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The Magnet Interviews – A Half Baked Idea…

Source: The Magnet Interviews – A Half Baked Idea…

The admirable and lovely Cameron more widely known as The World’s Biggest Fridge Magnet has paid me a flattering compliment by interviewing me for his new series The Magnet Interviews.  Here is the result … the questions are quite brilliant, the answers the best I can muster.  Do please visit The World’s Biggest Fridge Magnet if you never have – it started as the story of a man facing bariatric sleeve surgery, follows his journey both to the point of morbid obesity and to where he is now.  A strong advocate of educating the youngest to understand healthy choices, he appears regularly on radio and TV and is preparing to walk for the charity HENRY and to raise awareness of obesity issues and solutions.

Today we have a return to the questions so please allow me to bring you the Magnet Interview questions as answered by my dear darling friend Fiona of Osyth fame whilst being the creator of the wonderful Half Baked In Paradise. Fiona was one of the first people to follow me on my blog and has been a staunch supporter ever since. She is an inspiration and (if she will let me say this) my mentor. She always manages to take time to come up with ideas and is honest with her opinions so I though because of that, I thought would put her to the test with the Magnet Interviews and so here is what she had to say…..

The Magnet Interviews – Osyth

Are you usually late, early or right on time?

Early – even to my wedding. My naval officer father’s fault. But on that logic train how do you explain my mother’s latent lateness when she was the daughter of the admiral of the fleet ….

What are three positive things your friends would say about you?

I’m beautiful, talented and brilliant obviously 😉

If you were a shape, what shape would you be?

A CIRCLE – no hard edges, no complications. I wish.

If you were an animal, which one would best describe you?

A piglet. Preferably a truffle trained piglet.

Why did you want to become a blogger?

I thought it would force some discipline. I was epically wrong – I’m just as discursive as ever.

What are your top three personal interests?

Reading – reading anything. People – I love people watching (weird but true). Being in nature – walking, climbing, hiking, rowing, running – outside is better for me.

What do you do for a full time job?

I write drivel.

What type of car do you drive?

In France a funky yellow SEAT called Franck and in the US a chic cream and black Mini Cooper S that needs a name – suggestions?

Where did you go on your last holiday?

I’m permanently on holiday since quitting my corporate job but the last formal one was Russia.

When did you last go on holiday?

If it’s Russia it’s May 2014 if its really truthful the vacation started the day after my birthday in 2013.

What would you do if you were the one survivor in a plane crash

Panic. Loudly!

If you woke up and had 2,000 unread emails and could only answer 300 of them how would you choose which ones to answer?

Delete the lot – they’ll write back (That’s the theory and my brother actually does it). In my case it would be accompanied by vocal hysteria.

What’s your favorite film?

It’s a Wonderful Life.

What would your Desert Island Disc choices be?

1. Gorecki – Symphony No 3 ‘sorrowful songs’
2. Arvo Part – Für Alina
3. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
4. She’s Electric – Oasis
5. Sit Down Next to Me – James
6. Suddenly I see _ K T Tunstall …

3-6 are the songs for my daughters to be played at my funeral
7. Suzanne – Leonard Cohen (or preferably everything on ‘Songs Of’) …
8. How can I tell you – Cat Stevens
9. It aint you babe – Bob Dylan
10. Elgar – ‘Nimrod’

But SO much more. This is a torture … And the inevitable addition is that my girls do demand ‘Don’t stop me now’ by Queen to be played at my funeral…

Batman or Spiderman

Robin!

What did you have for breakfast?

Bob’s Red Mill Muesli and proper English Tea – thank the Lord for Ocean State who sell Typhoo and Bob’s Red Mill at less than frightening prices!

Describe the color yellow to somebody who’s blind.

Warm. Not hot. That warmth you feel stealing up on you from behind, the sudden and intense warmth on your face when you lift it to the sun. Happy.

If you were asked to unload a 747 full of Jelly Beans, what would you do?

I never shirk a task so I’d do it and bathe in the beans.

What’s your favorite animated film?

Anything Disney EVER did, but overall. The favourite EVER? Right now – Pocohontas because I see animals and birds that appeared in the film. It’ll change. I never stop loving Disney but my favoured one is ever fluid.

