Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A must listen

Toilet Paper Memories

I once had a guest who used three rolls of toilet paper a day to my one a week. It is not that I begrudge toilet paper to my guests nor do I belong to the Sheryl Crow school of one-sheetness, but I never understood how anyone could use so much, considering they she was out most of the day.

The opposite extreme was an uncle once who explained how to use toilet paper frugally and even sat on the closed toilet seat to explain how much to tear off and he held the paper on his knee as he shared his wisdom and until he could put it back on top of the roll for the next person, a true non wasteful New England Yankee.

When I was in fourth grade, a friend of my mother’s went to Europe. She made a presentation to my class with slides of war-torn Europe, telling us how lucky we were to live in such a rich place (now the standards of living are reversed). She had a roll of French toilet paper that reminded us of cardboard. For years I heard that about how much better American toilet paper was than that the Europeans had to suffer with.

In the early 60s as a new bride, living in a room in Stuttgart, our landlords provided newspaper in place of toilet paper. Although we wanted to use American paper bought from the PX, the said it would clog the toilet. Needless to say the toilet was clogged enough with the newspaper. My husband and I located a new place to live as soon as we could find one.

In Geneva my housemate and I use toilet paper as is needed, but when I returned home this week I discovered she had purchased some of the most unusual toilet paper that I have ever seen. The back ground is small light, light grey pinpoints of colour with white daisies embossed. Laura Ashley easily could have been the designer, if she were still alive. The paper would work as well for a wall paper in a room with a few red accessories perhaps. We will continue to use it however, for the purpose it is intended, rather than for redecoration.

However, it is strange to think of the pleasure looking at pretty toilet paper can give as well as give rise to memories of toilet paper long gone into unnamed sewers.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ten Little Indians

Ten little Indians
Laying on a bed
One rolled over
Nine little Indians…

I’ve song the child’s backward counting song since nursery school, on Rainbow bus trips, with my own daughter (although she often asked me not to sing or sing softly). Always I pictured each Indians almost as Fisher-Price figures with a black Dutch-boy cut, leather head band, single feather, different primary colour shirt and pants and for some strange reason bright round black shoes.

Only recently did I take it as a metaphor for life and death. The older we get the more often one little Indian rolls over never to be seen again. How do the other little Indians feel? Would Indian number 2 cut back on his cholesterol? Would Indian 5 and 3 jockey for a place to keep his place on the bed a bit longer? The song doesn't go into any of that.

Then were the Indians always on that bed. Did perhaps Indian 2 come from another bed? How did the loss of Indian Number 6 get back to those on the other bed – smoke signals? How did the Indians from the former bed react to the news? Did they rush to comfort Indian 2 or shouldn’t No 2 go to the first bed to comfort those left there. Can smoke signals comfort as much as hugs?

So many questions from a childhood song. So few answers.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

2 Euro entertainment

If my first day in Argelès was the vide grenier, it was appropriate that the last before returning home to Geneva, a brocante at the Château Valmy. I never really appreciated antiques that much until a woman I knew showed me some of the more interesting things. She could have had a bumper sticker that said, I break for antique stores.

I should have walked to the Château instead of spewing more pollutants into the environment. It is only about 20 minutes on foot and I would have been able to appreciate the flowers and vineyards on route, but I hadn’t realised that there were sidewalks all the way. Next time.

Those who know my anti-shopping stance may wonder, why I did this…

Well having trailed my friend through fairs, shops and auction rooms, I had learned a lot. Combine that with several BBC programs on antiques, I have learned a bit. So each time I go, I “buy” stuff for my imaginary farm house.

My purchases this time included

  • A wooden trunk with all edges covered in iron to hold linens
  • A Napoleon daybed for my office in case I have an overflow of guests
  • A Scandinavian style pitcher and glasses in a triangle shape coloured chocolate and mint
  • A five toothpick thick silver stick with a retractable ball and little silver threads to debubble champagne (the woman explained for people who can’t take the bubbles)
  • A geometric paining of lavender in a style that could have been done by an offsping of Gauguin if his genes were mixed with Van Gogh
  • A red corner cabinet painted with half moon laughing faces perfect for storing CDs
  • Three book cases with light green and stencilled painted cabinets under the shelves for my library

As I left the brocante, a man with a hooded falcon on his leather-gloved wrist, talked to one of the ticket takers. Below the Mediterranean was grey against the grey sky.

