06 March 2011

This life here

Yes, I turned 62 yesterday. It's hard to believe. I appreciate all the birthday greetings and wishes I got here and on Facebook.

When Walt and I move here to Saint-Aignan, I felt old and tired. I think it was stress more than anything else. My father died fairly young, and I thought I might not live to a very old age. Now that I've been here for nearly 8 years, I sometimes I feel like I might live forever. With aches and pains, of course, but that's old age, right?

Somebody has again been moving rocks and stones around
to fill in the potholes in the road through the vines.

These crisp sunny days we've been having for a while now could get to be kind of addictive. The ground is drying out, so walks with the dog are much less muddy than they were for quite a while now. Our winter turned out to be very wet, with a snowy December, but over all, the weather people say, the cold December was balanced out by a mild February. So on average, it was a normal winter.

The bright yellow of forsythia is one of the first signs of spring.

Yesterday, or the day before, I was out for the morning walk, and I was taking a lot of pictures. The young woman who is a member of the crew that works in the vines, pruning them back and repairing their supports posts and wires, asked me as I passed by if I had been able to get some photos. I said I hoped so, with such nice sunny weather.

This is Callie's view of the vines in late winter/early spring.

« Vous êtes photographe ? » was her second question. I told her no, but that I did this blog, and we talked about that for a minute. I got the impression that she knew what a blog was. I told her that I write the blog in English and that we have met a fair number of Americans, Canadians, Brits, and Australians because of it. They visit when they come to the Loire Valley.

Here's an early morning view of the grain silo and
water tower across the river from our house.

« Ah, vous faites découvrir la région, alors », she said. That seemed to satisfy her curiosity. I told her I was retired, and she wanted to know if « l'autre monsieur » — that would be Walt — had a job. I'm sure people are curious about us, and I don't mind answering their questions when they ask. I told her that Walt does the same things I do, basically — blog, cook, garden, walk the dog, and work on the house as necessary.

Primroses are coming up all around the yard.

Sometimes I wonder if it's enough. But then I remember what it was like to commute long distances, waste time in traffic jams, deal with company politics, conflicts, and personnel issues at work, and have a big mortgage to pay off. This life here is better.

Here are some vines that have been pruned back
and are ready to grow in 2011.

Plus, it's a life in French. I've spent nearly my whole life learning the language and exploring the country. When we lived in California, I used to enjoy "escaping" to France by going to French restaurants, cooking French food at home, watching French programs and movies on satellite television, and, most of all, actually coming to France every year for vacations.

Just outside the back gate...

Now I'm just here. Right now, along with thinking about France, well... in my mind, I'm going to Carolina. And in fact I am going, in just a few days. It'll be fun.


  1. Your life (as I read it) seems to be filled with contentment, and there is everything right about that!

    I love that James Taylor song.....

    A belated happy birthday for yesterday.

  2. Happy birthday for yesterday, Ken. I hope you have a good time in North Carolina.

    The description of your life in France sounds perfect. It even has occasional moments of excitement- what more could anyone want !!

  3. Happy belated birthday Ken.

    Enjoy your Carolina visit and when your visit is done....come back to your beautiful life in France.... write about what you are cooking, repairing, growing, seeing, thinking....and we can continue to read your blog....which I enjoy doing every day.

    Safe travels.

    Victoria, Bellingham, WA

  4. Happy birthday for yesterday!
    The way you describe it it certainly sounds like you made the right choice for you.
    Have a good trip to N Carolina.

  5. Happy belated birthday Ken.

    I think you both made the right move 8 years ago, away from the hussle bussle of the big city. Living in the country with the one you love and the pets.

  6. I like France, but I don't have a passion for it. You are fortunate to have that passion and fulfilled it. To confidently speak the language...well, I takes me hat orf to you.

  7. Happy Birthday

    The traffic in the Silicon Valley in the mid 80's was outrageous, I bet it only got worse. You are fortunate to have escaped that.

    Wishing you many more peaceful Happy Birthday's

  8. Wishing you a belated happy birthday. I was asleep at the switch, I guess, on the actual day.

    Now I have that James Taylor song in my mind. I'll sing it to E to put him in the mood for our NC trip in March.

  9. Ken

    Now you have to start writing a book. Nothing philosophical or political but life in the US and France- on the lighter side of thing- stressful (lol) life in Silicon Valley versus "la vie d'un retraité" in France. The prologue could your student yrs and the French language.
    You write beautifully and the descriptions you convey via your posts are so lively.

  10. Happy birthday, yesterday. I have been 62 for nine months and it is just fine. I know I feel better now than when I was younger and working.

    I'll report back to let you know how 63 feels when I get there.

  11. Happy Birthday Ken.

    Yes, getting older throws us some new challenges. I'm happy if I can stand up from a sofa/chair without my knees cracking.

    I love the dog's eye view of the vines - it makes them look like trees.

    Out of curiosity, would you two be alowed to work in France if you wanted to?

  12. Diogenes, Walt and I both have work permits now, so we could work if we wanted to.

  13. Happy belated Birthday, Ken!

    Your posts never get old, and neither do you, right?

    The security word is muldooma. Good name for a blues band.

  14. Happy belated birthday Ken.

    Have a great time in North Carolina


  15. Many belated hippo birdies Ken... age? Men are only ever as old as their shoe size! It may be a drill, a computer, a mower... but to the male 'tis a new toy!
    Have fun in you 63rd y'era.

    WV is abill... life charges you in the end... may it be long and not very expensive!

  16. If we lived in France, and it looks more doubtful each passing day, we would travel a lot. We do that anyway, but it's considerably more expensive from here.

  17. Happy Birthday Ken.
    De-lurking briefly to let you know that I enjoy the everyday-ness of your life in France. The older I get (56 and counting) the less "things" I want and the more "experiences" I need. Live your beautiful life and keep blogging.
    Barb in Minnesota

  18. Belated Birthday Blessings
    to you Ken...You will never
    grow old...your curiosity
    and generosity of spirit
    will keep you young a long
    time to come...and good
    French wine doesn't hurt in
    the process. Bon Voyage and
    Godspeed to NC and back home.

  19. Harriett, keep me posted. I hope to still be here in a year, following your example.

    Carolyn, you'll be in NC in March? Send me an e-mail...

    Thanks all, for the wishes.

  20. I'm late to comment, but I know you know you made the right decision to move. You are quite yourself now, and you and Walt are content. It's so nice to read about it. 62 and you've only just begun! xo

  21. I have become addicted to your blog after only a month. Happy Birthday!


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