Photo taken at Lauren's home.
A gathering, like twigs in a nest, one by one, we arrived at Lauren's home for a party amongst blogging friends.
Photo: Vintage French party girl, with a pink bow in the right place. I dig her hat!
I love parties where a bunch of friends come over, eat cakes, laugh and dance on tabletops. Where those gathered talk out of turn, sparkle and spark, and feel they have known each other for a life time. Where the shy ones smile, the loud ones sing out tune and the time passes in a blink of an eye.
I love a party where everyone fits in by being themselves.
Photo: Of the Queen's wand.
Lauren's home is a feast for the eyes, creativity and imagination greet you at the door, and never let you go.
Added to that pleasure, she invited six ultra talented women (Mary, Ulla, Donna, Lea, Sharon, and Nicol,) who's art is sought after, praised, published, and made me feel giddy with happy shivery-goosebumps. I wanted to grab their hands, race home take some paper, a scissor, some glue, and start creating art with them.
Photos: Bits and pieces of the day, the art, the style and the stuff that made me smile. If you click on the image it will enlarge.
Photo starting L to R: Moi, pink slipper with snowflake and way to much cleavage, my Godmother Mary who has the flower bed, Lea who creates labyrinths, Donna the ribboned crown, castle in the air Ulla, Lauren Sepia Paper Art, Nicol delightful doll maker, and Sharon at American Harvest. (Photo taken by Ulla's daughter Rowen.)
Thank you Lauren for a wonderful day!
The morning pours through the windows of my Godmother's home. It is going to be a beautiful day. How many of you can say you slept on a porch, in a flower bed?
You see I wasn't joking, my Godmother has a flower bed on her porch. She likes to tease, that many "dream seeds," where planted on this bed. She is a beautiful rose, growing the most amazing garden of delights with her dreams.
My Godmother's house is gigantic, stuffed from the floor to ceiling with vintage everything. It is a wonderland for a girl like me. I know my Godmother was made in heaven, and I think God thought, "Hey if I give Corey this wonder-woman-flea-market-queen-of-a-Godmother, maybe she won't mind that I am going to give her a double chin and big nose too."
The slippers she gave me are not made of glass. Everyday should be a holiday, or at least summertime! Ah to wake up in a flower bed, and to be greeted with rose slippers with snowflakes on the toe... well it is fantasy made real where most things are possible.
Honestly every inch of my Godmother's house has a touch of Marie-Antoinette, Betty-Boop, and Martha Stewart stuck to it. I went into her closet and just screamed! She had rows of vintage prom dresses, and hats to match. Talk about bling-bling!
"Let"s have tea first, I am not good at making decisions at any time, especially in the morning," so she said, "Pick a teacup."
"Don't forget to grab a pitcher from the wall, there is cream in the fridge."
"Shall we take tea in the garden? Though of course the birds are using this cup as a birdbath."
Photos: My Godmother's home. A wonderland. A generous heart. Alice in wonderland, has a kindred spirit.
Would you like to come visit? A party is being planned.
Being back in my childhood home my thoughts turn around family, and the life I had when I lived here. The familiar objects tell me stories I do not hear in France, nor do they share the same meaning. I look at things I have seen a million times before, and memories flood my head taking me to places where in France the river does not run.
Where does the damn burst in you, when does the flood gate open? Have you ever been carried away by a rush of memories, causing you to forget where you are? Reminding you who you have become?
photo: My Mother's Garden.
Within each of us there is a dream wanting to wake up and become real, tangible, whole and complete.
Within each of us there is a past, present and future collaborating with the scribe of our script.
Within each of us there is a history buried, wanting to be born anew.
Within each of us we have cells that connects us to the sun, the universe, and the bottom of the sea.
Within each of us we carry the invitation to dream.
Photo: A small vintage silouette, that hangs in my cousin Judy's bedroom, which caught my reflection in the glass.
Photos listed below taken by my dear friend G. Hutter, while with French husband hiking to towards the Sunrise at Mont Viso, Italy.
Therefore, it is only natural to his wild nature, that French Husband goes on an adventurous trip while we are in California. This last week French husband and a dear friend hiked up the rocky, icy, top to Mont Viso, in Italy.
photo by G. Hutter. The rocky face of Mt. Viso with patches of ice. Not your typical walk in the park.
If you want a closer look of their hike to the top of Mont Viso, click here to watch their short video: Mont Viso.
photo by G. Hutter: The two of them on top of the world. Mt. Viso Italy
It is breathtaking... Mont Viso, but not as breathtaking as seeing my husband after nearly two weeks of being in California without him!
The upside down glass is neither half full, nor half empty. It waits for someone to turn it over, fill it up, and drink heartily from it.
