Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday's Petite Aquarelle

Swallows Over Garden
12" x 16"
$120 including shipping
available at

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bourdeilles Roses

Pierre goes forth to prune the roses.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Bourdeilles Roses

 Bourdeilles is a thrifty little village, which leads one to wonder how it came to be so full of the extravagance of roses. Resourceful by necessity, this is a farming community where money and energy are typically invested in practical things.  But, everyone needs little luxuries in their lives and bright spots of pride. One of the things this resourceful community has done incredibly well is to learn how to propagate and pass along roses. It’s a wonder to walk through the village and see the roses in their full glory. Their sweet smell wafting in the alleys, along the main street, or over a wall telling you there are roses hidden in that garden on the other side of the stone wall, basking in the sun.

Every household has a story about their roses. Sometimes the plant was a gift to celebrate a special occasion, but mostly the stories are about who made the cuttings and started the rose collection of which they are so proud. The stories tell of how a grandmother could get any rose clipping to take root. Her rule was to take cuttings after the 14th of July and before the end of August. She’d just take a cutting of any rose she took a fancy to and pop it in the ground where she wanted a new plant and there it would flourish. Or how Dad would take his cuttings and set them in the special corner of the garden bed where he could give them extra care and then set them out in their new home after a year or two of coddling. Or how Aunt Sylvie would pinch cuttings from fancy chateau gardens and bring them back to Bourdeilles to create her own private chateau dreams.
One rose in particular seems to have captured the hearts of Bourdeilles. Glowing in ballerina pink, standing with stately, long stems for cutting and multiple buds on each stem, sending out a whisper of rose perfume, this rose can be found in just about every yard in the village. 

A gift from one household to the next to the next and the next...... a beautiful rose that appears soft and fragile, but is incredibly strong and sturdy. This plant  is resourceful and thrifty in it’s needs and is ever so content in a French countryside village.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Sitting down to write this weeks blog I had to move a stack of papers that has been shuffled from one spot to another for quite a few weeks now. The most interesting thing in this stack was an envelope my mother had handed to me on my way out the door the last time I was visiting.  

I knew what was in the envelope. A collection of clippings from a variety of newspapers and magazines. The themes of the clippings would be wide ranging: food, fashion, France, gardening, history, economics, books, trees, the arts, artist. A seemingly random collection of topics. But not to a mother with her intimate knowledge of a daughter.

I knew I was going to open up a lifetime of connections in a morning’s reading. Connections that show the soulful understanding between mother and daughter. Shared interest, likes, experiences and sometimes a quirky obscure curve ball.  All this stuffed into one business envelope. 
It’s fun picturing her in the wing back chair tucked under the window reading the Wall Street Journal or Richmond Times and spotting an article. Realizing right off that this is one for the envelope. Funny how she always writes on them “save for Susan”.... no one else in the family would be interested in “How to Host a Private Garden Tour” or “Tales of Tiny Trees” - she includes Tom in this connecting activity too.

She must have been just about to pop when there was a beautiful article on the great bridge, the Pont Millau, in France and on the same page an article on the real life of flinty New Englanders. Two places that have drawn her daughter away from her.

This time there was a wonderful recipe for veal and roasted onions. I always laugh because Mom loves to eat, but really isn’t interested in the cooking part. What she does know how to do is read a good recipe. Like the Chocolate Pear Clafoutis she found in the local Richmond paper. I love how she highlighted the part about pear brandy (the one thing I bring her from France each visit)- “Bring into the mix a little poire William, the luscious pear brandy, and things may get suggestive, but never overpowering.”
Another clipping was on how to conduct a private garden tour. I can just hear her saying “Well Susan knows how to do that.” Because of course her daughter’s garden is worthy of a tour and of course she has the good sense to know when and how to put a garden tour together - because mothers know you are perfect....... and they taught you a thing or two!

I continue to learn from the many book reviews and travel articles found in the magic envelope. We don’t need to be in the same city to continue the dialogs about what we like about a book or whether the film reviewer was right-on or not. The spark of these conversations and impressions were started years ago and can now be rekindled by just the first glimpse of an article’s title: “Walk, Talk and Gawk  Hosting a private garden tour can be as satisfying as orchestrating a perfect dinner party...”.(WSJ Marian McEvoy)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

From Punk to Pretty

From Punk to Pretty--- after thirty years, red hair makes the generational leap.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Joint is Jumping

9 o’clock and the joint is jumping. Music is thumping, and the chatter and the laughter that drifts from the windows is just about as exhilarating outside as in. One voice yaks over another and over yet another in rapid fire streams, followed by bursts of laughter in a variety of melodies. It takes a big gulp of courage to enter into this place the first few times. A foreigner walking into the room will shut down the conversation and laughter. But just for a brief moment. All eyes turned on the new comer. Only the radio is oblivious to the new client.

In the blink of an eye the noise starts back up, hands get back in motion and here inside  the click click of scissors can be heard in rhythm with the sing song french.

Take a seat and soon you’ll find yourself with a new look.

..... shampoo, cut and dry. Maybe a new color.......
Yep you got it - this is not the local bar, this is the hair salon on the corner.

There are many things to love about this place. 
Here in this little burg we are in the foamy end of a great fashion wave. Everyone left the salon with very bright, very loud, very small town chic, purplish red hair. Purple or blue streaks were not unheard of either. The ‘girls’ used to try to tempt me into giving my graying hair a bit of spark (more like a bolt of lightning), but, they have long since given up on that and now try to liven up my full head of gray hair with a spunky cut. 

And oh, the gossip that is tossed from one side of the room to the other. The stories I could know about Bourdeilles and my neighbors. But these are French women speaking to French women and when they get going it sounds more like a a wind storm than any language I have ever heard. So, for now, the village is safe from my revealing it’s intimate secrets to you. I will know I have broken the language barrier when I can get up from my haircut and come home to tell Tom some juicy tidbits. 
The salon is on the ground floor of a building dating from the 1700’s. The room is organized around the carved stone fireplace and the beautiful old beams that cross the ceiling. The room is warm and steamy in winter. Cool in the summer because of the stone walls. The space is a marvelous example of how one has to be flexible in respecting the heritage of these old buildings. 

Back out on the street my brain is spinning from the tumult of over-stimulation. But my hair sure does look great. 

Hmmm, I wonder if it’s too early to wander up the road to the bar?  (Don’t tell Tom I said that.)