wayfaringwordhack: (!!!)
What does one do when one has:
 
a) to pack an entire house;


b) finish a draft of a book by Sept. 1st;


c) finish crocheting a blanket, among other projects;


d) art journal everyday;


e) crit a friend's MS;


f) host a cookout for 7 and tea for 4;


g) keep a very active baby out of trouble?


Why, one cuts 400+ squares out of madras and white cotton then sews the little squares into strips






and the strips into squares






and joins them with bigger squares to make a madras quilt top, a king-sized quilt top to be precise, the first quilt one has ever made (excepting a simplistic baby quilt --the one hanging on the Sprout's crib).






I used this quilt  from Pippa Patchwork as inspiration but had to recalculate for size and the more abstract look I wanted (smaller squares inserted in the large, frex).


Here ends the procrastination (I'll do the back and the actual quilting while watching the Rugby World Cup this Sept/Oct). I must now pack for the truck must be loaded Monday night, and we are hitting the road early Tuesday morning.  Next time I see you I will be in on the flanks of the Black Mountains or on the shores of the Arcachon Basin.



Be well, my friends.
wayfaringwordhack: (guitton - housework)
 if boiled wheat sticks to the wall like cooked pasta, yes, yes, it does.

It is one of those days.

At lunch, I made the mistake of ripping open a bag of boiled wheat instead of reaching for a knife or digging the kitchen scissors out of the drawer.  The bag very kindly and obligingly opened, from the top alllllllll the way to the bottom in one smooth tear. Cooked wheat flew up like a fountain, sticking on the wall, raining down in the ceramic jug where I keep my utensils, sliding down between the wall and cabinet unit, pattering to the floor.

Not having yet recognized it for "one of those days," I made gazpacho for supper.  I unscrewed the bottom of the blender to clean it, and it slipped out of my hand, banged against the faucet, spattering soup everywhere, on the wall, in the sink, on the clean dishes in the drainboard...

Aren't disasters known to run in packs of threes?

I am supposed to be packing; wrapping up decorations and knickknacks is on the list.  I'm rather afraid to handle anything breakable right now, though.

*waiting on the next mess*  

wayfaringwordhack: (art journal)

 I kept up my journal, even when I couldn't connect to the net, but I'm not going to play catch up with photos.  Today, I did two sketches, though, one in ink from an idea I had and a view of my village in charcoal.



I would have liked to ink in the water even more, but S woke up from her nap and the ink and calligraphy nib had to be put away.

 

I took S for a walk in the stroller to the lock down the canal. I've been meaning to sketch the village from this vantage for quite a while and am glad to have finally gotten around to it.  My perspective is way off, so I'll have to go back and try again. Have to hurry, though; exactly two weeks until our move. :D  

Here I am, posting about Sancerre, but the song below came up while doing so, reminding me of life in Mayotte, and before I was finished typing and before the song ended, Julien called to tell me that he just got through speaking to a Mahorais in Le Havre.


(the song is not Mahorais, but it was popular in Mayotte while we lived there)

Lala ha unono. (sleep well--my favorite phrase to say to my neighbors back in the day.)
wayfaringwordhack: (art journal)
 Something a little different.

day 3
wayfaringwordhack: (book)

Yesterday, I mentioned being blessed by a gypsy. Today, I decided to commemorate being blessed by the Grande Dame herself, Mother Nature



fraise des bois )
I bemoaned the "slaughter" of the wild strawberry patch behind my house, sure I wouldn't taste another berry from it before we left, but lots of cool days and rain resuscitated the plants and I have berries again!
Now that's what I call red. )
wayfaringwordhack: (shroom sweet shroom)
Yesterday, at lunch, a swallow flew into the house.



I half-remembered something about swallows and the weather and wondered if it might not mean a storm was coming.

After putting Soëlie down for the night, I heard the first distant peals of thunder. I did not have high hopes for a storm; we so rarely get good ones.  But louder and closer got the thunder, and lightning began to illuminate the night sky, flashing through my windows like strobe lights.

It was already 10:00 p.m. and I didn't know if I felt like going through the effort of making myself supper.  However, the thought of sitting at the top of the stairs in the courtyard and watching the storm was appealing enough for me to gather a hard-boiled egg, a piece of blue cheese and bread, and a fromage blanc onto a tray and head outside.

