Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saturday Snapshot -- College Paradise

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme, post a photo that you (or a friend of family member) have taken. Then leave a direct link to your post on West Metro Mommy. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.
I keep saying that my life is going to slow down and I'm going to have more time to devote to blogging. That's not happening so far, but maybe soon since my second son is safely delivered to college in Florida.
Here's a picture of the two of us sitting on the deck of The Hurricane restaurant on St. Petersburg Beach. It's become a tradition now for us to have lunch at The Hurricane before dropping him off for a year on his own.
Even though he towers a foot taller than me, I still feel that twang in my belly when we drive away from campus knowing I won't see him again for at least three months.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wolf Wood Review

Welcome to another France Book Tour review. This one is Wolf Wood Part One by Mike Dixon. The book is set in Medieval England while at war with France, so part of the story takes place in France.
Here's the synopsis from the author:
(Some violence, family and political intrigue, quite a lot of romance, some sex but never explicit.)
In 1436 a dispute arose between the people of Sherborne and their abbot over the ownership of a baptismal font.  Before it was settled, the abbey was burnt down and a bishop murdered.  Some saw the hand of evil at work and blamed a newcomer to the town, accusing her of being a witch.  Others saw her as a saint.  Wolf Wood is set in the turbulent years of the late middle ages.  The old feudal aristocracy is losing control, a new middle class is flexing its muscles, the authority of the church is being questioned, law and order have broken down and England is facing defeat in France.  Wolf Wood is a work of fiction based on actual events.
I enjoyed the writing in this story and it pulled me back to keep reading. Some of the characters were likable and others were deplorable, as they should be. The history in the book seemed very well-researched with lots of details that put the reader back in the middle ages. Of course, it doesn't matter how authentic the details are if the story isn't interesting. And the stories of the people's lives was interesting, although the main story of the baptismal font seemed a little vague to me.
The most likable character iss Alice. She comes to Sherbourne as the matron of the almshouse and the nearby Bishop immediately becomes suspicious of her because she uses herbs and plants to help heal people, silly things like recommending prunes for constipation, that obviously brand her a witch. 
Another likable character is Sir Harald, the oldest brother in a noble family, but he prefers books and learning rather than war, like his father and younger brother. We meet Harald as he is fighting a paternity dispute. His widow's family claim that Harald's son was actually fathered by Harald's brother, Guy. The widow's family hopes to get their property back if the son is a bastard.
An interesting thing about this book was that if focused quite a bit on different classes, rather than only on the noble class. 
A drawback of this book is the number of characters, especially while reading on my Kindle. It made it difficult to keep everyone straight. I can't tell you the number of Williams and Richards, and I wondered if the author couldn't have changed the names just to help out the reader.
I also hesitate to read books with numbers after the title, like part one or part two. I hate to make the commitment "to be continued" endings. This one did have a solid ending, so I wasn't left unhappy. 
Taken overall, the book was an interesting slice of life in the middle ages. I can assure you, after reading this, that I would not have wanted to live during those times, but I enjoyed exploring the people and living conditions of the time.

PURCHASING INFORMATION
On the author's website: http://mikejkdixon.com

Author's bio:
"I was born in Sherborne (Dorset) and attended school there and (as an exchange student) in the Medoc region of France.  I studied physics at Oxford and received a PhD degree in astrophysics from the University of Cambridge.  Following teaching and research appointments in South Africa, Scotland and Australia, I joined the Australian Government Service and worked, for a while, as a ministerial assistant.  I entered the tourist industry through public relations and scuba diving and established one of Australia's first backpacker resorts.  I have a keen interest in medieval history and I am a frequent visitor to Britain and France.
"As a boy, growing up in Sherborne, I heard about the famous fire of Sherborne Abbey and was told that a priest shot a flaming arrow into the tower and set the building on fire.  The marks of the fire are visible today, over five hundred years later.  And there is a lot more to tell us what happened.
"There was an inquiry into the dispute that led to the fire and the surviving documents tell of a bitter feud between the abbot and the townspeople.  It's highly dramatic stuff and it inspired me to write my Wolf Wood novels.
"My books are fiction.  Some of the characters are based on real people; others are entirely imaginary.  I have done my best to be faithful to the main course of historical events and fill in the gaps with the sort of things that could have happened to my characters."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- The Gods of Heavenly Punishment

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading
This week I've started The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein. The publisher sent me the book free in return for a fair review, which I'll publish on Sept. 11.
Here's the intro:
Photo from Amazon
Hamburg, New York
May 1935
The climb felt almost arduous, the engine juddering and restarting four times during the creaking ascent up. But when they reached the top it was worth it, as it had always been worth it: they were so far above the ground that the poor, patched and battered world seemed as small and harmless as a toy train set.
So far, I think the writing is really beautiful.

Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Open to a random page of your current read h and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.
Here's a teaser from page 43:
You should feel lucky, her mother had whispered during their initial omiae meeting, a year after Andrew's departure. By that point they'd met with a half-dozen candidates, all of whom (the matchmaker regretfully informed them afterwards) politely  declined a second meeting. But Kenji -- an Osaka builder with working-class origins and a staunch determination to grow beyond them -- had clearly been enamored from the start; watching her sip her tea and light her cigarette and use her fork and knife, all with the same sort of fascination a child watches a paper lantern show. For most of the meeting he'd seemed too shy to address her. But as they paid the bill he finally mustered the courage: hadn't she found living amid all those Westerners dirty, and a little smelly? Or had she just gotten used to it after a few years?

What do you think?

Monday, August 26, 2013

My Novel Free Today

Summer is almost over, so here's one last opportunity to download my novel free on Amazon today. Hope you'll tell your friends.
The Summer of France is free today on Kindle. Here's the link to Amazon in the U.S. or Amazon in the UK. Of course, whatever Amazon you use, it should be free there too.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Dreaming of France -- Cannes Beach circa 1983

Please join 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.
Maybe we can all satisfy our yearnings for France, until we get there again
I have only visited France two times in August. And the first time I went, the camera I had was one of those little square instamatics. The photos are not stellar, but still I thought you'd enjoy seeing how crowded the beach was in Cannes on this long ago day in 1983.

The cluster of clothed people in the middle was the student tour I was on. They spread lunch on a mat there and we all descended like vultures.
If you enlarge the photo, you can see the more scantily clad French people.
I'd even brave the crowds if I could return to France this summer.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Another Book for Francophiles -- Like Me

I really enjoyed the book The French for Love by Fiona Valpy. I read it all in one day rather than grading papers or preparing for classes or doing laundry for my son who goes back to college next week.
 Gina, the main character, lives in the UK and is in her late 20s. Major life changes in the past year spin her into a whirlwind. Her father died, her favorite aunt who lived in France died, her live-in boyfriend left her for another woman, and she lost her job as a wine purchaser for a small wine shop.
When her aunt leaves the French house to Gina, she decides to move to France. Well, the word "love" is in the title, so you can guess that there is a hunky Frenchman involved. But the book goes deeper than that too as she learns a secret about her aunt and has to choose between love and career.
Since the main character knows a lot about wine, I found myself longing for a glass of wine throughout the book. I wanted to join in.
I like that the main character is strong, and parts of the book remind me of a Victorian novel in that many of the confusions come from simply not talking about the problem.  
I'd probably give this book a 4.5 out of 5.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

New College, New Fears

My week has only gotten busier with the start of a new semester and the end of another one. But I wanted to post briefly about Grace's departure to a new college.
Grace has a hard time with change. She always has. And it doesn't matter that she can take along her favorite things, she still hates it at the beginning. So we just have to persevere until she gets to a comfortable place.
The good news is, her new college is only about 20 minutes away. Her old college, if you'll recall, was 10 hours away. To mean, 20 minutes seems much less dire, but for a girl who hates change, she feels the despair that she will never sleep in her own bed again.
We moved her in Wednesday morning with stops for coffee and for her paycheck and at the bank to deposit her paycheck. Earl drove a little pickup truck with Grace's belongings -- small refrigerator, bicycle, bins with clothes --and met us at the dorm.
In her dorm room, third floor, the bed was lofted so the desk and dresser could fit underneath. Grace wanted the bed lowered so Earl wrestled with that. We were all sweating in the tiny heat box of a room.
And then, as sheets were put on the bed and clothes folded into drawers, I had to leave because a new semester of classes began Wednesday, and I had to teach at 12:30. So I gave Grace a hug and kiss then I left to get to class.
I feel so fortunate that she is close enough that I could help drop her off before I had to scoot away.
And, this is very strange, I didn't get any pictures of Grace's room or Grace. I also didn't get any pictures of the three kids together during our family night.
I asked Grace to send a photo and she sent this picture or her room. We forgot to take her posters, obviously.
I replied that I wanted a picture of her, so here's her self portrait.

