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Friday, February 14, 2014

Welcome to 2014

Odette in Paris

Bonjour, mes amis, and welcome to what some people call their Christmas letter, but because I procrastinate, this will be my Valentine's Letter. As Deano always tells me, we're late bloomers.

It seems that 2013 was hard for many of us.  My sadness started in 2012, when I lost two of my oldest and dearest friends. That hurt a lot.  But nothing prepared me for the crushing pain of the death of my mother at the end of the year.  And even our precious dog Boo passed away on the day of mom's funeral. There was a huge hole in the fabric of our lives. We had been a family of 5, 4 generations under one roof.  But our daughter Crickett had moved back to Vermont with her son, James, in late autumn, and suddenly we realized that we were rattling around in this big old house alone. 

From the outside it looked like the same old warm and cozy farmhouse, but on the inside it was so quiet. And lonely.  

I started 2013 in a real funk. It didn't help that I saw a really BIG birthday in March [which turned out to be such a fun day.  Thank you, Deirdre!!]. But I refused to be depressed.  I thank God for my wonderful husband, who did all the shopping and made excuses for me for social events. I think the things that got me through this time were my two women's Bible studies, and the loved ones and friends who prayed for me.  I knew God would not forsake me.

And before I knew it, it was the end of March and we were on our way back to France!  My spirit soared again!

We headed out of Orly in our rental car and drove down to our favorite place in the Normand countryside, Le Perche [ If you click on this link takes you to the first article I ever read of this place, and I knew it was going to be a coup de coeur just from the description.]

Château de Monthimer, La Pérriere, le Perche

We spent a wonderful week in Le Perche and met the nicest people, some of whom I had first connected with on Facebook, some,just in the nature of friendly French people.

Isabelle, Christian, and Jean Loup

Bistrot des Ecuries and Martin at Relais del'Horbé

We went out looking at houses to buy, and saw quite a few, but nothing seemed like it was made for us.  The one we really liked the best was just too expensive, and also was 15 minutes outside of the Perche.

But, oh so cute!

This one was way out in a field with no road to the house.  We had to hike 15 minutes to get to it.  Needed too much work. I loved it, but Deano said "uh-uh".

This one was nice inside, but neighbors too close on both sides.

So we didn't buy a house in le Perche.
Not in the Spring.

It snowed while we were in le Perche,but it was gone by the afternoon.

It continued cold during our next week in Paris.  So much for chestnuts in blossom.  But it didn't rain and it didn't curtail our fantastic time.

And Dean bought me my belated birthday present

His favorite place on this trip was a museum that was new to us...

Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

We were absolutely alone there, 

except for the guards!!!

No, those weren't the guards!

When we got back from France I was pretty much over my blues, but I had absolutely no interest in doing the gardens this year.  Mutti [ my mom] used to watch me working and it gave her such joy.  But, now I was out there alone, and I could care less about those gardens.  So I just started digging up scores of perennials, calling friends, and inviting them to come over and haul them away!  [I guess you never thought you'd hear me say that, did you,Janet H.? Remember the old days of "you can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many perennials?"  Wow.  None of the above for me now, thank you very much!!]

I did keep the spring bulbs, however.

Late spring brings the Wedding Business back to the forefront of our lives.  Well, to Crickett and Dean's, anyway. She now owns the business and Dean works for her.

 Have you seen her new website,

you should go check it out.

The Summer whizzed by and most of it is a blur.  But some very nice things happened.

James spent a lot of time with us catching up on his reading...

…and  we welcomed another Fresh Air friend, Joshua.

We had a little family get-away up to Maine

which was wonderful, even though I got sick and we had to come home early

which isn't so bad, when you think about it

And we went down to Philadelphia

to welcome Jill and Art's new grandson, 
Xavier, to the world.

But in the circle of life...

our dear old friend Connie passed away. She was 98, and had lived a wonderful life. I'm so glad we had stayed in touch over the years. She was our first neighbor in Maine when we were newly married, and she and her farmer husband Bill taught us just about everything we know about country life.  But I'll never be able to make an apple pie as good as hers.

So summer ended.  And autumn began.

We had a killer barn sale during the town wide yard sale, and some of our students came down help us.

We participated once again in the most wonderful art exhibit in upstate New York,
"Landscape for Landsake"

Our sales from this exhibit financed our October trip to France 

Beynac [ film location of "Chocolat" ]

Where we visited the breathtaking area of the Dordogne [ I'll tell you all about this at a future time]

and spent a week in the equally heart-stoppingly beautiful Perche { and I'll tell you all about this, as well]

where we bought each other an early Valentine's Day present

[sneak Peek]

And now I'm going to end this post abruptly as it is time for bed, and tomorrow, Lord willing, we fly back to France to sign the Acte de Vente, which is to say, we finalize the purchase of our petite maison!
And I'll be telling you a whole lot about this for a long time to come!!

We wish you all a loving St.Valentine's Day

Au Revoir mes amis

Friday, May 17, 2013

In the French Countryside

Marie Antoinette's Hameau at Versailles

In my last post I told you a bit about our time in Paris in 2012.  J'adore Paris, bien sûr, but I'm a country girl at heart, and there is nothing that compares to jumping into our rental car and heading out of Paris into the French countryside.  And that is exactly what we are doing today as we join Anita's Party in the French Countryside
Simply Irresistible!!!

We headed out of Paris, down to Versailles on July 14, Bastille Day. I had read that on that day everyone wore white, with a tricolor cocarde, and that Versailles was quite the place to celebrate that day. So rather than face the crowds at the palace, we entered by the lesser known Queen's gate, where parking was a breeze. We then walked down a long allée of trees to arrive at Marie Antoinette's hameau.

This is the enchanting farm built for Marie Antoinette, where she played at being a shepherdess.

Today it has been restored and is as charming for us as it must have been for her and her children

These are not my usual edited photos, but just
snapshots.  Still, it is such a lovely spot I think you will enjoy just seeing the buildings.

All of these snaps were taken around noon, and yet,despite it being Bastille Day, there was no one there except us!!!

The Moulin

Tour de Marlborough

The Cottage

If you would like to see an article I wrote for Belle Inspiration magazine on this magical place, with some of its history and a lot more photos, you can click here

When we left Versailles, we headed out into the deep country of Normandy, to our favorite region, le parc du Perche... 

...where we stayed for a week in this romantic chateau...

...and visited many public gardens, such as this...

... and visited beautiful manoirs such as this one...

...French cottages out in the countryside are positively adorable!  Peek through any gate...

...and let out a great big sigh!

 Every house has the sweetest shutters...

...called "les volets"

I'm smitten with the heart-shaped cutouts!

This area is so bucolic, so peaceful, so visually beautiful, that I will only give you a tiny taste, and will save the rest for an entire future post...

And so, now we head even further out into the countryside, heading toward Bretagne, with a stop here...

The artist's village of Saint-Céneri-le-Gérei 

And marvel at all we see along the way

Châteaux at every turn!

and the reason why French bread is so delicieux!!

In my next post I will share some more of why we all love France and why we all love this party of Anita's!!  Thank you, Chérie for inviting us!!

Please remember that due to my Google glitch, I cannot comment on blogger, but I would love to trade comments with you on my facebook page, 

Now I'm off to visit you!  See you
 "dans la campagne"!!!

à la prochaine,
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