What was the inspiration for your blog/pen name?

I was originally just Osyth (it’s actually one of my given names and I hated it as a child, embrace it now) but I needed a change to reflect the altering slant of the blog. I’m half-baked so it is too. And Paradise? It’s there if you reach out wherever in the world you are.

What happens when you get scared half to death twice…?

You jump out of your skin twice.

Why aren’t blueberries blue?

They are if you mix them with anything liquid – they bleed blue into muffin mix for example. Or porridge.

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is the fear of long words, but why is that word it so long?

Because it’s showing off. Like Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch which is a place in Wales for those who aren’t in that particularly British mode . Egos the size of a small country if you ask me. Or an indecisiveness disorder.

What was the last lie you told?

I don’t lie. Not since the conviction 😉

What is the best compliment you have ever received?

‘ Just the right combination of Englishness and Chutzpah’ … my mentor over 30 years ago,  who also invented the strap line ‘Just Do It’ Which I do and frequently curse him for the advice but the times it is right are worth the fall every time.

Would you prefer to be ugly and live to be 100 or attractive and live for 30 years?

Ugly to 100 – Bugger off all shallow fools I’m in for the long haul. and if you don’t like what you see go swivel.

Do you have any relatives in jail?

Nope.

What single piece of food could you never give up?

Cheese every time and if I have to be specific Vacherin de Mont d’Or but I could eulogise for hours on the relative merits of several hundred contenders.

Who do you most admire in life?

The mother-in-law I never knew. My husband’s mother was abused and lived as the slave of a working class man. My husband was over 3 months premature in 1952 the fifth of her children. His elder sister was only 9 months older than him, therefore. When he was two years old she ran away with all the children to Kent (North West to South East) where she hid for eighteen months before returning to their home town. She lived in a council house thereafter with her children – and as each one left home she fostered more. She never ever took benefits nor handouts. She never asked for anything. She must have wanted for much. That is inspirational. My husband once remarked that ‘She had nothing.  Asked for nothing.’  Take note modern world – we still have women like Ada, men like her too. Help them to help themselves. Because the chances are far higher that they want to than that they don’t.  It is easy to turn your back but far harder to understand that you yourself, whoever you are, are only ever 2 steps from the gutter. I admire those that are within a flake of skin of the gutter and help themselves. That is the size of it. My one regret is that I will never meet Ada but when I go to her city I always visit the crematorium and leave flowers for her.

Do you spread butter on before peanut butter?

It depends. If I have butter winking seductively at me I find it hard to resist with anything… but not jelly (that’s jello my U.S friends) or ice-cream.

Would you prefer to date someone older or younger than yourself?

Older as it turns out though I did go through a reverse spiral of young and younger some years ago …. I might need to write that one myself 😉

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Now that I am a high profile celebrity I need to make sure I am suitably incognito when venturing outdoors

Coup de Cœur – Part Six: Do you see what I see?

An occasional series chronicling the tale of the renovation of a former medieval watch-tower in southern France …..

The previous owner of the house was a photographer of some talent.  He could make the silkiest purse out of a lady pigs ear, of this I am certain.  When we looked at his wonderful images on the numerous websites that carried Maison Carrée to her adoring public eager to stay for a few days and sample the delights of his culinary skill as well as the comfortable and welcoming interior she offered, we never once worried about wall coverings.  Downstairs was pristine white and upstairs had some sort of nice neutrally wallpaper.  When we arrived to view what turned out to be the Wreck of the Hesperus, one of the stand-out moments was the realisation of what that nice neutrally  wallpaper actually was.  Not wallpaper in fact.  Not fabric.  Nothing so outré for our Monsieur.  Nay, nay and thrice I say nay … he’d gone a whole new road – a positive Route Nationale, a Motorway, an Interstate Highway.  I can imagine the sprightly conversation he had with himself inside his head:

‘What shall I cover the upstairs walls with?’ 

‘How about floor, old chap ..?’

‘You genius!  Floor!  Of course – floor is the way forward for these walls.  And shall we perchance wallpaper the floor?’

‘Don’t be ridiculous.  Obviously not.  That is an absurd notion’. 

