Monday, May 31, 2010

Being Single Again

An interesting thing about being single again is simply the different way my time is filled. And yes, it is quite filled.

My social life is quite present, but has a very different slant. I'm blessed with girl friends -- friends who call me, invite me out, suggest activities, come by to visit, receive my phone calls and give me love and support when I've my moments of being down.

Thus I've been out to concerts, made a beaded necklace, received great massages in exchange for English conversation, gone to yoga class, am going out to an English/French networking evening, worked in my garden, cleaned out my pool, been to school meetings, explored Aix-en-Provence... and all this when I'm not touring my now plentiful clients visiting Provence.

I've time -- perhaps at long last? -- to take care of myself. Yes, massage is one thing, as are healers of other sorts. Myself and my larger self including my home, my garden, my children, my friends are benefiting from greater attention and focus.

I've time to be conscious.

I'm not running about with my head cut off. Rather than rush through a bit of cleaning Friday afternoon or Monday morning, I do it calmly on Saturday.

I'm still going out dancing, but to places I know where I'm received by friends and fellow students from class. No more evenings out at restaurants, and fewer movies in movie houses (I prefer the less expensive internet options these days).

Avignon is a hot house of theatre, artists, funky and friendly folk. A very different feeling from the more bourgeois Nîmes.

It's all just more relaxing, accepting. It's also a more international vibe. Nîmes and Vauvert were far more French. I know that sounds odd, but t'is true. The small town scene of the Vauvert market is far different than the bustle and movement of St. Rémy de Provence, Ile-sur-la-Sorgue or Aix-en-Provence. And downtown Avignon is filled to bursting with tourists these days. Thus I'm surrounded by English, German, Dutch and Japanese, to name a few.

As the birds singing in the trees outside my windows awake me with the sun (about 6:15 these days), I emerge into a different state of mind, a different world, a shifting reality.

I still have my moments of being down. But I am also very very grateful for what I do have. Slowly, I'll make sense of what I lived, thought, felt, chose. Slowly I'm growing, learning, adapting, evolving.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Good bye Isabelle

This morning we said good bye to Isabelle. Paul Pierre called me Wednesday evening to let me know that she'd died that morning around 3AM. Yesterday the family arrived, and today was a day for friends. He asked me to contact our mutual friend Sophie, the beekeeper. And I took it upon myself to call JP. Ooph, not an easy call for me. I would have vastly preferred to leave a message.

It was one of those moments when I just said to myself, you don't leave an sms about someone dying. That's just not done. This is something to be communicated by the voice. No? Ah well, it was brief, and awkward. What more to say? Were we going to chat about banalities? No.

I was saddened to learn of Isabelle's demise, and yet relieved as well. But I was thrown just hearing JP's voice. That sadness is frustratingly still in me.

In the end, both he and Sophie sent written notes to Paul Pierre. Neither was able to come to the mas.

And so, after dropping the kids off at school this morning, I headed out to St Martin du Crau. Paul Pierre greeted me, and immediately begged his excuses as he needed to be with others, elsewhere, that we'd find a time to talk in the future... Of course, and understandable. I gave him a hug, put Filou back in the car, and brought my roses and bottle of wine into the house.

And then... what? A simple greeting to faces I knew. A moment upstairs where Isabelle's casket was draped in a cloth, her daughter beside it. Then back downstairs. Could I help? A bit. But I felt rather out of it, lost, not at ease sliding into conversation with family members I'd never met. And so I took refuge in the cheese lab with Aurelie. Thankfully she was there. I grated some pepper onto her cheese, and helped a teeny bit (barely). Mostly I shared thoughts and feelings with her. She too is living a mini-nightmare in her own home as her mother is terribly ill, bedridden for more than a year now, and still for some terrible reason, hanging on. But, at the same time, her little girls -- like my little boys -- were being particularly lovely. Life has its sharpened edges, and its gentle ruffles.

