Sunday, September 26, 2004

Two days in Paris. Now I'm in London. Strange how some people are afraid of travel, others are in awe: "You were in Paris? Now London? Alone? Tough life!" No sympathy that I had to lug a heavy suitcase through the streets of Paris, up and down three, four, five dozen flights of stairs in the metro, find a hotel I've paid for and never seen, catch a bus to Charles de Gaulle, arrive at Heathrow, find London's metro (no, now it's the underground), remember to speak English, find another hotel (booked again on the internet) without a map...I found it.

The hotel is alright, clean, firm bed, disgusting carpet. I can live in it for two days because it's cheap London-standards - £39 but a small attic room with shared toilet and shower, though it is up six flights of stairs ( the young woman at reception helped me carry it up.) I'm not really complaining. Today, I visit Charington Cross Road with a young friend. Books, books, books (must remember the weight of my suitcase.)

I was so tired after finding my room and managing my suitcase that I went to a nearby restaurant that looked decent, called Goya, a Spanish tapas bar enticed by Rob's reports of Spanish tapas bars and the "spicey potatoes" item on the menu. Fooled again. The potatoes were not spicey at all and this made me miss Paris, not that I ate at gourmet restaurants but the food wasn't fried,was flavourful enough, and I could buy a pichet of wine for next to nothing. Not so here.

I woke at what I thought was a respectable hour - 6 a.m. - showered, dressed, went down for my English breakfast only to find that I hadn't switched my watch to English time and was an hour early. I took to the streets, found where my bus leaves tomorrow morning (just around the corner) for what Rob calls my "transformation." "Will you still love me after you're transformed?" he asked. I am not feeling glib. In reality, though Marlene and Ursula reassured me, I am apprehensive. I've even thought - these last few days - that I'm a lost cause, not suited for this workshop, not ethereal enough. But damn it all anyway, I am fifty-five years old with my "course roots in the earth" and I'll not let a little fear stand in my way. I'll do it come what may.

What more can I say? I loved Paris and only had time for a taste. I phoned Rob and asked him to ask Helene if she knows anyone in Paris who would like to trade their home for one in the south of France or even Vancouver. A month would be ideal. And I phoned Gill and asked her if she would like to do some shopping in Paris for her 19th or 20th birthday (you'd think I was made of money) and she said "19th."

Oh I did do a little shopping in this amazingly wonderful sexy city. I bought a coat because I was cold and the thought of a week on the English moors made me think it a smart decision. (Okay, I first asked my financial advisor if I should buy it or not, and Gill said "go for it.") I also bought a cosy pullover, a gift for Gill's birthday, one for Marlene's, and had my hair cut French.

One afternoon, I sat in a small brasserie people watching. An older couple sat across from me. No conversation. And I thought, "dear god, don't let this happen to Rob and me - old and nothing left to say to the other." And then a young, elegant, beautiful young man sat down beside me. He spoke on his cell phone twice. Once in perfect English. The second time in perfect French. Okay, I was mesmorized. I thought of a friend who told me that it's easy to get laid - it's all in the glance that lingers too long. And I thought as I sat there, making sure I didn't look him in the eye, that I have no desire for such sport. It would be more embarrassing than fun. I must be old because I think that good sex doesn't just happen (or at least it hasn't for me the first time new person.) Yes, it's all in the head, I think as I sit there; but then again,it's also in the hand, in the mouth, etc. etc.
(This was me in Paris -lily white, pure in body if not in thought. I smile as I type this.)

So tomorrow I'm off to Plymouth to the Moors and I doubt that I will be blogging again until I'm back in Vancouver a week and a day from now. What can I say? Wish me well.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

I have just been sitting on a bench looking out from my village feeling rather sad that I won't see it again for who knows how long. In an hour, Rob and I leave for Caussade where he will put me on a train for Paris where I will wander the streets for two days before catching a plane for London. I sound like a jet-setter but feel like a small woman who is going to have struggle with a big suitcase on and off trains.

