Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

The day has disappeared like so many is the last while but I want to catch those I love and wish them a happy, healthy, prosperous new year and though these words are too often used, I wish for all these things in 2010.

Lacking time to think clearly about what the end of this year means and the beginning of another (more on this soon), I steal from other writers:
  • "One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things."
    - John Burroughs

  • "The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective."
    - G.K. Chesterton

  • "For last year's words belong to last year's language
    And next year's words await another voice.
    And to make an end is to make a beginning."
    - T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

I have been working on a new expanded blog that will appear soon and might have happened before the new year but I am so damn fussy and though Michael worked till four this morning to transfer files and improve the appearance, it'll take another day or two (hopefully not longer) to appear.

Now I will dress up to bring in 2010.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

We had such a lovely Christmas Evening

The Night Before Christmas

By 5 p.m., the Christmas tables are set, mistletoe hung, candles lit, and the only missing ingredient is our middle son and his love.

Rob opens a bottle of bubbly and Gill, Yeliz, he, and I toast the occasion. Alice arrives first with a lush green salad (to be served hot) and a gift of foie gras that she tells us to hide. Bob and Rosemary are next and without a doubt, Rosemary is the belle of the evening in her slinky blouse, Spanish tiara, and elf slippers. She has presents for everyone. She gives us a trio of pates, 2 of her novels - signed, homemade chocolates, a mincemeat pie (that she began 3 months ago), and cheese sticks and curry pastries for appetizers. Ruth comes up the stairs with a rich salmon mousse, surrounded by greens to be served as an entree, and chocolate cake, Francis following with white bowls of spinach, green beans, savoury stuffing, and hot red cabbage, then Adam and his two sons arrive with a leg of lamb and 2 pans of roasted potatoes. (Susan notes that all is delicious - surprisingly everyone can cook.) Gill scurries around the kitchen, re-heating what needs it, and laying out the bounty.

And so we feasted and sipped red wine. After the main course, we all trooped downstairs to hear Ruth on her violin and David on his cello, play 3 German Christmas songs. We all wanted more so Alice, in her high clear voice, sang a couple of rowdy ballads, and then I, who have always been told I can't sing a note, who was the one in the school choir told to mouth the words, cut through my embarrassment and fear and sang a few lines of Christmas carols so Ruth could catch the tune and accompany us.

Later, Adam told Rob that I had a beautiful voice - a stretch, I know. But Alice, in her no-nonsense way, told me that I have an adequate voice, that I can carry a tune. I cannot explain why her comment and not Adam's, filled me with such pleasure. I will not be so fearful next time.

And so this was Christmas.

Friday, December 25, 2009

And so this is Christmas Morn

7 a.m.

A soft rain falls.

I have already been to the Patisserie for pain au raisin and bread and cooked a bread and walnut stuffing for the turkey.

The children (if you can call them that) are still snug in their beds. Gillian is here with her young friend Yeliz - they arrived from Paris two days ago and Brendan flew from Paris yesterday. (We are missing Michael and Mackenzie who promise they will visit soon but alas not for Christmas.)

Last night, we celebrated Christmas Eve with champagne ( really a bubbly from this region - as delicious but not as expensive as bubbly from Champagne) and Gill and Yeliz cooked steak with an extravagant cream sauce, tossed a salad, and baked lemon cookies for dessert. I made the frites and later the popcorn when we moved down to the salon to watch Elf - a silly film but one that I watch every year (as well as A Christmas Carol and The Santa Claus.)

Tonight we will have 15 people for a communal feast. I'm in charge of the turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, and am looking forward to setting beautiful tables (we will need two) for our multi-cultural group of friends, aged 7 to 83.

I just stepped outside and the sun is shining.

3 p.m.

The turkey is in the oven. The cranberry sauce is made.

The "kids" did not get up until 11:30 and so we ate fresh pineapple and pancakes for lunch and then opened several small presents each. I am content but think it time that I jumped in a shower and dressed for our soiree.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry, merry, happy Christmas

Santa is in Zurich right now. I hope he reaches all of you.

I am at a loss for words but I wish that you all have a lovely Christmas and a happy holiday season.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm Never Fully Awake

I fall asleep at 9 and wake up at 1. I go back to bed around 6 and wake around 11. I wouldn't mind so much if I were fully awake and functioning but I feel I'm in a fog. I would like to email my friends and write from the heart but I cannot find the energy. And so I wander, read a little, eat, do laundry and the odd chore. I'd like to go into the forest and find evergreen branches and decorate the mantel for Christmas but again I can't find the energy to go outdoors. And it's cold out there.

I'll recap a little. The time in Toronto with family and friends sped by and I feel quietly content about my visit. I smile when I think of my father in the kitchen, my mother learning to maneuver her new computer, my sister cooking an amazing risotto, going out to dinner with one sniffling courageous friend and her new love, and sitting on the floor with another who has grown more beautiful since I saw her in the spring.

