Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What Angels do when they are not guardian-ing:

"Alright people, listen up! It's Saturday night and it's a real mess down there. The Big Guy is looking for a perfect Sunday. We only have 5 hours to get it all cleaned up, sparkling, and peaceful."

(The sound of scraping chairs adn flapping wings.)

"And, people-- it's dangerous out be careful."

Monday, March 18, 2013

Early Sunday Morning

I hear only my own footsteps on empty, silent streets. That’s what I love about exploring the neighborhoods of a city on a Sunday morning. 
There’s no rush to capture these wonderful moments. Others are still in bed or sipping coffee over the Sunday paper. There’s time to let the sun rise high enough to slide over and illuminate the details of each rooftop . It is the only time when it is safe to wander down the middle of the streets with my head turned upwards. There is a rhythm to the peacefulness that pulls me here or there to uncover the architecture and history of a place. This particular Sunday I am in Bordeaux.
At first the streets are completely silent. I wander under the gaze of the sculpted faces that Bordeaux is famous for. They grin, grimace, smile, laugh, and leer down at me from their window lintels. There is beauty in their sparkling stone eyes.
Twice I pass the notes of piano practice floating out of windows. Once the notes of a whistler. Never a single voice until I emerge from the neighborhoods onto the esplanade of the river. For I had noticed a trickle of people all heading in the same direction.  I let my ambulation be influenced by their anonymous sort of Sunday morning pilgrimage. I start to make turns here and there following whatever caught my eye, but also letting myself be swept into the flow towards the wakening morning.
Here on the riverside the playground was filling up with little ones who have no idea what Sunday morning means. 
The market vendors were already putting the final touches on their mouth watering offerings for Sunday lunch. A couple of couples were quietly enjoying their Sunday oysters with a glass of white wine while watching the strong flow of the mighty Garonne river.

Ahh, Sunday was warming up and getting going.

join me for a

Thursday, March 14, 2013

After six months of construction, the return to painting!

"Tom is working through some issues in the transition from heroic macho cowboy builder to sensitive artist."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tom's Folly

  The neighbors have a new way to tease Tom.  What’s not new is that the teasing is about the odd looking wood structure rising from the middle of our lower gardens.  What is new is that the nearly completed studio needs a name (according to the French.)  So now-a-days as each passing person stops by to check on the progress of Tom’s one man construction show they share their pet name for Tom’s ‘project’.  We have Salon de Jardin-- the Garden Salon. How about Palais de Peintre, The Painters Palace. Le Garconier, the Boys Club. And the most recent Le Cabin de Lapin, the Rabbit’s Cabin.

Me, I call it Tom’s Folly. Which would be a nice thing if I meant it as a folly, like a structure in sculptured stone you might find in an elegant English garden.  But I don’t.

Tom could give a hoot what any of us call it. He is absolutely smitten with his new space. In response to the teasers he calls it My Chateau.

With the outrageously big wood-stove in place and generating enough heat to force the neighbors trees into bloom, he has spent the last of the cold winter days finishing up the interior.

Sheetrock, taping, painting, flooring, placing window trim.
Then it was on to the cabinetry. A shelf or drawer for everything. Brushes arranged by size and painting medium in drawers at custom heights so that the most important things are right at hand. Shelves just the right width and height to place a sketch book while the works dry. 

Oil paints stacked up in view so there is no need to shuffle around. A little roly-poly cupboard that can be pulled right up to the work space. Everything is on wheels so the furniture can be moved around to fit the need or mood. The rolling stock includes great big dumpster wheels found at the side of the dump and  modest little wheels that for some reason cost a small fortune. When it is time to paint,roll in the painting cart;  when it’s time to frame, roll in the work table.  When it’s time to square dance, roll everything out!

Tom has created three painting areas. There is a tight tight, cozy, warmly lit nook for those 4 in the morning sketching sessions. A stand up and dance around area for finishing up watercolors. And the piece de resistance is the back corner for oil painting. Here northern light streams in across the canvases through the 14-foot tall windows. Lots of room to step back and reflect on the next brush stroke, clear light that shows the true colors on the palette and plenty of room for the twirl of the brush as Tom hits just the right note in his exploration of the canvas.
I know exactly what Tom will call this space. The Studio. Plain and simple. Here’s to lots of inspiration, joy and contentment flowing out to his curious audience.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Busy Market Day, Perigueux

Busy Market Day, Perigueux
12" x 16"     $120 including shipping
available at

Gather up some friends and come share this experience with us

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Vainglorious Bastards

The infamous plight of the raunchy, ugly, dirt-dwellers of the dark underside of the belly of the wold--root vegetables.

Video stores are not the only places where a curtain hides "the dirty stuff" from those of pure hearts and tender dispositions:

The idea that, when much watered down, eventually became the movie, "Rosemary's Baby."

Perhaps lacking the romance of Pamplona's running of the bulls, the Estonian village of Boboloski hosts an equally frightening annual display of courage--the terrifying Tumbling of the Turnips.

And who can forget the great Harry Youngman?

Monday, March 4, 2013

"Eat Local"

“Eat locally”

“Eat your fruits and vegetables”

Here at the beginning of March I am finding it hard to make these two notions work together. My palate wants to be stimulated by lots of different flavors. Tom’s idea of a perfect dinner is when the plate looks like his palette; greens, and reds, with a splash of cream. (thank goodness he doesn’t have me dye anything blue)

Sunday is market day here in Bourdeilles and all of the vendors come from within 20 minutes of the village. You can’t get any more local than that. One could easily put together at least one or two meals for the week with the offerings of goats cheese, breads, meats, honey and vegetables. But I’ve pretty much exhausted our interest in the more obvious vegetables offered, so I decided to pull some cookbooks off the shelf and see what could be done with the gnarled, pasty-looking celery root that I have passed over each week since the beginning of January.

The truly ugly celery root-- it seems even the vegetarian experts are hard pressed to find much variety in the preparation of this miserable looking dirt dweller. I found two soup recipes, each one using strong cheeses to add flavor. One recipe with the title Blanched Winter Vegetables with Thyme – the word blanched was not a good sign. There were a few more recipes with pretty much the same ingredients presented in different ways, a celery root gratin or mashed celery with truffle oil and deep-fried apple bits.

I was tickled by some of the quotes that I found preceding these recipes:

Don’t be scared of celery root’s rather gnarly appearance: that’s part of its charm and nothing a sharp knife or good vegetable peeler can’t take care of.”

“This delicate dish of springtime colors has humble origins – turnips, rutabagas and the often-discarded stems of broccoli. Though it may sound unlikely, it has just the cheery element that are needed in a drab month like January or February. Many people balk at the thought of eating turnips and rutabagas and will scarcely give them a try. It’s unfortunate that these two vegetables are so maligned, for they can be quite sweet and very good, particularly when they are young. Older vegetables will tend to be bitter, but blanching will take the bitterness away.”

I decided to make one of the celery root soups. It was delicious topped with parmesan cheese and accompanied by a goats cheese and walnut bread. Tom said there was no point in taking a photograph. It’s the color was the type that his Uncle Joe would call “shit muckle dun.” Fortunately he said this after our savory meal. There’s hope for eating celery root a few times a winter, but I thank my stars that I don’t really have to be a purist when it comes to eating locally. 

A celery root taco, anyone?