My French Connection

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It is about five pm on Wednesday, December 19. I am about 35,000 feet above the great state of Kansas as Adam, my son, and I head to Las Vegas. We are taking a few days break to celebrate my neice, Adams' cousin Tess's graduation from UNLV in accounting. Tess worked her way through college, and has achieved her goal. She was hoping we would all come out for graduation and she will have a twenty person cheering section, in english and en francais!

The day Tess was born, April 26, 1984, I was running an 8 kilometer race in Mountain View, California, where I took second. I saved the medal for Tess and gave it to her with her birthday gifts when she was quite young. She was my first niece and she was and is treasured by all of the family.

Tess ran cross country in high school. She did it for her own reasons, and I was always very proud of her. She still heads over to the gym and gets her runs in and works out. I believe that she learned something from cross country. I think that all young men and
women learn something from an activity that challenges them, but also teaches them to think of the needs of something besides themselves. Long term goals. Getting hurt, picking yourself up and getting on with it.

The reason I am so proud of Tess is that she finished college on her own terms. She could have quit several times, as there were jobs out there. But she worked and finished her degree. That requires self control, focus and discipline that will help her in the rest of life's journey.

Tess is the daughter of my sister, MaryLou and my brother-in -law, Gervais. I head out to their home several times a year, and when the trade shows come to Vegas, I am lucky to have a them nearby. Tess grew up in a home where French, English and Spanish were spoken. As a little girl, she would hang around the restaurants that her mom and dad owned. For a twenty three year old, Tess has a very discerning palate.

Gervais is a chef. In my mind, he is an artist. This man, who learnt to cook with his family in Southern France, in the Merchant marine ships as a teenager, and in the ports of Japan, as well as a stint in Algeria, puts his heart and soul into his profession. I love being in the kitchen and watching him cook. He prepares his vegetables and spices
before he cooks and his cooking is like a performance of a great musician. If I am not his sous chef, then I am sitting there, glass of a table du vin in my hand, asking Gervais questions or laughing at a joke.

My sister Lou manages the offices for an engineering firm that, among other things, helps produce much of the stage sets for Cirque du Soleil, and some of the other major Vegas acts. As her firm is based in London, her day starts very early. She is up most mornings about 5.30 for work, after an espresso, and she is then off.


My normal day in Vegas is pretty difficult. Get up early, take a two hour walk in the desert around their neighborhood, and then back for espresso with Gervais. While Gervais and Lou do not live in France, you could not tell. Their home has the look and feel of a maison particulair in Southern France. The kitchen is not large, but well organized, with a nice lunch bar outside of the kitchen, across from a very nice little bar. On television, is TV5Monde, giving Gervais his beloved Marseilles football games, news from France and Europe and great French movies. Most evenings are spent over some table de vin, preferrably rouge, and conversations in french and english, late into the evenings, or until Gervais starts laughing as my eyes roll into the back of my head as I fall asleep for the fifteenth time.

Gervais is my brother-in -aw. He is also my friend. I could not ask for more for my sister, and I love their inter action. Gervais is a man who loves his family and friends and would do anything for them. His Tess, his daughter, knows how hard her father and mother have worked in the restaurant business, and she knows dear father would prefer she found another profession.

So, it is this time of the year that one needs refreshing, one needs to be with the ones who they love, one needs to just hear a good Gaulic laugh, this blogger heads to
Vegas. Here is wishing you and yours a wonderful relaxing time during the holidays.

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