While French literature, film and culture occupy most of my Francophile heart, here are a few other interests and hobbies to further introduce myself:
Americana and Real Country Music
Growing up between Arkansas and Kentucky (and spending a lot of time in Nashville), I was blessed from a young age to be acquainted with real (*not* pop) country music: Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, Tom T. Hall, Billy Joe Shaver, Blaze Foley, etc. Today, this interest expands to include what is now called Americana or alt-country (or what I call “country music with a soul“): John Prine, Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers – but also reaches back to include Woodie Guthrie and even Robert Johnson. I’m also a big fan of Neil Young, Nirvana and My Morning Jacket. French singers, like Renaud, George Brassens and Francis Cabrel, get regular rotation on my turntables as well.
Football (in its various forms)
“It’s a boy’s last dream and a man’s first loss,” ~Jason Isbell, “Speed Trap Town” (on high school football). I slept with a football in my bed as a boy. My dad played, I played and football was pretty well our love language, my first love. I was fortunate enough to be recognized as a two-time all-state offensive tackle in Kentucky (’96 & ’97) and was recently named to the Caldwell County High School football hall-of-fame. While recruited by BYU (and elsewhere), I played one year at Murray State University before a career-ending knee injury. My boys and I still love to play in the yard and watch the Kentucky Wildcats, Murray State Racers, BYU Cougars and our Dallas Cowboys! In addition, my time in France has taught me a great fondness for French rugby and soccer (and I’ve become a die-hard fan of both French national teams, as well as Olympique Lyonnais, Stade Brestois and Racing 92).
Genealogy and Family History
The Spirit of Elijah was always alive in our home, as my mother is an avid genealogist. To my great pleasure, I inherited this inquisitive gene that propels me to seek out the identities of my ancestors – and, in a sense, my own identity. Archival, DNA and other research is a passion. On one side, my father’s, I love to study the Southern sharecroppers (descendants of Henry Hudson the explorer) who cultivated cotton from Virginia, to Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. As for the other, I imagine the adventures of French and Irish settlers, who left Lorraine and County Tipperary in the 1830s and 40s to settle in Kentucky, Missouri and, ultimately, Kansas. My favorite ancestor is Xavier Jardon (in the photo to the right), for whom my youngest son is named.
Here’s an interview I did for French television while researching my ancestors: link.
In addition to these hobbies, I really enjoy pescatarian cooking and trying my hand at desserts and dishes from Lorraine and Bretagne (beloved land of my mission). I especially love it when my children volunteer to help.