Several years ago Gill and I went to Greece with Helen. When we were in Santorini, our hotel was down twenty, thirty, forty steps and I became so angry at myself for bringing so much - my suitcase was ridiculously heavy - that I threw an enormous temper tantrum in our hotel room and threw every item from my suitcase around our room cursing each one as if it weighed down my soul.

I lay in bed beside Rob this morning rubbing my nose in his back - I am such an animal - telling him that I was drinking in his smell as I wouldn't be sleeping with him for a while and he laughed. (I said that I was trying to be poetic. Why does it never work? I will miss this man who teases me like crazy, who says he's not my father, who has grown more tender towards me over the last few weeks.)

But enough of this soppy stuff. I have written more of my fairytale but no time this morning to type it. If I can, I will continue at an internet cafe in Paris. If not, you will have to wait. (Life is so simple some times.) Au revoir.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I have so few mornings left in Castelnau de Montmiral. I have just been doing a slew of dishes from a dinner we had last night with James and Rachel Waugh, Lyn, and Susan. It was a good evening, full of wine and conversation but, as usual, I left the table early and Rob entertained our guests (although Susan, as is her habit too, went home before I lay down.) I am in my organizational, tidy-up mood. On Thursday morning I leave for my beloved Paris.

Here, for the lover of fairytales is Part 11 of mine:

When King Monogamy returned, the queen told him, with real tears, that the child was lost to them at birth (which wasn’t far from the truth) and her husband, not a bad man for all his boringness, wept with her.

Meanwhile her trusted servant carried the babe through the dark night, indeed through many dark nights, hiding when the sun rose, until she came to the sea that Vivacia had described, and paid for her passage and that of the child with jewels, not THE crown jewels but with precious stones nonetheless, on a stately ship.

When the captain of said ship, spied the dark beauty, carrying her precious bundle as if it were crystal, and noted how their passage was paid, he ordered the maiden and child be placed in a cabin next to his where he could watch over them; and before long, because of his kindness, was told of the queen’s servant’s mission – to find a safe home for the child until her mother, under some guise, could have her transported back to the castle.

The Captain, who was young and dashing, fell in love with the gentle servant and thus another fairytale began but the tale that needs to be told at present is that of the child. The story of the Irish Sea captain and the Persian maiden will continue at another time.

When the ship landed, the captain and the maiden (who turned woman during the voyage) found a earnest god-fearing young couple who desired a second child so they could rent a house (this was post-war times) and so were given charge of the queen’s lovely daughter and a handful of precious stones, accepting that her real mother might want her back at any moment.

Unfortunately this never came to pass. Vivacia, hiding again in the garden one night, was stung by a number of bees and died.

The baby, quiet by nature, was so different from the couple’s own daughter who was loud and demanding, that the man and woman favoured the child who had come to them at night. They also expected, it must be said, that they would receive more riches when the child’s presence was requested at the royal palace.

When they heard of the queen’s death, they decided the child who had been called simply princess was theirs, named her Barbara, and used the last of their wealth to cross the ocean to the new world.

The couple never told their fair-haired second daughter of her origins but at night Barbara would dream of castles, brightly coloured silks and satins, and flying carpets and knew in her heart that she did not belong to the people she called mum and dad, and, if she was very good and quiet, her real parents would one day reclaim her and take her to live in a palace.

Friday, September 17, 2004

In an hour, I'm off on an overnight adventure with Susan. We have not seen nearly enough of each other. Writers tend to hibernate I think.

I said yesterday that I might tell a fairytale. I don't know if this will bore you to tears but I'll give you the first part. I began this story in the midst of the second writing shop and although I took the exercise seriously, what came from me was downright silly. Saying this I have a feeling that it will take a serious turn. I have not polished this story nor do I intend it. Once in a while a writer has to have fun.

The story grew from an idea that I had as a child (a common one I hear) that my parents were not really my parents. I was a princess from an exotic land where carpets flew and genies lived in bottles. For some reason, my real parents had to give me up but one day they would come for me.

Part One

Once upon a time, the raven-haired Vivacia, who just happened to be queen of Persia, gave birth to a girl child. Under other cirumstances the tiny, fair-haired beauty would have been adored but the queen knew as soon as her husband, King Monogamy (or Monotony as he was called behind his back) saw the child, he would know that two dark skinned, raven haired people could not produce such a child and he would banish mother and babe or worse still, throw them in the rat-infested dungeon where they would die a slow and painful death.

