It’s Mother’s Day in France

Posted on 3 June 2012 |

Although I wrote a blog for Mother’s Day in Canada, I did not get round to publishing it. I was preoccupied with projects in our house and the rental house. I was also preparing some little things for Gill’s wedding. Then I escaped to Madrid to meet Marlene who, wonder woman, had just walked over 550 km on the Camino de Santiago.

I will write about this trip later – or not I fear (I find it harder and harder to alight and write) – which doesn’t mean that the four days were not memorable. We had some great moments, some hilarious ones, wandering, getting lost (neither of us have a good sense of direction), eating good food (lots of patatas bravas for me), and doing the usual tourist stuff – sightseeing and people-watching and visiting the Prado.

It was a great four-day escape and good to hang out with my friend. I only had a fleeting thought of myself as a mother when I saw a wedding dress that I thought Gill would like. As I seldom see my mother or my children, I am not often mothered or mothering any more. I think about them often and love them madly but they are not a part of my day to day life.

When I was writing about motherhood a few weeks back, trying to think of something original to say, my mind flipped back to an incident that happened in 1992. This was the year Rob was nominated for an Academy Award and we escaped the media by fleeing to Mexico. We travelled down the eastern coast from Cancun to Cozumel where we were lured by advertisements for day boat trips, following the route of Jacques Cousteau.

We bought tickets in the early morning and boarded a small vessel with around 6 or 8 others. We were not told there was a storm approaching and it was inadvisable for small craft to venture from the harbour. I remember stepping into a small shabby boat – not quite the luxury cruise outlined in the advertisement – and setting off. The noxious smell and loud noise of the engine were unpleasant but the sun was shining, the blue water crystal clear, and the scenery so gorgeous that we forgave all until the trip home. Suddenly the sky grew dark and waves started splashing onto the deck. Within minutes, the waves were so large that the boat started rocking wildly and the entire deck was coated in water. Each wave soaked us afresh. The captain advised the passengers to take cover under a small canopy which offered little to no protection. When one passenger went sliding across the deck and only managed to crawl back with difficulty, we formed a human chain. Two men sat and held onto sturdy posts. They spread their legs and another passenger set between them, holding tight, while yet another sat between theirs holding tight. I was sure we were all going to die and the one thought that rushed to my brain was “I want my mother.”

I want my mother? I had left home over twenty years ago. I hadn’t consciously thought of my mother as a safe haven for years before that but there I was, soaken, freezing, fearful for my life, wanting my mum.

I remember my big pregnant belly and the shape of a tiny foot disturbing the surface. Within days, I was holding that foot in my hands. I was my child’s lifeline. My baby clung, clawed, demanded all my time and energy and I gave it without complaint (or maybe I complainted a little.)

Now my baby is a quarter of a century and my two sons over thirty. They have all gone, leading their own lives, doing what pleases them, and I am glad. Being a mother was one of the most difficult jobs that I’ve ever done. At one time, I thought that I knew what was good for my children. Sometimes I disappointed them, wouldn’t let them do what they wanted to do, in order to keep them safe – and even though I knew then that I was being over cautious, I also knew that I couldn’t live with myself if something happened to one of them.

Now I don’t know what is good for them. (Sometimes I don’t know what is good for me.) I wouldn’t dream of telling my children how to live their lives. (Often, they are the ones who give me clues on how to live mine.) I simply love them.

Rambling

Posted on 7 May 2012 |

My thoughts are all over the place. Last week I concentrated on painting the new shutters for our old house – three coats on each side of 16 shutters (8 pairs) and as I painted and sanded, painted and sanded, I talked a little in French to those who passed by my work place on the Esplanade. The men most often told me how to do the job. The women wished me “bonne courage.” One day, my friend, Rosemary joined me with a paint brush and time passed more quickly. For two glorious days, the sun shone brightly, drying the paint in minutes. By the end of the week, all was done and I moved on to my next job – preparing the rental house for new tenants. And I wonder why I have little time to write.

