on the other end of the line...
from the Avignon TGV station...
...3.5 hour's drive East of Toulouse
"All trains to Toulouse have been cancelled, she said"
- Cancelled? What about one to Beziers, Narbonne, Montpellier, Perpignan or BORDEAUX? I suggested.
- Cancelled. I don't understand. I only bought my ticket last night and they never warned me.
- Pass me the SNCF agent - I'll sort this out!! (15 years in France and still my optimism obstinately refuses to be crushed)
- Oui Madame, I confirm. No trains going West! We can send her to Marseille if you like. There may be a train to Toulouse from there...
- Merci, please pass my friend back over.
- Hello (insert an, 'Oh GOD! What do we do now?' voice.)
- Hold tight, I said, I'll be there in three and a half hours.
What can I say?
Even with Ladurée, the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Provence...
...You don't really know the nitty gritty reality of life in France
until you've been a victim of
one of its numerous strikes ;-)
Then the panic set in for me. I had been counting on the last few hours before she arrived by train at Matabiau station, close by in TOULOUSE, to get my house unrealistically completely clean and tidy. You know, like out of one of those fabulous home decorating magazines that I don't buy any more because they waste too much paper...
But my biggest goal, and the one I was saving for the last minute, was WASHING MY CAR!!!
We live in the country surrounded by fields and 150 horses... and a little bit of mud. Mud that the messmonsters walk through after getting off the horses and before climbing into the car. Mud that I have to drive through to pick them up from horseriding ...
(Notice that I put a nice photo of the trees above my house here, instead of a photo of that mud... 'Always aim high/Onward and upward!' is my motto;-)
Mud that sticks defiantly to my car
I hurredly kicked a few stray pieces of lego under the couch to keep the the dust bunnies company for another week, rapidly hung the washing outside and screeched out of the driveway in the direction of the high-pressure car wash... frantically calling Beaker all the while to see if we could change cars momentarily. I knew he wasn't going to like that of course - the father of my children is always impeccably dressed and his car is always impeccably clean (which was why I wanted it desperately to make a great first impression).
No immediate response from Beaker.
Fumbling around in my purse I found only a 2 Euro coin for the car wash and no other spare change. 2 short minutes to blast two months weeks' worth of mud off my car. I pulled up my sleeves, slipped in the coin, and attacked. What I ended up with after the two minutes was a sort of 3D dalmation effect. Slightly more oddball visually - but not likely to compromise the cleanliness of her clothes as she climbed into my car. Anyway - I sort of figured that the remaining lumps of mud wouldn't be able to cope for too long with the wind resistance against my speeding vehicle... THAT GIRL was stranded and waiting for me!!
This... Is a prime example of how my life works. It is a constant source of laughter for me, landing me straight back into the present moment when I get carried away with fantasies of perfection. NO matter how much I try to have every. single. thing straight, down to the last detail, real life has a tendency to catch up with me very quickly, firmly reminding me exactly who I am. From that moment on, I gave up all pretense of perfection! I could only hope then ... that like 'real life,' she would like me for moi-même - dirty car warts and all!
(Notice that I put a nice photo of a flower here instead of a photo of my dirty car???
It still hasn't been washed...
But I preferred to photograph the flowers... the eternal quest for beauty ;-)
What do two people, who have never physically met, who have based all on intuition and some scant written material posted on the internet over a few months, say to each other when they finally meet under slightly stressful circumstances???
And that is how you know... or at least I found out ... that the person we sense behind each blog, is just what we can expect in real life.
It's a bit like having your favourite movie character materialise off the screen, reach out to share your pop corn and chat about your impressions of the movie with you, then go back to her/his role in the film with a nod and a wink. Magical!
I had never intended my blog to be personal. It was always meant to be an extension of my work, things that inspire me, and a bit of inspiration for others hopefully... I've sort of come around to the fact that a blog can't NOT be personal...
In fact, to me, that's the inherent interest and beauty behind each and every blog I read. That very real, very special person behind each one, who is gradually revealed through their choice and expression of subject matter, is the quintessential element that provides all the specific flavour and charm. It's become my main reason for allowing myself the time away from the busy-ness of 'real life' to visit bloglandia.
This last week of laughs, exchanges of ideas, and crazy tourism has allowed me to both see my own, local world with new eyes (thanks for the expression Angie), and enjoy the pleasure of cementing an 'imaginary' friendship with a flesh and blood person.
Real life just looks better and better every day...
Thanks Kim for the wonderful time you blessed me with, here in my little adopted part of France.
You are missed already by one and all (Messmonsters currently dropping HUGE hints about not having been in a plane for a while!) The door at La Rivière is always open...
AngePS - After all those wonderful tips Kim gave me on taking photos (results above), I am feeling slightly guilty about my 'practical joke' concerning which parts of the duck the French actually do put into preserving jars. I'm hoping the Roquefort sauce and kiss from my cheese man were sufficient to make up for this ;-)
PPS - In case you all were wondering, this is not going to become a photo blog... I just needed to learn a few tricks and have had fun playing around with aperture and perspective. Back to my brushes quick smart tomorrow so I can reopen my currently closed ETSY shop again soon.