This wasn't all he would do, Vivacia knew. The king had brought from Ireland, the only fair-haired male in the kingdom - a tutor for their son - and would naturally assume the young man was her lover which was, in fact, the case, although their affair had happened innocently enough.

Vivacia slept little during the hours her husband favoured for dreaming and often walked, under the stars, in the walled garden where the Irish man too often wandered, reciting verse by Yeats, Thomas, Joyce, or others from his homeland. She loved hearing his soft lilting voice, watching his long lean body, shoulders slouched with the intensity of his thoughts - so unlike her husband's rotund figure and booming bass - that she would hide behind a favourite oleander bush so as not to distract him.

One evening, the young man, needing to relieve himself, stopped in front of the queen's bush, and pulled from his trousers, a soft tube similar to the crown jewels but much prettier. When Vivacia saw it and his intention, she was so shocked that she jumped up and revealed herself and reveal herself she did more than she realized as she wore a thin night dress that was transparent in the bright moon's light.

They stood staring into each other's eyes and then sighed in unison as if giving into the inevitable, joined hands and found a sheltered spot to explore the other's treasures. And thus this became their habit.

When Vivacia's belly begin to grown, she feared that the child would be his but hoped beyond hope that the few occasions in which her husband had demanded her presence in bed would produce another raven haired child.

Alas as soon as she held the enfant in her arms, she knew that she had to act quickly. Her lord and master, away on a hunt, was due back in two days or, at the most, three so she gave her precious daughter to a trusted servant and bid her take the child across land and sea to the emerald isle, home of the child's father.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The air is cold. I know I repeat myself but the mornings feel like fall; the afternoons like summer. I dress for middle weather and never feel just right. I'm growing a little tired of telling what I'm up to here in a landscape that continues to appeal even with the sunflowers dropping and brown.

The most exciting thing that has happened lately is that for the past two days, Rob and I have driven down the road to Herve's farm and spoken about the French language. Herve has recently retired from a teaching position. He also, many years ago, taught French in a Scottish university. (He is Helene's first husband.) He lives on a large estate with two gites. One holds four people, the other six. He makes a decent income from the two but needs to supplement it now that he isn't working and is thinking of teaching French to English speakers from around the world and is looking for a way that not only benefits him financially but that pleases him aesthetically. He loves literature and poetry and song and wants to incorporate the three in his teaching. He also told us quite bluntly that he is lonely and would like to share his large house with four bedrooms. (The second Helene left him in November.)

He and Susan are coming for dinner tonight and Rob and I are supposed to have learned by heart "Le Corbeau et Le Renard", a French fable. I'll be lucky if I get the first four lines right but it is a fun way to learn. Speaking of fables, I'm thinking of publishing my fairytale on this blog. Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I have not been able to write this public journal for a few days. I’m not sure why although it could be that I see my time is drawing to a close – less than two weeks and I’m on my way to London, then Plymouth to the bodysoul workshop, and I must arrange many practical details.

This morning, I was sitting on my bench at the edge of the village. The moon was just a sliver and there was a streak of red across the horizon. Fall is the air. I had already spent an hour on the Internet trying to find a cheap place to stay in London. (It’s both easy and difficult to make a reservation online: the big problem is that pictures are deceiving. I could be booking and paying for a real dump or I might be lucky.) I am frustrated. I wanted to write so much this summer and feel I’ve accomplished little in this department.

Two nights ago, I finished “Dancing in the Flames” and I keep returning to the last few pages, trying to digest and understand what several passages mean to me. It’s funny that I can hear something, read something, that I know on some level but somehow it doesn’t resonate until, all of a sudden, it hits me in the gut.

For instance, in the Woodman/Dickson text I keep thinking about the idea that “If quantum physics tells us anything, it is that reality is indeed in the eye of the beholder.” Linked to this, I jotted down the passage where the authors noted that Wolfgang Pauli, physicist and Nobel laureate, “recognized… that the unconscious drives – perhaps more than our conscious ego – govern much of our interaction with the world and our interpretation of it.” It follows then that I have to find a way into the unconscious if I am ever to understand the forces that gag and tie me, and those that will direct me in a positive direction.