Then back into the main rooms and outside. I helped put out the buffet of various foods brought by friends. I cut fougasse, and later the chocolate cakes. I opened some wine. And I waited. We then slowly made our way into the room to eat a bit, moving conversations. It was an event without direction. Paul Pierre was trying to be attentive to all who were there, and no doubt exhausting himself in the doing. His daughter Marie was sad and with her companion and her close friends. And others milled about. Other than managing food and cleaning and putting flowers into vases, no one dared impose themselves further.

And then, it was the moment for the casket to leave for the crematorium. Four strong men in the group carried it down the stone steps and out into the van. We gathered in silence, a few tears filling the pouches below our eyes, delicate streams descending. But... not a word, not a poem, not a shared memory, not a tribute, no note played on a cornet, or a violin, or a voice raised to the skies.

Each held his own council. We were a group of individual mourners in a shared space. Each held his memories to his heart. Why? why no ceremony? why no candles? why no sharing of our love for this woman? Why such a stiff upper lip? This is the Breton way?

I was lost, sad, and out of sorts. I wanted to let the tears flow. But in such solitude? Such silence?

And so I too departed, after helping clean up a bit. I climbed into my car and headed back to Avignon and the errands that awaited me there.

I've written before about funerals in France. And I wonder still why it is that there is such a different sense of things here. I attribute it as I might to the Protestant ethic of my world -- one where the people took back the right to communicate directly to God, to interpret the Word as they might, on their own. And thus gave themselves a voice and encouraged sharing their individual thoughts and perceptions. France is a product of its Catholic past (far more than the Protestant minority) -- a world where the priest speaks for you-- blended with its current laïc sensibility. Thus, if there's not a priest to do the talking for you, you don't talk, you don't interpret, you don't share your spiritual moments.

This is simply my groping in the dark to make sense of my own sadness in what I didn't experience this morning. As I shared these thoughts with two dear friends, and a colleague at the kids' Waldorf school, we were in agreement as to the importance of ceremony, marking the moment, sharing it, lighting a candle, reciting a poem, but most of all, allowing/permitting/celebrating a collective event.

And so, I grieve, and I am grateful that in this distant world that I've mostly made mine, I've friends who understand me, and who too would do as I would.

Once a bit of time has passed, I'll call Paul Pierre and see where he's at. What is next...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Morning at the Boulangerie

It was a fly on the wall sort of day. As we walked in the door, one of the large mixers was eating its dough (truly). A mechanical take off on the blob... but backwards? Jean Pascal did a quick hello and the baker's hand shape (back of hand to back of hand) before returning to the onerous task of peeling dough off the underside of this motor. We watched, a bit taken aback, but fascinated nonetheless, as he scooped up the heavy orange dough (for his orange and chocolate flavored fougasse) and carried it in three portions over to the alternate machine.

To get out of the way, but also because it's great fun, I took my group back to the baguette corner. There, the tallest of the bakers was hunched over preparing his boules of dough for their rise, and rolling out the dough already properly risen, laying the long ropes of sticky pale dough onto the special baguette racks, to be put into the special chilling/rising/ and convection air oven to bake for the next morning's crowd. Careful and constant repetition of a most important task. After all, bread is the staff of life, and where would the French be without their baguettes?

We then mosied over to another corner of the shop where a young stagiare was making an apple tart atop a layer of pastry cream atop puff pastry dough. Hmmmm

Then a moment's pause for a cup of coffee, before we watched Jean Pascal and his long-time employee weigh out and then perfectly form boules of lemon fougasse dough. And roll, and roll, and roll,.. under the palms and perfectly curved fingers, with just the right touch.

It's mesmerizing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Camargue on a windy day

The Mistral had been blowing for days. Nights I curled up under three covers, socks, pjs with long pants, the works. During the day, we wore light sweaters and leather jackets to break the wind. Sun glasses de rigeur.

