A Few Discoveries Made Over the Last Days of 2016 and Early Days of 2017

In the Resolutions series, WordPress asked writers, artists, photographers, poets, and business and website owners: what’s in store for you — and your site — in 2017?

The results have been published in three parts. Part One on December 27. Part Two on December 28. Part Three on January 3.

Here are a few blogs that I have particularly enjoyed. I wanted to introduce them to you since you’ve been part of my blogging life last year and for a much longer time for some of you. In fact, you should peak at all the blogs since I’m sure there is one for you.

Too often I meet people who are negative and even pessimistic about the state of the world. True, 2016 has been a pretty tough year, here in the USA, but also across Europe and the Middle East. It would be easy to loose faith in humanity. And yet…

I discovered Sonya Huber’s blog filled with humor and wit on serious and sometimes very serious topics and I spent an hour browsing through her categories and “liking” several posts. Her list of publications is impressive and her book about Hillary Clinton sounds really interesting. Sonya is teaching, so her blog is more academic than most blogs around and that’s precisely why I liked what I read. Smart and thought-provoking.

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I was moved when I read that Emily Austin, an American mother who blogs about parenting wrote that her 2017 goal is to find out how other parents deal with love and inclusion in a country that doesn’t seem to take love and inclusion very seriously. My children aren’t “children” anymore and I trust them to go on with their lives. However, I remain a maman/mom/mother and will always share other parents’ worries, dedication, and thoughtfulness regarding our kids. If you have young children (Emily’s daughter is four) you will love this blog.

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I took a hike (a real hike) with Kelly Heapy and Drew Robinson. I fell for their personal stories behind these awesome hikes and of course I could only LOVE Robinson’s posts about the John Muir trail and Havasu Falls because I’ve hiked these trails too. Such natural beauty surrounds us. What a shame to forget that nature is there for us to comfort us, to show us that we belong to an incredible physical world that should unite us.

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Artists fascinate me. I cannot draw, paint and sculpt, so I love seeing the work of people who can express their feelings through visual arts. Art has no frontiers and tugs at us regarless of our ethnicities, our cultures, nationalities and religions. I fell for the work of Somali Roy, a Somali woman who lives in Singapore and calls herself a vignettist, from the French word vignette. Her artwork is exquisite and her artistic goal is lovely: pay attention to life’s ordinary moments. I so agree with their importance.

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I started to write when I was a little girl living in France because of the poems we had to learn by heart and recite every day at school. That seems like a strange way to learn. I’m not that old! In any case, learning by heart Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Apollinaire, Paul Eluard and Verlaine, to list only a few, opened my feelings. Big time. Poetry, more than any other form of writing, mandates a perfect knowledge of the language. Every word counts. So if I still write occasional poems in French I’ve never tried in English, a second language learned during adulthood. But I find poets’ blogs particularly interesting. If you love poetry, you’ll like the work of Robert Okaji and Maggy Liu.

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My little happy discovery is the Kitchen’s Garden blog, written somewhere in rural Illinois.

In The Ocean at the End of the Lane Neil Gaiman wrote, “Childhood memories are sometimes covered and obscured beneath the things that come later, like childhood toys forgotten at the bottom of a crammed adult closet, but they are never lost for good.”

It is no doubt because of my childhood spent in rural Normandy that Cecila’s Gunther’s blog tugged at me.

I didn’t grow up on a farm but respect and admire the people who work the land, especially the young men and women who farm with genuine reverence for the environment.

My family home was small but came with a large backyard, where we kept a goat left behind by the previous tenants when my parents moved in shortly after my birth. And we raised rabbits not bunnies (to my American-born children’s horror) and a couple of sheep (for the same horrific reason).

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A path that runs minutes away from my mother’s home in Normandy.

French Memories

The garden my father took care of until he died.

When I visited the Kitchen Garden I fell for the Cast. (I love the way Cecilia calls the animals living on her farm!)

My heart stalled when I saw Marcel’s pic and my memory’s gates flew wide-open.

When I was between ten and eleven years old, our ewe delivered two lambs. My papa who grew up on a farm as a kid and worked there during his early youth knew a lot about animals and had delivered calves, foals and lambs.

I had asked him to wake me when our ewe would deliver. He did. Then he sent me back to bed but stayed behind, suspecting that another lamb was on its way. Indeed, another lamb was born, a while later. But the ewe had already welcomed the first baby and ignored the second. My papa cleaned the lamb and knew that we would have to feed it or it wouldn’t make it. That’s how my sister and I got the chance to have our own baby, many years before having our own human children. I adored this little lamb that would gallop toward me as soon as I showed up in the pen where his mother and sibling lived too. If the mother had disregarded the lamb at its birth now the three of them lived in total peace and harmony, even though one of them drank its milk from a bottle and licked our hands like a pet.

