Friday, March 25, 2016

The eagle has landed

I realized today that I have been stateside for more than 3 months.
Sometimes I think about my time in France and think... "was that me? did I really go somewhere?"

And then I remember what a beautiful healing trip it was, filled with kind loving people who helped me heal enough to be able to come home and do what I needed to do upon immediate arrival. And what an intense run that was (read shitshow). It included a move into and out of my house, a move into and out of another, as always my ever wonderful supportive friends, the intense selling, dismantling and packing  of my house, also what was the most definitely the worst 2 months of my life (someday I'll chronicle that but for now, it's enough that I survived it), and then a another move.  To a sweet and beautiful place that is part of the next chapter. (bring it!)

I have moved into, and starting in August, I will be the new innkeeper at the Williamsville Guest House. It's a small b&b in this same small village I've been drawn to for the last year and a half. It's a big old farmhouse with a wrap around porch (the ceiling is even blue which I've always coveted). This porch where I've scattered my belongings here and there to create little sitting areas and it even had hooks for my beloved porch swing (it's true, it was a wedding present, but I don't care- it was given to me with love by my best friend and it still holds me tenderly and makes me happy every time I sit in it). I've yet to really tackle the inside but I'm itching to. I have a small terrace out back where I have set up my nice old french iron table and my fountain along with dozens of my favorite plants that I couldn't leave behind. They, like me, are waiting to see if this is place where we will put down roots, possibly thrive and even flourish.

My friends' restaurant is at the end of my driveway (I believe it is the only business in town). The rock river is across the street, I can hear it gurgling all day and I especially love hearing it when all is so very quiet at night.  Apparently in a town this tiny you don't have mail delivery, you just walk yourself down along the river to your post office box. It's very quaint. I know many of my new neighbors, they've been very kind and welcoming. My new landlord is a great guy, someone I've known for more than 20 years. He's done all the big work of renovating decorating and just needs someone to come in and finish and fill it up with appreciative people. I think I can help. It feels good to have a project. I still have some school work hanging over my head but hopefully can do it all with my lovely garden work to keep me sane.
I miss my Roquessels friends terribly, it feels like I have these two lives that are so separate. The lack of phone service and internet for the first few weeks here did not help that much.

Today my decision to move here was abundantly confirmed whilst (I love using that) I visited several artists studios/galleries on the Rock River Artists Tour. It was a love fest of new friends. A not so subtle reminder of why I am here. A community of talented people who value art and good food and gardening and a simple clean lifestyle.  Creating art is valued in a big way and there's a generous wide scope of acceptance of all kinds of choices. I feel home in an unexpected and heretofore unexperienced way.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Demi centennial wishes...

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! Dr. Seuss
Read more at:
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! Dr. Seuss
Read more at:
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! Dr. Seuss
Read more at:
Today you are you! That is truer than true! 
There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
Dr Seuss

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! Dr. Seuss
Read more at:
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! Dr. Seuss
Read more at:
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! Dr. Seuss
Read more at:
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! Dr. Seuss
Read more at:
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! Dr. Seuss
Read more at:

I like the sound of demi centennial, though I cannot find this usage anywhere. I think its sounds kind of glam.
The only thing that comes up with research is an album by Rosemary Clooney. I've always thought she was swell and as a tribute to what ever she did in her demi centennial year I am currently listening to her version of Danny boy.
Birthdays... such a funny thing.
A day of your own.
Your own day.
A time to celebrate you've made it to another year's anniversary of your arrival.
I do just love thinking about my birthday.
Letting myself really think about what would make me happiest on that day (yes, sometimes it's been a birth week or even a whole birth month has been known to happen, though not for a long time). And as some of you know I am want to do this months before my actual day of birth, and so at 5 weeks out today feels almost last minute.

As I look toward this next birthday of mine,
I'm thinking about how much has changed in these last 2 years...

just how many times I packed up little suitcases
and whole trucks full of my belongings,
how many goodbyes I've tearfully bid,
and all that I've lost,
how many nights I cried myself to sleep,
of how many friends showed up in so many ways,
and of the many new places I've seen
and found within my own self
and also
just how much laughter and joy
and new favorite things I've discovered.

And how at (nearly) 50
I'm wearing a bikini
I'm a granny-twice!

