* Between The Sea (the Med) and The Alps -- {Pronounce: ontruh la mair eh lay zalp}

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Between a rock and a hard place

Clean-out 01People suffer natural disasters all over the world, such as hurricanes, landslides, earthquakes, fires, etc., often losing everything they own, including their lives. 

While we suffered what I call The Disaster, it doesn't compare, and we are capable of digging ourselves out and starting over.  After a year and a half, with help from a few friends, we finally got started on that task last week.  As you might imagine, it wasn't easy, both emotionally and physically, but it's a relief to finally be making progress again.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A new home for the Babes

Wall 01Once upon a time, we had an ugly hillside (we actually had nothing but ugly hillsides everywhere).  Right outside our kitchen and main outside dining area, there was this ancient falling down chicken coop and nothing but wild irises all over the hillside. 

It was such an eyesore, I had such grand visions, we finally decided to realize those visions.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Classy babes

Babes 01

Isn't she lovely?  Isn't she wonderful?  (To quote a certain Stevie Wonder.)  We got her in May 2007, the week before Doc Leo came down with a problem in his neck that put him in the hospital for six months.  At first, we wondered if trying to get her out of the car is what did him in.  (It wasn't.)

At the time, we were spending a lot of time in Italy, the Doc had a lot of jobs in Rome and it was easier to drive than fly, so we were checking out all statue places we came across, as that was a theme we wanted for our property.  One time, we found this place that supplies the whole world.  Not only did they have good prices, but we could also provide our own transportation, so we did.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

When a family restarts life

24 Years 1

When we were young, we moved all over up and down the East Coast of the US, searching advancement with better jobs.  When we ended up staying a whole 11 years in one spot in Florida, that was amazing. 

Then we made another move in 1990 that changed our lives completely.  On this date 24 years ago, our family minus one arrived in France.  With absolutely no idea what that would mean for our futures.

(We had just come back from a graduation trip to Saint Martin in the Caribbean.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Twenty years already

IMG_6330cIt's fun to have a baby in the family.  You've met Diggle, the latest baby in our family, who is currently still an actual baby.

But Diggle has an older cousin, and yesterday was his birthday.  A big one.  Our first grandchild has finished being a teenager and has now turned the big 2-0!

And we'd like to wish him a nice Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TTF - How we go tripping

Tripping Through France - Epilogue

Personal 01

Now that you've seen what all we found interesting along our round trip to Paris, I thought you might enjoy the way we saw it all.

We can be fairly unconventional when we travel (just ask our kids), born out of financial desperation then continued through personal choice.  This is our typical modus operandi.

Monday, August 18, 2014

TTF - Along the route

Tripping Through France - Chapter 10

Along Route 01

As we traveled along the route, we came across a number of fun things, as one does when one travels the small roads, as we did.  I thought I'd show you some of the more interesting bits that caught my fancy.

For starters, here's an example of driving down one of Napoleon's tree-lined straight roads.  Such a pleasure!  Such current controversy!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

TTF - Farmers in the dell

Tripping Through France - Chapter 9


Crops 01France is an agricultural country.  If you don't believe me, check out the toys some kid plays with in his back yard.  (Whoever has taught him the neatnik game really deserves a prize.)  He also has a few small people-sized riding farm equipment.

As we traversed the countryside, we came across all kinds of fields, which were actually rather pretty, so I thought I'd show you just what summer crops look like over here.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

TTF - Alpine sentinels

Tripping Through France - Chapter 8

Bonette Military 06a

In the 19th century, after the various regions in Italy unified into one big country, the French were concerned about protecting their border against potential invasion.  Thus, they started developing a few military outposts along their alpine frontier.  Over the years, they enlarged their installations, and we came across a number of military "ghost towns" along our very high-in-the-sky route.

Friday, August 15, 2014

TTF - Touching the sky

Tripping Through France - Chapter 7

Bonette 01

The routes between the north and the south of France on the east side of the country often go through big chunks of various European mountain chains.  As you get down to the southern area, you hit the western edge of the Alps.  That means you can find yourself fairly elevated from sea level, which we did on this trip.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

TTF - Nature's End of the World

Tripping Through France - Chapter 6

Cascade 1Doc Leo loves Google Earth.  He surfs it whenever he can for as long as he can.  Then he likes checking out as many Panoramio photos as he has interest (and time) for.  He gets a lot of enjoyment out of seeing all the places he'd like to go himself, as well as how all the places he's already been look.  Over the years, he's probably found where most of you live if he's ever been there (or even if not).  On one of his virtual trips, he came across this little detour he surprised me with.  I hope you enjoy visiting it with me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

TTF - A little old winemaking town

Tripping Through France - Chapter 5

Chablis 01

As we were traveling down the countryside, we found ourselves surrounded by vineyards.  France is full of vineyards.  But we happened to be in the Chablis region, which is a popular wine in America, so I thought you might be interested in how your wine gets its start.

This little roadside map shows the various areas in which the different qualities of grapes are grown.  I think.  It's rather confusing, but it looks so pretty, I just wanted to include it!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

TTF - Avant-garde Medieval worshipping

Tripping Through France - Chapter 4

Bourges Cathedral 01

Imagine casually walking down some quaint streets in a pretty town and glancing down a side street and being confronted with this view.  Not generally your everyday scene, I don't think.

This is the Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Bourges, built between the late 12th and 13th centuries, with construction starting by 1195.  It is a contemporary of the Notre Dame de Paris and Chartres cathedrals, all using innovative structural design for the times, such as described in Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth.

It is still surrounded by many of the original half-timbered houses of the old medieval town, enabling one to really capture the ambiance of the original time period. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

TTF - Bourges, center of France

Tripping Through France - Chapter 3

Bourges 01

We recently met a young Canadian couple who have just relocated to France as missionaries with our church group, and we had a chance to visit them on our way to Paris.  They settled in Bourges, which is only 25 miles/40 km from the claimed geographical center of France.

It was really fun to be able to actually visit a Medieval town rather than just pass through, not to mention enjoying getting to know this wonderful family a bit more.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

TTF - Natural ups and downs

Tripping Through France - Chapter 2

Ardeche 01

France has a number of beautiful gorges, and we took a tour around one of them that was on our route.  The rock structure that allows a gorge to form can create a number of natural formations including high cliffs, caves, grottes, and canyons down to a river that may have caused rock erosion over the eons.  At least, these are features of the Gorges de l'Ardèche that we explored on this trip.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

TTF - Lavender in bloom

Tripping Through France - Chapter 1

Lavender 1This is actually a follow-up to the earlier post on lavender fields, which were either buried under snow or just beginning to bud during the times we happened to be passing by.

Unfortunately, we did not go by our particular comparison field on this trip, so that complete story will still have to wait.  We don't often have an occasion to be in that area at the right time of year.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Tripping Through France - Introduction

Tripping 01

When we recently went up to Paris for a weekend visit with our son and his family, we turned the trip into a little driving vacation lasting about a week and a half.    We had so many interesting experiences, I thought I would take everybody else along with us in an armchair travelogue with a series of photographic descriptions on the various aspects of the interior areas of this country.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Best day of the year

Best day of the year



For as long as I can remember, today has always been a special day.  It was on this date in history that Yours Truly arrived on this planet, and the world has never been the same since!

Friday, August 1, 2014


imageThis is not a weekend to be on French roads.  They are to be avoided at all costs, because in general they will not be avoided!  This is the biggest annual traffic weekend of the year, every year, in France, and it's really quite something.  The term chassé-croisé essentially means criss-cross, a reference to the dance step where the man and woman alternate crossing in front of each other.  In French terminology, it means massive traffic jam.

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