And now I am home. How strange "home" is these days now that we have only one house. And though it sounds exotic living in an ancient village in the south of France where we are in love with the food, wine, and tranquility, we struggle with the differences, especially the language. How strange too that our daughter and eldest son decided to leave Canada for Europe around the same time while our grownup middle child/son moved with his love - a young woman who we think of as a daughter - to Vancouver. We are all in transition.

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life" is a question we're all exploring.

In my nuclear family, though often full of good will and laughter, we have the unfortunate habit of dwelling on what's missing or what's wrong with a situation, rather than luxuriating in what's good and wonderful - a human trait, I'm sure but one that we're particularly adept at and one which I'm trying to lose - or lose to some degree because it's next to impossible to get rid of something that's in the blood.

For some reason this reminds me of a film segment called Ole I found on Wenda's blog in which Elizabeth Gilbert discusses her book "Eat, Pray, Love" and how she nurtures the creative process and how frightening it is to have a hugh success (a fluke, she says). We writers have a tendency to wallow in despair - about the quality of our work or the lack of work. How do I stop being anxious that I am not attacking my novel? Gilbert speaks of ancient Greece and Rome where the creative individual was believed to have a guardian, daemon, muse who was as responsible as she for the quality and success of her work.

I would like to be visited by such a daemon but if it/she/he is not a constant presence, the thing to do, Gilbert points out is, is to just show up for your job - out of sheer human stubbornness and love. At the very least, I have written this blog today.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm back in France

Time flies. Two days ago I'm in Toronto and there's snow on the ground. (Even though I find it lovely, I am miserable dragging my suitcase through the morning slush, catching a subway train, a Go Train, and finally a very late bus to my sister's house in Brampton, to eventually catch a plane back to the south of France.) The next morning I'm in Paris, repeating under my breath "Paris, je t'aime" though so damn weary I can hardly see straight. Several hours later I catch an one-hour flight to Toulouse.

Rob meets me. The weather is warm. I get rid of my coat and sweater. We drive along the autoroute past fields so green, I cannot believe my eyes. How did I get from Toronto slush to French sunshine? Air France. I used to be thrilled when I could fly this airline but no longer. I've decided to change my blog - soon - and have a separate section where I tell whoever whatever how I really feel about her, him, it and why.

More soon.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Ho Ho Ho

Just caught Santa Claus in downtown Toronto, on television...

The days pass lazily as I enjoy my mother's and father's company. I believe that they are happy to have me with them. My mother hugs me each morning. My father makes me breakfast - usually a boiled egg and toast. He drove me to Peterborough, down country roads, because I mentioned that I'd like to see this city. My mother has taken me to Wall Mart, Costco, Zellars, and the Swiss Chalet - nostalgic outings - a slice of Canadiana.

She manages well with a cane and better with a shopping cart to prop herself. My father needs neither. He is amazingly agile for a man of 87 though I hear him mutter (at least half a dozen times a day) "poor old man".

And so the days have passed. I have spent much of my time setting up my mother's new MacBook - a Christmas gift from my father - and teaching her how to use it. I admit that I sometimes lose patience. "Mum, highlight the message you want to move." "You have asked me five times about your YouTube flick. I told you I'd bookmark it today." My tone is brusque and I apologize. I know what it is like to be told something about a computer program (usually by one of my sons) and not understand a word.

I have downloaded and introduced both my parents to "Skype" and now that my mother has her new computer with a webcam, she can talk and see all her children online.

On Friday, I took a break and went out to lunch with Wanda, a woman I met at one of the French workshops. My mother says that she's very attractive. My father says that she's cheeky. She's both. And I so like her down-to-earth, generous spirit.

On Saturday, my brother and his love Jane came to visit. I adore
my brother. He's a genius (no bias here) and another down-to-earth, generous soul. Before he had even taken off his coat, he asked my Dad about the wood he wanted sawed down for fire wood. My father suggested he just leave the chainsaw and my brother refused. There's no way I'm leaving this for you to kill yourself...

And so my days pass... Later today I will return to my sister's Gael with my mum. Monday and Tuesday I will visit downtown Toronto and share two dinners with two women friends, before flying back to France on Wednesday evening.

Monday, November 30, 2009

In my Father's House

On Friday, I flew from Toulouse to Frankfurt to Montreal to Toronto to visit my father and mother, two sisters and a brother. My sister Gael met me at the airport. Around the same time that Rob and I left our home of many years, she left hers and is now living in a brick heritage home in the heart of Brampton. The house is like something out of "Little Women" with polished wood banisters, brick fireplace, window seats, and leaded glass doors leading from parlour to dining room to kitchen.

My older sister and her husband joined us Saturday and together we helped Gael and her husband prepare for a Sunday evening party.

On Sunday morning, my big sister and her love drove me to Port Hope to see my parents. My mother cried when she saw me. My father, not expecting us till later in the day, was out roaming but returned soon after a phone call, to give me a big hug.

I feel so fortunate at 60 to have both my parents alive, lucid, and mobile. And although time has slowed them down and both have health issues, they are doing remarkably well for folk in their 80s.