I am still dwelling with relationship issues. If nothing else (although there is much more) Rob reveals me to me – more in my responses to him than my actions. For instance when we went to Toulouse, I wanted to make a game out of finding a cheap hotel and was prepared to walk for hours until I found exactly what I wanted. He hated this adventure. It wasn’t his idea of a good time, trouping around the city in the heat, with an overnight bag in hand; and although I tried to stay light, I finally gave in, at a hotel where I neither liked the atmosphere or price. And then I was angry at myself for not holding onto my idea and snapped at Rob that I did not want to go for coffee with him. A few minutes later, feeling like a complete imbecile - or perhaps, feeling like a spoiled child is a better comparison - I explained my anger and we went out for coffee.

Interesting that I tell this. Another passage at the end of “Dancing” goes:

“Making a commitment to another is really an illusion, a way of holding. In the end, it is to no avail. Making a commitment to our deepest Self however pulls us into life and opens the door to others. Love carries a great responsibility to go where life leads, to be where life resonates. If we have no passion for our own life, we will constantly seek it vicariously in others. Seeking a greater realization of the Self is the only commitment we can really make.”

After coffee, we separated and went our separate ways. We both found two hotels that fit my description – too late for this visit – but we’ll both be happy next.

Last night we had Sue and Leon Light, Bedding and Susan, and Ruth for dinner. I cleaned the place from attic to ground - having guests is a great motivator: the house needed a good scrub.

Ruth made a leek pie. Bedding a German plum tarte. Sue and Leon brought champagne – the real stuff – I made a ratatouille tomato sauce for pasta, and Rob made the salad. The evening was easy and delicious.

Friday, September 10, 2004

I'm sleeping later these days. I'm remembering dreams. I feel almost quiet inside.

I have begun a scrapbook of my writings, dreams, and thoughts of this summer. I am surprised as I copy out my proprioceptive writes: they are much more coherent than I thought at the time.

The air has changed in the village. It is fall in the morning and I wear a sweater to La Place to have my morning coffee and write in my journal; but by afternoon, the summer returns and I must strip down to almost nothing (it's been in the mid thirties this week.)

Ruth, the musician, is usually sitting at another table, eating her croissant, drinking her "grande creme" (coffee with hot milk) and reading a newspaper when I show up. We never sit together, never intrude on the other, although this morning I stopped briefly at her table to thank her for the appetizers, champagne, and house tour she gave Rob and me last night. Ruth is full of charm, lightness and laughter. This morning I told her that I like her, that I sense something kindred in her and she says that it is a shame that we don't share a common language. I say this may well not matter. When one in not proficient in a language, one must reduce ideas down to their simplest form and so are clearer (or is it that I am not good at explaining myself?)

Last night at Ruth's was delightful. Rob and Bedding were there too and Ruth showed us her house or rather, two houses. One is under construction and although they are beside each other, one has not been used for years. The living house, formerly owned by a carpenter, is built on many levels, and Ruth has transformed the patio at the back with a small bamboo fence, palm tree in the miniature garden, and swinging hammock that made me feel as if I were on a South Seas island. Both of her houses and her future plans for them (she plans to join them at back and have a concert hall) are wonderful as is she. Although a few years older than me, Ruth is like a young girl in her enthusiasm.

After our time at Ruth's, Rob and I wandered down from the town to the garden of Rachel and James Waugh on the invitation of Alice, their daughter who I have known since she was nine. Alice, granddaughter of Evelyn Waugh, plans to return to the town for six months next year to write a novel. She is here visiting with two young male friends, also in their twenties, and both Rob and I have been enjoying their youthful company. Also included in the garden party are Helene and her daughter Laura and grandson, Guillame; and Elena, Bedding's daughter, and her love, Martin, and their enfant son, Sil. Oh yes, and Fred, as he calls himself, the American version of Frederick, who has travelled widely in Canada and the U.S. and who likes to entertain in both languages. So we all sat under the stars and ate salads and spoke mostly in French. Although I said little and left early (as is my habit, early riser that I am), and went home to dream of babies, waking when Rob returned at midnight, the evening was more than enjoyable.

