Archive for the ‘homes’ Category

9/24/18, The Wild West

Posted on September 24, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a great week since the last blog.

I’ve had some startling news about my home in San Francisco. It’s in a quiet residential neighbourhood, across from a park. Children play in the park, and there is a dog park for the neighbourhood dogs. And it’s a pretty peaceful place.

 

After several years of drought, and two years of ferocious severe fires, mostly to the North of the city, in Sonoma and Napa counties, the wildlife in those counties are being driven out, looking for food and water. Deer show up in unexpected places, and I was just made aware of a most unsettling situation. Coyotes have been seen all over the city, in parks and on city streets, and have now made their home in the park across the street from my house. People who work for me have seen them, neighbours have warned me, photos have turned up on Facebook of two of the coyotes walking past my house, and they were seen yesterday, standing in front of my home, watching people come to work in my office, one of whom comes with her dog. A few months ago, a friend of one of my sons was surrounded by coyotes in the Presidio (a big park that used to be an Army base, and is now where children play, people picnic, jog, and play baseball there. The coyotes were ready to attack her, until someone heard them, and her screams, and chased them away.) I have very old frail dogs at my home in San Francisco, who are living out their final years peacefully, and I am frightened for them and the people in my home, with coyotes “casing” my house, and living across the street. (We have no idea how many there are, if they are part of a pack, or are protecting their young, which would make them more aggressive).  With really bad luck, they could attack a person coming in or out of the house, or a dog being walked on a leash.

 

We called local animal control to ask for their help, and they said that there are so many coyotes in the city now (people I know have seen them in neighbourhoods all around the city), that they do not try to remove them, or move them somewhere else back to a more natural habitat, and they don’t come to help when coyotes show up on your doorstep, as they have on mine now. It certainly makes San Francisco a dangerous city, with animals who pose a real threat (to people and domestic animals), running free around the city. They suggested that we keep our dogs indoors and be vigilant. And that’s it.

 

Sadly, one of my closest friends lost a beloved dog to coyotes earlier this summer, in broad daylight in the morning, in another part of the country. Other friends have lost their pets to them in the country near San Francisco. And we have them around our home in the Napa Valley, and keep a close eye on our dogs there. I heard them there this summer, howling terrifyingly close by, seemingly moving in for the kill of some animal. Similarly, friends who have homes in Lake Tahoe, in the mountains, have a problem with bears hanging around their homes, and two have had bears break into their houses (and empty the fridge), and sleep in their beds.

 

We aren’t dealing with bears in the city of San Francisco yet. But the proliferation of coyotes in the city is a frightening prospect. It’s a sad situation for wildlife animals seeking food and water, but it can be a tragic one with potentially dangerous animals running unchecked in the city with children and small dogs and even adults at risk to be attacked by animals that present a real danger to small dogs and humans. Apparently, they’ve taken several cats in my neighbourhood.

 

It certainly is the Wild West, and very scary!!!

 

Stay safe, and have a great week, full of happy moments, good times, and good surprises!!! (not scary ones!!)

 

love, Danielle

 

5/28/18, Memorial Day

Posted on May 28, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

I hope you’re enjoying a long lovely weekend for Memorial Day. This holiday always symbolizes the beginning of summer….which is not quite the weather we’re getting anywhere on my route. Cold and gray in San Francisco, a friend tells me it’s cold and rainy in Boston, I think it’s been cold in New York, and everyone in Paris is complaining about how cold it is there. And I was in Napa and wore two sweaters and a jacket. So come on, Summer!!! Please try a little harder!!! I brought out my summer clothes this week, and am wondering why I did!! But other than the weather, It’s a lovely holiday, and is kind of a book end for summer, with Labor Day at the other end. So summer has officially begun.
 

