Category Archives: Random Katness

Provence, France Day 8

A good workout with some ant companions, a few of which insisted on joining me for yoga. We mostly managed to coexist.

We all walked, following one of Jason’s and Kat’s walking routes to the golf club for lunch. Lots and lots of lavender and herbs, flowering trees, unusual art along the way. A very fine lunch with views of the golf course and the hills beyond. And a solid walk back–mostly uphill, with a stop at an herb garden, scented especially with rosemary.

Reflection. Photo by j a-b
BW in buggy. Photo by j a-b
Art is everywhere at this resort. Photo by kat
Wall knife and BW. Photo by kat
Safely out of reach. Photo by j a-b
Today’s flora. Photo by kat

There’s a big, shiny, reflective silver ball. It has some depressions that makes me wonder if it’s representing a moon.* Now a little hang out time before our big adventure.

Still life. Photo by NR
Mirror of interesting luck with orchid. Photo by NR

As I lost my FitBit trail riding at the spa–hooked to the waistband of my jeans–I put this one in my pocket before we head out to drive to the horse farm. Windy, roundabout, then a very skinny road with curves. But it’s a short drive to a private dirt road that leads to an absolutely lovely spot with horses in paddocks, the forest everywhere, and still views of the hills.

Our guide greets us–her English is better than our French, and we’re shown our horses. Dark Spanish beauties. She say they’re cool–and I realize after a bit this is calm. I’m very fine with a calm horse. She sizes us up, assigns horses. We get our helmets, and lead our mounts into the exercise paddock. BW is mounted first–he’ll be behind the guide. Me next, then Jason, then Kat.

Riders up! Photo by j a-b’s phone.

We’re each to circle the ring a few times, at a walk, at a trot. I decide to pass my FitBit to BW, for his little saddlebag. Better safe than sorry. And off we go.

Down the little road, beside another paddock where a buckskin runs to the fence, runs down it as if to say: Take Me, Too!

The land’s beautiful, as are the views. My horse is sweet and responsive–and I like he’s not an ass-sniffer as so many trail horses will insist on tailgating the one in front. Jason’s likes to eat, so he’s dealing with that sneakiness. Kat’s is a very calm slow-poke.

A car comes along occasionally on this first leg, and over to the side we go. We pass other farms, pretty little houses, more horses, wind around–another car, and our guide tells us this is her uncle. A dirt stretch, and how about a trot. My mount–and her name never got through–has a very springy trot. I’m going to feel this tomorrow, I think. (I can now confirm this as true!)

Back to a road, and a steep ride down–no trotting. Around and around, all so pretty, Another dirt road, another trot. My glasses keep sliding down, so I have to rein with one hand and shove them up as I try to post–a good fast trot, too! Through olive groves with the hills spread out glowing in the early evening light.

Water on the trail. Photo by kat

And now we turn into the forest. After the VERY steep, very narrow track down where I put my faith in my horse. This is my favorite part of a really lovely ride. Thick woods, green light, dappled sun, and all quiet and timeless. Wild berry bushes like the ones above my own garden wall–and I believe our guide says something about wild boar and deer. I won’t think about the boar. Ducking under branches, soft dirt track–and here’s a branch you have to hold up as you ride.

I think of people who rode through forests like these hundreds of years ago.

We ride down toward the river–a dry bed in the drought. Jason’s horse not only likes to eat, but she wants to pass mine. Is determined. The first time she does it, mine kind of gets into it. A race! But then obviously decides live and let. I watch Jason’s horse give mine the side eye as it passes. Equine smirk.

Jason’s horse contemplating his moves. Photo by j a-b

But our guide says to be careful here as Jason’s mount likes to nip at BW’s mount’s butt. Mine isn’t a nipper or a sniffer, and just happily walks along.

We see the lake–that teal water soft in the quieter light. We cross what would be the river, a wide area where Jason’s horse stops to eat so my resumes his position. Kat’s is well back. Not only in no hurry she tells us later, but she all but hears her equine sighs. I’m tired! I need a nap! Not a clip clop, this one, but according to Kat, a clip–pause, pause–reluctant clop.

Tired horse with view. Photo by kat

BW’s having a great time up ahead, holding spates of conversation with our guide as she points out villages and hills. My horse is content to walk, falls back a few times, then on his own breaks into a bright little trot to catch up. Jason’s horse eats and passes mine. Eats, passes mine, and Kat’s clips . . . . . . . clops.

We circle back–road, houses, horses, the very beginning of a sunset, just that bright gold haloing the eastern hills.

And we’re back–a full 2 1/2 hours. I accept this is likely my limit on a horse. No way I could comfortably do a full day, even with a picnic lunch to break it up. But what an experience, and what a fine, beautiful horse.

Kat and BW take pictures, and I chat with our guide and her husband. I love Kat’s photo of her horse the best. Exhaustion! LOL.

Tired horse. Done. Photo by kat

There are riders in the ring, doing jumps, and one on a gorgeous mount is our guide’s sister, who competes. She’s a joy to watch.

Beauty in the ring. Photo by BW

A friend or relative sits at a picnic table with her recently adopted American Pit Bull–or I think that’s the breed. He is HAPPY. And instantly, as dogs are, in love with Jason. I explain we have three dogs at home, so his joy and enthusiasm aren’t a problem. The husband brings out their dog–so handsome! And beautifully trained.

