Sunday, October 22, 2017

Dreaming of France: That Part of the Novel Where the Heroine Sees Her Dreams Going Up in Smoke


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.
Was it less than two weeks ago that I joyously made our plane reservations for THE TRIP to France? The trip that would change our lives? The one where we packed all of our belongings in a few bags and moved to start a new life?
I carefully picked out a 4-star hotel in Paris where we would spend a few nights before journeying into the countryside to begin our first housesitting job.
And in the span of a fortnight, those plans have crumbled like so much blue cheese.
Our house fell out of contract on Friday because the buyers could not get their financing.
We urged the real estate agent to get the house back on the market, even though she had told us before that people plan their weekend house viewing on Thursdays. We were a day behind, but we needed to get out there.
I had run six miles that morning, reaching my daily step goal by 8 in the morning, but after work, I never sat down. I came home and headed straight into the backyard to pull dying plants from the dirt and to rip the morning glories from the trellis where they had flourished all summer before beginning to wither. I knew how they felt.
I swept walkways and cut back ivy that had grown toward the sidewalk. My steps reached over 30,000 that day as I madly tried to outrace my worries.
Would we be able to move to France? What about our appointment in Chicago to meet with the French consulate? Would Earl have to continue working rather than retire so we could pay our mortgage?
When he came home, we began to talk of a shorter trip to France where Earl would return home after three weeks while I stayed in France to meet our housesitting commitments.
The concerns whirred in my brain as I made a family dinner that night, drowning my sorrows in a few glasses of port and sharing the stories of how we first came to drink "porto" as they call it in France when my friend Delana and her then-boyfriend Patrick recommended it as an aperitif. I loved the sweet tanginess of it.

I don't recommend turning to alcohol to drown sorrows, but felt I had definitely earned it with my 30,000 steps and the view of my France dreams in a downward spiral.
We'd have to cancel Christmas plans in Florida with my parents if Earl didn't retire. He'd need to work the days between Christmas and New Year. How would Earl get to Florida for our flight? Should we change it? 
Should we cancel our appointment for a long-stay visa if we weren't going to be able to move?
I ran six miles again the next morning before my final Saturday morning class --  or was it? Would I be teaching in Columbus again in 2018 if we didn't move to France?
When I returned from class, I found Spencer sitting on the couch holding a heating pad to his ear. A sore throat and blossomed into an ear infection. 
A notification arrived on my phone. A showing on Sunday at 1 p.m. Ok, 24 hours to get the place shipshape.
Then at 2, another notification - approval requested for a 4:15 showing.
4:15? Two hours away. 
Spencer thrashed on the couch, fever making his eyes glaze. "Please tell them I'm sick. Just let me sleep?" he begged. 
I pointed out that he needed to do nothing but stumble over to the neighbors where he could continue to lie on the couch -- she's a good neighbor. 
Earl and I work feverishly to get the house in showing shape. 
A second showing that afternoon, at 4:30, flashed onto our phones. Glad we hadn't turned down the earlier appoint, we hung white towels, shook out a white comforter, straightened fresh flowers, and lit a candle in a freshly carved jack o' lantern on the front porch. With a sprinkle of peppermint and rosemary essential oils on the light bulbs, we abandoned the house and crossed our fingers. 


Two more showings loomed on Sunday.  
I raced to the garden store and bought some purple and orange pansies. Earl carved two more jack o' lanterns. I mowed the backyard and meticulously staged the house again before we deserted the house for the afternoon. 
We visited my brother about an hour and a half away, forgetting about our troubles and hoping for the best. Around 7, we returned home, and just minutes ago got an email with an offer on the house. 
So, this is that part of the novel where the heroine sees the sun rising and realizes she can't give up on her dream. That's me tonight, and by tomorrow, I could be in contract again. 
Thanks for your well wishes, your good karma, your prayers. 
I'm not giving up. Here's the song I've been singing all day:


Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. I hope you'll visit each other's blogs and leave comments. Also post your blog info in the Linky below.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Plot Thickens

