THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JAMES A. BONDOUX

BRIGITTE - WHERE'S THE UNICORN?

braid

Always Up For A Laugh.

solitary cell

From left: Mitchel, Kathryn, Jason, Brigitte, and au pair Danielle, investigating a cell at Alcatraz, 1979.

jacksonhole

Speeding Down the Chute.

Spontini

Ah, Paris, at Age 5, Minding Jason.

Big Hair

Brigitte has always favored Big Hair.

age 12

A Most Happy 12 year-old.

yes, a horse!

The Thrill of a Horse of Your Own.

scholar

Getting the Diploma.

major horse

More Major Thrills!

snowman

With Chris & Frosty, December 2000.

A daughter is a splendid thing indeed, and also, for me, an ongoing learning experience!

With Brigitte, it’s always been about animals. Her entourage consists of a diverse assortment of reptiles, as well as a collection of dogs and cats, plus a horse and from time to time, the odd interloper – a particular duck comes to mind. Exotic geckos, dragons and lizards seem to occupy a special place here.

Her fascination with animals and wildlife led her to earn a degree in Zoology, with honors, from the University of California. In one of her courses, she produced a paper on dragonflies of such high caliber that the professor incorporated it into the course’s permanent syllabus!

The comfort and rewards Brigitte finds in her animal companions have been a very good thing, since her life to date has been punctuated by a series of tough tests, in which she’s had to deal with spinal scoliosis, unstable boyfriends, the adversarial worker’s compensation bureaucracy, and the demise of treasured creatures. Through it all, she has maintained a consistently cheerful demeanor and outlook – just looking at these snapshots, she has a smile in every one of them, the best being when she is with a horse!

Her life’s dilemma so far has been how to find worthwhile remunerated employment working with wildlife while remaining in Mendocino County. A stint with the state department of Fish and Game was brought to an abrupt end when Brigitte was crushed under an upturned ATV, placing her on extended disability and requiring an implant to support one of her eyeballs.

A couple of long-term relationships have ended badly for her, but neither with the emotional impact of the death of a horse, which also has hit her twice. First Philly, her friend of thirteen years passed at a normal age for a horse, but left her disoriented. Brigitte’s taste for fantasy and medieval romance led her to dream of a Friesian which is a tall, spirited, jet black, long-maned and long-tailed horse, said to have been popular with knights in armor… Hence Lucas, a thoroughbred Friesian colt, who overcame a series of medical challenges only to die unexpectedly of a freak ruptured aorta at the age of three.

Brigitte was born in 1967 in Manhattan and has been entertaining me ever since, but our dealings tend to be ticklish and a tad intricate. There are all the usual parent-child and father-daughter currents to contend with. Also, there is the reality of a "broken home" and she has lived most of her life with a single parent.

Her mother and I separated when Brigitte was seven years old, and she has lived under her mother’s roof ever since. The loss of daily contact made me a stranger to her growth and evolution, and while the split was kept carefully mellow and as un-adversarial as possible, Brigitte has been attentive to avoiding any appearance of disloyalty toward her mother. This has given our interactions a certain diffidence and tentativeness.

I am also inclined to believe that Brigitte inherited a slice of the Aspberger Syndrome (AS) that has come from the Mitchel line through me to my children. One source of information concerning AS states: “some individuals don’t understand why people feel it’s important to make small talk, dress in the current style, feign interest in people or topics they could not care less about, or tell white lies.” Yup, that's Brigitte!

Brigitte struggles to make a living, working for both the California Department of Fish and Game and for the University of California, and staying close to her interest in wildlife. She lives with the uncomfortable uncertainty of highly variable schedules, and is caught in the tug–of–war between tight budgets, the impact of Obamacare, and the opening and closing of various fishing seasons.

The Horse Brigitte’s horse Triton, the apple of her eye. A blue ribbon winner!