They never stop talking

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a bad day. A dear friend is ill. His daughter — let’s call her qvnr, for Queen Victoria Meets Nurse Ratched — has declared that if he sees me — any woman, but in practice that basically means me — without chaperone, he will never see his grandchildren again. The man is dying. He is frightened and alone. Teenagers have lives, so he doesn’t see them much anyway. And the rest of the time? SOL, Pops. You can sit there in solitary and think about your impending doom.

Well. As part of his farewell tour, he organized a day of presentations and asked me to talk. As I listened and waited for my turn, I couldn’t help but wonder whether French people, at least the ones I seem to have fallen in with, ever stop talking. A key presenter arrived late and spent a good ten minutes explaining why. Then he explained again. Then we all started again, with Mr. Late frequently interrupting. And this seemed to be expected. Absolutely no-one seemed surprised or annoyed. Finally, my turn, but my introduction was so complete that it may have taken longer than my presentation, especially as it included about half of what I planned to say.

Of all things, at lunch a woman leaned toward me and said, “That was fascinating. Could you speak at an event in July?” Of course I said yes. Why not? When in rural France….

I couldn’t help but think of Christmas dinner, when they went around the table and asked, basically, what have you accomplished recently and what is coming up for the next year? And we were expected to have major life events to recount. One guy received a national award for his work in physics. Another was graduating from one of the more prestigious French universities. It went on like that. If I had declared that I had just winter-pruned my roses, it would have brought down the tone of the whole event. So I told them about a paper I had agreed to write. By next Christmas I’d better have made substantial progress on the thing, too.

It looks like people are expected to make public presentations and that they are expected to be involved in public life. I’m amazed at the number of people I meet who are adjunct mayors, or real mayors. The painter that invited me to speak also has gallery showings at her house. At the last one, the mayor came, not for social reasons; it was part of his job. It was a public event and a medium-sized deal. Jean-Yves was head of a Europe-wide professional association. In the States that’s a somewhat unusual thing. Here, no, folks just do it. And when the presentations are done, everyone goes for lunch/drinks/dinner and they talk some more.

So here I am, several years into my blog, writing at length about people who never stop talking. Maybe I’m going native. Really, all I want to do is shut out the noise and wrap my arms around my wonderful friend. I want him to know that although he is going where we can’t reach him, until then, he won’t be alone.

Which Way is Costa Rica?

This is the image. My happy home, which it is, with a beautiful, landscaped garden, where I now have only gravel. But soon, maybe, depending…

I won’t even show you the reality. Reality may well suck up my landscape money. It came in the form of a notice from my utility company. They informed me that electricity prices would increase, which I knew. I thought maybe 5%, tops 10%. But no. For the next seven months my electric bill will go up 50%. Then will it go back down? Not from what I’ve seen so far. My money seems especially attractive to them.

I had been looking at solar panels anyway. Honestly, it was throwing the dice to see whether I would live long enough to see them pay for themselves. It could be time to run the numbers again.

Or, maybe just move to a warm climate. Granada is nice, as is Barcelona. Maybe Malta or Sicily? Or, I hear intriguing things about Costa Rica.

I’d hate to start over again. I have friends here, ones I didn’t know before I moved to France. My French has improved to the point that it is only half bad. Maybe I’ll just pay up. Ugh.

Jacques Report


This is Jacques at the vet. We had just gotten to the house from Paris and the little apartment bound guy was running off some energy. He found a cat and chased it way deep into the back garden. You see only part of the result. His bloody little butt is the other part.

I’m sure the cat owner would argue that his beloved was acting in self – defense. Me? I would argue that the psychopathic sport – killer was trespassing and disrespecting the security guard. He deserved far worse than a good scare. If I lived in Texas, like my sister, I’d be packing heat; “cat” would be written on every bullet.

However I’m in France, so I found a nearby 24-hour vet. Jacques got a shot for the pain, plus some pills and ointments. We’ll see how he does. It’s amazing how the French kicks in when it has to. Ordinarily I can barely order a coffee.

There are cat people and dog people. I guess you could say I’m a dog person.

So Jacques got a scratched eyelid. The eye itself was not damaged. We can’t really tell what happened at the other end, apart from a solid hit. He’s taking antibiotics. I added Neosporin for his bottom, in addition to the vet-supplied drops and ointment for his eye. Of all things, his tail may be broken. He cries every time we touch it, so we’re waiting to see about that.

I’ll stop now. You don’t want to hear my 10 – point rant on why psychopathic sport – killers — oh, oops, cats — should be kept indoors.