J’adore la France!!

I’ve been in France over a week and I love it.  The people are friendly, the countryside amazing and the food unbelievable.

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A beautiful tart from a gluten free bakery in Lyon.

Our little merry band of Americans are making out way across French wine country with relative ease.   Unlike in the states, there are a lot more people here who speak a second language or enough of a second language that we are able to communicate. We have only run into one or two people that didn’t have a word or three of English.  And we were still able to communicate with them either in our limited French or in Spanish.

Yes, that is right, we came to France and spoke Spanish.

We also made friends with the local cats who we have name Monsieur Chat and Madame Chat.  They hang out in the little garden area of the house we are renting.  We have been invited into local wine caves and tasted wine from 100 year old vines.

The first winery we stopped at spoke with us for more than a hour, gave us a tour of how the wine is made and recommend a place to get cheese. They even called ahead to make sure that someone would be there.  The wine was divine. The company was extra ordinary.

Much of our visit here has been guided by luck.  The local cafe gave us the information for a bakery just outside of town where the bread is made in a wood-fire oven.  The bonus to that was that there was gluten free bread as well.  Yesterday, the cafe that we found on google let to a conversation with other patron and another adventure to a completely gluten-free bakery in downtown Lyon.

There has been so much great wine and good food, I am not sure how I will go back to eating the American way.

One of the things that I love about France is they don’t change to suit the tourist, the tourist must adjust to France.  Things in the countryside follow the same rhythm they have for decades.  Breakfast is small, Lunch is the big meal of the day and dinner is lighter and much latter in the evenings. Many shops close for lunch around 12 and re-open at 2.  You can still buy bread from the baker and meat from a butcher.  And there are church bells that ring throughout the day.

Tomorrow afternoon, we make the return trip to Paris and Wednesday is the flight home. My heart and my tummy will miss this place and all of the wonderful people.

 

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The Travails of Travels

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The second day of travel came to a close with us no where near France.

Our flight to Paris has been delayed by nearly three hours.  So, we sat and waited for our third companion to join us and decide where we shall use the voucher that Air France gave us.  It was nice of them to make sure that we had something to snack on at the airport.   They were able to explain the glitch with the on-line system lead us to believe for five or six minutes that our flight had been canceled all together.

My travel companion is far more seasoned than me took it in stride so I was able to do so as well.  Little did we know that the three hour delay was the first of our hurtles or we would end up taking off nearly four hours late.  This gave us less than an hour to get our bags and get to our train.

Needless, to say we didn’t make it and although the person at the Air France counter at Dulles said they would at least compensate us, we didn’t find them helpful in the airport.  They were polite and apologetic, but we had different expectations of what they meant when we talked to them at Dulles.  One thing to remember when traveling abroad is that the customer is not always right.  Rules and regulations are explained so if you aren’t used to reading the fine print you might want to before you go.

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Our train tickets were no good to us as the train left the platform three minutes before we were able to get there. Our tickets were not transferable or refundable thus began a mini quest to get new tickets. There are tickets that can be transferred or refunded, so shop carefully.

Europe operates on the chip and pin system meaning that even if you are using a credit card you need both to complete some transactions.  The train ticket kiosks require this. Our first two transactions were denied.  Thankfully, someone told us what the problem was and we were able to get the tickets.

Operating on one hour sleep, we were stranded at the train station attached to Charles De Gaul International Airport for six hours.  There was an alternative route that would have saved us some time. We could have gone into the city center and then taken a train to Lyon from there.  More research would have told us this, but on one hour sleep we just did our best to stay awake and hydrated in the heat of the train station.

That is another thing to note that people in Europe or at least France don’t have the same reliance on air conditioning so housing and hotels with it are few and far between.  In the places where it use, it won’t be ice cold like it is in the states.

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Once on the train which was clean and very fast, we were able to sleep a little more and take in glimpses of the countryside.  France is really beautiful.   There was less trouble picking up the car as we there six hours after the time we had scheduled.   One issue we had that was not the fault of the rental company was that we couldn’t contact them because we failed to put the country code in when dialing them.  We had made sure that our phones would work in Europe, but none of us through about how dial a number from a U.S. based phone.

