Thursday, December 31, 2015

12 Days of Appreciation -- Day 7

Obviously, I married my husband 25 years ago, after two years of dating, so we love each other.
At the time we married, I realized that I loved him in a soaring, unconditional way that he might not have reciprocated. He loved me, but it was more tempered.
He has told me since then that he couldn't imagine life without me. So we married.
But today, I can unequivocally say that he loves "me more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow...." My husband loves me more now than he did on the day of our wedding.
And that's a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

12 Days of Appreciation -- Day 6

I'm halfway through my 12 Days of Appreciation countdown. I'm focusing on the reasons that I feel grateful for my husband. I'm not doing this because I think that we have some sort of superior marriage, but in an attempt to remember the important things in the midst of the day-to-day work of life.
Last night, my friend Najah came over. She's single and she gives relationship advice to my 23-year-old daughter. She started talking to Grace about the book The 5 Languages of Love.  Since I've been
married 25 years, it's not a book I'd heard of. The basics are that people need to figure out the main way the give and receive love, and how their partner gives and receives love. The five main ways the author describes are"Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch."
As Najah explained them, I realized that my husband's pretty good at most of these (except the gifts which neither of us find important), but the main one I see is "Acts of Service." He'll come in from a day at work and ask if he can get me anything. That's crazy!
"Go relax," he'll tell me. "I'll unload the dishwasher."
And he is the main laundry washer in my house. He might have an ulterior motive since he thinks my laundry skills are inferior, but if he prefers to stay on top of the laundry in the house, I'm happy to accept it.
My husband has learned to steam the milk on the espresso maker so he can make me a latte even though he doesn't drink coffee. He shows me love through his acts of service every day.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tuesday Teaser -- 100 Days of Happiness

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.

When the main character of 100 Days of Happiness by Fausto Brizzi learns that he has 100 days left to live, he decides to make the most of them.
Here's the intro:
Allow me to tell you about the three most important days of my life. I wouldn't want any of the three to think I'm playing favorites, so I'll list them in strict chronological  order.
The first was Friday, October 13, 1972. Friday, the thirteenth.
On that date, as a Fokker turboprop crash-landed in the Andes with forty-five passengers who would ultimately devour each other to survive, Antonio and Carla, that is to say, my mom and dad, eighteen at the time, conceived me in the backseat of an unprepossessing off-white Citroen Dyane. The two teens had parked their vintage junker in a large empty square on the outskirts of Rome, included in the zoning plan by far-seeing city administrators as a handy refuge for lovebirds. It was a bleak setting, filled by the occasional abandoned refrigerator and stacks of battered cars.
A perfect backdrop for a tender love story.
This is intriguing to me because I truthfully have no idea when or where my parents conceived me, and I don't think most people do. Maybe this was the only time his, probably Catholic, parents had sex.
I love the idea of the book. I hope it lives up to the hook.

12 Days of Appreciation -- Day 5

Sometimes it's the simple things in life that help improve it.
Often, when my husband comes to bed, or if he wakes up in the morning and I'm still in bed, he gives me a backrub.
Who doesn't love a backrub?
Just one other reason that I love my husband.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

12 Days of Appreciation -- Day 4, Plus Dreaming of France

I'm continuing to focus on 12 reasons that I'm grateful for my husband, but luckily, I can connect gratitude for my husband with Dreaming of France because I'm so fortunate that my husband has bought into my dream of living in France.
As he turned 60 just a few days ago, he has become even more excited about it. We've set a date, May 2017, so that means another year and a half of working, paying off bills, getting kids through college, cleaning out the house and then selling the house.
Luckily, we live in a coveted school district and should come away with a nice profit that will allow us to buy a house in southern France.
A year after we married, I dragged my husband abroad for his first European vacation.
Here we are in Venice in 1998. 
 He fell in love with France just like I did. He also loves Germany, Austria, Italy, and we imagine the short trips we can take around the continent once we live in France.

He's already begun to scare our children with comments like, "This is our next-to-last Christmas here in the U.S."
I can't think of anyone else I would want to go on my next adventure with. It's nice that as the kids move into adulthood, I still have a friend in my husband, someone to explore the world with.

I hope you are Dreaming of France too, if only through books, movies, pictures, songs or fantasies.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll play along and visit the blogs of others who are Dreaming of France.

