PARC D'ACCUEIL PIERRE CHALLANDES

Welcome to Parc Pierre Challandes. We are glad you could come for a visit. Please enter and meet some new friends.
Imagine a Hotel, for stray, lost and hurt animals! That is exactly what this beautiful old chateau, park and small zoo is all about. It is a beautiful animal refuge.
The large chateau and surrounding land was a gift to take care of large and small animals, birds and fish. It is kind to take care of stray or hurt animals, that is why it is called a refuge.
Today was a very special day at the park. The animal park was open for everyone, to come and enjoy. When we walked up the road to the park, we could smell sausages being cooked over charcoal! We could hear old fashioned carousel music being played. Long tables were filled with cakes, cookies, candies and pies for sale. When you buy something, the money goes to take care of the animals.
Asia, and her mommy, daddy and baby brother, Evan, joined us on this trip to the animal park. Asia and Ella are best friends. They gathered pretty flower bouquets.
There are lots of things to do at this animal refuge. We decided to explore the open fields, first. Most of the crops and flowers had recently been cut down. But here and there, sprinkled like colored sprinkles on a cake, were tall yellow broom flowers. Ethan plucked a long yellow flower, stuck it down the back of his pants and strutted about like a chicken!!
I told him this story of when his daddy was very young. We went on a vacation to the ocean. Our family stayed in a wooden cabin overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Between the cabin and the water was this huge meadow where tall pampas grass grew. Matthew, Mindy and Christopher were running everywhere, helter-skelter. Suddenly Matthew decided to stick a tall stem down his pants. Ouch!!!!! He soon was running all over the meadow acting like a turkey, or was it a chicken? It doesn't really matter, it was just plain silly.
It was in that same meadow that Mindy got a tic in her hair. That wasn't funny.
There was much to explore after we left the meadows. So we started with the miniature goats, all shiny and sleek.
This white rooster was King of the Park! Half of his feathers were fluffed going one direction and half of his feathers were pokey-out the opposite direction. All white. Now how does he stay clean walking on this muddy ground?
This little Billy Goat loves having a massage and loving pat.
Zadian has tiny inquistive fingers. Just the right size to poke inside a fence. We wonder what the goat thinks of such tiny little fingers exploring his space?
Asia and Zades were certainly wishing they could get to the other side of the fence. After thoroughly exploring this animal refuge we had seen a leopard, cheetah, porcupine, moles, monkeys, chimpanzees, wild cats, birds, fish and more than we can remember!!
This little alley way was a bit like the secret garden, green, cool, lush and leading to who knows where? We walked into the deep shade and came out at a rummage sale!!! This was the direction of the aviary filled with birds singing little melodies and fish, meandering in pools of water on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
All of this exploring makes for a big appetite. We joined others at huge wooden tables. We sat in the sun, listening to the music, munching away on huge white sausages, pickles, bread and dollops of mustard and ketsup.
We all LOVED this park, zoo and animal shelter. It was the best day ever.

SWISS BREAKFAST and the PJ PARTY

What do most kids, like the following little monkeys......
Zadian Ella and Ethan have in common?
These little monkeys LOVE CEREAL! The crunchier....the sweeter.....the better!
We start the day on a Cereal High--smorgasbord style.
Moving on now to a Very Special Present---have you guessed what PJ is?
NEW PJ'S!! and you thought it was Peanut-butter and Jelly sandwiches!!
Wearing our nifty new PJ's we climbed into the big bed, fluffy with pillows and feather comforter. Just like Ten Naughty Monkeys, we were floating in delight, keeping an eye on a brand new PJ party video, The Reef. All was well until one little monkey, who shall remain nameless got the creative urge to grab a huge hunk of slightly loose wall paper and zip"the walls came tumbling down" leaving exposed fiberboard. Our mouths as big as OREOS, we knew we would be in big trouble for this one! But first things first, the movie!
Later we all traipsed downstairs, heading for the CD player and "Mama Mia!" Wow were we wild little monkey dancers. There wasn't a dance move we couldn't think of or try! When Grammy Monkey decided her ears were going to pop, we started an art project. Hmm smart move, Grammy Monkey.
The evening FINALE involved BEAN BAGS!!! Sitting on the floor spread eagle, we started slowly zooming bean bags to one another. We pretended they were way too hot to touch, so we had to get rid of them FAST!!! Think Superman speed. Things revved up quickly and soon there were EIGHT BEAN BAGS going ROLY-POLY, HELTER-SKELTER ALL at once. Whoa, wait a minute! this is getting a little out of hand. How about a nice quiet book.
Well it really was late, so we grabbed some books and all four climbed into the big blue bed. WITH A SUPER-FRAZZLED Grammy Monkey in the middle, we all settled in, until one by one, little by little, each cherub monkey was slumbering away.
Thank you Bethany Brady Spalding for the wonderful BEAN BAGS you made for us. We love them.

