Summer Just Got Easier… with some time off with Reg and Meg

Remember that ITV show that called me? Well, they called back to say that since I knew one of the other contestants I would not be on that show. HOWEVER, they still wanted me to be a back up if someone else dropped out. ??? I came to my senses and opted out. Who needs to be cleaning house when it’s truly Summertime and the living should be easy!

t’s always a good idea to calm down and not let your ego take over in matters of this nature. So while relaxing on the patio, I considered whether I really wanted 3 other people traipsing through my house with a critical eye. NO! (You may recall that photo of my messy desk?) Then I got a call from my friend Brenda (the one I knew who recommended me) and she was having second thoughts also. We enjoy the same messy way of life. So we decided we didn’t need to be on TV. We have a life!

So, what to do? Daughter Meg arrived from London and we took a day trip to the most delightful village near here- PONT AVEN – loaded with art galleries and delightful cafes.

The salade was great!

Me and my Beloved Reg.

I can highly recommend Pont Aven. In the late 19th century it was home to Guaguin and his fellow Impressionists. And no wonder … the river inlet from the sea is gorgeous and the light fantastic. Meg so admired my pink hat that she bought me a shirt of the same color. I love it. Then in a fit of spending we bought sister Kathy a striped shirt. The shops are full of great stuff at reasonable prices.

The drive home was perfect – sunny blue sky, no rain! A perfect retreat from house and garden work.

France continues to delight us! Come on over. You’ll love it!

If This Is Summer, I Wonder what Autumn Will Be

Climate Change continues to baffle gardeners. The rain continues and I now know how to predict when it begins. First the wind blows crazily. Then it settles down and a few big drops of rain hit, then the deluge. I have stopped complaining since everything is growing beautifully with the exception of the potatoes. They grew too fast, blossomed and aren’t producing  the beauties I had last summer.

But I do feel a bit of a loss… not being able to work for any significant length of time outdoors.

On the advice of Robin, the REAL GARDENER, we are spreading salt on the newly graveled paths to suppress the weeds. 

Starting out slowly, Reg bought one bag of salt to see how far it would go. He got the better part of 2 paths.

Here he rakes it in just in time for the next shower to give it a good soaking. We are hoping it works as well as Robin says it will. Meanwhile I will continue to pull up the occasional over-achieving weed.

Of course, there is always the housework to do. Especially since we got a call from an ITV show saying our house might be chosen to particiate in a show called “May the Best House Win.”  I think the operable word here is “MIGHT.”     Didn’t hear any more after I chatted by telephone with ITV LONDON. Then I got a call saying we would be visited by 2 women scouts. I went into panic mode, cleaning things that hadn’t seen a dust cloth in possibly 8 years.

The two delightful ladies showed up on a Saturday morning and were quite positive about our house. Then they left to go on to see other houses. No word as yet that our house will be one of the chosen four to compete. To be continued…

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It’s This Crazy Weather or Is It Summer Yet?

Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day… so I can get something done in my garden!

Whether or not I like it, the garden is flourishing… in places. Of course the weeds are growing like mad, bless ’em. And some flowers and plants I’ve never seen blossom so well before. Odd what this climate change is doing in the world. Guess we might as well get used to it. Or learn that it is possible to garden in the rain.

So I wandered out into the drizzle to see how things were in “MON JARDIN” (As it says on my garden gate).

I do wonder about those who don’t believe we are experiencing global warming. I wonder what they think is happening? And just how much more proof do they need?

My rose bush is blooming like there’s no tomorrow, all pink and pretty. And who says you can’t put pink flowers next to orange ones? Nature loves to mix up colors. These are my capachines below the roses. Excellent to spice up a salad. (Capachines are called Nasturtiums in American English.)

On the other side of the gate I inspected the excellent new garden paths Robin Deyer put in for me. Robin, who has the solutions to all garden problems, suggested that tidying up the paths would make a huge difference and he was right!

Now all I have to do is tidy up the flower borders.

Without any help from me or Robin, my day lilies are doing fine. (On the right side of photo)

The Pond and Marmaduke posing on the patio.