I guess the jury is still out on this new college. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dreaming of France -- Country Homes

Please join 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.
Maybe we can all satisfy our yearnings for France, until we get there again
This is the time of year when the French leave the city and head to the country or the beach or the mountains.
In August about 25 years ago, I spent a month in a family home near Bourges, France.
It looks like Bourges is in the exact center of France, doesn't it? Bourges is known for a special candy called Forestines. I recall it as a kind of hard candy with a melty, chocolate center.
Once Earl and I were driving in France and meeting our friends at the train station in Bourges. We would follow them to the country house from the station. The word for train station in French is "la gare." As we searched for the station in Bourges, I asked several people, in French, where the train station was. But I said it like this, "Ou est la guerre?" That means where is the war rather than where is the train station.
The family house apparently was given to our friend's family during the time of Napoleon. The Americans used it as a base during World War II. And our friends with their extended family gather there every year.
It gives me a warm feeling just thinking of the big rooms with the tile floors and oversized, shabby rugs. French doors lead out to the yard, and our friends had their wedding there.

I've visited three times.
Once as an au pair.
The girls on either end were in my care. The girl on my lap and
 the blonde  next to me were the children of our French friends.
Earl and I visited on our first trip to Europe.
Here I am dreaming of a family  home of my own in France.

Here's Earl luring the cows to the fence. The family home has sheep and chickens too. 
And we traveled there again with all three kids when they were ages 2, 4 and 6.
I can't find photos from that trip, but I know Grace was in love with the sheep and the shutters that we could throw open.
Have you ever visited a country home in France? What's your favorite place away from the cities of France?

Busy End of Summer

I've fallen off the blogging wagon here toward the end of summer. Getting kids ready to go back to college, preparing four new classes for the fall, and sheer laziness have overtaken me.
I spent all day Saturday revising an online class.
Today, I'm creating a new online class. No rush. The semester doesn't start until Wednesday!
I always debate the teaching banner I use at this time of year now that the semester is 16 weeks long. Do I use one for winter or do I use one that fits the warm weather we have now.


Maybe I need to create one for the autumn, or ask the teaching tech support team to do it.

I have two more weeks of a class that is driving me crazy. It is a developmental English class, which means the students aren't quite ready for college English. This class is three different levels all in one. Some of the students are pretty good at writing and reading, while others can't really write a complete sentence. I know I didn't make the situation, but I feel like I've been fairly incompetent at the whole thing. Three levels in one class do not work -- at least for me.
Earl and me posing with Grace
after her last performance of Emma. 
Grace has been sick for about three weeks, since she performed in Emma. We kept thinking she had allergies and urged her to take a daily allergy medicine. Finally this week, she went to the doctor and learned she had bronchitis.
Ooops. Bad parenting moment.
She leaves on Wednesday for college, but we don't have to drive 10 hours to get there since she is going to school closer to home this year. I'm excited for her and she's a little nervous about joining a new environment.
I hardly have any photos of Spencer.
Here he is waiting for the doctor this week.
Spencer has a few more weeks yet. Earl will drive him to Florida at the end of the month, still we've been doing the necessary doctor appointments, back to school shopping, book purchasing for him too.
Last Sunday we got as close as we'll get to a vacation this summer with a drive down to my cousin's house in Kentucky. We grilled out and hung by the pool enjoying their company.


My boys enjoying the pool before they went hiking into the woods.
So as my family and I prepare for school or moving to far away dorms, I wanted to leave you with this shot of Grace. I think it's an analogy for the way I feel at the end of a summer.

Grace, in the midst of her summer of working plus performing in two plays,
collapses on the grass in hope the cat will join her. 
Hope the end of your summer goes smoothly.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Excuses

I've used a lot of excuses over the year to avoid a run. 
It's too hot; it's too cold. 
Too rainy, too humid, too dark, too late in the morning.
My feet hurt, my knees hurt.
My kids' friends might see me on their way to school.
But this is the first time that I've used my hair as an excuse.
I got my hair cut yesterday and the stylist straightened if for me. My hair is so long straight and it looks fabulous. I couldn't risk running, getting sweaty and making my hair curl again. So, no running for me today.
My hair looks too good.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Last, First Day of High School

