Monday, May 30, 2016

Across the lines



It was quite a surprise that I suddenly wanted to take pictures again. So I picked up the camera for the first time in many months, cradling it to my chest with one hand in-between the clicks, happy to see again. 

That is a gift that you gave to me. Yes, you. Your comments and emails of support and understanding are like a talisman that I always have in my pocket, just in case. I thank you with all of my heart. It is freeing to know that I can share and that being 'alone' is an illusion.

What wasn't surprising, not in the least, was that I would love my friend Elizabeth, La Contessa, in person as much as I have through communicating across the lines, over the years via the internet and eventually, due to her insistence, on the phone. She invited me to come out West to change my mind and then some. Maybe to shift perspective and pick up a bit of strength on the way. 

I could feel the smile spreading up through my throat, across my lips to raise up my hand in a goofy wave as soon as I saw her at the terminal, waiting, searching the crowds for a redhead, possibly in a caftan. It was a recognition, a "Hello you" of a friendship made solid, something that would only intensify over the days as I fell head over heels for her and her antiques-filled (and I do mean filled) home, her charming Italian Husband, her winsome Corgi named Winston and even, astonishingly, a wise cat named Theodore (just don't tell Ben and Kipling). That all of this was to be found in California only added to the sweetness.

It was a champagne bubble of a week filled with everything that I like.

Did that pop when I returned back to reality? It did. I realize constantly that I am in the early days yet. But, when courage has been instilled it cannot so easily be stripped.


And so too, on this Memorial Day in the States, I think of the men and women who have crossed truly frightening lines, fueled less by inspiration but something lit like freedom. I thank them as well.

"The question is not what a man can scorn, or disparage, or find fault with, but what he can love, and value, and appreciate." 
-- John Ruskin

A thought that I held onto tightly on that day in February when I flew out of Paris?
There is a horizon always above the clouds and it is shining blue.

****
*For those of you stopping by because of Elizabeth's unending kindness? Thank you so very much for being here. If this post or the links are a little too cryptic, you can find out more of my recent story by clicking here. Bienvenue...

71 comments:

  1. We are so happy to hear from you, and happy to see your photographs again (though, California?? More, please!). Friendships and trips can be so healing; I am grateful to La Contessa for giving you both. Little did I know that I would find myself in a similar situation - here's hoping that I can come to know that being alone is an illusion and to look for the good, too.

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    1. I love you Sister. And of course you are not alone. Ever.

      More of California coming up soon. I kept 500 photos!

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  2. Oh, this was lovely to look at and read. Continue...

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    1. Thank you Sandy. I will. After a long pause I miss it too much.

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  3. What a beautiful heartfelt post Heather. Yes I can understand you falling for Elizabeth, sounds like she is a generous, kind and loving soul and very giving of herself and a true friend. How lucky you both are.
    Give yourself time as time really does heal, be inspired by your photographs and eloquent writing and keep busy, try not to think of the past and remember when one door closes another opens. This is a new phase of your life, you are in charge of your destiny, go forth and conquer. Read somewhere that no one can make you feel bad without your permission! Get busy with your pics and approach mag editors, do a series of living in France, you have talent, you are beautiful and you are healthy! xx

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    1. This is all wonderful, wonderful advice, Lillian - thank you -much needed. And for the very kind compliments as well.

      I am the lucky one as far as Elizabeth is concerned...

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  4. Welcome back...we have all missed you. Now we just have to get you.... LOST IN ARLES...again. A very sweet spot can still be found....you go girl...You are a fabulous writer....you have contacts..
    You can do it...


    Ali xx

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    1. Do you think so Ali? I hope you are right. And YES to hopefully getting back to Arles!

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  5. Such a wonderful gift Elizabeth gave you. Knowing you as I do, I'm sure you gave gifts right back! I know that 'coming back home' bit... not always so easy. So glad, ecstatic really, that you've picked up your camera again! Movement, power! A big "welcome back" to you and your beautiful photos!

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    1. A tiny gift...absolutely nothing in compared to ALL that she did and does for me!

      And yes, I know you understand, unfortunately. Bisous

      PS. Movement is key.

