Friday, July 27, 2012

Farm Sunday

Last Sunday I asked Kailyn if she wanted to take a little drive.  I'd been reading in an Old Stuff magazine about an antique sale that was ending on Sunday.  The address was Kelso, so I figured it couldn't be much more than about 40 miles or so from home . . . a nice Sunday drive!

We hopped in the car and she plugged the address into the iPad and away we went.  It turned out to be a bit further than I had expected,  as we left the freeway and were following signs down scenic country roads and turned onto a dead end road.  We saw this sort of hodge podge of stuff as we bumped across a big field and came to a stop. It was worth every minute of the drive.

There were lots of antiques and "vintage" garden art scattered around, some in little old buildings, some under a covered area.  I found a couple of things I felt I had to have, one being this beautiful old washbowl . . .

 . . . which has a Johnson Bros. England stamp on the back.  It's very big and deep. Originally I was going to use it for a birdbath, but now I'm not so sure.  I don't want to ruin it, as it's in nice condition.

Another treasure was this sweet little bowl from Japan.  I have a few pieces but none quite like this one. It's a little bigger than a teacup, and I'm not certain what it's purpose was.  But, it goes in my kitchen, so I bought it.  Besides, it was only $4!

I bought one more treasure, but I won't post a picture yet, as it's a gift.  If life would have worked out as planned, I would have already given it away, but this week went a little amuck. More on that later!

As we wandered the shop, we couldn't help noticing that this was a very special place.  I asked the owner if we might peek inside this adorable play house and she said that the grounds were open, and we could look wherever we wished!

So, we went inside and I just wanted to stay and play!
The kitchen was a little girl's dream!

I especially loved this piece.  There was also a darling little ironing board and iron.
Can you believe this miniature pay phone!  The little house also had electricity.  
The beautiful garden was well protected by this gentleman!

The lush greenery and flowers were a haven for the birds and the bees!
I asked Kailyn to pose in front of the garden shed.
Inside the garden shed . . .  

Inside the chicken coop.  
We got a kick out of watching the chickens and cows.
Doesn't this look like the perfect place to sit a spell?

There are many more pictures that didn't make it into this blog.  As we were paying for our purchases, I asked the owner about the place.  She told me they had been there over 25 years, since they married.  She is the gardener, and her husband enjoys building and decorating with their treasures and findings.  The prices were amazingly good, considering it was certainly off the beaten path.  I plan to return and take my friends with me!

As for my crazy week, here's a bit of what has happened.  My friend Deb and I had planned weeks ago on a little beach antiquing trip, and we were supposed to leave Wednesday morning.  I've been really looking forward to spending time with her, and I could hardly wait to get our mini adventure started.

However, my husband and I learned that his oldest and dearest friend, Dave, was diagnosed with another brain tumor, (they found the first one a year ago) but this one was on the other side.  He has glioblastoma, a pretty deadly brain cancer, and the surgeon wanted to operate as soon as possible.  It had grown to the size of a walnut in less than a month and was in the speech area of the brain. Our friend and his wife (my good friend, too) were told to meet with their pastor and prepare for the worst.  My husband rarely breaks down, but did after talking with them on Monday.  I decided I needed to stay here and support my husband and friend during the surgery, instead of going with Deb, as the surgery was scheduled for Wednesday morning.  

It was the right thing to do, although it was one very long day.  The good news is that the surgery went well, the tumor was removed, and amazingly, our friend is already home from the hospital!  It was all pretty scary, as we were with them when the doctor told them (prior to the surgery) that there was a real possibility that his speech would be affected.  After the surgery, he was in recovery for a couple hours. We waited until he was in ICU and took turns going in to visit for a short time.  I didn't cry in his room, but I couldn't help the tears when I got back to the waiting room.  We were all hugging and crying. Dave was talking coherently, and even joking, despite being in pain.

Surprisingly, the doctor had told us right after surgery that Dave would stay in ICU for two days, and then it would be about six more days until he would be able to go home.  I guess there are numerous neurological exercises or tests he needs to pass, as well as physical things.  He passed with flying colors, days ahead of expectations.  Pretty powerful!  Of course, the battle isn't won, as he starts radiation in eight days, and then there will be chemo again.  But, we are all grateful for more time to spend with Dave.  He's a pretty special guy!

