Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Plot Thickens

Every good novels has twists, turns and setbacks, but this isn't a novel -- it's my life.
Nevertheless, we received a setback on Monday when the realtor called to say the VA appraisal did not reach the purchase price of the house.
We live in a small house in a community that is suddenly the place everyone in Columbus wants to live.
Our small Craftsman-style house as seen on my 50th birthday
It's a pretty amazing place to live, as I've opined before, with restaurants, coffee shops and little boutiques all within walking distance. The school is small with about 1000 students throughout all 12 grades, and it wins awards each year when the state judges the best school districts. We also avoid using buses because everything is within walking distance. And, it feels a bit like a 1950's community, where women feel safe to walk or run alone even when it's dark, and doors are frequently left unlocked as children roam the neighborhoods after school.
The annual bike race and marathon both run through our town.
Our asking price is about $50,000 more than the county auditor's estimate of our house, but the county auditor price usually is less than the appraised value of the house when selling.
The people buying our home are using a VA loan because he is a veteran. VA loans are harder to pass.
What we didn't know is that the couple, moving from Texas to Ohio, plan to put no money down. That means the loan has to be approved for the entire price of the house.
Our real estate agent  has until today to convince the appraiser and the bank that it is worth the asking price.
"The buyers still want it," she told me on the phone. "They're willing to rent or do a land contract."
At first, I pondered that idea. They could put $10,000 down and rent for the year. Then if they couldn't follow through we could put the house back on the market. That's before I found out they planned to put no money down on the house.
As a wise man in my house said, "This isn't a Volvo. Why are you expecting to buy with no money down?"
If they don't have the $10,000 to put down on the house, then they wouldn't have $10,000 earnest money to give us.
That's when I decided to push the issue.
I texted the real estate agent and said we'd have the house ready to put back on the market on Thursday, right after the new furnace is installed. (That's another twist for another day).
I told her that if the buyers are in love with the house and want to buy it then they are going to need to come up with some money to bridge between the selling price and the appraised price. If they have other property, they can take out an equity loan on that. Or if they have a 401k, they can borrow money from that.
Unless they step up, we're back on the market, which means, our house might not be sold and Earl might not be able to retire.
We have our plane tickets. We have our room reservations and three housesitting jobs that last through March 15, but I might be traveling alone.


Throw some quick good karma or prayers or whatever you believe in our way.
I do want to live in France, but I don't want to leave my best friend behind to work, and he's definitely ready to live a retired life.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Packing


Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

Today on Facebook, I posted a picture of the three suitcases I'll be taking to France.
That's all I plan to take to begin my new life.

One of my Facebook friends asked why we didn't simply ship boxes overseas. We will have some boxes stored in my brother's basement and another friend's basement, but I've read enough horror stories about shipping items to France that never arrive, that I wasn't even tempted to pay for boxes that I might never see again.
Face it, anything that I am keeping, I'm not willing to risk mailing in a questionable system.

Another issue about mailing boxes is that we don't have a permanent address yet. Where would I mail them to?
Most shipping services don't give upfront prices for mailing overseas, but the one that does would charge $169 for a 66-pound box or suitcase, and it makes no guarantee that anything breakable would arrive in one piece.
I've been looking at the China cabinet today trying to decide what we might want to keep. We plan to move the China cabinet to my sister-in-law's house next weekend. She says she'll hold onto it until Grace wants it.


The cabinet is full of highly breakable things.
Our gold-rimmed China that we received for our wedding has been used so rarely, that I feel no compunction about getting rid of it. 


Grace has chastised me, but she didn't offer to keep it. So I'll find some place to donate it.
I have so many wine glasses and liquor glasses. Many of them are from Mom and Dad's wedding, so I want to keep those, although I'm not sure how I'll ever get them to France.
I also have a lovely Laura Ashley tea set I'd like to take along.


A friend gave us a Limoges tea (coffee?) set as well for a wedding present that I would love to have in France.