And so it was.  Laminate clip together floor.  But not just any laminate clip-together floor.  Oh no!  This was laminate clip-together bargain basement, below economy starter range floor.  The floor that the salesman guides you too first before pointing out that absolutely anything at all that you choose from here will be better, even spending tuppence halfpenny more and thus securing himself an extra portion of fries on the commission he earns.  That sort of laminate clip-together floor.  And it had been slathered all over the walls.  Look closely at the top picture …. do you see what I see?

 

 

 

 

Having done as bidden by the kind M. Terminateur so that his crew could busy themselves ridding our roof of those pesky vrillettes we occupied ourselves as best we could, whenever we could (remember it’s a four hour round trip from North West to South West tip of le Cantal on winding backroads descending and scaling deep gorges and negotiating tight épingles (épingles de cheveux being hairpins) and though I am presently living in the land of mahusive distances and ludicrously cheap fuel, I honestly think it’s a stretch  for a daily commute that you aren’t getting paid for.  I was polishing the staircase for entertainment one day when there was a thunderous crack followed by a thud, and a whisper later, a riotous crash.  I dropped my bottle of special wood oil and rushed up the stairs (killing the chances of the oil drying to a gratifying sheen in the process) to find HB² looking frankly irritatingly smug.  He had taken a crowbar and jemmied a generous sliver of the offending floor from the wall and underneath looked rather  interesting.

 

 

 

 

He proceeded to slice his way through both the front bedrooms and the back one – the one with it’s cleverly placed shower delivering to a spontaneous auditorium at the back of the house for the ladies of the village, should he decide to give of his famed full frontal peep show once more.  I’m considering selling tickets if we get desperate enough that we need extra funds.  By lunchtime the walls were fully delaminated and revealing the secrets of their pre-veneered days.  My nerves were in shreds because this stuff was razor sharp and entirely rigid.  Two Brains clearly should have been wearing a helmet but instead favoured an interesting series of movements that echoed accurately St Vitus Dance to avoid being brained or scalped by the merest slither of a second.  We had a car full of laminate to take to the lovely man at the déchètterie with the enviable view.   After two p.m.  Obviously.  This is rural France and everything stops for lunch.  For two hours.  It took multiple trips in Franck our trusty unalluring but reasonably priced car and a deep and meaningful conversation to ascertain whether this vile material computes as wood.  It doesn’t.  It is to be viewed in the same way as a carnivore regards nut cutlets.  It simply is not meat.  Nor indeed wood.

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Do you see what I see ….? It’s Franck skulking sneakily waiting for his next load of laminated booty

 

Meanwhile back at the ranch The Brains was eulogising over what had been uncovered.  Previously we had paid scant attention to the one unplastered wall on the stairwell merely having a cursory discussion over whether we should give it too a smooth finish.  But in  that deluge of lethal laminate everything changed.  It was akin to the moment in Carl Sagan’s Contact when Jodie Foster sees the universe with fresh eyes from a beach somewhere out ‘there’ that she has landed on after being lunged through space at a squillion miles an hour.   In the comedy shower-closet bedroom are exposed the same  glorious planks, cut by someone with an eye for rigidly even lines that rivals my mother’s.  By way of explanation – my mother is a wonderful letter writer but has always shunned the slip of lined paper popped under the page to guide the pen evenly approach and consequently, although she commences elegantly (even now in her mid-eighties) she rapidly starts to wander at an angle so that by the time she reaches the bottom of the page she is writing at a 45° slope.  It’s a  foible that no-one ever mentions, but all notice.  These walls were clearly made by a kindred charpentiere.  They are of tongue-in-groove construction, about 9″-10″ wide and slender.   They slot together very well sporting the odd large flat headed nail to complete the perfectly rustic and rather naïve effect.

 

 

 

 

 

And still the excitement continued.  The layout of the house, and we had assumed the original layout, was a small landing with doors at right angles to one another.  One into a bedroom with a square double doorframe through to a further room and the other into Peeping Tom’s Joy – the room with the freestanding shower in front of the window.  But taking the cladding off the walls had revealed a door from PTJ into the back bedroom.    This poses new questions about how we lay out the upstairs.  Our thought process is fluid and a teeny bit erratic so this revalation just adds a zesty new spritz to the operation.

