Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Nordic Country Murder Mystery

I've been watching The Killing on Netflix recently.  It is the American adaptation of a Danish television series called Forbrydelsen (The Crime).  Unlike most series, this one focuses on a single murder and takes two seasons (26 episodes) to crack.

Netflix suggested it to me based on my preferences and they are right, it's good drama.  While it can be frustrating at times, I think it is closer to the truth about crime-solving than most movies or TV shows that solve a crime quite efficiently, in a relatively short time.

The drama about this show is that all characters are flawed, make mistakes and are lead down the garden path to faulty assumptions.

The lead character Detective Sarah Linden is a petite, fragile-looking strawberry blond and makes mistakes but is unquestionably passionate about her work.  In her late 30's and the single mother of a 13 year-old son, she is struggling to keep her sanity while trying to provide for him and doesn't always do a good job.  She is dented and scratched from her childhood in foster homes but is doing her best.  She's the one with professional integrity.

Holder, her partner is equally damaged and passionate about his work. He is a recovering drug addict who is trying to show himself and the world that he has value in his work. He connects with people better than Linden does.  He is the Yang to her Yin.

Set against the rainy skies of Seattle (Vancouver, Canada), this show is often dark and dreary but the attachment that you form with the characters keeps the viewer engaged. This show is gritty and has a more realistic feel than most crime drama on television.


The last crime series that I watched and loved was Wallander, set in Sweden.  Gotta love those northern european crime dramas...

Remember The Millenium series?



Read: Why the most peaceful people on earth write the greatest homicide thrillers.
  
Have a great day!

Stella

Monday, April 29, 2013

Day One

Look at them.  Off to pursue life/adventure far away from home.  These two loves of mine have a deep connection and love for one another.  They were going to have brunch at the airport and keep each other company on the other side of security.
Right about now, T. is doing an apartment tour in Chicago and V. will arrive  home in France at about noon.

Meanwhile on the home front, D. and I felt like two marbles rolling around in a big box.  The house is echo-ey and still.  I have begun my energetic and systematic cleaning of our room and en-suite and will continue this putting-the-house-in-order until V. comes back on May 25th.
It's snowing/raining outside my cutebicle window.  Another grey day on the horizon...

Bisous,

Stella

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Goodbye My Loves... Phew!

My two men are packed and ready although one of them is more anxious than the other.  My poor boy has a bad cold and had a horrible trip coming home from Anguilla.  Almost everything that could go wrong,  did.  Missed ferry, flight, penalty for re-booking flight, 3 nights in hotel rooms waiting to take the plane to come home, overweight bags (all those medical books), throwing away books and personal effects, ripping bag, rushing to buy duct tape to fix it, canceled flight... no wonder he's sick.

When he got home, he only had 3 1/2 business days to get everything done: physical exam, inoculations, police check, bank visit, file income tax, papers, papers, papers to sign, clothes to wash, decisions to make... and a birthday gift to buy for his girlfriend.

I am almost sick with it.  There has been a lot of turbulence around here (no pun intended).  And during this last week before their departures, my husband woke up and decided to get everything done that was on a 6 month-old list of things to do.

I received my new washer and dryer Thursday night, we installed them Friday night and today, Saturday, I've been washing mountains of clothes and helping them pack.  Although I love them both very much, I will be relieved when they leave...

Tomorrow we will head for the airport at 9:30 am for T. who leaves at 12pm for Chicago.  V. leaves three hours later for his flight to Marseille,  so we'll go for a nice brunch somewhere and hang out until it's time for him to go.

Then I will head home with my remaining honcho and thank God for giving me the Grace to move through this week without losing my temper or producing tears, for keeping my chin up and my resolve firmly in place.

Tomorrow night, I will call my almost 92-year-old Dad and see how he is doing.  Then I will have one glass of cold Pinot Grigio and contemplate the peace that (hopefully) will surround me.

Stella-hanging-on

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Shutter Color Choice

Sunday, I drive V. and T. to the airport.  T. is going to school in Chicago and V. is off to our apartment in the south of France to do some entertaining, some travelling and some painting.