Today, Rob and I will go to Toulouse, to wander and spend the night. Our mission is to find a really cheap hotel, not too sleazy, clean, so we can explore the city, eat dinner, and find out if any nightlife - hopefully music - exists in this fourth largest city in France.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I have tried for two days to publish a blog but it isn't allowing me.
I am going to try again by splitting what I wrote in two. Perhaps
I'm being too wordy.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Yesterday Gillian started a public journal called Confessions of a Young Woman.
In it she asks if she can be honest and ruthless: "Is it dangerous to post my heart and soul this publicly?"

I have asked myself the same question many times and I think, in most cases, that being open might feel dangerous (more often frightening) but it's good for the soul. I feel this even more stongly after the two writing workshops this summer where I understood, perhaps for the first time, that reading aloud one's raw thoughts, exposing oneself, saying, in a way, that "this is who I am" pushes one's boundaries, is liberating in the sense that when I admit to my "small" thoughts (often those I call pathetic) I learn that such thoughts exist in others and so am kinder to myself.

Now having said that, I don't know how to continue.

"Your thoughts these days are too private," I tell myself. "They're too filled with scenes from childhood." Do I have to make all public? No. I do not have to tell all but I do want to write about some issues that I feel are universal. (In this realm, Nancy Mairs is my hero.) I'm not trying to be fancy, far from it, but there are things that we - okay, first person - I don't talk about - that were forbidden in childhood - that need to be talked about. At present, these taboos are relationship issues and money.

These taboos are unhealthy. I was raised in a house where anything that happened, especially discord, between family members was to be kept quiet. Outsiders were to think that we lived in perfect harmony. In fact, my parents were vicious and cruel to each other when they fought, which they did often, and most of their fights were about money.
As a child, I hated their raised voices. I cowered in corners, thinking that they would hurt each other, especially when my father threw things (but, as far as I know, he never physically touched or hurt my mother. I realized, a few years ago, that after they got their meanness out, they were nice to each other.) Still these battles made me shy away from fighting.

Rob and I seldom fight. When he arrived back from Spain, he was unhappy. He said that we had grown apart, that we lived separate lives. He saw this (or did) as negative. I see it in a positive light. We are different people. I do not want to live in his pocket or by his side, day after day. I want to do things for my Self by myself. And when we come together I want both of us to be tolerant, if not agreeable, to the things the other chooses to do. Encouragement would be good. Support even better. Susan, once said, that if married people could look on each other as friends, marriage relationships would be healthier. One would encourage the other to live his or her dreams.

Why is this so difficult? Simone de Beauvoir said she refused marriage and children and in doing so her life was easier than women who accept one or both. With the titles "husband" and "wife" come prescriptions for living together and I think these so called prescriptions or remedies for two are out of date. Why, I wonder, is it more difficult to talk to Rob than a female friend. And I realize as I write this that we are too important to the other, and so both of us are defensive with the other. I say "you think this" and he says "you think that" until I want to scream "we have to stop thinking for the other." Because, quite often, what he thinks I'm thinking is not what I'm thinking. And most likely I am wrong too. But to find out what we're projecting on the other, candid conversation is necessary.

And both of us are trying. I am watching myself, speaking carefully, making sure what I say is what I feel and not colouring any thought to make me sweeter or slant it for his approval. I am taking a deep breathe when I feel my ideas are being ridiculed. (Note, the "I feel".)

And we're liking each other more. The other day I bought a new perfume called "In Love Again."

My other taboo is money.

Rob wants to work less, to write. I think this wonderful. But when he says "we must budget", I feel defensive because I hear my father's voice. To say my father was frugal is an understatement. He hated spending, loved saving (not necessary negative) but what was bad was that he kept my mother on a strict budget. If she wanted more, she had to beg or borrow while he never asked her if he wanted something - even big-ticket items like the Jaguar he bought when he already owned two vehicles.

