Friday, November 27, 2015

Still giving thanks...

Oh my goodness! This post was absolutely supposed to go up yesterday but, oh you know how holidays go, things are never entirely on schedule, are they? 

For you see, I decided to cook! I don't always on the third Thursday of November. Yesterday was, of course, just a regular day here in France. But oh, how Thanksgiving lives on in my heart. With time, it has become one of my very favorite holidays as I learn and relearn the importance of gratitude. 

On Wednesday night, I will admit it, I was feeling verrry sorry for myself. It happens every year. Somehow the anticipation of the fête, that longing to be with my family in the States just pulls and tears while I read my fellow blogger's posts of cooking emergencies and travel woe. Most exceptionally, this year has been the month-long run-up of the preparations (ending with his locking his Mom under "sweat shop" conditions until she finished her annual tablecloth) by my extremely witty friend, Stephen Andrew Jones. I know that today of all days, you may not want to have anything in the least bit to do with Thanksgiving but if you are in need of a laugh by all means go and visit him: here.

For not only does he set a serious table, he is also a kind soul who did not judge my grating "oh woe is me" but understood it and sent me "in the trenches" photos of his final stages before his phenomenal feast, the last one dating to 2am his time. It cheered me immensely. As has my friend Ellie's determination to make her first Thanksgiving in Provence a great one. Easier said than done in these parts and she wisely (as SAJ phrased it) brought cranberries down from the far more cosmopolitan Paris "in her purse."

While these two wonderful people inspired me, finally I cooked...for me. This post could actually have been titled Cooking for Yourself, part three (to view the previous two posts see here and here) and I have to say that it was the single best gift that I have given myself in a long time. Alas, turkey is still not in the shops yet so a poulet jaune fermier Label Rouge (aka fantastic free-range chicken that cannot have any scary hormones or additives in it - let alone be a clone - thanks to the excellent European Union health rules - yay!) had to stand in its stead (and honestly, as there was just the two of us it was a wiser option anyway). I already had enough to make the rest of the basics to go with it at hand - butternut squash soup, dressing, garlic mashed sweet potatoes...what? "Please stop talking about food," you say? Ok, done.

I took my time cooking, spending all afternoon chopping and sipping Chardonnay as Thanksgiving law requires. In doing those same repetitive motions that I knew that my Mom would be going through hours later, I felt nearly as connected to her and the rest of my family in the States as if I had been there all while preparing a nice surprise for my family here ("Wow, what are you doooiing?" Remi asked at one point and yes, the puppers got chicken broth on their dinner. Ben looked astonished). 

And in slow going, I had plenty of opportunities for reflection. You all were frequently in my thoughts and if I am rambling on in a post tryptophan-induced haziness, it is only out of willing to (finally coming to the point) express an extreme gratitude for all of the kindness and support that you have given, which honestly, has helped to sustain me through what has been a fairly challenging year for us. Bring on 2016! I know it is just around the bend now, isn't it? Until then, un grand merci. The best of me bows down to the best of you. Namaste.

Along with my friends and my wonderful family, they are plenty of other things that I am extremely grateful for.

This has been the Year of the Garden, a huge discovery that opened up a whole new way of working (eh, oui), being and eating for Remi and I. And the good news is that just after we put our main plot to rest, our friend W offered to split half of another parcel with us! It was back breaking work and we were in a rush to get it ready for winter before the first freeze. We barely made it, working into the dark two nights in a row. Above, you can see the "after" of our plot on the right and the sorry "before" of another gardener who has left his sit unused on the left! We are hoping he will have a change of heart and pass it our way come Spring...

I am also extremely grateful for the many fabulous brocantes in Provence and the bliss Remi and I feel while strolling and examining the treasures and stranger items...a-hem. They are an insta-gateway to pure happiness for me.

I am grateful for the smell of old books and for music that is so powerful that it makes me weep with joy...or get up out behind my desk to dance because no-one is looking, that is unless you count...

I am grateful for our boys.