Life pours out like a waterfall through an open faucet. Begging us not to wait, but to grab a glass, and drink from it in big gulps. Savoring every drop of blood sweat and tear.
Nevertheless, the glass sits perfectly ready, waiting, for the right moment. As the faucet drips, drop by drop... The moment is now.
photo: An ordinary French cafe glass on a pink paper napkin.
photo: My nephew Joe playing Little League Baseball.
The other day Sacha was attempting to play baseball with his cousins. After swinging the bat like a madman at any ball that crossed the plate, they told him,
"Hey Sacha, you don't have any plate discipline, and you have a minus 10 percent contact."
Sacha looked at me as if to say, "What does that mean?" I shrugged, clueless. Sacha groaned, "Mom you're American and this is baseball, you should know?"
I think maybe I have turned French.
Words have power tangible enough to carve a message within our being...words are hard to erase. Speak softly, speak steady, speak worthy those words that will be your stepping stones.
Words dropped at our feet are not meant to be picked up and swallowed whole. If only words could be placed in our hands to create union, where truth lends a hand by buliding bridges letting us see the waters of many rivers blend into the sea.
photo: 18th century letter...a handful of words cast into the wind of time.
A large box containing princess dresses, of varied sizes and sparkle, was carried into the house, by my eight year old niece. "We are playing dress-up, Aunt Coco and you are the photographer."
First the youngest, Kate, was doll-ed up. Lipstick to boot. She tried to eat it, smacked her lips and declared, "More!" Though the four other little dolls needed their share too, so they took it away from her, and she started to cry.
Dressing up in Princess clothes, minus brushed hair, caps, crowns, and shoes. Who needs shoes anyway, it is summertime!
Though Miss Brown Eyes aka Molly, has a red bow.
...and Batman with blue eyes and the sweetest lips, was here to protect us.
This little one, who seldom cries, often makes us laugh and is very comical, threw a royal fit for the Queen. She simply did not like her dress, and tried to rip it off. Of course the other little Highnesses didn't help her, and well either did I. I was the photographer after all doing my job.
Notice the pointed toe, on nature's stage? The sweet Prima Donna poses. I asked May-May if she was hot in her Snowflake Princess dress. She looked at me like I really didn't understand what it meant to be a Princess. This was the favorite dress, a FUR dress! I was told.
Ladies in waiting.
Gina, the organizer of the dress up party told me this dress, "itched," and she was going to take it off. I told her my Mom, (her Grandmother,) often said, "We have to suffer to be beautiful." And then, as if we had practiced our lines for the queen, we chimed in perfect timing, "Who wants to be beautiful!"
Surrounded in tulle, satin, silk, pearls, lace and fur (!) The crown-less girls sat and held court. Chelsea was roped into playing along, won't you join us too?
TODAY the Tour de France is going to race through my village. Right down the middle! Right down main street. As I am in California, French husband is going to have a banner waving that says, "Wish you were here!" I hope I see him on TV, when the Tour de France rides through. Maybe you will see him too?
Ever since my brother Mathew told me about Lance Armstrong, how he survived cancer, and was (is) a champion beyond the bike he rode, I have considered him my hero. (I know he isn't racing in the Tour de France anymore,) but when he did, he rode with the wind and stole my heart (sorry French husband but it is true.)
A few years ago we followed the Tour de France, by driving to obscure places and waiting for hours for the cyclists to zip by, as we cheered: ALLEZ-ALLEZ!! On one of those trips we hiked 16 miles to Mont Ventoux to watch the yellow jersey. But when we arrived the roads were blocked, and begging and bartering would not change the guards orders to open them for anyone to pass. So we drove to the opposite side of Mont Ventoux and hiked up. We felt like, "Maria and The Sound of Music gang."
As we hiked to the top, many people along the way discouraged us because it was too far, and at the top it was freezing cold. I told them I had to see Lance. That Lance had survived cancer, that he dedicated his first Tour de France victory for those who had survived cancer saying: "Winning the Tour de France is nothing compared to the battle of cancer, this is for you, this is your victory!" (Not the exact words but close enough.) I had to see him.
When we arrived to the top of Mont Ventoux, we saw snowmen. The Mistral was blowing, and the weather was unbelievably cold! Considering it was summer and southern France, we were in shorts. After waiting three hours and nearly turning into a snowmen ourselves we left. I told my children (Chelsea 10 and Sacha 8,) that we had made it to the top of Ventoux, even though many told us we wouldn't, and that was all that really mattered.