Every good novels has twists, turns and setbacks, but this isn't a novel -- it's my life.
Nevertheless, we received a setback on Monday when the realtor called to say the VA appraisal did not reach the purchase price of the house.
We live in a small house in a community that is suddenly the place everyone in Columbus wants to live.
Our small Craftsman-style house as seen on my 50th birthday
It's a pretty amazing place to live, as I've opined before, with restaurants, coffee shops and little boutiques all within walking distance. The school is small with about 1000 students throughout all 12 grades, and it wins awards each year when the state judges the best school districts. We also avoid using buses because everything is within walking distance. And, it feels a bit like a 1950's community, where women feel safe to walk or run alone even when it's dark, and doors are frequently left unlocked as children roam the neighborhoods after school.
The annual bike race and marathon both run through our town.
Our asking price is about $50,000 more than the county auditor's estimate of our house, but the county auditor price usually is less than the appraised value of the house when selling.
The people buying our home are using a VA loan because he is a veteran. VA loans are harder to pass.
What we didn't know is that the couple, moving from Texas to Ohio, plan to put no money down. That means the loan has to be approved for the entire price of the house.
Our real estate agent  has until today to convince the appraiser and the bank that it is worth the asking price.
"The buyers still want it," she told me on the phone. "They're willing to rent or do a land contract."
At first, I pondered that idea. They could put $10,000 down and rent for the year. Then if they couldn't follow through we could put the house back on the market. That's before I found out they planned to put no money down on the house.
As a wise man in my house said, "This isn't a Volvo. Why are you expecting to buy with no money down?"
If they don't have the $10,000 to put down on the house, then they wouldn't have $10,000 earnest money to give us.
That's when I decided to push the issue.
I texted the real estate agent and said we'd have the house ready to put back on the market on Thursday, right after the new furnace is installed. (That's another twist for another day).
I told her that if the buyers are in love with the house and want to buy it then they are going to need to come up with some money to bridge between the selling price and the appraised price. If they have other property, they can take out an equity loan on that. Or if they have a 401k, they can borrow money from that.
Unless they step up, we're back on the market, which means, our house might not be sold and Earl might not be able to retire.
We have our plane tickets. We have our room reservations and three housesitting jobs that last through March 15, but I might be traveling alone.


Throw some quick good karma or prayers or whatever you believe in our way.
I do want to live in France, but I don't want to leave my best friend behind to work, and he's definitely ready to live a retired life.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Packing


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.

Today on Facebook, I posted a picture of the three suitcases I'll be taking to France.
That's all I plan to take to begin my new life.

One of my Facebook friends asked why we didn't simply ship boxes overseas. We will have some boxes stored in my brother's basement and another friend's basement, but I've read enough horror stories about shipping items to France that never arrive, that I wasn't even tempted to pay for boxes that I might never see again.
Face it, anything that I am keeping, I'm not willing to risk mailing in a questionable system.

Another issue about mailing boxes is that we don't have a permanent address yet. Where would I mail them to?
Most shipping services don't give upfront prices for mailing overseas, but the one that does would charge $169 for a 66-pound box or suitcase, and it makes no guarantee that anything breakable would arrive in one piece.
I've been looking at the China cabinet today trying to decide what we might want to keep. We plan to move the China cabinet to my sister-in-law's house next weekend. She says she'll hold onto it until Grace wants it.


The cabinet is full of highly breakable things.
Our gold-rimmed China that we received for our wedding has been used so rarely, that I feel no compunction about getting rid of it. 


Grace has chastised me, but she didn't offer to keep it. So I'll find some place to donate it.
I have so many wine glasses and liquor glasses. Many of them are from Mom and Dad's wedding, so I want to keep those, although I'm not sure how I'll ever get them to France.
I also have a lovely Laura Ashley tea set I'd like to take along.


A friend gave us a Limoges tea (coffee?) set as well for a wedding present that I would love to have in France.

But is it silly to take a French tea set back to France? Could I just as easily find ones I like that at an inexpensive price?
Once the China cabinet is cleaned out, I have things like quilts that would help me start a new life in France. Mom has made quilts for nearly every occasion, and I hate to be parted from any of them.
I may look for some of those compression bags that squeeze down items in hopes of taking a quilt or two along.
Other than clothes, toiletries and my computer, I don't anticipate needing a lot. We'll be housesitting so the houses will be outfitted. And when we buy a new house, hopefully it will be furnished. If not, we'll have to furnish it by visiting the local flea markets.
I know many people ship boxes of books to France, and I hate to be parted from books I love, but luckily, we live in a world where I can download books onto my phone and read them. I love always having a book with me on my phone.
So for now, before I actually begin packing, I think I'll have plenty of room in my three suitcases. We'll see if I still think that three weeks from now as we prepare to begin our vagabond lifestyle.
And when people from Ohio come to visit us in France, I fully expect them to pack a wine glass or two to bring along as we slowly fill up our cabinets in France. 

