29 December 2010

a girl can dream....

Oh, I would LOVE to have a round room like that in the corner of my home. Of course, it has to have a domed ceiling and a few porthole windows.

I acutually prefer living on the ground level with a bakcyard to living in a 5th- or 6th-floor apartment. But apartment living would be much more tolerable if I had a lovely balcony, where I could sit sipping my coffee while watching the hustle and bustle of down below.

I also wouldn't mind having a dark and narrow tower like this as one of the features of my home. I would slowly and cautiously walk up and down the tightly wound stairs with only a small candle for my light.

All these buildings are in Lyon. First two are in Presqu'île; the last one in Vieux Lyon by the Metro Vieux Lyon station (I think it's part of the Bibliothèque 5eme). Aren't they delicious????

27 December 2010

recent purchase

Cookies for my husband and son.

I actually bought them for the tin can. I didn't mean it as a pun, but it IS Tintin!

I thought it was perfectly sized for my sewing stuff, and it really was.

22 December 2010

best gift

"If you don't have Christmas in your heart, you won't find it under the tree." ~Unknown

Merry Christmas, everyone.

20 December 2010

a year gone by


These photos are from last year's snowstorm, several days before Christmas.

I was scheduled to fly out, alone, to go to the other side of the world. To say good-bye to somebody. Some of the airports in Europe were starting to shut down because of the weather, and others were limiting flights departing and arriving. I sat in front of my living room window, looking at the thick snow curtains and wondering if mine would be departing as scheduled.

But I wasn't worried. The snow kept falling, erasing my worries as it fell, whispering, "It's okay. Whatever will be, will be." My flight did leave on time, and after 24 hours, I got where I needed to be. 

A year has gone by since then.

A whole year gone by. I am exactly one year older, but am I wiser? Am I a better person now than I was last year? Did I learn? Did I give?

Most importantly, though: Did I live?

11 December 2010

welcome, welcome home

Our front door, version Noël 2010.

07 December 2010

witnessed from the other side of the moon


On December 24, 1968, the fourth flight day of Apollo 8, the first human mission to orbit the Moon, after reestablishing radio contact with mission control in Houston, command module pilot Jim Lovell replied to CAPCOM Ken Mattingly's attempt to reestablish contact, saying, "Roger. Please be informed there is a Santa Claus," to which Mattingly responded, "That's affirmative, you're the best ones to know."

~from Wikipedia
Yes, Houston, there is a Santa Claus.

05 December 2010

joyeux noël

Thinking about my family and friends, who are scattered all over the world, and sending them my thoughts and prayers for a safe and peaceful Christmas season. Miss you all.

03 December 2010

first snow storm this winter

The snowfall started Tuesday afternoon.

It started to come down really hard as I was driving to pick E up at school. When I got there, the bell had not rung yet but all the students were at the building entrance, ready to be picked up and taken home as quickly as possible. It was clear that this was turning into a major weather/road condition, and the school staff wanted to make sure everyone went home safely. God bless these people.

We walked back to the car to find it covered with a few inches of snow, just in the 20 minutes I had left it parked. The ice scraper that we never took out of the car after our ski trip last Februay -- well, I was really glad we never took it out of the car.

Driving home wasn't fun, but we got home safely and that's all that mattered. I made a pot of hot chocolate immediately. Home is a good place to be, especially when there's a snow storm raging outside. We have heat, we have food, and we have clothes to keep us warm. How lucky we are.

The school was closed on Wednesday. E had a few friends to play with and a foot of snow to play in.

It was a magical winter wonderland.

01 December 2010

first day of december

Time to start the Advent Calendar.

28 November 2010

found at le marché de noël de lyon

Such a pretty -- and happy -- plate to look at.

I saw that it was from Portugal, and for a brief moment I thought, "But I plan to visit Portugal. So why buy this in Lyon? Why not wait until I go there and select from a wider selection?"

Then I realized that things like this do not travel well, especially on airplanes. Plus it was really, really calling my name. So it came home with me.

The (Happy) End.

25 November 2010


I made an Advent wreath today.