 

 

 

 

On the other side of the wall were further, piquant delights – loose hessian overlaid with several layers of historic wallpaper.  A couple of florals, a groovy grey linear embossed which immediately took me back to the dull horrors of my childhood and my favourite, a sort of squarial pattern each square containing a picture – a flowerhead here, a windmill there, there again a boat, and even the makings of a medieval town.  I wonder about the person lying in bed looking at the pictures – I wonder if they had ever travelled from Marcolès and whether they dreamed of getting on that boat and searching for treasures in far-off lands.  In fact we know that a very tall Russian lady lived in the house for decades last century – maybe she was put in a boat to cross the sea or maybe her journey escaping White Russia as a small child was overland.  Either way it must have been arduous, gruelling and not a little frightening.

 

 

 

 

I am reminded of another house long ago and far away in England.  The girls and I lived in the grounds of the, by then closed, only Jewish Public School in the country (US readers Public School obscurely means Private School in  England).  Carmel College.  There was a house called ‘Wall House’ which was perfectly invisible except for a front door with a letter box.  In it lived a very very grand Russian lady of advancing years who wore astonishing velvet and brocade ensembles which cascaded to her ankles and conjured up vivid reminders of an age so bygone that I never knew it.  She invited me to take tea.  I was seated on a glamorous and very upright silk upholstered  chair.  She called out in Russian and clapped her jewelled hands smartly whereupon and instantly  in the corner of the room a shabby bundle of cloth shifted revealing a remarkably decrepit and faintly moth-eaten man.  He bowed and moved into the kitchen from whence he returned after a pause during which she and I continued a rather formal and resolutely non-probing conversation, bearing a silver tray complete with very ornate fine porcelain teapot and guilded and delicately painted teacups with their dainty matching plates on which were slices of terrifically inebriated fruit cake.  He served us sombrely and then went back to his corner, disappearing like the Psammead into his quicksand of sheets.  I suppose he had been with her all his life.  The world is full of surprises and some of them are quite uncomfortable.

Anyhow, there was a statuesque Russian lady for many years in Marcolès.   Hold that thought.  Particularly the height.  Because the other curiosity hidden behind the disgusting veneer is a series of oval holes.  You might remember there is one that casts down on the stairwell from the privy giving it an air of anything but privacy.  But there are more.  Some have been boarded over and some stuffed with newspaper.  But why?  They are reminiscent of those holes you stick your head through on an English Pier and have your photo taken as a pin-up girl in an eye popping bikini or a muscle-bound man in striped bathers.  The odd thing is the height of them.  If you wanted to stick your head through them you would have to be a VERY lanky lady indeed.  I imagine they were crude internal portholes to let some light into the middle of the house but I rather like the image of a Frenchman on stilts, complete with compulsary moustache peering through various cut-out holes just for laughs.

 

 

 

 

PS:  When I arrived back after taking the very last load of the offending clip-together laminate flooring to the dump (and we have kept a plank as a grim reminder of the way it was) the elderly couple opposite were arriving back from a toddle out.  They meandered across the street and asked me how it was going.  Oh, really good I regailed them.  We’re progressing well with the clear out of all the dreadful things – can you imagine, he had cheap laminate flooring on the walls.  Lunacy – he was clearly mad.  They nodded in that slightly absent way that polite people have and took their leave.  As they opened their front door, I swear I could see laminate flooring on …. the walls.  Just another oh bugger moment and a further reminder to self to keep thy big mouth shut.

The bonus is entirely to indulge my mother and the child-me that she raised – she used to play Johnny Mathis to us on the gramaphone in the drawing room on rainy days amongst so many other 45s of Unicorns and Doctor Kildaire, Nellie the Elephant and Dusty Springfield and Ferry Cross the Mersey and Doris Day, as we puzzled our puzzles, stuck our fuzzy felt and honed the skills required for taking tea with grand ancient Russian ladies  by making our own tea party for the teddy bears.  Those halcyon days when I didn’t question her lack of ability to keep a straight line when writing her comments on my report cards or the milk order because she was just simply ‘My Mummy’ ….