After a long hike back to the car, we drove home. By chance on the way home we saw the American UPS team's caravan. I stopped the car, walked over, and started talking to a team member who happened to be the head mechanic for Lance Armstrong. He told me that Lance would arrive any minute.
I mentioned to him that my brother Mathew had told me about Lance, and his battle with cancer, and that I too had survived (ovarian) cancer. That I wanted to see Lance since he dedicated his victory to people like me. That I gained courage in his victories.
The head mechanic said that every night after a race, Lance asked for stories of the day. He asked his team members to collect stories to share about the race. The mechanic said he would share my story that night.
We waited and Lance Armstrong did arrive. As he talked to the interviewer, my shoulder near inches away from his, I started to cry. It was as if I knew then that my cancer was over.
I bent down and picked up a rock that his bicycle tire had rolled over. It remains one of my prized possessions. A hero by my side.
The language of flowers, do you hear their message? Strong in gentleness, faithful in their offering of beauty. Giving without asking why or how. Flowers speak a language without words, yet the message is deeply rooted in us... a flower speaks by showing us how to nurture the soul.
This Zinnia seems to celebrate its uniqueness by wearing a crown, striking gold at that. It doesn't seem to mind that it is one of a kind, it doesn't seem out of place amongst the other flowers in the garden. Instead it seems to echo the universal truth by claiming: Be boldly yourself.
Not your average wall flower...a single, beautiful, red-head.
He loves me, he loves me not. She loves me, she loves me not... One mustn't pluck the petals in such a way. The tender soul needs to be nurture. Down to the root, and up along the stem of consciousness. Petal by petal, hand in hand, heart to heart. You are loved, you are loved, you are loved...
Evening falls, the sky grows dark, the moon comes up, and stars bloom like flowers up above. Life changes constantly, yet remains the same. Down below in the silence, in the stillness, in the darkness... the garden grows unafraid.
photos: Zinnias growing in my Mother's garden against my Father's barn.
My Mother's favorite garden pleasure is to plant flowers in objects that most people would call junk. She has a magic touch in her "green thumb." Take this rough wooden chair which is anchored by ivy, it is sitting pretty, don't you think?
A worn out ice-cream bucket is transformed into making herb ice-cream.
A rusty wiped-out washing machine over-flows with floral suds.
A red tin can, that she found on the wrong side of the tracks, becomes a planter box princess in my Mother's garden.
A hose is out of the question when she waters her magical treasures.
Some of us use mail boxes to post letters. My Mother opens the lid, lifts up the flag, and declares; "Perfumed letters!"
Photos: My Mother's garden in California, it is full of surprises.
Striking a balance was her idea to a long lasting relationship.
photo: Vintage linen nightshirt. Lace bodice, a button with "oxox," hugs and kisses, and royal crown sewn above the heart. Sweet dreams assured.
Photo: A vintage French, bleu, blanc, et rouge, (blue, white and red,) ribbon that was tied to one of the banners that flew during the Storming of the Bastille? Mais oui? Mais non!
Note: Every year for the Fete national du 14 juillet, there is a military parade that marches down the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
As I write this, my French nephew is marching in that parade on the Champs-Elysees as a newly baptized officer in the French Air Force. He is the third most wonderful man I know in France, after French husband and Sacha. Bravo Mathieu! I am waving my banner and tossing handfuls of confetti at you. I wish I could be in two places at once...but since I cannot I am writing my post in honor of you.
Photo: French Husband and My French nephew Mathieu, at the Gala on the night of his promotion as Officer. Hey ladies, Mathieu is an officer, and a gentleman, and very single.
Life isn't fair. It is not always easy. Life continues, it doesn't wait. It doesn't ask you if you are happy, or is it good for you. It offers mountains to climb, valleys to visit, and a sky that is endless. One step at a time or running through it...one thing is certain our path is right under foot and the directions are endless.
photo: Sacha standing on a stone staircase that leads upward but to nowhere, though he smiled at the top.
The small stitches that connect us together. One after another. Even if they are made from a simple thread, faded with age and on rough linen. Even if they are on one side of the cloth or the other. Our lives are interwoven and if a thread unravels the effect is seen by many.
photo: The backside of an embroidery, on tightly woven linen.
....really do unlock doors.
Photo: The front door of my childhood home, where the keys hang on the outside of the door.
Note: We arrived safely, thank you for your many good wishes. The loooooooooooooong flight was made longer by a three hour wait, in the plane, before take off due to a thunder storm in Chicago. While we waited in the plane, the man next to me ate M&M's, one by one he crunched them ever so slowly. That is my all time pet peeve, hearing someone eat when I am not eating. Then compound that with lack of sleep, lack of elbow room, a journey already 24 hours long...I kept whispering; Willows it is worth it, it is worth it, it is worth it....