Our shutters are, you won't believe, Pepto Bismol pink.  When we bought the property almost five years ago, they had just been repainted in this the original pink, so we felt that, of all the work we had to do on the apartment, shutters, even though the color is horrible, were not going to be our priority.

November 2013 marks our 5th anniversary as property owners in France and it is right and good that the shutters should be painted a color more appropriate for our setting.

We could do them in turquoise...

 We could do them in vert amande...

or strip them and not paint them  at all... NOT.
We could do them in my color of choice:  blue grey...

But we're going to do them in vert olive so that they match one of the two colors of shutters on our old olive-mill-cum-apartment building.

When we return to our little village in August, the shutters will be green!  I am excited about this as I am about the contrast it will make with the newly painted (last year) wrought iron around our balcony and Juliet balconies.  I may even entertain the thought of a planted pot or two to liven up the place.

But what I would love best of all, would be to plant a purple wisteria against the stone wall just across the stream from our balcony. It might look something like this.


 In Provence, wisterias are very happy and prolific.
Spring is late coming to Alberta so I dream of a French spring where wisterias and olive green shutters keep me warm inside.

Have a good day!

Stella-in-the-clouds

Monday, April 22, 2013

Moving Toward Retirement and the Bucket List

When I say I am going to retire this June, I don't mean that I am not going to work anymore.  Rather, I am retiring from full-time work.  I will be working part-time or doing contracts if all goes well.  Got to keep those boys in school for a while longer, and if I want to make it to Morocco (on my bucket list) next spring, I have to earn the trip.

On the political side, if all goes well, we will visit Morocco with V., my sister D. and her husband for one week.  Casablanca, Fes, Marrakech, the edge of the Sahara desert, sound just right to me.  The colors and smells and textures to be found in the country and in the souks attract me.

Here is the trip I am looking at:


This one includes a camel ride and sleep in a tent in the Sahara desert!  It's an 8 day, 7 night trip but I would like to extend the stay in Marrakech by an extra day or so...

 If you have read Julia Cameron's The Artist's Date, you will know that she recommends regular visits to different spots that can inspire you, I think Morocco would be an artist's trip.  I wish I could draw and paint but I have eyes and ears and a nose that will serve me well.


Now I just have to dream this into reality!  What are your travel dreams?


Stella



Friday, April 19, 2013

Our Boy is Coming Home!

Our boy T. has finished his 16 months of basic medical sciences in the Caribbean.  He is coming home for one week before heading out to Chicago for the rest of his medical schooling.

He has been very strong and very concentrated on his studies over the last 16 months.  He has met with adversity: very hot climate, cultural shock, living as a visible minority, living on his own, learning in less than optimum conditions and he has blossomed.

Now, we get to enjoy him for a full week before we say goodbye again on April 28th. This time, it will be a little less dramatic because he'll be only two-day's drive away in Chicago.  We intend to visit him during his first year of residence there.

T. is a city mouse so he should enjoy Chicago and all that it has to offer.  Furthermore, he looks forward to living in a northern clime once again.

Although we Skype with him weekly, I look forward to kissing and hugging him as he is an affectionate man.

Wow!  My BOY is an affectionate MAN. When did that happen?


Talk to you later,

Stella-over-the-moon

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Matchmaking




Ten years ago, I had a hand in bringing two soul mates together.  It was such a gratifying experience.  Today, one of the said soul mates contacted me about a possible match between a friend of hers and a friend of mine who was widowed last year.

He: A retired 60ish  healthy, active, intelligent, a little shy and very resourceful man. Shares his time between two residences, one of which is in a perpetually sunny place.
She: A 50ish teacher, active, intelligent, independent and healthy. Lives on the west coast.

Could this be a match made in heaven?  Maybe yes, maybe no but finding out will be fun.

Have a great day!

Stella

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why France?

Yesterday, a colleague asked me why V. and I chose to buy a property in France as it is so far away.

