Things I learned this weekend

In no particular order. Or, rather, in the order that they occur to me as I type frantically.

  • Everyone needs a cello lesson from Ruth. 1
  • Julian Merrow-Smith cooks as well as he paints.2
  • Provence is still beautiful.
  • Ants in Provence live underground which they access through little holes surrounded by perfect circles of sand.3
  • Some cats are friendly but don’t like to be picked up so much.
  • A GPS navigation thing totally gets you where you’re going, but YOU NEVER KNOW WHERE YOU ARE.4
  • Eating dinner with Dean Allen and Gail Armstrong gives you a lobotomy.5
  • One can sleep okay on a train in a sleeper car, but don’t do it alone.6
  • Americans always photograph their food and overtip.
  • Germans will not hesitate to drive a BMW right up your ass on the Autobahn.
  • On the other hand: no speed limit – whee.7
  • My wife is exceptional.8
  • There’s no place like home.


1. Really. I drove to France to have one and it was worth it. Meeting Ruth changed my life. Her understanding of how the instrument is played and what people go through learning and playing it, and what they need to unlearn, her rapport and knowledge and sympathy will change the way you approach the instrument.

2. And he’s a seriously good painter.  This weekend I got the feeling that I had been going about this eating thing all wrong all my life, until now.

3. Also, sometimes Buddhists accidentally step on them and then feel awful, sort of, although, on the other hand, hey, that’s life.

4. When I called to say I would be late due to road construction, near the end of my journey, and Ruth asked me where I was, it dawned on me that I had no idea where I was. All I knew was, I had just crossed a rindabite, second exit, and would soon take another right turn in 400 meters. A journey of 1400 kilometers is reduced to a series of left and right turns. On the other hand, it totally gets you there and I love it. Mine only tried to send me through a pedestrian zone once (and that was a temporary thing set up for a market, not a permanent one) and I only made a single wrong turn (after which the machine talked to me as if I were thick, speaking slowly and clearly and instructing me what to do). Another thing I learned in this connection was to turn the thing off if you put it in your pocket when you go into the service station for a pee, because otherwise you will be standing there going and a mechanical voice in your pocket will suddenly say, “in 50 meters, turn right” and a guy in one of the stalls will snicker. I got out of there before it could say, “If you shake it more than three times it’s a sin” or remind me to wash my hands.

5. At least it did me. They’re friends of my hosts and came to dinner and I sat there like the kid who plays the banjo in Deliverance, grinning and squinting all night and always a little late and a dollar short with the banter, which fuck they’re funny. The first place I heard about blogging was a newspaper article about the two of them, a long time ago.

6. Because if you don’t have a friend or partner or etc with you, the Fat German Guy who smells like six weeks of ass and talks too loud and tries to strike up a conversation while you’re reading and sticks his fat ass in your face while he makes his bunk and his ass smells like, oh now I understand why he smells like six weeks of ass, and he snores will share your compartment with you.

7. Lower-case whee, sans exclamation point, if you drive a compact (Mazda 2) as I do.

8. Saturday was the 30th anniversary of our first kiss, but she let me go to France alone anyway. And when I got back, she gave me a scrapbook of our first 30 years she had been working on over recent months. I haven’t read it yet, but she said she only put in the good parts. Thirty years, man. We were so young once.


i would tell you all abite this awesome trip i`m having, but this french keyboard is messing with my brqin, esp; in co,binqtion with the irish lqdy on ,my tomtom, more on mondqy perhqps: