jeudi 30 septembre 2010

Fia, 8 weeks

Fia in B&W

Yup, I went back to see Fia and play with her yesterday afternoon, but I almost never got there, owing to a comedy (note: comedy is rarely funny when you are the subject of it) of errors involving discovering my husband drained the battery on my motorcycle flat as a pancake only after I finally managed to maneuver it past a parked vehicle and the telephone booth in front of the telephone company facility next door and onto the street, just in time to block the one car heading up the street in the last 15 or 20 minutes, and for the next 15 or 20 minutes. Alright, I exaggerate. 5 minutes. Happily, it was a neighbor, who jumped out to help me wheel it back up on the sidewalk, while I stripped off my heavy leather jacket and gloves and sighed heavily. I had been outside a quarter of an hour, and I was already hot, sweaty and tired. The weather had warmed up and turned humid, but I'd be taking a car.

I emptied the topcase, fished my house keys out of my bag and headed back in the house. Rapide lifted her head and looked at me. They say dogs have a poor notion of time, but I think even she realized that I hadn't gotten very far.

I considered changing my clothes, but limited myself to stowing my helmet, gloves and exchanging my 10 lb. leather jacket for my light suede jacket, grabbed the keys to the -- oh, to hell with gas economy! -- the BMW wagon and headed out to the car, nearly swiping the front bumper of the neighbor's minivan with ours.

And, I had just trumpeted my excellent, practically sixth sense of the BMW's orientation in space relative to other cars when I came very close to touching the rear bumper of another car (but didn't) pulling into the parking area from the restaurant of the Hotel Baudy in Giverny the other evening. It was our anniversary (8th for the curious), and the grocery store had closed early, "exceptionally", for their annual wine fair, so I wasn't getting the few things I needed to make the dinner I had planned, dumped my recycling in the bins and drove home to -- pout.

I put backed up, corrected my angle and pulled out, just as another car drove up the street. It was for him to ranger sa caisse, since he was on the "side of the road" -- a bit of an exaggeration, given that our road is one lane, after you account for parked cars -- where the cars were parked, but since I had sort of pulled out in front of him, I pulled back in between two cars just on the other side of the minivan before heading out of town. I was making little progress, fast. The car wasn't far from the reserve tank, though, and I took the route that let me go by the gas station at the grocery store (they're the cheapest ones here). I pulled up to a pump, cut the engine and reached for my wallet -- and, that's when I realized that I had changed jackets, but I had taken my bank card or my driver's license from the pocket of my motorcycle jacket.

This is where I consider myself to be superior in development to my husband. I said nothing. I did not swear. I did not either bang my fist down upon the steering wheel or make one to begin with. I sighed -- heavily, I admit -- and drove back home, avoiding the large potholes in the street that heads back up alongside the grocery store.

Home again, I swung the car into the space next to the old school, converted into three apartments by the village that no one seems interested in renting, retrieved my house keys and let myself in the gate and then the house. This time, Rapide had come to the door.

"Désolée, ma biche. Je repars."

I peeled off my suede jacket, and headed upstairs to change my clothes (it was just too hot, and too humid, and I was too aggravated to deal with hit), late or no.

You know you'll walk right back out the house without them the way you're going, said myself. Take them out before you forget.
I harrumphed by way of acknowledgment. This was likely, and so, halfway up the stairs, I turned and headed back down to get the bank card and driver's license before pirouetting and heading back up. I watched Rapide's head swivel first one way, as I had come back down, follow me from the jacket to the kitchen table, where I put everything in my bag, and then the other as she followed my progress back up the stairs, where I yanked off my boots, jeans and tights and my sweater in favor of bare legs in my jeans and sneakers and a light cotton blouse.

Everything was better in the world right away.

This time, I headed back out, got my gas, and made it all the way to Chartres to run into -- a traffic jam. The mothers in their minivans in front of me were doing U-turns and heading back up the way we'd come. It seemed like a good idea. They turned right, toward the city, and I turned left to thread my way through villages to Thivars and the entry to the A11, direction Le Mans, texting a message as I drove through the fields:
Tout faux aujourd'hui. Je ferai demi-tour afin de vous laisser tranquille mais je vous ai préparé un p'tit quelque chose.

I signed my name.

It's true. I had raced through the recipe for Rachel's Raspberry Financiers before racing through my shower. It's not nice to arrive empty-handed, and her son's birthday was Monday, after my son's and my own.

