Life in Poetry reading, writing, reflecting

Life in Poetry reading, writing, reflecting
April showers bring May flowers

Friday, 31 May 2019

#FMF, Friday 31st May, 2019, NAME

It’s Friday again. time for a new FMF post. Missed last week, as I was at the World Impact Summit at Bordeaux, France. Ecological Fair, France-Africa, finding sustainable solutions for the development of the African continent : energy ressources, water, nutrition, power, irrigation, digital networks, education, health, basic rights.
Write every Friday for Five Minutes Flat on a word prompt.
If you would like to know more about FMF challenges, Kate and her Gang go here


Safari M. my new Congolese friend who showed me the way.
Who knew my name before I opened my mouth. Who saw me for who I was before I uttered my name. Who danced my son and I through the night and imparted wisdom beyond his years. I, his ‘Mama’ , him, ‘mon fils’.
Who quoted Richard the third to me !
‘A horse, a horse, my kingdom for....chocolate !’
No more to say. Tell me your name, and I will tell you who you are !
Tell me who are your friends and I will tell you where you are going from here.

Queen, I want to break Free, Go here

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment, like, dislike, discuss. And I will be sure to reply.
Sunny , here in Sitges. Gay pride tomorrow. Beach, pool, reading, writing, watching Roland Garros Vamos Rafa !
Have a very pleasant weekend.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

⌗Barkskins, a book and a poem, 28th May 2019

Good Morning my fellow bloggers and faithful followers.

Today, after a week in Bordeaux for the World Impact Summit, I will be talking about the book I have been reading for over a month now. Why the slow progress ? Because, first of all it is long, 713 pages, then because it is such a rich read. Spanning four centuries between 1693 to 2013, the novel explores the theme of the exploitation of North American forests, first in New France, then in the American colonies by following two French peasants who emigrate to Trois-Rivières in 1693 to become woodcutters. Their lives and their descendants' lives are intertwined with the fate of the Great Forests, the Native Americans, the United States, Canada, Québec and all the other European emigrants of that period, notably the Dutch merchants.

The novel is fascinating. Every page conjures up images, historical and botanical knowledge, social and political events which are all more detailed than the next. At each new chapter, you are compelled to widen your horizons by researching even more contextual erudition, in order to milk maximum pleasure out of the read.

Here is a poem I wrote last Tuesday, inspired by Barkskins.

Lady in a Canoe

They paddled up the river
from Penobscot Bay.
They passed tree stumps
and roaming sheep biting

down on the newborn grass,
laying the earth bare.
they glimpsed no beavers
who had slunk away

deep into the forest
fleeing the hammers'
thunder. The nailing
of timber box wikuoms.

They built a fire
for the night. A lean-to
for shelter. They hunted
but did not spot a moose.

The outpost was busy
with the strange
dealings of the whiteman,
the Mi'kmawki idle.

The eel dryouts,
forlorn, offered no food.
The ghost of their people
harboured eyes dulled

by firewater. So they
skunked back
to their canoe. Paddled
some more to where

the forest stood sovereign.
Lady at the helm picked
a spot to plant
her feet.

They marched forth
with bow and arrows.
The Lady of the canoe
raised her babes.

They sat cross-legged
beneath the stars
and strung stories
of the Time that Was.


Barkskins by Annie Proulx  go here

My trip to Bordeaux to the World Impact Summit included conferences on sustainable energy and sustainable agriculture among others.
I also met with French start-ups who offer solutions to small communities who lack the basic means to survive : nutrition, access to healthcare and power.

Inovaya, filters to ensue water is drinkable and nourishing. go here
I will be helping them correct the English version of their website, as you can see, it is full of mistakes !

Sunkofa Energy, small solar panels for health centers, community buildings or shops. go here

I am in contact with many NGOs from Africa, mostly, and other countries who have elaborated projects which need technical solutions and financing. So now we have the technical aspect sorted out, or nearly, we have to find the financing. My contacts with UNICEF France (for whom I'm a volunteer), Entrepreneurs du Monde (for whom I do translations), WWF, Croix Rouge, Action contre la Faim, Medecins Sans Frontières.....ADEME, Electriciens Sans Frontières....  should prove useful !
Building Bridges not only for my writing but also for causes I wish to act upon. Words only go so far ! Practice what you preach !

Elie du Bois, Dordogne, May 2019
The Meadow

New Leaf

Wild 'Marguerites'

The Cherries, before I picked them
or the birds got'em !

Knock on Doors
Bordeaux, last week.


