Followers

May 18, 2008

Crescendos

I was noticing today how other people end a conversation, with a lilt, or crescendo. And as I thought about it I realized that I do as well, and that the French do just like the Americans, and the British! It's perhaps cross cultural, the desire to wrap it up, to make a definition, a verbal period (.). This seems even more keen at the end of a phone conversation, when we aren't in each others presence and the only body language we have is to speak faster and with a higher pitch, a crescendo, to indicate the conclusion.
Phone calls are difficult for me. While I can run on and on in person, on the phone there is a time element that doesn't exist otherwise and perhaps the silence is more difficult to endure. Some people can talk endlessly on the phone, or when they meet on the streets, but almost always there is this strange, up-tempo finish to every conversation. It makes me as uncomfortable as the silence. We have just gotten a webcam....I wonder if it'll make a difference?
It's all about the transitions, the beginnings and the endings. The first impressions and the last; did I shake hands with enough force? did I kiss the cheek with too much lip? did I seem earnest?
The transitions here in France are occupying much of our thoughts. The question of when to end this adventure, and why, is on our minds presently. Our original schedule was 5 years, which will come to pass in 3 weeks! Now we are planning on 3 more years so as to finish this house at a leisurely pace and transition Oscar back into the life of an American kid with the start of high school.
But these are all arbitrary milestones. We are looking for the rhyme to the plan, the force majeur for our trajectory. We are often asked by others why we want to return to the US?, why would we leave this lifestyle? and the answers are often foggy and distant... family, friends, work, zinfandel and certainly to live where things are more familiar! It remains as hard to imagine leaving as it does to imagine staying. We're wondering what will be our crescendo?
"Chateau Crescendo"?
Oscar and Daniel in front of the (ruined) stair tower
Meanwhile we wonder what would we do if we stayed? We came across a chateau that's for sale. OK more of a ruin of a chateau, but it's sort of like nature has already done the demolition work for us and now it's ready for us to come in and rebuild! The stone is in great condition and the building is full of wonderful architectural details (not to mention trees) that one doesn't find too often, even around here in this medieval land. We are only half serious about it but it has caused all sorts of other questions to bubble up around the subject of why, when and what if???
Large windows, three huge fireplaces, did I mention no floors? No roofs?
This would be the living room, with plenty of house plants.

Mother's day

We spent Mother's Day with friends in their vacation house in Les Cevennes, a national park region southeast of us by 5 hours. Incredibly remote, and incredibly beautiful! Oscar cooked a pasta carbonara dinner and made ginkgo leaf earrings to suitably decorate her for Mother's Day. She kept them in all day, and she climbed waterfalls, built forts, and earned her motherly stripes!



Spending four days with good friends in the middle of nowhere is a special opportunity. Once you remove the distractions we think are our lives, it is wonderful what you are left with. In our case it was mostly food and lot's of red wine!

We are back to basics now, Oscar back in school, Pat back to learning French and teaching English and Daniel playing with stones. Er, I mean working with stones. We are finally getting started on the entry at the street level, building walls, repointing stone, building doors, then we get to remove the stones from the arch on the street and reclaim the entry to this chateau!

Come help!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You call it a chateaux, I call it a challenge. I mean your current digs are nice and all, but I mean, really, it had a roof already. If it takes you any longer than 7 months to spruce than place up, then you've been in France too long. (on the other hand - how can we miss you if you won't go away?)

;)

m

Anonymous said...

You call it a chateaux, I call it a challenge. I mean your current digs are nice and all, but I mean, really, it had a roof already. If it takes you any longer than 7 months to spruce that place up, then you've been in France too long. (on the other hand - how can we miss you if you won't go away?)

;)

m