August 30, 2014


This island. It felt like perpetual fervor to venture to a place that pronounces beauty in every articulation. I have rarely seen or smelled or felt anything like it. I took this photo the last morning we were there. I woke up early - calibrated my alarm to the rise of the sun - and left enough time to ride a bike to one end of the island (Locmaria) to climb a portion of the "sentier du littoral" (trail along the shore) to reach a high cliff overlooking what seemed to be the most beautiful expanse of ocean. The land masses on the left seemed like great, slumbering beasts - I worried the sun would incite them. I felt completely solo - there was no one even remotely near - or so it seemed. The boats that flecked the sea were solace; I was sure there were others watching this great thing unfolding. So simple - a sunrise. Such a place, though.

August 24, 2014

La belle France

Delighted to have arrived. Following a certain pattern, Romy was angelic on the plane - sleeping in the bassinet as if it were her favorite place to slumber. Colette was as nice as Romy was difficult. That is to say that at some point on that overnight flight, you could find me lying across the floor begging Colette to try to sleep on the two seats that would have made a lovely bed for her. Alas, time always passes and soon enough we found ourselves at CDG (where Colette swore she saw Bindia in the parking lot and asked us to please let her in), and then to the Loire Valley and then to Baugé itself. Hallelujah.

We can certainly say we are pleased to be here. For this grand old, stone house. For the books on the shelf, the grapes, the flowers, the food from the market ten steps away, for the staircase, the grass. It is fulfilling to come back to a place we have been so many times, but to bring new ones who also belong here - and to find the old ones we realize just how much we miss when we share a meal together again.

August 20, 2014

Lady Colette.

Colette is teaching me all about emotional control (let's just say she has none). She is savage and fresh. There is no filter. She throws things across the room, shouts, wants to hit you and, most of the time, almost does. Her anger stirs up a physical response. I admire it all. I watch adults around me (and myself) and see and feel inoperative anger informing all kinds of behavior, but nobody just lets it out like a 2-year old.

This one is at her zenith, it seems – she is bursting with her own charm, even when she is detonating it. Xavier and I have these moments of exchanging pure mirth experiencing her. She is constantly revealing the world around her – not just reacting to it.

She has an imaginary friend: Bindia (we will have to consult Colette on the spelling of that, when she can spell). She talks about Bindia and updates us on her location at any given moment. I asked her about a scrape on her knee, Bindia is the culprit. Sometimes when Colette doesn’t want to do something, Bindia is the reason because Bindia doesn’t like doing that thing. I think having imaginary friends is a good sign. Ripe creativity.

She is still an effective self-soother. Addressing fears:

Colette: "There are no goats in our house, mama."
Me: "Nope."
Colette: "They are at the farm."

Later - in the bath - where we have a picture of Charlie Chaplin hanging on the wall...

Colette: "Mr. Chaplin is not scared of goats."
Me: "That's a good point, Colette."

Other quotable quotes lately:

(Rubbing her tummy after gagging) “Something is going on with me. My tummy is so brave.”

“Scoot away. I need some space mama.”

“Where my are?” while hiding in bath bubbles (Meaning, “where am I?”)

“I’m your mommy” (While encircling my neck in her chubby grip, comforting me)
(“I’m your papa” or “I’m your Claire,” depending on who is in need of comfort)

“Pren your douche, papa.” (Take your shower, papa with American accent, verb conjugation)


August 19, 2014

Harlem Community Garden.

Those who come to the community garden, located (conveniently) at the church across the street, call it an "oasis." I find the description apt because when we walk through the gates and into the grounds of the church - Colette runs off enveloped in a giggle - we no longer feel like we are in Harlem or NYC. Marguerite was delighted to be a "member" of the garden while she was here - Claire, our nanny is a regular - and Romy's kicks are full of punch in the carrier when we mosey over there.

August 15, 2014

A scattering.

Do you see how many there are?

August 4, 2014

Trains and buggies.

Trains and buggies (and lush farmland). [We were slightly dismayed when Colette started proclaiming over and over again as we drove past the farm fields, "Central Park! Central Park!" Her green space references are apparently limited, growing up in NYC]

Those were the themes of the weekend. We headed to Lancaster, PA to meet my parents for my dad's 58th birthday. They are currently on a 3-year mission for the Mormon church - Mission Presidents for the Pittsburgh mission. Although their job requires them to stay in Pennsylvania, we can go to them - so we met halfway between NYC and Pittsburgh. (They have a big job: 260 nineteen-year old missionaries to manage).

I did a bit of research before the trip and somehow landed on the Red Caboose Inn as an option. Stephen put it well when he said, "It is a one night kind of experience" (too bad we still had another night at that point). The idea is hilarious - sleeping in a caboose. Colette, naturally, was charmed when we pulled up to the brightly painted cars: big glimmering eyes. Our caboose was fitted with three bunks and a double bed - a lot to fit in a narrow space (we were just missing Marguerite, who would have loved this particular adventure). The rest of the party's car was bigger - probably originally a passenger car. When Colette came home today, she proudly informed Claire that she had "lived in a train."

The motel wasn't just the train cars, it was also a "petting zoo" - where Stephen's bum was the target of a turkey nip. He squealed like a pig and tried to teach the turkey a lesson, pinching its rear end wearing a vindictive smirk. Romy and Colette learned some animal lessons and Colette worked on some of her fears. Lately, goats have been at the forefront of them (like when we go upstairs and she is behind me - she shrieks and claims a goat is following her), so it was therapetuic to watch Grandma Rosie talk to them gently.

The Red Caboose Inn also had a lookout tower - a grain silo (for an extra 50 cents a climb). The panorama at the top was worth a look - Lancaster is really specatular in that rolling-hills, farm way.

The Amish punctuated our conversation throughout the weekend. We were smack in the middle of Amish country and we visited an Amish farm. There is a lot of lore around these people and their ways. We marveled watching buggy after buggy travel down the modern roads (or in the parking lot of Target) and at the strange juxtaposition of a people determined to live the life of 300 years ago, among the rest of strip mall america (and, strangely, roaming the strip malls too). We admired them and were perplexed by their insistence. As we went through the Amish farm and listened to the rules for their way of life, we found some of the exceptions to the nothing newer than 300-years old rule interesting: no bicylcles, but rollerblades are ok; no electricity but fridges and stoves generated by propane will do; no cars, but hitching rides with the "English" is fine (we saw cars with 'modern' ladies and gents driving, full of Amish kids with their buns and aprons in the backseat); cellphones for business (but how do they charge them?). Dress seems to be more strictly enforced (women's dresses don't have buttons, but rather safety pins to avoid the appearance of decoration; men grow a beard, but shave the mustache - also a relic from 300 years ago when military men were recognizbale by a mustache. There did seem to be some exceptions for the teenagers we were mini-golfing behind though - Abercrombie and Fitch polo, Jordan sneakers - with the right suspenders and haircut though). The general idea for the Amish is to be in the world, but not of it. It was interesting to see how a culture interprets its law and makes exceptions based on a certain line of reasoning. 

Best of all was being with these two. Or maybe it was Xavier feeding Romy a bottle in that buggy.

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