Dog pals. Photo by kat

Then we have yet another treat. Our guide has adopted a twenty-year-old former bullfighting horse from Spain. A stallion. He rushes the fence when we approach–apparently he’d like to kill the horse the sister’s riding in the ring! You can see where he’s chewed on the paddock gate.

He breaks everything, our guide tells us. Then she goes in, and there’s such love. This horse loves her completely. He nuzzles, rubs, his whole body changes when she’s beside him. And that love is clearly mutual. She uses a whisk of straw to have him prance. And he stands so proudly.

The Spanish stallion. Photo by BW

I suppose he’s bilingual as she tells us she doesn’t speak Spanish.

We linger quite awhile. This is a happy, lovely and obviously loving place.

Back to the hotel, and we need a little food as we didn’t graze like the horses on the trail. Kat wants soup, and has figured out how to make little grilled cheese sandwiches with our supplies and the hot dish we held back from another meal. Clever, as always.

Kat making dinner. Photo by j a-b

We eat, and well, talk about our adventure, comparing horses and impressions.

Off to bed.

Yes, my butt feels it this morning! But we’ll see what a workout will do.

I had a different visitor today. A big gray cat who wandered it, slithered under the pool gate to drink. Meowed at me, but wouldn’t approach before she wandered off again.

New workout companion. Photo by NR

We’re driving to Fayence today to see what we can see.

I’ve ridden through the forests of Provence on a Spanish horse. That’s one for the memory book.


* Note from Laura. That’s probably the #randomkatness from Day 5 that I thought was the home of the Guardians of the Fountain.

Today’s #randomkatness

Nails of art. Photo by kat

Provence, France Day 16

I’m getting spoiled being able to work out on the terrace in the air. I love my little gym at home, but this is such a treat. The views, the breeze, the light. BW even joined me for some yoga to polish it off.

Jason and Kat return from their morning ramble. No pain au chocolate today at the bakery! They had to settle for an eclair. It’s a tough old world. And they brought back a beautiful pastry to share when Kat put together a little pre-spa lunch on our terrace. 

Lunch is served! Photo by kat.

Pretty–and delicious.

Jason and I sit on the terrace before our little lunch and–what is that? Is that rain?

It turns out, not exactly. It’s a few drips from the sky. This region desperately needs rain, but this little cloud only wept about fifty tears.

We have a very active black squirrel in our woods–he jumps from branch to branch–and is a loquacious morning talker. Now he’s joined by a red one, and they do their gymnastics. Le Cirque des Ecureuils!

After our pretty little lunch my gang leaves for massages. They’re all booked at three, so off they walk to the spa while I laze around and read until I head up, too, for my four-thirty facial. I walk the path in air scented with rosemary. How I envy them those tumbling bushes. For my garden, rosemary’s an annual, and it simply refuses to be potted inside over the winter. 

Berries? Grapes? Photo by kat (questions by Laura).
Close-up. Photo by kat.
Black swans on approach. Photo by kat.
A closer look. Photo by kat.

After this scented walk, I experience very possibly the best facial on record. My tech has wonderful hands, the music’s soft and relaxing, the creams and lotions feel marvelous on the skin. And my skin feels baby soft when it’s done.

As I go to check out the woman at the desk tells me my husband took care of the bill already. We agree that’s what husbands are for.

My family’s equally relaxed on my return. Excellent massages all around.

Bellini time!

And I think of the cat, put a little pasta on a plate, set it out.

She shows up as evening’s settling in, creeps up, sniffs, accepts some penne. Then sits, waits. Aha, she’d like more. Kat brings out some lunch meat. Le chat backs off, but waits, watches while Kat tears up a little meat onto the dish. Eats, sits, waits.

I tell her, sorry, no more. I think too much people food will make her sick. She’s had enough. Je suis desolee.

We have a staring contest.

FYI: You can’t win a staring contest with a cat. They are undefeated world champions.

I have a bottle of water, go over, pour some into the dish.

The cat sniffs, gives me a look that clearly says: You have to be kidding me.

She departs.

We have our own meal, on the terrace. I go for the smoothest of smooth tomato soup again, and a little salad. Our Kat continues to spoil BW with fancy coffee and warm cookies.

We discuss ideas for our annual family panorama, and timing for today’s adventuring. A trip into Fayence, back for the glider flights, then dinner at the hotel. It’s barely ten, I’ve done next to nothing all day, but zzzzzz.

I’ll need to get my workout on soon. If they have another pair of those woven shoes in my size in Fayence, I’m having them. These are really great shoes! We definitely need to take home some regional wine and herbs. I need to get my shopping on, too.


Today’s #randomkatness:

All lined up. Photo by kat.

Provence, France Day 11


Pano by j a-b

A change of plans. We realize none of us actually feel like getting in the car to go anywhere. The nice thing about vacation is having no obligation, so we scratch the drive to Fayence for the day.

I change into workout gear. Kat and Jason gear up, too–for a serious hike. BW decides he’ll do a little Cizing It Up with me and Shaun T.(Correction on yesterday’s blog. Kat and Jason drove into Cannes not Nice.)