Finally, last Sunday at church, there was an urgent notice in the bulletin that a lead cook was needed for the middle school Bike Hike.  Guess who volunteered?  I think I'm a little bit crazy, as this is a camping trip and I pretty much dislike camping and dirt!  But, Kailyn offered to go along as my assistant, and I decided it might be fun.  There's a ton of preparation to be done, but once there, except for cooking, it shouldn't be too bad!!  We're going to Farragut State Park in Idaho, and I checked it out.  It's gorgeous, and I'm hoping Kailyn and I will get a couple nice hikes in when we're not prepping, cooking, serving and cleaning up!  Today I baked up three double batches of brownies and wrapped them individually for one of the desserts.  Tomorrow we meet at church for packing in the morning, and we head out after lunch on Sunday.  

I know I'm a little crazy, but I'm looking forward to this "working vacation".  I may not like camping, but I love nature, so it will be good.  (I'm having my husband take the seats out of my van, and I'm putting a blow up mattress in it for me to sleep on.  I am not sleeping in a tent on the ground!) I checked the weather and it's high 70's - low 80's and 0% chance of rain for the next ten days.  It's going to be great!  

Deb and I rescheduled for the following week, so we'll still have our trip to look forward to. 

Life is pretty darn good right now!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Our second day in Manchester we took the train to Chester, where I had booked a tour through a website I found online,

We met up with Steve on a very misty, wet morning, and received the grand tour of this fabulous, quaint old town.

Jess shot this one of the rest of us, near the beginning of our  adventure with Steve.  As it was raining steadily, we started in the covered shopping area, which was double decker!
You can see some of the shops from our view across the street.  It was very interesting to walk on the second level, as each business was in charge of what type of flooring.  I wish one of us would have taken photos of the flooring, as sometimes it was wood, or tile, or stone.  It just depended on who owned the property and what materials they chose to use.  It wasn't always even, so you had to watch your step!
I found this one shot showing some of the variation of flooring on the second level of shops.
Unfortunately, I have a considerable amount of reflection in this photo of a meat market.  Steve told us that all businesses (in the old days and even currently) are grouped.  So, there might be several meat markets in the same area, or bakeries, or whatever.  I would imagine that might work in favor of the consumers, as being close to each other, prices would be easy to compare.
One of the gates in the early wall, as there is more city on the other side.
Crumbling old wall, yet still navigable!
Anyone recall the Beatle's song "Nowhere Man"?  Steve told us that this is the house, known locally as "Nowhere House" that the Beatles heard about and John Lennon visited.  This house supposedly inspired him to write the song. 

Another nice section that is a mix of old and restored.
Pemberton is my maiden name, so I was tickled to find this plaque.  It is probably impossible to read, but tells of a gentleman named John Pemberton who was a Murenger (responsible for upkeep of the wall) who sort of initiated the use of a section of the wall as a "Parlour".  Ladies and gentlemen would promenade the wall, then sit and converse in the little jutting out section.  Sort of 18th century parking, I gather!

This is Pemberton's Parlour.  Not sure why it is gated off!
We walked the entire city on the wall, taking detours on occasion to view the inner and outer walls when handy.  This part was near the ancient jail, part of the earliest wall.  This was a moat, which later became the garbage dump.  It became a treasure trove of findings when excavated (I don't recall when).
There are a few memorials barely visable, as for many years it has sadly become a place chosen for the despondent to throw themselves over the side and perish.  Steve said this was due to the connection with the original gallows, and the walkway seen in the next photo.
This is the other side.  The tiny bridge was called "The Bridge of Sighs" as those who were walked across, were walking to their death in the gallows, having been found guilty of some crime or another. (Gallows long gone, and a newer building is now obstructing the path.)

Another of the city gates; I don't recall which one!)
This photo is taken from a pub where we stopped for refreshment.  The white bridge you can see in the background was the "tow bridge" used by horses pulling or "towing" barges along the canal.  It's very cleverly constructed, as the horses walked up on the left side of the canal, across the bridge, then down on the other side, towing the barge along behind them.

Inside the pub, this big gear thing had to do with the  canal, but I don't recall what exactly!  It's the focal point of the pub.

