The Dear Daughter and the Corn Tiger are installed at the apartment down in the City and I am missing the gift of participating in their daily life. He can't quite ride the "scoot bike" I got him for his birthday, but he still likes to take it out. When they were here he would look through the glass panes in my front door before he was even dressed for the day.
He would call to his little wooden bike parked on the front porch, asking if it was still there. "Vroom Walk!"
He would hold the handles and walk it down the front steps from the porch, with me at his side saying, "Careful. One step. Now careful." Across the stepping stones in the front walk and right at the sidewalk. "Stop at the corner and wait for Nana. Look both ways. Anybody coming? Have to be careful of those big cars. OK. All clear. All business in the street." Once across, we'd turn right in front of the elementary school and he'd take off running beside Vroom. Those little hips wagging. Those little sneakers pit-patting on the sidewalk.
Vroom! The days slip past. And he's only 20 months at Christmas.
Saw the last film in the CCiiff Film Festival tonight up at the Abbatiele theater in the Abbaye Ecole. They presented a great range in an intense three-day program of films. I could feel the festival starting to gain traction, building the audience it needs to find the funding to keep going.
There was good dialogue between the directors who traveled here to speak about their films and the audience.
Karl Nerenberg ( Producer, Writer, Co-director of Never Come Back, a film that deals sensitively with the plight of several Rom families and their attempts to emigrate to Canada) standing next to Jacqueline Deloffre, Deputy Director of the festival, as he fields comments from one of the audience regulars.
The audience was so stunned by the high quality of production and level of suspense that Tuyet Le built in her first feature film, Patient 17, "about an unusual patient and uncovering the truth, " that we had a hard time coming up with intelligent questions to ask the director in the Q&A period right after the film. My friend G and I were still talking about the issues the film raised a day later over lunch.
El Ambulante – The Peddler, the story of an itinerant movie maker who travels from village to village in Argentina awakening dreams, the first offering of the local CCIF intercultural film festival here in France. A heartwarming small movie that was screened at Chateau Padies this afternoon and was followed up with an al fresco dinner in the courtyard.
The other night I was invited, along with Glenda, Anne and John, to Durfort to British Anne and Peter’s house for a “poetry reading”. Hey, I though, I can do that!
There are regular poetry readings in Sonoma County back home in California, where I have read at the Lit Cafe and the Literary Guild's readings in the City Council Chambers at City Hall in Healdsburg, and at the Valona Deli in Crockett. I have read my poetry in locations as various as Shakespeare & Co in Paris, the Café Kafka in Vienna, a family re-union at Roaring River State Park in the Ozarks, and Fort Casey on Whidbey Island.
I am used to keeping to the time limit, to sharing the stage with other writers, to listening respectfully to other people's work and applauding equally for each reader. I looked through my poems and picked out two new ones I was interested in trying on a new audience and an old favorite, requested by Glenda. I pulled out my new, acid green scarf, put on a nicer pair of shoes, fluffed my curls and packed up a chilled bottle of rosé to contribute to the pizza dinner.
We carpooled over; Durfort is the next little village to Soreze and is a lovely walk of an afternoon, but the path is a bit steep and dark to walk home at night. We parked by the church and made our way along the sky blue ribbon of water in the street to the worn, sea green door, rang the old school bell and mounted the double spiral staircase to the second floor.
We were the only literary audience for the evening; it was simply the four of us from Soreze, along with Anne and Peter. They had set up a table facing the balcony and covered it with some twenty-five poetry books that they have with them in what is mostly a summer house for them in Durfort. Peter had put on a pressed white shirt and festive vest, Anne a nice black sweater. We chose numbers out of a bowl to decide reader order, toasted each other's health with a glass of Kir (French cocktail made with a measure of crème de cassis, blackcurrant liqueur, topped up with Blanquette de Limoux, the Lanquedoc region lower cost answer to Champagne) to kick off the proceedings and began the first of three rounds of reading.
John Norton (no relation) read from his poetry book, Air Transmigra, just out from Ithuriel's Spear small press in San Francisco. (click here to read it on Google Books) The painting on the cover as well as the portrait of the poet on the back cover are by Anne Subercaseaux.
I read each of my three poems in turn. Glenda brought a well worn poetry compendium and read selections from it.
Anne and Peter had bookmarked some favorites to share and we each dipped into the books on the table, hearing from Edward Lear, Rudyard Kipling, Shakespeare, James Joyce, Walt Whitman and more.
We ate pizza and drank wine and then went back to reading aloud.
I love sharing books with family and friends by passing them on and/or reading the good parts out to them. I started reading to my kids when they were tiny. My Dear Daughter is reading "Swiss Family Robinson" to the Corn Tiger as his bedtime story, started when he was about a week old.
I think a lot of us who come to this region of France are attracted to a simpler life here. I'll take an evening reading aloud in the parlor with friends over a brain branding session in front of commercial TV any day.
One of the poems I read, which is becoming a crowd favorite and was published this year in CALYX, A Journal of Art and Literature by Women, in their Winter 2010 issue, is "Warm Ripe Figs", which you will find below.
I know, I've been a Bad Blogger all summer. Bad Blogger! Bad, Bad Blogger!!
Sit! Sit, now.
That's a Goood Girl.
What can I tell you? It's been a bizzzy summer and will go on that way into Fall.
