Diary of a Marked W•man

Paris, January 2006

Wed. the 11th: I've been quite busy since the end of summer, when I received some books on handicrafts and on the other hand acquired some materials to work with. In particular I have executed a few pieces in filet crochet from the Dover book, which shows pieces and charts from the early 20th. Century. Compared to the uninspired models on offer by today's specialized magazines, the models from the late 1800's and early 1900's were graceful, elegant, sometimes funny, or just plain cute. These Cherubs for instance, doing all kinds of things, little chubby children with tiny winghs picking apples and eating them, or playing musical instruments, or helping the goddess Ceres harvest wheat. Ado-rable. Funny that with filet crochet, the concept of "resolution" like we have it today with pixels was already invented. And one of the charms of this medium is, I think, its "lo-res" quality. Yet good designers managed to capture in just a few pixels of double crochet squares, the essential outlines of flowers.

I also received recently from Lacis Publications a book on crocheted yokes from the early 20th century, and I was eager to relieve somewhat the monotony of doing always the same stitch in filet crochet so I set to it immediately, anxious also to see if I understood the directions from so many years ago. The first project I tried didn't come out right. I must have misunderstood something, so I moved on to the next one I liked and it worked out fine, so on to the next one, fine also, and on and on... So far I have successfully executed four samples. These samples consist of between three and five main elements -usually a square or a circle- joined together, with rows above and below to integrate the elements into a wide band that will form the yoke of a camisole or night-dress. At the upper edge there usually is a "beading" to pass a ribbon through for adjusting the garment, and at the very top an "edging" made of tiny repeating motifs that decorate the head opening all around. Mind you it's not enough to have all this lacy stuff in the front, the back and the shoulders, you need the finishing touch too!

I think it's a good idea to do a small part of several pieces. In this way I can judge how the motifs really look like, and having learned how to make them, it will be easier to do the entire piece eventually, because the only thing I'll have to learn then will be the assembling.

I am pleased to discover that the book fulfills my expectations, because I was sure that crochet models for yokes of night-dresses and lingerie would be of a lovely and delicate nature, and I am not disappointed.

Just before Christmas I had an inspiration to do an embroidery in Blackwork so I started right away, cut an A3-size piece of this linen I bought for just that purpose from , cut a stencil from the enlarged photocopy of the motif I had made (the copy) soon after I moved in here in 2002, sprayed re-positionable glue in the back of the stencil, centered it on the piece of linen, traced the motif on the fabric, pulled the stencil off and stitched the tracing with small basting stitches. It all went on like clockwork, as if I had done this a hundred times already, when in fact it was the very first time I was using this technique to trace a motif on fabric and I had never read about it anywhere, and God knows I've done quite a lot of reading on the subject! This has been a difficulty for me. I was not satisfied with any of the tracing methods I had read about, and all of a sudden, without having consciously plotted the method, it just came together and I had every piece of material I needed -in fact very little material is needed, just a photocopy of the motif, a cutter and spray glue- this is the beauty of it!

It was the first time I was using this linen. Twelve threads per centimeter, a very good compromise between esthetics, fineness and visibility. I found it quite a challenge just to stitch the outlines. The fabric had a bounce to it, But this step was necessary because filling out areas with blackwork motifs, I was going to handle the fabric a lot and the chalk outlines would fade away fast. But I was eager to start the Blackwork part so I worked late into the night and I could not resist starting the Blackwork part

That's when I realized that counting the threads was very difficult. It took me two hours to do just a few lines of running stitch and I mis-counted the threads several times! So I went to bed and in the morning I had the solution to my problem: buy a pair of glasses with more "power".So on the day before Christmas I took myn piece of linen with me and tried several pairs of glasses, and found one that made it easy enough to single out the threads of the linen fabric, so I bought it. It cost me all of 10 euros and I was all set to satisfy my Blackwork craving

After fighting some more with this bouncy linen I remember this round embroidery frame I bought back in the 70's and had never ever used. It was like this in those days: I bought the material I needed to do something I wanted to do, and I never went further than that. I also bought a nice leotard because I wanted to dance, but never took dance classes. That's how sick I was back then. Anyway, I used this embroidery circle for the very first time on Christmas day, so in a way it was my present to myself, and I was delighted to spend the entire Christmas day stitching away

I've been working on this piece several hours every day since then and today I finished it. The last part consisted in "couching" thick black thread on the motifs' outlines. I was perplexed for some time because a full six-strand thread of embroidery floss was still too thin. I considered using some thick crochet cotton that I'm trying to get rid of but it was no thicker than the DMC thread. Finally I resolved to use two six-strand threads from two different balls of thread. Of course they're not "balls" of thread but I don't know the English word for this oblong coil with a paper ring at each end. Was I glad I had a supply of them! And there was no worry about sumptuary expense, since this cheap brand of floss costs 59 euro-cents a piece. So, why not indeed, use two threads instead of one? And it worked out just fine because this thread being loose, as opposed to a yarn where the strands are tightly wound around each other, the two threads melded into each other seamlessly when held down together by the couching thread.

