Saturday, September 18, 2010

Follow Me to France!

This is France. I will be spending the winter in the red piece of the puzzle. While I'm in France, Musings from Red Bell Farm will be on holiday as well. Follow me to France at Melanged Magic!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Usually fall signals a new beginning for me. I always loved the start of the new school year with its clean, blank notebooks, freshly sharpened pencils, new textbooks and of course, the obligatory pleated plaid skirt with matching sweater! This year, though, fall signals an ending here at Red Bell Farm. I'm closing things up and putting the finishing touches on winterizing as I move towards departure on September 22nd. I feel as if a chapter in my life is ending. While I'll return to Red Bell Farm next spring, I don't expect that my life will ever be quite the same. I anticipate being changed forever by my experience of living in France for the winter. Musings From Red Bell Farm will shortly go on hiatus; Melanged Magic has already started taking its place. I've begun mentally detaching from television, tortillas, diet Pepsi, and the luxury of jumping in  my car and going wherever, whenever I want. There are still things to cross of my 'to do' list, but I'm steadily making progress toward leaving the known behind and embracing the unknown ahead. Life is just one big adventure!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Side of the Story

I gotta tell you guys...all this practice stuff is really getting on my nerves! First, she has me practice walking on a leash. A leash! Doesn't she know I'm a country dog? I don't do 'leash!' I have a very keen nose, and I have to roam around so I can sniff every blade of grass, every bush, and every post I see. It's my job! Okay...then she puts me in that crate to practice. She mumbles something I can't quite understand about an airplane, a trip, being a French doggie. What the heck is an airplane? If it's anything like that crate, I already don't like it. Oh sure...I'm a good girl. She keeps telling me that. Who's she trying to convince anyway? I already know I'm a good girl. I take great pride in that.  Anyway, into the crate I go...sigh! Doesn't she know if I'm in there I can't jump with joy and twirl in circles when I see her like I usually do? And tell me this...just how am I supposed to roll over and show people my cute belly to entice them to scratch it? People can't even see my adorable little self in that thing! Today was the worst. We actually went into town so she could 'practice' with the crate and all her other junk. Can you say 'mortified?' That's how I felt when people drove by. I know they were laughing at us. This being a little French doggie is going to be harder than I thought!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Lucie and I made a trip to town today to practice for our trip. I wanted to make sure I could secure her travel crate on my suitcase, pull on the backpack and still keep Lucie under control on her leash. It was harder than I thought it would be. There weren't any really good places to hook the bungie cords for starters. Lucie kept wanting to go sniff the grass. Once I got her crate attached, its weight kept pulling the suitcase over. I think that happened mostly because the suitcase was empty and there wasn't any weight to counter-balance the crate. Lucie did okay walking while I pulled the 'circus wagon' behind us. We were by the Imes covered bridge and its little park which gave us a variety of terrain to practice on...cement sidewalk, boards on the bridge, gravel and grass. We made turns, stops and starts; not once did she tangle up between my legs. I'm not holding my breath that won't happen in the airport, tho, as we dodge other travelers. I even practiced putting her in the crate and carrying her...just in case I have to do that. It's do-able, but it's a workout! I can only imagine what the people driving by thought of our spectacle!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Getting From Here to There

Getting from Iowa to Cadrieu is a journey of three distinct parts. The first part takes me from Red Bell Farm to Chicago by rental car. The second piece is the flight itself from O'Hare to Charles de Gaulle. The third part is the piece that worries me the most....Charles de Gaulle to Cadrieu. I arrive at 8am after a long day of driving and a long night of flying. I'll be tired and jet-lagged. I'll have to figure out how to find Lucie, get her out of her crate and haul her, her crate and my suitcase to the rental car place (which I have absolutely no idea how to find!) Then I have to drive a strange car from the northeast outskirts of Paris to the southwest suburbs to connect to the A20 autoroute that will take me to points south. Throw in confusing French signage, a foreign language, and who knows what else and you have all the ingredients for disaster. Laury to the rescue! She's making plans right now to take the midnight train to Paris, connect with the RER to the airport and meet me on arrival! She'll be my navigator, read the maps, read the roadsigns and generally point us in the right direction. Plus she'll be there to help lift, tote and reassure. Could I do this without her help? You bet! but having her there will make it SO much easier and SO much more fun!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Shifting Gears

Lots of things remain on my 'to do' list as I get ready to fly to France on Sept. 22nd. I'm already beginning to shift gears mentally, though, as I let go of my American lifestyle and get ready to embrace a totally French one. I'd invite you to jump over to Melanged Magic to read about some of these shifts. While there is a supermarket in Cajarc, I will also be able to buy groceries in the weekly outdoor market. Almost every village of any size has a weekly market; this one is in Limogne. The one in Cajarc is on Saturday afternoon. The only limitation is how much you can put in a backpack and carry while you walk or bicycle home. Too heavy? you can always wait for the bus! Some things I won't be buying....tortillas! I don't remember ever seeing them anywhere. I also don't drink pop in France. Too pricey, especially when wine is SO cheap! Here's something else I'll give up...TV. Even if Laury had one (which she doesn't), everything is in French. I've already checked, though. I can watch whole episodes of "Project Runway" on my computer. Yes, I'll admit it...I'm addicted. "Project Runway" has it all...action, creativity, drama, and divas. Can you say Casanova?!? Everything else on TV including the news, I'm happy to do without. What do I gain in return for my American 'sacrifices?' Only the best cheese, best bread, best wine in the world! Only a lifestyle geared around great food and good company around the table! Only an opportunity to live steeped in history, art, and architecture! A good trade-off in my book.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Money, Money, Money!

I made a trip to Des Moines today to do the money thing. I gulped a bit as I transferred money out of my IRA into my savings account. It's a little scary to dip into those funds! I had to keep reminding myself that it's retirement money and THIS IS RETIREMENT! At least for now anyway. I put some money into another account, so I can buy some Euros to take with me and then shopped a little...there are a few things I need for the trip like new luggage tags and a new jump drive to load photos onto. I chuckled to myself as I picked out a backpack to buy. I've teased Laury so much about her bottomless purple backpack that she takes everywhere, but truly, she's got it right. A backpack is perfect for shopping when your transportation is your feet, a bike, or the bus. You'd be shocked at how much stuff you can stuff into a backpack!

Money and backpack....check!
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