Picture of BW apres Cize can be found in yesterday’s blog. (Note to Laura: It’s real!)*

After BW sweated it out, I keep going, cap off my own sweatfest with yoga.

It seems like an excellent time for a swim. And it certainly was. Why not follow that up with a spin in the hot tub for a fine morning of work and reward.

Friday night, Kat did a little laundry in the tub. I elect to do a little myself on this fine Saturday, and hang the clothes on the rail in the bright sun while I settle down to read in the shade.

Pragmatic side of a long vacation: cleaning clothes. Photo by j a-b

The wind comes up, a quick sweep of it–feels great, but . . . I get up, go over to pick up tank tops that blew off the rail, and see I now have underwear in the hot tub. Go in, get it, wring it, rehang. Pour a glass of wine, settle down with book.

Laundry day. Photo by NR

Wind. Huh. Find a better way to secure laundry.

The bright Saturday passes with sun and warm breezes, wine and a book. That’s a very fine start to the weekend, though I suspect as Kat and Jason haven’t returned, my 13k steps (so far) on the challenge will be smashed to bits. 

Vertical pano of steps by j a-b
Stone walls. Photo by j a-b
Laura thinks its bougainvillea. Photo by j a-b
Bell tower. photo by j a-b
Notre Dame. Photo by j a-b
Laura Googled this — it’s a commune. Photo by j a-b

When they return, this is proven true.

They walked and walked and climbed and climbed all the way to a little village more than three miles away. Enjoyed the sights, found a church (two weddings scheduled for this pretty Saturday), found ice cream.

After some recovery time, Jason announces as he has 75 flights for the day (that’s climbing/stairs) on his FitBit, he’s going for another walk to get the 100, and a new badge. Just FYI, if anyone’s considering adding a device such as FitBit to their lives, our small, unscientific focus group attests they are highly motivating.

Jason earns his Skyscraper Badge. 100 floors=walking up The Empire State Building, I believe. Wowzer.

If anyone’s keeping score on our Weekend Warrior Challenge, Jason has the lead, followed closely by Kat. I’m trailing, but will see what I can make up today!

We laze, we discuss dinner. Since heading to the hotel means changing into not sloppy clothes, we eat in.

I can just see the sun setting through the trees, a hot glow of colors–reds and golds–while we eat. We hear some golfers–didn’t realize we had a hole this close. If they don’t finish up soon, they’ll be night golfing.

This morning, my dove returned for a drink, and a squirrel–probably the black one we see doing gymnastics through our forest–has a lot to say.

I think BW’s going down to the airfield to have a look, perhaps book glider flights for himself and Jason. Jason and Kat may walk down to the market for a few things before it closes for Sunday afternoon.

I think workout, swim, hot tub is my morning order of business. If we stay in, I may work a couple hours.

Did I mention it’s a beautiful morning?

Today’s #randomkatness
Real or art? Laura votes real. Photo by kat
 *Note from Laura: in my defense, without any copy supporting a joint workout, I thought BW did his own thing then wilted dramatically for the camera.  Now for some photos by Jason, not quite exactly sure where he and Kat were for these.

Provence, France Day 12

Work it out on a lovely morning while Jason and Kat sleep in and BW heads out to do some photography. Add a swim, some hot tub jets. Jason and Kat surface, head off to take their walk.  Think about work. Decide not to think about work and read instead.

[Please note, due to a warp in the time/space continuum — and snarky wifi — these are Kat/Jason’s photos from Saturday. — L]

Church by kat.
Inside the church by kat.
Cat with sidewalk grill. Photo by kat
Couple selfie #2. Photo by kat.

[Here are BW’s photos from Sunday. ~L]

L’aerodrome de Fayence glider experience. Photo by BW.
Castle of Tourrettes. Photo by BW.
The teal Lake? Question by Laura, photo by BW.

Hours of nothing much.

Everybody comes back, and nothing much continues very well.

I think being unused to nothing much my confused and relaxed system thought it was bed time. I drop out for a good hour on the sofa terrace.

But now it’s time for something more. Stagger off to the shower to clean up and wake up. We’re heading up to the hotel for their Sunday Pasta Corner. And as we start out, I realize it’s the first time I’ve left the villa the entire weekend.

Pasta Corner’s popular for a reason. Lots of families already seated–lots of Brit accents tonight. We opt for the whole buffet–that’s antipasto, pasta, dessert. For the first two it’s a build/choose your own from many options. First the extensive, colorful, fascinating antipasto bar. Fields greens, multiple types of olives and tomatoes, stuffed peppers, cheeses, fresh herbs, mushrooms. Big balls of mozzarella swimming in water.  Breads, breads, breads.

Olives with rosemary garnish Photo by kat.
Salad and massive breadsticks. After all, bread IS art. Photo by kat

We sit in the bright evening–and don’t forget the wine (wonderfully smooth). A family comes in with a little boy–maybe three–who is decidedly not happy to be there. Before long he makes his displeasure well known. I watch the mom carry him over to the lobster tank. This erases all displeasure. Lobster magic.

Now to choose pasta, sauce, additions to the sauce. BW goes for pistachio pesto. He’s a pistachio kind of guy. I’m red sauce with basil and garlic and marjoram.

Array o’pasta. Photo by kat.
Finished penne. Photo by kat.

It’s delicious.