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  6. Uh huh! California and a beautiful friendship, vicarious thrills all around.

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    1. Kind of like when you met Leslie in Oregon? :)

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  7. Wow, you're back! I have been missing your posts and Instagram!
    So wonderful to hear from you and to hear that you have had a time of refreshment and healing. Couldn't think of a better person to give you some home-style American warmth and friendship than La Contessa.
    Look after yourself!
    Deborah Carter - Melbourne, Australia

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    1. She is amazing. Thank you for your kindness always. I still don't have a cell phone so am not really back on instagram but hopefully will be soon...

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  8. La Contessa sounds like a lovely, lovely friend who knew just what you needed and how to persuade you. So wonderful to see your photos of this "different-than-usual" landscape, and to read your words once again.

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    1. She did, Lorrie. Uncannily so. Her neighbors call her the "Fairy Godmother" for a reason...you would love her!

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  9. Oh Yay Heather, a post! It was so nice to see the picture of you and La Contessa on her blog.
    I've missed you, and wish the best for you. So shine on shine on.
    Warmest regards from Vancouver Island

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    1. Thank you Bernadette. She is an amazing woman. I am really fortunate to call her my friend.

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  10. Well, Heather......

    If there were a way to include a picture in this response, I'd add my portrait of Elizabethe/"La Contessa" in her rose garden. I'm glad that you've spent time with her.

    For now?....here's a poem. It's one of my favorites, which is saying rather a lot after a BA, two MA's, an M.Litt (a weird English degree one can get at Oxford if you stick around long enough), and a Ph.d in Literature.......suffice it to say that I've read a LOT of poetry over the years, and this is still on my top-ten list for several reasons:

    "As sharp as in my childhood, still
    Ecstasy shocks me fixed. The will
    Cannot entice it, never could,
    So never tries. But from the wood
    The wind will hurl the clashing sleet;
    Or a small fawn with lovely feet,
    Uncertain in its gait, will walk
    Among the ferns, not breaking back
    One frond, not bruising one fern black,
    Into the clearing, and appraise
    With mild, attracted, wondering gaze,
    And lifted head unhurt and new,
    This world that he was born into.

    Such marvels as, one time, I feared
    Might go, and leave me unprepared
    For hardship. But they never did.
    They blaze before me still, as wild
    And clear, as when I was a child.
    They never went away at all.
    I need not, though I do, recall
    Such moments in my childhood, when
    Wonder sprang out at me again,
    And took me by the heels, and whirled
    Me round and round above the world.

    For wonder leaps upon me still,
    And makes me dizzy, makes me ill,
    But never frightened - for I know -
    Not where - but in whose hands I go:
    The lovely fingers of Delight
    Have hold of me and hold me tight."

    ---Edna St. Vincent Millay 1936

    Best wishes,

    David Terry
    www.davidterryart.com

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    1. P.S. Reading my comment from yesterday, it occurs to me that someone (or many, many ones) might read it and think "What a snooty boots..."

      I should emphasize (as I find myself regularly doing, even these days)that spending seventeen years (yup....count 'em) in college and gradskool was, finally, just a very enjoyable (and not even expensive; I always had complete fellowships)way of avoiding pretty much every single adult-responsibility until I was 35 or so.

      I never had to pay rent, cook my own food, get respectably married (completely forgot to attend to that matter....even now), have children, join the military, look at a utility bill....or any of the thousand-&-one duties that characterize the lives of actual adults.

      I may be the only person I know of who, rather than worrying that he/she would never finish his/her dissertation, was instead terrified that I might finish it too quickly and find myself surrounded by family and friends who expected me to "do" something with my life.

      In any case, I read a lot of poetry during those years.....as you can probably tell.

      Advisedly yours as ever,

      David Terry

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    2. P.S. (#3).......

      First of all?...I think it's incumbent on all of us at this time to make sure that Miss Heather receives at least a small dose of daily humor.

      Secondly?....I'm back on the third day, to respond to the two private emails I've received in response to the last posting.

