Sunday, June 30, 2013

C'est Fini!

Class is over! Everyone leaves today! It whizzed by at an alarming speed; it seems like only 3 or 4 days ago we arrived here. What a wonderful group of women, what a fun experience it's been, how hard we all worked and played, and what beautiful work has been created!

Here is the entire crew, including Jerome and Kippy, and a picture of the artists checking out the show before the guests arrived at our Vernissage last night...
Shortly afterwards, the room was crowded with friends and neighbors, champagne was flowing. Somewhere there's a photo of me talking with Gilbert Shelton, the underground cartoonist. I'd love to have that.
Here are the artists and their work:
Lesley Inglis from Maryborough, Queensland, Australia...
Wendy Talbot from Maryborough, Queensland, Australia...
Joy Davey from Eugene, Oregon...
Averill Jones from Decatur, Georgia...
Nancy Oyler from Louisville, Kentucky...
Joyce Guariglia from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...

Honey Hilliard from Tallahassee, Florida...
A sit-down dinner with guests afterwards, prepared by Chef Marc Bost... with a surprise... ABSINTHE!!!

Friday, June 28, 2013

A magical moment in Reims

Next time Jerome leads a group out of these doors I'm going with him. On Wednesday evening several of the ladies wanted to see the Eiffel Tower at night. Because I have already seen that spectacular site (it sparkles at night--a fantastic light show), and because it promised to be a cold night in Paris, I opted to stay here for a little dinner party Kippy was putting together. Jerome's crew got home at 2:00 a.m., after a dizzying tour of Paris at night, long after we had gone to bed. It was an event to remember. Yesterday Jerome took a few people to Reims while several of us opted to catch up in the studio. At dinner late last night they regaled us with their magical day. Here's a sample of what they encountered when they walked into the Basilica...


Today we drove to Provins (not Provence); that would be Provaah, not Provahnss, a 12th century walled city. While everyone went to a raptor exhibition, which I saw and loved last year, I stayed in the town square and shopped for souvenirs and had une glacé chocolat et une glacé caramel au buerre salé avec une petite cafe creme. Ordered it all by myself. We intended to go up to the studio after dinner to finish some pieces, but dinner ended again at 11:30 and everyone is wiped out. You can read more about Provins here. I'm too tired to write about it.

Tomorrow morning Kippy is taking Averill and me to Mr. Bricolage, the Home Depot on French steroids, as Averill says, to get some lace curtains!!! And tomorrow is our last day of the class, which culminates with a Vernissage, an exhibition of the work done the past two weeks. I'll post everyone's images on a Facebook page. Almost everyone leaves for home on Sunday. I return Wednesday.

Update on Victor's tin: Current contents-24. I am feeling reassured now that a child would be happy with most of the contents of this container, but I am still concerned that he might be traumatized when encountering the occasional semi-sweet. I am however feeling a slight pang of guilt that the pretty little tin is not looking full. I am looking for trinkets to fill the empty space. I may have to make extra room for these new trinkets in order to close the lid securely.

This evening's cheese...


There are now 28 chocolates in my grandson's tin. I am deeply concerned that I may have to get something else for Victor, since 3 out of 4 have been semi-sweet. This is a serious problem, as the tin is decorated with cartoony stuff, obviously for a child, yet it contains things not appropriate for most children. I will do some more research, and if I discover that my suspicions are correct, that in fact there are a disproportionate number of semi-sweets, I may have to file a complaint with the manufacturers of this product and find an alternative souvenir for my grandson.

Correction. 27. This one was milk chocolate. Now I am more confused than concerned. I will need more information to make my decision. I will keep you informed.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I'm not so sure my plan is working. The one where if I just don't eat any wheat products, I can eat all the cheese and drink all the wine I want with abandon and not gain weight. Or maybe Madam DeLahaye, the lady who keeps house here, does not know how to do laundry properly and is shrinking my clothes. I'm watching her...

Meanwhile we drove to Troyes (pronounced Trwah) this afternoon. Troyes is a large thriving modern city on the Seine with shopping galore, built around the remains of a 16th century town. The old town consists of half-timbered houses leaning this way and that with narrow passageways between. It seems nothing is straight in the old town. But Troye's history goes way farther than the 16th century; it goes back to Roman days. It was a center of commerce in Medieval times. Joan of Arc reclaimed Troyes from England in 1429. You'll have to read about this incredible place yourself because I can't begin to even comprehend it:


