Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Less Is More – Or not?

The Daily Prompt asks if I agree with Edna Ferber’s statement, “Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little”. Yes, of course I agree. This is a no-brainer for me. I constantly have the feeling of being overwhelmed by the “too much-ness” of today’s culture. Celebrities and their Twitters (which I do not read but can’t help but be aware of when I tread through all that fake news on my computer screen before reaching the safe – relatively –  harbor of my e-mail) are a sign to me of too much social media gone awry. All the talk about food, food, food makes me feel fat – but I confess I watch food shows in summer when TV offerings are slim-pickings. Everywhere on the Internet ads appear to sell me something. It is impossible to Google solutions for my computer when it is doing poorly without being taken in by a helpful crook. The other day I felt lucky to get out of that loop with only a $29.99 fixer’s fee. I intend to get better at recognizing scams. At least the other day I exploded at a phone caller telling me my computer was not working. I told the person (I feel sorry for people who earn their living this way) that my computer works just fine. Furthermore I did not believe he was who he said he was. I did not want to go into this with him. And I was going to hang up. It was awesome to bang down the receiver and pat myself on the back.

Paradoxically , I also experience the folly of acting on my less-is-more philosophy. When I moved long distance to my new home, I carefully packed the bare necessities, partly to save money on the moving truck (actually two smallish pods), and partly because I was tired of “things and stuff”. Unpacking my boxes was exhausting and left me wanting a glass of wine at the end of the day. I had packed a bottle of wine – obviously a bare necessity – and a beer opener, but no corkscrew. I hurried over to the hardware store just as they were locking the door for the day. I told them my story and convinced them to let me in so I could open my wine. In the two years I’ve lived here I have steadily replaced things I hadn’t considered necessities – additional plates and glasses for company, pots and pans left behind because I planned to give up cooking for myself, as well as for company (which I expected little of), and new recipes when I knew I had to repay the kind invitations of people I’m meeting in my apartment, as well as family. I still haven’t invited company but I plan to. I have drawn the line at family. I cooked a meal for my son and his family to celebrate his fiftieth birthday. I spent most of their visit in the kitchen laboring  over fixing one of my new recipes which left little time for playing a card game they wanted to play. My son said next time let’s order pizza and spend more time together playing cards.

On second thought, maybe Edna Ferber and I should meet somewhere in the middle.


Division of Labor 50’s Style

Three sons came wondrously into our lives.
Named, welcomed, cradled and loved.
Born to two people equal in mystery.
Born out of prayer, desire and good will.

Our roles carved out clearly, new mother and father
Divided by dictates of wage earning and care.
We accepted directions designed by the culture.
How can we go wrong if we follow the past?

You played the game with your business and briefcase,
I toiled the ancient time-honored task, mom.
It became clear to me whose was the real work.
How can mere money surpass mother’s milk?

My anger stoked tension and pulled us apart.
All that the mystery sought to unite
Clashed in unfolding lives shaped by old values.
And down crashed the cradle, the babies and all.

How can the mystery tell us a new tale?
Where can we start over to patch up the past
Begin a new tapestry strong in its weaving,
Healing, forgiving, creating in love?


Weekly Haiku Challenge: Number Eleven

Chaos and clamor
Propel me to solitude.
Who are the mad ones?


Autumn Leaves Me Sad

It’s been a funny morning.
Rainy, breezy, timid sunshine
No more summer, not yet autumn.
It can’t make up its mind.
Strange sadness dwells in me.
And then the geese fly by
To tell me all is well.

No ordinary migratory
Birds are these
Who fly from here to there.
These winged creatures stay all year
And fly around for sport.
They welcome me who’s been away
Now back to shed my tears.


Memoir of Two Innocents Abroad: Part Nine – The End

The time had come to say good-bye to Cannes. We arrived early at the airport in Nice and boarded our flight to Paris. The plane flew above the Alps whose snow-covered peaks were poking up above the clouds in full sunshine. It was a gorgeous sight! When we landed at Orly Airport in Paris we learned that our next flight was four hours late. We bought a Travel Scrabble game and settled down to play Scrabble and wait. Once airborne again we flew only one hour to London and had another wait of an hour-and-a-half. Finally we headed out over the ocean and began our seven hour trip to New York. We had been up since midnight according to the time zone at home. Except for three hours of darkness at the end, there was daylight our entire trip home. We continued to play Scrabble all this time – one game, which I lost.(When we went through customs we had only our Scrabble game and three Match Box cars we had bought in England for our sons to declare. I still have the Travel Scrabble game in its original box with the sales slip from Orly Airport and the piece of paper we kept score on for our marathon game. There is only an”e” tile missing.)

