Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Haunted


Chapter III Jacques Peuchet 1697

With a keen sense of foreboding, Jacques walked up the gangplank to his ship. Most men would have pooh-poohed their wife’s pleas to stay home and not go asea, citing some dream or ill-feeling portending a catastrophe at sea. But Elodie had a gift, a curse some would say, of foretelling future events from her dreams. He wanted to stay, especially after their love making last night. He reasoned that it was their intimacy which had influenced her dream and so, couldn’t be relied on as a true prophetic dream. Not only that, but this trip would be a chance to make a new and better life for him an Elodie. This trip was to supply the French troops in New France fighting the English and the Indians in King William’s War. His King, Louis XIV, had intimated that he would make land grants to the sailors on this voyage, enabling France to strengthen the French settlements in New France. It was an opportunity that Jacques felt he couldn’t pass up. He admitted to himself that never on any of his previous voyages had his wife had any reservations about his sailing. He argued with himself and so with a heavy heart he overcame his gut feeling and convinced himself that all would be well.

This decision would haunt him for the rest of his life.

In the early morning hours, just after dawn, his ship the, St. Honorat 1, hoisted sail and set a course for the Strait of Gibraltar. With favorable winds and calm sea, the captain estimated arriving in New France in 10 to 13 days.

Jacques enjoyed the life of a seafaring man; the camaraderie of his mates, the task of keeping an ocean vessel in top trim, making sure everything was in good repair. He also loved the solitude of the hours at sea. Mesmerized by the endless horizon, the undulating waves, the birds following when they neared land, the sea creatures appearing from time to time such as dolphins, and whales, spiked his imagination and kept his mind full of bountiful dreams. The best time for him when he was at sea was when it was his watch in the crows nest. It was like being cast into another world. He was still a part of the ship and crew and yet he felt as if he were alone in the world, floating above the seas like a bird gliding on the air currents. It was at these times that thoughts of his wife of just one year, Elodie, would flood his reverie. He would recall every line and curve of her form. Her face was as clear in his mind's eye as if she were lying on top of him staring into his eyes with a deep tenderness that always melted his heart; He had become a different man since he had met her. With the arrival of their daughter, Marie, three months past, his thoughts had migrated to more family oriented ideas. He didn’t want to be separated for long months from his girls, his family. The chance to own a sizable plot of land in the new world gave rise to thoughts of farming and a large family. Yes, he was ready to settle down and be a family man.

Three days out, and in the crow's nest for his mid-watch from 1000 to 1400, he was lulled by the rhythm of the wave tossed ship into a familiar day dream; He and Elodie spooning together in prelude to the sensuous love making that always followed. The morning's red sky had given him pause earlier, but there didn’t seem to be any foul weather that he could see. Besides, it wouldn’t be natural to have a voyage across the Atlantic without a storm to contend with. 1100 and the sky was clear for as far as he could see, except way off to the east there appeared to be some darkening along the horizon and maybe those were clouds looming above the dark line; No, nothing to worry about yet.

Reaching into his vest pocket for his tobacco pouch, Jacques felt something else. He pulled out a small, tightly wrapped packet that must have been wedged in a fold beneath his tobacco. A packet of parchment, tied in a bow with black fishing line. His lips curled up into a smile, realizing that Elodie had put a little gift in his vest. Unwrapping the packet, he recognized the smell of nougat, a favorite of his. He was happy to see that that was in fact what she had sent along for him. The inside of the parchment had some writing on it. He popped the chunk of nougat into his mouth and sucked rather than chewed the succulent morsel so as to savor it for as long as possible. He then smoothed out the paper and read:

I close my eyes and see your face

Looking up to mine from your pillow.

When I need to fill that space,

I close my eyes and see your face.

When our limbs are tatted lace,

And the bed begins to billow;

I close my eyes and see your face

Looking up to mine from your pillow.

