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
Sign up to receive her Newsletter.
Buy the book on Amazon



Enter here

Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form]
Global giveaway open to all 8 winners


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Blog Post

I pondered whether to write a funny or emotional post today. I'm still not sure which I'm writing yet.
But I will tell you that when I got up this morning, I saw the cat on my laptop.
"Get down!" I chided him.
When I sat down at the keyboard later, I realized he had turned off my wifi connection and turned on airplane mode.
I tried to move my mouse and realized he had also turned off my keypad.
As I began grading papers, I saw that he had taken my one-page grading rubric and turned it into a 791-page document.
He's more prolific at writing than I am!
For some reason, I thought I needed to delete those 790 pages and get back to my first page. After several minutes of highlighting the pages from the end, I realized that I could just spike that document and start a new one. I'm not letting a cat outsmart me!

That was such an easy dilemma, compared to what we went through on Monday.
Tucker and two friends had driven to New York City to visit his former roommate then the four of them went camping in the Catskills. On Sunday, they drove back into the city, planning to drive home Monday.
At 7:10 a.m., I received a text -- "On our way." It's about an 8-hour drive, so he should have been home by 3 p.m. An hour later, he called. He was at an auto shop because his battery light had come on. The mechanic said he needed a new alternator.
"Get out of the city!" my husband urged. 
Meanwhile, I called the mechanic who had changed Tucker's oil and put new brakes on just the week before. He called back and said that the battery was new, but he hadn't changed the alternator on the 2002 Subaru. So it could need a new alternator. 
But he hypothesized that if Tucker drove home without lights or windshield wipers, the battery might just last. 
Tuck and his friends searched for a Firestone as they drove down the New Jersey turnpike and found out the price was higher than it had been in the city.  They stopped at an Autozone and bought a new alternator, with Tucker's friend installing it, before hitting the road again. Then they called from the Pennsylvania turnpike. They had broken down when it started to rain, and they turned the windshield wipers on. After 30 minutes on hold with AAA, a turnpike worker came along and ordered them a tow truck. 
Of course, the entire ordeal was dotted with phone calls and texts and dying cell phones -- along with attempts to check out the eclipse. 
The tow truck driver told them that Autozone had a history of selling faulty alternators, so, for $68, he towed them to Autozone, where they found out they had the wrong alternator for their car. So an even exchange, a new alternator and they headed toward home again. 
They had had to pay $22 when they were towed off the turnpike halfway. 
After they drove the remainder of the turnpike, they couldn't find the card they received from the toll booth attendant, so they had to pay the entire amount, $44. 
What an expensive lesson.
The entire day, I just thought how much easier it must have been to parent before cell phones. Then I might, or might not have gotten a phone call to say that he had broken down, but he would have had to handle it. 
I love when a series of misadventures turns out okay, and you know that it will be a story he'll tell someday about the fun time they had camping in the Catskills.  

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Firming Up Plans for Our Move

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's no turning back now. We have committed to housesitting for someone in France in January. That helps to cement our plans to move. We'll be staying in the Charentes area and taking care of a whole menagerie of animals while the other family goes on vacation. It should definitely be a goo immersion in France.
My husband should retire in December, we'll celebrate Christmas here with our families and then fly to France.
Of course, we still need some dominoes to fall into place -- like selling the house -- but the closer we get to actually moving to France, the more excited I am.
We plan to housesit and rent in some different places to make sure the move is a good fit for us.

It can start with a single housesit, but will hopefully snowball. 
Now we're really dreaming of France. 
How bout you? 
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 17, 2017

France BookTours -- That Spring in Paris

That Spring in Paris - banner
I can't imagine running to Paris for an emergency instead of for sheer pleasure, but that's what happens in That Spring in Paris by Ciji Ware.
The story is told through the eyes of Juliet, a graphic artist working for her brother's video game business so that she can help preserve the money her father invested in it, and Patrick, who recently left the military to heal from his PTSD even though his father, a lifetime military man, doesn't approve of that decision.
That Spring in ParisJuliet races to Paris after her best friend is injured during the November 2015 terrorist attacks. She physically runs into Patrick at the door to the hospital. Patrick is there to visit someone injured in the attack, too.
The two begin to build a relationship and to untangle the complications they live with because of family demands. The book changes locations between Paris and San Francisco mostly.
When I previewed this novel a few weeks ago, some people living in France thought it might be too soon to write about the terrorist attacks. I think the entire subject is handled delicately, and it doesn't exploit the devastation at all. The characters are struck with fear and PTSD every time another attack or scare arises and must heal again.
Although the story is set against the backdrop of the terrorist attacks, the real plot focuses on the love story of two people who have given in to the will of their families rather than focusing on what they want in life. They give each other the strength to move forward to reach their own goals.
Here's a quote from the book at 18% on Kindle:
He returned his gaze to the plate glass window just as the Eiffel Tower was suddenly illuminated with blinding brightness in shades of blue, white, and red.
"Oh, look!" Juliet exclaimed, swiveling in her seat on the sofa. "How beautiful! They've turned the lights back on in the colors of the French flag! Isn't that a good sign?"
The enormous structure's colorful outline was reflected in the water below it.
"It'll never look the same to me."
"No... not to you, it probably won't," she agreed. "Just like the space where the Twin towers once stood in Manhattan has never looked the same to New Yorkers...."
I realized after the attacks that the Eiffel Tower sat unlit, but I hadn't ever imagined how oppressive that might feel, to walk through the city at night without the twinkling lights, so when the lights came back on, it felt like a return to hope.
Even though the event that set the travel to Paris in motion was negative, Juliet found herself falling in love with Paris, as most everyone does. I enjoyed the descriptions of her discoveries in the richness of life.
I recommend this novel as a smart read with romance and deep dives into family issues along with the complications of war and violence.