As I watched Marcel’s lovely face (the smile on this lamb’s face!) my fingers remembered my lamb’s sandpapery tongue and the greesy sensation left after I ran them through its wooly coat. The smell of my lamb’s sweat that passed through its wool smelled unlike anything I had ever smelled until then. The correct word to describe this “greasy thing” is suint. Amazingly, the word is identical in French, although pronounced differently, and it also came back to me with the photo.

That’s the power of memory. That’s also the power of reading. When I read, wonderful things happen. I either connect with the author’s similar experiences. Or I don’t. In both cases, however, I feel. A sense of belonging through common situations or a sense of curiosity through unknown experiences fills me with gratitude for my human fellows who write about their lives on our amazing planet.

This is how a little lamb forgotten at the bottom of my crammed adult closet just showed up in my living room.

I wish you all a year filled with discoveries.

Small or big they are what make life purposeful and fun, exciting and beautiful.

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This is my last dessert of 2016. A French Strawberry Charlotte with a Strawberry Coulis on the side. (The Coulis is not on the photo)

This dessert remains my kids’ favorite dessert.

Comments

  1. Loved the lamb story, Evelyne. Our pets/animals have a great deal to teach us. I was always in charge of feeding and caring for our pets, and have always looked back on the experience fondly. –Curt

    • I wish my kids had been able to grow closer to animals besides our pets. In the foothills they got their share of wild life and it is wonderful for children to see a deer, a roadrunner and a coyote close enough to see their eyes. But “farm animals” are in between pets and wildlife, which make them special when we are little. See you!

      • We had a couple of goats for awhile that I was in charge of. That was a good experience for me. And, as I’ve blogged on frequently, the deer that live our property think of us as part of their herd. Or at least it seems that way. 🙂 –Curt

  2. Beverly Broughton says:

    I find myself drooling over the photo of your French Strawberry Charlotte…your post are always delightful and love to keep in touch. Happy 2017!
    Fondly,
    Bev

    • This is actually not that hard. I developped a few tricks 🙂 over the years. It’s hard to find a dessert that makes everyone happy. My son is not a sweet tooth guy and only likes my desserts (nice!) but especially likes this one. I’m not telling you how many I made over his winter break!!!! Thank you for stopping by, Bev and Happy New Year to you and yours!

  3. My mother felt that making chocolate pudding without burning it was a triumph. You kids are very lucky 🙂

    • My paternal grandmother wasn’t a great cook but she was very funny, so she always joked about her two desserts. She made a plain pound cake and a rice pudding (not even with caramel). She alternated according to our visits. So we always knew what we would have. I prefered the pound cake but my sister liked the rice pudding best. Once in a while my mom would bring a dessert she had made. She was a good cook and made great desserts too. I mostly started to bake when I was on my own, and especially in the US. I had four kids to feed and I liked to have their friends over, and I quickly found out that a good dessert makes most people happy.

  4. Wonderful descriptions. I felt like I was on the farm with you. Also, I love sheep. If it had been a baby armadillo, it probably wouldn’t have been quite so precious 😉

  5. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

  6. My best wishes for a great 2017, evelyne

  7. bonne année et une excellente santé, à toi et à tes loved ones… ❤
    * * *
    @"This dessert remains my kids’ favorite dessert." – I'm not surprised… 🙂

  8. Now I’m hungry and trying to remember to set this aside do I can check out those links. Wishing you all good things (and much cake) in 2017.

    • Everyone noticed the dessert! Should I try the A to Z challenge with French desserts? I’d love too in fact. But I’m afraid to stall on many letters. Thinking…
      Also, yes, I’m sure you’ll find more blogs to check out. I was amazed by the quality of them. Some people are really talented around!
      I wish you a great year too, Dan.

      • I look forward to your A-to-Z challenge response. Dessert would be tough but we could spot you Q and X.

      • Now I want to know: what do you have in mind for Q and X? In French? 🙂

      • I just meant that I’d go easy on you if you ha to bend the rules a little to squeeze a ‘Q’ in the mix, although is Quiche French or is it one of those things that just sounds like you guys made it up? As for ‘X’ – pick a (different) traditional Christmas cake or pastry and shorten Christmas to X-Mas – easy-peasy

  9. I loved reading about your childhood memories Evelyne – you brought to life so vividly your experience with the lamb, I could feel his tongue and smell his smell. Gorgeous and I will certainly have a look at the other blogs.

  10. Thanks for introducing me to some of your favorite blogs and to the lovely memory of your special lamb.

    • My little lamb was adorable! I still want to find a way to put him in a story. It was a nice surprise to find my blog in the company of so many stunning blogs. And a nice way to read more! Not really what I need since there is so little time! See you, Claire.

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