Saturday, December 31, 2011


by Robert & Kathleen Photographers, NYC

 I am looking for inspiration. Normally, I find that the best way to get inspired is to wander around antique stores or listen to music and pour through design magazines. But these days, I am looking for inner inspiration. I am never at a loss for ideas, but I think for me, 2011 has been a year where I have not had enough time to myself and have been oriented towards others and their voices. My own voice has been but a soft murmur and my inspiration, fleeting.

I want to go back and start over, weed through what I perceive in the design world as a lot of noise. I want to go back and simplify and refind/refine my roots, my basic style. Real dreamy wanderlust.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Lyon

Wishing you all a Very Merry.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Real Thing + Organic Karma!

Raglan Sleeve Pullover, Organic by John Patrick 

For as long as I can remember, John Patrick has been a loyal fan of Basic French, back when we were just a blossoming little boutique in the Hudson Valley. And not just loyal, he's been my cheerleader. He sends me words of encouragement from out in cyberspace, that keep me going for months. When someone validates your point of view, it makes it all worthwhile.

Jane Webb's interview in really encapsulates JP's style, process and raison d'être—his artistry. And this video from Lexus, that he very modestly sent me just for fun, his recognition as a leader in the "sustainable/green fashion industry."

 John Patrick has been doing "organic" long before organic, DIY and handmade were trendy, and his new collection at ORGANIC, is beautiful, wearable, perfect.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mood Boards in My Head

 It's Pinteresting that people now create collages, virtual mood boards, online rather than in their actual physical space and with active intent, rather than by accident. I don't know, I guess I am getting old but all of the real artsy people that I know (like my pal Wanda,) live a mood board. Their world and their imagination is their canvas. So again, I find I am out of sync with this new effort to render everyone an artist with something fabulous to share with the world. We are so public these days. Seeking approval?

To me this is the sign of things about to go in reverse. Technology has rendered things too accessible and taken the special out of collage, genericized it, just the way the advent of the non-professional desk top publishing software made every computer user think they were actually a graphic designer. Seriously. That's when I stopped wanting to be a graphic designer. It was too discouraging to see a field that I had so revered become so burdened with crappy typography and clip art. We always do this to ourselves. We want everyone to be able to do everything. We are trying to keep ourselves busy I think.

I like the idea of specializing, of people being different, which does not mean you have to do the same thing all your life or be pigeon-holed. Careers cross over, life leads you in many different directions. We meander. I apologize, I really am ranting a bit these days,  first about people trying to be too perfect, and now about this. But I am getting annoyed. Instead of joining in (I am very social but I have never been a joiner,) I am just going to continue to do what I have always done and create little periodic transient vignettes in my head and around, and then move on.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Round and round

Here are some things that I am collecting these days: vintage arm chairs that need to be reupholstered, vintage linen or hemp sheets with monograms, anything having to do with quinces (love the color) or animals, and sets of 19th and 20th century French china, especially black transfer ware. I have come full circle.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Today I am Grateful

for all the wonderful friends that I have, for my girls and my dogs, for my parents and sister, for all the amazing experiences I have had in my life, for our time in France, for all the folks who help out with Basic French (Debi, Ka, Barb + Bob and Jenn + Preston ) for finding clarity in life, for my adventuresome spirit which never goes away, for cozy hand-knit socks, for discovering beautiful talents and products like these notary candlesticks, for my health and the health of all those I love. I am so lucky and today, Thanksgiving, I give thanks for all of it!

Wishing you all the a wonderful day filled with love and good food!

Notary candlesticks by Jeff Patterson for lovely Sarah Van Raden

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bon Point = You are Good!

I found this pencil case at the marché aux puces and I thought to myself, "I would've been happy to go to school and open this up every day, sweet olive case with little plaid interior, a bon point (for good behavior) and the little cut out of the boy and his sheepy."

We all deserve a bon point these days just for being good people. Times have been pretty tough in the states and things are looking pretty grim here in France, sadly for the French. We are all good people and we need to remember that everyday. That is enough.

Monday, November 21, 2011

O My Halliday

I am so proud of my girls and not bashful to show it. Halliday, who is a senior in an international public lycée is an amazing, diligent student with a sweet heart, creative talent and a great fashion sense (amongst other things.) Her outfit this morning...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Comfort Food

I am not a Winter person, so the moment the sun begins to set earlier and rise later, and we fall back clockwise, I am nostalgic for summer and seek comfort anywhere I can find it. These days, based on my waistline, that seems to be in the way of food.

