Year of the Cocoon


“Make a decision and then make it right.

There just are no wrong decisions.”  - Abraham Hicks

I have purposefully made this the year of the cocoon.  No big decisions.   Heaven knows I made enough of those in 2017.  It's time to rest and repair from the last few difficult years.  Unpack, sort, purge, reset.  Wrap up in my quiet little place and let my wings grow again. 

I have my doubts and my fears and it gets a little lonely.  It's not easy standing there all by yourself.   Then I remember, I'm not standing there by myself at all.  Everyone who knows and loves me, near and far, are standing right there with me. 

I'm reading Sarah Ban Breathnach, Peace and Plenty.  What a great book.  Wise words from someone who experienced starting over at a certain age.  Her world was turned upside down and she is putting all the pieces back together.  Nice to have her company and guidance.   

Peace and plenty

Even when you know in your heart of hearts that you have done what you needed to do, there are always the questions.  Was it the best move?  Was it the right time?  Where is all this leading?  What will my new life look like?  Where is my down comforter and the rest of my kitchen stuff??  I sat out on my cozy little balcony this evening, watching the light change as the sun began to set.  The temperature unseasonably warm for February, in my short sleeves, dogs at my feet and in my lap.  The air warm and fresh, like spring.  The little meadow below was full of cardinals.  Not just one, lots of them.  I always think of my grandmother whenever I see a cardinal.  I think she was saying that she is happy that I have finally come home.  If that wasn't enough, as I watched the cardinals, I could hear the horses neighing at the farm across the meadow.  I love this place, deep in my soul.  The sights and sounds stirred something faded but familiar.  Home.


Not sure what the wings will look like when they are fully developed, but I do know that they have already carried me home.  The rest of it will fall into place in perfect time.  In the meantime, I will keep looking for the comforter and the rest of the kitchen items.    


Life Anew

There have been so many changes, I wouldn't know where to begin.  The one thing that hasn't changed is my desire to keep making and writing.  Making, and then writing about the making, it feeds my soul.  As many things have fallen away from my life and many new things have fallen into place, the one thing that remained consistent through all the change was the desire to continue making and writing.  So in 2018, I'll be pursuing many of my old creative passions and I'll also be exploring a few new passions.  I'll share the musings with whomever happens across my little place here.  You won't get tangled in a bunch of advertising or pop up windows or stalking Amazon products.  Just me, making, writing and musing.  Maybe you'll just find a smile or a little inspiration.  Glad to be back. 

So my first little creative session in quite some time.  Just a little gathering with my family to make a few Valentines and share some good food. 


Little treat bags and something to take home the Valentines in...


A big pile of supplies...


A few special treats to celebrate the holiday...


A fun little basket of take home goodies....


And the wonderful aftermath of a creative afternoon...

Much needed time with family, creating, laughing and enjoying each other.  Looking forward to the next, painting, making a Derby hat????  Looking forward to the journey...

Making my way back,







So many changes in the last year.  My life took a left turn that I knew was inevitable but still wasn't really expecting.  I can't really share the full details yet, but will as it is respectful and appropriate.  I'll have to find that line between authenticity and not harming the innocent.  I want to tell the real story but it is not going to be easy.  I do believe in telling it, I can heal and maybe even help someone else heal.

I've spent the last year just trying to process it all.  I focused inward and tried to make sense of it and find a new balance.  I kind of feel like I have come out the other side with some measure of solid footing.  The emotional vertigo still hits sometimes.  

In the meantime, I am trying to expand into the areas that are still beautiful, peaceful and the way they have always been.  It will be a long road ahead, but I'm ready.  I am stronger than I realized.


Time Out

I've spent the last few days here...


Specifically here...


Sometimes the Universe forces a time out. 

On Christmas Eve, I had the tell-tale signs of a forthcoming rest.  Scratching throat and little voice.  On Christmas Day, I was down for the count. 

I've spent the last three days with pots full of tea, Luca and the Christmas lights to keep me company.

I kind of feel like I missed Christmas. 

Lightened poinsettia
Lots of time for thinking, but mostly just resting.  A few little strokes of watercolors to catch up with my Letters from Roseville. 