I answered him right away that both V. and I have ties to France although V.'s are more immediate.  V. lived in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin as a child from ages 5 to 9 until he sailed to Montreal to become a Canadian citizen.  He and his family were on the long trajectory that would take them from post-war Bucharest to Brno to a safe place in the Austrian mountains before they would settle in the south of France where V.'s dad found work.

My links with France are multiple but spring from one solid main root that is my paternal grandfather.  In a wish to escape the first world war and pursue his dream of being a landowner, he left the Champagne region via London.  He later took the train to Edmonton then further north to Grouard and then by horse to his homestead in the town where I was born.

More importantly, the seed of France was planted in my brain as a child and was nurtured by the two pictures that my family had of my grandfather.  I looked into his young, rather stern face and felt a bond with this man who had come so far to establish his family.

Later, my parents became good friends with a French couple who'd immigrated in the 50s to find a better life in Canada.  They ended up in our tiny village and it seemed natural that they would become  friends with my parents.  These people, Tonton and (Tatie) would become part of our family.

When visiting La Bergere Basque's website last week I was reminded of them as they both came from the Basque country.  They taught us to sing this song which became a part of our singing family's repertoire.

As an adolescent, I was thrilled when my parents took a trip to Europe.  My parents came back with many stories and impressions and I knew that one day, I would travel there. 

After my B.A., and before my B. Ed., I took a semester to visit Europe and there, in France, I found a part of myself that had been hibernating.  I understood something about myself that had been at best, a sense of not belonging to the place I was born.

In the following years, I returned several times to Europe.  I married a European and almost five years ago said a firm YES when the opportunity arose to buy a condo we'd rented before in an enchanting village .  The condo is in a refurbished 17th century olive oil mill that sits peacefully on the river's edge.

Here is the architect's sketch of the project which began over 30 years ago.

And here are a few pictures of our little piece of heaven...
Table de ferme purchased last summer as were the pewter candlesticks
and the village...


So that is why we bought a place so far away from where we live.  Choices do not always align with what is most practical n'est-ce pas?

Bonne journée,

Stella

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Eat Less, Move More


 About a year ago, my friend C. from France was talking about the need to lose some weight.  I said: «Easy, eat less, move more.» This is really funny coming from a girl who has to lose a whole lot more than the other.

Last week, I returned to Weight Watchers.  Why?  Because on the eve of my retirement,  I want to make sure that I am healthy. Goal:  to lose 10% of my weight before we leave for France in August. That gives me roughly 18 weeks to get the job done.

As I take stock of what I am doing well (do not eat much dessert, do not have desert, packaged meals or treats at home, do yoga twice weekly and walk at least 10 minutes per day) and what I need to do better (get in some cardio, do weight bearing exercises and track my food intake), I realize that it's going to take a lot more effort to lose weight at this age, almost 55, than ever before.

I'm going to have to be trim and fit for all the fun I'll be having!

Hasta luego!

Stellacita

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pepe Le Pew

We were having an animated discussion at the lunch table today about different TV programs we watched as children.  Among them:


  • Bonanza
  • Leave it to Beaver
  • Get Smart
  • The Ed Sullivan Show
  • The Thunderbirds
  • Gilligan's Island
  • I Dream of Jeannie
  • Bugs Bunny
One of my favorite characters from Bugs Bunny is Pepe Le Pew.  Here, for your enjoyment.


What were some of your favorites?

Can you sing the theme song?  I've been having fun with this lately and find that it's a sure conversation starter.

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, 
A tale of a fateful trip 
That started from this tropic port 
Aboard this tiny ship. 

The mate was a mighty sailing man, 
The skipper brave and sure. 
Five passengers set sail that day 
For a three hour tour, a three hour tour. 

The weather started getting rough, 
The tiny ship was tossed, 
If not for the courage of the fearless crew 
The minnow would be lost, the minnow would be lost. 


Stella

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

White Truffles in Winter


Finished reading this flight of fancy in Mexico.  At Wellington in Edmonton, we are having a reading circle discussion of this book on May 7th.  If you want to join us, just visit or call in to add your name to the list.

