Claudie Chourré

I have been known to rant and rave about many things and many people, but today I come here not to bury but to praise Caesar.

Our pétanque club is manned by volunteers and unbeknownst to many they often work long hours in the background to make things happen.

Many people for instance come to our picnics and find it natural to find everything “ready to eat”. And they never give it a second thought.
But a picnic for 60 to 70 people is a huge undertaking requiring a lot of planning and preparation.
And this job is done by a handful of (unpaid) volunteers.

Our club, unlike a business organization, never rewards its workers in any form. They don’t even get a pat on the back for a job well done.
That’s why I always try to single out people who contributed to the welfare of our club.

IMG_0784Lately, it has come to my attention that Claudie Chourré is going to leave the Board of Directors at the end of the year.
It is a crying shame and we are sorely going to miss her, for Claudie is one of the oldest Board Member and one of the hardest workers in our club.
In the Soviet Union she would have been known as a  Stakhanovite, an overachiever, and she would certainly have been given some medal.
But in our organization, nada!

Unlike some lesser figures she never blows her horn and that’s why I feel compelled to be her personal horn blower.

Claudie was born in Southwest France, in the province of Bearn located at the feet of the Pyrenees Mountains.
She is from the same area and the same hearty bread as d’Artagnan, the beloved hero of Alexandre Dumas’s Three Musketeers.

She came to the United States around 1962 and along with husband Jean, she worked hard to be a success, and that she did.
She is now surrounded by a large loving family of children and grandchildren.

Médaille_d'honneur_du_travailThe club is going to lose a lot when she retires and if I could, I would personally kiss her on both cheeks and award her the “Médaille d’honneur du travail” and “honi soit qui mal y pense” the Order of the Garter.
She bloody well deserves it!

Next time you see Claudie, give a big hug and be sure to let her know how much you appreciate the countless hours that she devoted to our club.

Alain la Foudre



I am not a spring chicken anymore, but I still can match wits with anybody, regardless of age.
The aging process might affect your physical capabilities but it should not prevent you from remaining intellectually active.

As an aging bloke, nothing annoys me more than the sight of shuffling, slow-witted old geezers.
Some, due to infirmities cannot help it of course, but to me it is a question of mind over matter.

It should not take (regardless of age) five minutes to find something in your wallet, or another five minutes to laboriously write a check (arghh) at the supermarket.

When you are aging, you should not let technology pass you by either.
If you do, it is an admission of early decline.
It is when you let your grandchild shows you how things work that you abdicate your role of a respected adult.
My old friend Jack Rosenstein learned how to use a computer when he was well into his eighties, and I admired him for it.
It is imperative to get your little grey cells off the couch and submit them to a daily regimen of mental gymnastic to keep them from getting fat and lazy.

In my book, you should never let a whippersnapper get the upper hand either.
Don’t let a kid know that he is better informed than you are.
If you don’t know the answer to some question, stonewall or lie with confidence, but don’t lose face.
No matter what the circumstances, keep a stiff upper lip and a zipped up fly.
They work hand in hand.

Jack PalanceWhenever you can, pull a Jack Palance stunt.
On Oscar night, on March 30, 1992, Jack Palance (aged 73) showed his much younger co-star (Billy Crystal) who was the boss.
Upon receiving his Oscar for best supporting actor and addressing the crowd, he said, “I crap bigger than him”.
And to prove his point, he started to do pushups, and one-armed pushups to boot.
That’s my kind of old dude.

Whenever challenged by a younger know-it-all, dare him to do pushups (physical or mental) and be sure to tell him/her regardless of the results: “I crap bigger than you”.

In my own backyard (Marin County), the best example of my convictions is Hagop (Jacques) Sarafian.
At close to 91, he is as sharp as a tack and still shooting unbelievable “carreaux”.
He is a shining example of what we should all be striving to achieve.

Shahnour Vaghenag Aznavourian (better known as Charles Aznavour) is of the same mold.
At 89 he is still touring and singing.

What’s the secret of these Armenian dudes anyway?
Yogurt? Dzhash?
I’d like to know.

La Foudre


2013 Leg of Lamb Picnic

Despite apocalyptic predictions from the weather bureau, the temperature yesterday in San Rafael never went above 85 degrees.
In the afternoon it was hot indeed but bearable, and a little breeze (absent on Saturday) helped to make the tournament enjoyable.

IMG_2628About 70 people attended our annual LOL (Leg of Lamb) picnic, among which a third was not club affiliated.

Before going into specifics, I would like as usual to salute the unsung volunteers who were critical in making this event successful.

On Tuesday, Emily Etcheverry did a fantastic one-woman show by cleaning at least half of the field by herself.
Then on Friday, Monique Bricca, Henry Wessel, Calvert, Claudie Chourré, Christine and Charlie completed the cleaning operation.

As for the grub itself, Christine, Claudie, and Verena bought all the ingredients.
Saturday night, Minou, Minette, Charlie and Claudie prepared the meat.
Not a small job! The meat had to be trimmed, stuffed with garlic (about 15 cloves per leg) massaged and seasoned.
A big job that took no less two hours.

On Sunday, Jean-Claude (Minou) helped by Alain M. and Antoine roasted the meat.
Alain Marchand also prepared and cooked the vegetables,
Then, Jean-Claude, Antoine and René volunteered as food servers.

Let’s not forget Verena and Liv Kraft who did a bang up job registering and putting together the competing teams.
A well deserved Thank You for your help and dedication!

Twelve triplettes were formed and they were:

  1. Jean-Claude Etallaz/Henriette Matocq/Hallie Bowman
  2. Ed Porto/Monique Bricca/Genevieve Etallaz
  3. Frosty Sabo/Teri Sirico/Tom Fair
  4. Shannon Bowaman/Jean Bartkowiak/Liliane Sebban
  5. Patrick Vaslet/Mireille Di Maio/Connie Lewis
  6. David Katz/Helga Facchini/Charlie Davantes
  7. Louis Toulon/Leo Cantayre/Eve Lofaro
  8. Philippe Arnaud/Tamara Efron/Leonora Garcia
  9. Henry Wessel/David Toulon/Marcy Mallette
  10. Scott Woekke/Calvert Barron/Peggy Silversides
  11. Joe La Torre/Bleys West/Claudie Chourré
  12. Bleys Rose/François Moser/Le Facteur

One more time, I declined to play in this tournament to concentrate on my primary hobby: photography.
I always strive to take candid shots where subjects are unaware of my presence.
To do this I use a telephoto lens and I try to be as unobtrusive as possible.
But taking photographs with a telephoto lens in a semi-shaded area is difficult.

You constantly have to fiddle with your camera’s settings and sometimes unfortunately, you shoot action scenes with a landscape setting and distant subjects with a portrait setting, and that’s what happened yesterday.
Instead of being sharply focused, you might notice that some images look strangely diffuse and unpolished.

I am not happy about that but unfortunately this state of affairs cannot be remedied.
Nevertheless, I still hope that you will enjoy the few pictures that I salvaged.

The tournament was over around 4:30 pm and even though I didn’t play, I still felt like having gone through at least four challenging games.

I hope that everybody had a good time and I am sure that everybody slept well that night.
I did.

La Foudre

PS: To look at pictures of this event turn the sound on, click on the “Home” link at the top of the page, and click again on “My photos” located on the right side of the page.