dimanche 5 octobre 2008

C'est ma fête! Ha!

La Sainte Fleur!
October 5

But I'm no saint!
well... maybe just a little?
no?
OK.



This will be understood by the community of CHAOS, and by anyone following me on Twitter.

As well, perhaps, as anyone who understands what my last name means and my passion -- accidental -- for the plant world. Let's just say plants.

And, this is about gardening today; it's about plants, the ones I bought.

I had been some weeks since I went to Florosny, and it was my fête! The gang was (nearly) all there: Victor, Thierry, Marie-Noël. I went for cat food and cat litter, and I fell in-love with an archway of jasmine, the leaves deep red-brown in the rainy afternoon light. Victor offered to show it to me, but I resisted. I cannot possibly deal with two nearly full-grown jasmine plants, in arch form, or separated. The house is being renovated. It is not the time!

An elegantly dressed elderly woman -- this is still the way among a certain class of older men and women in France, and in England, and I wish I could be like them, really, I do -- was just then struggling with her cart of plants and bags planting soil.

"Victor, il faut l'assister." Narrow escape from what I later learned was a 522 euro Jasmine arch! Phew!

There, I made it only as far as Marie-Noël, who was putting together fake Christmas trees for the Christmas display, and Thierry.

"Alors, qui va gagner? Barack O?," asked Marie-Noël.

"Oui, il va gagner. C'est grand." Everyone smiled. Everyone here, with the exception of The General, my inlaws' neighbor, and my least favorite neighbor at their dinners, wants Obama to win, from the boulanger in Freneuse, to our 70-something year old adjoint mayor of this village of 400-something in the middle of nowhere northwest of Paris. Marie-Noël straightened up from where had bent down again over a cardboard box at her feet, and began opening up the branches of a fake Christmas tree she was assembling. I turned and looked behind me; there were 7 standing in a row.

"Ce n'est pas vrai! Noël déjà?"

"On va faire le rayon, et puis ça sera fermé de vue pendant quelque semaines," she reassured me [trans: We're setting the department up, and then we'll close it off for awhile.]

"Merci, car ne je suis vraiment pas prète pour Noël en début d'Octobre! On a toute une série de fêtes aux States entre maintenant et Noël: la rentrée, déjà, ce qui est une sorte d'évènement, et puis Halloween -- " Marie-Noël sourit.

"Oui, c'est sympa dans notre rue, avec toutes les familles anglophones. Ils font des spectacles et du Trick or Treating." It's true. There are a bunch of Americans without kids and an Irish family on her street, the next village over.

"Et it is what aujourd'hui?" demanda Thierry.

"Ma fête, d'une manière."

"Mais, c'est quoi?" He waited. I searched in my brain. Nothing.

"What," he speaks some English with me, it's sort of our thing, "was it il n'y a pas longtemps, your birthday?"

I was speechless.

"Mais, comment le saviez-vous?" I laughed. [trans: But, how did you know that?"]

"Il sait tout! C'est les dossiers des clients. Il mémorize tout... C'est un ordinateur!" [trans: He knows everything! From the client files. He memorizes everything... he's a computer!]

"Je suis épatée!" [trans: I am knocked over backwards!]

Victor was back by then heading on to water the plants, and not wanting to monopolize the entire Sunday crew, I headed to the animal department, and further on into the store -- you know it, David, Stephanie-- past all the annuals, almost to the last greenhouse, but the table of Hebe and Myrtle, the Euonymous caught my eye. I set down the box of cat litter, the bag of cat food and the spray bottle of Frontline, and studied the different varieties of Hebe. I have the "Champagne", at the entry to the top terrace. It was there when I inherited the garden. There was another with violet flower spikes and grey-green leaves, slightly more green than gray, edged in a perfect margin of crimson, the branches a deeper purple crimson. Victor came up to my side.
"C'est une mérveille, n'est-ce pas?" He looked at me, grinning.

"Mais, regardez ces marges de ses feuilles, cette couleur qui complémente si parfaitement ses fleurs violettes, les branches de ce pourpre." Il continua à me regarder avec un étonnement de mon émerveillement de cette plante, ce qui ne fut que, enfin, une plante. "C'est ses marges si parfaites qui donne à cette plante toute son élégance." [trans: "But, look at the margins of its leaves, their color complements perfectly the violet flowers, the purple-scarlet branches." He continued to look at me with an amazement at my wonderment at this plant, that was nothing more, finally, than a plant. "It's the perfection of the margins that give it all its elegance."]
"Est-ce que vous regardez tout dans ce niveau de détail?" He asked. [trans: "Do you look at everything in this much detail?"]

"Mais oui," I grinned back, "C'est ça qui rend tout si bien." He shook his head, and I picked up another, and two Myrtle bushes, tiny baby ones with light lavender colored flowers. [trans: "Of course... That's what makes everything worthwhile."]

"Allez, je vais vous montrer les Jasmins -- attendez, j'ai des agrumes! Des citronniers!"

But we never made it to the jasmines, much less the lemon trees. He was stopped by another client, a professor of horticulture, who happened to be wandering in the nursery, and my eye was caught by the firey leaves of an Aronia, purlish soft bark of the Photinias, I picked up a blue-flowering Caryopteris clandenensis, two new hydrangeas for my hydrangea border -- one with deep purpley leaves --, and got stuck in the Choryopsis, the Japanese anemones, the Echinea purpurea, Gypsophylium, and before I stopped for some more clay pots, my cart was so full I had to decide against the anemones, for today. At the register, a bag of apples, Reinettes, with the name of the producer on the ticket.

