new year and gratefulness

January 10, 2012

The Twelfth Night celebration  is barely over and the traditional pancake is now a memory. It is usually baked with ground almonds, butter, eggs, sugar and flaky pastry. Sadly, this year  I forgot the main attraction: the hidden  lucky charm!  Five pairs of questioning eyes looked around the table wondering who had swallowed it… I confessed forgetting to put the tiny china king inside the cake before baking it. “Oh well, we enjoyed the cake anyway” was the main reaction.

2 0 1 2   is on its way indeed and I sincerely wish you a good health in a Happy, Peaceful and Hope-filled New Year.

The family holidays spent up in the Alps were very enjoyable. A lot of snow fell before Christmas. Skiers were overjoyed, drivers a little less and I was delighted since I mostly walk along mountain paths, skiing is no longer on my programme. The tracks are so peaceful during  Winter contrary to the slopes  which are very busy with skiers and snowboarders. These narrow paths are far less visited than in Summertime. Sometimes you might meet another hiker, a few people going snowshoeing or a hare, appearing and disappearing like a white flash.

Depending on the temperatures, some  bees hibernate in a hole in the ground from October till April. Another kind of bees  winter inside their beehives; the swarm  gathers near their supply of honey and with carefully measured flutter they create their own heating. Very clever and precious little insects.

Other kinds of animals will not even dream of hibernating, never even heard about it ! Like   this tireless and curious beagle, my Nino, persisting in his continuous investigations no matter the Season and temperature.

Reading, as you know, is very much part of my activities.  I received two books : “The Girl in the Blue Beret” by Bobbie Ann Mason. I have not started it yet but am looking forward to doing so soon.

“Stitches from the Soul”, Slave Quilts from the Ante-Bellum South, by Gladys-Marie Fry, Ph.D. A fascinating and moving reading through history and quilting.  Most of all it is about “the  roles and contributions of slave women to plantation life that had been swept under the rug of history”. (G.-M. Fry). This is certainly one of my most precious books on quilting.

The third book under the Christmas Tree was a “pre-Christmas gift” I offered myself. Not really planned but all the more appreciated. One day last December I went into a thrift-shop hoping to find a lamp for my sewing table. I came out with “Ansel Adams’ An Autobiography”. I am asking you : “Which of you, friends of photography, could have resisted buying this wonderful and rare book ?” I have always admired Ansel Adams’ pictures of nature, B&W treasures I could look at endlessly and just wonder. And now Ansel Adams’ autobiography is in my hands and I am enjoying every page of it !

Indeed I am grateful for this piece of luck I found between ancient chinaware and used, certainly much  loved wooden toys.

Grateful I am also

for you, reading these thoughts of mine

for my loved ones

for my three men’s love and thoughtfulness

for everyday’s little surprises

for lessons learnt the hard way

for my boys first drawings, cards and letters to me

for the Forty Shades of Green of Ireland

for Mozart’s clarinet concerto, Adagio

For gingko leaves in the Fall

for my mother’s gift of fabrics

for my unique and favourite sister

for Elvis

for the sea air

for Nino’s  loving and almond-shaped eyes

for the Connemara hills covered with yellow broom flowers

for Syracuse in Sicily

for Roy, Juan y la familia

for snow falling silently, lightly

for the birchtrees forests in Russia

for Dvorak, Smetana, Brahms, Saint-Saens, Vivaldi, Bach

for Indian spices

for Italian cuisine

for a simple cabin somewhere

for B. Kingsolver, S. Cisneros. A. Munroe, F. Sagan

for a glass of Gewurztraminer and grilled salmon

for cello music

for the thoughts in my quilts

for my friends, everywhere, at any time

for, for, for so much more !

Have you ever tried writing your liste of people, things, moments, places, music, food, etc. you are grateful for ? There is a lot to learn about oneself, I think.

Thanks to marah for suggesting this  “List of  100 Things that give you life, the things that matter”.



38 Responses to “new year and gratefulness”

  1. Carsten said

    I’m greatful for getting a little of you through your blog. Literaly expression of your greatfulness for your dear relatives must make them happy.
    I’m also glad we have so much in common. Maybe it is a good idea to make a list of my own 🙂
    Love your photos Isa.

    • Such a great answer, thank you Carsten for your warm words. Yes, start making your own list, you will enjoy it. Why not having a small booklet close by and any time you think of something, write it down. My list is much longer but I did not want to bore everyone with it.