Tucker's a senior and started his last year of high school today.
Yes, it seems early, but the school district made changes last  year so the students begin school early enough to finish finals before the Christmas break. They used to return to school after Christmas for a week then take finals. Obviously, some of the information was lost during the two-week Christmas break. So now they start in mid August and finish school in mid May.
Tucker was in a good mood this morning, until I asked him to pose for a picture on the back porch.
"OMG!"
Luckily, his belligerent attitude helped make it a little easier to see him lope off to his final day of school.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- Wolf Wood

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading. 
This week I started Wolf Wood by Mike Dixon, a new book for France Book Tours. I'll be reviewing it at the end of August. The book is about a dispute between the abbot and the townspeople of Sherbourne over a baptismal font. Apparently, the custom was that people had to pay for baptism. From the cover and the title, I didn't think I'd like this book, but the writing is good and the medieval story is pulling me in. Here's the intro:
Easter Sunday 1446
Alice walked up the cobbled path towards the abbey. The old building was undergoing renovation and the scaffolding had recently been removed from the south side of the tower. The work was being undertaken at the huge expense to the parish and was a major cause of friction between the abbot and the local people. On that chilly April morning, the new stonework shone brightly in the crisp light of a cloudless day. 
Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Open to a random page of your current read h and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

Here's a teaser from 16% on my Kindle: 
Robin sank down on his haunches. It was a trick he'd learnt from Guy. Let them think you were a useless whimpering kid. It wouldn't enter their stupid heads that you were out to maim them.  

I'll let you know what I think of this one on Aug. 29.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Dreaming of France -- Bonjour 40




Please join 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.
Maybe we can all satisfy our yearnings for France, until we get there again
.

This year, I lucked into a number of books set in France, both novels and memoirs. This week, I finished Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log by Karen A. Chase. Chase traveled to Paris to celebrate her 40th birthday and spent nearly 40 days in Paris with her boyfriend meeting her over there toward the end of her trip. She kept a travel blog and turned it into a book.
I'm not a short story reader, so maybe I'm not the typical reader for this book. I enjoyed some of the short posts, but I needed more meat to the story. I thought this book could instead make a great calendar with insights for every day.
Even though the book was short, 132 pages in paperback, it took me quite a while to finish it. Nothing dragged me back to it. I read it on my Kindle so I would turn to it in my spare moments.
Toward the end I found some really lovely writing as Chase described moments of light and love in Paris.
The first was while we were bicycling along the Seine near the Grand Palais, our tires crunching through the gravel. The mid-afternoon sun was dappling through the thick canvas of leaves overhead, falling randomly onto the dusty path ahead of us. Ted and I rode on opposite sides of a long row of chestnut trees, seeing each other in between the darkened trunks, like a movie-reel slowed so you could see every photo-perfect frame.
This memoir may interest you if you want some small bites of one person's trip to Paris.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Saturday Snapshot -- Babies

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme, post a photo that you (or a friend of family member) have taken. Then leave a direct link to your post on West Metro Mommy. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.
Our life has been blessed with babies recently. Some we get to see frequently, others not so much.
In June, we got to meet my nephew's baby. They live in Texas and Oliver was 10 months old when we met him.
That's my 19-year-old son hanging out with Oliver. He has surprised me, and himself, by enjoying the babies this summer. 
Spencer's favorite baby is Grant, Earl's niece's baby.
Grant stayed with us on two different days in July. He was 6 months old at the time. He's happy pretty much all the time.
Spencer says he loves Grant because he has a big head and makes funny expressions. He also has huge chunky thighs. He's so squeezable.
People always say babies are beautiful, but most babies aren't beautiful -- they're adorable and lovable and cuddly, but one of the babies we love is beautiful.
Regan, Earl's goddaughter, baby of his niece, just turned a year old. She came out with the most beautiful skin. 
Here she is with me, getting a photo taken by her 3-year-old sister.


Then here is Regan again celebrating her grandma's birthday.
Hope you have something as wonderful as babies in your world today. 

