Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Violet Umbrella

It's a whole month until I'm back in France with a lot of fun travel visiting family and friends before I depart. I do miss my village, though, and I've been re-living some wonderful memories through the photos I took last winter. I don't often enhance my photos with the various tools in my photography software. The most I do is sometimes crop an image or tweak the contrast and brightness. I found these two, though, that I had fun with focus and color. I took them the day that Laury and I spent in Figeac at the Lion's Club photography vernissage. It was a cool misty day....
I call this one "The Violet Umbrella."

This one is simply labelled 'umbrella in black and white.' Any suggestions for a more interesting title?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Plan

Here's the plan...I'l return to France the end of September. I will live here in Cadrieu. The Little Train House that I've arranged to rent is right up the road from Laury's...you can barely see it on the far right of this Google photo. It sits right below the big white building which is the Chateau. My visa allows me to stay indefinitely in France with yearly renewal. Since I haven't sold my acreage in Iowa, I will close it up for the winter again and put it on the market again come spring. I'll return to the States when it sells and spend time with family. Depending on the timing of everything next year, I may work at camp again. As I can't work legally in France, it would be really nice to earn a bit of money to keep my dream going! As I gather more information about an address and phone number, I will share. I'll always be reachable, tho, thru my email. And I'll continue to melange magic here in the Lot at Melanged Magic. I've added a place right under my profile where you can sign up to subscribe to my blog and receive it by email each time I post an entry. Don't miss a minute of the Magic! Sign up today!

Friday, August 26, 2011


I got it! My long-term stay visa for France was delivered at noon today, and I couldn't be more thrilled. If you've ever dealt with the French bureaucracy, you know that even with meticulous attention to your paperwork, nothing is a given. No guarantees that they would grant this visitor's visa allowing me to stay a year with the option of renewal indefinitely. And you don't even want to know how much paperwork was involved in its application. Once I get to France, I have to mail additional paperwork to the prefect's office in Toulouse. They will then give me an appointment to visit to their offices where I will receive a residence card. This is what will have to be renewed yearly as long as I want to continue to reside in France. If you've ever heard of the carte de sejour, this residence card is what has taken its place. So, I'm legal (unlike last winter when I was not!).

Look out world! Make way for a woman who is making her dream come true!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


During the waning days of camp, we begin to sing ourselves home...'Five more days of vacation, back to civilization. Back to sisters and brothers, kisses and smothers. Back to boys and news..' And then we lament...'we get campsick,' that yearning for camp and being homesick for our friends. I'm pretty campsick this week, thinking about all my new friends. Counselor friends headed back to colleges like Notre Dame, Indiana University, Princeton, Dartmouth, St. Olaf, the University of Nebraska, De Pauw, and the University of Wisconsin. Camper friends getting ready to start school in suburbs like Lake Forest, Wilmette, Mill Valley, Crested Butte and Denver. Staff friends who will be skiing in Park City this winter, trekking in Nepal and living in Ireland. Good memories and good friends...ingredients to make anyone campsick!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bye, Bye Birdie

This is the group of counselors responsible for both the production of 'Annie' and for the second camp session production of 'Bye, Bye Birdie.' I'm amazed at the quality of both performances and the amount of work that these young women do getting the show to go. Here's a taste of 'Birdie!'
This is the last video for awhile...I promise!

Monday, August 22, 2011

"I Want To Celebrate and Live My Life!"

Dance Night 2011. The grass in the Ampitheatre was alive with dancing girls...campers and counselors alike. Even the littlest campers seemed to know all the dance moves. Guess it's kind of like we all knew how to do the Twist, the Mashed Potatoes, and the Surfer Stomp, eh? Here's just a taste of the joyful energy that over 120 dancing girls bring to the evening...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Air Band 2

Although camp is over for this year, there are some images from the summer that I'd like to share with you. I wasn't able to upload much video because of the really s-l-o-w wireless connection in the office. So these next few posts had to wait until I was home. Now I am, so here you go...

As I told you earlier in the summer, Air Band is everyone's very favorite evening program. In case you don't remember, Air Band is an evening of lip-sync dance routines that each cabin puts together. The second session campers were obviously experienced at Air Band...you'll notice that many of them brought costumes and accessories to make costumes. I loved them all, but my very favorite was "Proud Mary" probably because I knew the words!
I can see you now...tapping your feet and singing along!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Quite a different view from this window than the one I've been enjoying for the past two months, eh? I spent Tuesday night at the Comfort Suites in the heart of Chicago on North Michigan Blvd. This was what I could see from my 7th floor window. I was totaly surrounded by very impressive, very important looking skyscrapers, some with beautiful architectural details. While I didn't have sweeping views of the skyline or Lake Michigan, it was still  fun to watch the lights wink on as it grew dark and listen to the street noise as hundreds of Chicagoans and tourists made their way up and down the busy street. My purpose in being here was to keep a scheduled appointment at the French Consulate for my long-term stay visa application. I was literally less than a block from the Consulate which made getting there easy; a brief walk and I was badged into the elevator that whisked me up to the 37th floor and my fate! In and out in under 15 minutes, I had all the proper papers, was finger-printed and photographed. Now the 7-10 day wait...will it be granted? It's in God's hands now!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pontoon Ponderings

