Over dinner last night here in London, without warning my mother-in-law observed that she believes the week over in France helped me a lot. She remarked that she felt all I’d gone through with my mother’s and my uncle’s deaths in October and the weeks after in the U.S. trying to cope with the aftermath, particularly with my dad’s grief over Mom, had naturally tired me out. She believed that stress had been showing on my face (in a weariness), but felt I now looked better than I’d had in months.
Naturally only others really know what I “look like,” but, yes, I said, I’d loved last week; that I like France goes without saying, but that visit had been a true distraction. It had been fun, restful, and taken my mind largely off the sadness on the other side of the Atlantic. Relaxing lunches like this certainly played a part:
During our La Clusaz chalet stay last week, my wife told me she had had a pre-ski chat with a Frenchwoman in the boot room. When my wife’s French finally proved unequal to the Frenchwoman’s, she admitted it. The woman broke into English and continued the conversation. Eventually I came up when the woman (who had seen us together at meals) asked, “Where is your husband?”
“He’s writing,” my wife said she’d explained. “He’s a writer and gets inspiration here.”
Yet “inspiration” sometimes appears from the strangest of directions. A couple of days later after we checked out, we were sort of surprised to find the driver waiting to take us back to Geneva Airport was not the limo guy who’d dropped us. Instead, it was a woman of about 40.
As we headed off in her immaculate, small SUV, softly spoken she too revealed she spoke English well. She became easily the chattiest airport driver we’d ever recalled having in France. Soon she was on about the region, the weather, the lack of snow, the scenery….
The chalet staff is much the same as last year. The major change is the young Polish woman who worked in the bar, and whose French was so good we’d initially thought she was French, is gone. She had told us the job was only a stopgap until she got one in her field, so her departure isn’t a shock. (I don’t remember her field, but she was a recent graduate.) A similar aged Frenchwoman is in her role now.
Good grief, it’s so early! We’re up at this time because we’re going across to France from this morning until Saturday – to La Clusaz in the Alps. After all that’s sadly happened since October, we can use a getaway to a gorgeous spot and this one more than fits the bill:
We’ve moved around so much in recent years our dog now lives with my in-laws. While walking him last night, I snapped this guy slinking around under the streetlights. You see them all the time after dark in outer London (the other night, I saw two of them together), and they always keep an eye on you from a safe distance:
Good morning! A group participation post. Don’t you just hate those?
Don’t groan, I won’t be going around “the room” looking to each of you individually, putting you on the spot. No need to avert your eyes or slide down in your chair; there are no wrong answers to these two simple questions. You may share your replies in the comments if you wish – which would seem obvious, I suppose, given naturally I can’t compel you to answer, of course. ;-)
I write to you in the 18th century thinking I might dispatch this to you in Nantes post restrante, but we don’t do that commonly in our time & consigning it to the English mail is not what I wished to do either not because it will be opened and read by some scoundrel as in your time but because now the price of a letter has become so great as to cause one to need to secure a bank loan first & you are long dead anyway. I have decided it is best placed on our inter-net which is easily found & we accept our governments to-day read every thing we write on there. Centuries passing have not changed everything.
[UPDATED: January 18: see below.]
[UPDATED: January 13: see below.]
Struggling to outline the next novel and how I am going to attack the tale and its scope, I spent most of this morning and early afternoon reading and tapping tapping tapping preliminary notes – all while trying to take myself back to the 1790s.