Marmor, Stein und Eisen bricht ...

... aber unsere Liebe nicht. It's an old German pop song, from back in the sixties, and it popped up in my brain because I am about to bake a Marmorkuchen, a marbled cake. I have not baked this kind of cake in a long time. I would not be surprised to find out I have never baked it since I moved here. So why now?

We have a staff meeting on the calendar for tomorrow morning, and I asked my manager if there would be cake. At first he responded with a firm NO, but then he added that, you know what, yes, there SHOULD be cake.

I said I would take this as my action item. Hmmm, what to bake? Last time I made lemon pound cake, with the super lemony trick. Breton apple cake sounds good, but I don't have enough apples at home. Oh, right. I have not made Marmorkuchen, marbled cake, in a loooong time, and it's a German specialty. Alright then. Marmorkuchen it is.

And it is later now, after 11:30pm, and the cake is almost done, while far away in France, Joaquim Rodriguez has won the stage up the Plateau des Beilles, soaking wet in the pouring rain.


Time Keeps On Ticking, Ticking, Ticking ...

Not enough hours in the day. ESPECIALLY in the evening. Le sigh.

I had a cup of coffee after lunch, took off for my training session at the gym, and arrived yawning. After having coffee, fer Chrissakes!

The trainer asked if I was stressed. And how I'd slept the night before. Nothing out of the ordinary, far as I can tell. But the Tour de France is quite a time commitment, I have to say. Two and a half, or three and a half hours every evening. We're at the halfway point now; they'll race into Paris on Sunday the 26th, and then I'll race into the finish line for Camp NaNoWriMo.

At least that's what I plan.

Allons enfants de la Bastille

Yes yes, I know that's not how it goes.

But it's Bastille Day, and I am watching the peloton ride through the beautiful French country side. They are in the Pyrenees, near the Spanish border. This is the first day in the South of France, after the first week in the Netherlands and Belgium, and then in Normandy and Brittany. I keep picking out villages to vacation in, and castles to lord over. Hard to decide what to settle on.

 Really, I just want to sit on a balcony with a breeze fluttering the curtains, a croissant on my plate and a big bowl of café au lait right under my nose.

Makes me think of a morning just like that, when I was - gasp! - hitchhiking back home from the Mediterranean. I forget where I was exactly, but I can see the picture in my mind - the clear blue bright light, green pastures, and the Massif Central rising in the background. Was that the Puy de Dôme? And the guy who gave me a long ride through half the country in his Peugeot, what was his name again? He lived near Marseilles, and worked in some manufacturing plant. I sure got lucky to get a long pull like that.

Back to the Tour de France. I was going to go with a couple of my coworkers three or four years ago, but then I pulled out of the planning when my cat got diagnosed with diabetes, because I had no idea what to expect in terms of her care and my finances. Now that she is gone, we are talking about a French vacation again. I have a reminder in my calendar for mid-October, after the route for next year gets announced; then we'll get together and start talking about plans.

Where to go?

Alps, Pyrenees? Normandy or Brittany? Paris at the end? La Manche? The Grand Départ has been announced for Mont Saint Michel, near the English Channel. Visiting the Channel Islands, Guernsey and Jersey, that would be interesting too.

And I keep looking at pictures of Sisteron. Check it out, isn't it pretty?



I know, I know, I'm lagging. Getting nowhere near the average word count I need to make it to 10,000 by the end of the month.

But I'm blaming all my shortcomings this month on the Tour de France. I get up in the morning and check out the finish of the day's stage. Then I work a long day, I come home, feed the children and myself, and then I sit down and watch the day's stage in its entirety. This is of course quite a time commitment: the coverage is about 4 hours long, and even with me fast-forwarding through all the commercials and through some of the coverage when "nothing is happening", I still watch TV every day for about two and a half to three hours.

And when I'm done, my brain is full. Or empty, rather.

Like now.

So I'm off to bed again.

Flights of Fancy

Her head jerked up when she heard the bells. She must be much closer to the village than she expected; the bells sounded clear and near. She counted along with the bell strikes in her head: one, two, three, four, five, then a shift to a different bell in a lower register: one, two. Five thirty. It was five thirty. This was good news; she had plenty of time left. Thank God for village churches and their lovely bells telling time. She had been in the church every Sunday when she grew up, but her little girl times were long past.

