Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye....

2016 has been a hard year to love. It started out beautifully with trips to the States to visit family and then a lovely jaunt to Paris to spend time with my niece. The rainy winter finally gave way to a warm, sunshiny summer. After that, though, it's been pretty much downhill. World events and national politics along with the loss of so many creative, talented celebrities and friends have conspired to make me feel as if I'm limping to the finish line. The world needs a big hug and my arms are just too short to help out. I'm not sorry to see 2016 draw to a close. I have high hopes for 2017!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas at the Creche

Christmastide Creche
Villefranche-de-Rouergue

"...for the Mighty One has done great things for me..."
Luke 1:49


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Rose of Virtue

"There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Jesu"

This pretty rose in Helen's garden greets Lucie and I each morning as we walk. I don't want to give you the wrong impression...it's not warm here. But there are a few hardy roses that continue to bloom into the winter Daytime highs are in the 40s and 50s.  We've had below freezing nights and mornings when the grass and the car windshield are frost-covered. Most everything has either died off or gone to sleep for the winter. A few beautiful things linger on, though. This rose is one of them.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sunday Saint: Blessed

Mary
Abbey ruins
Marcilhac-sur-Cele
Fourth Sunday in Advent
        "....From this day all generations will call me blessed..." 
Luke 1:46



Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sunday Saint: A Lowly Servant

Mary
Cardaillac France
Third Sunday of Advent
                         "...for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant..."
                                                         Luke 1:48

I assume this is Mary as she stands outside the doors of the church in Cardaillac. She certainly is different from most of the Marys I've seen here. Instead of seeming demure and saintly, this Mary looks like a real young woman, hair loose and flowing, self-conscious in her voluminous green robe with eyes cast heavenward as if looking for divine reassurance that she made the right choice when she said 'yes' to God's angel. In fact, she looks like a local village girl, one who could live right here in Cardaillac. If you click this link, you'll be taken on a virtual tour of where she might live.

Friday, December 9, 2016

A Window of Delights

You never know what delights the Mayor's wife will fill her window with. Her artistry is always magical and I enjoy watching the window change with the seasons. This Christmas it's chocked full of puppets and dolls, color and pattern, tiny teapots and hot air balloons. I could look at it for hours.
If I ever have my own hot air balloon, it will definitely be red.
You have to love puppets holding dollies and stuffed bears.
Anyone for a sword fight?
Who are those people peeking out of the windows?
I think this pretty pink bunny is late for a very important date!
He's my favorite.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Riverfront Walk

Plan d'eau
The Lot
Cajarc
Despite the sunshine and brilliant blue skies, the air was a bit brisk when Lucie and I went into Cajarc this morning. I wanted to check out Madame Borzo's Christmas window and I knew Lucie wouldn't object to a second walk..we'd already done our loop around Cadrieu. It's always pleasant to walk here along the riverfront of the old faubourg. 
The Lot looking downstream
We basked in the sun for a few minutes, then continued our stroll.I don't come here often in the summer; there are just too many people. I like it best on days like today...empty and peaceful! As we walked downstream, I noticed that the town has done a bit of work along the riverbank. There were several newly-built protrusions into the river. Between them, the bank has been landscaped with what looks like sticks, but which I'm sure are shrubs that will leaf out next summer. Not my area of expertise, but I'm thinking this may be a way to prevent erosion of the riverbank and protect the plane trees?
I'm looking forward to coming back next spring and seeing what things look like.



Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday Saint: A Golden Mary

Mary
Conques 2013
"...my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;"
Luke 1:47

It's the second Sunday of Advent. Today a golden Mary waits.



