Saturday, May 30, 2009

By the Beautiful Sea

Eight hours after leaving Castelnau, Marlene and I arrive at the fishing village of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer. Michael tells me that Van Gogh painted here. It is beautiful but too stinking hot and my only  concern is to find our hotel. We weave our way through town slowly. Modern caravans are everywhere, parked in clusters around the water and throughout the town's narrow streets, sometimes taking two or three parking spots. Cars are tucked into every other available space - some legal, some not. A steady stream of pedestrians adds to the congestion.

We finally find our hotel and go to our respective rooms to freshen up. I had caught my usual flying cold and feel stuffed and lacking in energy but I cannot sit still. Here the sequence of events grows hazy.

We did wander through the town's streets that first night and did stop to eat in one central restaurant. I had moules et frites (mussels and fries) and Marlene taurus (?) bull steak and fries, a regional dish. The waiters and waitresses literally ran from table to table to kitchen so maniacally, my head was spinning and I could not relax, but still I was excited to be in this gypsy haven. (Wished unkindly and unreasonably that so many tourists  had not found their way here.) 

The next morning, we enjoy a quiet breakfast in the hotel garden and walk the few blocks to the town's chapel where I hope to catch some gypsy magic. Again we face crowds but there is music in the air and we stop to listen to "Karpatz" an ensemble - 8 beautiful dark men - who seduce us with their gypsy tunes. One woman spins through the audience, twirling a scarf around her head.  Marlene buys one of their CDs. (When I searched the internet for information about the group, I find that they are from Ukraine, Hungary, and Romania and "are all proud not to deny their Romani culture.")

We visit the chapel and Saint Sara's crypt (click on first picture) and then find a low stone wall in partial shade at the back of church to listen to a jazz duet. After a salad lunch, we return to our hotel to rest, before the procession of Saint Sarah. Thank the heavens, we had seen the statue earlier in the day, as it was impossible to see her facial features at our vantage point as she was carried - though elevated - through the crowds. Here I feel ignorant and sacrilegious. Sarah is a dark-skin-coloured doll with a tipsy crown wearing numerous sparkling fabric cloaks. I am intrigued by the devotion she inspires and yet know that she is a symbol of something that I can't quite grasp. Still I am happy to have witnessed the event. 

The next day, the two saint Marys will have their procession to the water. Unfortunately my cold is still stealing my energy so we do not leave the hotel late evening to witness the reported roma music and dancing in the streets. 

Though we leave for home early the next day, Marlene and I are not unhappy to miss the bulls charging through the streets (the thought scares me) and have agreed that we will return another year. 


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dream Squished

Poor Marlene has had to live with me as I've paced and agonized about our West Vancouver home. For the first time, we had a decent offer and the people seemed ideal. He's a journalist. She's an artist. They visited the house three times. Their only subject was the usual official inspection by a professional. 

I learned at 1 a.m. that they're not going to remove the subject. They said that it would cost too much to renovate to accommodate their 4 children. I'm pissed off. They must have seen this from the beginning. I even mentioned it to the real estate agent. But there is nothing I can do but mope.

Everyone's house except ours seems to be selling. My sister and sister-in-law sold their houses within days of listing. Another family member just bought a house. 

Oh woe is me. I know. I know. Here I am in the south of France, sitting in Rob's office, taking in the sun that's especially glorious and warming on the terrace that looks over an equally glorious valley of multi-coloured green fields, spotted with clusters of trees. In the distance I can see the Midi Pyrenees.  I have just come back from a trip to the Mediterranean. How can I whine over one little old house deal? 

So here we go again. I can't make plans because I don't know what is going to happen. We may have to rent the house in WV. Our dream of simplifying our lives is once again put on hold. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Keep your fingers crossed

It looks as if we have sold our sweet house. I'll tell more on Tuesday when the one subject is to be removed.

Meanwhile, in France, I leave today, with Marlene, for a gypsy pilgrimage in Les Saintes Maries de la Mer. 

Other than recovering from a miserable cold, all is well. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I arrived safely in France yesterday

I have so much to tell but, first of all, I would like to wish a wonderful man, a happy happy birthday. 

(Tomorrow when I am so under the influence of jet lag, I will write about my journey here.)

Remember to click on picture...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Monday, May 04, 2009

So tired, tired of waiting

Last week I sat down and cried. The house is being shown often, sometimes two times in a day, and yet we have had only one insultingly low offer. Although all house prices have slipped and we have lowered our price accordingly to the point where we are now lower than land value, no one wants our sweet cottage. I look around me. All is spotlessly clean - I'm sick of cleaning - so now all I can blame is the flaws - poor layout, scratched floors from 25 years of living, small crack on kitchen countertop, and on it goes until I feel as if I am tearing apart an old friend who has been good to me. 

I keep thinking of an image from Marion Woodman's "Bone" where she is stroking her stomach and apologizing to it for being so critical when it has served her well, despite her abuse. How can I compare a house to a body? When one dreams of a house, according to Jungian thought, one is dreaming of self. I transfer this to strangers walking through our personal space, turning on every light, opening drawers and closets and it almost feels as if I am standing naked in Grand Central Station. 

You should be tougher I tell myself. To hell with those who don't like what they see. 

Rob says that I shouldn't take the lack of interest personally, and yet I know he too is becoming anxious. Someone once described us as "old hippies" in reference to our life style and our lack of need to fancify our house. Oh we would have liked to buy better stuff and even, at one time, a bigger house but the desire was never strong enough. Besides we don't like being in debt except for travel and computers.

So why did I cry? I was sitting in my little house in the garden, reading a soppy novel, nearing the end, when one of the main characters dies of cancer. Earlier in the day, I had been sorting my filing cabinet and rereading old letters from Leslie, my friend who died half a dozen years ago. Were the tears, tears of grief compounded with tears of frustration? Both Rob and I want to move on, start a new adventure, but without the sell of our house, we are stuck in a waiting room. 

Or should I look at the situation differently? Our accountant says sell and Rob and I snap to attention and put the house on the market. What if he's the idiot? What if we wait a couple of years, rent the house out to make a few bucks, and find the housing market is back on track? We could be one or two hundred thousand dollars better off than if we sold right now. 

Of course, no one knows how long it will take real estate to come into its own again, but why not wait it out? At the moment with interest rates so low, it isn't difficult to carry our debt. 

I look around me. Vancouver is especially beautiful in the spring, especially when the sun is shining. Rob and I went to an art show yesterday and met a young Russian woman who moved here a couple of years ago. She reminds us of just how lovely our home territory is, and says that next to two cities in Switzerland, Vancouver is the third most desirable place to live in all the world. 

Why, I ask myself, am I making such a fuss? Where is my business head, my animus? If we have to wait this recession out would it be so terrible? 

As I am sitting writing, wading through these thoughts, Rob calls. Strangely or perhaps not so strangely, he is asking himself the same questions. Perhaps we can give this no-decent-offer situation a positive spin. Perhaps, in the end, if we can find the patience, we will be richer (not only monetarily) and less indecisive several years from now.