Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Last Day in The Loire Valley

We made several shorter stops on this last day in the Loire area. We loved wandering in a little town, shopping at an art shop, where we bought sketches of the Chateaus and enjoyed talking with the artist, then visited a church where Joan of Arc had her vision, saw one other charming garden, then on to Chateau de Villandry. I seem to recall that we were relying heavily on 'Freda', our GPS, this day =].

Atelier & Joan of Arc

The gardens of Villandry are "justly famous", and we felt we needed to see them! The Garden Lover's Guide to France also says it is " inadvisable to go there in August" so on this cool day in September we were rewarded with an afternoon of blissfully quiet wandering. It is an amazing crazy-quilt with formal lines, and is best viewed from the high terraced walkways surrounding it.

To quote again~ Villandry occupies a fine position overlooking the river Cher. It is an ancient place~there was a great house here in the middle Ages~but the present Chateau was started in 1536. The garden dates from the early 20th century, though it honors the spirit of the Renaissance...

The management and maintenence of a garden such as this is of bewildering complexity. The logistics of raising and planting the numbers of annual plants are awe-inspiring. The curious thing is that the place, which is flawlessly kept, has an atmosphere of serenity, with no sense of stress or srain.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Birthday~Part 2

After saying goodbye to our favorite Chateau, and walking back to our hotel in the dusk, we enjoyed a fabulous French dinner, served by our wonderful hosts. It was an unforgettable way to end my birthday! I'm sure I'll never have another quite like it. Shannon had brought cards from everyone back home, and sweet drawings from the kids,{ I was missing all of them }. Holly called on the phone, Lorent served us Champagne and sang Happy birthday in French...well it was all amazing!

Happy Birthday

Hotel La Roseraie

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chateau Chenonceaux

This amazing Chateau was in the little town in which we were staying although we couldn't see it until we actually went there. {It's hard to explain the lay-out and all.}

Chenonceau Day

It is justly famous~a stunning Renaissance building to which, in the mid-16th century, Diane de Poitiers added a brilliant wing, in the form of a galleried bridge spanning the river Cher. Her garden was also famous, and is one of the best documented of its period.


We saved this breathtaking 'Chenonceaux' as a treat for my birthday, knowing that it would be fabulous! We pretty much spent the whole day there~inside, outside, gardens, potager, IPod tour, history, little picnic in a secluded corner~yes fabulous, fabulous!


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Our Favorites

One of our favorite chateaus was one that was actually still being lived in. Therefore, we didn't tour the inside, but had a rather interesting experience there.

It was being run as a winery by the Count who owned and lived in it. We met him and he immediately sent us into this funny cellar-like room to watch an ancient flick about the making of wine barrels. (Charley Chaplin like, but in French !)

We emerged from the 'theater', much more knowledgeable about barrels =] . He handed us a notebook with explanations about the grounds and gardens,( in English, thank heavens) which we enjoyed exploring on our own, thankyouverymuch. It was actually very charming! A pigeon-coop and chapel each in their own, almost matching, domed buildings, covered in brilliant red Virginia Creeper, wonderful gardens, and a little glass greenhouse.

Details at Nitray

We were the only ones there. That was part of the charm. {Since we have this thing about tourists, you know.}


Friday, September 25, 2009

Chateaux~Some Details

As I said, we loved the chateau. We were so glad to have the leisure and independence to explore on our own. Here are some crazy-quilt collages that I have put together. The extraordinary variety in the architecture, roof lines, and interiors astounds us.
{They are so full of intrigue and passion, and are woven into the whole, intricate history of France in such a way, as to make us realize our pathetic ignorance.} But we'll leave that alone for now and just enjoy their amazing aesthetic!




Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chateau of France

The Loire area of France, which we are now in, contains the greatest number of Chateau and is blessed with a climate that allows beautiful gardens to flourish. The area boasts some of the finest, and most irresistibly attractive architecture in all of France and the rich alluvial soil has provided agricultural wealth for hundreds of years.

It's impossible to describe the surreal feeling when approaching one of these stunning Renaissance buildings. One feels in a fairy tale. I don't think the photos can do justice!
Here is a quick view of 3 of our very favorites. More details in the next few days.

Chateau with woodsy gardens

A bit of 'surreal' editing of my own on these photos :) . Maybe we really were just dreaming after all!


Each one has a charm and character all it's own and we visited about 12 in the week we stayed here, exploring the gardens and interiors.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rain and Fog In Loire

We get a slow start on our first day in Chenonceaux... it's raining and we're enjoying our cosy inn. So finally we walk out in our little town and are very charmed but get very wet...we'll try driving.


We pass this chateau in the fog and stop for some photos. Beautiful but not open to the public~it's a private hotel.