At the shore this summer, I cooked almost every meal and while I am not a fancy chef, I do like to think that I can make something tasty out of whatever is left in the frig. In any case, I am very poor at following recipes and have even given up on myself in this department. Yet, when I stumbled upon SweetFineDay the blog of Brooklyn-based designer Jenna and her pastry chef partner Mark of Whimsy and Spice, I found instant comfort and inspiration.

Well among other things, I was compelled to cook chicken pot pie for the girls which basically took me all day on Saturday because I had to shop for the ingredients (frig empty) and try to make do with what I had (no cream cheese, no chicken stock, turkey instead of chicken, no celery because it's the one food I hate and must be allergic to.) I managed to cobble together what resembled turkey pot pie and a mache salad with, of course, Henry's vinaigrette (I am the salad dressing protegée of my friend Pamela's husband, fabulous painter Henry Finkelstein, since we spent two recent weeks kibitzing and cooking together in Brooklyn.)

In Jenna's personal blog The Mixed Race Project I was touched by something she said. In essence, she said that she wanted to show in her photographs how people really live and not show a fantasy of how people pretend to live. I echo this thought. I have been feeling really exasperated and rebellious recently, as I tacitly though erratically follow blogs with tasteful feminine Pinterest mood boards and perfectly art directed and lit photos of carefully culled "objets." I am a bit sick of all the DIY makeovers and everyone being so damn crafty. I know I sound jaded, but really let's face it, not everyone has something interesting to say, something the world needs to hear. Even what I have have to say, is maybe not that interesting, really. My rebellious side wants to go in the opposite direction and like Jenna, I want to show people as they are with unmade beds and messy hair and imperfections. I wish we could all embrace our imperfections more and love real life instead of always trying to make real life look perfect. I think real life is far more interesting, far more touching. But that's me, and I have messy hair and an apartment that's crammed with packing supplies, a desk piled high with papers I dread filing, books I'll never read despite my good intentions, a "to do" list that makes me panic and a dog named Clementine that ate the remaining half of my carefully crafted turkey pot pie off the counter.

Isn't it more comforting to us all to know that we are in the same boat?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Oh Donna, a Retrospective

We spent the summer on Long Beach Island, my preferred summer destination since September of 1960 when, as the story goes, my cousin Douglas and I were passed out the bedroom window during a fierce hurricane named Donna. We were 2 months old. The girls and I had all missed the Jersey shore and all it's indigenous treasures over the last few years because we have spent our summers in France or somewhere straddled between charitable relatives and friends.

With not a cloud in the sky all summer long, we hung out our laundry on the blowy clothesline each morning, took meandering bike rides to our favorite island cafe, ate fresh, juicy tomatoes, herbs and lettuce from Bowdie's garden, husked and gobbled sweet Jersey corn, relished soft-shelled crabs and lobster and savored slices of home-made chocolate cake from the Holiday Snack Bar. It was a perfect summer, in retrospect.

Monday, November 07, 2011

My Darling Clementine

 I know, I know, dog stories are boring, but my little Clementine is the cutest thing on the planet and strolling around Lyon with her on a Fall day is the best thing in the world. And, can you believe that even the leaf bags are basic French chic. Oh la la those crazy French.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Les Ados

Hallie has some wonderful friends, all multi-lingual, smart-as-whip teens who love to have fun and be silly. It is amazing what my girls have created for themselves in the last four years...very full lives. Lyon has been an incredible place to raise young girls—safe and sure, comforting and culturally rich. How were we so blessed to touch down, however briefly, in this beautiful city?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Depots Vente

Being the ardent, avid, yardsaler, antiquer, picker that I am and have always been, I have managed to track down many of best the consignment stores (depots vente) in Lyon. But the one that I like the best, that I have bought the most memorable things in is actually on my street, rue de Remparts D'ainay. Drawing from my rather conservative, hidden wealthy catholic neighborhood, the merchandise can be just amazing (18th century portraits for 80 euros) or not so interesting.

Like all good second-hand or antique stores, you just have to go on a regular basis, which is what I try to do. I have always found great solace and inspiration in looking at old stuff and even when I was a graphic designer, I used browsing second-hand stores and antique stores as a way of making aesthetic connections and coming up with fresh and vital concepts. That and cleaning have always been really good ways for me to spend my time and conceptually work things through. Quirky, I know.