She adjusted the strap of the bag she carried slung across her body, and put her hand inside it for the umpteenth time, finding reassurance in the cool metal of the bolt cutter and the heavy duty flash light.

She'd put the flash light back in the bag a half hour ago. It wasn't really light out yet, but it was close enough to dawn, and she knew the area well enough to find her way in the dark.


If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many is a video worth? I will not make my average 323 words today because I was out gallivanting all day, and because I watched the Tour de France coverage first thing in the morning, and then again tonight.

So I will just leave you with this:


PS: awwww it has been removed. :-( It was the coverage from inside the two team cars, showing the sports directors "fevering" along and bursting out in cheers when Tony Martin got the win. I heard the next day that Davide Bramati, the driver of one of the cars, was fined and suspended from driving a team car for a day because he was not wearing a seat belt. Ooops.


"Explain this to me like I'm a four-year old."

I like this line from the movie "Philadelphia". I liked how Denzel Washington's lawyer character uses it as a legal tactic, but I also like it a rule to live by. Can you explain it easily, whatever "it" is?

If you cannot, try to wrap your head around it (How does that work, actually, come to think of it? A wrap-around head? That sounds kind of painful.)

But seriously, if you cannot explain it, try to clarify your thoughts. Line up the points for your argument. Provide background information and context. Don't just give an opinion and justify it with "BECAUSE I SAID SO!", but give me real reasons supported by logic.

Why do I care about this? I like my brain. I enjoy thinking. And I worry about my brain's abilities to reason. Some days I feel like I cannot form a coherent train of thought. In German, the expression is "ich kann nicht von zwölf bis Mittag denken" - I can't think from twelve to noon.

 Remember yesterday, when I said I had no words, only crap? My thoughts were all ajumble. I could not think of anything to discuss, and once I went to my original prompt of "disagreements", I could not get the thoughts from my head to paper/screen. Why is this so tough some times? Shouldn't this get easier with practice? Or am I getting old and decrepit already?

Today I started my day with a doctor's appointment: I had my breasts squeezed and imaged for the annual mammogram. The technician and I talked about getting old, and she mentioned the film about Glen Campbell and his Alzheimer's disease. I told her that this is the thing I am most afraid of for my old age: getting senile and forgetting who people are, who I am, where I am. As I said above, I like my brain and the thoughts therein. All the words in my head, all my memories, all my cleverness, this is who I am.

If I should lose that, then who would I be? 


Write your words, taunts the prompt. But what if I don't have any? Or at least, not any good ones, just crap?

I was going to write about DISAGREEMENT, and how everything in the news has become such a shouting match. I know I sound like a crotchety old person shaking my feeble fist, but jeeeez! Why is everything such a battle? If Jon Stewart skewers Fox News, some aggregator sites will repackage and repost a video clip declaring that he DESTROYED Fox News, when all he did was voice an opinion. I am so sick and tired of the hyperbole. No, really, I literally am. It's probably adrenal fatigue, from all the outrage I am pushed to feel.

One of the worst things is how easily I am manipulated. I hate when I notice it, but there are lots of time when I find myself suckered into clicking on the bait. It really does work, and I hate myself afterward and feel so CHEAP.

Anyway, back to disagreements. It's all about being right vs. being wrong, which bugs the shit out of me. As if that is always the only option. What about nuances? What about "one does not exclude the other"? What about some part of your argument may be valid and I agree with it, and I only disagree with another part?

 Sports use the same setup. It's a smidgen different for this year's Tour de France, where there are four main contenders, but every year before that, the network played up the Big Battle Between two rivals. And then of course, this being the Tour de France, nothing ever comes out the way you expect, and instead of Contador vs. Froome last year, they both had to abandon the race due to crashes and injuries.


I still feel like I have not gotten anywhere near the words in the back of my head, but hey! As one of my NaNoWriMo friends says during events like this: Choosing done over good every day. So that's what I did, and wuddaya know, I made my word goal.