Place de la Bourse, Bordeaux
from the bus-boat on the Garonne

The new Draw-Bridge
Bordeaux, 25th May 2019

While at Elie du Bois, I found My childhood 'Magical Roundabout' book from the 60's.
So for those of you who have read my post A to Z Challenge, letter Z go here

here are some extracts, photos.

Sibelius, Finlandia, while writing. go here

Arcade Fire, The Suburbsgo here
film The Night of the Living dead, the Suburbs, full album. go here

Alela Diane, Wild Divinego here

Cat Stevens, Where do the Children Play, go here

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment, like, dislike, discuss. And I will be sure to reply. March weather in May, here in Toulouse. Light drizzle in between gusts of a cool Easterly breeze. 17º C, barely, in the afternoons. We are off to Sitges, just South of Barcelona, snuggle in the Garaf cliffs. Weather forecast: sunny but not more than 20º C ! Oh, well ! I'll still be going bathing in the sea and the pool ! Reading and writing, eating all the Catalan food that I miss: fideua, pan amb tomaquet....
Have a very pleasant week. Hoping you will visit again.

Friday, 17 May 2019

⌗FMF, May 17th 2019, PROMISE

It's Friday again.
Write five minutes flat on a word prompt.
If you would like to know more or participate go here



What a wonderful word prompt !
Although it is raining today in Toulouse and the weather has gone cooler 14ºC instead of 26ºC all week, the weekend is full of Promise.
We are spending two blissful days in our house in The Dordogne : the promise of the first cherries.
The promise of a quiet retreat away from Internet.
Time to write, garden (if the rain lets up) and the promise of heart-lifting spring cleaning in the house.
Clearing away the ashes from the fireplace. Sweeping the cobwebs from the beams and corners.
Working to music, singing and whistling along like Snow White.
Maybe even the promise of a fun game of tennis ! Or meeting with our neighbours and the promise of some enhancing, nourishing news.

Extract from Snow White, Disney, 1937 go here
I first saw Snow White in 1969, when I was four and it scared me half to death ! The witch and the branches in the forest !

Edith Piaf, 'Mon Dieu'go here
extract from the film 'La Môme'
go here

Edith Piaf, 'Non, Rien de Rien' go here extract from the film.
and here scene comparison between the film and real life.

Elie du Bois, Dordogne, France
The Meadow. Cherry tree to the left.

Cherries. Photo May 2013.

Elie du Bois. The Living Room. May 2013.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment, like, share your own promises, joys. And I will be sure to reply.
My friend Sonia Dogra kindly nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award this month. Go and see my post, yesterday 16th May 2019.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

⌗SunshineBloggerAward Nominations, May 16th 2019

Good Morning.
Although I am still behind in my AtoZ challenge blog visits and commenting, I would like to , without further ado,  dedicate a special post for my Sunshine Blogger Award Nominations.

Sonia Dogra , whom I warmly thank again, from A Hundred Quills, whose blog has enabled me to travel through the A to Z Challenge of April 2019, to new places and new ideas  go here
Sonia who is a regular and faithful follower kindly nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award this month.

So how does this work ?


1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
3. Nominate 11 new bloggers to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
4. List the rules and display sunshine blogger award in your post/ on your blog.
5. Notify nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.

Sonia's Questions to me and my answers :

1) Tea or Coffee?
Tea for Breakfast (4 mugs, with semi-skimmed organic milk); Coffee mid-morning (2 mugs with French organic soja milk); Herbal Tea at Lunch (organic: detox, relaxing, fat-burner !, sinus trouble)
2) Early bird or night owl?
Early Bird: the light and birds wake me up, later in Winter. 6 hours sleep at night. I write in the morning.
And Night Owl: I watch movies and series, then read for 1 hour before sleep. I have a nap in the afternoon (1 to 1&1/2 hours)
3) Practical or theoretical?
Both: Putting theory into Practice. 
I like to analyse a lot before acting. I am practical with my hands and very down to earth when faced with decisions. However I am also a dreamer and a hopeless romantic ! 
I have a tendency to act and speak on impulse however. I will speak my mind and appear blunt but I have been working on it for a long time now, so it's family and close friends who suffer the most from this fault (but then again they are used to me and forgive? me, I hope) That is why I prefer to write letters, or emails or texts rather than speak on the telephone. As my father-in-law says, "the telephone is to transmit an information" !
4) what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
'Let People go' : do not try to change them; forget about them if they are assholes ! (which proves very difficult sometimes).
5) what really makes you angry?
Injustice, bad decisions. Technology that doesn't work (I have been known to bash on computers!). I do not hit people !
6) If you could start your life all over again,what would you do differently?
Nothing really. Everything was for a purpose. Every experience was a lesson for future use. The things I would like to change were out of my hands.
7) what was the single best realisation, you have ever had?
That I had to be who I was and not who somebody else wanted me to be (or thought I was.
8) which book has influenced you the most?
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.
9) do you believe in luck? Why?
Not really. I believe in opportunities, that you seize or not. You make your own luck.
10) what’s next on your bucket list?
Travel to India.
11) favourite quote?
More like a motto: Live and let Live

