Sunday, June 28, 2015

Dreaming of France -- Twilight in Paris


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

I know that Woody Allen convinced everyone that Midnight in Paris is a magical time, but I think the most beautiful time is at twilight.
We went for a walk on the last evening before we flew home this spring.
The lights and the buildings are so golden and warm.
Here we are walking along the Tuileries

This sliver of moon and venus above the straight cut trees.

And here I am posing in front of the Seine with Musee d'Orsay behind me and the Eiffel Tower in the far background. But look at the warm golden color, the beautiful sky and the reflections in the river. 

Definitely magical.  
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. Please leave a comment and visit each other's blogs, too, so you can get your fix of France dreams.

Inspiration in a Letter

I got a note from my aunt.
I had sent Aunt Esther a copy of my latest book. She has read both of my previous books, and when we talked at the beginning of June, I realized that she hadn't read Trail Mix.
When I told her the book was about two women hiking the Appalachian Trail, her eyes got round behind her glasses.
"Oh, that's my thing!" she said.
So I sent her the book that week, and the following week, I got a note from her, along with a check to repay me for the book.
Aunt Esther will turn 90 this year. She is married to my mother's oldest brother, Uncle Junior, as we call him. Luther is what Aunt Esther calls him. Uncle Junior fought in World War II in Italy.
But it isn't their story of romance during wartime that inspired me in the note this weekend.
Here's what Aunt Esther wrote:
"I let time run out on my DREAM to hike the Trail."
She told me about the times she had walked on snippets of the trail, at the trail head in north Georgia, across the Blue Ridge Highway, at the top of Old Man Mountain in Vermont.
"Last we made it to the beginning of the end (or beginning of the Trail). We hiked to within an hour of the summit the Ranger told us. We came to a boulder too much for us to get over."
I felt Aunt Esther's pain of a dream that slipped away.
"But I have had several hikes on the Trail and wanted so much to do the ENTIRE HIKE."
Daggers, as she let go of her goal.
She told me she enjoyed going on the hike with the women in my book.
Then she shared another aspiration:
"My other dream was to walk the Grand Canyon. But the Old Mother Nature's Clock just went too fast."
Another reminder for me, and for everyone, that time is passing.
We can talk about someday forever, until someday is gone.
"Thank you for sharing a story that took me on my Dream Trip. I pray you will have many more travels to share"
And, there's no time like the present to get started on my dream.
The stars may be aligning to send us on that journey sooner than we'd planned.
Stay tuned!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Anniversary Follow-Up

My week seems to steamroll after Tuesday and I rarely get back to my blog.
Even now, my 8 a.m. class is breathing down my neck, reminding me to get ready, to be "on my game" for that early morning class, and other essays waiting to be graded prod me from the computer file.
But...
I wanted to tell you about a fabulous anniversary.
Earl and I decided not to do chores on Tuesday. We both had the day off. We took our laptops to a coffee shop and wrote, sharing passages with each other.
That evening, we walked to a restaurant and for a drink.

Earl had his usual gin and tonic. This restaurant fills the glass with gin and gives a side bottle of tonic. I tried a new drink, strawberry basil mojito.

Of course, it was yummy because it was sweet and fresh on the warm day.
After our drinks, we moved on to the restaurant where we had reservations. We sat at a table in the back, away from the hubbub of the crowd.
I could tell  you about the goat cheese appetizer or the crab cakes entree, but I'll skip straight to the dessert.
Creme brulee -- 3 kinds.