      People seem to wonder how anyone could possibly reach the age of 35 without having ever even seen a utility bill (which, I recognize, is one of those THINGS THAT ADULTS LEARN TO HANDLE).

      The answer is: Private Boarding Schools. Go to and, afterwards, teach in one for all the years that one's not going to or teaching in a fancy private college/university.....and you, too, can grow up to be an essentially non-functioning adult with no defense-skills or readily marketable practical-skills.

      Trust me on this one. In any case, Heather?......it's true. I STILL have never even SEEN a utility bill of any sort, much less paid one.

      There's a very good reason that, in regard to my own ongoing divorce, a longtime friend (he'd come over to show me how to re-wire a wall-switch) said "Good God.....this is like a re-make of 'Born Free'......and we've all got to pitch in and show David how to get food on his own....."

      Warily yours as ever,


      ----david terry

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    3. David, I cried when I read the poem even though I know I have read it before and loved it. Of course, I understand it differently now. And you know how much I love her work - increased by your sending that beautiful anthology. It is (or was, I doubt it is there now) on the shelf in the kitchen back home. I would pick it up and read a bit from time to time while cooking.

      Of course, anyone who would think you a Snooty Boots doesn't know the least thing about you. You are only truly snobby when it comes to dogs - everyone knows that. ;)

      Thank you for giving me that dose of humor - you know well (unfortunately) how much it does a person good and they all are gulped down, not sipped.

      With much love to you Mr. Terry.

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  11. Dear Heather,

    You are such a joy to so many. How lovely to be reminded of that by La Contessa and others. Some of the previous commenters have made thoughtful, practical suggestions for ways to continue above the clouds, but I think David's inclusion of the stunning Edna St Vincent Millay poem is especially fitting. Don't stop looking, because there's so much to see. Best love to you.

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    1. And to you, Katherine. You have been wonderfully supportive and I so appreciate that. Yes, that poem gives me chills. Seeing is believing.

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  12. Oh dear Heather ~ I had to go back a post to read about what happened. I am so sorry and pray that all will work out and be well.

    Glad you have picked up your camera and that you are writing again. Both are tools of healing.

    Love, hugs & prayers ~ FlowerLady

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    1. I agree, Lorraine - it was so upsetting to not want to take photos at all. I have been journalling a lot though and it is really helpful.
      Love and hugs right back and thank you for the prayers.

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  13. Delighted that you got a week with the wonderful Contessa! And very glad that the camera is calling you again. xoxoxoxoxo

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  14. YOU were a TREAT for ME..............along awaited TREAT for ME!The visit went by far TO FAST.
    Remember who YOU are and that YOU have FRIENDS all OVER THE WORLD who care about YOU.
    You know what YOU HAVE TO DO and in which ORDER To proceed.If YOU need a PEP CHAT I am just a phone call away!!!
    This is a B E A U T I F U L post...................keep WRITING and SNAPPING!!!!!!
    XOXO
    BIG HUG.

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    1. Don't make me cry again! You are the Real Deal Madame La Contessa...and my Sister just might be right...maybe an angel in disguise...one with great taste and a fabulous sense of humor!
      So much Love to you
      H

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  15. Glad you are doing what you love and sharing it with the class. courage, mon amie.

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  16. It really does take a village, said a friend of mine who had just told her friends in virtual land of a brush with cancer after their support had been quickly forthcoming and strong. As I have said before many in this 'email/comment' world in which we live know me far better and in many ways are closer than quite a few who are face-to-face friends. Remember your village will always keep you close, Heather.

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    1. That was so beautiful Jackie. Thank you. And I feel the love and support so much right now from everyone. It is extraordinary.

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  17. Have read back a bit on your blog. This most recent post seems to find you stronger and healthier. I wish you the best as you move forward. Love your photos and glad you found your camera again.

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    1. Thank you so much MR. I hope that you are right! So much is thanks to Contessa.

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  18. Glad you are finding your voice again through words and photos. xo

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    1. Merci, Jen. Getting there. I used to post three times a week so this is slow going for me but it feels great. Like progress.

