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September 8

Dear all:

One of the benefits of having to take the boys at various times throughout the day the last few days has been that I have met almost everyone in the building who were doing the same thing. I now know something about all of our neighbors.

Our ground level occupant does not seem to be as colorful as the one Stan and Yvonne Pine had thirty years ago on this same street. If any of you had missed the story, Stan and Yvonne Pine, long time friends of the Saeta's lived on this same street 30 years ago when Stan had a sabbatical year in Strasbourg. Their children went to the same elementary that ours do now! However, their ground floor occupant seemed to practice the oldest profession while the rest of the family was at work or school. We have a little old lady who keeps herself busy watching who goes in and out of the building. Usually she leaves her front door open which is right at the base of the stairs. It you have to spend anytime in the hallway there, like to look for mail or dump trash she will come out and pass the time of day as long as you let her. Yesterday I took the trash out and we discussed that the back door didn't need to be locked because she knows who comes by during the day. She then wanted to go on and on about how she has all the keys to the storage spaces etc. I'm glad I had to get the boys.

The Pines come to visit. It was nice to have some American contact after the terrible events of 11 September 2001.

I still have not met the people on the next floor up.

The next floor is occupied by this crazy American family with three boys. After yesterday everyone knows we are American. That seemed to be the question of the day.

The next floor up is occupied by a couple and some children although I'm not sure of the ages. I met the woman as she was carting in tons of school supplies and we were on our way out to get them. I asked her for a good place to get school supplies. She said it was cheaper to go to the suburbs and she was sorry I didn't tell her earlier as she would have taken me. She then asked where I was from and where I learned French. When I said Togo she laughed and said her husband was a Cooperant (like a Peace Corps worker, but the service replaced his military obligations). Then she said that it was a long time ago, and I said same for me. As it turns out her husband was there in 1982, the same year as Peter! He lived with a Peace Corps worker in Mango in the North of Togo. We are sure we must know who the American is but have yet to remember. She said she would have us for coffee, but we may beat her to the punch this weekend. (Another thing to add to the small world stuff).

The next two floors up are the Federmans. They have at least one daughter, Sarah, who seems to be Brennan's age. However, she does not seem to go to either of the neighborhood schools as she left going the opposite direction. We have seen another girl with Sarah, but we don't know if the other is a sister or friend. We heard from our landlord that they have some older sons who have left for the University somewhere. In the last few days I have seen the parents, Georges and Veronica enough that we now great each other by shaking hands.

The kids are also making friends at a surprisingly rapid rate. Ethan has snagged the first play date. He met a french boy in his class who invited him for an afternoon next Saturaday. (Once a month or so, they do not have class on Saturday and this month it is next week.) Arthur's mom wrote a note in English that Ethan read. When I picked Ethan up I asked Arthur for his number. We were then able to set the date over the phone. Arthur's mom said Arthur was so happy to have an American friend and has as his goal to teach Ethan all about France! On the first day of class, the British student in Ethan's class, Saul, went home and told his mom that there was an American in his class. He has lived in France all his life so he is excellent in French and English. His mom sent a very nice note back to Ethan with him after lunch inviting us to use them as a good resource. I have called her and we are all invited to lunch at their apartment on Sunday. In Saul's family there is another son one year ahead of Brennan and an even older girl. Most importantly Jessica has assured us that they have computer games, Playstation and Legos! We are all looking forward to Sunday.

Brennan has found an English speaker who is also fluent in French, also. On the first day of school I noticed that this boy, Brennan thinks his name is Jefferson and I think he is from India, was one of the other students who was standing around alone. They we placed as table partners for most of their classes. (I don't think this was just by chance). Anyway, he has been very helpful and Brennan has his telephone number but has not yet called.

Ryan, after the first morning with a few tears, goes happily to school. When I dropped him off this morning we looked for his tablemate (Paul) on the playground. After we spotted him, Ryan was off. After he left the parent standing next to me started to try to speak to me in English. We quickly switched to French. I found out that he is with the Spanish military and is stationed here as part of the Eurocorps. (Whatever that is) In any case, he has a daughter in Ryan's class who only speaks Spanish. We both feel that it is going well in that class in spite of the lack of language ability of our children.

Time to let others on the computer. Hope all is well with you.

Love Linda (and all the rest)

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This page was last modified on Sun, Dec 23, 2001.