They liked marshlands they said. Okay, shall we go to the Camargue in the evening? And off we went. Down the long stretch of road outside Arles. Due South. And landed thereupon a world that is flat, with a restrained palette of colors, peopled by horses, bulls and flamingos, oft covered with vacation rentals and ranches (manades), where not seemingly barren. Yet teaming (on a normal non-windy day) with an array of mosquitoes to impress biologists and tourists alike.

This day the sun shone fiercely. The sky was scraped clean. Our hair was tossed about mercilessly. The horses stood facing south, their backs to the whistling warrior winds. We gamely left the car and explored on foot.

In the distance the flamingos, on the other side of a ditch the white horses, and at our feet, salicornes, the edible salty plant often pickled and delightful atop carpaccio sliced beef. - Of course I harvested some to bring home and pickle myself!

It is another world down there, at the edge of the sea. You can go no farther and remain on the European continent. From this point, the sea and over there, Africa. It's tempting...

An Evening on the Town with the Boys

I've not often taken my boys out to town with a destination in mind that is far more adult than child-oriented. In the old days either the kids stayed with the aupairs, or we simply didn't go out (far more the latter). And in recent years I went out with JP, but rarely during the week with the boys. Or, dropped them off at a film while we went dancing, or set them up with a film at home, or sent them to a friend's house, or...

If I took them out, it was to the local pizzeria that they love, or to a film for them, or to a friend's house with kids. But, have them tag along to an event that interests me and not themselves particularly? No, I've rarely done that. And, so, I pay the price.

They're not accustomed to being "trimbalés" (sp?) all over the place. They're not easy. They don't make do with grace, tolerance and patience. They make their boredom known.

But, I would not back down. If not before, than from this moment forth, they need to learn (particularly Leo) that not every minute of the day is orchestrated for his benefit. Sometimes, you do something to please another. Sometimes you go along and make the best of it because someone else wants to do this. Sometimes, you just keep your mouth shut and be. Yes, I did get a wee bit spiritual and discussed living in the present, the now, where you're at when you're there... But hey, the words of Eckhart Tolle are in my head.

The evening wasn't a total loss. The small trio in the Rue des Teinturiers was excellent. We enjoyed 'un verre' each (a glass of rosé for me, orangina for them), sat on the wall and watched the world walk by. However, the moments spent at the Guingette of the Bal des Teinturiers were painful for me (due to their complaints) and them (they're not fans of Serge Gainsburg covered by a local band with the requisite accordion player).

Perhaps the next outing will go better?

A Month plus...

Well, it has been over a month. I've received emails, sent some. Beautiful flowers and an sms for my birthday. Curious. Perhaps it is easier to be "quittée" than to "quitte."

During this time I've read interesting and helpful books (David Deida, Hendrick Harville, Barbara de Angelis) and listened to others (John Welwood, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Tara Brach, Oriah Mountain Dreamer). I'm seeking to make sense of it all, to learn something, to be more for what I lived, and not less. To see a lesson amidst the pain and confusion. I sent on French versions of the first two books to JP... for his next coupledom. They both make some very good points.

And, for me, all this reading and probing into my soul and heart seems to be working. In any case, the universe is certainly telling me that at long last I'm on the right path.

These past two weeks I've worked more and earned more than in practically the past two and half years combined (okay, I exaggerate, but not by much). I'm getting ahead on house projects -- I even spent a day going through my mending pile! Finally, that hole in the butt of Jonas' pjs... My Good Will pile ready to go into the trunk of my car.

And even more lovely, my home is giving back to me, as are my children. Roses are blooming on every corner, bursting forth.