Another view inside the pub.
Old telly on the wall in the pub!
This is one of the oldest pubs still in existence in Chester!

Our Chester tour was very informative and Steve's droll Brit humor was highly entertaining!
If you're ever in the area, book a tour.  You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Why is it that anticipation/anxiety of a particular situation/event often gets me more freaked out than the actual situation/event?  I can work myself up into a pretty good anxiety attack just anticipating something that I think I'm going to dread, or when I'm fearful/worried about one of my loved one's safety.

Case in point ~ yesterday, Jessica phoned me from Honolulu to excitedly proclaim, "I'm back in the States!"  And, while listening to her I breathed a (hopefully inaudible) sigh of relief.  She told me about being in Korea, the good and the not so great, and I was glad I didn't know all of it while I was snug at home.  One thing I didn't realize was that Kayla just had a few days off while Jess was there, so she was on her own much of the time.

Jess had posted about 200 pictures from the zoo in Seoul, but I didn't know until this conversation that she hadn't been with Kayla.  Instead, she had gone and spent the day on her own, had dinner on her own, being one of very few white, single women in sight.  She did not know the language.

This is not a girl who prior to this summer spent much time alone.  She is gregarious and well liked and has a large group of friends in Bellingham that she hangs out with.  She likes being with people, so I guess that (and a love of all things furry) is what lead her to spend the day at the zoo on her own; at least she was in the midst of lots of people!

She had a long layover in Hawaii, and had hoped to connect with some former church friends that lived there, but it didn't work out.  Instead Jess told her dad (by that time he was home and had taken the phone) that she was going to look for a bus or some sort of transportation out of the airport and to the beach.

Just before I went to bed I texted her to ask if she had gotten to the beach, fully expecting her to text back immediately with a "yep" or "nope".  I heard nothing.  My mom warning bells began clanging, just a little, but clanging just the same.  I went to bed wondering if I will EVER grow out of this unhealthy fear of "what ifs" when I don't hear back from one of the girls.  My imagination soars into overtime and I am fully expecting the phone to ring, telling me she had been run over or mugged (she had her hiking backpack as her suitcase) raped, or murdered.  My mind is a curse.

It didn't help that last night was my first night with my cpap machine.  I had learned all about it, set it up, it was ready to go.  I wasn't!  I wanted to want to use it, but I was anxious (there's that word again) about feeling tethered and claustrophobic about having that mask on my face.  And, I had some serious worrying to do!

So, I put my cell phone close to my bed, got myself ready, drank a bunch of water in anticipation of my mouth getting dry, and decided to take an Ambien, just to help me sleep.  I was pretty sure I'd have a restless night getting used to the machine and worrying about whether my daughter made her flight out of Honolulu.

Imagine my surprise when I slept as near as "like a baby" that I can recall in recent years! I vaguely remember waking up a couple times, but was back asleep before I had time to think about it.  I did wake fully at 4:45 AM, needing to use the bathroom.  I decided to call it a night, removed the mask and got up.  The machine barely bothered me!  I really had no problems!  I think this is a miracle!

I checked for a message from Jess, and there was none.  I was less concerned, as I figured "no news was good news". (maybe restful sleep made a difference??)  So, I followed my usual routine.  I read the paper, said good bye to David at 5:30 when his ride arrived.  (He had a plane to catch also.  I don't worry about him, as his is just a quick "over and back" flight and he'll be home tonight!)

I went to the pool and got home about 7:30, and still no message from Jess.  So, I checked the flight.  It left 8 minutes early and is expected to land in about ten minutes.  I made the reasonable assumption that it wouldn't leave early without my daughter, so I'm feeling pretty great.  Waiting for her phone call that she has landed and I'll hop in the car and go pick her up.  Sometimes it's very convenient to live just a ten minute drive from the airport!

Ten minutes later ~ checked, the flight landed, but I'm still waiting for her phone call.  I think I'll head over . . . maybe her phone is dead??