And it’s a happy, relaxed, satisfying meal all around as the long twilight comes and goes, and the stars begin to wake.

They have a limoncello baba for dessert. There are other offerings here, but I don’t see beyond the baba. It’s just exquisite.

What to choose? Photo by kat.
Dessert flight. Photo by kat.

The walk back–and there’s the Bg Dipper in a crystal clear sky–isn’t nearly long enough.

We hang out in our living area, check the news. RIP Jerry Lewis. I recall a story when my father–a stage hand at that time–met him, and the inscribed lighters Jerry gave every member of the crew on the show. Thinking back deeper this morning, this was either at The National or The Carter Baron in DC, and Lewis played The Devil in Damn Yankees. Nearly sure of that, though I was very young.   BW remembers seeing him in Hellza Poppin’, and Jason heard a story about him going out the Stage Door to greet and spend time with a woman with MD.

The French President has called for a national day of mourning.

Today we’re taking a day trip to the French Grand Canyon. I can’t remember the name of the gorge–but will have it for tomorrow’s blog. The last time we were here, we drove the couple of hours, but there was tremendous fog, and we saw nothing but the thick curtain of mist. Today’s clear and bright, so we should have a fine view.

May have to shorten today’s workout as we want to leave around ten. Dinner at the villa tonight so we can stream some footage of the eclipse we’re missing.

There’s mist rising off the hot tub in the morning cool. I should carve out time for that.

Fancy hat stand. Photo by j a-b.


Today’s #randomkatness:

Random Panda. Photo by kat.

Provence, France Day 13

Short workout and some fine, hot jets before what turned into a marathon touring day.

Our sights are set on Gorges du Verdon, and the helpful concierge desk gives us a route, so off we go.

I take a half a Dramamine, and Kat opts to depend on her mints. Both of us suffer from motion sickness, and the route’s windy.

My Dramamine outlasts Kat’s mints by a thread, and just under two hours in, BW pulls over so she can get out and breathe, walk, settle. Then she takes the wheel as it helps to drive.

There’s a big fortress on a high hill, little villages, larger ones. Landscape that goes from woodsy to pastoral to rocky and steep. Now the road isn’t just windy. It’s sinuous, snaky, switchbacky–and all the Dramamine in the world isn’t going to handle it.

We stop often, which is good. End up turning on a little, skinny road already lined with cars that turns out to be a route down to a beach–and a jump-off point for white-water rafting.

No thanks!

Crowds of people, high cliffs, so many crisped trees from this long drought. We stop again, a couple little stands, lots of people, and walk. Walking good!! Everything’s so dry, and the landscape’s like the moon. Gray and stony as we climb, but the views are awesome. Wild rock formations–one so big and smooth and level it looks hewed by a giant’s axe then polished. Others are rough and tumbled, high and rounded, and it’s such a clear day it seems you can see for miles and miles and miles.

Straight down. Photo by BW.

 I buy chips at a stand as salt sometimes keeps things settled. They help some.

Up, up, up. The gorge is pretty amazing. We get out for a overlook. By now my legs are shaky–a side-effect of the queazies, but the being out in the air’s better. My mistake? Looking down even for a flash at the overlook.

Not sure if Nora’s signaling that BW is close to the edge. It would be a long way down. Photo by BW.
Cute selfie at the Gorge. Photo by kat.
Selfie with a view. Photo by BW’s phone.

Holy crap!!! Uneasy stomach drops to knees, whines: Don’t do that!

We’re seriously high here. There’s a guy whose vertigo must be worse than mine sitting on the platform, holding onto the rail and obviously working himself up to look. I opt to look out, just out and absolutely not down. And that’s another painting.

The river is that strange, beautiful teal where the river cuts its curving path through the steep, green cliffs. It’s lined with brown as it must be considerably more shallow now than usual. From this height it looks as though you could walk across it.

A river runs through it. Photo by kat.
A river runs through it. Photo by BW.
Straight down. Photo by BW.
River and mesa. Photo by BW.

Kat points out getting back up once on the other side would be a serious issue.

It looks–what I see down from looking out–like one of those toy landscapes on a model train set. You know those trees are tall and huge, but they look so tiny, and make a deep green, bumpy carpet on the sheer rise.

The cliffs rise up higher and higher, and the green gives way to stone or vegetation burned brown by the sun. Hawks circle in the sky.

We go through rock tunnels–literally rock with rough, stony arches–and odd stone  juts like free-form rock awnings, skinny, ever-winding roads, climbing higher. For a while we follow a little blue car in a parking game. We seem to arrive at a pull-out just as the car leaves, and slide into his spot. Handy.

I see a sign that puts us at 1285 meters. That’s high, even this math and distance declined woman knows that’s high. Between the height and the constant swerving road my system has failed.

Anyone who experiences motion sickness knows once you pass a certain point, that’s just it. You’re going to be queasy and off for the duration.

We make our descent, the mountains high around us, and finally into a pretty hill village–a pretty big one–at roughly four in the afternoon. Too late for lunch, too early for dinner for most restaurants. But we park, and we walk. I know my family asked what I wanted to do, but I had to tell them: I need to be led. My mind is mush, and can’t make any rational decision.

We walk. It’s a pretty town, I can see that. Color, movement, shops with their wares displayed, people walking dogs. And a beautiful, shady promenade on the way to the only restaurant we can find serving at this odd hour.

