Yesterday I told our local bookseller I wanted to start reading in French. Could he recommend something easy and short, perhaps chick lit or kids’ books? Any bilingual editions, I asked? The answer to that last question was mighty convoluted–j’ai pas compris! Not an auspicious beginning.
He mused and murmured and wandered around the shop.
Ah, he says, finally.
Le Petit Prince!
Bonne idée! I replied. Since I already know the story!
But he wasn’t finished.
Back to books for grown-ups.
He pulled a book off the shelf. Here you go!
CAMUS????? I must have looked alarmed.
The language is not difficult, he said.
Lordy, I thought. Some of the ideas are . . . too complicated for words.
Alors, on y va!
Stumbled across a fascinating TV show this morning, Escape to the Chateau. English couple spends life savings on a 45-room abandoned, dilapidated chateau in the Loire. For GBP 390,000! Which left them exactly 20,000 pounds for the renovation. It was so absurd I couldn’t believe it was real, but apparently so. Must find other episodes.
This finding is seriously cool, but the way the researchers figured out how it was done is really fascinating.
Lately I’ve been watching the PBS series A Chef’s Life, which is great and making me homesick for North Carolina. Last weekend I came out of the grocery store with fresh corn (ahem, I mean, what the good people of France think passes for same; it’s a bit more oriented towards what animals would like than Southerners), white peaches, and some good-looking okra from Senegal. Ended up with some mighty fine fried okra, macaroni and cheese, my version of Vivian Howard‘s tomato sandwich with roasted corn aioli, which, aside from being impossible to eat, was pretty good, and delicious peaches in Moscato.
Now I’ve bought Vivian’s book, Deep Run Roots. I’ve just made a crazy pork and watermelon dish and will be using up that watermelon rind for pickles. Stay tuned for a full report!
The amazing Austin Kleon pointed me to Quotenik, which is an amazing site for quotes from creative people.
I LOVE this entry, from a poet I have long admired:
Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.
Jane Kenyon, “Everything I Know About Writing Poetry,” in A Hundred White Daffodils (Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 1999), 141.
The travel sketchbook, or carnet de voyage, is HUGE in France. There are festivals devoted to them in lots of places. Artists come from all over Europe to show off their work. I’ve now been to two, and am booked for a third. It’s so inspiring to wander around, seeing hundreds of different kinds of work, gathering ideas, not to mention materials and samples at the shop!
Not all the photos below are very good, but they give a good flavor of the variety of sketchbooks on display.
Friend Alice and I (and Psychokitty, of course) went to Dresden in November. I had always wanted to see this city that was bombed to smithereens in the Second World War.
The city had a melancholy feel. Large parts of it were completely destroyed, and the historic parts have been built back in their original Baroque style. So something about it just felt fake, or like a ghost of its former self.
The Christmas market was being set up, but it didn’t open until after we left (good thing for the bank account!).