This weekend is a time of rest from 'work.' And a time to seriously work on the garden and the house. The pool is now painted with two coats of protective (non-toxic, organic) pine-colored stuff. The overgrown/broken down barrier to the far side of my row of cypress trees is gone, soon to be replaced by a clean and sturdy new fence. My vegetable garden is not only weeded, it is gifting us with fresh new garlic, and 300grams (a nice small bucket) of gorgeous strawberries daily. Perhaps to compensate for the completely fruitless cherry tree? Five new tomato plants are in. Three pumpkin seeds have sprouted, and two melon. The three pea plants that survived the slugs are each bearing pods. They will be, as we say, anecdotique. A saucepan they shall not fill. But a happy little boy may easily nibble some in the next few days, right off the vine.

My neighbor, aka my adopted little brother, is available to help out (for pay) in the garden, and is easily and happily taking on the role of masculine presence for the boys. Today was one of those magical days when I had lots of projects, had banished the computer, and we all spent the day working side by side outdoors in the garden. Laurent quickly had both boys at his side helping burn the brush. He carefully instructed them how, had them in proper shoes and gloves, and I simply laid off and did my thing (paint/weed/laundry/cake/lunch...). If only once JP had shown the same patience and presence of mind... Ah well, water under the bridge.

It's been pointed out to me that with my father issues... it is quite possible that somehow I sabotaged (not consciously!) the potential relationship between my boys and JP. That I needed to be in the tiny space of a couple, treated with tenderness and attention, and sharing that space with my own children might have been something I hesitated to put into place. Perhaps. Certainly, I early on got the message that we'd not live my ideal rhythm: 2 days together, 3 days me alone with my boys and 2 days all 4 of us together. The first time we shared a home (the 4 of us) for 3 days, the day my boys went to their father, I didn't get my man back, I lost him. His need to be alone was such that he needed days to recuperate from the invasion of my children in his home, and he fled me as well. Perhaps I learned this lesson too well.

Whatever the justice of the observation, when briefly I met a man who was fabulous with my boys, but apparently couldn't make time for me... I turned away from him, freaked by his workaholic nature, touched by his extraordinary devotion to the children, but put off by his seeming blindness towards what keeps a couple together.

However, I'm writing of the past, but my intention was/is to laud the present.

Friday night (very recent past, you must grant me) gifted me with a wonderful evening of tango -- dancing with many a different cavalier of varied skill, age, size, height, rhythm. It was glorious and warm and delightful and ... just what I needed. As I drove home I was on such a high. I've absolutely nothing to complain about. My kids are pretty darn nice. I've a collection of devoted and generous friends. I dance, I garden, I cook, I earn a living. I am at peace with my world, and reveling in the pure joy of it.

Yes, it would be lovely to meet someone new, at some point, who could truly look at me and accept the country/city nature, the dress-up tango dancer/barefoot gardener, the great cook of feasts for friends/curl up in bed with a book and a cuddle over a weekend... bundle of contrasts that I am. Ah well. In the meantime, kids, friends and a life.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Working in the Garden

A weekend for projects in the garden. A pool to paint and protect -- then to empty, clean and fill with fresh water. Brush to be cleared away and burnt. And helpful young men working away at my and my neighbor's side.

Yes, this is what a three-day weekend is for, especially when the weather is spectacular (at long last) and my kids are here with me. A fun evening barbecue followed by a freshly made cake and strawberries from the garden to follow!

Visiting Sophie

Do bees interest you? Are you at ease around buzzing things? Curious about all those different flavors of honey? Maybe contemplating having a few hives yourself?

Whenever I visit Sophie this interest deepens. She is so calm, so able, and so welcoming. During our most recent visit (with three lovely clients from Houston) we donned the beekeeper's garb and accompanied her to the box hives (ruches). She calmly filled her smoker -- not to calm the bees as many of us believe, but to make them believe their hive is on fire, at which point they gorge themselves on honey to beat their wings furiously to cool the hive. Hence, they are quite occupied with protecting themselves and don't react to the invasion and disruption of the beekeeper.

Thus armed, with both the smoker and this new knowledge, we watched as Sophie pried open the hive (the top is stuck to the bottom with the most sticky propolis), and removed a frame covered in bees. They buzzed about, moved about their frame, and left us quite alone. I felt just a bit hesitant, but not a one of us was stung.