It was the first time I did "couchure" and I found it much fun and very rewarding because the outline of the motifs was now bold instead of a dotted line of running stitches

This piece was only a sample because with several "firsts" I expected to make mistakes sometimes, and I did. But still the result is quite honorable, I mean it's just gorgeous, and I get an idea of how much work it takes to complete a piece in this format


Besides these artistic endeavors, I have been able finally to clean the refrigerator. This is because for the past month or so I've walked around the apartment without crutches. The fridge broke down many months ago, maybe a year and a half: suddenly it was freezing rock hard inside the main compartment. I suspect sabotage here, courtesy of the then next door handyman Hakim, by order of his landlord and employer, my mother. And the repair man wanted sixty euros to come and fix it, with the cost of the replacement part on top of it. Of course I stopped using the thing, it was consuming electricity like crazy and my utility bills were already sky high. My mom tried to convince me to use it anyway, as if having rock hard butter, cheese and liquids was just a minor inconvenience. So after unplugging it and emptying it I cleaned it entirely, put a soup plate with bleach water in it then I closed the doors. Big mistake! When I opened it some time later all my work had been for naught because mold was covering everything. I was not ready to start all over again taking apart the plastic shelves etc so I closed he door again, and then I was assaulted and broke my knee and everything... So finally, being able to walk around a little without crutches I opened the damn thing again, put a basin of suds nearby and sat on a chair in front of it and took care of the problem at last, and now I'm using this fridge as a pantry and I keep the doors ajar instead of tightly closed with the help of some wide masking tape, and I have no problem in this season keeping cold what I want to be cold: all I have to do is put it in the bathroom. There is enough room to keep food there since the shower is not working. I mean there is no hot water for the shower. I get hot water by means of the stove. I've been living without a fridge for almost two years and I have thrown out much less food than I did when I had one, paradoxically. That is because I have adapted my shopping habits to the situation. I don't buy dairy or meat products during the warm season and all I drink besides tap water is coffee, tea and herb tea so I never need ice cubes. Never eat ice-cream so I don't need a freezer.

Not having a fridge I am more attentive to the status of my vegetables and fruit. Having them in plain sight it is easy to check how they are doing and I cook accordingly. I keep a vigilant eye on the pears which are unripe when I buy them. If I forget them they spoil before I have a chance to eat them so I check them every day, and when they're nice and ripe, why, I just eat 'em

It just occurred to me that since I returned from the USA my mother has been giving me less and less money. In the beginning she gave me enough that the bank gave me a 500 euros overdraft allowance and now they cut it down to 100 euros. As long as I smoked pot and cigarettes and drank alcohol, my mother gave me money without making a fuss, but then I had the bad idea to quit smoking these two, which should have noticeably improved my financial situation. But my mother found some reasons to give me less money so there was no improvement for me

The water-heater that sent my eledtricity bill sky high broke down (sabotage?) and last january, while I lay in bed with my leg in a cast Hakim, by order of my mother, came in to install a new one without prior consultation with me. So I put my foot down (the good one) and said it was MY apartment and MY decision, and I didn't want an electric water heater anymore but a gas one

So with no hashisch, no tobacco, no alcohol, no refrigerator and no water heater, I should save money, but as soon as I reduce expenses, my mother reduces her allowance

For my birthday in 2004 she wrote that she couldn't give me a present because she had to buy a car with automatic transmission. A few months later I told her "But since you already had a car, all you had to do was sell the old one..." So she laughed mirthlessly and said that it was not as simple as I thought

If I remember correctly the last time we spoke was on the 23rd as I have written previously, and while she was turning the knife in the wound, regrding infinitesimal amounts of money while she owes me one million francs as of the date of my father's death, plus interests as of the fifth anniversary of his death, as per Art. 5 of their marriage contract, plus the income from the rental of my appartment for the years elapsed beween my father's death and my moving in, income which she has unduly appropriated to herself, plus my share of all the money which has not been reported as part of the estate to avoid paying taxes... and she nickels and dimes me, giving me 50 euro for my birthday after cutting off my 150 montly allowance, and to show how fai she is she wants to share equally among all seven of us her children the money from the sale of the basement cellar, and to prove that she really intends to share equally she says that the notaries themselves will write the checks to all seven of us, but in order to sell this handkerchief size cellar we all must sign our agreement to the sale. In other words she wants to give us something that does not belong to her and that we children already own!

