I know you have seen this dog on the paperdoll's head before, and you will see it again...
Today Tongue in Cheek is Two!
Thank you for following my blog.
I know you have seen this dog on the paperdoll's head before, and you will see it again...
Today Tongue in Cheek is Two!
Thank you for following my blog.
When you live in a foreign country rather than the one you know as home, there are certain things you expect will be different, unusual, far from the norm of what you are accustom to. Those big things like language, culture, food... those big things that are necessary to understand and help one to feel like they fit in. One doesn't expect to be thrown off by the little things such as how to open a door, toilet paper, signatures, hand shakes, ice cubes, you know the little things that you don't expect to be different but are and catch you off guard the first time you encounter them.
When you live in a foreign country you will learn the language, learn their culture, cook their food, sing their songs and eventually laugh at their jokes. But when you first live in a foreign country you will miss the smallest things from back home the most... for me the things I missed the most where so silly I can hardly bring myself to tell you... let's just say you will miss the smallest things because it is easier to cope with than feeling your heart breaking because you aren't there for your Father's 80th birthday, or your niece's birth, or your best friend's wedding nor any of the unending list of important dates that will come every month for the rest of your life.
When you live in a foreign country your mother tongue sounds like music. When you hear someone speaking your language your very words will race out, "Hello, where are you from?" Perfect strangers seem like your new best friends. You have much in common without even knowing the person name.
You wonder why you don't meet more people when you are back home... everyone there speaks your tongue?
Then after years of living in a foreign country you realize you have two places called home. You look around and the foreign place doesn't feel so foreign. The doors that were closed to you before have opened over time, and the homesickness feels so common you think of it as a bruise that won't go away; you know how to protect it.
When you live in a foreign country the keys to your new life will seem strange. The keys to any door at first feel awkward to use. Then one day you realize that the passage is just part of the journey and every nook, cranny, door, and key has brought you to a another place within yourself.
Photos: Doors knobs no less in France with one very odd, but very common key.
Details, that is the type of photos I like to take. Close ups. So close you sense you can see the atoms doing a dance. Maybe the idea is to get inside the object? I don't know... but I like focusing the camera on the little details, the corners, the forgot spot, where the heart of the matter seems to beat.
Take for example this armchairs arm. Carved wood, brass tacks, worn, velvet brocade upholstery, faded paint... The texture is rich, the details endless, the history evident. It has been touched, it has lived.
When focusing on the entire armchair those inviting details are lost, and it is reduced to just another worn out armchair.
Layers upon layers of time. The French word on the leather bond book, "Chansons" translates to, "Songs." Antique books invite you to hold them, open them, as if holding hands through time.. there is movement in those worn pages, collective thoughts, like a song asking you to join in. Soul humming.
Communicating through the presence of silence.
Photos: Taking time to notice the little things.
Letters, ledgers, love notes, life of long ago living in between the lines.
Daring adventures, dreams, lists of wants and needs. Bits and pieces of someone who once walked the path before you.
Notebooks, cookbooks, books... plenty of books. Children's paper dolls and postcards and newspaper clippings, traces, the spirit of French creativity and ways of being.
What was the best thing you ever found at a flea market? It doesn't have to be expensive, valuable, rare... it could be something that you simple like. One of my most favorite finds... other than paper?
Considering very few things in my home are new, it would be hard to decided.
The pleasure of going to a flea market 'BROCANTE' in French, is that it is like a museum. Where the traces of history, and culture wait for you to rediscover different periods, places and time. Where you can touch and take home a piece of France. Why do I love the Brocante? It engraves a song in my soul, I feel connected to a past that teaches me about today.
Photos: Flea market finds that fashion my home.
Reading is a drug. The first line takes you on a trip that can last a lifetime. Sacha, like a million other people, has taken many trips with Harry Potter. Seven in fact. Seven times over. Seven is a powerful, lucky, highly symbolic number... as is this last book of Harry Potter. Seven trips too short... he doesn't want this tale to end!
If you look closely at the photo you will see that he is reading his last lines... one or two pages remain... I asked him about ninety pages ago how it was going? Dazed he looked up and said, "Mom have you ever read a book were you wished the pages would not have to turn, letting the story go on and on?"
I nodded and said, "Boy have I ever."
I know this drug, I have taken it many times, pages, volumes, books upon books. I cannot kick the habit. Have you ever found yourself reading the lines of a book slowly, just so it can last forever? Do you ever close your eyes and hear the words come alive in your mind? Have you ever felt like you were in each word and that each word took on new meaning? Have you ever gone to bed with a flashlight under the covers? Have you ever washed dishes with the book propped up against the counter so you could read at the same time?