For 2 Euros I had two hours of entertainment. No worry about deliveries. No worry about rearranging anything. No worry about credit card bills coming in. One of the great advantages of furnishing my imaginary house.

Little girls in white

Outside the church little girl after little girl shifted in place or ran to greet friends. All were dressed in white. They were leggy in the way that young girls are. Parents stood around before the service. Unlike many Sundays the worshipers were not predominantly grey haired, although the regulars were there with their canes and twisted backs.The bells began to peel. Deductive reasoning tells me it is First Communion combined with Pentecôte services.

More than soft soap

People who know me, know I chafe against mass production as well as things that have to be shipped distances. Now I can buy soap made locally -- good soap, beautiful soap.

Last summer at the beach crafts market, my New York friend and I came across a young woman who designed and made her own soap. My friend bought me a beautiful blue square.

That same young woman has opened a Savonerie in the village. The soaps are in all different shapes and colours, including a tube shape in the Catalonian yellow and flecked with orange. For those who want to give an assortment as a gift, there are choices of baskets. Or it is possible to buy just one for personal use.

Something as simple as washing my hands, now has become a pleasure, not just for the beauty of the soap, but the sense that I know who made the soap, what her mother looks like, where she went to school.

It puts the personal into what before was impersonal.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sweeping up the Sahara

The wind blew hard. Cars left parked outside are dust covered.

Few cars have garages, which could almost make New York or London real estate look cheap. Well not totally. Some of the Catalans living in several-centuries old houses use their ground floor, which once housed cattle and chickens, to park their cars. But none of the transplants from the north of France nor other countries would waste the space on a car when it could be a kitchen or living room.

The dust has entered my flat leaving a fine coat on my sideboard, dishes, table, mantle and floor. I dust. I sweep it up, realising that it has travelled across the Mediterranean and I wonder if it once was stepped on by a camel. Had a Bedouin put up a tent over it and sat there with his family drinking tea and talking about the next day's plan? Or had it just sat there undisturbed until the wind picked it up for its journey?

No matter what happened to it before its journey, it had no control at all of its destiny. In a way it is like humans who can make little decisions, but are unable to change the direction of a hurricane, a downsizing company firing them, or a nation deciding to drop bombs on their home.

Sand doesn’t talk. I wish it did. There is much I would like to talk to it about.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ben & Jerry

When I was first in Switzerland my flat mate and I discussed what we missed about the States excluding, of course, people we loved. That was a given. It usually came down to food. Things like Dr. Pepper and Oreos became valued like fine jewels.

Now approaching two decades later it still becomes a question of food. I often think of

Dunkin Donuts raisin bagels

Dunkin Donuts blueberry muffins

Stouffer’s welsh rarebit

Among other things. My daughter used to bring the muffins whens he flew from Boston to Geneva despite being teased about fear of hunger by the attendants, and a friend arrived once complete with an assortment of donuts that were gobbled up with joy.

And there was a time when having an email from a friend who talked about eating a blueberry muffin in her library with a cup of tea when an overwhelming wave of homesickness hit. I shared the feeling with one of my team. She went home and had her mother bake me blueberry muffins to make me feel better.

And it just isn’t stateside food. I never arrive at Cornavin without going directly from tracks to the sushi place and then to pick up taillaiul bread for my breakfast the next morning. Filet of perche from Lake Geneva is usually on my menu within 24 hours, and a fondue shortly after. I also think the best paprika potato chips are a Swiss brand.

But then when I return to France, I head for the fresh fruit and veggies. There is something about the Southern French sun that kisses goodness and creates produce where flavour explodes in my mouth.

So imagine my pleasure when doing errands when I saw a café with the sign “Ben et Jerry’s ici” Memories of the Boston ice cream wars came flooding back. Walks after dinner to have khalua cream with oreo mix-ins, or stopping for an ice cream after an evening class at BU.

How long did it take me to buy a cup? As long as it took me to dig out my Euros.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Waking up and smelling the coffee

Monday morning. The 5:30 Hardtalk was an interview with the president of Ikea. I have fresh melon and a cup of tea and I’ve finished my tweaking of Triple Deckers for the day and am on to my column for Writers Forum. It is due today, and although I wrote it a week ago, I want to give it a look-see now that some time has passed to tweak that as well.

Through the window comes a wonderful, wonderful smell of freshly brewed coffee. I can’t drink coffee because it makes me feel as if ants have moved into my skull, but that doesn’t destroy the pleasure of the wonderful aroma.