When we landed in New York we had long since missed our flight home. We hurried through customs and found that we might be able to make the last flight out to our destination that night. However there was a problem, we couldn’t find a bus or taxi to take us to the terminal on the other side of the airport to catch the flight. We were determined to get home that night so we just picked up our baggage and ran across a grassy field to the terminal. The flight was sold out and we were put on stand-by with only fifteen minutes until the plane was to leave. All the other people were still waiting for the shuttle bus and missed the flight so got seats – just in time. By midnight we were home. We had been travelling twenty-four hours with only three hours of darkness. It took me two days after I got home to know where I was when I waked up in the morning. I even dreamed in French which was most disconcerting since I didn’t know what the people were saying.


Haiku Challenge Number Ten

Create and Destroy.

Sundering false dreams
Sharp-eyed dis-illusionment
Brings clarity true.


Memoir of Two Innocents Abroad: Part Eight

The last day in France dawned perfect and sunny. After we said Bon Voyage to Harry and Paula as they left on their trip, we had the day to ourselves. We planned a really memorable outing. We drove west from Cannes along the Mediterranean to St. Tropez where the girls go topless on the beach. The ride was beautiful with little traffic. This is not considered the true Riviera because the beaches consist of rocks instead of sand. The red, rocky cliffs of the Maritime Alps come right down to the water’s edge. This part of the coast is not commercial or fashionable as is the section from Cannes to Menton, on the other side of Nice. We thought if we ever went back we would visit this part of the coast away from the crowds and traffic.

St.Tropez became fashionable after Bridget Bardot and her crowd discovered it. It is a small fishing village with a tiny beach and shallow water. The girls go topless all right! Actually they are mamas about my age with small children who go topless and bottomless. The children wear only a chapeau to cover their head. The mamas are built more like twelve-year-old maidens so they look quite natural bare. I thought they were lovely. We were glad we found the “girls” since that is why we went there.

It was great beach weather. We had lunch in a restaurant on the beach – Salad Nicoisse, popular in Nice. It is a sort of chef salad with black olives and tuna fish in addition to strips of ham and cheese. Delicious. And we had our usual beer. After we get back home I will have to work to lose the three pounds I gained from beer and wine twice a day and all those croissants and butter for breakfast.

On our last night we walked around Cannes and found a restaurant which was “French Provincial” in style. By now we had learned how to read the menus and prices posted outside the restaurants before deciding where to eat. We felt like old-timers and were happy with the restaurant we chose. After dinner we went to bed early. We had to get up at 5 A.M. to make it to the airport in Nice in time for our flight to Paris. After Paris next stop home.


Memoir of Two Innoncents Abroad: Part Seven

After putting the German guest on the airplane for Brussels we returned to find that an American woman accompanied by two teen-aged boys had come to town. Like us the American woman was to contact Harry for directions when she got to Cannes. She found her way to the same hotel we did, La Splendid Hotel, to make her call. We decided that hotel must attract lost Americans. This lady is spending a month driving around France with her fourteen year old son and a French boy of the same age whom she acquired in Paris. She’s taking pictures with a fancy camera that she doesn’t understand and writing a story in hopes of selling it to the National Geographic. She put her boys to bed at La Splendid Hotel where Harry got them a room and joined us for supper. Paula and Harry took us to a restaurant where we had a marvelous meal of a rich cream soup with mussels, called velvet soup, and chicken grilled with vegetables, which was nothing like what happens to chicken and vegetables in the U.S.

The American lady accepted Harry’s invitation for lunch at his and Paula’s apartment the next day. She said she would arrive at noon by herself. She arrived at 1:30 with both boys! They had gotten lost coming up the hill to Harry’s place. She didn’t explain the boys’ presence. Paula’s maid had prepared a lady’s lunch and there wasn’t enough food for two hungry boys not to mention all seven of us. And what there was had gotten cold. Paula had a 2 o’clock hair appointment. She excused herself and left Harry to entertain the bunch. Harry is absolutely great at this. He loves to tell people about France and to have them like visiting his adopted country. (Have I said that Harry is an American and Paula is French through and through?) That night some more Americans appeared for drinks, plus a large contingent of Paula’s French relatives. We ducked out and had dinner alone. After the “light” lunch we were starved and ready for a quiet meal together.

We spent the following day sightseeing because Harry and Paula were packing to go on a trip of their own and we didn’t want to be underfoot. Harry planned a full itinerary for us. First we were to go to an artist’s colony up in the hills a short distance from Cannes. We got lost in the hills and took three hours finding the place. It took twenty minutes to return to the main highway. Next we headed to Monaco. We drove up on the mountain where Princess Grace lives. We drove by her palace but couldn’t stop because there were absolutely no parking places. For the same reason we drove past Monte Carlo without stopping. We crossed into Italy, driving by the sea all the way. We planned to have a pizza and then head home. We couldn’t find a pizza parlor in Italy! We had no Italian money anyway so we went back to France. We drove higher up in the Maritime Alps to La Turbie, where Caesar Augustus crossed into Gaul. He built an enormous monument to commemorate the event. My husband walked up a steep hill to see the monument. He took a picture for me since I balked and decided to stay put in the car. I was tired of foreign countries and mountain roads where we lost our way.