I'm finding out what truly pleases me
I'm always keeping a trip planned for the next season(more on that in a minute)
I put my alone time first
I know how to pack all I need in my new slick backpack
I make time for my writing
I've given myself permission to not be pushing myself to do the next big thing;
open a practice, write for anyone else, get more gardens, even the ever present desire to formally learn more about anything.
Instead I read whatever I feel like... I think currently have 5 books going, at least 4 magazines and if I'm lucky I'll treat myself to the NY Times this weekend. Heaven. 
I've also given myself permission to enjoy, fully enjoy, the right now present moment and whomever happens to be in it with me.
That's all.
No big future plans. Not figuring that out right now.

It's glorious.'s not just glorious, it's happy-making and a fucking miracle.

So halle-freakin-luya and happy birthday to me; I've come out the other side.

On that note I have a request to my beloved friends...
On April 2 I'm headed to Oregon. This is a trip that's been percolating for some months, I thought I might going to Cuba or Scotland but in fact I'm headed to the pacific northwest. That spoke louder and the desire to hunt morels spoke louder still. So off I go and, to my absolute delight, dear sweet P'tricia is accompanying me!
We'll be back on the 12th. But after that I would really love to have some one on one time with all of my peeps. Nothing formal, just time hanging out.

Demi-centennial wishes...
going fishing with Jesse
picnic with P't
skype with Monica- Almost a year without seeing you-I miss you too much!
kayak with Libby
game night with Kate and Lex and Anna
music by Clayton :)
motorsickle ride with my bro
making food with Sas
a corona with Gordo and Coey
a fire with Kevin and Calle
a movie date with my sis
apero with Will and Meredith
shroom hunting with any and everyone who is willing
whatever anyone wants to do avec moi.

So you get the idea, I would love it if any/all of you can help make this happen... I feel so very lucky to have such wonderful loving supportive peeps on my side.
With all of you I am happily looking ahead on this next year of beautiful adventure...

Saturday, April 11, 2015


 I left Roquessels today. It was very hard. Very emotional.
After the usual travel drama (there seems to always be some), I was speeding along in the TGV towards Barcelona, Spain.
I was listening to Spanish and French around me.
I had the thought that one week ago I left Italy and it that was then Italian all around me.

I started to feel excited. I'm going home.
Which made me think about what that means exactly...
what is home now?
it isn't the physical house I'm going to.
I don't think it's the person I've associated home with
for all these 20 years.

So I googled it...

A home is generally a place that is close to the heart of the owner, and can become a prized possession. It has been argued that psychologically "The strongest sense of home commonly coincides geographically with a dwelling. Usually the sense of home attenuates as one moves away from that point, but it does not do so in a fixed or regular way."[2] Since it can be said that humans are generally creatures of habit, the state of a person's home has been known to physiologically influence their behavior, emotions, and overall mental health.[3] People may become homesick when they leave their home over an extended period of time. Places like homes can trigger self-reflection, thoughts about who someone is or used to be or who they might become.
Did that beautiful little community in France become my home?
Possibly, on some level.
I love this "Places like homes can trigger self-reflection, thoughts about who someone is or used to be or who they might become.

Home also feels like family and my closest peeps.
I miss them from deep in my belly.
This has been a good journey. A long and healing and rough and achingly sweet trip.
It was a big and bumpy and often a very lonely road.
It was also magnificent.
And gorgeous.
And full of beauty and delightful souls.

I learned a lot about myself.
I learned to like my own company. A lot.
Perhaps like a snail (or an oyster!) I carry home with me.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Au revoir...

I've been saying goodbye to all of my beautiful new friends and favorite places and things. I feel very, very blessed..

À bientôt....

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


I've been taking note of the extreme way the french have of really checking you out. Unabashedly head to toe. Not unlike children, though I suppose we are just used to and expect that. I remember constantly telling my kids not to.
Well apparently nobody says that here.

Right at you and a good up and down. (They generally do tend to pause at my footwear. Rather unusual for these parts, I suppose. Red clogs or cowboy boots are very different than the standard black heeled boots.)
But the way they ogle or glare right to your face is something I've not really experienced before. Completely undeterred by a return direct look.
Nope, it's an inquisitive look that defiantly seems to imply I don't know what you are but I'm curious and I'm not gonna look away just to be polite.

I've gotten quite used to it. I take great pleasure in disarming some of the elderly with a big smile and a "bonjour madam/monsieur". It does often work and I am usually rewarded with a return smile.

This was different however when I crossed the Italian border.
Oh, they still stare all right but instead of "what are you?" kind of vibe it was more of a "what have we here?" kind of interest.  I must say lecherous old men aside it was not unpleasant...
I was only slightly less forthcoming with the big smiles.