Today, Monday, I'm up at my usual time - 5 in the morning - sipping tea after having unlocked and relocked the five locks and bolts on two doors that lead to the back garden, to smoke a cigarette. My parents own a heritage house, same vintage as my sister's, but theirs is crammed to overflowing with antiques. I suppose they fear some thief will slip in and rob them. But five locks? Given that they live beside a police station where there is always a cop or two outdoors enjoying the same filthy habit that I have, it seems excessive. Although to be fair, some thief did slip into their front hall and took off with a small table. The police caught him.

Nuclear families are strange units and even now that I'm grown, I bring the child that I once was home with me, the child who wanted a fairytale family in which every one smiles and is kind - oh so kind to each other like the March family in "Little Women." Of course, I identified with Jo, the writer, the independent sister who was less feminine, more adventurous than Meg, Amy, and Beth. I'm also bossy like Jo but, come to think of it, all my sisters are bossy. Together, Rob's sister once said, we can be overpowering.

And so back in my father's house, I find my parents still aren't Mr and Mrs March...

A few weeks ago, Rob told me about a time when we were setting out on a long road trip and before we had even left our street, I spat some harsh words at him. I vaguely recall the incident. Still I was shocked when he told me about it. I didn't think I could be so mean.

My mind wanders, thinking such things as "well no one's perfect" and "I am usually kind." I see that I still want to be the easy daughter, wife, friend but this would mean, to my mind, denying part of myself. And yet it's more complicated than that.

When I think of that time with Rob, I realize that my meanness was a cover for my fear. I was terrified of spending days in a car. After the car accident I had a few years back, I have become an impossible passenger. I know that people do stupid things behind a wheel and bodies are fragile. Unfortunately and unfairly, my fear cum venom were directed not at the asinine driver who could have killed me but at a safe driver who loves me.

Coincidentally a friend just told me a story about her husband and herself. They had been passing angry words back and forth and she stopped herself mid stream with the thought he loves me and wishes the best for me. This same friend was having difficulty relating to her son's wife and she asked him what to do. He said "just love her." It worked.

And so here in my father's house, I'm thinking about love and how it is sometimes expressed in negative ways because there's other emotions (like my fear) at play under the surface.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Last week, Rob and I walked through a hidden park in Albi... a 45 minute walk to view beautiful fall colours.

Today I went to the village market with Rob. Spoke to Ruth whose energy overwhelms me.

Played with WordPress. New possibilities for my blog but confusing.

Yesterday, I visited Susan. She went to Marrakech with David - instead of us to celebrate my 60th - and described it as "savage," as I lay curled at the foot of her bed. Our conversation wandered. My self-image infuriates her. I understand.

Glad tidings. Gill is home from Italy and cooking and baking. Another woman whose energy overwhelms me, astounds me, whom I love.

On Friday I fly to Toronto.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Loving Donna Margaret

How I admire thee, third sister born nearly five years after me - 4 years, 7 months, 2 weeks, 6 days to be precise.

You were the smart daughter. I was the easy one (until I reached my 40s).

I remember you in kindergarten - already so smart that the teacher wanted to accelerate you to second grade. I asked if you wanted to play hooky one day and you readily agreed but then I chickened out and took you to school instead. You were so angry at me.

Years later you took your revenge. I was dating a beautiful rich boy (though snobby) and, as Mum and Dad were out, I brought him home only to find you sprawled in the hall, an empty whiskey bottle by your feet, play acting you were drunk. I could have killed you.

And I have a vague recollection of inviting you and your boyfriend to come and live with Rob and me. You were at Ryerson and our place was so much closer to the school than the family home. Every week I would pin up a job list, trying to allocate housework so I wouldn't be the only cleaner. You laughed as you always laugh and did as you pleased.

More years pass and Rob and I are in Vancouver. You come to visit, and you and I take off for Victoria. Among other things naughty things, we decided to try every drink in a bar one night. My memories of that night - those I remember - are a haze. But the point is we were downright silly together, dared the other to make a fool of herself in public and without hesitating, the one dared performed. We laughed so hard. It's always that way with you. You have a way of making people loosen up, laugh at the world, play, and enjoy her or himself. How many of your real estate clients have become friends?

And we still act mighty silly together. Remember the day that I locked myself on your upstairs balcony and the only key to your house inside. After I found a neighbour to help me down and you returned. You didn't get angry, you laughed, hoisted me up to balcony again and insisted I break the door down if necessary. (It opened after a few body hits though I suffered the next day.)

And then there are the salsa classes, our lunches at Vera's, dinners at the Swiss Chalet, pajama parties, snuggled into your bed watching movies... And though we argue about who is crazier, I'd say that you win the prize. Recall this summer in the sunflower field?

You are just too wonderful for words, kind, generous and loving too, and I hope you're having a great time in Maui on your birthday (though it would probably be more fun with me. Okay, it'd be a different kind of fun.)

Lot of hugs and kisses from me to you. Here's looking at you kid.