In years past, my husband and I used to spend the Memorial Day weekend getting our home in the Napa Valley ready for the summer, dragging out all the pool furniture, dusting off the porch, pulling summer toys out of the barn for our kids. We spent the whole weekend cleaning things and getting ready, a big job. Our Napa home belongs to my children now—-and I’m still on the cleaning crew, although I only go there once a year now. And I spend several days before the holiday, with helpers, doing the same chores before Memorial Day now. It always warms my heart to go there, and do the same things again, getting it ready for my children to enjoy the place now with their siblings and friends. It’s a tradition now. We bought the home before most of them were born, and there is something touching about continuing the traditions of the past, which is in great part what Memorial Day is about, memories and cherished people. So I spent this week cleaning house and sprucing the place up, power washing, a little painting here and there, and freshening things up. And we are particularly grateful this year, as the big Napa fires last October came within less than a mile of the home. My youngest son very bravely went up during the fires to save all the photographs of their childhood, and mementoes of their father, in case we lost the house in the fire. We were all very grateful we didn’t, and copied the photographs he brought back. They normally hang all over the house, it’s their whole family history on the walls of our old farm. It’s very quaint and cozy. And my BIG BIG job this week was hanging all 464 photographs back on the walls. I hung them chronologically this time, so you can trace back to my husband’s youth, his early days, when we met, our wedding, all the children’s christenings (a LOT of them with 9 kids!!), their childhood and growing up years, right to the present. It was a lot of work, but I had a wonderful time doing it, and it brought back tender memories of happy times. I hope it will do the same for them!!! So that’s what I did this week. A long walk down memory lane and a lot of cleaning.  One daughter always helps me, and we always have fun doing our annual clean up week. So we’re spiffy clean and ready for summer when it shows up!!
 

The big news for me this week is that my new book, “The Cast” a week after it came out, will be #1 on the New York Times and several other lists this week. No matter how often it happens, it is a thrill for me every time!!! Thank you for buying the book—I hope you love it. It’s about the members of the cast of a hit TV series, and all the complications and secrets in their lives, and their interactions with each other in real life and on the show. It was huge fun to write, with some wonderful characters in it, and surprises, and I hope you love it!!! It should be a really fun read for the summer with characters I loved when I wrote the book.  And now that my big annual cleaning mission is done, I’ve been writing all weekend. I really do hope you love “The Cast”.
 

I have some busy times ahead, with a lot of work to do. The books don’t happen by magic, so I’m getting to work.
 

I hope you’ve had a wonderful long holiday weekend, and are starting to make fun summer plans. Thank you for everything, and for making the book #1.  Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

5/21/18, Dog Days

Posted on May 21, 2018

Hi Everyone,
 

As many of you know, I love art, particularly contemporary art (and I used to have a contemporary art gallery, for 6 years, in San Francisco. I still miss it!!!), and I especially love happy art, and art that makes me smile. In more classic art, I love paintings of children, or mothers and children. And in contemporary art, I love paintings and sculptures that involve words and sayings. I love hearts, AND I love sculptures of dogs, preferably in bright, fun colors. I realized recently (especially when I moved apartments 6 months ago and had to pack them all!!! and then find places for them in the new apartment) that I have a lot of fun sculptures of dogs, so I thought I’d share some of them with you. Most of them are painted bronze (and weigh a ton), some are fiberglass/also in bright colors, and some are metal like tin, or aluminum, and some are in odd materials, (one of them is made of little strips of newspaper). So I hope you enjoying seeing them…..I can never resist a cute dog statue, especially in a bright color. The French bull dogs in a multitude of colors are by an Italian artist, and the ones of Chihuahuas (in gold, red, and other colors), and the big white dog are by a Belgian artist named Willem Sweetlove, and I love his work (I also have a big red elephant by him, the size of a real baby elephant!!! It’s in my entrance hall, as a surprise to welcome arriving guests).
 

The word sculptures I love are fun too, and feature words I love: Hope, Love, Happiness. I also used to make wall hangings with multi colored vintage letters to spell out words or sayings I like. Some of the word paintings are black and white, and the word sculptures tend to be red. I collect a French artist called “Ben”, who writes words or sayings, usually on a bright background. In my office, my paintings by him say: “You never know”, “Keep on looking”, “I risk everything”, ” There are no questions without answers”, and “You have to laugh at it”.
 

So here are the dogs I’ve collected, I hope you enjoy them too!!! Have a great week.