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  19. Ah to read these words and so excited for you that you have picked up your camera again...one can heal through creative pursuits.
    Elizabeth has a huge heart...how lovely that you were able to spend some time with her, California must have felt like a breath of fresh air...
    Take care as you move ahead on your healing journey.
    XO

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    1. Yes, that West Coast energy!! It was wonderful. So positive. And Elizabeth has the BIGGEST heart.

      If I didn't have creativity as a branch to cling onto, the fall would be a really dangerous one. I am grateful.

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  20. I am so glad that you and dear Elizabeth had such a wonderful time together. I think she has the type of nature that just makes you smile. Hope you're feeling better Heather. I am sure you will come out of this stronger than before. Please continue to write because I miss your beautiful writing and photos which have always been an inspiration to me.

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    1. And I miss the same from you but it is my fault. I just haven't quite had the focus yet to get back to my favorite writing, such as yours. I am deeply flattered to hear that it inspires you!

      It is impossible to be sad around Elizabeth. And trust me, I tried!

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  21. Your friend, the dear Contessa sang your praises, and so I had to stop by for a visit myself. Dear Heather, I do believe there are good days ahead for you! I will be following you from now on, and wishing much happiness in your future. Kind regards, Cynthia

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    1. Hello Cynthia and thank you for your kind words of support, they are needed right now! I hope that you will like it here. There are lots of wonderful people and mutual friends too as you can see...
      Welcome...!

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  22. Dear Heather,
    I am wishing you well while you navigate these choppy waters. Stay strong. Sending love and positive thoughts your way!

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    1. Emily, I am learning to meditate and there are so many references to the surface of the ocean and it feels so perfect to me right now! And I get seasick! ;) So thank you...

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  23. Heather in the months following my upheaval, I was so disconnected from my creativity. The one thing I'd always had in never ending abundance. It was like it had dried up and I was a different person. And then I got the mail and there was an issue of Vanity Fair with a beautiful photo of Elizabeth Taylor on the cover. As I was walking back in, I noticed the beauty f my blooming hydrangeas. The next day I arranged some. The day after that I arranged some more and baked a pie. It was a trickle that roared into a river and I realized my creativity and much of my soul was not dried up or dissolved but frozen, protecting itself. I am confident that you will experience this too and your best and brightest work is ahead. Cheers to inspiration, wherever it may strike.

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    1. You are a wonderful friend. You always, always understand everything perfectly. All I can do is nod my head with watery eyes, sniffly, hoping yet believing you are right. You tend to be. ;)
      This is a beautiful comment.

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  24. Welcome back and many thanks to David Terry, how profound. He has you pegged right on. Thanks again for your beautiful blog. Please continue.
    Jo-Anne on Saltspring Island BC Canada

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    1. Jo-Anne, do you realize that you most likely have a neighbor who reads and comments here as well? What are the chances of TWO people from Saltspring becoming Lost in Arles???

      That poem is perfection.

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    2. I'm not surprised that at least two of your readers are from Saltspring Island, Heather. It is a gorgeous place that nurtures beautiful souls! XO, Leslie in Oregon

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  25. Sweetheart, We need to talk. xoxox

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  26. Dear Heather...I'm sending you much love and a big hug from the UK ~ your week with Contessa I'm sure lifted your spirits, I loved the photos of you both. Through your gentleness, your writing and your photography and your inevitable challenges of life you will become a different, even lovelier Heather, you have such a talent for writing...I know, I said this to you some time ago...why don't you write a book? Much love Catherine xx

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    1. Thank you Catherine for your incredible kindness. Always. I have thought about it. Right now it is still too painful to look back but I hope to write a book one day. It has been in my thoughts quite a lot.
      Trying to stay on the peaceful, loving path.
      Namaste,
      xo
      H

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  27. Dearest Heather, I have seen your name all around Blogland for years now, and your name is always there at Vicki Archer's blog where I always go for a classy pick-me-up. But I just came from La Contessa's blog (where I love to go and feel good) and I had to come by to visit. Your lovely photos are inspiring and so mature in their mood. Your choices are outstanding and your words seasoned, as a life well-lived.