(The next post is your birthday card.)

There were never such devoted sisters

(click on pictures and song to see and hear more clearly.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I startled Lucette

just now. I was standing in my doorway smoking because I am not allowed to smoke inside. Correction. I cannot stand inside smoking because Rob finds it offensive and I cannot bear offending someone with my foul habit. Leslie used to say that I am a considerate smoker. Lucette was walking by, lost in thought, munching a carrot, and suddenly saw my shadow and jumped.

Je suis desolee, I say.

Pas grave, she says. Tu est toute noire (meaning I am dressed in black.)

I was standing there thinking of poetry. Tonight Susan and David and Bedding are coming to dinner and each person must bring a poem to read. I love these evenings. And I was thinking of all the moments that I don't write about in my blog. The moments that are lovely and might interest another or others. I think I'm embarrassed because I am so tight-lipped at the moment and want to give more of myself and yet feel that I have little to give.

Earlier, I stood ironing napkins. I know that it's sort of a waste of time but I like ironing small squares, easy and fast, and I like their neatness and yet this liking neatness feels old-fashioned and anal. I have more important things to do. Like what, that mean voice inside my head snickers. Like working at writing, I sigh. Of all the things I do, I think I am best at writing and it's the thing I avoid more than any other. You find your self-respect in your work, Leonard Cohen whispers. Yeah, yeah, I reply. I'm out to ambush my life.

And I just can't alight but tonight I must read poetry and I reached for a book that David gave Rob for his birthday last year, "An Anthology of Canadian Poetry." Rob asks that I find him a poem too because he is busy in the kitchen. Double pleasure.

I shall read (to keep with my image)

Sex Next Door (by Julie Bruck, born 8 years after me)

It’s rare, slow as a creaking of oars,
and she is so frail and short of breath
on the street, the stairs – tiny, Lilliputian,
one wonders how they do it.
So, wakened by the shiftings of their bed nudging
our shared wall as a boat rubs its pilings,
I want it to continue, before her awful
hollow coughing fit begins. And when
they have to stop (always) until it passes, let
us praise that resumed rhythm, no more than a twitch
really, of our common floorboards. And how
he’s waited for her before pushing off
in their rusted vessel, bailing when they have to,
but moving out anyway, across the black water.

I have chosen several for Rob and I must hurry up and read to him and let him decide what he likes best.

For those who know Bedding

On November 8th, Bedding's daughter Ivana (who lives in Chile) celebrated her 37th birthday giving birth to Clara. In just over a week, we will drive Bedding to the airport so that she can fly round the world to meet her new granddaughter.


For those who know me

Where has time gone? This morning I drove Brendan to the train station. He is off on another adventure, crossing the French border into Italy. He will stay in Genoa for a few days and if it's not to his liking, he'll try living in Milan.

Gill is in Rome, leaving tomorrow for Sienna. So two of our children are in Italy and Rob and I are alone for ten days until Gill returns, though she will write and do her research here and then head up to Paris again.

Rob has settled into French country living more easily than I have. In fact, I am still not settled. I observe my restlessness and shake my head at myself but still can't move beyond it. I did rework a story for a literary contest and am happy that I managed to get it in an hour and a half before deadline. Though I am not completely satisfied with the final version, I am not displeased with it. (Brendan sent me a sweet thought last night: "If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success."— James Cameron)

I have also been playing with design programs on my computer, attempting to divert more and more from templates. There is so much to learn but I like the play and believe that I have a good eye.

I'm still not in the mood to reveal more of myself on this site. Perhaps it's because I am confused and tired (woke up at 5:30 am to take Bren to station) but hopefully soon I will be more at peace with myself and the words will flow.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Loving Mackenzie

(Click on picture and song)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Pleasure of Living in Europe

We left Tuesday morning and returned Friday and because I am the worst car passenger in the world, I sat in the backseat and worked on a story for a contest deadline (I'm sure my writing friends will be pleased.) Just a few finishing touches and I shall send it via my computer. Finally I am working.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On the Road

Monday, Helen, Rob and I drove to Toulouse for dinner and a Sonny Rollins concert where, coming onto the stage, the old jazz musician (79) walked jerkily as if he could crumble at any minute and bent over as if the saxophone around his neck weighed too much for his frail frame. But when he began to play oh la la, he never missed a beat, every note was crystal clear and Rob, who loves jazz, who bought the tickets as a birthday gift to himself, was carried away.

The next morning we drove to Andorra - a glorified ski resort with affinities to Whistler. The only thing this tax haven offered me, I am embarrassed to say, is really cheap cigarettes. (1/3 of the price I usually pay.) We stayed for lunch and then left for Barcelona arriving around six in the evening.

Again oh la la. What a beautiful city, a rich one, large avenues lined with huge windows of fashion, and many restaurants and tapas bars. Our hotel exceeded our expectations (found through We have adjoining rooms and Helen's has a small balcony where we sat and enjoyed the evening warmth before heading out for tapas.