If you enjoyed this you might like to catch up on previous installments by typing Coup de Coeur into the search box in the side bar.  The more the merrier at this party – so much more fun that way. 

If it is not indigestion it must be gratitude

I think it was Voltaire who said ‘Appreciation is a wonderful thing.  It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well’.  Today I have Terry at Spearfruit to thank for nominating me for a Blogger Appreciation Award.  Terry writes every day and is gradually piecing together for us his past, his present and his future.  He has a very precise approach to telling his story.  He has planned out rigidly what to divulge and when and runs separate linear threads that are gradually knitting and fusing to reveal his tapestry.  It is the polar opposite of my own scattergun style and it is hugely engaging – I would encourage you to go and visit him … he’s a keeper.  Actually I also need to thank Terry for the recent revelation that his name is Terry.  Prior to this, when interacting I never quite knew whether it was etiquette to shorten him to Spear.  Or Fruit.  Or whether, out of politeness I needed to call him Mr Spearfruit.  In seriousness, he has battled multiple issues and continues to have rather radical bumps thrown into his path and he is genuinely inspiring.  He also shares the music that has patterned his life which I see as an extra perk (you will gather he has taste.  If he didn’t the perk would be a punishment).  And I appreciate him which means that his journey belongs to me in some way too.   I am enriched.

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The rules of engagement for this award are very simple (which can only be a good thing).  You thank, you tell something positive about yourself and you suggest and notify as many bloggers as you wish to that you are passing the wand or cudgel depending on your personal style, to them.

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Having thanked Terry, therefore, I need to write something positive about me:

Like many, I find it hard to write about me.  Even though I refer to myself as Little Miss Me, Me, Me I’m not really comfortable banging on about self – I find other’s stories much more compelling and I am a shameless Pinocchio nosing around for the anecdote sitting in the café, passing me on the street, simply living a life.

So instead I will share the wisdom of a friend many years ago ‘find the purpose in the way things are’ …. he said it to me at a particularly bleak time in my life when pushing water up a hill and sticking needles in my own eyes seemed infinitely preferable to the status quo.  And I wanted to thump him.  But being  non-violent, I chose instead to quietly niggle away at the statement and you know what?  There is always a flip side.  Always a positive to that negative.  As Oscar Wilde said in his poignant and tragic ‘The Portrait of Dorian Grey’ ‘behind every exquisite thing that existed is a tragedy’.  And that’s  another personal positive – people do genuinely ask if I keep a portrait in the attic (I’m 98 if you were wondering) but the fact is that I simply have lucky genes.  And I smile.  A smile is the best accessory because it makes you feel so much better as well as looking better or at the very least looking fatuous and providing some necessary comedy in the day for the smilee.

And my nominees … all of them terrific and each quite different from the others:

On the road cooking  – Pan makes delicious meals in the cab of her truck.  Which she shares with Stewie.  She’s a delight

Rose Bay Letters – nicknamed ‘the sidekick traveller’ by her son, Janet’s blog is such a pleasure.  Whether travelling or at home in New England, she treats us to beautiful pictures and insights.  We share a love of Oscar Wilde so the Dorian Grey is for her

Redo Sue – Sue writes, she says, because she has to.  I read her blog not because I have to but because what she writes is really very very good

Maison Travers – Nadia is a South African born cordon bleu cook who lived two decades in Los Angeles before settling in le Dordogne where she runs a Chambre d’Hotes and cookery school.  Delicious.

Sultana Bun – Lynda is a housewife and describes this as an admission of a dirty word.  There is nothing dirty about this delightful blog – just humour and pathos and life.  Its a joy.

So there you have it.  Feel free to  ignore me as the strange woman with the pokey nose who smiles inanely and continues to find the purpose in the way things are.

PS:  The title is Benjamin Disraeli – ‘I feel a very unusual sensation – if it’s not indigestion, it must be gratitude’.    I believe he said it to his arch enemy William Gladstone in some or other parliamentary debate.  In these days when politicians seem so hell bent on throwing rocks and never quite managing to move the obstruction in their throat that prevents them from being gracious to one another or, heaven forbid acknowledging that the other might have some credence, it would perhaps be an idea to cast minds backwards and concede that not all progress is good progress.  Manners maketh the man after all.  Even when the man (or woman) has designs on great office.