Columbus Marathon

I am so thankful to have been able to stay in the house well into the autumn. If we had sold the house immediately, we would have been out already, renting a place or living with friends. Instead, we get to enjoy life in our little village within a stone's throw of downtown Columbus and Ohio State University.
Because we are so close to downtown, the Columbus Marathon runs through the middle of our town. Most years, my friend Sheila and will go walking along the route before the race begins. She has as many deadlines as I do with her husband having back surgery on the same day we close on our house, so I didn't ask if she wanted to walk.
Instead, this morning, I decided to start at our house and run the route backward for about 4 miles.
It can be more challenging than you expect to figure out which way the route goes when not all the roads are closed yet.
Mostly, I relied on judging whether cars were parked along the road. No cars equals Marathon route. Even so, I got confused several times and started down roads before noticing that no banners waved or port-a-potties stood sentry, so I'd turn around and try a different road.
Since I had several false tries, I decided to run 4.5 miles to make sure I reached the total of 8 miles I hoped for. I'm so glad I kept running because I discovered that the marathon is running through a cornfield path.
It's weird in a city of nearly a million people to still have a cornfield in the center, but because Ohio State teaches agriculture, there are cows and cornfields within the city.
I had just run the path through the cornfield last week while waiting for Earl to finish his physical therapy. In the fog, alone, the path is a bit spooky.


But this morning, the sponsor had done a great job making it a highlight of the 26.2 mile race.
These "race car" banners showed runners where to turn.


Then a banner welcomed runners to the field.


Along the way, there were signs with pop culture icons or bad jokes, meant to encourage those reaching the high mileage of the marathon.






The marathon is sponsored by Children's Hospital, so many of the miles are dedicated to children receiving treatment. I started taking pictures of the mile markers and the kids, and got to meet two of the children who had already shown up to support the runners.
Mile 20 was dedicated to Andrew.
He got excited when he saw me and thought the marathoners were already on their way.




Then farther down the road, Amelia had already arrived to cheer for the runners on her dedicated mile.




I ended up running 9 miles, and I was pretty spent by the end, but I'm so happy that I had the opportunity.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Like Dominoes

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.

Aargh! My life is too crazy. Every week I forget about my Dreaming of France meme until I see that Sim has already posted hers and is waiting for me.
I wonder what could be distracting me?
This weekend, I started to feel some anxiety as I realized everything that has to be accomplished for us to move to France in about 86 days.
So the house is in contract. The final hurdle is Tuesday when the appraiser comes. If that all goes well, we close on the sale of our house in early November, and I have already scheduled our appointment with the French consulate to apply for a long-stay visa.
So my mind whirrs with the thoughts of:
Whipping the house back into staged shape before the appraiser arrives
Cleaning out the house once the sale is final
Helping Spencer find an apartment
Moving ourselves out and in with friends for a temporary stay
Collecting all the necessary paperwork for our French Visa
Finding affordable plane tickets and places to stay during our first days in France
Leaving the kids behind

That's all. Nothing much else going on in my brain, except beautiful dreams of how lovely our life will be in France if we can get everything else under control.

Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. I hope you'll visit each other's blogs and leave comments. Also post your blog info in the Linky below.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