But is it silly to take a French tea set back to France? Could I just as easily find ones I like that at an inexpensive price?
Once the China cabinet is cleaned out, I have things like quilts that would help me start a new life in France. Mom has made quilts for nearly every occasion, and I hate to be parted from any of them.
I may look for some of those compression bags that squeeze down items in hopes of taking a quilt or two along.
Other than clothes, toiletries and my computer, I don't anticipate needing a lot. We'll be housesitting so the houses will be outfitted. And when we buy a new house, hopefully it will be furnished. If not, we'll have to furnish it by visiting the local flea markets.
I know many people ship boxes of books to France, and I hate to be parted from books I love, but luckily, we live in a world where I can download books onto my phone and read them. I love always having a book with me on my phone.
So for now, before I actually begin packing, I think I'll have plenty of room in my three suitcases. We'll see if I still think that three weeks from now as we prepare to begin our vagabond lifestyle.
And when people from Ohio come to visit us in France, I fully expect them to pack a wine glass or two to bring along as we slowly fill up our cabinets in France. 

Columbus Marathon

I am so thankful to have been able to stay in the house well into the autumn. If we had sold the house immediately, we would have been out already, renting a place or living with friends. Instead, we get to enjoy life in our little village within a stone's throw of downtown Columbus and Ohio State University.
Because we are so close to downtown, the Columbus Marathon runs through the middle of our town. Most years, my friend Sheila and will go walking along the route before the race begins. She has as many deadlines as I do with her husband having back surgery on the same day we close on our house, so I didn't ask if she wanted to walk.
Instead, this morning, I decided to start at our house and run the route backward for about 4 miles.
It can be more challenging than you expect to figure out which way the route goes when not all the roads are closed yet.
Mostly, I relied on judging whether cars were parked along the road. No cars equals Marathon route. Even so, I got confused several times and started down roads before noticing that no banners waved or port-a-potties stood sentry, so I'd turn around and try a different road.
Since I had several false tries, I decided to run 4.5 miles to make sure I reached the total of 8 miles I hoped for. I'm so glad I kept running because I discovered that the marathon is running through a cornfield path.
It's weird in a city of nearly a million people to still have a cornfield in the center, but because Ohio State teaches agriculture, there are cows and cornfields within the city.
I had just run the path through the cornfield last week while waiting for Earl to finish his physical therapy. In the fog, alone, the path is a bit spooky.


But this morning, the sponsor had done a great job making it a highlight of the 26.2 mile race.
These "race car" banners showed runners where to turn.


Then a banner welcomed runners to the field.


Along the way, there were signs with pop culture icons or bad jokes, meant to encourage those reaching the high mileage of the marathon.






The marathon is sponsored by Children's Hospital, so many of the miles are dedicated to children receiving treatment. I started taking pictures of the mile markers and the kids, and got to meet two of the children who had already shown up to support the runners.
Mile 20 was dedicated to Andrew.
He got excited when he saw me and thought the marathoners were already on their way.




Then farther down the road, Amelia had already arrived to cheer for the runners on her dedicated mile.




I ended up running 9 miles, and I was pretty spent by the end, but I'm so happy that I had the opportunity.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Like Dominoes

Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

Aargh! My life is too crazy. Every week I forget about my Dreaming of France meme until I see that Sim has already posted hers and is waiting for me.
I wonder what could be distracting me?
This weekend, I started to feel some anxiety as I realized everything that has to be accomplished for us to move to France in about 86 days.
So the house is in contract. The final hurdle is Tuesday when the appraiser comes. If that all goes well, we close on the sale of our house in early November, and I have already scheduled our appointment with the French consulate to apply for a long-stay visa.
So my mind whirrs with the thoughts of:
Whipping the house back into staged shape before the appraiser arrives
Cleaning out the house once the sale is final
Helping Spencer find an apartment
Moving ourselves out and in with friends for a temporary stay
Collecting all the necessary paperwork for our French Visa
Finding affordable plane tickets and places to stay during our first days in France
Leaving the kids behind

That's all. Nothing much else going on in my brain, except beautiful dreams of how lovely our life will be in France if we can get everything else under control.

Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. I hope you'll visit each other's blogs and leave comments. Also post your blog info in the Linky below.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

FranceBookTours -- Drawing Lessons by Patricia Sands

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Drawing Lessons by Patricia Sands is a lovely, romantic meander down a river with stops in all the nooks and crannies of French villages that people long to explore. Arianna's life as she knows it ends when her husband is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers. She devotes herself to caring for him, but as he reaches a point where he has no idea if she is there or not, her grown children convince her to travel to France and attend an art class, hoping to spark her earlier life interests. Of course, France does reignite Arianna's love for life and art. Sands is a connoisseur of France, carefully taking us along on the sensory journeys in France, from the Roman ruins in Arles to the delicate taste of wine and each scrumptious meal. 
"Wooden doors with enormous and ornate keyholes, handcrafted lifetimes before, bore witness to the centuries of history that had crossed their portals. They fascinated Arianna, and she was surprised to feel the urge to sketch them. Perhaps something was stirring in her after all, she mused."
And later in Arles she comes upon a woman singing and playing the guitar:
"The ambiance of the moment floated like a cloud around her: the history and redolent beauty of the surroundings, the setting sun painting the sky and washing the stone in shades of pink, the absence of others, and the emotional power of the song. Arianna promised herself this would be the beginning of moving forward. She closed her eyes and made a silent vow. Peace comes from within." 
Even as Sands' main character deals with her emotional challenges, there is a peacefulness that fills her while she explores France and opens herself to the possibilities. 
I enjoyed this novel and felt refreshed afterward, as I had gone on a journey of my own. I even made a few notes of places to visit when next we visit France. 
Scroll down to enter the contest to win a copy of this book too.

Patricia Sands

on Tour October 2-13 with Drawing Lessons

Drawing Lessons

(women’s fiction) Release date: October 1, 2017 at Lake Union Publishing ISBN: 978-1542045872 352 pages Author’s page | Goodreads  

SYNOPSIS

The author of the Love in Provence series returns to the South of France with a poignant portrait of a woman who must learn how to create a new life for herself… Sixty-two-year-old Arianna arrives in the South of France for a two-week artists’ workshop full of anticipation but burdened by guilt. Back home in Toronto, she has been living with the devastating diagnosis of her husband’s dementia and the heartbreak of watching the man she has loved for decades slip away before her eyes. What does her future hold without Ben? Before her is a blank canvas. Encouraged by her family to take some time for herself, she has traveled to Arles to set up her easel in the same fields of poppies and sunflowers that inspired Van Gogh. Gradually, she rediscovers the inner artist she abandoned long ago. Drawing strength from the warm companionship and gentle wisdom of her fellow artists at the retreat—as well as the vitality of guest lecturer Jacques de Villeneuve, an artist and a cowboy—Arianna searches her heart for permission to embrace the life in front of her and, like the sunflowers, once again face the light.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I Promise You This Patricia SandsPatricia Sands lives in Toronto, but her heart’s other home is the South of France. An avid traveler, she spends part of each year on the Côte d’Azur and occasionally leads groups of women on tours of the Riviera and Provence. Her award-winning 2010 debut novel, The Bridge Club, is a book-group favorite, and The Promise of Provence, which launched her three-part Love in Provence series (followed by Promises to Keep and I Promise You This), was a finalist for a 2013 USA Best Book Award and a 2014 National Indie Excellence Award, was an Amazon Hot New Release in April 2013, and was a 2015 nominee for a #RBRT Golden Rose award in the category of romance. Sands also contributes to such Francophile websites as The Good Life France and Perfectly Provence, and she appears as a public speaker for women’s groups. Find Patricia on Facebook, on Twitter on Instagram at her Amazon Author Page or her website Subscribe to her mailing list and get information about new releases. Buy the book on Amazon.com

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Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form]
Global giveaway open to all 2 winners

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Sunday, October 01, 2017

Dreaming of France - Cooking in France


Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

I haven't cooked very much in France because I enjoy visiting restaurants while we travel, but once we live there, that will have to change.
Like many people my age and older, I have amassed a number of cookbooks but I can't imagine moving them to France. 
My friend Sheila pointed out that I probably rely on recipes on the web more than cookbooks anymore. And she's right, but there are some favorite recipes that I want to take along. 
That's why I came up with my solution of taking pictures of recipes and bringing them along in my computer. 
Last week, I started the process. 

