Saturday, June 29, 2013


The frogs in Eddy and Helen's lovely little pond make the strangest noises! The first time I heard them, I have to admit I thought it was Eddy burping in the garden. These little guys produce burps and gurgles and br-er-r-king sounds 'way louder than their small sizes would indicate. Very different from the peeps and trills and chirping songs I'm used to from Iowa frogs. Maybe these guys sing in French?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

BEHOLD: A Blank Slate

Lucie and I pass this simple stone wall every morning on our walk. I always notice the big stone in the middle, but today I really 'saw' it. As I contemplate this photo, many phrases come to mind. The first and most obvious is a simple description: a large, light-colored rectangular stone. Accurate, but boring! Other phrases pop into my empty page, a closed window, the blank cover of a book. But the phrase I keep coming back to is  'a blank slate.' Wouldn't I love to have my life a blank slate some days! To start over, to get it right. But life isn't like that; my past...both good and always there. I can erase some of it and push some to the side, but I can't really get rid of it. And who would want to erase all the good things anyway?

The best I can do is choose what to keep tucked away, what to focus on, what to remember and enjoy, what has to stay and be a lesson for tomorrow. The choice is mine. And in the cleared away space--the blank slate place--I can write today's experiences, joys, challenges, and memories. Hopefully, in brilliant color and lovely words!

What's your choice for today's blank slate? Keeping the clutter of anger, hurt, fear, frustration? or pushing those to the side to write today in joy?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Honor Flight

This past weekend as I was recovering from jet-lag, my dad and my brother were winging their way to Washington D.C. on an 'honor flight.' Honor flights are community-sponsored trips to Washington for World War II veterans in 'honor' of their service to our country. Leaving on Friday and returning home again on Sunday evening, the trip was a whirlwind visit to all the war memorials in the capitol as well as Arlington National Cemetery. The vets were wined and dined and loved. Each had to have a 'sponsor' (in this case, my brother, Jim) to assist them on the trip. As you can imagine, not all WWII vets are as spry as my 92-year-old dad; many were in wheelchairs and needed help with the activities.

Here's an excerpt from the email I received this morning from my brother

We wearily got back last night… what a trip! Every airport that we walked into had a reception of hundreds of people cheering, applauding, waving flags and shaking our hands...... We were on TV and actually had a news crew with us that will, I understand, put out a CD of the entire thing. Lots of stories to tell 

You'll be seeing more photos and stories about this event as the summer unfolds. I'm so glad my brother made this happen for my dad...what an honor!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fete de la Musique

Janie, our leader, me, Christine, Veronique, and Helen
Last night in cities, towns and tiny villages all over France, music and singing celebrated the summer solstice. The Fete de la Musique has been an annual event in France since 1982, bringing free music to millions of people. I posted here about the small group of women that I sing with. Last night was the culmination of our winter's work...a concert at the little church in Seuzac. We began the evening with a trio of traditional French songs: Pas d'Argentine, Margot, and Serenade by Gounod. Then we went into a selection of several sacred and secular songs in Latin, Spanish, Georgian, Hebrew and Bulgarian. (No, I don't speak any of those's all done with phonetics and I don't have a clue what the words mean.) With a nod to the sole American in the group, moi, we next sang Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. Moulin Rouge and Alleluia israeli completed the first part of our program.
Jean-Paul, Jacques, Christiane, and Greg**
Everyone enjoyed a glass of white wine with nibbles during the intermission. Aperos are part of every French gathering! While we sipped, we began the second half of the evening with Ah! le petit win blanc.(Ah! a Little White Wine) and handed out song sheets, inviting our audience to sing along to such favorites as Je chate!, Boum, and La Boheme. We even channeled our inner Edith Piafs with La vie en rose. Even the men enthusiastically joined in.
Me, Christiane, and Veronique
We closed with Dona Nobis Pacem sung in canon with our guests. A lovely evening and a joyous way to greet summer. Now all we need is some sun!