PS ~ Her phone was practically dead . . . and she did send a message, it just didn't get here!  Jess called about two minutes after I posted and I was already on my way out the door!  We've been busy shopping, going out to lunch and sitting in the car chatting (in the driveway) for the past hour!  Thanks for everyone's concern!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Back in the Groove

I've officially been home a week, although the first two days were pretty much a blur!  I sort of gave myself last weekend "off" and got back into my groove on Monday by heading to the pool for the 6 AM water aerobics class.  It felt great to be in the water again, and it was fun to catch up with my "pool pals".  The rest of the day it seems was spent in dealing with a flight snafu that Jessica discovered on her return to the U.S. next week.  As the airlines was in a time zone that was 9 hours ahead of us, it took awhile, but eventually we connected and were able to cancel that flight, and rebook another one.

Kailyn and Nick decided to hike Dog Mountain trail, a rather challenging hike in the Columbia River Gorge, and agreed to take Nikki with them.
Nikki in Kailyn's car, not taking any chances of anyone changing their mind about her going along!
They didn't get home until about 7 PM, and Nikki was still smiling, although she was "dog tired" after hiking the 7+ mile loop that included serious elevation!

Tuesday I met a couple of my teaching friends to walk along the Columbia River at 8 AM, which again was a catch up time and the usual gossip about teachers leaving and changes coming in the fall. We've decided to meet every Tuesday, same time and place, and it's great to have that to look forward to. We all were wearing pedometers, and each had slightly different counts, but it was agreed that we walked nearly 3 miles.  After my strenuous vacation, those three miles were a "cake walk" for me! That evening our house sitter's came by to pick up some forgotten clothing, and solve the mystery of my missing laundry baskets!  (Although, the baskets have yet to be returned; I am still "missing" them!)

I slept awful that night, awake more than I was asleep it seemed, and got up about 4:15 on Wednesday.  As I was wide awake and ready, I headed back to the pool.  My friends were happy to see me twice in one week, (I haven't been too regular for quite a few months!) which encouraged me.

Kailyn and I had picked up some strawberries Tuesday afternoon, so I proceeded to wash and prep them for strawberry jam when I got home from the pool.  Kailyn was soon awake and between the two of us, we made two batches.  It was great to have Kailyn helping stir the jam while it cooked, as I always think that is the tiring part.  We followed two different recipes, with the first one just boiling for one minute, and the second for four minutes. I rarely eat jam, but I had to have the traditional piece of toast with fresh jam after we filled the jars! We both agreed; the jam cooked for four minutes was much tastier!  Now there will be jam to take to college again.

I've been picking raspberries and popping them in the freezer until I get enough to make some raspberry jam.  That will happen next week!  The girls are so excited to have homemade jam again, as I haven't made jam in several years!

Later on Wednesday, I got my hair cut.  I went back to wearing bangs, and I think it makes me look younger . . . maybe?  I took my own photo . . . I don't know how to do that very well!

Wednesday afternoon I also broke down and made the call to order my CPAP machine.  I have been dragging my feet; I just dread being anchored to a machine all night.  However, I do not want to be dependent on sleep medication for the rest of my life, and when I don't take anything, I don't sleep well.  While it's easier to just pop a pill, it isn't changing the fact that I snore like a logger and have sleep apnea.  So, I made the call.  I should get a call back in two days for my appointment to pick up the machine, choose my mask, and learn how to set it up on my own.  UGH!

We've had what I consider perfect weather since we've been home.  It's overcast and cool in the morning, and warm (80-85 degrees) in the afternoon.  Kailyn and I took a little hike out around our favorite local lake, Round Lake, on Thursday afternoon.  It isn't far, just a little over one mile when you do the "short" loop, but there are a couple steep spots.  I forgot my hiking poles; had to rest twice after the steep places, but did pretty good.  As it's shaded by big fir and cedar trees, it's a pleasant walk.

This morning I got up at 5:15, as usual, and returned to the pool.  It was a fairly small group today, but we had one of my favorite instructors, Cindy, and I got a great workout.  I feel energized and ready for the day!

Who knows what today will bring?  I'm back in the summer vacation groove, and I'm loving every minute of it!

