Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday 19th August - six, no less than six, beautiful things.

 The pretty new checkout girl at Ecomarché looks puzzled when we ask for our Radio Times.  Her colleague at the next till grins and goes and fetches it - she doesn't know the routine, I say.  Then we go to the fish van in the car park, and buy sleek and fresh lemon sole fillets; no, no winkles today, I say.  

The lemon sole, dusted in flour and fried in oil and butter mixed (I'm too lazy to clarify butter) is perfect, firm and golden. I enjoy our Friday morning shop in Quessoy.

Our friend D is weak and dehydrated with radiotherapy, and of course with what it is treating.  His wife J is more desperate and tearful than we have ever seen her.  The taxi/ambulance driver, Vèronique, when she takes him into the clinic, insists he sees the duty doctor, who admits him straight away, fearing that a hot weekend at home might be the last straw, and then requests a consultation with the chief oncologist, and by this evening he is settled in, on a drip, and already more comfortable .  J is high with relief.  These back-up, ancillary/para - medical people - taxi-ambulance, pharmacists etc - who are not afraid to issue directives and insist with the medics (who, in their turn, are not too proud to listen) are one of the things that make the health system good here, I think.  

J and I arrange to go and pick sloes in the arboretum tomorrow, and then I'll take her on to visit D at the clinic.


Tom makes a very handsome jar of pickled vegetables: cauliflower, carrots, and shallots - to go with a meal next week.  The recipe called for small pickling onions, but shallots were what was available, and they are much prettier, with their soft mauve-pink tint, and I'm sure a better flavour.  There is honey in the pickling liquor, and tarragon, fennel and bay leaves.  I snitch a very small floret of cauliflower as it is cooling, but don't say.

Then he goes and does final battle with a flatpack chest of  drawers, which the leaflet said would take 30 minutes, but which has been ongoing since yesterday, and Tom is no slouch when it comes to assembling flatpack furniture, believe me.  The drawers don't line up, and need re-jigging, it is heavy and awkward, and by the end some slightly off-colour remarks are being made about the manufacturing credentials of the PRC, but by tonight we have a completed chest whose drawers open and close properly. Then he sets about rubbing down the gesso on a canvas for a still life.

I say I don't believe anyone else has a husband who is so Good At Jobs.  He shrugs modestly, and says perhaps M does, and he's sure P does...  

Pshaw - I snort - they can keep them!


An on-line friend sends me a link to a beautiful short story she has written.


I weed the whole azalea bed.  The camellia (sorry Dumas) we put in this year has plenty of strong green shoots on it, but also a tight ligature of bindweed. We don't - touchwood - get enormous amounts of bindweed in the garden, and I am reminded of not only its strangulating ruthlessness, but also the satisfaction of carefully unwinding its spiral from the host plant and, with a final sharp tug, removing it.

Photo: collage

- best of the webs, and a Japanese anemone (might be worth a click or two to enlarge.  B/W shows up line, as well as form).


marja-leena said...

Love your webs in b/w!

And having a husband who is so Good At Jobs, except mine does not do art.

Barrett Bonden said...

I am struck by the fact that you know the name of the taxi/ambulance driver (well, there is a personal connection) since it's a tiny shred of evidence, out of many, that you have integrated with the community. Silly to say; of course you have integrated; that's why you went there in the first place- but I recognise the detail. From year to year it happened with us.

Sitting in the parlour of Mme. Nicolas (you would have known her first name, of course; but this was a big step for me), thanking her for the sous titres she provided below the gruff patois of her menuisier husband; dropping off half a bottle of Teachers as proof there is better Scotch in the land than the sort Leclerc sells (it worked; they looked for Teachers but couldn't find it), listening to stories about how her son had refait sa vie following the divorce. Other factors combined to force the sale of our house but the hardest wrench was saying goodbye to the people. I relive what might have been through Box Elder.

Lucy said...

Thanks both.

ML - he doesn't do as much art as he should or would like, largely owing to the other jobs he's good at, but it's nice he's got a plan for some now!

BB - I was thinking about that a bit, and how J is actually much better at integrating than we are. We made more effort at first, I suppose, and listened to and exchanged domestic details with others in our community, partly because we had very nice neighbours who made it easy, some of whom have died or moved to Ploeuc-sur-Lié (arguably a similar fate).

Now we are quite lazy, and there are people in our immediate hamlet that we don't know at all, and we don't try very hard with the ones we do. Of course much of rural France is filled with elderly people who regret the lack of company and will hungrily bend the ears especially of anyone they haven't known for 60 years and to whom their stories are unfamiliar and curious. I have retired French friends who say they like driving through the interior in their camper van and stopping in deathly quiet villages, walking down the street and seeing how many old folk come out and talk to them. I guess it's a relatively inexpensive way to pass your vacances.

But I shouldn't sound so jaded, I'm not really. J, on the other hand, much to our consternation, bought what we consider to be a dreary small town house in the centre a dreary small commune, and in next to no time has built up a nurturing and supportive network of friends and contacts, so that she only has to go two paces in any direction to find the butcher who has saved her a tasty bit of stake to tempt her appetite after looking after D who can't eat, the baker who puts aside her pastries and whose dog curls up on her doorstep... Presumably the candlestick maker went out of business a few years ago with the coming of electric light, but then there's the gay couple who run the bar and the hairdresser, who cheer her up by doing her hair at short notice and regaling her with stories of how Gaetan's (yes that is his name) leg is in plaster because it was broken when he was enveloped in an over-enthusiastic hug from a very large and very drunk friend and they both fell over.

And that's not counting all her English-speaking friends.

Without boasting, my French is considerably better than hers, and I would say that my observational curiosity and cultural awareness were also a bit ahead too, but I am just not that easy-going, gregarious and extrovert, so I fall way behind in the integration stakes I'm afraid. I think she's probably be like that anywhere, and I just wouldn't.

Zhoen said...


Barrett Bonden said...

A generous and informative response. With us it was a matter of differing temperaments: I took every possible, potentially embarrassing opportunity to engage in conversation (especially where my audience was nailed down as in the doctor's surgery) whereas Mrs BB would run a mile. My French was never idiomatic but I evolved a technique of uttering the unexpected, often embedding a linguistic sting at the end of the sentence. As a result I was typed as an eccentric but worth a chat. You're right, though, those who stopped and talked were of an age to waste time. Perhaps I was a measure of their desperation.

Needless to say the French version of BB is quite different from the English, huddled over a keyboard, pathetically recapturing France from a distance.

the polish chick said...

lucy, would you (or tom) be willing to share the pickle recipe? i'm in a pickling frenzy at the moment and would love to add something new to my repertoire. thanks and no hard feelings if you'd rather not.

with our constant and frequent moves i have become adept at reaching out and making friends. not too many, but i do make the effort to create a community of sorts wherever we happen to live. i am sometimes almost too gregarious, to the horror of my incredibly introverted parents who wonder where i had sprung from. my husband laughs and tells me i flirt with everybody which i suppose i do.

Fire Bird said...

'too lazy to clarify butter'... tut!