Sunday, November 29, 2009

Petit Papa Noel : Vintage Christmas

Ahhh Petit Papa Noël.
LA chanson française de Noël par excellence!
(n'est ce pas SkippY?)
Je n'ai pas grandi avec cette chanson mais mes messmonsters la chantent tous en choeur tous les matins... tous les soirs...
Alors - elle fait "Noël" aussi pour moi maintenant, dans mon pays d'adoption.
Shhh ... Ecoutez là... Listen...

TINO ROSSI "Petit Papa Noël" (Version Originale)
Ca y est - Noël peut doucement prendre sa place dans la maison...

Les chansons d'abord (c'est comme cela à La Rivière) ... Suivies traditionnellement par l'arbre que j'avais envie d'aller chercher aujourd'hui, mais il n'y en avait pas encore là où je vais d'habitude.
Peu importe!

Je m'en suis fabriqué un en un clin d'oeil avec un vieux séchoir à Pruneaux et une de mes planches bien aimée.  Juste un petit coup de pinceau fin et j'ai pu immortaliser les paroles que chantait Tino Rossi dans ma tête.

Petit Papa Noël
C'est la belle nuit de Noël
La neige étend son manteau blanc
Et les yeux levés vers le ciel,

A genoux, les petits enfants,
Avant de fermer les paupières,
Font une dernière prière.
[Refrain] :
Petit Papa Noël
Quand tu descendras du ciel
Avec des jouets par milliers
N'oublie pas mon petit soulier
Mais, avant de partir, 
Il faudra bien te couvrir
Dehors tu vas avoir si froid
C'est un peu à cause de moi
Il me tarde tant que le jour se lève
Pour voir si tu m'as apporté
Tous les beaux joujoux que je vois en rêve
Et que je t'ai commandés
Le marchand de sable est passé
Les enfants vont faire dodo
Et tu vas pouvoir commencer
Avec ta hotte sur le dos
Au son des cloches des églises
Ta distribution de surprises
Et quand tu seras sur ton beau nuage
Viens d'abord sur notre maison
Je n'ai pas été tous les jours très sage
Mais j'en demande pardon
Petit Papa Noël...
Joyeux Vintage Christmas Monday chez Joan@ Anything Goes Here! Allez visiter son blog pour voir plein de jolies décorations de noël anciennes...

Et hop! Un autre projet créatif pour le tout dernier jour de Art Every Day Month. Un grand MERCI à Leah d'avoir mené ce projet jusqu'au bout encore cette année! Et je pense même être arrivée pour Inspiration Avenue sur leur thème Français... Peut être ...
Merci aussi Mlle Fabulously French pour le séchoir à Pruneaux... tu vois que j'ai trouvé de quoi faire avec!

Et demain? Les PARIS EPISODES ...

Secret Truths: Taking a Leap of Faith!

A couple of days ago I had a discussion with a very charming and talented man about where I might best be classified when describing my blog. This was a particularly revealing exercise - to me none the least - defining where I should best be put. It consequently lead me down a stream of thought that will take you all the way to my secret at the end of this post (scroll down if you like to read the last chapter first ;-).

In that one simple question I realised that I was all over the place, and always have been. That is what is quintessentially me. Right from when I can first remember I have rarely felt at place within just one group. As a little girl I would ride horses barefoot and bare back, then dress up in frilly dresses for birthday parties. As a teenager, I would play 'real man's' rugby with the same boys who would take me to the cinema and very gallantly treat me as a lady after they had just plastered me into the dirt 2 hours before. My friends have been, and still are from various walks of life, and widely differing 'social circles.' I love all people: they fascinate me, where ever they are from, and whatever they do.
I am therefore equally as comfortable abseiling down a cliff face at 5am with 3 other tired adventure racers ...

... as I am at a cocktail party with UNESCO delegates in the middle of Paris (although I may admit to a slight preference for the cliff face... ;-) Ditto for sitting on the floor by the fire reading with my children or quietly and patiently practicing my calligraphy on a stubborn piece of wood. I am at a loss to separate these parts of myself from the whole. They are all equally and truly moi!

Amongst all of that higgledy piggledy, there is one fine, but very strong, common thread that links my life and my art: Words.

