Yes, a very French Frolic.
It's Mother's birthday today, so I'm going to keep this brief as the family is having a celebratory gathering this evening—an event for which Max and Lu are beyond ready now that semester exams have come to a close. (Good God, I'm glad that's over.)
Some of you may remember that last year, on this very day, I wrote a little love letter—here on SS—to Mother, to whom I referred as my Anti-Tiger Mom. Then I rolled up a hard copy and tied it with ribbon, as several Blogger friends suggested, and gave it to her as a present. She loved it. She's always loved anything her children would give her, excepting, perhaps, a hard time. But, even in the midst of hard times during those early years of parenthood her temperament was unwaveringly serene.
Above is a picture of the saintly birthday girl with five sixths of her brood. Young Thomas is missing, having not yet been a twinkle (if he was, in fact, ever a twinkle) at the time this picture was taken. Mary (who was maybe a twinkle) is in Mother's lap. Backwoods Betty and Tony are grin-smirking behind Mother, and Chris and I (sporting one of my father's custom bowl haircuts), well, ugh, we don't look particularly happy, do we? That may have been because we were involuntarily participating in an event for which we had to remain still.
Mother, it seems, is the only one who looks truly happy. (Don't let Betty and Tony fool you, they'd done something naughty just before the camera clicked, I'm sure.) This is also Mother's temperament.
An abridged story: yesterday, Mother brought the kids home from early dismissal at school and stayed to lunch with us. Lulu, as she likes to do, ate just about everything in sight and then hunted for more, topping the feast off with ice cream. Soon thereafter, buckled at the belly and groaning, Lu asked if we'd EVER get a cat. (Why this could possibly have been on her mind at that moment, I've no idea.) And I, who did not inherit Mother's facile temperament, immediately replied, No, we're NEVER getting a cat.
Why NOT? Lu moaned.
Because, I snarled, you'd EAT it!
Well, Mother twitched with delight and stirred memories. You see, she told us, only weeks after she and Dad (and the four that had twinkled) moved into their city colonial, neighbors Charlie and Doris implicated Mother in the case of their missing cat. Several days after the neighbors' cat failed to duteously return home (look, I'm a bit rushed, you don't mind if I split infinitives here, right?), Doris eyed Mother with this inquiry: Well, Charlie mentioned that the French do like CHAT, now don't they?
It should be noted that, at the time, the city's population consisted of nearly eighty percent French Canadians/Franco-Americans. Mother graciously informed Doris that chat was not considered to be a French gastronomique, unless perhaps, one was starving, which would be très malheureux, indeed. This put a quick end to Doris's inquisition.
I think that Doris might have once heard that the French eat calf. All the same, perhaps we should continue to wait on the cat. Then again, Lu is only half French.
The French, you know, really are quite happy people. We'll be Frolicking with many of them tonight.
Joyeux Anniversaire, Maman.
* * *
While Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Charles Aznavour, Jaques Brel, and to some degree, Josephine Baker, who was not French, but embraced France as her home, may be known worldwide as the most famous of French singers, there are beguiling voices of less known vocalists, such as the smooth, silky and emotive voice of chanteuse Lucienne Boyer, who deserve as much attention as the well known greats. In her native France, however, Boyer was known as a grande vedette, or superstar.
Like Mother, Boyer (according to Astrotheme) tended toward playful and witty, and seemed to be—to paraphrase—like a cat, always landing on her feet.
You don't think Boyer....
You don't think Boyer....
Thank goodness she never got lost.
You can listen to many of her recordings, and find out more about Boyer here.
You can listen to many of her recordings, and find out more about Boyer here.
I love the expressions on the faces in the photo, Jayne. c'est si drôle.ReplyDelete
Tu as un bon weekend!
This is a lovely, lovely post. I'm so glad you found me, for it enabled me to find you. To your Maman, Bonne fête!ReplyDelete
No - the one who climbed trees was Tom Boyer. (rim shot)ReplyDelete
Back later for real. Just had to lob that one over the fence.
I grew up in France--just outside of Paris--and I can assure you we never ate La Chat. There were several questionable entrees of the bovine and porcine variety but never any feline variety.ReplyDelete
Oooo, I do so enjoy your sense of humour, Jayne. Getting a cat would take care of your mouse issues and don't worry about Lu eating the kitty. She's too young for the Zinfandel you'd serve it with.
marvelous Jayne but you put me to shame - Jan 20 is the dats of my mother's birthday but I kind of forgot...ReplyDelete
Wow, six kids?! And still smilin', what a woman. Happy Birthday, Jayne's Mom!ReplyDelete
(What's wrong with a cat, anyway? You could always put it do work setting mousetraps.)
A very Happy Birthday to your maman!ReplyDelete
My dad's french albums were always my favorites.