This poem, the succulent sweetness in his mouth, and the rolling waves all served to entrance Jacques and he recalled their love making on the night before he sailed. She had scented her hair with lilac water and when he slipped into bed behind her and spooned her shapely bum, he could smell the essence in her long coal black hair and it aroused him. Lightly kissing and flicking his tongue along the back of her neck he placed his hand on her thigh and gently brushing his hand against her skin he thought of the silky feel of cream. His hand slid slowly up her thigh and inched forward toward the apex of her womanhood. She nuzzled her encouragement against his engorged manhood and he was emboldened. Ever so slowly he proceeded to touch every inch of her flesh, raising goose bumps in his path and arousing low moans of pleasure from her throat. She turned to face him and he lay on his back as she mounted him and took him into her with delicious slowness. He opened his eyes to see her looking into them with lustful adoration and the slowness gave wave to faster and faster motion; rolling, bucking, rocking. Thunder rolled in his head and as he erupted inside of her ,lightening exploded in his shuttered eyes and he could feel a wetness against his face…his eyes flew open and instantly he was aware that he was being tossed and slammed against the railing of the crow’s nest, driving rain was being whipped against his face. It was all he could do to hold his place and not fall from his perch to the deck far below! And from out of the darkness a huge crunching sound reached his ears and he felt an unnatural buckling of the ship. The bow and stern were buckling toward each other and the crew was wildly yelling at first unintelligible sounds and finally he could make out the words; leviathan ramming!!, leviathan ramming starboard!!! Then a huge snapping, cracking and the mast that held the crows nest began to list and in an instant Jacques was in the roiling sea, gasping for air as he bobbed wildly, helplessly groping for some flotsam to hold on to so that he didn’t make an untimely visit to Davey Jones’ locker. Finally he recognized the feel of the railing against his rib cage and slowly understood that he was in fact still inside his perch. He wrapped his arms around the floating mast and held on with all the energy he could.

Floating, bobbing like a cork he rode out the storm and found himself washed up on some shore in the murky darkness. He called out for his shipmates, but the only answer he received in reply was the crashing waves against the rocky shore and the whistling wind mocking his shouted voice. In time he collapsed in exhaustion. As he slipped in to unconsciousness he thought; you were right, my Elodie.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

There are lots of ways of being miserable, but there's only one way of being comfortable, and that is to stop running round after happiness. If you make up your mind not to be happy there's no reason why you shouldn't have a fairly good time.
- Edith Wharton

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Inside the Chateau de Nans.

From the reception area, climbing to the top of the stairs, you enter a large sitting room on the second floor from off of which all five guest rooms are entered. This room is very comfortable and tastefully decorated, inviting one to relax, read, write, and/or play games.

When we travel to France our plan is to spend the first week soaking up the razzle dazzle sparkling city of Paris with it's sidewalk cafes and museums and all the other amenities associated with the City of Light. We seek out the quiet spaces also, to escape from the cacophony that is an intregal part of the city. Because, after all, this is a vacation; time to sleep in, leisurely enjoy the city and still take time to sip coffee, and wine and read, take photos, write postcards and really, just do what comes to mind at the moment. Taking time to enjoy a leisurely meal with friends also ranks high on th list of priorities.

Always in the past, the second week is spent in the rural areas of France; Southwest heretofore, and this time in the southeast. We look for chateau B&B's in isolated and rustic locations. This allows us the time to take a slower approach to life, stop to smell the roses, and indulge ourselves of favorite pass times that too often get put aside in the regular tedium of job and household chores of regular life. We spend a lot of time reading, writing, sleeping, bathing, eating, sipping, and some occasional sight seeing.

This post is about the places, inside and out, where we indulged ourselves of spirit renewing activities. Taking a laid back, enjoyment of each day as it presented itself, attitude.





Not only did we spend time in this sitting room reading and writing it also served us well as a picnic venue. The stairs just visible on the right and more so in the following picture leads to a suit on the top floor that is the quarters of the manager and her family.

If you walk down the left side pictured here, past the stairs, there will be a door on the right, unseen here, that enters our room.

The room, more of a suite than a room really, has a large entry/sitting room of it's own. Off from which you have a bedroom in the turret, an open spacious, sumptuous marble bath area. There is a separate room for the toilet, and enough closet space for a family of four easily.


rel passing the time in a common manner.....

D. admires numerous and varied antiques and collectables.





Inside the suite, looking back to the entry door.






Looking to the front from the bath area. To the left and to the left again of the red suitcase is the water closet, (toilet). The door ajar on the right leads to the turret bedroom. The doors nearest are to some of the closet spaces. The entry is to the immediate left.

This is the bath/shower area. There is a bidet just behind the jut-out.














The boudoir with tele-vision and tele-phone.

Our guardian angel











To the right of the reception desk is the indoor dining area, through which you can enter the greenhouse dining room and the on out to the terrace dining area.

The chateau's Santon, found during renovation and restoration of the Chateau. You'll learn more about Santons in a future post.

Tomorrow (Sept. 23rd) we go flea marketing with Corey and Celebrate my birthday.