As I write this, I realize that I'm feeling my mother's anger and helplessness. No need. I work and earn and Rob has never in our life together ever questioned me about the way I choose to spend "our" money. I wonder if it's present guilt (although guilt may not be the right word) that is making me uncomfortable when money is mentioned. I have just done something larger than I've ever done: I've accepted a space in the Marion Woodman Bodysoul Intensive and the cost is 1600 American dollars (thank you Vaughan).

As I get deeper and deeper into "Dancing in the Flames", I feel somehow that I'm moving in the right direction. "It takes great resolve to enter into the darkness of our own chaos, to give up the familiar path and begin to trust our own experience."

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Where will I take you with this blog? I have been so lost in thought lately that my brain is brimming over and I'm not quite sure where I will alight. I've been thinking mostly about self and relationship, each one separately and then together. Bett said to me before leaving something to the effect that I should know what I want, be clear. Why is it so difficult to figure out what one wants, needs, for oneself?

Between thoughts, I have been reading "Dancing in the Flames" by Marion Woodman and Elinor Dickson in preparation for the BodySoul workshop. Yesterday I underlined several passages:

"Self-knowledge comes through a relationship with and a commitment to something or someone beyond one's self, beyond the gratification of one's personal needs." This also reminds me of James Hollis who said that we need an Other to know ourself. (Trouble is we don't always like ourself with an Other.)

"Perhaps, we will have to face the darkness, walk out on the moor alone at nightfall, or dive to the bottom of the sea before the old ossified ego bondaries can be shattered to make room for the dance." The BodySoul workshop takes place on the moors and, as I understand it, it's about losing ego boundaries. This is scary business. Am I ready? No matter.

"Beneath the mature persona of the ego lies the child's imagination, which fears being devoured by the wolf or the wicked witch. If we remain trapped in fear, we will never know the treasures of the dark. Being catapulted into the underworld is a common mythological theme, found in almost all cultures. The descent is undertaken either voluntarily, in search of a deeper goal, or involuntarily, when the abyss unexpectedly opens. The potential in either case comes from the fact that ordinary ego perceptions are shattered; cracks occur in the well-crafted persona. Through these cracks emerges the possibility of something new."

This excites me. I am stuck, set in my ways, foggy, meandering. My only certainty is that I want to write rich open honest text and I will do what I have to, even put myself in scary places, to achieve this goal. I think, as I wrote in my Anais Nin piece, about writing that "[t]his is where I belong. This is what I should be doing."

I am surprised at my last few sentences. I didn't think I was certain about anything. They make me realize that I did move ahead a little in my commitment to writing, over the past month. The study of texts, written by intelligent women, the proprioceptive writing, the dream work, the movement, the reading of my own work, the encouragement, even the communal feasts and dancing were... I pause here. What am I trying to say? I felt as if I was living in a different world in which thought, poetry, writing, dancing, play were respected, taken seriously...

I stopped here to have a conversation with Rob. I found myself defending the writing workshops. It's not that he thinks that they are without value, it's just that they disturbed his place here. He admits this. But I found myself measuring my words, trying to find the right ones so he'll understand. Or was I trying to find words that wouldn't make me sound stupid? I want his respect. No, I want more. I want him to value what I value. Is this possible? Does it follow that if he respects me, he will trust that what I do is also worthy of respect?

Damn it all anyway. I am so confused. If one knows at a gut level that something is more than worthy should one have to defend it to whoever? Yes. Why not? (I think that one should try, in any way possible, if the listener is important to the speaker.)

A few years ago I wrote a piece about the value of play: Here's a few lines:

"Playfulness is a volatile, sometimes dangerously explosive essence, which cultural institutions seek to bottle or contain in the vials of games of competition, chance, and strength, in modes of simulation such as theater, and in controlled disorientation, from roller coasters to dervish dancing…" Although play is "out of mesh" with the day-to-day ingredients needed to sustain life, Turner asserts that it enriches and may even, in its oxymoronic fashion, be advantageous to future generations: "Yet it may happen that a light, play-begotten pattern for living or social structuring, once thought whimsical, under conditions of extreme social change may prove an adaptive, 'indicative mood' design for living."