We then headed over to her mielerie to see her new stainless steel centrifuge for removing the honey from the racks/frames and her extremely simple system of a fine-mesh strainer to catch the bits of beeswax before jarring her honey. She does not heat it, nor sterilize it. She simply jars it pure, ready and ripe from the hives. A gift of the bees.

After learning a bit about the many stages of a bee's life, the nutritional castration of the bees, and all the roles they hold throughout their 35-45 day lives, we were encouraged to taste. Hmmmmm Acacia, Linden Tree, Lavender, Multi-Flower from the Garrigue/Provence, and Chestnut. In a normal year, Sophie harvests Rosemary as well, and a multi-flower from the marshlands of the Camargue.

This year however, after 10 days of rain followed by 4 days of the powerful Mistral winds the Rosemary harvest is not possible, and the Acacia production will also be adversely affected. Ah well, we'll have to wait a bit more for the multi-flowers...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Birthday

Okay, today was my birthday. It began quite well. An sms from a dear friend. Beautiful dry and sunny, with a touch of breeze weather. Lovely visits before me, a serene and interesting book to listen to on my iphone...

So off I went to Arles to collect the clients, and then off to the goat cheese maker (Claudine, who is my other goat cheese maker, and a friend as well of long date). She and I shared tales of our recent singledom, and promised an evening together soon to truly catch up.

Then onto the baker -- who was busy making a pièce montée, and many another task on this day of the Ascension.

And then to St.Remy de Provence and a lovely lunch at Taberna Romana, my favorite Roman restaurant nestled in a Roman monument, Glanum. The weather kept on shining upon us. Ahhhh. While my clients took a look at Van Gogh's little room in the St. Paul de Mausolée psychiatric asylum, I took in the lovely weather and stayed with Filou outdoors.

Then down into town and a visit to the chocolatier's. Not only is he newly married for a second time, but apparently he's also papa for a fourth time. Goodness, I was not up on the news! So his shop-girl filled me in as we tasted any and all the chocolates we wanted (well almost). It's rather a lovely thing to be a favorite of your chocolatier and his staff...

We wandered the quaint streets, looked at galleries, coveted and purchased (I the former, the clients the latter) sun hats and paintings... And then, and then, and then...

Back to the car and a very flat tire. Uh oh. I dropped the clients off at the Essential oils' shop and museum, Florame, and went in search of a garage. But whoops. It's a national holiday. Yikes. And, the rain started to pour, and pour and pour. And Erick had a cooking class in Arles, and no one else was findable on the cell phone. I got through to my friend at the olive oil mill but he was busy with clients and alone in the shop. What to do? Yikes! Even handy old Gilbert was out of commission (that's what a new girlfriend can do I suppose).

I drove very slowly back up to the parking lot by the tourist office and got out of the car, and started looking for where a spare tire might be (in the rain). I found a spare umbrella in the glove compartment... but it took a minute to think of looking under the driver's seat for the various necessary tools. Erick thought the spare might be beneath the car. Hmmmm What to do?

And then, in desperation, I went over to the retired Moroccan men sitting out of the rain, their game of boule/pétanque canceled by the weather. And I asked, I implored, I made myself out to be quite the pathetic and ignorant female with no one to help her. It took a moment, but then two of them got up to help me.

We investigated the situation, started unscrewing bolts, realized that my tool for such was stripped. Took a pause while one went to get his car and his tool box, and then continued.

It was a pure moment of Blanche Du Bois. I was a woman in need, and they were competent, patient, and willing. The universe sent me angels in the form of gentle retired immigrants. They spent an hour in the rain getting the spare tire out, raising the vehicle, removing the old tire, changing it all.. While I documented the moment, and Filou rested in the car.