Well, that’s it for today. Got caught by another breezy shower. So Marmaduke and I retreated to the house.  Perhaps I should explain for my American audience: The UK and France are experiencing unusual rain for this time of year as well as cooler than usual temperatures.

I keep hoping for sunshine tomorrow like Little Orphan Annie when she sings “Tomorrow .”

A Tantad and Tournament for St. Herve (within walking distance)

The weekend was devoted to a strange mix of Celtic religion and a boules tournament. It went like this: The religious part was moved to the old school house since there was concern about the safety of participants being in the old chapel. One stone wall of the chapel is being held up by wooden butresses. But the high winds of the weekend were extreme and no chances were taken.

So after the service in the school, the priest leads the congragation down to the grounds of the chapel where a structure of fagots would be  burned to the ground. In the old days I’ve been told the community could place a piece of paper with their “sins” on it in the fire and be forgiven for a whole year. Sounds like a good plan to me.

The kids love this part, especially when the wind kicks up and the TanTad really flares! The crowd watching sings great old songs in the Bretanne dialect while cars trying to pass on the road wonder what’ is going on.

Then it’s time to march back to the school and eat with your neighbors. Here our neighbor Stephen is served by another neighbor, Martine.

Now the fun begins after dinner with the boules tournament.  What I know about boules tournaments you could put in a thimble and have room to spare. I know that the courts are as level as possible and have very specific dimensions. A wooden target ball is bowled from one end of the court to the other then each player tries to bowl his wooden ball as close as possible to the target ball.

Because there are cash prizes, measuring accurately where the balls land is critical. Anyone familiar with boules feel free to comment.

For my Beloved and me the after tournament dancing to bagpipes and singing is the fun part. Crepes are cooked and cider dispenced until the wee hours when we stagger to our beds and dream of winning next year.

Even though St. Herve was blind, I am sure he hears us from on high and approves of the community coming together for an evening of fun.

Squally Winds Play Havoc

We have been suffering from high winds for almost 2 weeks now. When I screwed up my courage to go see how my garden was growing I found my Irises and Delphiniums blown over and in desperate need of staking. I hesitated to tie them up too securely for fear of their stalks breaking.

This is the constant delimma for amateur gardeners: What to do for our precious babies? My decision was to cut the flowers for an arrangement in the house. I did stake a few of the healthier stalks up. But significant work in the garden will have to wait until the winds die down.

Delphiniums before the squally winds hit.

READING SUGGESTIONS: Meanwhile, I ‘ll continue to catch up on my reading and give you the titles I find most interestiing: Daughter Meg in London brought me a quirky little book called A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but interesting. And it’s short so you wont’ have waisted much time if you decide to read it. A devoted fan of Diane Johnson (who splits her time between San Francisco and Paris) I found an early book of hers that I had somehow missed. The title is Burning and it’s a marvelous commentary on Southern California a few years back.

About Saint Herve (aka Saint Houarneau)

One of my readers requested that I diverge from my usual posts re living easily in France, gardening, etc. and devote a little space to Saint Herve since the celebration of his life is on June 17. This might be the place to confess that in the hamlet of Saint Houarneau said celebration is more about the boules tournament than the sainted one. And, yes, money changes hands.

And what, you may ask does Saint Houarneau have to do with Saint Herve? Upon the death of his mama, a hermitess, Herve moved to Lanhouarneau (as it was then known) to set up a monestery. Not a lot is known about this man of the cloth who is better recognized as being a Celtic saint. (NOT necessarily recognized by the Pope) But one story persists and I shall tell it as it has been told -yea these many years around the fire. It’s a good yarn but may need a little back story to be fully appreciated.

The story goes that Herve was born somewhere around the year 530 A.D. to a bard of the then king of Brittany who was originally from Britain and a young woman who preferred the life of a hermitess. Herve was born blind and after his birth his parents gave him to a man of the church named Arzian who became the boy’s spiritual guide. The lad. despite his blindness. was extremely smart and clever. He devoted himself to the spiritual life, living out his life (a long one) near where the head waters of the Blavet River meet the Aulin tream on its journey to the sea. To this day a chapel still stands there in the hamlet of St.Houarneau.

