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


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.
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.

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


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.


©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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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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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Dreams Coming True

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'm excited to share the latest news with you all about our plans for moving to France in 2018.
I already had shared that we were picked for our first housesit -- only for a week and with a menagerie of animals, but it was a start.
Now, we have housesits for the first three months of 2018!
We'll begin in January staying a week in the Loire, near Normandy. It will be a good transition for us, although we'll be pretty busy taking care of animals that week. The house, in addition to dogs and cats, has a donkey, a mule and chickens.
After that, we'll head to southern France to a charming village where we visited in May. When I found out we had this housesit, I yelped in joy. Three dogs and a few chickens in the beautiful village of Uzès for a month.

Here's the overlook in the village. Somewhere in the hills below is the Pont du Gard. 
Here's the village square where we sat for coffee. A group of children gathered by the
fountain after school before they were led off by some kind of teacher. 

Here's a beautiful cobblestone passage. The village was built up around a dukedom, or duchy. So a tower sits in the middle and much of the rest of the village served as stables or other outbuildings for the castle. 

I call this an arcade. It is lined with shops, like weavers and artists and children's clothing. 
 Uzès is the village just north of the Pont du Gard roman aqueduct. The water from Uzès ran across the Pont du Gard to provide Provence with a steady supply. 

See why I squealed with delight? I'm so excited.

Then at the end of February, after a few months of practicing our French, we'll travel to Surrey, England to housesit for a month for three dogs, including a new puppy named Spud.
It's all working out just as we'd hoped.
Thanks for sharing my joy. Your support and encouragement means so much to me.

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

Friday, September 08, 2017

FranceBookTours -- The Frenchman

Frenchman - banner


Make sure you scroll to the bottom where you can enter to win a copy of this book.

Today I'm reviewing The Frenchman by Lise McClendon. Apparently this is one of a series of books about five sisters, called Bennett Sisters Mystery. I haven't read any of the others, but this one stands alone without too much requirement for backstory.
This novel did a good job pulling me into the life of Merle Bennett as she left her job as a lawyer and traveled with her teenage son to France where she owns a house inherited from her late husband. She also has a romance with a Frenchman, Pascal, apparently from a previous novel.

I enjoyed the writing and the story as Merle tried to create a home in the Dordogne region of France, dealing with vandalism and attempting to connect with standoffish neighbors.  When Merle's son goes back to the U.S. to begin college and Pascal disappears while investigating an undercover wine sting, she is left alone to figure out how to live in a new culture.
Throughout the first half, there wasn't really a mystery, which is fine by me, but it did lack in tension to make me wonder what would happen or what was at stake.
But the tension picked up in the second half and had me turning pages (metaphorically since I read it on Kindle).
I'll have to admit that the book has a more down-to-earth view of France and living life in France as an American transplant than many fictional books set there. It put a little damper on my dreams, but even in the midst of crisis, there was good food and wine.
This book was a pleasant escape with some mystery thrown in to the second half. Definitely worth a read.

Lise McClendon on Tour September 8-21 with

The Frenchman

(mystery) Release date: September 8, 2017 at Thalia Press 278 pages


In this 5th installment of the Bennett Sisters Mysteries (beginning with Blackbird Fly), attorney Merle Bennett goes to France for an extended stay to drink in the essence of ‘la France Profonde’ and write her own novel. But the countryside is not as tranquil as she hoped. A missing Frenchman, a sinister one, an elderly one, a thieving one, and a vandalizing one: all conspire to turn Merle’s sojourn of reflection into a nightmare of worry. Where is Pascal, her French boyfriend? Who is the man with the terrible scar? Why is someone spray-painting her little stone house in the Dordogne? And will her novel about the French Revolution – snippets of which are included – give her a soupçon of delight or a frisson of danger?
Works fine as a stand-alone


Frenchman - Lise McClendon
Lise McClendon is the author of fifteen novels of mystery, suspense, and general mayhem plus short stories. Her bestselling Bennett Sisters mystery series began with ‘Blackbird Fly.’ She also writes thrillers as Rory Tate, the latest of which is ‘PLAN X.’ Her short story is included in this fall’s noir anthology, ‘The Obama Inheritance.’ She lives in Montana.
Visit her website
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Buy the book: on Amazon