It was 5 pm by the time I arrived, and she'd been sanding the old worm-eaten wood in the wall from which she'd removed the plaster, opening the dining room up to the living room. We're both renovating, by ourselves, but she's actually still doing something, despite 20-something dogs, her kids and a rotating group of interns to manage. She was emptying the shop vac when I got out of the car.

"Oh! Vous êtes là," she looked startled. I was sure she had given up on me and probably hadn't gotten my message.

"Vous n'avez pas eu mon message alors?" I asked.

"Non, mais ça ne fait rien. Entrez," she said, dumping the wood dust into the gravel by the front step.

"Je suis navrée," I said, fiddling with the latch on the gate, "mais j'ai eu tout faux aujourd'hui."

"Comment?" she asked, watching me pull the gate toward me and seeing it jam. "Dan l'autre sens, poussez-le." Oh, push.

"J'ai tout fait faux aujourd'hui. Je n'ai rien fait comme il fallait."

"Il y a des jours comme ça," she said. "Allez, c'est temps de donner à manger aux petits et puis on prendra un café." I handed her my paper plate of Raspberry Financiers in a big Ziploc freeze bag, and she put them on the table before we headed back out to feed the puppies. I had arrived just in time for dinner, and to help her keep 11 wriggling bodies from escaping through the grille.

Not that it mattered. As soon as they heard the kibbles hit the metal platter, they were scrambling to get back and find a place around it.

I said I'd not stay long, but she didn't seem in a rush to see my back out the drive and across the fields on my way home. We had coffee, interrupted by the need to prevent TVA from slipping out a hole she had contrived in the fence and get the intern to focus on his work, the last seeming to give her a bigger headache than TVA's antics, and we played with Fia and watched her play with anything that would play with her: Tina the Bulldog, a little, half-deflated Paris-St. Germain soccer ball, TVA, and I took rapid-fire photographs with Sam's camera.

It's much better than mine.

It was 7 pm by the time I headed out and went to look for a boulangerie before driving back home, where it was certain my husband would arrive before I did. At the very least, I could have baguette for him for his dinner.

"Alors," he said when I came through the door, "elle va comment, la petite? Tu as pris des photos? Je peux les voir?" Yes, yes, I said. I took lots of photos, but first, dinner, then I will download them, and show you.

"Maintenant on peut voir les photos?" he asked after dinner.

"Oui, mais ça prend du temps à télécharger. Attends un instant."

"Ben," he said, "je vais faire la vaiselle le temps que ça met à télécharger." He returned when he and the camera had finished, and sat down to look at them with me. If bonding has begun when Sam starts taking photos of the puppy, it has also begun when Audouin starts looking at photos of the puppy. I had been a little worried when he told me at dinner at the Hôtel Baudy that he hadn't begun his grieving for Baccarat yet.

"Non?" I asked. "Mais, tu comptes commencer ça quand? Ca fait bientôt deux mois qu'elle est morte, tu sais." He nodded. He knew it had been nearly two months since we lost Baccarat, but he didn't know when he'd start grieving. He was a little surprised that I wasn't anymore.

"Non," I told him, "je fais encore mon deuil de Baccarat, mais je peux aimer encore une autre chienne."

"Mais, tu ne peux pas remplacer Baccarat," he said to me. "Tu risques de la comparer toujours avec elle."

I knew that too. I could never replace Baccarat, and I will always compare every other dog with her, and I will always remember her, just as much in a year or two, or more, as I do now.

"C'est une autre chienne à apprendre à connaître et à aimer, et oui, je la comparerai à Baccarat, mais Baccarat m'aidera, et elle continuera à me manquer, autant dans l'avenir qu'aujourd'hui."

I will always miss Baccarat, even as she helps me get to know and appreciate, to teach and help Fia be a wonderful dog. As Audouin saw, she is playful and full of personality. She is little, still a baby.

"Quand est-ce qu'elle vient à la maison?" he asked. "Et celui-là, il est adorable," he added, pointing to a black male puppy in the middle of the group under their mother behind the gate.

Next Friday she'll come home. She'll be sad not to have her brothers and sisters at first, and I have to fight asking if that little boy isn't, par aucune chance, still available, but there will be Rapide to win over the cats to tame. I think she's up to it.

Sam will take a train from Paris to meet me on the way, and we'll go together to get her. He had suggested that I go get her on a Friday, and he'd come out on Saturday, saying, "That way, she'll know me, too," but I thought this would be even better.

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