It’s busy and noisy, but we can order. I think plain, simple pizza as it might soothe. One slice is all my system accepts. I distract myself watching the waitress who hustles and looks distracted and out of sorts. And when I see her go into the bathroom, come out in a different outfit, I wonder why.

As she continues to take orders and serve, she’s not off-shift. Maybe it’s her evening waitress outfit. The bar and its tender are busy throughout in this little place. Jason comments I must be sick because I don’t even look at the gelato display.

Food bad.

No poking in the shops for me either at this point. My goal is home where the world will be still.

But we’re nearly two hours from that paradise.

Still, the route back is straighter for the most part, and heads down (or winds) through forest and farmland. Gorgeous green stands of trees, quiet fields. We wonder at the lack of livestock. We haven’t seen a cow or sheep so far in Provence. Horses, but no other livestock.

Vineyards, forests, pretty houses. Kat is steady on the wheel.

A huge lake–that wonderful color–with a beach and the people spread on it. Boats on the water, swimmers all making a living postcard.

And at last, the road home. There’s our market. And finally our turn into the resort.

Walk to the villa, breathe, sit in a seat that doesn’t move. Heaven.

We watch livestream from the States on the eclipse, and that’s pretty amazing. I think about food, decide to avoid that and just sit and relax until bed.

This will be my last adventure involving hours of serpentine roads.

Today I’ll happily stay put, workout, maybe take a swim. If my system’s fully recovered, it may be a good day to write for a couple hours. I think my traveling companions are ready for a vacate day as well. We left before eleven yesterday, returned about seven. That’s a long day.

Some answers to questions I’ve seen in comments:

No, I really don’t get recognized, and am grateful. Most people don’t recognize writers, so it makes it easy.

Yes, I think the proximity to Italy–esp in Eze–was an influence on the cuisine. Italian food is everywhere. (and yummy.)

I’m reading New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson–science fiction about NY, and a particular group in a particular building–decades after climate change has flooded the city.

And to add Jason and Kat nipped me by under a hundred steps (both of them) on our Weekend Warrior challenge. I’m working on defending my title for the Workweek Hustle.


In today’s #randomkatness:

Bird by kat.

In case you want to experience some tiny portion of Nora’s motion sickness, watch BW’s gif over and over.  I dare you!  ~Laura

Trigance on the way to Verdon du Gorge. Photo by BW

Provence, France Day 14

It really is a constant state of beautiful.

Every morning I sit out to catch up a little with the world, write this blog, and am wonderfully distracted by beauty. Watching the pink haze over the eastern mountains as the sky goes blue, and the changing light in through the trees. It’s a fine, fine way to begin each day on a holiday.

We took (certainly for Kat’s and my sake) a full recovery day. I did a good, steady workout, capped by much needed yoga while my gang disbursed–K&J for their walk, BW to breakfast then photo work.

I considered working, then considered my still shaky system and mushy brain. Decided on reading instead.

Finally pulled it together enough for actual clothes in the afternoon. Jason and Kat back, settled into their work, but how about walking up for lunch?

Walking good. Anything not involving car good.

I have to keep lunch light–it takes time for my system–so abused–to rebound–but it’s good to be out and about, hear chatter. There is a truly gorgeous breeze. We walk through the hotel, and I spot art I’d missed. I’m not at all sure what some of it represents, but it’s interesting and fascinating and fun. 

Golf ball with keys. Photo by kat.
Drama BW-style. Photo by j a-b.
How the day’s drinks progress? Photo by kat.
If you’re going to have a hand model, may as well make it practical. Photo by j a-b.

We pass the Kid’s Club, and oh so cute! They have a kind of modular little mini-golf, and a little boy is having the best time just pouring colorful golf balls in a hole, digging them out again.

Mini-golf. Photo by j a-b.

Back to the book, take a nap. I’m not a napper, but this is all about system recovery. Kat says her calves are tired. Not sore, tired. She naps, too. I stagger awake, take a swim. Hmm, am starting to feel almost level again.

Somehow it’s evening, and I still want to avoid cars. We have some left-overs and will order the rest from room service. I sit with my book again, then see the cat–definitely pregnant–make a dash across the terrace. 

The visitor. Photo by BW.

I say: kitty, kitty, which is universal cat language. She stops, gives me a suspicious look. I have a bag of chips nearby, toss one. She stares–I pretend to look away. She creeps, creeps, creeps up to the chip. Sniffs, snags, bolts.

Amused, I go in to get myself a drink, see her through the kitchen door, sort of slinking back onto the terrace. I grab what’s left of a round of brie out of the fridge. There she is, eyeing BW, eyeing me when I come out. I tear off a tiny bite of brie, toss it. She creeps closer, sniffs. Now we’re talking! More brie tossed–a little bit closer. She’s definitely not coming much closer, but she’s happy to have the brie.

What cat wouldn’t be?

I go in, pour a little saucer of milk–she’s eating for several, after all.

She drinks the milk, and is now relaxed enough to sit and wash herself–very thoroughly after her meal. Then she departs–I think she has a place in the woods near here. And as our own Kat points out, there are plentiful lizards to snack on.

If she comes back, I’ll find some little snack and some milk for her.