And about the money my six siblings got to buy their own house, my mom says that these are presents that are not part of the estate. But since, by their marriage contract, she obtained from my father that he make a donation to her of the entire part of the estate he could dispose of at will, the remainder being by law reserved for the children (it is called the "Réserve" and the children are the "Héritiers réservataires), the money for my siblings' houses can only come from the 'réserve' and be part of their share of inheritance, and therefore it must be accounted for in the overall calculation. It cannot be a gift exempt from accounting like mom says. And anyway, even if my dad had wanted to make a present to my siblings and not to me, what on earth could be the reason? If I infringed on anybody's rights, I'd like to know, but I don't think so. Oh! I see! Maybe it's because I DIDN'T violate the law! I remember one of his favorite sayings was: "The law is a whore made to be violated". (In French "violer" means both to violate and to rape). So imagine yourself a young woman being gang-raped at age nineteen later hearing her father say that the law is a whore made to be raped. Just imagine...

Anyway, last time we talked, Mom and me, it struck me suddenly that a mother would never talk to her daughter the way she did, so I sez to her "You're not a mother. There's not a speck of love in your heart, there's not a motherly bone inyour body. AAll I get from you is harangues, accusations, lies, threats and extorsion. I'm tired of it." "You say this because of the hatred you have in your own heart," she replied. I forgot what I said then. I was caught short by her accusation about my feelings. Everybody has a right to their own feelings as far as I know, but she was accusing me once more, this time about the feelings she said I had. Of course I feel no hatred for anybody. I know too well how sick it makes me feel, how utterly miserable, to be hating someone. One important thing I learned early during my stay in the USA is that one can choose one's feelings. One can learn to control one's emotions. It's not easy when one is in the habit of valuing emotions more than reason -an easy mistake to make for a woman who is supposed to be all-feelings- but it can be done.

I do not feel hatred for my mother, nor my siblings, nor the family members and other people like doctors, lawyers, judges, who betrayed their oath of office and betrayed me. I am sorry for them all. They have made the wrong choice and sooner or later, one way or another, they will have to pay for their mistake. I do not envy my mother who has found it necessary to murder her daughter without getting caught to achieve success, and who, failing year after year after year to en her daugher's life despite innumerable tricks and traps and a fortune expended in hit men and accomplices, finds herself at age eighty with her intended victim crippled but fully aware

So for fifty-three years she's been rejecting me, and finally, finally, I find myself able to say to her "You're not a mother". What is she then? A sadistic bottle blonde, a criminal impostor who chose the mommy track to blend in, achieve instant respectability and enrich herself at the expense of her children, putting the government money (Allocations Familiales) in her "black cash box" instead of spending it on us as she was supposed to for shoes and clothing for instance.


Wed. the 18th I needed a new prescription for pain killers so I called the office of Dr. Dumonteil to have her visit me, but the receptionist said that the doc wouldn't be free to visit me until a week later so I said I couldn't wait that long and I'd come to the office. She gave me an appointment and the directions, it's at number 3 on the same avenue I live on, the entrance is in the back of the high-rise, on the mezzanine level, all the way at the end of the hallway. But thinking about all the efforts involved I didn't feel like going so I called in time to cancel the appointment and got another one for the coming Friday. But on Friday I just didn't feel like going out either. I had a bad feeling about that building: the security desk, the mezzanine, the long hallway to reach the office. I was afraid the security man would be bribed and I would be attacked in the long hallway and would never reach the doctor's office. So I called again to cancel the 4:45 PM appointment but got a busy signal, and same thing 2 or 3 more times before I gave up.

