Sunday, June 30, 2013

Serenity Sunday Part II

Rick wrote Part 1

My mission was to:

      1. Throw the bottles away

      2. Visit my friend with the bad back to make sure she had everything she needed and give  
           her a bad rub with the oils provided by her therapist.

       3. Pick up the veggies for lunch.

First there was a chat with my neighbour Emanuel who is painting his motor scooter in front of the house.

As I walked past Madame Fernendez's house the door was open and I could see her sitting at the kitchen table. 

Madame Fernandez is one of the mamies, old Catalan women (maybe younger than me, but grandmotherly in the old fashioned sense of the word). She struggled up and came out to give me a two-cheek kiss. I'm undertall but she has to look up to me. For years, she's watered my plants when I'm away and we've chatted regularly on the street for close to two decades.

Once when my garbage can had disappeared, I asked her husband if I could use theirs for small bags. He said "no," and I shrugged it off as a Catalan possessiveness of garbage cans, a cultural difference I didn't understand but could accept.

The next day she left the other mamies she was chatting with and ran, literally ran, up to me.

"What did you ask my husband?" she asked. She looked worried.

I told her.

"He didn't understand." This was not a surprise between his Catalan and my English accent. "Of course, you can use my garbage can." She made one of those snorts that the mamies do so well. "Stupid man." 

She's is shrinking in front of my eyes from her many dialysises. Each time I come back, I'm relieved she's still alive. Her colour is terrible, but there was a twinkle in her eye as she said, "Ton mari est très beau." 

"He's not my husband yet. August."

"It's never too late to love," she said, her eyes still twinkling.

I passed Miloud's studio. He's an award-winning painter from Algeria. We chat often. I start out with Mahaba and Que Fac, and then we go into French for his Bonjour and ça ca... He beckoned me in.

I've my eye on one his paintings on burlap of three women in Burkas. I knew the price, but he would sell it for less, because I'm a friend but I reassured him as a friend I'd want to be fair to him. He offered me lettuce from his garden which will go well with the extra tomatoes the tomato man gave me yesterday, the end of his produce.

My friend was a bit perkier than yesterday, but still in pain. When I leave on Wednesday, another friend will take over and the green grocers, the jewelers and the potter will help her if she needs it. She just has to call out the window.

Final stop at Elisabeth's for spinach. Although there was none, the broccoli will work with the dahl and Indian spices. The basil smelled lovely to add to Milou's lettuce and tomatoes. I still have fresh coriander for the yoghurt.

More people were out and about than when Rick was out, but the serenity comes from being part of a community that shares.

Getting into a rhythm

The end of a day where we're moving from one flat back to mine until Sept., writing, having lunch with friends. 

"Want to go to the beach," Rick asked.


We took a friend's so-called car (it goes backward and forward--not much more--but looks as if we got it from the junkyard) that is always at our disposal.

"How 'bout the nude beach?" Rick asked on the way to the water. The last time I was there was 1990 because frankly sand is just not the comfortable without the protection of a bathing suit. We followed signs but never found it.

Instead, he showed me the golf course in St. Cyprien where hopefully he will get a chance to play next week before heading back to Geneva.

We went down one road, then another and decided we'd driven further than we thought.

No matter whatever direction we looked, it was beautiful.

On the way back to Argelès, we passed the natural reserve with old fishing village huts and took a long walk. The breeze, the smell of the sea, the plant life, all a gift.

The huts are made of wood. There was something magic about the day. Rick said he was going to blog his reaction to our mini-end-of-the-day adventure. I promised I'd write mine without checking his. I'm going there now:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Guns Not typical of a French marché product

The French are fascinated with American cowboys and indians.

Once on a train ride, a Frenchman on his way to his dream holiday in the American West was telling more about famous American cowboys than I knew myself including some of the oldies like Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. John Wayne's name sent him into spasms of pleasure.

As a kid in the northeast I use to play cowboy and indians too. Living on 14-acres of land, it was easy to imagine being in the wild west. Our glacier-dropped rocks became the badlands, the trees were great to hide behind to have shoot-outs. I had cowboy boots and a fringed skirt and jacket.

I did outgrow it.

When I was married to a policeman and uncomfortable with a gun in the house, my ex saw to it I could shoot it, and learn to respect it. The rule it was emptied and bullets were separate from the gun when he entered the house was sacrosanct.

However, seeing the wild west stand at the Argelès-sur-mer with wooden toy guns for sale, was disturbing. I know France does not have the gun problem that the US does, but watching how excited kids were to pick up the toy guns, their faces lit up with joy, did not feel right. 

When the vendor was alone late in the morning as most people were heading home for lunch, I told him I knew he had to earn a living and he was doing his stand well, but having lived in the US, just seeing the guns bothered me.

He was nice about it, saying he could see my point of view. We both agreed that France was different. And as a Swiss, where almost every man in the Army must have a gun, I know there are very few gun deaths.

I started thinking about the factors that go into gun violence and found this chart from Wikipedia fascinating. Obviously there are more factors than availability of guns that go into the high number of guns death in countries. And it was also interesting what countries have high death rates.

I don't like guns.

But one thing is clear, it takes a gun to kill someone with a bullet.