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Tuesday, September 05, 2017


The bedroom is still dark as I open the closet door and slip my feet into my brown Maryjane crocs. I can't see them, and I don't need to see them because they lay where they always are when I put them in my closet.
That's when it hits me. Once we move out of this house, how long will it be until I have a home where my shoes are always in the same place?
Me looking as close to anxious as we have a
picture of while traveling in France. 
If we move out at the end of September, we will have three months of patchwork living here in the U.S. before Earl retires. We might stay with friends, or several groups of friends so we don't wear out our welcome. We might share an apartment with Grace and her boyfriend, leaving our things behind in a spare bedroom when we depart for France. We could simply rent AirBnbs for the next three months.
And then, having lived like gypsies in Columbus, we'll be off to France, moving from housesit to housesit, staying with more friends in between or spending nights or weeks at AirBnb properties.
It sounds like a marvelous adventure, and I plan to enjoy it.
But I also need to come to terms with the fact that it might make me anxious, not having a closet door to open, knowing that my brown Maryjane crocs will be there.

P.S. --For those of you worried about my fashion sense in France,  I'm not actually planning on taking my crocs with me -- they're just representational of my realization that nothing will have a set place until we put down roots again.

Monday, September 04, 2017


The thing that people frequently ask me about moving to France is how I'll be able to leave my family.
Grace and Tucker drove us to the airport in
May since I had to come straight from work. 
I have to admit that there are days when all three of my children make an appearance at my house, but most of the time, I have to satisfy myself with texts. Phone calls mean that something has gone wrong.
Yesterday, Grace called because she had locked her keys in her car. We didn't have a spare key, but we did have AAA, so I drove down to the Starbucks where she had stranded herself and called AAA. I sat there with her as she sipped her iced coffee with peppermint syrup (she offered to buy me one), until the AAA mechanic showed up and opened her door. Then she was off to rehearsal for the Pirates of Penzance.
Saturday night, we went to see her boyfriend's show Tecumseh. 
Today, Tucker called me. He was working, but he wondered if I could help him figure out how to report the charges on his Firestone credit card that he didn't make. When I got home from the gym, I investigated the bill and told him he needed to write a letter. I also suggested he file a police report, thinking that might get faster service. I'm happy to be here to answer my kids' questions.
Tucker in Earl's chair at the newspaper when he went to work
with one of the videographers. 
Spencer has been out of town since Saturday, so I only receive answers to my texts about when he might be coming home.

My boys celebrating Tucker's 21st birthday. 
That leads us to today, Labor Day. Now, Labor Day isn't a big family holiday, but it's the kind of holiday where families generally plan a cookout, maybe a last day at the pool or some community fireworks.
Earl had to work tonight, so we didn't plan anything, but I figured I might see the kids so I put a roast in the crockpot thinking I could do beef barbecue sandwiches.
Tucker didn't come over after work. Grace was going to come over to do some laundry but a friend stopped by and occupied her day. Spencer still hasn't come home from his weekend away.
Well, family isn't just our kids. We live in town near my husband's sister and brother. The brother and his wife don't like to hang out with the family very much, but the sister generally has a get together. This time, we heard nothing.
My brother is an hour and half away. We haven't seen him and his family since June. I texted to ask if they were doing anything today. Just playing tennis for him, lesson plans for his wife the teacher. My other brother is in Texas and my parents live 16 hours away in Florida, so we can't hang out with them.
So I wonder what people mean about how much I'll miss my family. Sometimes, I'm at home, alone, and I think, I miss my family now.
I want my children to be independent and I know they are going through a period where they don't want to hang out with their parents. I understand that.
But I don't think they get to claim that we should be here, waiting, just in case they decide they need us or want to hang out with us.
Someday when they have children, I know that it will be a different story. We'll definitely want to be here to help them and spend time with our future grandchildren, but until then, I'm putting away my guilt and I'm moving to France.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Roses

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.