Ciji Ware on Tour August 15-28 with

That Spring in Paris

(women’s fiction / romance) Release date: May 25, 2017 at Lion’s Paw Publishing ISBN: 978-0988940871 ebook: 978-0988940864 468 pages Website Goodreads


Two Americans literally collide at the entrance to a Paris hospital, each desperately searching for friends felled in the same unspeakable tragedy. Patrick Finley Deschanel, an expatriate former U.S. Air Force pilot, quit the military after a career flying helicopter rescue missions in the Middle East. Now resident on a classic barge moored on the Seine, Finn is a man with both physical battle scars and psychic wounds that overshadow his day-to-day encounters at every turn. Juliet Thayer is a fledgling landscape painter who seeks escape from a tyrannical older brother and her job at his violent video war games company in San Francisco. Her emergency trip to Paris also raises doubts as to her impending engagement to a colleague where she serves as packaging design director and “Chief Branding Officer” of GatherGames, a highly speculative enterprise in which her parents are heavily invested. As Finn and Juliet form a tenuous attachment in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that traumatized the French capital November 13, 2015, they wonder if the “City of Light” can provide a path out of the darkness for two emotional exiles who fear–along with the world at large—that their universe has descended into a permanent state of chaos and that the renewal of spring might never come. New York Times bestselling novelist and Emmy-award winning news producer Ciji Ware displays her formidable skill at weaving fact and fiction–delivering a gripping story about the discovery of love and regained serenity in the wake of horrifying events.


That Spring in Paris - Ciji Ware Ciji Ware, a graduate of Harvard University in History, is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical and contemporary fiction, and two works of nonfiction. An Emmy-award winning former radio and TV broadcaster for 23 years in Los Angeles, her numerous writing accolades include a Dorothy Parker Award of excellence, and being short-listed for the Willa [Cather] Literary Award. Her family circle includes a husband of many decades, a grown son and daughter-in-law, and now two grandsons under four, along with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Cholly Knickerbocker. Ware lives in a cottage by the sea on San Francisco Bay. Visit her website Follow her on Facebook and Twitter Buy the book: Amazon | B&N Nook | iBook | Kobo



Enter here

Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form]
Global giveaway open to all 2 winners




Monday, August 14, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Scenery During a Morning Run

Ooops. Sorry I'm running late. I'm on vacation in Florida and totally forgot about posting Dreaming of France today.

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.

One thing that I continue, no matter where in the world I am, is running. So here are a couple of shots that I took on my first run in France this spring. 

In Columbus where I live, the scenery doesn't change very much. It's pretty flat and I pass other runners and walkers with their dogs, but in the village Mireval, not far from Montpelier, I had a view of a ridge of mountains. Not a common sight for me. 


And the mountains got higher as I got closer. Plus look at that old stone wall. I wonder who built it and how long ago. 

In the distance was a village, and the spire of the local church stood above everything else.

And some of the houses had lovely roses in bloom. 
Thanks for joining me as I dream of France. On Thursday I have a book review going up and a chance to win a copy of That Spring in Paris by Ciji Ware. I hope you'll come back. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

My Relaxing Day in Florida

It's 4 o'clock and I haven't showered yet today because I have spent much of the day floating in my parents' pool. 
My day began around 7 with a run through fog, the air heavy with heat and humidity. After spending the entire day driving to Florida yesterday, it was a relief to be able to move. I passed an escaped dog and the golf cart with owners in pursuit. 

I had to do some class work on my computer but had promised Grace I would run with her so didn't take a shower. Grace has been inching toward running with a couch to 5k app. By the time she got up, it was pretty steamy out.
Eureka! I had a genius idea. Let's do the walking and running in the swimming pool. 
So Mom, Grace and I did our 30 minutes of walking and running in the pool. 

Then we all floated on rafts and chatted. We got out for bathroom breaks and drinks. Grace gave in and went to shower, but I returned to the pool for more floating, watching clouds build up, white ibis fly over, and Sandhills cranes land in the yard nearby. From across the lake, I hear a train roll past with its horn echoing. 
A jungle-sounding insect makes repetitive clicks from the nearby lake and cicadas hum in the background. 
Mom and Grace tried sitting in lounge chairs to chat with me, but they got too hot. Not me. I was in the pool. 
Now I can hear a distant rumble of thunder so I suppose I'll have to abandon the pool, but I'm pretty sure I left my worries in the deep end. 

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Dreaming of France -- That Spring in Paris

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 reading another book set in France, and, of course, I always want to share with readers who are Dreaming of France like I am.
That Spring in Paris by Ciji Ware takes place just within the past few years in Paris as Juliet rushes
from San Francisco to Paris after her best friend is injured in the Paris bombings in November of 2015. As she rushes into the hospital, she literally runs into Patrick, a former U.S. Air Force pilot, who is at the hospital to visit someone else mortally wounded in the attacks. The two form a supportive relationship and begin to battle their own demons connected to terrorism. Juliet works for a video game company that creates graphic war games and allows encrypted messaging, much like what the terrorists used to communicate with each other. And Patrick flew planes and then drones during the war, so he is dealing with PTSD.
It's definitely a different look at Paris right after it has been swept by bombs and gunfire, but the strength and beauty of the city shine through, as the two watch to see when the Eiffel Tower will sparkle again, as it does eventually.
I'll be reviewing this book for FranceBookTours on August 17 and there will be a giveaway too, so make sure you check back to have an opportunity to win it.

Hey, I was in Paris during the spring, too. I'd better share a picture from my experience.

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.
I promise to blog more this week. My daughter and I are taking a mother-daughter trip to Florida. Can't wait.

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'...