So on Mon. the 23rd I called again to get the doc to visit me. The receptionist said to call again after 3PM so I did but got a busy signal, and again 3 or 4 more times when I tried later. So I looked for another MD nearby and found a Dr. Coulson, a woman, who said she'd come after 7PM the same day. It gave me an incentive to do a little house-cleaning so I dusted the top of the fireplace and cleaned the large mirror that sits on top of it. It was quite a job too. And then she came.

I showed her part of my file lest she believe I was addicted to pain killers and was making up a story. So she saw that I was hospitalized and got prescriptions for the same drug I was asking for now. She asked what happened to me so I said I was attacked while riding my bike. I said also that there must be a problem at the level of my kneecap that had not been diagnosed because I felt a sharp pain when I extended my leg horizontally and there was something loose I felt moving around in my knee so I asked her to prescribe X-rays. But she said it would be better if a specialist requested the X-rays because he would know better than she exactly what imagery was needed. All right. So she wrote a letter of introduction to an orthopaedic surgeon. Unlike the doc who came last summer, she didn't say "your accident" but "your fall" but it's funny, she gave some emphasis to the word by making a short pause between "your" and "fall", as if she were making an effort not to hurt my feelings.

She asked to see my knee so I showed it to her, and she also took a reading of my blood pressure and ausculted me. She asked about the pain, or rather, she TOLD me how it felt "the pain climbs into your thigh..." so I interrupted. "No," I said. "All the pain is in my lower leg. There is also pain in my ankle from being immobilized for 75 days, but no pain at all in my thigh." She said she was going to prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs with the pain killers so I said there was no inflammation, my knee was neither red nor warm to the touch (and I showed it to her again) and anyway I objected to anti-inflammatories because they contain steroids -hormones, in other words-. She made no reply and wrote a prescription for six caps a day, much more than what I had asked for. I would have been satisfied with just three. When I walked her to the door I tried to thank her for coming on such a short notice but because I almost never speak to anyone I couldn't say it in French so she helped me to finish the sentence! Oh, and the peeling paint in the entrance, the large flakes that fall to the floor, that looks very nice too.


Here's an e-mail I wrote to the Mountain Astrologer after I was irked by a few words from an introduction to an article. These words were: "fundamentalists who rail against evolution:

In your intro to the Monkey Man article I noted these words. You seem to take the position that only rabid Christian fundamentalists believe that the universe was created by God. And to ridicule this quaint yet ancient notion the new epithets of "creationism" and "intelligent design" have been invented. This dispute seems to exist only in Anglo-Saxon countries. In France I never heard it being debated.

Please do not forget that Evolution is a *THEORY*, which means that it has not been proved scientifically correct (as it is impossible to do so), and as a theory it has no more validity than the theory of the existence of a God creator of the universe.

I do not understand this intensity in the effort to discredit the theory of creation, with so many people in the USA being Christians, even moderate ones. Besides, scientific research tends to confirm the existence of a spiritual origin, since the more we know, the more we know we do not know (to paraphrase Rummy). This ever-eluding goal of grasping the root cause of Life is proof that we are on a road to infinity, and only a spiritual being can exist in this dimension.

I'm not trying to shove my faith down your throat, but it makes more sense to me to explain the order, symmetry and consistency of the universe, from micro-organisms to astronomical bodies, by the intent of a superior mind, rather than the adaptation of living creatures to the environment. To disprove further the theory of evolution, we only have to see how species die off because of loss of habitat and global warming. Can you say "let the strongest frogs survive" when you learn that they are croaking (sorry for the pun) all over the world? Can you say the same about whales and other marine mammals who perish because of low frequency soundwaves emitted by the Defense dept, and beach themelves in the thousands, and arctic fauna who cannot survive because the ice routes they used to migrate on do not exist etc. etc When humans will realize that they need all this extinct fauna for their own survival it will be too late.


When you consider the exquisite interdependence of all ecosystems and how wonderfully it all worked together, when the human impact was moderate as in primitive societies that do not cause depredation, it remains difficult to ascribe this planetary order, like a symphony for billions of instruments, to the mere survival of the fittest.

Ah, maybe I read the theory of creation being derided one time too many, and here I go defending my point of view, maybe because Tr. Mercury is opposite natal Uranus. But I assure you that I am not a Christian fundamentalist. I don't even go to church.

Best regards,

Brigitte Picart

March 10: OOps, I was forgetting to say that the editor of the magazine, the Mountain Astrologer, e-mailed back to me asking for my permission to publish my letter. Of course, I agreed. Someone showed interest in what I had to say for once, and it gave me a nice feeling.


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