17 November, 2012

If today is Saturday, then I've been in France since last Tuesday. It is all hazy, like this beautiful morning in the Chartreuse mountains.  The fog lies across the lowlands and hides the snowy mountaintops as the sun fights to burn it off.  After 24 whirlwind hours in Paris with friends and meeting the delightful Anne Ditmeyer I took the direct TGV (train a grand vitesse) to Grenoble. How wonderful to be surrounded by those beutiful peaks again! Staying with the also delightful Mickey Farrance I wake up and open the shutters to see the white cattle dotting the hillside. Heaven.

Today will be lunch, I'm hoping for truite a la meunier, a museum visit and shopping.  Possibly a walk in the clean mountain air as well. Ah, la belle France.

La Gua

View of the fort above Grenoble

05 November, 2012

A Day of reckoning draws nigh

The world is watching closely tomorrow's United State's elections. Not just for the graft and the gerrymandering and disenfranchisement of legal voters. But to see if a proven commander-in-chief and his competent secretary of state, or an inexperienced, foot-in-his-mouth Ritchie Ritch will be deciding the world's foreign party.

Locally we have a choice between a freedom-of-the-people fighter, or a man who slid in upon the death of Ted Kennedy, and has not distinguished himself. The days of the moderate republican are over, the force and abuse of power is too great.

How some politicians want women to regress.  The 47% of us.  I was just in costume, but medical care, legal rights, and more will revert to the 19th century under this devout Mormon

03 November, 2012

A Yankee Life

 It has been a very long couple of days, and this entry is about neither Cape Cod nor Paris.. I went to visit my great-grandmother’s niece, my grandmother’s cousin Rhoda. She entered hospice less than a week after her 86th birthday.  She cared for my mother and her own younger brother when they were children, he in curls and the two on ponies or 1940s bicycles. Since my childhood, the rather ramshackle home she grew up in was one of my favorite places. Rhoda’s mother cooked on a woodstove, had no “modern” bathtub or shower, oilcloth on the table, and a farmyard well into the 1970s. All of this steps from the University of Massachusetts,Amherst. Now a sprawling metropolis, it began as an agricultural college.  Rhoda’s husband cared for the livestock at UMass for five decades. At their own farm, she always took me to see the horses and rabbits. I pumped water into an old cast iron tub in the pasture, while she chatted with my mother for hours in her tiny kitchen above her mother-in-law’s. 

My mother, Rhoda's brother and their cousins c. 1944
With Rhoda 2012

I visited the farm during the year that I lived in Amherst in graduate school.  My daughter pumped water into the same tub.

Her husband George died several years ago, and the farm was sold to the town of Amherst.  There is a huge controversy over what to do with the farm, preserve it as historic green space or use it for soccer fields.  I took my son there recently; it is abandoned and sad, curtains still in Rhoda’s windows.  It is a very typical New England farmstead, with a white clapboard house behind a privet hedge, two barns, rolling pastures and old apple trees. 

Rhoda has been in an assisted living facility for a while, and she doesn't know me when I visit, but she enjoys my company.  She smiles when I talk about my mother and grandmother and my great-grandmother, her aunt.  I will miss this connection to all of them, and the wonderful woman who was so special to my mother.

Photo: Friends of Hawthorne Farm

01 November, 2012

November Challenge 11:53 p.m. EST

The suggestion from BlogHer was a favorite quotation. One dropped into my lap from Bill Day, a friend of  Maryam Montague's "To paraphrase Sir Toby Belch in response to your critic, "Just because thou art virtuous, does not mean there shall be no more cakes and ale." You (Maryam) are the one who has pointed out on more than one occasion that in a troubled world, we should make the most of our moments of joy and beauty. We should appreciate what we have the more in the knowledge that not everyone is so fortunate, but the fact that not everyone is equally fortunate does not mean we cannot appreciate what we have. We simply have to be careful not to confuse the gifts of nature with the rewards of virtue. As for beauty, it may be superficial and ephemeral, like a spring rose, a witty phrase, or a summer breeze, but that does not make it trivial or valueless." (emphasis mine.)