The photos in this post were all taken on a balmy hot day in the Belledonne mountains above Grenoble.  My father seemed so close as to be walking beside me that day over a decade since his death.  His love, his influence are woven so thoroughly into my own tapestry – I may not be able to see him but I never fail to feel him.

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Won’t you join the dance?

Out walking on Saturday after a fresh tumble of damp sticky snow, we came across this ravishing creature.  It has the look  of a crustacean feeling its way across the sand and brought to mind instantly the creations of Dutch artist Theo Jansen  who creates fantastical kinetic sculptures which echo the most outlandish elements of beast, bird and bug.   Life imitating art as the photo challenge requests this week …

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PS:  As for me, I was in Wonderland with  Alice, listening intently and trying not to put a foot in the soup as the Mock Turtle tells the story of the beauteous Lobster Quadrille.  But try as I did, I couldn’t find a partner for this shrimp – perhaps I should join the dance – after all, it is what gave me the title.

 

Saving the trouble of thinking for oneself

Today I give you three quotes.  I’m supposed to give you one each day for three days but I am far to discursive to stay on task for three whole consecutive days so I have invented my own rules for this lovely challenge set me by three lovely people:

Life With Molly – written by a young woman to her future children with quite extraordinary maturity and insight

White House Red Door –  A true teacher who shows us how to nurture with her beautiful achievable food matched by her lovely words

Worlds Biggest Fridge Magnet – Can do Cam suggested me  months ago so I hang my head in shame whilst urging you to take a look at his blog

These are my quotes.  Randomly trawled from the murky depths of my cobwebby mind, they’ve all kept me company for decades  which might imply they are the right ones to share.

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“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart”

‘The Little Prince’ Antoine de Saint Exupery

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“Of all the words of mice and men the saddest are it might have been

‘Cats Cradle’ Kurt Vonnegurt

(I should note that Vonnegurt was paraphrasing a much earlier poem by Maud Muller which I read much later hence, perhaps,  my loyalty to his tenor.)

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“Take bread away from me, if you wish take air away, but do not take away from me your laughter”

‘Your Laughter’ Pablo Neruda

All of these quotes stand beautifully on their own and are bookmarks in my mind for the most important things in my life – my heart;  laughter of those I love and  of strangers; and to sieze the moment, to make it happen and if whatever it is doesn’t transpire to move on with no regret. I rather hope that they might pique your interest  sufficiently to want to explore three consummate writers and their work.

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And there is a bonus – the title is A A Milne who said “A quotation is a handy thing to have lying about, saving oneself the trouble of thinking for oneself – always a laborious business”  in his essay  ‘The Record Lie’ which I also highly recommend … it’s not ‘Winnie the Pooh’ though those that know me know that I have a particularly high regard for the Bear.

I now have the pleasant task of suggesting the following to take on this challenge.  As ever it’s a feel free to pass sort of challenge but I do love these bloggers and I do think they would do the challenge great justice.  Take a look at them and those that suggested me, they are all praiseworthy.

Poshbirdy in Quillan – Feisty and funny writing of the feast and famine of renovating a house in France

Not the Average Mama – certainly not average this is a wonderful blog written by a remarkable stepmother

Write on the Beach – a brilliant writer whose stories of England and France are truly compelling

