Sunday, May 28, 2017

International Dining

It doesn't get much better than breakfast on the terrace...with a bit of international flair. Greek yogurt topped with locally grown strawberries, fresh from yesterday's market in Cajarc.
 
A mug of English tea thanks to my friend, Jean Howling. A dab of lovely rich French butter for my still-warm croissant...

and a dollop of Iowa peach jam, a gift from my friend and jam-maker extraordinaire, Karen Heege. It's like a sweet taste of Iowa summer on my tongue!
And for dessert, luscious cherries picked Friday according to the market vendor and served up in a pretty polka dot bowl made by a regional potter.
Listening to U2 on the computer.
America, Ireland, England, France and Greece
A very international Sunday breakfast!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

This Morning's River Walk

River reflections...
picking white asparagus....
patches of poppies...
new fence going up.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

"Landsliding"

I'm so proud of my friend. Mandy Jameson! Today her novel, "Landsliding" was published on Amazon Kindle. Mandy and I belong to the Parisot Writing Group. I've followed her progress on this story from idea, to work-in-progress, to almost done to publication. I know the blood, sweat and tears that went into its creation. I was honored to be one of Mandy's beta-readers. Now I'm more than pleased to see it in print and to encourage you to buy it!

"Landsliding" is a story of relationships and secrets and how the two collide in the lives of Julia and Brendan. Julia's marriage has just fallen apart. She feels alone and adrift; her friends help, but something is still missing. Then Brendan appears in her life. Is he too good to be true? Julia's friends seem to think so, but Julia is smitten. When doubts intrude, things take a dark turn. Secrets have twisted more than one life in this novel.

Dip into the lives of Julia, her family and friends and I promise that you'll be hooked. Mandy's clear, direct writing and fast-paced narrative will keep you wondering until the very end if things are really as they seem or if secrets have obscured reality

"Landsliding" can be purchased on Amazon.com.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Round One

It's election day in France. Round One commenced at 8 AM this morning; polls close at 7 PM. The first exit polls will be released at 8 PM. If one candidate wins over 50% of the vote, he/she is declared the winner. That rarely happens and most certainly will not happen this year. The two candidates with the most votes will move on to Round Two on May 7th.
Emmanuel Macron
Independent centrist
Marine Le Pen
Front Nationale far right
No one is making any predictions, but Macron and Le Pen seem the most likely to move on to Round Two. The other two front runners are Francois Fillon, Republican right and Jean-Luc Melenchon, La France Insoumise far left. Really, it's anyone's guess which two will prevail. If you're interested in a brief summary of each candidates' qualifications and policy proposals, the BBC has provided an easy-to-follow article. This is an extremely important election for France as well as Europe. People here want change; they are tired of Francois Hollande's ineffectual government. Popularism is widespread. Hopefully, the French will take a lesson from American politics and Brexit: be careful about the change you wish for. You might just get it and then have to suffer the consequences!


Friday, April 14, 2017

Plants on the Terrace

Fun event this week on my friend, Caroline's terrace. She hosted Terry Tippett of Fleurs de Terry,  who came and set up lots of perennials for us to 'ooh' and 'aah' over...and purchase, of course. Not only were the plants lovely, but Terry was a wealth of information which she was only too happy to share. My unique needs didn't phase her a bit. I needed plants that would grow in pots, take shade for most of the day except for a few hours in the afternoon when they would be exposed to the hot sun. I picked out several before succumbing to Caroline's tasty treats...orange drizzle bread and carrot cake accompanied by a nice cup of English tea. Delightful afternoon!

This morning I had my work cut out for me, but all my lovely plants are now potted, watered and soaking up the warm April afternoon sun on my terrace.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Coming Home

No matter the season or the weather, the home stretch of our morning walk always delights me.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Perfect Day for a Walk

It was a perfect day for a walk around the Promilhanes area with Maggie. Warm, sunny weather, pretty French houses,
wildflowers,
and gorgeous orange striped tulips.
Spring and friends make me happy!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring Morning

Sunday morning 8:30 AM
Clear blue sky
Clocks pushed forward an hour
Fruit trees sprinkled with pink blossoms
Willows and poplars dusted with fuzzy green
The Templar cross at the Chateau
Blesses our passing.
Spring.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

