Sunday, November 26, 2006

Saturday, November 26

It is a glorious day in Port Hope. The sun is shining and I'm sitting outside a cafe drinking dark coffee and eating a muffin. Life has a surreal quality these days. On Wednesday, I picked up Gill at school and we drove the back roads - some real country farmland - to my parents who had cooked a turkey in our honour (mostly Gill's as they know she loves turkey)and some Irish bread for the morning. They have been so kind, so accommodating. But before settling in that first night, we drove to Cobourg to see if Michael and Mackenzie were home. I have been so worried about him. No word for ages but M & M are there and well, and seem content. (Kenzie has chopped all her beautiful curly hair off - or a lot of it - and looks like a cherub with dark curls sitting close to her face.) We are introduced to their baby, Ichabod, a lively kitten, who jumps around and performs gymnastics.

Gill can only stay one night and so the next day, my mum and I drive to Oshawa and send her back to Toronto by train. I feel spoiled. I have my own elegant bedroom with adjoining bathroom. My father serves me wine at dinner and after, we retire to his office for brandy. This morning, I joined him in the hot tub - his ritual. He says it keeps his old bones oiled. It's good to see him so relaxed. My mother once said that I am just like my father: Not a peaceful bone in my body. Gill says she too has inherited this trait.

It has been maybe thirty years since I have come "home"(though this was never my home as my parents bought the house after I married.) Yes, I have visited but it has always seemed like I'm just passing through, not really settling down and enjoying their company, seeing them as individuals (not my parents.) I'm not sure but maybe before,visiting them seemed more of a duty than a pleasure. I don't feel that way now. Perhaps it is because I am older and see that time is passing quickly and I won't always have them around - a scary thought. I said to my mum that I want to give them some of my precious time. But that sounds rather arrogant in some way - though is it? I think that anyone who wants to spend time with me is giving me a gift of his or her time. It must work both ways.

And too, I am still in angst about my future. What am I to do with myself. What life shall I create? What excites me? How can I be productive? What can I do that will make me feel good about myself? I need to do something and hopefully something that will give me some financial freedom, or help me feel that I am contributing to the family coffers. Oh I get so mixed up here. I realize that nothing is going to happen unless I put some effort in but I'm still hazy about where to put my energy. I keep reminding myself that I have given myself to the end of the year to wander, to dream.

Saturday afternoon,I drove out to Cobourg and spent the afternoon with M & M. We bought sandwiches and went down to the lake and had a picnic. Later we visited the town's art gallery and thrift shops where I bought half a dozen books (still searching for ideas. I bought "Ulysses" for a quarter. For some reason I have been thinking about this book, wanting to reread it though I think that I never made it all the way through.)

At dusk, I left my parents and returned to Brampton to my sister's as she needs her car. I spent last night by myself - good for soul - as I have had little solitary time since I arrived. And I need this time. Otherwise I get scattered and restless and frustrated and don't know who I am.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


My Daughter is so French

I'm in Toronto with my baby. (Yes, Ayah, the crazy one, is still crazy.) It's not easy leaving one's love standing naked at a hotel room door in Toulouse at five in the morning and flying to gay Paree, with just enough time to buy several bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau, and then flying again for a tedious eight hours to Toronto. It's the Toronto part that feels strangest as usually I'd be flying home to my little house in the garden. (Though given that Vancouver has had torrential downpours that has dirtied the water, I'm happy to be here.)

I am living in my daughter's apartment with her two roommates. Mon dieu, they are all so beautiful, so industrious - all are either working on an essay or two, or running to their parttime job. And I, in the midst of this industry, have been researching a paper on normative relativism for Gill - just to feel like one of them.

Today, I shall go downtown with Gill and when she goes class, I shall explore this city that I left so long ago. (Still don't know when I'm flying home.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


How do I love thee?

My friends Susan and David are in the hospital together. Both are recovering well from their operations though they have good days and not-so-good days. On Thursday, both will go into the Rebab wing and are told that they can share a room. Oh la la, the French are so accommodating when it comes to love.

At first, when Susan told me that they were having their operations a day apart, I thought it a dumb idea. How will they look after each other when they return home?

But look at them - they look like they belong together. And when either gets bored or needs to talk, Susan goes down to David's room or David goes up to Susan's room...

Tomorrow evening, I leave Montmiral for I don't know how long. "Parting is such sweet sorrow..." I leave Rob here and my friends... though I join Gillian and Michael, my mother and father, sisters and brother, in Toronto.

