Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Cats in France


Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

We are big cat lovers at our house, so even when we are traveling, we are on the lookout for cute cats. There was no shortage of them in France.
This stocky gray fellow on the wall was in Mireval, not too far from Montpelier, where we stayed as we explored part of Languedoc-Roussillon.

One day I explored in Mireval and found another bakery. I also found this black and white cat near the church.


This guy was giving himself a bath with a nice view of red roof tiles.

And this chunky cat safely peered out over the world from the safety of his balcony. 


Here's a cafe cat from Quillan, which is where we stayed the second half of our trip. 


This cat was laying in a courtyard in Caunes-Minervois, a place where I now know that I should have eaten at the hotel. 

And here's another cat in Caunes-Minervois, pretending he's in the jungle and that we can't see him. 
I'm sure I have more France cat pictures, but I'll save them for another day now that I'm home with  my own cats. 
Thanks so much for playing along with Dreaming of France. Please leave your link below and visit each other's blogs to share your love for France.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Dreaming of France


hank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

Surely, I must be dreaming of France to get through all of the cleaning and boxing and storing that I am doing. If France was not dangled at the end as the prize, I would never make it.

So here's a picture of me in Jardin du Luxembourg, literally dreaming in France. This was on our last morning in France. 
Maybe you already knew this, but I had never noticed before:

Some planter palm trees in the Luxembourg gardens. 
We watched an exercise class (would I ever be brave enough to join in, in Paris?) and then we sat near the pond and watched children play and people pass by.. 
It was heavenly. 

Thanks so much for playing along with Dreaming of France. Please leave your link below and visit each other's blogs to share your love for France.

Friday, July 14, 2017

FranceBookTours -- The Madeleine Project - Uncovering a Parisian Life

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Madeleine Project-Banner


Today I'm reviewing The Madeleine Project by Clara Beaudoux, which explores the life of Madeleine through the belongings she left behind in her Paris storage unit. The author moves into the apartment and when she finds that the cellar is padlocked and full of belongings, she contacts the previous owner's godson. He has no interest in the items, so the author saws through the padlock and begins itemizing on Twitter the boxes and suitcases full of memories. 
I'm at an interesting point to read this book, since I myself am going through a "cellar" full of things, letters and awards and treasures, to decide what to keep and what to discard. I wonder what a stranger would piece together about my life if she happened upon the things I've deemed worthy of keeping. 
Since the book is mostly a series of tweets, it's a very quick read, with time to pause and peruse the pictures a little closer. 
Here's an early page as the author begins to explore who Madeleine might have been.


As a person who loves France and who loves a good historical mystery, I enjoyed peeking into the life of this French woman who would have turned 100 in 2015 if she had lived that long. Madeleine never married but she traveled and had a fiance who died in 1943, according to the author's findings. 

I might have found all of this paraphernalia left behind just mildly interesting, if not for the author's own notes in the middle of the book. In the midst of documenting Madeleine's life from 70 years before, the terrorist attacks in Paris occurred, killing 130 people. The author decided to continue documenting Madeleine's life to share the beauty that she found. I think what she actually shared was the connection between all people, no matter the hurdles. When you imagine Madeleine living in Paris throughout World War II and then you picture the author living in Madeleine's apartment through another series of attacks, you can see the strand, like metal, that connects them and all of us. The author turned toward Madeleine's treasures, the mundane things in life that make it wonderful and also give us the stamina to continue in the face of evil -- one sweetly-worded letter or a hard-earned diploma or a family picture. 

This book, translated from French, is more of a graphic novel than a traditional novel, but it still runs the gamut of emotion. 
The book will not be released until September, so put it on your list for some fall reading. 
Or scroll to the bottom and enter to win a copy.