Words that inspire to move on, move up, change, accept and have courage to seek truth and perservere against the odds.  Words that have inspired me, have inspired others, will continue to inspire... hopefully even you, my cherished reader! You can find out more about my thoughts on that HERE - and I do hope you go there as it is a subject that is very close to my heart. It perfectly describes my initial goal when I started this blog and remains to this day my primary objective, wherever else all of my meanderings may take us on the way...

And this. This leads us to my secret...

When I first started learning the art of calligraphy 5 years' ago it was in order to be able to write a book for my children and make the appearance as pretty as the content itself. Five years ago also I was just starting out selling the pretty objects I was making by hand to decorate houses, such as these...

(By the way, these are not actually mine but my best friend's in Paris. My photos burnt in our house fire and, as she taught me to make the same things, she has graciously let me use her photos.  When she starts her blog of her new beautiful things, I will give you the link!)

But it wasn't enough - there was something missing. So I got to the point a year ago where it was time to use the techniques I had acquired working with wood and designing lighting, together with my calligraphy, and my convictions.
Ahh the convictions. They are the key.
They are encapsulated in the phrases I heard as I was growing up, and that have had such an enormous influence in carrying me through those difficult periods in life that we all face, regardless of who we are, what we do and where we come from.

I had to get them down. They bubble out of me of their own accord. For they are not mine to keep! They belong to each and every one of us...

And from there followed, as a sort of natural progression, the idea of selling my work. One cannot create so much and keep everything now can one? Stocking things goes right against my personal crusade against clutter (which itself is hardly compatible with my love of flea markets, I know)!
So, here's my secret... Here I go ... I'm taking a deep breath ...

... Early on in the month, I started up an Etsy store. (Phew, I got it out!)
And I have since been too petrified to tell any more than a mere few about it. It's far easier for me to rappel down a 100m cliff face... Or speak out to diplomats about women's education...

The Reason it's so difficult?
Because this time - I'm selling ME! Not just part of me.
It's time to put those words into action ... and believe,
in myself this time.
I hope you will accompany me.

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come ...Victor Hugo

Well, the secret's out and I admit I feel somewhat relieved!
Now, don't forget to pop on over to see Seth tomorrow for more Sunday secrets !
Then see you later on tonight for, The Paris Episodes!

PS. Sooner or later I might get sorted out and have two blogs - one for art, one for life. For the moment the two are still inextricably linked and I can't quite define where one stops and the other begins. In the mean time, please bear with me, all of me...

Friday, November 27, 2009


...and the net will appear!

This seems entirely natural for me.
Jumping in both feet that is, always trusting that things will work out.
(see more about this favourite subject of mine here)
Not leaping out of trees, I assure you.
Especially not this one!
I had just climbed up it in my special PINK
painting/tree climbing sneakers to put my
twinkly Christmas lights up.

Christmas wouldn't be quite as much fun if I couldn't climb my favourite tree to put my lights up.
Skippy, my much loved plank supplier, has nick-named me Tarzan...
Fitting - some days.
But, unlike Tarzan, I need my special pink shoes to do it.
Last year around this time I nearly ruined a really expensive pair of chocolate brown, soft leather boots in my hasty enthusiasm...
That took a bit of the shine off Christmas for Beaker - given that they were my Christmas presents from the year before...
So pink Converse sneakers and a happy tree-climbing-mummy-artist it has to be.
Spontaneity can be organised and still be spontaneous afterall
n'est-ce pas?
No reason to leap then! But Miss Magpie has inspired me, so...
Tomorrow I shall take the leap.
A real one! Well, literally speaking.
With my heart in my mouth.
If you want to find out why...
I invite you to come back then...

In the mean time, have a very adventurous Pink Saturday!

And seeing as I managed to finish another Positive-Plank, in spite of looking after my poorly, littlest messmonster all week, I can add to 'Art Everyday Month' with Leah as well! It's not very pink looking but I'm counting on my sneakers to sneak me in...
Does it pass inspection Miss Magpie?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sagesse et Sérénité

Mon Dieu, donne moi le courage de changer les choses que je peux changer,
la sérénité d’accepter celles que je ne peux pas changer,
et la sagesse de distinguer entre les deux.

Mon plus petit messmonster a été malade toute cette semaine. J'aurais tant aimé changer cela, surtout pour lui.. mais quand même aussi un peu beaucoup pour moi.  Je l'avoue, j'ai regardé le beau temps dehors - si parfait pour peindre et pour courir - avec frustration. Mais - il n'y avait rien à faire. Il fallait laisser la peste suivre son chemin... 