The Herb garden.
Warmed by the sun and protected from the Mistral, it is a super place for an early morning read.
# 82 - Hospital



I remember going to the hospital with adult relatives when I was a youngster. Usually it was to visit someone, often a relative, who was dying. That's what hospitals were for back then, well, I guess they still are!

Anyway, the most pungent memory for me about those visits was the pervasive smell throughout the building. Years later I discovered that smell to be from Ether.

Ether was the predominant odor in all hospitals up until at least 1970, when it's use as an anesthetic was replaced by more modern, less explosive, and better smelling agents. Anyone who received ether recalls the experience in the most unhappy way.
For the most part, I think people normally would prefer to avoid hospitals and in particular surgery. The prospect of being rendered unconscious and helpless is very frightening to a fair majority of folks. I fall into that group as well. Add to that the fear that you might die, and surgery becomes quite an unpleasant contemplation. That is exactly the reason that I endured yearly bouts of horribly painful tonsillitis until the age of twenty-three or so. Injections of copious amounts of antibiotics in my gluteal cheeks was much more preferable to me than under going The Knife!

Then there are times when choice is not an option; for real fear of dying.

Three weeks into my freshman year of high school I turned fourteen. Shortly thereafter I developed acute appendicitis. The cause of this, I was certain for the next 10+ years, was the fact that my mother "made" me eat a whole can of tomato soup.
Me: Mom, I'm going to cook some tomato soup.
Mom: It's late, almost your bedtime and I don't want a mess in the kitchen this late.
Me: I'm hungry and I'll clean up the mess.
Mom: If you open a can of soup you'd better eat the whole can.
Me: I only want one bowl and some crackers.
Mom: All or none young man!

Three hours later I was in the ER and an hour after that I was going into the OR. The Demerol had calmed my fear of dying. In fact the pain was so bad before the Demerol, I was wishing for death just to find relief.

The nurse anesthetist injected me, through an intravenous line, with Sodium Pentothol while at the same time distracting me by talking about my job as a paper boy. Thank God for the Pentothol; at least I didn't have to breath the ether to go to sleep, but ether is what kept me asleep for the duration of the operation. Needless to say I woke up. I woke up puking my guts out.

Besides coming out of the ordeal alive and well, getting mucho-beaucoup presents, having two adult room mates who kept me in stitches (laughing) everyday for the entire week I was a patient, I found a wonderful appreciation for student nurses!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


A sculpture of the Coat of Arms for the Chateau Nans des Pins in the "Jardin de Relaxation."
Choosing this place for our south of France destination was the result of a purely random Google search. Sight unseen and with no recommendations, it turned out to be a perfect choice. It was out in the countryside away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but not all that far from the civilization of rustic, French village life. A comfortable room, much larger than anything we'd experienced in the city. And for 1/3 the cost. The ambiance was perfect for relaxing and soaking up the scenery, reflecting on life, reading...lots of reading, writing, picnicking, and wine sipping. There was only one thing missing, but not for long.

Having arrived in the late afternoon, it was near 1630 by the time we checked in and got semi settled in our room. About 1630 I place a phone call to Tongue in Cheek. However there was no answer at that time but later, just before dinner, we did make contact and the rest of that story is the piece-de-resistance for this week of the trip.

Then it was out to survey and explore the grounds and just get a feel for the place. I'll put up some photos and you can investigate with us. (Click to enlarge.)
Bath house for the lap pool to the left of the Chateau as you face it.
Pool

Pastis corner.

This tower housed on the first level the office, and the second level housed our boudoir of Room #1. The third level was Staff quarters.

The yard directly in front with accommodation for sitting and doing what makes you fell relaxed.

D. provides a photo-op.


Entry to the terrace dining area with the green house dining room visible inside the wall to the left.

The green house dining room, where we had le petit déjeuner.

Le Jardin de Relaxation.



rel in a daily ritual, albeit in different locations form day to day and depending on the time of day. He was like a sunflower....following the sun. ;) Sometimes the beverage container was a coffee cup!

The view out the front from the Chateau.

Corey of Tongue in Cheek and her "French husband" joined us for drinks after diner in the greenhouse and the stage was set for fantastic week of pleasant adventures, encounters, and building of friendships.

Next: Inside!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


“The Stranger”





You sailed, smiling out to sea,

Vowing to return again.

Three years yet have come to be

You sailed, smiling out to sea

I’ll wait forever in Marseilles

Our love, the seas detain.

You sailed, smiling out to sea

Vowing to return again.

