Thanks for the add! Gros bisous :-)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Flowers, love and death

I started writing something about Chrysanthemums 3 days ago, and could not. 23rd October was the anniversary of my mom's death. In fact, she is dead 23 years this year. I miss her everyday, and it makes me sad that I can't even go and put some Chysanthemums on her grave on the Day of the Dead which is celebrated on 2nd November in France.

Chrysanthemums are a very special flower to me. First of all they come in an array of warm colours which woven together look like the most wonderfully rich Indian fabrics.
They also come in different shapes. This one looks like a sea anemone.
This one like an octopus
A feast of patterns fit for any chaos theoretician.

We, as humans, have a special affinity with flowers, so much so that some girls even get the priviledge of being named Violette, Marguerite, Rose, Iris, or Capucine. Sadly, to my knowledge, no one gets called Chrysanthemum. Shame really, since the word Chrysanthemum derives from the Greek, and means "golden flower". In countries like China and Japan, this noble flower is a symbol for happiness, longevity and pleasure. And in Europe, this flower was originally introduced as a symbol of beauty and happiness too.

But in France, after the butchery which was the First World War, one year after the war, the Pointcaré government decided that all French soldiers graves should be decorated on 11th November. The Armistice being celebrated on 11th November, the only ornemental flower still in bloom in French gardens were Chrysanthemums, and because of the proximity of the date with 2nd November, it quickly became customary to go and place Chysanthemums (in French Chrysanthèmes, on relatives graves). Thus, in France this flower intrinsically embodies love and death, since for us it is a way of showing the love we hold in our hearts for our dearly departed. And in a sense, as far as gardens are concerned, you could say that Chrysanthemums were the last casualty of WW1, since they are now very rarely used as ornemental plants in French gardens.
A flower shop, just before la Toussaint (All Souls' Day, and by extension 2nd November, which is when the French go en masse to their relatives cemeteries.
But more than anything, for me Chrysanthemums remind me of my grand father and his enchanted garden. My grand dad was a factory worker who supplemented his income by selling the produce he grew from his garden. And what an amazing garden! One day I will write just about this garden which to me has become somewhat of an obsession. He used to grow all sorts, French beans, potatoes, beetroot, lettuces, carrots, peas, in all their name it. He also grew flowers for the house but also to sell. Chrysanthemums were crucial to his income as he could make much more money on flowers than on vegetables (that he sold to the local shops).

So for "La Toussaint", my grand dad would take orders from people, and he would take me with him, we would load the pots on his wheelbarrow. 
And sometimes if there was some space left I would sit amongst the pots on the wheelbarrow and off we went to the cemetery on Château-Chinon, in order to deliver the pot to Madame or Monsieur such and such's grave. That's the service he  provided. This was great for old people who could no longer walk up to the cemetery to put this token of their love and memory on their cherished ones' graves.
And would you look at the view from the cemetery!
He now lies in this cemetery besides his wife and his mom. Sadly, my mom doesn't share their grave. And once again all I can do this year is mentally go and place some virtual Chrysanthemums on their graves.

But they are not forgotten, how could I forget the man who taught me all I know about picking mushroom, and blackberries, the man who brought me swimming in the river even in the rain, who could kill and skin a rabbit in 30 seconds flat, the man who used to read the newspapers aloud from his armchair for all to hear, the man who cooked the "bad" potatoes in a huge pot over the stove for his rabbits, and if I was very good would let me taste them with a bit of butter and some sea salt, before carrying same pot on same wheelbarrow down to the garden.

I prefer not to talk about my mum or grand mother, but my memories of them are just as sweet, but put it this way I now have a working garden in which I grow things, I own my very own wheelbarrow, and believe you me, if you don't own one, you can never know how useful it can be. In my kitchen there is a large bedroom wardrobe where I keep all my kitchenware, like my grand mother did, and these days, I knit a lot just like my mom, and I am finishing a huge tapestry that she gave me for my 18th birthday and that I never had the time or the inclination to do thus far.

So to all my people, if you are reading from above, I know you don't understand English, I would hope that since you are in Heaven you get to understand everything, and I do know that you can read my heart.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Friday on my mind

Had a very strange Friday. First of all I have been sick all week with tummy issues, and I have been ignoring this too long, so if I get 5 minutes I problee should go to doc, haven't been able to look at hot food for about a week now, not that it's bad per se.

But yes back to Friday, I had a chair tango class at 4, with my favourite dance teacher Carolina who is from Columbia. Carolina is the spitting image of "Gloria" (Sofia Vergara) in Modern Family.

In other word, Carolina is the image if perfection, and her taste in music is equal to none, but then again she went to tango school in Argentina, no less.

Then had to go to PJ's debs drinks at his old school, I went in my gym gear, all parents were in penguin wear so I felt a tad out of place especially since my son was wearing a tux and his hair is about the same length as mine now. Anyhooo, taking into account that I had seen "IF" the previous night, I guess the other parents were lucky that I opted not to bring any weapons. But all the guys and dolls were lovely, my son in particular of course :-) and his girlfriend!

All the girls were beautiful, and all the guys looked quite uneasy in their tux, but hey what an opportunity to role play being gangsters.

So I went home, left them to deal with their first taste of how boring these types of events can be, and my friends Irma and Anne were coming that evening for a ciné-club night. We meet once in a while to watch a French or an Italian movie together, usually a comedy. This time it was Tanguy.

It was a nice enough comedy, you can never really go wrong with experienced comedic actors such as Sabine Azema and André Dussolier, basically about a son driving his parents demented as he is 28 and won't leave home, seemingly a common issue these days.