The night was oh-so-silent at first. No wind, no birds, no voices, no cars.  Then another flash of lightning and a woman on one of the canal boats exclaimed, "Oh!" in wonderment.  All I saw as the echo of light across the cloud blanket, my view of the sky constricted by my own house, a two-story garage, and an abandoned pub. As if the woman's cry had broken an imposed silence, other noises filled the night: the rustle of trees, the skitter-patter of raindrops hitting the baked clay and slate shingles of the surrounding buildings like the approach of a thousand mice.

A fine rain began to fall, but I wanted to see the sky, to revel in the forks of lightning and the thunder's booming.  I went downstairs, listening for cries from inside to show that Soëlie was disturbed, but she slept on. The view on the south side of my house was no good; the storm was raging over Sancerre, northwest.  I walked around, back through my yard, in the dark, not wanting to wander out into the light and civilization of the lamp-lit street.  Houses continued to block my view and I wanted badly to bundle Soëlie into the car and chase the storm.  I resisted, watching the flashes and searing forks from the darkened passageway between my house and the next.  

My stormgazing disturbed one of my neighbors, though, who, not understanding what I was doing--and not bothering to ask--assumed I was spying on him. I pointedly tipped my head to the sky, trying to make him understand, but he stood in the street, staring at me, shoulders squared in defiant menace. I ignored him, preferring the drama in the sky, and he went back in his house, only to appear at the door not a minute later, checking to see if I was still there.  When still I refused to move, to thwart me, he turned off the lights in his house, making me feel like some kind of creep.  

I stretched and tried not to let it bother me, not going back inside until the rain got a little harder, using that as an excuse to leave my post so he would not think his stupidity was correct.

The music of the thunder and the rain kept me company as I read in the bath, and when I went to bed, I opened the windows, the better to hear the storm.  I was afraid the thunder would wake Soëlie, but she never budged. (When she did wake to pee at 2am, I could hear music coming softly from the defiant neighbor's house; he often puts his music on too loud during the day, his friends rev their motorcycles obnoxiously before taking off from his house at all hours of the night, and he certainly thought that I was passive-aggressively protesting  his noise when all I cared about was the storm.)

This morning, a fine drizzle was still falling, gaining strength with each hour. The autumn-cool air energized me with a feeling of needing to get things done, an instinctive desire to settle my nest before winter's arrival.  I vowed to be productive, to heed nature's message, but then mugginess set in, pressing all my good intentions out of me with its weight.

Instead of productivity, I decided to look up the superstition about swallows in the house. Turns out people believe that to be a harbinger of death. It is the sight of swallows flying low that is supposed to herald rain.  The window the fellow above flew through is on the third floor.  

I then decided to Google my middle name.  A search years ago told me "Nari" means different things from one language to the next, but the meaning that always stuck with me was "thunder" from Japanese. (That too depends on the site; I also saw: "gentle child," "Loud burst of noise from bells,"  and "Thunder bolt")

Babynamesworld had this to say: The Japanese name Nari may be written with the character for "do; change; make". Other possibilities include the character for "to be", or the characters for "vegetable; greens" (na) and "pear tree" (ri).

A name of Italian origin for boys, says one site, meaning "cheerful."

Another site says: It is also from the Sanskrit meaning "woman" (pronounced with long vowels 'a' and 'i'--My pronunciation is nah-ree). Nari is the name of a daughter of Mount Meru.

I spent time with the Meru people in Kenya.  They gave me the name Makena, "the happy one."

But back to thunder.   My mother always called me Thunderhead when I was small.  It was a bit for my temper, perhaps, and maybe due to Nari's meaning, but mostly it was because I could always hear the thunder before anyone else.  "Storm's coming," I would say, looking up at the hot, blue Texas sky, and the storm always came.

 
wayfaringwordhack: (sunflower - closed)
 
In every French town or village I've been in there is a monument aux morts, a war memorial. Often they cite the villagers who went off to defend their country and fell in battle, but just recently, I noticed two that are far more "personal" in that they commemorate a tragedy that happened where the monument is erected.

This first one is alongside a road I've taken many times over the years, but tucked, as it is, behind a hedge, I never noticed it until I took a wrong turn on my way to the butcher and had to back up.  
 
"Here fell Maurice Renne, victim of Nazi barbary, August 20, 1944."

This one I've seen several times--I drive past it at least once every week--but never really looked at, not until after reading the one above.

"Here, on August 26, 1944, the Germans shot down [list of names -- all members of the French Forces of the Interior
 ...Hommage to the F.F.I who died for the Liberation"

I was born to a different era, a different country, but it still moves me to see these cold, angular stones erected in place of men whose days of laughing and loving were cut short because of war.
wayfaringwordhack: (kickin' it island style)
(Sorry in advance for the wacky formatting with the photos. I uploaded them to flickr and then posted here and LJ wasn't too kind about letting me play with the layout.)