I recently bought coffee for my coffee-drinking friends from the tea and coffee shop down the street. They roast and ground the beans there, so just walking by produces wonderful sniffs.

My friends get the Guatemalan beans (sadly not fair trade) but I also asked for this amount of their cheapest beans. I held out my cupped hands.

Those beans now sit in a small crystal dish with a tea candle in the middle. My ode to coffee.

I want the main section in English

Guilt and Trees

The planet is in crisis and I know that every bit of electricity I use is destroying life. I know every second a car engine runs the planet is in more danger.

Now although I can reduce driving to a minimum and make sure no electricity is wasted, I am just one person.

I also know flights represent a real danger to the planet, but I do need to go to Calgary this summer on business. The plane will go whether or not I am on it but that doesn’t mean that I am innocent of being part of the problem while I am in the air.

Then I read how Desjardins Group is planting 97,000+ trees to balance the energy used by their members to attend their annual meeting.

I made the decision that I will plant a tree for every flight I take. So I am sending to messages to friends with land – so many have apartments – that if they let me know I will buy them a tree.

Will my trees save the planet??? Absolutely not, but then again, it may balance just a tiny, tiny bit of the damage I am doing.

So friends who read this and want a tree, let me know.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The 38 hour break

I decided to take a 38 hour break from my “work activities” although I don’t consider them work because I have so much fun doing them. Producing this article gave me a sense of pride my tiny, tiny part against the violence in the world. However, I decided to shut the computer off for 36 hours which meant…

  • No emails
  • No writing for
  • No working on Triple Deckers
  • No editing
  • No articles for Writers Forum
  • No emails to senators or congress men

Now despite all these things that I love doing, there are other things I take pleasure and do regularly, but I thought I would revel in them so for 36 hours I…

  • Did a café sit with a poet/play writer that I bumped into in a book store
  • Knitted
  • Watched three movies (see knitting, multi-tasking) while I still have Canal Plus
  • Ambled to the beach taking in the scent of the flowers that I can identify as pink, blue, purple, yellow
  • Had sesame encrusted salmon with a hollandaise nappe at La Reserve as I watched white caps dance on the water
  • Took a long nap
  • Read, read, read

Now, I do realise that there’s so much in life I love doing, that maybe I need to compartmentalize a bit…or not.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Good News

France24 is carrying as running headline that Costa Rica has withdrawn from the School of Americas
Torture School

How much of the American Press will pick that story up?

Int'l Campaign Launched Against U.S. "Torture School"
Gustavo Capdevila

GENEVA, (IPS) - Peace activists from the non-governmental School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) will tour Chile, Peru and Ecuador in August to persuade the governments of those countries not to send any more military personnel to the training centre in the U.S. state of Georgia.

Activists were enthusiastic about the results of a similar mission in recent months to convince the authorities in Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina.

The former School of the Americas, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), still bears the stigma of having trained thousands of military personnel in the techniques of repression, personnel who were subsequently involved in the bloodiest dictatorships in the region during recent decades.

Research has shown that the United States instructed thousands of Latin American officers, NCOs and soldiers at the School every year. Upon graduation, these military personnel returned to their countries and perpetrated crimes against the civilian population, U.S. Catholic priest Roy Bourgeois, the founder of SOAW, told IPS.

An SOAW delegation will implement the Latin American Initiative to convince governments and grassroots organisations in the region's countries of the need to permanently close the WHINSEC, which has been based at Fort Benning, Georgia since 1984.

The School, initially established under another name in Panama in 1946, moved out of Panama in 1984 as part of the agreement transferring sovereignty of the canal and its surrounding zone, formerly under U.S. control, to the Panamanian nation.

Bourgeois, a veteran of the Vietnam War who left the U.S. Navy to become a priest of the U.S. Maryknoll religious community, said that SOAW activists had returned in high spirits from the first tour of Latin American countries to promote the campaign against the School of the Americas.

In Venezuela last year, the SOAW delegation met with President Hugo Chávez. A few weeks after the meeting, Caracas announced the withdrawal of its military personnel from the Fort Benning training school.

An SOAW mission travelled to Bolivia this year and was received by President Evo Morales, who promised that Bolivian soldiers would be gradually withdrawn from the U.S. training centre.

In Argentina, Defence Minister Nilda Garré announced that the government will order the return of military personnel taking courses at the WHINSEC.