Accepter... C'est aussi cela la vie!
Et puis, Tant Pis! Demain je peindrai à l'intérieur et je courrai sous la pluie... 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Paris Episodes: The 'cuisine Américaine' & the 'bathroom'

The plague hasn't quite left the premises, having smitten the other family members, so La Rivière is in quarantine. However, while Every Day Life has resumed its leading role and naturally brings me back to the urgencies of the present, I have still managed to steal some time here and there to spin a good yarn (as we say 'Down Under'). Now, where was I?

After a heart-stopping, nail-biting key hand-over with the rental agency during which I indebted myself to Ex and his kind parents to the tune of a whole month's salary not to mention a lifetime of loyal friendship...

There I was, Parisienne at last!

Now I could finally settle in to my tiny apartment in the 5th! The Left Bank! Hang on! There was the slight issue of having no furniture! Once my job in Paris had been confirmed in writing while still in NZ, I promptly sold all of my worldly possessions in the space of one week. I left Auckland with my mountain bike,  which was still sitting snug in its bike travel box seeing as I had no idea how to put it back together, my paints and paintbrushes, clothes (which unfortunately did NOT include a winter coat!), and a few personal treasures...

... some of which I was holding gently as I studied my new home from my vantage point in the middle of my 'Cuisine Americaine.' Ahhh la fameuse Cuisine Américaine, selling point extraordinaire for any modern French dwelling. Think spacious. Think organised. Think cutting edge. Think AGAIN!

It was little more than the astute placement of a plank of chipboard masquerading as a kitchen counter, positioned so as to redefine one room as two. The kitchen part was easily identifiable by its stainless steel sink. Given the actual size of it, it was also easy to remark the immense lack of any other visible signs that it was a kitchen.  There was no oven (Weren't those mandatory in every rental? Obviously not so in France). No hotplates either. No fridge (ok - that was normal). No cupboards aside from another plank of chip board running the length underneath the other that was the counter.  Easy to guess then that the other half of the room was in fact dining room and lounge.

It didn't matter. I loved the place! It was mine! In a crumbling building in the 5th. And from there I would live many an adventure... romance ... discovery!

But before that, ever the practical girl, I set about making a rough list of what I needed in order to make the house a home:  A table and chair, 1 bed and bed linen, 1 pillow, 1 small sofa, lighting, thank goodness for small mercies that there was a light bulb in the socket in the ceiling! Plates, cups, glasses, cutlery, a dresser and wardrobe for my clothes. Once I'd picked my heart back up off the floor, I decided that it would be shorter and easier to make a list of what I didn't need I got to work examining the FUSAC: France USA Contacts magasine which specialised in classified ads for everything from furniture, jobs, all sorts of  classes etc to rentals and house swaps.

Between Ex's friends and the FUSAC announcements we managed to scour Paris, fill up his little white Renault Clio, and simultaneously cross all items off my list. I got a pair of plug in hotplates that could get water to the boil in 30 minutes and then slowly stew your pasta over another 30 minutes to a general state that one could accurately call cooked but not necessarily edible from Fred. I got a great big beat up fridge (BUT IT WAS BIG) from another Fred, I received all sorts of plates, cutlery and glassware from Vava. I also found a two-seater blue and white striped couch that could slip you onto the floor in nought to twenty seconds. Needless to say, it became a great backrest!

Some other thoughtful person gave me a rickety free standing coat rack on wheels that scared the wits out of me numerous times in the middle of the night when it collapsed, clothes and all, on my bed!

Remembering some wise advice that I had gleaned while reading the "Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy," I had at least had the forethought to bring over some towels!!! These were to go in the BATH room. Needless to say, this was rather a loose translation for such a small shower room, although technically speaking, the sides of the shower stall were raised up high enough that if I sat in the bottom with my knees more or les hunched up to my chest, it was sort of like having a bath. In any case, the landlord was very proud of that and his fresh white tiling, and I had seen enough apartments for my budget by now to know that this was as close as I was going to get to luxury! All it needed was a shower curtain, and corresponding railing. Neither of which was going to fit into my financial plan in a near future. So I did what any desperate young woman in a new country with no shower curtain would do. I called my Mum. A Mum who very gently and kindly explained to me that the price of my phone call would probably have paid for said shower curtain and continued with, 'Welcome to Life's wonderful learning curve. You will see, other people are really suffering in this world. This, my dear, will only make you stronger!" She was right.

