Sunday, October 31, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
We took the dogs for a long walk along the river last weekend. The weather was glorious and the turning leaves and red vines were calling. While I took lots of photos of all the red, the ones that really spoke to me when I looked them over at home were these of the reflected trees and shades of green. They remind me a lot of Impressionist paintings with the light playing with the colors and smearing the reflected images onto the smooth surface of the river.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
One of the unexpected pleasures of living in Laury's house is discovering those things she knows that I don't. Music, for example. Her classical music CD's include composers I recognize, of course, like Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff. But it also includes a composer whose name isn't common household knowledge...at least not to me. Joseph Bodin de Boismortier was a French composer popular in the mid-1700's. His Baroque pieces usually featured the flute and the recorder as he composed simple pieces that could be easily learned by amateur musicians. Boismortier was unusual in that he did not have a patron and made his fortune purely by composing music and selling it. It's interesting that someone so successful has slipped into obscurity. I chose this YouTube video to share because it features the viola de gamba, one of my favorite instruments. If you search YouTube, you can certainly find other examples of his work.
The first time I listened to Laury's Boismortier CD I felt this centuries-old house speak to me as the music caressed its ancient stones and beams. It was as if the Baroque music reminded it of its glory days...those years in the 16th,17th and 18th centuries when this house and this village were in their prime, bustling with activity, trade, and travelers; those centuries between the Hundred Years' War and the Revolution that would sweep France in the late 1780's when peace provided a vibrant economy and the Chateau provided opportunity for trade rather than conflict. Oh, if these walls could speak!
'Unexpected Pleasures' will be an occasional blog topic here. Look for future posts on music, books, the arts, and culture.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
There are definitely some gates that are less than friendly in Cadrieu. These big gates to the 11th century Chateau were meant to keep unwanted people out...like the peasants and swarms of invaders. Without scaling one of the stone walls, it's impossible to get even a peek at the courtyard inside.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Jean rang this morning to ask if I wanted to ride into the Ecomarche in Cajarc with her. Very timely as I was already planning a bus trip to do a grocery run. Much easier to do it with Jean! The Ecomarche is a real French adventure. First, there's the grocery cart or trolley as Jean calls it. You either have to insert a euro coin or a token to release one from the cart queue. You get your euro/token back when you return it. Some grocery stores require that you weigh your own produce; the Ecomarche does not which makes me happy. I'll never forget the withering look I received from the cashier at the Bon Marche in Paris the time I forgot to do my own weighing! I had a long list of items to buy. Most I could puzzle out, but there were a couple of items that Jean had to help me with...like baking powder, baking soda, and yeast. What we decided on is 'levure chimique' for baking powder and 'levure de boulangerie' for yeast. I never found anything resembling baking soda! Checking out is a bit nerve-wracking. There are no bags; you bring your own. You bag your own purchases as well. Then comes my least favorite part...paying! I have a really hard time understanding numbers when they're said, so I always have to see the total amount before I know what I owe. Oh yes, and don't forget...the French really appreciate it when you give them the correct change (or as close as you can come). It's not okay to pay for a 42,41euro purchase with three 20 euro notes or even two 20 euros and a 10 euro note. Often the cashier will ask if you have closer to the correct amount. So, there I am at the check out...obviously an American who doesn't understand French, frantically trying to sack my groceries, figure out what I owe, fumbling for the right notes and correct change, and all the while holding up the line behind me!
The canned tomatoes and some of that lovely Savoy cabbage are currently simmering away on the stove with other soup ingredients. It will be soup, bread, and wine for supper tonight. Remind me to tell you about 'lardons' next time.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
BBC news, some unions began their part of the 24 hour rolling strikes yesterday morning; more will follow their lead today. I don't claim to understand all the ramifications of this protest by French workers, but I do know it pertains to governmental reforms on retirement. This is the third time in a month that workers have gone on stirke. All the bus, train, metro unions are involved. Striking in sympathy...postal workers, teachers, truck drivers, and this time, air traffic controllers. Most of what goes on in France will slow or come to a stop today. An occasional bus, metro and train will run, but service will be sporadic. What's different about today's shutdown, however, is that it is open-ended which means workers will vote on a daily basis whether or not to continue striking. It could be a long month! This strike is certainly inconvenient for the French people and tourists alike, but I have to admire their attitude that the people have a right to be heard. The French are not afraid to express their feelings inspite of the inconvenience and disruption of daily life. A giant protest march is set for this Saturday, October 16th in Paris. Voices will be heard!
Saturday, October 9, 2010
I listened to another farmer last week as he put up these big bales of hay. Here they are all wrapped, stacked and ready for winter.