My brief (relatively) moment of stress and WTHell am I going to do? turned into a moment of grace. The clients were gracious and lovely as well. Then, a bit late, I drove them back to Arles, and me to Avignon where a grand bouquet of flowers awaited me. From? At which point, I hopped into a hot bath. Voila, a birthday almost passed. It has been rather affirming of the goodness of this world, I must say.

Oh, and Mother Nature offered me a perfect strawberry -- the first ripe one from my patch. Gorgeous! Succulent! Flavorful!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hazelnut chocolate topped cake.

With friends coming over, and the prospect of an early birthday celebration, I got busy making the most scrumptious cake. The only problem is I'm not certain I'll be able to recreate it. As the French say, I often cook and bake in the haphazard fashion known as 'pif.' I've simply been baking since I could read and I've internalized basic proportions for nearly everything I make regularly from cookies, to muffins, to bread, to cakes, to soda bread, to biscuits, to cereal bars... You get the picture. However, this is a rather dangerous thing to do if and when you make a particularly scrumptious dish. How to recreate it faithfully?

To up my chances, I'll write down here what I can remember of it... There are no photos (it went too quickly) but I remember the moistness, the flavor...

I began with 2 cups flour and 1 cup hazelnut meal (I love nut meals, and my friend was someone who limits the gluten in her diet)
1 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups whey (I made fresh ricotta last week from turned milk and kept the liquid for just this kind of thing -- may be replaced with yogurt or turned milk). -- the lactic acid base with baking soda is something I've been doing ever since reading Nourishing Traditions (see my book list on the side). The idea that the wheat flour be somewhat broken down by the lactic acid, and the more nourishing aspect of baking soda to baking powder...

Mix together till a paste, then add:
1 egg

In the mixer I put 2/3 a stick of sweet butter and 1 1/2 cups of unbleached sugar. I blended till fully mixed, then added perhaps 1/4 cup cold pressed sunflower oil and 1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla bean. This whipped up nicely, and I added an egg, and perhaps a second egg (making a total of 4 for the recipe)

I then poured the flour/egg/whey mixture into the mixmaster with the butter/eggs/sugar. I mixed till blended, and then poured it all into a non-stick cake pan and into my pre-heated oven (170C/350F) and let it cook till set (perhaps 40-50 minutes? it was a convection, so it goes faster than other ovens).

Remove from the oven and let sit till cooled, transfer to a cake plate.

In a small sauce pan melt 150 grams of chocolate, (5oz) with 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sweet butter. Blend till smooth, add a touch of cream (or in my case soy cream, I had none of the real stuff on hand) and whisk. Let cool a bit and then pour over the cake, smoothing it up the sides. Let it all cool and set a couple of hours and then serve as a lovely snack for tea time, or as dessert. As you would expect, the left-overs disappear at breakfast.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sorting through things

I'm taking quite a bit of time to be with myself. I suppose I'm in mourning, but also aware that I've time on my hands and in my head which I've not had in years. I'm in my own space, mistress of my self, my potential, my rhythms.

I'm listening to books on tape, reading, learning, exchanging, seeking. I've discovered Jean Houston Ph. D. and I'm reveling in her transformation of the self via the rich archetypes of myth and exploration. I'm devouring her book on Isis and Osiris now, with more to come. A rich source of intellectual stimulation, a world of myth and archeology, thought and discovery, seeking and giving, reaching out. If you're not familiar with her, she co-wrote Hillary Clinton's 'It Takes a Village.' There are many interviews with her available on ITunes, and over 25 books to open and explore. She of course has her own web site,

I am gathering strength from hers, from her experiences, from her gifts to this world. It is inspiring to listen to and read the words of a woman so alive to her time and her world, to our world and the many many individuals and cultures within it. Amongst other things, she is very gifted at adapting her voice to include the accents of the many people who've crossed her path. A born story-teller. Thus, inspired, enriched, I take a further step forward on this confusing and not always clear path. But so did Isis... so did Odysseus. So many of us come to a time in our life of crisis, confusion and a need to simply put one step in front of the other, though the end goal is somewhere off in the distance, hidden by clouds of dust and debris.