The most wonderful addition to my apartment was a gorgeous honeysuckle type plant with a trellis and a big terra cotta urn that nearly did our backs in getting it up the 3 flights of stairs. A lady moving back to the US was desperately getting rid of everything in her apartment so along with lamps, lights and everything else that was still missing, I got what soon became known affectionately as, The Stalk! I promptly installed her in the bathroom where she could benefit from both the humid atmosphere and the sunlight that would stream through the windows on a nice day...

...until they put the scaffolding up one month later! Yep!  The building had just been selected for it's 10 yearly facelift - courtyard side. I could still open my windows to catch the smell of Greek food wafting up from the restaurants below, but being only on the 3rd floor, it wasn't quite as easy to catch the sunlight at the same time.

I shrugged my shoulders in true French fashion! What did it matter? I was going to live an exciting life outside wasn't I? With hardly enough money after bills and debts were paid to even buy myself a cup of coffee I promptly set about having the most exhilarating time of my life in Paris using my little, now dark apartment in the 5th as home base... It was time for me to get to know the neighbours!

Next week ... La Quai de Montebello: Living with the Russian artists by the Seine and surprise visits from LA POLICE!

PS - Even if I'm running late, it's still Change the World Wednesday so don't forget to pop over and see what Small Footprints has for us this week. It's also Wishcasting Wednesday and the 'next step' I wish to take with my very countrified-Parisienne orange wellies is... to show you all my new Etsy shop. Do I dare?

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Monday, November 23, 2009

The Paris Episodes: The Plague

Sorry friends, there's an unplanned intermission between acts (read: chapters) I have come down with a case of SST (severly sore throat). Feels like the plague ...
'Should this prevent you from using your fingers for typing?' I hear you ask... 'Do you have to repeat every thing out loud while you type???'

No - but head is pounding too (it's from hearing that little voice telling me to go to bed with a hot lemon toddy and look after myself).
Then, the Adventure Racer in me says "YOU WOOSS! Get over it and get writing, you have a deadline to meet! You've done 500kms non-stop with 7hrs sleep and a dislocated shoulder blade before, this is peanuts next to that! Not to mention other people, like Julie for example, who work sooooo much they start talking backwards! You're a poor excuse! "

Then the WOOSS in me says, 'Yes but I don't want to get really sick and spend a week in bed and get behind in my blog art, with all the Chrismas orders to get off, (scoff scoff, you're a mother, who'll give YOU time off to have a week in bed anyway?) so maybe if I went to bed before 11pm just once I would feel a bit better and then I would make up for it by getting up earlier in the morning...

The WOOSS wins! The Adventure Racer can only win if she is outside and still has 400km to go to get to the finish line. When you don't have a feather bed in sight, it's much easier to brave the rain and make radical decisions like that!!!

See you first thing tomorrow with la suite aux Paris Episodes.

The Scaffolding, the Stalk, and Smell of Greek food...

PS, Found this little book when rummaging through the garage - may take it to bed for a read and see what a 'Parisienne' was in the mid 1700s!!

A demain...

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mon secret? Peu ... (or Less is more)

... Pour vivre le Présent à l'Infini!

First of all - It's Secret Sunday! with Seth
As I alternate between both English and French , Secret Sunday drew the short straw and fell on a French day...If you would like an English translation (ie one a little more conventional than Google Translate) then let me know... I can easily email it over to you!! The first link below is to an English post from September...

On continue alors en Français...
Vous aurez peut-être déjà vu ma planche ci-dessus ICI.
Elle est une de mes préférées.
J'ai eu de la chance de la récupérer par la gentillesse d'une de mes amies de la calligraphie. Comme dit le dicton : "One person's trash is another person's treasure." En effet, ce qui était 'poubelle' pour l'amie, était bel et bien un trésor pour moi. Elle était contente de s'en débarrasser et moi ravie de la débarrasser. J'adore ce coté gagnant-gagnant de la récup!