My Nominees :

1/ Arlee Bird for his longitude as a Blogger and an A to Z organiser, also his inspiring Battle of the Bands posts. Tossing it Out  go here

2/ Toi Thomas for her great advice on writing (posts on IWSG, Insecure Writers' Support Group) and reading (reviews on Goodreads). ToiboxOfWords go here

3/ Alex J. Cavanaugh for his hosting of the very useful, inspiring and encouraging Insecure Writers' Support Group and his posts on Sci-Fi writing and movies. go here

4/ Roland Clarke for his captivating stories, great comments and faithful follower. Writing Wings
go here

5/ Yvette Carol for her undying friendship and support, who introduced me to the IWSG and to Toastmasters and who was my first follower on my blog on Blogger (January 2013). Her posts are full of advice, sharing what she has learnt as a writer and self-published author and from whom she has learnt. A feature I love is her many quotes, all more inspiring than the next.
go here

6/ GigglingF.  for her soul-lifting and fun posts. No Love for Fatties go here
7/ Ronel for her outlandish stories. Ronel the Mythmaker go here
8/ Kurt R.A. Giambastiani for his expert blogging on a wide range of subjects. Words and Works from a Seattle Author  go here
9/ N.F. Mirza for her passionate poetry and heartfelt posts, her sharing other blogs and her dedication to helping others. Stoneronarollercoaster go here
10/ Debbie for her friendly posts and hosting of the Blogger Club UK, Linky. My Random Musings go here
11/ Tammy B for her Morning coffee posts, all more interesting than the last, and introducing me to Five Minute Friday. Tammy's Reading/Writing Life go here

My Questions for Nominees :

1/ Between Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter You prefer...Why ?
2/ You like to write: Where ? When ? Alone ? With a Workshop ?
3/ What is your favourite Sound ?
4/ You can choose to go anywhere (in the World) into the Countryside, where would you go ?
5/ Who would you like to interview (a person from the past or present...or future !) ? What questions would you ask ?
6/ Your favourite clothes, outfit ?
7/ Your favourite author ?
8/ Your favourite Music ?
9/ Your favourite Painter ?
10/ Your favourite Film Director ?
11/ Your favourite Poem ? If you can, include it.

Thank you for reading and participating. Now it's up to you. Keep the ball rolling.
Alex Honnold in Free Solo go here
National Geographic , Oscar for Best Documentary, 2019.
fascinating, stressful, heart lifting . Alex has such passion but also such wisdom. Such dedication, Alex appears very balanced, has a Foundation to help isolated villages around the World to acquire power through solar devices. A remarkable Human Being.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

⌗FMF, May 10th 2019, PRACTICE

It's Friday again. Time flies !
Another post for Five Minute Friday. Write five minutes flat on a word prompt.

I you would like to know more about this writing group and maybe join go here
You don't have to be a christian to write for this group. Some blogs are very christian oriented, others aren't. As I explain in my FMF, REWARD, Friday 22nd March, I am not a practicing christian. I believe in other greater things. If you'd like to know more  go here

Our Prompt for Today is Practice, which I find very appropriate for this group, as practicing writing from prompts every week really sparks the creative light.


Practice makes perfect. At least, we strive towards that goal. The more you write, the better you get. Reading is also essential practice : you listen, you observe, you learn, you emulate ! While you write you also practice thinking. Putting thoughts and ideas on paper, helps to clarify them and thus you take an extra step in the process of thinking things through. It is even more efficient if you write longhand with a fountain pen. Practicing your handwriting enebles you to practice your thought process. And you are creating at the same time a work of art akin to drawing.
Practicing writing about emotions is also a good way to come to terms with them in a dispassionate way. Sometimes speaking them can prove too difficult.

So write your heart out, your rage, your joys : you are practicing at becoming a better person.

