Four-Legged Farm Vermont

We’re in Vermont now, at a super-charming, peaceful place called Four-Legged Farm, and it seems like just the kind of place we all need about now. David and I seem to hear daily of new struggles and challenges facing so many of our friends and family, not to mention the world. I hope this post can be for you a tiny respite of serenity and beauty. Know that you are never far from our thoughts and prayers. So imagine yourself here . . .

Four-Legged Farm, Vermont
Four-Legged Farm, Vermont

. . . and I’ll give you a tour:

Four-Legged Farm
Four-Legged Farm: Shawn and Diana’s Part of the House
View from Shawn and Diana's Terrace
View from Shawn and Diana’s Patio
The Loft Bedroom at Four-Legged Farm
Our Bedroom in The Loft at Four-Legged Farm

This place is quirky and artistic in a GOOD way, not like the garage/apartment near Paris.

And the location is about as far from sketchy as you can get. No barred windows and double-bolting needed. Here’s what’s outside:

One of the two-legged at Four-Legged Farm
One of the two-legged at Four-Legged Farm

And this little lady who definitely wanted her picture taken:

One of the four-legged
One of the four-legged at Four-Legged Farm

View out our back patio door. (More on the horses later.)

Diana Schooling Skyler
Diana Schooling Skyler

This place is a tonic for the soul, with beauty everywhere you look.

Four-Legged Farm, Vermont
Four-Legged Farm, Vermont

I love the blending of skill and artistry that goes into a New England stone wall. My dad commented recently that we seem to make friends wherever we go and asked how we do it, and I’ve been pondering the question ever since. We have met some wonderful people, and I wish I had a wise answer, but there’s a mystery to friendship. Maybe it’s a bit like a good dry-stack wall, with labor and art and balance all playing a part, with a need for good raw material and attention to detail, but not perfectionism. I’m afraid I really don’t know. I just know we love meeting new people and hearing their stories, sharing a bottle of wine and a beautiful evening, like we did tonight with Shawn and Diana, our hosts here and our absolutely newest friends. I hope they enjoyed the evening as much as we did.

So peace be with you, friends old and new. You will always have a place in our hearts.

 

Ain’t Misbehavin’

. . . and one who is, but more on that later.

This past week, David and I had an opportunity to sit in on a Big Band and Swing music class with Helen and John and about twenty other octogenarians. Lots of reminiscing and YouTube videos of smooth singers and timeless tunes. Must have been that that made me think of the title for today’s post.

Lobster Night 2013
Lobster Night 2013

David and I are behavin’–sort of. Admittedly in a vacation-mentality kind of way, meaning too much rich food and strong drink and not nearly enough strenuous exercise. We are walking some–not nearly as much as in France–but the most strenuous part is swatting at mosquitoes and deer flies and flailing with the zapper racquet trying to defend ourselves. Despite that, we are definitely enjoying this leg of the adventure.

Lobster Night (last year)
Lobster Night 2013

The weather is behavin’ most of the time, enough that Helen* could open the roof deck, and I could get this shot of one of my favorite rooms anywhere:

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And it was nice enough to tempt a loon out during full daylight, close enough to the dock to get a semi-decent shot:

Lake Sunapee Loon
Lake Sunapee Loon

The wind was behavin’ enough that the sailors were happy.

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(Cousin) Jennie’s dogs were behavin’ enough to get a float-ride:

Jennie and the Canine Cab
Jennie and the Canine Cab

IMG_4546But THIS guy is definitely misbehavin’ every chance he gets.

He must have read the last post, especially the part about never giving up, because he is relentless. I could learn from him (the persistence, not the thieving).

*David’s mom Helen is still camera-shy, sorry to report, but behavin’ at least as well as the rest of us!

Lake Life: Wild Version

Besides all the family, who have now mostly gone their separate ways, there are plenty of other photo opportunities. The animals here provide some photographic challenges. Like this little guy:

Lots of chipmunks here.

Leaping Chippie CroppedThe chipmunk above and left, darts around so quickly, I had to use sport mode to capture a decent shot (and delete about thirty useless shots–gotta love digital cameras).

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

This heron hangs around periodically, mostly when I do NOT have my camera, but I managed to snap one decent shot (and only had to delete six or seven).

This duck is much easier. She’s constantly swimming around the dock and practically posing for close-ups. Note how clear and beautiful the water is here.

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And I managed to sneak up on this little merganser family:

Merganser Family
Merganser Family

No such luck so far with getting close enough to the loons for a good photo.  They’re out on the bay most evenings and you can hear their haunting cry late into the night and sometimes at dawn, but I’d need a longer lens and a tripod (or a really quiet boat). Still, as I’ve learned from this tree . . .

Don't let 'em get you down!
Don’t let ’em get you down!

. . . NEVER give up!

Seriously. Never.

Lake Life

Lake life in July involves late nights that start with gorgeous evenings

Full Moon Rising Over Lake Sunapee
Full Moon Rising Over Lake Sunapee

. . . after days on the dock and in the lake . . .

Granddaughters: Bailey and Felicity
Granddaughters: Bailey and Felicity

. . . cocktails on the deck . . .

Daughter: Courtney
Daughter: Courtney
Brother-in-law: Eb
Brother-in-law: Eb
"Papa John" Trethaway
“Papa John” Trethaway

. . . or booze cruises . . .

