I See Stories

Tickled at lunchtime
October 12, 2006, 7:29 am
Filed under: looking out

img_7813.JPGFunny things can happen in the most mundane of moments.

I was making lunch…hotdogs. But here in France, we can’t find hotdog buns, though I have easy access to hamburger buns so I just cut the hotdogs to fit those. Since we don’t have hotdogs too often, I freeze the buns. (I’m very lucky that I have a freezer large enough to hold extra buns here; my first congelateur was challenged by a carton of ice cream and a frozen pizza; forget ice trays.) But, we have no microwave in which to defrost the frozen breads and I hate to heat up the oven for a simple thawing project, so I either have to plan ahead enough to have time for countertop thawing or be innovative. Since this time it was high noon at hot dog time, I just put the breads out on a plate to defrost in the sunshine. Of course, I had to keep an eye out for pigeons and doves looking for a free lunch.

I was scurrying around gathering up ketchup, mustard, and pickles when I heard J capture the moment; “Look! Two buns on a chair!” It tickled me for some reason…I’m still guffawing…


I See Slubs
September 30, 2006, 11:32 am
Filed under: mirrors

img_8014.JPGIt occurred to me this morning that it is not stories that I see: I see slubs. Things that seem incongruous, that I can’t quite explain, those are what become stories for me. They really are like those little knots in fabric that come from imperfectly spun threads. Some irregularity in the warp or weft that results in lumps. Life lumps…slubs. Sounds about right.

Weaving those stories into some sort of coherent whole is an altogether different challenge. Is there some sort of theme that evolves that makes individual anecdotes hang together? Those themes just seemed to show themselves to me when I was writing Oh La La.

Two boys on the bus from Cannes
September 23, 2006, 9:48 am
Filed under: looking out

two boys on the bus They looked sort of cute dressed in their matching shirts, though I always thought it was kind of strange to dress siblings in the same outfits. They sat across the aisle from me on the bus going from Cannes to Antibes. Looking completely worn out, I wondered if they had been to the beach and were heading home for nap. Their parents sat directly across from them with tote bags of towels, extra clothing, and water bottles.

We had only been on the road about 10 minutes when the little boy that had had his back turned to me, sat up. He looked like he was going to cry, but I recognized the haste of his mother’s attempt to get a sac plastique out of her tote…that boy was going to puke. I was greatly relieved that she was quick and I looked out the window to avoid the gag reflex that I often experience when seeing a heaving child.

Wondering how much longer the drive to Antibes would take, I kept peeking back at that family of four. At my next glance the sick boy was nibbling a cake from a cellophane wrapper. I noted that his mom had come prepared. I wondered what other resources she carried in her bag in preparation for possible disruptions of the day.

She evidently knew her boys well; thankfully. When the second boy eyed the first with the cake, I thought he looked green with jealously. I imagined him wondering why his brother got to eat cake when he had just been ill. A reward? No sooner had the thought passed across my brain’s neurons than I realized it wasn’t jealously that made that child green, he was a puker too. Properly interpreting the cues, wise Mom had extracted another sac plastique and the second boy was retching loudly.

Suddenly the bus was filled with the smell of vomit. Overwhelmed, I had to move. The entire front of the bus got up and shifted to the back. Heaven help us, I thought, if there is a wave of hysterical emesis…even that mom couldn’t have enough sacsfor an epidemic. Why, I wondered, did the driver not pull the bus over and offer to help? But what she would have done? Could the driver put them off? How much further did they have to go?

I never answered the questions. The bus reached my stop and I leapt out of the door leaving mom to nurse her puny boys.

Home is where the hearth is
September 22, 2006, 7:06 am
Filed under: mirrors


I am reading Belonging: Home away from home by Isabel Huggan now. Throughout the book she visits the idea of home weaving bits of recollection about her childhood into the events of her daily life in France. From Canada, she lived in Africa, France, and the Philippines, making a new home in each place. She feels settled now in France.

I can’t help but feel slightly agitated and disconcerted by my readings. On the one hand, I have tried to write about this issue of home before myself; of what it means to be home. There is the idea of being at home, as in comfortable, familiar, at ease. I guess this feeling can come from living for an extended period in a place; frequency of traversing the terrain gives knowledge. A sure sign, is being able to daydream while walking to and from the market or the bank. When there is little danger of taking the wrong route or making a faux pas, less attention is required.

Then there is that more complicated notion of home as a place, a roost, a comfortable and safe haven. Can that travel with me? Can anyplace that I lay my head at night be considered home? Continue reading

September 16, 2006, 1:47 pm
Filed under: looking out

What is the story here? Are they talking or not? Are they just sharing a bench or more? These seem like a simple snaps and then I have to wonder what happened in between? A spat? A wandering of attention? Distractions? Or nothing at all?


I’m sure there’s a story in here somewhere. I’ve got to look more diligently…

September 12, 2006, 5:30 am
Filed under: looking out

6 September 2006

We leave the house, K and I, to walk along the tree-lined boulevard towards the Place DeGaulle and the librairie. Four quick events capture my attention.

First, a SAMU truck passed. I’ve seen lots of these go by me as I walk along the streets. I do quite a bit of walking so I mean LOTS of SAMUs. Why was it today that I first noticed that in great, huge white letters on the side of the red truck it says “L’AMBULANCE REANIMATION”? I don’t know. I asked K, “do they all say that?” Looking at me to verify that I was neither teasing nor making fun, she nodded, “well, yeah, Mama, some do.” I laughed out loud as images ran through my mind of the truck screeching to a halt in front of a little pile of black lines all crumpled against a white background. The men in navy blue jump from l’ambulance toting equipment, medicine, and reviving agents to encircle the black lines. Several minutes later, the black lines move. As the crumpled bits rise against the whiteness, lines are rejoined, once more an active and vital cartoon. Reanimated.

eerie shirtshirtfacebig.jpgSecond, we gazed into a shop window at the strangest shirt…gray, white and black, a long-sleeved t-shirt with gray and white stripes and insets of black lace in the bodice and along the cuffs of the sleeves and the hem. But most eerie was the black and white photo of a child of about two years of age just over the belly of the shirt. She has dark curls and looks back pensively at us like she is just a wisp about to disappear. Eerie. Creepy.

Continue reading

I see stories…here I go!
September 11, 2006, 7:18 am
Filed under: first stories, looking out, mirrors

I can hardly believe it…my very own blog! I’ve been reading blogs, writing about blogs, setting up blogs, but I never had my very own, personal, do-whatever-I-want-to-with-it blog. Now I do.

Not a very auspicious beginning, but I am going to note that I am very glad that I see stories. I am going to use this space to try to experiment with my own writing. I like to see stories…and I like to write them. I hope that I can work on both seeing and writing here.

Oh yes, and I’m really glad that I’m not that kid in Sixth Sense; he kept saying “I see dead people.” Stories are definitely better.