Play Every Day

I took these photos when I was visiting a small town in France, called Beynac. It's located in the Dordogne region and overlooks the beautiful Dordogne River. I was there exploring the small village that also sits beneath a castle high up top a steep cliff which was built in the 12th century. Apparently the castle is one of the best preserved in it's region, and the views from the castle looking down upon the river are absolutely breathtaking. The fountain in the picture sits along a narrow cobbled road in the old village across from a cafe where I was sitting and enjoying my morning coffee and croissant. I was enjoying the warm summer morning as I looked across the path and noticed this little girl completely intrigued with the water fountain. She stopped and played for at least a good ten minutes, discovering everything she could about it. Then when she was finished, she skipped along merrily and followed her family up the path. My take away from this wasn't anything deeply profound, or insightful, but just a sweet and simple reminder to take a moment and make sure to play every day.


Is time standing still?

If only, oh the things I could change! This photo was taken at Musée du Louvre in Paris. I think I'll just be quiet now ....and let time stand still. Shshsh.

Check Please!

Or as the French would say, " L'addition, s'il vous plait!"

So this picture was taken nearly two years ago. It was at about midnight in a cafe in Paris. We had just arrived from a really long flight, were exhausted and searching for a nice quick martini and small snack before heading back to the hotel to catch some sleep. The cafe service was prompt and polite, and the food of course was delicious. We consumed our drinks and snacks, and were ready to head out. The jet lag was quickly creeping upon us. As we sat at the table, we realized that our drained minds could not remember the French term for "Check Please," and despite our several attempts could not communicate that to our waitress. So we decided instead that we would just wait it out for her to bring the bill to our table - I mean it couldn't be long, right? We ended up waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting...until eventually over two hours had passed and the time had reached nearly 3am. We wondered what had happened. Didn't she want to go home? Didn't she want to get rid of us? We finally decided to step it up, get pro-active and track down the waitress with perhaps a more effective way of communication. The situation turned more confusing as well as comical with our stupid hand motions and ignorant attempts to pronounce the word "check." After much ado, we eventually communicated to her that we were ready to pay our bill and she was prompt and sweet and kindly waived, "Bonne nuit!" (Good night!) as we exited the cafe.

So, as the rest of the trip continued, eating at many other wonderful French cafes and restaurants- the similar situation played out again and again. I slowly started to understand how the typical French really enjoy a meal. There are no hurries, there's no rushing for the door, and by no means the bill offered until we specifically and politely requested it. I was initially confused and then came upon the epiphany, what a great concept! Enjoy the food, enjoy the drink, the surroundings and the conversation - just purely enjoy the meal and the entire experience. By all means no-one certainly had to twist my arm to acclimate to this forgotten and basic appreciation! Over the years I had become so wrapped up in the rush of everyday life, as well as our Americanized expeditious ways. I'm already a pretty relaxed person, and have always appreciated a nice evening with friends and family simply enjoying a good meal - but this experience had taken that to a new level. It made the rest of my vacation much more enjoyable, whether we dined at a small cafe or a highly rated restaurant, it all came down to the same point; slow down and enjoy the moment. I mean seriously, at the end of the day, ...what's the rush? With that, ...good evening or bonne nuit!


Simple Pleasures

In this picture I'm reaching down picking one of those "mini-daisies." Whenever I see a field of those little flowers it always brings back memories of summertime when I was a little girl. Probably no older than five or so, on warm summer afternoons I'd sit in the grass in the front yard making those the little daisy bracelets, necklaces and little daisy crowns. It would seriously entertain me for hours. It's those simple little pleasures that I think give me the biggest satisfaction. Here's another one, the other day I went for a run and decided to stop down by the beach by the waterfront. There's a little nature preserve with ducks and such. What caught my attention were some turtles all hanging out in the sun all lined up together on a log. They were just hanging out, about five of them, sunning themselves. Another thing I look forward to witnessing, without fail, every morning across the street I see a little old man walking his little old dog. You can tell they have been together for several years. They are both slow, don't walk very well, and you can see the familiarity between the two. It makes me laugh every single time.


Horse Shit

Yep, that's shit. I wonder if perhaps I could write an entire blog post around the subject of horse shit? The inspiration came from looking at an old photo. That's me sitting on our pony Sherri - and obviously a great deal of that horse shit was created by that sweet little thing. She was with us for several years, basically grew up with us and lived through many crazy adventures. She was a sweet, stubborn and a very special part of our family. Our neighborhood was also quite familiar with our horses through more unusual circumstances. We stored the grain in old metal garbage can containers to protect the grain from moisture and little critters. However, Sherri being the wiz kid that she was, was very keenly aware that garbage cans meant dinnertime. So sure enough, once in a while our horses decided to escape from the pasture and go on adventures through the neighborhood knocking over all of the garbage cans looking for their oats. Quite a brilliant yet funny little pony I must admit. We eventually bred Sherri and she had a filly (a girl) and we'd watch them run together as fast as they could across the pasture with their manes flying in the wind.

We also spent countless occasions crying over Sherri's bad temper and stubborn pony-ish ways. It was almost a daily occasion where my sister and I were either bucked off, or Sherri just decided it was time to go home and took off like a bandit with us holding on for our lives. Yes - so many adventures and lessons learned from that unique creature.

Last but not least, my other fond memories are of her grazing amongst the tall grass with big purple bur weeds stuck all over her main and tail. It was very obvious that she was in absolute pony heaven as she grazed away all afternoon in the sunshine. And so that brings me back horse shit, which I certainly shoveled enough of when I was a kid. Where therein lies the silver lining in an old saying that I heard years ago, "With all the horse shit, there must be a pony in there somewhere." And yes, there was indeed, with all of that horse shit - a sweet, loving, stubborn and perfect pony.


Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels

So here it is, the first blog for Wooden Nickel - which just so happens to also be Memorial Day. Kind of a little ironic with the blog title, but it truly is just a little coincidence as wooden nickels were so prevalent in the Depression era just before wartime. By the way, I got the idea for the title from the many conversations with my dad, who at the end of every phone call, email or live conversation says "Don't take any wooden nickels." He grew up in the era of The Great Depression which again is similarly another irony at the timing of the beginning of this blog - as our our nations current recession is in full bloom. Anyways, if you are not familiar with the term Wooden Nickel - it was an actual wood coin token issued after the Great Depression from banks or merchants that were redeemable for various items. The actual saying "Don't take any wooden nickels" is more of a jocular reminder to be cautious in one's dealings.

I hear in the news about how Americans are trying to budget and save money, for instance like staying home over Memorial Day weekend. I must admit that my memories of my own Memorial Day experiences cause me to chuckle a bit, only because those memories are of the family packed in the car with several dozen flowers in the trunk and placing them on the gravestones of relatives and friends of the family that passed away. Both my sister and I hated it, we fought as all young siblings do in the backseat of the car, as we begrudgingly went along just waiting for the afternoon to end so we could get home and play outside in the sunshine. In hindsight I must acknowledge that I do in fact have some admiration around the respect and tradition that my parents had for the meaning behind this holiday. They were paying tribute to those closest to them that had passed away through both war and other tragedies. The understanding of this stems through knowing that my parents grew up in a different era, through tougher times (the Great Depression) and living past it to the other side witnessing our very modern and different time in this nation. I guess driving around and putting flowers on the graves for those who experienced such pain and tragedy is a small price to pay on my part. It makes me realize how fortunate I really am - hence the symbolism of the posted picture of the kittens playing - that we are free to run, play and express ourselves ...freely. So on that note, enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend, remember how fortunate we are ...and "Don't take any wooden nickels!"


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