Almost Guilty

But not quite. I’m feeling a smidgeon of guilt, only because so many of you are suffering from one of the worst winters in recent memory, while here in the Possum Kingdom we are feeling truly blessed.

We did have a sprinkling of snow right around Christmas, and I did get to try out my nifty, new YakTrax cleats which kept JM and me from falling on our butts out in the gardens. But that snow dissipated within a few days and since then we’ve been feeling very spoiled.

Yes, we’ve had some seriously cold days with temperatures down in the teens (F) and we’ve had some days with quite a soaking of rain. But mostly, we’ve had sunny days and temperatures that barely count as “winter.”

The mornings are cold, generally below freezing and with a good layer of frost out in the fields. Sometimes, we have that kind of damp, icy air that makes it all feel even colder. But once the sun comes out, the frost melts and by early afternoon we have had temperatures that are in the mid-sixties (F) and maybe up to 70 (F) a couple of times.

This weekend was particularly glorious. Yesterday, when we took the dogs for their late afternoon walk, it seemed that half the village was out in the gardens walking around. And, of course, as soon as the weather gets like this, it is IMPOSSIBLE to go out for the least little errand without stopping to chat to all the neighbors, because they are all out wandering around as well. And, you can just tell that they are all suddenly feeling happy again.

So, I do feel sorry for the rest of you, truly I do. But I think I’m going to stop feeling guilty about not being miserable and go outside to enjoy the sun while it lasts.

Ciao for now.

Randy

Philosophy

No, I’m not going to bore you with a treatise on my philosophy of life. This is about something that is really very, very French!

Just after the beginning of the year, our village began a Café Philosophe, which is basically a philosophy club. These got their start about 20 years ago in Paris and spread throughout the country.

The idea is that a group of individuals get together at a café and, for the price of a drink, spend a couple of hours discussing a philosophical subject that is, generally, chosen in advance. There is a moderator who tries to keep the flow of the discussion going, and maintain civility. The biggest problem is keeping everyone on topic, as these kinds of talks often meander into corners that are far distant from the place where they began.

JM went to the first one, which I missed because we only found out about it twenty minutes before it started and I had already begun cooking and couldn’t just leave. But I did go to the second one. There seem to be about 20 people who show up, which I think is pretty amazing in a village of this size. In fact, not everyone who was there last week was even from our village, but several came from the surrounding area.

It was very lively and there were no dead periods. I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t participate, because, believe it or not, I tend to be kind of shy in group settings. But I managed to make several points and didn’t feel as if I’d embarrassed myself. I was the only non-French person there though. And, I can see that, because you do need to have a good command of the language to follow along in a discussion like these.

I asked several of my American friends if they could imagine something like this in the small American towns where they live, and no one could. JM and I wondered why it worked in France so well, and our conclusion is that the French love to talk about all kinds of different things. Even people who are not hugely well educated often have strong viewpoints on a variety of subjects and never hesitate to give their opinions on them.

The group meets twice a month, on the first and third Friday at 5:30. Right now we’re meeting in the bar of the Hotel de France. I don’t know what will happen for the second meeting in February, as they are closing for two weeks so Didier can have knee surgery.

If you’re in the area and feel up to it, come and participate. It was loads of fun.

Ciao for now.

Randy

Inspiration

Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time… The wait is simply too long.
– Leonard Bernstein

My friend Raven sent me that quote yesterday and I was struck by how true it is and by how guilty it made me feel. It’s true that I haven’t felt particularly inspired lately and have not used an alternate approach to update these pages.

As always, life seems to get in the way of creativity so much of the time. That has certainly been true for me since taking care of Mom has become more time consuming than it once was. And, even when I don’t have anything much to do for her, I also seem to be drained of any desire to “create” beyond coming up with ideas for what to cook for meals.

That is a terrible place for a writer to find herself. Especially as I am not lacking in projects that I want to finish. Mostly what I lack is energy and inspiration. So, when I do have spare time that is not consumed by housework, dogs, parents, computer repairs or the other mundane chores of day-to-day existence, I seem to just want to “blob” and do nothing.

I am making an effort to break that habit, otherwise I will never accomplish a thing creatively.

Another issue, I think, is that we are now approaching the sixth anniversary of our move to the Possum Kingdom. I realized the other day that things that once struck me as quirky and new, now just seem like part of my normal life. Because of that, they seem less noteworthy and interesting. Of course, they ARE still interesting, but they, too, appear mundane when you look at them with the eyes of a resident and not a newcomer.

Comfort is probably not the best thing for a writer to feel if they want to be inspired to write! Inspiration comes from a sense of wonder, and that sense of wonder goes out the window when you feel settled into routine.

That is not to say that there is nothing new and wondrous that happens, just that one’s eyes and brain deal with it in a different way.

I cannot even blame any of this on winter doldrums; we are far from having them here this year. As the rest of the Northern Hemisphere seems to be freezing its collective asses off, we have been enjoying an absolutely delightful, and rare, “Spring in January.” We have been able to go out to walk the dogs in just a light sweater during the day and haven’t had a hint of snow since our white Christmas, which didn’t even last for more than a day or so.

No, the fault is entirely mine, but I will get back to my old ways now that I have accepted my weakness and put it behind me.

Ciao for now.

Randy