Foggy Chateau

This little Pagode de Chanteloup is within easy driving so we'll start with it. We climb the 150 step, circular, ancient, staircase to the top.Whew! Great view, though and we're the only ones here. This is not exactly a chateau { just what is left of one and it's surrounding park-land} but we'll start on the real ones tomorrow.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Next Stop-Loire Valley

After an hilarious scene involving Shannon and me ditching some of the contents of our luggage into a garbage can on the way to the train station,{ guide books, chestnuts collected all over Paris, extra cosmetics~just too heavy!} the transition to our next week's location involved a train ride which I seem to recall being a little stressful. Then renting a car~also a little stressful.

We were totally rewarded though,when we saw our charming hotel in the tiny town of Chenonceaux, the arrival to which was enhanced by the bubbly receptionist named Sabrina {you could have just transported us to the movie!} and the very personable inn keepers Laurent & Sophie).

This would be 'home' for the next week as we toured the area and explored the lush gardens and magnificent chateau that this area of France is so renowned for.

We were immensely grateful for the GPS that friends had loaned us! {we named her Freeda and held various strange conversations with her.} And I was so glad that Shannon did all the driving! Thanks Shannon =]


Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Heart Faces~Candid

Since I have been 'traveling' through France here on my blog (via photos from 2 years ago) I will stay on topic with this candid shot of a distinguished Frenchman that I snapped a photo of, as the sun went down, in the garden of Versailles. He seemed oblivious of me and my camera and was lost in his own thoughts.

French man~at Versailles

This is my entry for this week's contest at I Heart Faces~Candid.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009


We knew it would be a daunting task to see this famous, grand palace, reputed to be the greatest in the world. But on our last day in Paris we decided to give it a go, boarded the train and headed to Versailles for the day.

We particularly wished to view the gardens and park though, so decided to concentrate our time there. Indeed, on arriving, we found the palace crammed with throngs of tourists (we weren't tourists of course!)so we hurried our way straight through the hall of mirrors, not pausing for more than one photo, then outside to the extraordinary gardens of Versailles. It took all day, and more than every bit of our energy, to see most of it. It covers an area of 247 acres!

To quote from The Garden lover's Guide to France...
"The renown of famous gardens often obscures their beauty. The first thing to say about Versailles is that it is one of the most beautiful gardens in the would, containing more distinguished works of art than any other garden and, for those who love gardens, constituting one of the greatest free treats in the world."


Is that Marie-Antoinette strolling in her hamlet?

Le Hameau

"Most visitors scarcely stray from the main thoroughfares, which means that those who are enterprising will be rewarded with unfrequented parts of the garden, where they may be alone even at the height of the holiday season."

After a whole day of magnificent exploring we find our luxury at the end of the day, as the sun goes lower, and almost everyone is leaving the park and palace. (We pity them but are glad to have our photos uncluttered with purple sweatshirts and such.) The reflection of the setting sun in the pools, surrounded by captivating bronze statues, and back-dropped with the glowing palace is simply bewitching to photograph.

Sunset at Versailles

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Paris ~ Grand or Intimate

In Paris we saw all the imposing, grand things that most tourists see. Yes they were all breathtaking!

We also ate a lot of fresh baguettes and cheese =), shopped !, reluctantly went to the Louvre (and ended up loving it) and other art museums, experienced the bird market on the Ile Saint-Louis, listened to some great street musicians~I could go on and on.

Paris Collage

We explored many wonderful gardens-some large and full of Parisians enjoying the weather, and others tiny and intimate and almost deserted. (why did we love those best?)

Gardens Of Paris

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A little more about Paris

Paris at night, we discovered, is just as stunning as they claim.

Since our hotel was fairly easy to get *home*to (for a little rest) , we then made it back out in the evening a few times. We felt perfectly safe, which seemed surprising to us. ( probably safer than in most American cities.) The first day after finally getting settled in and resting, we went out for what we thought was going to be a short walk just to the Eiffel, for our first close up veiw~ wow~It is so much more astounding and grand in actuallity than can be described! A thousand feet tall, with a base larger than I imagined.

But then... we just kept walking... and got totally carried away as we reached the Seine at dusk, ( Oh, the pictures you can get as the sun goes down !). We walked across the Pont-Alexandre and found ourselves all the way to the Champs-Elysees. It was Saturday night and the cafes and streets were thronged with people and cars. We discovered that you can get out into the middle of that huge avenue and there is a small island where one can take photos towards the Arc de Triomphe. As you stand there, the grandeur of this single arch, blurs the sight and sound of the noisy, featureless buses and cars as they stream past on either side.

Paris Lights

The river Seine sparkles with reflected lights from the marvelous bridges, and fabulous buildings all along it's banks. And the Eiffel tower radiates with a light show, on the hour, all night long.