This recipe has seen a lot of use. It's in a cookie cookbook that belonged to Earl's sister. 
My Southern Living cookbook is also well loved. 

The muffin recipe is hardly legible anymore, and it isn't even my favorite muffin recipe any more.

This apple cider and soy sauce turkey breast is surprisingly tasty. 
Even as I choose which recipes to capture, I'm wondering what I'll do with the cookbooks once I'm finished. I just can't picture throwing them out even though I'll have all the information I need.
I can't really expect one of my kids to take on these mottled cookbooks, can I?
It's another dilemma I didn't expect to face as we prepare for our move to France.

Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. I hope you'll visit each other's blogs and leave comments. Also post your blog info in the Linky below.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Pale Imitation

I know our departure for France is only three months away, but I still get cravings for French experiences. That's what drove me to La Chatelaine here in Columbus on Friday morning to buy an eclair, which I shared with my husband, but it couldn't touch the luscious goodness of the eclair café (that's a coffee-flavored eclair) that I fell in love with in Quillan, France. There was even a day when I ate three of them!
But while I was at La Chatelaine, I saw a sign for  happy hour "charcuterie" platter only $9.
Charcuterie is usually served on a wooden cutting board with different types of sausages or dried meats, along with cheeses and slices of bread.
The sign, which said "charcuterie, cheese and escargots" inspired me. I had to teach until 2, but I convinced Earl that we should skip lunch and go after I returned home for an early happy hour.
I pictured the delicious charcuterie that we ate the first day we got off the train in Paris.
We had driven our rental car for two hours then sat in the train station a couple hours before taking the train from Monpellier to Paris, so we'd done a lot of sitting. I suggested to Earl that we walk from Gare de Lyon to our hotel in the Latin Quarter. According to MapQuest, it was a 30 minute walk, but a 30 minute walk with a suitcase wheeled behind and a computer game hung on my shoulder is longer than a normal 30-minute walk.
The clouds were dramatic as we first began to walk in the (hopefully) correct direction.

The day looked glorious as we started walking, but quickly turned ominous.

 Just as fat raindrops began to fall on us, we wheeled our suitcases under an awning and settled into an outdoor cafe where we ordered a charcuterie platter.

We were not disappointed.

We ate and drank while the rain passed and then, satiated, we continued our walk to the hotel. 
These memories were dancing in my head as I returned from work yesterday and picked up Earl. Grace was visiting so she came along with us. We settled Earl at an outdoor table since he's still walking with a cane since his knee replacement. 
The waitstaff seemed confused by our request for the charcuterie platter. They called it the "char-took-erie." Then they went to ask the chef and he said he could make it but it would be 15-20 minutes. I shrugged and ordered us salads to eat in the meantime, along with glasses of Côtes du Rhone red wine. 
Then, when the long-awaited charcuterie platter arrived, it looked like this.


Sorry that the picture is half in/half out of the sun, but as you can see, the charcuterie platter has no cheese, no escargot, and barely enough meats to serve two of us -- a pale imitation of the charcuterie platter we had in Paris.
That's okay, in three short months we'll be arriving in Paris again, and I'm already imagining the delightful meals we'll have.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Sunny Montpellier


Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

There are updates on our plans to move, but I've had a trying weekend, so I'm going to soothe my frustration by just sharing a few photos of France.
We spent just a morning in Montepellier, but look how beautiful and swept clean it is. 
We found a cafe for coffee and tea. The waiters were preparing for lunch, so they were herding
the coffee drinkers into the tables without umbrellas. Luckily,  we got there in time to find some shade. 

This was an unusual building that we saw in the center of Montpellier,. The librarie sauramps is a bookstore and then the tiered building above it is an Ibis hotel, which is a chain in France. 
 You can see that it was a beautiful sunny day. I can't wait to return and have more days like this.
Thanks so much for playing along with Dreaming of France. Please leave your link below and visit each other's blogs to share your love for France.

The Plot Thickens

Every good novels has twists, turns and setbacks, but this isn't a novel -- it's my life. Nevertheless, we received a setback on Mo...