Sacha laughed, "Have you ever read the same line several times over just so you can hold on to it in your memory, so that it doesn't end when you close the book?"
Boy does he have the book drug bad or what?
Rarely does it rain in Provence. It drizzled non stop Saturday giving Sacha a chance to read the entire day. I watched him read most of it. I smiled seeing his abandon slippers, and his tongue in his cheek, so absorbed, so faraway. I didn't even mind that his room looked like a bomb had gone off inside it. Nor that he hadn't changed from his PJs. Nor did I mind bringing him food and placing it by his side. It was that kind of day, a day for a trip, a day for the book drug to take his mind and weave a tale.
The last page, the last line, the last word... and yet it doesn't end there, a good book never does.
Photos: Sacha taking a trip with Harry Potter in English.
Being a kid in the country means being free to do what you want pretty much all of the time. Unless you are at school or have chores to tend to. I grew up in a small rural town in California. I know most people think of California as one long coastline with movie stars dotting the beaches and where everyone has a year round tan. But California is more than that. It actually has farmland, my Dad had a dairy farm and grew rice.
Surrounding my childhood home there were fields. Growing up we were told that having land mattered. If you had land you could live; heck, with a patch of dirt, seeds and water at least you would never starve. I felt safe knowing my Dad had land, that he knew how to farm and that my Mom knew how to cook. You see food and love went hand in hand. I had plenty of both.
As a child growing up on a farm I took for granted the freedom that the land had to offered. The wide space to run and play. I took for granted the daily lessons of nature. Most often I didn't realize the soothing sound of silence during the day. These natural parts of my day seemed unimportant until I went to the urban side of the world. Though the moment I went to live in the city where my feet touched cement instead of the earth, where the sun and moon weren't visible at a glance but often peering between buildings, reducing seasons to simple words; too hot or too cold. I realized how lucky I was to have experienced dirt underneath my feet. The country become my "Emerald City." The lessons I gathered rose strong within me.
My French husband grew up in a city in Northern France. He invests in urban developments, land with concrete buildings. Far away are his city experiences, from my growing up on a farm.
When we first were married we lived in Paris for a few years, and as beautiful as it was, the moment my feet touched the dry earthy ground of Provence I knew then I could call France a home. Of course it helps to have French husband by my side, even if he isn't a farmer... If ever need be we could grow tomatoes in flowerpots.
Isn't it funny how at times we can look back and see a connection, see a vague cosmic order? As if a string ties this to that, and makes us say, "Isn't that funny?" How life unfolds.
Photos: Taken last summer in California along the coast.
A French antique folding fan. Hand painted on canvas. A young woman with a simple black ribbon tied flirtatiously, leans against a stone railing. Waiting... and gives a hint of a smile.
Behind each fold the scene is told. The story begins by unfolding little by little...
Modern day still life with hints of yesterday.
Thanksgiving after feast. Plates empty hearts full.
Photos: Someone's leftovers and fall light. French-ness captured, French Cafe moment.
A Thanksgiving tradition from back home...
My Mother prepares the Thanksgiving meal. Every year one of the traditional things that she makes (other than mashed potatoes and turkey,) are butter cookies that she cuts out with a red cookie cutter that is shaped like a turkey.
Setting the table she adds one of the turkey cut-out cookies to each of the plates.
My brother Marty (a grown man now....) traditionally sneaks into the dining room and bite off the heads to each of the turkey cookies. Crumbs and a headless, cookie cut-out, turkey are part of the tradition.
Thanksgiving began with my Mother moaning, "Marty!"
It is a tradition that I get a kick out of, and that I miss each year. What traditions do you have at Thanksgiving?
Photo: The dining room in my childhood home.
H A P P Y T H A N K S G I V I N G !
Late last night the house was quiet even though a storm brewed outside. Tip toeing I went upstairs to go to bed. Sacha called out my name, "Mom?" Funny, the thought came to mind, when did he stop calling me Mommy? I peeked into his room and said, "Yes?"
"Can you rub my back?" He asked hesitantly. In the silence, in the dark, I heard that Mom still meant Mommy, and that rub my back meant to come and listen.... a little boy growing up. My hand rest against his heart softly, and after a while a hug tenderly good night-sleep tight.
Lest we forget teenagers need cuddles too.
Photo: On a wooden hanger a white cotton nightgown hangs.
When your child goes off to university your house grows quieter. You ache at night when you set the table and there is one less place... staring at the empty space it fills with memories of left over yesterdays leaving you hungry for more.
