Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Postcard from Dijon

 Words cannot capture my joy at returning to the apartment to find
the geraniums I planted this summer still blooming.

You know those times in your life when everything is running so smoothly that you will be a front page feature in the HOME section of your local newspaper, star of an article full of tips about how to do everything better than anyone else? Me neither. My life always feels like herding cats.

Somehow I’ve made it back to Dijon. After my disastrous trip in the summer, I didn’t even know if I’d be able to walk onto the plane, let alone lift anything into the overhead bin. After my fall two days into the July trip, I got back into physical therapy the day after returning home, sticking with it until the day before heading back to France this fall. Steroid shots got my knee moving, but I probably will have to have rotator cuff surgery sometime next year. That meant that nothing in the house got cleaned. The garden was never finished. Brad was out of the country in Germany since September. I had the new challenge of keeping up with all my MFA homework (I’m reading and writing a lot - just not blogs).

To add injury to injury, neither arm nor knee has done well because each day I had to lift and carry my 40 lb. dog who was in worse shape than me. Skyler’s arthritis is making it hard for her to stand, plus she decided not to eat the food she’s eaten for years.  I never know what the day will bring in her condition. Even though she’s on multiple pain meds and is playing food roulette, every day she still wants her walk (now reduced to three houses up and three houses back then -- alley oop -- lifting her up the front stairs). I almost cancelled the trip this time, but Brad and I have a special event planned you’ll hear about later. So when the GREATEST FAMILY MEMBERS IN THE WORLD (hi, Melinda and Laurie) stepped up to take care of my old girl and get her to her vet appointments I put my aching body back on a plane.

 And when I started breathing the air of France, I exhaled. I sat and had tea at my favorite comptoir. See that book I was reading? Be good to yourself -- run to whichever place you get your books and get Kathleen Finneran’s, The Tender Land. It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of writing you’ll ever read. It’s an exquisite memoir about a St. Louis family that must carry on after tragedy. Find a quiet corner and read this weekend.


I took a walk down Cours du Parc and wondered how many Sunday mornings this couple had walked this path after buying their daily bread. What other streets were part of their long lives in this historic city?

This was definitely not on the menu when I went to the market to buy the meat for our first dinner party in our new apartment. No thank you. In my very French Dutch oven I made a recipe I had saved on my computer ages ago - Braised French Onion Chicken with Gruyere. It was a wonderful night with good friends Didier, Francoise, and Claire -- even if we did have to get up and wash dishes and silverware between courses. We started with kir and ended with Vanille Pecan Caramel Beurre Salé ice cream and chocolate.

As evening approached this past weekend, I was racing around to find a screwdriver, expandable curtain rods, a book light, and other sundry items sold uniquely in who-knows-which specialized store. When I heard these guys laying down some smooth jazz up ahead of me I slowed down to listen and breathe. And I always drop something in the pot when I take pictures of street artists.

This is a short trip because I need to get back to my baby.  At the end of this week Brad and I leave on an adventure outside of our little Dijonnais sanctuary. Uncertain of internet access. But if it’s there I hope to bring you stories and photos of places new and interesting (and probably filled with rain). Meanwhile, if you have any questions or any requests on what you’d like to see or read about this country I’m still trying to figure out, leave them in the comments box and I’ll see what I can do.

Come to think of it, I do have a handy tip. If you’re having something from IKEA delivered that’s bigger than a breadbox, make sure you pick the option where they bring it up the winding stairs to your third-floor apartment and not the one where they leave it in the street or on the sidewalk. Trust me, it’s worth the extra 30 euros.

This was the space we had to prepare a four-course dinner


Annette Gendler said...

Thanks for sharing a few shots of everyday life in Dijon. Safe travels on your next adventure!

Becky Green Aaronson said...

I always love your postcards. They make me feel like I'm right there with you on your adventure. Thanks for sharing.

Patricia said...

Julie, how lovely to find you back in Dijon ... no matter how briefly! What a lovely postcard. Bon voyage on your secret retreat. You have us intrigued!

Tele said...

You send the best postcards, Julie! I'm so glad that you're able to be back in Dijon. What a gift that your geraniums were there to greet you!

Muriel said...

Well, enjoy Dijon ! the pace of the life in France is different. I am glad it is soothing for you.

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