Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Last Straw

It was just another ordinary morning at first...doing the rounds of chicken coop cleaning, floor washing, dog walking, fire cleaning, wood collection and laundry sorting. But although I didn't know it, all the time, my body was storing up a secret suprise for me. After lunch, the sun shone warmly across the garden with something of a waft of spring about it. So I ventured out into the garden with my secateurs and had a fantastic time bending down and trimming back nettles and brambles whilst the dogs played fighting beside me, and the chickens pecked for worms in the newly cleared ground. The pile of weeds in the trailer grew steadily higher and I was very proud of myself when I finally came back in the house. Then I noticed a foul odour coming from this small dog. it was too much to be remedied with a spray of air freshener. He had to be bathed. Since he blocks up the downstairs shower with his stupid hair, and has stumps for legs, I had to pick him up to carry him upstairs to the bathroom. So down I reach -and then up again-and PING! -suddenly my back is in agony. Too late-can't drop the dog-so I race up the stairs in agony, and drop him in the bath-I manage to get him showered in there whilst all the time dreading taking him out again. His legs are WAY too short to manage it for himself. NEVER get a dog like this. M was not due back home for ages and I couldn't very well leave damp dog in bath for three hours or so. So nothing for it but to heave him out again...and ever since, of course, I have been suffering. OW OW OW. M doing more of the chores currently-but with more enthusiasm than consistency, I fear. Next time, I shall just strap one of the ambient air fresheners to this dog. Never Ever again.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


One day, a couple of people will be visiting this area we live in (Normandy, France) and they will stop to look at some of the remarkable, ageless granite buildings here. They will notice pockmarks in the stone work, and speculate as to what they might be. Perhaps a problem with the stonework? Or some kind of acid rain? perhaps one of them will suggest they could be bullet holes from the war-but it could well seem one of the less likely explanations, given the sheer quantity of the marks, and the peacefulness of the town. Since, on a sunny day, it can seem impossible that a group of men nearly all of them under 25 and incredibly far from home-will have been moving around that same area, fearful, and fighting for their lives. Memories are becoming fuzzy and there are many inconvenient truths.
Today, I went to play the piano for some old people at the local 'Maison de Retraite'. As usual, they were all sitting there expectantly as I arrived. I have to cajole them a bit to get them to sing. Then I do some Piaf (a particualar favourite of one of the old gents), then I play a bit of classical, and then I tentatively take requests-since I actually know very few French tunes. Today, one new old lady asked for "It's a Long Way". I wasn't sure what she meant-then I thought-and started playing "It's a long way to Tipperary". She became terribly excited and sang along in English. Afterwards, she told me that she hasn't sung that song for over 60 years-since she was a girl. She said she had previously sung it with French, English, and Scottish soldiers. She has remembered it all this time. Another request came in-"Lettre pour Elise" "Sorry-don't know that" I was saying then...another thought-and yes-it was Fur Elise...I played it, and thought of my Dad who used to love this, too. He had said he remembered, when he was a soldier, going to some free concerts in London given by classical musicians. Dame Myra Hess played Fur Elise, and he had loved it ever since. Later, we got a record of her playing it-and I noticed she put a tiny pause in before playing the 'E' in one of the phrases-and I put this in, too, now. I always think of him when I play this.
I don't know how these things will be remembred in a very few years time. There won't be a memory to be jogged with a tune, or even someone to remember how to play it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Modern Methods

I gather that there are still some people out there who use the outmoded methods of heating involving pushbuttons and timed thermostats. They must be, we like to have fun with our heating. Who wants convenience, cleanliness, and control when you have fun wielding an axe instead....

...then again, it's also a chance to get the little tractor thing out and while away another couple of pleasantly frustrating hours making sure it's runing OK after it's winter rest...
...and then, two aching backs later, you have the satisfaction of another wood pile ready for the next load of cold weather. This is such a GREAT way to heat your house....if you don't really have anything better to do!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Normandy Blues

The Normandy Blues are a well known affiliction here-a kind of generalised mildly depressive malaise. It's most widespread on days when the rain falls continously in a fine mist which demands a adjective other than 'rain'. It's a sogginess of the sky and of the brain. Everything becomes like a damp flannel left on the side of the bath for too long-and one look out of the cat flap can confirm that there's not really much to go out for. Obviously, this isn't a complaint given what's happening with the rain in Brisbane at the moment, but more just a comment on a state of being...

On the other hand, if you are a duck, you can just get on with things and appreciate the increased chance of finding a tasty morsel of worm or slug which the rain has brought closer to the surface...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mr Fox

Nature is a pretty amazing thing. Here, in Normandy, there's a lot of available space for the earth to recover from the more extreme conditions that the climate might throw at it-here are views of our front gate and the shepherd's hut here, at different times of year. Today, the sun has shone brighter and longer than for a long I have even been driven to washing windows and M and I have both noted our respective winter body bulges with some shame. The chickens are looking great with the sunny breeze fluffing up their feathers-we had three eggs today.
But then the darkness falls suddenly

in the evening-and we are sometimes a little slow in toddling up the garden to lock the birds up in their coop. The dogs were very restive tonight and I know there will be hungry foxes snuffling around our plump chooks. We must be more prompt to tuck them up.


About Me

My photo
I've lived with my partner in Normandy, France, for about four years now. There's lots I love about our lives here-including our beautiful surroundings-but I also miss my wonderful children and grandchildren who are back in the UK. I trained as a hypnotherapist originally in the UK and am now registered for this in France, I also like making (and hopefully selling) some jewellery.