Isn't he the cutest little baby ever? I cannot wait to squeeze him, and kiss his little toes!
We will leave today for California. We will drive to Nice, then fly to London, wait awhile, and eventually hop a plane to Chicago, then wait some more... and after wards fly to San Francisco. Once we arrive there, we will lug the suitcases to my sister in law's car, and then drive a few hours home to see our family and friends. Flying direct is what we usually do...this will be the longest journey ever, all in the name of saving $1,200! I imagine once home I will sleep for a week, of course that is after I have had a burrito and a cold beer.
The last time I saw my baby nephew was at his baptism, he was a few weeks old. Whenever we return "home" I am aware of the time I have spent away by looking at my nieces and nephews. Their growth shows me more than anything else that time has moved on....their first words, first steps, first tooth....are the small milestones that I miss.
I have a ton of catching up to do, When I arrive home I'll be able to chat a mile a minute in my native tongue, non-stop talk to the point of my voice growing hoarse, it happens every time I go home!
Photo: My baby nephew at his baptism. My blog will be spun from tales of California and cookies. I hope you will enjoy the trip!
When France was occupied by the Nazis during World War II, they set up their headquarters in certain large often beautiful French homes throughout France. My Belle Mere's (Mother-in-Law's) parents' home in Rennes was chosen for such a purpose. My Belle Mere was sixteen at the time, she and her family were allowed to live in the basement while the Nazis took over their home.
At the same time, my Belle Mere's family who lived in Paris were afraid that Paris would be destroyed came to Rennes because they thought they would be safer, they moved in with my Belle Mere and her family, forty-five of them lived in the basement.
My Belle Mere's Father was active in the French Resistance. Living underneath them in the basement provided a sneaky eye's view on what was going on. It also proved a place easy to eavesdrop on the Nazi officers' conversations. He was allowed to ride his bicycle into the countryside to collect fresh produce and dairy products, a note or two was often slipped into the potato sack. Certainly, he feared for his life and the life of his family. But "...to sit and do nothing was like death itself." he later said.
My French family has many stories about life with the Nazi officers, oddly none of them are brutal nor ugly, seemingly surreal. The head Nazi officer was a family man and his wife like my Belle Mere's mother was pregnant. When my Belle Mere's mother went into labor, the head officer took her to the hospital, and made sure that she had everything she needed.
I often wonder how it was to live like that? How it must have felt to be treated with an odd respect, yet knowing a violent war surrounded them. To see the enemy as human, to see their lives similar and intertwine. It was as if the Nazi officers in their home were not part of the war. The twisted twist of being involved and yet not wanting to be.
As horrendous and evil as that war was, it seemed some small acts of kindness sipped out of such ugliness. Often at night, the Nazi officers played the piano, and the music seemed to settle their frayed nerves. Though my Belle Mere's family never once let down their guard and knew that death was as close as their doorstep. The expression, "killing with kindness," seemed to hold a raw meaning for them in times like this.
A family in my village (whose home was also occupied during WWII) told me that their Great grandmother was told after celebrating Christmas with the Nazi officers that occupied their home, "We have had a wonderful Christmas celebrating with you, we have enjoyed our evening together but if tonight we receive orders to kill you, we will." He said as he smiled and went upstairs to bed.
Photo: A French food ration chart from WWII that I found years ago at the brocante. The food chart lists the food items available, the cost and how much per person. Fresh fruits, vegetables, milk and meat are not on the list.
The WWII food ration chart is hand-printed on canvas, and hangs in our kitchen.
Today August 22nd, our town in Provence celebrates the day it was liberated, as it does every 22nd of August, with a parade celebrating the American and British soldiers, a moment of silence, then a party in the streets. I will post videos to my stories on Instagram.
On this day over twenty years ago I met Annie when she came to my door and said, "I didn't know an American to thank at the end of the war, and since I heard you are American I came to say thank you to you."
The other day I was talking to my children, Chelsea and Sacha, about meeting people. I told them that it is a good thing to have on hand an imaginary list of five questions to ask a person. That way when the situation arises, and they meet someone for the first time, they are not tongue tied, nor stuck saying something like, "Isn't it nice weather we are having?"
Sacha asked me what five questions I had on hand?
I laughed, and told him that was a good question. Then I said, I usually try to talk about whatever is going on around me, for example let's say I was at an antique fair, I'd ask, "What type of antiques do they collect?"
Sacha said, "Mom, when I meet a girl for the first time the questions are as simple as this:
What"s you name?
Where do you live? (and,)
What's your phone number?"
Oh. I guess I am old fashion.