We’re having the most gorgeous evening, something about it. The light, the air, the breeze. It’s just one of those perfect interludes.

Now it’s time for our meal–and I still keep it light. System recovery is near complete. Kat and Jason bought cookies at the market, and Kat warms them up–divides one at my request so I have about 1/8th of a cookie. My girl is spoiling my man, serving him warm cookies and cappuccino after dinner. He will miss her when we’re back to reality! 

The Linzer tort game is strong in Provence. Photo by kat.
Choices, so many choices. Photo by kat.

A little more reading, then ZZZZZ.

And now it’s another stunning morning. I’ll pick my workout, clean myself up. I think to work as I seem to be back to normal. BW and Jason have their glider ride this afternoon. Have I mentioned their cast-iron stomachs? This has always been the case.

I’ll stick with the terrace and solid ground. Kat may go down to the aerodrome with them–not to fly, but to take pictures.

We have reservations here for dinner–so no car again today.

So workout, work, maybe a swim, a book someone else sweated over, and a bellini or two while I hear about the men’s adventures in gliding. 

BW avant Cize. Photo by NR.
BW Apres Cize (in his undramatic way). Photo by NR.

A fine way to spend a gorgeous day.


In today’s #randomkatness, a sequel and a quiz:

“Dude, I’m sorry I was late. Look at me!” Photo by kat, caption by Laura.
Spot the import! Photo by kat.

Provence, France Day 15

Clouds over Tourrettes taken from villa patio. Photo by BW.

Before and after shots of BW’s Cize experience in yesterday’s blog. He worked it for 40 minutes! He joined me for that session after I did 50 minutes Bootcamp Boogieing with Petra Kolber. *

Back to normal for me and my system.

Jason and Kat head out, for their walk, a trip to the market and the bakery. On return we discuss vital matters such as: is pizza a kind of open-faced sandwich (as well as a pie) as it’s cheese on baked dough with toppings. Maybe.

This discussion launches from the fact Kat and Jason have picked up some lunch meat and what’s billed as sandwich bread. And I had a little conversation with the housekeeper regarding leftover pizza, wherein I remembered the word for lunch, in explaining why we’re keeping it rather than having her take it away.

Oui, bien. Pour le dejeuner!

I work in my shady spot, going back to NYC in my state of mind for a couple hours. And now and again surface enough to hear golfers through the trees.

Our men prepare to leave for their glider experience. And are back in ten minutes or so. Short flight?

Wrong day. LOL. Gliders booked for Friday.

So we settle down to our various pursuits. Some reading, some work, some conversation. Some planning for the last days of our holiday.

Playground near the villa. Photo by BW.
18th tee — just below the villa. Golf with a view. Photo by BW.

Jason’s discovered our foundation has its 17th anniversary on Friday–I think it’s Friday. We’ll have a little celebration, maybe here, maybe back at the open-air restaurant we call The Scrublands as the French name (which I can’t remember) translates to just that. Maybe there’ll be karaoke again!

We clean up, dress up for dinner here at the main restaurant. I leave a little plate of torn up lunch meat for the mama-to-be cat in case she comes by while we’re gone.

BW and I head up first for a drink at the bar. He orders some kind of fancy gin drink, and I go for what’s called a Sparkling Jasmine. Champagne, peach juice and jasmine syrup. 

It’s fascinating to watch a good bartender build a drink–and this one is very good. My favorite part of BW’s build is the graceful swirling of a long thin slice of cucumber onto the top, then dashing just a bit of what the bartender explains is barbecue bitters (from Memphis!) and a carefully placed grind of black pepper. 

Basil Collins made with Hendricks Gin (BW’s caption). Photo by NR with BW’s phone.

BW is pleased with the results.

My drink is absolutely lovely. A blend of gorgeous flavors and so very smooth.

The tender shows us the various bitters they have to work with–and some home-made. Saffron bitters, vanilla bitters, I think caramel. What drink wonders embrace these?

Kat and Jason join us, so it’s out (past the sinful dessert display) to our table. 

Temptation row. Photo by kat.
A closer look at Temptation Row. Photo by BW.

It’s a gorgeous night for eating outdoors, with a bottle of smooth, local red. I should take pictures of the wine bottles, but too late now.

A family group celebrating–we think–a birthday has a table nearby.

The service here is unilaterally friendly and as smooth as the wine. When you add fabulous food, it adds up to a very happy dining experience. Blue skies, warm air, good food, good wine, good company. It doesn’t get better.

King of the rock. Photo by kat.
Tray of petite pains. Photo by j a-b.
Dinner plate. Photo by BW.

Until you add that dessert.

They have what will always be pie-cream-pie for us. It’s very large, so Jason and I split it. Kat feels obliged to order the macaroon dessert (it’s France, after all). It’s pink and pretty–and delicious. BW got some creamy, glossy thing I can’t identify–but again, delicious.

I cannot express the fabulousness of the pie-cream-pie. Which is actually cake-cream-cake with pretty berries. Jason points out that when halved it looks like a crazy, toothy smiling face. When eaten, it brings a tear of joy and gratitude to the eye. Whoever baked this magnificence should rule the world. There would be no war, no sadness, no strife if every meal ended with pie-cream-pie.

Pie-cream-pie? Cake-cream-cake? Doesn’t anyone else see The Cookie Monster’s French cousin (Laura’s comment)? Photo by j a-b.