Each of us enjoyed our pontoon boat ride around Big Clear Lake yesterday afternoon in different ways. Connie enjoyed sharing the history of the houses that dot the lake's islands and keeping an eye out for other boaters
Chuck enjoyed pointing out various canoe campsites and alerting Connie about rocks and shallow water ahead.
Scout enjoyed  keeping us alerted to wildlife on the lake...loons, gulls, and eagles,
and Annie enjoyed a peaceful nap...lulled by the throaty gurgle of the engine and the gentle vibration of the boat.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Counselor Camp

The last camper had barely left the property Saturday afternoon when my friend, Annie exclaimed, "Yahoo...now we can have counselor camp!" It was then that I realized why one of everything on the waterfront had been left out. Annie immediately changed into her swimsuit and went windsurfing...

Connie rev-vd up the Malibu and took people waterskiing...
and tubing...
Today the plan is for a picnic lunch on the pontoon boat while we cruise Big Clear Lake and maybe a bit of a sail this afternoon if the wind picks up.
Counselor camp is 'way fun!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Waterfront: Before and After

Do you remember this photo from the first of the summer here at camp?
This is what the waterfront looked liked just 3 hours after the buses full of campers left. The dock and ladders are completely pulled out and ready to store. The trampoline is deflated and the ropes that define the boundaries of the swimming area are gone. Most of the boats are dry-docked in their winter homes. Most...but not all! You'll learn the rest of the story in my next post.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Singing Them Home

Camp is over! While about a third of the campers are picked up by their parents, the rest of them left this morning right after breakfast on two camp-chartered buses..
First there were hugs and tears...
then everyone sings....

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I love a good laundry photo! Opportunities to capture good images abound at camp...like outside of every cabin. Love the detail below. Everyone needs a flamingo beach towel!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

International Night

Last night was International Night at evening program. We have several international campers and staff here, and they shared fun facts about their home country with the whole camp. This is Alex, from Russia, pointing out where he lives in Russia. He even taught us all a few words in Russian! I have lots of other photos of the event, but the wireless loads so slowly here that I'll have to share them later when I'm back in Iowa.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Winding Down

This is the final week of Session Two of camp and the final week of the summer. We're winding down for the year. Lots going on this week, tho. Tonight is International Night where our campers (mostly from Mexico) will share information about their country. Tomorrow night is Counselor Skits. Wednesday we'll see the premier of the camp drama show..."Bye, Bye Birdie." Thursday night is Banquet followed by Friday night Candlelight Ceremony. Saturday morning the campers leave! Winding down is definitely a bitter-sweet time...lots of fun things, but just a little bit of sadness to see these great girls leave.

Friday, August 5, 2011


This is Scout, Connie's constant companion and official camp dog. Red Pine Camp has always been dog-friendly. The previous owners had two labs that lived in camp. You can always tell where Connie is...if you see Scout, you know she's close by. Scout was a rescue dog from a northern Minnesota Indian reservation. As a half-grown puppy, he was running with a pack of wild dogs and was going to be destroyed. Some time in his short past, he'd sustained a broken hind leg that never healed properly. A vet friend of Connie's called her and said 'if you want this dog, you better come now because they're going to kill him tomorrow.'

She made the trip, and Scout has been hers ever since. He walks a little funny, but otherwise runs all over camp following Connie on her rounds. The campers love him. He really does live a great dog's life...good food, good owner, freedom to run all over this beautiful place, and lots of little girls to scratch his ears and love on him!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Daily Breezes

One of the nice things about camp's location on the channel between Big Clear and Little Clear lakes (besides the beautiful view!) is the breeze that blows almost every afternoon. Those activities up on The Hill, i.e. tennis, archery, and riding, aren't quite so lucky. No breeze up there and temperatures run at least 10 degrees higher as the area is enclosed on all sides by dense forest.

If it looks like the flag pole is leaning, it's not your imagination. Last Saturday we experienced a very intense thunderstorm with high winds. Trees fell across the road, by maintenance, and broke down the pasture fence up on The Hill. A canoe and two wind surfing sails sustained damage, as did the flag pole which is now definitely leaning to the east!