My Mother’s Voice

Alzheimer’s being the conniving thieving bitch that  it is, my mother wasn’t herself in the final years of her life. The  woman I visited in the Alzheimer’s special care unit was a stranger wearing my mother’s skin but not much else, like the invasion of the body snatchers had taken place, month after month beneath the surface, until one day we looked and the woman we knew was gone, replaced by some alien being. An imposter. Intruder alert. Intruder alert. She died back in 2012. Don’t worry; I won’t be getting maudlin on you.  My real mother–not that stranger in a wheel chair, head nodding on her shoulder–is who I want to think about today.  My real mother —Enid Maude Good nee Hayden, a prim, old-fashioned name, perhaps the only thing about her I didn’t love— was British-born and had a lovely London lilt to her voice her whole life even though she left England in the mid-1950’s. I suppose at thirty, her vocal patterns were already frozen in place.  Sounding like a cross between

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Dreaming of France? On a day such as this?

The Little Next Door image via

11/13/2015 I know some of you are landing here, looking for thoughts on today’s act of terror. The following post was written on a better day than today, when violence and madness were far from our minds. But France, while attacked, will always be a beacon for art and culture, great food, and bon homie. Beauty to aspire to. Terrorists can never destroy that. 
Los Angeles has been my home for almost fifty years but there are times that find me wistful, wishing I was anywhere but here, megalopolis of smog-saturated streets that it is. And while I live with a chronic homesickness for England, an ever present low grade fever that led me to create a State of Britain page and to watch way too much British telly—that’s what comes of being born in Britain to British parents but moving away before I was old enough to really call it home—the weekends often have me dreaming of France, instead. At the very least wishing that I were more well traveled, that I’d been to France more than my three times, one of those as a child, if for no other reason than I could share more stories with the weekly Dreaming of France meme at An Accidental Blog. 

But not this weekend. This weekend Im glad to be home.

It’s November 8th, and the calendar is closing in on Thanksgiving but I wake to sunny skies and 73 degree temperatures. Our weather in LA today is more than Mediterranean mild, todays temps not only have us warmer than Paris by ten degrees, we beat the 60 degrees that the beach in Nice is likely to see. 

As for our smoggy skies, the truth is that after decades of concerted pollution-control efforts, Los Angeles air continues to clear, some days so much so that not only can I see the Hollywood sign but I can almost imagine a day where the Eiffel Tower will come into the view. The one in Vegas anyway. 

If I need a French fix, California boasts the fifth largest concentration of French expats in the country. One of them is my neighbor Patricia who sometimes sits and smokes on her front steps while she calls home. I can hear the lilt of her voice coming in my bathroom window and while I don’t understand most of the words, the tone is international. I love you. I miss you too

The Little Door image via

Here in Los Angeles, the French don’t congregate like the Brits tend to, instead they spread out across the city, operating restaurants like the Little Door in West Hollywood, voted the most romantic restaurant in Los Angeles. About a half a mile away from me on trendy Third Street, I can walk it and window shop along the way. No, it’s not Paris, but it’s not bad. 

Image via

Literally next door to the Little Door, is the more casual Little Next Door, where we can breakfast at outdoor tables even in November—in our 73 degree November weather—even in December, and pick up an assortment of artful and delicious macaron to take home.

If fifteen minutes is too far to walk, I can find freshly baked French baguettes, macarons and more at Monsiur Marcel, the gourmet market and bistro at the Farmers Market. Woven French shopping baskets, table cloths, dishes with mediterranean flair. A mere baguette throw from my front door.

Nympheas, Claude Monet

If I throw my baguette an equal distance in the other  direction I’ll hit LACMA, where the Los Angeles County Museum boasts more than a few French masters.

The Dancers, Edgar Degas

Two Girls Reading, Pierre-Auguste Renoir

No, LACMA is not the Louvre. It’s not the Musee D’Orsay 
but on a nice sun-soaked day I can people watch as visitors from all over the world come to see Matisse’s, La Gerbe.

La Gerbe, Matisse, 1953

On a day like today I can climb to the top of the red staircase that runs up the outer wall of B-Cam and actually see the Hollywood sign. Or I can stay home and putter in my petit garden in shorts, an old shirt of my husbands and flip-flops. I can clean the dead heads of my bright pink geraniums, rake the leaves from the flower beds and enjoy the sunshine. 

“Hello!” Patricia calls out, after living in L.A. for over twenty years, her accent still so heavily French she might as well be saying Bonjour.  “A beautiful day isn’t it?” We both look to the sky, cerulean blue, daubed with puffy white clouds, the kind of sky a French master would love capture on canvas.

“Yes,” I agree, taking the opportunity to stretch my back. It is a beautiful day. For today anyway, instead of Dreaming of France, I’m thinking of everyone who’s California Dreaming, and I’m grateful to be me.. 


Dreaming of France? 
Visit Paulita’s Dreaming of France meme.


  1. What a lovely trip around French-flavored L.A. The yellow and blue dishes would look so lovely on my table in the South of France! I'm going to the Columbus Museum of Art on Wednesday and we have some terrific impressionist paintings.
    We're alone again on Dreaming of France. Should we take a break?
    I really appreciate you playing along.

    1. I hate to bail on you, and I’ve had a good time sharing French memories, etc but it might be a good idea right now. I’m concentrating on memoir on Mondays and doing a virtual walking tour Above Ground on the London Underground to feed my British homesickness on Fridays so I’m pretty stretched in any case. Let me know. If you continue, I’ll try to play along, either here with the more personal stuff or over on Chapter1-Take1 with French films, etc.


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