When Earl and I were traveling in May, we drove through a charming town that was wreathed in roses.
We stopped and took some pictures in Camon, France.
 A sign as we drove into town let us know that it celebrated a rose festival, and we soon saw why.
 Nearly every building had a waterfall of roses cascading along its front wall.
I didn't know anything about Camon, but when I looked it up, I learned that it is known as Little Carcassone, which is a famous walled city that we also visited. Apparently Camon first began in 923, growing up around an abbey. It was destroyed by a flood in 1289 and then rebuilt.
 But the things that caught our eyes were the roses. This used to be a big wine growing area, and the roses were planted as an early warning sign. If the roses began to show disease, then the vintners could try to protect the vines, according to
The area doesn't have a lot of vineyards anymore, but the roses remain, like a woman adorned in her finest jewels, they drape the city.
Next time we drive through, we're definitely stopping to explore a bit more.
And how long will it be until we are in Camon, France again. Maybe not as long as you think.
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.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Down Time is For Dreaming

My days off this semester are Thursdays and Sundays. I know I don't work a full 40 hours in the office kind of job, but there is just something absolutely freeing about a day without work requirements. (I'll probably do some lesson planning anyway, but the idea that I don't have to is marvelous.)
And today has some lovely things in it already.
Sheila and I re-visited American Girls
 with our grown up daughters last year. 
The first was a two-hour walk with my friend Sheila. I will miss her when we move. We became friends when our kids were little and we both homeschooled. Now, she is the only one of my homeschool mom friends that I see regularly. We try to walk two or three times a week. We generally stop and get coffee to carry with us (another thing I'll miss in France, but being forced to sit down and drink it has its benefits, too). I would say that I have very few secrets from Sheila. She doesn't judge
when my kids have wandered off the proper path to being grown ups, and I don't judge her three kids either, although we are both quick to point out how stupid some of our children's actions are.
The only thing on my schedule for the day was a phone call with someone in France who is looking for a housesitter, so I looked forward to that. I'm sitting here now waiting for her call. Four cats in the Loire Valley.
I also have another interview -- Facetime, so I need to look respectable -- with a couple outside London who need a housesitter for their two dogs and dachshund puppy! Yes, I know that London isn't in France, but one of the benefits of living in France is being able to explore other countries as well. Earl has never been to the U.K., so I thought it would be a good chance to explore.
My day is filled with dreams and searches for airlines and hotels and house sitting opportunities. I love it because I can dream about the endless possibilities.
On the visa front, a friend in Aix en Provence has said we can use her address as our permanent address while we are in France. That means we have to spend time in Aix en Provence to present our papers to the local government. I do love Aix.
The beautiful Cours Mirabeau in Aix en Provence
An attempt at an artsy photo on a morning run in Aix. The telephone wire kind of ruins it. 
So slowly, we are getting all of our necessary documents and we'll keep working toward that visa. As my friend in Aix said, "You go get that visa, girl!"

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Dreaming of France -- More Planning, Some Scheming

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, I clicked on some travel sites and started searching for plane tickets.
Yes, in a short 130 days, I should be headed to France.
Here's a sunrise picture out the window. Can't wait to see it again. 
Here's the screen in the seatback that showed me our progress throughout the trip. 
Okay, there are a few hurdles yet. 

The house hasn't sold. My husband hasn't retired yet, but, by golly, we're going.
My latest plan is to drive to my parents' house in Florida, store a few things, and drive to an airport down there -- Orlando or Fort Lauderdale or Miami.
Just entering those airports inn the travel search brought up airlines I wouldn't usually see if I flew out of Columbus or connected in Detroit. Where was Air France and Delta? Instead, TAP Portugal popped up.
And the flights would take over 11 hours with stops in places like Iceland or Dublin. Usually, we had a straight shot from Detroit to Paris.
A tired Earl on the tram through the airport once we arrived in Paris.
Pablo Picasso seems wide awake and a bit intrusive in the poster on the wall. 
Maybe we won't be able to fly out of Florida. Maybe we'll have to fly out of Columbus.
But what I do know is that once those airline tickets are in our hands, there's no stopping us.
We have so many things to figure out.
We need to order new birth certificates and marriage certificates and have them translated into French. We're looking at health insurance to cover us for the entire year. We'll need to share our bank accounts to prove we have enough money to survive for a year in France without working (which shouldn't be a problem once we finally sell the house).
The only catch is that we need to show we have a place to stay for the year. We actually are planning to move around quite a bit. As I shared a few weeks ago, we are scheduled to house sit for a menagerie of animals in January. So we'll start there and we are still negotiating for house sits in Aude and the Pays de Loire in February and March. (Fewer animals at those houses). And, of course, we can also rent a place to stay through Air B&B.
In Pezenas