"The following week we went to Uruguay, where the minister of defence, Azucena Berrutti, told us that her country would make the same decision," said Bourgeois, although as it is, Montevideo has not taken up places reserved at the school for Uruguayan armed forces for several years.

"Following this tour, we are very hopeful that these countries will withdraw (from the School), also because of what is happening in many Latin American countries which were formerly close allies of the United States, or rather, subject to Washington," he remarked.

Bourgeois was present at the Mar. 24 ceremony in Buenos Aires commemorating the 30th anniversary of the coup d'état of 1976, which led to a brutal military dictatorship, responsible for thousands of deaths and disappearances.

The U.S. priest listened to Argentine president Néstor Kirchner's speech, in which he declared that "never again" would such things happen. Bourgeois asked himself if they really "could happen again." The school is a threat to the promise made by the Argentine president, was the pacifist's deduction.

The Maryknoll priest's doubts are based on his certainty that "the aim of the school is to keep the military in power." The WHINSEC is a threat to democracy, human rights and human dignity, he warned.

In addition, they resort to deceit, as in the case of the war against Iraq, Bourgeois said. "The Pentagon (U.S. Department of Defence) lies about the school. They say it teaches democracy. How can you teach democracy from the barrel of a gun?" he asked.

SOAW plans to carry out a third tour later on, to Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, with the same purpose of encouraging these countries to give up using the former School of the Americas.

Bourgeois thought that Colombia, on the other hand, was a "very difficult" case, because most of the students at Fort Benning are from that country, which is living through a half-century-old civil war, fuelled by the lucrative drug trafficking business.

Colombia is the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid, after Israel and Egypt.

"Getting Colombian President Álvaro Uribe's approval (for SOAW's cause) is a very complicated issue, because over the last four years Colombia has received about four billion dollars from the United States. They are not going to risk that flow of dollars to close down the school," he predicted.

Bourgeois traveled to Geneva to attend sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which on Jul. 17-18 examined the report by the United States on its compliance, in policy and practice, with the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Bourgeois wants the committee, which is charged with supervising implementation of the Covenant, to look into cases of espionage committed by U.S. authorities against SOAW leaders and activists.

Our peaceful demonstrations are monitored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) "under the guise of counterterrorist action," he stated. I have come to the U.N. Committee with the hope that international pressure will stop "unwarranted espionage on U.S. citizens protesting peacefully against their government's policies," he said.

"We know they are unlawfully tapping our telephone conversations, even though official records acknowledge that our movement has a long history of pacifism," Bourgeois maintained.

The spying is occurring because any person or organisation in the United States that criticises the government's foreign policy is "seen as an agent of subversion, agitation and perhaps even terrorism," he said.

And it is known that soldiers from other countries trained at the Fort Benning school "will go back to their countries and become the agents of U.S. foreign policy," the priest said. "They protect the economic interests of the United States in those countries," he added.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Morning light

We are coming up to the longest day. I love waking as the light is breaking. Although my windows are covered with quilted curtains, the skylight gradually turns from blue-black to gray. Items in my room appear first as shapes followed by the details. The rock wall made with stones placed there 400+ years ago begin to show colour: greys, browns and even a dark rose. For centuries they must have looked at grain (for that is where food was once stored) or unused items from a time nothing was discarded. I wish they could talk about what the people who lived in this house have felt.

The day breaking also reminds me the silliness of ownership. The earth is millions or billions of years. Man exists individually maybe 100 years, but most much, much less. How do we really think we can possess anything?

When the light is full, a hirondelle, a swallow struts across the glass, the feet making little clicking sounds. I get up to start the day.

Canal Plus and Cannes

I do not understand my TV cable service. They shifted stations around. For the month of February I had Canal Plus, a series of stations with great movies. Then they went off except one for a couple of hours. Okay. Because I live in Geneva I am not willing to pay extra for when I am in France especially all year round. Basic service yes, extra no.

Now they stations are back and happily just in time to watch the opening of the Cannes Film Festival. They ran short clips from the entries, a good insight what I want to see in the future.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A good morning

8:03 As I walk out my front door, my Catalan neighbour comes up to me waving his hands. He has a full head of white hair and has told me how he makes his wife breakfast every morning and how he loves her more than anything although they have been married over 50 years. He speaks so fast I have to ask him to slow down. Then he points to where a table USED to be holding some of his plants.