Cette planche m'a intriguée: Pourquoi la plaque de zinc au milieu? D'où venait ce demi-cercle à droite? Elle avait vécu et elle m'attendrissait. Ahh - mais comment allais-je l'habiller?

Elle est restée longtemps au coin de mon salon que je puisse l'a regarder souvent. Un mois, Deux mois, Trois mois .... et puis, presque un an plus tard en lisant ce livre par Dominique Loreau j'ai trouvé la phrase qui lui allée comme un gant:
"Avec peu on peut vivre le présent à l'infini"
Je m'imprègne de ce dicton tous les jours... J'y crois!

Regardez: une vielle planche, des encres récupérées des coffrets aquarellum offerts aux  enfants, quelques pigments, du drawing gum, une pipette en verre ... et le tour est joué! Rien de plus simple!  Enfin presque ;-) L'idée surtout, c'est de jouer et faire des erreurs jusqu'à obtention d'un produit finit qui me plaît!

Si vous cherchez des secrets de travail d'autres artistes, aux US comme à l'international, ou si vous aimeriez faire parti de son projet 'LE PULSE' un sondage de plus de 200 artistes en ligne - allez voir le blog de Seth tous les dimanches... J'y vais maintenant!

Finalement, il ne me faut pas grande chose pour vivre bien!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

La Vie en Rose ...

At my birth, a  little sparrow told me to believe that every thing would always turn out for the BeST ...

And each day, the early morning sky above my bedroom window brings a message from heaven that ...

... just plain tickles me PiNk...
Although I have a tendency to see life through rose coloured glasses anyway ...

I still like to raise a glass of this...

... and pray that, just like Lily the Pink,*
at this blessed time of Thanksgiving and Christmas...
... YOU, and your families too,
find yourselves in the PINK of health!

While we're on the subject of gratitude...
Thank you to the very enterprising and lovely Beverly for allowing me to be part of her
Pink Saturday and to my dear friend Mlle Fabulous French for all her help and encouragement!

PINK! It's more than a colour - it's a way of seeing the world!

*Based on the folk song "The Ballad Of Lydia Pinkham", "Lily the Pink" was a surprise hit, becoming the Christmas #1 in the UK singles chart for four weeks, in December 1968.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

To Change One's Life ...

... 1) Start IMMEDIATELY!

No time like sunrise!


The shoes every French country girl worth her salt has in her wardrobe for those flamboyant occasions!


Seeing as it's Change the World Wednesday, I thought I should present you with my favourite quote (above), from William James. A quote which has accompanied me and reinforced my determination throughout all of my endeavours (although sometimes I have been known put it out of view when I can't be pfaffed!).  According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Mr James...
...was an original thinker in and between the disciplines of physiology, psychology and philosophy. His twelve-hundred page masterwork, The Principles of Psychology (1890), has given us such ideas as “the stream of thought” and the baby's impression of the world “as one great blooming, buzzing confusion.” (Hmmm, had he met yours truly, he may not have restricted this theory to babies only!)
... “The Sentiment of Rationality” (1879, 1882) presages his future pragmatism and pluralism, and contains the first statements of his view that philosophical theories are reflections of a philosopher's temperament.
Now France has more than its fair share of philosophers...

...not all of whom are known for their pragmatism but many of whom have been remarked for their temperaments!. Hey! Maybe I am a bit of a philosopher myself  'sur les bords' as we say in French!
In any case, I for one shall now pragmatically feed my children and put them to bed with a cuddle, and temperamentally put the washing on then come back to the the first hearth fire of the season with a glass of red to philosophise about how I am going to equally pragmatically execute my favourite quote.

It's the last part of those wise words that I have the most difficulty with. So for Wishcasting Wednesday, I wish for the courage to work on those EXCEPTIONS!

And I wish that your own changes may be as exceptional in their beauty as that of the turning seasons...
I will be back on Friday... I have some new 'Positive-Planks' to finish between now and then!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Aimer Eymet or Fabulously French Friends...

Entre mon jardin ... ici... là ...

... et son jardin, ici ...

... et là ...

... Sous mon ciel ...

... et son ciel...

... et à travers un travail commun (doucement agrémenté par des bubbles et l'aide de l'adorable Mr FF)...

... dans son atelier...

... une amitié s'est tissée...