God and Rocks

You might question what God and rocks have in common. The answer is that both were part of yesterday's adventures with my friends, Maggie and Bill. First we attended home church in Septfonds. Then Maggie took us to two different dolmen sites on the outskirts of town. God and rocks...just another day in the magic that is life in France.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Notre Dame de Livron

Notre Dame de Livron
Image from the Catholic Diocese of Montauban

I went to a lovely vocal concert last evening that was held in this gorgeous church. Located at the end of a narrow, wooded valley just on the outskirts of Caylus, the church dates from the late 14th/early 15th centuries. There is a grotto which is the source of the Livron River and walking trails around the area. The spiritual center on the grounds offers space for contemplative retreats. It was an absolutely perfect venue for the 16th century baroque sacred music sung by Restoration Consort, a group of singers formed to raise funds for the restoration of the Puget organ in the Church of St. Antonin-Noble-Val.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Webs Everywhere

Cadrieu's spiders have been busy the past few days. Lucie and I were greeted with hundreds of webs on our morning walk today...webs in the grass, in the bushes and laced between the bare branches of the trees. 
Their delicate strands glistened with pearls of moisture as the morning fog lifted and was replaced by blue skies and brilliant sunshine. This web hung between the corner stop sign and a fence post.
How many can you count?
Reminders of the beauty of creation.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Poem for Our Time

Rocky path to Goult
The Luberon, France
I heard a poem on a podcast this week that spoke to the very unsettled feelings I've had since the election. It felt like a tender hug and gentle encouragement. Written by Hafiz, a beloved 14th century Persian poet, the poem speaks to both individual and corporate struggle in dangerous times of broken government, broken relationships, broken systems. Let us hold hands and keep climbing.

Hafiz: A Great Need
Out
Of a great need
We are all holding hands
And climbing.
Not loving is a letting go.
Listen.
The terrain around here
Is far too
Dangerous
For
That.


Monday, February 27, 2017

New Life

It's that time of year...new life is popping out all over the place!
Daffodils and catkins greet us on our morning walk.
The neighborhood birds sing and twitter earlier and earlier.
And I have a brand-new great niece!
Ka'leia Elaine born in the early morning hours of Feb. 26th.
Congratulations Sam and Emily Mack-Malupe!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Preoccupied Lately

I've been a bit preoccupied the past few days. I've been immersed in getting my new HP Chromebook up and running! I loved my old Asus netbook, but she's a 2008 model and getting to be an old lady. First, Windows decided not to support her XP operating system which I'd kept because it was so user-friendly. I reasoned I'd just keep on with it since upgrading to Windows 10 was too pricey for an old computer. Then a few weeks ago I started receiving a message that my Chrome browser was out of date and I should update that. My poor old girl had been running slower and slower; some pages took forever to open. Pages frequently became unresponsive while I was using them, and I could only have 2 windows open at a time. With a sigh, I concluded it was finally time.

After a lot of research I purchased this HP Chromebook with a 14-inch screen. I thought that since I already use Gmail and a Chrome browser, it would be relatively easy to make the switch. I was right. The transition has been pretty smooth overall. I'm still struggling to get my printer and the Chromebook to talk to one another, but I think that's the printer's fault. It's different using the cloud for photo and file storage, but that's something I'll get used to. So far, I'm thrilled with how fast it is. I love its larger, brighter screen and better quality sound.  The only thing I don't particularly like about it is the color...it's a bit too 'girly' for my taste, but this model with the larger screen only came in this color. I'll learn to live with it. I've retired my old Asus; she's had a long run and it's time to rest. Using this new Chromebook is really an unexpected pleasure!


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Never Too Young

Musee de Cluny
Paris
These two very little girls are learning about sculpture at the Cluny Museum in Paris as their moms look on. I think the other on-lookers approve as well, don't you? This proves....you're never too young to engage with great art and history!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Fact Checking


This beautiful meme caught my eye on Facebook this morning. I'm a huge Ansel Adams fan...he's my photographic hero. But, I thought, did he really say this? In a time when television news, the internet and Facebook are full of 'alternative facts,' fake news and click-bait stories, I wanted to be sure my hero actually said these prophetic words. I'm happy to report, YES, this is a quote from an interview Ansel Adams did with Playboy magazine in 1983. He is correctly quoted in the context of a discussion about environmental issues during the Reagan administration and Secretary of the Interior James Watt. Reading the article brought back powerful memories of that time! I'm happy to say that I signed a Sierra Club petition calling for the removal of James Watt from his position. Which, BTW, happened.