Clara Beaudoux

on Tour July 12-18 with Madeleine Project-Cover

The Madeleine Project

(biography/history) Release date: September 12, 2017 at New Vessel Press ISBN: 978-1939931498 288 pages Website Goodreads    

SYNOPSIS

A young woman moves into a Paris apartment and discovers a storage room filled with the belongings of the previous owner, a certain Madeleine who died in her late nineties, and whose treasured possessions nobody seems to want. In an audacious act of journalism driven by personal curiosity and humane tenderness, Clara Beaudoux embarks on The Madeleine Project, documenting what she finds on Twitter with text and photographs, introducing the world to an unsung 20th century figure. Along the way, she uncovers a Parisian life indelibly marked by European history. This is a graphic novel for the Twitter age, a true story that encapsulates one woman’s attempt to live a life of love and meaning together with a contemporary quest to prevent that existence from slipping into oblivion. Through it all, The Madeleine Project movingly chronicles, and allows us to reconstruct, intimate memories of a bygone era.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Madeleine Project-Beaudoux Clara Beaudoux is a Paris-based journalist for the France Info news network. The Madeleine Project has been wildly popular in France. You can follow her on Twitter at @Clarabdx In French: on Facebook, The Madeleine Project page, and the author’s main website
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Buy the book: on Indiebound | on Amazon

***

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Enter here

Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form] Global giveaway open to all 5 winners

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fears in the Dark of Night

Guys, I'm writing to you all today like a diary, a chance to pour out my fears. 
My eyes popped open suddenly last night, boring into the darkness. But the darkness was broken by flashes of lightning and a loud boom that could have been thunder or the tree at the corner that fell during the night. 
My mind didn't care which. It began racing.
What was I doing? 
Was the house really going on the market in a week? Were we going to leave behind the house we bought 10 years ago, where the children attended school, where Earl and I walked to dance class, where I trudged most days to the coffee shop with my computer bag slung over my arm so that I could tap out books that inevitably focused on my longing for France?

But while I was longing for France, did I forget to find the joy of everyday life in my little burg?

If we sell our house here, the number one school district in central Ohio, we will never be able to afford a house here again. We hope to sell the house for an amount we couldn't afford now. 
I spent some time today trying to figure out how we could keep the house even if Earl retires, and we might be able to, but we would sacrifice that other thing we've been wanting to do -- moving to France, traveling, exploring, having adventures. 

We could stay here, and I could add an extra job to the two teaching jobs I already have. I could convince Grace and Jack to move into the refinished basement where they would only need to share the kitchen upstairs. 
But that would mean giving up our dream. 
Earl would be free to write and travel and explore, but not with me because I would be working more hours. 
Perhaps if we had a place to move to then it wouldn't be so scary. We've sold houses before, but we always knew where we were moving afterwards,  had a warm home waiting for us, but not this time. 
Our plan is to stay in Ohio until December when Earl will retire, yet we have no place to move too if the house does sell. Apparently, homes are selling within hours of going on the market. That would still give us a month or so to find some place to live for the remaining three months, but the pressure has begun to build. 
And then when we go to France, we don't have a house purchased. We thought we'd rent for a few months in different places to figure out where we want to live, but our we endangering our security, our future, by not owning property?
If I share my doubts with Earl, rather than the two of us talking it out, he's quick to come down on a black or white side. "Forget it, we won't go," or, "don't be ridiculous, of course, we're going" when I just need to bounce ideas around. 
And when he tells people we are moving to France, he still says that it is my dream. I thought it was our dream now, but if it's only me then should we be going?  
On top of all the tumultuous thoughts, I fell this morning on the last step of our concrete porch, landing on my left knee and my telephone. The screen cracked on my phone. The bone under my knee, that one that kind of sticks out, is really sticking out now and has turned purple. It swelled up like a bump on someone's head. 
That just gives me an excuse to sit in a recliner and give all the confusing thoughts in my head a chance to run amok. 
Do I take the plunge, take a chance, selling the house and travel around France and other European destinations? Or should we play it safe and find a way to hold onto our little, but expensive, house?

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Twilight Paris


Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
This is one of my favorite pictures from our most recent trip to France.

My friend Leah is an artist and she tells me that I should take pictures of the things the sun is lighting up, but I keep being drawn to pictures with the sun.
The sun had dipped low in the sky, but darkness was still a long way off, so it probably wasn't technically twilight.

The pyramid and fountain outside of the Louvre. 
I'm on the home stretch of finishing all the preparations on the house. Hopefully after next week once we have the house on the market, I'll have more time to devote to blogging.

Thanks so much for playing along with Dreaming of France. Please leave your link below and visit each other's blogs to share your love for France.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Paris at Night


Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

I almost took the day off today as we're coming into the home stretch of prepping the house for sale, but I thought I could at least put up a picture, to remind you all that I'm still dreaming of France, which is why I'm getting the house for sale. Soon, I'll be free to move to France.


The golden light, the dark blue sky, the French flag.

This was a shot that I took as we walked home one night.