I believe kids should explore their environment, hence letting Sprout play on the beach, but I know not everyone believes that babies should come into contact with "germs."  If such things bother you, look away...

If ever there were pictures of my daughter putting some pebbles in her mouth, I probably wouldn't post them.  Not that she would do such a thing.  

Down by the Loire6


Down by the Loire3Down by the Loire2
Down by the Loire1

Down by the Loire5Down by the Loire4
Down by the Loire7


Poor mite didn't want to go home. Er, yeah, right. That's not really why she was crying. Mean Mommy took a rock from her instead of letting her put it in her mouth.
wayfaringwordhack: (my loves)
 It is hard to believe that Sprout is already nine months old, that she has two teeth, that she is letting go of furniture, of me, to stand on her own, testing her leg strength and balance. Hard to believe she will soon be walking and talking.

Time goes by so quickly and soon will come the year when she is interested in where she was born, where she lived as a baby; so I took her down to the Loire this evening to capture some moments of babyhood in the environs she won't remember but will enjoy revisiting later.  Already it is plain that she takes after her momma, enjoying plant life and getting dirty...



c
lick all the way through and you can see the pics in more detail. 
 

More photos to come when LJ decides to play nice again.

ETA: She looks chubby but at her 9-month checkup, she weighed in below average and her height is right in the middle. It really is true about cameras adding weight. :P
wayfaringwordhack: (sunflower - closed)
 Last year spoiled me; I realize that now, coming home with my sack almost empty after a wildcrafting expedition.  Last year, I made jar after jar of preserves, both of sour cherries and plums. The cherries this year came and went so quickly, and I foolishly thought they would linger like last year, the year of plenty.  The plums are almost all wormy, the yield lamentable.

And the milweek.  Last year, the patch was chockful of pods looking like horned and warty demon claws, and this summer, I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into them.  I noticed a few teardrop sized pods a little over a week ago, so I went out to harvest tonight. I came home with seven, yes seven, little pods.  The patch is stricken, suffering from too much heat, followed by rain, followed by a freaky chill and then heat again; the flowers are shriveled without forming pods, the leaves already curled and yellowed.  There are still some pods that are too immature to gather, but a bumper crop it will not be.

That's a pity because the pods:  Delicious!

The only thing that seemed to have thrived this year is the wild asparagus. With the unseasonable chill, we got a late crop of shoots, but not knowing to expect it, I missed almost all of them.  I did find one to add to my stew tonight, and that was a tasty treat.

I don't know how to feel about moving away on such a note.  I would have liked for the land to give me a grand send-off, but at the same time, it makes it a little easier to leave my haunts, knowing that not every year is a bountiful one.
wayfaringwordhack: (footprint in the sand)
It seems these days are days for reminiscing; many are those on my flist who have had recent posts or fleeting mentions of the past just as I myself wished to wander a bit through my own lanes and byways of memory. As [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume  puts it at the beginning of her most recent post: I'm "Feeling lonesome for past times: past childhood,.."

That is not to say I'm malcontent with my present, but as I was walking and taking pictures the other day, seeking my touchstone with nature (to borrow from [livejournal.com profile] pjthompson ), I happened past a garden that transported me to my childhood New Mexico with its heady aroma of sun-warmed dill.  


(Garden by the Loire)
 
Smelling that pungent herb, I was eleven again, living on an isolated farm, surrounded by Black Angus cattle, wheat fields and rolling plains the color of sage. We were 12 miles from school, 30 from where we went to church, and 60 where we had to go for groceries. Rural, very remote, and I loved it. I loved having my horse grazing the pastures behind the farm, loved spotting a herd of pronghorn antelope, loved watching the epic transformations of cumulus clouds across the boundless blue sky.  

I loved that we had a garden and I never had to go hungry there. I loved the bounty and the work that came with it, shucking corn and shelling peas. I loved my guardian's homemade pickles and pantry full of preserves. I loved that she ground her own flour from wheat her husband grew and gathered eggs from her own hens. When I think of my little family's Someday, that moment when we decide to stop traipsing the world and settle down with a house of our own, I want to have a garden. I know the landscape around it won't be similar to what I knew for those brief years as a child, but I hope the feeling of plenty and contentment will be the same.


