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.