Lighter dear

Tablesetting lightened

I had a head full of things I wanted to get accomplished over the holiday.  Experience has taught me that sometimes, it is good to let things go, and to just lean into the stillness.  Sometimes this is the only way be still and let go.  The Universe knows me well.     

It's been one of the busiest years I can remember.  So much happened; trips, travel, movings, certifications, a promotion and a whirlwind of other things.   Taking a little break, willfully or not, just may be the perfect little Christmas gift. 
















Paris - Day 3, Part 3

After lunch we head a little further into le Marais.  We are meeting Richard from Eye Prefer Paris at the Saint Paul metro stop.  There is still a bit of time before we meet so we duck into Saint Paul Saint Louis.  As most all churches in Paris and throughout Europe, it is awe inspiring.





After our visit to Saint Paul Saint Louis, we head over to the metro stop and await Richard.  I recognize him immediately, he looks just like his blog photos. 

We are taking the gourmet food tour with Richard.  He lives in the Marais and knows all the best places.

Our first stop is Izrael L'Epicerie Du Monde.  Such a beautiful and overwhelming assortment of every spice imaginable.  It smells of curry and cinnamon and a million other lovely smells.


Our next stop is Boulangerie Au Petit Versailles du Marais.  Hot chocolate and apple tart must haves.  Beautiful inside and unbelievably delicious.




This photo kind of sums up the days in Paris.  Food and camera.  No, it is not unusual to carry a baguette in your purse.  It is quite expected in Paris.


This apple tart was the best in my life.  I know I say that about all of them, but it really was!  It was sweet and buttery and flaky and warm.  Impossible to eat without a million crumbs but worth it.



From apple tarts to Foie Gras.  Not a recommended transition by the way.


I knew it would have to carry it the rest of the night, but the fruit was irristible.  These green plums, amazing.  I ate an entire container.  Not all in one sitting of course.  That would not be a good idea having been mobile the entire day.



Our very own cheese man.  Scruptious cheese, packaged carefully, another few ounces to carry the rest of the night. Please wrap it tightly as not to cause whispers and stares.


Onward, past Au nom de la Rose.  Such lovely little arrangements. 


And onward past all the beautiful little Marais details.


A lone grapewine in the heart of Paris.


I almost didn't come out of here.  Loads of lovely ephemera and chotskies. 


Hmmmnnn, sure could use some wheels about now.  I am not feeling my feet any more.



We complete our tour and head through another little area, Village St. Paul, a beautiful Jewish part of the Marais.  Part of the story of Les Miserables takes place in this part of Paris.  You can feel the history on these streets.  I find a perfect smoky quartz with marcasite ring.  Another sweet little token of Paris. 


We are starving and stop in Les Philosphies.  Another amazing meal with entertainment.  The waiters are beautiful, charming and funny.  They know how to treat us American women.  Cheeky, but reserved.  Perfect.



We make our way back toward the river and the apartment.  We have been going since early morning.  I haven't felt my feet in hours.  We pass a sock store and I duck in to find a pair of socks to put a layer between my skin and the leather shoes that are eating a hole in my ankle.  Amazing what a thin layer of cotton can do.  Socks and flats are not the most Parisian of fashion combinations, but I don't care.  I contemplate something of a crazy color or pattern but stick with a pretty, black lacy pair.  Sexy socks.  Do those two words even work together in a sentence?

We arrive at the river and Notre Dame just in time to watch the setting sun light up the facade warm orange and then slowly sink down behind le Conciergerie.  I have a hard time moving from the bridge.  I am mesmerized thinking of how many times Marie Antoinette watched it go down wondering if that would be the last time she would see it. 


Just when we thought we couldn't take another moment of excitement, we ran into this young man.  We made a deal for him to ride us around for an hour and drop us off at our doorway. 


We bumpily (large bicycle basically, no shocks to speak of, plastic seat but better than walking on the stubs that used to be feet at this point) breeze past Assemblee Nationale, Pont de la Concorde, Les Invalides and on to the Eiffel Tower.






We also see the entrance to the tunnel in which Lady Diana was killed.  Such a sad bit of history.  The anniversary of her death was just a few days ago.  Hard to believe it has been 17 years since she left this earth. The monument area was filled with flowers and cards.