I received an interesting email towards the end of last week. A woman who I’ve never met but who has been reading my blog since 2007 (I checked) sent a note saying she identified with my last blog, specifically the part where I long “to try something new that might make my life more pleasurable”. She notes that she too has a rich life but sometimes she feels empty and mentions Jane Goodall, British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. My reader tells me that she saw Goodall on television being interviewed by a child who asked her what advice she would give to young people. She said, among other things, “If you have a nice life, it means you have received a lot from the world. Give back a little, it makes you feels so good, and it spreads this attitude, which is wonderful.”

Goodall’s words reminded me of a child’s story by Barbara Cooney “Miss Rumphius” which I gave my daughter when she was a little girl. The story was about a child who lived with her grandfather. When she told him that she wanted to visit faraway places when she grew up and then come back to live by the sea, her grandfather said that she must do one more thing: she must do something to make the world more beautiful. (This book won the 1983 National Book Award for Children’s Books.)

I link the idea of giving something back to the world and doing something to make it more beautiful. From this thought, I leap to another. A number of years ago I watched a television show on personal finances and budgeting and the woman giving the lecture said that everyone should allocate a percentage of his or her salary to charity. No matter how little or much you make, such a contribution should not break you. (Did I do this? No.)

Strangely or perhaps not, I had been thinking about how I can best give something back when I received the email from “my” reader. (I have written so little in the past few years that I am surprised that she still looks for me.) I will never be able to give what Goodall has given. She has been travelling for 300 days a year since 1992 (I think) lecturing on conservation and animal welfare issues. I cannot do something as far reaching as my sister did. After a cancer scare, she was instrumental in having “Wellspring”, a cancer support center built in her city.

What can I give? What can I do to make the world more beautiful (beyond my children)?

When Miss Rumphius grew old, she had back problems and was bed-ridden for a number of months. She would lie in bed and look out her window at the lupines blooming in her garden, worrying about what she could do to make the world more beautiful. When at last she was well enough to walk, she discovered that her lupines had spread to places beyond her garden – the seeds carried by wind and insects. She ordered a large number of lupine seeds from a catalogue and filled her pockets with them, tossing them here, there, and everywhere when she went walking. The people of her village thought her a crazy old woman but the next season, the countryside was alive with lupine blossoms.

What is this simple tale suggesting? That we don’t need a plan? That if we keep our eyes open, we will see how to add beauty to our environment? That it doesn’t have to be any great thing?

Do the small, seemingly insignificant albeit loving things we do for others count? As I paint my shutters and send a cheque to my sister’s centre am I doing enough? I think that I could do something larger by sitting and writing more often and openly but here I sigh and think “who do you think you are? You are such a simple person. You always write about the obvious.” My friend Susan, my mentor, who has a brilliant mind, says it is difficult to write the obvious. Although I know she doesn’t hand out compliments often, I have a hard time believing her here. I wish I could trust her or, more to the point, trust myself.

My mother said once that she did the best she could with what she had. I want to say this too.

Bird on the Wire

Posted on 27 April 2012 |

Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

I am at home in Castelnau, thinking about my time in Canada, about the people I visited and upon my return, the people who visited me. The other evening, I played Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on the Wire” and the lyrics keep playing in my head. What resonates most is the line “I have tried in my way to be free”. I interpret this in several ways including my resistance to take action, to try something new that might make my life more pleasurable. Why is this so difficult, I wonder. This thought leads me to lines from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”.

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

The idea of freedom, to be oneself, has played a large role in my life. Why have I danced on tables? I believed that if I was willing to play the fool, I could free myself from the “slings and arrows”, from the harsh voices in my head that criticize and ask “who do you think you are?” For a long time, I believed that every table I danced on would make me freer.

I am an agnostic. My eldest son dismisses this and says that one either believes in god or not. To perch on the wire is wishy-washy. He is much freer than I am. So are my other two. I believe that every generation is a leap forward from the last which pleases me and yet, there is this thought by Carl Jung that haunts me: Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent. What I do and do not do affects my children. If I tend to my own happiness, they can tend to their own.

I wonder if my parents know that their happiness or unhappiness affects their children deeply. After my last visit “home”, when my siblings and I gathered, all hoping to help our mother and father, to come up with a plan to make their old-age easier, more comfortable, we found them resistent. They did not want us to “mend” their lives though both find aspects of their living arrangement unsatisfactory. The big problem is that what my mother would like at this time is not what my father would like. (This is a common problem for couples of all ages.) In our naivety, we thought if we couldn’t help both, we could help one. This didn’t work. “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health”, they are a unit.

I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch,
He said to me, “You must not ask for so much.”
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door,
She cried to me, “Hey, why not ask for more?”

I have always been confused by this issue. If I settle for what I have, then I am not living my dream. I stagnate. I am accepting what is and “what is” is not always acceptable or good for me. My dreams push me to ask for more, to be more, to be truer to self, to use the gifts that I’ve been given, but my psyche (or is it my ego?) keeps me in check. I fight it. Sometimes I win. Sometimes the inner voices win. I know in my heart when I should have fought harder but sometimes the pain is too much for me. (“The roots of all our neuroses lie here, in the conflict between the longing for growth and freedom and our incapacity or refusal to pay the price in suffering of the kind which challenges the supremacy of the ego’s demands.” – Helen Luke)

If I have been unkind,
I hope that you can just let it go by.

If I, if I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you.

Pain and Pleasure

Posted on 9 April 2012 |

It has been a rough week, full of pain and pleasure but mostly pain. I am filled with angst, wanting to do the right thing for someone I love but not knowing what the right thing is.

I cannot tell the full story at this time because it could create more problems. There is someone I know who is being verbally abused by her husband. She cries too often and yet does not want to leave him because without him she is alone and homeless. He also has some serious health issues and she fears he may die when she is away and then she will be consumed with guilt.

I understand too that their relationship has always been abusive and this is her norm and though she is miserable, she is afraid of change. I think that change becomes more and more difficult as one grows old.

I forgot to mention that she is a woman in her eighties and can no longer look after him or her house well.

Relationships are difficult at any age. A couple do not always want the same thing. One may be suffering physically. One may be in a bad mood (with oneself.) The other irks. The other does not understand. Nothing is discussed calmly. Everything becomes an affront. Everything is blamed on the other.

Rob sent me an email about the five things people most regret when they’re dying. The first and last struck me most.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. And 5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

All the regrets pertain to self. Reminds me of some lines from Oliver:

“When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

Just before things became difficult, I had a good time with my siblings. Two flew in from Vancouver and so the six of us were together for the first time in five years. We gathered at our parents to celebrate my birthday. We surprised Mum and Dad and had a great day catching up, feasting, drinking bubbly and later in the evening, dancing. I adore all my siblings.

This whole trip has me thinking about relationships and how the word “love” is thrown around, often without substance. You cannot say that you love someone one moment and the next sling abuse at her or, at the very least, not pay attention and care about her well-being.

I love this quote from Shirley’s blog “…whatever you pay attention to grows. It’s a simple enough thought, really. Tend to your garden, practice your scales, invest your money, write your book, pay attention to your partner. Anything that is important deserves attention, and if you are ignoring it, that’s worth noticing too.”

Anything Goes

Posted on 29 March 2012 |

63 years ago today I was born. I love my birthday. It’s the one day a year that I allow myself to do as I please without wondering if I should or should not say something, do something. And the older I get the easier it is to please myself.

“In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking/ but now heavens knows anything goes.”

Well nearly anything goes.

I am in Toronto at Gill and John’s place. All is quiet as they have gone to work. I look out their livingroom window and I see water, a harbour, and a runway (Toronto Ciy Airport is next door.) I love their place and where it is situated but I know they pay for such beauty.

I have a cup of tea at my right hand and here I sit writing. I allow myself this pleasure today. I wonder why I don’t pretend that it’s my day on other days during the year.

I am always running, doing something. I want to create a perfect life. I am “addicted to perfection” though I am not sure how to define “perfection” or what I would consider a perfect life.

In many areas, I am content with where I find myself at 63 years. I love where I am living. The countryside is rich and beautiful, especially when the sun shines and it shines often.

Two days ago when I left, I went to the main square, to the bar for some cigarettes and to the Patisserie for a croissant. I said “bonjour” to several acquaintances. I had forgotten it was market day and local farmers were setting up their stalls. I was attracted to a trolley full of fresh herbs and went over, smelled, and bought a pot of fragrant basil. Next to the produce was the pizza van and I greeted Denis and told him that I was leaving for Canada. “Oh la la” he said – he really said this – and when I told him that I was seeing Gill, he asked that I give her a bisous, a kiss.