At the age of about 15, St. Herve’s first miracle occurred. The story goes that while plowing a field, a wolf attacked and ate the ass pulling the plow. Herve prayed fervently and the wolf took up the yoke and continued to plow the field for the blind Saint. The wolf, in an act of mercy, also protected the sheep from other wolves. Saint Herve is the patron saint of all eye deseases and veterinarians… or so the story goes. And there you have it.

On or about June 17, the village of St. Houarneau will come together for a meal at the old school house and the tournament of boules and perhaps some dancing and frivolity in honor of our beloved Saint Herve.

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A RECOMMENDATION FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE: (New feature of this blog) I have recently finished a most delightful book “Marshmallows for Breakfast” by Dorothy Koomson. I highly recommend it to you. You may order this book from Amazon.com. I will be looking for more books by Ms. Koomson for my own reading pleasure.

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HOW MY GARDEN GROWS: A few shots of my glorious Clematis, Irises, Poppies and Vegetables thrown in:

Clematis hybrid. A vine on the fence between dog yard and garden.

Lettuce  growing in the Iris bed.

The Asian Opium Poppies have started to bloom!

Silver Bells and Cockle Shells? No! Onions, Potatoes, Lettuce and Broccoli in this Garden

After the rainiest April and May in history, at last, the rain ceased and I had a beautiful sunny day, it was time to get some vegetables planted. I enlisted Sophia (the beautiful French champion boxer) Collier-Millington to come on over and help me get the weeds out of the way. Sophia who has a brilliant future in Boxing, considers working in my garden as training. And who am I to say otherwise?

Sophia prepares the bed for onions while Anne sits and supervises.

Reluctant to give up the garden entirley to vegetables I insert vegetables in any odd place I feel they will thrive. It may be in the Iris bed or as you can see above beside an ornamental grass plant.  Onions aren’t picky. Have an onion, Sophia?

And dont’ forget to give it a drink of water. Now for the potatoes and broccoli and lettuce! Never a dull moment in a garden! 

In a previous post I gave you a look at the Marmie twins as kittens. So here they are 2 years later: Here’s Marmaduke lounging on a stone ruin. Or is he keeping an eye out for mice?

Sister Marmalady lounges on the woodpile. The twins are never far apart. 

Okay, that’s it for today’s garden news. But stay tuned for the exciting potato, brocolli and lettuce planting.To be continued…

If the English Word Ends in t-i-o-n, It’s Probably French – at least 80% of the Time

I recently learned 80% (more or less) of the English language is derived from the French language. One would think, therefore, that I should be able to converse 80% of the time in French. One would think .However, there are those other ways of saying things in French.

Example from an EnglIsh neighbor of mine: Distressed beyond words, my neighbor arrived at my door to inform me she was frigid. Before I could react she added, “I just told my French neighbor, “Je suis froide.” To which she replied she was sorry to hear that, followed by “So how does your husband feel about that?” “That,” my English friend explained, “was when I knew I had said it wrong ” Indeed. She had.

As in almost all romantic languages, unless your condition is permanent, and you wish to say you are cold, you would say you have cold or “J’ai froide.” meaning, of course, that as soon as you warm up you will say “J’ai chaude.” and your husband will stop worrying. (I have it on good authority – my Beloved – that men generally like Hot women.)

Frankly I rather like the way the French express themselves. Very few of us women stay cold forever (unless dead) or hot forever. So it makes sense to say you are – temporarily – cold or hot. None of the above applies if you are in the vicinity of George Clooney.

Then there are those pesky vowels that can get you in real trouble. But that’s a French lesson for another day.

Meanwhile, back on the subject of language in the written form, that is… I have a question for you blog readers: I write Women’s Fiction – thus far as a hobby- since I haven’t been published. Having a few books under my bed gathering dust, it occurred to me that I might as well dust them off and add them to this blog, even though, for the most part they have nothing to do with how easy it is to live French.

What I need to  know first, however, is would any of you read an on-going serialized novel if I added it – absolutely free – to this blog? My other option is to self-publish them through Amazon who would probably put a price on them. (I don’t mean that as a threat, just a fact.)

