Friday, August 8, 2014

A near death experience in Paris

Last week I had a near death experience.
Pottering about Paris, three days before the flight home I convinced myself 
our plane would be shot from the sky and Don and I would perish in a fiery ball of fire.

Worse than that, Bruce would be an orphan. 
And like the terrible Dog Mum I was, I had made absolutely no provision for him.

some journal pages from paris

The more I thought about it the worse it got. Thoughts like these tend to metastasise 
in your mind, and take over your day. How could I have been so careless? 
So self absorbed? Why hadn’t I organised my entire fortune into security 
for the furry love of my life? There are dogs with trust funds and Bruce 
had to have one. He had to have one now. 
In the three days before we flew out.

                                                           trying to get Bruce's big Boofy head right

Normally, you don’t think about dying, not unless you’re very depressed 
and who could be depressed in Paris? In a Paris apartment with typical Paris 
rooftops, kooky plumbing and all the baguettes you can eat. Morning baguettes 
and afternoon baguettes. Baguettes with butter. 

If I was going to die, I’d choose death by Bordier butter, thank you. 
Bordier butter is salty creamy. It’s listed as one of the ten things you 
have to eat in France. I wanted to carve mermaids out of it and sing to them. 
I wanted to invent new dishes all out of butter. I get why French 
cooking uses it so much; it’s not the yellow grease we get back home.
 It tastes like sunlight. 

Clearly, death by dairy is preferable to a fiery ball over the Ukraine.
 There is more time to make preparations, like who’s got spare keys 
to your house.  More prep time means more time to remedy being the 
most Awful Dog Mum in the world, but I didn’t have that time. 
I had three days and one of those days was doing the Eiffel tower. 

It helped to draw the map in my journal, along with the metro stops. Only I spelled Marche Des Enfants Rouges wrong.

Sweeping baguette crumbs from the lap top, I did the only thing I knew - 
I started to write.  I made letters to trusted ones at home, and sent them off. 
There are many tests of true friendship and emailing someone to say you may die 
in a fiery ball over the Ukraine, is one of them.

Sometimes I ate blueberry tart.

Next I made an online will. Which had to be signed by two witnesses, 
at the same time. Easy. Except I was in Paris, knew nobody, 
and apart from being  able to say “Je prend un cafe au lait,” wasn’t going to get far.
I spent about 24 hours on this part, being eyed suspiciously by French real estates 
agents and pharmacists who were clearly leery of putting pen to a legal document 
in another language, and why should they? In France you don’t 
sign a will like that.   Rejection is good for the soul. 
I got rejected in French. Made it classier.

Flaxseed oil, Rescue Remedy and lavender Oil.

In a voice of gentle humouring, ex hubby phoned from home asking if I was OK, 
and what were these mysterious daily cash deposits doing in his account. 
My life savings had to be available to keep Bruce in the style he was accustomed to, 
I said. And being an ex hubby, knowing me better than most, he said, “Of course”. 

I had less than three days to  transfer my fortune.
Banks don’t like that. They are suspicious like that.  They’re not equipped 
for near death scenarios and furry trust funds. They wanted two days to 
authorise my request. Two days I didn’t have.

The second person was Aunty Lou, dog whisperer. She loved Bruce 
and would adopt him herself. The house minders said they’d stay, 
but the tone was like one you use for dementia patients.

By the time I boarded the plane for home, I knew who my friends were. 
I knew who had keys to the house and who would be custodian for the only one 
who meant the world to me, part from Don. (But only just.)  
Facing death makes you appreciate being alive. It makes you grateful for tiny things. 
Like the sun patch on the balcony where Bruce likes to sleep and the fact that 
people who really know you will love you even 
if you have a pre flight freak out.

When I texted ex hubby in Dubai there was a glass of Moet in my hand. 
I’m still here, I said. Now give me back my money.

P.S. The RSPCA has a legacy program for pets. The Law Society has great info too. 


  1. Charming painting in your journal, nice to know you have people who love you no matter what and will do as asked, no matter what. What more can any of us want, especially when in Paris with French butter and every other thing, aside from Bruce, that makes life a banquet. Glad you are home, safe and hope you have all your money back. Things come over us, we have to pay attention. You did. xoxo

  2. I had a feeling like that once, so I cancelled my flight. Fortunately it was a short haul. That's by way of saying I don't think you're crazy. One thing I miss about France is Normandy butter, unsalted, which I grew up eating. Which guarantees that I rarely eat butter here because it's usually salted. I do like your illustrations.
    Safe home xoxo

  3. Carol (Paris Breakfasts) would have signed.
    Oh, I do know exactly how you feel - except you had it even worse than I usually do. The solution for me is called Xanax and lots of it.... then you won't notice what's happening anyway.
    Yes, the Euros take their food so much more seriously than in the US and elsewhere.
    Such lovely sketches.

    Buster says hi to Buce.

  4. So glad you arrived home safely and thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us x
    PS I have definitely had such worries out of the blue too x

  5. Thanks for this post, Denise. Not only was it entertaining, funny, and wonderfully illustrated, it made me feel a bit less crazy myself. That's another way of saying, don't worry, my dear, you're not the only one...

  6. Priceless post! Looks like you had a fab trip, rain notwithstanding. xo

  7. Fell about at this sorry!!
    We shud all get out stalls in order though your right!
    ( off to find the safe place I hid my will..............the f~#} did I put it!!

  8. Oh dear you have made me laugh, thank you! We all have these irrational thoughts, I do hope he gave you all the money back! x

  9. This is fabulous, what a talented lady you are and so so clever and witty and very beautiful

    1. Thank, Allan, from one of the better dressed men in the southern hemisphere...that is a compliment.

  10. hello dear writer .. thanks for your open thought .. what a luck you are still alive .. I goes quick sussenly death is in your door .. we never know .. once I visited Paris .. I strolled around .. but stopped going further I searched for the picassomuseum .. I turned around .. at night my friend told me .. there were lots bombs found in the tube .. I stopped one station before .. it was a certain feeling to let me leave the place .. best to you and yours .. andrea

  11. This post is very amusing ( I know that sudden feeling of doom when far away from home and worrying about my daughter) ..... but let us know when you're home!

  12. Very funny. Nice humor over such true tragic reality.

  13. Man, Im going to paris soon and feel the same way - a) looking forward to eating and b) terrified of plane mishaps. dog taken care of though.

  14. So funny to read but reassuring to know there are other'sudden panic people out there! your illustrations are wonderful.

  15. Thanks for making me smile this morning ... I have similar thoughts quite often...

  16. Ha! you caught me out with that post. Your dog sketches are just darling.


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