We are coming back up the right bank and now heading toward Champs Elysees.   This wasn't part of the deal and our behinds are numb.  Turns out, the bicycle is partially battery powered and the battery is about to die.  We are heading back to the garage for a change of battery.  We whiz through Champs Elysees past LaDuree and all the very high end brands.  We arrive and sit in front of the garage in an area just off the Champs Elysees.  High end but off the main boulevard and a bit seedy.  Should we be concerned?  Several dozen scenerios run through our minds.  Can I even feel my feet to run?  Is is possible to fend off a French man with a baguette and green plums?  Maybe the smell of the cheese that has been in our purse for a couple of hours now?  Can we run into the Louis Vuitton store quickly?  How far back are the macarons?  If I die in Paris, can I stay here?



Turns out we are safe.  Our peddler gets us back to the left bank and drops us off right at our door. 

We collapse into the apartment after our final beating, the 78 spiral stairs race to beat the motion sensors.  I check my messages and find that a very important document that I sent from work before taking off on my vacation, did not get to the recipients.  I spent the next two hours tracking down my son to go to my home office and resolve the issue.  Turns out that I hit "Send" but closed by computer while the email was still in the to send queue.  As soon as he opened my laptop the email arrived in the recipients' in boxes.

I don't remember anything after that.  The numbness in my feet went to my head.  Off to bed to rest up for more feet numbing adventures tomorrow.  We held true to our "we can sleep when we are dead" motto today.  What an adventure!


Paris - Day 3, Part 2

HEADLINES:  Two Americans in Paris, Last Seen at BHV.  (I really shouldn't joke about being lost in Paris, but I will for your entertainment.)

We meandered into the BHV and are quite entertained for at least an hour.  We find the art supplies upstairs and peruse our little hearts out amid the watercolors, acrylics, chalks, brushes and paper.  We don't leave as heavily laden as one would suspect.  It is probably due more to not wanting to carry a heavy load for the remainder of our day rather than not finding treasures.

During our early morning trek, we discover Melodies Graphiques located on Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe.  It is a tiny little shop filled with beautiful paper, cards and calligraphy supplies.  The shopkeeper is busy addressing envelopes for what must be a very important Parisian event.  He is meticulously focused on his task, romantic swirls and flourishes, spelling out the name and street number of the lucky recipient. We linger in this shop, enjoying the walls decorated with envelopes from near and far and the smells of paper, ink and old wood.  I purchase a stamp set of Paris postmarks and words, another sweet souvenir from Paris.

There are such beautiful places along Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe.  I think I will add this little cafe to the list of things I want to watercolor.  Check out the sleeping bull dog.  Love this photo, another quintessential Parisian scene. 


And another...


Haussmann and medieval...


After exploring for several hours, we stop at a little Italian restaurant and have some lunch.  Just a simple little lunch of pasta and Orangina.  I never drink pop at home, but for some reason, I just love this while I am in France.  Lunch is good, we haven't had a bad meal.

To be continued...  I know, Part 3?  We left the apartment at 10 am and returned at 10 pm.  It was a very busy day!


Paris - Day 3, Part 1

Today we will explore Le Marais.   Before exploring, our first stop is an authentic Parisian breakfast. We walk the 15 minutes or so it takes us to make our way across Pont St. Michel to Notre Dame and then over Pont St. Louis to Ile St. Louis and our quintessential Paris breakfast. 




I read on line somewhere that it was imperative to have the French toast at St. Regis Cafe.  We are very excited about what we are envisioning.  Maple syrup, maybe a sprinkle of powdered sugar, a little ham or bacon on the side. 

We arrive and are seated by our lively waiter.  We are sure he has been there for many years judging by his age and mastery of the job.  He and one other female server are taking care of the entire place.  We peruse the menu and find nothing that might be construed as "French Toast." 


We point to something on the menu and are disappointed when we realize that either French toast is the same as American toast or else the magical French toast of our dreams does not exist.  Even though it is lost in translation and not what we were anticipating, it is still delicious. 




Our breakfast includes fresh squeezed orange juice, a poached egg, lots of bread, butter and jam and a hot chocolate to die for. 