We visited the 12th century Cathedral of St. Madeliene, with it's brilliant colorful stained glass windows telling the stories of the Bible, and it's Garden of the Innocents -- all flowers white in honor of the infants who died before being christened. The interior walls of the church were originally painted vivid colors, as were all the gothic churches, as I understand it, but were whitewashed in the 17th century. They remain white today.
We shopped a little, I bought a tin containing 32 chocolates for my 9 year old grandson Victor. It now has 31. If they're all semi-sweet like the one I just ate, I might have to empty the entire tin for him since most children do not like semi-sweet chocolate. I'd better go test another piece to make sure. I can always fill it instead with pretty little rocks from France.
We got home around 8:30; dinner was finished around 11:30. Again. We keep pretty late hours here. At dinner, in the midst of stimulating conversation about Napoleon and Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, XVII and XVIII, Jerome leaned over and said to me, "I have gotten some really stinky cheese for you." I can't wait.
We've got a heckuvalot of unfinished work hanging in the studio. We will have a Vernissage, a private showing, on Saturday. Invited guests will come to see what we've done. There will be champagne and munchies, and a dinner afterwards. So some of us are feeling a little anxious about finishing up some pieces. Kippy has a couple of outings prepared for those who feel comfortable leaving the studio. Tomorrow, half will stay in the studio, half will go to Reims. I will probably go to Reims because I detect that those who are staying would like to be rid of me.





Tuesday, June 25, 2013



G'day, mate. Wendy and Lesley are teaching us Australian. I intend to have chooks some day after I'm all settled in my new digs and have sorted out all my odds 'n sods, bibs 'n bobs. Chooks may help with any mozzies I might have. And maybe one day, if I lose 20 pounds, I'll be able to put on my togs again and not have to hide in jumpers. Who knows, maybe I'll attract a truckie or a bikie. And if we get hitched, I'd want a kiltie to play for us. But even if that never happens, she'll be right, mate.

Pictured here: Joyce from Philadelphia, Lesley from Australia, Joy from Oregon and Wendy from Australia.

I have escaped for the evening. I have been invited by Meg Bortin to her Burgundy home in Villiers-st-Benoit, about an hour southeast of La Bonne Etoile. An American who has worked as a journalist in Moscow and Paris, Meg first took my class here 4 years ago and wrote a beautiful article about her experience for the Pastel Journal, an American art magazine. This year Meg is a day student and drives home after class; I'm accompanying her tonight to see the 200+ year old home with its fig trees, apple trees, pear trees and garden she's been talking about.

Meg also teaches classes in French cooking in her Paris apartment; I have been enjoying her twice a week cooking blog for a year now. You must subscribe to it if you want a quick entertaining read and easy French recipes.

Burgundy's weather vanes and church steeples all have roosters at the top.


This is cheese.

Sou montrain. From a small area in Burgundy.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday. To market, to market to buy...

Today we headed out to a local market where we got tons of photos to work from, souvenirs, cute cheap clothing items, and a rotisserie chicken for a picnic. We drove to another village and rummaged through brocantes and junk shops. I found a vintage metal towel rack on which to hang my vintage towels (a going-away gift from my friend Daniel) for my vintage kitchen. It rained off and on all day, so we picnicked in one of those covered springs where the townspeople used to do their laundry (sorry, can't remember the French word).




When we got home in the evening, the sun was casting long shadows, so we conscripted Honey to pose for us...hanging laundry, picking flowers, then in the house playing the piano. Something was missing. Renoir had several paintings of two girls at the piano at the Musee d'Orsay, why shouldn't we? We conscripted Joyce from Pennsylvania to pose with Honey at the piano, and we made magic. We got hundreds of gorgeous photos to keep us busy until everyone leaves for home at the end of the week.

Dinner tonight: poached egg in wine sauce, Magret de Canard, tiramisu. Oy Veh.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Yesterday's rainbow.

Thank you, Joyce and Lesley, for your rainbow pictures from yesterday.
Kippy took Averill (from Decatur, GA) with her on a grocery shopping expedition today while the rest of us worked in the studio listening to Emmylou Harris. Averill and I want to find the sweet lace curtains we see in everybody's windows throughout France. So she was to look for them at the local shops, and return with a report. She found them at Mr. Bricollage. "It's like Home Depot'" she says, "on French steroids. You are going to squeal!" There are rolls and rolls of lace to be cut to size, and I cannot wait to see. I've been searching online for months.

Here's today's lunch.


It is 8:00 p.m. We have been in the studio since around 10 this morning, took a break for lunch, and then went straight back to the studio. Can you imagine anyone cooped up, windows covered, for almost 10 hours while in France, not screaming to get out and see the country. Only artists. They are loving what they're doing.

Wendy from Australia washed her favorite wool jumper, but didn't read the washing machine instructions because they were in French. The jumper, before the wash, was tunic length. She and Lesley have decided they can wash all their clothes this way in order to be able to fit all their new purchases into their suitcases. They've been on vacation for weeks now. They got to see Van Morrison live in Ireland.

I want to see Van Morrison before I die.

It's cold in France today. There is a fire in the fireplace this evening. Wine is waiting. I'm headed downstairs.