Ear Candy

July 1, 1999

I'm in the middle of reading (OK, listening to) Encore Provence, by Peter Mayle. This is the third in a series of novels about the time Mayle and his wife spent living in Provence.

I read A Year in Provence several years ago. I picked it up and the next day left to go to Florida with my dad to help him clean out my grandparent's condo.

My grandparents had recently moved to a retirement community/ convalescent hospital. My grandmother was in the late stages of Alzheimer's and my grandfather couldn't care for her alone anymore. He wouldn't let her go into a "nursing home" alone. My dad and my aunt found a place that was sort of a retirement "hotel" with facilities for caring for the less-well spouses of "hotel" occupants.

The place looked nice enough on the outside but it was door to door depressing. The whole thing was horrible. My grandmother didn't have a clue who I was though I'd only seen her a few months before and then she had sort of fleeting recollections of who I was. She only vaguely knew who my dad was.

For those of you lucky enough to have been spared a relative with Alzheimer's, count your lucky stars.

The days were divided between spending time with my grandparents and packing up all their worldly possessions. It was really sad. On a lot of levels.

I packed up things that I knew were their treasures that ended up just looking like a lot of someone else's stuff. Things that fascinated me as a little child. Figurines I used to think were the most beautiful things in the world that just looked like kitschy garbage now.

After a long, hot, humid day of packing I would go to bed and go to Provence. I'd been to that part of France and Mayle's writing took me back. He shared his meals, experiences, trials, and tribulations with a sense of humor and adventure. I don't have the words to describe how I felt about the book. But it was just what the doctor ordered. I think it was the only thing that kept me together during that horrible trip.

BTW: I love books with food in them. Food doesn't have to be central to the story (e.g., Like Water for Chocolate), but I love a writer that can describe a great meal. Mayle has that facility. You can almost taste the truffles, fois gras, wine, and olives.

Later I read Toujours Provence. The further adventures of the Mayle's living in the south of France.

Mayle has written several other books, fiction. I've enjoyed them all.

When perusing the menu at Books on Tape I saw they were releasing Encore Provence. With a few clicks of the mouse the tapes were on their way to my mailbox.

I actually read the other two books. When you read a book you imagine the author's voice in your head. Other characters have their own voices. But you don't actually hear them.

Books on Tape is different. The same man who read the other Mayle novels is reading this one too. An Englishman. Mayle is British too. In my mind's eye (or is it ear since I'm listening) I almost imagine that this is what he sounds like. Supporting characters have voices too. And accents. You almost feel like you know the characters.

For me a good reader envelops me in the story. It's a different feeling then the feeling I get from reading. The story surrounds me and fills me. I am absolutely and totally transported into it. Yes, a lot of it is good writing, but don't underestimate a great reader. It's ear candy.

It would be interesting to actually read a book I've only listened to and see if it affects me in the same way.

Well, back to the point of this entry. In Toujours Provence Mayle is extolling the virtues of lavender. There were so many I can't recount them all but one really stuck with me.

Apparently essence of lavender is useful for keeping away moths.

Since our house seems to be top rated in the AAA Bug Guide, I am worried about all my woollies. My absolutely favorite sweater has several moth holes in it. I still wear it but it makes me angry.

Yesterday I was at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and saw lavender essence moth repellent. (It was in the Beyond section). Specifically Reefer-Galler Old Fashioned Lavender Scented Moth Sachettes (sic). (12 individual moth sachette bags. Protects clothing. For all fine cashmeres. For all delicate woolens. Invisible penetrating vapor -- good because I hate visible penetrating vapor.)

I decided to pick some up. I needed some sort of moth protection and thought this would smell like lavender sachets. Perhaps I got this notion from the box: Lavender Scented Moth Sachettes.


The stuff smells like mothballs.

The only thing vaguely lavender about this product is the fact that the moth repellent is wrapped in purple plastic.

A minor consumer disappointment but I'm giving the stuff a try anyway. So my sweaters won't smell like late summer in the South of France, but perhaps they won't get any holes in them either.

Until next time. . .