"Fare thee well... "

(I have no idea what's up with me today. I keep remembering poems: "Oh ye dead poets who are living still... ")

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Oh dear, I have less than a week left in the south of France where the sun has been shining magnificently and somehow there is never enough time to answer my correspondance and write this damn journal and, as I was looking over the rolling hills from the attic this morning, the sky streaked with red, I shook a finger at myself and said write, write something, anything, so your friends know that you're alive and then I thought that this journal is like a parent and I am the adult child and all that is required of me is to note that I am still breathing. (One of my children hasn't called for weeks and my imagination was going crazy, dreaming up all kinds of horrible scenarios until my parents called and said that they had heard from him. Big sigh of relief.)

Another big sigh of relief came after I spoke to my friend Susan yesterday. She went into the hospital Tuesday to have a cyst removed and David, her love, went into the same hospital the next day, one floor down, to have a hip replaced. When I called Susan last night, she was laughing, said David was "high": "They don't allow you to experience pain anymore." And so these dear dear friends are alive though drugged and my wish, naturally, is that the worst is over and that they will recuperate well and I, selfish creature that I am, will be able to enjoy their company for many years to come.

I have been reading Hollis' book about creating a life and he notes that our lives are fiction. We write the story. He quotes Thoreau: "... if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unimagined in common hours."

So I have been imaging the life I want to lead...

Yesterday, I crashed badly. But have recovered. I saw, felt, knew, that I had to take time out, be alone, sort myself out and so I did. Rob left me in Gaillac after market and I sat in the beautiful big park, read, walked, wrote in my journal. Another sigh of relief. Rob and I have been having an extraordinary time together - the best, in my opinion, we've had for years - and he has verbalized my thoughts about togetherness and solitary time... we both need a lot of both. We are in harmony.

Today is Rememberance Day and after I go to hospital for my first post- op, visit with Susan and David, I will return for the town's festivities and later today, go to Penn with friends for dinner and music and dancing.

Tempus fugit.

Friday, November 03, 2006


I have been writing and rewriting and editing almost non-stop, since I returned from Greece, trying to expand my travel piece to meet the word count of CBC's annual contest and email it before the deadline. At 2 a.m. on the 31st, 30 words short, I admitted defeat.

Bleary-eyed and depressed that I wasn't able to work faster, I had been working on a section about Dublin, searching the internet for inspiration, when I came across quotes by Beckett and Joyce that made me feel better about my failure to deliver:

"Go on failing. Go on. Only next time, try to fail better." (Samuel Beckett)

"A [wo]man's errors are the portals of discovery." (James Joyce)

"For Love of Literature and Travel" is coming together nicely but I need more time to fine tune it. I also need an editor. The next day, November 1st, I went to see Susan, who is taking a break in Bruniqel - another medieval village, around twenty minutes away from Montmiral - before her operation on Tuesday. For the past dozen or so years, we have been reading each other's work and both (thank goodness) find the other's input helpful. After lunch, she agreed to listen to my story. I read. She interjected when she felt something didn't work and offered good suggestions.

Although, at this point, I realized that the deadline included this day, I knew that there was no way that I - turtoise that I am - could make the necessary changes and finish the piece before midnight (even given that France is six hours ahead of Toronto.)

Nonetheless, in a masochistic kind of way, I see that I have enjoyed the past few days and will finish the piece after a few days rest.

I also felt infinitely better about my slowpoke ways the evening of the 1st when Rob and I went for dinner at another writer's home where I met yet another writer, Homan Potterton, who published an autobiography in 2004. I could have hugged him when he admitted that it took him eleven years to write the account of his first fourteen years and, all the while, his friends badgered him, not believing that he would ever finish it. (I have only begun "Rathcormick: A Childhood Recalled" but I like his style and will review the book when I am finished.) I liked him even more when he said, something to the effect, that who in their right mind would want to writer: it is so exposing.

After this evening at Lyn's, where she served up such a wondrous feast that included a soup with a magic potion, a lamb stew subtly spiced with a sweet chutney aside, baked apples (a la Ruth) and a rich chocolate torte from a fine Patisserie in Gaillac (yes, two desserts); along with the agreeable company, I felt full and content, happy even.

(Please excuse the repetition of photographs in my last entry. Blogger was being temperamental.)