Homme de la Renaissance

Patric and friends
Patric and friends at Bio Marche

Homme de la Renaissance or The Renaissance Man. We hear of him but often there doesn’t seem to be much convincing evidence of his existence in the 21st Century. Yet there is such a man who walks among us here in the south of France. I am privileged  to know one and fortunate enough to witness some of his many talents on a regular basis. Patric was born in Lyon and moved to this area in 1975.  He has two sons and two daughters with 7 grandchildren and one on the way. He lives in a nearby village in an Eco home which he designed and built on his own. He is a vegetarian and grows much of his own food. Just who is this man? Is he a musician? A writer? An artist? Yes! He is all of these and so much more. It was my first year in France when I met Patric. For insurance purposes you must obtain a certificate from a chimney sweep, each year, that your fireplace has been cleaned and is safe to operate. I asked around and the number I was given was for Patric. He swept chimneys for 32 years and just retired two years ago.

Patric at work
Left by Arlette Mouton et Patric – Right by Shemon Ben Youssef

Music: Patric can play any instrument that he comes in contact with. He also teaches music. Art: Patric studied at Ecole Boulle in Paris. Among his many talents, he is an accomplished wood craftsman, glassblower, painter,  and photographer. He enjoys drawing with pen & ink. Patric has worked as a Wood crafter for eight years, at Masonry for five years while still making himself available for his other passions. His love of nature has motivated him to combine sketches and photographs with his writings into a book about edible plants. Perhaps if there is sufficient interest, I shall post further on the book when it is released. Patric loves to travel and related a story of when he was 17 years old how he rode a bicycle with a small motor all the way to Morocco. He has seven cats and his nickname is Patou which is a big shaggy dog found in the Pyrenees. The paintings were done by various artists with the exception of the self-portrait with the clock. Patric has had postcards made from them and uses those as his business cards. While the supply is dwindling, he quickly brought me all the ones I did not have after I saw him in Albas recently. Please do click on the photos so that you can see them better. When I saw Patric last week, I asked him if I could do a post and have him give me some information. For all his accomplishments, he is a modest man. Had it not been for his partner, I would not have had half the details you see here. She was generous and most patient to spend the time with me to uncover some of Patric’s many gifts. Bisous, Léa

Patric
Patric at Bio Marche
Patric with fellow musician at Albas
Patric with fellow musician at Albas
Drawing by Violette Vincent/ Painting by Sabine Delrieu
Drawing by Violette Vincent/ Painting by Sabine Delrieu
Left by Shemon Ben Youssef / Right by Brian de Carvailho
Left by Shemon Ben Youssef / Right by Brian de Carvailho
Patric - A self-portrait
Patric – A self-portrait

 

 

Albas 2012
Patric and friends in Albas 2012
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14 Juillet, 2017

“I know a freedom, and that is the freedom of the spirit.”                                                    – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Preparation – before the crowd

It isn’t just about setting up and serving on the day. The Durban mon village Association has put in considerable time choosing a menu, the music, and the myriad of other considerations required to make this a memorable event. Just prior to the day, I witnessed several villagers creating the new countertop you see in the above photo. 

Celebrants begin arriving at about 7:00 in the evening and staking out where they want to sit, speaking with friends and taking a beverage from this willing crew.

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The food begins! Bread, water, wine and such have been put in place and now the servers bring the first course. A half melon into which they will pour Muscat, a sweet, pale golden, wine. Though it is lovely, I opt for plain melon as I don’t have a sweet tooth. 

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A young couple with their three year old daughter join our table as the melon is being served. The young lady and her mom pass on the wine but watch her appreciate the melon as only a child can do.

 

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Curried Coconut Chicken and Rice, it was delicious!

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À votre santé!

 As always, a good time was had by all. The DJ, sometimes a band or more, and the music and dancing go on will into the night. Even the smallest children, barely walking, are out dancing with parents, and grandparents.  The French truly wrote the book on celebrating life. 

