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I want to be alone

Of all the surprises blithely thrown in my path in le Cantal, one of the most profound is le Monastère Orthodoxe Znaménié.  The mountains and plateau Cézallier are France at her deepest and most hidden.  These days entirely agricultural, lightly peppered with tiny villages and  the odd slumbering ghost town clinging vainly to a long forgotten once-upon-a-past prosperity, the hills sweep rather than peak up to around 1400 metres.  Not the highest and not the  alpiest, pretty, school-child picturey of mountains, they are nevertheless uncompromising and can quickly turn from humble to harsh.  Open to the elements, the snows stick around many a year into May.  Fog and mist swirl and swathe often and disorientate rapidly.  And it boasts some of the stormiest and most petulant weather  in Western Europe with a positively rude statistic for lightning.  It takes a particular sort of personality to thrive in the elements that are randomly chucked about here.

 

Into this landscape in 1988 wandered a murmur of Nuns desperately seeking solitude and a place that nurtured their meditational, peaceful lifestyle.  They set about converting a barn into a Monastery.  Yes, I too would say convent but they insist it is a Monastery and I have never knowingly tangled with a Nun and shan’t change that habit now.  Monastery then.  They spent 6 years converting the barn into their vision.  With their own hands and with the help of benificent neighbours.  Most of the work, I am assured by the locals was done by the nuns and to be frank it takes my breath away.  They based their vision on the Monasteries on Mount Athos in Greece.  I have seen those gleaming immense edifices from a bobbing boat on an azure sea.  I am a woman and am not allowed to set foot on the Athos Peninsular.  Neither, despite their pious status, would these nuns.  Men who are not of the specific cloth worn by the Russian or Greek Orthodox Churches have to request a formal invitation and it typically takes many years presumably in the vague hope that the aforementioned non-sacred men will get bored and go about their secular business and not bother the mysterious monkdoms.  I have been fascinated and a little obsessed with the notion of what actually goes on there for years.  Ever since I visited the trident shaped headlands on my big fat Greek holidays several years ago.  As a result my delight at finding a tiny replica on my doorstep was practically fizz-banging like my own private lightning storm.  What I learned about these women (whom I literally stumbled upon one fine Spring day about two years ago) was that they do everything that they can, themselves.  That they ask for the most minimal of help.  That they grow most of what they eat themselves which is by no means easy at 1200 metres altitude, that they keep bees and that they sell small amounts of bee products, jams and other produce to raise the necessary cash to pay for the things they absolutely can’t do themselves.  A fellow from whom we considered buying a house, widowed and wanting to move away from the place he had shared with his true love, told me that the dentist in the local town treats the nuns free of charge and that the state of their teeth is quite deplorable.  They don’t run to colgate and dental floss on their tiny budget.  Solitary they are.  Solitary and selfish to the extent that they have dropped out of society in order to spend their days in contemplation, meditation and prayer.  But harmless.  Not effecting anyone bady.  If you would like to visit, you can on certain days.  Free of charge.

 

Here in Grenoble there is a problem with homelessness (les sans abris).  It is a problem replicated across France and beyond, certainly to my own country of birth.  It is a cause close to my heart.  I have been within the most uncomfortably close sight of my own prospective homelessness with three small children and a baby in my life.  I believe it is a fundemental human right to know where you are going to lay your head at night and that the place should not be under a cardboard quilt and the cold blanket of starlight. In this city we have an excellent charitable network that tries to ensure the right help is delivered to the people who need it.  I have put my name on the list to volunteer to help but so far I have not been needed.  There are many willing supporters who go out with food, blankets, clothing and a compassionate ear.  The aim is to get all those suffering on the streets into accommodation.  We have an extremely liberal mayor.  It is high on his agenda.

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Enter the dragon.  The dragon in this case has foul breath and speaks with forked tongue.  Les faux abris, I have taken to calling them.  The network of drop-outs (often not French but rather from other countries in Europe) who congregate, doss around and beg.  You can recognise them from the signature can of beer and dogs and glossy mobile phone.    Because dogs make people more willing to give money.   The dogs are passed around one motley hive to another, the beers are clutched proprietorially and not shared with anyone. This causes my highly charged social conscience and, I would argue, innate sence of decency to short-circuit.  I want to help everyone.  I want everyone to have a home.  But these people do.  They are, of course squatters.  Twenty year old me would have said ‘so what?’ but fifty-something year old me is peturbed.  You see, unlike the nuns high up in the unforgiving landscape of Cantal, unlike the genuine fallen on hard times not of their own making homeless, these people have chosen to drop out and scavenge.  And it urks me greatly.  I see people abused when they walk past and refuse to put money in the cups thrust unrelentingly and indeed agressively in their faces.  I see people dropping money to avoid being threatened.  I see the dogs that are the bait for their hook left to lie  alone on traffic islands in the hope that someone will take pity and give money to feed them.  Puppies included.

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Recently, I staggered onto the tram laden with heavy shopping from the supermarket.  Behind me teetered a lady of extremely advanced years.  I would suggest certainly north of her mid 80s and possibly more.  Wearing a shabby tailored coat that  she had visibly worn these past many decades, carrying a once decent now decaying vinyl handbag and with her shoes reminiscent of those my mother wore when I was a child long ago and far away, her hair neatly pinned and a slick of vivid geranium lipstick setting off her freshly powdered cheeks, she was clearly chary of  walking past the vast Mastive held on a chain by a youngish woman wearing the uniform of her tribe.  A tribe that perports to be anachistic and yet is recognisable by it’s hermogenous clothing.  The outcasts are infact their own incasts.  With her, a man brandishing his upmarket handheld device.  It was the arrogance and smugness that made me want to smack them both in the teeth.  The old lady, complete with stick I should add, was ignored.  They did not offer to give up the seat that the young woman was fatly occupying, they did not move out of the way, they did not offer to help her to an empty seat which meant traversing the impressively muscular dog who I am sure was beautifully mannered but was overwhelming in his bulk and would surely present an alarming prospect to a tiny trim person slowly desiccating with age.  She was stoic.  Uncomplaining.  As are, I have noticed all the elderly who are passively bullied by those that prefer not to offer a seat to one whose need is greater.  I found her a seat and she thanked me in a whisper.  I did not need thanks.  It was a simple act of decency.

Later that same day, I met the same disparate group on a different tram.  I pondered why a young woman should need such a large dog.  Indeed when one is living the simple life in a city why one would want to be encumbered by a canine at all.  The answer did not need to blow in the wind, the answer was screaming in my ears.  She peddles stuff, nasty chemical mind bending stuff …. I’m beedy eyed and not, as my children will vouch from bitter experience, naïve to the goings on that they as youngsters thought their generation had copyright on.  Of course, we ourselves invented it all a generation before, it having been invented by our parents generation, and so on ad tedium backwards.

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And this is my conundrum.  I am all for people living as they choose to.  I am no preacher but I do exhort freedom as a fundemental of human rights and choice must surely be at the root of that tree.   I’m a bit of a hermit, I may well be on the strange end of odd in many ways, but I am innocuous.  I like to help where I can but if I want to opt out completely then I will do so and not get in anyone’s way.  The Nuns high up in the Cézallier are all but self-sufficient and what little money they need they earn by their own toil.  The real homeless, in this city, not in all as I am painfully mindful, are helped.  Their stories will penetrate all but the most frigid of hearts.  Many are addicts.  Addiction is not and never should be considered a crime.  Helping people into that dark place IS and always should be.