FranceBookTours -- Drawing Lessons by Patricia Sands

CLICK ON THE BANNER TO READ REVIEWS AND EXCERPTS

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Drawing Lessons by Patricia Sands is a lovely, romantic meander down a river with stops in all the nooks and crannies of French villages that people long to explore. Arianna's life as she knows it ends when her husband is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers. She devotes herself to caring for him, but as he reaches a point where he has no idea if she is there or not, her grown children convince her to travel to France and attend an art class, hoping to spark her earlier life interests. Of course, France does reignite Arianna's love for life and art. Sands is a connoisseur of France, carefully taking us along on the sensory journeys in France, from the Roman ruins in Arles to the delicate taste of wine and each scrumptious meal. 
"Wooden doors with enormous and ornate keyholes, handcrafted lifetimes before, bore witness to the centuries of history that had crossed their portals. They fascinated Arianna, and she was surprised to feel the urge to sketch them. Perhaps something was stirring in her after all, she mused."
And later in Arles she comes upon a woman singing and playing the guitar:
"The ambiance of the moment floated like a cloud around her: the history and redolent beauty of the surroundings, the setting sun painting the sky and washing the stone in shades of pink, the absence of others, and the emotional power of the song. Arianna promised herself this would be the beginning of moving forward. She closed her eyes and made a silent vow. Peace comes from within." 
Even as Sands' main character deals with her emotional challenges, there is a peacefulness that fills her while she explores France and opens herself to the possibilities. 
I enjoyed this novel and felt refreshed afterward, as I had gone on a journey of my own. I even made a few notes of places to visit when next we visit France. 
Scroll down to enter the contest to win a copy of this book too.

Patricia Sands

on Tour October 2-13 with Drawing Lessons

Drawing Lessons

(women’s fiction) Release date: October 1, 2017 at Lake Union Publishing ISBN: 978-1542045872 352 pages Author’s page | Goodreads  

SYNOPSIS

The author of the Love in Provence series returns to the South of France with a poignant portrait of a woman who must learn how to create a new life for herself… Sixty-two-year-old Arianna arrives in the South of France for a two-week artists’ workshop full of anticipation but burdened by guilt. Back home in Toronto, she has been living with the devastating diagnosis of her husband’s dementia and the heartbreak of watching the man she has loved for decades slip away before her eyes. What does her future hold without Ben? Before her is a blank canvas. Encouraged by her family to take some time for herself, she has traveled to Arles to set up her easel in the same fields of poppies and sunflowers that inspired Van Gogh. Gradually, she rediscovers the inner artist she abandoned long ago. Drawing strength from the warm companionship and gentle wisdom of her fellow artists at the retreat—as well as the vitality of guest lecturer Jacques de Villeneuve, an artist and a cowboy—Arianna searches her heart for permission to embrace the life in front of her and, like the sunflowers, once again face the light.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I Promise You This Patricia SandsPatricia Sands lives in Toronto, but her heart’s other home is the South of France. An avid traveler, she spends part of each year on the Côte d’Azur and occasionally leads groups of women on tours of the Riviera and Provence. Her award-winning 2010 debut novel, The Bridge Club, is a book-group favorite, and The Promise of Provence, which launched her three-part Love in Provence series (followed by Promises to Keep and I Promise You This), was a finalist for a 2013 USA Best Book Award and a 2014 National Indie Excellence Award, was an Amazon Hot New Release in April 2013, and was a 2015 nominee for a #RBRT Golden Rose award in the category of romance. Sands also contributes to such Francophile websites as The Good Life France and Perfectly Provence, and she appears as a public speaker for women’s groups. Find Patricia on Facebook, on Twitter on Instagram at her Amazon Author Page or her website Subscribe to her mailing list and get information about new releases. Buy the book on Amazon.com

***

GIVEAWAY

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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 2 winners

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Sunday, October 01, 2017

Dreaming of France - Cooking 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.

I haven't cooked very much in France because I enjoy visiting restaurants while we travel, but once we live there, that will have to change.
Like many people my age and older, I have amassed a number of cookbooks but I can't imagine moving them to France. 
My friend Sheila pointed out that I probably rely on recipes on the web more than cookbooks anymore. And she's right, but there are some favorite recipes that I want to take along. 
That's why I came up with my solution of taking pictures of recipes and bringing them along in my computer. 
Last week, I started the process. 

This recipe has seen a lot of use. It's in a cookie cookbook that belonged to Earl's sister. 
My Southern Living cookbook is also well loved. 

The muffin recipe is hardly legible anymore, and it isn't even my favorite muffin recipe any more.

This apple cider and soy sauce turkey breast is surprisingly tasty. 
Even as I choose which recipes to capture, I'm wondering what I'll do with the cookbooks once I'm finished. I just can't picture throwing them out even though I'll have all the information I need.
I can't really expect one of my kids to take on these mottled cookbooks, can I?
It's another dilemma I didn't expect to face as we prepare for our move to France.

Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. I hope you'll visit each other's blogs and leave comments. Also post your blog info in the Linky below.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Pale Imitation

I know our departure for France is only three months away, but I still get cravings for French experiences. That's what drove me to La Chatelaine here in Columbus on Friday morning to buy an eclair, which I shared with my husband, but it couldn't touch the luscious goodness of the eclair café (that's a coffee-flavored eclair) that I fell in love with in Quillan, France. There was even a day when I ate three of them!
But while I was at La Chatelaine, I saw a sign for  happy hour "charcuterie" platter only $9.
Charcuterie is usually served on a wooden cutting board with different types of sausages or dried meats, along with cheeses and slices of bread.
The sign, which said "charcuterie, cheese and escargots" inspired me. I had to teach until 2, but I convinced Earl that we should skip lunch and go after I returned home for an early happy hour.
I pictured the delicious charcuterie that we ate the first day we got off the train in Paris.
We had driven our rental car for two hours then sat in the train station a couple hours before taking the train from Monpellier to Paris, so we'd done a lot of sitting. I suggested to Earl that we walk from Gare de Lyon to our hotel in the Latin Quarter. According to MapQuest, it was a 30 minute walk, but a 30 minute walk with a suitcase wheeled behind and a computer game hung on my shoulder is longer than a normal 30-minute walk.
The clouds were dramatic as we first began to walk in the (hopefully) correct direction.

The day looked glorious as we started walking, but quickly turned ominous.

 Just as fat raindrops began to fall on us, we wheeled our suitcases under an awning and settled into an outdoor cafe where we ordered a charcuterie platter.

We were not disappointed.

We ate and drank while the rain passed and then, satiated, we continued our walk to the hotel. 
These memories were dancing in my head as I returned from work yesterday and picked up Earl. Grace was visiting so she came along with us. We settled Earl at an outdoor table since he's still walking with a cane since his knee replacement. 
The waitstaff seemed confused by our request for the charcuterie platter. They called it the "char-took-erie." Then they went to ask the chef and he said he could make it but it would be 15-20 minutes. I shrugged and ordered us salads to eat in the meantime, along with glasses of Côtes du Rhone red wine. 
Then, when the long-awaited charcuterie platter arrived, it looked like this.


Sorry that the picture is half in/half out of the sun, but as you can see, the charcuterie platter has no cheese, no escargot, and barely enough meats to serve two of us -- a pale imitation of the charcuterie platter we had in Paris.
That's okay, in three short months we'll be arriving in Paris again, and I'm already imagining the delightful meals we'll have.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Sunny Montpellier


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.

There are updates on our plans to move, but I've had a trying weekend, so I'm going to soothe my frustration by just sharing a few photos of France.
We spent just a morning in Montepellier, but look how beautiful and swept clean it is. 
We found a cafe for coffee and tea. The waiters were preparing for lunch, so they were herding
the coffee drinkers into the tables without umbrellas. Luckily,  we got there in time to find some shade. 

This was an unusual building that we saw in the center of Montpellier,. The librarie sauramps is a bookstore and then the tiered building above it is an Ibis hotel, which is a chain in France. 
 You can see that it was a beautiful sunny day. I can't wait to return and have more days like this.
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.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Recovery

We're closing in on two weeks since Earl had his knee replacement surgery.
I'm sure it will all be worth it when we are hiking in the Pyrenees next year, but right now, he's still in a lot of pain.
He went into the hospital planning to have one of the three knee compartments replaced, but with the understanding that if the doctor got in there and saw that there was additional damage, then he would replace the entire knee. And that is what happened. The surgeon said there was a lot of damage to the knee cap.
The first few days, he didn't have much pain, but since he came home, he's been trying to stay ahead of the pain.
Nights are the worst, as he tosses and turns trying to find a comfortable position, or gets up to use the bathroom, his walker clanking along the floor.
After being home for a couple of days, he was dragging the walker along with him while he carried cups of tea or his computer. I suggested he switch to a cane since that seemed like it would be more helpful than just carrying the walker around.
The therapist comes to the house to keep an eye on him and help him get full movement back. She puts him through his paces and assures him that he is making good progress, although he doesn't feel like it.
The other day, the therapist was supposed to be here between 9 and 9:30 a.m. She hadn't arrived, so he moved to the dining room table to work on his computer. He was working on a story for the newspaper, even though he hasn't gone back to work. (Yes, he's that devoted.)
The front door was open so the therapist could come in when she arrived.
Earl grabbed a bag of frozen peas from the freezer to hold against the back of his knee where the swelling is annoying. He was walking without the walker holding the peas, which had melted and then frozen into a solid block again, when he saw the therapist coming up the stairs.
He turned toward me in a panic, not wanting to be caught walking without support.
"Catch the peas," he called as he hoisted the frozen bag toward me.
I looked up in surprise as the solid frozen vegetable caught me square in the chest.
I just put my hand over my heart and let out an ugh noise as the air left my lungs.
He hurried over to his walker as he motioned for the therapist to come in the house.
In addition to the bruise and raised bump on my breastbone,