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Grumpitude

You ever have those weeks where you're just grumpy with people?
I may be having one of those months... or years.
Maybe I could blame it on impending menopause. I hear that makes women grumpy. But I don't want to cop out. Even if I have raging hormones, I'm going to be responsible for my actions -- emails and telephone calls.
I could blame it on the college bills. If you don't live in the United States, you may not be aware of the cost of college. For most state schools, the bill is around $20,000 per year if a kid lives on campus.
My kids both go to private schools, but they provide grants and financial aid to get the cost down to about $20,000 each. That means $40,000 per year with two kids in school. That is bound to make anyone grumpy, right?
I was pretty grumpy here, but because I  needed
chocolate, not because of menopause or college bills.
Actually, being grumpy has helped some.
I appealed to one of the kids' colleges for more financial aid and the director responded that we should see how much we could get in parent loans first. I didn't even think about it so that I could write a measured response to her. I just fired back that of course, we could take out thousands of dollars in parent loans, but we weren't really willing to do that, and then I threatened that we really hoped our kid could continue to attend her college.
I didn't hear from her for 6 days and I felt pretty sheepish about my snippy (bitchy?) attitude.
Today, she emailed that we had an extra $1500 grant. See, $1500 for a college isn't that much. $1500 for us off a kid's college bill is huge.
So I got serious about our budget and looked for places to cut monthly costs. I decided we are spending too much on internet and cable TV services. I hate to change my email address, so I called Time Warner to see how much it would cost for Internet only. I hoped they might give us a better deal on internet and TV so I wouldn't have to deal with changing it. But I got sidetracked by a woman who said I couldn't change my service because I was in a contract with Time Warner.
"Wait!" I said. "My contract ended in March."
"But we sent you a letter and if you didn't reply then you entered into another contract," the woman said.
"I'm pretty sure that's not a binding contract," I said. "You can't have the opt-out or you enter a new contract."
And that was pretty much the end of me getting anything accomplished. I asked for a manager. I was shuffled from place to place. I made a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General's office to make sure others didn't get caught in the non opt-out contract.
But I never got my internet and cable TV bill lowered. I kind of backed myself into a corner where all I can do now is switch everything to another company.
Again, by the end of the day, I felt kind of bitchy.
Yesterday, before the humidity got too bad, I ran 6 miles. That helped me blow off some steam. Today, I only went 3 miles.
So far today, I haven't been mean to anyone, but I still have to go teach tonight. I'll try to shove the grump monster back in its place.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- The Good Woman

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.

After filling out forms for Parent Plus loans for college yesterday, I dived right into some escapist readingThe Good Woman by Jane Porter is playing the role well.
.
Here's the intro:
He was good.
Meg Roberts stood in the open doors of the Dark Horse Winery's tasting room and watched her boss, Chad Hallahan, co-owner of the Napa winery and VP of sales and marketing, work his magic on the women clustered around him. There were quite a few clustered around, too. But when weren't there?
Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Open to a random page of your current read h and share a teaser sentence from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers. 
This teaser sounds so familiar for anyone who is a mother. Here's my teaser from page 43:
Even on her rare girls' night out with friends in Santa Rosa, she found herself glancing at her watch and making mental lists of all the things she should be doing instead of sitting with friends chatting over a glass of wine. Laundry. Grocery shopping. Returning calls. Reconciling the checking account. But nowhere on her to-do list was anything to make her laugh or relax or just have fun.

Back to reading and relaxing for a little while longer.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Dreaming of France -- Paris by Edward Rutherfurd


Please join 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.
Maybe we can all satisfy our yearnings for France, until we get there again.