And, I am reading and seeking on the subject of couples, of what a couple could be, of the conscious relationship (John Welgood, author of Journey of the Heart) and the possibilities for growth within a couple. Not to be neglected in all this is the reasons we are attracted to another. Whether we like it or not, it is very difficult to avoid early programming and a future relationship offered to us, chosen by us, to learn, go beyond, overcome, deal with and explore our personal histories, imprinted upon our psyches and manipulating us in so many little ways.

So, it is no surprise (apparently) that I was attracted to someone who resembled my father over and beyond being tall, slim and graceful socially., And, it follows that he shared many of the characteristics that so hurt me ages ago. Time to relive, uncover, deal with, get over, forgive and go forth. So, I offer thanks to a partner who brought these aspects of my self to light, and pushed me, somewhat painfully, to acknowledge them and respect their power over me (which I dearly hope is not permanent, but that depends upon the work I'm able to achieve on my own).

And, it is no surprise that I heard when I was apparently most in conflict with him, something along the lines of, "just like my mother..." Oh yes, I was there to bring up his issues too. Did we deal with these? I don't think we particularly succeeded. But then we were blind and innocent to these dimensions. It is scary when the wondrous part of a love affair becomes tenuous. We seek to hold onto it, and are not aware of the lessons that are pouring forth in the ever multiplying moments of conflict, confusion, frustration, fear and upset.

I've read through the French translation of Hendrick Harville's book on couples. Hmmm very dense, very intense, and very informative. Both he and John Welgood hold out the hope that through a relationship that forces light upon our darkest corners, we can work through them. However, a serious commitment is necessary, and a willingness to brave the hard parts.

As I learn, I also work to let go. I am not a being filled with anger, but with sadness. And yes, forgiveness and letting go is all part of the process of healing.

To add to the recipe, I've started a short path with a therapist skilled in PNL or NLP -- Neuro-Linguistic Programming (or reprogramming as the case might be). He also dabbles in genealogy therapy where you go back through your family tree seeking patterns that you are repeating, not necessarily of your making, but part of the package of your origins.

I'm unable to do only one thing, but pile it all one atop another. And, I'm hearing similar things from each. I am told to re-incarnate my body, to let go of my hyper-mental/intellectual bent (particularly as I've an issue with self-control and weeping). This is terribly difficult as I've always found solace in books and information. I love to learn, I am passionate about stories, I can listen, read and explore for years on end. But sit down and cry? Um, that's very very difficult.

And so, I've also been to see an osteopath (chiropractor/healer by any other name) who is rather marvelous, and who noticed that my kidneys were low, particularly that one linked to my father (surprise), but also one linked a touch to my mother (not as bad off, I assure you). She used cranio-sacral techniques to push my spirit back down through my skull into my body (interesting) and did a number of crick cracks on my neck, shoulders, sacrum and mid-back. I think she thought I might break down in her office. But that was not the case. However, I certainly departed fully aware of my body, and physically quite weary! Alas, with such work and manipulation of my being, going out dancing on Friday was just not possible.

I recount this all in a flow as I write in such a fashion, but though it might feel that I'm pouring layers and layers down, swirling them into a mix of confusion and manic energy, such is actually not the case. I am calmer and more present to the moment than I've been in a very long time. I am honest with where I am, aware of the mornings that are rather difficult, the pleasures of walking in the woods, the need to do yoga, meditate, be with dear friends, offer help and focus myself on my impending visits from clients.

Amidst all this, the kids are getting good food, lots of fresh bread, muffins, quiches and lasagna, chicken with honey, curried stews... and my car is getting the air conditioning fixed, and wine is being shipped off to be sampled in Seattle and Portland, OR. Remarkably, I'm coping really rather well.