Some authors I emulate :


Kenneth Koch,   Making your own Days,  self-help book on reading and writing poetry go here
Kenneth Koch,  One Train, collected poems, Bollingen Prize go here

Billy Collins,  Aimless Love, New and Selected Poems go here

Carol Ann Duffy, Selected Poems go here


John Irving, last-night-in-twisted-river

Paul Auster  The_New_York_Trilogy

and also

Robertson Davies
Margaret Atwood
Alice Monroe, Short stories
Carol Shields
Margaret Forster

Practicing in sports

Rafael NADAL, tennis,  go here
and go here

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment below, discuss, agree, disagree, and I will be sure to reply.

Monday, 6 May 2019

⌗AtoZ Challenge April 2019, REFLECTIONS, Day 1, May 6th.

The A to Z Challenge is now over. I will still be visiting blogs, mostly from M onwards. So please keep your comments OPEN.

If you would like to know more about the A to Z Challenge and maybe join next year,  go here

The 10 years of the A to Z Challenge,   go here
  1. What did you love about the challenge this year?
The number of interesting blogs I discovered. Maybe you yourself, missed the following:

A special mention to Sonia Dogra' s A Hundred Quills ( go here ) with very different articles, stories and poems;  
Roland Clarke 's Writing Wings ( go here )with its short stories and amazing links,  
and the Gigglingfattie's blog  ( go here ) with its colourful children's alphabet carpet. 
We struck up quite long ongoing conversations with these ! 
Some blogs I discovered later on. Special mention to Fandango 's This, That, and the Other      ( go here ) 
and iScriblr for her passionate posts ( go here ).

  1. 2 ) What would you change about it?
Well, I would say, posting every other day ! But then it would not be the April Challenge anymore ! So how about it ? March-April or April-May and call it the A to Z Spring Challenge ? After 10 years, now is maybe the time to change some things ? Only a suggestion ! We bloggers have families, other things we need to do !
  1. 3 ) What was the best moment for you during this year's challenge?
I could say the end ! ! ! But half-way through would be closer to the truth : once you are launched and determined to finish thanks to the encouraging Host Posts every day and all the wonderful people who stop by , read and take time to comment.

  1. 4 ) What is the best comment your blog got during the challenge, and who left the comment?
Very difficult one. How do I answer it without hurting someone else 's feelings ? So I'll put two!

 'Wow Susan. Simply loved it. I’m putting it on Twitter.' from Sonia Dogra 'à propos' my post on 
V is for Victory.

and  'Powerful words – and great links.' from Roland Clarke about my post on R is for Robot. 

  1. 5 ) Will you do the challenge again?
Certainly, all ready for next year, my second time ! Maybe after 10 years I won't be as enthusiastic !
  1. 6 ) Was it well organized and were the hosts helpful? (Did you fill out the after survey?)
It was very well organised and I always read the Host Posts and tried to follow the guidelines which were all very helpful. A special thanks to Tarabata Högly for her posts.
  1. 7 ) How did you and your blog grow, change, or improve as a result of this challenge? Did you find new blogs out there to enjoy?
So the new blogs, see question 1. Found about 25 new blogs that I am now following.
My blog grew because I had individual people in mind, an audience to adjust my posts to. What would be interesting ?
My blog changed : before I posted mostly poems and photos. Now I still post poems, but also short stories and articles. Plus I put links to films, articles, music as well as photos.
So I hope it is more interesting and has improved to the boot.
  1. 8 ) Were you on the Master List? (If you did the challenge last year, was it better this time without the daily lists?)
Yes, I was on the Master List. So I chose a few blogs before the Challenge to comment on regularly...but I found myself spending more time visiting people who had visited me and left comments...Kindred Spirits ?
  1. 9 ) Any suggestions for our future?
Keep it up and let Arlee Bird have a real rest, even though he wasn't Captain, he seemed to be ever working !
  1. 10 ) Any notes to the co-host team? A word of thanks to Jeremy for all his hard work on the graphics? A picture with your A to Z shirt, if you ordered one?
I would like to thank the whole team again. I usually thanked them every day for their Host Post, but maybe they did not visit me ! So thank you J Lenni, Jeremy, I loved the badges !, Jayden, Zalka and John whose blogs I managed to visit several times, and Arlee for making all this possible.

Thank you for reading. Have a wonderful Reflections Day.
See you all very soon.

Susan Baury Rouchard.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

⌗SundayBrunch, April 5th 2019

Hello there and Welcome to my blog Life in Poetry . The A to Z April Challenge has got me used to posting every day ! But I've slackened a tat. Every other day, Wednesday, Friday (FMF) and Sunday. Although tomorrow is the sign-up for Reflections on the A to Z Challenge, running till May the 17th.