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PS:  The quote is of course Greta Garbo.  She said it in ‘Grand Hotel’ and the line came to define her.  In fact, much later, she would protest that she had never said it outside of the movie and that what she had actually said was ‘I want to be let alone’ … splitting hairs one might observe but I can sympathise with the irritation at being eternally defined by one tiny soundbite.  And I can empathise with the need to be alone, the desire for me-time and the idea of being a recluse.  Nonetheless, I will not be taking Holy Orders in pursuit of that particular happiness.

Here is Greta as your bonus.  The young and extraordinarily talented woman providing the soundtrack to the montage fell prey to addiction ….

 

 

 

 

139 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lovely and evocative writing as always, Osyth. 🙂 A very interesting post as well, especially the nuns. I have to admit–a life of simplicity and solitude appeals to me. The rustic and sparse landscape photos are really beautiful, too. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    June 14, 2017
    • Thank you Tonya …. the nuns are quite delightful and, I agree their life is appealing though possibly not the teeth! I love walking in the Cézallier which has a mournful, desolate air which I find very calming. You are far too kind about my pictures … I am always in awe of your eye behind the camera! Xo

      Liked by 1 person

      June 15, 2017
      • I really appreciate your compliment regarding my photography. I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures. Thank you so much, Osyth. And, I agree with you about the nuns and their teeth. 😉 Have a wonderful weekend!

        Liked by 1 person

        June 16, 2017
  2. I loved your dissertation…and that first picture is simply gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

    June 14, 2017
    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. I was a little tentative about writing it because I felt the balance was difficult to achieve and I didn’t want to come across as an intolerant beast! That picture is one of my favourites … I love the big cloud with it’s big open mouth ….

      Liked by 3 people

      June 15, 2017
  3. Like you, we get a lot of the punks à chien and many of them are thoroughly obnoxious. Even if they weren’t dealing they would be. The young homeless who happen to have dogs tend not to be of the same kidney at all but they don’t live in packs or wear the paramilitary gear like the punks. I try to give everyone a fair chance to prove themselves one way or another, but I make an exception for punks à chien. They don’t want to be treated as individuals. They want to inspire fear and loathing. They enjoy watching people cross to the other side of the street to avoid them because they present a united and offensive face. They need clearing off the streets and sending home to ma and pa.

    Liked by 3 people

    June 14, 2017
    • You are, of course right, that some of the genuinely needy have dogs. They don’t wear the same clothes and you only have to look into their eyes to see that they are really in need. I help them. Of course I do. I had my third daughter to stay a few weeks ago. I was interested to see what her take would be because she is a definite hippie living in Bristol (a positive bohemian hive these days) – she works, as do all her friends and she does volunteer care work with the elderly as do many of them and the rest of the time she is an unashamed sybarite as they all are and that is just fine. She picked off the genuine instantly and was condemning of the parasites . It made me feel a little better about my reactions. My husband has gone off to work delighting in the expression ‘punks a chien’ … this will, I think be bandied about liberally by him! And your solution – exactly right except that ma and pa will probably refuse to have them back!

      Liked by 1 person

      June 15, 2017
      • You’re rightt, you can recognize the type by the uniform, and as with all people who wear unifroms (especially through choice) it’s with the intention of behaving in exactly the same way as the camarades. As far as I know, punk à chien is the generally accepted term to describe these unsavoury characters. I get on well with the local sdfs with their dogs, but they are their own dogs, not borrowed like the Gypsies borrow children sometimes for begging purposes. This world is messed up. I do hope that a bit of national prosperity that Jupiter (Macron) is going to create will be shared out with these people.

        Liked by 1 person

        June 15, 2017
      • He came back for lunch and reported that this indeed the vernacular! I remember when my youngest was EMO her elder sisters and I laughed quietly about her uniform which she thought so individual. I was probably the same during my punk époque….

        There is no comparison between the sdfs and their dogs and the brigade who pass the dogs about with no care simply to fleece the unsuspecting or intimidated.

        Jupiter ( 😂) has his hands full and I imagine he is just beginning to realise how heavy the burden …

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        June 15, 2017
      • That’s what is so endearing about the young. They are absolutely ridiculous, but they don’t realise it until so many years later it isn’t embarrassing.
        Glad to have expanded your vocabulary 🙂 I’ll ask the kids the name of the white cretins who wear dreadlocks and Jesus sandals. I’m sure they have a neat disparaging word for them.
        Jupiter is keeping his announcements to the strict minimum, learning from the raz-le-bol of the public with Sarkozy’s rapid fire bulletins, every time he had a bowel movement…

        Liked by 1 person

        June 15, 2017
      • You have me snorting with laughter at that last para! I shall look forward to the next snappy instalment in my vocabulary lessons! And the young? Exactly exactly that …. how delightful their are in their ridiculousness 😊

        Like

        June 15, 2017
      • According to son (I’ve just asked) they come under the general ‘Roots’ umbrella which is itself sufficiently disparaging in his book.

        Liked by 1 person

        June 15, 2017
      • Excellent. Duly noted!

        Like

        June 15, 2017
      • 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        June 15, 2017
  4. I’m so glad to hear that the civic leaders of Grenoble have more compassion than those in my city– or indeed my country. Our government continues to deny that there is even a problem of homelessness despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It’s terrifying to witness this “if I say it often enough, people will believe it” approach to politics and truth.

    I’m off this morning to help a friend sort blankets for distribution to families who, basically, don’t have the means to keep warm. This isn’t a formal charity; but two artists who recognised the need and have decided they can’t stand by and watch others suffer. They have developed an amazing network of people who donate and collect blankets, bedding, warm clothes, etc and now have use of a warehouse from which to distribute it. Your nuns remind me of my friends in that both have a vision, and labour hard to achieve it, accepting the sacrifices and privations that come with that.

    Liked by 2 people

    June 14, 2017
    • First of all, I LOVE your friends. Homelessness is an issue, a huge issue. For a government to deny it is akin to a school saying ‘we have no bullying’ … it is naive and cruel. Do you know about ‘The Big Issue’? It was started many years ago by an English fellow. They produce a magazine and the homeless sell it. It costs a couple of pounds and most Brits will take it as a sign that the person is genuinely homeless. They keep the money they make and it is strictly accounted for. In this way they at least have the means to pay for hostel accommodation and a meal. Many have got right back on their feet through this initiative. I attach a link for you. I also attach this link to the Charity in Grenoble https://www.samu-social-grenoble.fr/ – it’s in French, of course but you can see that they are basically doing what you and your friends are doing. Crucially you can report a person to them if you think they may be in need and they will be visited and chatted to and given provisions. We also have Les Restos de Coeur France-wide which has been going for years. Volunteers pick up food from restaurants and also put boxes out in supermarkets for people to drop food donations in and distribute them. It is also law in France that food is not thrown away from supermarkets and restaurants but rather that it is distributed via food banks. For all her swinging and swerving politics, France is a socialist country at heart. Keep doing what you are doing, you have my love and respect and this is the link to Big Issue http://www.bigissue.com/about/ xx

      Liked by 4 people

      June 15, 2017
      • Thanks Osyth. I think The Big Issue is a brilliant initiative. We lived in England when it was founded. I buy a copy whenever I see a seller n Melbourne, but we don’t have it here in NZ sadly. We do have a few organizations that collect and distribute food from restaurants and supermarkets, and Community Fruit Harvesting (http://www.pickfruit.co.nz/), for unwanted fruit and veg. But I suspect any law change will be in the “too hard” basket for our idiot governors. You are right; France is a socialist country, and NZ used to be one too — I think that’s why my parents came here.