(Gentleman gardening by the Loire)

I know the New Mexico I miss is not necessarily a place--it's the time that I was rescued, when my life bloomed, when I found out the world had more in it than roach motels, food stamps, and fear.

I never have and I never will miss West Texas with its air that smells all too often of flatulence from the gas wells, its pumpjacks like skeletal birds, condemned to eternally peck the same bit of barren ground.

I've moved on to different pastures, not always greener, but better, infinitely better.

wayfaringwordhack: (!!!)

I forgot to post a couple of weeks ago that Soëlie started crawling in earnest, two days shy of being 8 months old.  Instead of wiggling and pulling and rocking herself along, she now hightails it around on all fours, making for interesting times in the Faure household, times which will be even more interesting now that I have to pack and foresee all manner of things lying about... Oh, and did I mention the two flights of stairs this apartment boasts?

Yeah, fun times.



(The Sprout being a goofball during the passport photo session we did while picnicking down by the river, a session which ended up being a waste of time since we printed the wrong format and had to pay to have them redone in Paris. Argh.)
 

No, this post is not an excuse to put up photos of my daughter; why would you say that? ;)
wayfaringwordhack: (chocolate - animated)

Or  tooth, rather.  

Soëlie's first tooth (her bottom right) broke the skin today at exactly 8.5 months. Not an early toother, she. :P

"The better to eat chocolate,"she says, "or camera lens caps."





I've been giving her ice cubes and frozen cherries (wrapped in scraps of cloth and secured with a rubber band) to ease her pains, even though [livejournal.com profile] frigg  says I should give her brownies instead.

wayfaringwordhack: (maki - tasty)

Yesterday, the people who own the empty house in front of us came to tidy the yard, the yard where my woodland strawberries grow! I was upset at myself for not harvesting the strawberries the day before, but I had already spent an 1.5 hour gathering milkweed buds*, lemon balm, and sour cherries. 

The tablespoon is to give an idea of how big the buds are.  Here is another article on milkweed with recipes for preparing the buds.


Soëlie was understandably tired by the time I finished, and to top it off, I was greeted by neighbors and invited in for chat when we got back home.  So, because of my "laziness" there was a whole patch of berries ready to be turned into jam by a weedwhacker.  I hesitated for all of twenty seconds and then went to ask the gentleman pulling weeds from between flagstones if he was going to harvest the berries. He looked at me as if I was a bit batty (or it could have been a look of concentration--I don't think he was French) then told me no. "May I pick them, then, before you mow?" I asked and he consented. I have a couple of cups worth of berries now, but I doubt any more will be forthcoming from that patch this year...and I hope we are gone by next year.

I think I'm going to make a clafoutis with them. I found a recipe that calls for pears, but I don't have enough on hand, so I'll sub with some strawberries.

________________
* Whenever I'm gathering milkweed, I smile at any passing cars or pedestrians, if ever there are any--it's a tiny rural road--because I'm always hoping someone will stop and ask me what I'm doing so that I can share my knowledge; but they never do.  On my way home, though, I met a gentlemen and exchanged greetings with him, the listener in this conversation

He looked at my full plastic sacks and asked, "Coming back from the (river) beach or from buying cheese?" 

"Neither," I said, smiling and lifting my spoils for him to see. At last, someone I can tell about milkweed! "I have sour cherries here and lemon balm and milkweed!"

"Milkweed?"

"Yes, you can eat it." I dipped my hand in, ready to show him what the buds look like, saying, "I gather it just--"

He shook his head and interrupted me with; "We don't eat that here." (Here being France, I assume)

Sigh.  More for us, I guess.  But I don't mind sharing, especially not now that I've found a second patch right next to where I harvest grapes. I also found a plant that I saw at Loches, in the medieval garden, but silly me, I forgot to take a pic of its name plate. Anyone know what it is?  It's edible or medicinal but I don't know anything else about it. It has a single stalk, and as you can see in the far right picture, the leaf-growth pattern is very distinct:

 
wayfaringwordhack: (!!!)


Yesterday, we had to move the mattress in Soëlie's crib to the lowest position to prevent her from tumbling out when she pulls herself up with the bars.  Our baby is getting big!



