Crushed raspberry moments: Giving yourself permission to shine

The last time I was house sitting in this rural pocket of Normandy, it was three years ago in the height of summer.

The raspberry canes in the vegetable patch yielded masses of delicious berries from July through to September. I would come up from the garden with my mouth and fingers stained deep crimson – ‘crushed raspberry’ – and my bowl full to overflowing with garden produce.

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Time out: Fitting your own oxygen mask before assisting others

I’m sitting in a cafe in Montmartre.

From my table at the window I look out at a Sunday market in the tiny Place Lino Ventura. A full length mirror is placed outside a clothes stall directly in my line of vision. A middle aged woman trying on a leopardskin coat transforms before my eyes. She swings it this way and that, coming alive in front of the looking glass. She isn’t thinking about the shopping, the cooking or the week ahead. She is suddenly radiant in the light Parisian drizzle, imagining  where such a coat might take her.

Woman, time out, leopardskin, coat, Montmartre | See more at www.diywoman.net

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You can thank me later: How diywoman selected her own funeral music and saved her children hours of work

‘I’ve found this guy who turns CDs into vinyl.’

I came across this sentence the other day while looking up material for my ‘gap year’ memoir. It was in an email I had sent to a friend in February 2015. I didn’t know it then, but it marked the start of  my career as an occasional compiler of funeral music. Occasional as in ‘infrequent’. Funeral music is always ‘occasional’ in the other sense.

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Travels in the Somme with my father’s father

An unexpected detour during a six month stay in France links three generations of my family to a village in the Somme.

On Anzac Day 2015, I left Australian shores for six months travelling solo in France. Unlike my grandfather a century before, I wasn’t destined for the muddy fields of the Somme. My destination was another part of rural France altogether – Cinais in the Loire – the first of a series of housesits courtesy of a housesitting website called MindMyHouse.

First World War Australian soldiers bound for the Somme | more on diywoman.net
My grandfather (second from left) and his brothers

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Food and philosophy the French way

Dearest Darlings,

How goes it in cold wet old Melbourne?

Truth be told it’s a bit like that in my French hideaway today. I had plans of dusting off the bike and riding into Chinon for the English conversation and afternoon tea but it’s not looking likely at the moment. Maybe I’ll just stay inside and eat. I’m waiting for our bakery van to pull in so I can buy a baguette and a croissant – a very rare treat but it will taste delicious with my HOME MADE apricot jam. No your eyes do not deceive you – my cooking mojo has returned. It went walkabout after 25 years of doing it for a living. Now I can cook for the sheer joy of it – another reason to love my new French home.

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Bilingualism and the language of love

Panos Athanasopoulos wrote beautifully about bilingualism in April 2015 in The Guardian Weekly, a piece that moved me to write my first public love-letter and reflect on the language of love.

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I spent six months in France to immerse myself in a culture I have loved forever and a language I haven’t spoken for 35 years. The mental workout your brain derives from travelling back and forth between two languages can be likened to the beneficial physical effects of regular visits to the gym: increased flexibility, stamina and occasionally the overwhelming desire to have a lie down and a sleep afterwards.

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