The summer and autumn were full of finishing projects — to glow.
What you’ll enjoy most is the work you didn’t have to do!
With blood, sweat and tears, Liam busted his ass and brought out of the dark into the light of day, incredible spaces.
Then we took a break for a day of roaming in Normandy, from the cornucopia at the Cathedral of Coutances, to chasing the bread wagon delivery (avec un cheval).
We are wrapping up autumn in its final days of November, keeping the fire lit, and awaiting the first cold frost, and family at home in France, for Christmas:)
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…
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
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!
The neighbors are getting serious about taking in the rest of the corn while the last of the warm, dry weather lasts.
They’re working 18-hour days with combines and huge trailers to chop down, grind up and haul off the corn that’s been surrounding us since late spring. It gets fermented and turned into silage (a French work, actually. Can you say, “See-lahzh?”).
Sure makes the place look different …
Driving in France, I religiously stick to the posted speed limit. This is largely because speeding fines suck. Also – as a foreigner – I prefer to avoid contact with French law enforcement as much as possible. Life is just simpler that way …
Of course, this often makes me the slowest thing on the road, and French drivers let me know this by climbing up my tailpipe until I pull over and let them speed on by. Still, it’s better than having to explain myself in bad French to a gendarme along some rural roadside.
So it was quite the surprise when, out of the blue, I recently got a speeding ticket, without ever even seeing a gendarme. It went like this …
Ani and I get a phone call from Sylvan. He’s a nice young guy who works at the supermarket where we lease our car (yes, in France you can lease a car from the supermarket; and at very attractive rates, too …).
Sylvan regrets to inform us that his office – as the registered owner of our Fiat Panda – has gotten an avis de contravention; basically, a notice that our/their car was recorded exceeding the speed limit. Notice I didn’t say the “posted” speed limit. That’s because – as I now know – the speed limit within any town or village is 50 kilometers per hour (about 31 mph), whether it’s posted or not (it’s usually not).
Now, French people, who learned to drive in France at French driving schools, all know this. Americans, by and large, do not; at least not until they get clobbered with a 90 euro ($120) fine. It seems that on our way back from our camping trip in August we were clocked by an automatic camera as we entered some little village at 64 kph (40 mph). Our plate was duly photographed, and the avis duly sent to Sylvan’s office.
It didn’t really seem fair that – after months of getting persistently tailgated by every driver between Strasbourg and Brest, I’m the one who gets nailed for going too fast.
After that, I got paranoid about my speed, especially in little villages, which I suspect make a fair amount of money during tourist season in the speed trap business. I drove with one eye always on the speedometer.
So imagine my dismay when – a couple of weeks ago – after returning from another camping trip – we get another friendly call from Sylvan.
“Monsieur Moriarty? Vouz avez un autre contravention …”
“Non!” I shout in disbelief. “Ce n’est pas possible!”
“Ah, oui, c’est vrai …”
It seems that in some other flyspeck of a village – this time in the popular chateau country of the Loire — we were clocked doing 54 kilometers per hour in a 50 zone. That’s 33 and a half miles per hour in a 30 zone. I’m quite the speed demon, non? Nonetheless, 45 euros, down la toilette…
It could have been worse, I suppose. Friends tell me that if you’re clocked by an actual live gendarme, they want you to pay the fine – in cash – on the spot. No cash? No problem. They’ll accompany you to an ATM and watch as you pull the money from the wall.
So, now I’m really spooked. I start to sweat as soon as I get behind the wheel. I find myself looking for excuses to not go out on the roads.
I wonder if they can clock me on my bike …
We felt the first crisp air of autumn last week when we got out of bed and opened the scullery door — after a very warm, sunny evening on the terrace the night before. It was fair warning. Liam jumped on his bike and cycled, and I began pulling out what was done in the garden. Still holding off on the basil just a little longer — we ended up having a great crop thanks to our friends in Seattle who were here tending for a week, pinching away…thank you Hennesseys All!
Today it’s the hearth. We’ve stripped out everything around the fireplace, I’ve painted the brick and south wall a soft butter creme, and the new Aarrow Ecoburn 11 woodstove arrives from the UK off a boat to Caen, this very afternoon.
In the meantime, we’ll heave the huge oak lintel we’ve oiled into position over the mantle, and finish laying the underpinnings for the terracotta carrelage we’ve got stacked here to lay out — probably tomorrow.
The only missing piece is a sheet of copper. It’s a little tricky to find but I am optimistic:) That will be the reflective wall behind the stove, sealing off the dark hole of what was, and filling the room with the warmth and glow of what is.
All being well, we’ll light our first fire (we don’t need one yet but ceremony matters) on Sunday.
We’ll keep you posted, and you can join us in our first roast!