We wander around after, find a little lounge area and start to take a selfie. The bartender cheerfully comes back, and takes a photo for us. Our night is commemorated.

A group never afraid of color. Photo from j a-b’s phone.
Balls. Photo by kat.
Awww. Photo by kat.

We walk back–I might have rolled.

I check, and the little plate I left for the cat is licked clean. So she, too, had a nice little meal.

Hang out a bit, read a bit, then lights out.

To answer a question from yesterday, I don’t know how long it takes to write the blog every morning. Depends. Some days we’ve done more than other days. I just start, then end when it’s done. And that’s pretty much how I write everything!

Today we’ve all got appointments at the spa. Massages for the gang, and a facial for me. But those are hours away yet. Workout’s coming up. My mood after will determine whether I work on my book or read one. I think a swim should work itself into the day.

Right now it’s cool enough for a light hoodie on the terrace, but that will change as the sun gains strength.


*Note from Laura — there’s that time/space continuum thing again!

Today’s #randomkatness:

Huge butterfly. Photo by kat.

Provence, France Day 17

The glider flights got moved up, so it’s gather together and head out.

BW and Jason check in, fill out the forms, and so on, then we all drive down to the runway area. This is a big field with a couple of narrow runways and a lot of open down a tiny road. A trailer off to the side is for the next stage of checking in.

And this is a busy place.

Lots of gliders parked, lots of cars parked. Guys sitting at a table in the shade of the trailer to do the paperwork, help with the planes, or pilot them. Everyone is very friendly, and incredibly efficient. This is what they do all day, every day, and they’ve got it down. It’s a smooth system.

The plane! The plane! Photo by j a-b.

Despite this, nothing would have gotten me in one of the gliders short of the sort of catastrophe depicted in the movie 2012. Even then, I might pull a Woody Harrelson.

The sun is baking hot, the shade scarce, little tow planes (I think they have two working constantly) land, someone runs out and pulls the tow line to a glider, hooks it. Inside pilot and passenger wear parachutes in a closed cockpit. The tow plane makes its run, the glider follows, lifts, lifts, lifts. Up they go until they reach a height or speed (Maybe both?) that does the job. Tow line disconnects, glider glides off, tow plane circles back, lands, does it all again.

Gliders also land regularly, on runway or the open field. Someone hops in a golf cart, rides out, and they roll the glider back for its next lift.

I’m sure there’s more involved, but that’s how I see it.

BW and Jason meet their pilots–two of the guys sitting in the shade. A couple of other people are already out at planes preparing for their adventure. I use BW’s complicated camera to take a picture of him and Jason by a glider–then pass the camera to Kat.

BW, Jason, plane. Photo by NR.

My girl is anxious, distracts herself taking pictures. I realize my stomach is behaving a bit like I’m going up–remind it I’m not.

I see BW get his parachute, then Jason his. After the flight, Jason tells us when he gets the parachute he thinks: Oh yeah, this is real.

Guys in the planes, Kat and I on a bench in the sun.

Tow line connected for BW. Tiny little tow plane heads off, glider goes up, and up. I’m following Kat’s instructions to try to get a video of the take off. I think it worked.*

Controls at lift off. Photo by j a-b.

Then he’s up there, and the tow plane circles back.

About the same time, Jason’s airborne.

Their flights will be 30 minutes. For awhile I can follow them both–BW goes left, Jason right. Then I lose sight of BW’s plane. They went over our resort, and off over the lake. 

The view of home away from home. Photo by BW.
Selfie. What? Me Nervous? Photo by BW.
Lac de Sainte Cassien. Photo by BW.
Hills, roofs, trees. Photo by j a-b.
Coming in for a landing. Photo by j a-b.

I watch Jason’s longer. Jeez, he’s really up there! And they fly over Fayence and Callian. It’s a long time, thirty minutes, to wait (or pace a bit in my case) More gliders take off, some land, more people arrive.

Then I see what must be BW’s plane making its circle to land. I bet it’s bumpy, that touching down again. Minutes later, I spot Jason’s, and now he’s back on the ground.

Kat needs some hugs, and as she says if there’s ever a next time, we won’t watch.

Apparently it’s really hot in the cockpit–BW said his phone died for awhile. They both took lots of pictures. Jason reports a glide reminded him of the downsides of flying–take off, landing, occasional turbulence. Other than that, all good.

BW, pilot and certificate. Photo by BW’s camera, operated by kat.
Jason, pilot and cert. Photo by kat with BW’s camera.

An adventure is in the books, and we can drive on to Fayence for lunch.

And there on the steep, narrow streets we find a restaurant open after two for lunch.

Jason spots Hawaiian pizza, BW some exotic pizza, and I go for the classic Marguerite. Kat orders a salad and an extra plate as we’ll all share. 

The reward for the wait. Photo by kat.
The reward for the adventure. Photo by kat.

It’s just fabulous pizza–all agree. Perfectly baked and seasoned. And a nice chance to wind down post-adventure.

After I buy some herbs to take home, and hunt for another pair of woven shoes. They don’t have my size in what I’m after, but they do have Kat’s in her choice. I’ll be grateful for the ones I already have–and check on line, just in case.