You might notice that this picture only has two kinds of creme brulee. That's because we'd already dug into the first one. Called a "chocolate flight," it included white chocolate, light chocolate and dark chocolate and each one had a delicious hard crust that we dug through to the thick cream below.
That night, we walked home and collapsed into a good food coma, anticipating 25 more years of marriage.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

25 Years Ago Today

Earl and I were married in front of a creek lined with tiger lilies in a holler in Kentucky, technically Daniel Boone National Forest, on paper in my parents' front yard, a blueberry farm. The weather bloomed sunny and warm as I dressed in the loft bedroom with my best friend from high school helping me as my maid of honor.
Here's a photo of our newly ringed fingers on our wedding day.
And here are our much older hands today. The rings are still intact. 
People who say marriage is easy, well good for them. I think marriage is full of ups and downs, some spectacularly joyous moments and some sad moments when you aren't sure this is going to work.
If you keep plugging along each rolls into the next and maybe you'll find yourself married to the same man 25 years later, planning ways to make life even more exciting, liked moving to France.
My hair looks pretty big here, but I clearly adore my groom. 
Still in love 25 years later, with flowers in my hair and a bouquet picked from my yard. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dreaming of France -- Hotel Breakfasts


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.

Recently on a France tourism website, I saw advice that visitors should skip the hotel breakfast.
In the small French hotels where we have stayed, I would definitely advise otherwise. Breakfast usually costs 7-8 euros, and it's definitely the right way to start a morning of sightseeing.


Sit down at one of the small rectangular tables and the server is sure to ask what you would like to drink. I always answer cafe au lait or if I'm in Paris, cafe creme. They'll bring a pitcher of coffee along with a small pitcher of steamed milk. 
Ah, see. Already better than getting a cup of coffee in a crowded cafe.


You can mix the coffee and the milk, and it equals a few cups of coffee. 
Earl asks for tea and they bring him a pitcher of tea. 
Next comes the basket of croissants and rolls, along with jam, butter and sometimes cheese.


A croissant each, a roll each and we're prepped for a day enjoying France. 
When we don't eat in the hotel, we often have trouble finding breakfast. We can easily find coffee in a cafe, but if we want a croissant or a pastry, we have to get in line at a bakery. 
Either way, that breakfast ends up costing us more for less food. 
Have you ever had a good breakfast in France? Do you eat in the hotel or find a restaurant?

Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. Please leave a comment and visit each other's blogs, too, so you can get your fix of France dreams.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday Intros -- Bluebonnets for Elly

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.
Today, I'm featuring a book by a fellow blogger, Bluebonnets for Elly by Sandra Nachlinger. I'm not usually a romance reader, but who can't use a little romance in their lives?
Here's the intro:
If I can just make it to the gate, no one will suspect.Elly pulled the yellow plastic hood over her head and tucked in a stray red curl. Her feet planted on the golf cart's floorboard, she turned the key, shifted the cart into forward, and floored the accelerator. With a look over her shoulder, she sped out of the carport and onto Bluebonnet Lane. 
Sounds like there's more excitement than romance going on here. I'm looking forward to reading it.
The author, Sandra Nachlinger, blogs at Writing With a Texas Twang. This is the first book I've read by her.

I can't wait to see what everyone else is reading.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Dreaming of France -- Versailles & Fire in Nantes Cathedral


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.
I have edited my original post because of some breaking new from France. Our friends in Nantes watched as the nearby cathedral caught fire and the roof burned off.
You can see the footage here on the BBC.
Or here's a photo capturing the flames:

Our friends' apartment is close by and we have many times posted shots of the cathedral from their windows.
 So sad to see this beautiful and history-filled cathedral in flames.

Back to my regular Dreaming of France post.
Have you visited Versailles?
It's one of those must-see sites in France, but usually it is so crowded that it isn't that enjoyable as seeing outdoor sites.
Here are a couple of interesting shots that Grace took on her recent visit to Versailles.

I love this one. The checkerboard floor leading up to the rounded stairs with the rich green walls. 


Can you imagine the coordination it takes to include the wallpaper, the bedspread, the chairs' upholstery, all in the same fabric?


More coordinated fabrics and some amazingly large paintings.
Can you picture living in one of these rooms? 
I guess most of us will never know.
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. Please leave a comment and visit each other's blogs, too, so you can get your fix of France dreams.



