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I’ve Been Everywhere, Man

Welcome to ‘Melting-Pot Monday’. To kick off this new series, The Bean has hijacked my keyboard to give us her reflections on being an intrepid tiny four pawed traveler:

It’s not easy being Bean. My job is to be faithful, loyal and unerringly stoic which skills I have in amazing quantities. But despite my dazzling talent, I don’t get any say in where I will be at any time. They discuss and debate and I doggedly jog alongside them. This goes for walks, runs and hikes and for bigger journeys that require cars or trains or planes.

When They are packing for one of these journeys I get quite anxious and I sit sentinel in my basket beadily scanning for signs that the car door may open whence I stealthily nip in and refuse to move. I worry, you see, that in their grandeose plans, they may entirely and completely forget me.

I am ten human years old. When I was half this age, She took me repeatedly to that house where the person sticks spikes in my neck and pokes me and peers in my ears and my eyes and then writes things with a pen-stick and after three times She was happy because the spiking person gave her a book with my name in it called a ‘Pet Passing Port’. This book gets taken with us every time we travel. When we travel to see my friends in the old country I have to have a filthy tasting pill forced down my throat through my resolutely clamped jaw.  This is the foul tablet which the French man who has also been known to spike my scruff from time to time claims is ‘un petit bon-bon Français’. That is a despicable lie. It is not a sweetie, it is no sort of candy.   It is vile and it is designed to make my tummy feel very delicate and undulous.  They say it empties me of worms but since I don’t have any wrigglers anywhere on or in my person it is a worthless cruelty. More recently, after we moved our place to Grenoble I got a better spiking doctor who gives me a meat flavored treat which they say does the same thing. I like the doctor who gives me meats.  I do not like the one who tells lies and pushes the wretched pill down my throat with gigantic  tweezers the size of Edward Scissorhands’ knife-fingers. He needs to be avoided which I did try to show Her whenever we went to his house. I would go on sit down strike but She would act as though She didn’t understand and would pick me up and carry me in. This is the worst think about being of petite and portable proportions.  I will give you his address if you contact me discretely.  You really do need this information so that you can be sure to avoid him. She thought he was nice, by the way, but He even had the temerity to jest that it is amusing and ironic that She, an English woman, has to pay him, a Frenchman, many euros to allow me, an English dog, back into my own country. He clearly doesn’t understand that I speak very good French and don’t really even remember living in that England, though I very much like to visit, and that I find it offensive that he dares make light of this dastardly situation. It is not at all ironic it is just undignified and rather rude. Come the glorious day when my true worth is recognized he will regret his facetiousness. This is my pledge.

Since I got my passing port I have travelled to France, Switzerland, Germany and the USA. Plus visits back to the England place.  I have driven many thousands of miles by car (about 90,000 at the last count which is around 145,000 km) and I have taken very fast trains. But the bit that humans are most interested in is that I do flying. Because I am sensibly svelte and compact in size, I am allowed to fly in the cabin with Them. I have to go in a bag which is rather a slight and I have to be weighed in the bag to make sure that our combined weight is acceptable.  Then I am welcomed by the nice food trolley people and I am stowed under the seat in front of Her. The first time I flyed was from Clermont Ferrand to Paris and then from Paris to Boston. When we got to Boston they let me out of the bag and I pooed on His foot. Since then they have cruelly deprived me of food until we land safely and are through all the controls where the humans look at my passing port and ask if I have brought food with us.  I don’t – I eat local food wherever I am.  Truthfully, I mainly just like to eat, and I am happiest with anything that falls from the table when They are eating but I will make do with what they call ‘dog food’ if forced – how silly is that … all food is dog food.  Obviously.  I like restaurants for this reason. I find that if shimmy into my most appealing and cute pose, people ask if they can pet me and then, when they are at their most vulnerable, I take my  limpid eyes up to Mach 3-charming and they ask if they can give me a tidbit. This is a skill I advise all dogs to learn well. It is truly life-enhancing.

He says that I kept Her afloat during the 5 years after they were married that we were not all together most of the time. I took my role as Her fierce protector seriously and it was quite tiring and I was always happy when He was with us. Now we can all be together and I can relax. Life is good in this new place. It is called Boston and in Boston they are very keen on beans.   She says people can learn a lot from my attitude which is really the attitude of all dogs that are fortunate to have humans of their own. She says that being simple and uncomplicated and enjoying the moment and loving where you are even if it isn’t the place you thought you wanted to be in, is a good way to live a life. She says that being fortunate is not counted in gold coins or sunshine but in the warmth you feel in your heart. I think she sometimes speaks some sense. Particularly when she says its supper time …..

PS: I am writing this from one of my favourite places in the wide, wide world. My humans are away from home for a week so they put me in my kennels which I really love. It is also the house of the local spiking man but he is one of the good spiking men. I love him and all the others in this house SO much that when we came to see him just after we arrived to make sure I was tickety-boo, I launched myself off her knee and did a full barrel-roll in the air which would have been of perfectly Cirque du Soleil standard had I not mildly misjudged my elevation and grounded with my back. I’m pretty sure I got away with the duff landing because Doctor Spiker was clearly very impressed and said it is not normally a problem he encounters that a dog is excited to be at this place. But I do love them. Because they are kind to me, I do love them. The law of the dog is quite simple, you see … all we need is love and we will absorb it and process it and give it back at a ratio that fantastically exceeds the original.

