image: 4th of July American Independence Day

American flags and red flowers

2024 SCHEDULE: Anne is working on a new book. Nouvelles postings will be sporadic. But usually at least one per week.


|| 5 July 2024

Power Outages and Raccoon Ransacking

We were struggling through what we thought was the last of a succession of days of extreme heat. Then, about 7 PM last night the electricity failed. Happy 4th of July. Fortunately electricity was restored an hour and a quarter later. And I was pleased that sitting with one my rechargeable fans blowing directly I was reasonably cool during the outage despite the high temperature outside. My first real test of these rechargeable fans I bought. (They also will recharge a cellphone from their battery.)

One advantage of living someplace where the weather is often uncomfortable as I do, is that, when you do have some reasonably pleasant weather, you think you are in Paradise. So today I am enjoying the cool, rainy weather after the long session of extreme heat days.

As for the mother and four baby raccoons, they ransacked my garage again. More broken flower pots, a demolished watering can. How they knocked over a heavy stepladder I will never understand. But since I gave them a good scolding they have seemed quite contrite. As soon as they take themselves off as they invariably do, I will try to have something built that will keep them out of the garage. So far none of the little critters has managed to slip into the house again.

I am happy to report I had a most pleasant 80th birthday, but I missed my deadline for finishing the new book. But I am close. Now back to work.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone


|| 27 June 2024

Anouk Aimée and Françoise Hardy

We have recently lost two of the chic French women of the era that inspired me in my Chic & Slim techniques. The French actress Anouk Aimée was known for her “enigmatic beauty” as well as her sultry pout, and her signature dark eyeliner. Anouk Aimée passed away on 18 June at the age of 92.

Never a fan of French popular music, I did not remember singer, songwriter, actress, fashion muse Françoise Hardy as well. And I was sorry to learn that her last years were plagued by serious ill health. She died 11 June at the age of 80. A quick internet search will lead you to obituaries of the two French women in several publications.

Here at Provence-sur-la-Prairie we are experiencing days of Excessive Heat and Heat Advisories. We were 103 F. yesterday. Tomorrow we are forecast for 105. Next Tuesday it is to be 107 F. (42 C.) I thought I was pacing myself well with both the work on the book and the outdoor work in the garden. But apparently I did not factor in the heat as strongly as I should have. About four days ago both my body and brain went on strike and sent out a demand for rest. I am doing better, but I still have little energy. My. brain resists doing any acceptable quality writing. On the eve of 80, I am having to admit that age does make a difference in recovery. It does take longer.

Whatever your age, take care in excessive heat. Wear proper clothing and be sure to stay hydrated. Remember sunscreen.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone


|| 14 June 2024

Adventures With Baby Raccoons

There are four, not three, baby raccoons, I have discovered since my last Nouvelles. On Tuesday night, when my attention was lagging from fatigue, two of the baby raccoons managed to zip through the open door into the house and into my office where they curled up on the rug in front of the printer stand. At my immediate attempt to put them back outside, they made it clear that it was wet outside and turning chilly. They MUCH preferred to stay inside.

When prodding with a soft-bristled broom got them out of the office, they dashed for the kitchen and wedged themselves behind the refrigerator. Their new position required the microwave stand and the refrigerator be moved before I finally herded the two furry little critters outside the door.

Unfortunately when we are tired, we frequently miss opportunities because our brain is too fatigued to recognize them. So it was not until the next morning, that I realized that I had been wanting to take a photo of the baby raccoons and here they had been nice enough to come inside and pose in a well-lighted spot not one foot from my camera. (Hint, hint, Ms. Barone.)

So the photo above is the spot on the rug where the two baby raccoons settled themselves and the red object on the right is my camera. But instead of my baby raccoons in the image, I have had to insert duplicates of a Wikimedia photo courtesy of the photographer BS Thurner Hof to show you where they were.