And that’s enough for all of us, so home we go. Kat takes a nap. I turn on the TV for a bit to see if I can find more news on Hurricane Harvey. It looks very bad, and as I learned this morning, is very bad. Please, anyone and everyone in that path, be safe, be careful. I’ll be following the news as much as possible from here.

We leave a little early for our dinner here, as we have panorama plans. We’re going to use the kids’ playground very close to our villa. This is a fun little place, with wacky props for our project. We discuss, set marks, timing, POVs. At one point, we consider staging me and BW on the larger seesaw. This fails due to weight differential.

The only pano clue among the lot of today’s photos. Photo by kat.

In any case, we plotted it out, did the job, and had some laughs. It worked! I believe we’ll reveal the results tomorrow–as we plan to do another here at the villa today.

It’s dinner time. And what’s that we hear? Thunder! Some really cranky thunder. I see flashes of lighting in the distance. Maybe it’ll rain.

Mais, non.

I hope, again, it rained somewhere.

Dinner is lovely, as always. We’ve enjoyed every single meal here, at every venue we’ve tried.

Desserts. Photo by BW.

Today, our last, dawns beautifully. We’ll stay close–we have that pano to stage and produce. There’s packing to face. Another workout on the terrace. For the reader who asked about outdoor space at home? I live on the side of a hill–not much natural flat space. But today, I’ll enjoy the view and the air while I sweat it out.


*Note from Laura: video worked perfectly, haven’t figured out a way to get it to load here.

In today’s #randomkatness:

Succulents in shadow. Photo by kat.

Provence, France Day Last

Our last day, but a lovely one. My final terrace workout as I doubt I’ll have time this morning, then BW does one on his own while I get some packing done.

Since most of my clothes are going in the laundry or to the dry cleaners, much fits in my small rolly–and packing is more dumping as a result.

With Kat and Jason back from their final walk, Kat fixes us another pretty lunch–with some assist by BW. It’s a nice, tasty way to clean out our fridge. 

Last lunch. Photo by BW.

BW wants a group shot in the big cocoon chair. It’s been one of his favorite morning spots during our stay. And big enough for four. 

Cocooned. Photo by BW.

Now some serious thinking and logistical planning for our pretty ambitious panorama. One involving quick costume changes and props! Can it be done? Will it work? We’re here, we’re there, then here. We anxiously check the results.

Et voila!

We’ve outdone ourselves. Or certainly Jason and Kat who act as producers, directors, stage managers outdid themselves. 

Family pano. Directed by Jason & Kat.

Friday’s playground pano: 

Pano in the playground. Photo directed by Jason and Kat.

We while away the afternoon until it’s time to go to dinner.

A trip to the big supermarket first and its impressive selection of wine. BW buys a mixed case of local reds to take home. Then he tries to ask one of the staff for a box–but translation is difficult. Jason and I think it’s boite–or that’s close, but I suggest BW wait until we’re back at the hotel, and issue a final challenge for the intrepid Alain.

Then it’s really just a quick wind, essentially a change of parking lots for our dinner. We’re back to Restaurant La Garrigue–busy on this Saturday night. But our same delightful server seats us, brings over tonight’s chalkboard. The main special is a mixed grill–and she goes through the meats involved for us. She assures us it’s very good.

Wine comes first while we study our other choices. Some require more explanation. She has good but halting English. We have halting but mediocre French. We all cheerful apologize, but Kat’s able to decide on a kind of stew with chunky potatoes and carrots. This proves, like BW’s mixed grill, a very fine choice. 

Jason and I go for pasta, and are not disappointed.

Kat’s stew. Photo by kat.
BW’s mixed grill. Photo by BW.
Pasta! Photo by j a-b.

This is a lively place. There’s a big table of at least 12-13 people, and the two servers are hopping. We eat serenaded by the karaoke at the nearby pizzeria.

But dinner is, really, just a prelude for dessert.

We switch off, so this time BW and I share Dame Blanche–the hot fudge sundae–and Jason and Kat split the profiteroles. If you’re ever in the Tourrettes area of Provence, stop by La Garrigue for a happy, casual meal, and save room for dessert.

On the way out, Kat and Jason point out their little bakery. Au revoir pain au chocolate!

And back at the hotel, Alain comes out to say hello, and so the final challenge is issued. Our friendly valet has already gone in search of a box, but Alain accepts the challenge, and will connect with the sommelier about a empty wine case for the morning.

To commemorate our stay, Kat whips out a selfie stick! (You never know what Kat has in her bag.) 

Happy selfie. Photo by kat.

A last walk to our villa under the stars.

This morning it’s more packing, several checks of all the rooms for whatever might be somewhere else. The drive to Nice, the long flight home.

It’s been a beautiful, happy, relaxing, delicious holiday, from our visit to Eze to our extended stay here in Provence–and all adventures between. We’re so lucky to be able to take these trips, to spend them with family and see gorgeous slices of the world. Home’s where the heart is, but when you go as family, you take heart with you, and that’s special.


Notes from Laura:  Our intrepid travelers stayed in two beautiful locations:  Chateau Eza  for the first four days.

Then it was on to Terre Blanche (which several people guessed) for the remainder of the vacation.   

In our last #randomkatness:

Panda and pal. Photo by kat.
Pomegranate before ripening. Photo by kat.