As I wrote recently, Ben makes it a personal mission to make me laugh out loud everyday, most frequently with his "oh, this old thing?" shenanigans involving a stick. You can't see it but he has an eyebrow cocked here, he does.

And Kipling, our rascal, is still teaching me not only patience but that sometimes it can take years to earn a trust that has been broken...but that it is possible nonetheless. He gives me little signs of encouragement and I listen to them. Nearly three years in to our adopting him, he will occasionally play with me and gnaw on my wrist gently. He is still learning what play is and that it is not only ok but good.


I could go on - and often do! - but I will just add that I am so very grateful for the beauty of Provence. 

It has been a rough past few weeks for most of us and I have found enormous comfort in the surrounding landscape during moments when nothing else made any sense to me at all. It reminds me, everyday, that Beauty and Love will continue to rule. And that is enough alone to make giving thanks just part of the daily routine.


PS. Now, that I am not a fan of Black Friday is an understatement. I always cringe each year when they show the segment on the French news of crazed US shoppers pushing and shoving each other to be the first to get that giant screen tv on sale at midnight after such an important day. And now, the powers that be are even trying to introduce the concept to France. While in Avignon today, I saw signs in shops for "Crazy Friday" - whaaat? No, come on, that is just wrong.

BUT. I have to make an exception for my above-mentioned friend, Ellie, who now also happens to be practically my neighbor. Am I slightly flabbergasted that she managed to score 35 incredible items in her very first weekend while living in Provence for her monthly online sale? I am. Seriously, she found more in TWO DAYS than I have in ten years. Or, that she has been secretly making a collaboration for a special collection of gorgeous blue and white lamps, vases and pots? Um, yep. But not so much that I won't give you the link to it. ;)
You can find Ellie's blog here.
And to access the sale directly, click here.
But don't delay if you are interested as her peeps literally set their clocks to the start of each sale.


I am looking forward to hopefully steering Lost in Arles back to more solid ground subjects but am really appreciative of the huge outpouring of kindness that you all have shown. For what it is worth, I have told so many people in this little village about you all and I know that they were moved.

Plus, I have a fun series for the holidays coming up that I have been saving, so please stay tuned...

For my American readers, did you have a good Thanksgiving?
And for my friends elsewhere in the world, what is your favorite holiday?
Enquiring minds want to know!



suzana borlovan said...

I too am very grateful for many things in my life, my family and friends, my animals, my work, my home etc and of course your blog Heather. Love to you, Remi and the boys from sunny Australia xxx

Susan Athanasakou said...

A lovely post, I know just what you mean, being a little sad before big celebrations, I am the same at Christmas, being away from England, not as far away from home as you are, of course, it's still "Away" though!
How I love flea markets, or brocantes as they are called in France, really not a thing that you see at all in Greece unfortunately, they have yet to catch on.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Oh Heather, your post is just what I needed right now. I lost my dear husband 3 years ago next month. We were married 43 years and I miss him terribly. Holidays are especially hard, and even though I had a lovely day right here in my little cottage with his brother, wife and their son, today I have felt like bawling and heart feels heavy. What added to the mix is that the kitchen cold water faucet would not shut off yesterday morning, so I had to turn off water to it. Then this morning I discovered a leak in a pipe under the house so had to shut off water to the house altogether.

Your post made my heart feel lighter. Tomorrow is a new day and I have much to be thankful for.

Thank you for sharing your life with us.

Love that photo of you and Ben.

Black Friday is a day I truly hibernate from.

Have a lovely blessing filled weekend ~ FlowerLady

puppyfur said...

I'm so glad you cooked! It makes for a joyful day with the one you love. I, too, suffer homesickness on is the hardest day of the year for me. But we had friends and we even found a turkey! (Long story:-).

Ben is as handsome as ever, and you and Kipling look beautiful together. Happy late Thanksgiving, Heather.

Katherine xox

Stephen Andrew said...