Rue Vermeille, my street, is considered the prettiest street in the village. Plants in planters line both sides of the narrow street and overhead wisteria and some red flowering plant make archways of colour and shade canopies.

However, this morning, several of the plants and their holders are missing. He drags me to where I once had two Spanish rectangular pots. Only one is there. I had bought them across the border in Bisbal, a factory outlet town for Spanish ceramics. Thank goodness I had only paid 5 Euros for them. The two big blue pots that flank my front door and are the same colour are still there, one over flowing with pansies, the other with patients still not in bloom. Other plants on the street are missing. A Catalan old lady is stomping up and down angry that someone took her pot of peppers and her pot of spinach that was just ready to be picked.

It is the second robbery on the street. About three weeks ago when I was still in Geneva, someone stole several of the black garbage cans. They left the ones with the yellow top for paper and plastic recycling.

8:15 I excuse myself to have breakfast at La Noisette. Today is marché day and I like watching the vendors set up their tables. Michel offers me the paper to read and it talks about Sarko's swearing in today and the beginning of the Cannes festival. Michel is a nurse in Perpignan and another regular. I see several of the English, who treat Argelés much like retirees treat Florida. I am one of the only ones in my family whose first words were NOT “When can I move to Florida.” I have never wanted to live in a retiree environment, although many of them are very nice people. I gravitate more to the artists who are still doing stuff...yes stuff...stuff that means something to them not just going from social event to social event and using the téléphone arab (gossip and grapevine)

Franck sets my hot croissant and baguette, tea and orange juice down. The butter is sweet. I know most of the people and I don’t get a chance to read my book L’étudiant étranger.

8:50 The marché is set up. The table next to the café is piled three two feet high with artichokes, about the size of a normal balloon. The centers are open and filled with iridescent purple spikes. I know from experience how meaty the leaves are when dipped in vinegarette and pulled through my teeth, but I pass. Today I am looking for melons.

The olive dealer, who offers marriage and romance despite having a wife and twin daughters, with his selections is busy proposing to another woman but winks at me as I pass by. I still have olives from Saturday.

At the boulongerie the line is short. The smell of yeasty bread baking floats around us. There is a sign that tells me about le coeur Catalan and I ask about it. The woman describes the honey and apricots in the bread and I tell myself to go tomorrow. They are selling it for the holiday, although I can never remember whether is it Ascension or Pentecost. France has more holidays in May than it seems normal days.

9:05 I stop at Pedro’s for tofu burgers made with mushrooms. He is a shy man and it took years before he spoke to He is still unhappy that the writer described his shop as esoteric in the write up with the photo on the website above. We discuss the exhibition at the Gallerie Marianne where poets described the paintings done by local painters.

Back at the house I put my purchases away to get to work, grateful I make my own schedule. It has been a good morning.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Music stories

Music Story No 1.

I was taking a pair of too-tight brown shoes worn less than once and a backgammon game (I have another) to the charity shop and took the short cut through the building with the hall where the elderly go for lunch each day. This time music rang through the hall. An organ grinder dressed in a red and white striped crew neck jersey and a straw hat looking like he had been attacked by Yves Montand or Maurice Chevalier led the group in singing old French songs. I paused at the door and listened. I knew some from watching the variety shows on television.

An older man painfully made his way to me. “Entrez-vous,” he said.

I did, and despite being considered as part of the troisème age, the audience were anywhere from ten to thirty years older. I might be sprier but they could out sing me.

Music Story No. 2

He had a red clown nose, a drum on his back with Teletubbies La La and Po hanging off the back. A harmonica was suspended near his mouth and each step he took caused his cymbals to go ting ting ting. The English artist stopped him and said, “Musiques, s’il vous plait.”

The street musician complied and soon they were chatting in basic French. The English artist stood a bit taller each time the musician understood and taller still when he himself understood. The artist’s progress in French has been slow and he is unsure of himself, so anyone who speaks to him slowly and in simple terms he considers a gift. Finally the musician started to move on.

“A bientôt,” the artist said.

“See you later,” the musician replied.

“You speak English?” the artist asked.

“Of course, I am from Scotland,” the musician said.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Choosing verbs

I know why I adore my life. It was a busy day wrestling against time to get my newsletter out and setting up interviews. However, I took three breaks, one to wander around the marché, one to have lunch at La Noisette (easier then cooking and washing up) and a third to meet with a rather new but dedicated writer who lives nearby. I traipsed to at La Noisette for a second time. Everyone should have a neighbourhood tea room around the corner.

We sat in the shade, the sky a royal blue, the 700-year old church across the street in various shades of ochre.

Sophie, the waitress as disgustingly beautiful as ever with her Catherine Zeta-Jones hair and Sophia Loren lushness, delivered une boule de café glace with chocolate sauce and one cappuccino.

The writer and I talked and talked about her new writing group, writing projects, my writing and a workshop I am planning.

However, I knew I was with a kindred spirit when she described a woman, not as beautiful, tall, thin, funny, but as someone who chooses good verbs.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The mirror

I have a friend in New York with whom I disagree on much and agree on much and we laugh at the differences but with respect. One of the biggest is that she takes shopping to an art form and I’m shopping phobic, although I admit double the pleasure of a sweater she persuaded me to buy this past summer in a specialty store in a medieval village. (I won’t tell her that shopping in a specialty store in a medieval village doesn’t have that much to do with shopping and a lot more to do with sharing of time and fun). She likes to hear when I go over to what I call the black side of consumerism so this blog is dedicated to her.

I bought a new mirror for over my fireplace. Did you hear that all the way to New York???? I confess not only did I buy it, the second I saw it I couldn’t imagine not having it, but then again it does fit one my criteria for a possession, it is beautiful and so original.

The mirror is round with a five inch leather frame. The interior edge is cut to reflect the design, which includes elephants and jungle plants. The colours of blue and green with touches of rust for fruit match the other colours in the flat. The clock that was there was moved to the side wall over the couch, the tapestry designed needlepointed by my daughter that was where the clock now is was transferred to the place where a copy of a grave rubbing of a medieval noblewoman bought decades ago on a trip to the UK was and that was put in the outside hall next to my front door.

However, I do make have to make it clear to one and all that these are Democratic elephants cavorting on the mirror not Republicans. I will be flexible on some things but siding with the war thugs in Washington would be impossible. I swear as I went to bed last night one of the elephants on the mirror whispered to me “Don’t forget to call Nancy Pelosi’s office on Monday and tell her that she can’t cave on the timeline

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Vide Grenier

In France 1 May is a holiday. and I returned to Argelès to make sure I didn’t miss the Vide Grenier (empty attic) which is a giant flea market mostly with people selling their own stuff and a few professionals thrown in. I had no idea it would be so big. The area normally covered by the marché was full of blankets with everything from a carved apple to a stuffed zebra, some junk, some nice stuff. The Vide Grenier covered all the main streets and ran along the river and took up the parking lots.

As a non-shopper I loved browsing hoping for a copper fry pan that was tin-lined, no luck. If I had found a Clarice Cliff vase I would have been thrilled. No luck.

However I bought two replacement Chinese ceramic spoons to replace one I broke for 1.5 Euros. One broke before I got them home.

For 9 Euros I bought 10 wine glasses with blue stems to replace the mishmash I have been using and they co-ordinate perfectly with my dishes.

I did not look at all the places, it was too much. I suspect there were at least 500 sellers. And that doesn’t count the those selling kebabs, sauscissons, chickens, crêpes, waffles, etc.

I had planned to do another quick tour at the end of the day to pick up the Lilies-of-the-valley that are traditional sold on the first of May, but looking out at the red tiles of the house across the way I see they are wet. I suspect people are putting their wares in boxes and folding their blankets and their attics won't be empty once they get home and put the stuff back.

The blues

No not music, not sadness, but refrigerator. I stupidly forgot to leave the frigo door open when I shut off the electricity and when I opened it blue mould (a rather nice shade at that) covered everything. I quickly shut it again.

I concentrated on getting the wifi and TV working (it takes a while before the cable kicks in after being off for several weeks), my suitcase unpacked and made the executive decision to wait until morning. I wasn’t hungry (and after seeing the mould wouldn't have been even if I had been) since my friend Barbara had, as is our tradition, fed me. This time it was lasagne instead of the promised goat stew because the goat cheese man hadn’t delivered the goat. Chris, the artist whose house is photo 7, joined us. He had lifted my suitcase up the three flights of stairs. My back thanked him.

Sleeping seemed a much better alternative but it is not a solution to the blues (mould). The next morning, I was ready to tackle the job. I doubt if my frigo has ever been so clean, and that leads to anything but the blues.