  2. Marie said

    Dearest Isabelle,

    What delicious pancakes…mmm : ) What is a china king?
    Your photos are so beautiful and peaceful.
    What treasures your books are. I love finding treasures while thrifting.
    I love your gratitude list. So many things to be thankful for.
    I am slowly working on a little something for you ❤

    • Hello Dear Marie,
      So happy to read you again, thanks for your words. You would love this special pancake, very easy to prepare and tasty. A “china king” – see the limits of my translation 😦 – is a tiny figure about 1 inch in porcelain, china representing a king or a queen. The baker hides it in the pancake before cooking it. Earlier it used to be a “fève” or dry bean. The person who finds it while eating a piece of this cake can wear the crown that is placed on top of the pancake, as in my picture.
      Working on something for me ? How lovely and generous ! I am already grateful for it. xoxo

  3. Dear Isa,

    It is always so beautiful.. the feeling I get from reading your blog and seeing the pictures. Your words are like whispers in the wind. They make me smile!
    Happy New year!

    • What lovely and kind words, Sujata ! You touched my heart. Thanks a lot and many good wishes to you for another creative, colourful and happy New Year. Thanks also for the inspiration you bring to me and surely to many others.

      • I often think of all the people I have met through internet and how I wonder if I would ever meet them in person. You are always one of them! so glad I get to ‘visit’ you!

  4. Sounds like a wonderful Christmas. I hope the rest of your 2012 is just as enjoyable!

    • Thanks a lot JP. I really appreciate your visit and words and look forward to seeing more of your pictures from all around the world. I had no internet connection during the past weeks, slowly but surely I will visit you all.

  5. Sybil said

    So much to be grateful for isn’t there, Isa ? I love your list.

    The photo of Nino, with bum up in the air and head with snuffling nose stuck down a critter hole, is just lovely.

    I too, enjoying visiting the thrift store. Congratulations on your Ansel Adams find.

    Happy New Year !

    Sybil in Nova Scotia

    • Yes indeed, there is a lot to be grateful for, Sybil, and it is good to make a pause sometimes and remember it. Nino is an adorable and beautiful dog. We are just back from a dog training course, he did well and now he is sleeping and snoring beside me 😉 Happy Days in Nova Scotia ! Thanks for your words.

  6. Gerry said

    I am grateful for Nino, too, and hope that he did not encounter any hibernating bees during his investigations.

    I am grateful for glimpses of a life so different from my own, yet connected in important ways.

    I am grateful for the peace that enfolds me whenever I read one of your posts.

    • Gerry, I just love your comment and thoughts and the gratefulness you expressed. We are all different – fortunately, I feel like saying – and yet as your wrote “connected in important ways”. Those connections that brought me to your “home” thanks to Giiid or Carsten or those that lead Sybil over here. I think this is fantastic ! Thanks for the world, life, humour and history you share with us, Gerry. A very Happy New Year to you and your buddies.

  7. A delightful post, with a beautiful series of image. Love that one of your dog! And by the way, I’ll go along with you on Mozart’s clarinet concerto. You should try Crusell’s clarinet quartets, too, and perhaps Weber’s concertos for the instrument.

    All the best for 2012!

    • Hello Andrew and thanks for the visit and shared info about Crusell’s and Weber’s clarinet concertos. I know some of Weber’s pieces of music, mainly for piano but will try to find Crusell’s clarinet quartets. I appreciate your words.

    • Andrew, thanks a lot for mentioning Crusell’s clarinet concertos. I just listened to them on YouTube : superb ! I did know at all about him, what a pleasant discovery thanks to you !

  8. truels said

    I wish you a wonderful year here in 2012, Isa! Great to use energy to formulate and list all the good and positive things in your life. We should all do that regularly, particularly those who frequently use energy to identify and list all the bad things they can find around them!

    • Good evening truels, your thoughts and comments made me smile and realize how true you are ! Thank you for your optimistic and positive outlook and a great new year to you and family ! Looking forward to seeing more of your country.

      • truels said

        Just a short “goodnight” from up here – with warm thoughts and greetings to you and yours down in the snow (which we have not got – yet …) I will be posting summer-photos from Australia in a Period now (and dream of summer – and travelling :-)) – but I promise you: Also lots of photos from around here in Denmark – later.

  9. Sartenada said

    Bonjour Isa.

    Magnifique liste de choses qui rendent la vie agréable, et à vivre. Moi, j’aime aussi Adagio! C’est une musique qui va droit à l’âme.

    Bon week-end!

    • Quels beaux mots, Matti “Une musique qui va droit à l’âme”. Merci. Je découvre aussi un compositeur finnois, Crusell, qui a composé de très beaux concertos pour clarinette. Bonne fin de semaine à toi et à ton épouse.

  10. Janice said

    Ah, Isa. I have not written a list of what I’m grateful for. But having read your list I feel much happier already! Your photos are lovely. I love the colourful beehives in the snow. Are the mountain hares white? In the UK they are brown. Have you ever seen the film ‘How to Make an American Quilt?’ I think you would enjoy it.

