Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Important Stuff

The weather reports are in and we all agree that this has been one of the worst summers we've seen in years here in France.  I talked to both my sister-in-law in Lille and my mother-in-law near Concarneau and everyone is reporting chilly temperatures, grey skies, and showers.

I'm from Seattle where this is not unusual and if I learned one thing from my wicked youth in the Emerald City, it's the importance of having lots of indoor projects to tide one through inclement weather. As I mentioned before I am going through my archives - these boxes of photos, old correspondence and memorabilia that we've faithfully hauled (and paid a small fortune to have hauled) from one continent to another over the past 20 years.  I've found quite a few gems in those musty old cardboard boxes.  Would you believe I still have every letter my spouse wrote to me before we were married when he was still living in Nantes and I was at university in Seattle?   This has sparked some interesting conversations with my family here as I'm not the only one to keep this sort of thing - my mother-in-law, for example, still has the very first letter I ever wrote to her in French.   I will not post any of the correspondence but there are other things like photos that I'll throw up here just for fun.

Today's offering is a quotation that I found at the bottom of the pile typed out on a yellowed piece of paper.  It came from the kitchen of a friend of mine in Seattle.  He was hands-down the worst housekeeper I've ever known.  His house was so dirty, it was almost unbearable with huge piles of old newspapers and magazines scattered about and there were cats everywhere (at least ten of them when we tried to count).  The crust alone on the kitchen floor was enough to make you queasy.  But there was one room that was more or less in order and that was the dining room.  His housekeeping might have been ghastly and unsanitary but he was one of the best cooks I've ever known.  We had some fabulous meals there and I say "we" because I met my French spouse in that house.  He was an exchange student at the time (from what is now called Centrale Nantes) and he was in town to study at the University of Washington, my alma mater. As they say, the rest is history.

My Seattle friend made no apologies for the state of his home but I'm pretty sure some of his friends spoke to him about it.  Not to criticize but because at one point it was so bad that we all wondered when the local Health department would take an interest.  Being a stubborn sort, I'm sure this did no good at all and one day when we stopped by we saw this quotation by the venerable Ed Ricketts from John Steinbeck's The Log from the Sea of Cortez set in a pretty frame and placed prominently in the kitchen.  I liked it so much that I wrote it down and kept it.  It's not a bad philosophy to live by and I might just frame it and put it up in my kitchen one of these days.  Here it is:
We must remember three things:
Number one and first in importance, we must have as much fun as we can with what we have.
Number two, we must eat as well as we can, because if we don't we won't have the health and strength to have as much fun as we might.
And number three and third in importance, we must keep the house reasonably in order, wash the dishes and such things.  But we will not let the last interfere with the other two. 
Ed Ricketts quoted by John Steinbeck in The Log from the Sea of Cortez

1 comment:

French Girl in Seattle said...

Ha! ha! Dirty kitchen or not, your friend was a wise man Vctoria! :-) I am sorry summer has not arrived in Paris (or the rest of Northern Europe) yet. I get so tired of the darn rain and "grisaille" here in Seattle so I know exactly how everyone feels. Courage, courage. Summer will come. If you are all lucky, it might even drag into fall. Paris is so beautiful in the fall (best time to be around the "grouchy" Parisians, too :-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)