There are several interpretations of the symbolism of the Advent wreath. The accumulation of light is an expression of the growing anticipation of the birth of Jesus Christ, who in Christian faith is seen as the light of the world. The circular wreath represents God's eternity and unity. Evergreens are a symbol of enduring life.

In some traditions the first candle is called the prophet's candle and is meant to signify the hope of Jesus' coming. The second is called the Bethlehem candle in honor of the city of Christ's birth. The third candle is the shepherds' candle. The final candle is the angels' candle, symbolising the angelic proclamation of joy at Christ's birth. A number of carols have been written for use with the short liturgy accompanying the lighting of the Advent candles in church services. A common format is to add an extra verse each week, relating to the symbolism of that week's candle.

~ from Wikipedia

The wreath smells wonderful. I can't wait for Sunday.

23 November 2010

qu'est-ce que c'est? (2)

Added 25-Nov-2010: Scroll down for an update!

Can someone please tell me what this is? I found it at Les Puces du Canal.

Here's what it looks like upclose (you can click on the photo to enlarge it):

It says in the upper left corner "Quittance d'Entrée". What is a "bill of entrance"?

The certificate itself is only 19cm wide, 12.5cm long. According to the writing, the document is from 1750 (see second line from the bottom, "mil sept cens cinquante").

I figured out the "long s" thing, but there is another letter that doesn't exist in modern French: see the 6th letter of the first word in the 5th line (That's a mouthful. Incidentally, the third letter of that word is a "long s")? It's a "c" with a plume. I'd like to know the history of this, too, but it's obviously a French language thing and I don't know how/where to look.

Update -- I received an e-mail message from a friend; here's what she wrote (copied here with her permission):

...as far as I know, that letter that you're looking at is the "old" "c" or whatever letter was used in old French that then became the c.

The document is kind of a receipt from a tax that was charged at the "Ancien Régime" regarding beverages, generally wine. What I know is that "les droits des cinq sols" is the name of a royal tax on beverages from 1561. It seems that the document is a proof of customs tax that replaced the old tax on beverages called "les droits des cinq sols".

The translation would be more or less like:

Direction (Secretary or Department or Office) of ... Office of ...

I've received from M. Simon ... living at .... street ..... the amount of "four pounds" (whatever they were using as money) for the royal tax on beverages (the droits d'anciends cinq sols), charged at Boiffons, and then it gives the standard (2 fols per pound) just to explain the law, what basis to charge him 4... then says that he paid 4 based on the weight, or measure, then specify the measures of the product, coming from (can't read the place) because the Office of the place that is suppose to be was on holiday (congé), making M. Simon have to detour and pass by this city and have to pay tax on the product that he was carrying & M. declared that he was going to Rue de .... (that's why there was a customs tax) without causing damage to others, or rights or any kind of actions.

Place, date, time and signature.

Basically you had customs tax to transport products from one place to the other, M. Simon from the document went to his usual place and they were on holiday so he had to go to a different place and pay the "entrance fee" to be able to cross that place.
Isn't this wonderful???
Here's an old -- really old -- piece of paper. Someone bothered to keep it, or perhaps it wasn't meant to be kept for more than five years or so, but it happened to be kept somewhere. Then someone else found it and bothered to frame it nicely. And I, just a foreigner passing by, chanced upon it and get a history lesson and a chuckle out of it.
I mean, I can just picture M. Simon cursing and muttering to himself, "Dang! They're closed! Now I have to make a detour! This is going to add an extra day to my trip. And I'm already two days behind!"
It is so delicious and delightful.
On a totally different note.... The source of this information is a young lady from Brazil who's studying law in France. This sentence I just typed makes it obiouvs that she handles three languages at a highly complex level (the quote from her e-mail above is verbatim), and I feel compelled to add that she also speaks Spanish. Please don't tell me Spanish is similar to Portuguese; there are notable differences and she had to learn it.
The fact that she can have intelligent conversations in four languages -- that alone is enough to impress me, but now she tells me she had a history/theology double major in college.
I'm trying not to feel completely inadequate.