Pour moi, ce qui rend une personne 'aimable' ou 'intéressante' ne peut jamais se définir par les 'jolies possessions' qui lui appartiennent, mais par qui elle est...
Et Mlle Fabulous est bien plus qu'une fabulous Bloggeuse...
Son dynamisme, énergie, et franc parler m'ont séduits.
 Je suis sous le charme!

Vivement l'année prochaine quand on lancera 'Fabulous Patine' weekends in Dordogne. 

"Le meilleur vin n'est pas nécessairement celui le plus chèr...

...mais celui qu'on partage..."
George Brassens

P.S. Mlle Fabulous - je penserai à toi tous les jours avec les couleurs que tu as apportées à mon petit et humble sofa! Je t'attends pour partager un verre de bubbles quand tu veux!

The Paris episodes: Laying the first stone...

For a dream come true, I have, surprisingly, no real recollection of the day I actually arrived in Paris...

I vaguely remember being picked up from the airport by my very kind and gorgeous ex boyfriend, and still life-long friend, who I had met at l'Alliance Française in Auckland (yes girls, it IS a hint!) a couple of years before.

It had been determined that I would arrive in Paris long before he would have finished his VSN "military service" in NZ. The vagaries of the French Administration whose tentacles extend even as far as Sydney put paid to that, and I finally arrived 5 months after his return to his parents' place in Sceaux. The said parents were kind enough to 'shelter' me while I looked for lodgings inside the Paris I dreamed of. Little did we all suspect, they would be my guardian angels more than once during my first month!

Their house was all I could have imagined. An enormous, stately, stone building full of antiques with a huge park on a lovely street in the very up market 92 suburbs. I had the whole of the very spacious and airy top floor to myself with a gorgeous Marie Antoinette blue and white bathroom comprising a huge old claw foot bath tub. With the exception of the house not being inside the Paris city limits, it was EVERYTHING I had pictured in my mind.

So you can imagine my intense astonishment when said ex-boyfriend started taking me to visit affordable apartments... (the exhorbitant rental prices and 2 month deposits we'll get to later).

With his friend Henri, we spent many hours during that first week brainstorming over which quartier would be best with respect to where I was working, in Boulogne-Billancourt. Of course, they thought Boulogne would be best (Logical). But not being in Paris seemed to me like I was falling short of attaining 'the dream' so they capitulated at my insistence and we agreed on the 5th or 6th arrondissments between Metro St Germain and M° Cluny La Sorbonne. The artists' and writers' haunt... 

Defining where I lived by my Metro station was very novel of course. I mean, it sounded a bit dubious and, well, proletarian:

Moi, rapidfire questions: "What's the Metro? Why do you define your situation by a train station? How will people know how to get to me by car?"
Ex: Silence. OK - it's easier to move around by metro. You normally count two minutes travel time between stops. Even people with cars prefer the metro...
Any one else cringing here? I'm wincing as I re-read this!

Full of enthusiasm, we hit the real estate agents. That's where the dream took on its first bit of patina. Where were the old wooden floor boards? Where were the high ceilings with Gustavian cornicing? Where was the REST OF THE APARTMENT?

Example Apartment Type 1, ( 2, 3, 4 and ... ad infinitum until enlightenment):
6th arrondissement, M° St Germain
Gorgeous Hausmanian building with 'pierre de taille' and 'digicode.' (very positive point)
2nd floor, no lift (fine by me, good sport)

Me: "It's very light, and very pretty." Note to self: kitchen a bit poky and surprisingly, no fridge or oven yet. "Where's the bedroom?" We were standing at the door facing the windows at the rear of the apartment. I had been wondering how they had artfully hidden the doors leading into the rest.
Real Estate Agent, not amused: Hmmhmm. Zis is ze bedroom, mademoiselle.
Me, confused: "Pardon? Was my French really THAT bad? Where's the lounge room and dining room then?"
REE with very raised eyebrow via Ex : Zis is ze bedroom and ze loungeroom and ze dining room and you ere very lucky as zis apartment has just been refurbished so ze sink and shower stand are bof new... I can assure you zis ees quite a big apartment for someone of your means age."
Me, incredulous: 'There are apartments smaller than this? You mean people actually sleep in the room they cook and shower in? Wow! Merci, we will look around a bit before I make my decision."

Was Ex playing a practical joke on me? Naaaah. The new girl just wasn't going to fall for it! Certain that we were being too limited, I marched him smartly out of there, determined that we would find something more acceptable.  So we visited... And we visited... And we visited...

