Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The fourth choice

“Met in the summer and walked til the fall
And breathless we talked, it was tongues
Despite what they say, wasn’t youth, we hit the truth;

Faces of summer that fell from the wall
But nothing is left where they hung
Sweet and bitter, they’re what we found
So drink them down and,

Walk out to winter swear I’ll be there
Chill will wake you high and dry you’ll wonder why
Walk out to winter swear I’ll be there
Chance is buried just beneath the blinding snow.”
Lyrics by Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera “Walk out to Winter”

Since Cindy and I started dating, to present, her birthday has never been acknowledged in a fitting manner by me, although she would be the last to bring that up. I’ve never really bought in to the “this is your Special day” attitude. I really can’t blame it on my youth, that’s for my other problems. Well this year Cindy hit a milestone, at about 90kilometers an hour, and we discussed various remedies…..special outings, none of which really were approved from Cindy as being IT. It got to the point that on her special day we awoke, and laid about in bed and I said;
“Get dressed, we’re going to Bordeaux, and we’ll stop at Flash (French antique shop, nice furniture used stuff, and crap) to see if they might still have that painting, and then a nice lunch.” And for once she listened to me, this was to be a day that the gods aligned the stars for my girl, and it helped that I made three correct choices.
The Painting; Our friend Mickey, a British ex-pat knows all the ins and out of this region of France, he is like Klinger in M.A.S.H. well, he told us about this store in Bordeaux that was really interesting, tons of interesting things, some good prices and gave us directions. It was in May of this year when Cindy’s mother was visiting (working dawn to dusk in gulag conditions) that we first saw the painting. We had been renovating our farmhouse kitchen, and had pretty much charted all the spaces in the kitchen, except for one wall. We are doing the kitchen in a French country, formal style, and the only thing missing was a large old world style still life for this wall. As we were meandering about the store we made our way into a little back room that had twenty or so nice paintings. We both saw this one still life and knew that it was it. Only problem it was 280 euro’s (350 American dollars) and we didn’t have that budgeted for cushy decorating fluff, we were more concerned with buying building material at that point in time. We would come back for it another time.
Seven months later.
O.K. lets get sleeping Caleigh into the car and drop her off at the school and drive to Bordeaux. So we drive to Bordeaux, about an hour and twenty minutes, all the time wondering if the store Flash was even open, as our track record for this was 50-50. The French have this odd store open policy that I can’t even sum up. Mondays stuff is closed, two hour lunches throughout the country, odd holidays, summer to fall hours switched off days for sales. Ooooof!!!
We fully expected to arrive at Flash and see that it was closed, But I felt that since it is her birthday, we should do something and if need be switch plans with something else on the spot. Idiot!, So you can understand the track record for Cindy’s special day with me at the wheel, trying to put on the blinker as I drive off the cliff.
Well the first choice I made was good, Flash was open. We instantly go to the small painting room, and it’s not there. Fine, let’s find another treasure that will remind you of this day kind of attitude. (I believe the word idiot was just used, but I’ll repeat myself) So we browse the aisles and after an hour of bleak prospects Cindy unearths two small wall lights and a small table lamp, hmmm. Well, maybe we’ll stop at the park along the river there was a rinky dink looking yard sale thingy we drove by on the way here. So we proceed to the cashier and pay for the wall lights and lamp, the man only speaks French, so I ask if he has any other large paintings, he kind of understands me, so I motion for him to follow me to the painting room and point out the small still life that we like but gesture we want a larger one. He shrugs and says, or what I understood, he would go ask someone? So Cindy and I stand looking at each other, and the guy returns holding a large painting back to us, then turns it around for us to see. Kinda like this?
You could have knocked me over with a feather, Cindy’s faced changed instantly from we are kind of wasting our time to sheer happiness. (Nice bargaining position) It was our kitchens holy grail. Cindy couldn’t believe it, I told her I had called and asked them to hold it for us, Cindy honestly believed me, but I confessed that it was pure kismet that it was there. That was my second correct choice, by asking out of the blue if they had any other large still life paintings hanging about. We pay for the painting, and go outside and take a few photographs of Cindy with her loot outside of Flash. The huntress has captured her elusive game. O.K. now for a nice romantic lunch, we agree that there is a fun lunch stop outside of Saint Emillion that we’ve always wanted to stop at. Driving out of Bordeaux we get on a side route, as we (me) mistakenly make a wrong turn, and as we head out in traffic I notice a small plume of smoke arises from the front of the car’s hood. I have more issues than National Geographic; one of them is constant monitoring of any noises from the car while I’m driving, on the way to Bordeaux I spent twenty minutes listening intently to a thumping sound that was located in the back of the car, passenger side. Could it be wheel bearings heating up, loose exhaust pipe, faulty shock absorber, blah, blah, blah. I finally asked Cindy if her sweater belt was stuck in the door, and that was it, after we slowed down at a stop light she opened the door and that sound stopped. So anyway I was preoccupied with this tiny smoke plume so I pulled over to the side of the road at some parking area, open the hood and almost something myself, the oil cap is missing and there is engine oil splashed everywhere. CRAP. I stop at the first convenience store gas station combo and buy a temporary cap and a gallon of turbo diesel motor oil. Fifty euros later we are off to the closest Peugeot dealer. This was the third correct choice of the day, saving the engine from seizing and costing a mint to either rebuild or replacing the engine. Our plans are scrapped as the engine is our only priority, well long story short we stop at the first place and it’s 12:10, everyone is out to lunch for two hours. We are near a small quaint town, so we decide to at least go for lunch during our two hour wait. We drive into this small town and Cindy is instantly drawn to a small restaurant named “Le Gare”, (train station) we park the limping Peugeot and enter.
Le Gare, I instantly make my way to the restrooms to try to wash off all the diesel oil, it actually took me longer to clean the sink after washing my hands than actually to wash my hands, another of my issues. I join Cindy, clean handed and relieved to know that we are near a Peugeot dealer. Relaxed we review the lunch offered on the wall mounted chalk board. Three courses, and a little red wine, not gonna argue with these offerings. I look at Cindy and she’s fine, the engine issue has faded for now, so focus on this. We open ourselves up to this lunch experience, after reviewing the options for each course we order. We start with our first course; Cindy has a salad tartine, and I have potato soup, it was real nice, we get the half carafe of local red wine, the first sip was kind of chalky, but did open up, then Cindy’s Filet de Colin (fish) with pimento-aise sauce and my bavette’ (steak) and frites arrive and we argue for ten minutes over who’s was better. They were both wonderful, for our closer Cindy has a fromage (cheese) plate and I get the apple torte with this wicked sauce. We arm wrestle for the last half glass of wine, I let her win. We relax for a while then pay up and return to the Peugeot saga, well we drive to the dealer and they don’t have the parts, but they tell us the next closest dealer’s location. After a fifteen minute white knuckle drive with one eye on the road, and one on the temperature gauge we arrive. The problem is that the engine cowl (cover) had worked its way loose and knocked off the oil cap. This dealer had the oil cap and the retaining screws. I install the cap and we return home with the masterpiece. Cindy was truly happy with this day, everything worked out like clockwork. I was so happy that I had made three correct choices, as I am so thankful for Cindy’s choice to be with me.

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