In Beziers

Or in the mountains of Quillan. 
We actually want to stay some more in our chosen towns to see if they are the right fit for us.
I'm generally an optimistic person who thinks that surely the rules can be bent for me. I'm not sure why I think that since I can't recall a time when the rules were actually changed to allow me to do what I wanted. So I messaged my friend Delana to ask her what to do. Maybe she can claim she invited us to stay with her for the year.
Or maybe we can talk to our friends in Nantes and see if they will write a letter saying that we will be their guests. Can you imagine how complicated it might be to convince a French-speaking person to claim we'll be their guests but we won't actually be their guests? I can picture the hilarity that would ensue as our friends try to figure out how to tell us that they don't want us to stay for the entire year, or they expect us to stay and we never show up. I'm sure there's a way around this.

As the time grows near, I'm more and more excited and ignoring some of the negatives that loom ahead, like selling the house.
I'm sure we'll have all the visa details worked out by the time we make our appointment at the French consulate in Chicago and travel there for our appointments. How can they turn down a Francophile like me?
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.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

FranceBookTours -- The Secret of the Abbey

The Secret of the Abbey banner


The Secret of the Abbey by Kathleen C. Perrin is a blend of historical fiction and fantasy that really immerses the reader in France, specifically in Mont St. Michel, that historic icon in northwestern France.
This is book 3 in The Watchmen Saga, and I hadn't read the previous two books, but plenty of details were included to help me catch up in this latest novel.
Although the book is told from various viewpoints, the main character is Katelyn, an 18-year-old American, who has been chosen by the Archangel Michael to be one of the Watchmen to protect an ancient secret hidden in Mont St. Michel.
the secret-of-the-abbey coverAnd since Katelyn is chosen by the Archangel, things suddenly go her way. A writing project for school is made into a novel with a $25,000 advance. A French stranger dies and leaves her an exclusive inn on Mont St. Michel. Ahh, what a lovely fantasy. I can definitely get swept up in that.
But Katelyn's main conflict isn't in the present day, but with her fellow Watchman Nicolas. The two of them jump centuries, Nicolas from the 1400s and Katelyn from today to help save Mont St. Michel from the Catholic/Huguenot battles in the 16th century.
Sometimes the history is a bit dense, but overall I really enjoyed the suspense and the immersion into historical life. If I had the chance, I would definitely fit my key into the stone in Mont St. Michel and be transported back into time, just to see how it changes through the ages. The author did a wonderful job of capturing details so the reader can experience France throughout the centuries. It made me want to take another trip to Mont St. Michel -- and maybe I will in 2018.
Here's a picture of Mont St. Michel that my daughter took when she visited
Scroll down and enter to win a copy of this novel. If you can't visit Mont St. Michel this fall, or even next year, this book can take you there throughout the centuries that it has existed.

Kathleen C. Perrin

on tour August 14-25, 2017  

The Secret of the Abbey

(historical fiction) Release date: June 3, 2017 Self-published at Langon House 565 pages ISBN: 978-0692877975 Website | Goodreads


After unwillingly leaving a comatose Nicolas behind on Mont Saint Michel in 1429, Katelyn Michaels is distraught to be back in the United States in modern times. When a series of remarkable events facilitates her taking up residence on the Mount and reveals why Katelyn was called as a Watchman, her fondest hope is to be reunited with Nicolas, regardless of the circumstances. However, when Nicolas unexpectedly arrives with a new mission for her, Katelyn is devastated to learn that his head injury has deprived him of any memories of their relationship. Nonetheless, she is determined to once again save the Mount—this time in sixteenth-century France amidst violent religious turmoil—and rekindle Nicolas’s feelings for her. The couple’s love and loyalty is tested as she and Nicolas attempt to unmask the true source of the threat¬—their adversary Abdon—sort out their conflicting emotions, and deal with the consequences of an astounding age-old secret.


  Kathleen C. PerrinKathleen C. Perrin holds bachelor’s degrees in French and Humanities from Brigham Young University and is a certified French translator. Besides being the author of The Watchmen Saga, she has published several non-fiction articles, academic papers, and a religious history about Tahiti. Kathleen has lived in Utah, New York City, France, and French Polynesia. She and her French husband have spent years investigating the mysteries and beauties of his native country —where they have a cottage—and have taken tourist groups to France. The Perrins have three children and currently reside in Utah.
Visit her website. See here gorgeous pictures related to the book Follow her on Facebook, Twitter
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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 you...