 

 

love, Danielle

 

Filed Under Art, Dogs, Hobbies, homes, Paris | 3 Comments

2/5/18, Mix and Match

Posted on February 6, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,
 

Oops, sorry I’m a day late with the blog, but I will confess I was having fun yesterday, at least some of the time. Living between two cities and travelling back and forth every few weeks, I always seem to be hit with a backlog of work, minor and major problems, and things to catch up on when I arrive. My last day before I leave is hectic, and my first day back in either city is a total zoo, and chaotic. I’m not complaining because I feel very lucky to live in two cities—but the transition can be bumpy. So yesterday was first day back, and I spent 21 hours playing catch up and settling in. My reward for all that was that a small shipment of photographs, paintings, curtains and objects that I sent home by ship when I moved to my new apartment in Paris at the beginning of November, had arrived the day before I returned home, and I got to dig through the boxes and find a place for each of the things I sent back. Some of it I had earmarked for my kids (some great photos of Marilyn Monroe that my son wanted, some fashion photos from the 1950’s for one of my daughters in fashion, and the modelling photos of another of my daughters, when she modelled for a while before getting into the business and counselling end of fashion).

It felt like Christmas as I took time out from real work to dig through the boxes.  It was like a treasure hunt!! After three months, I had almost forgotten what I sent, including two sets of really pretty curtains that didn’t work anywhere in the new apartment, and I hated to give up, so I kept them and sent them home. I love collecting things, so my houses are pretty full, and trying to fit anything new in is like working a Rubik’s Cube!!! But I somehow always manage to squeeze one more thing in, or hang one more painting, by re-hanging 5 or 10 others!! I also used the opportunity of the move to get rid of things I was tired of, and had been mistakes to begin with, so what was left were mostly things I really love, which makes my new home that much more enjoyable, now that I weeded out the things I didn’t love. I love going to auctions and finding unusual things, or paintings by unknown artists. I love Chinese art, and have a collection of small wooden antique Buddhas—they’re not of great value, but with the patina of age, I really love looking at them!! And sometimes moving something old and familiar to a new home gives it a new burst of life and you enjoy it all over again!!! I love mix and matching things, old and new, I have a collection of Chinese ceramic vegetables and fruit, and have mixed them with the things that my children made in ceramics class in school when they were very little. It makes a fun eclectic group of objects, and I have them all together on a table. I have a lot of art made by my children, and I love it!!!  And I still have many paintings left from when I had a contemporary art gallery. Sometimes the things my children made look great with modern art. I love mixing and matching with both fashion and decorating—-something very special and even expensive mixed with something silly or fun that I found in a funny little shop somewhere. I like the light hearted side of that rather than being too serious about decorating or fashion. So I had great fun finding new homes for all the things I sent back, and the curtains I sent home fit perfectly and look beautiful. So it was my Mix and Match day.

As much as I love fashion, almost as an art form, for the past 10 years or so, I enjoy decorating even more. And when I had put all the new arrivals away, I went back to work on the mountain waiting for me on my desk, and I’m still at it today. It was a 21 hour work day yesterday, with more of the same today…..but I loved my Mix and Match day yesterday.   Have a great week!!

 

love, Danielle

Filed Under Family, homes, Paris, Travel | 5 Comments

1/17/18, “Mixed Bag”

Posted on January 17, 2018

Hi Everyone,

I was reading from Joel Osteen tonight—he always inspires me, and something I read struck me as important. “Everything you say matters. Something you say may seem insignificant to you, but to someone else, it may be life changing.” I find that to be so true, both positively and negatively. Particularly with one’s children, but with other people too. Something we may say casually goes right to someone’s heart. I still remember a math tutor I had, who told me at about the age of 12 that I would never amount to anything, and it stuck with me for a long time, and fortunately proved to be untrue. A family member said some really cruel things to me as a child that stayed in my mind for years—almost like a curse, and I had to overcome those words. And in the same vein, we can encourage people, with a few warm, kind words. We need to use our words well, it can make a huge difference to someone, especially if we offer a kind word at what we may not even know is a low point for them.

This time of year is high writing season for me (it’s nice to stay home in the cold weather), and it’s also my ‘homebody’ season, when I stay home on cold rainy days, putter around the house and get things done that I’ve meant to get to for a while. Hang a painting, clean out a closet, tidy up my desk, make calls I’ve been meaning to make. I love having at home time to do that. I’m really enjoying my new home, and am still settling in.