PS ~ I do plan to go back and hit a few highlights of the European Vacation over the course of the summer.  The problem is that I have thousands of photos to sort through, from all four cameras!  I'm saving that for a rainy day, which I'm sure will arrive soon!  I live in the Pacific Northwest . . . it's rare we have a week or so without rain!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012


A funny thing happened upon our return home.  Friday morning, after a mostly restful sleep in my never-to-be-taken-for-granted-again king sized bed, I made coffee (as usual) and added a dollap of sugar free non dairy creamer (as usual). I drank most of the pot (as usual) and felt queasy.  I didn't feel like eating, so I didn't.  Before long it was time to go pick Kailyn up from the airport, so we left, and I ate a nutrition bar (chocolate mint . . . made for diabetics . . . probably not healthy at all!) on the way.

My stomach ached (I must be hungry), and once Kailyn was released from customs, I asked if she was hungry.  She was (it was noon by then) and wanted to go to Panda Express.  We all like that, so we stopped for lunch.  I could only eat less than half of my meal (not usual) and brought the rest home for later. I drank a peach flavored green tea that was sugar free, but tasted sweet to me.

That afternoon, I napped off and on for several hours, feeling queasy the entire time. In between, Kailyn and I had gone to the grocery store and bought fresh veggies and several containers of flavored yogurt.  I had planned to make a simple dinner of chicken, salad and potatoes (husband's request).  I cooked, but didn't feel like eating (not usual), though eventually I pretty much forced myself to eat a few bites of chicken and potatoes (I didn't get the salad made).  I assumed that I was suffering from travel fatigue and jet lag.

Saturday morning, I woke up fairly early - around 6 AM - and felt great!  Refreshed!  No queasiness! Slept well!  Made a pot of coffee and poured a dollop of my sugar free non dairy creamer in. Within minutes, I felt queasy.  Slow to get it, I drank several cups of coffee, feeling kind of nauseous the entire time.  I made some oatmeal with fresh blueberries, added a little 1% milk, showered, started more laundry, then Kailyn and I headed out to CostCo and the Saturday Market.  I bought a mocha freeze at CostCo, as it was getting warm outside, and as I sipped and drove, I was chatting with Kailyn about my stomach issues.  Suddenly a thought occurred.  For the past few years, I've thought I have a problem with dairy, although it seemed rather random.  Sometimes I would be bothered; other times, not at all.  For example, milk and ice cream have never bothered me, but yogurt did.  In fact, I had quit eating yogurt for that reason.  It's long puzzled me why not all dairy affects me, but I didn't ponder it long enough to figure it out.

This time though, I wondered why I had no problems with using hot milk in my coffee all over Europe, or having an occasional ice cream.  I had been pleasantly surprised that I didn't have a single episode of GERD while traveling, as I fully had expected it due to late dinners.  At home, I nearly always have GERD if I eat within three or four hours of going to bed, so I often eat between 5:30-6:30.  While traveling, we never ate before 7:30 and I often was in bed within a couple hours after dinner, as I was exhausted! But, never once did I have GERD. What was different???

At first, Kailyn said maybe it was the constant walking and exercise.  I think that helped.  But, then I thought about the fact that while traveling, at least to my knowledge, I never ate anything that was "sugar free".  And, suddenly I wondered, is it the sweetener used in sugar free products that messes with my stomach?  We visited Saturday Market ~ bought a few more veggies, fresh hummus, a small bag of kettle corn and a nice bouquet of flowers, and headed home. My niece, Kelli, came over to visit and pick raspberries.  We filled her in on our vacation and we talked about the sugar free idea.

I decided to do a little experiment.  This morning, I went ahead and made coffee, but I heated up 1% milk to pour into it.  No sugar free non dairy creamer . . . no tummy issues.  Hm-m-m.

When I got hungry, I cooked my oatmeal, added blueberries and decided to try a little vanilla flavored "light" yogurt.  I read on the container that it contained aspartame.  I mixed 1/4 cup of the yogurt into my oatmeal.  Within minutes, I was in the bathroom, with mild cramps. Of course, I did finish eating the oatmeal, (it's really hard for me to throw away food . . . especially those fresh blueberries!) and the cramps went away.

I think I may be onto something here.  Ironically (or maybe devine intervention) I read an article in the Sunday magazine this morning about mood boosting super foods and I had typed up a list of these foods and thought I may try eating from that list for a few days and see if it helps my energy level.  Then I looked up foods that speed up metabolism and low and behold, many of the same foods are on both lists.