Sunday Brunch

Wake up, not too late
to greet the morning sun.
After the dew has dried.
When the chicadoos
are still chirping .

Before the sparrows
and wrens disappear
to roost away
the midday

Enter Perico's, find
a seat in a booth.
Fake red leather 
couch. Imitation wood

Salt and pepper
shakers crowd
with a cup of brown
sugar. A bottle of Maple

juggles its shoulders
between the Ketchup
and Brown Sauce.
Greet Mandy,
with her frilled

white apron, her name
tag, her rigid cap.
Sip at the icy water
she has poured for

Clutch the menu.
Your three buddies
screw their eyeballs
and rub their swollen

What would wake
their bodies and minds
on this Sunday
of rest ?

' I'll have red beans
and hash browns to
follow half a grapefruit.
Then a large stack

of pancakes with warm
butter and cream.
I'll finish with a blueberry

To drink ? Tea with cool
How about you ?

Is your mouth watering yet ?
Music I was listening to this morning inspired me.

At Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast by Frank Zappa. To listen go here
The full Apostrophe Album, as the songs run into each other !

I've always admired what a great guitar player Frank Zappa was. To listen to him on the record
Shut Up, and play yer Guitar  go here
Frank Zappa , the Showman, live concert go here

The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004) writes: "Frank Zappa dabbled in virtually all kinds of music—and, whether guised as a satirical rocker, jazz-rock fusionist, guitar virtuoso, electronics wizard, or orchestral innovator, his eccentric genius was undeniable."[\

To know more about Frank Zappa  go here

and the memory of an American Brunch I took at Perico's Restaurant, Albuquerque, June 1991.
It was my first trip to the States and Out West since we toured in 1970 with my parents.
This time, we were 5. My future husband, two friends from my Business School and one whom I had met during my time in Equatorial Guinea.
The night before, we had travelled from Paris via New York and Huston.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment, give your opinion, evoke your own memories, I am always interested. I will also be sure to reply. There is nothing like striking up a good conversation !

Have a pleasant Sunday.
April weather here in Toulouse. Mitch-mitch as the Catalan would say !

Friday, 3 May 2019

⌗FMF, May the 3rd 2019, OPPORTUNITY

it's Friday again. Time for another post for the Five Minute Friday community.
Write every Friday for  Five Minutes Flat on a word prompt.

If you would like to know more about this writing community go here

and follow instructions to link up. For today's link go here


Very early in life, I learnt that some opportunities were handed to you and then you quickly had to fend for yourself and create your own opportunities. They rarely fall from the sky.
Your daily actions and the way you behave with others open up many new adventures which all prove to be opportunities to gain experience and better yourself.
The opportunities you take and the ones you miss tell the story of who you are. There is nothing to regret. The paths you choose paint the pictures of your journey. Light and darkness may alternate but every milestone helps to build the foundations of your character, being and life.
(the five minites are up !)

The opportunities I was handed at birth : being a girl, having dual nationality (Franco-British).
Then I was given the opportunity to spend my early childhood in New York, learn to read, learn to play, to ride a bicycle, to ice-skate, to roller-skate, to sledge, to enjoy the snow and cold weather.
To enjoy spring, Christmas, Easter, Halloween. To go to kindergarden, to learn to dance, to be read to, to participate in children stories afternoons.
The opportunity to move to Paris, go to an International School, live in the country, find new friends, learn to speak French, German and Russian. Travel to Italy with my class, learn about the Renaissance and the history of both Venice and Florence, travel to Germany. To England, to Sweden, Denmark, Yougoslavia with my parents. To the seaside, the mountains in France. Learn to ski (down-slope and cross-country), continue with ice-skating and dancing.
The opportunity to learn to sing, to play the recorder, to participate in the making of a record, to sing at the Russian Embassy in Paris. To learn, in school, about Contemporary World History up to 1979 and the fall of the Shah in Iran.

The opportunities I made for myself : consolidating friendships, cultivating my curiosity, writing, travelling on my own. Studying in Lille and Bath, working in Africa, working in the sea-spa business, becoming a language teacher and living in Barcelona, travelling to Poland, la Réunion, Brazil, moving to Toulouse.
Having children, working in Language Training for businesses, taking up English Literature and History studies. Enrolling in Creative Writing courses, learning new languages (Spanish and Japanese), signing-up for Shakespeare seminars in Stratford-upon-Avon and re-discovering the Bard.
Showing my children the world, teaching them both English and French and travelling with them through both countries.
Discovering new horizons: the Netherlands, Belgium, Budapest, Rome, Portugal, Turkey, South Africa, The United States. Visiting museums and expositions. Acting and directing in amateur theatrics, singing in a choir. Playing tennis, learning to play golf. Practicing yoga, do-in and pilates.
Taking time to work as a volunteer for environmental organisations, health and children. Practicing what I preach.
Living with love in my head and heart. Leaving people behind : those who only see darkness and hate.