Bisous,

Lèa

La Fête Nationale

 

When it is spoken of in English speaking countries, 14 July is usually called Bastille Day or (French National Day). Here in France, it is La quatorze juillet (14 July) or La Fête Nationale (Formal name). The actual storming of the bastille was 14 July 1889

Make reservations?
Make reservations?

The medieval fortress and prison in Paris known as the Bastille represented royal authority in the heart of Paris. On the morning of 14 July 1789, the people stormed the building and released the seven prisoners it contained at the time. Yet this action had nothing to do with the number of inmates but the fact that the storming was a symbol of the abuses of the monarchy and was the critical stage which erupted into the French Revolution.

Grab a beverage and start socialising!
Grab a beverage and start socialising!

There were three events that led up to the revolution. First was the revolt of the nobility, refusal to aid King Louis XVI by withholding taxes, the second was formation of the National Assembly and the third event was the storming of the Bastille and the ensuing Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

Christiane (Counsel member) is ready for a lovely evening with family and friends
Christiane (Counsel member) is ready for a lovely evening with family and friends
A Counsel member chats with the DJ - a band takes over when the meal is finished!
A Counsel member chats with the DJ – a band takes over when the meal is finished!
A great view of the castle and fireworks
A great view of the castle and fireworks
Henri et Georgette - await their respective spouses
Henri et Georgette – await their respective spouses
Christiane, Serge et Pierrette
Christiane, Serge et Pierrette

The masses formed the National Guard, sporting tricolour or cockades (cocardes) ribbons knotted together of red, blue and white. These cockades and soon the color scheme itself, become symbol of the revolution and continue today as symbol of France itself.

 

And the dancing begins
And the dancing begins

While the date for the destruction of the Bastille was indeed 14 July 1789, the date for French National Day was actually 14 July, 1790 to commemorate the 1790 Fête de la Fédération. It is a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation and reconciliation of all French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic during the French Revolution. Celebrations are held all over France. A largest and oldest military parade in Europe is held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic, French officials and foreign quests.

Dance the night away... at least until 5am
Dance the night away… at least until 5am

Here in my small village, there will be a meal (repas) attended by all who wish. Each year a different village organization takes charge of preparing the dinner, selling tickets procuring music and everything else that is involved. As the meal comes to a close fireworks are shot from the village chateau. The tables and chairs get moved way back and the dancing goes on well into the morning. Despite the fact that I was, once again, invited to spend the day in Carcassonne where there is the second largest fireworks display outside Paris. However, the evening with my friends and neighbors cannot be matched by a mere firework display. It is one day I truly do not want to be anywhere else.

Trinkets for the little ones, a few small arcade games as well
Trinkets for the little ones, a few small arcade games as well

Seating fills quickly but you can make a reservation by stationing someone from your group or by placing something at one point, tipping forward the chairs you will be using and also with a pen or marker put the name and number of guests you require seating for. While this may sound simple, the claim is respected and your seats await you.

Barbe à papa (Papa's beard) AKA Cotton Candy
Barbe à papa (Papa’s beard) AKA Cotton Candy

 

Behind the scene

Each year, most often in the spring, our choir, Les Chants des Corbières, often combines our performances with a small repast           ( repas). While concerts are usually free, we do have a small charge for the meal and it helps to pay the choirs expenses.

In this post you will see a bit of the activity that goes into preparing an autumn repas following a performance in the nearby village of Villesèque-des-Corbières (Pop: 388).  The menu was kept simple. There was Pumpkin soup, baguettes, cheeses and a variety of desserts all made by choir members. There are always bottles of wine, juices and bottles of water on each table. However, we are also well known for our generous vat (30 plus gallons) of Sangria.

One of the first things I look for each autumn as the landscape begins to run rampant with colours are pumpkins and other squashes. When I first arrived in France they were abundant but almost unrecognisable to me. Living in California, New York and a few states in-between did not prepare me for what I would find at the local markets. No longer would I carve into a round and brightly orange vegetable. The pumpkins here are not round and smooth nor are they always orange. Many of the pumpkins are a light to medium and even a dark green.  Regardless of the colour of the outside, they are all the same vibrant orange inside and quite delicious.

