Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Children's Nursery Rhymes

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 hope everyone is having a lovely holiday season.
Just this evening, I visited with some friends and my friend Sheila gave me a present. She is always finding antiques and she thought of me when she saw this book, Nursery Friends From France. It is written in English, but features nursery rhymes and drawings from France.

On the inside cover is a map of France. The copyright is from 1925.

When Sheila gave it to me, she said, "I can picture you reading this to your grandchildren someday."
Now, I'm not anxious for grandchildren, but the book is so charming.
Many of the drawings are based on famous paintings, like the one on the cover, which was suggested by the portrait by Francois Drouais of the prince and princess, Cahrles Philippe and Marie Clotilde. The portrait hangs in the Louvre.

Did anyone else receive a gift that made you dream of France? I hope so. Happy new year.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Fun

Home from my crazy Christmas season with days stretching out in front of me where I don't have to accomplish anything -- really.
I hope everyone else had a lovely holiday.
One of the best things about this holiday was that my family had the opportunity to travel to Florida for a week.

We used to visit my parents in Florida regularly at Christmastime. Then my children became serious about swimming and we had to stay in Ohio for swim practices, which occurred twice a day. In high school, it became even more important to be here. Grace swam for three years, then Tucker followed that with four years. We stayed put in Ohio.
This year, for the first time, no one was swimming and we could travel to Florida.
Our plan was to leave on Saturday, Dec. 20 and return on Saturday, Dec. 27. But other changes in our lives made us shift travel plans.
Tucker, who is coming home after one semester at college, decided that he isn't going back to that college. Instead, he's going to live at home and attend a local school. So he applied for a full-time job. He got the job. Yay! But that meant he couldn't go to Florida.
Earl negotiated a quick substitute of his vacation at work and we left on Dec. 18, leaving Tucker home alone.
After a wonderful week relaxing by the pool in Florida, finishing up some last-minute shopping, celebrating Earl's birthday, we drove home on Christmas Eve. A 16-hour marathon on mostly empty roads to get home to Tucker so that he wouldn't spend Christmas alone.
While we were in Florida, my mom had planned some fun for us. She took some of our old board games and wrapped them placing them under the tree.
Each night, we unwrapped one of the games and all played them. Then on the last night, she had a new board game that we played and brought home with us.
This plan worked pretty well. The games had mostly aged well, all except for the first one we opened.
Win, Lose or Draw apparently used to be a game show. We had the board game.
The game is like charades, except the teams draw clues rather than acting them out. The catch was that this game from the 1970s/80s had really dated subjects. A musical group turned out to be the Beegees. We all tried to put ourselves back in that time, guessing things like The Brady Bunch for television shows.
The second night we opened Yahtzee. Luckily, nothing dated about that game, except some rounded corners on the edge of the dice.

The third night was Scrabble.

And finally on the fourth night, we opened Triominos, which is similar to dominos, but with triangle-shaped tiles. And Spencer later called it trinomials, mixing up his math terms.

On the final night, we opened Scattergories. If you haven't played this game, I think it's best played in teams. I teamed up with my dad who claimed he wouldn't be any good at it. Every team gets an identical list card that has 12 categories, like women's names, cities sports teams. Then we roll the die, which has 20 sides with a letter on each side. Whatever letter comes up, the answers to the list questions have to start with that letter.

I hated leaving Mom and Dad for Christmas, but, of course, my own mothering instinct urged me to get home to youngest before Santa arrived.
We left at 4 a.m. and got home about 8 that night. Earl had been sick almost the entire week, so I drove as the sun rose about northern Florida until it set in Kentucky.
 Finally, in northern Kentucky, with the dark roads slick with rain, I asked Earl if he would drive the rest of the way home.

I loved Mom's ideas for game nights. Try it yourself next year, or maybe sooner.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Shopping

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.

Many people think of shopping when they visit France, and since Christmas has become primarily a shopping season, I thought I'd share some pictures Grace took on a trip to Paris. I'm not a big shopper, but I feel like I could find plenty to spend my money on at this Paris flea market.

The sheer number of beautiful items would probably overwhelm me. What is French here? Or Asian? Or Russian? So many countries come together in the porcelain on this table. 

A statue lamp? Pourquoi pas? This light-holding statue looks a little more risque than our Statue of Liberty. 

Carpets anyone? I imagine beautiful French apartments with thick rugs from all over the world.
Hope everyone else is dreaming of France even as the Christmas holidays distract us all. 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thanks for dreaming along with me this year. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Saturday Snapshot -- Sunrise

Join West Metro Mommy for this weekly meme of photos people have taken and share on their blogs. Here's mine:
Visiting my parents in Florida, one of my favorite things is going on morning runs and seeing the sunrise.
Of course, this time of year, the best thing about my morning runs is the weather compared to the weather at home.
Today the thermometer is supposed to climb to 79.
So here are a few sunrise shots from my first run in Florida

This is the scene that greeted me. It always looks a little prehistoric to me with the trees and the mist. The moon was just a sliver. 