Daughter: Chelsea
Daughter: Chelsea

. . . a lot of family, including extended family . . .

Cousins: Pete and Tammy Kraeger, Ali, Molly and Owen Fox
Cousins: Pete and Tammy Kraeger, Ali, Molly and Owen Fox

. . . dinners by a rotating cast of chefs . . .

Brother-in-law: Doug
Brother-in-law: Doug

. . . followed by more late nights . . .

Daughter: Brittany
Daughter: Brittany
Pola protecting herself from the evil mosquitoes!
Cousin Pola’s evening wear — protecting herself from the evil mosquitoes!

and enough talking, laughing, and catching up to hold us through till next year.

Most have gone their own way by now, and it’s getting quieter here by the day as more depart, but we have treasured the time together.

 

 

Home Sweet . . . Garage?

We made it to Boston late on Saturday, the 5th of July and then up to Lake Sunapee on the 6th, so we really are home, sweet home, in a way. Just in time for this:

Fireworks over Lake Sunapee --  July 6th
Fireworks over Lake Sunapee — July 6th

This place has been a treasured home base for David’s far-flung family for many years. But before I switch gears to the New England summer, I have to show you where we spent the last three nights in almost-Paris.

You know when real estate people talk about location, location, location? You should probably listen. And if your first thought about lodging is “how fun and quirky”? Rethink your choice, especially if you also think “too bad about the location.” It’s time to back away from the computer. Really.

So here’s how “fun and quirky” this place was:

IMG_4171IMG_416920140705_074000

 

IMG_4168IMG_4174David was at my mercy, since I had made all the arrangements. Oops. Sorry.

So if we had had pre-schoolers along, maybe,  but there was the added bonus of the sketchy neighborhood, which required bars on the windows and combination-code-operated bolted entryway.  I started getting claustrophobic as soon as I realized in a fire, electrical systems have a tendancy to fail, so how would we get out? Yikes.

Other than that, though, it was an excellent experience in seeing the more multi-cultural side of living in Paris–or really almost-Paris, since we were just on the other side of the périphérique in Saint-Ouen, where they have massive street flea-markets with every possible kind of dusty old castoff you’ve ever seen.

So although I won’t book that apartment again, and I cannot recommend it to you, we’re actually sort of glad we did.

Hard Drive Crash!

Well, excellent timing, I guess, since we’ll be back in the states later tonight, if all goes well. But my computer is temporarily toast — or en panne, as they say here.

So no photo software at the moment. I hope I’ll be able to pull it off yet, since I really wanted to show you photos of the crazy apartment we rented in “sort of” Paris. It’s actually just on the other side of le périphérique from Montmartre, in Saint Ouen, where all the flea markets are. So we’re still walking everywhere, including all the way to the Rodin museum on Thursday, near the Eiffel Tower, though I admit we caught the Metro on the way back.

But now it’s time to pack up and leave France for a while. We’re headed here:

Sunset on Lake Sunapee
Sunset on Lake Sunapee
Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire
Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire

But first we have to make a connection in London. Last time I came home from Paris through London, a weather delay caused me to miss my connecting flight, and spend five hours — yes FIVE HOURS — in line waiting to be rescheduled. And today it’s raining. Just saying.

So please wish us traveling mercies. And if we do end up in interminable queues, wish us charming companions while we wait, like I met last time.

And for all of you already stateside, have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Touring and Tasting: Loire Valley

We’ve been here in Tours since Saturday afternoon, but the time has flown by. Tours is beautiful, with many VERY old and noteworthy buildings, including a magnificent cathedral:

Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours -- Detail
Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours — Detail of Front

But Tours is also in the heart of the Loire valley, which is absolutely encrusted with châteaux and blanketed with vineyards, two of my very favorite things.

Random gorgeous château in the distance
Random gorgeous château in the distance
Vouvray Wine Tour
Vouvray Wine Tour

Yesterday (Monday) I met up with friends, Dany and Francis, who took me to Vouvray for a tour of les caves and some wine-tasting. David stayed back to relax a bit and give me a chance to speak French without the need to translate for him. Since we went early in the afternoon we had a private tour (in French with the occasional English translation for wine-making terms I didn’t know). Les caves were carved out of the limestone cliffs, so double-bonus: beautiful châteaux and other buildings, plus dark, cool space to make wine! 

Today David came along to Chinon for another cave tour and tasting (also turned out to be private, since we were so early — 10 a.m. this time. Rise and shine people! There’s wine to be tasted.)

Château de Chinon
Château de Chinon

The area, including the château was under English control for a while, but the woman giving us the Chinon wine tour said, “Heureusement, Jeanne d’Arc est arrivée . . . ” (Fortunately Joan of Arc arrived . . .) “sinon nous boirions du thé et mangions de la viande bouillie!” ( otherwise, we would be drinking tea and eating boiled meat!)

Restaurant Les Grottes, Azay-le-Rideau
Restaurant Les Grottes, Azay-le-Rideau

Then to lunch here (where neither tea nor boiled meat was offered). Super cute à l’intérieur but it was such a gorgeous day we chose to eat à l’extérieur. 

Then a walk around town to peak at another château and take more photos.

Une maison sur l'Indre
Une maison sur l’Indre — House on  the Indre River

Another fabulous day with friends. 

Dany (left) et Francis
Dany (left) et Francis

Merci beaucoup, Dany et Francis!