We were in our car and on our way as the sun was setting.  We made it  around 11 o’clock at night, right in time for a record setting heat wave to hit.

 

 

 

Writer on the go

This morning, I woke up in a strange room in a city that neighbors the one I grew up in.  As my traveling companion slept fitfully in his bed, I moved through the room making coffee, showering, reading and doing my morning exercises.  The nervousness and tears that had marked my first day of travel were gone; now it is onto the adventure.

An adventure that as a writer  feel compelled to chronicle.   This is my first vacation in over a year, the last being a weekend trip to Sanibel, Florida, with a dear friend after the death of Papa.  It was a healing trip, the waters of the Gulf of Mexico washing away some of the stress and agony of loss. More than a year into my new reality, I know that there are no waters that can wash away sorrow and grief, only waters that can comfort and refresh the heart and soul.  I still miss Papa, he would have worried about me taking such a long trip.

Sanibel, if you have never been, is a small island off the west coast of Florida. It is known for its peaceful beaches and for the prodigious amounts of shells that wash up on its shores.  You can find 250 different types of shell on their more than fifteen miles of beaches.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit three times and each time brought with it a sense of serenity that just speaking the name of the island in my mind brings me joy.  Each time, I have gone I’ve stayed at the Sandpiper Inn, a colorful and very affordable spot on Donax street.  It is a quick walk to the beach to collect shells from there and they have bikes which are free for guests to borrow.  It was truly delightful to hop on a bike and ventured off to breakfast.  There are over 25 miles of bike paths.

The best and strongest memory of that trip was driving over to Captiva and renting a boat for the day.  We sailed around the bay for a couple of hours and were delighted when a dolphin joined us for a bit.  We sailed back and forward trying to follow him only to realize that he was playing with us.  It was absolutely marvelous.  The experience of a lifetime.

Now, in a few hours I will be boarding a plane with two friends heading to Paris where we will meet two more friends for another experience of a lifetime.  One of those friends is the same extraordinary soul with whom I went to Sanibel.

My heart at this moment is light. I know worry will return.  For now, I am delighting in the adventure ahead as I look out the window towards the towers of Dulles seeing the tips of airplane tails among the trees.

Au revoir mes aimes!

Friday Night Writing

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A very unhappy writer sick for the third week in a row.

First Friday in weeks that I have been home.  First Friday in weeks, I haven’t been sick although truthfully, I am not completely well yet.

My first thoughts on this evening entailed going to bed early and rising in the morning with intent.  Instead, I played some Fallout Shelter, practiced my Spanish and tried to see what dog I would be on Facebook.  The results of that particular quiz will not be shared.

There is writing to be done. Writing and editing that has been on my to do list for over a month.  Writing, I want to do, but somehow whenever I sit to do it, something else always pulls me away.

My favorite pair of boots died, today.  The soles are coming falling off.  Some glue may fix them.  There is money to replace them.  Funds that my brain says should go else where.  My mind was considering all the sensible options when the phrase “Fuck my life” popped into my head.  I’ve heard it more than a dozen times something goes wrong and suddenly everything goes.  My shoes aren’t a big deal. The deal comes in the fact that I just played off a credit card, this is the second pair of boots that have suffered damage this week that will be need to be replaced, along wit some other expenses another new set of boots would drip the budget in red ink. Combine those thoughts with the ones where I am no good at my job, a fraud who is about to be found out and dozen more demons poking around in my noodle.  It would have been easy to say “Fuck my life”.

Not justified, but easy.

Easy to think that everything is crap, because life has a way of doing that just like my cold turning nasty and spending that couple of weeks sick.

Life is still pretty good. Actually, it is damn good.  While I am not where I want to be and far from accomplishing my goals and dreams, I am a good place. A place, where I can write on a Friday night undisturbed.  A place where I can make mistakes and work way back to where I want to be from where I am.

 

Sick

We’ve all been there.  Runny noses, stuffed up head so stopped up you are sure you are going deaf in one ear and a cough intense enough to give you a six-pack.

A day or two and you are better, right?

