Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How I Spent the 4th

Calvignac
No surprise....the 4th of July is a non-starter here in France. The only thing special about Tuesday...it was the Tuesday of the last week of school for French children. No fireworks, no parades, no waving American flags. So how did I spend my 4th? Here in Calvignac.

My friend, Elizabeth lives here. Among other things, she's a massage therapist and I had an afternoon appointment. Couldn't have been a prettier day. The views are lovely from the village. A pastoral valley in one direction...
And from the other side of the village...
What the heck is that?
It's an art installation; a scanner code which is part of the annual art-along-the-Lot project put on by the Center of Contemporary Art (Georges Pompidou) in Cajarc. This year's exposition is called "Co-mutations" and seeks to marry technology with nature.
There were three installations on the edge of the village. Entitled "Ciel-Nuages-Terre" (Sky-Clouds-Earth) the pieces of an old farm plow draped with cloud-like cotton atop a huge flat rock shimmered against the brilliant blue sky. Not something I'd put in my garden, but interesting.
Thru the ancient arch into the village to Elizabeth's house where I spent a delightful afternoon being pampered, sipping a verveine tisane and enjoying a nice chat in French.

Fireworks will have to wait until Quatorze Juillet, the French national holiday on 14 July.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Together Again!

Parisot Writing Group
Together...all 10 of us....again! While Anita's been busy working on her MA in writing at Bath Spa, our writing group has soldiered on without our leader. We've met periodically, done some critiquing in small groups, read each other's work and explored some writing topics on our own. But it just hasn't been the same without Anita! We were absolutely thrilled to gather yesterday at the Schoolhouse in Mazerolles for a lovely morning on Anita's preau discussing writing projects and topics, books, and generally catching up. A couple of us even got a little teary-eyed that we were all able to make it and welcome Anita back home to France. We're fired up and ready to write!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Memories of an Old Friend

It's funny how the Universe works.

Yesterday I posted an NPR article on Facebook about this weekend's 50 year anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival. I was there, and it was a life-changing event for me. I went with my friend, Christine. Chris and I went to nursing school together; we shared our first-ever apartment. She taught me how to cook. Actually I kind of knew how to cook, but had no idea how to put a meal together and on the table at the same time. Chris, having cooked for years for her family, showed me how to time things so everything was ready at once. She moved to San Diego after I did and worked for me in the medical intensive care unit at University Hospital. She married, moved to Texas, and when that didn't work out, came back to San Diego and lived with Skip and me until she could get her life back together. We loaned her some money, so she could buy a car. But as these things do, we drifted apart as I became more focused on marriage and my new baby, and she became more focused on her career. We lost touch.

Over the past 50 years, I've occasionally thought about her. Last week while thinking about my life right out of nursing school, she came to mind. Then yesterday as I posted about the Festival, I thought about her again. I searched FB, but had no luck finding her. This morning I tried googling her name and came up with this...

It looks like Chris never remarried and spent her 40 year nursing career in the San Diego area.
She died on May 27 of this year.

Funny how the Universe works.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Work in Progress


Last Sunday Maggie and Bill invited me come along on an 'open gardens' adventure. Our destination was Chateau de Bournazel in the Aveyron. While fascinating in its own right, we didn't visit the Chateau itself; what we wanted to see this day was the Renaissance garden. Check out this video for a brief overview in English of the Chateau. A visit will definitely be a future goal!
Last year the first phase of the garden was completed which included this large pond and nine parterres, square garden plots, planted with shrubs, flowers, and trees symbolic of the stages of a Renaissance prince's life and education.
 This square anchored by a large rock feature surrounded by water and snowy white daisies symbolizes the mountains and geography necessary to be an educated man.
I love how box hedge is used to border individual planting areas. All the plants used are those that would have been present either in the wild or cultivated during the mid-to-late 1500s.
This square depicts the solar system and heavenly bodies.
There is the beginning of a labyrinth.
This is a well dating from the time of the original garden.
There's a lot more to see, of course, and since this is only the first year of the garden, the entire site is a work in progress. A visit every year will reveal even more of its beauty as the entire plan is completed. In the meantime, have a look at this video about building the garden from the Chateau's website (in French, but with English subtitles.)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

French Mailboxes

I posted a photo on Facebook earlier this week of an American mailbox that Maggie and I saw on our backwoods walk Monday morning. It prompted a comment by a friend who asked what French mailboxes look like. Today's post is in answer to that question. This is the mailbox outside the gates to the Chateau. In the spirit of full disclosure...not all French mailboxes are this pretty!
This is the front and back of mine. The green and red sticker tells the post lady that I don't want the advertising circulars. I can open it from inside the gate which is especially nice when it's raining...I don't get wet.
Patrick's mailbox. The gray capped PVC pipe is for his morning baguette delivery straight from the bakery in Cajarc.
A selection of other boxes that Lucie and I pass every day on our morning walk. The boxes themselves are pretty plain, but their settings are beautiful!
And finally...this is the box to post letters. It's on the wall of the Mairie. La Poste, the national mail service, uses yellow and dark blue as its colors. Mail trucks are yellow with dark blue lettering.
The American mailbox that started it all.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Owl or Gryphon?

A bit of discussion on Facebook yesterday with Maggie and Vanessa. On our walk through the countryside, Maggie and I came upon this iron cross along the road. Crosses are very common in the French countryside, but the critter in the center of this one is not common on them. It looked like an owl to Maggie and me which seemed to be an odd symbol for a cross. Maggie consulted Vanessa on FB and Vanessa thought perhaps it was a gryphon, also odd to me. So this morning I did a bit of Google research...

Gryphons are, indeed, a Christian symbol from the Middle Ages. Who knew? A mythical animal, the gryphon (or griffin) is a combination of a lion and an eagle. To medieval Christians it symbolized the resurrected Christ who had both a heavenly (eagle) and earthly (lion) nature. I looked at some Google images of gryphons, though, and couldn't find any that resembled this guy.

So, I tried owl and guess what....he's a Christian symbol as well! Actually the owl has two meanings. It can represent the Jews who rejected Christ, and it can be a night owl, "one that shuns the light much as Christ shunned the glory of human praise." I'm not sure I like either one of those meanings, but our little owl definitely looks like one of the Google images ones....
What do you think....owl or gryphon?


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!