She cast a spell on the bottle, the last bottle from which came the last glass of wine they’d shared. A poem to her beloved Jacque inside, the bottle was protected by a spell and only Jacque could find it.

The spell was in the form of a triolet which she placed in a packet under her pillow. It would not only keep the bottle safe until Jacque found it, it would guide her dreams.

Elodie Bonteau had inherited, from her great grandmother, the gift of oneiromancy; she practiced the art of dream divination. The gift had only become pronounced since Jacque had failed to return. Now, three years after his departure, that skill was much enhanced.

The first light of morning was the least busy time at the docks and so it was that Elodie carried the bottle, with it’s precious message inside, to the sea waters where they caressed the shores of Marseilles. Squatting down on the sand under a dock she sent the bottle on it’s journey to her beloved. As it floated away she reflected back to the days when she and her best friend Gaelle first arrived, strangers in this city by the sea. They were directed to the Panier area, where they would find lodging. Those were heady days filled with promise and of course, dreams. The smell of the sea, the azure blueness, the sky, and the sun; yes the sun, much brighter than in Versailles, had planted a spell on Elodie; a spell of romance.

It was at that Faire that she first met Jacques. What a dashing, debonair fellow he was, standing there glancing at her when he thought she wasn’t looking.


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Monday, October 22, 2007

Because of the size of our bags, we took a taxi to the train station, Gare de Lyon. It wasn't 10 minutes away, but didn't want to struggle to get on and off the metro. We arrived a couple hours early because the hotel door man, Stephan, had made advance reservations for us and we had to pick up our tickets. Being unfamiliar with the train system I felt it better to get there early. It was just as well, although in reality it was quite a quick process, and everyone from information to ticket agent were extremely friendly and helpful.

Once we had our tickets and had the info we needed to find our particular train gate we had time for coffee and croissants.
The station was full of people and we waited a bit before a couple seats in the waiting area came available. While doing some people watching D. spotted this young woman comforting her pet rabbit. Maybe the rabbit was comforting her.

In short order it was time for us to board our double decker train.


Once we located our seats on the second level and settled in it seems we both put our cameras away and didn't take any more pictures until we arrived at the Chateau. Oh well, I guess I'll have to rely on my superlative skills as a descriptive writer to paint a scene for you of the 3 hour trip from Paris to Aix en Provence. In case your wondering, (I did), Aix is pronounced...X.

A charming and handsome young family joined us in our elevated cabin. They were a couple with two young children, the oldest child was near to 4 or 5 years old and the youngest, an infant at the breast. I recall thinking back to when we traveled with young children and about all the stuff we had to carry along. Well, this couple were the modern and French incarnation of that past life of ours. D. thinks they were having a silent argument, but I didn't notice. I didn't notice for two reasons, 1. I'm a man and don't pick up those kind of signals until they smack me in the face, and 2. I tried to keep my gaze out the window rather than embarrass the mom when she was trying to breast feed. Although I may have been the one to be embarrassed. The dad put a DVD in their lap top for the older girl and that entertained her for the majority of the trip. Dad was up and down and running around doing one errand after another, hardly taking time to sit and eat the lunch they had brought along. He seemed quite attentive , but heck, what do I know.

The train travels at around 200 mph and yet was as smooth and quiet as can be. When I wasn't reading , dozing, or eating, I was taking in the scenic countryside repleat with medieval village after medieval village. Really, it was easy for me to imagine that I was in a time machine, traveling back in time.

Just a few minutes before arriving in Aix we stopped to discharge a large number of passengers at Avignon. This is where our young travel companions left us. The dad started taking gear down to the door at least ten minutes before arriving at Avignon.

The Aix-en-Provence TGV station is about 13km (8 miles) west of the city, out in the countryside. The new and very modern station has shops, cafes and restaurants, and several car rental agencies. Once we got our bearings we had to take an elevator to the ground level and then outside and down the way a few blocks to reach the rental car lot. The girl at the car rental counter was very courteous and helpful and spoke English much better than I speak French.

