‘Ecoute ton Coeur!

This morning I was thinking about how to return to this blog, having not written since April 2012.  I made a couple of unsatisfactory starts, then looked up at the framed card a dear friend sent me years ago.

It says ‘Ecoute ton Coeur! Listen to your heart.

And so my heart wants me to tell you some of what’s happened in the past eighteen months – and what I’ve learned from it.

My first book was published – French Lessons, The Art of Living and Loving Well.  It’s an inspirational tale of an American woman in Paris.  I wrote it to remind myself and other women of what to love about ourselves – and as I’d so hoped, my readers are telling me that get something from it – in many different ways, I find.  What a joy to know that!

Two darling friends and I went to Paris, something we dreamed up a couple of years ago sitting over mint margueritas.  We spent two weeks on the left bank and had the time of our lives – enjoying The City of Light intensely and at times laughing until we cried.

My writing partner and I finished our first movie script.  And let me tell you that writing a decent script – and this one is actually pretty damn good – is hard, and rewarding work. We don’t know what will happen with it – but wow!  We wrote a movie!

From these experiences I learned that living your dreams, making the things you imagine into reality, yields more joy that we ever imagine it will.

But here is the most important thing that happened, the most important thing I learned.

My precious mother passed away on February 8th.  She who was the constant of my life since it began is gone.  And not gone at all.

Mother gave me the three most important gifts you can bestow on a child – a belief that I was loved, a belief in the spiritual and the belief that I could accomplish anything, make any dream come true.

She taught me how to love as well as be loved; how to read; how to dance; how to rise like a phoenix above heartbreak.

And in her leaving Mother taught me one last thing – that true love is indestructible, it is ever alive, ever shining – a bond that cannot be broken.

I was reminded of unbreakable bonds again when my sweet second father followed her two months later.

So, including this morning’s, here are the lessons of the past few months –

Listen to your heart.

Live your dreams.

Love lives on.  Forever.

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I Attempt To Let Sleeping Dogs Lie . . . LOL & LOL

This morning I was lying awake in bed at 5:16 (digital clock) thinking I’d like to get up but I didn’t dare wake the dog . . . I can’t even believe I referred to Warren Beatty as A Dog.  Anyway. I was lying there thinking “What the heck, I’m awake, why don’t I go into my office and get crackin’ at my blog, my emails, the screenplay” but then realized there was a good chance I’d wake Warren Beatty who would then moan and groan and wake Daddy (Honey Bunny, the husband) and make him get up and feed him and then the morning routine would be started.  The sweet quiet and peace would be rent asunder, Honey Bunny the worse for wear with Warren Beatty now Ready-To-Be-Walked. 

So okay, I admit that I then crept out of bed like a cat burglar and slithered into my clothes in the dark while Warren Beatty made little dreaming-in-his-sleep noises.  I wasn’t able to actually get my slippers because they were in the closet which would involve door opening sounds, light clicking on sounds.  I eased the bedroom door open and shut as quiet as a grave. I tiptoed down the hall and carefully shut the door to my office.

Then I suddenly had a Laugh Out Loud moment thinking about an adult woman Trying Not To Wake THE DOG, “Don’t wake the dog for God’s sake, there’ll be hell to pay!” and thought about you, my faithful readers, all both of you J and wondered if you ever crept around your dog, cat, hamster, goldfish, toucan trying not to rouse, wake, irritate them and surrender the rest or part of your morning/life to them.

Well?

Right after I typed that question mark there was a sniffing, sniffing at my chamber door and no, it was not a raven, it was the pup, awake and up.  This accounts for the second LOL above . . . for Lots O’ Luck trying to put anything over on a small black Schnauzer/Terrier-ist in the morning. 

Or any other time.

 

Love Comes To Town

I was sitting in meditation this morning when Warren Beatty (my miniature schnauzer/owner) came bounding joyfully into the room.  He jumped up onto the cushion beside me, stretching this way and that and doggie smiling up at me and he took me right away from where I was going to, to where I already was.  And I looked down and smiled back at him and thought of the title of that old Talking Heads song, “Love Comes To Town.” 