I feel that it is the responsibility of everyone who posts or shares things on Facebook to check their sources for accuracy. Even memes like this which support your position should be vetted before sharing. The up side of taking the time to do this is that you may discover, as I did, an interesting story. Although the interview with Ansel Adams is very long (the quote here comes towards the very end of it), it was a fascinating glimpse into Adams' creativity and his politics. You can read it here.

Here's a short video that prompted this exploration posted on FB by my friend, Jane. Take a moment to watch it as well...
https://youtu.be/Ryjpu-NWYm8

Saturday, January 21, 2017

On Strike!

I had coffee yesterday morning with some of my Parisot Writer's Group friends here at Anita and Richard's lovely converted school house. We chatted about books, writing, personal news, and eventually the topic turned to politics. I announced that I was 'on strike;' they all immediately knew that meant I was boycotting the inauguration. (which I did, which I am!) Then Tracey told us about a group of people, French and Brit ex-pats, who were hanging an effigy of Donald Trump in her tiny town of Laguepie last night in protest of the Trump presidency. Find Laguepie on Google maps, folks. Like my village, it's here deep in the middle-of-nowhere France. It's not populated by Left Coast Liberals, Eastern Elites or even rascally big city student protesters. This is rural France, far from the big cities. These are people who are genuinely frightened by what Trump's foreign policy might mean to them and who are genuinely appalled by his cruel, disrespectful and divisive rhetoric. If you think the whole world isn't watching America and shaking its head in horror and disbelief, you're wrong. The negative vibrations are felt even here.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Streets of Venice

I just received a new book in the mail, Peter Ackyrod's Venice: Pure City. I'm anxious to dig into it and learn more about the city that enthralled me during my 2015 visit. Sitting next to my reading chair, it's inspired me to wander through my photos from that trip. Here are a few street scenes you haven't seen before....
Be sure to have your sound turned on...I'd hate for you to miss out on Pavarotti!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Reading Rilke

Shadows in the Cloister
Conques
I love poetry. I think most of us begin life loving it...all children seem delighted with nursery rhymes and rhyming children's songs. And most of us give up poetry when a well-meaning grade school teacher forces us to memorize it or worse yet, interpret it. Who knows what the poet meant by that phrase? My guess is that even the poet didn't really know...it just sounded right! I've continued to love poetry in spite of that. Right now, I'm reading Rilke.

Ranier Maria Rilke, born in Prague in 1875, was already a published poet when he wrote the poems that comprise his 'Book of Hours' which I'm currently reading. Rilke became enthralled with the landscape and spirituality of Russia during a visit there in 1899. These poems came to him over the next two years as intense 'inner dictations' which have been described as 'inward conversations with God.' Rilke uncharacteristically kept these poems secret for years, perhaps reflecting how intensely personal they were to him.

The translation  that I'm reading is by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy. I've included a sound file of Joanna Macy reading "Go to the Limits of Your Longing" for an 'On Being' broadcast. It's the poem that first brought me to the wonders of Rilke.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

R.I.P.

We laid our friend, Jean-Paul to rest this afternoon. At least 200 people packed our little village church that holds 75 worshipers on a good day. They were literally standing 2 and 3 deep in the aisle and entry; several people clustered outside the open doors to listen to the Mass that sent Jean-Paul to his eternal rest. The family spoke, there was lovely music, tons of flowers, some tears and a few chuckles as people remembered JP's quirky sense of humor and love of les petites blagues...little jokes. Mourners left the church and lined the pathway as the casket was carried out and placed in the funeral van. Then the procession formed walking behind and following the slow-moving cortege to the cemetery. The priest said a few words; those who wanted do blessed the casket with holy water before walking up the hill to the Salle des Fetes for a reception hosted by the family. Cloudy, 35 F, trees high on the hillside frosted with last night's frozen fog...a cold, sad day full of warm memories of a special friend.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Ring in the New!

Bell of the Campanile
St. Mark's Square
Venice, Italy
Ring in the New

Let us ring out the old and ring in the new.
Let us leave behind the bad and carry only the good into 2017.
Let us remember the triumphs and the happy times in our hearts and
ponder the failures and lessons in our minds.
Let us move forward in joy, seeking peace and unity,
opening our hearts to love one another.
Let us keep our minds focused on the hard work of creating
the joy, grace, and goodness
that our hearts desire not only for ourselves,
but also for the whole world.

New Year's Day 2017