Occupy Court Colbert

Occupy Cours Colbert

 

The protestors are napping, as they dream of meals to come.

I’ve temporarily switched them to good quality canned food, as I needed the freezer space for the humans in the house (what a concept!) The good side of this is that it is a bit easier. The bad side is that if, like this week, I miscalculate when I should place my order, I wind up without any food for the canines.

Dawg forbid they should eat the stuff out of a bag. To be honest, they probably wouldn’t mind, but we would, as every time  I try to feed them dried food, there is an outbreak of deadly festulance that almost drives JM and me out of the house. Not to mention the diarrhea that makes Peaches, in particular, demand to be taken out for urgent  3 am walks; something I would truly rather not do.

So, when I looked and noticed that my order from Zooplus was not going to be delivered before Friday at the earliest, I went on a hunt to, quite literally, bring home the bacon! In fact, it turned out to be turkey. I went over to the Huit á 8 and discovered two turkey legs that had reached their sell by date. They were on special for 2€ a piece, making them even less expensive than canned food. I snatched them up and have them in the pressure cooker with a bunch of vegetables.

It made JM and I realize that our dogs probably take for granted the fact that they dine like kings and think that ALL dogs should live this way. We are going to puppy sit good-dog Vicky while her human slave is in the hospital having hip replacement surgery. Vicky eats kibble. Clearly, I cannot give her kibble while my dogs get turkey stew or similar. So, the question is: what will Vicky say when she goes back home? Already she sits outside our door half the time, staring intently at the door knob and willing it to open so that treats will fall directly into her waiting mouth.

I think the protests will be long and tough, and all I can do is hope that they don’t tell 1000 of their doggie friends about the delights that reside Chez Lofficier!

Ciao for now.

Randy

Hi All!

I know he went in that Post Office!

 

The time has, as always, flown by. I KNOW I owe you the rest of the description of our trip to Toulon, as well as an update on events here in the Possum Kingdom.  My only excuse is that we seem to be as busy as always these days.

We had a mostly glorious Fall, with days that were so breathtaking It was hard to sit inside and not enjoy them. I have always loved this season, as I have said ad-nauseum, and this year has made a supreme effort to reinforce that love by providing warm days, crisp nights and stunning weather.

Not to say that we haven’t had some evil storms. We were spared the worst of it here, but anyone following the news knows that other parts of the South of France have not been so lucky. There was massive flooding in many areas, and, sad to say, lives lost as well.

But, for some reason, we remain in our “privileged land,” and seem to miss the worst of it. Although, last weekend the Mighty Hers was almost to the top of its banks in some places and there was real concern about flooding.

Our biggest problem is that there is a sewage pipe down near the gardens that has a major problem. We found raw sewage pouring out into the field where the dogs like to romp, as well as flowing directly into the river. We were able to corral a couple of members of the town council and show them some video that I’d taken during the worst of it. They are supposed to be contacting the mysterious organization known as “Veolia,” which, while pretending to be our water company, also seems to have its tentacles in many other pies. I am starting to think it’s a cover for SMERSH…

I suppose none of this sounds very exciting, but if you add it to trips to the wonderful Espezel Fair, the Apple Festival in Mirepoix, the many, many days I have lost lately trying to resolve an internet connection problem (Oh, Orange, you are such a disappointment!!!) and the usual errands, tasks and duties which comprise life its own-self, time just flies by.

I’ve also been doing a lot of cooking lately. I have been trying to “get off” of convenience products as much as possible. But that means spending way more hours in the kitchen. Still, the end result is worth it. I have, for example, discovered a nifty way to pre-cook potatoes so that you can have your own bags of frozen hash browns and “instant” mashed potatoes at the drop of a hat! And, I’ve rediscovered that 80s stand-by, Amish Friendship Bread and Starter. I’d forgotten how delicious that stuff is!

I think of all of you, my friends and loyal readers. And will try to do better.

Ciao for now

Randy

Another Summer Gone

Weren't we the height of pool fashion?

 

I know that there are still three weeks to go until Fall is officially here, but honestly, doesn’t the first weekend in September ALWAYS feel like summer is over. Even in places like the Possum Kingdom, where it’s not Labor Day, it IS the beginning of school. That’s it for “fun,” Kids, time to get back to the grind.

One of the things about living in an area that has a lot of tourism, is that you know immediately that the season is over, because you just stop seeing strangers in the village. Sure, there are the occasional hangers on who don’t have children to worry about, but mostly, the tourists are gone. You can go into the grocery store and park with no trouble, the aisles are no longer chock full of confused looking foreigners, there are no whining kids (except on Wednesday) and there is just a feeling of life returning to normal.