These days however, I am not buying much because I have a house and apartment full of stuff and the prospect of emptying them both and moving back to New York ahead of me. Yes, the decision has been made. We are officially moving back in July. So very excited to be back in the city after this incredible one year adventure that turned into 5. Wow, time flies.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's the Fig's Fault

It all started with a fig. And a recipe I saw on design*sponge. It sounded so yummy, and cozy and it's Indian Summer and it's going to be cold soon.

Anyone that really knows me can testify to the fact that I can not for the life of me follow a recipe. Maybe it's the early influence of chef Andy Schloss, who took me under his wing in the kitchen at Philadelphia's renaissance restaurant In Season and taught my naive recently-graduated-from-Miss-Porter's-School-lily-white-ass a few things about life and how to get my hands dirty. Lessons having nothing to do with following a recipe. Maybe I am a rebel that does not like to comply with anything.

Plus, I am getting really sick of seeing everything so perfectly styled and unreal. I mean when I cook I make a mess and it involves dishes and the licking of spoons and drips on the silk dress I should've taken off. I mean, cooking is messy, like life is messy. Houses get messy too and I am sick of seeing perfectly styled houses too, and then the ones that are supposed to be imperfectly messy, but are over- styled as well. It's all too Perfect Home Perfect Life for me.

I am the figs and design*sponge and my quest to follow a recipe all coalesced in my tiny little very messy kitchen and then Hallie got home, tired and ravenously hungry, so I thought, hmm, steak would be good. At the end of the day here is what I served for dinner. It didn't look chic after I cooked it, but it sure tasted good. And best of all, I got props from my peeps!

courge soup with shallots and creme fraîche

figs roasted with rosemary in honey and maple syrup


Nairns mini oatcakes

steak, medium rare with salt and pepper

Rhone tap water

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Usual Haul

No seriously, this is just the usual haul from our favorite country grocery store.

flax bread
duck paté
pork and herb sausage
mini vache aperitif cheeses
yogurt drinks
local rosé
hand pressed juice
honey yogurt
plain yogurt
sheep's yogurt
homemade raspberry preserve

I realize that we eat very simple clean food, and I am now so used to it, I practically have a heart attack when I go into an American grocery store. So many options, so little un-packaged truly fresh food. It doesn't make sense. In France, even those of modest means can eat well (if they choose to) as there is a market in almost every village or city. I love the states, but I sure would be happier there if I could easily and affordably continue to eat like this. I know you can eat well in New York, but easily and affordably? I am not sure.

Support your local farmer today!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sirop du Liege

The most delicious fruit spread to put on your tartines!

I am so tempted to start Basic Belgium because I have fallen madly in love with this very basic product that is like a jam or rather a delicious fruit paste. Oh my god, it is amazing. A combination of pears, apples and dates, it is absolutely awe-inspiring on fresh flax (lin) bread from our local boulangerie with chèvre of any kind. Not a jam, not a jelly, but rather a hearty, not-too-sweet fruit spread. Very Basic Belgium. Sirop du liege + hearty bread + chevre = absolute heaven

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thanks Joann!

I knew this would come in handy some day. I have carried this yardage chart from Joann Fabrics in Kingston, NY to Red Hook where it sat on my desk for 15 years, overseas to Balmont where it aged like a fine wine in a folder to Lyon where it almost got tossed out like an old t-shirt. Now, since I have decided to become Madamoiselle Expert Upholsterer in my mature years, it has a prominent place in my...shoot it's on my desk again.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bakker made with love

The first time I saw one of these "cartable" an updated French book bag by Bakker made with love, a St. Etienne-based design duo who are smitten with Bali, I almost flipped. I was so happy to discover them at Maison et Objets shortly thereafter and immediately placed an order. That was last year sometime. Well, I never heard from them for months, and then more months, and most recently they contacted me that our shipment was ready to deliver. It was so naively charming when they informed me that my shipment would be arriving in Detroit and that I was welcome to stop by and pick it up at any time.  I guess they imagined me swinging by from New York on my lunch break. Anyhow, when I opened the package that finally cleared customs, I knew they were a vendor worth my patience. Great quality, amazing workmanship and just the funnest, happiest products.