After our lost in translation breakfast, we have a few hours before our walking tour with Eye Prefer Paris.  In the apartment we found a box of cards illustrating various Paris walking tours.  The cards are brilliant, small enough to tuck into a purse, yet thick and sturdy enough to hold up to frequent referral and in and out of the purse.  We have chosen a card with a walk through a small street with art shops on the edge of Le Marais.  

Finding our way to the route, we walk through Hotel de Ville and happen upon the post office.  I need to get postage for my Letters From Roseville which I hope to mail from Paris.  I purchase the stamps I need without any additional translation issues.  I am particularly concerned because I know the letters will require additional postage.  Satisfied we've figured it out and have the needed stamps, we head out again to find the beginning of our walking route.

Isn't Hotel deVille fabulous?  It is breaktaking in person.  Look how little the people are.  It is Grand.  Opulent.  Stunning.

We continue past Hotel de Ville and find BHV.  Roc roh.  So much for those few hours we had before meeting our tour for Le Marais.  I have read about this place and had it on the bucket list.  This might take awhile.  I'll finish my story later, after BHV. 

To be continued!


Paris - Day 2

I am writing this at 2:58 am.  I am still jet-lagged.  The first full day is always the hardest.  Today was another very busy day.  We start with a walk to the Louvre-Rivoli metro stop to meet our photography instructor, Elena at 8 am.  We arrive a bit early and spot a cafe right across the street.  I need a double espresso to wake up and be ready to absorb instruction.  We sit outside keeping an eye out for someone who looks like a photography instructor.  What does a photography instructor look like exactly?  We are not sure, but we think we spot her.  Blond, small stature with a confident stride, alert eyes and a backpack.  We know it is her before we introduce ourselves.  Maybe it is the photographer vibe that we all share.

We make our way together through the alleys and passageways and begin our session.


Elena is taking us on the "passages" tour.  She is lovely, and very patient with us.  We fall into comfortable rapport.  Her teaching style makes learning f-stops, ISO, white balance and all the other confusing terms of photography, seem easy.  We roam through the passageways and parks near the Louvre.  Many are out of the way places that could only be known by someone who lives in Paris.  The passageways are remnants of an old Paris, where ladies of means liked to maintain pasty white skin, evidence of no labor.  Tanned skin meant that you toiled in the sun.  The passageways kept the ladies shaded while they shopped. Today they house scattered little specialty shops and cafes.

We were very pleased with our time with Elena.  Once our instruction is done, we sit in a little cafe and enjoy espresso and conversation. 







On our way back to the apartment, we walk through the Tuileries Garden.  It is my first time in the grand garden that leads to the Louvre palace.  It is just as stunning as all the photographs I have seen.  We find another little cafe within the garden and enjoy a lunch of burgers and frites.

After lunch we walked through the garden putting our newly found knowledge of f-stops and aperature priority to practice.  The skies are that glowing color of radiant blue, making the shots look like postcards. 




Closer to the apartment, we stop in Charvin, the art store with Mr. Beautiful.  He isn't there but a stunning array of paints and paper journals are.  I buy my watercolors and a small journal with red linen fabric, black binding and the gold embossed letters, "Charvin" on the cover.  The tiny watercolor set is very portable, perfect to tuck into a pocket for future adventures.  Something I will cherish forever. 


We stop at the market for some basics and then head to the apartment to conquer the 78 steps, unload and rest a bit.  A change of shoes is also in order.  Toms are not meant for 15,000 steps on the cobblestone streets of Paris. 

After a short rest, we hit the streets again.  I need to find a camera shop to purchase a European charger because my camera is not keeping a charge.  We have some lunch and start making our way back when I see the most beautiful necklace in a shop window.  It's one of those moments when you just know.  I fell instantly in love with it.  The bead work is very special and the colors beautiful and soft.  It will be my special purchase from the trip.  I purchase the necklace and ask the shopkeeper about a camera shop.  There is one right across the street!


We pop into the camera shop to buy a European charger.  After much consideration, instead I leave with a new camera.  It's lovely, a newer version of the Panasonic Lumix that I adore.  It's white, very French. The rest of the trip is going to have to be a little more reserved. 

