Glimpses of places and people, trees and textiles found while traveling from May to December 2013. Coming your way in small wavelets from time to time.

Month: June, 2013

Chene de Tombeboeuf

Here I am still in Lot-et-Garonne at one of the famous oak trees in France.  I grew up in a house with a California live oak out front, so maybe that’s where my love of trees began.  I promised you trees in this blog, and this one may be hard to top. Underneath and inside it was cool and the experience of wandering under and around this 250 year old gem was green light and the weight of slow growth combined. It was hard to leave.

Yet, I think that’s about it from France.  We went back to Paris after Tombeboeuf and wandered around some more.
I’ll circle back if I can and send you a little more of our adventures there.

Isatis tinetoria

Also known as woad, this plant grows similarly to indigo, about a meter high with long, light stems and leaves and yellow flowers. Our friends indulged my passion for the story behind all blue dyes and took us to Lectoure and a woad growing and dying center that produces Pastel.  www.blue-de-lectoure.com tells their particular story.  It was a lovely outing, and another chance to indulge this keen interest.  The pastel color is lighter and softer than most indigos– isn’t it lovely?  

People claim that the paint protects the wood from insects and such.  Similarly, cloth dyed with indigo is said to keep biting insects away as well. Blue is in the news quite a bit these days–a novel called Sacre Blue that several friends mentioned, and a film that won in Cannes and is causing a stir with its lesbian themes.   Such a clever a color; its legacy takes you to wonderful, new places!Image

Raindrops on Roses…

…and birdsong in bushes

Long winters are tough on the sense of smell.  The other four can find their pleasures, but smell suffers much loss.  So, spring in Minnesota often means that noses wake up and lead you to lilacs, lilies of the valley and eventually, in summer to roses.  Here in the south of France, in Lot-et-Garonne at our friends’ farm “Malbec”, this rose climbs up the wall by our bedroom window.  I wish I could send you its scent!  It’s beyond red–full and rich to match its petals. Even in the rain, it wakes you up–so in the sun, well, you can just imagine.

Across the road from this rose in a deep tangle of rape seed, grasses, thistles and nettles a bird is singing his heart out. It a very long song that buzzes chirps, tweets, and chees–a high speed oratorio. A Warbler? A Flycatcher?  No–at last I saw him, and he is a Yellowhammer!  I so want to send you his song, and in our friends’ British bird guide, here is what is written to describe it:

scre-scre-scre-scre-scre-scre-SIII–suuuu.  Or in translation: ‘a little bit of bread and NO cheese.’  You gotta love those British birders–or ‘twitchers’ as they are affectionately called.


Circling Paris

My blue socks didn’t get much rest, but it didn’t matter because Paris smiles even when you see her out of rain spattered windows. image 
We searched for E. Dehillerin’s cookery story–an amazing place full of copper pots, pans, and enamel-clad cast iron treasures. Here’s the window:image

This shop has been in Paris for many, many years–in the Les Halles area.  You’d enjoy it too, I’m sure!  Another walk took me to Galeries Collbert et Vivienne on the Rue des Petits Champs & Rue Vivienne.  This glass roofed shopping arcade is known for its mosaic floors, charming shops and history. It is not on any beaten path, but definitely worth a visit.
It’s also fun to visit the Place Vendome, a huge square with Napoleon on top of a high column.  He likes being high up on columns or horses.  But, for fun, you can turn your back on him and walk all around the perimeter of the square and oogle the jewelry in the top-of-the-top stores.  Window after window of jewelry–more circles; more gems than sense.  Another world.  Guarded and behind glass; but the craftsmanship is superb.
Another few steps away up small, crowded streets is the Place de Ste. Madeleine. Here a huge church with heavy columns sits in the middle of the square. Surrounding it are shops full of high fashion and food. Macaroons are amazing in France, and the shop we found was beautiful inside and out. Here is the shop and the pyramid of those most delicate of sweets:image



We kept enjoying the streets, the 17th arrondissement and various obscure museums.  I looped back to the Decorative Arts section of the Louvre which I highly recommend too.  It holds shell-shaped beds, china, glassware, chairs from every era–so much to enjoy.  Art Nouveau ceramics in the shape of goblets were my favorite things among many other lovely bibelots.  I’ll attach a few more and then wave good-bye for now.  imageimage

An Ode to My Wool Socks

Now that it is warmer, may I circle back to May 7 – 25? And, may I reveal that with a few minutes’ exception, it was cold, windy and raining most of the time! But, we walked hours anyway along the SE coast in England, around Bruges, and all over Paris.  So this wave goes out to my friend Nancy, an expert knitter, whose socks kept my feet warm even though they were soaking wet.  With warm feet and an umbrella, you can keep going for a long time.  

So, thank you Nancy for saving my soles!

Slabs of Belgian Chocolate

Even better than slabs of slate, are slabs of chocolate.  Our day-trip from SE England to Belgium was my first visit to Bruges.  And, it lived up to my expectations.  A fairy-tale city on a lovely small scale with a layer of contemporary good taste, it’s a must visit.  The window dressing is smart: high end clothes and shoes, lovely house stuff, and the chocolate! Wow!  Brightly lit shops full of color: foil covered bits, decorated morsels, all kinds of temptations shine out at you.  But, one older store with less glitz beckoned, and here were these slabs of chocolate stacked on high shelves.  These raw ingredients came from all over the world, just waiting to be transformed into all those little treats.   Can”t you just imagine it?image