Courtesy of Bakker made with love
And I think their name is funny. It is true, I believe, the products are seemingly made with love, but what's funny is that they have almost gone out of their way to not appear French, to anglicize themselves. What they don't know is that, Americans at least, love French products (usually.) Anyway, all this to say, yay for France and yay for new products made with love in Bali by cute French designers from the capital of passementerie.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Stuff to Remember

Assemblage, Norman Hasselriis' gallery, by Dana Gallagher

I just stumbled upon the work of New York photographer, Dana Gallagher, and I love it. Also her blog is amazing and short and sweet. I was really captivated by the post about Assemblage the Catskill's gallery and legacy of artist, Norman Hasselriis. Inspiring.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Les Puces du Canal

Going to the marché aux puces is probably my favorite thing in the world to do. Sometimes, I wonder how I got into importing new products (though I love that too!) I like to find the diamond in the rough. I love to buy along a particular theme which manifests itself at the end of the day. It's as if I have little imagistic scenarios dancing in my head and like during a good therapy session, you exorcise them and you move on (or not.) I am always working on an aesthetic theme, passing from one forming visual collage to another.

These days, I am really into upholstered furniture and fabric and I will tell you why. I am taking upholstery class (my fantasy depuis très longtemps,) and I am going to become a master upholsterer (un maître tapissier)...haha, that is before I leave this planet!

Tapissier par Teleformation-Savoirs

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Great Blog, Worth Reading, and I don't say that often...

If you are not a follower of Joanna Goddard's blog "A Cup of Joe" you should be. Every time I read it, I want to repost things that she has posted. She is so spot on and funny, genuine and fun and positive. Here's what made me laugh today. How true how true. And my personal style favorite, TOMBOY style also from Joanna...

Friday, May 27, 2011


Beech wood piggy cutting board

I first met Catherine Fouchard, créatrice behind Cocobohème, at Maison et Objet 4 years ago. Her innovative designs and truly ecological production were cutting edge then and still are now. I was so inspired by all of the new products this season that I ordered practically the whole collection, some of which has arrived at BF and some of which will be arriving in the weeks before summer.  Let me know what you think!

Retro butcher paper place mat
Here is how Cocobohème describes themselves {and they couldn't be more basic French}:

"We specialize in decoration and accessories, that we create and edit. Cocobohème is a soft mixture of craftiness, whim, aesthetics, and poetry with a practical side, accessible, and a strong ethics, with a large range of eco-design products 100% made in France.

Our added value is the exploration of innovative materials, in particular sustainable materials. Cocobohème was the first one to create chalkboard stickers and eco-design bibs made of potato starch, waterproof, reusable and biodegradable; we conceived the first static decals for windows; we produced the first poetic creatures on adhesive textile – these are reflective, so that you can be seen at night; we reinvented the garlands of flags with phosphorescent inks"

Doggie hangar, on corrugated cardboard

eco-design lobster bib, of potato starch

Beechwood tray printed with white doily {much cooler in person than in photo}

Au (Oh) Calm

I am really trying not to be a workaholic. Recently (that means since I got back from New York) I have been feeling as though I was on "the rack," being pulled in so many directions that I want to scream, but not being able to move. Saturday morning I was paralyzed by all the "work" I had to do. I couldn't do anything but look at my list and freak out.

So, I packed up a folder, my computer (ugh, the main culprit,) a night gown, my toiletries  kit, the girls the dogs, and fled to les monts du lyonnais. Along the way, at a rond point (traffic circle—something France is famous for!) we stopped at Uniferme, a country collective of local organic farm products, all produced by small farms in the country outside of Lyon.

It was so great when we got to our house. It was quiet. I could hear all the unique sounds that make up the country symphony—the crickets' chirp, the waving hay, the random bee buzzing by, the lizard slither, the sweet birds. The separation of the sound was amazing, soothing and I felt I could even hear myself again. The whir and whirl of city life, my own burn-out since my return from the states, coupled with the ridiculous schedule that I alone have committed to, had gotten the best of me.

Dinner on the grass terrace looking out at a thousamd acres of unspoiled farm land, a rousing game of progressive rummy and a good night's sleep, changed my perspective on everything.

I have asked myself, "why am I doing this? Why have I always worked so hard and rested so little?" It is literally impossible for me to sit down and read a book for an hour. I feel too guilty, like I am not entitled, am wasting time.

1) write down 3 most important things to do the next day before I go to bed. Do ONLY those three things, nothing else before those are accomplished

2) cancel all extraneous plans until further notice

3) hug my dogs and children more (I already do this a lot!)