This is a different kind of story-telling.  Based on the life of Auguste Escoffier, the famed French chef, this novel is a work of mostly fiction powdered with fact here and there.  True are all references to his professional life, to his recipes and books to the ones he loved but not so with the details of his relationships to the women in his life.  The author has given herself license to imagine the great chef in his intimate relationships and it makes this book a treat, if you are willing to suspend disbelief.

Sarah Bernhardt, Paris, London, The Savoy, The Ritz, Monaco, the great war, the Impressionists, these are just a few of the ingredients that make this recipe an enticing one.

 This novel is sensual, delicious, a treat for any foodie or francophile. 

Bonsoir et bonne lecture

Stella

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

We went fishing on the sea of Cortez...




V. with his 30+lb Yellowfin tuna


In this I believe.

Stella

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Last Night I Slept in my Bed

We are back and although tired from the trip and the nine hour wait between flights in Phoenix, we have unpacked our bags and begun to face the new week that is beginning.

We left Mexico at a balmy 30 degrees at 11 am and arrived here to wet snow and gloom.  It WAS one in the morning!  V. has been going on and on about how our weather up here is horrible and how long we have been in winter.  To me, I was home again and happy to be back.  This is where I was born, this is where I live, love, work, this is where the most comfortable bed in the world exists.  MY bed.

My Mom used to say that when I was small, she never had to coax me to bed.  I would go willingly and as an adult, I still like to go to bed at night.  I'm just made that way.  I need the recharge, crave it, love it.  My host E. says she doesn't like to sleep.  Finds it a waste of time.  She goes to bed looking forward to what she'll be able to do the next day.  I must say, it's never been that way for me.

Anyhow, I'm home and am now officially allowed (by myself of course) to start counting down on my calender at work.  Each day, I will tick off one more day to June 28th, my last day of full-time work.

I know that April will go by quickly because it's the month that my son is coming home for 8 days and it's the month where we will drive him and his dad to the airport.  One heading to Chicago to pursue his studies and the other to our little haven in the south of France for a little work and a little holiday.  Then before I know it, it will be May. 

But just for tonight, I will snuggle down to the comfort of my nest bed, read, knit, answer emails and be grateful for the life that I have here, in Alberta in the cold, wet and the persistently white landscape that I call home.

Bonsoir, bonne nuit,

Stella


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Just Hangin'

Here we are cooking in E.'s kitchen.

Here are C. and I lounging by the pool at the end of the day.  We are happy guests, and who wouldn't be in this gorgeous place.

Today we went for a long walk along the beach and saw all kinds of unrecognizable creatures on the sand.  The wind is up and the sea is furious today, ergo no boating.  The sun is strong and the blue sky against the aqua-greeny sea is a perfect foil for this all white house.

I haven't yet read one line in my novel or done one stitch on my knitting.  The pull of nature is strong in this sun-blessed place.  Do you believe I taking very little medication for my allergies here?  The salty air is keeping my sinuses clean.

We are supposed to go on the wave runners when the wind dies down.  I also need to try the paddle boarding as I think I will enjoy that sport.  You stand on what looks a little like a surf board and paddle around the bay.

Have to really watch for sun burn though as the mixture of wind, sun and sea is lethal for a white-skinned girl like me.

Hasta la vista babies,

Stellacita

Monday, April 1, 2013

Alive and Well in San Carlos


It's late afternoon on our third day here and finally,  I've a few minutes to tell you how absolutely fabulous it's been and is here. We have been boating, cooking, partying, shopping, eating the world's best fish and shrimp tacos and more and more.

I have a sunburn from the boat ride but we did see dolphins aplenty.  I've cooked and cooked in E.'s fabulous kitchen, have had my pedicure and manicure and bought plenty of wonderful vanilla extract.

Later this week, we may go fishing, I will try paddle-boarding and have a long walk along the beach... My cup is full.  My battery is low.  Gotta get some shut eye.

Hasta Lego,

Stellacita