 the incident sent me to a flashback of a previous injury, which took place at Earl's apartment early in our relationship.
The year was 1988. We both worked as reporters for The Tampa Tribune. Earl had a get together for the reporters as we gathered at his apartment in the Old Northeast section of St. Petersburg, Florida.
I stood on the porch watching two of the guys throwing a Frisbee back and forth in warm spring sunshine before we headed to a spring training baseball game.
I was greeting another arriving reporter when I heard my name called. I turned my head toward Dave who had flung the Frisbee in my direction. As if in slow motion, I twisted around just in time for my nose to meet the plastic disk that sliced through the air. A crunch resounded on the porch as I moved my hands to cover my nose. Picture Marcia from The Brady Bunch.


As you can imagine, my nose was broken. I had one office visit where the doctor tried to fix my nose using a tool like a pair of pliers where he pulled on the bottom and tried to realign the bones.
The bones didn't come together straight though. Instead, they "tent-poled" with the bones forming a pointy peak, picture a witch's nose exaggerated.  The next step was nose surgery, where I received the very aquiline nose that I have now.

So all of that rushed through my mind as I placed my hand over my chest, feeling the bump that rose there.
I had to leave for work right after that, and truthfully, the frozen peas did not cause as much damage as the plastic Frisbee, but it is quite uncomfortable to wear my seat belt, and I don't think Earl is quite apologetic enough for the toss of the frozen peas that landed like an iceball to the heart.
I suppose with the knee pain that he is having, he can be forgiven for not begging my forgiveness. As long as it doesn't happen again.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Stress-free Wardrobe

Does anyone remember that President Obama said he has a limited number of suit colors because he didn't want to have to put any thought into what he wears everyday? He didn't want to spend any brain power deciding on colors and shirts and ties. Here's a version of that story based on his interview with Vanity Fair.
I've kind of taken that theory on this summer with my own wardrobe. Trying to reduce stress as the house went on the market and adult children lost jobs and Earl headed for knee surgery, I sought to eliminate stress about what to wear.
It started with a tshirt dress.


An ombre tshirt dress, of course, I do have a few standards. I mean, what a concept. It's a dress that is an over-sized tshirt, like the kind of tshirt I might sleep in. I saw a male professor teaching class in cargo shorts the other day and decided that a tshirt dress works fine for teaching, too.
So what could be more stress-free than a tshirt dress?
Enter the sweatshirt dress.


This dress is made of sweatshirt material and it has pockets. Perfect for fall weather, right? Okay, I'll pair it with a sweater if it gets chilly, but I think every one who reads my blog knows that I'm prone to hot flashes, so sleeveless works for me.
So it can't get any more comfortable than a sweatshirt dress, right?
Well, hold on:



This sweatshirt dress has the seams on the outside, making it truly the most casual dress I could ever wear.
Also notice the theme with these dresses is that they only fit tight across my chest and shoulders. I can gain weight, I can lose weight and these dresses will still work.
At least that's one decision I won't have to make in the coming months as we continue our march toward moving to France.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Something Beautiful on the Horizon

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.

You all know that I have had quite a week, but that doesn't mean I'm not still dreaming of France. 
It's getting closer, our dreams, and pieces are still falling into place. I'll fill you in when I can, but for now, here's a sunset out of our B&B window in Mireval, France, close to Montepellier. 