I know that I’m odd, because I always look forward to Fall. And it’s not just now, as an adult. I liked it as a kid too, because I actually enjoyed going to school; it gave me a sense of purpose for my day I suppose. Now, I enjoy it because I like the cooler weather a lot. Come on, admit it; you really want to try on that new sweater you found on sale this summer, don’t you? Aren’t you looking forward to that first cool, fresh day when you can put it on and know that soon it will be Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas? And, for those of us who LOVE television, it’s the beginning of the Fall TV season, when we get to see what’s new with our favorite characters from years past and maybe find a new have series too.

So, let’s celebrate the Fall and not mourn the long lost days of  Summer.

Ciao for now,

Randy

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.

Randy

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.

Randy

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,

Randy

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.

Randy

It might as well be spring

I know that the change of seasons is still a month away, and that many of you are still suffering the pangs of winter blues. But here in the Possum Kingdom, we have been unbelievably spoiled this year.

Things are already starting to bloom, and most days we can go out with just a light jacket. Even the early mornings aren’t THAT cold, with temps around 7 or 8 degrees C (low 40s F). Then, this morning, for the first time I realized we had reached that magical moment when I no longer feel the need for carrying a flashlight around with me for that first walk of the day.

There was also a wonderful chorus of birdsong and the other day we saw our lovely blue heron, whom we haven’t seen since last fall.

The Committee des Fetes is already meeting to plan this year’s village events and before we know it, the clocks will be springing forward (unfortunately).

Shmoo has pretty much totally blown his winter coat. We’ve been picking pieces of it out on our walks and leaving it in the gardens so the birds can use it to build their nests. I’m sure it will make lovely, soft, warm nests for some soon to be born baby birds.

I looked in the cellar and realized we had hardly burned any wood this winter, because we just haven’t needed a fire in the fireplace more than a few times. No wonder we all laugh and say we live in the Privileged Land! We see the weather forecasts for all around us, but we’ve been truly lucky.

This week we did have a massive amount of rain, and the rivers are all running high and fast. But that is a good thing, and although it is less fun for dogwalking, it is also important to have it, so I try not to complain too much.

May you soon see signs of spring wherever you are.

Ciao for now.

Randy

Anniversary

This past Sunday was the sixth anniversary of our coming to the Possum Kingdom with 12 suitcases, a dog crate and our dear, departed Diva Maggie.

That winter was a big change for two Angelenos who hadn’t seen real snow in a long, long time. In fact, we were far more used to winters like the glorious days that we are having right now. I seem to remember never feeling quite warm enough that February.

How we’ve changed in six years! Our Maggie left us, Shmoo and Peaches arrived. We certainly never planned for my mother to join us here, but she did. The house we’ve bought has been primped and turned into something that suits us perfectly and we have gotten used to climbing more stairs in a day than we probably did in a year in L.A.

We’ve learned to look forward to our three times daily walks by the river as much as the dogs do, and are always eager to see what Mother Nature has in store for us, whether it is a hedgehog, an egret, a heron or a soaring eagle.

Things that seemed strange to us at first now seem normal; after all, does one REALLY need to go shopping on a Sunday? We have become part of a community; something that one never really felt in a big city like Los Angeles. We can feel safe out walking at any time of day or night.

One of the changes that has made a huge difference for us, and that we would never have imagined, is that having a television in only one room in the house, which is not central to where we spend most of our day, we never have it on for “background noise.” That means that we just about never watch television news, because we are not usually in front of it during news hours, or if we are, we have other things we’d rather watch. This has made us realize that being constantly bombarded by local news in particular, builds a climate of fear and insecurity. Reading articles in the newspaper or online doesn’t impact you in the same way. So, we feel generally more relaxed and less stressed.

Not being afraid of going to a doctor when we are sick or losing our house if we need serious medical treatment is also relaxing. We don’t think we would have been able to maintain health insurance if we had stayed in the L.A. area.

We’ve learned to eat as locally as possible. We have weeks where we never get into the car at all. We don’t think twice about walking to one of our local shops for something we need at the last minute. We take time to chat with our neighbors. We have learned that rain doesn’t just mean bad traffic on the freeway.

Not a day goes by when we aren’t happy with our decision. Granted, it’s not something for everyone and there are plenty of people who would not be happy giving up life in a giant city for that in a rural village, no matter what country that village is in. But for us, it was the best choice we ever made.

Thank you, Chalabre, for being our new home and welcoming us into your community.

Ciao for now,

Randy