We’ve now had about six weeks of very little stress or demands. There have been spikes, of course, news that Shannon’s husband has bone cancer (the good news being it’s the “best” of the bone cancers and treatable) to falling trees and floods in the laundry room. Oh, and of course reading a bit of news (despite pledges not to do so) and having momentary meltdowns, I’ve never been so relaxed.
I did a few paintings that were very different for me, far freer and more “abstract.” I’ve been doing some writing other than just blogging, taking long walks, going to superb restaurants or making delicious meals at home consisting mainly of carbs. And fruit. The fruit is unreal. The veggies are fresh are like we’re used to in California. The biggest issue is the jambon. The French are simply pig crazy. There is jambon in EVERYTHING. Jim eats the same jambon, butter, cheese and baguette sandwich EVERY DAY. Ugh. I could exist simply on sugar and cheese with a few fruits and veggies on the side.
Main courses ALWAYS primarily consist of things we don’t eat or prefer not to eat, like pork, beef, sausage. We draw the line at foie gras. Last night we went to the most remote restaurant on earth. Its run by women and absolutely charming, like everything else in France. One woman is Dutch, the other three are British. The chef has lived all over the world. They’ve been in the restaurant business for years and three years ago opened “A Table” in Cherval. Only it’s not really in Cherval which is part of the reason it took 45 minutes to get there instead of 15. When the hostess told us the menu for the night, which included a course of foie gras, Jim and I said, in unison, “no foie gras.” We happen to be in Perigord (I think it’s the region or the district or whatever the hell it is) were people come from all over to eat foie gras. Don’t even get me started.
In France, you have 1) towns; 2) villages; 3) communes; 4) cities; 5) principalities and I could go on. So the fact that you put in Combiers in the GPS because that’s what the restaurant address says and go to Combiers, don’t expect to find the restaurant.
While I sit outside the Moulin, where we’ve been these past glorious weeks, writing this I’m surrounded by rushing water and butterflies. I’ve never seen so many butterflies outside of a museum of butterflies.
A little too much free association, back to the subject of happiness and last night’s meal.
It was a perfect night and everyone sat outside overlooking the magnificent rolling hills and farmland. The dogs were with us because EVERYONE allows dogs EVERYWHERE. The place was full, which mean about 30-40 people. Like every restaurant it was ridiculously inexpensive, half of what a similar meal would cost in LA or NYC. There was one other American, the loudest person in the place. We were seated next to the man who owns the wine shop in Mareuil, where we and everyone in the surrounding villages, communes, towns, whatever, get their good wine. His wine shop is a place to behold and his knowledge of each and every bottle blows your mind. He’s British and walked away from his stressful job for a multinational corporation thirteen years ago and decided to pursue his love of wine. To make a long story short, he told the same story all the ex-pats from the UK told: he was sick of the stress, decided to pursue quality of life over money and never looked back. They ALL used the same line “I’ll never be a millionaire (remember that Rod Stewart song) but I don’t care because I’m happy.” Each of them said they love the quiet, simple lives they lead. And you can see it on their faces. Even with Brexit and having British passports, they’re not leaving France.
After dinner we hung out with the owners and the chef and talked politics. Naturally they were lefties. We haven’t met one person here who wasn’t to the left of every Democrat in America. The chef, who cooks alone, told us she keeps up with all the news in the US, UK and France. She knows more about the U.S. than any person that voted from the Orange Mental Midget or in his entire cabinet.
Once again, it reminds me of the bill of goods we’ve been sold. The more time I spend away, the more I engage with other people, I see we’ve actually been brainwashed over the course of our lives. We’ve grown up believing the sun rises and sets on the U.S. and the rest of the world is inferior, at best, and a terrorist hell-hole, at worst. If I were to bet on whether the so-called “American culture” is around ten centuries from now, I’d bet be “no” (if for no other reason I won’t be here to collect!).
It’s hard to do nothing. To just be. To turn off your head and give yourself permission to do nothing every day other than go the boulangerie or patisserie, paint a picture – or not, read a book – or not, take a walk (a must in order to justify massive quantities of alcohol and chocolate). Decide whether to eat in or out.
This is our last week. I don’t want to think about it because I/we don’t want to leave this place. (I know, you’re weeping for me at this point). Because we’re so nuts, Jim and I have even discussed the impact on the dogs. This is the place they roll in the grass endlessly, chase butterflies and birds. Go to dinner with us. Oh god. They’ll be worse than ever when we get back to LA.
Any maybe what is to be learned from the problem with happiness is it turns you into a narcissist living from one croissant to another and pleading for one more ride to the next most beautiful town in France.
I’ve also posted a brief movie of a walk I took early am with the dogs. It speaks volumes!
Oh, and while I was writing this, a monarch butterfly sat on shoulder. That’s a first!! (I was supposed to working on my excessive use of exclamation points, but I don’t think it’s going well).
Notice how many windows are shuttered?!
Sadly, Jim had to look the wall behind me, but I had a lovely view of him and the countryside. This is another place we returned to, “Le Petit Restaurant”, also owned by ex-pat Brits.
Scroll down to bottom to hit “play”.