Sunday, January 23, 2022


The problem with not blogging for so long, is that there is way too much to blog about so then it's discouraging and I'll never be able to catch up! 
But, after Sillygirl asked in the comments a few times, I realized that there are some loyal readers who might worry what has happened to me, so I thought I could at least share some pictures with you.
First, we are safely back in France having dodged Covid around the world, well at least in the U.S., Ireland and France, so far. 
We returned a week ago and our friends have been so welcoming and supportive, like they missed us. I know we missed them. 
My first hike back in France, this horse posed with the sunrise between the mountains. 

Our trip to the States, three months long, was too much, but we enjoyed every minute we got to spend with our sons and my parents, plus time with our siblings and nieces and nephews. Then Covid got crazy and we just hunkered down over the holidays, only seeing Tucker, who had Covid the week before we got there, and Spencer and his girlfriend. Earl's sister and her kids and grandkids all had Covid over the holidays, canceling our plans to gather. We ended up skipping out on our flight from Columbus to Florida and renting a car instead to avoid Omicron, which seemed to infect everyone, even those of us triple vaxxed. We couldn't risk taking Covid back to my parents as Dad was preparing to have his pacemaker replaced (all went well). Also, we knew if we tested positive, we wouldn't be able to board the plane back home. After three months  of staying with other people, we were ready to get home. 
But, as always, there's the terrible pull in the pit of my stomach as I say goodbye to my sons or to my parents. Leaving our sons and my parents behind is the hardest part of living in France. When I say that, I hear the scene from Love Actually when Colin Forth tells his Portuguese housekeeper and love interest that dropping her off is the worst part of his day. I find myself reminiscing about the boys' childhoods, the quick patter of their feet on the wooden floors before diving onto our bed in the morning. I see their beautiful chubby cheeks and innocent eyes. 
They're both planning trips to visit us this year with significant others, so fingers crossed that it actually happens. 

Mom and Dad both had birthdays while we visited. They're doing great and staying healthy while avoiding Covid. It's tricky these days. Luckily, their favorite thing, golf, is outdoors. 

We left Florida on a Sunday. Our flights were scheduled Tampa, New York then Dublin. We were spending a few days with Grace and Jack since they hadn't gotten home for Christmas. Jack is still waiting on his visa from the Irish government and doesn't want to leave the country in case there's difficulty returning. Grace is working on her PhD in Archeology, focusing on cultural heritage, especially our area of France. How convenient!
Our Tampa to New York flight got delayed, which meant we wouldn't make our New York to Dublin flight. My knee-jerk reaction was to get to the airport as quickly as possible so we could take an alternative flight. I stayed online with Delta the entire hour and a half drive to the airport and we only got our new flights resolved as we were leaving our rental car. At the airport by 1:30, our flight wouldn't leave til 8:30. Now we were flying Tampa, Atlanta, Paris, Dublin. I know! I couldn't believe I couldn't leave any of our five suitcases in France while we were there. 
But we made it to Dublin the next day and quickly embraced Grace. We enjoyed four nights with her and Jack, making up for our missed Christmas together. 

Daughter/dad hugs. Of course we went for a walk on the beach in Dublin.
We're so lucky to get sun when we're there. 
The countryside is stunning in Ireland, even in January. 

This climb in Bray was a good workout and had beautiful views. 
On Friday we flew back to France and our friend Derrick met us at the airport in Toulouse. It's two hours from home, but flights to the closer airport had been cancelled. 
We arrived home just in time to make it to our visa appointment. 
Since we moved to France in 2018, we have had to renew our visa every year. This is our 5th year, which means next year, we can apply for a 10-year visa or carte de séjour as they're called in France. 
After receiving our visa, we celebrated by walking about La Cité in Carcassonne. As stunning as ever.
The sky and the outer walls of the chateau
And so we're back. We've been enjoying time with friends, drinking inexpensive wine and stocking up on scrumptious pastries, along with walks and runs in the countryside. It's not a bad life.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Book Review The Vanished Collection

As I read The Vanished Collection by Pauline Baer de Perignon, I couldn't help comparing the differences between a book written for a French audience versus a book written for an American audience. In France, the subtleties count. In the U.S., we want the mystery laid out and the answer hinted at throughout so we can feel that sense of accomplishment at the end. 

At the beginning, the conflict was unclear. The author's cousin had hinted that perhaps her great grandfather's painting had been confiscated by the Nazis. Confiscated seems too tame a word. Stolen, taken, ripped from his grasp. But the family thought he had sold his collection. They thought her great grandfather and grandmother voluntarily moved from their Paris apartment. They didn't even think about the Jewish roots of their family and the dangers the ancestors faced living in occupied Paris. Slowly, the author reveals the research she did and how she discovered her great grandfather's life during World War II. 

Having researched the topic of stolen art during World War II for my novel The Summer of France

I was already enthralled by the idea of looking back at undiscovered thefts by the Nazis and the effort it takes to try to redeem the crimes committed in the 1940s. This book was set within the past five years. I enjoyed The Vanished Collection and the peek into the French mind, where no one wanted to discuss the atrocities of the Nazis during the war, preferring not to remember that neighbor turned against neighbor. But the author needed to knock on each door and dredge up each memory to search for the truth of her great grandfather's life. 

You can find this book on Amazon in kindle or paperback

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'...