        Yesterday was totally exhausting; not so much physically (though lugging bags of blankets is hard on my soft office-worker arms) but emotionally. We were putting together packages for families based on what various community workers (public health nurses, etc) had asked for. Trying to make life a little bit more livable for five kids sharing two single beds, and a family with a disabled daughter living in a car, no power, no running water ….. And these are people that “the system” is aware of; who have case workers and visits from nurses. One of the things I do feel good about is that my friends insist on doing as much as possible to give dignity along with goods. I’m OCD at the best of times, and had expected to be chided for trying to colour co-ordinate the care packages, but I fitted right in. We worked really hard to make sure that the children were getting new and nice things and that all the kids in a family got packages. The philosophy is the opposite of “beggars can’t be choosers” and it made my heart sing. Many of the children we were packaging stuff up for have never, ever had anything new in their lives. Luckily, a lot of the donations have been from companies offering surplus stock, and people going out and buying new things. It kind of makes up for the people who use “donation” as a synonym for “getting rid of the rubbish, free.”

        Sorry to rave at you. I guess this is something we both feel very strongly about.

        Liked by 1 person

        June 16, 2017
      • Do NOT apologise for your excitement. I am so happy to read this. Chapeau to you all for a fantastic job and to the donors who understand the need to dignify by giving nice things not garbage. And colour coding the care packages? I would 😉

        Like

        June 16, 2017
  5. I so relate to the need for peaceful retreat, away from the confines of a society engrossed in it’s self gratification. Too many who want without work, feel entitled but no gifts, they put upon others to “Pay their fair share” then stand there in line for a cut from the masses. I ask nothing of others but the space to live, the respect of human kindness that gives all what really matters.

    Liked by 2 people

    June 14, 2017
    • I thought of you when I was writing this because you absolutely exemplify what I am saying. And you know I, too aspire to that peaceful unobtrusive life. The punks with dogs are bullies and bullying is not tolerable. Here’s to our future, my friend and those shared moments either side of the ocean!

      Liked by 2 people

      June 15, 2017
  6. It looks very peaceful. I can see why they seeked solitude there. I would 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    June 15, 2017
    • Me too. I walk there often when I am home in Cantal and I always come away thinking I want to just find a hovel and a piece of land and get on with my dream! I hope you are going on well … I think of you often. Namaste my friend 🙏🏼

      Liked by 1 person

      June 15, 2017
      • You are blessed 🙂 A gorgeous place! Things are going in the right direction. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        June 15, 2017
      • I am and I try not to forget it. I think that is one of the most important things – to acknowledge daily what we do have and not to dwell on what we perceive we don’t 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        June 16, 2017
  7. No pleaders with dogs here…just poor buggers who came seeking work who end up sleeping on the streets.
    I saw those whom you describe on my last visit to London…cleary an organised gang.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 15, 2017
    • Suzie Kelly posted a bit on Facebook from the Mayor of Hastings who has a real problem with the same he said that they prefer to come and do their dirty work in a pretty place than where they have come from. I get enraged with the treatment of the dogs – my youngest daughter (quite a feisty young thing) had to be pinned down on the tram when she saw one of them forcing the dog into a crucifix position. London has a very big problem. As Jane Dougherty comments, they need to be cleared up and sent back to ma and pa! Hope you are well and hope you wouldn’t mind if I send you a ‘Friend’ request on FaceBook … I have a select few of my blogging buddies on their and I promise I am nothing of a nuisance! Quite the hermit, actually ….

      Liked by 1 person

      June 15, 2017
      • Next time don`t restrain her….!
        Feel free re FB….I`m not very good at it, I fear: you are in for videos of streams in the rainy season and volcanos puffing away…

        Liked by 1 person

        June 15, 2017
      • Oh I don’t claim to be good at FaceBook – I think your videos of volcanos sound very exciting! As for restraining her … no I won’t if there is a next time. In fact if there is a next time and she isn’t there I shan’t restrain myself.

        Liked by 1 person

        June 15, 2017
  8. Solitude versus community, it can be difficult at times. I love your photos.

    Liked by 2 people

    June 15, 2017
    • I juggle with the problem daily … thank you for the compliment on my pictures … I come from an exclusive school of photography called ‘Myopic point and shoot’!!

      Liked by 2 people

      June 15, 2017
      • Oh, very exclusive indeed 🙂 I also struggle with the whole solitude v. community as well, and I think most people do on some level, it is part of the restlessness that makes us human.

        Liked by 2 people

        June 16, 2017
      • Yes, I’m sure that is so … very well put 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        June 16, 2017
  9. A rant and a ramble, entertaining and provocative as always. So glad, Osyth, that there will be no getting of thee to a nunnery…although your depiction of the nuns in your local ‘monastery’ is fascinating. That copper steeple!

    Liked by 3 people

    June 15, 2017
    • It was a difficult one and has, in truth been sitting in draft for a few weeks. Getting the balance was tricky and I’m not certain I achieved it but as a friend of my husband’s remarked once ‘you have to know when enough is good enough’ … so publish and be damned. I had number three daughter staying a few weeks ago. She is very much the hippie and lives in Bristol which these days is a bohemian hive. She and her friends all work at standard jobs and all volunteer with charities and all in their spare time lead a thoroughly sybaritic life! I was interested in her take on what I see here. And what relieved me was that she went exactly the same way. Picking out the real homeless, asking what help they get, and as Jane Dougherty rightly points out some of those do have dogs! But condemning of the punks that threaten and menace and rule the streets. It is a difficult issue. And the nuns? I will spend some time with them at some point … I have an introduction from the fellow whose house we considered. He knows them well and his daughter worked with them illuminating some scriptures (in Russian!). I find them quite compelling – whenever I walk past I think of Brecht’s Mother Courage for some reason. The steeple, they made themselves. Extraordinaire!

      Liked by 3 people

      June 15, 2017
  10. A heartful young soul wrote this delicate lyre piece . Above any asperity a soft breeze caresses the unexpecting reader ..

    Liked by 1 person

    June 15, 2017
    • Thank you so much Phil. That is a beautiful comment … one that I ma

      Like

      June 15, 2017
    • One that I will keep tucked snugly in my heart ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      June 15, 2017
  11. Fabulous post. Evocative, diverse and thoughtful as all your posts are.

    Don’t get me started on faux abris avec chiens. Dog used as begging and intimidation tool?

    I too have skated perilously close to homeless, once actually so, and so I have zero patience with those who do so as a cheap lifestyle tribal sheep swallowing someone’s daft rebel pose choice. We have a fair bit of this in towns near here and it’s a stain on this place, which is my sanctuary.