Thanks so much for playing along with Dreaming of France. Please leave your link below and visit each other's blogs to share your love for France.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Prepping a House for Sale

Some of you may have noticed that my blog posts have been a bit sparse recently.
That's because I have been working like a dog, actually, not like a dog, because frankly most dogs just lie around panting all day. I have been working like a short-order cook in a busy restaurant, trying to get our house ready to sell. Why? So we can  move to France next year.
I have not been in this alone; my husband is also working hard, and he has a number of jobs to do that I cannot, which leaves me to tackle things that are within my ability.
My biggest job has been painting every room in the house.
For weeks now I've been telling my friends that I'm busy painting the rooms in our house. I'm sure they are thinking, how long can that take? It's a small house.
Just let me say that it's a much more complicated process when preparing to move.
Last week, I finished our bedroom and the hallway, which completes every room.
Painting each room required multiple steps. For example, in our bedroom, the first step was winnowing belongings and packing up others. Since we moved here, I've had a lingerie chest in the corner of the room. And it held my lingerie along with running clothes and socks.
I had to get rid of some clothes in my main chest of drawers so that I could combine the belongings from the lingerie chest. I also stored winter clothes and donated a bunch of things that I don't wear regularly.
A nearby neighbor took the lingerie chest off my hands -- she paints furniture -- and I moved my chest of drawers into the other upstairs bedroom where we are shifting for the sale of the house.
The next day, I moved our bed into the new room. I did need help from my son and my husband at different points to get the bed put back together. Then, of course, I had to wash the sheets, make the bed.
But the real work came in the old room as I sorted through the boxes and storage bins that had hidden under the bed. Come on, I'm not the only one who just runs a dust mop or vacuum under the bed occasionally and then is shocked at the amount of dust under there.
Once I'd figured out where all of that stuff needed to go, then I had to clean. Sweeping with the broom first and then mopping.
The only item remaining in the bedroom was my husband's chest of drawers. I moved that into the middle of the room and figured I'd cover it while I painted. I can't move it into the other bedroom yet because there's a desk that needs to be moved out and into this room.
Exhausted, I shut the door on another day of not painting.
Each room has been equally intense, as I put away items we plan to keep and make runs to Goodwill with the things we are giving away.  Even giving things to Goodwill isn't as simple as it should be because I have to make a list of everything so that we can take it off our taxes.
In addition, I've been teaching two classes and starting next week I'll have three classes.
Spencer, who is living at home since college graduation while he saves up a  nest egg, asked last week if I was not going to go to the grocery store again until we moved.
We have all the basics, I explained. Milk, eggs, bread. "What do you want that we don't have?" I asked.
"Cream horns," he said.
You  know those quasi pastries that look like a long shell filled with cream. And it's not even good cream. Since I've come home from France, spoiled by those delicious coffee eclairs, nothing else is tempting.

A couple who used to live in the neighborhood reached out to us. They want to move back. Would we show them our house even though it wasn't ready to go on the market?
That took two full days of cleaning the main rooms so we could walk them through it. My husband and children did not appreciate my suggestions that they eat outside, but I threatened them if they took any food out of the kitchen or even thought about cooking.
The couple ended up not taking our house, but I thought I'd show you the fruits of my labors.

Some glares from the lights and windows, but you can see our Shaker-style cabinets, black granite counters and porcelain tile floors. 

Here's a view of the other side of the kitchen. 

Here's a shot of the dining room and living room. The walls have been removed between each room. 

And here's a shot straight into the light of the living room.
We fell in love with this house because of its openness and the windows. It's a Craftsman-style house built in 1924. The floors squeak and tilt a bit in the corners, but the thick trim around the windows and the moldings along the ceilings are not something we would sacrifice.
Here's our former bedroom, now turned into an office. I opened the shutters
 and I'm looking into the treetops as I write this post. 
You might be imagining that we are finished, but I have to admit that the laundry room, the basement storage room and the garage have yet to be tackled. Of course, they are the worst.
I had hoped to have the house on the market next weekend. The painter is coming to finish the trim outside.
The bathroom guy is coming to regrout our white subway tiles. Then more bathtub guys arrive on Thursday to reglaze the white cast-iron tub. Everything should be ready by next Saturday, if I just buckle down and clean some more.
Wish me luck. 

Dreaming of France -- Cats in France

Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us yo...