And here's a sunrise from our B&B in Quillan.
The days keep passing; the sun rises and the sun sets, and as each day passes, we get closer to making our dreams come true.
Thanks for joining me on this journey.
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What a Week

Today is a day for some deep breaths because this week has been a sprint, an emotional sprint anyway.
On Monday, Earl had knee surgery. They hoped to just do one of the three chambers of the knee, but when they began surgery they realized the entire knee needed to be replaced.
It kind of gives me the shivers to imagine a metal part in the knee. I don't know why.
We had to be at the hospital at 5 a.m. But at the last minute, we had two house showings, one at 10:30 a.m. and one at 12:30 p.m., so before we left early that morning, we had to prep the house, everything pristine, lights on, essential oils of peppermint and rosemary dripped onto light bulbs.
I stayed at the hospital until 7:30 a.m. Grace showed up to sit in the waiting room while I ran over to teach an hour and a half class. Then I rushed back in time to meet with the surgeon who explained that Earl had an entire new knee and that all had gone well.
Pshew! What a relief.
I hurried back to teach three more classes.
Grace and her boyfriend, Jack, headed home to make themselves presentable but then Grace got a call that Earl was awake. She returned to the hospital and spent time with him in post-op before he was moved to his room.
When I finished teaching, I arrived at the hospital to see Grace knitting in the corner of Earl's room.

Meanwhile, the entire time of waking up in the dark, preparing the house for the showing, I was worrying about Mom and Dad.
I knew that Hurricane Irma had passed over them during the night, might still be over their Florida home. They live in Central Florida, so aren't in danger of storm surges. They also are hesitant to get on the road with long streams of traffic sitting on the highway headed north, unsure of where they might be able to find gas again. Dad is 80 and Mom is 79 -- luckily, they are both healthy and active.


We had spent the past few days trying to determine the safest room in their house where they should shelter. In Florida, there aren't basements because of the high water table. And the houses are made with big expanses of windows to let the sunshine in.
Mom had taped the sliding glass doors that stretch the length of one wall.
As the sun set on Sunday evening, Mom had texted to my two brothers and me, "More wind and rain. Still have power. Don't know how much worse it will get. The next 10-13 hours will be stressful. Love."
And then, after I had crawled into bed Sunday night, ready for my early awakening on Monday, I received one more text from her: "No power now. Wind is really bad. Prayers."
It just had an ominous tone, like something you would read in a journal founds years later when an explorer didn't make it home.
So, even as I showered and prepped the house Monday morning at 4 a.m., I texted Mom that I didn't want to wake her, but I wanted to know that she was okay.
I don't guess they got very much sleep anyway. "We are still alive. Storm is horrible. Can't see damage yet. I'm in the laundry room. Dad in the recliner. More later."
I texted back, relieved and asked if the interior of the house was intact.
"I guess. Still blowing about 100 miles an hour and dark," she replied.
When the sun rose and the winds finally subsided, she could confirm that the house had held. Some gutters had blown off, including one into the top of a massive tree. The screens enclosing their swimming pool had blown out. Their yard was strewn with broken limbs. But they had made it.
When I talked with them later, they both voiced their concern during the night. They had ridden out other hurricanes in Florida, but this one was different.
"Did it sound like the roof was coming off?" I asked.
"It sounded like the whole second story was coming off," Dad said.
I urged them not to overdo it trying to clean up, but they did. They sent photos of the branches stacked in the front of their yard as they dragged them toward the street. They had no electricity from Sunday night through Friday. The thing they missed most was the air conditioning. That first day after the storm, there was a nice breeze, but then Florida's heat and humidity returned soaring into the 90s.
When I heard about the nursing home where eight people died of heat exhaustion, I called my parents again. Of course, they weren't hearing the news because they had no electricity.
Someone who had power back had loaned them a generator. They were able to hook up a fan to help keep them cool, plus they had the refrigerator plugged in to preserve some food.
When they got too hot, they climbed in the pool and spent time pulling leaves and twigs from the water.
Friday they got power back. Saturday, they were able to play a few holes of golf as the course across the street continued to clean up.
I'm thankful they weathered the storm without too much damage, but with a lot of stress.

