Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ma belle-soeur et l'amour de sa vie

I woke up at 4 am, made myself a cup of tea, opened my computer, and noted that it is August 31st, Kathy and Richard's wedding day. Kathy is my sister-in-law or, in French, my belle-soeur, translated beautiful sister. I imagine that she will be beautiful today in an Eileen Fisher flowing dress with organza overcoat. I imagine that she will be happy at her small wedding, surrounded by their children and grandchildren but I imagine her happy mostly because she is marrying the rather extraordinary man she met through an internet-dating-service a few years ago. Richard is one of the most inquisitive, industrious, generous, talkative, and intelligent man whom I have ever met. (See Richard's website.) He asked me once to tell him about Kathy's other men because he didn't want to make the same mistake and lose her. I have also noticed their kindness to one another. (The older I get, the more I see that kindness is the most important ingredient in a loving relationship.)

Kathy is Rob's younger sister and although she often comments on how he tortured her when they were young, and although they are not in touch often (which surprises Richard who is constantly in touch with his family,) there is no lack of love between them. They are similar in their down-to-earth, no nonsense approach to life - could be the Maritime in them - and their love of books and family. I admire too Kath's intelligence and organizational skills (something I lack in regards to the home.) I remember when we were raising our children, she'd be up, dressed, beds made, house cleaned, and be cooking one of her famous cheesecakes, while I'd still be wandering around in my housecoat. For the longest time in Vancouver, she was the only family I had and she was always there for me - taking the children when I went to see Rob on location, letting the whole family move in when we were between houses, organizing our extended family get-togethers, listening when I needed listening to - oh dear, there is so much I could say - but as I sit here thinking about her and the actions she's taken throughout our relationship, I see she is as extraordinary as Richard. I am happy that they found each other.

Last year, when Richard came to Vancouver - our first meeting - he stayed with us, and Rob introduced him as his brother-in-law which amused Richard.

Today Richard officially joins the Young clan and both Rob and I - I say with a grin - think he'll fit right in. Welcome, good man. We will celebrate your marriage with champagne when we meet in California, early October.

Kathy and Richard's Wedding Day

I have inserted here a picture of Kathy and Rob (lower left) and our combined children.

Kathy and Rob and family

Monday, August 25, 2008

Milestone Birthday

My eldest child is thirty today. He wants no fuss or hullabaloo. How can this be? He was raised by a mother who loves celebrations. In my mind, turning thirty is important. On my 30th birthday, this young man was seven months old. I was never a baby person but after his birth, after falling in love with this child from my belly, while still reveling in my capacity to create such a perfect human being, I decided I wanted a dozen more. I had yet to discover how much time, physical and psychic energy, and yes, money it takes to raise a child. But the gifts given and lessons learned from this child-now-man continue (as well as from my other two.) I am often overwhelmed by the size and scope of dividends that I receive. Non, je ne regrette rien.

I wish him everything his heart desires, including many dazzling moments of happiness this coming year.

My Eldest Son

His Quiz

Quoting Shaw

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"Ain't No Cure for Love"

When I am depressed, I wallow. Yesterday was one such day. It began when I went to Mr. Bricolage for sandpaper and spoke to one bitch of a saleswoman who refused to understand my French... My bleak mood continued until the evening when I spoke to Rob (oh, I love the sound of his voice) and then sang along with Jennifer Warnes "I've loved you for a long long time" from her Famous Blue Raincoat" and ate my solitary dinner watching "Captain Corelli's Mandolin".

This morning, I feel better. Started my day with a phone call from Marlene, went to La Place for coffee, and sat in the sunshine, writing in my journal.

Susan is 81 years today and tomorrow Brendan turns 30.

I hate myself when I complain about the little things when I have so much to be thankful for, and even though I know this when I am sunk in misery, there are times when I just can't pull myself out.

I meant to blog earlier this week on last week's village fete but somehow time escaped me, though I did write about it in my journal so I will copy a bit about it and then continue to the present time.

Susan and David whose house backs onto the Esplanade where the music stage is set for the summer fete, left town for five days, and I promised to keep an eye on their garden and water when necessary.

"I am down in David's garden, drawing water from the well to feed the baby tomatoes, squash, and onions though there is really no need as it had rained a little very day. But a promise is a promise and I was worried that too many tomatoes had ripened and would go to waste...

I had decided the day before that I would get out of my hermitage and lead a healthier existence and participate more in the life of the village (which I call mine.) So in the evening I strolled through the Esplanade, bought some saucisse and frites and a glass of wine and sat listening to the music. But I was alone, felt out of place in the chattering crowd and, after a short while, went home to bed.

The next evening, I was wide awake at 10 (unusual) so I took another stroll through the Esplanade where a Spanish group were playing. The lead singer, a very pregnant young woman, had a great voice so I sat and listened with a French neighbour. It was an evening for the older folk (the night before was disco music - loud and horrible - and this band cooperated for most of the evening with traditional French songs which moved many in the crowd - some who could hardly walk - to hit the dance floor and move in unison which reminded me of the dances I'd attended in Northern Ireland. I think it a shame that dancing does not play a greater role in North American - especially for an older crowd.