Three weeks in and I am tired of working on my abs and ready to move through to the next level of healing.  The almost well, but a little tired.  The normal day to day moving back into view.

Sickness.  We never give ourselves enough time to heal.  We never let ourselves just be in the moment.  We seek wellness like it is the key.  When we are well, we can do anything. When we are…

Well.

It is a trap.

We wait for the perfect time to start working on our dreams.

And that perfect time was yesterday.

Begin today.

Start now.

Do the thing.

Seriously, do it.

Do it.

 

 

Becoming….

Recently, I read “Becoming…” by Michelle Obama and it has helped me to not only see the former First Lady in a new light, but look at my own story with less judgement and more honesty.

How did I become a woman who not only embraces her curves but also her gray and silver hair?  How did my fourth decade on this earth become the one where I feel more at home with myself, my past and my pain?  How did I become a person who takes selfies at the gym?

One blog isn’t going to answer that question.   Ten blogs won’t, but that isn’t the point. Becoming or being my true self isn’t about reaching a mystic destination.  It is about excepting where I am, where I’ve been and working on being the best version of myself.  My New Year’s blogs were about goals.  Goals are about getting closer to the version of myself that I wanted so many years ago.

There is a TED talk about being the person that you needed as a kid.  I am not sure the person I was then would have had the strength to listen to who I am now and who I am becoming.  So much of my life has been defined by lost.  Something I learned to do from those around me. The lost of loved ones, a home, innocents and so on.  It is a long list.  I don’t know if she would have been able to conceive of actually living life closer to her Aunt Judith’s life than the one her mother and grandmother lived.

I love the life I have right now. I love going to the gym after work with my little brother. I love living in a house where we eat dinner together several times a week and walk the dogs around the high school track.  I love waking up and being able to see the mountains.  I love how the moonlight touches the corner of bed at night and how even though depression and anxiety are still deeply entrenched in my psyche, I am better today than I was last year.

Last night, I challenged myself to write a hundred words on the current project after having spent the last three days sick.  I did it and a bit more. Today, I went to the gym without my little brother and pushed myself to complete our normal routine.  Tomorrow, I am not sure what I am going to do, but I will do something.

I have become… no, I am becoming the person I needed to be when I was younger. The one that pushes through the mental muck and finishes what she started.   I do it little by little, with a plan, but also with a mirror.  One that reflects the whole me not the me that I want to be or the me that I fear I am, but one hundred percent me.  The good, the bad and the depressed.  All of me including the scars is beautiful.  And it is that me that isn’t going to stop working towards her dreams and goals.

I may get sidetracked by cold or by a hectic day at work. I may given into my personal demons from time to time.  Still, I am not going to stop working or becoming.

Thank you for reading.  Please feel free to share your thoughts below.

Love,

Lu

Remembering Papa

Today, one year ago in the early morning hours in Florida Hospital Orlando, Papa ended his fight.  He was 71 years old.

Here is the obituary that I wrote for him. It wasn’t published in his hometown paper. A shorter more mundane version was published.  Momma didn’t think his Pennsylvania family would get it.  She was probably right.

13015292_827551220683527_6139950154635756402_nDennis “Papa” Teets 

Dennis “Papa” Teets died in Orlando, Florida on January 8th surrounded by his family at the age of 71.

He is survived by his mother, Beatrice, sister Cindy, his brother Dale, his wife, Patricia, son, Eric, stepchildren, Katherine, Marie, Frederick and Lucinda, grandchildren, Fredrick, Thomas, Emma and Anika. He is preceded into death by his beloved cat, Rambo.

He was born on April 14th, 1946, in Uniontown, PA. It was said when he was born, you could see the devil in his eyes.

He proudly served in the U.S. Army and spent a career working for the GSA. He was a slayer of demons and rescuer of damsels in distress, unless ocean waves were involved.

He wasn’t a perfect man. He didn’t always have the right words, but he loved his family and hated when he hurt them.

His family was his world. He liked to cause minor mischief reserving major mischief for leap years or when no one was looking. No one was good enough for his daughters and he always wondered where the second half of their skirts went to.

On August 3, 2018, he was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery .