Posted on 18 July 2010

My days pass in a kind of daze. I’m always busy, my mind always active, but I’m moving at my own slow pace and enjoying having time to do as I please.

And part of doing what I please includes accepting house work or, to put it in fancier terms, I’ve accepted work as a property manager. Over the past two years, I’ve become good at cleaning, sorting, and organizing living space and so when the house that I rented for the writers was showing too much wear and tear, and the owners in the States needed help, I agreed to put the house in order.

Over the past weeks, I have sorted, done laundry, cleaned, bought new bed linen, towels, and numerous odds and ends. I have taken down drapes and given all that is decent to the dry cleaners. On Wednesday, I will restain the stairway and the table. I have also found a plumber and electrician and am keeping my fingers crossed that they appear. Believe it or not, I am enjoying this work.

I also agreed, with Sue, to water David’s garden while he is in Scotland for a week. The reward is to help myself to whatever I’d like. (That’s not exactly what David said, but it’s what I do. Note the beets on our kitchen counter.)

And I have also been socializing.

On Wednesday, the day Brendan arrived, we went down to the lake with Alice, Clare, and Lysiane for the village’s Bastille Day celebration. When we arrived numerous little piglets were roasting over open flames. The reception crew served us pastis and wine and lemonade for starters. We waited and waited and waited for the feast to begin as alcohol on an empty stomach is not a good idea and I had eaten little that day. (One table had brought their own appetizers. Smart people.) We were finally served two hours later and all of us were so tired that we didn’t even stay for the fireworks.

Ruth’s birthday party yesterday was quite the contraire. She invited Sue and Susan, Rob, and me down to her garden to celebrate with a simple salad (she said) and a famous chocolate cake from Hotel Sacher in Switzerland. (She had once told her daughter that this cake, in its own wooden box, is a symbol of decadence to her and her daughter remembered and sent one.)

I felt as if I was living the scene in “Women in Love” where Rupert describes, in such lovely terms, how to peel a fig. The table was covered with white linen. We began with champagne and moved on to red wine. Ruth served fresh cantalope, a German potato salad, and two kinds of sausage, done over a small flame. She had precut a country bread and had a round of creamy cheese on the table. When we were full, she brought out the famous cake and a thermos of coffee.

After the meal, I was sated. I lay on the grass looking heavenwards and had a small sleep, while Ruth told stories of her life. She is lovely. She is vivacious. She is a musician. She is an artist. She never does anything haphazardly or so it seems to me.

As if Ruth’s feast was not enough pleasure for one day (though it definitely was), in the evening we went to Rosemary and Bob’s for a swim and dinner. I can’t remember the last time, I felt so content, swimming up and down in the beautiful clear water. Rob swam a little and then dressed and joined our hosts at an outside table. I kept doing laps, back and forth, back and forth. The water was nearly 30 degrees and I didn’t want to leave it but finally did, to join the others at the table, sipping glasses of Sangria (Rosemary calls it something else but I cannot make out the name – as she has a Scottish brogue.)

At this point in the evening, Francis, who had just returned from Malta, joined us. And then we sat and ate another feast of cold cucumber and zucchini soup, pork pie, potato salad, Norbet’s potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, chicken salad, bread, cheese, and icecream. Life is good, I said, with a big yawn.

And soon went home to bed.

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