Thursday, November 24, 2011

France...2011, more than a "vacation"

  This trip to France is far more than a vacation, this is a metaphorical 'smudging', removing all negative energy that I've been harnessed with, due to many emotional obstacles I've been blessed with, and have worked very hard to overcome.
 Life is meant to be lived, so I'm rebirthing myself into the life I want.

 The opportunity to travel to France, came up in May, and with zero chance of that happening (or so I had thought) I declined and with my Taurean bull like attitude, persued the fight with the Bank (Bank of America) to keep my house (as you may know was at risk of foresclosure) and buckled down to address the difficult, full time, stressful job of keeping my home and my business.

In 2010 my aunt Vera died at 98, my namesake, leaving a small inheritance to my mother, who had preceeded her in death, in 2009, which meant the money would go to her kids, me being one of three kids.
 I made the decision  NOT to use that small inheritance on my house. That would be completely insane! I choose to live my life to enjoy it and not be a slave to it.
   After a difficult divorce and simultaniously losing my mom to cancer (3 wks from diagnosis to her death) then nearly losing my house, I figured my Aunt Vera was giving me a chance to experience something I had only ever dreamt of, so I took that chance, and guess what- I could not be happier about my decision.

So, here I am, sitting in a very small apartment in Montmarte, Paris, sipping coffee, baguette in hand and writing this blog post...and learning so much.

These last few years have given me many opportunities to learn about myself, my values, dreams, and  perspective as to how we as Americans extend ourselves way beyond human ability, and put value on things that aren't as important as living happy, healthy lives, within a system that supports that. We are getting pretty loud about that now though, the voices are crying out saying NO MORE.

Anyway....more on that later....France.

Nice, Old town...
We arrive from the ariport by bus, dropped off in the neighborhood we were instructed to's much later than we had planned, about 6pm. I have no phone and need to call Julienne to get the keys to our apt...ummmmm...what do I do?
We amble around, the streets are full of people all are speaking French and Nicoise, not English. We find a phone booth. Great it doesn't take coins, and the instructions are in French AND my phone card from the USA doesn't work. OK, think, and figure out something!!! I ask someone about a phone and am instructed to go to the phone shop, where I plan to get a sim card....ok, off we go, and the sim card is looking to cost about 50 euros....WOWSA!! The language barrier is enormously obvious now, and the clerk and I are not able to understand each other...fortunately a young man comes in (who wants to use the computer in this store, which is approximately 5 feet by 20 feet, houses phones in private stalls, computers and phone cards, not much more that I can tell) and is able to help me to decide to just use the phone in the phone stall. Skip the sim card and spend ,90 to make the call. WHEW, saved a bunch of money!!!

 Unbelievably narrow streets loaded with cafes, charcuteries, fromageries, patisseries, boulangeries, and so many shops.  Cars and scooters wizzing by...dodging pedestrians and bikes, narrowly missing them by not more than a half meter, apparently that's enough. This takes a bit of getting used to and feels completely foreign to our way of pedestrian right of way/street's a whole different game over here- Driving- but more on that later.
Gorgeous. We never left Old Nice (to visit other parts of Nice, anyway)
 The buildings are colorful, each having it's own style of ironwork. All of the carvings above the doorways are charming, with giant archways, seemingly ancient wooden doors. Each window above with clean laundry hanging out to dry on retractable clothes lines.
The cobblestone streets that wind down through the buildings are tightly packed with hundreds of bakeries selling fresh baguettes, croisant, paninis,  and the kinds of sweets that I've only ever seen in magazines.
The food is glorious.
 We are offered help each time we look lost, which is often, since we stand in the streets looking at maps, we are often the confused Americans in need of direction...People are very friendly and helpful, we are grateful.
The apt we rented for CHEAP on is very small, and super efficient. Julienne, the owner, was enormously helpful in helping us get our bearings on the area.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fall is, fall back, falling

 lovely colors with the turning of the leaves as they make the decent towards the ground, only to be remade into useful soil, food for the soil to be fed to the plants.
 Beautiful sunsets over the mountains, truly breathtaking at times...  to remind us of just one of the many reasons we choose to live here.
Cooler temperatures. 
 we are lucky to have long growing seasons here in the Northwest...we can plant food to eat here year round
Harvest time for many fruits and root vegetables

Fall is actually the best time to get out in the garden and make it what you really want.
The trees are changing color as are some perennials, which creates an entirely new opportunity to "paint your picture"
Dig and divide spring blooming perennials
plant shrubs, trees and perennials
I am not a tidy gardener, so leaves do not get raked up in my yard, instead they get raked into the beds of my garden to be eaten by the creatures who live in and feed my soil, the soil food web...worms, mycorhizzae, beneficial organisms that enrich my soil, think of the woods and all the loose, loamy soil that exists one rakes it up, it breaks down and refeeds itself. 
I love the way the garden looks and feels at this time of year. I like to walk through and notice the many ways my garden is changing, in color and in form, with spring plants that have gone dormant to make way for the thugs of summer, the toughies who can take the little water I will allow them, but please me with all the beauty and color they are meant to display, as if to's my job, I must do this, Enjoy!
The bird activity  is at a level of excitement that can only be explained by the amount of food and berries available. The sunny days we are blessed with bring generous amounts of song birds out to serenade even the surliest of gardeners.
I am stopped in my tracks of hurry and flurry in the garden to get to the tasks at hand....'what is that song bird, who sings of such joy and relaxed delight?' The flittering little one whom I still have yet to see, hides and sings, to bring me to my own place of peace and joy in the garden of my own life.
So, what to be doing in the garden?
Prune out dead wood on old fashioned roses...these are different than modern roses, old Rose does not mean it's been in the ground a long means it's OLD, as in from 1864 or prior. These old roses are the ones that blooms in abandoned lots, take no real care whatsoever, aside from proper planting, and summer water, if you please???...then you can essentially leave them be. 
Prune out dead wood on shrubs and trees
Divide spring flowering herbacious perennials, replant or pot up
Dig out unwanted thugs in the garden, and weed
Move bigger shrubs if desired, by root pruning and lifting to deposit in the prepared new location.
Create new gardens for next year
Mulch exposed soils with homemade compost, wood chips, manures, leaves, straw or in vegetable gardens, sow cover crops.   Having read Ruth Stout, I am addicted to mulch, period.
Rake leaves from deciduous trees into a pile to make leaf compost or into gardens to break down...maple, alder and birch are the best for this type of practice....
Look for edible mushrooms in the gardens...shaggy manes, Boletus and more (know what you are looking for!! Do not eat if you are not sure.)
More garden talk to come next week...
to be continued....