    As my daughter would say, that REALLY grates my cheese.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 15, 2017
    • Thank you so much. I was really worried about publishing this but I seem to have been understood (I wondered if I would be branded a Nazi!!). The Faux Abris exist all over France. We had a friend here from Valance recently and she said it is identical. They are a scourge and you are right it stains the place that we should be able to call our sanctuary. What really gets my goat is the fact that those in real need are masked by these vile pests. I had a moment of pride the other day. I had to go to one of the main places to use the cashpoint as my normal one was out of order. There was a girl, all dolled up in her tribal uniform with a mournful dog beside her. I have come across her before and she is particularly agressive. Straight into my face she grinned like a chimp and said ‘bonjoooour’ – I’m six foot and it was 90 degrees and I was in a hurry to get to the market. Oh and I’d just cleared up a Bean poo and chucked in the bin. Good mood. Not. My eyes flashed and I replied ‘BonJOUR et BonJOURNEE’ … she actually fell back with shock and the five people who passed her as I used the cash point used my same technique. I felt a little Victory … because it is a battle and it should not be. Those of us who have felt the coldest of nights facing or actually living homeless know that fact. X

      Liked by 2 people

      June 15, 2017
  12. Oh, that copper roof, I love it. I wonder if they travel for work. Probably not: misses the point.

    The homeless workers I knew in Los Angeles talked about the “have nots,” the people who hit a rough patch in their lives and just need a hand to get going again; the “can nots,” which is generally to say the mentally ill, though of course it can include the physically disabled, of which both groups need some sort of permanent care; and the “will nots,” your faux abris, someone else’s punks à chien. Their own families try and fail and eventually just won’t take them back. The homeless workers tried to avoid dealing with them, as they will endlessly and shamelessly suck up every last bit of the scarce resources available. Also, the punks are so visible; they blot out the view of people who genuinely need and deserve assistance, thus making donations even scarcer. Bravo for wading into that mess; I have nothing but admiration for the people I met, my clients, who knew the odds against their success and perservered, nonetheless. The punks, nah, terrible to say, but the ones I have known over the years never grow out of it; they either have OD’d or drained the pockets and compassion of those around them under they finally die. I have no idea what the solution might be.

    Liked by 2 people

    June 15, 2017
    • Isn’t it a honey? Sadly, I think they are very much static …

      Your friends in LA have those tags exactly right and I will steal them with a certainty. The punks … I have no solution (none that would take off because my solutions would be quite draconian and would involve forced labour). You are absolutely right when you say that this scourge masks the real problem and leaves those in real need with less. I can’t just stand by and let people suffer … there but for the grace of something or other went I and I know just how easy it is. My husband’s oldest friend says ‘we are all, always only two steps from the gutter as we walk through this life’ … he is right.

      Liked by 1 person

      June 15, 2017
      • The comments are as insightful as your post, and Bizyella gets the “will nots” exactly right. It’s the angry, in-your-face aggressiveness that makes it impossible to shrug and say live and let live. They want everyone else to bow to them, to make way for the big dog (as someone who is terrified of dogs, I will go blocks out of my way, not just cross the street). It’s “look at what we can get away with.”

        Liked by 3 people

        June 15, 2017
      • I’m delighted at the commentary thread on this one. I was really bothered about making the post but it seems that it is a subject that people have much of great merit to talk about. Bizzy’s comment nails it absolutely perfectly. I love dogs and am fortunate in never having had cause to be afraid of them. But even I am alarmed by some of them so for one who is genuinely scared it must be dreadful. I’m sorry you have to put up with it. It should not be that way. It is a matter of one group being allowed to rule the roost and the rest can go rot.

        Liked by 3 people

        June 15, 2017
  13. Right from the very first line this is very beautifully written, Osyth. The aggressive beggars make me angry, too. The contrasts you draw between the different groups of people here are most eloquent. Great photos, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 15, 2017
    • Thank you so much Derrick … that means an awful lot. I did struggle with publishing this one as I did want to get the balance right. It seems my sentiments are shared by many. What really incenses me is that these agressive beggars (good description) mask the real issue and leave those in real need with less. Grrr!

      Liked by 1 person

      June 15, 2017
  14. I am blessed to live in a small place in a small state where I do not see this type of occurrence. Yes, there are still people who are homeless (in fact, I am pretty sure I saw a man this morning who was, – walking with purpose with his pack on his back, a fishing rod, and his supermarket bags coming off our city domain – I saw him with all this yesterday too walking the street), but I don’t see packs of “yobbo” homeless. Still, I don’t spend much time in the city, and the countryside lets things like this hide better I guess. A it is with any “generalisation” those who are genuine are often overshadowed by those who are not – a sad indictment of our society. I have no answers, except, do what you can, when you can, and don’t fall into the trap of lumping everyone into the same judgemental boat (and that can be very difficult not to do).
    Well written as always Osyth, and I defy anyone to think you a “Nazi” – you have a great sense of compassion, and use it accordingly and wisely.

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    June 15, 2017
    • I think part of my issue is that I normally live a much quieter life in the country so it has been a shock to be in a city and see it warts and all. Your fellow sounds like a man in genuine need to me. I agree that we should not lump everyone into one overarching judgement. I tend to be a Mrs Do As YOu Would be Done By in respect of feeling that if I dont want to be pigeon holed or treated in a particular way on account of who knows what then I shouldn’t do the same to others. I’m glad I am not a Nazi. It was a concern!!

      Liked by 1 person

      June 18, 2017
      • You are a wonderful, wonderful person Osyth – you could never be less than you are, or how you choose yourself to be. I don’t like the city, even if ours is a very small one, I can only seem to relax and breath properly here int he country.

        Liked by 2 people

        June 20, 2017
      • I understand that perfectly 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        June 20, 2017
  15. Goodness Osyth you covered a lot of ground in one post. I love the monastery and it’s seclusion. I remember enjoying The Good Life on television and aspiring to be self sufficient.
    Homelessness is indeed such a complex issue. I am a huge animal lover and hate to hear of animals being abused and mistreated. I saw a lovely article on Facebook recently about a number of homeless men who refused permanent accommodation as pets were not allowed and they adored their dogs. Of course there will always be exceptions…

    Liked by 2 people

    June 15, 2017
    • I am sure I read about an initiative in one or other British city whereby animal shelters were working with homeless charities and placing dogs WITH homeless people. It gave them a purpose and there were several very good results. Ironically, I know that numbers of animals are abandoned in Britain precisely because landlords refuse to let people rent with their pets. Such knotty problems. The Good Life appealed back then and still itches me now!!

      Liked by 1 person

      June 15, 2017
      • I hope for a day when all animals will be treated with kindness. Perhaps a bit idealistic but..

        Liked by 2 people

        June 15, 2017
      • Never stop hoping. I don’t and I won’t. Ever.

        Liked by 1 person

        June 15, 2017
  16. Lovely, intelligently argued writing, as always. The juxtaposition of selfless and selfish behaviour is striking, and is, sadly, all too prevalent everywhere. Beautiful photographs, too xx

    Liked by 1 person

    June 15, 2017
    • Thank you, Clive. You are ever too kind. Selfishness and selflessness exist everywhere. Would that I could wave that wand and stop it ….