Oh, I know I'll be home so soon and I'm loath to forget these sort of wonderful details of immersion in another culture. The beauty of not understanding whole conversations around me, the simplistic bubble I can live in all by myself.
Suddenly the things I've missed are fading and these funny oddities have become so dear.
My new wonderful friends are seeking me out to say goodbye. I feel so lucky and so very blessed. I have 3 more days here.
It's sunny and warm.
Today I worked alone up on high up behind Roquessels in Morterzu -a vineyard with amazing views. It's the abandoned one that will take another year or more to bring it back. I have graduated to the electric pruners (this feels big). I was able to get a lot done in what was probably my last work day. It was bittersweet, though my arm was getting tired I didn't want it to end,
I kept going.
I was happy walking back to the car and thought I could do this everyday.
And then realized that actually I do sort of do that everyday.
It's the same kind of gardening/farming that I love to do in VT. So I'll take these beautiful memories home with me and keep the spirit of this place and this satisfying work with me in these days and months ahead.

that is the backside of the chateau in the distance that looks over "our" wonderful village

the white line on the horizon to the left is the sea


Sunday, April 5, 2015

buona mangia

Well...I'm happy to be back with my wonderful friends the Coulshaws in Roquessels.

It was a wonderful trip last week across the southern part of France and into Italy. I ate very very well and want to share the deets...
before I left, Simon roasted sanglier(wild boar). It was flavorful, juicy and delicious- the way we wish pork could be. It had a nice nutty flavor (I like to think from all those acorns in the garrigue) with a red currant jus and roasted potatoes it was a feast to fuel me for my coming days of travel.

I stopped at Arles, a beautiful village at where the big Rhone river splits and forms the Camargue delta. I wandered a bit, bought a small quiche from a patisserie and hit the road to Cassis. This is the picturesque spot I found myself rosé in hand and staring into the Mediterraneé.

That night I went back to the same restaurant where I found the same waiter with the nice crinkly eyed smile. I ordered fish soup and grilled dorade. It was simple and fresh and tasted beautifully of the sea. I think he was concerned for my solitude and brought me a nice limoncello with my tarte tatin. Little did he know I love my solitude but I quite enjoyed the local limoncello too!

The next morning fortified with croissant and tea I headed to Bandol. It was market day all along the harbor.

Beautiful but busy and too many people for my liking so after a short stroll along the beach picking up sea glass - quelle surprise there's a lot of green! I headed east. I decided to check out St Tropez because I could. It looked like a busy place so when I saw a small beach along the road leading into town I pulled up onto the curb (typical french style), parked, locked the car and took a walk in turquoise water looking across the bay to snow capped Alps in the distance. The sea glass bounty was even better here.Can you believe I'm even writing this? That the treasure hunting was better in St Tropez than Bandol?? Someone pinch me.

Look at the Alps!

Feeling the need to put in some miles I decided to forego Monte Carlo and headed to Menton. A gorgeous citrus filled town right on the border of Italy. I found free wifi (pronounced weefee here) to check in with my Airbnb host, had a delicious chai, scoped out the beach and crossed the border into Ventimiglia, Italie.


I loved this place instantly. I did not regret my decision to extend my stay and had some of the freshest, memorable, most gorgeous experiences and seafood of my life.
spada (swordfish)carpaccio with shaved local artichokes
I had a glass here (or 2) of Pigato, a local white made of Vermentino grapes, it was light, dry, peachy with nice minerality. It was perfect with this fresh seafood and soft delicate beans.
uber tender squid with these very special local white beans- simple, buttery and just heaven.

then I found the market place....

Though it was hard to leave that oasis I decided at about 4 pm on Friday that it was time and that I needed to go back to Roquessels. Of course the whole world was also in their cars traveling the auto routes across France for Easter weekend so the trip took awhile. But I traveled with an almost constant smile on my face as I recounted the beautiful moments of my few days. It was a lovely evening with a gorgeous sunset that lasted for hours. I arrived at Simon and Monica's doorstep tired and full of stories. They made me tea and listened well past when we all should have gone to bed.
Yesterday Simon allowed me to follow him to a natural wine tasting. Such fun! Then we shopped together and went home to create a yummy meal of seared duck breast, braised fennel, asparagus and white beans with garlic and rosemary. Of course we opened some of the favorite wine from the tasting.
Man, did I go to sleep happy.
Today is Easter Sunday.
The Coulshaws went of to church and to be social. I happily stayed here for some sun and a few visits about town. I now sit rosé in hand on their sunny deck. I'm looking forward to cooking with Simon again. Leg of lamb is up next.
Oh, which wine will we open first?