What a strange Friday it was.

Monday, October 11, 2010


The other day I had a revelation in the dentist’s waiting room. My dentist, like most other dentists and doctors, usually has a huge array of women’s magazines to help their patients pass the time. Truth be said, I don’t know why he bothers because he is extremely punctual, so I am lucky if I even get to take a peak at Elle or Marie-Claire. Indeed, for my next visit, I plan to get there 30 minutes before my appointment so that I have time to peruse through his magazines. Anyway for some reason that time there weren’t any of the usual women's mags, maybe my dear dentist had to cancel some subscriptions because of the recession? What WAS available was a copy of Esquire magazine. I thought great! if I was to dip for the first time into the realm of men's magazines I could do worse. Esquire is a classy magazine. Full of expectations, I thus opened a gentleman's magazine for the very first time. It did not take me long to understand one thing which no matter how many womens’ magazine I flicked through in my life, I never understood before, I knew it, but never really fully felt it before. Here was my revelation!

Exhibits A & B
Clockwork Orange! The association screamed at me!

Exhibits C & D
I immediately think The Matrix. A vague ressemblance with Elvis, long coats? When did you ever see men in long coats on the street unless they are Goths, Neo's wannabes or priests?
  Exhibit E & F
What the ??? ....ZOOLANDER?
Exhibit G
You gotta admire the narrative behind this. They just had a romantic momentsssomewhere in the desert, and now he is off to work fully dressed in 110 degree heat, mind you he doesn't appear to be wearing socks, and she is just sprawled, presumably breathless and I should hope not dead (phew, at least I dont see any traces of blood!). Wow, just wow! Our grand-mas who burnt their bras some 45 years ago must be tearing their hair out.

Exhibit H
This one is just cute, 110% for trying, with Prince Charming going up the tower to rescue Rapuntzel. Wait,  did she just throw him 120 ties ??? It 's hair dahling! Hair, hair, hair!
Mind you these two are by far my favourites!

And I thought Zoolander was fiction, an exaggeration. You really gotta ask yourself who reads this! Mind you, you can't judge a book by the cover, amidst the ads for Italian shoes, Swiss watches and other electronica, here are some of the other features - how to make your own pipe, how to chop wood, how to pull the perfect pint, how to give a man hug - so far so good - how to hypnotize a chicken ???? I particularly enjoyed the sex advice column "It's all over her face", need i say more?

What she wants - Tonka Imperiale perfume by Guerlain, at £145, Damson Continental Purse by Smythson at £325, Wave phone by Samsung at hmmmm.... no price and of course the indispensable green leopard pony-hair bag by Dolce & Gabbana that she cannot do without at a mere £1,1162 !!!! LAMENTABLE!

There is also great boy stuff like football shoes, beer, whiskey gaming, computers, Tim Robbins, and a great article on great waves and tsunamis. And great tips, but strangely reminiscent of women's magazines. Check that out: How to stop gym boredom, or why man+woman+Ikea=row, and the unavoidable man’s guide to women, detailing how to decipher what she says, how to be unnaturally patient, what they expect of men etc, etc, etc…. Just change words around... and you get a female magazine, I rest my case.

But yes, I saw the light, I did realise that all this stuff is just two dimensional to bear any relationship with reality, people, men or women, don't look like that, relationships do not work like a car manual, no matter how much we would wish it to be the case, it would be too simple.

Thank you dear dentist! Through glancing through the Stepford husbands' magazines I got to see the other side of the mirror...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

When is a triangle not a triangle?

Relax... This isn't a riddle!

Last week I took a stroll down to Ranelagh - my neighbourhood - which together with Rathmines is postcoded Dublin 6, to see what was on during the now yearly Ranelagh Arts Festival.

As I approached the heart of Ranelagh, I was suddenly reminded of Magritte and his "This is not a pipe" painting.

Here, when you got to Ranelagh, you also say that you go to the Triangle.

If you look at the map you can clearly see that this IS a triangle, but we human don’t live in 2 dimensions. Look at these two pictures, the triangularity of this particular spot is debatable (same place with more than 100 years apart).

But look this year the festival organizers were adamant that we would be reminded that this place was indeed a triangle.

They even tasteful chose some of the typical plants that grow in local gardens. How considerate! A few years ago they even built this weird pyramid right in the middle of the Triangle.

So why insist on filling this area with reminders that the place is in fact not a triangle ??? A guilty conscience no doubt! You see the Ranelagh Triangle is somewhat of a Bermuda Triangle, whole buildings disappear from there...

For people of a certain generation the Triangle is associated with a specific smell reminiscent of the famous Parisian "pissotières" (I believe this word is sufficiently clear that I don't need to translate it).

The Triangle had a certain mystique. There used to be a red brick edifice in the middle of the road very similar to this one

You guessed right,  this building used to be a public convenience for gentlemen.
What went on in there remains a secret never to be told by its male visitors. This place had mystique. Did George Micheal ever visit it ? You can imagine which kind of rumours were associated with this edifice, it is very likely that all sorts of illicit activities were going on in there, and even if they weren't, it did give the area an air of danger....So, you see, this place had to go. Despite its seedy beauty, the aul’ triangle went jingle jangle for the last time some cold morning of 2001, and that was the end of shedding a tear for Parnell in the middle of Ranelagh village.

However, do not despair, I’m off campaigning for the ultimate piece of art that I think by right belongs to the Triangle…..

It's none other than one of Marcel Duchamp’s ready mades Fontaines, it is sort of triangular, and … it is not a urinal!

(I don't expect many comments on this piece!)