Etsy for You


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In France, all over the country, every village puts on their Vide Grenier in the summertime — their annual ’empty the attic’ flea market where you can find all kinds of treasures.

The streets are lined with fold-up tables spilling over with goods from knitting needles to clothes to collectibles, the MUSAK of Johnny Hollyday roars through loudspeakers, and the saucisse is on the grill by 8 am. BBQ smoke wafts through the streets full of locals dealing their wares, and hunger hits about 9.30. So we grab our galette saucisse avec dijon, and meander through the petite chemins of these old, stone towns taking it all in.

We go to the vides — and we find the off-the-beaten-track brocantes where tourists don’t go — to pick up the odd but to-be-cherished piece, to bring home (full house here…) or put  up on our etsy site.

If we like it, we figure you might too.

Take a peek.



August Turns


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We’re at the end of August here…the pumpkin and corgettes have gone mad in their bed, the farmers are collecting their baled hay from the fields on camions way too big for these roads, and we press ahead with the west wing.

I think the pictures will tell their thousands of words about just what we’ve been up to…

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For eight years we have talked about the west wing; the first floor (second by US standards) den/recording studio/tranquil space that looks out over the garden and setting sun in the fields of Normandy…

This summer we had the roof done with the big window to have the view…then we laid the subfloor so we could access the space, and NOW we are busy getting the incredibly finely ground 200 year old mud plaster out of our teeth.

Liam spent the last two days busting BACK through the wall from the west wing into the house creating a door-through. Well, he didn’t ‘bust through’ — it took two days to dismantle, stone by stone,  avec very old mud plaster, the area of the wall that is now the doorway.

It changes everything!

We can walk into the west wing from inside the house.

The LIGHT that shines from the west, through the door, into the bedroom? All new!

Here’s the current state of affairs.

And it IS in quite a state — we’ve just opened up a very big can of worms…

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Life in the Ville avec Blooms of the Day

Been a while…looks like last post was the depths of winter, which we weathered well. New woodstove, five boîtes of wood, chestnut. We were warm and cozy. Spring came — slowly and quietly –and turned into summer which hasn’t really arrived, given the continual return of rain and cloud. Nonetheless, everything is blooming on time.

Now in the garden? Jasmine, passion flower, hydrangia, nasturtium, budlia, lilies, roses, geraniums, astilbe…That’s today.

Until now? It’s been busy, waiting.

We’ve put up our Etsy site, MyVideGrenier, for vintage treasures to bring into your home…

Cleared out the West Wing…travelled a few thousand miles.

Our current renovation project includes the west wing overlooking the garden avec velux, laboriously and meticulously done in three days, the vulnerable back roof (3,400 slates, 3,400 crochets…), sorting of our French taxes, and inbetween all those things? Another layer of life and living.

Too much information?


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Depot Vente au Grenier


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As I embark upon property management and care, vacation rentals of homes of French friends and the like, I realize like a slap in the face I have to iron the sheets.

I have poo-poo’d all my friends who spend HOURS standing up ironing, saying to them rather fliply, I’m a Californian. I don’t iron.

Beyond that, in our own home, I have ONLY flannel sheets — and one can get well away without an iron on them.

Well, that is no more possible. Guests want sheets that squeak.

The GOOD NEWS is, our dearheart French neighbors told us about a brocante not far from here that we really HAD to check out.

There are plenty of brocantes — most of them either overpriced or full of junk. They assured us it was worth going to.

Liam and I went about a month ago and indeed — it was FULL of treasures. Once every two or three weeks, whatever the going price is gets knocked down incrementally if it hasn’t sold.

What a great way to do business.

In that visit, I stumbled upon an industrial strength made-for-the-home German mangle iron!

I LOVE mangle irons — childhood memories took me back to hours — weeks — months — years of sitting in front of a large and very hot mangle iron set up in the open garage of my parents’ motel in Santa Cruz, California…

I  did all the sheets!

But buying one now? For old time’s sake? I don’t think so…

Today, reality bit.

I have 3 sets of sheets here sitting on the couch, per bed.

That’s four beds, so 12 sets of sheets. Wrinkled.

Today,  I thought if that iron is still there — I’d better grab it.

THE BETTER NEWS IS, I tore myself out of the house on this rainy Normandy day, drove just a little north-west of Avranches through a small village called Sartilly — and voila!