12 Days of Appreciation -- Day 3

Some days, when we get caught up in the day-to-day grind of cooking meals, cleaning, working, dealing with children, we forget about the higher qualities of your spouse. We can find ourselves in a negative rut if we aren't careful.
The positive thinking books encourage readers to focus on the good, to be grateful for what we have, and I'm focusing on the blessings of a devoted husband.
I went for a run this morning with the temperature hovering around 66 degrees. That's ridiculously warm for December. I dressed in a short sleeved shirt and knee length running tights. After nearly 40 minutes, I felt drops of rain falling on me. I turned right, hoping the rain might not have arrived farther south, but the rain intensified and the wind picked up, roaring down the street and bending young trees over so that they nearly touched the ground.
As the rain soaked through my clothes, I listened for thunder and watched for lightning. In spite of the intensity of the storm, no thunder and lightning, so I ran the mile and a half home, dripping. Each step squooshed with water.
Even as I continued to run, I knew that I could stop in any doorway, pull my phone from my waterproof belt and call my husband. He would walk through the rain to the car and drive down the streets to rescue me.
Having someone who will be there in any situation is such a luxury; one that I don't feel thankful for often enough. So today, I'm feeling grateful.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

12 Days of Appreciation

That famous song the 12 Days of Christmas celebrates the time from Christmas Day to Epiphany, so technically, according to the Catholic Church calendar, yesterday was the first day of Christmas and today is the second.
Over the next 12 days, I plan to focus on reasons that I appreciate my husband.
First, I don't want anyone to think that I have a perfect marriage. We've been married for 25 years, together for 27 years. We fight sometimes -- about serious stuff and trivial things. We get pissed off; we get annoyed. In spite of whatever daily irritant we might be feeling, I love this man for many reasons.
I'll start with two.
Christmas Day is easy to appreciate. We agreed to give each other one present for Christmas. We're always conscious of having to pay college bills. I needed a new coat, but my husband wanted to surprise me, so we went to the store and I chose three coats that I liked and let my husband pick from those three to surprise me under the tree. He picked a coat that "looked cute" on me and I loved it. In addition to the coat though, he bought a print of a painting set in Arles, France, and gave me that. He filled my stocking with moisturizer, chocolates and a book set in Paris, along with some warm socks.
And that's one thing I appreciate about my husband. He wants to make me happy and spends time thinking about how to do that.

My second day of appreciation also occurred yesterday, on Christmas Day.
After our celebration at home and an afternoon spent driving down to my brother's house for dinner and back, we decided to watch a movie. The boys both headed out to spend time with girls. My husband let me search for the movie Love Actually, which I couldn't find either to rent on demand or on Netflix. But we saw that Bridge Jones' Diary was available, and he said he'd be happy to watch it.
What? Seriously? Okay.
Grace joined us and we watched and laughed at the movie, which begins at Christmastime, so it was like a Christmas movie.
Not many men would happily watch a chick flick movie so he could laugh at the slap fight the British men engage in.
Both Day 1 and Day 2 are acts that I appreciate because he made my wants a priority. I don't think I'm as unselfish as he is, but maybe noticing the time and effort he puts into it will help make up for that.
I hope you are all having a lovely Christmas season and find something to appreciate as well.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tuesday Intros -- The 6:41 to Paris

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 just received a French book translated into English. I'll be reviewing it for France Book Tours, but I'm definitely going to be curling up with it over Christmas.
The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel is about Cecile, 47, who is taking the early morning train from her parents' provincial town to Paris when the empty seat next to her is occupied by a man with whom she had a torrid affair and an awful ending. That should be an interesting train ride back.
Here's the intro:
I could have taken the 7:50, or even the 8:53. It's Monday. Mondays are dead quiet at work. It's just that I couldn't take anymore. What was I thinking, staying Sunday night. I don't know what came over me. Two days are more than enough.  
 I love visiting my parents, but I can imagine this weekend with French parents who have certain expectations might be trying.
I wonder what happens between Cecile and Philippe. And I wonder why the author named the main character after himself, Jean-Philippe.
Thanks for visiting my blog! I can't wait to see what everyone else is reading.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dreaming of France -- Paris Runaway

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.

It's been a little while since we've played Dreaming of France. I know the way to increase the number of people playing and reading -- all I have to do is move to France!
But our current plans don't include us moving to France until May 2017. Still -- May 2017 is only a year and a half away!
So today, as we head toward the end of 2015, I thought I'd post some pictures from our trip to Marseille in March.
We'd never been to Marseille, so we took the bus from Aix en Provence to Marseille, about 30 minutes. The bus stops at the train station, and the view from the train station is panoramic.