The soft look your eyes once had

I was fortunate to have two Grannies when I was small.  In fact I had two until I was nearly 16 but unhappily one succumbed to dementia and was in a nursing home for nearly 8 years before her life extinguished.  So, at the time, half of mine was spent with her vibrant, outspoken and faintly outrageous personality, full of bell-like tinkling laughter chiming through her house replete  with rather exotic and eminently touchable artifacts and half with a shrinking, fading somewhat pathetic reminder of whom she had been.  I remember being vaguely scared of her when we went to visit as she evaporated slowly away.  She was withered and bent and painfully thin with skin parched and almost transparent through which the vessels carrying her aged blood were defiantly visible.  Dessiccating.  She had the faint odour of care home and often didn’t utter a sound except the thinnest of hints of breath in and out.  When she did speak she had a habit of rambling in guttural spitty Arabic having lived in Egypt in the 1920s and 30s during the up-market tourist boom of that era when my grandpapa was chief accountant for Thomas Cook.  Sadly it was a relief to be sent outside to play with the nursing home dog – an unfeasibly large pyreneen mountain dog called Uggles who resembled Nana in Peter Pan and was similarly hard-wired to nurse-maiding children.  When she died at the age of almost 92 there were few left to mourn her so her funeral was tiny – eight of us including my cousins, my elder brother and I.  So feeble were our collective voices that the crematorium put a cassette tape of the Kings College Choir singing our chosen hymns to bolster us up.  Outside it was cold and damp and I realised my father was crying.  I realised my father was a son.  I realised my father was a feeling, emotional creature just like me.  It was a seminal moment.

As I’ve grown older I miss her even though I barely had opportunity to acquaint with her and I wish I’d had the moment to know her better.  I’m told I’m like her.  I take it as the greatest  compliment – she lost an arm in the First World War when nursing in France.  Gangrene.  Not carelessness, just caring for others in greater need.  When we were small children she used to swing one armed into a string hammock and then pull us all in with her, one at a time and read us stories under the lilac trees.  She also had a wonderful and positively enormous cat called Kim who resembled an overstuffed fur cushion.  She was, therefore Granny Kim.

This lady sitting in les Jardins de Luxembourg hijacks me, reverses time and  delivers me to a presentday now past and long forgotten yet seamlessly evoked.  A time I wish I had noticed when the then was now.  She knows nothing of her curious power of course as she casually soaks in the sunshine.  Behind her the children play, the lovers drift hand in hand, friends gossip on benches.  Every one of us growing older as time relentlessly moves us forward.  Carpe diem.

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I post the picture in response to The Daily Press Weekly Photo Challenge entitled ‘Time’ – you can see all the other, far worthier interpretations here

PS:  The title is from one of  the most touching and bittersweet poems I know ….

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

WB Yeats

For the trees have no tongues

Emotography …. I have Claudette at  ‘To Search and to Find’ (strapline ‘happiness in every day’ which I love) to thank for Emotography.  Its so alluringly simple …. post a picture, link to her site so she can include it in her gallery of the week and give, in as many or as few words as your mood dictates, the emotion that prompted the picture or that you felt when you saw the result.

For me today it is HOPE.  When I came upon this scene at Vaughn Hill, Bolton here in Massachusetts it shouted of The Lorax, my favourite of Dr Seuss’s extraordinary catalogue of books read to me as a small child despite being non-American because we had best friends from Boston – he, Hoops,  an English professor she, Betty,  once legendarily said to me, when I was denuding her greengage tree of fruit ‘see how Hoops just bleeeends with the waaaallpaper’ causing me, a gauche English girl to nearly drop plum straight out of the tree so irreverently funny was the image of this studious professor simply a disembodied head, his shirt of palest apricot blending with the silken walls of their drawing room.  The Lorax is a classic.  And of course I read it in turn to my own children.  It co-exists as a children’s classic with  ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, it stands with ‘The Wind in The Willows’ and so many others here un-named as the finest books to read to children and for children to read.  But the message – the message is clear to us all.  Children and adults alike.  These dry lifeless trees standing defiantly in the water, for all the world like the Truffala’s in The Lorax remind me and should remind us all that we must protect what we have.  Be it from feisty little worms (to which these trees have succumbed) or to the greed of industrialists making their own version of Thneeds.   I have hope that we will.  Because we can.  If we will.

I am The Lorax.  I speak for the trees ….

DSCF4871

For the trees have no tongues

Apart from talking for the trees I taking the liberty of suggesting the following that they might enjoy the value of taking part with Claudette in her Emotography weekly event:

http://myfoododyssey.com/

https://poshbirdyblog.wordpress.com/

http://francesays.com/

https://thechangingpalette.com/

Joie de vivre

Here is The Bean in a bag.  A Bean bag if you will.  She looks so full of life, so vibrant.  Which she is.  A positive ball of energy madly running around nose to the ground sucking up whatever scents are assaulting her snout with a joie de vivre that leaves us breathless much of the time.  This particular day was excessively hot so we popped her in a handbag to save her overheated, fatigued legs.  We are careful of this Bean.