Happy Thanksgiving my dear friend! I am so glad you cooked and let me tell you, you were here in my heart. I spent ONE dec 23 (my favorite day of the year) away from my home and my family and I turned into a caged beast. The trip was MY idea and still I was miserable. There is no perfect life I guess. So often we read your posts and long to live in the dreamland of Provence and occasionally you'll see our U.S. Based posts and long for "home". The spirit of Thanksgiving is universal and you built it right there in France. Well done!

Shireen Eckhardt said...

Heather, beautiful picture of you and your handsome fur person! Thanksgiving is indeed a favorite holiday in our house. Unfortunately, we are both sick this week with a cold so we are a little subdued but still have much to be thankful for. Love your post, thank you for sharing. Xoxo Shireen

Lorrie said...

Oh Heather, I completely understand. During our years in South America, Christmas was the most difficult for me. I'd spend a few moments in the morning, by myself, feeling sorry for myself, shedding a few tears as I thought of my family gathering without me, then I'd give myself a little mental shake and go out to celebrate with the people in my life then and there.
Cooking helps, doesn't it? Making the same things here or there grounds me as I think of my grandmothers who have passed on and cooked the same things.
Thank you for your lovely words and images.

La Contessa said...

I cannot BELIEVE That!
What a STUNNING POST........SO UP BEAT and INFORMATIVE!Why am I not getting STEPHEN'S POSTS!!!!
I signed up....................YOU are going to have to FORWARD Them to me!
AS for ELLIE.................WHAT A STAR!
YOU GIRLFRIEND DIVINE LOOK FANTASTIC!Must be all that HARD work turning the SOIL!!!
BIG HUGS.............and cannot wait to see what you have in STORE!

Jackie and Joel Smith said...

As always a beautiful insight Heather. It was interesting being in Greece where Thursday was just another Thursday and Thanksgiving 'celebration' was limited to scrolling through FB to peek into the lives of others. This time away has been an interesting one as I assume any ex pat will tell you. Helps to put life in perspective. Happy adventures ahead and hope 2016 brings you happiness.

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you so very much Suzana! Sending love right back from sunny (but chiiiilly) Provence.

Heather Robinson said...

I wonder why that is Susan...? I haven't been to Greece yet although it is most certainly right up there near the top of my places I hope to visit one day (Venice still occupying the top spot). Are there antiques dealers and if so what is the style?

And yes, "away" is away no matter how far. Sending a warm hug to you.

Heather Robinson said...

Lorraine, I have thought about your response a few times since reading it initially. I am so very sorry for the loss of your husband. Three years is still very, very recent after 43 years of marriage and I can only imagine how challenging the holidays can be at times. But I am very, very glad that you have extended family to celebrate if only you get your water situation sorted!

Sending Strength and Patience!

Heather Robinson said...

How on earth did you find a turkey?! Oh dear, I fear a hunter shot it, non? I hope you just got lucky at your local Carrefour instead! And I am sorry that you were homesick too. Somehow Thanksgiving is harder for me than Christmas too.

Thank you for the kind compliment - I never post photos of myself here, you know that!

Heather Robinson said...

I hit publish too soon. I meant to add: Happy belated Thanksgiving to you too, Katherine.

Heather Robinson said...

Oh thank you, it wasn't a fancy Thanksgiving...I cringe to admit it to you but I didn't even put down a tablecloth or get out the Baccarat. Frankly, I was too tired but it was a happy tired so I just lit all our candles instead and called it a day. We are STILL eating leftovers and have for at least once more, not to mention the soup which we still have tons of to enjoy.

And again, knowing that you were thinking of me, so far away and in the midst of all of your hard work really did me so much good. Thank you.

I can't wait to see your next post!

Heather Robinson said...

Oh dear, you are both sick? I am so sorry to hear that and hope that you feel better pronto! There is nothing worse than feeling ill during the holidays...

Try to drink some mint tea with fresh ginger, honey, lemon and a dash of cayenne!

Heather Robinson said...

What an enormous change it must have been for you to be in South America from Canada...albeit a sunny one. :) My parents lived in San Diego, California for many years and it would also be so strange to have a walk on the beach on Christmas Day.