Village life can be charming and some days when I’m wandering and speaking a word of French here and there, I want to pinch myself to make sure I am really here, living in a foreign land, struggling to communicate, loving the simplicity of country life when most of my life I thought of myself as an urbanite.

March 29th is a good day to be born. Spring is usually starting to show herself and it is especially fine when the sun is shining.

I awoke this morning and Gill gave me a smack on the lips and served me coffee in bed. I received a number of loving birthday messages online wishing me all sorts of wonderful things.

Soon I shall dress and meet my older sister and we’ll catch a train to Ajax where we spent our teenage years. This was my choice. I imagine we will wander and talk about change, and find a cosy place to eat lunch. In the afternoon, John and Gill will pick us up and we’ll go to my parents where I know we’ll have another birthday feast. (Gill and John prepared an amazingly delicious spread for me last night in honour of my birthday.)

I do feel blessed. Yes, there are areas of my life with which I struggle. I would like to be bolder, more assertive, more alone, more together but today, I won’t worry about them.

I intend to play me some Country and Western music and laugh and enjoy myself.

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
… I don’t have time
To go round and round and round

I made this short video about me over a year ago just for me but then I put it on Vimeo not realizing that anyone could view it. The point of it was not to be nice but show myself as I am. Every picture has its own story. And The Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice” felt like a good theme.

Spring

Posted on 19 March 2012 |

Ten days to my birthday. I will be in Toronto on my way to Port Hope to celebrate my day with my parents – the first time I’ve done this in years.

I wrote a note to a friend the other day in which I discussed my lack of writing. When did sitting down and filling a page with words become an agony and not a pleasure? I used to write a blog every other day and now I have to force myself to update it. I think part of the reason is that I don’t want to share my thoughts at the moment. I want some privacy to decide where I go from here in my life.

Meanwhile spring is arriving as you can see by the apple blossom that Rob picked the other day and put on our table. Yesterday the rain started and the Montmirallais say that it is a good thing. Unfortunately, I am unhappy as it is stopping me from painting the walls of the terrace. The terrace can wait. It is much more important that the good earth have a drink or the grape vines, sunflowers, and fruit trees will not have a good season.

After a few bitterly cold weeks this past winter – so cold that we have gone through much more oil than we usually do – many of Rob’s plants died. A few made it like my clematis which is sprouting little buds and will eventually climb the painted walls of our terrace.

We are getting ready for Gill’s wedding to John in early September. Funny how we are suddenly mindful of all the little jobs and some not so little ones, like restoring the facade of the house, that have to be done and are taking action. We are pushing ourselves to paint, replace broken shutters, build a wardrobe in the guest bedroom and all sorts of little tasks. We like the deadline of early September. We could of course leave all and it would not make a difference to the wedding but it’s sort of like cleaning oneself up and putting on nice clothes in honour of the occasion.

Rob is still having attacks of hives. Sounds like bees buzzing and stinging to me. Rob says that the Japanese call hives “the wind” because small patches of painful red bumps appear in a select area of his body and several hours later they are gone like the wind only to appear again sometime later on a different area. I think he’s been suffering from these unreasonable rashes for over seven weeks and the worst attacks come in the early hours of the morning so he isn’t getting a good night’s sleep. He is so fed up and is researching like crazy for a cure beyond the ones the many doctors have given him. Our bathroom counter is a mass of pills and creams. He’s found that ultra red saunas provide relief and he’s now thinking about acupuncture.

His sleeping habits have altered mine. I go to bed between 8 and 9 and arise as early as 3:30 or 4 am. I love these early morning hours when no one is stirring (only Rob sometimes) and I can accomplish many household chores like dishes or laundry at a discount. The price of electricity drops in France between 10 pm to 6 am.

I shall now get to work scrapping and sanding along the wall of the guest room where there is damage from water leaking from the entrance to the terrace above. Hopefully the addition of an eave and drain pipe will keep the rain away from the doorway.

