Monday, March 30, 2015

great expectations

"safe and protected...."

This resonated again this morning as I'm getting ready to pack up and leave my happy nest. The home where I've settled in and felt truly comfortable for the first time since I left my home in September. It is hard. I don't want to go. I really feel good here. It's a beautiful sunny morning, the first one in quite sometime. The birds are singing. It's still a bit windy but there is the promise of a warmer day.
I'm thinking about how easily and often I get hurt by wanting or waiting or expecting someone to do something in return for me. A phone call, an email, smoke signals, just some response to one of mine that says yes, you're worthy of my time. I understand that you need an answer or confirmation of my love, or commitment, or my giving-a-shitness.

But what if I can let go?
Seriously let go of that need of a response of any kind.
Could I not be a happier, more fulfilled, younger looking version of me?
Good goal.
Constant goal.
But what if it's a goal towards my own protection, as in a shield against further hurt. It's a slight difference in approach. Somehow simpler. I cannot explain why yet. Not just a good idea but an essential tool for survival. To keep me safe.  A (wo)man-made canal to divert that same bit of energy to be directed towards my own happiness and well-being. A direct stream of power funneled into what I need.
Powerful theory.
How to construct such blatant new engineering?

 3 days later...

Construction has begun....
After a couple of days with my darling friends the Coulshaws, gardening, eating, chatting and laughing I'm off on another adventure. Car is packed. Simon has been sitting with me looking at the map this morning and here I go. I have Katys thermos and biscuits.
To Arles, Bandol and beyond! (Italy??)
Au revoir....

Sunday, March 22, 2015

the good life or...chasm




1. A deep, steep-sided opening in the earth's surface; an abyss or gorge.
2. A sudden interruption of continuity; a gap.
3. A pronounced difference of opinion, interests, or loyalty.

So this is what we can call it. 
This sudden interruption of a happy life.
The dreaded pothole, 
that I keep falling into. 

the painful interruption of continuity;
the new gap;
the pronounced difference of interest and loyalty.   
God. Just writing that slices me wide open.
This abrupt change from enjoying my days:
morning tea, chat about the day's plans, off to work and interactions away from each other and joyful reunions to discuss, laugh and plan the evening -dinner, music, maybe movie and popcorn...
Add... the chasm

then what?
Just me.
Trying to make sense of "the new now" ( I hate this-his favorite and SO over-used phrase).
Trying to remember my solid happy self.

I do the things that bring me joy. That make me smile. That make me feel alive.
When I can, I write,  if I can do that, life gets better.
When I can't, I walk. 
When I can't do that I take pictures, pick flowers, or watch movies and drink wine. 
When I can I skype with my buddies and they remind me of my best self. 
I want to be the friend they know. 
So sometimes I pretend that I am. 
And I go out in the world and smile and interact. I've met new friends and they take me at my word... 
at my smile.

We go forth to buy plants and lunch
and meet for coffee and walks. 
And sometimes for hours I believe I am the happy person they see. 
I am. 
For awhile.
Sometimes for days. Even weeks.
and then during a beautiful sunny birdsong 
I can trip and fall 
into the chasm.
It's cold, surprisingly deep
and very dark.

Obverse effect....
I look happy, I act happy,
I get happy.
the sadness is just a bit of now habitual, residual weight,
not to be confused with true misery?

I am imminently distractable.
For example, because of my ip address, a lot of the ads we see along side our screens now for me show up in french. One in particular looked like a recipe for a potato dish, it looked liked a nice gratin sort of thing. Being easily seduced by food, I clicked.  
I looked at the ingredients, some kind of potatoes, dry white wine, salt, pepper,  creme fraiche, looked good. But I was stumped by the first ingredient- Chaussée aux moines (was this something to do with shoes? was it a nut?) so I googled it. 
The translation- "Floor monks". 
I thought maybe the potato description might clear things up for me...
"à chair fondante". Translation- "melting flesh". 
This type of gratin no longer appeals. No matter the photo.
Whatever the hell they do to the poor monks with potatoes I don't wanna know.
So though I may not be hungry, I'm off somewhere else for a little while.

I can lose myself at the market. Again and again. 
I smile a lot there. Children asking for sweets. Men carrying market baskets. The smells of meat cooking. Little old women with their baskets on wheels. Today I heard a vendor singing "raindrops keep falling on my head" in french(her awning was dripping). I found the truffle man. I bought a truffle and some of his strawberries. For the first time I sat alone at a cafe and ordered "un café". I felt like I had graduated to something. I felt like I belonged. It felt different and good. 
I hope it felt like healing.

I've met a new wonderful friend. Her name is Helen and she's awesome. She's Australian and lives in Pézanas with her son. She came over for tea and then took me up to see the windmills in Faugere this week. A beautiful 360 degree view. We could see all the way to the sea, rolling hills, vineyard after vineyard and snowy mountains.

 those are snow capped Pyrénées
I'll keep looking 
and finding the good life. 
and over
til it sticks.

poetry day...“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ― Mary Oliver


 I love poetry and on this recognized day I'll share a few of my favs...


“Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground." ― Rumi


The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.



 “You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
Mary Oliver


Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that’s lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.
By William Butler Yeats

I dwell in Possibility--
A fairer House than Prose--
More numerous of Windows--
Superior--for Doors--

Of Chambers as the Cedars--
Impregnable of Eye--
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky--

Of Visitors--the fairest--
For Occupation--This--
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise--
 -Emily Dickinson

“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”
Mary Oliver

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Stalking the wild asparagus... and then some.

It's true. I have been stalking wild asparagus. I'd heard about it, then when walking with a friend a few weeks ago he found one and gave it too me.  Raw, it was interesting and I was curious to know more,  but cooked- it's sublime. Looking for it is tricky. It's secretive, it's tiny in diameter, it's kind of nondescript. It looks like everything thing else in the prickly underbrush. But good lord, it is worth the scratches. The first time I steamed it and put a bit of butter (french butter rules) and salt and pepper. I tasted one in the pan, and then proceeded to just stand there and eat every single one. I was hooked. Now I drive slowly on back roads and sometimes just turn the car off in the middle of these tiny roads if I think I see some. All the roads around here look like they could be someone's driveway so I've become quite bold about just toodling on up to see what I see. Happily, I can say I've not yet come to any unfavorable ends.

see it there in the middle?
there's a nice tall one on the left

this was a nicer looking road that did indeed turn out to be some one's private drive, whoops.
 I am missing my family (my darling Lylababy) and my peeps something fierce. And I miss random things like my teapot and I've been thinking of my hellebores and loving how they usually peek up through the snow. I feel the pull of sugaring season with my friends at the Bunker farm and I dream of all those early bulbs I planted.
But I feel that I might not be ready yet. Then as I was searching through the brush yesterday I came upon the most glorious hellebore! I shamelessly cut the stalk and brought it home as a sign of encouragement that I'm not done here.
Searching... or just waiting for answers? Or just resting and recuperating? I've been asking myself these things for 2+ months. I'm still not sure. But the feeling I had while walking home smiling from helping some friends with a fistful of newly dug leeks from the mayor who stopped working in his garden to say hello. That warm feeling was getting close I think. A sense of community perhaps? Surprising isn't it? In a place I've lived for only a couple of months. I hummed happily as I walked toward this little house, planning a beautiful meal for one. Taking care of myself in a nurturing and intentional way, and oh- not being exhausted... these are all good additions to life.  Feeling appreciated, also significant.
Also not ready to give up unpasteurized brie, and so many duck products, or working with Monica in the vineyards, or Simon's wine.
my new favorite spot, I've gone almost everyday since finding it.

A sign?

I followed these crazy walls that wind around for a long time, then noticed they clink like glass (I think obsidian does this too) when they fall together. Why is that? these are the things I must know before I leave...

Ok,this did turn out to be someones lawn, but they were not home and I felt they would appreciate me appreciating their beautiful landscape. No, there was no asparagus to be had.
I'm just going to continue to enjoy my contemplative days and nights. Enjoy this respite for what it is (a gift from the gods) for as long as I can. That feels like the only right way to honor this most precious of times.

Monday, March 9, 2015

"there is just so much beautiful here"

My friends, Calle and Libby came to see (read check up on) me.
We had one glorious day after another together. They were as happy to follow me into the vineyards for a morning of pruning as they were to put their feet in le méditerranée, wander through yet another charming village or help me fill the shopping basket with delicacies from the Pézenas market. We laughed for days and much of many nights. I feel loved and restored and almost ready to come home. We had some memorable time with winemakers Simon and Monica Coulshaw and really enjoyed the trek with them to see first hand what it looks like to restore abandoned vineyards. It was an honor to hear Simon explain his vision for what is perhaps the most magical place I've seen yet. It was up above Roquessels. We could see golden sun glinting off the sea in the distance then across the rolling planted hills to the old chateau that marks the village of Roquessels and into the distance toward the south west we could see the enormous snow capped peaks of the Pyranees, one after another. Simply breathtaking. One of our many quotes of the day, first spoken by Calle I think was repeated by one or maybe by each one of us..."there is just so much beautiful here". It's so true. There really is. I am completely smitten. They were smitten. It was a real pleasure to be able to show my friends just a few (because we did run out of time) of my most favorite special places.

beach pigeons

full moon

cabbage obsession

cheeky monkeys!

impromptu picnic, no glasses, very classy

Happy early birthday Calle!

(that is the village of Roquessels behind us)
 Thank you dear friends, it was a wonderful amazing visit. Thank you for making it happen.  I love you both very very much.