LET ME HEAR FROM YOU IF YOU ARE CURIOUS ABOUT WHAT I MAY -OR MAY NOT- DO NEXT.

I Forgot to Show You the Marmie Twins – Kittens!

How could I have not posted the new additions to our Cat Family? Well, I did.

Jo, my wonderful helper, took in a pregnant feral cat who, of course, eventually had 3 kittens. At that time I was pretty well on the mend from the cancer episode and thinking that Norma Jean, my 22 year old cat, might not last a whole lot longer. I think 22 years old in Cat years is like about a 100 years old. So, I told Jo I would take a couple of her adorable kittens. As we generally get older cats looking for a retirement home, we hadn’t had kittens in a long time. Jo’s kids had named one of the kittens Marmalade because of her ginger coloring. So I took Marmalade and her brother who we named Marmaduke. The two of them provided my entertainment as I continued to recuperate

The Marmie Twins take on a spider plant in the Cat Room.

During our renovation I decided having a Cat Room was essential and the small entrance at the side of the house was nominated. We increased the size of the room, adding windows all around and a couple of windows in the roof. Norma Jean had already claimed her favorite chair in that location and now the new kittens discovered the shelf where food and water were always available. 

Marmalade in my Jade Plant, her favorite hiding place.

The first thing I noticed after the arrival of the Marmies was how interested my elderly Norma Jean was in the kittens. From her chair she watched as the kittens took over the food shelf. It seemed to me that the kittens had given Norma Jean a new lease on life. No longer did she sleep all day. She had two lively companions to watch. Norma Jean began to eat better and occasionally take a stroll outside.

Marmaduke hides from his twin sister.

Had I, by adding kittens to her life, extended Norma Jean’s already long life? It would seem so.

Norma Jean takes a new interest in her shelf! Can’t have those scamps of kittens running around helter skelter!

Well, that was then and this is now. Norma Jean is in her 23rd year of a beautiful life. The kittens are big guys now and have discovered the wonderful world of milking barns, stone ruins where mice live and the joy of growing into big scary cats. Marmaduke is best buddies with Tache, our black Bretagne cat, but still keeps an eye on his twin sister, Marmalade.  

And I am learning many lessons from my ancient Norma Jean. She is a great observer of life from her chair in the Cat Room. She eats well, sleeps well and doesn’t expect to dash about like the kittens. She and I are taking our old age in stride and enjoying the grandchildren.

It isn’t a bad gig – this easy-going old age in France!

April Showers…So It’s a Day To Write

Had high hopes of planting the broccoli today, but it’s way too wet in the garden. Nevermind, gives me a good reason to write the novel. That’s how I decide between gardening and writing: a rainy day is for writing. A sunny one is for gardening. Easy. And here’s where I do that writing in my Writing Corner of my bedroom:

I know it looks pretty messy, but I know where everything is and I can NOT live without lots of notes around me. Besides it faces West so the sun is behind me when I write in the morning.

My present WIP is the second novel of the trilogy I am writing called The Rest of Her Life, and I’ll soon start to publish on my domain if I can decide what to call it. I first called the domain www.read-a-soap.com but I am thinking that doesn’t quite convey what will be there. How about www.lunchhourreads.com ? You can send me your ideas via my personal email address which is annecrowder@gmail.com .

The first story is about a girl who married far too young but thought she was a grown-up and happily pursued a life of wife, mother and general flunky until she realized something was missing…. well, you’ll have to read it to get the full picture. It’s Women’s Fiction with a lovely little romance as well.

Now here’s where you come in: I need advice about how many chapters to publish each week, or should I publish a chapter a day? I write in fairly short chapters. I wonder what lunch hour readers want.

Meanwhile, maybe I should tidy up my desk. That photo is kind of embarrassing.

Be watching for my new domain name (thank you, Patti!). I like the idea of www.lunchhourreads.com . Do you?

Quick Flash: Can’t change the name of my domain until I renew it. Soooo… How about I leave it www.read-a-soap.com but have a section of it under the name Lunch Hour Read? Anyway, I need to get it past being “Under Construction” and start getting serious about being an indie published author.