I must be getting old

Posted on 3 March 2012 |

Today, my middle child turns 30. Where did the time go? Now, I’m going to sound old but I remember the evening he was born. He was my tiniest baby, weighing 6 pounds, 10 ounces. (His older brother was 9 lb 2 oz.) In the hospital, the nurses commented on his sweet disposition and asked if they could use him for demonstrations. He is still one of the sweetest, kindest guys I know. Happy Birthday, dear Michael.

Meanwhile, I’ve been home from Vancouver for several weeks. When I arrived back in France, my spirits were low. Rob was still suffering from hives (still is, poor guy) and all seemed bleak. I thought a lot about self-preservation and protection and dug out D.H.’s poem on the subject.

To make self-preservation and self-protection the first law of existence
Is about as scientific as making suicide the first law of existence,
And amounts to very much the same thing.

A nightingale singing at the top of his voice
Is neither hiding himself nor preserving himself nor propagating his species;
He is giving himself away in every sense of the word;
And obviously, it is the culminating point of his existence….

As a matter of fact, the only creatures that seem to survive
Are those that give themselves away in flash and sparkle
And gay flicker of joyful life;
Those that go glittering abroad
With a bit of splendour.

This is all fine and dandy when one is up and sparkling but what of the times when one is low and feels weighed down? Do I spew out all the self-depreciating thoughts that roam my brain? I don’t think so or, at least, not every time. This time I simply crawled into my brain and was uncommunicative.

While I was away the weather dropped to 13 below zero and since I’ve returned, it continues to rise. Yesterday, it was 24 degrees in the sun and I feel myself lighter and happier. I was standing on a street in the village a couple of days ago, enjoying the sun, and a French woman and her husband passed by. She mentioned my blog, asked why I hadn’t written lately. (She was speaking in French so this surprised me. She said that she had googled the town’s name and there was a link to my blog. I think that’s what she said but it made me think that I should write more about village life.)

Tonight, I shall celebrate my son’s first thirty years. I have no doubt that his next thirty will be even more wonderful.

Too busy to write

Posted on 9 February 2012 |

Sometimes, it is difficult to pause and think, to show and tell. I often hesitate to update my blog because it takes too much time to make it literary and interesting (at least, that is what I attempt to do.) At the moment, I’m just going to throw whatever out there. I am breathless.

I spent six glorious days in Paris, four of which involved searching for fall clothes at the Pret a Porter bi-annual show. Although it may sound like fun to one who loves to shop (that one is not me), it is exhausting. Over two hundred fashion houses create booths in a large two-floor building at the Portes de Versailles and I wander aisle after aisle trying to find something different and interesting for a West Vancouver boutique. I visit some labels that the store already carries and search through the new season’s tops and bottoms, dresses, and coats, and choose what I think will work for the store’s customers. I take pictures and fabric samples so the owner will have an easier time making the final decision. Happily this trip, Gillian and her friend Marisa joined me and helped with the photography and modeling.

The young women did most of the trying on and once in a while, I would try an item to see what it looked like on a mature figure. We had fun. In the evening, we went out for dinner and dined at modest places like the Cafe Philosophe and Le Polidor – two of my favourite restaurants in Paris. On Saturday, I flew south and Gill and Marisa flew west. (See Gill’s video “A Taste Of Paris.” When Marisa and she were not assisting me, they were filming food excerpts for Gill’s website.)

Once home, I spent a hectic week, making market notes, helping a friend move house, and organizing the rental house for the upcoming season. A week and a day later, I left for Vancouver. Or tried.

Rob, who still isn’t well, drove me to Gaillac to catch a train, to catch a plane to London to catch another to Vancouver. I arrived at the airport early. Snow was falling though not in any mad way so I was surprised that my flight was delayed. Several hours later, I found it was cancelled. In fact, all flights were cancelled. I stood in a long line to change my reservation. Over two hours later, I was booked into an airport hotel (at BA’s expense) and was to fly out early the next morning. To cut a long story short, after my morning flight was cancelled, I was rerouted to Gatwick and finally made it to Vancouver that evening, a day late.

