Family, Garden, Dog and a PSA

Spring is here and I bought two fruit trees in the supermarket. I did not stop to think what Matthieu might think or whether they would fit in my car or where I would put them. I just saw that the apple tree was 25€ and it was already trained in a U-shape to sit against a wall, and the cherry tree was 10€. Insanely cheap right? That’s like 13 bucks.

So I squeezed em in our hatchback and brought them home.

I know it’s still cold in a lot of places, but we’ve hardly had a winter and now the blossoms are coming out.

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They look like popcorn, one blossom popping at a time until the whole tree is filled.

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We are going to have to do some serious work in our garden. Hunter. grrrrr. (says me, not him) has been annoying the heck out of me lately.

family news&1Yeah you.

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I can’t take the guy anywhere. I brought him for a walk today and he ran into a construction site (because of course he’s a hunting dog that needs to run, run, run, run, run, run) and he started barking at the guy who got really mad. I felt like an irresponsible dog owner.

The neighbours complain he barks too much and I don’t want to put an anti-barking collar since he already wears a training collar.

And then I took him for an idyllic run in a different place along the river.

family news&2He was so happy.

family news&4And so the kids were happy.

family news&5And I was happy.

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(Gratuitous shots for the grandparents)

And then he rolled in dead leaves and something else that came from the bowels of the earth (or some other animal) that would have made me happy had it stayed right where it was, and he got stuck riding home in the trunk (where he put his stinky head over the seat into where my kids were sitting until they gagged).

family news&3And look what he’s done to my garden!

family news08Besides pooping everywhere, he has destroyed the grass by running from one corner to the other so he can bark at everyone and by digging holes. Dumb dog.

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So I think we’re going to section off the grassy area so he can’t get to it unless we’re with him to watch him. It will really limit his running space, but he only uses it to bark at everyone and drive the neighbours crazy.

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And I think we might put the fledgling cherry tree (with its one branch) right in the middle up there since it’s on an incline anyway).

Here are the two trees, kept safely out of reach by chewing dogs.

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I want to replace this old apple tree, which no longer gives good fruit, even after having been trimmed and fertilised.

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So that’s the end of my rant.

Rant over, dog remains. I kind of like the stupid dog most of the days.

When my father and his wife were here, he mentioned that his symphony (that he played in until his retirement) folded on the year of its 50th anniversary. Many of the older musicians had retired and some fresh, young musicians had been brought in and the symphony was sounding amazing! There was even a fundraising concert with Yo-Yo Ma scheduled at $50 a ticket and the symphony declared bankruptcy a week before it took place.

This didn’t affect us personally the way it would have if my father had still been earning his living as a musician. But I remember a few scares we had as a kid when the symphony was in union negotiations (which my father took a large part) and how uncertain the future was, how little money was coming in. I remember getting a free lunch at school, which I thought was pretty cool. They had french fries.

But this event definitely affected those families who had been planning on spending many years in the city, whose livelihood depended on the symphony. 50 years! And now nothing.

I won’t go into the reasons for its failure to thrive when a different management might have done a better job. But I will say something that my dad told me. There is a “greying of the audience” where symphonies are concerned. The young people no longer go because their parents don’t go. Young people don’t listen to classical music. And while I’m fully in support of teaching your kids about modern, hip music (I have always been so many steps behind on that front, which can be a bit of a social hindrance), what a loss it would be if our world had no more classical music.

“Play the music for your kids. Play it constantly,” my dad said.” They will start to recognise it.”

I remember the very first time I noticed the throbbing under-beats on Bach’s “Air on the G String” (hey – get your mind out of the gutter). Listen to it. Listen to how the string instruments sing out the melody. And then listen to it again and notice the bass that pushes it forward.

Classical music tells a story. And symphonies are a privilege to have. They are what makes a city (even a small one) a good place to live. You can have a job, and friends and a great life . . . but for a city to thrive, you need artists and culture and music. And you need the classics.

I just thought I would tell you about that.


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I am the daughter of a symphony musician who was raised in upstate New York, and I simply breathe all things classical, be it music or 19th century literature (English and Russian). I married Sir Renaissance in New York City, and before I knew it, he had swept me up and brought me back home to his own country. So here we are. Three children, a rather ordinary life in a rather exceptional place. I am now ‘A Lady in France.’

Posted in Family, The Dog, The Garden, The Kids
8 comments on “Family, Garden, Dog and a PSA
  1. Vivienne Scott says:

    What a loss it would be indeed!! I cannot imagine the blessing of your childhood, having such a father… Learning music. My son favors classical music and he is 10. He loves Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Satie… And going to the symphony… And practicing piano first thing in the morning… I read something today about the piano having only black and white keys but producing a myriad of colors… Classical music brings forth the imagination… Transports me…

  2. Alison says:

    I love looking at pictures of your house and garden, because I’ve been there, standing right there. :)

    And oh, so sorry about the symphony. That is a shame. I love classical music. I loved going to the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra performances pre-kids days. There’s nothing like watching those amazing instruments being played live. Such a shame.
    Alison recently posted…Through The Lens Thursday #9: HandsMy Profile

  3. I love what you said about the arts giving cities culture. I am sorry to hear about the symphony. I have always enjoyed classical music but we don’t listen to it; I think I will put some on more often.
    Kim@Co-Pilot Mom recently posted…The Traffic WhispererMy Profile

  4. Ow sorry to hear about the Symphony! That must have been a hard blow!Your father is right about classical music, it the foundation stone of everything else.
    Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes recently posted…On being ‘down’ and pear, almond and cinnamon muffinsMy Profile

  5. Oh, Hunter…Hunter…Hunter.
    He’s so cute and he knows it.

    My dogs think they’re that cute, too.
    (And since I don’t discipline them, they have no reason to think otherwise.)

    They bring joy. And mud. And stink. But mostly joy.
    So there’s that.
    julie gardner recently posted…The Space BetweenMy Profile

  6. Lia says:

    Thank you for the classical music plug! We are lucky to have a good classical music radio station here, and we have it on almost every day. That, plus Pandora and our CD collection (we just got one called French Playground– French songs for kids). I don’t know if Maya will play a musical instrument (I hope so, but I won’t force her if she doesn’t want to), but I think she will like music.
    Sympathies on the dog issue. High-energy dogs can be very destructive! Hang in there, he’ll improve.

  7. Andrea says:

    That makes me sad about the symphony. We didn’t go often but it was there – always there. I don’t listen to classical music much, but when I do, my kids don’t mind. There’s a universal beauty to it.
    Andrea recently posted…TransitionMy Profile

  8. Elaine A. says:

    OH Jennie, the music is dear to my heart too! Although classical music is admittedly not my favorite to listen to every day I LOVE to hear it life and in person. Our little city here has a pretty amazing one and I agree, take the kids! Tim often plays classical music for the kids. His father ingrained it in him. For that I am grateful. I cannot imagine my life without beautiful music!

    Sorry about the doggie troubles! He is cute though…
    Elaine A. recently posted…Can I Get Some Space Please?My Profile

I'm Jennie. Welcome to A Lady in France! I write books, and also this blog on faith, French culture and recipes ... ( To continue reading, please click here. )

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