**Thanks, Greg, for taking the photos.

Friday, June 21, 2013


I've spent a lot of time in airports (and on planes) the past two weeks. It's a good thing I usually find something interesting to enjoy while I wait. At the Reno airport, most people probably only notice the slot machines which greet you as soon as you disembark. I got tired of listening to them while I awaited my flight on Wednesday morning, so I wandered a bit. And found a delightful exhibition of photos and paintings of some of Nevada's wild horses. I'd like to think these beautiful wild things are as iconic to Nevada as the slots are, but I doubt that most people even know about them.

I discovered something entirely different than wild horses in the London-Heathrow airport. Well, actually it discovered me! The sound of bagpipes drew me to this shop selling Glen Deveron scotch. Needless to say, the bagpiper attracted a lot of attention!
As much fun as it is exploring international airports, it's good to be home!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Vintage Dad

We had a lovely Father's Day cook-out yesterday. My Dad came into town and my 6'5" nephew and his girlfriend, Grae, were here also. Jim's fiance, Beth, joined us. Jim did the honors with burgers on the grill. We ate and laughed and told lots of stories. And guess what? I forgot to take any photos! So, here is a bit of vintage Dad with a fish he caught on the Sacramento River that was almost as big as me!

Friday, June 14, 2013


 Spring 2013
I'm still in the States visiting family, but wanted to share some color from the Cele Valley.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Chase Graduates!

June 8, 2013: Chase is now an official high school graduate...yay! Nice commencement ceremony, lovely graduation party at his mom and step-dad's house. The world awaits. Do you remember that feeling? the excitement and shivers of anxiety that go along with facing your future? I can hardly wait to see how it unfolds for him!
For more photos on FB, click here:

Friday, June 7, 2013

Wyman House

I'm in the the States for two weeks to visit family and attend my oldest grandson's high school graduation in New Hampshire this weekend. Despite travel snafus, city traffic, blended family anxieties, and rainy weather....I'm having a fabulous time! There's nothing quite like connecting and re-connecting with family and friends. I'll be posting some more updates from my trip as it progresses, but here's the first installment. This is the Francis Wyman built by Francis and his brother, John who settled in Burlington, Mass. in 1666. Travis' grandfather did the genealogy search that found this ancestor. We visited the house on our way to New Hampshire yesterday. Nice for Travis to make a connection to his roots through the Wyman side of his family.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pretty Poppies

Everyone has complained about all the rain this spring, but I think the poppies really liked it. They've been particularly pretty and....

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

First Monday Vernissage

Galerie ApART in Marcilhac-sur-Cele has begun its summer 'first Monday' vernissages. This month's featured artist is Ian Rawlinson, a young artist from England showing outside the UK for the first time. His paintings are graphic designs in primarily black and white with strong, bold elements. He works in acrylics as well as in various print processes. Ian first came to the Cele Valley some years ago when he took Peter's lithography course and returns now to show his work. His paintings will be on display in the gallery Wednesdays through Sundays, 3 pm-7 PM until the 30th of June.

Notice anything unusual in this painting? Look in the upper left corner. The moth is not part of the painting; he's just found a place where he blends in with the color scheme!
Cleopatra, the gallery cat
Gallery information:
Gallerie ApPart Marcilhac-sur-Cele, le Bourg

Monday, June 3, 2013


One of the very few complaints I've had about my simple point-and-shoot camera is/was that it never seemed to get pink right. Everything pink kind of faded into white. Since my photo time with Sab in Paris last month, however, I'm finally getting pink properly. He showed me how to use my camera in settings other than automatic, and I've never looked back! Love that AV mode. And because I'm finally able to 'see' pink, I'm seeing it everywhere! And each time it begs to have its picture taken! Here's a few pinks that have called my name.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Orchid Day

Military orchid
My friend, Maggie, loves wild orchids. Called 'orchidees' (orchid-days) in French, they are the first things Maggie looks for when she comes to her holiday home in Promilhanes each spring. This year she found a guided orchid tour and asked Sue and I to join her. After looking at Maggie's beloved orchids all morning, both Sue and I are hooked! Once you see one orchid, you begin to see them everywhere. Our guide, Eric, is a local expert and was able to identify each one we found. This is almost the end of their blooming season, but was the first dry day after many wet ones to actually do the walk. We finished our morning tired, muddy and hungry, but enthusiastic about finding and identifying more orchids next spring.

Fly orchid
Pyramid orchid
Butterfly orchid
Tongue orchid