      The photos are easy – it’s a lovely place 😉 xx

      Liked by 1 person

      June 15, 2017
      • You’re so right. Whilst our government struggles on in its selfish lust for power, true selflessness was in abundant display yesterday in response to the Grenfell Tower fire. I don’t think we can really change the bad parts, though – they were born that way and won’t change xx

        Liked by 1 person

        June 15, 2017
      • Sadly, as idealistic as I am, I have to agree. Politicians are generally horribly self-serving – the sad thing is that we seem to accept that. The fire was shockingly tragic. I am glad, though entirely unsurprised that it invoked the best of behaviour in its wake. Xx

        Liked by 1 person

        June 15, 2017
  17. Oh! How I missed your wonderful writing, Osyth! I simply adore those nuns – to live self-productive always appealed to me very much, although I´m quite sure, I would pathetically fail being a city girl all my life 😉 Your pictures are extremely beautiful and capture the landscape and its sense of open wideness and beauty perfectly! It´s a delight for sunburned eyes (yes, I did it again, forgot my sunglasses that is and am now hiding away from the sun like my little Count Harecula 😉 ) and a perfect way to enjoy sunlight without squinting my eyes! 😀
    Your story about the elderly lady in the tram touched me very much – I witness the same kind of behavior nearly everyday here in Berlin and always make a point to offer my seat. It´s just what my mum taught me today and I´m always baffled that no one else seems to have done the same… or maybe they just conveniently forgot, or don´t care, I don´t know. It makes me wish for times when men always offered their seat a woman, although I never actually lived in them…
    The homeless situation is a very big issue here too as you can imagine! I know the kind one bands you´re talking of, actually I ran into them everytime I go to the supermarket. And I admire how the administration of Grenoble tries to make the situation better!
    Wish you a very lovely, sunny weekend! Grosses bises! xxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    June 15, 2017
    • I long to be self-sufficient but the sensible bit in me does accept that it will probably only ever be rather less than semi-self sufficient! The nuns are amazing – they delight and astound me. The lady on the train is just one example as you clearly know from your experience in Berlin. What infuriates me most is the pretending not to see that there is someone in need. A man gallumphed onto the Tram yesterday (he actually looked like Molière but not in his attire) and sat down. Behind him a lady older than me and her mother. The poor old thing could barely stand up. Did he give up his seat? Of course not! He sat looking at his phone and pretending not to see. Fortunately a woman saw the old thing’s plight and gave up hers. But it is all around us and I just don’t understand. I refuse to think that only your mum and mine taught decency and manners!

      Homelessness is a dreadful issue … I think the initiative here could easily be replicated in other places. But I guess it takes a willingness.

      Now rest those eyes Countess Harecula … I’m glad my pictures soothed your sore eyes!

      xxxxxxxxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

      June 15, 2017
      • Aww – how you made me smile by calling me Countess Harecula! 🙂 Though I fear there´s another lady rivaling me for his affections 😉

        I would love to visit those nuns one day, I´ve always been fascinated by people trying to live self-sufficient. But I think I would already be (quite) happy with a couple of hens for eggs and maybe a sheep and a goat or two 😉 And a cow. And while we´re at it, I´d also love to have some horses, cats, rabbits, dogs… well, you get the idea 😉
        The man you mentioned has countless clones in Berlin as well, and like you I get so angry when I observe this kind of behavior. I watch it happen everyday – a man jumps on the train and takes the last vacant seat before any woman, no matter what her age, pretending to be only eyes and ears for his phone. And it is always the women who offer their seat another woman, isn´t it? I think I would probably faint if I were to witness a man giving his seat up for a little old lady. Quite likely would make a little video of it and put it online! 😉 Ah, well, I´m sure there are still mannered folks who walk upon this earth, but they certainly don´t live here… What a shame though…

        Wish you a beautiful weekend, with perfect blue sky and lovely sunshine!
        xxxxxxxxxxxx

        Liked by 2 people

        June 16, 2017
      • Haha! Your litany of animals recited like that echoes exactly what I announce regularly is ‘all I want … no more’ (except that I always include a pig and infact my eldest daughter told my husband, when we first met, that if he was serious about winning me, he needed to buy me a pig. He thought she was joking!!!)

        As to men and manners … Jane Austen would have a thing or too to say, I fear 😉

        You too have a glorious weekend. And no burning eyelids or anything else please xxxxxxxxxxx

        Liked by 2 people

        June 16, 2017
      • Haha! We´re kindred spirits indeed! 😀
        And, did he buy you a pig? 😉 He must have otherwise you wouldn’t´t have married him 😀
        Actually the list of animals could go on and on, but I wanted to appear as modest as much as I could 😉 And pigs are definitely on it as well! And Alpacas, and … 😉
        Actually I dream a bit of doing it like William Morris who wanted to own his own sheep in order to dye the wool himself for his glorious tapestries – not that I want to make tapestries, although… No, I think normal knitting will do 😉 But I was always fascinated by this artist since I first learned about him, such passion for detail and yearning for self-sufficiency.

        Much love! xxxxxxxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

        June 17, 2017
      • Not a real pig …. yet 😉 but plenty of piggy bits and bobs. and nonsense. I used to live very near Kelmscott in Oxfordshire … William Morris is another minor obsession of mine. You know how it is! xxxxxxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

        June 17, 2017
      • Ah, then you will know all about him! I long to visit Kelmscott Manor someday! I´m ridiculously passionate about the Arts and Crafts movement 🙂 xxxxxxxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

        June 18, 2017
      • You must make it there. It is idyllic. Arts and Crafts Heaven, of course! Xxxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

        June 18, 2017
  18. Ah, Osyth — I read this last night with the din of people around me and then again in the quiet of the morning. I love your writing. You open my eyes, my heart, and my mind.

    This morning, as I reread (again! — yes, a 3rd read-through), I opened a tab in google maps so I could see where you were. I would love to explore all of France — to see the nuns’ barn and your town of Grenoble.

    But I sit here, struggling to write an appropriate response.

    I, most unfortunately, have never known want. I always have food in the cupboard. I always have a bed. Sometimes that makes me feel quite guilty. Why should I have been thus blessed?

    Our cars are old, but we have cars. Our house needs repairs, but we have a house. As my brother says when something goes wrong, “At least I have feet to put my shoes on,” or “At least I don’t live in Syria.”

    But how to help the addict? I don’t know. We ran into a relative, strung-out, on her birthday. She was at Walmart, trying to buy food, but they wouldn’t let her write a check because she had previously bounced there. We bought her groceries, gave her a hug, and a kiss. She wept and promised to pay us back every penny. She vowed she was going to do better. And off she went. I sat in the car and cried.

    Life is too complicated. I think that’s why the nuns’ lifestyle looks so appealing.

    Liked by 3 people

    June 15, 2017
    • So for the avoidance of doubt … I am in Grenoble for now (and it will be for a while longer) but normally I am in le Cantal which is the place I have called home since I moved to France. The nuns are near a place called Marcenat and I would steer you to them in a heartbeat. They are so soothing. My France is ‘la France Profonde’ … the deepest depths of no-where. That is probably why I am so wide-eyed at urban issues as I find them in Grenoble. Which is also a really beautiful place and a place I could happily settle near. So long as I had enough space around me to be a little hermit! Now to you. Here’s the thing … you have been fortunate but that is not something to be sorry about when you so clearly appreciate what you have. I imagine that this is partly your nature and partly the experience you have had in life. Your brother has it right. And when we are being perfect we all remember those truths. Your relative has me weeping. Your response was beautiful but it is the desparation to try and change when to change means slaying a vicious creature that dwells within that slices my heart. Addiction is a dreadful issue. I have no answers except to do as you did and I can’t do it for everyone. These are the only times I wish for riches. When faced with the cruel reality of lives that I can’t help because I simply don’t have enough to go around. Life is too complicated. The nuns’ life is appealing. And you have a beautiful spirit. Go softly dear Sally.