Doing something as complex and complicated as a move to a new home brought me in contact with many suppliers I wasn’t familiar with, and hadn’t used before, but needed to complete the process, IT people, Internet and phone installers, movers, carpet cleaners, painters, curtain installers, someone to install a movie projector, so my kids could watch movies/DVD’s at home. Some of it was pretty simple stuff, and some of it more complicated. As a woman alone, one sometimes appears vulnerable, and the whole process has been a lesson in human nature. Some people simply cannot resist taking advantage, and others do a fantastic job. I’ve had some real battles to face, which has taken patience. In all, two of the suppliers were outstanding, and did way more than expected, and didn’t charge a penny extra for it. Others couldn’t resist the temptation to cross the line, and padded bills, flat out lied, didn’t show up and weren’t reliable, and didn’t do what they promised at all. In each case, I tried to be patient and reasonable, and sometimes had to get tough about a blatantly dishonest bill, or a supplier who had gotten paid, and then didn’t do the job. It’s disappointing when people do that. Maybe they thought I wouldn’t notice, or wouldn’t make a fuss about it. But after several months of it, when I see an irregularity now, or a ‘cheat’ on a bill, I put my foot down, and in one or two cases, it took a lawyer to get things back in line. It will make me much more cautious in future about whom I trust, what I pay for, and expecting people to do the job they promised!! And with so many suppliers and tradesmen involved in a move, there’s a lot of opportunity to wind up with some bad ones in the mix. And some VERY good ones, which I am grateful for!!! Even more grateful than before.

I can’t help noticing too, and commenting on, what a terrible beating California has taken with fires both North and South, floods, mud slides, and even a recent earthquake in Northern California. Many of the stories are truly horrible from the fires, with so many homes lost, and all their personal treasures, or loved ones, lost. And now the victims of the mud slides are equally poignant, with loss of life, and so many homes. My heart goes out to everyone affected, and all the victims. I hope the planet will calm down now!!!

I hope the year is off to a good start for you, whether you are hibernating, or out having fun!!!
Have a great week!!!

love, Danielle

12/19/17, Busy Days

Posted on December 19, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope everyone is well and in good spirits, and not too rushed, swamped, and stressed by the season. This last week before Christmas is a challenge!! Finish Christmas shopping, finish wrapping, send presents to people far away, get the Christmas cards out, visit family, and/or fly to far away locations, and just getting through it all, whatever it takes. It seems to be a tradition now at our house that some major function in our (very old, 111 year old) house breaks right before Christmas, usually too late to fix it in time for the holiday. A few years ago, the entire heating system broke down, and no one could do a major repair until after New Year, so we literally ate Christmas dinner in warm winter jackets. One year, one of the water heaters broke. This year, the hot water is suspiciously cool, and a dining room window broke and won’t close. And when you jam every room full of people, and 20+ people take showers at the same time, the house no longer seems to be used to full occupancy, and some vital system collapses. I see chilly baths in my future for the next week!!! (The same thing used to happen at our beach house over my birthday, when alarms would go off, the hot water would run out, and someone would have forgotten to get a fresh tank of butane or propane or whatever so we could cook. Oops!!) But whatever the kinks in the house, I am happiest when our house is full to the gills, and my whole family is home. That’s the best part of Christmas or any holiday for me.

We all know what the stresses of Christmas are. The important thing is not to let them eclipse the joys of the season. Family battles, minor or major feuds, the usual problems that plague us all and lurk even at Christmas, job worries, financial responsibilities, health issues, and all the dreams we want to come true, and maybe haven’t yet (the right partner, a better job, a nicer home, a kinder boss, an estranged family member to return, a healing for our marriage, a better relationship with those we love). The worries will still be there by next week, so it’s nice if we can put them aside long enough to enjoy the holiday!!!

One of my children volunteered at a homeless shelter for the past two weekends, and I am very proud of her. It is so important to remember those who are less fortunate than we are. No matter what we have or who we are, as humans, there will always be people who have more, and others who have less and need our help. Our foundation in my late son Nick’s honor gives gifts and gift certificates to as many as we can manage at facilities for homeless, troubled, and mentally ill children and young people. And the gift of one’s time is often the greatest gift, and the hardest to give at this time of year.

The year has been crammed full, of good things and scary things (the Napa fires), and sad things, losses and gains, disappointments, victories and lessons learned. Each year is a slice of life with the full mix of blessings and sorrows. And at this time of year, the memories of sweet times and losses flood us, and ultimately carry us through.

So as you rush around this week, trying to remember everything you’ve forgotten to do, and finish all the last details before the holiday, I hope we take a minute to remember our blessings, even if they are small ones, and cherish the good times and the good years, and our hopes for the future. The world around us can be dicey, but even with its ups and downs, we’re lucky in so many ways, no matter how small the blessings.

