Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A generous gift

And I am not talking about the lilies, although they were the first real gift that I have given myself in a while (and their perfume is impregnating the walls of our new home, slowly replacing the thwack of paint). No, something that will have a far longer lasting effect, I hope. For those of you that have been reading along for a few months, you might remember our lovely Easter weekend "In the Alpilles" when our dear friends saved us from the madness of the Easter bullfights by inviting us to stay at their home in the country. Well, they have come to the rescue again. They are loaning it to us while they head off exploring for ten days. Ten days! Of quiet. In the pool. Sipping rosé. While reading. It is, indeed, of the pinch me variety. 

Most certainly because we are acutely in need of it, something that our friends are well aware of, so much so that they told us that it was "an order" that we accept, knowing that otherwise that we would simply be overwhelmed by their kindness and try to weasel out of it. With the cost of moving, we cannot afford such a respite otherwise any time soon. Actually, Remi and I haven't taken a vacation since 2006 and even that was a rushed affair for a friend's wedding. I have been back to the States a few times since but again, finances kept Remi here. These past few years have been especially stressful and I think that the move was the final goutte d'eau de trop. Today, while I was ironing, I started crying and couldn't stop. On and off for a very long time. I spoke to my friend Frederique, who thinks that it was what they call the contre-coup, something akin to backlash. Nothing that a stretch of nothing won't cure. 

We are leaving the piles of random objects that have not yet found their places where they are, paintings are propped up on the furniture. The lilies will powder and rose petals will fall on the mantel. There is a problem with the internet where we are going, so I may not be posting as much as I would like and again demand your patience. I promise to come back with many photos and hopefully a new perspective as a parenthesis within the new perspective.


  1. Hello Heather:
    Dear, dear Heather, our hearts really do go out to you, and to Remi too, for you have, for so long, clearly been living lives fraught with anxiety of one kind or another to be capped, so very recently, with the stress of finding, making, and moving into a new home. What kind, generous and thoughtful friends and we are so pleased that you are taking up their offer.

    Try not to give all that remains to be done a second thought but do, as you write, relax with the rosé, by the pool, enjoying the quiet and a good book. Take great care, both of you.

  2. Heather, I am so happy for you and Remi. This is a much needed vacation for you both! I really don't know how you do all that you do! You are amazing.

  3. So sorry for the tears. : ( While ironing, no less! Yes, you guys have been through the wringer, and that will certainly inspire tears. I do hope the "nothing" helps; I think it most definitely will! Have a wonderful time! : )

  4. Dear Heather,

    I'm glad to hear that you and Remi have friends who know you well-enough to simply say "Shut Up Already and Just ACCEPT a simple gift from folks who LIKE you?"......


    The Rev. Dr. David C. Terry

    P.S. everyone here in North Carolina is waiting anxiously for the release/publication of Monsieur de La Remi's nudie-pics "sur la plage". I mean, seriously,....have you folks yet thought of filming and selling a "sex-tape"? TRUST ME(and I've been in the art business for twenty years, thank you)....you got to sell what SELLS these days....

    Personally, I think that realm of "female-expatriate-pornography" is insufficiently explored. Do you realize that you could have made a videotape of yourself, attacking that wall in your appartment...but just do it naked?....and sell the tape? You could have made MILLIONS.

    but, no....you were a "Nice American Girl" and did the whole job completely clothed and pretty-much alone.

    Next time....let's get the video. I'll show you how it's done in the business.

    Advisedly yours as ever,

    David Terry

  5. Your friends are the true sense of friendship knowing when you needed time to rest and relax and giving you the ultimate gift of their home. Besides I think this is a much better holiday since Ben will get to go too! I know things are probably overwhelming for you and the three of you have been through a lot but look at this as a new beginning and embrace it. Enjoy your holiday and we'll be here when you get back.


  6. Jane & Lance put it all so succinctly, as they are inclined to do. My very same thoughts.

    Oh Heather I am giving you a big virtual hug right now - so much worry and stress, even with the joy of sharing one's life with a kindred spirit, it just eats away, nibble by nibble. So I am thrilled and relieved to know that not only do you have the opportunity for a life-recharging break somewhere beautiful like this, but also that you have such wonderful friends who know exactly what you need, and have been generous enough to act upon it. Yay to the good hearted people of the world!

    And when you get back, refreshed and buoyant, I hope that things start falling into place for the pair of you.

    Much love, Virginia x

  7. Oh, Heather! So sorry to hear of your sadness. Moving is so stressful, especially when you haven't had a holiday with your loved one in so long. Nothing a little R&R cannot fix, especially somewhere so beautiful! Enjoy.

    ~ Clare x

  8. Dear Heather,

    Oddly enough, the two Happy-Ironing anecdotes I have involve two of the most strikingly high-powered (and distinctly un-domesticized) women I know.

