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Friday, July 19, 2013

Flophouse Garden: Healing through Writing and Gardening

Monday morning the younger Frenchling and I will be on a flight to North America.  We have several destinations:  Seattle, WA;  Silverton, Oregon;  Vancouver, BC;  and Montreal, QC.

I'm a little nervous about the trip.  I will be very far from my caregivers, my family doctor and the staff at the René Huguenin cancer treatment center.  Yes, there are centers like this one in North America but, hey, I don't know them and they don't know me.  Just to be on the safe side I asked my local pharmacy in Versailles to give me a good supply of my cancer medication - don't think I want to try and purchase it over there, especially in the US.

I'm also very aware that I'm not quite 100%.  I still have trouble sleeping and I'm tired a lot of the time.  Sometimes the meds make me feel wretched and, ever since I stopped the chemo, I've had really bad joint pain.  I don't want to make too much of it (for a taste of what it's like for some see this post by Scorchy) but it's enough to make me wonder how this trip will go and if I'm really up to it.

Two things have brought me this far in my healing.  The first is writing.  I'm often asked where I find the energy to post (in three places now), read, and comment.  Well, it's something I truly enjoy.  In fact when I sit down and start typing I get into what has been called "flow".   The aches, pains and nausea disappear or greatly diminish.   Most importantly, I get out of my own head.  This means that I stop focusing on my problems and start taking an interest in other people and their/our issues.  It's a way out from the tyranny of self.

The other is gardening.  It's the perfect activity for healing because I can do a little at a time, there's no deadline to meet and nothing to stress over.  When I get tired, I just go inside and....write. :-)   Or lie on the couch and read really good bodice-rippers and paranormal romance novels.  

In gardening there is all the satisfaction of seeing something come alive and having it be appreciated by my neighbors.  "C'est magnifique!" said my Italian neighbor and that means a lot coming from him since he comes from a line of accomplished gardeners and knows personally the director of the gardens over at the Versailles castle.

And that leads me to my last worry:  What will happen to my garden when I'm abroad?  My spouse has promised to faithfully water every single day.  I believe him but will he notice that the young fig needs a little extra care? Or that he should cut the old blossoms of the roses?  Or put out a little slug bait to kill the escargots that are causing devastation to the hostas?  I know I need to let it go and trust that it will be alright.  Another lesson in surrender.  Another opportunity to live in the present and not in the wreckage of the future.

May you all have a good weekend and I'll leave you with the latest pictures of the Flophouse garden.

Front courtyard
Back perennial bed

View from the back porch


Ellen Lebelle said...

First, your garden is beautiful. If your husband is not as careful with it as you might be, just think that you will have something to do when you get back.
I'm looking forward to your posts from the homeland (as you like to say). I've started a knitting streak, which is taking me away from the computer and the frequent facebook and twitter checking -- escape from the FATCA stuff, which I need to escape from.
Have a great trip. Give my regards to the FATCA friends you'll be meeting with (you know what I mean). Get the girls settled at school and come home (here) refreshed.

French Girl in Seattle said...

Bonjour Victoria. I just happened to see your post while vacationing in Nice with my son. First your garden looks amazing. Absolument magnifique indeed! Congratulations to the Master Gardener. Your plants should be fine while you are away if Monsieur remembers to water them. La canicule in Northern Europe means everyone gets thirsty quickly these days :-) As for your trip, I am familiar with the distance between Paris and Seattle. It is a trip I take more reluctantly every year (and I am not getting over cancer...) So I understand why you worry, not being 100% yourself. You will be fine, and it will be so much fun for you to see your relatives and friends again. I know I have enjoyed my time "at home" in Europe this summer. Bon voyage, Victoria, and if the going gets tough during the trip, keep writing. It is bound to help you. A bientôt. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle - currently posting from Europe...)

P. Moore said...

Good luck on your trip, Victoria. I know the flight from Paris to Seattle will be a grind, but once you get past that one, I think the others will seem easy. Besides, I bet your travelling companion will get more enthusiastic as the trip goes on, particularly if Montreal is the last stop.

By the way, you little piece of Versailles looks really good...I am sure the 'assistant gardener' will keep it in reasonable shape while you are away.

Looking forward to reports from your journey.

Catherine said...

Enjoy your trip to the fullest. I hope you become so immersed in the expereince (as you do with your writing) that all those worries fade into the background. Bon voyage!

Blaze said...

Spectacular garden, Victoria.

I know your trip will be a challenge for you, but I hope you continue to find healing through reconnecting with family, friends and the magnificent Pacific Northwest and helping to launch your younger Frencnhling's new life in Canada.

Bon Voyage!

Rosy said...

You'll have a great rrip. You've been very careful, so have fun! The best medecine!

Christophe said...

Hi Victoria,

Yes, your garden looks gorgeous. I take care of the outside of the house, but it's not as nice! I'll email some pictures.
My pride is the waterfall I built with my dad several years ago, but I need to work more on landscaping.
I hope you have great trip. Visiting family will be refreshing.
I wished you were coming to my area and we could meet. That will be for another time.

Take care et bon voyage!

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Thank you all for the kind comments about the garden. Here's hoping it doesn't look too bad when I get back. :-) I like your take on it, Ellen.

@French Girl, Hope you're having a wonderful time in Nice (a really beautiful city). Perhaps we could do posts - your home visit and mine.....

@P. Moore - we are ALL really thrilled to be going back to Montreal. Another of the world's great cities.

@Christophe - Oh I want a fountain so bad. Was dreaming of it all winter and spring. I'd be really interested in hearing your ideas and seeing those pictures. I could put one in the front courtyard or there's still a space in the back for a pond.

Julia Gandrud (aka JuliaLikesFrogs) said...

Hi Victoria,
Your post made me smile. I am alone for chemo week with my sister and brother -in-law, who are doing a lovely job of it, while my husband and two kids are visiting the grandparents in France. Part of why I didn't want to leave was because I couldn't imaging being far from the Dana Farber institute, and my husband was feeling morose that his garden would die while no on felt up to caring for it...

I normally write, but I am finding these last two months that it invites in panic and dark thoughts, so I have been painting instead. This has a few limitations I need to deal with, such as location, spare time, and subject, but all in all it is bringing me the out-of-my headness you are describing.

Good luck on your vacation.

Nathalie said...

Beautiful garden indeed! It conveys joy! Have a great trip Victoria! Your tour sounds like the typical summer of an international mom visiting friends and family back home and settling her kids in yet another country! If San Francisco had been on your list I would have been happy to get together!
Last but not least, congratulations on your 2 daughters' achievements! Honors program at McGill and Bac S mention Bien at a prestigious lycée ... WOW!!!

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Julia, I know what exactly what you mean. A friend is coming by today. She;s also a breast cancer patient and she's taking me over to her cancer clinic. I think I will feel better as a result. I've been looking at your paintings and I just love the pink one with the frog. You hang in there. Victoria

@Nathalie, Oh I would love to head down to San Francisco on this trip - my brother and his spouse and my five nieces and nephews are in Sacramento. Alas I don't think it will happen this time - hopefully my brother can come up to Oregon though. So next trip definitely. I would love to meet you and your brood! Take good care, Victoria