Villesèque foyer's kitchen in the corner with two of the pumpkins
Villesèque foyer’s kitchen in the corner with two of the pumpkins
Andrea making the first cut
Andrea making the first cut
Part of our set-up crew
Part of our set-up crew
Front of foyer before being decorated
Front of foyer before being decorated
Never too many cooks!
Never too many cooks!
Tiny kitchen, several cooks and lots of laughter...
Tiny kitchen, several cooks and lots of laughter…
Tables begin to take on the colours of the evening
Tables begin to take on the colours of the evening
Chop and peel, peel and chop...
Chop and peel, peel and chop…
Is it soup yet?
Is it soup yet?
Nothing like a lovely bowl of soup on a nippy autumn evening
Nothing like a lovely, simmering pot of soup…
Clean-up
Clean-up
Many hands...
Many hands…
If only you could hear the laughter and the singing
If only you could hear the laughter and the singing

There is often a tombola (raffle) and prizes donated by local merchants including plants, travel, baskets filled with treats including bottles of wine.

While most of the songs we sing are French, we do have a few in our catalogue in Spanish, one or two in English and a few songs from different parts of Africa and the Caribbean. Audiences always have their favourites and they will demand encores so they can join it.

The choir has accumulated a large cache of dishes, silverware, glassware and serving pieces. It is a grand mismatched collection. Unlike typical village meals, our guests do not need to bring their tableware as everything is provided. We may be exhausted by the time clean-up is finished but smiling. Leftover food is usually shared among us with some of the cakes being frozen until our next choir practice along with some leftover sangria to wash it all down with.

Bisous,

Léa

Saturday Night Paella!

The early birds are arriving...
The early birds are arriving…

Saturday night and Spring is here. Do you stay at home for a quiet meal with the family? Do you venture into town to dine at a restaurant? Or would you prefer to enjoy the evening with about 350 of your family, friends and neighbours? In my humble opinion, it didn’t take long to decide especially with Paella on the menu. As all meals, this begins with an apéritif and a social hour or two… The evening began at 19h30 (7:30pm) and dinner begins to be served about two hours later..The room will fill quickly but this first photo gives you an idea of how the tables are laid out. The tables are filled with bottles of water and a variety of wines. Fresh baugettes are passed around and added as needed. There are always a few courses and this will be no different. After the paella there is a cheese course then glasses filled with a creamy panna cotta with a raspberry sauce and fresh raspberries.   Despite the effort to leave space for dancing later, it would not be possible initially. Never fear, this is France and room is always created for Dance once the food has been eaten. However, the paella pans are so large, each one will need a table in the aisles to support it as plates are loaded.

Muscat, rosé..., que voulez-vous boire?
Muscat, rosé…, que voulez-vous boire?

As you enter the foyer, you commence greeting those around you and continue until you have made your way across the room a time or two. There are quite a number of very young children running about and not a collision not a single tear. The stage end of the foyer is quickly commandeered by the little ones. They have found a large flat section of box and it quickly becomes part of a dance/gymnastic routine that is very creative at times. There is music on the side for background at the beginning and the dancing later.

Socializing is what it is all about!
Socializing is what it is all about! Alain, Christiane and Pierrette

 

Dance, dance, dance...
Dance, dance, dance…
Creative expression!
Creative expression!
My dear friend Daniella is saving my seat for me. You can see my camera case on the end.
My dear friend Daniella is saving my seat for me. You can see my camera case on the end.
Paella... bon appétit!
Paella… bon appétit!
Mangez, mangez...
Mangez, mangez…

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As the initial hunger pangs are quieted, conversation resumes.
As the initial hunger pangs are quieted, conversation resumes.
Josiane with family and friends
Josiane with family and friends
Amis!
Amis!

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Le maire, just re-elected!
Le maire, just re-elected!

 

a last dance with maman...
a last dance with maman…

A memorable time was had by all and a wonderful way to celebrate community!   Bisous,   Léa

Lez’ Arts Chez Nous

Bienvenue!
Bienvenue!
So delicate!
So delicate!