    Just this past year, I was in the middle of frantically preparing for a very large party (to be held six hours later, and YES, I was waaaaay-behind) here at the house when I had a call from an old friend. I hadn't actually seen her in at least seven years. She's an extremely upper-echelon figure in the Fashion Industry (suffice it to say she calls Anna Wintour "Anna"). She'd been bumped at the airport on her way from NYC to Atlanta and had simply decided to just visit David. I told her to come one, but I was a mess and the house was a wreck and the dogs were still filthy and she could just join us in our handbasket as we all went to hell.

    She showed up looking ten times better than frowzy-me was already afraid she might do. within thirty minutes, she'd already changed into a houserobe of mine, marshalled the dogs into the bathroom, given them ferociously-efficient baths, and had commandeered ironing the tablecloths and napkins.

    She set herself up in my bedroom with the ironing board and all the linens. I came in about an hour later, just as she was finishing-up the job, and I spluttered....saying "I'm so sorry....if I'd known you were coming, I'd have had things ready...."

    she furrowed her brow and said "What are you talking about? I LOVE ironing...." and she went back to finishing up another napkin before setting the iron down and announcing "I LOVE ironing. It's the ONE thing in life that turns out the way it was supposed to. It beats the HELL out of Prozac....."

    Similarly, my French (as you'll know), 110 pound mother-in-law is a wildly energetic, fiercely intellectual, extraordinarily accomplished and somewhat intimidating (for most folks) woman. She was a professor of 17th century literature and a bigwig in the national department of education before retiring. In her retirement, she beguiles the tedium of her days by functioning on the boards of both a major Classical music festival and a non-denominational organization establishing girls'-schools in South Africa. We can't keep up with everything she does.

    One thing she does is IRON, oddly enough. She's always had a housekeeper, a maid, nannies, etcetera....but she's never allowed anyone else to do the ironing. I first met her 8 years ago, when she and Herve's father came for their annual 3-week visit. On the fourth day, I went down to Herve's house (two blocks from mine) and later called him at his office to say "Herve?....she's done everything that can be done....I got there and she was ironing all your BLUE JEANS....."

    He assured me that we would, in just a few hours, be getting in the car that Friday afternoon to go off on a trip with them, and then said "Oh, you don't know.....she LOVES ironing. She says it's the only thing that's truly satisfying in life. Good thing you got there when you did, or she'd have moved on to ironing the cat......"

    In any case, your own ironing anecdote made me recall these two other tales. I'm gathering that ironing serves as some sort of primal-release therapy for a lot of folks.

    I should admit that it simply bores me.

    I hope all's well and relaxing for you,

    David Terry

  9. YOur lillies are BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!I passed them up the other day at the store but think since YOU bought them I will too!I have to tell you I have very similar chairs to yours around your table!We have great taste!Its okay to have a weep.............believe me I have done too!You and Ben and your gorgeous husband (have I seen a photo of him?)relax and enjoy your get away time.I promise it will be MAGICAL!!!!!!!!!

  10. Thank you so much everyone!! I am so grateful for all of this amazing, wonderful overflow of support. As Virginia said, "Yay to the good hearted people of the world!". Yes, people hinted that the comments left would become my favorite part of having a blog and they were most certainly right.

    Now, I hope that no one will be insulted when I gave Mr./Dr./ Rev. David Terry an award for best Blog Guest ever. Truly, he deserves it after the creative, hysterical and touching comments that he has left this week. Non? Why I didn't simply think of the naked expat renovating video is beyond me. I would be rich AND famous. Maybe next time. And I have read that ironing belongs to the group of repetitive motions that are known for moving us forward in our feelings--let's just blame it on that shall we?

    Remi just called and he is on his way with the car to pick Ben and I up! Hooray!! So this will be shorter than you all deserve but please know that I am very, very grateful that you are all here.

    And Elizabeth--he is a hottie! There is a photo of him (albeit from a few years ago heehee) on his webiste: www.remibenali.com and www.naturecultures.com!

  11. After reading some of your posts, it seems you are going through some transitional times, trying to make your way through the challenging economy. Well, I'm sure you are aware that you are not alone. Many of us are living "altered" lifstyles, and the uncertainty of what economic climate we will find ourselves in as the future progresses. Just be glad dear one that you are able to live in such a lovely place, can still buy bottle of wine, light some candles and have close friends around your table.
    Yes, it is stressful to move and navigate your way through a budget every week, but please.....many of us are doing the same thing and are still living in the U.S. So enjoy what you have and move forward!

  12. Hello Anonymous and thank you for your insightful comment. Yes, economic uncertainty is part of the times but good things can come out of it as well as Remi and I are both seeing--it forces you to be creative about what you can do! And I always, always appreciate the great things that <i have in my life that money can't buy.

    And yes, I better move forward--life will drag me along by the heels if I don't! :)

  13. What a wonderful break for you at just the right moment - hope you have a fabulous time and can relax and recover!!


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