Today, we will search for Gaudi structures from whom "gaudy" defined as "flashiness, garishness, tasteless showiness" is derived. I love his work, think it wonderful a city would allow an artistic architect to create his most outlandish crazy dreams (some might call them nightmares.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My House Runneth Over

Kate with Brian 7 and Mary 3 arrived Friday and Helen arrived Sunday. Our house doesn't have enough beds so Kate and her children are sleeping in two lower rooms in Susan's house.
Bren is still working ridiculous hours and so moved up to the attic room to be as far away from the noise as possible (though now he tells me that in this space without a door, he can hear everything from the bottom floor up so he's using headphones. )

The evenings are especially celebratory when the wine is uncorked and everyone but me lends a hand in preparing dinner. I do the cleanup in the morning.


Two days have passed since I began this post without finishing it. I have unanswered emails... I'm thinking of Stella Bowen, an Australian artist who saw that her art was fueled by interaction with others.

And then there are Rilke's words for his dead friend, another painter Paula Modersohn-Becker:

"For somewhere there is an ancient enmity between our daily life and the great work. Help me, in saying it, to understand it."

Kate and Helen are especially dear to my heart and our days and evenings have been full of conversation, some tears. We are all sorting ourselves out and inadvertently helping each other to see more clearly (or that is the way I feel.)

Kate and her two children left yesterday. Helen will be here another week. I am going to try to fill my new journal with my overflowing thoughts and then come back here hopefully with a clearer idea of what I need to do.

This leaving home has been quite an adventure - not the one we expected. We thought we would feel free, unencumbered from debt but often we feel the opposite. We don't know what to do although our financial people are telling us to invest...

Marlene suggested that I write an article about living our dream. We have had so many people tell us that they admire us, that we are living his or her dream. I/we need more time.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

They say it's your birthday

Well Happy Birthday to you
dear Rob
you are one of a kind & I love you so
you are still a mystery to me at 63

I watch you going on 6 hour hikes with your daughter, practicing cycling around the village, renting a bicycle and riding around Toulouse, going for hikes around Albi. In the meanwhile, you are fine tuning a novel, experimenting with a keyboard though you think you might take up a guitar, playing with penny stocks and whipping up a sweet or savory quiche in a moment’s notice. You know how to enjoy yourself. You are wonderful and I admire you.

I have so much to learn from you.
I wish you buckets of happiness and gold this coming year.

Many hugs and kisses, Yve

I love these pictures of you. I love who you are. Have a wonderful day, dear Rob.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Acting on Impulse

On Tuesday evening I decided to go to Paris to be with Gill.

When I booked my train ticket, on Wednesday morning for later that same day, I felt such pleasure and a tickle of excitement that grew as the time approached to leave. (Good to mark these moments that make one happy so one can reproduce them. Think I stole that idea from Joanna Fields.)

I was going to write a blog about rats. I've seen two lately. One in the back alley of our house in Castelnau and one just outside a door at Montparnesse train station where I went the moment I got off the train to smoke. (No smoking anywhere on French trains. Can you believe it?)

I thought there must be some significance in seeing two live ones in two days. Java, from time to time, would leave a dead one outside one of the doors at 2348 Mathers... So strange that we shall never use that address again...

But I'm rambling. The delight I felt at buying a train ticket went way beyond the anticipated delight at seeing my beloved daughter in my favourite city. It was the fact that I could do something so wonderful on whim and it won't break the bank. Perhaps this is my first taste of the freedom that selling 2348 has brought about.

I love doing things on impulse. One day, I'm in a sleepy little village. The next, I'm walking beside the Seine. Oh la la. I feel so fortunate.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag

Ein einfaches Geschenk mit vieler Liebe.
(I hope this says what I mean to say.)

Dance. Sing. Do whatever pleases you. Enjoy your day.

(It's 5 pm and I'm having a glass of Chateau de Mayragues in your honour.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

A woman of few words

Sometimes I feel like playing with layout, not writing.

Our personal belongings arrived from Canada on Monday and it is comforting to have our sofa and coffee table, all my poetry books, our photo collection, and night tables by the bed. Alas most pieces of our bed got lost on the trip across the ocean. The shipping company is searching for it.

I am writing sort of - editing Rob's synopsis - a good lesson for a writer.

Monday, September 21, 2009

How Time Flies

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Time on our hands

You mustn't be frightened...
if an anxiety,
like light and cloud-shadows,
moves over your hands and over
everything you do.

This has been a strange week. I've been low. Rob's been low (while cooking up some pretty splendid meals - quiche, minestrone, apple tart, roast chicken with heaps of garlic and root vegetables.) We thought we'd feel free, light, even gleeful when we were unencumbered by debt but instead we feel heavy, plodding, indecisive.

Here we are picking figs off trees, and you'd think that we were doomed to 20 years of boredom. I've observed myself. I go from angry to whiny to anxious while inside my head a voice chides me - fool fool what's wrong with you? Lighten up. Enjoy your one wild and precious life.

