Friday, November 27, 2009

Sharing the limelight with a turkey

Every now and then, Thanksgiving falls on my birthday, November 26. Such was the case this year.

Rounded up a few friends and told them that, in traditional Thanksgiving style, they needed to bring something for the meal. Ended up with imported cranberries and roast potatoes from Bayge's garden, wild mushrooms collected by Marco, and a home made pumpkin pie from Elisabeth and a collection of fabulous music from Franck. I splurged on a pot of foie gras spread on slivers of toasted raisin bread, stuffed a turkey breast and made a tarte tatin with the remaining apples my neighbours, the Stuckes, pressed on me before leaving for South Africa. Six of us managed to consume four bottles of champagne and this morning I reeled into Gym Tonique, made a u-turn, and went back to bed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rocamadour Redux?

One of the local scenes my students enjoy painting most is the view across the valley of Rocamadour. However after about ten years, I have become rather bored with painting this scene.

Last summer I had a lovely student who painted s-o-o s-l-o-w-l-y that I scolded her that if she didn't loosen up she wouldn't finish anything. Yesterday, about four months after she started the picture, she sent me this breathtaking landscape. Bravo Mucella!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend in the hookie

Sam has disappeared before, and once the police told me to collect him from a cell in Rocamadour, but this time he was gone for three days, the police hadn't had any reports about his finding, and no one was responding to the posters I had put up. Yesterday I took to my bed. Sam tends to lie in the middle of the road, and this is the middle of hunting season after all. But just before turning out the light for the night, I checked my cellphone, which for some reason tends to turn itself off.

Yeay, a message. He had turned up at the vet and they had kept him for the weekend. This rather pitiful face greeted me wildly this morning.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ballade on two wheels

Took advantage of balmy weather to cycle to Sarlat yesterday. Started in Cieurac, a lovely village just across the Dordogne from Souillac. The train track between Souillac and Sarlat was removed a few years ago and paved as a bicycle route. It's beautiful. The track is relatively flat and follows the river much of the way, winding around farms and villages, at one point disappearing into a long tunnel, until it turns north towards Sarlat. Then the climb through an oak forest is long but not too steep. Much of the trail is elevated. The colourful autumn leaves drifted down around me and crunched under my wheels.
Found a nice room in the center of town (La Maison du Notaire Royal- 45 euros) and had a delicious three course meal at La Rapière (18.50 euros). Saturday is market day in Sarlat. In summer the town is mobbed with tourists, but today it was very pleasant to breakfast in the sunny market square before setting off for home.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Inspired artist: Mato Atom

Coquille d'oeuf

When I came to France in 1991, I wanted to buy a Deux Chevaux, but all my friends groaned and told me to grow up. So for years and years I drove a nondescript but faithful Renault 11. Finally one year the engine blew up and as no one was around, I got to search for and buy my dream car.

My friends had a point though, my Coquille d'ouef (eggshell) wasn't up to long drives, steep hills or picking up friends and their baggage from the train station, so my wonderful mechanic put a new (second-hand) engine in my Renault and now I have two cars. I have just put a new capot on the Deux, and treated and painted rust spots so wanted to show her off.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Roman Holiday and Me

Before my friend Rachel returned to New York last week, I persuaded her to leave behind her DVD of one of my all time favourite movies, Roman Holiday.

The morning after watching it, I got an email from a lovely Canadian I had spent two days with in Rome in 1970 when I was a sweet and innocent 17 year old. We had visited the Coliseum, the Vatican, and the Spanish Steps among other sites together.

Doug tracked me down a few years ago via Google, and now he was emailing me birthday wishes. He included this recent photograph from a trip to Italy with his wife.

Sometimes art and life crisscrosses in rather magical ways...

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Found this box of mushrooms in the market on Friday morning after Gym Tonique for five euros. I think they're coulemelles, one of the tastiest mushrooms to be found this time of year.

Cooked them in a pan with butter, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and a little fresh tarragon, added cream and served them up on fresh noodles with parsley and parmesan. Delicious.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month...

Armistice Day (November 11) is a national holiday in France. It commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning - the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" in 1918.

The French soldiers were decimated in the trenches. Not one village was spared by the veritable massacre during this terrible time, and every village commemorates this day with a short ceremony. About 1,397,800 French soldiers, more than 65 percent of all the country's servicemen committed to action, were killed in "Paris's War". No one seems to remember now what the war was about, but it was supposed to be "the war to end all wars".

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Boudoir haiku

It's very gratifying when someone expresses interest in buying one of my pictures that I am especially attached to. Here is one of my watercolour "boudoir haiku", probably executed in less than five minutes, that I am about to part from.

My project for the winter is to capture the simple spirit of these little pictures and work them up into oils.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Paying the piper

Friends be warned: if you overstay your weekend at Le Tramizal, chances are that you will be press ganged into modeling for my Monday evening drawing group.

The second drawing is inverted by the way. My doctor friend was not required to balance on his toe for ten minutes...