In the distance on the hill is Notre Dame de la Garde, our lady of the guard, which overlooks the Marseille harbor. 

The architecture in Marseille looks similar to buildings in Paris. 

This ferris wheel sits at the beginning of the harbor for a terrific view. Well, we didn't actually ride on the ferris wheel, but I imagine the view would be stunning from those little seats. 

We walked down to the end of the harbor where we saw the Marseille Cathedral. I'd never heard of it before, but sitting there along the edge of the Mediterranean, with it's dramatic dark insets, the cathedral wowed us. 

I'm looking forward to the day when we can return to France and explore Marseille again. 
I hope you're dreaming of France today too and I really appreciate everyone who participates and visits each other's blogs. 

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Tuesday Intros -- The Diamond Caper

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.

Sometimes I get confused which Peter Mayle book I've read and which ones I haven't. He's been writing a series with a detective and an insurance adjuster who frequently have to travel to Marseille where they stay in luxury with a really rich  man, as we all do! Anyway, I haven't read this one The Diamond Caper.
Here's the intro:
Why is it that bad news so often arrives on Monday mornings?
The call came at 6:00 a.m. local time, waking a reluctant Elena Morales from a deliciously deep sleep. It was her boss, Frank Knox, founder and CEO of Knox Insurance, and there was an undercurrent of tension in his voice. There was a problem, he said, and it was urgent. Despite the early morning Los Angeles traffic, Elena was with him in his office by 7:30. 
 Guess what? The urgent case was in Nice, France, so Elena is off to France where her boyfriend Sam meets her. There's sure to be French fun to follow.
I look forward to seeing what everyone else is reading.

Friday, December 04, 2015

In Memory of Nana

I imagine that everyone is tired of reading sad posts on my blog. I think about writing stories on Christmas lights or scented soaps or books set in France, but life has other plans.
On Wednesday afternoon, I learned that my 97-year-old grandmother died.
This was in August at my cousin's
daughter's wedding. 
Now, I realize that most people as old as I am are fortunate to have parents living and in good health, much less a grandmother. But my grandmother, Nana, has resisted old age.
One of my nieces pointed out that Nana is the only woman she knows who gave up high  heels at age 92. That makes her practically French, doesn't it?
Nana led a typical Kentucky life, marrying at age 16 to a man 12 years older because he wanted a young bride that he could raise the way he wanted. That sounds terribly sexist, which it was, but he might have gotten more than  he planned on when he married my strong-willed grandmother. The two of them had three children, one of them my father.
Nana helped run a general store and the family lived above the store, until one night a fire broke out. The family escaped and stood outside in the cold watching their home, livelihood and several hundred dollars in life savings burn to the ground, My grandfather didn't believe in banks, so he kept cash. He nearly died trying to save the money.
Some of Nana's jobs after that included running a hotel, which I vaguely remember as a child. What fun to visit my grandmother and get to stay in a hotel room! She also worked at the post office and knew everyone in her small town.
One of my favorite stories from Nana was when she rode a horse into town to get a permanent at the beauty shop. Just the idea that they didn't have a car to drive, they still relied on horses or wagons, but she still searched out the permanent wave for her thin hair. But the story got better. On the way home, the horse got stuck in quicksand. Nana had to crawl off the horse's neck to get to solid ground then tug on the horse's reins until she got him up to dry ground too. Another time she told about the horse running away with her as she lay flat and wrapped her hands around its neck, holding on for her life.
Kentucky, especially the poor parts, has always been behind the rest of the world, but the idea of using outhouses and riding horses to town even 80 years ago strikes me as "Little House on the Prairie."
My grandfather died 32 years ago, but Nana wasn't finished with marriage. She dated a few guys before she lucked into meeting Ish. They fell in love like a lightning strike and married quickly to spend their remaining years together.
Ish freed Nana in a way. She went from a woman who only wore dresses, to someone who discovered pants were sensible and sometimes more modest than dresses. She began to spend winters in Arizona, and she and Ish traveled to explore new lands, including Venezuela.
Here's my Aunt June, Nana, me and Grace
They returned to live in Kentucky and Ish died in the late 1990s. Nana continued to live alone. We convinced her to buy a smaller house for awhile, but after a year, she sold it for a profit and moved back to her big house with five bedrooms, two kitchens, two living rooms, a dining room and acres of land.
A few years ago, she had a stroke. She insisted on lying down for awhile rather than calling the
emergency squad. She never fully regained strength in her left side, but she lived at home with her daughter or a live-in helper, intent on completing many tasks at home. She would slide down the stairs on her butt to get to the lower level and go through her belongings, deciding what to keep or discard.
A few years ago, she became terribly ill. I drove the four hours from Columbus to be with her. My aunt and uncle in Kentucky both had the flu and couldn't visit her in the hospital. My parents in Florida weren't within reach. I sat by her hospital bed, but she didn't wake up. I didn't think she'd make it through the night.
I called my parents and told them to come. They did, and Nana was better by the time they arrived. She seemed to beat all the odds.
This was probably celebrating her 90th birthday, or maybe 92. 
Nana mostly lived at home, but would go into the nursing home for three months at a time to give my aunt a break from caretaking duty.
In October, another call from the hospital. She had pneumonia. I drove down to sit by her bed. My aunt had been there all night and I waved her off to shower and rest. I pulled up a chair by Nana's bed, and for someone who they thought could die, she sat in bed alert. She hardly dozed at all. Instead, we talked.
She asked me about her great grandchildren, and her great-great grandchildren. I showed her pictures on my cell phone. We talked about her early life.
"When I woke up, I thought Wilbert was sitting in that chair," she said. Wilbert was my grandfather, her first husband.
We talked for a few minutes and she told me, "I was unhappy married," and I knew she meant in her first marriage. "But he was a good father."
She wasn't inclined to talk about her future, in this world or in heaven, in spite of her strong religious beliefs.
She fell asleep about half an hour before I needed to leave for the 4-hour drive back home.
"I love you, Nana," I whispered as I kissed her soft hair, plastered down in the back against the bed.
And she recovered again, returning to the nursing home to play bingo.
Then Wednesday, Mom texted me that Nana  had died.
I have to guess that she has no regrets, even though she didn't quite make it to her 98th birthday.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Stiff Necks and Guilt

