Archive for April, 2016|Monthly archive page

A find

In Animals, coffee, Collage, Food, Hautvoir, Local projects, photography, Revision, Tea on April 30, 2016 at 8:51 am

The dog sleeps a lot – you would too if your food and drink options proved limited. She even gobbles down the pills, no questions asked. A small portion of rice flavored with activated charcoal? Mamma, you be so good to me! Water in small dribs, followed by a visit to the great outdoors soon after. And no contact with other animals, for the time being. As a result, she wags her tail near the window when she hears familiar folks and canines go by. She’s one good doggie.

A find? Yes, Cybèle was a foundling, but not the one titling this post. The correct title should read: two finds but they match up so well, I see no reason to change the wording. I’m talking about two objects – a table and a chair, both from the late thirties.

The two must have sat in a nice café, at one time. The table top is a fifty-centimetre (about twenty inches) square of red bakelite banded in black. The top sits on a central column with four projecting slices of grooved and varnished wood. The seat of the wooden chair has slats in the same style.

The find now occupies a spot near my kitchen shelves and provides a place to sit, drink coffee or tea, write, draw or take in the afternoon sun. The table’s big enough to accommodate a second cup and the company of one (1) extra body, if and when such occasions should arise. Combined with the re-potting of plants, the find supplied several moments of vast contentment yesterday.


Am I done with the story? Almost. I sense I’ll have to let the whole bunch live out the next bits in their fictional lives off the page or the computer screen. Not because their lives don’t interest me any more. Because, like the tabletop on yesterday’s find, stories have a frame. Sometimes, like a flat-earth explorer, you only discover the edge when you get to it.

So. A café table, plus flowers plucked from an abandoned garden.

Today is cold and rainy. With luck, tomorrow’s feast will happen outdoors.


With a hey, ho, no wind, no rain

In Absurdlandia, Animals, Circus, Current reading, Drafts, Hautvoir, Local projects, Sanford Meisner on April 29, 2016 at 8:16 am

The dog’s tumors: benign. Removal will have to wait for a fresh inflow of funds. As for the rest of her problems, the vet puts my money on his diagnosis of leptospirosis. More than two hundred euro in the hole, who am I to argue – even if my superficial reading on the subject mentions blood coagulation problems that aren’t at issue in her case.

Whatever. Pills, injections, tight control on food and water. This last, easy enough inside but the walks are a minefield, featuring dead rats (possible source of said lepto), dead pigeons (avian flu alarm over the region), not to mention a charming habit some people have of leaving poisoned bait around because they don’t like cats and dogs anymore than they like rats and pigeons.

Voilà on the canine health report. I’ll get her back in shape – and my budget back on keel – and deal with the surgery + vaccination program.


The mood turns. The moods shift. Given my straightened means, glad to find Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street on Gutenberg. Reading by small increments because every sentence is so dead-on and his Main Street so universal, as far as the underlying features are concerned.

On the stopovers in the drive back from Alsace: in someone’s home, both adults and children were glued to their phone or plugged into their music. In the rest stops: tank up the car, empty the bladder, then tank up the body on coffee and pastries – eyes glued to the phone. (Except for the busloads of Japanese tourists, intent on buying everything in sight, including regional artifacts -possibly made in China, I didn’t check.)


Story: mood shifts, there too. Everybody off on their own planet. Where some of the characters meet up again – unpredictable, at best.


Yesterday, a kind person wanted to lead me through a guided visualization in which I was to load up all my hurts and disappointments aboard the basket of a hot air balloon, and set the thing adrift. Where would all that crap land, I asked. Far, far away, she answered. Sorry, far, far away isn’t good enough, not even in a guided visualization. There’s enough crap floating around already, I’ll go add some more?

Living truthfully in imaginary circumstances has some drawbacks. We agreed to put off the guided visualization until I came up with a recycling plan for the hurts and disappointments.


Given my rent/food/sundries budget for May is shot anyway, I bought chervil, basil and thyme at yesterday’s market and set them to thrive and prosper on the kitchen windowsill.


And now for another day.

The simplest of the simple things

In A post to keep afloat, Animals, Drafts, Hautvoir, Local projects, Revision on April 28, 2016 at 8:19 am

Planting or re-potting existing greenery: something close to an obsession at the moment. A need to see living things thrive.

In younger years, doing without a good sexual partnership is tough. I’m close to seventy now. The toughest is doing without close physical contact of the affectionate kind with another human. Not constant closeness. Not clinging closeness. Just the simple, physical reassurance two humans exchange as the need shows up. You can pet a dog. You can caress a cat. Well and good, except I’m not a dog nor a cat. Eh. (A goldfish? Eh, squared.)