    Wishing you the best as you take another step on a journey unknown, but certainly not alone. Anita

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    1. Anita, I wish you could have seen my eyes light up with surprise to see a response from you here! How lovely! Of course, I feel as if I already know you due to the wonderful friends that we have in common. I always make a point to read what you have to say chez Madame V (I know it should be Madame A but I prefer to call her Madame V, it sounds more mysterious).

      It looks as though you have brought your generous spirit with you. Thank you for the very kind compliments...and reassurance too.
      xo

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  28. I am so glad you met with happiness. Your post reminds me of a song by another redhead. Maybe California by Tori Amos. Happy Memorial Day.

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    1. I haven't listened to Tori Amos in some time, Julie - off I go to do so and thank you! Yes, I criss-crossed with happiness for a week out West and it felt like home.

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  29. Dear Heather,
    надеюсь у тебя всё будет хорошо! В твоём блоге хороши не только фотографии, но сам текст очень особенный. Рада что ты вернулась и буду ждать твоих новых рассказом даже если и не о франции. Мой английский не очень хорош, но тебя я всё равно читаю.

    Елена

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    1. Большое спасибо , Елена ! Я так счастлив знать , что вам нравится текст и фотографии из так далеко . Ты заставил меня улыбнуться сегодня. :) И есть некоторые прекрасные фотографии на Вашем блоге тоже ...

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  30. Dear Heather,

    Well, it's good to read all the comments urging you to pick up that camera and that pen. I wouldn't, if I were you (which I sort of am these days, given that we're going through similar experiences) worry too much over "re-making yourself". You wouldn't have this many admirers and supporters if you hadn't had "it" all along.

    Presumably, no one needs me to tell them that circumstances change. If you were visiting this old house for the weekend, however?.....I'd make a point of sticking MFK Fisher's writing about "Chexbres" (her pseudonym for Dillwynn Fisher.....as is readily found on the internet, should you care to look), their relationship, and her years with him in France/Switzerland. Send me your mother's address again, and I'll post two of Fisher's books (which I think you'd profit by reading) off to you.

    I was also surprised to read, among the comments, the references to Tori Amos. Surely you know the song that more-or-less made her famous? I've played it often (and, I'll admit, for the first time in over 15 years) during this past, difficult year.

    go to.........and then go back to your writing and photography; I'm suddenly reminded of a kinda-redneck friend's recently telling me, when I asked her about a mutual friend, "She's still IN that relationship?.....tell her to get out and run the other way like her ass was on fire.....She can make her OWN life"). I happen to love the phrase "run the other way like her ass was on fire"......not exactly refined.....but very helpful.

    Go to:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSYr0etDzRM

    "Excuse me but can I be you for a while?
    My dog won't bite if you sit real still.
    I got the anti-Christ in the kitchen yellin' at me again
    Yeah I can hear that....
    Been saved again by the garbage truck.
    I got something to say, you know,
    But nothing comes.
    Yes, I know what you think of me;
    You never shut-up.
    Yeah I can hear that

    But what if I'm a mermaid
    In these jeans of his
    With her name still on it?
    Hey, but I don't care
    Cause sometimes,
    I said sometimes,
    I hear my voice,
    And it's been here....
    Silent All These Years

    So you found a girl
    Who thinks really deep thoughts?
    What's so amazing about really deep thoughts?
    Boy, you best pray that I bleed real soon.
    How's that thought for you?

    My screams got lost in a paper cup.
    You think there's a heaven
    Where those screams have gone?
    I got 25 bucks and a cracker.
    Do you think it's enough
    To get us there?

    As the years go by
    Will I still be waiting
    For somebody else to understand?
    Years go by
    While I'm stripped of my beauty
    And these orange clouds
    Raining in my head?
    Years go by ,
    Will I choke on my tears
    Till finally there is nothing left?
    One more casualty......
    You know we're too easy, easy easy....

    Well I love the way we communicate
    Your eyes focus on my funny lip shape.
    Let's hear what you think of me now,
    But baby don't look up....
    The sky is falling.