Sometimes, I know that I'm not a good person.
I'm not saying that in the hopes that one of you readers will try to talk me out of it.
I'm selfish, not as generous or as kind as I should be.
This morning, I went over in my mind the things that I'm dreading. The visiting hours this evening for my friend's daughter's death, along with Katie's funeral Monday morning. I half hoped I wouldn't be able to find a substitute teacher so I couldn't go to the funeral.
I signed up to take dessert for the funeral luncheon, but I didn't go to mass this morning, where I might have talked to or comforted the family.
And now, the pain in my neck has begun -- a pain I had for
two weeks when my Aunt Lorena died.
I could, of course, skip the visiting hours and the funeral. One of my friends from church called and as we talked she said she expected I wouldn't be able to get out of teaching to attend the funeral. I could have grabbed at that straw and assumed everyone else would think that too.
But, I knew that although I could easily skip the funeral and the visitation, my once best friend Cathy could not. I could pretend that nothing had happened, but she is living with the fact that her 21-year-old daughter died.
And for that reason alone, I will be there this evening, offering my sympathy because I know that nothing can be done to ease their pain. And I will be at the funeral mass on Monday morning. I will drive to the cemetery and watch their tears fall as handfuls of dirt are tossed into the hole that holds their daughter.
I think that I might be able to help their daughters. I was 14 when my sister died. Katie's sisters are 18 and 12. I'm the godmother to the younger one.
But what could I tell them?
My sister Tammy in her senior picture. She died
the night before her high school graduation.
I could warn them that as they move forward in their lives, at each milestone, they'll feel the emotional abyss left behind with the loss of Katie. As they complete college and celebrate with their family, they'll feel Katie's absence. When they plan their weddings or give birth to children, they'll feel that ache -- the certain feeling that an older sister would have good advice and experience to share.
But why should I warn them. They'll know soon enough, and at least they'll have each other, along with their two brothers.
I burst out last night and told Grace that whenever I die, they should just plan the service quickly. I hate the limbo, the in-between time when you can't even pretend that things will be normal because of the wait for the services. I remember that time when my sister died, and with Thanksgiving, the wait has been even longer for Katie's funeral.
As a sister, and I imagine as a parent, the toughest part is to leave the person you love in the metal box, no matter how lovely and lined with silk, to close the lid of that box and leave her in the funeral home or the church. I wouldn't be able to bear it. I cried copious tears at that thought of leaving my sister all alone in the church the night of the visitation.
But I will go tonight and recall happy memories of Katie, in the hopes that I can share some joy in the midst of this painful season.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Saturday Snapshot -- Mouth Full of Chocolate

