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Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Last summer we were  invited to visit a friend in France.

Our Grove neighbor, Brigitte Kavanaugh, has summer home in Brittany, France.   Last July she asked us to stop by.

What a change it was from all things Miami.  For starters, her house is old, a 4-3 built in the early 1700's.  



People were shorter then.

 This oak ceiling beam (painted white) was cut away at some point to avoid repeated head bangings.  


I loved her house's old stairs.  It's hard to see in this photo but each step was worn, gently sloping away from the middle then rising up again.   Centuries of stair climbing do that.

Every morning we'd wake up to see these beams holding up the floor above us.

One day we all pitched in re-paint the house's trim and front door French Blue.

I am an unrepentant lover of hardware.  Locks like Brigitte's give me the shivers.  Many of them still use skeleton keys. Many French hardware stores
carry hundreds of them in stock.

Yes, I suppose you have to keep criminals on the other side of the front door but the French do it with style. 
They do everything with style. 

 The local butcher knows the cow your meat came from.
 The baker's fresh bread is incredible, indescribably delicious.  There were three patisseries withing three blocks of the house.  As the first one to wake up everyday, it was my job to go our for the morning baguette, croissants, and pastries.

  I loved everything about Europe.  It was so strange to come home and hear some goofball at the Republican convention saying, "We've got to stop President Obama before he turns the United States into another Europe!"

What could be better?


Carlos Montainer wrote a column in last Sunday's paper about how
Americans often boast, "We're Number One!"   
Are we?

Sure, we're got the best army. So what?  Our country feels like a sputtering macho car sporting a bumper sticker, "My kid can kick your honor student's a--".

Montainer's columns went on to say when experts rate countries with the best standards of living (health, happiness, income, safely, etc) the United States is not even in the top dozen.   Who leads the way?  European countries.

How did we get this way?   For starters, we are led by politicians  lost in partisan gridlock.  Little gets done in Washington.  
Yes, we now have "ObamaCare" but half of our politicians are hellbent on destroying it. 
On last summer's vacation, we were briefly in England.  Their people are twice as healthy as Americans and their health cost one-half of ours.  Go figure.  Better yet, go vote November 6th.

Marathon man, Paul Ryan, tells us the United States is an "exceptional country" that must not fall into "European decadence".
I don't agree.  We do some things well but there is much we can learn from European (and Asian) countries.
I hope we become more like Europe.  If we do fall into European decadence, I expect we'll be falling up.

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