Added note (26-Nov-2010): My friend sent in correction/clarification. Hers wasn't a double major. Her major was theology, and her mémoire (thesis) was specialized in history. Well, I'm still impressed. Wouldn't you be????

20 November 2010

song for a winter's night

I use the aforementioned matches to light the candles. Then I listen to this.

19 November 2010

spent matchsticks

I find them rather pretty.

12 November 2010

still giving thanks

No, it's still hard. But it isn't as hard as it was last year. So, they're right -- whoever they are -- it does get easier.

In the meantime, I needed some distraction/pick-me-up so I won't be so acutely aware of how much I miss Thanksgiving. So I went shopping. For Christmas decorations.

Well, it worked! My moods are lifted (yes, I am predictable) and now I can't wait to get a Christmas tree. I vote for a tall one this year -- our apartment has 11-foot ceilings, so why not?

27 October 2010

taste and smell of fall

It's not exactly warm outside today, but at least it's sunny and we don't have the horrible wind we had a few days ago.

weather.com tells me that days are getting shorter by approximately three minutes every day. I wonder how long the shortest day in Lyon is -- about nine hours of daylight? Considering there are 24 hours in a day, that really doesn't seem much.

So I do what I must do, to compensate. Lots of candles seem to help. I light them in the morning, too, because they make the breakfast table cozy and my son likes them. In my home, candles are always white, and all unscented except for a few in the entry hall and living room.

I cook soup often -- I'm in love with all the beautiful mushrooms that are available now, and I find great comfort in the warmth and aroma coming from the simmering pot. Speaking of simmering pot, 'tis the season for vin chaud! This recipe calls for Cognac -- I must try it.

And last, but not least, cold weather is made tolerable with chocolat chaud. I had never been a chocolate enthusiast; in fact, I never really ate much chocolate until I moved to France. Now I feel as if I'd been missing out all my life ("Is this what chocolate is supposed to taste like???"). Bernachon is my favorite chocolate shop in town, and during the cold season, you can find me dreamily sipping the chocolat chaud at the salon de thé.

In fact, I just might head over there this afternoon....

19 October 2010

sights and sounds of fall

Kids see and hear things we grown-ups don't. I wonder at what age we lose that ability.

12 October 2010

out on a red bicycle

The weather was beautiful last Saturday.

I felt like a bike ride, so I rented a vélo'v. My destination: Île Barbe.

I crossed Presqu'île and a bridge, and up the quai I went. There wasn't much traffic once I went past Pont Massaryk. I pretended I was Audrey Hepburn riding the bike through the fallen leaves along La Saône.

Once I got to Île Barbe, I parked my bike, sat on a bench, and snacked on the baguette. A guy was playing a guitar nearby, a woman was taking a nap on another bench, and a father-and-a-daugher pair was playing on the playground equipment. It was a lovely, quiet moment on a lovely, quiet afternoon.

I wanted to explore further down in the residential area, but I chickened out. Technically, the area is off-limits to non-residents (althought I'm sure they get "visitors" all the time), plus I didn't know where to secure the bike. I wondered what it would be like to live on a little gem of an island like Île Barbe. I mean, I don't think there's garbage collection -- so do the residents haul their garbage off the island themselves? To the arrondissement dump?

Time flows a little bit more slowly at places like this, I think.

I rode the bike past the Île Barbe Pétanque Club and its two members (seriously, there must be a club -- the sign said "Île Barbe Pétanque" and the two gentlemen sitting in front of it looked very authentic, very professional-pétanque-player-like). I pushed the bike up to the bridge, back to the quai and biked for about a mile. I then returned the bike to a station and caught the bus back to town, because my legs gave up.

Here are two photos of Pont de Lîle Barbe (which show just how small the bridge is -- there's no way a gargabe truck can go over it), along with some of the other pretty bridges from Lyon. Ours is a lucky city, to have two beautiful rivers running through it, and such pretty bridges adorning them all along.

07 October 2010

problem solved... at least temporarily

Okay, I had some extra time today and was a bit more patient with my research -- and I found a way to upload photos again.