How did that little girl grow up so fast?
When your child goes off to university and comes home for a visit, she will bake a thousand cookies. You will taste her new ideas and savor her new experiences, wanting to hear more...
...until she unloads all her dirty laundry, piles and piles of it upon your floor.
Oh darling I love you but I do not miss the loads of laundry. I wonder if there is a Laundromat near the school?
photos: My Godmother's doll..
Flowers bloomed in her mind whenever she thought of going to an antique market and her eyes went glossy like that look one gets when they are falling in love.
Nothing matters when you love what you are doing. It doesn't matter if you have to wake at the crack of dawn. It doesn't matter if it is raining, cold, or dark outside. It doesn't even matter if the hot chocolate you usually drink at your favorite cafe at the flea market changes and tastes bad. When you love what you are doing you do it gladly without counting anything as negative. Yes, when you love what you are doing nothing matters love is crazy like that.
It doesn't matter if you get lost, or go to the wrong address, or find the shop closed once you get there. No nothing matters, you know that such things comes with the territory. Yes, there will be days where nothing goes right... Where the other person gets the best deal, finds the one of a kind, or buys the same thing as you bought but for a better price, and you realize that the one you have is a copy... Yeah there are days that hit you on the head and still your heart will sing heaven!
Love does that.
Photos: Out and about on a cold Sunday morning.
Layers of sinful heaven,
shared by two,
What is your downfall?
Photo: Trio of chocolate on a thin meringue crust, sits happily on a flow blue antique dessert plate.
Linens with monograms. Especially in red. Letters stitched beyond my ability, perfectly and precise.
Often at dinner my friends will ask, who is LD (or whatever initials they see on their napkin as no two napkins have the same monograms in my home..)
Lovely Dinner, Likable Dreams, Living Daringly, Lip Dabber...
L.D. can be anything. What name would you give it?
Photo: French antique monogram linen.
Driving along the road I was greeted with a flock of sheep. Like a parade they came with their bells ringing, taking over the entire road leaving me little choice but to pull over and admire them.
Their master, a Shepard for over thirty years, told me he was bringing his sheep down from the French Alps, and that he would stay in the area until June 15th. Then when the heat of the Provence becomes to hot to bear he will lead his sheep back into the French Alps.
The autumn sun warmed my back as the Shepard and I watched the sheep enjoy their nibbling. Where ever I was going took a back seat. It was if this moment was meant to be... meant as a reminder to enjoy the gift at hand.
Photos: Sheep in Provence.
A cup can be used to drink tea. or hot chocolate. or a shot of Calvados over ice cream. It also can be used for holding pennies, or trinkets like paper clips, or baby teeth. A cup of hot tea can come in handy as a hand warmer, it is a generous thing. A cup can hold a votive and be used as a portable lantern to show you the way. Or it can measure spices or as a candy cup to feed your ideas. A cup is one with multiple uses and it never complains. A cup is a place where you can put your thoughts like prayers ...trust it will sip them gently as you talk.
photo: An antique cup from Japan.
Walk to the
Buy a freshly baked baguette... tear the end off,
and eat it on the way home, save the rest for later.
photo: Baguettes from around the corner.
Looking up at the branches overhead, a few leaves remained like jewels in nature's crown... the fallen leaves carpet the ground golden, orange and ruby red.
If the path ahead leads us to change, to grow anew (and it certainly will sometimes) may it extend grace and courage to our steps.
Photo: Trees moving in the wind.
Last night I called my childhood friend Shelley to ask her for her coffee cake recipe. Her voice sounded little and scratchy.
"Do you have a cold?" I asked Shelley who has ALS.
"No, I am losing my voice." She replied calmly.
I heard her but my mind refuse to register her words, refused to believe that losing her voice wasn't because of a cold. So I asked again but differently, "Is it because your throat is dry?"
"No, my words are having a hard time coming forth, I am losing my voice."
The words she spoke were like sards of ice that pierced straight to my heart. The agony of knowing, of hearing my friend telling me she is losing her voice, losing her ability to speak.
I was silent.
Shelley said, "Corey, that is how it is, there is nothing to do than to accept it and carry on."
A cry so deep within me found air, and I cried uncontrollably.
...and as always Shelley with her words growing weak and yet strong wrapped themselves around me as if I was the one who was ill and dying. A hug tender, they seem to be. Silently I said to myself, "Shelley I wish a million wishes that you do not lose your voice... I don't want to accept this next step. Yet you tell me it is true and it is the path ahead of you?
