I purposefully kept my previous blog post short and to the point. I have so much I want to share with you all on my Mom, her final months and weeks,days, and hours, and what a truly wonderful mother she was…but I cannot manage this now. I feel too raw and sore at the moment to write these thoughts down. In time I will be able to share my thoughts and feelings…but for now, I send my love.
For all of you who may be following my blog, I wish to let you know that my reason for not updating my blog and for not writing enthusiastically for some time is a very sad one.
My Mom died, passed away, departed this life, received her wings- however you may say it, it is the end of a beautiful, incredible special life that has left me and my family distraught and empty, heartsore and heavy hearted, and above all, devoid of our great anchor and support in our lives.
thanks to my Dad and my brothers and sisters I was able to spend significant time with my Mom as she slowly released her beautiful soul from her body; and together with my family to be by her bedside, holding her hands, singing songs to her, when she took her last breaths. This was a most intense time yet perhaps one of the most beautiful times to be remembered. Love abounded, and then more love; her room was filled with the lightness of children singing and the love that she was and gave to so many.
I ‘sat shiva’- the customary 7 days of intense mourning in the Jewish way of death- together with my family in Toronto. I was amazed and touched by the overwhelming support of friends, community and family that my immediate family have as a support in their adopted country. This is a remarkable place that blends all together in sadness and in joy.
Chuck and I have returned to Nice- to pack up, and on the insistence of my Dad, to continue with our planned travel until our return to San Diego next month.
I continue, in sadness, and with Chuck’s support, carrying my Mom with me at all times in my heart and thoughts, with the greatest of love.
I will update my blog and write again when I feel up to it, but for now….
sending love and light,
If I was to say that staying in Provence is better than my imagination could possibly make it, it is! I LOVE Provence. I am sitting outside on the patio of the beautiful home we are renting for the week- thanks Sharon and John! As the sun cools down from it’s peak in the 90’s today, and the soft breeze of the valley delivers a scent of fermenting grapes and soil, I sip my chilled rosé and place slivers of slightly softened Comte cheese into my mouth as I write, I long for more of the same.
“Please can we stay an extra day!” I beg Chuck, barely having arrived. We have plans to visit Corsica for 5 nights next week. “Or move here for the rest of our stay?” My cousin and her husband are visiting us in Nice for 5 days after we return from Corsica. Too much to see and do. And all I want to do is to be still and quiet and to be in Provence.
We have learned this, Chuck and I. I’m a country girl at heart and the quiet village life is what I love, treasure, in fact. I’ll see by the end of this week if this still holds. But I imagine it will.
We are staying in a tiny hamlet- not even a village- but close to or part of the ‘village’ of Peypin d’aigues. There is no store, no church, no hotel de ville, nothing!-other than peace, quiet and some neighbors who are sweet and friendly and keep to themselves; allowing us to keep to ourselves. The closest store is 6km away- and it is only open certain hours a day. Beyond that there are villages that hold regular markets, as in our farmer’s markets. We went shopping at one today, in a small village about 10km away. It was fantastic.
So, whats for dinner tonight? The pan-fried trout (filleted) with lots of butter and aged garlic we picked up at the market today, together with a melange of summer vegetables- aubergines, zucchini, tomatoes, scallions and olives over a bed of dark lentils. And great wine!! Results and pictures to follow.
Needless to say, I need a shopping basket- our Californian style cooler doesn’t cut it in this culture. We bought cheese and a loaf of ancient grain bread and that has sustained us throughout the hot day, along with rose too, of course.
It’s 8pm (20h00 as they say in Europe). I’m sitting outside on the stone patio with old stone walls surrounding me on two sides, wearing moss and ivy along their grey aged facade. The sun has moved behind the olive tree. The gentle breeze is cool on my exposed skin. Turtle doves begin their call. The night is entering the Luberon valley with a stillness and grace as it has done for centuries. It is time to make dinner, which we will enjoy together outside, wine and words and wishes carried along the Provence countryside. In stillness. Silently wishing……
Before we arrived in Nice, a salad nicoise was merely an item on a menu. But ever since we arrived it has become a daily requirement in my diet. In fact, I have withdrawals if I don’t get my daily fix of salad Nicoise.
The recipe is simple enough:
lettuce- any type, varied- shredded;
tomato-sliced into quarters;
hard boiled egg-sliced into quarters;
onion – preferably red onion, thinly sliced and chopped;
tuna-canned or seared; and anchovies- yes, 2 types of fish; and
olives-red or green.
That’s the basic version. Drizzle good olive oil and mild balsamic vinegar over the salad, salt and pepper and voila! You have a delicious Nicoise salad.
For a variation, you can add boiled potato- skinned or not; thinly sliced red peppers and some green beans- my all time least favorite food so I’m thrilled that most of the salad nicoise I have had do not come with green beans- perhaps they’re out of season! It’s a long story why I don’t like green beans- for another time, perhaps.
The average cost of a salad Nicoise is around 12 euro but can go up depending on where it is eaten- overlooking the blue Mediterranean from a perch up in the Medieval town of Eze or Monaco can raise the price considerably. And making the salad at home for me is so simple it requires little more than the freshest ingredients to thoroughly enjoy, together with a slice or two of freshly baked baguette with butter, of course. Or as my friend Cecile says, You have some bread with your butter, rather than the other way around. I do love butter.