I send you all my loving thoughts for comfort, strength, and joy, good people in your lives, happy moments that carry you through to better times, and will make these holidays special in some way. May the love and joy and spirit of the holidays be with you, and keep you warm. A very, very happy holiday to all, whatever holiday you celebrate, and wherever you are.

With much love, Danielle

11/20/17, Thanksgiving

Posted on November 20, 2017

Hi Everyone,

Well, the holidays are upon us. I’ve been so busy moving, as I told you last week, that the holidays snuck up on me this year. But wherever we are, my children and I fly to get together to celebrate Thanksgiving. We share the holiday with a few close friends who are with us every year, and some friends who join us because they don’t have other plans that year. My married children sometimes spend it with their in laws, but almost the entire family comes together for Thanksgiving (and everyone is home for Christmas). And even our family from Europe comes to join us. It’s a very special holiday, and what I like best about it and try to focus on is that it’s a holiday meant to celebrate gratitude, and makes us think of what we are thankful for. As in all lives, difficult things and challenges and even some sorrows happen during the year, people we love are no longer with us, and we all face hard moments that are often difficult to be thankful for. But woven into the tapestry of our lives, for all of us, are the joys among the sorrows, the unexpected blessings, the enormous gifts that life gives us as well as the challenges. It’s difficult to be grateful for the ‘hard stuff’, but so important to remember the gifts that life gives us every year, that sometimes go unnoticed, or don’t stand out as sharply as the losses or griefs. We have friends to be grateful for, and our children, our homes, our work, the people who make a day suddenly special, the unexpected tender moments that make life worthwhile. The big things to be grateful for are easy to spot, but there are so many smaller moments that we need to cherish and treasure and be grateful for.

Holidays that are spent alone are incredibly hard, and many people find themselves in lonely situations, far from home and loved ones, or at the end of a relationship, or after a loss of some kind. During this holiday even more than any other, it increases the blessing to reach out and embrace the people who need us, whose holidays are looking bleak and lonely. I am always reminded of the phrase from the Bible, “God places the solitary in families”. It has been true for me, at times when I was alone before I was married and had my children.

The theory about Thanksgiving is that it’s about abundance—-an abundance of food, of blessings, of people gathering to share the holiday. That’s a hard concept to hang onto at times, if you’re without a job, a home, the obvious material blessings in life. But abundance is not just about material blessings, it is about all kinds of abundance in our lives, the richness of our friendships, the opportunities we have, the tiny moments of joy that happen, along with the bigger blessings that are easy to remember and be thankful for.

I am grateful for you, my readers, for my friends and children, for the time I get to spend with them, I’m grateful for the kindness and love of my children, and for their happiness and wellbeing, and the good people in their lives. I am so thankful too for my work, my books, my publishers, editor, agent, researcher and all the people who make my work possible, and you most of all for reading the books and being so faithful.

So at this special time of gratitude, thank you for all that you add to my life, your letters, your reactions, the pleasure you have in reading the books and share with me. You give me so much joy!! I hope that your holiday will be filled with an abundance of everything you wish, and all the tiny and large and even huge blessings to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving and all my love, Danielle

ps. I was just reading the responses to my recent blogs, and saw that Joy understood that we lost our Napa house. I’m sorry if I gave that impression. We were incredibly lucky and the house was spared. The flames were all around us, within a mile of our home on all sides, and miraculously, despite burned twigs and branches and charred pieces of wood all around it, the house didn’t burn. So many, many people lost homes in Napa and Sonoma, and our hearts go out to them. (I believe that 9,000 homes and structures burned, although that number may be old by now). And even more tragically, too many people lost their lives, and the firemen and first responders fought courageously to save people and homes.

As for the photographs that we treasure in that home, the whole history of my children’s lives is in those photos, my youngest son did a foolish but very brave thing during the fire. He drove to Napa, got through to our area, despite the heavy smoke and fires raging everywhere, and he went into the house for twenty minutes, grabbed as many of the framed photos as he could off the walls, threw them into his car, and stayed as long as he could. He said that by the time he left you couldn’t see through the smoke. He brought back several hundred of those photos, which I am having copied now, and I will have all the others copied when we get back to the house. It’s a lesson and reminder to make copies of important photos. It would have been a heartbreaking loss to lose them if we had lost the house. And I’m so grateful we didn’t. I was furious with my son for risking himself and going up there, but it turned out all right in the end. He is MUCH more important than the photographs!!!