Even in the physical realm. My kitchen floor has been stripped down and repainted (last weekend) a lovely brick red, and my garden is expanding with squash, tomatoes and melon seeds all planted before our week of daily rain storms.

But so it is for many a single mom. We cope with our emotional crises as we are able, and in coping with them, we liberate the energy necessary to care for others, go forth, advance, and stride through this life.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Looking Back

I've been writing this blog now since February 2009. Not that long, and yet, well over a year. I re-read my posts from April last year, to get a sense of continuity and space. I've never been much of a journal-keeper, and thus it is a new sensation to have so much personal information available to myself about myself... if that makes sense?

So much I lived then I continued to live throughout this year. But there've been changes. I am no longer so worried about my boys. Last year I was intensely aware of my need to get them on track, of my need to be there, of an urgency in repairing some of the unintended damage that years of working very long hours and foisting them on au pairs had wreaked.

And now, that seems like a distant dream. Leo is reading, handling his homework with relative ease (and some nudging from me). He's seeing a writing therapist weekly to improve his grammar and handwriting. Jonas is happily back in his own bed (he shared mine throughout the winter, but seeing as I kept the house super cold, you could say it was as much for shared body warmth as any affective need on his part), in his own room, strong, independent, yet still very affectionate and eager for me to read to him at night. The bickering has calmed down (who would'a thought?). The house is truly quite peaceful. I feel that my boys have gained a solidity, a firmness in themselves. They are present, verbal, communicative, relatively and mostly willing to help me. They understand me, they know me, they work with me. I'm theirs, and we are a very tight family.

When the boys went off for a 'colonie de vacances' for a week during spring break, they became closer. Leo included and protected Jonas. Jonas looked up to and easily kept up with Leo. Apparently Leo even helped carry Jonas when he had a bit of the stomach flu one day.

Mealtimes are lovely. I no longer need to fetch a child out from under the table, nor do I much need to badger about eating/tasting various food groups, and basic table rules have been absorbed. It's 'acquis'. The daily expectations of house chores, rules, etc., are part of them. No more surprises.

Leo and I no longer have our late evening chats as he is happily reading in bed -- devouring Eragon and Harry Potter and various other marvelous reads. But we are making up for this in the front seat of the car as we go to school. The urge to communicate, share, learn is very present in him. And as no topic is off-limits for me, he is free to do so and takes advantage of his most loquacious mom.

In a week I'll begin working lots again. I'm quite booked with culinary and artisans tours this season, and it will be okay. I've a new neighbor whose kids are in the school, and we'll be going over my schedule to see how he can help me. My kids can easily be at home alone now. They eat their snacks, clean up after themselves, carefully lock the door if they leave for a bike ride... They know the routine. We've moved onto another stage of our lives together.

What a difference a year can make.

When at the Goat Farm, I took a walk.

The other day I took time to walk around the goat farm. I discovered a dirt road leading toward Arles -- to explore further with my bike on my next visit. I visited the horse, who was in with the goats nibbling away, hiding beneath the trees when the heat became too strong. When Filou ran up to her barking louding, she simply charged him and put him in his place. But, as she didn't really want to come close to me, nor is she truly dangerous, she stopped after a step or two.

Isabelle was sleeping, her new quilt upon her knees. The others were busy in each his own way, and my particular skills -- cooking and cleaning -- weren't really in need at that moment. So, I wandered, I looked, I took in the evolving spring. The fluff along the ground dropped form the polinating trees. The butterflies posing gently upon a bright magenta flower, the rosemary in blossom.

Each spring I see anew. I revel in this beauty, the last spring for Isabelle. As with many who are in the midst of this path towards death, it seems she has stayed with us till this moment. Now that the flowers are opening. Now that the warmth has returned, now that her little grandson can explore this marvelous outdoor world on two feet, she is ready to depart. A last spring lived, sensed, seen, felt.

In the beauty of her sphere. Aware of this magical moment of grace, I am.