Not forgetting the glass of chilled rose wine. A feast fit for a queen, or a Princess!
Perhaps it was the heavy mood of the city that propelled us to take the long route into Provence; or the humidity that weighed equally as heavy as the mood that sent us driving up into the mountains, the lower Alps, in pursuit of lightness. The heat, humidity and general sadness of the city of Nice all contributed to our recent 4 day trip to Provence. I needed to get out and Chuck was as ready as I was. So without much thought, we booked a hotel near the town of Roussillon in Provence. Without knowing anything at all about the hotel, the town, and never having visited Provence myself, we embarked on an adventure into what I imagined might be a journey right into the impressionist paintings of Van Gogh, Cezanne and Gauguin amongst others.; as if wearing 3D glasses at a movie.
I was not disappointed. Quite the contrary. The area of Provence, and in particular, the Luberon, is as magnificent as any impressionist painting, and then some. Of course, we decided to take the scenic route and not the direct route. The difference in time would be approximately 3-4 hours. We decided on the scenery, above all, the advantage of not having to be anywhere at a particular time. There is a direct route, which we took on the way back to Nice yesterday. Not as direct as we would have liked, getting lost in Nice; but only 11/2 hours from Aix-en-Provence. More on that later.
We were going on vacation while on vacation! What a terrific idea. I made some sandwiches for the road, something that I always do in California, but will decline from doing again while in France. There are way too many wonderful villages with boulangeries and cafes to stop at, and my sandwiches cannot begin to match their individual unique tastiness. The drive took us through the lower Alps; passed geologic formations and rocks that varied with every turn we took. Deep gorges dropped down steeply along the single lane road and way below large rivers ran; grey in color; perhaps glacial in origin; rapids flowing over large boulders running the length of the long winding road. We climbed higher and higher. Up into the mountains we rode, with Chuck driving and me navigating as a ploy to avert my eyes from the cliff faces we hair-pinned around. We arrived at small mountain village after a couple of hours of driving, ready for a break, more food- it’s tough going driving up the mountains!-and always in need of a toilet break. The town had closed up for the siesta time. From 2-4pm, sometime, until 6pm, towns and villages close down during the summer for the siesta time. But they come alive at night; the sun setting at 9pm or 9:30 and dinner is always a late affair. We managed a cup of coffee and thankfully a great toilet- at the British pub!
Some hours later, we arrived at the hotel in Provence. Not to mention that we passed fields and fields of sunflowers, their faces, turned upward to the sun, like demigods. They seem to be in prayer, each sunflower lined up against the other, thanking the sun, the earth and everything in between. That is how I felt, driving along the steep mountain roads into the land of beauty- grateful. I felt so grateful to be there; to be healthy and strong; to have this opportunity to do what so many others I know and have known, have not had the chance to do. I was elated. Suddenly the heavy humid air and darkness of Nice lifted. I was lighter, laughing again; able to enjoy the small things, simple things, like a good toilet in a small mountain town.
I doubt that the over 100 people who were brutally mowed down while enjoying Bastille Day fireworks had any notion at all that the lorry hurtling towards them was intentionally on the promenade to bring them down, limb by limb; to cause their death in a manner and in a cause so hateful as this was. The seconds it took, spilt seconds, to end so many lives, so quickly, could not have registered in the consciousness of these poor souls. They had no premonition. No preparation. No way of knowing what they might do in case of such an occurrence; what they would have told their children to do. “RUN!” “Get out the way” “Someone please stop this lunatic”; “be careful today as you walk along the promenade des anglais”; no warning; no time to prepare; to say goodbye; to protect against danger. Who could have known that the danger would have been from one of their own, a french citizen; a truck driver; a man with children of his own. Who could ever know what is o come……
The uncertainty of life haunts me as I walk along the Promenade des Anglais; a wide stretch of well-surfaced beach front that is at least 2-3 car lanes wide and a few miles long. It’s spectacular to walk along the promenade day or night; one of the high-lights of Nice. Families, couples, old and young; teenagers, middle aged, all make this promenade their morning, midday, evening and late night go-to area. It is safe; spectacular, and the smell of the ocean and sound of the waves gently washing up onto the pebbled shore makes it all the more tranquil. But no more the carefree summer days of vacation and respite from a weary world. Now as I walk along the promenade I see markers a couple of yards or feet away from each other; memorials of flowers placed down on the exact spot that someone was killed, murdered, knocked down in cold blood. Flowers of white roses mark the spot; candles, notes, dolls and teddy bears for the children; messages of love and remembrance. It’s heartbreaking to see and I hurry past. But then a couple of feet away, another cluster of flowers and tokens lies along the promenade. It cannot be avoided. This tragedy is real and present and here, and marks every step that I take along the beautiful sea front. The flowers and memorial tokens lie like dead bodies, sprawled out, unmoving; still. It is difficult walk on and walk by them, crowds gather around and I admit that I struggle to look; I don’t want to read names or ages or put a face or a person to the number…how callous of me. It is probably my way of surviving right now. Not to immerse myself in the melancholy of the midday mood but to walk on, head high; alive.