And yes, absolutely, the cooking changed everything. I specifically chose to make my Grandmother's herb bread stuffing - it is so simple - but it was what we have always done.

Thank you for your support Lorrie, always.

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you SO much!! I have had six people unsubscribe after this post so far - and you know how that gets to me! I thought is it because I put up my ugly mug? ;) And yes, in February it will be three years. Three years...this afternoon he jumped up on the bed after my nap and was trying to play with me. It made me so happy.

For Stephen, the same thing was happening to me so I signed up for an email notification, not just Blogger. Did you do that? If you still aren't getting them I WILL forward them to you as they are not to be missed!

And did you see that Ellie's sale is nearly sold out now???

Love to you!

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you so much Jackie and you know that I wish the same for both of you. Yes, being an expat is not as easy as it sounds and there is SO much to try and learn in the first few years. I think that you two have it great in that you are straddling between two countries (well, much more if we include your travels), one of which is "home" but it still is hard sometimes. We have to make our own traditions!

Ellie said...

Thank you for making me feel so at home for my first month in Provence. And thanks for the shout out for my sale! XOXO XO

simpleimages2 said...

Yes. We, too, have a lot of things to be grateful for inspite of losses.

I can sympathize with your cooking. Mrs. Abstract,once, tried to cook Thanksgiving turkey without an oven. Our whole family and friends were in San Diego to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Thank you for the wonderful photos and text Heather.

La Contessa said...

I JUST SIGNED UP FOR EMAIL LIKE A WEEK he did not have that on the blog until I ASKED!I do not use BLOGGER is that like BLOGLOVIN?
I am so behind...............
AS FOR THOSE SIX..................their LOSS!IT ISNOT YOUR PHOTO!I will not mention what it is cause I might NOT SOUND TO NICE!
I have not gotten to ELEANOR's BLOG POST YET!!!!!BUT I have seen on INSTAGRAM and NO DOUBT SHE IS SOLD OUT!
GOT YOUR STUFF on my TABLE TO wrap and is LITTLE THIS YEAR but I think YOU will like it!I have been wrapping ALL DAY!!!!!

Loree said...

Christmas is my favourite holiday. It makes me smile inside. Glad to hear that you celebrated Thanksgiving. It's hard to get in the mood when no one else celebrates it. We did it yesterday and now we're taking out the Christmas decorations - my sons insisted - and he has had fever for the past two days so I couldn't say no.

Judi of Little House said...

Many 'thanks' for you being you! Love the photo of you and Kipling!

Unknown said...

Heather....We were in Sorgue on Sunday. Looked madly around for masses of red hair...yours....Alas not to be. Someday. ..

Holidays are the hardest without family.


Heather Robinson said...

I love being your own personal Welcome Wagon. :)

Heather Robinson said...

Wow, I am curious how that turkey turned out Edgar - did she grill it? Luckily you were in SD and could just call out for a feast of fish tacos instead!

Heather Robinson said...

I am so glad that you didn't say no Loree!!! I have been contemplating it myself...because I do really love Christmas too...

Heather Robinson said...

Oooh, so sorry to have missed you! So close and yet so far...! I hope that you had a wonderful time.

And thanks for understanding. It is my Sister's 50th birthday tomorrow too, so not being there for that AND Thanksgiving is tearing me up a bit...but I know that all is relative.

puppyfur said...

Non, ce n'etait pas de la chasse! De HyperU, Saintes. The butcher had to order it specially :-). Cooked to perfection by Harry, so all was a delight.

I know you never post photos so I was delighted to see your beautiful face!


puppyfur said...


Jackie Clark Mancuso said...

I'm so happy you included the link back to meeting Kipling with the sweet photo of the two of you as I had not read it. Happy holidays wishes to you!

Heather Robinson said...

It is quite a story, isn't it? Eight days waiting for his master to return...

Wishing you a very Happy Holidays as well, Jackie.