Saturday, June 13, 2015

Busy Family Gatherings

This week, I had a lovely visit with my parents.
So I haven't blogged all week and I'm way behind on my grading.
Still, it's nice to take a break. To just be in the moment. To laugh and remember. To take some walks. To talk about making jam, but then decide not to.
This is a good picture of us, even though my eyes are closed!
We thought they might not be able to make the trip up from Florida, which is about 1000 miles away, when Dad went into the hospital the week before. He'd been sick and Mom and the doctors thought it was from being on antibiotics which upset his digestive system. They went to the ER, he had some fluids pumped into him and he went back home.
Then that night, as he continued to be sick, he got up to go to the bathroom and nearly passed out. Mom call the ambulance and they took Dad to the hospital. He stayed for four days and in the end they realized that he had salmonella poisoning.
I know how I feel after a stomach virus, so I urged Mom to take Dad home and rest for a few days before they made the drive to Ohio. I looked up airfares and tried to convince them to fly instead.
I wasn't really surprised when I received a text from Mom that said Dad was out of the hospital, and they were driving north.
They didn't even wait a day.
Like independent teenagers, they took no advice from me.
But I was so happy to see them and spend time with them.
My brothers and me
My brother from Texas flew to Ohio so that he could be here for my mother's family reunion. She's the youngest of nine children. Five of them are still alive, with the oldest being 95.

Mom wanted all three of her children at the reunion, so we were.
Mom and Dad were here at my house on Monday when Grace flew home from Europe, so that added to the joy of the week.
Tucker made several visits to eat dinner with us while Mom and Dad were here.
Grace snuggling with her Nena.
Now, I'd better get busy grading papers. It should fill my weekend, with just one brief foray to the Columbus Art's Festival where Grace will be doing a scene with the cast of Hamlet. She plays Gertrude, Hamlet's mother. It's a stretch, but that's why she's expert at makeup.
Happy weekend to everyone.
I'm joining West Metro Mommy for this weekly meme of photos people have taken and share on their blogs.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Tuesday Intros -- Act of God

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.
I'm not sure why this little book, Act of God by Jill Ciment, appealed to me, but I hope it's good. Here's the intro:
The twins suspected it was alive, but they weren't exactly sure if it was plant or animal.
Edith, white-haired and older by seventeen minutes, went to find a flashlight while Kat,
blond with white roots, knelt to take a closer look. A small phosphorescent organism, about as bright and arresting as a firely's glow, bloomed in the seam of the hall closet. It almost looked as if someone had chewed a piece of iridescence and stuck it, like gum, on the wall. But it wasn't inanimate like gum; its surface was roiling as if something beneath were struggling to be born. Kat tried to call Edith back to be assured that she wasn't imagining things, but Kat was struck dumb. A swell rose out of the glow until the head of whatever was fighting to get born pushed through, a fleshy bud, about the size of a newborn's thumb. Kat gasped. Her breath must have disturbed the new life, or awakened it, because a puff of spores sprayed out, luminous and ephemeral as glitter. The closet housed their mother's archives, the original letters from her advice column, the earliest dating back to the nineteen fifties, when Consultations with Dr. Mimi was first syndicated. All they needed was for spores to land on one of the file boxes and start feasting on the invaluable old papers inside. 
I look forward to seeing what everyone else is reading.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Dreaming of France -- A Step Toward France


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.