À bientôt

The Bean 

And your bonus is Mr Johnny Cash. He is singing a song that Her Daddy loved and I have used it as my title for this piece of unabashed brilliance because I know it will make her smile.  I hope you will too.  I wonder if any of you can sing every single word without tripping up …..

A note from the Editor in Chief (that’s me, Osyth) …. I have decided to join the Fandango One Word Challenge from time to time because I think initiatives that aim to fill the void left by the WordPress decision to halt their challenges should be supported.  The absolute essence of this post is that a simple outlook is generally helpful, I am submitting it to the cauldron of other entries here    #FOWC

So Long Marianne

I’m a simple soul.  I prefer to have a positive spin for most things and I tend not to be deterred or detained by obstacles.  There is generally a way over or round them and it just takes a little old-fashioned patience and a dollop of bluddy mindedness to get to the other side.

DSCF0229I married my beloved HB² not quite five years ago in our village in the Cantal and set about working towards the next phase of my life which was to be a life in Massachusetts because that is where he is based.  Simple.  Except that the process of getting Lawful Permanent Residency is not simple.  And if you stick with me, you will learn that simple as I am, if there is a way to eek some drama and comedy out of a process or a situation, I am truly and simply your leading girl.

 

Whilst we waited, I settled in France.  It was the sensible thing to do.  We had bought a little house there (these days named, at least in my head, la Maison Catastrophe) and it made sense for me to give up my corporate London career with attendant regulated holidays and be in a place we love, and free to travel and be with His Brainship as frequently as possible.  We waited and we waited and we waited.  The process was as appealing as digging ones own eyeballs out with a spoon and as swift as paddling a canoe upstream with that same piece of cutlery.  Such is life.  Rules are rules and resisting them is both foolish and ultimately futile.  We waited.  We occasionally uncovered evidence that the great beast that is this bureaucratic process actually did have a pulse and it would lurch into life and ask a question or demand information before lapsing back into its apparently dorment state once more.  And we did as we were asked and always with a smile and a twirl.  And between smiles and twirls, we waited.

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During this time, I nested and rooted and felt at home.  In France.  In 2016 the kindly beast allowed me a special visa so that I could spend the year in the USA but travel in and out freely.  I had a lovely time and I felt quite homely .  When I left in December I felt rather sad.  Back in France I ingrained and entrenched some more and I began to assume that the permission to enter the United States and live there as a ‘Lawful Permanent Resident’ (Green Card holder as it is known in the vernacular) would never arrive.  I qualified as an English Teacher.  My French improved incrementally and raised itself far above it’s previous Spanish Cow default, for living in a city (Grenoble) rather than in the middle of truly no-whereland (Cantal) with far more opportunity to interact beyond the basics of shopping and passing the time of day with the Monsieur le Maire and the old lady opposite and I felt entirely and completely settled and content that I could count down the days to my husband’s retirement and that all shall be jolly and well in the meantime.

 

The phone call came at 3 a.m my time and a voice uttered ‘areyousittingdown’ to which I wittily, it must be said, responded that I was lying down since it was the middle of the night.  If I had been sitting I would have fallen off my chair.  As it was the bed was capacious enough to prevent me from rolling onto the floor.  That pesky Juice Man had pressed the green light and all systems were go for the last lap to the finish line.  That it was a lumpy bumpy descent I will write of another time but the fact is that I sat for days feeling bewildered.  Of course I was thrilled that finally I would be able to live with my love and be what we intended when we married …. to.geth.er.  But all of a sudden I was facing leaving France.  And that, as one of the positive batalion of my friends named Philippe is sweetly fond of saying ‘Urt me in ze ‘eart’. 

 

So for now I have left France.  I will be devoting Friday to France from now on ‘FrenchFriday’ if you will and bringing you the stories that have remained untold from my tenure there.

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And to kick off my other series, ‘MeltingPotMonday’ which will bring your stories from this side of the pond, The Bean will guest-write the first instalment.  She has been quite disarmingly insistent that her version of events needs to be told and is highly excited at the opportunity to flex her pokey little paws on the keyboard.

 

To note is the fact that all the pictures in this post have featured before on my blog.  I am currently away from base and it proved a step too taxing for the hotel internet to allow me to upload new pictures from my iPhotos library

PS:  The title is from one of my favourite songs by one of my first and everlasting loves.  Marianne in the context of this article is the National symbol of the French Republic portraying a Goddess of Liberty and representing that liberty and reason which in the end is really what we all should strive for, n’est-ce pas?  So long Marianne, keep my place at the table, I’ll be back before too long.

And your bonus, with the added quite gaspingly delicious noisette that when I was at school, my enviably beautiful and absolutely aspirational classmate Sara Trill announced to those of us that affected intellectual by hanging out in the library that my father was the image of Mr Cohen himself – I took this as the highest praise by proxy (and let’s face facts, gauche girls like me had to grab the crumbs where they fell), and blushed decorously whilst purring internally for days.  Months actually.  Possibly my whole life through if I’m honest …..

And because this is a post about feeling forlorn about leaving a favourite, and because WordPress in their infinite wisdom have cancelled their weekly photo challenge making me and so many others a little wan and sad, and because their last challenge is ‘All-Time Favourites’ and I don’t have one, I will instead include this in the veritable feast of entries to be found here and bid one of the best things about WordPress adieu with a heavy heart.