Guess what was standing right in front of me?

Yep. Saved just for me, I’m sure.

I plugged it in; it worked.


I  threw it in the back of the car and came home chuffed.

A good day in paradise.

Our Day in a Life


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There’s something about an abrupt weather change that is invigorating to the Soul…

Winter started late this year — the peony was in full bud the end of December, thinking Spring was on its way…

That’s over.

This morning I went for a quick, brisk walkabout — and here are a few photos to share with the morning brew.

Nothing serious, mind you; just a dusting but what a breath of fresh air it is!

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Sur La Table!


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I was explaining to Liam last night, how the Revolution going on inside of me, that’s Evolution with an R, is all about the Table.

It’s funny in France, because it simply seeps in. It’s as if all the beyond-belief fresh produce full of flavor is putting out a constant mantra of ‘eat me’.

I’ve been catching myself listening, without realizing it.

Ooh, that isn’t quite fresh enough…hmmmm…that’s a little tough around the edges…how about this one…

I’m cooking dinner right now — we have friends coming over.

How things have changed:)

We’re having:

Soupe de Tapinambour avec Foie Gras

Followed by

Roast Lamb with Roasted Winter Root Vegetables au Jus

With complimentary Bordeaux

Followed by

Salade Verte avec Roquefort and candied walnuts (from the tree down the lane)…

Followed by

Tarte des Pommes avec Creme Anglais

Here are the ingredients:

Good friends who like to share their lives with each other,

An agreed upon rendevous time,

A readied Table to sit around, with

A meal to talk from,

And a roaring fire in the hearth.

It is COMMON here on Sundays, to have a FULL meal at midi — noon.

What has happened for us when invited? We love to go.

It’s slow food in motion.

Conversations about everything and nothing — in French, English, Russian — it depends on who’s in for the meal at which table.

Space in between sentences. Bites of food.

A promenade.

We come back completely satiated.

And then we take a nap to recover.

Because of the Table?

I  learn — to cook — and what that really means.

Today — and this is one of the side benefits — I’ve spent the DAY preparing…it is an extraordinary pleasure to putter about the kitchen from one part of the meal to the other, bringing it forward…

It all happens at the Table.

Well, actually, it starts at the market…

Blessed New Year


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It is HARD to believe the end of the year is upon us. We have hammer dulcimer music playing, the fire roaring, and a wet Normandy day out the windows. We’re staying in.

Here is a slideshow of this last year; with friends, family, and the love of our life here in France. It’s also on Facebook.

We are blessed. We know it.

We are grateful. We live it.

We are happy. We love it.

We Wish All of You a Prosperous and Rewarding Year 2012, and we Wish for All of Us, Peace on Earth.


Liam & Ani

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How Time Flies


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It’s been a month. Busy, busy, busy.

Let’s see, the hearth is finished and warming our socks.

Liam restructured the west wall of the garage, given the slapping storms that pummel it in the winter, and used all old recycled chestnut planks we salvaged from its former selfdom to fortify it. So it’s now anchored and the roof will NOT blow off in gale force winds.

Dear Friend Roy came in from Orcas Island to lend his blood, sweat and tears to help — talk about a friend:) Thank you, Roy.

Liam’s grounding in his journalism here at the home office and turning stories out nearly every day.

I had back to back work, and finished here near Mont St Michel with a glory week of teaching the work that I deliver.

And we are heading into winter. The last two days have been crystalline sunny clear, blue skies and unseasonably warm. Today the cold grey color arrived avec the wind, and we are tucking in more and more each day.

Liam’s already counting the days til Solstice, the shortest day of the year, at which point he exhales and begins to look forward to Spring.

Personally, even though that’s true? I don’t hit looking forward until the end of February…so I’m busy counting blessings.

Here are some late autumn pix for you!

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Last Man Standing

More agricultural mysteries …

This stalk of corn was the sole survivor in a huge expanse of recently-cut stubble.

I found myself wondering if — through natural selection — this hardy specimen will pass those harvest-resistant genes down, engendering future generations of corn that WILL NOT BE CUT DOWN!

Might we see a revolt? An insurrection? Might the Children of the Corn rise up and refuse to submit to the tyranny of human domination and slaughter?

Clearly, I don’t have enough to occupy my mind on my morning bike rides …