4) go to the country on the weekends

5) stay connected to the people I really love, get disconnected from those I don't

6) remember that this too shall pass

7) check email less often

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Back from New York

We had a fabulous trip to the states for Spring Break.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bowdie and Tish

My parents are about to achieve a milestone that I find so incredibly impressive—60 years of marriage. My sister and I are throwing them a party in Bucks County, where they live and we have been looking through old photographs of their wedding day, the 5th of May, 1951. I love the formal black and white pictures that were taken, so evocative of the times and their very proper east coast families.

I am envious of those who weather the storm of a long marriage. I had always dreamed of being married to one person all my life, even though I was actually afraid of marriage, having watched my parents mid-life struggles from the eyes of a critical teen. I wanted lots of children too, the big family.

It is so sweet to see them now, knowing each other so well, moving slowly and quietly through life, tolerating each other with love and compassion. I envy that, having someone to grow old with, that you were once young with. Someone who knows your whole story. It's incredibly touching.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bang Bang!

I have been in one of my romantic dreamy modes and these are always underwritten by music of some kind or another. I love the floating sound of this young French singer, Stéphanie Lapointe.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Urban Beauty

Poppy, 16, by Halliday

We had an absolutely fantastic day yesterday. It doesn't get any better in Lyon weather-wise than it has been this past week. Sunny, blue skies, dry and 78 degrees.

Abbie and I decided to do some shopping. Her 14th birthday is coming up so I am fishing for ideas for presents (apart from a plane ticket to California this summer to visit her best friend, Ellyse.) We ended up at Sephora and spent an hour trying on make up (which is so unlike me.) Here's what we ended up buying. A gold eye pencil by Makeup Forever and this absolutely crazy beautiful bronze liquid eyeliner by Urban Decay. This is Poppy (Hallie's bf  from Cité Scolaire Internationale and my favorite of Hallie's friends) wearing the two products. She's magnificent!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Bon'home de Monde

I instantly fell in love with these amazing creatures at Maison et Objet. I guess you either love them or you think they are weird. They are like the Petit Collin baby lamps we use to carry, that horrified some people and were coveted by others (like me!)

But these bon'home (a play on the French word "bonhomme," which means good man or gentleman and the English word "home") are simply divine. The colors are amazing, the fabric is beautiful and you just want one to cuddle with (I know that sounds queer.) Very soft and fuzzy pillows that are both comforting and comfortable and made by France's most famous peluche (stuffed animal) maker.

Anyway, we are going to be the first company in the US to carry them and it's terribly exciting because they are all the rage in Paris. Click here to get your own bon'home.

Cute Easter Pillows

I wish I could say that I had these in stock at Basic French in time for Easter. These pillows by Teo Jasmin are so darn cute and I would love to carry them, but I just discovered them today! Next season! What I do have this season is just as cute though, so check out our New Arrivals!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


It would be good to give much thought, before
you try to find words for something so lost,
for those long childhood afternoons you knew
that vanished so completely -and why?

We're still reminded-: sometimes by a rain,
but we can no longer say what it means;
life was never again so filled with meeting,
with reunion and with passing on

as back then, when nothing happened to us
except what happens to things and creatures:
we lived their world as something human,
and became filled to the brim with figures.

And became as lonely as a sheperd
and as overburdened by vast distances,
and summoned and stirred as from far away,
and slowly, like a long new thread,
introduced into that picture-sequence
where now having to go on bewilders us.

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quiet Country

My make-shift mailbox with no mail

We spent a really quiet weekend in the country. It was the first warmish weekend and I wanted to check on the house and make sure there were no leaks. It was so deeply peaceful there that I was able to start reading a 746-page daunting tomb, Proust by Ghislain de Diesbach that my friend George put me up to reading. George, was so alarmed that I had not read Proust in my college days and that I in fact thought Proust was a German writer (based on his Germanic-sounding name and my ignorance,) that he proposed I read Proust's autobiography before reading his work. Easier said than done. But in the country, at least it is quiet enough that I can concentrate. At least natures' noises replace the buzzing of the refrigerator and the swirling of the washing machine and the hum of the ever-illuminated Macintosh.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Friend Isabelle

Isabelle's counter

If there is any one person I can credit for my move to France it would be Isabelle Grange. We met in the summer of 2000, before everything changed in the Hudson Valley, before 9/11. Isabelle an amazing painter was living at that time in a beautiful and funky house on the Hudson river, south of Rhinebeck. She had been peering through the Basic French store windows that were covered with white paper, waiting for our grand opening. That summer, Isabelle was working for my friends Steve Abeles and Ray Anastasio, at their beautiful antique store, Balsamo, in Pine Plains. They assured us we'd be friends.

