (seriously, it’s not that hard to throw a ball straight up in the air), and losing the tip, we went down by ten fairly quickly. I picked up a second foul in the first quarter (again, ugh (this is really not a good habit I’ve gotten into over here)), and watched from the bench as my teammates went on scoring runs which Le Havre continually answered throughout the second quarter. Finally, in the third quarter, we went on a run that Le Havre struggled to answer, putting them on their heels as we headed into the fourth only down by four. With the momentum in our favor, we pushed and pushed until we finally took the lead and never looked back. We ended up winning 62-55.

I didn’t have a particularly good game, which almost made this game even more refreshing in a sense – because now I know I don’t have to play a perfect game in order for us to get a win. Next week we’re back at home against Reims, a must-win game for us!