So. The dog. If your vet suggests you squirt activated charcoal diluted in water into your dog’s mouth, a word to the wise: make the attempt outside. For the why? For the because clean-up of ink-black liquid is easier on flagstones. (Part of what ails the animal should be known by late afternoon. Apart from keeping her as comfortable as possible, not much else I can do for her in the meantime.)

Plus: loneliness by any other name still boils down to loneliness. Nothing much to do about it, except to acknowledge, weather and do your damnedest to avoid the deeper sloughs of despond. Of course there are things to do, people to see, projects to carry forth, revisions to complete etc etc etc

Money. Obligations. Etc.

Most of all: this too shall pass, this too shall pass. And so, forth.


Stroll by riverside

In Animals, Drafts, Hautvoir, Local projects, Names and Titles, Revision on April 27, 2016 at 8:23 am

Found a good pair of walking shoes on sale yesterday. With the toe well supported, I can resume some of the longer morning rambles with the dog. Kept this one on the short side: down the hill, across the old stone bridge, a short block on rue St-Jean, swing left down to the remains of the old mill, and a bit of a stroll along the river. Cybèle had a sniffing extravaganza and managed to send a few ducks into a scatter.

The river is running high and swift from all the rain. My dreams were filled with water rats swimming around like tourists lazing in a pool. But also, a brief and delightful moment when the dreamer caught a shadow person placing a parcel on the table and disappearing.

Said parcel was a book. Thick grainy cardboard wrapped around the cover, the spine and the back cover. Hence, no trace of the title or of the author’s name. The same cardboard coated the individual pages so that the book looked like a cardboard mock-up. Yet, the dreamer knew this was a real book, wrapped in such a way as to be a surprise.

Yes, I woke and savored the dream image for a while, before setting off to sleep again.


I’m now quite broke following the holiday. Whether I can buy herbs for potting at the market tomorrow depends on any overdraft privileges I may or may not have. Soon to find out.

A local friend’s misadventures with a relationship gone sour formed part of my thoughts while strolling by the river. The ex – charming and smiling in casual encounters – has the nasty habit of blaming others when things go wrong. Ergo, she’s now responsible for everything that’s gone awry in his life and – among other niceties – he threatens to ram into her car the next time he sees her.

The strolling-by-riverside thoughts included concern for my friend, of course. But also unanswerable questions about irrational responses to frustration and disappointment.


The fiction: moments with, moments away. In daily living, other people’s lives and concerns seeping forward like the rising tide. Admin, admin, and more admin. (But a salaried social worker delegating responsibilities back to me for solving a lodging problem? Doesn’t sit well –  how to resolve though, if shooting the ball back to her side of the court only means she’ll ignore the problem?)


The book dream.The drifting water rats.  A sprig of wildflowers gathered by the river. Potting soil. With luck tomorrow morning at market , some chives, basil, tarragon and such for the kitchen window sill.


Can’t afford the vet. Off the the vet anyway. The dog vomited yesterday. Again today. Plus a strange lump on her skull.

Mellow, for the time being

In Animals, coffee, Drafts, Hautvoir, humeurs, Local projects, Music, Revision, Theater on April 26, 2016 at 8:15 am

In my mind’s eye, I still have the vision of the afternoon light through the clouds in the Cévennes – like huge spotlights picking out exquisite details in the patchwork of fields.

As for the dramatic report of my dog’s despondency over my absence: sure, Cybèle was glad to see me. Of equal interest to her: the fresh trail from a cat in her keeper’s neighborhood. Proving, yet again, how humans project their own emotions on other life forms. (I’m glad to see my dog too – as background, I much prefer her snores to my upstairs neighbor’s musical selections.)

Inching back into regular activities, aided by the school holiday which allows for a slackened pace. Plus the temporary loss of the charger for my phone. Those who want to contact me must email or knock on my door.

The draft: about half-way through deletions and re-phrasing. Eliminating as many passive tense constructions as I can (unless the passive tense happens to be a character’s usual avoidance mechanism.)

As for the kvetchy, whiny/sullen mood in the media: a tiny bit goes a long way. Over lunch with a friend yesterday, we marveled at how persistent humans are over their right to miserable attachment to things that don’t work –  unworkable relationships topping the list.

New shoes this afternoon. The other option: painting my toes black so no one notices them poking through the fabric. I could wiggle them to my heart’s content. Hm. Or paint little faces on them and make voices for them à la Señor Wences. ( Señor Wences had a head in a box  called Pedro. Señor Wences  would check out the Pedro’s impressions by opening the box. “S’all right?” – “S’all right, shut the door,” Pedro would answer.)

