I have been feeling mildly sorry for myself, nervous on my first outing (by car) in these pandemic times, masked and hand-gelled to the hilt, wiping down surfaces in hotel rooms with disinfectant, giving people a wide berth in the streets, alert to any cough or sneeze.
While it may not have been the best choice of subject matter, I have been riveted by the audio version of this extraordinary novel, which is so insightful as to be completely chilling. I keep reminding myself, it’s only a novel! But, but, but. See for yourself.
Add to this the weather in northern France, gray skies and spitting rain: a recipe for melancholy.
But then I read this extraordinary obituary, and I resolved to stop feeling even remotely sorry for myself. Read it all the way to the end. And marvel at what people can overcome.
Every year at this time I recall this sweet poem, recited by my grandfather in an oration contest when he was a small child, around 1900 or so. He could recite it from memory almost until he died, aged 96.
While sorting through an endless piles of papers recently, I came across several newspaper clippings, annotated by Mom. “Thought you would enjoy this great obituary!” was a typical note. Mom and I shared a fascination with obituaries. Of course, we had to have this enormous tome, the only downside of which is that it’s far too heavy to prop up for reading comfortably in bed!
So naturally I thought of Mom when I came across this obituary of a guy I never heard of before, but who obviously had an incredible (and short) life. A real Renaissance man. I am going to treat myself to his Festschrift in the next few days.
Have you been following the Instagram account of my friend Dotty FitzGerald? She lives on Lake Ontario and has taken the most incredible (iPhone only, no filters!) photos of sunrises and sunsets there. She’s compiled them into a little book, which I can hardly wait to have in my hot little hands–and it’s small enough to read in bed! Stealing one photo here to tempt you . . . .
Here’s a little video that may not change your life, but, in these weird pandemic times, every little bit helps! I can attest that this works, though my little triangles are not quite as compact as hers!
And, for something a little higher-brow, try these? I haven’t listened to any yet, but they’re on my list!
An early live radio play being broadcast at NBC Studios, New York.
No idea how it is that the weekends go so quickly! I have been art-journaling and reading and writing and MAKING ARANCINI!
We had a great Zoom class with our friend Fabrizia Lanza in Sicily. I am lucky because I am in the same time zone as Sicily, so when our 2-day class finished tonight, we just sat down and ate the results! Pretty great, if I do say so myself!
I went to the market today, as usual, but was shocked and not very happy to learn that all public health measures that had been put in place over the past few weekends have disappeared. Now that the border is open again, the Swiss are able to come flooding in, and, all of a sudden, there is no one-way system, no alcohol gel at the entrance, and very, very few people wearing masks. I did not feel safe at all and tried to zip through there as fast as possible.
I met up with my friend Mary Martin, who is a fantastic professional coach, as I can attest from personal experience. She told me about three lessons she had learned in a course she took long ago, called Calm amid Chaos. Doesn’t that sound like something we need right now? The ideas were so powerful I wrote them down:
Some great news, however, on another literary front. Our little bookshop in Ferney-Voltaire now stocks English books and can order anything you want! Delivery is about a week. No need to give my money to Amazon France anymore! Support your local bookshop!
I finally had a quintessentially French experience this morning, my first since lockdown, many months ago. I had an appointment at the bank. As I left the bank, I saw that all the cafes were open, there were loads of sidewalk tables, and the sun was shining brightly. I sat right down and had a coffee. GLORIOUS.
Morning coffee at La Truite.
And, finally, some fun pandemic art, created by one of my baby-baby-baby cousins, Garrison McLellan! He is drawing various imagined Pokemon characters. I asked for a French one. How great is this? With beret and baguette! I printed it out and put it in my journal and wanted to share it with you, too. Thanks, Garrison!