Monday, May 23, 2011

Rain Rain Rain

We expect it in the NW, even quite a bit of it, but 2011 has to be record of sorts.  I doubt that we have had more than 10 days without rain. since the year began.

Le Sommail on the Canal du Midi

Fortunately, tomorrow I am flying off to sunny (unseasonably so) Belgium and the south of France where I plan to sit in the sun alongside the canal while sipping something cool and alcoholic, and then close my eyes and breathe in the warm air.  I am very lucky and I know it!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Celebrating Mothers

Mahaut, my pretty young mother in 1939.

I don't believe in an after life, Maman, 
but they say I have your smile.
So do

your granddaughter,
your great granddaughter.

A smile is good to leave behind,
I remember yours.
Merci Maman.


Je ne crois pas à l'au-delà, Maman,
mais on me dit que j'ai ton sourire.
 Elles l'ont aussi
ta petite-fille
ton arrière petite-fille.

Laisser un sourire c'est beau.
Je me souviens du tien.
Merci Maman.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cuddling with my Sweetie

My new red loveseat under an old poster project by my grandfather and a floating boat dreamed by a lifelong friend's daughter, now a friend herself.  On the seat three cushions: a friend's gift, poppies from Venice and nasturtiums from Leonardo da V's manor house in France.  On its right an antique sewing box from my mother's house and the old backgammon set  she  and I opened most evenings.   To complete these lovely memories what I need now is a good movie, a bottle glass of wine and  M nestled in there close to me. . .

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Reading Madame de Beauvoir

   Recently the author of a French blog mentioned Simone de Beauvoir’s voluminous “essai” on aging, La Vieillesse.  It was translated into English as The Coming of Age by an author who in the past provided me with many pleasant hours of escapist reading, Patrick O’Brian.

Amazon offers a used paperback copy in French at an astonishing $89.85 versus the English Paperback edition of $10.49, while my local bookstore, the famous Powells Bookstore, asks for $15.95.  What gives here?  Is the used bookseller touched?  It makes no mention of some rare quality, the book wasn’t signed by Simone de B, and is "probably not" a first edition. 

    So why the astronomical price tag?  The latent Luddite in me leans toward Powells rather than the machine.  I shop at Powells regularly and as I write this have a suitcase filled with books I hope to sell them next week so I can spend a delicious hour or two deciding on my next in-store purchase, like the English version of La Vieillesse, for instance. 

   These price discrepancies have me wonder what my own French lit collection, some of it going back to my first purchases as a teenager, might be worth. However, they may be too old to interest Powells and, in any case, they have kept me company for half a century or more: they are me and therefore not for sale.

   More troubling than the price is reading the essay in English. It seems a form of intellectual laxity to opt for my preferred reading language, English. I have thought about, talked about, engaged in, agreed and disagreed on the goods and ills of translation, and when I do I never fail to remember Jane Eyre, the sheer wonder of reading it in its exquisite English original version, after several reads of (a dreadful) French translation. 

   By reading The Coming of Age would I miss the subtleties, the beauty of Madame de Beauvoir’s style?  I could only know by reading at least one chapter of each version.  As it happens, in a few weeks I'll be here and will look for La Vieillesse in this lovely store, and later, dear reader, I will let you know what I found.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Winter Gardens

It rained 29 consecutive days in March, so at the first sight of sun in April I took myself to the Oregon Gardens for a lovely afternoon in nature.

 First, I saw this fearless green heron sitting over a red algae covered pond with his neck low between his shoulders.

I noticed several yellow flowers, like skunk cabbage ( I didn't check on its scent)



                             and many daffodils,


also masses of these brilliant flowers on a bush whose name I forgot to look up.

And look at the flowering tree blossoms.

This tree needed no blossoms to attract my attention.

It was a quiet beautiful afternoon for noticing small details 

and enjoying the far away horizon.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

How Many Dragonflies Does It Take?

Well may you ask. 
After my visit to the Oregon Gardens, the answer is two . . .

unless it's a "ménage à trois" . . .

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Do I like this lovely young woman?
Of course I do.  Look how happy she makes my son.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth and Brigitte

Growing up in the fifties
meant that we were
expected to suppress our natural wish to behave like the sexy beauty on the left and model ourselves on the pure beauty on the right.

Unable to achieve
either  Elizabeth's
steaming sexual freedom,
or Brigitte's (supposed) innocence, we reached adulthood in a state of semi-virginal frustration about our looks and bodies.

As decades passed,
Elizabeth and Brigitte had a strings of problems of their own.
Now beautiful Elizabeth is gone and kittenish Brigitte is crippled and in pain.
 Looks and money failed to bring them lasting peace and happiness.
While I wouldn't have minded their financial freedom, 
neither voluptuous nor virginal,
I am content with my own ordinary self

Saturday, March 19, 2011

After the Storm, a New Light

A Historic Moment

This is to honor all the brave people who at great personal risk
  stand for a better world.

Please take a few minutes to hear one impassioned
voice of hope, reconciliation and tolerance.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

6 am, Portland, OR

This is just enough snow to remind me how much I like it on distant mountain tops, how little on my doorstep.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Are you a Collector?

Small groups of a kind appeal to me

like these old boats pictures

glass balls

green vessels

or carved birds

and more for some other time . . .

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Times three

Two weeks ago I joined the legion of parents who opened their home to an adult child and, in my case, grandchild.  They packed their bags in the NE and drove five days to the the NW. For the last twenty years we have seen each other at long intervals only.  My solo life has been multiplied by three.  Three times the expenses in some areas but also three times the help with home and garden. 

 Now respectively 72, 42, and 20 this is a chance to relate to each  other as adult women at three very different stages of life.   A chance also for me to re-visit my own relationships with my mother and grandmother, to  ponder on the roles we play in the course of a lifetime and the legacy of memories.
For their own sakes I am anxious that they get permanent work but I am not impatient to see them go.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sweet Gris

In January 1992, bypassing in their cages some showy long hair beauties and playful kittens, I chose instead a small 3 year old laid back cat to be my new companion.  Just returned from a stay in South America and lacking inspiration, I named him for his color, Gris. (Pronounced Grrrrrisss).  He turned out to be sociable and funny as well as a master hunter in his younger days when he presented me with unrequited mice and birds and remained baffled by my lack of gratitude. More than once in the early morning hours his deep throat purring warned me that a bird was flying about the house desperately trying to escape my leaping cat.  With age, his skills diminished though just a couple of months  ago I was stunned to find a (minuscule) mouse in the family room.  Gris never met a stranger, never scratched or bit anyone and was mostly a peaceful neighbor to other cats.  I used to joke that ours was my best and longest lasting relationship.

Last month his great age finally caught up with him.  I miss his insistent morning calls for breakfast, his familiar presence on my desk, and his weight on my lap as I watch television. 
R.I.P.  my sweet friend.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


2010 was not a year to linger on so here is a drum beat to welcome 2011

I look forward to hearing them in action tonight.