    • Bonjour Janice et heureuse année à toi et aux tiens. I did not visit blogs lately, internet was not available up there in the mountains but I look forward to reading more of you soon. Some hares – lièvre variable – do change their fur in Winter, they become white. A good way to escape predators of all kinds ! Talking about hares… a funny book (but not only so) I read recently by Finnish author Arto Paasilinna “The Year of the Hare”. You might well enjoy it too. I have not seen the film you mention but read the book by Whittney Otto. I loved it. I am grateful for you, Janice, and all your interests and subjects you bring up. Merci.

      • Janice said

        Bonjour Isa, I didn’t know How to Make an American Quilt was based on a book. It’s now out of print but I found a used copy in good condition through Amazon and will enjoy reading that. Merci!

      • I am sure you will, Janice. I read it long ago and it is still on one of my shelves waiting for another reading.


  11. xandimusic said

    great photos, nice! And thanks for your Music-Suggestion, I’ll post it soon(monday to wednesday) 😉

  12. Tammy said

    I have not written a list like that but I love reading yours and I love many things on your list. Your new books sound fascinating especially the one about slave quilts. Happy New Year Isa.

    • Good evening Tammy, it feels good to know you enjoyed my list, which is growing little by little and making me aware of all the beautiful “Things” to be thankful for. Just finished reading the book about slave quilting, both powerful and touching. It is a wonderful tribute to many anonymous women whose work has been forgotten or ignored. Happy New Year to you, Tammy.

  13. sonali said

    Isa, The pan cake looks yummm and fluffy! I hope you had a great start to 2012. Its cool to know you’ve been to Alps for holidays. It must’ve been real cold out there right? Did you trek up the snow covered mountains or something? Well, its a nice thing to iterate upon the list that makes your life worth the living. Thanks for sharing the thought! 🙂

    • Hello sonali, yes, the cake tasted good. It was very cold indeed up in the Alps, below 0°C mostly. I enjoyed walking along the mountain paths with my dog. Glad that you liked some of my thoughts about gratefulness. So many more reasons and things I could add ! Have a pleasant week, dear sonali.

  14. Karma said

    What a wonderful beginning to 2012. Many wishes for it to be a great year! Photography and quilts! Two of my favorite passtimes; maybe I will have to see if I can get the books you mention at my local library. I just love the photo of Nino – cats are called the curious ones, but I believe dogs to be just as curious. That is a really nice list you’ve created – I bet coming up with 100 is difficult.

    • Bonjour chère Karen et Bonne et Heureuse Année à toi et aux tiens. Je suis heureuse que tu aies apprécié ces photos et pensées de début d’année. Once you start writing down your reasons for being grateful, there are so many that come to mind, you know ? Now and then I will add more. Thank you for your encouraging and warm words, always.

  15. shoreacres said

    I am feeling more and more connected to you, Isa, as I learn just how much of the Louisiana life I love is connected to French immigrants of the 18th and 19th centuries – our Mardi Gras King cakes (moved from the day of Epiphany to just before Lent), the heritage of the Acadians, the Christmas Eve feux de joie along the Mississippi River levee.

    I am so grateful that the internet allows us to learn so much, and to see the boundaries of our separate worlds dissolve. Who could have imagined I would know someone so far away who enjoys my own favorite Ansel Adams book, or the clarinet concerto that I played in my senior recital? Such lovely thoughts.

    We even had a bit of your snow last week – brought in by truck to the local elementary school and dumped in a great pile. Children who never had seen it had the pleasure of long recesses to play in it – I’m sure many of them were grateful for the experience of “snow”!

    • Dear Linda, I just opened my PC meaning to visit you, at long last (Internet in the Alps is a bit capricious sometimes). And who is here, waiting for me with another interesting and thoughtful comment ? You ! Thank you so much.
      Connections are everywhere it seems, since we are all part of the same universe. The state most French-speaking people feel close to in your country is most probably “La Louisiane”. A lady from Louisiana but living in Houston was very proud to speak French with me and to my great shame I could not understand much…but it was so colourful and lilting.

      I am really happy that we both enjoy Ansel Adams “Autobiography” and this unique clarinet concerto. Yes, a lovely coincidence. As for the snow brought by truck to the local school… I can only imagine the surprise and the children’s joy. What a wonderful experience from afar in one’s own schoolyard !

  16. Giiid said

    It is a pleasure to see your photos and read your words, Isa. I´d like to press the LIKE button more than once. 🙂

    The second photo has a very interesting depth because of the fence. Very well seen.

    • Isabelle said

      It’s only now that I see your comment on this post, Birgitte, sorry about this delay. I am very happy you enjoyed this post. A few minutes ago I walk by the very place you liked near the fence. No snow any longer, just yellowish long grasses until Spring blooms fully up in the mountains. Have a pleasant weekend !

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