      Liked by 4 people

      June 15, 2017
  19. You’ve said what so may of us are thinking, I am sure. Where it used to be easy to help those needing it, ‘begging’ with or without accessories has become a business, a racket. Such a shame when there are still those who need assistance but are tarred with a brush thanks to the interlopers

    Liked by 1 person

    June 15, 2017
    • Thank you. I did worry about posting this but from the reaction it has had it is clear that I am not alone in my feelings. Far from it. What is infuriating is that it is clearly impossible for the powers that be to deal with the scourge and as you say, it means that those that really need help are getting an even tougher deal as people struggle to decipher whether or not they are genuine.

      Like

      June 15, 2017
  20. Well written Osyth!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    June 15, 2017
  21. Nice piece! I miss Grenoble terribly (yes even with its unpleasant stuff).

    p.s. matahari means sun in my native language (mata=eye and hari=day so sun is literally the eye of the day :-P)

    Liked by 1 person

    June 15, 2017
    • Grenoble quickly gets under your skin …. I love it here and shall be sad when the end comes. Thank you for the clarification of matahari …. I love that ☀️

      Like

      June 15, 2017
  22. Excellent piece. I was so excited to see your first “fresh” post since the completion of my poking about in your archives, only to discover that the lovely people above have already covered all the talking points that popped in my head whilst perusing your words. I am left with mere crumbs of thought, but I shall address them with vigor. The Monastere Orthodoxe Znamenie sounds lovely, although the truculent weather strikes fear in the anxiety-prone part of me. (But as long as the turbulence does not include tornadoes, I suppose I could soldier through.) I, too, yearn for simplistic quiet.

    As for the “professional” panhandlers, I cannot begin to express how much they irk me. They are quite common in my area of Dallas, and their aggressive expectation quashes even the tiniest flame of sympathy. I am strongly socialist, always have been, and I regularly do what I can in legitimate situations. But it is quite a challenge to be humane when dealing with those who have willfully set aside their humanity.

    (Final note to self: Keep a better eye on Osyth’s posting activity so you can pounce with more alacrity. It’s no fun being in the caboose of the comment train..)

    Liked by 2 people

    June 15, 2017
    • It’s the actual Nunning that strikes fear in the anxiety-prone part of me. Your vigor is undamped and your comment is worthy of a far loftier carriage than caboose. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      June 16, 2017
  23. Just brilliant…. I enjoyed your way of presentation….a seasoned writer….there is a lot to learn…..

    Liked by 1 person

    June 16, 2017
  24. I remember them well, one asked me for some change, holding the bottom of a Volvic bottle as a recipient, claiming she was collecting for AIDS research: I told her to scram, I was more broke than her anyway. I can’t believe they are still around! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    June 16, 2017
    • I had one yesterday, eating out of a nice big paper bag full of apricots (they are around 3-4 euros a kilo at the mo) …. Shoved a plastic cup in my hand and asked for change. I said ‘désolée- non. Mais pouvez-vous me donner un abricot?’ He tutted and walked off stuffing her gob and on to the next potential victim. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      June 16, 2017
      • There was a couple in Rennes, it was getting pretty heated up at times. A big difference between the homeless and them… I never liked them, too aggressive, pretending to be in marge of society voluntarily, yet so so very dependent of it… Pass 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        June 17, 2017
  25. Thank you Osyth, for a beautiful post. I am late on reading and I appreciate your words. I hope all is well with you my friend. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    June 16, 2017
    • Terry, I am very touched that you have read this. Thank you. And yes, worry not. All is well. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      June 16, 2017
  26. There are behaviors displayed in all groups of humans I’m intolerant of. That’s when I set boundaries. That doesn’t make me a beast, nor does it you. The extended problem with intolerance is… defining and judging the entire group from one person’s poor and intolerant behavior. “All it takes is one bad apple.” Generalized assumptions of the homeless are prevalent in many of the communities within the U.S. It can be a difficult barrier to break through. It seems to be a burden that a number of homeless individuals and families have accepted as apart of their existence. Not by choice of course. Sorry, I don’t mean to preach. Great post! Tough topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 16, 2017
    • I’m very glad you enjoyed the post … it is, indeed a tough topic. I think you know well where I stand on real homelessness. And the issues that put people there. And the lack of compassion shown by societies the world over. The bad apples are a real problem for numbers of reasons but most especially because they taint the real barrel and confuse people into not wanting to help anyone. And you can preach all you like. I agree with every word!

      Liked by 1 person

      June 17, 2017
  27. Yes, I know your heart. Anyone would be fortunate to have you as an advocate, a friend or an online buddy.
    My position on the growing population of the homeless is not written in stone. I’m open to more real time information.
    Although, at this very moment if I were asked to stand up & speak out for the homeless, I would not. If I were asked to stand up & speak out for all of your readers that have commented on this post, I would not. I have experienced and seen the worst of both sides. Humans representing the ugliest of all traits. Because of my current stance, I view the homeless as a group, alike most labeled groups, a reflection of our society today.
    If I were to venture a guess, I would say that over 50% of the homeless individuals DO NOT care about you, their family, the person that handed them money or their fellow human. It is all ABOUT SELF. Anything goes and every other creature, two legged and four legged, are fair game. The homeless existence is manipulative and dangerous. I use the word existence because, it is not by any definition a LIFE.
    Addiction amongst the homeless is rampant. Suppliers are making bank off of the homeless pocket areas. In the end, the only thing that will matter, is the drug.
    In the minority are the homeless individuals and families that are desperately in need of many helping hands to get off of the streets. FIND THEM…
    Gotta go Osyth. Please take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 17, 2017
  28. “A murmur of nuns”–nice… Crappy story about the louts on the tram who didn’t give up a seat for an old lady. One of the things that I like to brag about concerning France is that even the nastiest-looking banlieuard (spelling?) will give up his seat on the metro for an old lady or a pregnant woman–maybe it’s just a Paris thing, or maybe your louts were just atypically enfoirés…

    Liked by 2 people

    June 18, 2017
    • Many of them are not French. I’m proud of my tolerant nature and protect it fiercely but these people test the limit of my untapped reserve limits. Glad you liked the murmur of nuns 🙂

      Like

      June 18, 2017
  29. …let’s hope the latter!

    Liked by 1 person

    June 18, 2017
  30. A post for the age Osyth; thought provoking in every way as always. Juxtaposition of Nuns and not changing your habit I assume was not accidental 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    June 19, 2017
    • It was deliberate … poor puns are my thing! As is my determination to try and help those that really need help. My conscience will have it no other way 😊

      Liked by 2 people

      June 19, 2017
  31. It is a conundrum, Osyth. I have volunteered at homeless shelters and worked hard to find mentally ill people a safe home. Once in Vancouver, I bought some homeless Native teenagers a bag of food for them and their dog. Then I told them off for being selfish to the poor dog who needed a decent home. They said ‘they were free’. In Houston, I now keep gift cards for fast food places. They usually say thank you (most of them are mentally ill, addicted or drifters) but you can tell they wanted money. Thank you for your kindness and, like you, I dare not tangle with nuns. “Nuns, Nuns! Reverse!”

    Liked by 2 people

    June 19, 2017
    • It is a dilemma. The thing that I find most difficult is that those that my friend above describes as the ‘will nots’ mask the very real needs of the ‘can nots’ and the ‘have nots’. I don’t have the answers … of course this life is ‘free’ in civilised communities but I do think that certain streams take that to extremes! Nuns, nuns! Reverse! Has me in stitches!!

      Liked by 1 person

      June 20, 2017
      • You are so right – most cannot achieve a stable life but the flashy phone crew are taking advantage of us all. I miss Father Ted…

        Liked by 1 person

        June 20, 2017
      • Oh SO do I!!