Rob who loves his sleep has seldom been able to sleep through the night. He's facing his own demons.

Around 4 this morning, we lay in bed, wide awake, trying to sort out what's wrong. We're trying to do too much too quickly, he says. We don't have our own private space. This house is so light, so open now, I say. Have we blown it? It's too sparse, too immaculate, he says. I want to see things lying around. I want to see lives being lived, not a showplace. I know what you mean, I respond. I don't either but I like things clean and orderly. (I worry now that what we want is too different. Or I will give in and be secretly miserable.)

Writers' rooms are supposed to be messy and cluttered, he says. Not all of them, I say. Some of us like order. But I think back to my house in the garden and it was messy and cluttered and I didn't really give a damn as long as I was writing. Still I would have liked for it to have been more beautiful. I just wasn't willing to put the time in to achieve it.

I was so productive when I was here alone for 6 weeks, he says. I spent all my time in the attic room writing. I'm happy in the downstairs room, I say. But I don't want anyone walking through bugging me. We decide that we will create our own spaces and do whatever we like in them. We will not give them up when we have visitors. We will work any old time we feel like. Arriving at this decision makes us feel better.

We are not always so dreary

The other day because of this and that we found ourselves at half past one, just outside the village, ravenous. We made a mad dash for the nearest town of La Laroque in hopes of finding one restaurant willing to serve us. (Restaurants in France refuse to serve lunch after two, sometimes even slightly before two, which infuriates Rob.)

At ten to two, we walked into the brasserie and I asked the owner if it was too late for lunch. He rolled his eyes, let out a squawk, hastily cleared a table, and with an abrupt nod of his head indicated that he would serve us but not happily.

He plunked napkins, plates, glasses, and cutlery in front of us. Then a basket of bread. We decided we would have a salad. He didn't ask. Instead, he lay a platter of remnants of cold meats (charcuterie) on the table. We decided not to fight him. I picked up my knife and before I could help myself, a woman appeared and, with a sigh, whisked the plate away.

Moments later, she was back with a full platter. The night before we had watched an episode of Fawlty Towers and and a similar scene had played itself out with Fawlty being rude to the guests and Sybil correcting his mistakes.

After taking a helping of meat, the platter was replaced with a mixed green salad for two. We saw that if we wanted to eat, we would eat what we were served though they were willing to bring us a small pichet of vin rouge.

After the salad came a zucchini quiche and roast beef with a mushroom sauce (surprisingly delicious), followed by a cheese platter, and then a choice (finally) of desserts. We both chose a sorbet. Five courses with wine, then coffee on the patio. We wondered what the bill would come to. Another pleasant surprise - for the two of us - thirty euros.

Oh, I nearly forgot, during the meal, French Basil played the buffoon by picking up a watering can and yodeling into the spout. He loved to entertain (but not to serve.) No matter, the meal made our day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Afternoon

Friday, September 11, 2009

The day begins with a pleasant surprise

Early morning, I received this picture (taken over 40 years ago) from a friend via email. I must be between 15 to 18 years because that's when I was in love with the photographer. I met him in high school when he was choreographer of the school's musical. If I remember correctly, I was in grade nine. He was in grade 11 - an older guy who had his own car though better than that, he could dance. He danced beautifully. And he loved music, theatre, and photography. I was in awe of him. After meeting him, my world expanded.

I've been thinking about him all day. We've probably seen each other or talked once every decade since our young romance ended. And yet I feel I know him still.


What's been happening? I'm organizing as usual. I have such a need to find a place for everything. After over a year of cleaning and clearing a house, I do not want to live with clutter. I want only what is useful. So the other day, Rob and I went to Albi and bought a large wardrobe for the lower room (my office) as I've decided I prefer to work in the larger salon (where we hold writing workshops.) This is due to Brendan who moved my long desk into this room to do his work and it is so much more comfortable and used so little except in the evening that I've decided I'll take over two rooms.

After a few days of emailing back and forth with the shipping company and a broker, I heard today that our Canadian belongings have cleared customs (no duty) in Le Havre and will be delivered next week. Or rather it will be deposited outside the door. Sigh. Another sigh - this one of relief. Another thing to stop worrying about. (What am I going to do when there's nothing to worry about? Write.)

Yesterday I took a break and spent the day in Toulouse. Today Rob took a break and is spending the day in Toulouse. He told me it was wonderful to be in the house alone. I feel the same. Hopefully we will be able to give the other this freedom at least once a week.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


We've come up in the world. Yesterday, we bought a 2007 Renault Clio Expression from the Renault dealer in Albi. The salesman smiled when I took this picture, saying we're the first people ever to photograph their purchase while still in the showroom.

I would like to speak about contentment as prompted by Wenda. In my mind, being content means being still, at peace, without struggle, feeling free to be one's self, desiring nothing more than what one has.

Am I content? Not completely but getting closer. With no demands from Canada, I can focus on the details in France that will make our lives easier.