And I thought too, of how often love does come to town, walks into the room, skips in and through it, or brushes past us barely touching us in all its costumes and characters – and of how we miss it. Or dismiss it.  The child or pet or favorite person who interrupts us on the phone or with a touch; the winter poppies shining up at us as we hurry past their field; the cashier in the gas station who says, “No worries honey, it all spends the same,” as he counts through my pile of quarters when I’ve lost my wallet; the phone call later from the woman who finds the wallet; the cup of tea or cookie or hug our beloved bestows on us as we turn back toward the computer because we have more important things to attend to.  I could write a hundred, a thousand more disguises that love arrives in and so could you.

Love comes to town anyway.  All day, every day.  Love is on its own sweet schedule.  It is stubborn and tireless and if you give it an inch, it’ll take a mile.

So.  Sometimes, don’t let it go unnoticed.  Turn back around and look it right in the eye.  If you do this, you can stop love right in its tracks.  And make it last as long as you want it to.

But don’t take my word for it. Try it.

T Day . . . In which our heroine attempts a turkey dinner.

It was exactly a week before Christmas Day when Honey Bunny and I would be dining with friends, but tonight I was making a special holiday dinner (turkey, dressing, the works) because HB had requested it as his Christmas present.  Bless his heart.  The poor man had to ask for a turkey dinner as his Christmas gift in order to get me to finally have relations with a turkey as opposed to having reservations with one, which is what I usually make if we’re not dining with friends.

So of course I, his lovely wife, had said I would gladly give him this special Christmas treat.  And refused to all get uptight about it.  Until now.

Because here I am on The Morning of The Day and I’m not sure if it’s just a simple case of “turkey nerves” or what, but I’ve decided that the turkey I brought home yesterday from Albertson’s, swaddled as carefully as the Baby Jesus, does not Smell Perfect.  It doesn’t smell bad, just questionable and if I am going to slave over this bird, if I am going to make the dressing (okay it’s from a box, you got me on that one); the mashed potatoes, the marshmallow & sweet potato pie; the green bean and fried onion casserole; the rolls (yes heat and serve, you got me again) and GOD HELP ME – the gravy – I’m going to make real sure that this fowl is not fowl.

Standing in the long line, since for some reason everyone else in the entire town is at Albertson’s meat counter at 9AM on Sunday morning, I realize that since I’m already shy about telling the Albertson’s Meat Man that his bird is possibly not right, I should have gone over to the giant Bin O’ Turkeys and comparison sniffed. All the other Butterballs lie heaped up in their jolly yellow and white gingham outfits taunting me.  When it’s my turn to talk to The Man, I wheel my cart with its turkey riding merrily in the toddler seat to where he is standing next to the seafood case.  He hears me out, gallantly sniffs my bird and says it smells just fine to him.  But I am wondering how he can know how it smells when the odor around us is approximately that of a beach in Thailand (you know, the ones where they have those shrimp farms.)

Still he is kind enough to let me comparison sniff the other birds and they do smell better, or maybe that’s only because we’re not in shrimp land anymore.  He tells me to just go on and feel free to select another bird and he is happy to do a Turkey Exchange right here and now.  I dawdle, dandling the various birds for their weight, smell and disposition until he appears and “assists” me in finding The Bird For Me and going on my way.

Once home begins the task of actually getting said bird into the oven. When I have it in the sink rinsing it (before patting it dry as carefully as I would a real Baby Jesus) I intuit its resistance to the cooking process by the way it flops heedlessly back and forth while I wrest assorted fleshy bits from within it. (Yuck.  No wonder they call this a giblet, the name is as disgusting as the thing.)

I manage to stuff some apple, onion and fresh rosemary (my friend Lori has kindly supplied) “in there,” smear some butter on top and sprinkle on some spices as well.  But when it comes to getting the sucker into the roasting bag and then into the oven, HB himself has to help me wrestle in it, while the thing flails in all directions.

I almost lose my composure but no, this is why God Made Champagne.  I open, I pour, I sip.  I make a detour to my dressing table and stabilize myself further with a dab of Chanel #5 (as Coco would have.)  Then I go back to the kitchen, march the marshmallows as perfect as little snowmen across the top of the yams. And get on with the rest of the business.  I even get to the point where I tear up the phone number of the caterer I had on hand as backup.

Hours later, when the split of champagne has disappeared and a magnum has now been opened (because the dinner guests want a little too, of course) Lori, one of those fabulous chefs to whom cooking is as natural as breathing, helps me with the gravy.  Or rather Lori basically makes the gravy and I help her.  I had not realized that the gravy would involve so many hours of stirring and straining and pleading with the Gravy Gods, before it thickens and turns into something delicious.