This picturesque scene with the palm trees and the moon reminded me of my painter friend Leah. So I stopped my run again and took a photo. 
Hope everyone has a lovely holiday, whichever one you celebrate. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Readjusting Christmas Plans

With all of our children in flux, you could have predicted that our Christmas plans would change. We had hoped to go to Florida as a family and spend the week of Christmas with my parents.
As Grace moved out of her apartment after graduating from college, and Tucker moved back home after only one semester at college, the odds were good that something would mess up our plans.
Grace had taken a job but already warned them that she would be gone for Christmas.
Tucker went looking for a job on Monday and got hired. He can't wait until after Christmas though because he is working for UPS. They definitely need his help this week.
So we moved our trip a few days earlier and some of us will be headed to Florida. We'll drive back on Christmas Eve so that we can all spend Christmas together.
That meant that I suddenly had only two days to get together all of the Christmas gifts before we left.
I also needed to get a Christmas tree. I'd planned to skip that step since we were going to be in Florida for Christmas.
So yesterday, the kids and I went to a local hardware store with live trees outside. We walked into the lot, Spencer spotted a tree, held it up and said,"How bout this one?"
Grace and Tucker both nodded. "Looks good."
"Wait! It's the first one you touched!" I protested.
"Yeah, but it looks good," all the kids said.
So we wrapped up that Frasier Fir and tied it to the top of the car. and made it the few blocks home. Spencer and Tucker carefully set it up in its stand. Grace and I added the lights and we all added a few ornaments. By the time Earl got home from work, the tree was sparkling quietly in its corner.
I've been grading papers, trying to finish out the semester, along with shopping for our Christmas dinner, since I won't be back until late Christmas Eve. And I've been trying to get all of the Christmas shopping done.
I probably won't pull it off perfectly, but we should still manage to have a lovely Christmas, with my parents before the actual day, and with all my kids on Christmas Day.
Hope your Christmas prep is going smoothly.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Marseille

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.

My husband and I have never been to Marseille, but instead of dreaming of France, we're really both dreaming of Marseille. Mostly, because we are including scenes that take place in Marseille in our current novels. Of course, it is possible to write about a place without visiting it.
It's fiction, so we can make up things. But it's best to actually visit and experience the city, the streets, the individual markets to give real flavor to a place.
We also can visit the very streets of Marseille on Google Maps and move along the streets like the cameras did.
I've been online looking at trips to Marseille. They're very affordable, especially in the winter. We could fly from Columbus to Marseille and spend six nights in a hotel for about $1500 each. That's almost too cheap not to go!
Here's a picture of one hotel that particularly appeals to me.

This picture from Expedia pops up for Escale Oceania Marseille Vieux Port.
I'm not sure if it's the carousel on the left side or the street lamp, the charming old building with the promise of a port behind it from the looks of the open space. The golden light shining onto the pale stones. I just love the idea of staying here and wandering around the streets of Marseille.
I know the city has a bad reputation, which is one of the reason the characters in my book are there, but I would probably want to venture out to visit some charming villages in nearby Provence too.
So for now, I'm dreaming of Marseille.
I look forward to seeing your posts. Thanks for playing along and please take the time to stop in at each other's blogs.

Adventures with Students

This week, I realized that my family eats a lot more pork than I had recognized.
This epiphany came when I offered bacon to the Jewish boy from California then had pulled pork in the crock pot when the two Muslim boys from Dubai showed up. But I wasn't expecting the guys from Dubai, until they missed their flight home.
Their story is a comedy of errors.
Medhi is a friend of Spencer's who goes to OU. He came home with Spencer for Thanksgiving and missed the bus back to OU because he was standing inside the bus station when the driver walked out to the bus, climbed in and drove away. Medhi ran after the bus waving, like a bad sit com scene. Then he called us to come pick him up, and he spent another night with us.
So on Friday morning, I drove Spencer's friend from California to the airport. He was early, but it fit our schedule.
I set off on another round-trip drive to Ohio University to pick up Tucker and all of his belongings, since he has decided not to return.
Once I got home and we had unpacked the car, I got ready to go teach my evening class at a local university. That's when Spencer's phone rang.
"What?" I heard him say. He repeated it a few more times then said, "I'll be there to get you."
"I have to take the car to work," I called out to Spencer.
"Catch a taxi here," Spencer said. "I'll text you my address."
So Spence explained to me that Medhi and Al, another student from Dubai, had missed their flight. They missed their flight because they  missed the GoBus from Athens.
The story came out a little backward, but this is how I've pieced it together.
Medhi and Al were at Ohio University, ready to take the GoBus which drives from Athens straight to the airport.
The bus picks up at the student center, which is a 4-story building built into the side of a hill. Students often cut through the building rather than walking up the hill. They can ride the escalators inside.
Medhi and Al were at the top of the hill behind the building when they realized that the bus would pick them up at the bottom. Rather than hopping on the escalators, they asked someone to drive them to the front of the building. The roads are rather circuitous to get around to the front of the building and by the time they arrived, the bus had gone.
The two of them paid a taxi driver $200 to take them to the airport in Columbus, about 90 miles away.
Their flight was at 3:30 p.m. They made it to the airport, through security and to the gate by 3:20, but were told the plane had already boarded. They could see the plane through the window, but the airline personnel refused to open the door again.
That's when they sought refuge in our basement for the night.
We were glad to give them a place to stay, but that morning, long before I took the first guy to the airport or drove to pick up Tucker, I had placed a pork roast in the crock pot, covered it with barbecue sauce and planned to serve pulled pork for dinner.
That's why the guys from Dubai might have been a little hungry that night. I didn't know though, because I was gone to work when they arrived.
Late that night, as I lay in bed, I heard them talking.
"We will stay right by the gate! We will not go anywhere," Medhi said.
I knew he was determined to make that first flight from Columbus to Detroit. Then they would board a plane from Detroit to Amsterdam. Then Amsterdam to Dubai.
"We have a very long lay over in Amsterdam," Medhi said the next morning at the dining room table.
"Oh, maybe you could go see the city..." I started. Then I stopped myself, "No. Don't leave the airport. Just stay there and wait for your flight!"
They weren't interested in breakfast, but I gave them some strong coffee spiced for winter in little blue and white espresso cups,
before my husband drove them off to the airport. They were not scheduled to reach home until Sunday evening, but I'm sure their families will be thrilled to see them.