For probably obvious reasons, coffee isn't included anywhere . . . but green tea is!  Last summer, I had given up coffee for green tea, but once school started, I was right back to a caffeine and creamer fix. I'm nearly out of coffee anyway, so I will return to green tea only for awhile, as I still have a fair amount in the house.

Oatmeal is on the list, although blueberries aren't (and frankly I don't care as they are good for me and I know it!) and neither is dairy of any kind. Oh well, the only dairy I can't live without is what I put in my coffee, and, if I'm not drinking coffee, that's a moot point!

Kailyn and I are planning a hike after church today, so I'll get some exercise in.  Tomorrow I'm heading back to the pool for water aerobics.  I learned on vacation that I can do a lot of walking and stairs, even if my knee doesn't really want to, and it isn't going to hurt me! So, no more wimpy excuses for not exercising!

I didn't lose any weight while we were in Europe, but I didn't gain any, either. And, I ate really well!  We never had a bad meal, anywhere we went.  We had a lot of expensive meals . . . but that couldn't be helped!  (I had to chuckle when we paid at Panda Express the other day, as the total for three of us was about what we paid for one meal abroad!)

Fortunately, much of what is on my "mood enhancing" food list I already have (I just haven't been eating any of it!).  I'll need more of the fresh stuff, and this time of year, that part is easy and cheap.

I find it interesting that I'm having these food insights, and thinking about the chain of events leading up to these thoughts.  I had fully expected that traveling abroad would have raised havoc with my intestines, and it didn't at all.  Instead, returning home (and to former eating patterns) brought clearer ideas about how certain foods (though I can hardly call fake sugar a "food") affect me.  What a bonus to add to the great European Adventure!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Normandy Driving Tour ~ Continued

Small portion of the World War II memorial to the American soldiers at the American Cemetery.

Naturally, I've heard of Normandy and knew it was the site of fighting in France, but I learned so much more during the brief time we spent on our driving tour.  

We left Belle Isle after the most delectable breakfast in the quaint dining area.  With our eventual destination Caen, where we would stay for two delightful days, we headed for Bayeux and the Normandy Beaches.

In Bayeux we viewed the tapestry, richly embroidered in brilliant shades of red, yellow and blue yarn, it was amazing and worth the stop. This original tapestry, 230 feet long, tells the story of William the Conqueror and the Norman conquest of England in 1066.  Pictures weren't allowed of the actual tapestry, for obvious reasons, but here are a couple of sections that were for sale in the gift shop that are surprisingly accurate, in color and design. 

 The audio enhanced tour described the 58 different sections vividly.  I would have never understood the story without help! I was fascinated by the whole idea of someone undertaking this incredible job (presumed to be requested by William the Conqueror's half brother, Odo, who was Bishop of Bayeux) and completed 11 years after the conquest.  

After exploring the quaint town of Bayeux and having lunch, we continued in the general direction of Omaha Beach, with the expectation of viewing one of the memorials.  We were surprised to discover that there were actually 24 different memorials and museums in the Normandy area.  

 The Memorial Cemetery near Omaha Beach, representing lost American lives during the D-Day assault.  If I recall correctly, there were over 9,000 Americans who gave their lives.  The French were grateful beyond belief, despite the fact that so much of the Normandy area was bombed and destroyed by American bombs, in the interest of saving the French from German occupation. Over and over it was made very clear that the Americans were true heroes.  I cried frequently as I watched actual film footage of the destruction, and saw evidence as we traveled of bombed and leveled buildings.  It made me proud to be an American on one level, and ashamed of how callously I take our freedoms for granted on a day to day basis.
 Just one of many, many memorial stones we saw for various ships and airborne troops who were involved in this situation that went on and on throughout the summer of 1944.

I'm not sure how clearly you can read this but it says, "You can manufacture weapons and you can purchase ammunition, but you can't buy valor and you can't pull heroes off an assembly line." Sergeant John B, Ellery U.S. 1st Infantry Division.  There were dozens of moving quotes at the cemetery.

We visited Musee Memorial d'Omaha Beach, which was impressively detailed, with thousands of personal objects, vehicles, uniforms and weapons.  It was here that we watched actual footage of the assault, with several veteran's testimonies interspersed.  Just the knowledge that these items not only survived, but were gathered and treasured, and used to personalize the history of Normandy was pretty sobering to me.  When we finished, it was late afternoon, so we drove to our hotel in Caen. 