Additionally, the four babies have reached the rambunctious age. They have ransacked my garage. Twice. But I found a website that lists 14 scents that raccoons don’t like and I have several of them on hand. Garlic. Peppermint. Epsom Salts. The rains have stopped and the nights are warm. I shall see if any of the suggested scents encourage the baby raccoon quartet to play outside en plein air.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone


|| 31 May 2024

Rain and Raccoons

The more-than-usual rainfall the past several weeks has made Provence-sur-la-Prairie more Provence-dans-le-Marais (swamp). Perhaps all this damp has made my brain soggy. Since I seem to be stuck on a part of the book on which I am now working, I will leave the difficulties to my subconscious for the moment and write a short Nouvelles.

The raccoon had been eating increasingly large suppers so I was not surprised when night before last she brought three babies to the food dish. They are beyond cute: three masked furry balls in perpetual motion. I have not had the courage to look in my garage. The last time there were three baby raccoons in my garage, they ransacked the place.

In the previous Nouvelles titled Dealing With Challenges of Illness I shared with you Synthia’s account of dealing with challenges following her surgery for a carcinoma on her lower eyelid. I was pleased to have an update from Synthia. She wrote:

Thankfully, my recovery is going well. My surgeons will do cosmetic for minor tweaks when all is healed. I cannot believe how much the eye has improved but still is going to take awhile. I am thankful that very large sunglasses are so in style!

As always. I am enjoying re reading all of your Chic and Slim books. Your insights still make me laugh out loud!

Our continued best wishes to Synthia. And my reminder to you as summer approaches of the importance of wearing sunscreen, especially on your face.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone


|| 19 May 2024

Dealing With Challenges of Illness

A stormy spring here at Provence-sur-la-Prairie. My life has revolved around severe thunderstorms, tornado watches, and working on the new book.

Several weeks ago I reported (along with reminding you about using sunscreen) that one of my brothers had surgery for a VERY LARGE squamous cell carcinoma on his neck. Seeing it, my other brother thought he should see a doctor about about a growth that had appeared below his ear. A biopsy revealed that it also was a squamous cell carcinoma, but fortunately other brother’s carcinoma was benign.

In the meantime I received an email from Synthia, telling me about her recent experience with a carcinoma, this a merkel cell carcinoma on her lower eyelid. You may remember Synthia from her report from Paris several years ago.

Synthia reports that her medical treatment has been first rate. But her recovery has presented new challenges, including those for staying slim. There are good lessons in Synthia’s story. Particularly about how to deal with any sort of illness that limits your ability to exercise — especially if friends and neighbors are bringing you cookies and other sweet treats when you must confine yourself to sedentary activities. Synthia wrote:

My goodness Anne it has been some time. I hope you are well and just wanted to say hello and catch up.

I have been fortunate enough the last decade to travel often. I first discovered you before my France 2012 trip and you made my trip perfect! I had been to Europe as a college student, but now as an adult woman, I had to brush up on etiquette. Since that time, I was able to take my daughters to France and other locations (son and husband too!)

A few years ago i developed a cyst under my eye. After 4 years, I finally had a clear diagnosis and it was Merkel Cell Carcinoma. I just had my 3rd surgery at UCSF this past week. This is no joke and the recovery is not fast. THANKFULLLY, i have a plastic surgeon on my team who is over seeing the plastic surgery. That is the most terrifying as my eye surgeon had to re build my ENTIRE lower lid! You wrote about skin cancer several months ago and wanted to share my story,

What comes next is learning how to deal with this as it is healing. I prefer to keep my eye covered with a patch—most people think i have had cataract surgery. I feel uncomfortable showing the eye and it is very interesting—some say show it with pride! you are a cancer survivor! But I feel it is rude to make people look at it too—I am vain that way.

Anyhow, i have been getting so many beautiful flowers, cookies, treats the past few months. Now I need to re read all your books as I am not able to exercise like I used to. So...it comes down to discipline which is challenging when you are only able to read and watch tv! But I will do it! I don’t want to have my eye heal and then have to be worried about my weight.

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do!
Sincerely, Synthia

Merci to Synthia for sharing her story and insights about dealing with the challenges of her medical experience. And our very best wishes for her speedy recovery.