        Liked by 1 person

        June 20, 2017
  32. Many bloggers can tell a story, but few do it as interestingly as you do here. You make a reading a relatively long post seem like time more than well spent.

    Liked by 2 people

    June 20, 2017
    • Mistermuse, many bloggers can make a comment but few can make on that stops me in my tracks and makes me feel a genuine glow of pleasure when I read the words. I thank you most profoundly for making me smile and feel that occasionally I may be of some tiny value in this life.

      Liked by 1 person

      June 21, 2017
      • WHAT IS THIS? “and feel that occasionally I may be of some tiny value in this life.”
        What is the response YOU give when someone else makes a statement like that? “SHUTUP!!!”

        Like

        June 21, 2017
  33. As always my friend, I love your writing…oh to live on a hill in France in a simply style as the Nuns…..would I tire and feel the need to move on, probably as I am sure I have gypsy blood flowing through my veins…LOL but what a lovely, peaceful life….not to ask or bother with the outside world but to a minimum…..I would have to call that sweet bliss….as far as the homeless…I agree that no one should have to sleep under or on cardboard and the community should be there for them, we have the same group of young people here, they call themselves the Rainbow People and want to live off the land, well not there own land of course, or pay for use of it.. or the water they use, and lets not talk about hygiene, they are ruining creeks and water ways on private land….and yes they all have dogs….under fed, under loved….I have bought food for the animals, happily…but as far as these people who are taking advantage of people…they should be locked up or put on a island to fend for themselves….can you tell I have an opinion about these thuds…LOL love your post….xxXXxx

    Liked by 1 person

    June 21, 2017
    • I am regularly challenged by a Canadian friend who you will see from time to time on FaceBook about my own Gypsy soul. He says I will never settle, I say I crave one place … who knows whose right – I guess the fun is finding out. As for the Rainbow People – I’d be very draconian in my treatment if I ruled the world. And I would look after all the dogs! Xxxx

      Like

      June 22, 2017
      • Oh yes definitely take care of the animals of the world especially mans best friends…,nothing wrong with being a gypsy….keeps things interesting for sure, however like you I am always saying I like to stay in one place….LOL

        Liked by 1 person

        June 22, 2017
      • It must be the moon …. 😉

        Like

        June 22, 2017
      • I am certain of it….so whats up sister, you stuck in Europe again??? Fighting with INS…..?

        Liked by 1 person

        June 22, 2017
      • Yup. Just got a notification that they sent a request for evidence. By post. To my address 6 hours from here. Refuse to divulge it in an email. What evidence? Inside leg measurement? Have I ever kissed a frog? Who knows. All a glorious mystery (!) ….. who cares that I can’t plan a single Bluddy thing? Xx

        Like

        June 22, 2017
      • I am so sorry…..they probably would like to know what the species is of the frog…make sure to include that…LOL I hate dealing with bureaucracy….hope you get it all sorted….

        Liked by 1 person

        June 23, 2017
      • As you know, I say nothing of this on my blog or FaceBook but it is hard. Your kindness means the world to me. And your humour. Species of Frog 🐸 😂 All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well. In the end. Whether I am still alive at this point is debatable …. bureaucracy has a habit of eroding the will to live!!

        Like

        June 23, 2017
      • Now Now, I am sure that is one of those situations that in the future when your in that rocking chair looking back over your life and you laugh out loud and everyone around you give you that look….yup she’s a little whack a doodle….LOL I totally understand about the need for privacy….keep dancing in the moon light, the Goddess of the night will smile down upon you…. xxxkat

        Liked by 1 person

        June 23, 2017
      • You are, of course right and worry not, I’m dancing!!! 🌙 xx

        Liked by 1 person

        June 23, 2017
  34. Great article which really seems to have struck a chord. I’m fortunate enough to live in a country which, in my hour of need, housed me under homeless legislation from where I went on to gain a degree and work with homeless single mothers and young people for a number of years in two countries. You’re right to say it’s a hugely complex issue. I guess the thing to remember is that the same greedy and self-centred economic system that creates the genuinely homeless also creates the selfish and aggressive bullies who mimic them. If you put these people in a suit and in a boardroom or executive position in a multi-national corporation you probably couldn’t tell the difference. But there is a difference. As a society we laud the boardroom bullies, stand by while they collect huge salaries and bonuses for carrying out exploitation of the vulnerable on a massive scale, just as long as they’re making money for their shareholders. I think there’s more than the streets that need clearing out 🙂
    I very much enjoyed hearing about the fiercely independent nuns and the blast of Amy and Greta at the end 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    June 25, 2017
    • You make a very valid point. This was an article about a particular tribe but I am almost certain to be provoked to writing about corporate bullies and the people that feed off them and strive to be bigshots within them at some point. Many of those that I wrote this piece about are what I would call Trustafarians. Do the Maths. To be dubbed that you don’t come from poverty and deprivation ….

      Like

      June 25, 2017
  35. Fiona, your fountain photo and countryside scenery are dreamy and breathtaking! 💐
    I am one who is not ever truly sure whether or not I am being “played,” in all sorts of circumstances. People at work “borrow” change from me, but they don’t return it.
    Usually when asked by someone who is questionable, I am able to honestly tell these folks who sit outside stores, “I have seven precious grandies, for the most part who have just enough and not extra. As a Nana, I need to save for them, so if they ask, I may give it..”

    “Charity begins at home,” but to be truthful I have walked across the street from a fast food place with a bag with hamburger, fries and a drink offering it to one of those in our town who is without a roof over his head. We only have five in out town who make themselves, “visible.” They have always seemed grateful. There are two women and the only time I got irritated with this one was when I offered her anything to wear out of two large bags my youngest daughter had gathered up including socks and boots. This woman with her stinky body and rather sordid clothes, wearing ballet slippers style black shoes said, “Don’t you have any jeans?” I answered after driving her across town and opening my trunk to offer sweat shirts, thick pants, underwear and socks, “Well, my goodness! These are all clean and warm, they are your petite size, why aren’t they good enough?” She shrugged and said she would “wait for something better.” Later, someone told me that she might “turn tricks” since she usually goes to men and asks for rides. Apparently, jeans are sexy and sweat pants, boots and ski jackets are Not!
    We all admire the nuns and their spiritual journey with a farmer’s barn made into a monastery. I loved the stonework, mosque tower and lovely turret.
    I loved Sidney Poitier, as a young black actor playing a handyman helping nuns build a church in “The Lilies of the Field.” I also like to hear of nuns like Mother Theresa who are willing to serve their God and help others. I try in my own way, during winter months, giving a bag of food, a coat or warm boots. . . I buy them for low amounts in thrift stores. 🙂
    Thanks for the honesty displayed here and hopefully we are in agreement and I am glad to have you as my long distance friend. 🌼❤💮