Two days ago, we were able to pick up the papers from our old car and deliver them to our insurance agent - the car was totaled around a month ago when the town chose to dump gravel around one of the bends leading into the village. (Thank goodness, no one was hurt.) Next week, we should receive a cheque for 2000 euros.

Yesterday, as shown above, we purchased a newer, better car, so we can explore the countryside and beyond, in comfort.

Most of our worldly goods will arrive from Canada next week and I am hoping that clearing customs won't be a big deal.

We have yet to sort out money which will take some thinking. We would like to map out our investments, using a lot of caution and some daring.

I want to create a schedule for writing.

I find myself content, writing this all down.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Dinner Date

Last night prepared dinner for Clare and her family. Escalloped potatoes. Roasted summer vegetables (zucchini, tomatoes, onions from David's garden with a market-bought eggplant.) Lamb and saucisse. Salad. We began with bubbling wine. Moved on to red of the valley. Finished with more bubbly.

I slept well.

Clare is such a good friend. Wherever she goes, she lets me know so I can catch a ride or not. This afternoon we go to Albi to look at Renault Clio. It's difficult to be without wheels in this tiny village.

All is well though I/we have to force myself/ourselves into money mode and do something about the proceeds of our house.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Take Two

I tried writing earlier but the formatting was off. Hence "take two."

Settling in - for both Rob and I - seems to be taking longer than usual.

I have to force myself to write more often so I don't forget the moments when I stop worrying and am content. I can think of two (though for sure there are more.)

First is the last aperitif concert of the season that we attended with Francis Meadows a few days after Rob arrived. Francis who admits to being a jazz snob was concerned that the music would be mediocre, even abysmal as she had just returned from Marciac that hosts (according to Rob) the finest jazz festival in the world.

The evening turned out to be charming. Every summer many small villages in our region host Aperitif concerts that begin at around 7 in the evening. Most are free. This one took place in Campagnac, a hilltop town not far from ours. The entertainment was a brass jazz band that played Sinatra-like tunes and much to our surprise, especially Francis', turned out to be quite good including the male and female vocalists.

We arrived early, sat at a long table, under an awning not far from the stage. The venue - a winery - crowded with many long tables and outer cafe tables was sparsely populated. I hopped up, bought us a bottle of rose, water, some melon, cheese and bread, so we could pass the time until the music started. While Rob and Francis talked jazz, I watched the tables fill, waved to Helene - a fellow Montmirais - who joined us with her new beau, her ex-sister-in-law, and a few friends.

Truly, the evening was lovely, especially for 2 Canadians who felt privileged to be there, under the stars, looking over a glorious vista of vineyards, sipping wine, nibbling, talking, as the band played on. (And though money wasn't a consideration, we liked that the evening cost around 10 euros for the 3 of us.)

The second event that did my heart good was the two days and one evening that I spent in Toulouse with my precious daughter who has written about our time together so well, I need not attempt to.

Summertime and the livin' is easy

One of these mornin's,
You's gonna rise up singin'
Then you'll spread yo' wings
An' you'll take to the sky.

I was going to call this blog-post "worrywart"
because I can't seem to stop myself from worrying
about every little thing - like how to do what I want
without a vehicle, or how to manage to clear our
goods through customs when they arrive in France,
or where to find a large wardrobe to provide storage
space, and on it goes - such nonsense, silly stuff.

When I went out on the terrasse and saw
what a beautiful day it is, I wonder about my sanity.
I know that I worry too much, that soon all will
find its place and I'll be able to alight and write

Or perhaps simply to write (to hell with beautifully.)

I will return and continue in a hour or two.

I went to the market in Cahuzac with Clare and
bought some saucisse, lamb chops, pate, bread,
and ham. We than stopped at Caves de Tecou
and I bought a dozen bottles of wine and a
box of everyday vino that Rob loves. After
a sampling, we climb up to the terrasse. Rob
has not experienced it in summer, says he
doesn't want to go back to work. I wonder
if the proceeds from our house will allow
this. Probably not.

(Something weird is happening with the formatting
of this post. I'll try again later.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Mother's Love

Monday, August 24, 2009

She's a Miracle

Friday, August 21, 2009

This number is no longer in service

I'm sitting at my bedroom window, in France, watching the sky lighten. Long stretches of sleep elude me. I finished a novel that I began on the plane. And this morning finished another. I should finish unpacking I tell myself and then drawl nah, I can do anything I want.

I can do anything I want. The thought makes me smile.

Gill is here. Last night she made a beautiful nicoise salad and we ate it on the terrasse. The night before, the night I arrived exhausted, she barbecued steak and spicy chicken, and zucchini from David's garden, under the stars, on the barbeque - the first thing Rob wanted to buy when he arrived. Brendan beat him to it.

I think I'm in heaven.

Leaving home, or rather leaving our home left both Rob and I a little stunned and emotionally drained. The phone was cut off before we thought it would be - Rob couldn't remember what he'd told Telus. (When Marlene and Maggie tried to reach me they both heard the automated message "this number in no longer in service." And somehow this short sentence made it all real. We've had the same phone number for 26 years. Gone.)