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday Saint: Mary

Mary's Chapel
Abbey Church
Conques
It's the first Sunday of Advent and we wait with Mary for the birth of her Son. Praising and praying....
    "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord...."
Mary's Magnificat
Luke 1:46

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Colorful Najac

I was surprised how colorful Najac was. Here the tiny vineyard perched on the hillside below the Chateau walls glows golden against the orange forest beyond. You can just see the silvery thread of the Aveyron River as it winds its way through the valley.
This bright mailbox and garden gate caught my eye as I wandered along rue du Chateau.
A gate a little more subtle, but no less lovely..
These apples glistened in the sunlight begging to be picked.
Rest in beautiful peace.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Birthday Bash

Chambre d'hotes de la Bastide de Najac
On Tuesday night there was a special celebration in the little village of Najac, deep in the Aveyron.  Bob, one of our fellow writers in the Parisot Writing Group, turned 80 and hosted a birthday bash for all of us at a local restaurant. Twenty-two friends and family gathered to wish Bob well for his next 80 years. It was an evening full of fun, food and drink. Living over an hour away, I knew that there was no way I wanted to drive home after all that celebrating, so I booked a bed-and-breakfast room here. Gorgeous room, lovely host and the view out the front door was terrific....
I've been to Najac several times, but never off-season. I was amazed to find it so colorful and so empty of tourists! I'll be sharing a few of my discoveries later, but here's a taste of color in a photo taken just beyond the church and overlooking the valley below the village.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sunday Saint

Place St. Michel
Paris
June 2016
Saint Michael guards the busy corner in Paris where the Blvd. St. Michel meets rue St. Andre-des-Arts at the river Seine. St. Michael, an archangel to Christians and also revered in Judaism and Islam, is a spiritual warrior, the angel of death and the protector of the church. A hard-working and very busy saint!

Friday, November 18, 2016

My Muse

I love to eat my meals here in the sunroom where this is the view from my window. Can you blame me? Even on cloudy, misty days like today, it's beautiful. The river, the trees and the causse have become my muse. Yesterday some cawing crows tucked away in a dead tree inspired a poem. The river shrouded with fog inspired a descriptive paragraph that's become the opening for a novel. And I can't tell you how many gratitude prayers have found their beginnings as I've contemplated the Lot and its banks. This is definitely a room with a view.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday Reflection

'Purple mountains majesties...'
Montana 2016
Trying to put it all into perspective.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Looking with Love

Still trying to wrap my head around Tuesday's election. What are my priorities? Seeing beauty in the world. Looking with love on those most important to me...my family. But more than that...looking with love at my friends and neighbors, at those people who are like me, at those people who are different than me.

I almost had the 'beauty and love' thing going when I read an article that mentioned Sarah Palin as a possible nominee for Secretary of the Department of Interior. I just about fainted. OMG...say it isn't so!

So it's back to deep breaths, praying and thinking about how to actively engage in the political system. Help me, Becky!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Gazing on the Beautiful

After being up all Tuesday night and all day Wednesday watching election returns, victory speeches, concession speeches and transition speeches, I thought I might wake up this morning and find it all a bad dream. Alas...not. There will be a time to regroup and rethink, to pick which battles to fight and to re-energize. There will hopefully be a time not to be sad and angry, not to be puzzled by people's choices, not to be embarrassed to be an American. Alas...today isn't that day.

So, I think today's the time to gaze on something beautiful, step back and ponder the big picture. Yes, the sun came up today (well, sort of...it's cloudy and rainy here) and it will continue to come up regardless of who sits in the Oval Office. I can't change that; what I can change is what I choose to see. Today I choose to see beauty.

I think it's going to take more than one day of this to re-focus my vision and truly see the big picture!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Washday in Burano

Washday in Burano
Venice 2015

For some reason I'm fascinated with photos of people's laundry hanging out! Think this will become a new blog category: laundry.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Brunetti's Cookbook

In my mind I'm back in Venice today looking for a bit of beauty to distract me from thoughts of the American Presidential election campaign. As I've blogged before, I'm re-reading the Donna Leon mysteries set in that beautiful city of palazzos and canals. To enrich my literary visit, I bought this companion book, Brunetti's Cookbook, full of recipes, food essays and excerpts from Leon's novels. Her main characters, Commissario Brunetti and his wife, Paola enjoy simple Venetian dishes made of fresh meat and fish and the freshest of veggies. Many of Guido's cases are discussed over lunches and evening meals shared with their children in the cozy kitchen of their San Polo apartment.
 Here's the dream...a return visit to Venice with this cookbook tucked in my suitcase. I'll rent a tiny apartment, shop for ingredients at the open air fish and veggie markets and cook my days away, enjoying the taste of Brunetti's Venice. Heaven!
Antipasto di mare anyone?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Brunetti's Venice

I've be re-reading some of Donna Leon's murder mysteries set in Venice. (Thanks, Laury for letting me borrow them!) Since I've been to Venice now, I thought it would be fun to follow Commissario Guido Brunetti around that beautiful city as he investigates crime. When he takes the vaporetto down the Grand Canal passing all the lovely palazzos that line it, I know what he's seeing. By checking out my Venice maps, I know when he gets off the vaporetto at the San Silvestro stop to walk home that he lives somewhere in the neighborhood between the fish market and the Rialto Bridge. And I've been there!

