Paris Attacks Hit Home

View from My House in Telluride

View from My House in Telluride, Colorado

It’s sparkling white here in Telluride, Colorado. We’ve been graced with bright blue skies after a major storm dumped about three feet of snow on our already snowy mountains. Normally my heart would be singing with the excitement that comes with the start of each ski season. But despite the glorious scene that lays before me, I feel cobbled together with a jumble of emotions I’m doing my best to manage.

I did some work with hospice about twenty years ago and learned in the training that each loss brings up a past loss. I suppose by the end of our lives our hearts are filled with an accumulation of losses. A grim thought, but hopefully we find out along the way how to balance our complexities of emotions. But still, there are times when the bottom seems to fall out of our hearts.

This has been one of those times for me. The horrific events in Paris of just one week ago have touched so many of us. They’ve triggered thoughts of 9/11and other PTSD moments, big and small. They’ve made us weep for a beautiful city loved by many whether we’ve traveled there or not. They’ve made us feel the ultimate violation of enjoying a sense of safety in the most civilized parts of the world. They’ve made us feel like one. We are one, we are one with Paris, one with France, one with the whole world.

In a city of over two and a quarter million inhabitants, I wanted to make sure that everyone I knew there was safe last Friday night. On ne sais jamais. It’s bad enough that this horrible violence was happening but I prayed that all my loved ones and contacts from having had a close connection with the City of Light for almost four decades were safe.

And then it came. The news that my ex-husband, Stéphane de Bourgies, had lost his wife, Véronique Geoffroy de Bourgies, in the attack on the little bistrot, La Belle Equipe, rue de Charonne. I felt shattered. Vraiment boulversé. No, no, please God, don’t let it be true. I had been checking Steph’s Facebook page all night for news and finally the unimaginable was posted. I had already written on Véronique’s timeline that I was thinking about her and her family and hoping everyone was safe. Oh God, please let this be a mistake.

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Glamping Through Breast Cancer Fears

Doing the Two-and-a-Half-Hour Drive to Grand Junction for My Mammogram First Time Around

Doing the Two-and-a-Half-Hour Drive to Grand Junction for My Mammogram First Time Around

Serving Myself a Wine in Fruita, Colorado

Serving Myself a Wine in Fruita, Colorado

My world shifted into a surreal-like state of uncertainty three weeks ago when I learned that I needed a second mammogram after my first one revealed troublesome findings. I was called back for a second mammo a year and a half ago, so at first I wasn’t overly concerned.

This time though I could clearly see the area that the radiologist told me appeared suspicious. “Your breasts look like chocolate milk, so it’s hard to see clearly,” she continued. I studied the section she indicated and thought that indeed the spot in question looked like flecks of cream clumped upon my frothy chest.

My heart rate quickened despite the fact that I exchanged casual small talk with her as she performed the second mammogram. Calm down, I said to myself. There’s nothing to worry about. Don’t automatically think about breast cancer.

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Skiing Beats Moving

Snowy Telluride

Snowy Telluride

That would be moving to a new place, of course. Because as a general rule, I do believe motion is lotion and you get some of the best motion when skiing.

Ski season is off to a great start here in Telluride. It snowed a ton in November, then we had a dry spell, now with fifteen inches of fresh over the weekend, we’re set up nicely for the onslaught of holiday visitors due to arrive late this week.

I’ve been working out early season glitches such as numb toes, goggle marks and other assorted woes. It takes a while for my feet to become accustomed to wearing ski boots again and damn, I just can’t seem to adjust my goggles on my helmet the way I did last year. I’ll work it all out and as a Telluride ski instructor, soon I’ll be spending eight-hour days in my ski clothing and equipment for stints as long as ten to fourteen days in a row. In the beginning of the season, I sometimes wonder how I do it, but fortunately I throw it into gear, work through the initial aches and pains, and then fall into the swing of things like skis gliding on the snow.

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Highlights from My France Trip 2014

Steve and I Capping Off Our Last Night in France at Julien in Paris

Maribeth and Steve Do France: Capping Off Our Last Night in France at Julien in Paris

Oysters and Vin Blanc at Lake Hossegor:  One of Many Delightful Meals in France

Oysters and Vin Blanc at Lake Hossegor: One of Many Delightful Meals in France

Hossegor Surf at Sunrise

Hossegor Surf at Sunrise

Pâtisserie Française

Pâtisserie du Golfe in Hossegor

Biarritz at Night

Biarritz at Night

Glorious Contrasts:  Steve Headed Out to Surf at the Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz

Glorious Contrasts: Steve Headed Out to Surf at the Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz

Tapas at Bar Jean in Biarritz

Tapas and Wine at Bar Jean in Biarritz

How silly of me to think that I could work in a few blog posts while traveling through France during these past few weeks! Really.

That was my intention but I’m afraid I failed mercifully at the task. Instead, I was busy experiencing life in France rather than taking time to write about it sur place. Sure, I took tons of notes and I will be churning out stories from this trip–both here at my blog and in updates of my guidebooks–in the months to come. (I’m also doing a downloadable guide for A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, so the information will serve there, too.)

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Grant Me a Higher Love this Valentine’s Day and Forever

Cindi Sansone-Braff:  The Romance Whisperer

Cindi Sansone-Braff: The Romance Whisperer

Ugh, love relationships. It’s crazy how they can be so off-the-charts wonderful and at other times so down-in-the-dumps horrible. Who among us has not ridden this roller coaster of love at least once in his or her life? Whether you’re looking for your perfect soulmate or trying to elevate the divine love you’ve already found, help is on the way.

I chatted with Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Grant Me a Higher Love:  How to Go from Relationship from Hell to One that’s Heaven Sent in a recent Travel Fun interview. Cindi started out by talking about the importance of travel and getaways with people in love and how travel can be a test of compatibility. She quickly segued into more meatier stuff and emphasized the importance of people having either “two feet in or two feet out of a relationship.” It seems as though many people in today’s society only approach relationships halfway.

“Being granted a higher love is not so difficult,” Cindi explains, something that most of us can likely attest to if we’ve been fortunate enough to be hit with the thunderbolt of love a few months into a relationship. “Maintaining love is the hard part,” Cindi continues. “It does demand work or it’s going to go bad.” It seems as though many people are on cruise mode and allow dysfunction to destroy the love they’ve been granted.

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Fifty Shades of Grey Wine

Fifty Shades of Grey Red Silk

Fifty Shades of Grey Red Satin

“If you spill the wine, I will punish you, Miss Steele.”  —Christian Grey

Mon dieu. Not only might you not want to be punished (or perhaps you do), but you don’t want to lose a drop of Fifty Shades of Grey Wine from acclaimed novelist E.L. James. Who doesn’t love white silk and red satin, especially when it comes in the form of wine?

Floral aromatics of lychee, honey and pear lead off Fifty Shades of Grey White Silk, a primarily Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc blend. Aged in stainless steel, it’s both delicate and rich in character.

Fifty Shades of Grey Red Satin, a decadent blend of primarily Petite Sirah and Syrah, fills your mouth with a full-bodied deliciousness of black cherry, cocoa, caramel and vanilla. Hmmm, and you thought Christian was yummy.

No date for Valentine’s? How about spending a titillating evening with yourself and the Fifty Shades of Grey book and wine in hand? Or, spice it up with your hunny and surprise him or her with a Fifty Shades of Grey excerpt, accompanied by one of these smooth wines.

The combination of love and wine has never been so bold.

In Praise of the Italian-American Vote

Beaming Over Bombolini and More

Just about a year ago, my boyfriend of four years, Stefano Togni, became American. Many people from both his personal and professional life—even some of his closest friends—had no idea that he wasn’t an American citizen. Indeed, this Italian-born man, known to most as Steve, appears as American as my dad (who is first generation American, born of Italian parents). Although he is fluent in the Italian language and culture, his speech doesn’t reveal a hint of an Italian accent. Plus, his enthusiasm for sports—including Monday night football—rivals that of every other red-blooded American guy. Indeed, he has lived in the United States since he was a senior in high school and aside from an almost unhealthy penchant for pasta, bread, salad and San Pelligrino one would never know that his American passport is as crisp as a new billfold.

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A Tour of the Heart and KOTO Love


Last year around this time, I celebrated a milestone birthday. I was grateful that I was feeling healthy and well, the most fit I’d been in ages and ten pounds thinner (a rarity for me since my weight never fluctuates). Here I am a year later having perhaps gained back five of those pounds—I don’t really know since I stopped weighing myself (a good sign of maturity). And now I’m two days away from another b-day with something far more significant to celebrate—a new book!

Twelve years. Yes, twelve years. I can’t believe it myself. It was twelve years ago that I began to plan a trip that would forever change my life. I actually took that trip in the fall of 2000. We all have transformative events and travels in our lives. I just happen to take a lot of notes on mine. “A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France” is the fruit of all that note taking and so much more.” Click here to see a preview and download excerpts. I hope you’ll enjoy the read. Books are rolling into bookstores now; be sure to ask for it if you don’t readily see it on the shelf. You can also purchase it as a paperback through amazon now or as an eBook on kindle.

Since it’s KOTO fundraising time and I love my NPR-station here in Telluride, Colorado, you can receive a free e-book with every $20. donation and a free paperback with every $30. donation. Books sell for $8. and $20. respectively. Contact me directly through this site to make your donation. Also, if you enjoy Travel Fun, my talk radio show on travel, and the podcasts of those interviews I post here on this blog, please make a pledge or donation to KOTO as well. For that also, it’s best to contact me directly. Community radio is a rare breed in the U.S. and ours is almost entirely supported by caring people like you.

I will be talking about “A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France,” on Travel Fun tomorrow, August 21, at 6 p.m. mountain time. You can also tune in on the Internet at at the time of the broadcast. I hope to post that interview as a podcast on this blog within the upcoming week.

One more thing:  Click here to become a fan of A Tour of the Heart on Facebook. 


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    This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Maribeth Clemente. This blog sometimes accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. The owner of this blog is sometimes compensated to provide opinion on products, services, Web sites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for certain posts or advertisements, she always gives her honest opinions, findings, beliefs or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger's own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.
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