Suddenly Summer

Arcachon Plage, France, June 2019

. . . or maybe not so sudden for most people, but I spent a lot of June with a lingering case of parainfluenza, something I hadn’t even known existed. Ugh. Avoid it if you can, even if it comes wrapped in a package as adorable as this:

Brooks, before we all got sick – Photo by Chelsea

We’re all well now. and I’m finally spending time outside, mostly catching up with gardening tasks.

Le Patio, La Rochelle, France, June 2019

Okay, I had nothing to do with this hydrangea. It grew on the patio of the little house I rented in La Rochelle, but very summery, right?

I haven’t made it back to France yet, but it’s high time I told you about another fab 2019 French adventure with Pascale, Jacky and friends, this one specifically celebrating summer and Châtelaillon-Plage, the beach just south of La Rochelle where the Kite and Wind Festival is held.

Don’t be deceived–these beach chairs were enormous, strictly décor!

Châtelaillon-Plage, France, June 2019

Somehow, I never managed to write about this event, possibly because there was so much to tell. It was a huge deal, including street after street of things to see, including fabulous old cars . . . .

MG at Châtelaillon-Plage Festival, June 2019

Then there was a multi-course moules frites meal for thousands on picnic tables lining streets as far as you could see. Those who had tickets (Thank you, Pascale and Jacky!) were given a specific color scarf and asked to find a table in the correct zone.

Repas de rue – Châtelaillon, France – June 2019 – Personal style encouraged!

Seriously French, right? Americans, let’s be honest, would have had those lame plasticky paper wristbands.

After dinner, we and the hordes headed to a concert with Collectif Métissé,  who had us all dancing. One woman in our group wanted to move a bit closer to the stage, so started dancing her way forward and the next person hung on to avoid losing her, and then the next, etc. Soon we were all linked together dancing and everyone thought we were a conga line and let us through! Genius. I think we even picked up a few conga-line dancers along the way.

June 2019

After the concert, we all headed to the beach for the fireworks. Pascale, Jacky, and I had lost sight of our friends, but found a perfect spot on warm, silky, white sand, right by the music. Bliss.

It was another “Just say OUI” adventure. It had been so hot all day, and we knew it would be crazy-crowded, but Pascale had already bought the tickets and friends were expecting us. I’m so glad we went. It was a perfect finale to my 2019 stay in La Rochelle (and environs). I’m thinking about it now, because . . . summer.

Also, fireworks.

There’s . . . a lot right now. A lot to worry about. A lot to argue about. But in the midst of it all, I’m praying for all of us: civil discourse, kindness, and the assumption–until proven otherwise–of good intentions. Have a safe 4th of July and a wonderful (and healthy) summer of grace and peace.

And . . . baby smiles . . .

Brooks – May 2022 – Photo by Chelsea

Birthdays

I’m thinking a lot about birthdays right now . . .

David – July 1974

. . . partly because I had one a few days ago, but also because a number of friends also celebrate birthdays near mine. My dear friends the Frenches take it to a whole new level, with about half their family’s birthdays within a couple of weeks. Hope you Frenches have had and/or will have wonderful times together celebrating each other!

It was a little bittersweet for me this year because this birthday specifically reminded me of one of David’s.  The “When I’m 64” post was the last carefree post about our adventures and our easy-breezy life just before his diagnosis. The photo in that post . . .

David 4 June 2013 at the Anchorage, Lake Sunapee

. . . was also the photo at the celebration of his life less than a year and a half later, so although I still love the photo and of course, all my memories of him, there’s more than one emotion going on.

We’ve had many great birthday celebrations over the years . . .

Tom, Lexi, David, Sunny, Jacky and Pascale –  May 2017 – my birthday
Brittany and David – November 2012 – Brittany’s birthday
Brittany with Courtney’s cake – December 2013
Felicity, Courtney, Bailey – December 2013
Bailey’s 4th birthday – March 2011
Felicity on Bailey’s birthday – March 2011
Chelsea and David – October 2011 – DC visit for Chelsea’s 25th birthday

. . . and likely will again. I will appreciate every one of them.

But now my birthday will forever also be the anniversary of another horrifying school massacre. I don’t even have words for that. All I can do is pray . . . and vote: praying comfort and peace for those grieving and traumatized, healing for whatever evil or madness is running rampant, wisdom and courage to enact better policies to prevent yet another repeat . . . and voting for those who most seem to have the latter.

Meanwhile, the day after my birthday, I started as temporary nanny for this guy . . .