I really enjoyed this novel Paris by Edward Rutherfurd. I'm not one to read straight history. I need a hook, and Rutherfurd gave me one. He entwined the stories of several families throughout the history of Paris to share major events of the city and the country of France. Some might even imagine the book a soap opera in the tradition of Dallas or Dynasty. The main focus of the book began in 1875 and continued through the 1960s. But other chapters jumped back further in history to 1261 then 1307.
I'm hoping that Rutherfurd did his research because I'm taking his word for it. I learned a lot, like why Jewish families became bankers or money lenders, since the Bible said Christians shouldn't lend money. I could picture Paris from its early incarnation with the city wall that slowly expanded. I saw the kinds of fears my Huguenot relatives must have faced living in France, wondering if they would be rounded up and forced to become Catholic or killed. I loved envisioning the construction of Sacre Coeur high up on the hills of Montmartre and even more the engineering marvel that was the Eiffel Tower. I pictured the optimistic French soldiers marching off to war during World War I in their bright blue and red uniforms before they realized that their plans for war were antiquated and they were out-gunned. The same thing happened again in World War II as if the leaders never learned from their mistakes. Throughout history, the human drama of the families kept me interested.
The book is long, 805 pages. But it's an entertaining ride.
Here's a passage of dialogue from the 1500s discussing the wedding of Catherine de Medicis daughter to Henry King of Navarre, who will become king of France.
"You have heard of the great Machiavelli, I am sure."
"Who has not? An evil man."
"He merely described the ruthless cunning, the cold calculation, the poisonings and murders that he saw all around him among the rulers of Italy -- the Florence of the Medicis in particular. our queen mother will act exactly like that."
"And so this wedding...?"
"Is a diabolical trap. Think of it. Coligny is here. Almost every leading Protestant in France has come into Paris for this wedding, along with their followers. What a chance."
"I don't understand."
"She's going to kill them all. She and the Guises."
"But there are hundreds of them."
"Thousands. It's most convenient."
Some parts of the book obviously were sad to read, but the families Rutherfurd created have hope each generation.
Rutherfurd also has an inside joke with a wink at the movie Midnight in Paris. During a scene with Hemingway and his wife Hadley, they encouraged a young American writer to stay in Paris longer.
"Don't go disappearing on us, like Gil," said Hadley.
"Who's Gil?" asked Claire.
"Oh, he was a nice young American that we all thought had promise," said Hadley. "And then suddenly he wasn't there anymore. Disappeared without a word."
 I'm not sure if Rutherfurd was correcting the record, since Hemingway's wife didn't appear in the movie and according to The New York Times, Hemingway was married and living with his wife in Paris in 1922.
If you love Paris and a good soap opera and want to learn some history, this novel is an interesting read.
This also fulfills one of my books for the France reading challenge at Words and Peace.
Thanks for joining in this week. I can't wait to see what you are sharing.

Gray versus Black

At Christmastime, I came up with a brilliant idea.
I always buy underwear and put it in the kids' Christmas stockings so they have plenty to last throughout the year. As I was shopping, I decided that I could solve a laundry dilemma -- figuring out which pairs of underwear belonged to Spencer and which to Tucker.
Both teenagers, they wear the same size and same style. They like the knit boxer briefs. So I decided to buy all black briefs for one son and all gray briefs for the other son.
I remember as they looked at their Christmas stockings that I pointed out they had been assigned a specific color.
Black for Spencer and gray for Tucker.
Or maybe it was gray for Spencer and black for Tucker.
You see, that's the problem now as I do the laundry. I know that each boy has a specific color, but I have no idea which boy gets which color.
Here I am in August still puzzling over this quandry. So much for my brilliant idea.
Maybe I'll ask the cat if he remembers. He seems to
 have explored the Christmas packages pretty well. 

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Saturday Snapshot -- Student Success

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme, post a photo that you (or a friend of family member) have taken. Then leave a direct link to your post on West Metro Mommy. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.
For me, as an adjunct college professor, the hours are long and the rewards are few.
Lucky for me, I have a husband with a good job and health insurance. So the work as an adjunct means a paycheck to help send my kids to college. Lately, things have taken a turn for worse. We used to be able to teach 15 hours per semester then work as tutors up to 15 hours more. That gave me a nice paycheck.
Blaming the new health care laws, the college is now restricting those hours to 11 teaching hours and no tutoring hours. And, they are counting the teaching hours as double -- 22 hours, even though they are paying us for 11 hours. They say they have to limit part-time workers to a total of 22 hours instead of 30.
Obviously, my salary this year is dropping, but my kids' college payments are going up. I feel like a fraud standing in front of my classes and telling them that education will help them make it in the world. I have a master's degree and I'm still getting the shaft from the system.
But this morning, I got an email from a former student that boosted my spirits a bit. She sent along a photo too.
Nubia was in my English composition class last fall. One of the assignments was to write a paper analyzing an athletic ad. Nubia chose an ad with a stationary bicycle that has a computer screen attached to help the riders envision bicycling in California or the south of France. The next paper, Nubia had to choose a new career or hobby to write about. She decided to investigate what it would take to complete a triathalon. And this photo shows me that she did just that. 
I told you that  I was going to send you the pictures of me at the end of the triathlon.
I did it. I had fun and Im very proud of myself. It is funny but everything started with the paper from your class :)
 So this morning, I'm feeling better about being a teacher. I may not be able to pay my kids' college bills, but that's what parent loans are for. And for some students, I do help change their lives.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Giveaway Winner

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway in honor of Paris in July. I had 118 entries and Rafflecopter randomly chose the winner Femto Femto.
The giveaway also helped me climb to 118 followers on my blog and 73 likes on my Facebook author page.

Dreaming of France -- Leaving Our Kids Behind (A Very Personal Post)

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...