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A blue sky was over Chateau Bonnafous welcoming the local artists, artisans and all who joined in. The grounds, facilities and location are perfect for the many events held here. This is an annual event and there are always a few artists/artisans that we have seen previously.

We had a beautiful day for admiring the talents and skills of so many local residents. There is also the opportunity to purchase some of the items and to talk with the vendors. Naturally, you will be surrounded by friends, family, neighbours but perhaps make a few connections. Most of the tourists have moved on as the season’s change.

In addition to the singing group there was a concert held later in the evening. An actor read some poetry. Being a poet myself, I was disappointed that it was not his own work but he read so well with a voice that really held you. One woman brought her loom and gave demonstrations of weaving and had numerous examples of her work.

The majority of work is visual so I shall let the pictures do the talking!

Bisous,

Léa

Apéritifs
Apéritifs
Acapella group, songs from around the world
Acapella group, songs from around the world

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Stained Glass
Stained Glass

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Author: Linda Bastide
Author: Linda Bastide

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Le Moulin à Papier: Part III

Continued from Part II

Sieve
Sieve

The Dutch pile has been filled with the previously smashed paste inside the millstone grinder.

Dutch pile produces a very thick past that must be diluted in a tank. The resulting product will be 1 – 3 percent paste concentrate and 97 – 99 percent paste solution. A sieve is used to separate the fibres. A sieve is used to separate the fibres from the water. Each sieve is crafted by professionals and are imported from England. The tightened brass wires keep them parallel to each other with thick embossed seams.  The sieve consists of a thin plain metal canvas to create a vellum paper. The paper-maker attaches a wire to the canvas. The wire’s pattern gives the pieces of information on the paper’s size and who created it ( eagle, bell…). The removable frame cover fits the sieve and gives the paper shape and thickness. There are frames to form special papers, envelopes and other shapes.  The marks are called watermarks.

Sheets drying on the ropes
Sheets drying on the ropes

With the paste diluted, the fibres are mixed with a stick then the sieve is quickly plunged into the tank. As the water begins to drain off the sheet of paper is formed. The sheet is laid on a piece of woollen felt. One hundred sheets is called a ‘porse’. The more the past is diluted the thinner the page will be. Increase the paste for thickness.

When the sheets are piled without the felt it creates cardboard.

Drying: The sheets are lifted with a wooden stick and hung on ropes. The thicker the sheet of paper the longer the drying time. The other factor is the weather. It can vary from a few hours in the summer to several days in the winter. The sheets are lifted with a stick and brushed onto plain warm boards or on brick walls warmed by the fire in Japan. In

Drying garments, pages and other creative projects
Drying garments, pages and other creative projects

Brousses inspiration is taken from the Japanese method. The paper is laid on a synthetic material and then compressed and hung on the dryer. When the drying is complete, the pages are unstuck. The paper is flatter and smoother. If a coarse-grained paper is desired the sheet is layed on a coarser grained felt.

Once the paper has dried it has the consistency of blotting paper and must be waterproofed. The gluing is a process of applying a coating of gelatine. However, the process has changed and currently the gelatine is added to the paper-paste.

Smoothing: Pages require smoothing once they come out of the dryer. They are not smooth or flat. Today they are compressed within a few hours on the hydraulic compressor.

Coloured paper: A coloured paper is made from cotton cloths. White paper is made with lightened cellulose. Brown pages are created from plants or animal dung.

One of the dresses worn at the Paper Lovers Night!
One of the dresses worn at the Paper Lovers Night!

Large sheets: The special sheets, 3.4 meters long by 2.2 meters wide were specially crafted here at Brousses. Six to eight people are required to handle the special sieve. There is also a special tank that is assembled for when it is required.

The dresses were created by the visual artist, Catherine Cappeau, and worn every 14th August for a special musical event, Paper Lovers’ Night or in French Nuit des Papyvores.

Bisous,

Léa

All in a stunning setting! Make a day of it.
All in a stunning setting! Make a day of it.