I packed the Voyager, fresh from the car wash and a vacuuming (I use it to carry bags and bags of pruned branches to the dump when I can't burn them) in the drizzling rain, and headed home for my camera to take a picture of the St. Fleur sign.

....

Sailboats on the Seine

Looking back up toward Rolleboise, and, farther,
Mousseaux sur Seine

Leaving Florosny, which sits right on the Seine -- I always double check my parking break when I park on the river front side of the parking lot! -- I saw the two sailboats I had seen on my way to the store, turning gentle circles in the warm stiff southerly wind.

It was so dim in the early evening light and the steady drizzle that I couldn't focus properly. I apologize for the blurriness of the images.

It seemed more wonderful still, like the edges of the leaves of the Hebe, like everything has, since Obama has been up in the polls, and I joined CHAOS at the Fosback's in Portland.

Check out the story in the local Portland News. I went to bed last night -- finally, after 2 AM -- just before the crew showed up to interview Preston and his mother, a gifted and talented teacher in Portland.



I have the very great honor of being a part of this incredible group, and a modertor when I'm around and needed. The stories I can tell, but it's 2:04 AM (again), and I need to go to bed. I have to stop lilving French and American hours all at once!

Tomorrow. Right after the drawings for the renovation, a blog entry and the entire day spent with CHAOS!

Right.

And there's so much to say about Obama, about the nightmare I had about Palin, and -- oh, let me say this much. Someone in CHAOS commented on her blatant anger the other day. I believe it was TeachKids, Signkid's mom.

A memory of watching her during the debate filled the projection screen in my head. Palin is looking directly into the camera, right into the eyes of each viewer, smiling that I'm-about-to-tear-right-into-you-smile that's about as genuine as a two dollar bill and Dubya's WMD claim in Iraq. She winks and the smile disappears, leaving no trace on her face or in her eyes. It might never have been there. Her anger is dangerous. She bores into you. She is focused on her purpose, and her smile was only to get you to drop your guard, to follow her where she would take you and Rich Lowry. To get you do to her bidding.

It is evil.

She is the representation of the axis of evil. They are locked in a battle of extremist Christians against extremists Muslims.

She is the one who sets out to fulfill the mission of the right, with its Illuminati-believing white followers, defending their right to rule and warning of a regime that will repress whites.

I have spoken with them. They come to CHAOS, and talk to us in the room, appear in our private messaging.

Ustreamer76130: Obama is the antichrist.
fleur_de_paris: hello
Ustreamer76130: Check his mark.
fleur_de_paris: What is a mark?
Ustreamer76130: V-chip
fleur_de_paris: What is that?
Ustreamer76130: [link to an Internet site I did not visit, perhaps something like this, maybe worse, you can Google V-chip Antichrist, like I just did]
fleur_de_paris: and you want me to go to this site?

[silence for some time. I felt like the police keeping the kidnapper on the phone as long as possible, making him say it, letting him come up against the enemy he has made for himself and actually interact with it]

Ustreamer76130: OBAMA IS A MUSLIM
fleur_de_paris: I have heard people claim that. I know him.
Ustreamer76130: You don't.
fleur_de_paris: I do [I graduated with Obama from college; he knew my boyfriend]
Ustreamer76130: HE IS GOING TO START A REGIME AGAINST WHITES
fleur_de_paris: I am white. Are you?
Ustreamer76130: I am, but that's beside the point.
fleur_de_paris: It is the point. I know racism.
Ustreamer76130: Don't say you haven't been warned.

He said no more. There were others yesterday.

This is being preached in fundamentalist evangelical churches in America by people like John Hagee. Google him. Go to YouTube for the video.

Like Sarah Palin's?

It scares us. We are on the brink of something so big and important for humankind in the election of Senator Barack Obama to the White House that even my 83-year-old father-in-law hopes for it, and there is the fear, pure as the best cocaine, dangerous as the finest heroin, a drug for the fear that is racism and white supremacy, and the beast is lying at our feet.

Obama is no Christ. He is no anti-Christ. It is ludicrous. He is a man who speaks to what we all know about ourselves and what we most want, and we dare to look around at one another and let the spirit of Hope back in. It was possible because we hate cynicism. We cry out against a government regime crushing democracy in America, for that is what the Bush II years have been.

Sarah Palin, who little more than a month ago said she didn't really know what the Vice President does all day now wants more power than Dick Cheney has given himself. This is the culture war; it is the most extreme as it has ever been because it has never been pushed so far in either direction.

This is the most important election of our lives because our measure as a species is at stake. Our worthiness to inhabit the same planet as the wolves Palin supports hunting from low-flying helicopters.

Of course we are worthy. We are by far the greater number, and Obama is going to win, but we must not turn away from or pretend this fear does not exist, that it is not powerful enough to destroy.

To protect that in which we most believe, not capitalism, but human decency and democracy, we have to remain alert, watchful, vigilant, banded together shoulder to shoulder around the country and the world.

That's why CHAOS is important. That is the point of watching over the sign and two people who care about democracy.
....

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