Fortunately for me, I had run off a Google direction page, at home, of directions from Aix to Nans des Pins, because when I asked the girl how to get to Nans Des Pins she gave me a look that said...WHERE? So I said, " how do I get from here, the rental car lot, to highway A8?" No problem says she, " just go through the ticket gate ( to which she provided a ticket), turn left, go 500 meters, bear right onto A8. The A8 goes east towards Nice."Tres bonne. The access to motorway A8 was, infact, as easy as she had described. In retrospect, however, I failed to ask a very important question; "how do I get back here?" That will be a story at the end. ;)

We drive in Canada frequently and I've been know to comment occasionally that the Canadians don't waste too much money on direction signs. Well the French are even more frugal. The Google directions told us to exit A8 at #34. No problem. Bear right and follow D568. Guess what; no sign for D568. Thinking we were lost. Thinking? No, we were lost. Actually we were on the correct road, going in the right direction, but without a sign, we thought we had missed a turn or something. So, unlike the typecast male traveler, I stopped at a gas station in the village of Tourves to ask for directions (did you faint?). The woman running the desk spoke zero English, but I spoke enough French so as to ask her to draw me a map and voila---turn left go 11 kilometers and there is the chateau. D'accord, perfectement.

A little later and after a slight detour into Nans des Pins (I'm not a great follower of directions, sometimes), We arrive at our home away from home for the next week.

Front entrance to the Chateau. That's our Peugeot rental parked in front.

Next: A tour of the Chateau.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

# 81:
"My first act as king of the world will be:"

To be sure, the possibilities are endless! Admittedly, I found it difficult at first to even conjure a belief that one man could be King, ruler if you will, of the world. Mulling over the prompt, I came, in time, to thoughts of the ancient Chinese dynasties, and then, of course, to the Roman empire and its series of emperors.


What would you do if you were the most important man in the world? Would you fill your palaces with nubile young women? Or perhaps pretty young men? Or possibly both? Well, that’s exactly what Roman emperors did. No one was surprised. Rome was founded on a series of rapes. The city was full of brothels catering to all tastes. There was sex in the theatre, in the arena and in the baths. Roman legions were even led into battle by topless totty on horseback. Victories were celebrated by sexual practices unknown today. Then there were the extravagant orgies.
Emperors fought wars to sleep with a lover – or in the case of Augustus not to sleep with one. Julius Caesar swang both ways. Tiberius, Caligula and Nero were even more promiscuous than they have been painted. Claudius was comprehensively cuckolded by his wives. Hadrian of wall fame was gay and Elagabalus combined rampant sex with religion. Sex Lives of the Roman Emperors takes you, emperor by emperor, through the entire sexual history of ancient Rome, its mores and its literature, and lays bear, if not the heart, other organs of the civilisation that laid the foundations of our own.Nigel Cawthorne

My, ma my my, my! The hedonistic portion of my psyche jumped for joy at the prospects, and my imagination, so fueled, ran wild. Thinking of the kings and Queens of olde, the dictators of the world, and of course the movie stars and oil barons and on and on; why I could be a veritable repository for earthly pleasure. And the rest? Well, "let them eat cake."

I pondered long upon this notion, and while it satisfied the child in me it rang hallow with greater reflection. Under regimes of selfish egoists and tyrants the greater majority of humankind were left to fend for themselves, scrabbling out a meager existence in the shadow of amoral diviners of God's will, who passed out special dispensation to those who coddled and fawned and provide them with carnal pleasure.

And so I thought; "we've tried that way too many times and really it has never worked all that well if at all. Meg has imbued me with the ability to decide to try a different paradigm."

My first act as king would be to summon the Dalai Lama to come to my castle in the dark of night with out the knowledge of the prying eyes of the world. Once we were together I would have my cadre of robotic plastic surgeons preform facial surgery such that he, The Dalia Lama would look like me, the King of the World, and I would look like him. I would confer with him and bestow upon him all the powers inherent in the position of KOW.

He, disguised as me, would instruct his most trusted guards and advisors, who know nothing of the change exchange, to escort me, disguised as him, to a quiet village in the Provence region of France.
There I would further disguise myself so as to be unrecognizable as the Dali Lama and find work in a local vineyard and live a simple life of quiet satisfaction and in the "off" season I would write books, essays and articles of witness to the way the KOW had changed mankind for the better and therefore the world.

What happened to the "Dalai Lama?," you might ask; He chose to stay in the castle of the KOW and abdicate his former role to one as adviser to the King. Remaining there in happy seclusion.

Daily Wisdom
"If you only take concern about external things, completely neglecting your inner values, then your life will not be a happy one."
"Insight From the Dalai Lama: 2007 Calendar," Copyright © 2006, Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Friday October 5th

Insight
from the
Dalai Lama

The awakening mind is also compared to the sun because when the sun has risen, not only is darkness unable to obscure it, but even a single ray of sunlight can dispel darkness.


Addendum:
If you are curious as to what the Dali Lama's first act as KOW might be go here for a glimpse.



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