Some music I have loved listening too since I was about 10.

Ain't Nobody but me, album Crisis, What Crisis ! by Supertramp go here
Two of Us   go here  extract of Melancholia by Lars Von Triers
Give a little Bit    go here
It's Raining again   go here   video with Brazilian subtitles (Portuguese)
Crime of the Century  go here

They really understood everything , had it all figured out in the 70's. Their words shaped my ideas and life.

An appropriate song by Cat Stevens, If you want to sing out, sing out  go here  video, Extract from the film Harold and Maude.

Photo I took in Alum Chine Playground, Bournemouth, July 2006.
Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment, disagree, argue, share your experiences and I will be sure to reply.
Have a nice Five Minute Friday, and I'll see you next week and on your own blogs.
Steady rain here in Toulouse. I wanted to go and play golf this morning: the first opportunity in months...Oh! Well, I can only chant 'Rain, rain go away, come again another day' .

Thursday, 2 May 2019

⌗IWSG post May 1st 2019

Sorry to all my followers. One day late.

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts for the May 1 posting of the IWSG are Lee Lowery, Juneta Key, Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin! 

If you would like to know more about the Insecure Writers' Support Group go here
If you would like to sign up go here

May 1 question: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? 

The first time I ran away from home, I was five years old. We were living in Staten Island, New York. For the upteenth time, My sister was making my life a living hell. My father was looking after us. My mother was out. This is a story I wrote about the experience, and how a few words going on around in my head made all the difference.

One night I said to Papa:
Well then, I'm running away.
He didn't answer, stuck in front of the T.V.
I went to my room and took out my Barbie case from under my bed. I emptied it of all the tiny synthetic clothes. Lacy and bright dresses; green slacks and psychedelic-colour tops; mini sweaters from the drawers. I tossed aside the pink plastic hangers. Then carefully I crammed in my nightdress, a few clean knickers, my toothbrush and paste: all snug in the plastic lining, and flipped the lock shut. I got dressed and put on a warm coat. With my brown teddy bear, christened Badibo by my sister, tight under my arm, I marched up the stairs from our basement room.
Bye bye, then, I said to my father. He was still watching television and didn't hear me. As usual deaf to the world about him.
My mother had gone out somewhere and wasn't supposed to be back for at least an hour. I opened the front door and ran down the porch steps before I could change my mind. 88 Colon Avenue, Great Kills, Staten Island, New York.
It was dark outside. The lampposts were already lit. The aroma of an Indian Summer rose from the earth. Autumn clouds and a nip in the air. The oak tree loomed large on the front lawn. A grey squirrel scuttled up the trunk. The headlights of a passing car traced two long lines on the dark grey macadam. I waited for it to turn the corner. No one must see me. The sidewalks were deserted anyway, no one around not even the creepy neighbour, whose doorbell we never rang on Halloween night, walking his dog. Every house lit: families eating dinner, glued to the Ed. Sullivan show.