I am missing my friend Clare this summer who was always willing to go down to the garden with me and my Gill, who always pulled me to the dance floor (and made me eat healthily and regularly.)

I am obsessed with getting my house in order...."

This week is a blur of fixing and painting but there were two occasions that I got out of my old clothes and ventured into the world - both happened on Friday - and both cheered me considerably.

On Friday morning, Bedding and I drove into the country to see an art exhibit that Susan had arranged. Susan went with Carol and a friend of Susan's drove with her mother. We met at a small auberge for lunch (famous for its bread soup) and then went to the home of Bettina von Arnim (the great great great (don't know how many greats) granddaughter of the writer by the same name. The Bettina who met us at her driveway, with her floral trousers and patterned over-blouse, roughly cut hair in a fringe round her face, no makeup, looked (to me) more like a farmer's wife than an artist who had studied in Berlin and Paris, has held many expositions, and has two studios filled with everything from small metal sculptures created with found objects, to mirror boxes, to watercolour and oil landscapes, to six large, rather humourous oil paintings of figures with huge hands. When I mentioned the eclectic range of her work, she laughed and said that she did not like to repeat herself. I liked the woman and loved her art. (Wished I could have afforded one woman in blue. 5000 euros, she said. Next year, I responded.

In the evening, I was invited to Ruth's for dinner - Ruth is the woman at the far right. She also is an extraordinary artist but her milieu is music. If I remember correctly, she played a viola but now performs with a violin and on occasion, plays a small accordian (for fun.) (She pokes fun at me about my taste in music - country and western. I just have no class at all.)

The Sisters

I love Ruth's energy, her quick smile, sense of humour, intelligence, and her directness in our conversations about love and living. Ruth has also recently had her home renovated. A second house (that used to be rubble and water-logged) is now linked to her main quarters through an arched opening and a short flight of stairs.

A long, long, narrow, ancestral table is set with a long white tablecloth in her new dinner space. Candles are everywhere. (A woman after my own heart.) I open the champagne. Susan and David arrive. Carol. And Francis. We sit and Ruth serves us a seafood opener - salad with a mousse, scallops, and prawns - followed by a paella. (Not only can Ruth play a mean tune, she can cook.) Red wine flows as easily as the conversation. Ruth brings out a fruit torte that she serves with a thick sour cream. Again delicious. I look around me. There is a German, Swiss, Scot, Irish, English, American representative.

I had a wonderful day and evening so why I turned miserable the next day, I have no idea.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Night of the Fete

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I'm All Over the Place

and see that I must slow down and take some time to organize and prioritize.

After writing this statement, I stopped and began making lists. And Sunday disappeared. 

(I did go to market in Gaillac, fill several holes in the floor, scrape small areas caused by water damage and re-paint these areas, do several laundries, and speak to Rob - I walked around with my computer with its built-in camera and showed him our house in the light. And I watched Charlotte Gray in the evening. The line that I remember is "Of these three which, in your view, is most important. Faith, hope, or love. Charlotte answers "hope.")

I'm finding it hard to write at the moment. I think that I've left it too long. But I think too that once I get going I won't be able to stop. Is this true? I have no idea. 

I would like life to be more generous. I would like it to allow me to finish one project at a time. At the moment, I would like to have this house finished to my satisfaction so I could write. But life isn't like that. When one project is finished, another will rise up and demand attention. 

So write, damn it, I whisper over and over to myself. Sit down and write. 

I'm reading, as I mentioned before, "Literary Seductions" and the criteria for inclusion, is that the author must be obsessed by writing, must not be able to not write. Nin and Miller, for instance, could hardly wait to finish making love, so they could write about the experience. 

I remember once, a long time ago, that writing came easy, that I'd be vacuuming, for example, and suddenly I'd be hit with an idea, and I'd turn the machine off and scribble furiously. I have not felt so compelled since, though I have ebbed and flowed. 

I want to both live and write. 

Friday night I sat on Susan's balcony with two American poets - one a long-time friend of Susan's - and as Susan and David were going out, we found ourselves alone. Sue was knitting and drinking red wine and Julie was drinking red wine and smoking when I arrived. They invited me to join them and share their wine and dinner of zucchini soup, duck breast and pickled beets. 

These two women were boisterous and fun, spoke of their misadventures traveling together, and their future plans. I have no idea where the wine and time went. At one point, I asked what they thought of Sharon Olds. Sue dismissed her. Julie said she liked her earlier work but found her repetitious. I said that I loved her work. Had they read the poem about her husband leaving? No. I didn't speak of Olds pact with Satan. And so the conversation died. 

I always find it strange when someone I like, doesn't like what I like - though why I find it strange, I don't know. It happens all the time. But not with poetry. Or am I deluding myself? Or have others deluded me? It doesn't really matter.

I am restless though not unhappy. I did find a few moments of pleasure, swimming in a friends pool and going out for dinner with Carole from Carolina (who turns 80 next year) and tells the best stories. 

Sunday, August 03, 2008

My Sister is Enchanted

Sunflower Dance