Ah...L'oubli! When is forgetfulness a good thing? In today's unusual edition all vocabulary is at the end. We'll restructure things next week!
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
While in the kitchen I noticed steam rising from the countertop. Approaching the messy comptoir for a closer look, I recognized the Starbucks souvenir mug (Vail edition) I'd purchased while visiting our daughter, Jackie, last year. I never did use la grande tasse for its intended purpose (it's too heavy; I prefer somewhere between dainty teacup and bol, which the French love for their café au lait). But all is not lost (even if my memory is, we'll get to that in a minute....) I regularly put the giant cup to use, mostly to measure out dried couscous: one Starbucks mug couscous plus one Starbucks mug hot water…. Feeds 6.
Recently I've found a second use for the mug: lentils! I've been sprouting the dry légumes like crazy ever since my belle-soeur Cécile showed me the simplicity of sprouting beans: no special equipment necessary. But, after forgetting the sprouted lentils in the mug last week, it was time to toss them out...so I and set the large cup on the counter as a physical reminder to feed the sprouts to our hens.
Only now there was steam rising out of the giant mug! What the...? Staring at the cloud rushing out of the mug, I noticed another cup beside it, on the counter. It held a cold café au lait...Putting two and two together, I realized I'd put the wrong cup in the microwave!
Oh no! Not again! It was one more oubli in a streak of forgetfulness. Just this past week I had left some bread in the 450f oven. Forgetting about it completely, I headed out for a long walk. This near-disaster was curtailed when, remembering, I hurried home from my walk only to learn I'd forgotten to put the bread in the oven first place!
The bread now in the oven and my phone's timer set to the highest volume, I hurried out of the house to resume my morning exercise, oblivious to the fact I'd left the door wide open and the keys dangling from the keyhole (something clear-headed Kristi would never do, not after coming face-to-face with a cambrioleur)!
Voyons, what other forgetfulness encounters have I run into? Run into...reminds me of running into people and the fear of not remembering names. I've set up systems for this. Just the other day in church I pulled out my smartphone, went to "contacts", and discreetly as possible reviewed the list of church members (there are only 12 of us). Turns out I knew the names all along… Why second-guess myself when I would do better to have faith!
Speaking of la foi, I will end with a quote I read this morning from Corrie Ten Boom (a Dutch Christian watchmaker and author of The Hiding Place), which hints at why such forgetfulness happens in the first place:
"If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy.” Indeed, if we weren't so distracted by everything around us, we might recall what is essential.
Post Note: Like those steaming hot sprouts found on my counter...I just discovered a previous draft (from May 29) of today's story (written June 1st)!! I'm going ahead and posting both stories--we'll worry about all the edits later. I've got to eat lunch now and rest my mind!
(SAME STORY - ORIGINAL VERSION)
This morning I headed out for a walk, certain to have finally chosen the right direction. It's all about balance, I reminded myself, stepping past the garbage which needed emptying. La poubelle could wait. So could Jean-Marc's chapter, which needed editing. And there was an item I needed to return to the store…. Ça peut attendre! Why does everything feel like it has a deadline? Why all the rushing all the time?
The best way to begin this day is by clearing my mind and getting some exercise. Well, that was my mantra as I picked up speed along on the trottoir. I was a mile into my walk, when I saw a green parrot fly over. Magnifique ! This reminded me to say a prayer….
Dear God. Please clear my mind. (Deep breath. Exhale…) Make room so i may hear your voice above all "else".
All else being the deluge of information filling my head. It's the fault of overcuriosity (too much information-seeking, internet surfing, social media, email, too many demands of family who swear they don't make demands but they do!)
Dear God. Please clear my mind. Make room so I may hear your voice above all "else". I repeated the prayer until…. Mon Dieu! A response came! Here is what God said....
Oh my God! I totally forgot about the bread I had put into the oven...at 450degrees…. A while before I left for my walk.
Oh no! Not again! Forgetfulness! There was no time to scold myself for yet another oubli--not when the bread was about to catch fire (would it? What is the next stage after complete carbonization?).
I grabbed my smartphone from my backpack and called Max and he did not answer.
I called Mom. She answered!
"Mom, I need you to get your keys and go into the house and get the bread out of the oven. Be careful when you open the oven door! The mitts are in the top right drawer!"
I hurried the one mile home, running the last few blocks only to find Mom watering the garden….
"Did you get the bread?"
Mom carefully weighed her words. "You must have left it on the stovetop, Darling."
Notice Mom didn't say "forgot" ie you forgot to put it in the oven…. I hurried into the kitchen to see with my own eyes the uncooked loaf. There it was!
Placing the loaf in the oven, I quickly set my smartphone's timer to 30 minutes and upped the volume just to be sure. Hurrying out of the house to resume my walk, I unwittingly left the keys in the door and left the door wide open. (Mom gently informed me of the forgotten door when I returned from my walk.)
"I keep forgetting things. What is wrong with me?" I said to Mom.
"Kristi relax. You just need to quit policing all of us."
Policing? What did this have to do with forgetfulness? Besides, any apparent bossiness was something I was working on!
Sensing my defensiveness, Mom began to backpedal. "Well, as for me, what helps is gratitude and dying to self (that die-to-self business may sound bizarre, Dear Reader, but what Mom means by dying to self is squashing the ego). Mom began pulling weeds, to illustrate such soul-cleaning.
"I know!" I growled, putting on garden gloves and helping with the garden chores. "I know! I'm the one that gave you those books. From Francois Fénelon to Thomas A. Kempis I know all about dying to self! I read it first!"
Mom overlooked my meltdown, with this next, barely concealed strategy: "I'm not saying you need to do those things, I was only saying *I* need to do those things."
Harrumph! We continued the tug-o-war in the garden until... a clump of seedlings caught my attention:
"Hey, I should thin these zucchini don't you think?"
"Good idea!! Don't throw those out...I'll replant them over here!" Mom offered.
Ten minutes later we stood back to admire our join effort and a new row of zucchini, which Mom artfully interspersed white alliums and strawberries. Brilliant!
The hot topic of forgetfulness was but a distant memory--and so was whatever it was we were arguing about :-)
le comptoir = counter, bar
la grande tasse = big cup, mug
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law (can also mean stepsister)
un oubli= oversight, forgetfulness
cambrioleur = burglar
Smokey snoozing in the garden. I'm off for a bite to eat and a snooze, too. It's good for the brain! I hope you enjoyed and were not too confused (like me....) over two versions of the same story. And please don't worry about my memory. Like all of you, I have the world on my mind! Today's edition was reckless (I did not check and recheck my text as many times as usual). If you catch any typos or would like to edit my French, my English, or my grammar in either language--your help is most welcome and appreciated. Thanks in advance.