Photo: A vintage doll's empty hand.
Tenderly it begins the first signs of love.
Then with freshness, flattery and infatuation, (and a few thorns,) it continues.
As time goes on the petals open wide, and give way. The fragrance is intoxicating. Love know no bounds.
Photo: The roses that grow out my windowsill. Happy 51 years of full grown love Mom and Dad. Thank you for showing me what it is all about.
There is a calm after a storm,
A place where the ground is tender and bares our footprints.
Where raindrops wait on petals, delicately, like a diamond from nature.
There is a place after a storm which holds it hand towards us.
The path is new, we are not alone, life's spirit is a silent dance partner asking us to hold on.
Photo: Part of a stain glass window in my hometown.
Photo: Artwork for sale in my friend's shop "Aussandon," in Aubagne.
1) The way to that man's heart is through his stomach, bake cookies!
2) He loves adventure, so don't be a wuss.
I took cookies out of my Mother's freezer and told French husband that I made them. He adored me more for the cookies I didn't bake.
...and when my (not yet,) French husband and my then 14 year old brother, went swimming in the canal I followed. Next to the canal there was a tall tree with a long dangling rope. They climbed the tree, grabbed the rope and swang out, roped-dived into the canal. My Mother said, "Corey, you gotta do it!"
The easy part was climbing the tree. I grabbed the rope, I took a deep breath and pushed out. The rope burned my hands and upper torso, as I slipped down, down, down... not even close to the canal, but into the muddy embankment. POW! SPLAT! Mud in mouth and swimsuit top torn off.
Embarrassed I looked at him... He was smiling ear to ear. Amongst other things he was proud of me that was certain.
"Me Tarzan You Jane!" French husband seem to say when he kissed me. As my Mother made frantic sign language for me to cover up my nude torso.
Though I smiled mischievously, knowing that this too was a way to that man's heart.
When I was expecting my first child, my Belle Mere (Mother in law,) gave me a dozen, antique, pristine, hand-made, white cotton chemises for the baby-to-be.
I was thrilled.
I folded and refolded, those little pristine cotton chemises, over and over during those nine months. I stacked them in the armoire, and imagined how darling my little baby was going to look in those sweet things.
When Chelsea was born she weighed ten pounds. Oh those pinch-able plump cheeks! Those rolls that looked as if someone had tied silk threads along her arms and legs. Those ten pounds that would-not-could-not fit into those antique, pristine, hand-made, white cotton chemises, that my Belle Mere had handed down. Try as I may I could not stuff my baby into them. Maybe that is why they looked brand new...no baby had ever worn them.
Photo: French antique baby clothes.
Note: Chelsea received her BAC with honors yesterday. I am pinching her cheeks and doing a happy dance.
Ah ha! Look Shelley look, a flow blue salt cellar!
My friend Shelley who collects flow blue, asked me to bring her a salt cellar the next time I went back to California. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would find one in flow blue.
But than again Shelley makes miracles happen. She makes me believe that anything is possible... even the impossible.
My friend Shelley, who is suffering with ALS, is completely paralyzed. She is on a breathing machine yet everyday she she lives her life passionately, and doesn't give up.
Shelley reads your blog, and comments left here. Shelley has told me many many times that you are like salt that adds flavor to her day. And even though she cannot type a note to you, she thanks you daily.
Never doubt that someone somewhere is thinking of you and wishes you well. You are the salt of the earth!
Photo: The soon-to-be Shelley's flow blue salt cellar sits on our reservation for California.
These two vintage tassels hung out with me for years. (I didn't even have curtains when I bought them in Paris at the flea market.) The silk threads were once before bold like red and golden poppies. But like the seasons, time had faded their colors softly into hues of autumn.
A few months ago I sent them off to a new home in Australia. Customs did not let them enter, siting they were old and possibly infested with bugs, which could endanger the environment. The officials threw them into a hot furnace.
Last night at a dinner party, a friend shared a story about an older couple in their late 80s. The story went like this: The couple loved to dance, and the man was often very jealous of his wife. One evening while dancing the tango the man's jealousy got the best of him..he pulled out a knife and stabbed his wife.
Our friend said, "As terrible as it sounds, I admire the passion they must have shared. I hope I have such a passion when I am in my 80s...it was a beautiful death don't you think?"
I leaned in close to French husband and said to the scary romantics who were agreeing with her, "Nah, I would prefer a passion where my toes were stepped on dancing a slow dance, and my death comes at night while asleep in my husband's arms."
The two vintage tassels never parted ways, even when tossed into the furnace. When the going gets tough it is best to hold on to love, not let it go...or at least keep your knives in the drawer.
Photo: Tied true.