It is during this long process, as we take turns stirring and whittling down the champs that I learn two important life lessons from Lori . . .   Anything Really Tasty Takes Time. And Patience.  And Champagne.  and If Thy Turkey Offend Thee, It Is Not Wrong To Return It To Thy Store.

And then I remember the Greatest Lesson of all that Mother back in Fort Worth has often reminded me of, indeed had repeated to me that very morning.

She always says,

“Just try it, honey.  If it doesn’t work, you can always bury it in the backyard.”

 That’s basically Mother’s answer to most things. 

 I’m happy to report that internment was not necessary.  The turkey was delicious, a good time was had by all. And Honey Bunny got his Christmas wish.

 May your turkey (or ham or hummus) be tasty; may your champagne be cold; may your heart be warm this holiday season!

Be yourself . . .

Be yourself.  Everyone else is taken.

          Charles Schultz

The kindness of strangers – of hats & second chances

I love that Tennessee Williams quote by the beauteous and bedraggled Blanche Duboise . . . and will now lift part of it completely out of context.

Honey Bunny and I went up to Monterey to see our precious friends Nancy and Nick.  Nancy is a collector of things unique and vintage and referring to my blog about French 75’s needing to be quaffed while wearing a smart cocktail hat kindly bestowed two amazing vintage ones on my very self.  And yes, people,when I have mastered the art of putting photos on this blog (or rather when HB has mastered it) you will have the pleasure of viewing them. They are simply smashing and one even has a “fascinator” of black veiling to it.  You cannot put them on without feeling sleek and feline and fabulous. Meow.

But kindness often goes way past hats and other glories of the temporal,and thus  . . .

Yesterday Nancy and I stopped in at the SPCA’s shop in Carmel and saw an adorable pup named Aimee ready to be adopted. Nancy noticed Aimee wasn’t having a very good day and took this comment home with her to Nick.  Nick who has a heart as big as Nancy’s (despite just having inherited two darling doggies already whenNancy moved in with him) agreed to have a look at Aimee the next day.  After a lovely Sunday brunch, the four of us set off for Monterey’s SPCA, surely one of the most organized, compassionate places of its kind that exists. 

Well.  But.  As we walked down the hall with so many wonderful,wonderful little guys and girls just begging, literally, for a chance to be loved, a tiny little black dog named Nicky caught my eye and my heart.  This little girl dog alone in a huge cage, was so small and shy and looked as lost as any creature I have ever seen and yet there was the spark of something special about her.  I knelt down and talked to her. And slowly she came up to the front of the cage,put her nose through the wires and looked me right in the eyes.  And that is when, after petting her I had to get up and walk away because I thought my heart would break.

Because after our recent move toCalifornia,with Warren Beatty dealing with all the changes and needing to be an only dog for a while longer,I couldn’t give Nicky the home I longed to.

Nick and Nancy looked at Nicky too then of course,went on to see Aimee,who wagged and woofed and seemed a different dog than yesterday.  They took Aimee out of her kennel and played with her.  She was cheerful and charming.  Just the kind of pup anyone would want to take right home.  And the two of them were ready to. 

But then they decided they would just meet Nicky too.  How different it was when Nicky was brought into the room, trembling, big eyed, overwhelmed (she’d been removed from a hoarder with 24 dogs three days before.)  She crouched beneath a bench, then shyly walked around a bit. 

Nick and Nancy talked about how good it might be to maybe take a dog who wasn’t so outgoing, who might have a harder time finding a home, then have a tougher time getting over the life she’d led.

Nick sat on the floor of the room being very still.  He talked softly to Nicky and patiently waited.  Then Nicky came very slowly, very carefully over to him and climbed into his lap.  And curled up there.  And gave a little sigh.

You know the rest of this story.  You know how Nicky,who is now called Emmie,came home that very day with Nick and Nancy after meeting her two new brothers and her cousin Warren Beatty who she started playing with in a couple or hours.  You know how she will give back much more than she will ever be given.

You know how a little kindness, how half a chance not even a whole one given to a puppy or a child or a stranger can change their life.  And yours.

It is never too late . . .

“It is never too late to be what we might have been.”  

                        — George Eliot

 “It is never too late to become French.”    

                         – – Chloe