Until I fell in love with a gorgeous run down apartment with a 'cuisine Américaine' (that definition underwent a French transformation too), and a SEPARATE bedroom, in a 16th century building with a fabulous crumbling staircase, right in the middle of the Latin quarter.
18 rue St Séverin
75005 PARIS!
Digicode: 8E6D0

There it is! You can see the dark green 'distressed' door just before the Japanese restaurant on the right. In front of the very aptly named 'St Séverin' bar where you could buy French Onion soup at very unconventional hours... and eat it to the chimes of the church bells next door.

Due to the level of exciting disrepair, the rental price fit my monthly budget, in other words, exactly half of my French salary!  This was actually almost illegal (and still is; it's normally and very sensibly 'advised' that rent be limited to a third of total salary).

All good! I could pay for it! And I DID have a bedroom that I didn't have to cook in! That was a definite positive, given that I didn't even have a quarter of the deposit necessary to sign. My 1000 AUD that I had been sure would last me through a while, seeing as I was working straight away, was just enough for the first month's rent, but not for the two month's deposit and 1 month's agency fees that no one had told me about during my interviews over the phone. Let's not even mention buying furnishings and hotplates, oven, fridge - for my cuisine Américaine - and SHOWER CURTAIN for the unfinished bathroomette.
But you remember, I had guardian angels on my side... TBC

 NOte: Didn't get this out for Monday. It's just after midnight so I nearly did though!. May I plead guilty and be forgiven as a writer for traditionally missing my deadline ;-)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stay Tuned...

Held captive in stunningly beautiful bed and breakfast with dynamic Kiwi woman.
Still painting furiously fabulously ;-)
Back later tonight Toulouse time for the Paris Episodes!
A tout a l'heure ...


Friday, November 13, 2009

Self Reliance: the quintessential Dr M

I do not wish to expiate but to LIVE. My life is not an apology but a life. It is for itself and not for a spectacle. What I must do is all that concerns me. Not what the people think.
From "Self Reliance," by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

These are words that incarnate Dr M.
Versatile is another one.
He is one of the few people I know who is capable of both meeting me in the forest at precisely 6am on a cold, grey winter's day, in the rain, for a spot of mountain biking through the mud, and hitting the cocktail bar that very same evening, chic as ever, without changing his character.
We are alike in that way. Extreme. But adaptable.

Unlike me however, he quite simply doesn't give two hoots what any one, whoever they are, could possibly think of him!
Which is why, I'm assuming, he picked THESE colours for me to decorate his walls with!! Not that I don't like them of course. I love them! I just rarely have the opportunity to paint them.
"Ange, paint what you like! Use the phrase that you like...But it has to have these colours! And you know I don't like things too straight and I love lots of texture!"

Here is my response Dr M: The phrase is you! The colours are you! (Think I'm pretty close to what you wanted, and I can tell you my pigments have never played together so much in their lives).
The metal is you and the wood is you! And I know YOU well enough to know that you will tell me honestly what you think... I am consequently biting my nails in anticipation of our meeting next Thursday. Oh dear! I will endeavour to put it out of my mind until then (NOT!)
FINI! C'est FINI!!! Je l'ai FINI!!!
Phew! Now all I have to do is hang out the two loads of washing that have been waiting patiently in the laundry since this morning, vacuum the floors, go get the messmonsters from school and paint both a chandelier and an antique mirror to take with me to see My Fabulous Friend L on Sunday, all before my mother in law arrives this evening...

Forgive me Dr M but to change my scenery, I believe I need a bit of ... sparkly grey!

Going to have a great weekend teaching L to 'patine' everything from chandeliers to lamps to mirrors to maybe even her Mr FF. Be warned! The girl with the paintbrush is coming...

Back on Monday, paint-stained and happy with the Paris Episodes: my first apartment in Paris! As in :"That's not an apartment, it's a closet!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Je ne souhaite pas expier mais VIVRE

La VIE existe pour elle-même et non pour la parade

Ce que je dois faire est tout ce qui me concerne
Et non pas ce que pensent les gens...


Un travail en cours ... dans le cadre de Art Every Day Month

Pour Dr M

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fill your paper ...