I put one foot in front of the other down the path then swerved onto the sidewalk. My heart full of a feeling of adventure and excitement, I strode along the street even skipping at times. Past 86 Colon Avenue, 84, 82, until 78 on the corner. Left into Katan Avenue. A right onto Brookfield Avenue, I crossed the street, head turning both ways before stepping onto the asphalt.
I was launched. I cruised along, my soles tap-tapped against the cement. From time to time my toe scuffed on a crack between two slabs. Moist blades of grass trembled up in the breeze. My nostrils tickled with the smell of cold dust. I heard an owl hoot, then a siren far away: it wouldn't be coming this way. Nothing ever happened in our neighbourhood. I passed the wood. Stray leaves still clinging to branches glowed a gloomy orange in the street lights. I looked through an opening in the trunks and wondered what unlikely monster was lurking. Even in the dark, some branches, still clad, burst with colour: light green, pale yellow, blood red.
After the wood was the pit, now a dump site. Mucky ochre clay plastered its flanks. A scent of metal rose from a puddle. We used to spend hours hanging out there. Secret meetings and generally dirtying our jeans. Us kids would tie a rope round a tree trunk and swing over the pit. Hollering like Tarzan, we would leap on arrival: an ongoing contest of who would land the furthest beyond the edge. Sometimes one of us would miss and swing back. Enough to hit the edge's bump and tumble down into the slimy hole beneath. We had to claw our way back up. Gritty earth engrained itself beneath our fingernails, leaves entwined in our sneaker laces, hair matted. A sight for sore eyes’ and a guaranteed ‘Oh Susan ! Where have you been ? What have you done to your clothes ? Your clean sweater ! Honestly!’ 
Those were my English Mummy's exclamations in a throaty pitched voice, with a scowl on her face, her teeth clasped together on one side behind pursed lips: 'Mummy's face', we used to joke, Papa, my sister and I. My American friends wouldn't be greeted with the same words. More like: ‘Hanging out with those brats again. Look at your jeans! Go scrub your face, you ragamuffin!’
A few years later in France, us children reproduced the same game but without the rope. We jumped off the first story of a house under construction in our résidence. We landed on the edge of the open crater where the foundations, buried deep, still stood bare. One girl missed the landing spot and tumbled down, hitting the concrete walls and broke a leg. She was in a cast for two months. Boy, was her mother mad! Somehow, although I was one of the youngest of our crowd, I seemed to collect the blame: the 'tinker' coaxing the others into performing dangerous dares. The mother of this girl glared at me for weeks. With my small bones and wiry frame, I should have been the one in a cast. But I was more agile, quick and supple with my chimp arms and legs: always intent on climbing trees and jumping off tall walls. To this day I still do, climb trees that is, to prune overhanging branches from my willow and lime-tree.

As I passed the pit, a wind picked up and branches from the wood started to creak, twigs lashing about sending rotten fumes up into the air. The overcast sky began to move. A few dim stars peeked through a breach in the clouds. And then the moon showed its face. Milky white. Grey Man-in-the Moon patterns. We had seen Armstrong on the TV set foot on the ashen ground just the year before. ‘One small step for a man, one giant leap for Mankind’ but he didn't meet the Man-in-the-Moon, what a let down!
It seemed difficult to fathom this idea: a team of American astronauts flying up in their NASA rocket and landing on this mysterious, even mythical, orb. We had watched the footage on the black-and-white screen, but it could have been a science-fiction series for all I cared. My experience of real life was what happened to me first hand in Great Kills or what I observed in the streets of New York during Easter Parade: the soaring Mickey Mouse balloon kissing the skyscrapers, the antlers of the giant Looney Tunes Moose missing by a hair the electrical wires stretched from building to building. Or the chimps at Brooklyn Zoo: ‘Happy Birthday to you. I went to the zoo and who did I see in the monkey cage ? You.’ Our favourite refrain at parties.

I glimpsed a movement in the undergrowth across the street, and a ginger cat scrambled towards me. I stopped and the cat, whiskers twitching, edged towards my legs, rubbed its ears and its arching spine against my pants. I bent down and buried my fingertips into its warm coat, combing out the stray leaves and caked dirt in its hairs.
‘Hello Kitty, are you running away, too?’
My pace had slackened. The anger that had fueled my flight no longer seething. I was now launched on an adventure; finally living my life, far from the constraints and raging of my family. The taunts and pinches of my elder sister.
Then I stopped and looked around me. Ginger, who had been trotting beside me, slunk behind a bush, leaving me alone with the night and the rustling trees. I'd turned a corner without realizing and found myself on a block I didn't recognize. I had never walked this sidewalk, nor was it on the Yellow School Bus route. I was lost. My heart leapt in my breast and then started to thump hard. I stumbled into the true unknown. I turned left then right. I carried on, my pace slower. Suddenly I was aware of the unfriendly noises of the night that I was only used to hearing when snuggly wrapped up in bed. Outside, in the cold and dark they felt eerie and threatening. 
An owl hooted as if signaling my presence: like the shrill whistle of a street cop in a Charlie The Tramp movie. I thought a horde of dark blue uniformed men would appear out of nowhere and run me down, cornering me in a dark alleyway. A screech of car wheels not so far in the distance made me jump: Al Capone on my heels. A black sedan would emerge round the bend, machine gun gangsters crouched on the running board aiming at my head.
Shrugging off the images, I walked on, past another block, then another, clutching my Barbie case in one hand and my Badibo's neck in the other. I still couldn't place the houses I was passing. I had really gone beyond my everyday surroundings. I stopped and looked up the front path of number 12. What street? I didn't know. The windows were blank. I trudged up towards the porch and sat down on the red-brick steps. I leant my Barbie case against my right calf. Badibo lay on my lap. I lowered my head into my cupped hands, hiding away. I would wake up from this dream, this nightmare if only I didn't look. My breath fell short and a high-pitched wheezing note escaped from my lips. The enormity of what I had got myself into suddenly dawned on me. This wasn't an adventure anymore. It had become scary, too frightening to pull off. What was I thinking running away from home? My mother's voice echoed in my head. Where did I plan to go? Where would I sleep tonight? Where would I brush my teeth?

