Friday, 4 July 2008

Ralph Michael

manly sunny, mild, temps 23

Happy 4th of July to all of you who are American. Hope the weather where you are is as gorgeous as here, and good for picnics, BBQ's, fireworks.

We've just returned from four days at Hovey Manor, just about my favorite place on earth. As you might know it was my 50th birthday on July 1st (Canada Day) and Michael, dear one, said we could go anywhere I wanted. So I thought about Paris, Africa, a cruise. But decided on the stunning country Inn, only an hour away.

Michael was relieved.

When we arrived in our cabin right on the lake (most rooms are in the main Inn, but a few are scattered around the lodge - this is the only one right on the lake with a private dock) there was a vase of roses. Then another, and another. I turned around and around. I'd never seen so many. I kissed Michael and he said, 'How'd you know I did it?'

So I looked for a card and found one. It read:

Have a happy, happy birthday. Ralph Michael.

'Who's Ralph?' I asked.

'Who?' he snatched the card out of my hand, then started to laugh.

'They must have mis-heard. I said 'Love Michael', not 'Ralph Michael'.'

So from then on we whispered to each other, 'I Ralph you.'

We met Danny, Lucy and Debra in the rose garden for Afternoon Tea and a discussion with Jason and Kathy Stafford about launching book 4 - THE MURDER STONE - at Hovey in October. It was a magical meeting. What an office! We schemed and planned - and if and when it gets worked out I'll let you know. It sounds like such fun. It would be wonderful if you could come!

The rest of the time we read, and ate and napped. We swam in the lake and ate lobster rolls and vichysoisse on the verandah. It was peaceful and beautiful.

And it was my best birthday ever. How lucky am I that my 50th is my best? Never would have dreamed it possible when I was 20.

At my 30th I was living in Quebec City and quite miserable. I knew no one and was very lonely. My mother came from Toronto for my birthday and we made reservations at a great restaurant in Old Quebec City (and there are many). But she got a cold and couldn't go. I remember feeling terribly sorry - for myself! Poor Mom.

At my 40th I ended up cooking a meal for Michael and his son - really wanting to go away, but still struggling to create a 'family' with his children, after years together. So we celebrated my birthday at home. His son showed up having stepped in dog poop. And I offered to wash it off his shoes.

I still remember that with a shudder. Not that he allowed me to - I mean really, who wouldn't? But that I'd offered. I remember standing in the kitchen scraping dog dung off the shoe while the two men sat outside with drinks. On my birthday. It should have been a warning. And I guess in some ways it was.

I decided, never again. It's bad enough when others treat you like crap - but I don't need to do it to myself.

And so these last ten years have been amazing. Filled with joy, some sorrow (of course), some anger, some loss - but mostly filled with light and laughter and friends and family - this decade has seen my books written and published and a re-adjustment of people in my life.

I try not to take crap anymore. From anyone. And I sure try not to give it to myself.

More than anything, this decade, this year, this day, this moment is filled with Ralph.

It's good to be home.


Lesa said...

Like you, Louise, I found that my forties were the best years so far. And, after I turned fifty, it's continued to be good.

Who would know when you're very young that the best years come after forty, and only get better?

I wish you lots of Ralph in your life!

Louise Penny Author said...

Dearest Lesa,

I just love your comments, and your presence. Thank you. Before I blogged I went back over the older blogs and saw your birthday wishes.

Thank you, my friend! And if you're 50 - then I love them already.

With Ralph,