A beautiful princess and a dashing prince marry with a lavish ceremony followed by a honeymoon in an exotic locale, then return to live happily in the castle of dreams. We are skeptical of this scenario from the first words spoken. Beautiful princess! How much of her beauty came from the cosmetic surgeon’s office? How long will they live happily until the divorce? Yes, we grew up and learned the truth long before reality television reached popularity.
Back in the early seventies when my two older children were little, they watched Fractured Fairy Tales on television. The cartoon show featured the typical fairy tales, such as Cinderella or Pinocchio, told in a totally wacky style with puns that only the parents would understand. The creators evidently knew that mothers were nearby scrubbing toilets, or sorting the weebles from the wobbles in the toy chest of a mother’s life. Why shouldn’t she have some laughs since she had to endure the cartoon re-runs, sort out the squabbles between the children and clean up the cookie crumbs thereafter?
I thought that my life could be cast in a Fractured Fairy Tale much easier than the sumptuous life in Chateau Villandry. Then again, I don’t have to take in paying visitors to tramp around my house and garden to pay the electric bill and taxes. Perhaps I am exaggerating about the Chateau Villandry’s circumstances since I do not know the bottom-line of their finances. However, the owners of many stately castles and manor homes do require this income from visitors and rentals to cover their expenses. Life behind those magnificent doors is often not cracked up to be as imagined by the mere peasants of common life.
“It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation that give happiness.” – Thomas Jefferson
Jim and I began our fractured fairy tale of tranquility and occupation in a 528 square ft. (49 sq. meters) new mobile home which we owned and located on a wooded lot in the countryside in Alabama. I planted azaleas, roses, dogwood trees and flowers from Granny Bryan’s flower beds. We had a beautiful rusty-colored Irish setter that roamed through the woods with us behind our new home. Inside, everything was new and cozy with Early American furniture reproductions, white ruffled curtains at the kitchen windows, braided rug on the floor, imitation brick flooring and green appliances. No, I am not referring to eco-green, energy saving appliances. The range, sink, refrigerator, washing machine and the bathtub were green. Do you remember those times? We had art on the wall like any respectable chateau fit for a princess in a fractured fairy tale. A woodsy scene with mountains, waterfalls and streams was laminated to cardboard and stapled into a wood frame. Positioned above the Early American style, over-stuffed sofa the faux painting was inspiration for tranquility, if not splendor.
The mobile home would fit in the foyer of the Chateau Villandry with room left to form a small trailer park. My trailer flower garden would be laughable in comparison, but it was my own version of the “Love Garden” found at Villandry. Happiness grew, and I learned how to nurture my plants along with my marriage. From the narrow viewpoint of some people we may have appeared as trailer park trash. I have no problem with poking fun at myself. At the same time, I will hold my head up and say that we were honest, hard-working young people starting a life together modestly. Jim was a part-time college student working an auto parts counter at a GM dealership, and I worked full-time at an insurance agency.
“If you own a home with wheels and several cars without, you might be a redneck!” – Jeff Foxworthy
We had great fun with our friends on camping trips and doing simple stuff. Thinking back, some of it was little more than a continuation of some of the same fun from our childhood, such as playing cards and watching the guys play Saturday afternoon football.
The size of our accommodation didn’t hold us back from entertaining. Don’t envision any Martha Stewart decorations and dining. I’m going to tell on myself and let you know my true colors with redneck running rampant. Jim and I invited our friends over for a pizza party at our mobile home. See, already we were cooking up foreign Italian dishes with no grits or gravy involved. I was the cook with boxes of Chef Boyardee pizza mix in the kitchen and Jim in control of the entertainment. Can you imagine mixing up the ingredients and shoving the pizzas in the oven to feed a crowd? I thought nothing of it, and I declare that Jim must have put a sign outside saying “Ya’ll come on in, FREE food and entertainment here!”, or he was down at the 7-11 inviting all the customers to drive south to the green and white mobile home on the right. The Statler Brothers were singing good old country music while pepperoni-topped pizza was popping out of the oven in shifts. A dozen, or more, people were standing inside talking and laughing when we heard a loud BANG!! at the backside of the trailer. We had clearly exceeded our load limit, and one of the concrete blocks that leveled our mobile home had shattered from the weight of our multiple guests.
“If your wife weighs more than your refrigerator, then you might be a redneck.” – Jeff Foxworthy
I probably weighed less than 110 pounds at the time, so it wasn’t me!! Honest. Now, who can say they had a party that brought the house down like this one? I’m sure that Chateau Villandry never threw a shindig like ours. A fractured fairytale, indeed!
Chateau Villandry’s love tale is a splendid one. A young doctor from Spain, Joachim Carvallo, came to France in 1893. Doctor Carvallo studied with a medical research group in Paris, and there he met the American intern, Ann Coleman. Ms. Coleman was the daughter of a master blacksmith in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. They were married in Paris, and three children were born there. Then, some seven years later they sunk all of their savings to restore their dream home: Chateau Villandry and the gardens. They transformed the romantic park to the stunningly beautiful gardens we see today. Now that is a love story to inspire and endear any romantic soul. Not a fractured story at all!
Fractured Fairy Tales are lived and told in every land and every language. I hope I didn’t ruffle any feathers, or rattle any armor, with my silly story while featuring the beautiful chateau on the page. You will find serious and interesting facts by CLICKING here for the website and CLICK here for the book A French Opportunity which includes more history of the chateau.
Praise for Fractured Fairy Tales (CLICK to check it out) may entice you to read the book. I should hire them to promote my book!
It’s a great book, no lie. – Pinocchio
I couldn’t lay it down – The Golden Goose
These stories really cook. – Hansel & Gretel
Ribbit! – The Frog Prince
Ya’ll come back for more adventures, out of the ordinary and slightly cracked! Thank you visiting and sharing the link with friends.