I absolutely adored Caen! It was the perfect sized town, bigger than a village, smaller than Paris, incredibly easy to get around in.  We bought 24 hour bus passes our first morning and made good use of them, visiting the Le Memorial de Caen and Chateau du Caen.  The Memorial was an incredibly in depth look at World War II, detailing each country involved and the massive destruction in Europe.  I learned things I never learned in my prior history classes, and wept repeatedly over the awful wrenching that occurred in the Normandy area of France.  It reminded me of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, except that this museum was entirely from the European perspective, and therefore, I believe, even more instructive. The Germans and Japanese were the most destructive, in cost of human lives; yet the American soldiers, with an honest desire to save the French, destroyed much of Caen and other areas.  Kailyn told me that the French are continually appreciative of the American troops for liberating them from German rule, even though the US bombs left a wave of destruction as their calling card.

The Chateau was the remnants of a Norman castle, surprisingly complete considering it was built in 1100, and bombs pretty much knocked down the upper portions, but a lot of the walls are still standing.  The keep, which surrounded the dungeon, had sheep grazing!
Added in the 12th century, over original tile floors, which I forgot to take photos of!
Some of the original walls 
Portions of the original dungeon.  Ironically, this entire area had been filled in and there were buildings on top, which were leveled during the bombing in WW II.  When discovered, it was dug out and revealed the original moat and many of the walls. 
A different view of the leveled dungeon portion. 
Interesting information
Sheep in the keep!
Still smiling in the hotel in Caen.
While there we also visited the Museum de Normandy, which told the fascinating story of early, early civilizations, in Caen, complete with hundreds of artifacts (antiquities) telling the tale vividly.  Many of the artifacts were discovered in a recent archeological dig in 2005. I certainly got my "history wish" fulfilled on this trip!

The rest of the day was spent shopping and eating fabulous food! On Sunday, we packed up early in order to leave for our final destination in France. Right outside our hotel was the biggest market I’d 
ever experienced!  We had been told when we arrived that the streets would be cleared for market, but I had no idea how large it would be, even though Kailyn had warned me earlier that we wouldn't be able to visit all of it.
Farm fresh eggs!
Gloriously red and luscious strawberries.  I'd never seen such perfect, hand-picked ones for sale.  We bought some for the road! Every single berry was perfect, and sweet to eat. 

New meaning to the term "book mobile".

There was lots of furniture.  I had to snap a photo of this really long table for sale! Perfect for a big family dinner!

Need a mattress??

There were several stands of sewing notions.
 I snapped dozens of pictures, until my battery expired, and it was quite possibly my favorite part of the entire trip!  There are multiple markets in France, on specific days. This one in particular has been in the same place for hundreds of years, and you could literally find anything on earth that you might desire.  Much of it was produce, so attractively laid out, you wanted to buy some of everything.  We bought a container of strawberries that were so perfect, they looked like something you would personally hand pick for yourself.  All of the produce looked like that!  It was amazing!  There were carts that were portable meat markets, and all kinds of fish and seafood.  Mussels are hugely popular and people purchase them by the bucketfuls.  Different stands had large cooking pots, filled with deliciously aromatic food, enticing you to sample.

Some stands were similar to what you might see at an American flea market, with used clothing, toys and tools.  Others had jewelry, from fairly cheap to extravagant stones and settings. The girls and I bought handmade earrings and beautiful, inexpensive scarves (probably made in China!) I saw numerous stands selling mattresses, furniture, clothing and shoes.  American goods are highly popular, and were quite expensive.  A cheap bubbles sort of container that you might find at the dollar store was 3 euros!

It was quite an experience to visit such a huge market, and, Kailyn was right.  We spent quite a while there, but didn't begin to see it all!  After a couple hours, we loaded up the car and headed for Mont St. Michel, which I will save for another post!

I am home now, grateful to have had the opportunity to see some of Europe, and achingly aware of much that was missed as we drove through the countryside.  When we go again, it will be to savor the out of the way places.  I loved the small villages, quaint homes and shops.