Last September we made the trip from home in the Cantal to Paris (about five and a half hours by car).  I had an appointment with the US Embassy and in deference to my tense disposition at the thought of the impending Green Card interview, my husband booked us into our favourite Hotel des Dames du Pantheon.  We have stayed before and The Bean is treated like royalty and always referred to by name by the excellent and delightful fully multi-lingual staff.  As ever we were given a room with a ‘vue impenetrable’ of the Pantheon in all it’s beauteous glory.  I had an appointment with an Embassy endorsed physician (there are two of them in Paris) for my medical.  I was nervous.  I’m not very good at medical for me.  During my morning away being examined by this charming Irishman, having chest X-rays and blood tests and vaccinations for things I have never heard of and am sure I certainly don’t want to be acquainted with, The Bean reclined regally in our room.  She had taken the air of the Cinquieme Arrondissement before breakfast, enjoyed a little smackerel of brekkie stashed in a napkin and smuggled back to the room for her delectation and was entirely happy to be fully relaxed and generally recumbant.  In the afternoon we walked.  She doesn’t get to run much off the lead in Paris but people are largely very dog-friendly and she is always happy to take a petit café an apero or better still, a meal with us because folk have a habit of slipping her a pat and a morcel of something nice.

The following day we made our way by car (which had hitherto been parked in the underground carpark nearest the hotel) to the Place de la Concorde.  We were a little late out of the starting gate and had to be at the Embassy promptly at One to get through security.  These were our emphatic and clear instructions and we did not want to put a foot wrong.  We had about 49 minutes to park the car,sneak a quick lunch, return to the car to deposit dog and get in line for the main event.  Lunch would need to be somewhere around Fauberg St Honoré which runs along the back of the Embassy and about 5 minutes walk from the car.  We hot-footed it, taking lengthy and rapid strides towards our goal of a likely lunchery.  The street is fairly narrow and we were stuck behind a posse of rather bulky people walking excessively slowly.  So I put my  foot on the imaginary throttle and powered past, The Bean (the Athletic Bean as she perceives herself) gambolled along behind me.  It must be noted that I was at this point in my life uptight to boil-over point.  We had been waiting for two years for this moment, jumping through a seemingly endless series of hoops and I had absolutely no idea what questions I was going to be asked.  It is rather akin to being asked to interview for a job but with no job description to guide the prep.  As I passed the entourage a woman’s voice rang and twang in my ears ‘oh that poor little thing being dragged and choked near to death’.  I snapped.  The world slowed down as I span round like Wonderwoman and eyes flashing squared up to the offender.  ‘She is neither dragged nor choked so I suggest you SHUT UP!’ I spat – my clipped, polished and perfectly enunciated English worthy of Maggie Smith at her most pithy.   The woman was clearly appalled at this deranged firebrand addressing her.  I imagine she had assumed I was French.  Assume as my youngest daughter reminds us makes an ASS out of U and Me.  For my own part I have only just recovered my equilibrium, so livid was I at the unjustness of the flung accusation.  It was only as I glided on my way, sure in the knowledge that I had put that wench squarely in her place, that it occurred to me. She being American and in the street that runs down one side of the Embassy building that she might, might easily be the same person who would interview me for the fabled Green Card that very afternoon …. mercifully this was not to be an occasion to add to my overstuffed portfolio of ‘oh bugger’ moments.  If she is on the Embassy staff she at least wasn’t confronted by me twice that day.  But not for the first time, I wished I was that person who has the ability to just waft by situations.  Lunch did not slip down easily as the lump in my throat expanded.  The Bean, yet again was the winner …. she rather likes saumon fumé au fromage frais de chêvre though I believe she was less than enamoured of the salade.

Bean Bag!

Bean Bag!

PS:  I post this in response to the Daily Press Weekly Photo Challenge entitled Vibrant.  For me vibrancy is about a state of being not simply about vivid colour (though that is a reasonable interpretation of the word and many have quite brilliantly here) and The Cruelly Treated Bean is vibrancy incarnate.