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.



Spring field

Along the Hers


JM sent me this important news story from CNN:

That fire, less than 70 miles west of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, burned into residential areas surrounding Possum Kingdom Lake Monday night, destroying and damaging homes in four or five neighborhoods, according to Marq Webb, a spokesman with the Texas Forest Service.

Aerial images shot Tuesday by CNN affiliate WFAA showed some homes on the edge of Possum Kingdom Lake burned down to the foundations, swaths of charred vegetation and heavy smoke hanging over parts of the area. Still, numerous homes appeared to have escaped the flames, some of them next to houses that had been destroyed.

I am glad to announce, however, that this Possum Kingdom is NOT our very own, but one in the State of Texas, which is having horrible fires. I felt reassured to know that all French Possums are currently safe.

That is, you are safe as long as you don’t suffer from hay fever and pollen allergies. If you do, you feel pretty rotten right now. The wind is blowing and the pollen is going and going. Of course, it does mean lovely things to look at, and later in the season, to eat. But for now, it means itchy eyes and throat and runny noses.

Everyone is getting read for Easter weekend, and there is tons of chocolate everywhere, so it also means that Possums need to keep their scales hidden in a closet for a few weeks if they don’t want to feel guilty and sinful.

In other local news, Veolia, the humongous entity who seems to have fingers in every sort of pie, including being our water company, is digging massive holes in the village roads. They are supposedly replacing the sewers, which are in a lamentable state. Overall, that is a good thing, however in order to accomplish this feat, the seem to need to turn our water off at inconvenient times and with no warning. I have, several times, discovered the lack of running water when I had hands full of soap and thus no way to wash it off. I was less than amused.

Still, this is the south of France. There is no need to get in a tizzy. It will pass in its own time and life will go on.

Ciao for now.


Not many April Showers


I rule!
Peaches presents a calming influence

Last week was far too nice to spend time inside writing on the computer! We had amazing, totally unseasonal weather, with temperatures at 30 C (86 F); something unheard of at this time of year. Apparently there was one of those weird currents from Africa that sometimes occur and we were the beneficiaries.

I’m not sure if that’s a totally good thing, though, as we can still have freezing temperatures between now and the end of May. Everything is in bloom, and if we get a frost, it will be bad for gardeners and farmers alike.

But it was hard not to enjoy it! Everyone was out and about. Unfortunately, the “everyone” included a snake that we ran into on one of our walks. I am assured that it was a harmless snake and not a viper, but I have to tell you that all snakes look alike as far as I’m concerned, and I’d rather not run across them at all if possible.

The dogs have been enjoying themselves massively. Peaches, in particular, has gotten to play like mad with her new friend Freya the adorable, who is a dead-ringer for our dear, departed Diva Maggie. Shmoo plays to the best of his ability, but is severely limited by the fact that I won’t let him off his leash. I know it drives him crazy, but it’s really his own fault, as he will simply take off into the field and start digging his way to China in his mad search to root out every last vole in the canton.

With the run-up to Easter, there are also lots of out-of-town visitors, which is always a pleasure. Nice for them to be able to enjoy this lovely weather, instead of having to confront drenching rain and cold temperatures.

Fingers crossed that it stays nice for a while longer yet.

Ciao for now.


Just a small reminder

Plum Blossums

The Rogets' plum tree in bloom

For those of you in places where winter still reigns, it is only a matter of time! Most of the fruit trees here are now in bloom, and we’re starting to see the signs of green all around us. Be patient; your turn will come!

This weekend has been amazing for the month of April. Our temperatures were in the mid-70s (mid 20s C) and you could easily have thought yourself in June! It seems that every dog in the village is out being walked, and the Lofficier family canines have had a blast playing with all their four-footed pals. Well, at least Peaches has; poor Shmoo Alexander is no longer allowed that freedom, since he abuses it and simply takes off into the fields to dig for voles.

We’ve been lucky, because our friend Diane is here for the weekend, so we’ve all enjoyed being out and about together in the sun.

Hope you all have a spectacular Sunday, wherever you are.

Ciao for now,


Who’s the Fool?

What? Me worry?

not a fool

I swear I don’t remember an April Fool’s Day with as many corporate jokes as I’ve received this year. It’s insane!

And it wasn’t just U.S. companies getting into the act; I’ve had plenty from both France and the UK as well. Was someone handing out corporate Kool-Aid this year or something?

I don’t mind; it’s nice to see the worker bees having fun. It’s just a bit odd is all. I wonder if it’s not a sign that people are so stressed out by reality that they’ll do anything to have a laugh.

The sad thing for me, though, was that most of the gags were pretty lame. At least if you’re going to do it, get a writer!

Ciao for now.


The Final results

The clouds were such a pretty color

Sorry I didn’t post this yesterday, but Mondays have a habit of getting away from you for some reason.


Sunday was a weird day for the election, because the EU canted to daylight savings time overnight and you all know how that messes everyone up. On top of that, unlike the beautiful weather we’d had for the first round of voting, the sky was grey and menacing the whole day. We were worried that people wouldn’t get out to vote.

But we needn’t have feared; even more people voted the second time around. I suppose that here in our canton, the citizens wanted to be sure their voices were heard.

Jean-Jacques Aulombard, the independent candidate, won 908 to to 801. That is an impressive win for an area that is very heavily Socialist.

Now it remains to be seen whether having a councilman who gets along with city hall will be able to make things happen for the good of everyone. I think our last councilman underestimated how frustrated the voters were by the bickering that kept any progress from occurring. Perhaps if he’d understood that, he would still be in office.

Ciao for now,


Optimized for iPad

Loving the spring

For those of you with an iPad, I’ve just added a new feature that optimizes PossumWorld for iPad, giving it an app-like feel. You won’t notice anything different on your regular browser, but if you check it out with Mobile Safari, you’ll see a new look.


Ciao for now.



And the winner is…

No one yet! But that is to be expected in an election that has candidates from more than two parties. Although it does sometimes happen, in most races there is a second round.

As many of us predicted, the independent candidate, Jean-Jaques Aulombard had a globally higher number of votes than the incumbent, Roger Rosich, although the results in individual communes were mixed, with Rosich beating Aulombard in some of them and vice versatile in others.

Generally, in most of the elections, turnout was less than 50%, but in our canton, it was 69%. That kind of turnout tends to favor a challenger more than an incumbent, no matter where the race is held, as it’s usually an indication that people want a change.

The percentages were: Aulombard (independent) 43.12%, Rosich (socialist) 39.88%, Pierre Alberola (NPA, which is the Communist party) 8.22% and Gregory Seillier (Front Nationale, or super right wing) 8.79%.

Interestingly, there is no candidate from the UMP, which is the party of President Sarkozy. Our region tends to be very socialist, so the success of a non-affiliated candidate is truly a statement by the people.

Indeed, if the voting had depended ONLY on Chalabre, M. Aulombard would have actually won by a landslide. He is well thought of in the village, and his proposals are extremely popular.

I think his results elsewhere would have been even better as well, but there was an article in today’s paper pointing out that someone had gone around to other villages and stuck UMP labels on his posters, as if he was the candidate from the UMP, clearly an attempt to sway voters away from him. America isn’t the only place where politics is a dirty game.

We’ll be out bright and early to vote this coming Sunday, and I think I can guarantee that we won’t be the only ones!

Ciao for now,