Monday, September 26, 2011


I've been blessed with almost perfect weather on this jaunt across the West to visit friends and family. I snapped this beautiful hot air balloon just outside the door of my motel in Elko, NV. My stay here at my brother's in Reno has been relaxed and pleasant. We've caught up on all the family news, wandered an old Reno neighborhood admiring historic houses, browsed in a great independent bookstore and enjoyed a family barbeque hosted by my brother, Jim. Yesterday we drove to Yerington to see my dad one more time before I fly to France. It was another difficult goodbye. But, dad has his passport. Maybe I'll be able to talk him into visiting me in Cadrieu? Ya never know!

I'll be leaving tomorrow morning and will arrive in France on Wednesday afternoon. I hope to blog again by the end of the week. A bientot!

My dad and my brother, Jim.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

So Hard to Say Goodbye!

While I'm beyond excited to be returning to France to live, saying goodbye to family hasn't been easy. Especially since I don't know exactly when I'll be returning for a visit. Getting everyone to sit still in the same place for a photo is also difficult. Luckily Becky was able to snap this photo a couple of weeks ago when my dad visited. I hope I look as good as he does when I'm 90 years old!.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Road Trip Wonders

I've put over 1800 miles on the odometer since I left Iowa 10 days ago. The weather has been perfect most of the way and even sitting in lines of traffic at road construction sites has had some positive moments. Like this photo I was able to snap while I awaited the pilot car at the top of Togwotee Pass in Wyoming. It's my favorite way to Yellowstone with magnificent views of the Tetons as you descend into the Snake River valley. Usually I see these stark mountains at the top of the pass as I whiz by at 60 mph. This day, however, I had plenty of time to enjoy their beauty.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Paris is How Far Away??

Paris is how far away?? I seem to be moving in the wrong direction!
(Sign seen outside a cool European goods shop on Pearl St. in Boulder.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sights on the Mall

After church Edith and I strolled all afternoon up and down the Pearl St. Mall in downtown Boulder. It has the distinction of being the very first pedestrian mall in the country with its first two blocks closed to traffic in the mid-1970s. I remember walking on it then and thinking it was just the coolest thing ever. Today it extends several blocks and is a mix of independent stores intermingled with some larger chain stores. For years, the chains were kept out, but times change, rents rise, and the chains have moved in...sigh! My second** favorite independent bookstore in the whole world, the Boulder Boostore, still anchors one corner, though, and I intend to visit it today. According to Edith, this photo captures the latest in urban graffiti...knitted 'cozies' for parking meters, mailboxes, etc. This one covered the 'rent-a-Boulder-bike' ticket dispenser. I kind of like it better than the usual paint 'tags' you see on the sides of buildings. Buskers abound on the Mall...drumming, playing guitars. dancing.The balloon man has a unique way of advertising, don't you think?

**my first favorite bookstore is Shakespeare & Co. sitting across from Notre Dame in Pars!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Breakfast with the Flatirons

I ate breakfast on Edith's patio this morning and the Flatirons kept me company. The sun was just coming up, casting an orange-y glow on the rocks and it couldn't have benn more beautiful. Anyone who has ever been to Boulder knows that the Flatirons define this pretty valley. Edith's house has almost floor to ceiling windows along the entire south side of the house. The view is just about 180 degrees, quite breath-taking. You can see all of the University of Colorado at Boulder, NCAR up on the mesa and all of downtown Boulder. The photo below is a zoomed shot of Devil's Thumb.

Friday, September 9, 2011

On The Road Again...

I'm off to begin my new adventure tomorrow morning. I'll spend the next two weeks traveling west to visit friends and family ending up in Reno for my September 27th flight to France. I hope to continue blogging while I'm on the road, but that will depend on my internet access and time. Check back to keep up with Melanged Magic or receive each new post by email. Subscribe by entering your email address in the space provided to the left.

PS...this isn't the car that will be carrying me west! I took this photo a couple of years ago at the Bartlett Arboretum outside Wichita, KS.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I've been thinking about spider webs and cobwebs a lot the past few days. Not these pretty webs that I photographed in France, but rather the annoying ones that seem to lurk in every corner and under every surface in my house. One of the things that I'm doing in preparation for closing up Red Bell Farm for the winter is a thorough cleaning. It's really not all that dirty in the house...after all I've hardly been here the past year...but there are cobwebs and spider webs everywhere. Guess it's something about living in the country. So, my chore today is to eliminate as many of them as I can find. Curious about how these pesky things came to be named cobwebs, I Googled the answer. 'Coppe' is an old Middle English word that meant spider and gradually slurred over the years into cob. That mystery solved, now it's time to get rid of every one I can find!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tango-ing in Cahors

Often a trip into a French town or village offers up a surprise that delights me. Do you remember the time Laury and I ran into a protest parade in Figeac? Or how about the local band that played at the Christmas market in Cajarc? Last year soon after I arrived in France, Laury and I made a trip into Cahors so I could drop off my rental car. As we strolled down rue Gambetta, I was once again delighted by unexpected entertainment...couples dancing the tango. This is not something you see in downtown Des Moines!
I wonder what entertainment I'll find in Cahors this year?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Msr. Winkelmann and the Methodists

This is Laury's baby grand piano, Msr. Winkelmann. He has the honor of living in his very own room at the Chatette. I took this photo in 2009, and Laury has since re-arranged the furniture a bit, but you get the idea...he pretty much dominates the space; he's an important member of the family. When Laury read my blog post about building a life in France, she shared that one thing she chose to ship to France when she moved there was 30 pounds of sheet music for Msr. Winkelmann and her to enjoy playing. I replied...'you gonna laugh, but I thought about shipping my old Methodist hymnal so I could play hymns...on a piano that I don't even have.' I love to play hymns...they're easy, the music has great full chords,  and I know the tune and the words to most of them. She emailed me right back...'Bring the hymnal! I'd love to hear you play them on Msr. Winkelmann.' We'll see...

You may remember this beautiful baby grand from this blog post...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Building a Life

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to build a new life. Like this beautiful stone wall, which pieces of my life will fit together in France like these stones? which pieces will need to be discarded or re-shaped in the future? what's going to hold it all together? and will it be functional as well as beautiful like this wall?

When I return to France the end of September, my life will be quite unlike it's ever been. I will not be on vacation. I will not be house-sitting for friends. I will not be an observer of French life; I will be living it. I love that I am able to give some conscious thought to just how I want this life to be. I don't want to totally detach myself from what life's been like for the last 60+ years, yet I want to arrive in France with a slate clean enough to create something that's uniquely 'me in France.'

Six boxes of 'me' have already arrived in Cadrieu. I've sent some clothes, some art, some CDs and some books. With digital technology, I have access to photos of family and friends and to my favorite music. I've shipped my grandmother's silver to Cadrieu, knowing that entertaining will be a part of my new life. It has place settings for 12 people, and I anticipate using every piece! I've sent a few of my favorite cookbooks, because even though learning to cook French is part of my plan, I'll still want to make my favorite American dishes. I know Laury giggled when she opened the box I shipped that contained both my English and French dictionaires. Why send those, you ask? Because they both would be very difficult and very expensive to replace in France, as would the vitamins and calcium tablets I tucked into another box. I included my santon collection in a box along with a burlap and yarn Christmas 'decoration' that Travis made in the 6th grade. And I absolutely could not leave my down bed pillows behind! I'll bet Laury giggled over those as well.
If you were going to build a new life somewhere, what would you take along?

This little piece of Red Bell Farm will also be part of my new 'me in France' life.