    Liked by 1 person

    June 26, 2017
    • Of course we are in accord! The difficulty with writing anything, particularly on a sensitive subject is that people will receive the bits they want to receive and not necessarily the sentiments the writer wants to get across. This is an even greater risk when you are writing, as we all are, for a global audience. Your experience with the lady rejecting the clothes is terribly sad – when a person tries to help in such a tangible and kind way, it is rough to have the help thrown back. I offered a young man breakfast recently when he answered my question as to why he needed money with ‘I’m hungry, I need a meal’. It is clear to me that there is a subplot, most likely addiction that leads him to reject food and prefer to take money. He got nothing. I think the reader who talked about ‘have nots’ (temporary blip in life, need help to get them back on track) ‘can nots’ (mentally ill, physically disabled) and ‘will nots’ (are there of choice in some way and don’t want to be part of the mainstream of society) has it on the nail. My real issue with the drop-outs who aggressively beg here in France and across Europe is that they mask the have-nots and the can-nots who are those we really want to help. And your point about charity starting at home is very valid. If we don’t help ourselves and our own who rely on us then the result is that we become the beggars! If I have extra to give be it in time or in needed things, then I will. But I do take care of self first. And the nuns? Oh thank you for reminding me of ‘The Lilies of the Field’ … I simply MUST find it and see it again. I loved it and I am still a little in love with Sidney Poitier!! As ever I send you love and friendship from across the ocean. You are one that I empathise with and value very very much xo

      Liked by 1 person

      June 26, 2017
      • This was a nice summary of the way those who beg could be categorized. I tend to give a tangible offering rather than one which could be used not in a healthy way.
        Sorry you had a meal rejected when offered.
        I appreciate your realizing what I meant about helping my family members. It is not as easy these days to get by, while I was like you single mom, I was able to trade and barter, babysit and clean houses to keep our ship afloat. ⛵
        So excited because I enjoyed Sidney Poitier liked his voice, his straight forward character and such a gentleman but showed determination in some of his roles, too.
        I could watch that movie again and catch something I missed! It seems simple but it holds many “truths” in life. Those nuns make me smile due to their spunk! 🙂
        I am pleased as always with sharing our thoughts; as if a letter were penned and mailed from your location to mine, Fiona. 💌 hugs xo

        Liked by 1 person

        June 27, 2017
      • I’m glad you enjoyed your letter! Hugs to you xo

        Liked by 1 person

        June 27, 2017
      • It was wonderful to have the chat, dear. xo

        Liked by 1 person

        June 28, 2017
  36. I wish I could have been with you to witness this beauty

    Liked by 1 person

    June 28, 2017
    • You are welcome in my French paradise anytime, sir!

      Like

      June 28, 2017
  37. Beautiful read as always. Loved all the photographs especially the first one.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 28, 2017
  38. I’m glad to have been led to your blog by a comment you left on my comment on ‘Nature back in’. I too lived in France, in another non-obvious département, the Ariège. We only ever passed through the Cantal – our loss – so look forward to getting to know it through your eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 30, 2017
    • I love Ariège too … I got to know it a little many many moons ago when my eldest daughter was small. I took my husband there the year before last. I could live there, I think. I’m delighted to meet you and delighted that you found the follow button. I tend to catch up on new followers blogs once a month so in a while, i will take some time to look at your space too. And I am certain I will be delighted with what I find!

      Like

      June 30, 2017
  39. Erm, having said that, I can’t find a ‘subscribe’ box. I expect I’m being a bit simple here ….

    Liked by 1 person

    June 30, 2017
  40. Your writings always interest me! Always✌️✌️ the moment I started reading this post, it totally absorbed me… The gorgeous landscapes.. The life of Nuns… The issue of Homeless!! You touch so many chords Osyth☺️ btw In India too the problem is huge.. Too many people staying in makeshift homes. The prime problem being increasing population!

    Liked by 1 person

    July 4, 2017
    • This is so. The problem is global and the issue is expanding population in part. Thank you for taking time to read and comment …. your views are always intelligently and sensitively expressed ☺

      Like

      July 4, 2017
  41. I don’t know the Cézallier well. We have traversed it only once, on our way between the mountains of Puy-de-Dôme and the Monts du Cantal. But I thought then what a sweeping and solitary landscape it is and clearly it’s the kind of place you can be alone if you want. I was shocked at the way people ignored the elderly lady in the tram, but it’s almost as if that sort of stoically uncomplaining person is invisible. Unlike the aggressive hustlers you find on many city streets these days, while those really in need get passed over. As always, a deeply thoughtful – and thought-provoking – post.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 4, 2017
    • Thank you Nessa. Cézallier is certainly somewhere to bury yourself and be alone if you want to. The hustlers leave me cold and your description of those that don’t complain and keep the chin stoic is spot on and very sad. Thank you, as ever for your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

      July 4, 2017
  42. Wow, I finally made it to the end of the line. It was so well worth the journey. Your post along with all the comments I read have given me so much to contemplate on! Everything you wrote about is so complex. I am awed that you were able to express everything you did in such a small space.
    I see the three stories moving together intertwined.
    The nuns choosing a life of solitude, contemplation and self sufficiency. I find the work they have done amazing. The tower is off the charts! Thank you for the photographs. Nuns who presumably represent in some way kindness, compassion, open heartedness. I still don’t know how they got this image because it certainly was not my experience in a Catholic boarding school run by them! Maybe it is because this how people want to believe nuns are… and some indeed are.
    The people who are homeless, have lost their home for any number of reason and who I see as peaceful, non threatening, for whom it is easy for me to have empathy, compassion and understanding. My heart feels open and giving. Usually I don’t feel afraid when I am near or interacting with her/him/them. The exceptions being when I sense someone is mentally unstable or inebriated and the situation feels unpredictable, ungrounded and I don’t trust my ability to stay present. Fear sets in.
    The people that I see as choosing to live off the streets. Who treat others in ways that are so painful for me to watch. Whose values are so different from mine. Whose way of being scares me. Noticing how I want to protect myself. My heart contracts. And yet…. I want to hold these people whose behavior is so triggering and intolerable to me with the same understanding, empathy and compassion that I would for the homeless or the nuns. Like someone commented earlier I see no difference between this group of people and the ones in corporations or the political arena who use their position to overpower and frighten others. Just different clothes and environment.
    I think this is my biggest challenge and one that I seem to be dealing with every day. A part of me longs to be able to live in an ashram/monastery and no longer deal with worldly interactions and yet this just doesn’t seem to be my lot for now, and probably not in this lifetime. It seems that I am meant to figure out how to embody a quiet, non judgmental mind, and empathic, compassionate presence while interacting in the incredibly complex social world that you have described with such richness. At least it is something that I long for.
    Thank you for opening this conversation and to all those who participated before me.
    Namaste – Shalom – Salaam Alaikum

    Liked by 1 person

    July 5, 2017
    • Arati, thank you so much for this comment. Thoughtful, sensitive, understanding. Namaste my friend. I bless the day we ‘met’

      Liked by 1 person

      July 9, 2017
  43. Having read the above comments I feel a bit intimidated at adding any more except to echo what has already been said.

    But I wanted to add that one of the (many) things I really like about your blog is your ability to put a topic out there – simple or complex doesn’t matter – and as a result generate a really interesting discussion/debate/additional points made etc etc.from interesting sounding people – just like has happened on this post.

    I am rather slow at dealing with soc med at the moment but your blog is the one I always read immediately even if I postpone a comment. Blog on gal!

    Liked by 1 person

    July 11, 2017
    • Thank you. I don’t set out to do anything in particular and I am very fortunate to have some really interesting people who are kind enough to read what I write. You included incidentally. Keep doing what YOU do … yours conversely is a blog I always make time to read when you have time to write. I hope life is treating you well and that the busy that keeps you away from Social Media is the fruit of a benign tree.

      Like

      July 12, 2017
  44. I love it

    Liked by 1 person

    July 27, 2017
    • Thank you Felix! This makes me happy ☺

      Like

      July 27, 2017

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