Meanwhile, Earl spent two nights in the hospital. On Tuesday I didn't teach until the evening, so I stayed with him from 9-3, talking to doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers. He hoped to get out on Tuesday but his knee wound had too much drainage.
On Wednesday, I had to teach from 8-2, and Earl's cell phone had died. I got hold of him in between my classes. He told me he was in a lot of pain and the nurses were not being responsive. He waited over an hour and half for pain medicine. He needed to get up to use the bathroom but the nurse didn't show up for 30 minutes after his request.
I felt so bad, knowing I wasn't there to advocate for him.
Grace had planned to go, but she woke up with a sore throat and I didn't want her to spread her germs, or get any other germs, at the hospital. Both of my sons were working.
I sent out a message looking for a sub to take my classes so I could go to the hospital but didn't get a response.
I debated a list of people close enough and with a schedule to help out. Finally, I decided to ask Earl's sister. She's an occupational therapist, but she works a varied schedule. She had just finished a home visit and was on her way home to babysit her granddaughter, but her husband could do that. She went to the hospital and helped make sure Earl's needs were met.
The nurses and therapists told Earl he would have to stay another night because of the continued drainage. I ran home and got some things he needed before getting to the hospital at 2:30. As I walked through the parking lot, he called.
"They're letting me go home!" he said.
I turned around and returned the things I was carrying to the car.
So Earl came home Wednesday evening and he's doing really well. He has moved from the walker to using a cane. He's had visits from a home-health nurse and a physical therapist. The physical therapist says he's a couple of weeks ahead of where he should be.
When I went to teach on Friday, he ran the dishwasher and unloaded it. He's not supposed to be up and about that much, but he never has been good at sitting around.
We spent Saturday watching football and vacated the house for an hour for another showing, even though the house is technically off the market while Earl heals.
The pain was worse Saturday night, but I have to remember that it is not a straight line to healing but an ebb and flow with setbacks and great waves forward.
I'm grateful that he's getting better and just dream about the mountains we'll be climbing in France a few months down the road.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

FranceBookTours -- Requiem in Yquem plus Giveaway

Jean-Pierre ALAUX and Noël BALEN

on Tour September 11-22 with REQUIEM-IN-YQUEM cover

Requiem in Yquem

(mystery) Release date: September 12, 2017 at Le French Book 215 pages ISBN: 9781943998104 Website | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

The intricate taste of greed and remorse. The “addictive” Winemaker Detective series returns with a French mystery set in Sauternes, home of one of the world’s finest dessert wines, Yquem, known to some as liquid gold. In the mist-covered hills of Sauternes, where the wine is luscious and the landscape beguiling, the brutal murder of an elderly couple intrigues the wine expert Benjamin Cooker and awakens memories for his dashing assistant Virgile Lanssien. Drawn into the investigation, the two journey through the storied Sauternes countryside, where the Château d’Yquem has reigned for centuries. Will the murder go unexplained and the killer remain free? The Winemaker Detective’s discernment and incessant curiosity pushes investigators to look deeper, while Virgile rekindles memories of his days at school and questions the meaning of his life. In another satisfying wine novel with a French flair, authors Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen give readers a perfectly intoxicating combination French wine, gourmet meals, and mystery in the gloriously described Sauternes wine region with all the scenery, scents, and sounds of France. This light, fun mystery combines amateur sleuths, food, and wine in a wonderfully French mystery novel that doubles as a travel guide. It is a new kind read on the international mystery and crime scene: a pitch-perfect, wine-infused, French-style cozy mystery.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Alaux-Balen
©David Nakache
  Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen, the authors of the Winemaker Detective series are epicures. Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and TV journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. | He is the grandson of a winemaker and exhibits a real passion for wine and winemaking. For him, there is no greater common denominator than wine. He gets a sparkle in his eye when he talks about the Winemaker Detective mystery series, which he coauthors with Noël Balen. Noël lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making records, and lecturing on music. He plays bass, is a music critic, and has authored a number of books about musicians in addition to his prolific novel and short-story writing.
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ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR

Sally Pane studied French at State University of New York Oswego and the Sorbonne before receiving her Masters Degree in French Literature from the University of Colorado where she wrote Camus and the Americas: A Thematic Analysis of Three Works Based on His Journaux de Voyage. Her career includes more than twenty years of translating and teaching French and Italian at Berlitz and at University of Colorado Boulder. She has worked in scientific, legal and literary translation; her literary translations include Operatic Arias; Singers Edition, and Reality and the Untheorizable by Clément Rosset, along with a number of titles in the Winemaker Detective series. She also served as the interpreter for the government cabinet of Rwanda and translated for Dian Fossey’s Digit Fund. In addition to her passion for French, she has studied Italian at Colorado University, in Rome and in Siena. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband.
 

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GIVEAWAY

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 2 winners

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CLICK ON THE BANNER TO READ REVIEWS AND EXCERPTS

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