When the doors to Basic French finally opened in August, Isabelle was one of my first customers. We immediately hit it off. I was awed by her talent and her sweet and gentle temperament. Over the years our friendship blossomed even after she moved back to les Monts du lyonnais to be near her family and friends. I often visited her hometown of Larajasse and on 9/11, when I was stuck in Paris during Maison et Objet with no flights scheduled to the US for four days, I called her and stayed with her family. The next summer, I rented a house in Perigord, and during the worst summer deluge, the girls and I drove across France, in 9 1/2 hours, by way of the Massif Central to visit Isabelle. While walking in the country near her family home, we spotted an old stone farm house high on a hill, neglected, savage but beautiful. I said "If that house ever comes on the market, let me know." Three years later I bought that same house, my basic French getaway, one kilometer from where Isabelle grew up.

Isabelle's kitchen
A brilliant artist who studied at l'ecole d'Arts Appliqués in Lyon, then later worked in New York for Raymond Waites as design director, Isabelle has a unique, personal painting style that has greatly evolved over the years. What never changes however, is her attention to detail and her amazing craftsmanship. She can paint anything. Her background as a decorative painter has landed her international projects for wallpaper manufacturers, publishers and high-end decorative design firms. She has exhibited her travel portraits widely and while her personal work is so different from her decorative work, both are highly collectible.

Isabelle's urn prints in her salon

We are thrilled to be carrying some of Isabelle's decorative prints at Basic French, a business collaboration following years of great friendship. To see more of Isabelle's personal work, click here.
To see her decorative work for Objet de Curiosité, click here.

Isabelle Grange, painter

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Thoughts on London...

The girls and I hopped on an Easy Jet in Lyon and landed an hour later at Gatwick airport in London. Hard to believe, but it's time to look for colleges for Halliday and aside from looking in New York and Philadelphia this Spring, we are checking out England. Because, you never know and ya gotta keep your options open.

A bit of window shopping therapy was in order after a long dreary Winter in Lyon, which seemed lacking in fashion stimulation. It did not take us long to get really excited about design and clothes and stuff. London is filled with funky, fun places to go and it made me realize how conservative the French are, even if they have great taste. There is an element of not taking risks which exists in all aspects of French culture and while elegant and understated always works in fashion at least, I have been craving pattern, texture and color, feeling like I want to step out of the mold that the French are so good at staying in.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Winter Break

The girls are on vacation for the next two weeks and I must say, a much needed vacation. I am not sure whether it is the dreary Winter we are having or the extreme amount of pressure they have at school, but they are exhausted.

The dogs and I went to the country to check on our house, make sure we had enough oil to heat the stone foundation before we spend a few days of vacation there freezing our butts off. We were out of oil, oops. Thank God I checked. Mr. Salignant a local beverage deliveryman and the only old timer equipped with an oil delivery truck in our region, agreed to meet me on a dryish day. Our house is at the end of a farmer's path one that is extremely muddy at this time of year. He delivered 500 litres of oil for .87 euros per litre. Won't last long, but will get us through the Spring since we won't spend much time in the house until it warms up and the sun shines down on les monts du lyonnais. After all my years in the Hudson Valley, I just cannot bear the cold of Winter and being stuck inside because of bad weather. I guess I shoveled my walkway one too many times and lost my romantic view of it all.

Mr. Salignant is a man of few words and those that he speaks I can hardly understand because of his very thick local accent. There is a patois in this region and when they speak quickly, I have no clue what they are saying. He is a bit too curious about my life. I must be such an anomaly to him, to just about everyone in these parts. I can't imagine what they think of me. I am just super friendly and have learned not to talk too much, not to reveal much about my life. Better to remain mysterious and unknown.

I was struck by the calm of the country compared to the bustling city I live in, Lyon. I wondered why I don't spend more time in the country, why I don't allow more silent space in my head, because I miss it. I thought about how much more connected to myself I feel in the country. I wanted to write, and jot things down. I wanted to just sit and breathe, something I never feel able to do in the city, always have to be moving, accomplishing something. I felt good. I made a plan to come back later this week, just for a few days, before we go off to London to look at Universities for Hallie. God time flies.