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.

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'...