The next day, the last day in our house, the internet disappeared. There was little left in the house but still we managed to fill a number of boxes for Michael and Mackenzie who arrived to help with the final cleanup. Heidi arrived unexpectedly with a pair of rubber gloves to join the cleaning crew. We left the house sparkling.

After M and M left with the vacuum cleaner (yeah) and I stuffed the last of our stuff into a shopping bag, Rob and I walked through the empty house. We paused at the smallest bedroom and I asked Rob if he remembered the white and red squared wallpaper we had on the wall when Gill was little. We decided to change it and so let her go wild on the paper, drawing and colouring anything she wanted. We have a picture of it somewhere. So many memories and I know there must have been sad and angry moments in the house but I can't remember any. All I can remember at this moment are the happy ones, like our Friday pizza and movie nights, when all the children were still living at home. And the time, Gill and I returned from France and Bren and Mike happily sitting down at the dinner table commenting on the tablecloth and candles. They had missed them.

We paused at each room and then Rob and I said goodbye house out loud, left all our keys save one (to be given to the real estate agent for the new people), and shut the door. The next day we walked by and all I could think of was what a pretty house. I hope the new family appreciate it. Rob drove by yesterday and saw a work van outside. The woman told me that they were going to rip up carpets and paint before they moved in. I wonder how they will transform it, making it theirs.

How do I feel? Sad. A little scared. And excited. We have no choice now, we have to move on and create a new life.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Count Down

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The good times are all gone... I'm bound for moving on...

Our farewell party brought it home that we'll never have another celebration in this house and never, as Helen said, bring such an eclectic group together again.

I am feeling sad and disagreeable. Everything irks me.

The house is nearly clear and I have cleaned several rooms thoroughly including washing walls and filling nail holes where pictures hung. I want to leave all immaculate. Perhaps to make up for the scuffed floors, shabby carpets, and the numerous little chips of paint missing on baseboards.

I am also battling with the morning glories and blackberry bushes in the garden. No matter the weather, they thrive, multiplying like crazy, threatening to take over the whole back yard.

I remember years ago when three big guys lived in the house and none thought of using the lawn mower, let alone the weedeater unless I begged or bribed. I asked all three if they minded that ours was the messiest garden on the street and all three said no, they didn't care.

How I envied them.

I was the only one who hated the chaos. I am just too middle class, I thought.

And though I admire people with wild gardens and messy houses - which says to me that she or he has more important things to do - I find it difficult to live like this though I did and do to a degree because there is never enough time. And though I could hire casual labour who could do the job faster and better, I always hesitate because I bring in next to no salary and compensate by trying to do everything by myself.

Soon I will no longer have to worry about the upkeep of a house. And a garden. This pleases me immensely.

I'm tired. There is a little over a week to go before the big move and we begin living our dream. It damn well better be worth all this work, I whine.


Gill passed on this award to me this morning because I am brilliant and write from the heart. Read the rules and conditions on her site. This is the second award I've won for my blogging and unfortunately, the donor of the other award has locked in her site with a password and I can no longer link you to it.

I am supposed to award and challenge 7 more bloggers who are "brilliant" and link you to her or his site so here they are in alphabetical order:

And thirdly, I am to give you 10 truths about myself. (I wrote a long list and will only give you the most interesting, to my mind, but most of my readers will know them. I think it would be more interesting to ask my readers to tell me 10 truths about myself. "Disillusion me with truth," as Saint Teresa d'Avila once said.)

1. I am addicted to nicotine.
2. I am a kind person and more often than not give too much of myself.
3. I love being alone and moving to my own inner clock.
4. I wallow in my own inadequacies and although I have learnt that even the brightest I know are riddled with complexes too, still I sometimes have a hard time picking myself up.
5. I don't like driving a car but hate being driven.
6. I love reading tacky novels but also read my share of good literature.
7. I occasionally go to MacDonalds for breakfast or lunch.
8. I bore easily.
9. I look at my face in the mirror, see I am aging rapidly, and despair. Meanwhile I declare, that I will grow old gracefully.
10. I birthed and raised three extraordinary individuals.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Farewell House Party

There is just too much happening to write coherently at the moment. Soon.

But here's a few pictures of our farewell party. More and more this crazy plan of ours becomes a reality.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This is for Lois

Michael and Mackenzie arrived late Sunday evening with Icabod and Jasmine in their arms. 

Kenzie is now a seasoned driver. She drove every kilometer of the way. 

Today they're off (with Michael behind the wheel) to find a home and jobs. Those two don't waste any time. 

Yesterday Inform came and picked up our furniture and boxes for France. The place is looking quite bare but I like this. I can see what I have to do. And the place becomes less and less ours. 

After tomorrow - a wrap day for Rob - it's his last shooting day today - he will join me for the final clearing, packing, and storing. 

And Saturday, we shall have a farewell party for house. All are welcome. We should play some dance music. There's lots of room to move around.