Thursday, December 31, 2015


This blog post marks a milestone for Melanged #1000! Who knew on Aug. 30, 2010 when I began blogging here about my life and adventures in France that I'd still be at it 1000 posts later. It all began with a big 'YES!' and led to that first winter house sitting for Laury. That 'yes' led to another the following year as I began living in France full time. It's affirming to realize that there have been at least 1000 things about my life that I felt were interesting enough to share. There have actually been many, many more. I feel the abundance.

But Melanged Magic isn't my first blog, you know. I began my blogging career here at Musings from Red Bell Farm. If you click on the link, you'll see the post that brought me from Iowa to France. Other posts will show you what happened between spring of 2011 and fall of that year when I made the big leap to becoming an ex-pat. Musings began on Christmas Day 2007 and 445 blog posts later, it went on hiatus as I began life full time here. And during that time I also kept two other, short-lived blogs: Dona Nobis Pacem, a spirituality blog of 160 posts and Red Bell Reads, a blog about books and music that only lasted for 17 posts before fading into history. 622 additional blog posts! Add that to 1000 on Melanged Magic and even I'm impressed. No wonder I'm not so enthusiastic about trying to blog every day now.

That being said, Melanged Magic continues. Life is interesting and full of adventures. You'll continue to read about them here. In the meantime, I'd like to wish you a joyous end to 2015 and a hopeful, auspicious beginning to 2016!

Monday, December 28, 2015


A friend invited me to come for an early supper last night. She had leftovers from Christmas dinner that she wanted to share. Didn't have to ask me twice! We began with butter-sauteed shrimp and a glass of white wine on her terrace. The view couldn't have been prettier.
As the sun began it set, we moved inside for a yummy main...confit du canard with a vegetable roast of parsnips, squash, potatoes, carrots and onions. And of course, a bowl of Brussels sprouts which are traditional for an English Christmas dinner. Then a cheese platter followed by homemade mince pie. I'll help you clean up leftovers anytime, Janie!

Sunday, December 27, 2015


Moonrise over Saujac
This was the view from my upstairs window on Christmas Eve as the moon rose over Saujac. The muted pinks and lavenders of sunset blended perfectly with the luminous moon veiled by a whisper-thin layer of clouds along the horizon. It murmured 'peace on Earth, goodwill towards men' to me.
Moonrise over Saujac
Christmas Eve 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

Murder in Mazerolles

Disclaimer: This is not a Christmas story. Be forewarned that there is blood and violence involved!
There was murder in Mazerolles Saturday afternoon! This normally peaceful and picturesque village was shocked as gunshots rang out and reverberated across the valley towards Najac. The cause of this violence was the unexpected presence of three intruders marauding through the quiet village. Dogs were set a-barking in alarm. Two of the terrorists met their demise at the hands of a village marksman in the high village where they were hiding. The third escaped and tore along the tiny ruelles attempting to avoid a similar fate. He forced his way into an enclosed courtyard through an iron gate....

but there was no escape! He was efficiently dispatched as he cowered beneath the garden's banana tree. His lifeless body was dragged across the stone to cold storage leaving evidence of his execution behind.
The villagers breathed a sigh of relief. There was mixed reaction, though, to the swift hand of justice. Women and children once again felt safe, but some questioned the need for the capital punishment meted out. The names of the marauders were not released, however you can learn their identity by clicking on this link, and read the story of the murders on Facebook at the Mazerolles City Fan Club page where you'll also find a photo of one of the terrorists!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Whimsical Window

My favorite window in Cajarc
is all decked out for Christmas.
It makes me smile every time I walk by!

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Story for Christmas

When I was preparing for my move to France, I knew that I would need a few reminders of home especially at Christmas time. I brought along my collection of santons, some of my favorite Christmas CD's and my three favorite Christmas movies..."Christmas Vacation," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and of course, "It's a Wonderful Life." I decided not to bring my favorite Christmas book, though, and packed it away in storage. I've regretted that decision every Christmas for the past 4 years! This year I did something about it...thank you, "A Redbird Christmas" arrived in yesterday's mail and I'm thrilled to have it to read Christmas day.

"A Redbird Christmas" is a sweet story by Fannie Flagg, one of my favorite storytellers. It's a little bit of magic, a little touch of romance and a whole lot of community fellowship and neighborly love. It's definitely a feel-good story and one that would be wonderful as a read-aloud bedtime ritual in the days leading up to Christmas. Your kids will love it and so will you!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sunday, November 22, 2015

From the Archives: Paris

For obvious reasons, I've been thinking a lot about Paris this past week. Thought I'd share some of my Paris memories over the next few days. I took this photo from atop the Musee d'Orsay in April 2007.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Late Bloomer

This may well be the last summer bloomer of the year. It's growing alongside the wall of my next-door neighbor's house. An unexpected pleasure as the leaves fall and the days grow shorter and darker. I think it might be an escapee from the flower seeds that Laury sowed before she left the summer of 2014. Goes to show you that you never know where seeds you scatter may take root!

I've always thought of myself as a late bloomer as well. Why else would I wait until my 60's to move to France, learn a foreign language and start writing in earnest among other things? I think being a late bloomer keeps you young, tho, don't you?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Good Morning!

The fog lifts across the river....
The birds gather to murmur 'bonjour!'

Friday, October 30, 2015

Beautiful Burano

Burano was such a visual treat!
No need to play with tones in the processing.
Vivid, jewel-box colors everywhere.
Even the alley-ways were stunning.
And it was all made better by sharing with good friends!

All photos taken 30 September, 2015 on the island of Burano in the Venice lagoon.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

TBT: Lazy Day

A lazy day in front of Trail Creek Cabin
Yellowstone Nat'l Park

Monday, October 26, 2015

Fall From My Window

I just spent a perfect fall weekend in the lovely village of Parisot at the Parisot Literary Festival. What could be better than enjoying gorgeous fall color, blue skies, and warm sun in a picturesque medieval village listening to famous authors talk about their books and their writing processes? Such creativity and dynamic passion! Kate Mosse and Helen Dunmore filled the Parisot salle des fetes with avid fans of their novels. We weren't disappointed! 150 people joined the authors for a catered dinner in Castenet for more literary and not-so-literary conversation over a lovely dinner and several glasses of wine. I came home Sunday evening exhausted, but inspired! Color my world happy and blessed.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Fish...all sizes, all varieties, all fresh. I loved the fish market!
We didn't try these...maybe next time?
Greg decided on shrimp for his first course. Here are our giant gambas being scooped up by the fish vendor.
And here's a video from Venice for to give you a taste of morning at the market.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Market Day

Produce and fish market by the Rialto Bridge
We saw so many beautiful things in Venice and visited many interesting places, but one of my favorite activities of whole trip was buying ingredients for our evening meal. We made the short vaporetto trip to the Rialto open-air market in the morning to purchase fish and vegetables for that evening. The produce was lovely....

I especially liked the clumps of little, orange, yellow. There were some even displayed  like flowers in vases...
Christiane and Greg volunteered to cook. Here's Christiane buying our vegetables for the meal...cauliflower and broccoli...while Ankie, Greg and Jean supervise. We'll visit the fish side of the market in the next blog post.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

View From the Top

St. Mark's Square, Venice
Greg and I went to the top. It was cold and windy, but the views were spectacular!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Everything by Boat

One of the hardest things to get my head around in Venice was the fact that there are no roads at all....everything moves by boat! In this case, laundry....
Store goods and wine....
Household goods and 'stuff'...
and in some instances, even sewerage!