Join West Metro Mommy for this weekly meme of photos people have taken and share on their blogs.
We had a fairly laid back Thanksgiving, but at one point in the afternoon, 3-year-old Regan asked whether I'd come play with her. Of course, I did and she set up an elaborate tea party.
A piece of cake and a piece of Buckeye candy were on Regan's dessert plate. Suddenly, I looked down and the entire Buckeye was gone.
"Did you put that entire thing in your mouth?" I asked Regan. She nodded, but her full cheeks and over-wide eyes told me the answer before she did.

Tucker also got to meet his new cousin Benjamin and he wanted a selfie. So I held up  Benjamin for Tucker to take a selfie with him.

We also got a family snapshot while all of us were in the same place.

Hope you  had a lovely holiday, if your an American, and that everyone else had peaceful weeks.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Life Too Short

On Tuesday evening, as I arrived in class to teach, I pulled a folder from my bag and got a paper cut. I know, a paper cut, big deal. I popped the finger in my mouth and sucked on it, natural reaction for me. But I couldn't stop bleeding. The blood pooled under my fingernail and formed a ruby bubble on my finger. I wrapped a paper towel around it, but as I gathered papers to pass out to students, I left little blots of blood on the papers.
The paper cut wasn't a big deal, but it was a surreal end to a sad day.
That afternoon, I found out that Katie, a 21-year-old who grew up with my kids, had died.
When our family moved to Columbus in 1998, I attended a homeschool meeting. I walked into the meeting and gazed at the people sitting around the tables arranged in a U-shape. I chose the most "normal" looking woman and slid into a chair next to her. I had no idea that this woman would become one of my closest friends. Cathy, like me, had three children -- two girls and a boy. They were all close in age to my children.
We ended up become homeschooling partners, joining forces three or four days a week, as we explored different historical periods and of course allowed the children to run and play.
We had been searching for a church since we arrived in Columbus, and Cathy invited us to try the Newman Center on Ohio State's campus. We began going there and were welcomed into the church family there.
A few years later, Cathy convinced me to join her and start a new religious education program at our church -- Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. We went for weeks and long weekends of training, paying hundreds of dollars and spending hours creating the Montessori-based materials. We even fought with the church leaders about incorporating the new religious education classes.
Through it all, our children remained fast friends.
Then Cathy decided to have more children and put her older kids in school. Once she entered the school realm, we weren't as close, although we both continued to teach religious ed at church. Eventually, as my kids aged out, I stopped teaching. Cathy is there for a few years more as her two younger children still go through the program.
But this story isn't about Cathy, it's about her daughter Katie. When Katie was 2, she had a cancerous tumor somewhere around her rib cage. Usually, when these tumors are discovered, it is too late for the children already. But Cathy listened to Katie's 2-year-old complaints when she lay on her side or when someone picked her up. She took Katie to the doctor and insisted they check it out rather than shrug it off. And after a prayer service one evening, Katie's tumor stopped growing. During her childhood years, she had to have regular checkups to track it, but after five  years, those became yearly checkups.
In her high school years, Katie began having seizures. She was diagnosed with epilepsy. That meant trying to find just the right medicine to control her seizures, but not so much that she became a zombie. Through it all, Katie's giggle and slightly snarky comments as she raised her voice to be heard above everyone else would be the things that stood out.
Rather than being resentful of her younger siblings, Katie often held them when they were little and allowed them to climb her like a jungle gym as they grew older. She swam on swim team and played water polo, insisting on a normal life. She went away to college and moved into her own apartment.
We've grown away from the family, but I ran into Cathy in the grocery store in October. She filled me in on the family and said that Katie had an internship in Chicago this summer with a PR firm. She loved the job and hoped the company might hire her once she graduated college in the spring.
And then on Tuesday came the phone call. Katie had a seizure Tuesday morning and she had died.
I still can't quite grasp it, so I imagined that for her parents and her four siblings, they expect to hear her footsteps and a call of hello from Katie at any moment.
Grace was hit hard by the news. She and Katie were friends on Facebook, but those early years playing pioneer and teacher and Barbies, formed a bond that the two could always count on.
As a friend, I feel helpless. If I were a parent, my mind can't even fathom how I would feel.
I think about stupid arguments with children, worries about weight gain or girl fights.
I need to remember to focus on the important things in life, so I have no regrets. And I need to make sure I love the people around me because we don't know when those people will be gone.  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