Seven months old today!  She isn't crawling on hands and knees yet, but she sits up on her own, gets into push-up position, not girly style with knees down but on her toes, body straight and stiff enough to make any drill sergeant proud.  She can also get her knees under her and starts swaying back and forth like she's working up the courage and momentum to make that first coordinated movement. Still doesn't have it figured out. When she decides she wants something, though--like N'djema's tail or the camera strap--she goes after it and can drag/toe-push herself pretty far. 
wayfaringwordhack: (neener)
For purposes of transcribing the conversation, I'm going to call the woman who "rescued" N'djema "Catlady" or CL for short:

7:20 p.m. I'm lying in bed, nursing Soëlie and trying to get her to fall asleep; Julien is with us.  The weather is quite warm, so we leave our door open for air as well as for our cats to come and go as they please. We don't hear the gate open, nor steps on the wooden stairs, but suddenly:

CL: Is anybody home?

J jumps out of bed and goes to the door; recognizing her, he says: Thank you for coming!* 

CL:  Oh, you shouldn't have worried. The cat is at my house.

J: That's good news. We were really worried something bad had happened to her.  We put up lost posters this afternoon--

CL: Oh, you shouldn't have done that. He's been at my house the past few days. I started letting him sleep inside.

I go to the door, happy to hear N'djema is safe, looking around, expecting to see her on the stairs or landing.  I say:  So glad to hear you have our cat! We put up posters and asked all the neighbors...

CL looks at me, shocked: There was no need to worry.  She (CL points at the nearest house, where the shutters are closed and have been since we got home) knew I had the cat at my house.

I:  Well, it's the other lady across the street who was feeding the cats for us, and she told us N'djema disappeared Monday.  That was five days ago.

CL: I was thinking that i need to ask you some questions.  I need to know what his name is, how old he is, and how he lost his leg in case I have to take him to the veterinarian.

J and I exchange a startled look. 

CL, oblivious, continues: If I adopt him, I'll definitely need to know those things.

Another startled look between us, and J says: Well, her name is N'djema.

CL: Oh, it's a female.

J: Yes, and we aren't sure of the age, but when we lived in Mayotte, we rescued her and the vet believed at the time she was 9 months old, which would make her about five.  We had to amputate her leg because she had eaten off her foot to escape being tied up.  We also spayed her and had the vet give her a microchip--

CL's shoulders sag: Oh, she has a microchip...

Apparently, she knew the cat was "ours" but was thinking that we hadn't bothered to tattoo her, so fair game?

CL:  She sure likes it at my house. (she then begins to list all the things N'djema can do like get on the furniture, sleep inside, eat all the paté she wants--not good for any animal to get fat, but especially not one with only 3 legs--and she told us about N'djema likes to be with their dog and how she and her husband kiss both dog and cat before going to bed...in short, pretty much making us feel like we are the worst cat owners in the world.)

J:  Well thank you for taking such good care of her. If you don't mind, I'll bring her home now....

CL mentions adopting again, but I say I need to put S to bed and J repeats that he should go and get the kitty now...

Tiboy was thrilled to see N'djema back home and insisted on PLAY, PLAY, PLAYING with her.

On a related note, I mentioned that Tiboy was traumatized, but I didn't mention how the other humans reacted.  J wasn't unduly worried because he thought she had gone walkabout and would be back any day.  I had a bad feeling since we lost Max and couldn't quite shake the fear that tragedy had befallen her.  I was on the verge of tears most of the afternoon, which had a striking effect on Soëlie. She is usually such a smiley, flirty baby; strangers and her doctor are always commenting on that.  But yesterday, she was so sad and serious.  It wasn't until I made an effort to hide my fears over the kitty that she gave me some halfhearted smiles.  It was a trial getting her to go to sleep last night...until CL came around.  Once we had N'djema back at the house, I must have relaxed greatly because Soëlie was asleep soon after despite appearing to be wired for sound but a minute before.

 

______________

* As I said in my last post, we asked someone to speak to her on our behalf.
wayfaringwordhack: (I heart you)
Thanks to the wonderful, creative [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume , Soëlie is one stylish little chica.  She does not have one but two! new play outfits, batiked and dyed especially for her by [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume.

She looks so sweet in them, but don't take my word for it. Judge for yourselves:



And she thinks they are pretty tasty, too. :P

  
wayfaringwordhack: (thé)
Asclepias syriaca or Common Milkweed (aka Butterfly flower, Silkweed, Silky Swallow-wort, Virginia Silkweed) is sprouting like, well, a weed here, and determined not to let Old Time fly away from me this year, I have already harvested its sprouts twice.  
 

