Vacation While You Can

So many things to say. If you use a period-tracking app and you live in the wrong state, you might want to delete it. It could be used in evidence against you. And if you are in that demographic, maybe get a VPN. Plan C is fine, if no one can trace it to you. When my grandmother went for her abortion — it would be a full century ago, or near enough — she was raped by her doctor and of course didn’t dare report him. We’re headed right back there again, folks, and doesn’t a story like that make pills sound good. If you have kids with birth certificates and you think they too have a right to life, maybe get them them a kevlar vest — in school colors, why not. If you live in a state with coal-fired power plants, you might want to move; it’s about to get pretty smoky in your neighborhood. And if you can vote in the States, do so. It really is a big deal.

Let’s talk about something else. Jacques loves his new toy. It is less fun to watch him, now that he has figured out how to grasp his shark by the tail but it still squeaks and bounces in a satisfactorily erratic manner.

My new trees are doing well. We have had a long period of slow, soaking rain, for which they and I are grateful. I am already harvesting produce from my garden. And unlike Mitch McConnell, the olla is your friend. An olla is this terra cotta pot that you bury in the ground near the roots of, say, your tomato plants. From time to time you fill it up. The water oozes out into your plant roots. And hey presto, your olla-watered plants will be half again as big and bushy as your drip-watered plants. I think it uses no more water, as I refill it only when I am running the drip system. I’m a convert. I’m hoping for a big sale at the end of the season.

The season itself promises to be busy. I’m headed to a knitting retreat, of all things. The news being what it is, I can use the calming effects of a week of knitting. It will save me from overindulging in the CBD gummies. I’m looking forward to a parade of visiting friends and am making friends with people who actually live here. Kieron says he might just maybe finish my summer kitchen. I have been invited to give a presentation at an exhibition opening in August; more about that later. Maybe life isn’t so good right now but for the next few months, it’s going to seem just fine.

In France, anyone can be an artist. Even me.

car poster

Now of course I am not in favor of vandalism. Surely no one reading this blog, you classy and tasteful readers, you, would vandalize anything, leaving little bits of glass all over the bus stop. Certainly not. That said, it looks pretty cool, doesn’t it? Like that Fiat is just so peppy that it burst right through its little glazed cage? So what’s the story? Artistic statement — in which case Fiat owes somebody a lunch — or smartass thug who got lucky?

I think, best case, it’s a smartass art fart, not yet mature enough to realize that all the world is not his studio. I’m showing my age, aren’t I?

Seeing this poster got me thinking about something I like so much about living in France. People here value the life of the mind, to an extent and depth that we just don’t, in the States. David Lebovitz wrote once about having trouble with some bureaucratic nonsense at his bank, the usual “we’re not sure you’re legitimate” thing. The trouble vanished when, one day, he happened to walk in with a couple of his books in his bag. Almost in frustration he showed them to the banker saying, in essence, look, this is what I do. As it turned out, that melted the final resistance to whatever it was. There were no problems after that. You see, the banker realized that David was an artist. Well, okay, and a wildly successful published author, but he had had the numbers all along. This was something else.

I regularly have similar experiences, though to be sure with much less justification. A while ago I had cards printed with a few of my photos. I hand them out in preference to constantly repeating and spelling every last detail of my contact information. The cards started as a whim, a project for late one night when I couldn’t sleep. They have turned out to have a significant effect on my dealings with people here. It doesn’t matter, who, really, my vet, salespeople, could be anyone, they stop and really study the photo. Then they often say oh, you’re an artist. It goes from there. They could say most anything after that. What those cards stop cold is any question of why I am in France or why in the world would I be fixing up that house. Suddenly it all makes sense to them. Of course an artist would come to France. Of course she would put massive time and energy into creating a personalized environment, away from the distractions of the city. An artist needs a suitable atelier. So just like that, they start to see things my way.

After nearly a decade of coming here for much of the year and another year of living here — I am just about to renew my residence permit — I still feel like I just arrived. Thus I have no explanation or theory for this. I just know that I have this experience pretty regularly. I like it. I want to find out more about it.