Last week, I had an epiphany. I teach English at American universities. I could probably teach English at French universities.
I talked it over with Earl, and he said I should give it a shot. If I got a job in France, he'd continue with his job here so that the whole family could have health insurance and we could get the boys through college.
So I set to work creating a resume and cover letter in French, or as the French call it, a CV and lettre de motivation.
Luckily, I had some friends to turn to for help. Delana, who is American and moved to Aix en Provence about five years ago, sent me copies of her French resume and letter. I was able to follow the format to create my own.
Then I called on Linda from Frenchless in France, and she asked her husband Maurice to proofread the letter and resume. He helped change the format some and corrected my abysmal French mistakes.
Before you knew it, I was at the post office, paying $26 to mail my letter to France. I've applied for three university jobs to teach English. Who knows if anything will come of it, but it gives me a few weeks of hope.
Here's a smidgen of my French CV:
Objectif 
Enseigner l’anglais dans une université française. Ma langue maternelle est l'anglais et j'ai une connaissance de base du français.
If I'm writing my blog from France in September, you'll know that I got a job. 
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. Please leave a comment and visit each other's blogs, too, so you can get your fix of France dreams.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Raising Sons to Adulthood

My sons are 19 and 21 years old now, and more and more, I realize that raising them to adulthood is mostly a matter of luck.
When they were little, I could force them into bike helmets, car seats, knee pads for roller blading, shin guards for soccer. I could control where they went and who they hung out with.
But as they hit their teen years, I had to loosen my control. In spite of my warnings, they discovered alcohol and marijuana; girls and driving fast.
I've become even more aware of the fragility of teenagers' lives as two boys in our local community have died in the past two weeks.
We live in a small town that is surrounded by the larger municipality of Columbus. We feel safe here. The neighbor across the street, who moved from Miami, Florida, realized she needed to let her 5-year-old ride his scooter around the block, like his friends did. Kids have more freedom here. It's the kind of city where people watch out for each other and each other's kids. If you could go back to the 1950s, it would look a lot like our community. The schools are small, but the highest ranking in central Ohio. Each school grade has between 90-100 kids in it. So we all know each other, or know of each other, which is what makes it so much more difficult when someone dies.
In May, one of my boys' former classmates died of a car accident, on a dark road in the middle of the night. Not wearing a seatbelt, he was thrown from the car and died instantly. I wrote about it then.
Yesterday, we learned that a boy who just graduated from high school last week, a  year younger than Tucker, died in a nearby quarry.
Spencer has always gone to the quarry to swim. We have warned him and warned him, but we couldn't actually stop him. He has always been a strong swimmer and was on the swim team for several years, but we knew that if one of  his friends got in trouble in that bottomless pit of a swimming hole, Spencer would try to help even if he risked his own life.
These boys were  not swimming. They were walking with fishing poles when one boy fell off a cliff and landed about 90-feet below.
I'm not known for being especially empathetic, but I can't stand to think how scared the boy must have been when he fell. The newspaper says he died at the hospital, so he must have survived the fall.
I also picture the two boys he was with and imagine they are lucky that they didn't make a dive to try to save him. I can't know the fear they felt as they called for help -- police, parents. I don't know.
But I can look at my boys when they breeze in or out of the house, so confident that they're indestructible, and know that we're lucky to have them and troubles they run into.

Tuesday Intros -- Missoula

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.
Mostly, I read fiction, but I've always loved Jon Krakauer's gritty journalism-type writing in Into Thin Air and Under the Banner of Heaven, so when I heard about his latest book, Missoula Rape and the
Justice System in a College Town, I figured I should read it. I also have a book idea that I'm playing with that has to do with rape, well a woman who decides to make a difference in the world by eradicating rape, so reading Krakauer's book is like doing research
Here's the intro:
Office Solutions & Services, a Missoula office-products company, didn't have its 2011 Christmas party until January 6, 2012. As a counterpoint to the chilly Montana evening, the staff decorated the place in a Hawaiian motif. Around 9:00 p.m., thirty or forty people -- employees and their families, mostly -- were chatting, playing party games, and sipping beverages from red plastic cups in a room overlooking the parking lot when a shiny Chrysler 300 sedan pulled up and rolled to a stop in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows, attracting the attention of the revelers. Two well-dressed men with dour expressions got out of the vehicle and stood beside it. "It was a really nice black car," recalls Kevin Huguet, the owner of Office Solutions. 
 I look forward to seeing what everyone else is reading.

The Pont du Gard

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...