Although my already short trip was shortened, there was a bonus. I met two extraordinary young men, Peter and Kalvin who own a chateau (I think they said 35 rooms last count) close to my village. We introduced ourselves at dinner at the hotel and ran into each other at the airport the next day. We ended up flying to Gatwick together and taking the same bus to Heathrow. By the time we said goodbye and exchanged email addresses, I felt as if they were old friends.

Time flies. Here I am in my old home town. Every minute of my day is filled with appointments although, I have had some fun with Helen and Clare, Michael and Mackenzie. Last night I made a presentation at the store and Moira returned to Helen’s with me. This afternoon, I will finally meet up with my sisters and then go to dinner at Kathy and Richard’s place where my niece and nephew-in-law and baby will join us.

Once again I find myself with too little time to visit all my friends. Next trip – most likely in June when a nephew will marry – I will stay longer.

I’m off to Paris

Posted on 22 January 2012 |

I would have written more but this has been a crazy turbulent week. Rob was supposed to be away for a month but unfortunately became ill and had to return after a week and a half. The school fortunately has given him a time credit so he will return when he’s feeling better.

I’m leaving the poor man to go to another clothing market in Paris. The best part is that Gillian and a friend will meet me there which will make the work much easier and more fun.

I really must try and update this blog often but some days I fly from one project to another and don’t alight until I’m tired. More on my doings when I return.

Au revoir.

A New Year

Posted on 5 January 2012 |

AFTER A DEATH

Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.

One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
through brush where a few leaves hang on.
They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
Names swallowed by the cold.

It is still beautiful to feel the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armour of black dragon scales.
by Tomas Tranströmer
Translated by Robert Bly
(I’ve just discovered this Swedish poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2011.)

Looking back on 2011

I begin each new year putting a collage together of photographs from the past year to get an overview of how I’ve spent my time. I think it was Milan Kundera who said that one doesn’t know how to live one’s life until one has lived it. Another thought leaps from this one. A number of years ago I read Joanna Field’s (Marion Milner) “A Life of One’s Own” in which the author notes the moments when she is happy so she can, if I remember correctly, create more of them.

I look back at 2011 to see how I felt about the year as a whole, to see if there are things that I can change to experience more happiness.

Each picture represents not one event but are prompts, reminding me of what happened before and after the shot. (For instance, I look at the first picture of a mannequin and I remember late January in Paris when I had rented a small unsuitable apartment where Rob got food-poisoning, delaying our trip to Canada. I remember also how I felt re-entering the fashion world as a buyer.)

The sum of photographs remind me that I spent at lot of time travelling last year – six weeks in Toronto, two in Vancouver, and two in Northern Ireland. Rob and I also went on short excursions to Sommieres, Hendaye, Marciac, and Bordeaux in France, and Roses in Spain. I went to Paris twice to work. Gill joined me the last visit, flew down south with me, and, from home, the two of us went Aix-in-Provence.

Rob and I spent almost five months mid-year entertaining visitors – mostly family but a number of friends visited for varying lengths of time. My happiest moments with guests were spent at the dinner table. My least enjoyable were spent cleaning, washing sheets and towels, and sight-seeing. (In the end, I would drive guests to a location and then sit and read while they explored.)

My favourite months (those were I sustained happiness for the longest time) were September and October although there was no month without moments of pleasure. My saddest month was December.

If as Leonard Cohen says, we find our self-respect in our work (I’m not entirely in agreement), I am happy about what I accomplished workwise – managing the house in the village (nearly every guest wrote a rave review), editing a biography and holding the published version, buying in Paris for LJ in West Vancouver, and designing cards and pamphlets for a friend and myself.

I am not happy that I did so little of my own writing. (Thank goodness for my writing week in Ontario with Shirley. Whether what I wrote is crap or not, I want to complete the work I began too many years ago. When Rob leaves tomorrow for Nice and Villefranche-sur-mer for a month-long intensive French course, I shall immerse myself once again.)

What would I change if I could live 2011 once again? Although the year left me breathless and with a miserable cold, there is not much I would change except shorten the visiting months. (The hardest thing for me when others are around is deserting them and doing my own work. Some are fine with this and wander on their own but many simply sit and wait. I just can’t bear this.)

In 2012, I intend to clarify for myself what makes me happiest and to do this I must force myself to retreat to quiet places, preferably without internet.

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