In the Woods With a Wolf

I'm still in denial about some difficulties that we've had this fall, so I'll write another happy post. This one includes pictures of Grace.
Grace is working a lot and auditioning for plays since finishing her role as Nancy in Oliver.
A photographer friend asked her to pose with a wolf as publicity both for the photographer, Candid Kama Photography, and for the wolf rescue place.
Grace convinced her boyfriend Jack and her friends Kyle and Rachel to pose with her. They all dressed up in Victorian clothes for the shoot.
I can't believe that Jack had a Victorian suit, including a top hat that flattens and pops up.
This is my favorite with Grace and the wolf in the woods. 
 And another one that I liked was this reflective picture. When I first saw it, I only saw the bottom and I wondered why they posted it upside down. Then I scrolled up and saw that the reflection was just incredibly clear.
So Grace is doing well, other than working too much.
And someday soon, I'll be ready to write about the challenges we've faced this fall.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Story About a Kitten

Last week, Earl had some days off and he decided to go on a long bike ride. He drove east of the city and got on a rural bike path.
After six miles or so, he saw a kitten sitting on the asphalt path. It stayed there, close to the body of another cat -- maybe its sibling, maybe its mother. The other cat was clearly dead, and Earl moved him off the path. Rigor mortis had set in, yet the loyal kitten remained there beside his dead comrade.
Earl stopped to pet the kitten and fed it a blueberry cereal bar he carried in his bag. Then he crumbled up some crackers for the cat.
I know our cats would have turned up their nose at those offers of food, but this kitten hungrily ate all of it.

After sending me a picture, Earl continued on his bike journey. I forwarded the pictures to Grace and told her the story. She immediately began sending texts asking her dad to save the kitten.
At the end of the trail, Earl took a break before riding back, and when he returned to his bike, he had a flat tire. So, he called and asked if I'd drive down to pick him up.
Once I retrieved him, the two of us agreed that we'd stop and see if the kitten remained on the bike trail. "There's no way he'll be there," Earl predicted.
But we pulled off at a place near where he thought the kitten had been. We walked, not very far down the trail, and a little gray kitten ran after bikes as they passed before giving up. "I can't believe he's still here."
Earl picked him up -- so small he could sit in a hand. The kitten didn't like being carried, but Earl put him inside his coat. He wouldn't last on the bike trail near a farm field. Coyotes,  hawks, buzzards,  owls. A number of predators would find him a tasty meal.
So we took him home.

Grace took him to the vet after work. The vet said he was 6-7 weeks old. He got antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection, medicine for an eye infection, spray for ear mites and a deworming. Plus he passed a feline leukemia test.
This picture is hilarious. The kitten looks like he was photoshopped in,
but he really just sat there on Earl's shoulder and stared at the camera. 
He was so sick the first few days that I got fooled into thinking he was just a well-behaved kitten, but he feels better now and spends his time getting into mischief.
I don't think this kitten will be ours though. We're carefully trying to integrate him into the household, but the older cats are not fond of him. They hiss at him and swipe at him. We keep him in a crate at night and whenever we leave the house. We've tried all the techniques that I read about online to introduce the cats to each other, but the older cats are still resistant.
I don't want to throw the older cats away, forcing them to hide in the basement or outside to avoid the kitten.
Also, we haven't been able to decide on a name, which I feel like is a sign that he shouldn't stay. Grace wants to call him Oscar Wilde, since he was wild. We almost all agreed on the name Loki, but Earl vetoed it. He didn't like that Loki was evil. In Norse mythology, Loki is a trickster, but apparently in the Avenger movies, Loke is a bad guy. Sometimes Earl calls him Donald because his hair sticks up like Donald Trump's.

One of the main reasons I don't think he'll be with us long is that I'm not quite ready to take care of someone again. Just last year, our youngest child went away to college and I achieved a sense of freedom. But the kids have moved in and out, as I imagine they will for a few years yet until we move to France.
With the kitten, I'm cleaning his litter pan, carrying it downstairs to the other litter pan and cleaning it too. I have to be careful about putting the food up so he can't reach it. Keeping him off the counter, off the table, away from the other cats. When I try to write in the morning  he attacks my feet so I spend more time evading him than I do writing.
Kittens are still a lot of work.
But they sure are cute.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday Intros -- The Ingredients of 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.