The last time one of my children expressed the desire for a pet, one was given to her the very next weekend. It seems that older siblings like to give the younger whatever they wish for. Hence the robo hamster living in the upstairs hall : )
Joyeux anniversaire et longue vie de la journée à votre mère!ReplyDelete
Wonder if those bowl cuts will ever come back into fashion? It looked great on kitten-faced little girls.
You do know how to frolic, don't you?ReplyDelete
A great post; this shows so much about the character of your family across three generations. Thanks for reminding us (even if we sorta-kinda know it already) that real "family values" don't have diddly to do with politics.
(Nance: "kitten-faced little girls" -- loved that line, especially in commenting on a post with so much else feline going on!)
Bill- Bien oui-- très drôle et trust en la même temps. ;/ReplyDelete
Enjoy your weekend, too. Hey--I got out in the snow today! That's a très, très bon weekend pour moi!
Susan- Merci beaucoup. Maman had a lovely time at the birthday gathering. And we all got home much too late... but well worth it. :)ReplyDelete
JES- Aha! I did not get that one right away--a little slow this weekend--I actually Googled Tom Boyer! Good one. Oh, and I found a folk guitarist by that name and he's pretty good. ;)ReplyDelete
My cousin, who I visit in Montreal from time to time is a Boyer, so naturally I was thinking about the Boyer name rather than word play (or name play).
As to your second comment: I'm afraid I've always known how to frolic.
Politics? Absolutely diddly. Which makes me wonder if I'm doing my children a disservice with my apolitical leanings. I hope Nance isn't reading this: We don't talk politics much around here (and my parents were pretty involved--Mother worked the polling booths and Dad had strong opinions--lots of lively conversation back in the day). So, I'm not much of a guide. Oh the guilt--they do still teach civics in school though, right? I mean, I can't do everything!
LW- No cats on the menu in France. Thank you for confirming that. I do remember my first frog leg, though-- I was 15 and visiting relatives in Canada. Once I got past the, um, aesthetics of the dish it wasn't so bad. A bit like chicken as I recall. ;)ReplyDelete
David- I have the benefit of having a large, close family. There's no way I can forget a birthday. ;)ReplyDelete
Oh, Nessa- I'm not ready for another child! (Which is how I view a pet.) But I know a cat is less work than a dog, and we had a sweet cat at one time, so you never know...ReplyDelete
Leonora - Seriously, you get World's Best Mom. I'd never put up with a hamster in the house. (My daughter's asked for one, too!) Lordy, I'm just awful, aren't I? I will soften, eventually. I'm pretty sure I will, anyway.ReplyDelete
But not a hamster! ;)
Nance- Merci. :) You were one of the Blogger friends suggesting I give the note to my mom. Thank you for that. And for still being here.ReplyDelete
Good Lord, only on kitten-faced girls (with exotic short hair)!
She certainly has the voice of a superstar. Another Jayne-inspired addition to the playlist. And I hope it was a lovely birthday and no cats were eaten. :)ReplyDelete
Marylinn- Cat free birthday it was, and a good time had by all. And I'm very happy to provide you with a French chanteuse. :)Delete
A very happy birthday to your mother, Jayne. And no, I most certainly do not mind if you split infinitives -- particularly when you do so with such charm.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Suze. I get anxious when I'm not able to edit as much as I'd like. ;)ReplyDelete
Jayne: Mom's are special and this post was amazing. A special Happy Birthday to your Mom!!!ReplyDelete
Michael- Indeed they are quite special (if you happen to have a mom as lovely as mine, and I hope we all do!). Thanks for the wishes. :)Delete
Very nice. Good wishes to your mom.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Laoch. I'm going to have to print this out for her. Sure will make her smile. :)ReplyDelete
Ha!! I actually have some Boyer recording somewhere and it is great..what a voice!ReplyDelete
Great emotive post J...and you look soooo cute with your bowl haircut...though the long locks you sport now are far more cuter ;)
Really Dan? No, with your versatile taste in music, I guess I'm not so surprised by that. I got a new (well, old, but new to my mother) Boyer CD for Mother--came in today, and I've got to get it to her! Maybe I'll give her a copy of this post with it.Delete
Oh that hair! Thems were the days.
I do hope your mother had a wonderful birthday Jayne.ReplyDelete
What a delightful post and the music was wonderful. Just lovely.
Lucy, she did, thank you! So glad you like the music. :)Delete
Jayne, Happy Birthday to mom and thank you for the lovely music. You crack me up with your stories LOL!!ReplyDelete
Leah, I'll pass your birthday wishes along to my mom. You know how it is w/family... so many stories! Some we can laugh about, others, well, we usually get around to laughing about them. ;)Delete