Now that I’m back

There is a lot of catching up to do!


Did we miss anything?


For any of you who didn’t spend the summer in the area, it was a very strange year. In June, it was horribly hot. Everything started to bloom and get ripe all at the same time. We were under draught restrictions for water use from the river.  The day the restrictions were to go into effect, the weather changed drastically. July was cold, wet and felt more like October than July!

There were days in July where the river was as high as it can get in the spring when the mountain snow is melting. The water restrictions just disappeared. Everyone started to complain the the produce in their gardens was mildewing.  When we went to our local fruit and veg shop, Jean-Paul told us that all the produce was coming in at the wrong time. Apricots were available in July, when normally we don’t get them until almost August. Same thing for plums.

When August hit, the weather again made a 90 degree turn; or maybe I should say a 100 degree turn, as the weather became very hot without any real rain for several weeks. This past week was about as miserable as I can remember. We had days where it was 39 (about 100 degrees or so), which is very, very unusual for here. I know that we had plenty of days like that in L.A., but there, it was desert dry, so even if it seemed to suck the juice out of you when you went outside, you didn’t feel it in the same way as here, where the humidity was also high. Those of you in places that get weather like that all the time have my utmost sympathy. I was miserable.

Even our house, which normally remains cool when it’s hot, finally gave up and got hot too. It’s a bit like living in a stone oven after a week or more of temperatures that high. We definitely felt baked.

Now, the weather has suddenly broken, and it dropped from 22 degrees this morning to 17 degrees this afternoon (Celsius, not Fahrenheit) and it’s raining. I need to go to the bank in Limoux, but I think I’ll put it off for another day.

If you’re here in the area trying to enjoy your last few days of summer holidays, I’m sorry. I, on the other hand, am actually enjoying the weather. I know I’ll feel all soggy and miserable when I walk the dogs, but it’s sure a lot more comfortable than last week.


Ciao for now.


Life and Death in the Possum Kingdom

My mom, circa 1970 something


I’m back, with excuses and explanations. On July 21st, my mom, Irene Gerken, né Rosenberg, passed away in her own home, here in the Possum Kingdom. She had been seriously ill for about two weeks, but while she was still lucid, she said she did not want to go to a hospital, and I promised to respect her wishes. She had suffered an intestinal blockage, possibly caused by either undetected colon cancer or a mesenteric infarction, but whatever the cause, given her overall health, surgery would only have prolonged her suffering and accomplished nothing in the end.

I did my best to be a good daughter, and JM and I took the best care of her that we possibly could. I am exceedingly grateful to have had the four years we had with her here, and I know that she was happy with her new life.

Although things were sometimes stressful and difficult, I truly loved her and was proud and lucky to have her as my mother.

Now that she’s gone, there is a bit of a hole in my life, as I had integrated caring for her into my daily existence. It is partly because of that that I have been absent here for so long. To be honest, because of her cognitive problems, the last few months have been quite stressful. And that, more than anything, has kept me from being a faithful correspondent.

On top of Mom’s problems, JM’s parents have also required a great deal of mental and physical energy. His mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer and his father also is having some neurological problems. Neither of them believes, or even wants to hear, that that is what is going on, so we deal with our emotions about it all, without being able to really do anything to help them.

I am slowly starting to get back into my own life again. It is a bit of a process, and part of it is trying to be here more faithfully. I need to remember that I do have a life and friends and I was once something more than a caregiver! It will happen.

Ciao for now.