    Your mother shows up in a nasty dress
    And it's your turn now to stand where I stand
    With everybody lookin' at you here,
    Would you take hold of my hand?
    Yeah, I can hear them

    And it's been here
    Silent All These Years
    I've been here
    Silent All These Years

    David Terry
    dterrydraw@aol.com
    www.davidterryart.com

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    1. It is a very moving song, David.

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    2. Well....since the first time I heard the song (on the second CD I'd even even SEEN, much less played.....at a friend's lakehouse in the mountains), I've loved-loved-loved the song's contrapuntal bridge. Amos is one of several warrantedly popular singer/songwriters (Lady Gaga, of all folks, and Dan Fogleberg come to mind) who all too obviously (to me, at least, but I spent about fourteen years formally studying the piano) LEARNED her Bach backwards and forwards years before she ever began writing her own songs. I'm always a bit surprised when critics mention (as though anyone with any training couldn't immediately tell?) that she's wildly intelligent and classically trained/educated....or that she's a remarkably disciplined artist????. I suppose you know that her Daddy was, initially, a Methodist preacher here in North Carolina.....and that, after they'd moved to DC when she was older, she got her start playing in a couple of markedly lowdown gay bars in DC? Her father would drive her there and backhome for each&every gig, since she wasn't old enough to have a driver's license. I love that anecdote.

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    3. I do too. :) I was so concentrated on the song that I forgot to repsond to the rest of your comment. I have found an amazing library here - what are the names of the MFK books that I should read?? I have "Provence 1970" on my bookstand that I am wading through when not reading many, many, many books to try and piece my mental and physical health back together. I will go get the MFKs from the libaray...just to shake things up a bit. ;)

      And thank you for the compliment (David Terry style). I like the phrase "don't throw the baby out with the bath water."
      xo

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  31. I clicked on your link tentatively and was so pleased to see your post. Small steps are best in times like these ... but obviously you know this. I've always found the camera to be a soothing companion and so, perhaps, will yours be now. Although we've not met, your instant and generous sharing of info about Arles drew me to you. You'll be with us on our stay there. Onward.

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    1. Thank you, Patricia. This has been hard and it still is as I face the damage that I not only did to myself but to others over the past few years - that with the heartache is painful but I need to be with it and not push it aside. So I have to try and be patient to not do everything at once, no matter how badly I want to.
      Enjoy Arles! Remember to definitely go to the MDAA (antiquities museum) and the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles. Please don't eat on the Place du Forum save for Chez Caro but go for drinks and breakfast. The countryside is beautiful too. :)
      Onward.

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  32. Aloha Heather! After receiving your kind compliment on my post today, I was jolted into the realization that through those "challenges" which temporarily disabled my own writing muse this year, I have neglected to "be there" for the circle of creative beings I've enjoyed "following" over the past few years .. you being one of those wonderfully gifted individuals. I offer no advice, because I know you are connected to your inner voice .. where guidance dwells. I do offer "Thankfulness" for what you give as a result of living your gifts and passion. Sending you good thoughts and positive affirmation that all will be well as you continue to connect with your true essence. Wishing you all the best, peace, and happiness! Thank you for giving.

    Aloha et Au revoir,
    Bill

    Kauai-to-Paris

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  33. Yes. The measure of a man or woman is if she or he “can love, value, and appreciate.”

    I’m very happy you were able to visit friends and visit California.

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  34. Hi Heather,

    Happy to see you taking pictures again. I loved all of the photos Elizabeth took of you...although her site would not let me post. She is such a giving person.

    We really enjoyed seeing Arles....sorry not to have met you.
    Took many pictures of Uzes....Only to find out later that my French Huguenot ancestors were from there.
    As folks above have already said....don't rush. You have a lot of things to work through. I predict wonderful things ahead. janey

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  35. Hello Heather,
    Your trip to California must have been delightful and to meet La Contessa. She sounds like a wonderful warm hearted generous soul.

    I am happy to see you are blogging and taking pictures. You are a true artist.

    Fondest wishes
    Helen xx

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* Comments left on posts two days after publication or more will be published after moderation. So not to worry, they will arrive and again, I appreciate them all so very much...Merci! *

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