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

I am back in Castelnau de Montmiral after two days in Toulouse. I did write my blog and will now copy from my journal and publish. But first, I will note that I received an email from Gill this morning. She in her room at Ryerson, feeling a little jet-lagged. Rob mentioned that it is 34 years since he was at Ryerson and I am surprised at how the years have added up and how fresh the memories of the beginning of our "friendhship" remain. We used to talk for hours and hours about the future in his small flat on Admiral Road. He said he wanted a simple life - a good job, a wife, and children. I wanted a life in the theatre, full of travel and excitement. We decided we weren't compatible. And here we are, over three decades later, talking about compatibility, discussing once again how we want to spend the rest of our lives.

August 30th: I have just talked to Brendan in Vancouver. He is off tomorrow to Toronto to meet Gill, arriving from London. He will help her settle in at Ryerson and then he's off to New York for a week's holiday. My children have literally taken flight.
(Earlier today I spoke to Marlene of this, saying that I feel a void and mentioned Carolyn Heilbrun's idea that the only plot for women is marriage, death, the end. She said that the void could be liberating. I can write my own life.)

Yesterday was Marlene and Bett's last full day. In the afternoon, Marlene and I took off for a walk into the country, past farms, and roadside trees laden with plums and pears - many already too ripe, scattered on the ground. As no one appeared to be picking and enjoying them, Marlene quickly filled a small bag. On the steep incline up to the village, she discovered a fig tree, reached up to sample, and a ripe sexy globe fell into her hand. She said that she had never tasted one so good. She picked some more for Bett and Rob.

The fig always reminds me of a scene from "Women in Love" where Rupert describes the proper and improper way to eat the fruit.

"The proper way..../ Is to split it in four, holding it by the stump,
And open it, so that it is a glittering, rosy, moist, honied,
heavy-petalled four-petalled flower....
But the vulgar way
Is just to put your mouth to the crack, and take out the flesh in
one bite."

There are many more juicy verses aligning the fruit to female genitalia.

In the evening, Bett, Marlene, Rob, and I went to a concert at "Cobweb Barn" and although Rob said it would be country and western "what else do you expect to hear in a barn" - the program included classical music, opera, and tango - more in keeping with the barn that wasn't a barn but a beautifully restored old building with high ceiling adjacent to a fancy house. I thought the concert amaturish but great fun and afterwards the crowd - many more than the organizers expected - stood outside, ate morsels of savouries, prepared by the hosts and musicians, and drank boxed local wine. We ended the evening in Gaillac at a pizza restaurant in the central park.

August 31: The women of Toulouse are much sexier than in Vancouver. I sit in a sidewalk cafe after a lunch of salmon and pasta, a small pichet of rose wine, and an espresso, observing passerbys. The women, no matter their age, dress stylishly, swing hips and look pleased with themselves. Heads turn. At home, I feel invisible. Here, I feel more attractive, seen, a woman who has lived a lot of years but who still has some left. Reminds me of Samuel Beckett's lines that go something like: my best years may be hone but I wouldn't want them back, not with the fire in me now.

I blew kisses and waved Marlene and Bett off this morning. I did the same send-off as I did for my younger girls/women. We travelled to Toulouse by train, shopped, stayed at the same hotel in the same room, and even ate dinner at the same restaurant. Bett and Marlene are both smiling broadly, happy to be returning home, counting the hours, when they will see their beloveds. And I am happy too, I admit. It was a pleasure having them but now I want time alone to reflect on the workshop experience, time to do some writing, and time with Rob.

After they left, I returned to our hotel room and took my time, showering, blowing my hair dry, putting on makeup (a rarity), and then approached the city centre, by a different route than I usually take. I discovered museums that I didn't know existed, and a Paperie with a huge selection of journals (Bett and Marlene would have loved it but better they didn't see it - they left carrying too much) and I bought several, and new stores where I bought a long velvet skirt - to wear on the English moors during the Woodman workshop.

Rob picked me up at the train station in Gaillac early evening. And so we start again - together without children.