The following is for my fellow Bloggers who are having the same problem and have not discovered this solution yet:

At the top of the post editor page are several tabs, one of which is Settings. Select that, and toward the bottom, find Global Setting, and select Old Editor (be sure to Save Settings). Voila, and we can happily upload photos again!

Blogger should really make this information a little bit easier to find.


Blogger won't let me upload image files from my hard drive! It has been nearly two weeks since the problem started, and Blogger is aware of the problem. But it isn't affecting everybody, or they will be working harder to fix it. Rather frustrating.

In the meantime, the weather has been beautiful in Lyon. MIL is visiting, and I actually made time to do some sightseeing with her. What fun. I should do this more often. I took some nice photos (if I say so myself) at Fourvière, but oh darn, I can't upload them here.

Tomorrow my MIL and I will be participating in a group tour of Vieux Lyon (with a guide!), and I'm hoping I get to go inside of some traboules that I haven't been able to see in the past. Then we'll have lunch with everybody at one of the bouchons in the area. Can't wait!

21 September 2010

to market, to market

One of the joys of going to the morning market is experiencing the change of seasons through the eyes.

Fall is here and berries are beginning to go, but mushrooms are coming back. And the pumpkins! I would have bought more this morning, but I didn't have my cart with me and I already had two baskets full of vegetables.

Maybe tomorrow, at another market -- because here in Lyon, I can go to a market every day of the week. In fact, there are more markets in Lyon than I know what to do with, unless I take up a challenge of visiting every single market that's held outdoors throughout the city. It would be an interesting project, as every market is different and has something unique. Each market seems to have its own personality.

I just wish sometimes I had a third arm, so I could carry two baskets AND pull a cart.

13 September 2010

found at the pottery fair

I had been looking -- for a long time now -- for "that special tea cup" specifically for Japanese tea.

I found three this weekend.

I puchased them at Les Tupiniers du Vieux Lyon, a pottery fair held every year in September at place Saint Jean. I love the ethereal quality of these two porcelain cups as well as their celadon color. The combination of those two elements, executed with Japanese sensibility (or at least that's how I perceived it), had a very strong appeal to me. I coldn't decide between the two, so I got them both.

They are from an atelier in the commune of Montauban-sur-l'Ouvèze, in the south of France.

The third one, this one is a charmer. I had already bought two and wasn't looking for another one, but it found me. So decidedly different from the other two, it has a wonderfully earthy feel that I love. This cup will be perfect for a more robust tea, like hoji-cha.

It's from an atelier in Caromb, which is not too far from where the other two cups were made. Is this coincidence, or is the soil really good in that particular region?

09 September 2010

it could be worse

We keep our son's bike in the cellar of our aparment building. There's no elevator from the basement level to the ground floor, so I have to carry it up the stairs when he wants to ride it.

It would be much easier if I was taller and I could hoist it higher, but since I'm not, I bump the bike into the steps as I climb up, and it's a struggle every time (The bike is very heavy. Next time we're getting him a titanium lightweight one).

Then one day I was in Vieux Lyon, walking around, taking pictures, and saw this courtyard with beautiful staircase. The bikes are a cute touch, I thought. And it dawned on me.

This building does not have an elevator.

I won't compalin -- at least not about carrying the bike up one flight of stairs -- any more.

30 August 2010

scenes from torino, italia

Lovely, isn't it?

Turin's cobble-stone streets are easier on feet, paws, 
and small wheels than those in Lyon.

We had the most delicious view from our hotel room.

27 August had come and gone,
but this shopkeeper still wasn't back from her vacanze.

The same tower we saw from our hotel room,
just from a different angle.

A glass of vino bianco with lunch
(of course!).

An evening stroll while we wait for our waiter to bring us the bill
(it was a looooong wait).

It took me forever to walk just a few blocks, 
because I wanted to look at every one of these courtyards.

Normally I'm telling my son to get out of the streets,
but here, I actually asked him to get IN the street
just so I can take a photo like this.
I did make sure there were no trams coming!

Gelato, anyone?