Daughters #s 3&4 go skating every week. They are the very acmes of grace, elegance and athletic refinement, except when Zelie cruises past me, sticking her tongue out.
Our local rink is not the most picturesque of photographic locations - after one shot with flash, a strict instructor informed me that "you can't use flash and it doesn't make a difference anyway".
But here for posterity (and the rest of the family) are my ice princesses. Long may they reign...
That shot again with the flash that doesn't make a difference:
With a little help from a mountain full of snow-making machines, we managed a Christmas afternoon on the ski slopes at Whitetail, Pennsylvania. As luck would have it, we had driven out on Christmas Eve in the hope of visiting Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece near Pittsburgh, but were foiled by a sudden blizzard that swept the Laurel Highlands and closed the house and grounds. A three hour journey for nothing, though the countryside was quite pretty. We got back to our West Virginia log cabin to find that not a single snowflake had fallen.
It was plenty cold enough for the ski slope snow-blowers, though, and the girls had a great couple of days sliding up and down mountains, or whatever it is you do with those silly sticks strapped to your feet. I restricted myself to my bike, of course, but hung around long enough to snap them having what they insisted was fun.
First, here's a shot of real snow from our abortive trip to Fallingwater (someone lost her front tooth just in time for Xmas):
Now here's the fake stuff at Whitetail. They did a pretty good job of looking like a real ski resort:
Daughter #4 cruises in comfortably:
Maman tails daughter #3:
I think she liked it:
Our trip to Sleepy Creek, West Virginia didn't really lend itself to an epic photographic spread, but I think the following snaps convey a hint of the fun we had. There's more to come from the snow...
The log cabin, at the end of a winding dirt track deep in the bear, bobcat and coyote-infested woods:
The sleepy creek in question:
Enjoying the winter sunshine (at approx -2C):
Keeping warm inside:
Keeping warm by jumping on the bed:
Keeping warm by hugging the dog:
No idea, sorry....
Sunset over Sleepy Creek:
Tomorrow: ski time !
It's the time of year when owners of huge, fluffy white dogs march through the streets of American cities, demanding better fluff-removers.
Last weekend it was the Silver Spring Thanksgiving parade, and Belle joined a small but handsome group of her breedmates for a Great Pyrenean rumble. My smallest girls were very proud to be part of the parade, and took turns holding the banner of the excellent local rescue group.
Soon we'll be in Middleburg, Virginia, whose Christmas parade is the Mt Everest of mountain dog marching. The last time we went, there were something like 60 dogs. That's an awful lot of white fluff.
But while we wait for Middleburg, here are a couple of snaps from Silver Spring. Better get your fluff-removers ready.
So Halloween's over for another year, much to the dismay of the bloodthirsty womenfolk who constitute my family. We had a particularly gruesome display from our two smallest daughters, and all I can say is: whatever the hell happened to Disney princesses ?
Here's A as Edwina Scissorhands:
And here's Z as the wolf girl with her Viking friend (and their dog):
I have a sister-in-law, Jehanne, who appears on these pages very rarely, mainly because she lives in France and we only ever see her when we fly across the Atlantic. When I first met her, she ran a riding school and all four of my daughters at one time or another fell in love with her fleet of ponies.
Now she's an incorrigible multitasker in the most daunting Deroche family tradition, holding down about six different jobs, one of which, it recently turned out, involved performing as Calamity Jane in a wild west show held in the Alps (What ? You didn't know they had cowgirls in the Alps ?).
Did I mention that she's also raised two fabulous teenagers - the same two who spent the summer with us in America this year ? You probably wouldn't guess that she's the mother of a 19-year-old boy who's about three feet taller than she is.
It's fun having such a cute sister-in-law, and whereas I wouldn't swap Sylvie for the world, I wouldn't mind if Syl bought a frilly leather waistcoat and a hat like Jehanne's......