Monday, September 14, 2015

Catching up...

Gods!  The last post was in June, fer cry'n out loud!!!  Where to begin?  Are we still in the midst of the On-Going Madness?  Or are we at An End yet?

Carved Stone ~ Chartres Cathedral

Winter 2015 saw both Jude and I sick with various virus for nearly three months. We followed this with a Five Day Stay in a hotel in Tours to stabilize Jude's blood pressure meds and a month or two to sort it all out back in Paris.  Disaster wouldn't leave well enough alone.  Jude then came down with shingles on her face.

So, as you can see, we've been rather busy.  "Laying low" as they say.

Jude wasn't the only one to come down with it in our quartier.  At the local pharmacy we were told that six other people had also developed zona, as shingles are called here, on their faces, too.  It's taken two and a half months of terrible blisters, deep/hard pain, and countless nights of near no sleep to begin to get out the other side.  Fortunately Jude is beginning to feeling well enough that she is down to taking ibuprofen only twice a day to control the lingering pain.

Carved Stone ~ Chartres Cathedral

During these illnesses I had more than enough time on my hands and couldn't help but note a few things as they unfolded around me.

I learned that deep histories of struggle, Catholics against Republicans and Anarchists, still have the power to divide families.  A vendeuse at Bio C'est Bon told us that she was getting married and that her future husband deliberately planned for the two families to meet in Beaune so everyone could get to know each other.  One side of the family are staunch Catholic and the other sound like they are strongly-idealist Republican or Anarchist (think descendants of the Communards - pretty serious stuff, that).  He hoped to lay to rest some of the divisions between families who have lived very different ideologies for what sounded like several centuries.

It was from the same vendeuse that we learned an interesting French expression.  It goes something like this - a happy woman creates a village.  Which is to mean that for some women there is joy in having children.  Enough, it seems, to populate a village.  It was wonderful the way she described this to us in French.  It seemed so civilized and natural.

While out on rare outtings we can't help but be horrified at how Americans behave when visiting.  A recent visit to Chartres only added to our horror.

Carved Stone ~ Chartres Cathedral

The labyrinth in the cathedral was closed due to renovations taking place overhead.  That didn't stop a group of Americans from occupying the center of the labyrinth.  They were bottling up the flow of visitors so they, the Americans, could have their "oh so special" spiritual/religious moment.  It was weird seeing something that the Europeans have had for 1,000+ years being discovered and laid claim to by Americans.  It was even weirder watching their guru hovering over them with a cell phone on a "selfie stick" while he shot video of his disciples (all women) in prayer.  He made no attempt to improve the flow of visitors by moving his disciples out of the way.

During lunch we couldn't help but notice the very same guru and his followers sitting near by.  The guru was loudly talking about his own path to enlightenment.  His path seemed to be strewn with one master after another.  Each had problems of various kinds that caused the guru to move on to the next sack of nuts with yet another sack of problems.  It was all nonsense to me, but his group of disciples hung on his every blessed word.

There was another group of Americans on the other corner from us.  At one point Jude got up to wash her hands and asked the woman, who was from NY, if she would please move her chair slightly so Jude could slip by.  The NY woman told her rather loudly and very bruskly "NO!"  So Jude asked her again as there really was no way to get to where she needed to go but through this narrow area.  The NY bitch, er, sorry, woman huffed and puffed as her friends suggested she move.  The NY Bitch inched her chair forward an inch.  It seemed as if the bitch was trying to lay claim to it's her own patch of France.

Carved Stone ~ Chartres Cathedral

A little later we were sitting around the back side of the cathedral when I heard a woman tell me "I'm not being presumptuous..." as she reached under my seat and between my legs for something rather important.  It was definitely sacred to her.  Apparently it had been delivered from the sky and this little rolly polly bat-faced girl was filled with all kinds of "wonderful spiritual energy."  She was part of the American "spiritualists" group and felt it her duty to let me know something sacred had just taken place.  She told me "it's your's" as she held up a downy pigeon feather.  It took me a moment to realize what was going on and replied "No.  Really. It's your's."  Her face lit up, her puffy hands carefully caressed the feather, and she moved away in an obvious (oblivious?) state of "grace."

Oh, these have indeed been trying times.  A long hard winter followed by a long hot summer has given me the impression that I've become rather cranky.

Fortunately France remains a very sweet, civilized place to live.  Even as they have their very own brand of Special Olympic qualifying events.

Take, for instance, that wedding cake of a church sitting on top of Montmartre.  I shared with an American couple that Sacre Coeur is an abomination against all that is good and decent in Paris.  You can imagine the puzzled looks on their faces as I said this.  The obvious question is "why?".

Carved Stone ~ Chartres Cathedral

Well, you see, a hundred years of history has done little to dampen the ardent hatred many Parisians have for that site.  Afterall, how can you blame them?  The royalist/monarchist Catholics built it in honor of their "victory" over the Communards who tried to rule Paris in a very true and interesting Anarchist way.  The event was a slaughter, actually.  French slaughtering their own.  All because someone needed to have things their way and only their way.

A Parisian I spoke with this week suggested the best view of Paris is indeed from Montmartre.  It's the only view of the city where you don't see that abomination of Sacre Coeur.

I must be becoming Parisian of some persuasion as I couldn't agree more with this.  To me it's incredibly moving to visit the place inside Pere Lachaise cemetery where the last of the Communards were stood against a wall and slaughtered by the Royalist/Monarchist army.

Often I see fresh flowers at the site.

Fontaine du Fellah ~ Antinous ~ Paris