We finish the evening with some night photography and dinner at a small cafe near Notre Dame.  After a lovely light dinner, we head back to the apartment under the city lights of Paris.  



Update on Letters From Roseville

<<<<<<<< Hey, look, to the left!!  I've added a way for you to subscribe to an email version.  Just enter your email address and off you go.   I hope you will, it will keep me honest about posting more consistently!  It helps to know that my words are not just hanging out in WWW all by themselves, lonely.

October's Letter From Roseville is in the mail!  It is a tab bit later this month due to some logistical issues.  Seems there is a bit of negotiation that must be done between reasonable and creativity.  Once that is resolved, then it is on to negotiation between creativity and the US Postal Service.  Seems they are not fond of puffy, odd-sized envelopes.  Creativity is very demanding!

After much ado consisting of gathering, waxing, stamping, embossing, stitching, painting, post office lines with testy clerks and writing, things are finally complete.  Oh, and there was that other little ditty involving scanners, color and printing.  Who knew printers are not privy to the lovely oranges and yellows of fall?  For the future, I'll have to allow the voice of reason to speak a little earlier in the process.

Nevertheless, none of these challenges has dampened my enthusiasm for the project.  I am as excited as ever and my head is reeling with ideas for next month and beyond. 

A bit of a spoiler perhaps, but I cannot contain my excitement. 


Off to enjoy the flaming colors of a beautiful, midwest fall with my best walking and snuggling buddy, Luca!



Paris - Day 1

We arrived in Paris at 6 am.  The flight was perfect.  No sleep as usual, but a nice, relaxing flight and three movies.

We did not find our driver at the airport and ended up hiring another driver who we just happened to, literally, run into as we were making our way to the taxi stand.  Our ride to the apartment was certainly in style, in a large BMW.  Our driver turned out to be a great connection for the rest of the trip.

We arrived at the apartment around 8 am and we were met by Katrine.  Katrine's mission was to let us in the apartment and help us take our suitcases up the four flights of spiral stairs.  She proceeded to toss a suitcase (mind you 50 + pounds) on her HEAD and zip up the stairs like it was a walk across the courtyard.  She wasn't even winded.  Down and back up with the second one before we had our jackets off. 


The apartment was just as I remembered.  Quirky, tired, and still utterly charming.  We settled in, freshened up, went through all the gadget details with Katrine and just sat for a minute to regroup.  Then we hit the streets.

By now it is around 9 am so we sit in a little cafe and have an omlette and hot chocolate.  The chocolate is so thick, it could be spooned up instead of drinking it.  We sat there for a bit and just enjoyed the sights and sounds of the streets of Paris.  Right next door to the cafe was a lovely little market with beautiful prepared foods.  We bought several little dishes of goodies, cheese, yogurt, and of course, Cote d' Provence.  We made our way back to the apartment.  With each step, I was also counting the hours since I had slept.  I was trying to stay awake and keep moving but it was no use, I was exhausted.  Even the hot chocolate wasn't helping. 


After a several hour nap, we ate a little selection of the items we had purchased. Revived and refueled, we headed out once again. 

Paris does not disappoint me, ever.  I love it so much.  It's beautiful, alive, challenging, and magical.  I close my eyes and breathe in all the smells and feel all the sounds with my heart.  It feels so comfortable to me.  




We stop in a lovely little art store down the street from the Louvre.  We cannot make a purchase because the shopkeeper has closed out his register.  He is so handsome, I decide that the watercolor set and journal are worth a revisit tomorrow.   

We then head across the street and into the Louvre.  It always takes my breath away.  Spectactular does not do it justice.  It is fit for a king, opulent and magnificent.  We make our way across and down to the Louvre-Rivoli metro stop.  We want to make sure we know where we are meeting our photographer tomorrow for our first class. 



On the way back to the apartment, we stop in a little cafe for a glass of wine and tray of cheeses and meats.  Our work today is done.  We crossed the ocean, made it to our apartment, gathered up some food and drink for the apartment, regained a few lost hours of sleep and scoped out our meeting spot for our early rendevous tomorrow with the photographer.    Toast to a good day 1 in Paris.