Memoir of Two Innocents Abroad: Part Six

On the last leg of our journey from Roanne through the Loire Valley to the Riviera we awoke to a beautiful sunny day. It was the first time we had felt hot since we left the airport in New York City. We started out driving through a very hilly region. As we came to the top of a little hill we saw two policemen. By now we knew to be wary of them, with good reason. The policemen saw us and whistled for us to stop. They thought we had a stolen car it seemed because of our license plate problem. (You may wonder why we didn’t have it fixed. Conversation in France was so difficult for us we never even asked directions of anyone. We just tried to solve our problems ourselves.) We located the car’s registration and a policeman copied down two pages of information before letting us go. The rest of the day we stayed as far away from policemen as possible and never looked one in the eye. And they were all over the place, too. When we finally got to Marseilles and the Mediterranean they stopped paying attention to us. We figured the police didn’t care about a crooked license plate in a place where there is supposed to be real crime – and smuggling.

It was close to six o’clock when we reached the Mediterranean – as blue as can be with a cool breeze blowing over the water. We drove on to Cannes and stopped to call our friend Harry. He met us and lead the way to his condominium which is something out of a fairy tale. It is on the side of a hill – part of the Maritime Alps which begin at the sea – and has palm trees and magnolias that grew in the garden of the old estate which was formerly there. Each condo has a balcony on the front and the back of the apartment building. The front one overlooks the sea and that is where Harry and his wife Paula eat breakfast and lunch. They always have dinner out. The floors of the condo are Italian marble. The apartment was filled with vases of flowers. And while we visited there was a full moon that turned the sea to silver. It was so exotic!

Our friends entertained a constant flow of guests. Paula said she never had time to shop for a new bathing suit for the summer and I could see why. When we arrived there was a German lady visiting who sold cosmetics made from oyster and calf embryos. She was quite a jet-setter and very nice. She spoke French and English in addition to German but couldn’t understand my Southern accent so Harry translated for me. For dinner we went to a restaurant on the beach to have bouillabaisse – a fish stew I’ve always read about and wanted to try.

The following day the German lady flew to Brussels in the afternoon. We joined Harry when he took her to the airport in Nice. Afterwards we toured the old quarter of Nice which is exactly how I picture the “old world”. When we returned to the apartment we discovered that the German lady had been replaced by an American one and two teen-aged boys. I’ll save that story for another day.


Memoir of Two Innocents Abroad: Part Five

After our day in Paris we headed toward the Riviera. There is an “interstate” from Paris to Marseilles but we elected to take the scenic route. First we went to Chartres to see the cathedral which is reputed to have the most beautiful stained glass windows in Europe. They are magnificent. The Cathedral in Chartres has a more rounded appearance than English Gothic architecture, which seems to point straight to heaven. I think there is a Norman influence in French cathedrals but can’t remember. Anyway the French cathedrals are similar to each other and differ from English cathedrals of the same century. The English have the tall spires, the French have the gargoyles. Both have flying buttresses. I studied all of this in art history. I don’t remember where my notebooks are but maybe I can dig them up to refresh my memory.

We left Chartres, keeping to the scenic route. We stopped in Le Mans for lunch in a restaurant where I encountered my first uni-sex bathroom. We looked for but did not see specifically where the Grand Prix is held and drove on. By now we were supposed to be in Chateau Country but hadn’t seen any Chateaux yet. In fact we still weren’t as taken with the scenery as we had been in England. Everything looked drab. The houses were built of gray and tan stone and the streets weren’t as winding. The farm land looked neat and well-tended. As we got farther from Paris we thought the towns had more character. And we saw some pretty estates at a distance. The houses closer to the road we traveled on were formal and of typically French architecture. Even the newer houses were built in the same style. There were rock cliffs behind the houses built along the side of the road where people had dug back into the rocks to make garages, barns and even parts of their houses. The people seemed poor but our friend in Cannes later told us that they are happy and do not consider themselves poor. The only thing they want out of life is a big, fine meal in a restaurant once a week. They save their money during week to blow it all on food.

Further along into the afternoon a French gendarme stopped us to tell us our license plate was on wrong. By this time the other screw had fallen out and that side of the plate was likewise held in place by a coat hanger. To make things worse, as we drove the wind blew the plate under the bumper and it became invisible. Neither the policeman nor we understood each other. My Berlitz book didn’t have phrases for the situation. My husband had reached the point of thinking if he just spoke loud enough his message would get through. Somehow we got the idea that the policeman thought we had been in an accident. We all gave up on communicating and he let us go.

We continued on. Our original plan was to spend the night in Lyons. We hoped to reach there in the afternoon and have time for sightseeing. Lyons is famous for silk and there is a Gothic section that interested us. Our run-in with the gendarme, which was getting to be a habit, slowed us down so we made it only as far as Roanne. It was dark by then and even if we had pushed on to Lyons it would have been too late do anything. We were glad to find a little hotel in Roanne, eat supper and go to bed.