Thank you for caring about our home there. And among the blessings I will be thankful for on Thanksgiving, and am every day, I’m so grateful that our home was spared. We are so deeply sorry for those who lost their homes, and even more so for the lives lost. They will remain in our hearts and prayers.

love, Danielle

11/13/17, Bad for Good

Posted on November 13, 2017

Hi Everyone,

First of all, my apologies for not showing up last week with the blog. I hate letting you down, but I was up to my ears in a massive project: I was moving, which was a huge undertaking. I moved from one apartment to another in Paris, after living in the same place for 13 years. Our family home in San Francisco is the mother ship and home base for me and my family, but I spend half my time in Paris, so that’s important to me and my children too. And being a homebody, I go from one location to the other, and I love my nest. I rent in Paris, found the apartment by accident 13 years ago, it suited me perfectly, I loved it, and somehow assumed I would be able to stay there forever. It sold four times in 13 years, and each time, the owners had it as an investment and let me stay, so I had begun to consider it ‘mine’. A year and a half ago it sold to someone who wanted to live there, and gave me 2 years notice (according to French law) to leave. I was shocked when I received the notice, then crushed. I had denial for about a year—they couldn’t really make me leave, could they? Yes, they could, and they did. It took me 15 months to have the heart to tell my kids we had lost our beloved Paris home. I think I had denial about it until then. My 5 youngest children come and go a lot and stay with me for work, visits, and vacations, so I knew how sad they would be too. I tried valiantly three times to convince the new owner to let me stay, to no avail. So a year after my ‘eviction notice’, I began searching for a new apartment, and the reality was grim, and depressing beyond belief. I hadn’t moved in 13 years, and I had forgotten how miserable that search can be, and how many frogs you have to kiss before you find a prince. I always feel that finding a home is like romance. You know almost instantly if it’s right for you, and there has to be chemistry. Aside from that I’m not a ‘mover’, I have lived in very few homes in my life. I lived in 2 homes through my entire childhood until I married, and two in each marriage. My children were born while we lived in one home, and while they were too young to even remember it, we moved to the home they grew up in and we still live there. And now that they’re grown up, they stay where they live too, and don’t move. We put down roots and stay, so I felt like I was being torn out of our Paris home by the roots, a painful process. It was very emotional for me to have to move, and a horrible thought from a practical standpoint too. And moving is expensive, no matter what you do.

The search for an apartment was almost comical, but not quite. Apartments that were advertised as bigger than they really were. Places were announced as ‘newly renovated’—-yeah, in 1932 maybe, but no more recently than that. Dirty, tired, beaten up, ugly, dark, too expensive, 5th floor walk ups, grim, miserable places I wouldn’t want to spend an hour in, let alone live in. No matter how small, people in France buy their apartments if they possibly can, so the rental market is slim, rental apartments are owned as investments, often treated badly by tenants, so landlords don’t bother to take good care of them, and rent some places in really appalling condition, figuring they’ll get beaten up anyway. So renting an apartment in Paris is not so easy. They also don’t come with any light fixtures or kitchen equipment, and you have to provide your own. (Thank you, Ikea!! I love their kitchens and light fixtures. They save my life!!). Anyway, the search was depressing for six months once I accepted the fact that I had to leave, and I think I saw every beaten up, ugly, grim apartment in Paris. (Sometimes realtors would send beautiful photographs of apartments—-but they turned out not to be the apartments I went to see.). And then with incredible good luck, the person helping me look heard of an apartment that might come on the market, right in my own neighbourhood. We went to see it, and there it was, pure romance, I knew in the first 2 minutes that it was The One. I fell in love then and there. No more frogs, I had found the prince. It was the right size, location, had a warm feeling to it, and was even in my budget (prices had escalated in 13 years, and I was shocked by that too). And then of course, reality and complications set in. An overstaying tenant who was in no hurry to leave, kept changing their minds, and left me hanging. A four month battle ensued, and I doubted I would ever get that apartment. It had everything I wanted but I couldn’t get in.

