Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It's Fun to Have Dreams

It’s fun to have dreams. 

Most french people I encounter dream of going to America-- the Great Big, Dazzling, Cowboys Everywhere, United States of America. New York City, Miami, Hollywood.

When I was growing up I thought that everyone I knew dreamed of living in a castle in France.  After visiting the french countryside a few times my dream home changed to a gentleman’s farm. I would have an gracious manor house with beautiful stone outbuildings and be surrounded by a tidy rolling countryside as far as the eye could see.

In these dream there was a rich, interesting husband. Along the way I found an interesting husband, but rich was replaced by artist. And the dreaming really and truly began. 

One french painting led to another. Tom loved being immersed in french compositions. I loved eating bonbons and drinking dark rich red wine.....

So we found ourselves thinking about living out the “American” dream to have a home in France. As it turns out buying a home in France couldn’t be easier.

And here is where things got complicated. It’s the rubber of dreams hitting the road of reality.

There are those that dream of finding their French home in the elegant cities or along the sunny coastlines. These are fun seekers that like to stay connected, citoyen looking for museums, book stores and fancy restaurants while living among other beautiful people to watch and to be seen with.

Or the dreamer’s search leads to the grand chateau of their childhood fantasies. It is stunning from the outside but usually a money pit that may or not be considered a chateau by your French neighbors. “Oh the Americans live in that house. It is such a bourgeois place and not old at all.” (“new” being a late 1700’s rebuild on the rubble of a 12th century ruin.)

Tom and I found ourselves in the category of Americans that dream of a beautiful farm house, way out in the country. Our dream was built around stone house with tiny out buildings for ducks and pigs.  And, of course, it would have a great big barn for creating a stunning studio.  Quickly we discovered that our ability to dream exceeded an interesting artist and his un-employed wife’s budget.

But, even more than the financial part, there was a feeling of discomfort looking around these old wrecks. We weren’t worried about the formidable work that would be before us. Dreams make one oblivious to the leaky roof and lack of indoor plumbing. No our fears emerged from the flux of our emotions rather than the viability of the physical structures. We would be way out there in the country. Who were we going to practice our French on? How were we going to perfect our cafe etiquette? Then Tom defined the most important need in our future home. He had to live someplace where he could walk for bread.
Whether you ever thought of moving to the Old World or not, I present to you an opportunity to “play house”. Here is a sampling of houses currently for sale in Bourdeilles and the neighboring town of Brantome. Have fun imagining what these houses might mean to you and your daydreams.

It’s great fun to be living a childhood dream even if my chateau turned into a town house and my Prince Charming turned into an Interesting Artist.

**Some of these homes were sold in the last couple of years to wonderful new additions to the neighborhood. Some are still looking for their new owners. And one is my latest hair-brained dream. Can you guess which one that would be?

***for a more realistic view of buying a home in France please visit this wonderful blog by Lynn McBride Southern Fried French

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Friday's Petite Aquarelle

Sunny Market Morning  Bourdeilles, France
12" x 16"
$120 including shipping
available at www.tomviethsketches.com

Thursday, February 20, 2014

It's Coming, It's Coming…...

What do French men love more than wine, more wine and easy companionship?

Monday, February 17, 2014

La Tour de France - It's Coming It's Coming!

Suddenly the local hotels found themselves booking up, and fast, for next July. Then word got out. The Tour is coming to the Dordogne. The Tour will be right next door in our lovely Perigueux. This news started to headline the papers in mid-September, but it wasn’t announced officially until October 23rd. Everyone was holding their breath.

The local papers declared it was like winning the rights to host The World Cup soccer finals. For a brief moment someone thought we were like Rio de Janeiro?! Well, The Tour is the third most watched sports event in the world. Olympics, The World Cup and The Tour.

Bergerac, the city of of the long-nosed bard Cyrano de Bergerac, and Perigueux, the capital of the Dordogne, had “won” the rights to host the penultimate final stage of The Tour. 

July 25th and 26th will be the scene of the final match off of the worlds best cyclist. Each cyclist leaves Bergerac individually to compete against the clock set up at the finish line in the center of Perigueux. The results of this day’s racing will be the real final of the Tour de France. The scenes of the peloton (this is the same word as a ball of wool - unthreading itself) sweeping down the Champs Elysees are just for the glory of Paris, of France, of the Riders. Tradition dictates that the yellow jersey of the leader is not attacked on this final day.

The entire community will be pulled into the preparations. We’ll be on international television. We want to look our best. Animated, clean and proud. It’s up to each city to prepare and finance its own festivities. This is the other big surprise of the announcement - the bill. The average cost of sprucing up for the villages that line the route will  be between 50,000and 100,000 euros. EACH.

They have had to test several routes of arrival into the convoluted center of Perigueux. Like Boston, the roads were built for carts and foot traffic - not elbow jostling, wind blowing, bicyclist with their accompanying motorcycles and the layers of excited fans.

The route will need to be ready for more than just the riders. The tour is a moving village of 4500 people, 2500 vehicles and 130 trucks.

Already the controversies have begun... It has been noted that the two mayors are not really working hand in hand to coordinate expenditures and planning. Civic rivalries between two rural towns hoping to have the best corn festival is one level of political tug-of-war.  But when two cities of more than two thousand years of history and pride go at it, it’s like a modern version of the intrigues between medieval kings, princes, and warlords.  

For the average Pierre, the end result is assured-- one long segment of road will have fresh, unblemished blacktop.

(The part left out:

The grumbling has already started because the last time the center of Perigueux was blocked for a day it was impossible to conduct everyday business - will it help that this year the city will be in full celebration on a Saturday!?)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

News From America, French Style

Susan went to America to introduce LilyO's to the world. Susan is much beloved in our French village. She participates in every activity and her beautiful mastery of the French language is a acknowledged by all. Tom is a recluse and, without evidence to the contrary, it is assumed that he speaks no French. Susan's trip was big news to our friends. Friends who watch a lot of television, Television that featured the States' outrageous weather that coincided with Susan's trip.

This is the tale of how the villagers kept Tom apprised of all that Susan was experiencing in Philadelphia and Chicago during that brutal moth of January. Given the assumptions about Tom's linguistic handicap, it was like a real-time silent movie.

It was, of course, unfathomably cold.                                     And snowy.
And icy.
Here is how Tom knew that Susan made it to Chicago.
At last, our beloved was on her way home!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Baby It's Cold Outside

 Chicago January 2014. Time to go to work. But, Baby, it's cold outside! 
Never in my life did I think I would be happy to say that for 4 solid days I never put my nose into fresh air. 4 days of gloriously heated hallways, bridges and oversized buildings. By chance my travel Genie had me book into the Holiday Inn Express at the Merchandise Mart. Sure didn't sound too grand. But if you looked carefully there was mention of a bridge linking the hotel to the Mart. Hmmm... Chicago, January, bridge - maybe not a bad idea.
And oh how we loved that bridge. We didn't even wear our coats to work!

There were even restaurants where we could grab breakfast and watch that cold, frozen world from a heated front row seat.

All that Chicago cold was quickly forgotten once we arrived at work. The wonderful, warm, happy world of LilyO's.

You can add a little warmth to your winter days! LilyO's tea towels are now available. For now it is still best to do your shopping at www.tomviethsketches.com  Drop me a note and I'll get right back to you.