Thanks to those who sent a mail to see where the heck I was. So thoughtful and I didn't even get back to you. Too bizzy for that, too. But I hereby send apologies and hugs back at ya'.
I'm going to get back in the saddle the easy way, with pictures of the Corn Tiger and family.
They came here to California and then I went to Brooklyn to visit them. We'll do the same in September, in reverse. I'll go to Brooklyn first and then the Dear Daughter and the Boy will come to stay with me for awhile.
Nana is excited! (CT never did say Grandma. I wanted to be Nana anyway, and Dee said, "Well we'd better start calling you Nana then." And he heard that and said "Nana", and so it was.)
Dee said the boy asked to call me today and they left a message on my machine. He said "Hi Nana." 16 months old. What a smarty! When he was here he played back the messages on my machine from the handset, something I didn't know how to do. Three times. So it wasn't only by mistake. He liked listening to the two old messages on there all the way through. Funny Boy!
At first he just wanted to try on my reading glasses, because I have them on most the time and he wanted to see how they felt. Once he caught sight of the floor through the lenses, he would walk around with them on looking down to get this closer view of the floor as if through a magnifying glass.
Such a baby still sometimes and yet already such a Boy!
It was wonderful fun to get up early and have breakfast
outside in the sunshine while he explored my backyard.
And I am usually not a morning person!
We went early, June instead of August, for our weekend vacation on the Eel River.
Had a lot of fun with family and friends and Baby June came up for her first visit with us there.
We love swimming in that river! And the new owners of the lodge created access to a new beach this year which was perfect for the little ones.
A few weeks later, I went to Brooklyn on my way to a big re-union of my Father's family in Boston (140 people! More in a later post...).
The Dear Daughter and I took the Boy into the Village for a little children's street fair and stopped for lunch in a pocket park along the way.
He liked the bunch of balloons tied to the railing.
Ball! Anything round is a ball.
Reach. Pinch. Pop!
We hung around the apartment, wearing as little clothing as possible. It was NY in the summer: Hot and Humid! I never was good at that kind of heat, but we managed, at first with one little fan, then I had to buy an air conditioner for the window.
CT had no problem keepin' bizzy, throwing the ball for the dogs and, you know, movin' furniture and such. He's a real city boy, he makes that truck noise when he backs up "Beep, beep, beep!"
As opposed to "Brrrooom!"
We went out in the mornings there, too, to the park down by the East River to enjoy the breeze with our iced coffee and almond croissant, and then to the playground for some slidin' and water play with Poppa.
Then home to crash for a good, long nap. You notice how he's nearly filling that crib already?!!!
My how fast they grow! And we see it all the more from the relative leisure of the Nana side.
Thankfully, we got a little time with Uncle George, just back from a friend's wedding in Italy. CT and I took a car over to his new apartment on the edge of the Clinton Hill neighborhood. The Momma met us there after her shift at the co-op food store.
Every day was a good day to be with my Loves, even in That Heat.
The Dear Daughter and I got some time out and about together with the Corn Tiger in the Village here in Manhattan. I took him to a playground while she and the Dad were at an appointment. There wasn't a moment to take pictures of him while the two of us were toodling about the playground alone. He likes to steer his stroller around the play structures in complicated patterns. Still needs a little help avoiding the parents, kids, benches and such.
Then we met back up with the mommapoppa. The Poppa had to go off to work, so the Momma and I took the boy for a walk and stopped off at the Bleecker Playground for another play session. It was a sunny day and the place was packed with kids. It was really the first time that CT has gotten to play in such a big sand lot with lots of communal sand toys. He was very interested in what all the bigger boys found to do with this damp, grainy stuff; learned very quickly not to put it in his mouth.
Next, we took CT to Lupa, where the Daughter used to work, for an early dinner. We were warmly welcomed and given the perfect table in the back room. You can tell the Corn Tiger is a city boy. He sat right up to the table and slurped down the amuse bouche (literally, mouth amuser) the little appetizer gift from the chef, which was fresh pea soup in a tiny, silver goblet, yumm!
CT's favorite menu items were the focaccia bread and the gelato that was gifted early in the dinner by the waiter, who must have a kid or two of his own. CT is only 13 months old. It is a good time for bread and ice cream, non?
On the way back home I am getting some time with my Dear Daughter, the Corn Tiger and his Dad here on the East coast. Just can't seem to get enough of that these days.
I think you can see why, non? Even though I talk to them at least once a week on the video phone and the Dad is good about posting a picture or video every week on Flickr, there is nothing that can replace the holding, running after, tickling, singing to, laughing with... the Grand Boy. To say nothing of walking, talking and catching up over tea with his Mom.
You know how it is, they grow so fast at this age, it's hard to keep up. Though, in some ways, viewing the process from the G'ma position does help one to see the details in a way there wasn't time for when you were the one making the meals, washing endless loads of laundry, feeding, rocking, bathing, reading the baby. From the G'ma point of view, we get the chance to the baby grow in a sort of time lapse cinematography, like those Disney nature shows we watched when we were kids. We get to see each petal of the child flower unfold, see the flower turn to the sun of its mother and father.
And blooming he is, the little Corn Tiger. He's walking, running, stepping, climbing, talking and showing a decided sense of humor. All at only 13 months old. Of course his G'ma thinks he's the most advanced boy of his age =o).