I packed up my old apartment, and for anyone who has moved, you know what that’s like. My closets were like bottomless pits, or Ali Baba’s cave. Everything we were too lazy to throw away or didn’t know what to do with, wound up in a closet or on a shelf. I spent three months throwing things away, packing other things, getting rid of things I should have gotten rid of years ago. Packing up 13 years of one’s life is a massive job. I compare finding a new home to romance, and moving is like childbirth, painful and an utter mess, until at last you have the end result in your arms, and it all seems worth it. Getting there is NOT half the fun. I’ve spent the last four months packing, sorting, and putting 13 years of my life either in the garbage or in boxes, and sold some things. I did all the packing myself, and let me tell you, I’m in no hurry to do that again. Fortunately, leases are long in France, and a short term lease is 3 years, and most leases are for 6, 9, or even 12 years, which suits me just fine!!! So I packed it all up, and then sat on my boxes and waited for the apartment to become available, which began to seem unlikely, and was stressful as hell. And then, miracle of miracles, with a few days notice, the tenant up and left. We were notified of it on a Sunday afternoon, and since I was all packed up anyway (even my kitchen had been taken apart, ready to move, and all I had left to use were the fridge and the sink, even my stove had been disconnected, and the microwave and toaster packed God knew where, in what box). When the tenant moved out, we moved in the next day. With no time to do painting or fixing anything before I moved in, so movers and painters were bumping into each other as I moved.

And holy shit!!!! What a massive job moving was. The movers were very nice, and I had people to help me, but moving is just a nightmare, as you watch your whole private world come apart, and can’t find anything for weeks. I am very organized so I had lists and plans and notes about everything, and diagrams to show the movers of where things should go—-all of which meant nothing. It was chaos anyway. Utter, total chaos, with boxes everywhere, most of it in the wrong rooms, and I couldn’t find a damn thing. It looked like a war zone.

I also discovered during this process that what someone wise once said is true: anyone on a diet, getting a divorce, or moving is a crashing bore. For the last 3 or 4 months, anyone who said “how are you” to me, whether my butcher, mailman or best friend got a long saga from me about the state of the move. I have been a dead bore to everyone I know with the agony of finding a place, the stress of battling to actually get in, and the chaos and mess of the process of moving to a new address. I’m sure everyone is sick to death of hearing it. But it happened. I did it!!! I moved 19 days ago, worked like a dog 18 hours a day—-setting up a new home, I discover, is kind of like writing a book, you create a whole new universe in your head, you develop a vision of it, and then try to make reality match that vision with whatever you have in hand. I REALLY lucked out, because I’ve had moves in my life where you don’t have enough to fill a new home, and are sitting on orange crates or the equivalent for a while—in this case, I had what I needed, and all I’ve had to buy were some rugs for the kitchen (Ikea again!! I love their stuff), and a medicine chest for my bathroom. I had everything else—the big job was to figure out where to put what. Like a Rubix Cube, or a puzzle. I took it on like a major challenge, and the people who helped me with the move worked as hard as I did to make it all work. I packed it all up myself, and realized that if I tried to unpack it all myself too, I’d be buried for months, so I lined up enough help so I didn’t kill myself in the process, and found a great handyman through a friend to put up shelves, hang things, and put my kitchen back together. And it’s a lot easier to take a place apart than to put one together. I can only do so much, and the boxes were heavy to move around. Two weeks ago, even a week ago, I thought I’d never dig my way out, as I sat looking at the mountain of boxes, and pushed furniture from room to room……and like magic, it has all fallen into place. I have an adorable new office where I can write peacefully, enough room for my kids to visit me and stay as long as they can. Their familiar things are in their rooms, mine are in my room, so it actually feels like home, and doesn’t seem strange and new. My bathroom at the new apartment only had a shower, and I love baths, so my gift to myself was to buy a bathtub small enough to fit in the shower, which feels like a total luxury!!! I love my new home, I would never have moved if I wasn’t forced to, but it has turned out to be a huge blessing in the end.