In the first paragraph of the first chapter of  'Death in a Strange Country' a body is found floating right here in this canal by the Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo...
and a witness describes a suspicious person standing in the campo by this statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni.

It's been very enjoyable visiting Brunetti's Venice. An added bonus: it's been a great distraction from politics and all the other dire news of the day!

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Dangling Conversation

Walking with my camera this foggy, fall morning, I spied an apple dangling from a neighbor's tree. Which, of course, reminded me of a 'dangling conversation' and Simon & Garfunkel. Yes, my mind works in mysterious ways! Here's what resulted:
Ode to Simon & Garfunkel

Our dangling conversation
seeking the bridge over troubled water.
From my rock to your island,
from harsh words to the loving sound of silence.
Old friends in danger of
slip, sliding away.
Slow down, you move too fast!
Let this morning last
Let love last
Let us be homeward bound,
Together once again.

I'm a little world-weary right now. Too much war, politics, refugees, earthquakes, global warming, scandal and violence. I can turn off CNN, but pretending it isn't there doesn't make the world go away. Maybe the best I can do today is sip a mug of hot tea and write poetry while humming along to the  '59th Street Bridge' song. And think warm thoughts of family and friends.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Wandering Parisot

This is the weekend of the Parisot Literary Festival. I've had a great time meeting up with friends, listening to authors speak about their books and their writing process, discussing books and writing, buying new and used books, and just generally being steeped in all things literary. Parisot may look like a sleepy little village, but its literary heart beats strong! I spent some time wandering around the village in the lovely warm autumn sunshine. Here are a few things that caught my eye....





Saturday, October 15, 2016

Fall on My Fence

There's a lot of Virginia Creeper around here. Which is lovely this time of year as it provides a nice jolt of red amongst the beautiful orange and yellow leaves of fall. I love these vines on my fence.
The view out my upstairs window isn't too shabby either!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Road to the Vote

I just finished voting in this year's Presidential race It's a good feeling to vote for my candidate and have my voice heard on local issues. The marking of this ballot, though, began two years ago with meeting an aging British actor, pumpkin soup and a literary festival in a tiny village deep in the heart of rural France. Really! You can read about it here.

Fast forward to 2016...I requested an email ballot from Nevada, the state of my permanent US address. Nevada makes it SO easy to vote. I registered when I renewed my driver's license and a simple email request got me my ballot. I printed it, voted, scanned it and then emailed it back to the state. Done! I did the same thing to vote in the primary. I could have actually caucused by skype then with my fellow Nevada Democrats if I had wanted to. It's really too bad every state doesn't make voting this easy and seamless.

Democrats Abroad called me on Sunday to make sure I'd requested an absentee ballot. The woman I talked to was thrilled that I had and in our conversation we agreed that voting this year is crucial. Our country is facing issues and divisions that could influence it for the next generation.

So, it's been a long road to this vote...two years of travel and 5000+ miles to make it happen. Here's my message: if I can do it, so can you! Please get out there and vote. I don't even care who you vote for (well actually I do, but we won't discuss it here) It's important.
This photo has nothing to do with the blog post. I just like it. This is one of the waymarkers along the path in the photo above. The waymarkers direct pilgrims walking the Camino de Compostelle. Maybe this monkish-looking character is directing you to your nearest polling place! A special thanks to my brother, Jim, and a friend, Jane who helped me suss out the local candidates and issues on my Nevada ballot.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Friday, October 7, 2016

Paris?

Did you think I was in Paris? Nope...this Eiffel Tower is sitting by a little park outside the Cajarc tourist office. The plaque on it says it was created for a September exposition in Villefranche. Nice to see it here.