Voilà. The title summarizes this post. I expect a speed-up in the pace of aggravations soon enough to satisfy my need for variety. Meanwhile: more coffee, more revision et vogue la galère.

Watch your feet

In Animals, Artists, coffee, Drafts, Hautvoir, Local projects, photography, Sanford Meisner on April 25, 2016 at 8:28 am

The title refers to the old joke about the centipede, asked to tell which foot it set in motion first: the one on the front row left, or the one on front row right? Resulting in a foot-tied rather than tongue-tied centipede.

Home. Chairs in a different configuration. The boy who stayed here while I was away brought his own food. Scorched one pan (nothing scouring can’t handle), and left everything else in tip-top shape. E-mail, agenda items, must buy new shoes since my toes poke out of the old ones. To-do this, to-do that. In no hurry to slip into anyone’s expectations as to the identity of the Real Me. Right now, the Real Me savors the last bits of the second bowl of morning coffee.

While in Alsace, I didn’t pay much attention to current world or national news. From the headlines, I don’t seem to have missed much. Must be a slow day in terms of catastrophes. The Nouvel Obs can’t do better in the fear department than ask: Should We Fear Supernovas? Best I can answer: I’ll take my chances with everyone else.

There’s way too much seriousness going around. Think straight kind of seriousness. Don’t think this, don’t say that.

A favorite moment during the last week: a visit to the church in Graffenwald with the person who waters the flowers and does the other off-stage chores. We entered through the sacristy where everything was solemn and the Christ statue pointed skyward to his Father’s Abode. A door led to the stage i.e. the altar (with a mike on it). Another door led offstage to a lav featuring a trusty snow shovel. The parish priest had called the off-stage person with his concerns about a missing flower vase. Which member of the community has taken off with one of the flower vases, I cannot say. The matter seemed of greater import than those fearsome supernovas about to explode and vaporize our piece of the universe.

In pressing concerns over here: retrieving my dog. Getting shoes out of which my toes don’t poke. Buying soil to re-pot a baby Douglas fir, gift from a man who has built the finest tree house I’ve had the privilege to see. A peek here :



The Centipede Conundrum extends to the draft, of course. Always an issue when the “where was I?” syndrome strikes. Read from the top, again? Eh. If I knew of a better system, I’d use it.


Back to home base

In Animals, Sanford Meisner on April 24, 2016 at 7:02 am

If nothing else, attempting posts off this computer teaches me home is best. Home computer, that is. The one where private/public writing, completed fiction, photos and drafts co-exist and I can navigate from one to the other. In other words, there’s need for a back stage, prop and dressing rooms, none of which exist on a borrowed computer. Another world, filled with other people’s lives. What those suggest for writing purposes needs to settle. No way can one set of characters live truthfully in other people’s circumstances. Except as an exercise in strangeness.

A large spider appears on the wall above this computer. By large, I mean of exceptional leg and body width. I watch it. It watches movements for its own purposes. Intruder in a spider’s home base. Hallo. Good-bye.

In Alsace

In and other spirits, Drafts, Food, Wine on April 23, 2016 at 6:53 pm

From eleven am onward, food, and more food. Wine, beer. More wine, more beer. I beg off around five pm.The table talk has nothing to do with John Banville’s Kepler. The atmosphere? Lots. Families  – closed systems, often. Code words and attitudes. Intriguing for an outsider. Plus, the proximity of Switzerland and Germany. Even the jokes are different from those in the south. I listen, a lot. The way others spend their days.

We leave tomorrow morning.

From somewhere in someone else’s living space

In Food, Wine on April 22, 2016 at 9:31 am

no matter. The bed for one-finger pecking at the laptop. Chaging a bit of sentence in the draft. Recording impressions of the spaces and the people in them. Observing, for the most part, eyes and ears wide open. So many ways to be in the world – most of which I’ll never experience  from the inside  (in many instances, the view from outside is more than enough to fuel the imagination).

In Colmar yesterday, the visit to the Unterlinden Museum, as a matter of course. But also street scenes and watching other people eat on a sidewalk terrace.  Facial expressions, forays into the plate – this one with stabbing gestures with the knife, as if the breaded schnitzel might make a dash for the sidewalk and escape down the canal. This other with face bent down to centimeters above the plate and seeming to sniff at the food before opting for this morsel or that. I keep on observing and realize the man is blind.

Food, drink, hospitality extended or denied. The connection is quicker this morning but there’s lots of other people’s lives and stories to record over here.

oy (5 minutes to get this typed in in the Graffenwald sector of the town of Wittelsheim) = but… will it post???

In A post to keep afloat, Absurdlandia on April 21, 2016 at 9:43 am

the equivalent of a hand-cranked connection = lets not waste too many precious minutes getting online and off. oy..