Friday, December 12, 2014


The sound level at my house has definitely taken a turn toward noisy. Yesterday Spencer and a friend came home. The friend caught a plane to California and I was so happy that Spencer was within driving distance this year. 
Then today I drove back to Ohio University and picked up Tucker. We loaded all of his clothes and books and bedding since Tucker decided not to go back in January. 
Although he comes home coughing, I could feel the tension leave him as we drove off into the sunshine. He loosened up and talked about what he didn't like about living in a dorm and why he prefers to live in Columbus. 
I expect as he settles into life at home, he might have some regrets about moving home. He plans to continue taking classes and to transfer to Ohio State in the fall. 
I know someone who is thrilled to see Tucker come home. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Tuesday Intros -- An Age of License, A Travelogue

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 busy grading final papers this week, but I'm anticipating lots of time for reading over the next few weeks.
Here's a book I picked up at the library. An Age of License, A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley. The book includes drawings and is in a hand-written font. The publisher calls it "a graphic travelogue and a journal of her trip abroad." She is also the author of French Milk, which I have read. Hope I like this one. Here's the intro:
...was a year of travel! Through coincidence, work, and luck, I was offered opportunities to take trips. I took as many as possible. Recovering from heartbreak, I was determined to spend my travels having adventures and being a free agent. Some trips are more than distance traveled in miles. Sometimes travel can show us how our life is. Or give us a glimpse of how it can be...
Being untethered, I could float away, lifed to a great height where everything is new and I could look back on my life with new perspective, and go, "Oh!"
Here's her plan when she began her travels. Notice that they focus around France.
Apparently, she falls in love right away! Wonder if it'll stick.
I look forward to seeing what everyone else is reading.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Christmas Cards

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.

We stopped by the World Market store today to get Christmas cards. Along with the traditional ones of Santa or Christmas scenes, we found one that made my heart thrill.

The inside was pretty sweet too.

Some day, maybe I'll be in Paris for Christmas or New Year's Eve, and I'll be able to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle in person.
Hope you all are having a peaceful December as we roll toward the Christmas season.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

First Paragraph -- Fast-Pitch Love

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
This is a young adult novel written by a colleague of mine, Clay Cormany, and I surprised myself by getting drawn into it. I can't wait to continue reading.
It's told from the perspective of a high school boy, Jace, who has a crush on an unattainable girl and the lengths he goes to in hopes of winning her. He volunteers to help coach a softball team that his little sister is on because he thinks the girl will also be an assistant coach.
Clay told me the publisher, Astraea Press, insisted the book be very innocent, so this might be a title some of you would consider for young teenagers or older who want to read about love without a lot of swear words or gratuitous sex.
The book opens with the unattainable girl's boyfriend intimidating other boys who might think of asking her out.

Here's the intro:
The skinny student recoiled from the push, his back thumping into the wall behind him. His books fell to the floor as he raised his hands to block the punch that seemed imminent.
"Don't hit me, Carson," the student pleaded. "I didn't mean anything by it."
Carson Ealy, all two hundred thirty pounds of him, loomed over the frightened student like a hungry bear. "How can you say you 'didn't mean anything by it'?" he snarled. "You asked her out, didn't you?"
I'm deep into this romance and wondering what else might go wrong for Jace.
Hope you'll give it a try. You can find it online at Amazon for $4.99. 

Also this week, Sandra Nachlinger is featuring my novel Trail Mix on her blog Writing With a Texas Twang. Here's part of her comments:
Right now I'm about 60% of the way into the story, experiencing the Smoky Mountains through the characters' eyes and having a great time... all without aching muscles or blisters on my toes.
Hope you'll stop by and see what she has to say too.

Cockadoodle Doo or Cocorico?

 We stood in the middle of the road, having walked together 13 miles that day and Claudine grasped my forearm. "Mais non! It doesn'...