How you amaze me Shelley with your courage, with your living, with your voice that roars a path large, wide and giving. Shelley how is it that you can be so strong, so brave, so beautiful in the face of death? How I have learned from your words of wisdom. To be true to who we are, to walk steadily along our path with grace. To shine like a beacon for others to find their way.
Shelley even if silence comes to you I will hear your truth and not forget."
Please pray for my friend and send her your thoughts of healing light.
Chandelier found at an antique shop. Bust found at an antique market under the table of a vendor. I thought maybe it was sold since it was under the table.
First Rule: Ask questions. Don't assume that because something is put aside, or looks really nice that it is either sold or too expensive.
Set of 24 hundred year old wine glasses. Found at a second hand bicycle shop.
Second Rule: Do not be surprised to find things in unusual places.
Vintage mattress fabric and silver knives.
Third Rule: Think outside of the box. Use things in different ways. Experiment with texture and design.
Stone urn, collection of seashells, vanity mirror, and a small frame with engraving.
Fourth Rule: Collect similar objects and display them together.
Silver sugar bowl, and teaspoons. Spode tea set.
Fifth Rule: Use your antiques, don't buy them to put away in the cupboard. Enjoy them daily.
My Nephew in an antique baptismal gown.
Sixth Rule: Share the things you love!
Subtle beauty, graceful exposure, with a pace that lends a lightness to your steps.
Since this summer August 30th, we have had (unless I have forgotten someone in the count,) 17 guests. Many people have said I should open up a B&B. In response to that I say, "If we opened a B&B it would be filled with our family and friends and we would go broke!"
Shannon arrived yesterday. After a journey that is only experienced in movies. Let me explain--First her plane, which arrived in Paris from the USA arrived late, and she missed her connecting flight. She had to wait three hours for the next connecting flight it was then canceled. Therefore she had to go to another terminal to retrieve her bags. They sent her to another airport by bus. When she got there the flight was canceled. She waited for the next flight that ended up having technical problems. Finally she caught the 5:00pm flight, arriving in Marseille after 6pm. Only to find a traffic jam that held us prisoners for two and half hours. Shannon arrived at our home 12 hours after the predicted arrival time. Red eyed, tired, hungry and with the biggest smile.
Shannon doesn't speak a word of French, and had never traveled overseas. The French call a first time experience that goes awry a "baptism." She had a full dunk baptism that is for sure!
After spending 12 hours waiting for her at the airport in Marseille I now know everything there is to know about it... Shannon was/is worth every second of that long wait!
Photo: Terre cuite statue in a fountain in Massauane.
The amazing thing. Yes the amazing thing. The amazing thing how out of nowhere love strikes and cuts through the darkness showing the way. When you feel it touch you, grab it and never let go. The ride of the arrow is one you don't want to miss.
Photo: 18th century painting of cupid's preparing the love arrow.
The house was quiet,
a stillness lingered waiting to be filled.
The distant laughter of days gone by, and days to come.
It sure feels good to be home!
Photo: A floor lamp that I transformed into a crystal-ly candle thing. Amazing what a spray can, crystals and ta-da will do. Where did I leave the matches? Lite candles bring a sense of peace don't they?
Before we journeyed back to the south of France from Rennes we had breakfast at my Belle Mere's table.
She has an armoire stuffed with pretty things, most of the pieces are things passed down from her or her husband's family. To think these things have been making daily appearances for breakfast for nearly a hundred years. I am glad to be part of the tradition.
Of course not everything on the breakfast table is traditional nor an antique.
A view from Belle Mere's dining room.
Oh! French husband said we are leaving in five minutes, I'll have to stop now!
He sat at the far end of the garden like a statue. Perfectly still. I called out, "You don't fool me!" Though he didn't budge. I told him that two could play at this garden game of pretending to be statues, and I ran and hid, hoping he would come and find me.
The rectangular columns standing tall like the letter "I." They tossed their dots in the air, chanting out in unison to me, "Over here, come hide here!" I laughed as I ran past them, "You shouldn't have said anything, he heard you, I swear!"
Around the corner chairs played along. Hiding in the alcoves of an outdoor theater. There wasn't any standing room left for me. I applauded their genius in design and ran off to find another secret spot to be a statue.
The gigantic hedge gave view to the 17th century Chateau of Ballue. I gasped in surprise. How I wish I could hide in that place! But that would be cheating, and I never cheat at games! But imagine hiding in the linen closet? Or in the bathroom amongst the vintage perfume bottles? Or in the kitchen! Ah to dream, to pretend... to be sitting by the fire looking out onto this garden.