Monday, September 14, 2009

France Travelog

This week is the 2'ND anniversary of Shannon's and my trip to France. I was not blogging back then, therefore I have this craving to play with the photos and share some of our favorites. It was so difficult to narrow things down, since one can take an enormous number of pictures in three weeks of travel to anywhere so picturesque and crammed full of amazing history, culture, gardens, and art! The point and shoot camera did a fair job and was light and easy to carry. I would have an extremely hard time deciding which camera to take, if I went now!

To start with, I will give total credit to Shannon, for making this trip happen. She is the brave and adventurous one in the family and is a master at planning { and map reading-see day before yesterday's post}. And since these photos were taken with my camera I have lots of great shots of her. We attempted, though, not to just stand in front of every famous monument and snap a picture,{ to prove we were really there and all } so some of these are quirky and different.

I've used mostly collages to gather the photos into general locations and settings, and hopefully to make it more interesting for anyone to view. I would love to hear from any of you about your experience of traveling to some exotic destination. {just go to the comments section below}.

We stayed in three different locations, for one week each. I highly recommend this method of seeing a country if one can manage it. Then you're not moving in and out of hotels every night. It removes a lot of the stress I believe.

We started in Paris, staying in a little hotel in a quiet neighborhood within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower. It was a perfect location from which to start out each morning. The city is really so accessible on foot. We were amazed! We did use the metro some as well, and were glad to have researched that a bit beforehand!

Paris 2007

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ascribe strength to God

Thou art awsome from Thy sanctuary.

I Heart Faces~Contemplative

Have you ever been in a foreign city and had to study a map to figure out where you
were? When Shannon and I took a trip to France, starting exactly two years ago today, she was our navigator and planner. She did an amazing job, and I have many photos of her studying the map.

This one, however, is my very favorite! You can just feel the concentration! Can you believe that I managed to get this serene take, in the middle of Paris, with not another soul around? Who knew I'd be entering it in a photo contest....

This is my entry for this week's theme ~CONTEMPLATIVE~at *i heart faces*.

Contemplating The Map

This actually coincides nicely with the start of my travelogue of our trip. Come back for the next few days if you want to see France { Paris, the Loire valley, and Provence} from our vantage point.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mom's Birthday

Today is my Mother's birthday. She and Dad are on a trip. At

present they are in St.Louis with my late brother's family,

enjoying a great time I'm sure!

This is one of my favorite photos of her, taken this year. She

and Luke were enjoying an afternoon together.

Mom & Luke

Aren't they adorable together?

Happy Birthday Mom!

Living Lovely-- List

My own Lovely List....

Conversation with a Grandchild.

Walking on the beach with my Hubby.

{The next 4 could be enjoyed simultaneously!}

Reading a superb book.

A good thunder storm.

Lit candles.

Chocolate {dark}

A sky full of wonderful clouds.


The smell of coffee in the morning.Drinking it!

Sitting by a rushing river or stream.

Just cleaned windows {how about a whole clean house!}

Hearing a grandchild read.

Taking pictures.

Picking my own roses for a fresh bouquet.

Hearing birdsong from the open bedroom window, early in the morning..

The first "warmish" day in spring.


I'm sure I'll think of more...then post this up where I can see it often.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ivy Is 5


A collage of Ivy being cute for the camera today.

Picnik collage~Ivy

Happy Birthday Ivy!

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Sky's The Limit!


Good luck, kids, on your new school year!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Last Rose Of Summer

Here are a few late bloomers in my garden.

Ballerina Rose


'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companionsAre faded and gone."

~ Thomas Moore, The Last Rose of Summer, 1830 ~




"What a pity flowers can utter no sound!—A singing rose, a whispering violet, a murmuring honeysuckle ... oh, what a rare and exquisite miracle would these be!"
~ Henry Ward Beecher ~

Thursday, September 3, 2009

An Evening Walk

Enjoying a little stroll together at sunset.

Evening Walk

The one mile long, country road, that we have lived on for so many years, still remains one of our favorite places for a morning or evening walk. It makes a good solo trek or family stroll. Very little traffic, other than the occasional farm vehicle, allows the kids to walk or ride their bikes without much hazard.


Then with perfect glee the two older brothers take a dusty turn with their bikes in a huge plowed field. They love the way the dirt just flies behind them.

Wheels Dirt Boys

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Curse Into Blessing

The Humble Blackberry

Curses Into Blessings

Only if you live in the NW will you understand the full meaning of this post.
Blackberry vines are an extremely invasive curse. In fact, if you stand still for half a day you'll be reclaimed by nature. Almost ! {Picture the ruins of the Inca civilization found covered by the jungle!} Well, even in the garden, they spring up in the most diligently tended flower beds. But when they are growing behind the barn one feels justified in leaving them { for a few years } to bear fruit.