It has also been a life lesson for me. 21 months ago when I got the eviction notice at my old place, I thought it was one of the worst things that had happened to me. And the six month search for a new apartment confirmed it to me, until I found the new apartment. And four months of battling to get it was definitely not fun…..but in the end, forced from my cozy, familiar home, I find myself in one that I like even better, that suits me better, works better, and I think even my kids will like more. The French call it “un mal pour un bien”, a bad thing for a good one in the end, which is exactly what happened here. What seemed like a very bad thing turned out to be a great one for me. It was forced on me, but I think it was meant to be, and now it feels like a gift. I feel very blessed and incredibly lucky that in this case the ‘bad thing’ turned out to be a happy one. It reminds me that hard things that happen can turn out to be a blessing and a real gift in the end. I walk around the new apartment now, still a little dazed, wondering how all this happened, and how I wound up here. I’m loving it. I unpacked the last box 2 days ago, and the little framed sayings and quotes that I love are on the wall (I hammered them up too late at night and the neighbours have already complained, oops!!!). So I’m home again, and all my old stuff looks fresh and new. It’s a whole new chapter, and a new life in a new place…..so the bad thing in this case turned out to be a very good one!!! It will be a good thing to remember the next time something happens that shakes me up. People kept reminding me how stressful moving is (as if I didn’t already know), and they were right. It was incredibly stressful, but I’m so happy to be home now. And I hope I won’t ever have to move again!!!

much love, Danielle

7/31/17, Two weeks “off”?

Posted on July 31, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I apologize for not writing to you for the last two weeks. I don’t know if they qualify as “off”. The time has flown. It has actually been an insanely busy couple of months, and especially for the last two weeks. I barely got a minute to sit down, and answer a letter or write a blog, or keep up with returning phone calls. Five of my children visited me for 10 days, and we went away for 6 days of it, as we do every year. I had a lot of things to do in my house, I had a re-write to do on a book, I decided to weed some things out in my house and sold some furniture, and with one thing and another, I haven’t stopped for two weeks. The vacation with my children was really lovely, and I’m always grateful for the time we spend together. The time just whizzed by, and 6 days for a vacation just isn’t very long. By the time you get settled, wherever you go, it’s time to pack up and leave. They left a week ago, and I haven’t stopped since!!! I’m going to be seeing them again in August.

I also went to New York and saw 3 of my daughters there, and met up with friends from Paris, who had three of their children with them. We’ve had some good times and good meals out together. Now tomorrow it’s back to real life, and I have another re-write to do. I do many, many re writes before a book finally gets published. It takes a couple of years from when I write a book until it gets into your hands.

One nice thing happened this summer, aside from seeing my children which I always love—my three little dogs have finally gotten used to each other, and seem happy together now. It was a hard adjustment, the third dog really upset the apple cart, and REALLY upset one of my other dogs—but she’s grown up and is less of a puppy now, and the three are finally friends. It took nine months—-and when I added the second dog four years ago, it took six months for them to adapt and bond. But we are finally getting there now.

So it’s back to the grind for me now, time to get back to work. The vacation is over. Thank you for your patience!!! I’ll be hunkering down with the typewriter tonight and for the next several weeks!!!

lots of love, Danielle

5/30/17, “The summer begins…”

Posted on May 30, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day, and had a long weekend!!!

Memorial Day is when we remember those fallen in combat and war, a serious holiday, but it is also the very beginning of summer. It’s not hot everywhere yet, but the weather is warmer, and for many people it’s their first weekend away, to mark the beginning of summer. Every year we scrubbed and cleaned and painted and organized our country house for the summer, and I helped my children do that two weeks ago. It’s fun to get everything ready for the summer. I spent the weekend writing, but I love knowing that summer is just around the corner and I’ll take some time off soon—not quite yet though. I took a few days off last week to read a book and enjoyed it, but I’m back at work now. So my summer hasn’t quite started yet, but I’m looking forward to it!!

I hope you got to enjoy the three day weekend. Children will be out of school soon, and parents will be busy keeping them entertained all summer, and I hope you’ll be able to take some vacation time this summer, to sleep late, go to the beach, or lie in a hammock and read. What a heavenly thought!!!

I’m looking forward to some downtime this summer, and hope you are too!!! I worked hard writing books all winter!!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the victims of the attack at the concert in Manchester, England. So troubling and so heart breaking to think of young people being targeted for an attack like that, or anyone. So cruel. I hope we see the end of events like that soon. And my thoughts are with the victims, and their families, and the injured who will have a long road to recover. My prayers are with them. This is an unseen war, which explodes periodically, attacking the innocent, in this case, young people, teenagers and children. Our Memorial Day should include them too. May our troubled world come to a place of peace soon.

Have a terrific, peaceful, safe, happy week!!!

love, Danielle