Then panic struck. An abyss opened in my stomach: a pit of void in which I should tumble forever. Images of my short life rushed through my mind. I remembered scrambling out of my cot one night and rushing to my parents bedroom in tears. I lied that I was up because my night nappy was wet. But I didn't tell on my older sister because I was too much afraid of her. She had woken me with harsh whispers and a punch. They wouldn't have listened anyway. They never believed me: it was my imagination from watching too many cartoons. 
I thought about other things and they overwhelmed me: Mummy's arms; her palm on my back when I had a tummy ache. My bed and pillow, their sweet clean scent, and home-made hot meals on the table. Lazing in a warm bath, door locked so no one could get in. Lying on the itchy sofa watching Captain Kangaroo. Dancing in front of TV to a Sesame Street song. Christmas decorating and opening presents on the green and red-berry rug. Skating on the frozen lake upstate. Hurtling down the slopes on our large wooden sledge, Papa holding me from behind, my back wedged between his legs and arms. Halloween, only a few weeks away and I would miss that?
Then, TV addict that I was, I saw in my mind's eye Dorothy and her plight.
‘There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home!’
I gazed down at my feet: no ruby slippers to click my heels with. So I sprang up, grabbed my case, looked right, then left and chose right. That was the way I had come wasn't it? As I scuttled back along the sidewalk, tears began to swell behind my cheekbones. They welled up into my eyes, brimmed over and streamed down my nose. No more night-dreaming to the moon or fondling cats in the dark. I had to get back home immediately before something really terrifying happened. I was no longer my Papa's 'Bunny-who's-not-afraid'. I had reached the brink of my five-year-old courage. My rebellious nature had to take a step back. I would run away another day.

So I ran, I ran, faster, and faster, left, right, left, right, past the pit, past the wood, left, right, back to the end of my street.
And drifting over the whispering leaves I heard Mummy's voice crying out:
‘Suuusaaan, Suuuusaaaan,’ into the night.
When she saw me I rushed towards her and threw myself into her lap.
‘Oh Suuzan, where were you? I came back and you weren't anywhere!’
Shame kept me tongue-tied.

Back home, Mummy scowled while getting the meal, my sister glared at me and Papa got the blame.

I first wrote this in 1994, then typed it up for an exercise during my Open University course A 174 in 2007. I revised and submitted it to Mslexia New Writing theme Memoir in December 2012, but it wasn't published, only short-listed. I was late posting because it took me 2 hours to fish it out as I hadn't remembered that it was in my Mslexia submissions file ! so I went through all my notebooks from 1983 to 2019 !!!
To answer today's question, I realised in 1970 that words in my head could become like a mantra and influence the course of my life or at least my actions. Writing has always helped me to sort through my emotions and thoughts, keeping me sane ! Creative writing is work but also play: it is doing what I enjoy the most, fooling around with words. And I get to do it in two languages English and French. Sometimes, even, I've written diary entries in German and Spanish. Each language provides a very different way of thinking and writing, enabling one to see life in a totally new perspective.

'There's no place like home' extracts from the Wizard of Oz, go here ,
go here  and  go here,
that I had already seen 3 times in 1970 (every Christmas, they showed it on TV). The next time I saw it was in 1978 in France (shown On the Friday night Ciné-Club programme, FR2- later Antenne 2, today France 2).
In the 90's, I recorded it on video-cassette and later showed it to my children as they grew up. To my utter shame, I have never read the book. Maybe it is time !

And a song for the road :

Another World by Antony&The Johnsons, 2009.  go here   
Live version, with orchestra, 2009  go here
A song my sister liked a lot, and which I listened to frequently when she died in 2011. My mourning gave it a whole new meaning.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment and I will be sure to reply.
Brilliant sunshine yesterday in Toulouse. Rained in the night. The sky cleared up and is now hesitating between fair and cloudy.

Have a pleasant IWSG day.

Me, age 5 in Kindergarden.

88, Colon Avenue in 2013 (taken by my eldest daughter Alice). 
I left in 1971. Went back in 1991 (but I only have a VHS video).