Brooks 5.25.2022

. . . while Chelsea and Brian work and his big brother Beckett is at daycare. So I will be doing my best, loving and caring for this little one (and his brother when I get to see him).  Hope you have someone to hug right now!

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  Jesus, as recorded in John 16:33

Once Upon a Time…

I’m not sure I’ve ever written anything beginning with those words, but there’s something about them that sparks the imagination, quickens the pulse. Some images do this for me, too, . . .

Rochefort-en-Terre, Bretagne, France – May 2019
Rochefort-en-Terre, Bretagne, France – May 2019
In or near Saratoga Springs, New York, August 2014

. . . especially those of gates, doors, alleys, but also moments captured that seem to resonate beyond the present. David and I stopped by this place in August 2014 before heading back to France. Look closely at the bottom left.  I remember seeing these children . . .

In or near Saratoga Springs, New York, August 2014

. . . walking in front of this gorgeous old place, all dressed in grown-up formal wear, and feeling for a second as if I had been transported into a Jane Austen novel or maybe one of Edith Nesbit’s. And although I can no longer remember the name of this place, I’ve never forgotten that moment.

And what about this . . .

Giverny, France – July 2019

Something about it makes me wonder who may have sat here. Monet and friends? And what were they eating, drinking, talking about?

I’m thinking about writing and imagination a lot these days, because I’m  in a new poetry class where we’re being challenged to access the imagination in various fascinating and productive ways. But also because I’ve finally finished the first draft of the memoir of my life with my beloved David.

David and Sunny – Île d’Aix – June 2014

All but the epilogue, that is. I want to read through the whole thing (editing madly, of course) before I decide how I’d like it to end.

It occurs to me that I may never have mentioned that I did have two poems accepted for publication in the Northern Colorado Writers 2021 anthology Chiaroscuro. If you are interested in getting a copy of that anthology, try here  or on Amazon here.

I also have one poem in All the Lives We Ever Lived: A Lighthouse Writers Workshop Community Anthology, Volume 1 published in 2019. You can find that one here.

And I recently attended a workshop about putting together a chapbook, which is a short collection of poetry (sometimes super-short), and I may manage to pull that off before too much longer, almost certainly before the memoir.

I mention all this because there’s a dear woman I encounter at various poetry events and in my classes who seems concerned that I still write sometimes about grief and loss. I promise I am still very much engaged in life.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who dreamed of writing a real published book. I haven’t given up yet!

Here’s wishing you the very best as you chase your dreams!

Moving

Okay, none of us are moving here . . .

La Rochelle, France

or here . . .

Monet’s House and Garden at Giverny, France

or here . . .

Château de la Roche Courbon, France

or here . . .

Forteresse de Largoët, Bretagne, France

or even here . . .

Hill House, John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, North Carolina

. . . although I wouldn’t mind revisiting all of the above. Still, moving seems to be the word of the moment. Chelsea and Brian are moving to a new house next week, fortunately still only about twenty minutes from me. Meanwhile, Brittany is awaiting final approval to head to Australia for a couple months of training. Then if all goes according to plan, she’ll head back to Australia in the fall, with Andy and their dog Bega, for a two-year stint. Even Courtney and her crew are looking for a new house, preferably to buy within the next month or two. So there’s a lot of moving going on.

Chelsea and Brian are crazy busy and buried in packing boxes, since moving day is  nearly here. Beckett goes to the nanny’s, so they can get some packing done, and I’ve been on call to entertain little man Brooks. Brooks 18 March 2022 

Chelsea and/or Brian do all the work and I sit on the couch holding a warm, sleeping baby or darling, cooing, smiling baby. Okay, yes, sometimes enraged or spitting-up baby, but still. Best moving experience of my life.

When I’m not on baby duty, I’m doing a lot of writing. Lots of poetry, but I’m also closing in on the first draft of the memoir I’m writing about my life with David, which is a whole different kind of moving. I’ve reached the point where we’ve just returned from our 2017 trip to France–maybe that’s why I chose all the France photos for this post. But it’s the point where both the news from the medical team and David’s quality of life are beginning to get progressively worse with each passing week. And although I can now think of our many happy memories with  nearly unambiguous joy, the hard times are, well, harder. Still, it feels right to tell this story.

And then there’s the news. I don’t know how any of us could not be moved by the plight of those from Ukraine, forced to leave their beloved homes, and often to leave their country entirely, to avoid violence and destruction. It’s beyond moving. It’s heartbreaking.

So I’m wishing you grace, whether you’re moving or holding babies or reading the news. Whatever you’re doing to try to help anyone, bless you. I’m praying for peace for all of us on this small, troubled, moving planet.

Adventures in Wanderlust