I just picked this up today, although I don't know anything about it other than there's an Eiffel Tower on the front and it says it's an International Bestseller. The Ingredients of Love by Nicolas Barreau says it combines Cyrano de Bergerac with Chocolat and Amelie.
Here's the intro:
Last year in November a book saved my life. I know that sounds very unlikely now. Many of you may feel I'm exaggerating -- or even being melodramatic -- when I say so. .But that's exactly how it was.
It wasn't that someone had aimed at my heart and the bullet had miraculously been stopped by the pages of a thick, leatherbound edition of Baudeliare's poetry, as so often happens in the movies. I don't lead that exciting a life. 
According to the book jacket, Aurelie, a restauranteur in Paris, finds a novel in a small bookshop then reads it to discover that she and her restaurant are included in the book. She reads it in one night and wants to desperately meet the author, but he's reclusive and she can't get through to him until one day he writes her back.

I can't wait to dive in. I hope you're reading something interesting too.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Still Dreaming of France

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France.
I thought about not posting Dreaming of France today after everything that happened. And not very many people have been joining in, but then decided maybe it's more important than ever to dream about France. 

France holds my heart. The terrorists knew what they were doing when they attacked Paris, because so many of us love it or dream of visiting it. Even Hitler spared Paris. 
And it's so sad that terrorists believe some evil acts could dim the beauty in that city. 

For centuries, each step in the creation of Paris had led to the delights it offers - visually


Filling all the senses.
I know Paris will recover and that I will visit again.
Thanks for visiting and for playing along with Dreaming of France.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Nous Sommes Tous Ensemble

I'm not sure what I want to say today, after the deplorable attacks in Paris, except that violence is not the answer.
This miniature Statue of Liberty stands along the
Seine in Paris, welcoming the less fortunate.
I look at the terrorists and think that they are our modern-day barbarians. They don't care what they destroy, even themselves.
And I need to be clear that I do not equate people from the Middle East or people from countries at war with those who committed the bombings and shootings in Paris last night. It has never helped us to group all people who look alike or come from the same culture or from the same religion.
I teach many Muslim students and they are just like the Christian students, except in the way they worship.
No, these bombers and shooters, whether French-born, Syrian-born, Iraqi or Saudi Arabian-born, have a mental illness. They are part of a cult -- no more Muslim than they are Scientologists. They have been brain washed to believe that somehow killing others will increase the power of their religion. They follow violent leaders to their own doom, like the children followed the Pied Piper, entranced by the leaders' words and promises.
We need to show these young people that they can create change through non-violent ways. They can create in their countries a Paris of their own, where people dine and laugh in restaurants, where people gather to listen to music, where people safely watch soccer matches.
And those who we can't convince, we need to stop before they hurt others.

As we watched the news last night, the stations were broadcasting the phone numbers for the American embassy, both in Paris and in the U.S. But, the newsman urged, call home and let your family know you're okay.
Facebook has created a beautiful opportunity to avoid that phone call and let everyone know that you are safe. Whenever a tragedy or natural disaster occurs, they have a check in page for everyone who lives in the area or who has recently posted in the area.
So on my phone, I could look to see who checked in as safe.

It's a brilliant idea. Most of my friends have checked in. Only one young man has not posted on Facebook since the bombings. He lives in Paris, but he often leaves for the weekend, so I'm hopeful that he is out of town.
Here is Henri with Earl when we visited in March.
When something so tragic happens, I have a natural instinct to draw my family around me. Grace was home last night to watch the television coverage. Tucker began texting because he heard the explosions during the soccer game. He said the announcers thought they were fireworks. 
In an attempt to lure my boys home, I offered to make chili and chocolate chip cookies if they'd come home to watch today's football game. They probably won't make the 3-hour round-trip drive, and my need to pull them close will fade.
I try to find a bright spot in a tragedy, and luckily Upworthy posted a picture of the Eiffel Tower with the Mr. Rogers' saying. 

And last night during the coverage, we saw plenty of helpers, police, firefighters, soldiers, and even ordinary people who stripped off their shirts to bandage the wounded. 

And then today, my friend Aline posted a quote from Mother Theresa. It's all we can hope for as we work toward peace. 
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” 
― Mother Teresa

Please, let's start the ripples. 

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'...