May 2019

And the month of May in 2019 we have spent deliciously and happily in Aups – arriving from Paris with Barbara on the TGV. Adele met us at the train station. No internet & a fruitless run-around trying to get it restored. I was able to download my emails at Penny’s where we went the next day for a banquet meal in celebration of Hamish’s birthday. Somehow, and mysteriously, Pierre managed to get the livebox and email working just before he took all of us (Barbara, Richard, me & Catherine) to dinner the following day at the Calalou. He and Catherine were off to Uzbekistan for two weeks the next day.



The Focus

After the weekend and with Barbara briefly in Aix, we had dinner at the Hotel Provençal with Penny & Hamish after delicious cocktails at Caroline and Damien’s with Maria. The next day, we fetched Marie-Laure from the train station in Les Arcs. Then all of us visited Barbara Dauphin up the mountain. She seems poorly – at least physically but not mentally. She says she is ready to go.

The following day I learned that South African Roger Loveday had died suddenly. He had said that he had had a terrible Easter but was improving. I have only known Roger through and on Facebook, but he had become a good friend. I did not realize he had been ill, and he died in the hospital from, I think, a blood clot in his heart. Two good friends were with him.

Another Hotel Provençal dinner with Barbara, Marie-Laure, Adele & Pascal. The next day, Marie-Laure went to Aix for son Jonathan’s participation in a half-marathon. She had arranged a ride with Blah-Blah from Salernes. We got back in time for the St. Pancras procession through the village. After the Aixois race, Jonathan with Sandra and a sleeping Noah brought Marie back to Aups. She left the next day to return to Paris, & we got back from Les Arcs in time for the conclusion of the Aups fété and the ritual involving drunken revelers dressed in drag after a shooting contest at the grottos and then jumping into the main fountain of the village.

One evening we enjoyed champagne at Penny & Hamish’s place in Artignosc and then dinner at Clement’s restaurant in St. Lawrence with Bobby, Wendy & Leo. The following day was one of those of several minor disasters – one of which was doing Petit Claude’s mélange but using gas olie by mistake instead of the proper éthanol. Maggie would not start; it was Friday afternoon, but Claude saved us, and we were able the next day get to the Nice Airport very early to collect Chloe and Matt and then get back in time for the farmers’ market. Richard and I took the kids that evening to the Calalou and had a lovely time with them. The next day, Sunday, I cooked the two legs of lamb using Penny’s recipe and had a large-scale dinner for fifteen of us altogether – including Pierre & Catherine just back from Uzbekistan, Dieter & Cindy, Jim & Joanne, Liliane & Renaud, and Penny & Hamish. The evening was a success. We drove Chloe & Matt back to Nice the next day. Maggie, however, was extremely sluggish, and it could be difficult to get her up an incline. On the way back from Nice, I got regular petrol and have only used that since, and the car has been fine.

The following day we had dinner at Jim & Joanne’s (Lambrusco, red wine and vegetarian Thai curry). The following morning, Joanne took Barbara to Les Arcs for her return to the US. Richard & I had a lovely luncheon at Farigoulette in Tourtours with Penny – just the three of us. Later at home, Adele came by with our car insurance decals and then entertained us with stories about her family. She is writing a book. And that evening I managed to get myself banned for 24 hours from Facebook for posting Dominic Rouse’s surrealistic painting Come to Mother. The work shows nipples. But the next day, the Tubilustrium, we consumed some space cake. For me, it was not easy, and I slept a lot at first before we went into town and then to the grottos before our usual afternoon coffees and this time followed by milkshakes at what was formerly the Lambert ice cream shop. Negroni finished our celebrations. And we were okay enough the next day to make the visit up the hill to see Barbara a second time.

It was a Saturday, and an orage was approaching, so I unplugged everything. The storm never really arrived, but I could not get the livebox to reconnect. So I was without wifi until the next Monday when we drove again to Draguignan and got a new and different livebox/modem. Eventually I got it to work and after a few days the telephone as well. One the final Thursday for us this time in the Midi, we went again to Fargoulette for lunch with Penny, Hamish, Margiet and Hans. After the lunch, Richard and I went to Pierre and Catherine’s for cocktails and just a most enjoyable time with them.

I write this on the last day of May, and tonight we will have dinner at Les Gourmets with Jim and Joanne. Today and yesterday have been especially beautiful. Guy has just finished cutting all the grass in our meadow, and Tellus is looking spectacularly beautiful. Pierre said yesterday that our place/property is “a gem.” We have been ecstatically happy – especially alas this last week during which we could savour all as just the two of us. As Penny puts it, “We have now been free just to run around the premises naked.” The May weather overall has been mixed: not particularly warm and often cold, rain and windy and lots of clouds, but it has also been reasonably fine enough of the time and always miraculously beautiful. We’ve had the chimney sweep and also a new electricity meter installed. Guy, José and Maria have been godsends. And we did our Lemurian bean-casting rites. I have occasionally worked on my ‘End of Life’ manuscript and also have re-drafted my Living/Sacred Mountain ‘Introduction’ and want now to submit it as an article to the Pomegranate. I have managed to read (& enjoy) Dion Fortune’s The Goat-Foot God and am now about halfway through Guy Davenport’s 1981 Geography of the Imagination. This last has been a feast (Pound, Eliot, James, Whitman and many references to Hugh Kenner, one of my favourite instructors) and reconnects me with much of my heady times at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

But sadly, it is now time to depart northward (one full day in Paris) and then London (back to the Brexit nightmare – with Elton John saying it all perfectly, namely, “I am a European – not a stupid, imperialist English idiot.”), to Stratford upon Avon for Vivianne & Chris’ 40th wedding anniversary and then back to London until we return to Amsterdam at some point to collect our renewed residence cards. But first tomorrow is Jette and Tom’s wedding in Viens about an hour & a half from our centre of the world. Pierre says it will take longer. It has been in all a marvelously wonderful sojourn, and it includes here such marvelously wonderful friends as well. And both Matt & Chloe liked and then toasted to my statement concerning Richard and me and our “legendary happiness.”


































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