At the end of the alley, at the far corner of the Garden of Ballue, there is a hedge formed into the temple of Diana. Not a likely place for me to hide considering... you know, I am a vegetarian and Diana is into hunting... I thought it wasn't realistic to hang out in the temple with her given our differences.
Feeling like a blade o f grass amongst these over sized chess pieces didn't encourage me to stand still. Honestly I wanted French husband to find me, without having to look too hard.
If you look closely, okay with a magnifying glass, you can see French husband coming up the pathway. Darn it my plans were spoiled, the toparies curves didn't match mine anyway.
Through the labyrinth I walked calmly. I took my clothes off one piece at a time. Leaving a trail for French husband. A sockette here, a scarf there... Oh wasn't he go to be surprised to find me? In the center of the labyrinth marble white nude.
He barely recognized me!
Photos: Of our time spent at La Ballue Jardin. Spring must be glorious in this place. I'll have to go back to see the wisteria.
Whenever I visit my Belle Mere (Mother in law,) memories of the past seem to bud and bloom, memories of what it was like when I first arrived in France. Though those memories no longer haunt me, they do remind me of how I have changed.
Living in France has not always been easy. If the Internet and the blog had been around twenty years ago I would have created a very different type of blog. One more thorny than rosy.
The first few years in France I struggled with adjustment, I threw fits instead of reflection. I was depress in a beautiful land. Nothing made sense and my sense of self was missing in translation. I was far from rosy, prickly to live with and refuse to bloom were I was planted.
My Belle Mere and I didn't understand one another. Langauage was one thing, culture another, and our refusal to believe in one another was the thorn in the side. French husband was the pawn that both of us used... we thought we could win, but had everything to lose.
Thankfully time heals wounds. Thankfully the seeds of love bloomed in rocky ground. Thankfully the spirit of forgiveness and grace helped us to rise again and again.
My Belle Mere and I are friends, France too... nothing in life has shown me more about the beauty of amazing grace...
Thankfully rosebuds hold promise and thorns valuable lessons.
Photo: Roses in the evening.
Large, fairytale-like mansions line the northern coast between Dinard and Saint Malo. A century old trail snugs tightly the coastline, which you can walk along for miles.
The English channel, the magnificent homes, the chic people strolling along, and at each bend fantastic photo opts. Dinard and Saint Malo are made in heaven.
The beaches in between invited play and reflection. When I closed my eyes I could imagine I was in Northern California in Westport. The sound of the waves and sea breeze felt the same. Like a home away from home.
I could see French husband's childhood, feel his path, see his dreams. When we go back to the home of those we love we see something invisible to the naked eye.
Photos: Dinard France.
Path: Le Sentier des Douaniers or also known as, La Promenade de Clair de Lune.
HOW TO MAKE MACAROONS
How to create Macaroon jewels
While they are cooling prepare the filling. Mix the fresh cream with the raspberry jam and vanilla. Once cooled sandwich the macaroons together with a touch of filling and fresh raspberries. Sprinkle with powder sugar.
The view was spectacular driving across France. We never got lost, Chelsea drove like a champ and I didn't fall asleep! A miracle on all accounts.
I thought I would take photos along the way, from one coast to the other, from the Mediterranean to the English channel...but I forgot that if one leaves the south of France at 1pm and drives straight through to the northern coast of France, (it takes 12 hours,) part of that trip would be in the dark of the night.
Photos in the dark are pretty boring. But photos in the car with three other people, with their heads in the way are worse! Why did I promise road trip photos today?
Plus the fact that taking photos on the go, of things flying by is a challenge. Maybe that is why I didn't fall asleep? Chelsea told me, "Mom, you must take the photo before you see it. " I tried to wrap my brain around that idea.
But gave up. Instead I imagined My Belle Mere's (Mother in law) desserts and her wonderful home. That is the real reason we drove across France... to see French husband's Mother.
French husband and his Mother.
Photos: of the long drive across France.
Last minute decisions are common in our family. We talk about something, forget about it, then bring it up again, change the subject, and then at the last minute make a dash for it...let's go!
As Chelsea is learning to drive, French husband thought it would be good for her to drive across France. Have you experienced driving on the French freeway with your child behind the wheel, while you sit in the backseat? Let me tell you it isn't a walk in the park.
French husband is notorious for "getting lost" add that to the front seat. And to be honest and fair and even... I fall asleep at the wheel.
What a happy trio we make!
As if fear wasn't fueling me already I glanced out the window and saw these two nuclear reactors.
More about our road trip tomorrow.
Note: Sacha (our son) was in the car he had earphones on and was playing on the computer. I think he had the right idea. Ignorance is bliss!