Girlfriends, You are the Best

Klimt's Ladies
--a whirling of women bonding soul to soul; color blending, weaving in and out; whispers mingling into laughter; wildly generous connections.
Smiles--we stood under Klimt's Ladies, beaming with genuine smiles, shoulder to shoulder so good to share a few hours together.
Encouragement--for one another's aspirations, goals, children and those inevitable set backs.
Relaxed fun--surprise gifts, luncheon of Thai soup, salad, naan bread and coconut custard.
Serious talk--politics of course, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, war, peace, those who suffer, blessings in our own lives.
Dreams--future projects, art and writing, travel, grandchildren and hopes for the future.
Acknowledgement--that we are better because we learn from one another.
Reflections
Young mother to mother crone, days slip into weeks, weeks into months, months into years. Life moves at a wildly generous pace. Becca and Henry A visit from Becca and Henry on their way to their home in New York, brought a reminder of days but a blink ago when I was a young mother marveling at the ability of a small child learning to crawl and explore their environment. Wiping little fingers stained orangy-yellow from Cheeto's. Soothing hurt feelings. Laughing at unsolicited antics. Knowing these are the best years in life.
Little Henry has had a very challenging first year of life. At fourteen months, he is a healthy, laughing, funny, sweet, and charming child. It is all "coming up roses" for this adorable little boy.

Zade's First Day at School

Hmm, I have my new Spidey Man backpack. I have my snack. I have on my big boy pants. But I am not sure about this "school thing." Did you say I had to speak French?
Okay, Popsie, I am ready to go to class. Walk away while I am not looking, okay? Hmm this takes a lot of spunk to go to school. But mommy, daddy, Ella and Ethan tell me I am a big boy and will have lots of fun!
That wasn't too bad. Mom and Candy Grammy picked me up, just like they said they would. Mommy even had a picnic for me. This is cool. I really like school, even if they do speak French.

I met some super friends after school. One let me use his scooter. This is the life, I love being a Big Boy!!!

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Ella goes to School

Ella Paris is slightly hesitant as she heads off for her first day of school. French speaking school, that is! Inside her pink backpack is a school snack and little pink slippers to wear inside the classroom. Her feet will be quiet as mice.
Ella Paris joins lots of little friends, who are also a bit hesitant about their first day of school. They stand behind the big glass doors wondering what their day will be like.
Whew that wasn't too bad! Ella Paris made new friends, did lots of coloring, drawing and had a nice playground to explore. She even made new friends.
"Hmmm," Ella Paris' mom whispers, "One down, two to go!"
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Meshuganeh

My grandmother lived just shy of her 100th birthday. Rhoda Neder Sorensen was a promising pianist who was orphaned at age 16, necessitating the need to support herself. Her early years were not easy.
Until age 12, I lived next door to Grandmother Rhoda. She was a small, petite woman with flashing dark brown eyes, a sweet smile and a work ethic that was passed on to her four children. When I was in college, I lived with Grandma Rhoda for one year. She always wore a crisp cotton-print apron she had sewn herself. Each day when I returned from school she would be in the kitchen preparing something delicious. Her specialties were ketchup, pear jam with maraschino cherries and walnut pieces, pickled beets and an amazing fig pudding with “whiskey” sauce served on holidays only. Her basement shelves groaned from the weight of her bottled fruit, sauces and vegetables. Grandma Rhoda was a Presbyterian, she converted to Mormonism because her husband was a Mormon and she wanted solidarity and peace in the family. For some unknown reason, her baptism papers were lost and she refused to be re-baptized. She never went back to church.
Grandmother Rhoda’s progenitors came from Germany and were Jews.
At age 20 I missed a golden opportunity to understand Grandmother’s unique history, her issues with Mormonism, her debilitating migraine headaches, her keen intelligence and love of music, her coping with raising a family on a working farm while her husband worked a city job. I missed my opportunity because I was too young to realize the importance of truly getting to know my grandparents on a more intimate level, to absorb and understand their views, passions, disappointments and joys. I missed my opportunity due to self importance as a college student living a good life.
But for some inexplicable reason, the Jewish blood that flows through my matriarchal lineage is a real living part of me, resulting in a deep kinship for the Jewish culture, faith, and history. Last week my husband, son, grandson and I had the opportunity to visit the Donahy Street Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary.
This beautiful synagogue was nearly destroyed during WWII. The Nazis’ used the second floor for their command headquarters and the sanctuary level to stable their horses. Utter desecration. The last ghetto of Europe was set up at the beginning of December 1944.
The ghetto included 162 buildings on the streets behind the synagogue. These broken, empty, decaying, bleak buildings stand as a colossal memorial, a testament to the evil that man is capable of.
Today the Synagogue is restored to unimaginable beauty; its hallowed chambers filled with ritual, education, music and symbolism. The courtyard garden of the temple has become a cemetery for the war’s martyrs. Many mortal remains were buried here due to lack of surviving relatives to identify the bodies. During that last year, 600,000 Jewish men, women and children died. They simply vanished leaving few traces of their lives.
At the back of the synagogue is a magnificent memorial tree commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. This weeping willow tree-made of stainless steel and silver- has thousands of tiny leaves, each bearing the name of a person whose life was cut short. There stands a Hebrew inscription that asks: Is there a bigger pain than mine?
Because I wasn’t mature enough, I missed walking in my Grandmother Rhoda’s sensible black, high top shoes. We need to walk in another’s shoes literally and symbolically to have even the slightest inkling of what their lives are about. We all are more than our name, we each have a heart, a soul and a story.
There is a Yiddish saying, “We are all meshuganeh.” Translated that means “lovingly crazy.” I like to think of my Grandmother as “meshuganeh.” Her dark eyes were always sparkling, her baking pans filled with fragrant foods, storage shelves laden with foods in green Kerr glass jars, her lovingly tended vegetable garden was plentiful, in free moments her hands glided upon the ivory piano keys and she had a huge heart. Meshuganeh is a pleasant sort of word. I like the idea of being lovingly crazy.

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