While I'm not a complete virgin wildcrafter, I might as well be for all the experience I've had gathering wild foods, and this year was my first to try milkweed. The sprouts are tender and deliciously sweet, with a taste reminiscent of asparagus (around the leaves) and green beans (the bottom of the shoot).  Milkweed was apparently a common staple of Native Americans' diet, and they enjoyed first the sprouts, then the flower buds, then the immature pods, then the "silk" inside slightly older pods.  If we are here till summer's end, I shall try all the stages and report back in on how I find each.

This is a really good article by Samuel Thayer on common milkweed (identifying, gathering, eating, etc) that I recommend reading if you want to get wild with your food, too. (O how I would love to take a class with someone like Mr Thayer to learn more about living off the land. Might have to get ahold of his books and that DVD.)


 
The milkweed I gathered was definitely of the common variety, and like the aforementioned article said, I did not have to boil it in multiple changes of water to get rid of the bitterness; they weren't bitter at all. We ate the first harvest boiled, then sautéed. I made soup out of the second today, which we'll have tonight or tomorrow.  Very simple, but tastes good:

Boil 1 pound of sprouts, drain and toss water. Sauté a small onion and a garlic clove in a scant tablespoon of olive oil. Add sprouts and chicken stock (I used homemade stock--very thick), and added just enough water to cover.  Boil until sprouts are very tender.  Mix (in blender or with whatever you have) until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

And now the poem that the title of my post is ripped from:

TO THE VIRGINS, TO MAKE MUCH OF TIME.
by Robert Herrick


GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying :
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer ;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may go marry :
For having lost but once your prime
You may for ever tarry.

Ah, spring has me inhaling happiness, so much so that I want to wax poetic about it.  You are saved from that because [livejournal.com profile] pjthompson  already took care of it for me with her updated Poetry selection.  
wayfaringwordhack: (footprint in the sand)
 
While walking in L'Orme du Loup (Wolf Elms) yesterday, I thought I saw, amongst the mossy trunks, a pixie or fairy or some type of wood sprite.  Mayhap sunlight and leaf dapples were having a jest with me.  I did manage to snap a few frames before the apparition vanished, so I ask, do you see it, too, or was I only dreaming:




Of course one must doubt one's sanity when a giraffe was involved...  I've always thought the Wolf Elms had a bit of magic about them, but a giraffe?
wayfaringwordhack: (kickin' it island style)
We've been back in Sancerre for almost a year and this week is the first time we've gone down to sit by the river!  Last year I was too tired, too busy, too hot, too puffy to want to go, and when, by some odd stroke of fate, I had one day where all the toos had left me in peace, the water level was too high.  This year is off to a good start, though; we've already been down twice, once just to enjoy the sunset and another time to picnic.

Soëlie seemed to enjoy the outings, and even though her daddy says it looks like she was checking out the boys over her sunglasses, there were no boys to be checked. :P


 
For our picnic, we grilled sausages⓵  and an eggplant (I adore eggplant grilled whole then cut down the middle and served with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper⓶) and had some beautiful beetroot pesto over whole-wheat spaghetti noodles, a green salad, homemade bread, and this"Healthy Chocolate Cake with a Secret."⓷
 

While the food cooked, J and I sat on the mat we bought from this lady--


 
--while in Moheli for our 8th wedding anniversary⓸ and played cards, the same game that we were playing while cruising down the Mekong in Laos ⓹ the eve of the day I first took a pregnancy test to affirm that I was indeed pregnant with the sprout pictured above.
 
______________________

⓵The sausage is what the majority of the French call saucisse de Toulouse.  The sausage isn't actually made in Toulouse, but "northerners" call any sausage that looks like typical sausage from Julien's region by that name.  It's so good, the shops in the north of France package it and call it by that name, but if you ask a butcher in, say, Mazamet (where J's mom lives) for some saucisse de Toulouse, he'll probably shake his head and roll his eyes at you.  Internally, of course....or maybe not...

⓶ We first ate eggplant this way in Mayotte when we camped out on a deserted isle for our 7th wedding anniversary, so it also brings back good memories.

⓷ Very good!  You can't even taste the "weird" secret ingredient.  However, I used coconut oil instead of butter and it hid the chocolate taste of the cake a bit too much for my liking. Next time, I'll use butter.  Oh, and the frosting?  Delicious!  I used organic coconut sugar instead of the things she suggested, and it was soooooo yummy.  Like ganache!  I wonder how soon I can make another batch without appearing gluttonous...

⓸ Our 10th anniversary is the 28 of this month.  Ten years already!!!! Time flies when you are in love and having fun. 

⓹ Wow, even more memories surface, seeing J sporting his beard!

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