... With the breathings of your heart
William Wordsworth

Wednesday flew by in a breath under a curtain of rain... a blur of inactivity!

Oh dear, it's Change the World Wednesday and I have only just emerged.
Haste! Haste! Time to go fill my pages...
The breathings of my heart can no longer be contained!
Many thanks to Instinct and Grace who brightened my day with Wordsworth
But before I away - a last wish for I have just found a Wednesday Wishcaster too
Today I wish for Courage to stand my ground, and Grace to direct my speech.
Tomorrow? With Emerson...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Afternoon Tea for two...

La Vie imite l'Art...
... bien plus que l'Art n'imite la vie,
Oscar Wilde

Je suis bien d'accord avec Mr Wilde!

Vous voyez? Je viens de surprendre 3 de mes tasses à thé, chinées dans les brocantes entre l'Australie et la France, essayant de se faire passer pour de l'art... Elles ont même détourné mes pots d'encres et gouaches pour se camoufler!

Pendant que je peins, je ne me permets que rarement les distractions du genre 'petit afternoon tea entre amies.'  Mais aujourd'hui je fais une exception! C'est Plumed Pen qui m'invite et j'en suis ravie. Ahh le luxe! Je me permets le temps d'une pause avec des amies - sans quitter la maison!

Alors installez vous le temps d'une respiration profonde et
permettez moi de vous offrir un Yogi Tea aux épices et  des bonbons AMORiNo venus de Paris via ma copine Sabina!

"Allez Ange, au boulot! Finie la pause. Ton nouveau tableau dans les couleurs douces des bonbons à la violette requested by the Dear Dr M n'est pas encore fini, et les messmonsters ne vont pas tarder à arriver..."
Voici la voix de la raison qui me sollicite!
Revenez demain, et je vous montrerai le tableau fini. Mais CHUUUUUUT, c'est une surprise! Dr M ne peut pas le voir avant jeudi 19 novembre..
Ce fut un moment de détente bien agréable mais toute bonne chose à une fin.
Mais "Les folies sont les seules choses que l'on ne regrette jamais"!
N'est ce pas Mr Wilde...

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Paris episodes: If you have built Castles in the air ..

... Your work may not be lost; that is where they should be.

Now put the foundations under them.
Henry David Thoreau

My Monday posts from now on will be dedicated to my Australian friend Julie, and her alter ego Ruby (Amelia Earheart).  For the real-life adventures she lives every day...

The Paris Episodes start in March 1995, 6  months before the public transport strikes that brought the country to a halt, when a dreamy eyed Kiwi/Aussie girl who had clicked her Ru(g)by shoes finally landed on the other side of that well sung about Rainbow ... in Paris, France (not Texas, and not Kansas either ;-).  WOW! A dream come true.

This random phrase from an old school friend still on the Sunshine Coast, Australia, is what first got me thinking:
'You live in PARIS? How GLAMOUROUS!' It must be sooooo much more exciting than HERE! You've really MADE IT!"
To some extent, she was right - but not for the reasons she imagined!

Julie, along with Les Champs Elysées at christmas time, drinking the world's best hot chocolate at Angelina's, the glittering Eiffel tower and afternoons on the Ile St Louis eating icecream from Berthillon, what made Paris such an adventure, is all that I could never have imagined:
The Grind!
 Yup! The frustrating, every day, not-on-holiday-but-living-here Grind (and no I'm not talking about some exotic French horizontal dance)!

- Tiny, run-down, expensive, bedsits with no kitchen, not even a shower curtain...
"That's IT? The WHOLE apartment? Wow! They never showed those in the movies I saw!"

- Dealing with feelings of powerlessness at not being able to help so many homeless people eg: the time I offered, in frustration, a guy the carrot I was going to eat instead of money, and the shock I  received back when he flashed a 'frustrated' toothless grimace!

- Coping with going to work on the metro in the dark and coming home in the dark
(Metro Boulot Dodo, as we say in French)

- Dog poo! 'O Merde!' They made a film about this, do you remember?

- Conflicting cultural definitions of the words 'impossible,' 'efficiency, and 'today.'

- Confrontations and helplessness before that great mastodon which is the French Administration (which started with getting the visa in Sydney for that matter...)

- Being 8 months pregnant, dying for a pee, and never being able to find a public toilet I could 'fit' into!!!

Wouldn't have traded 'the Grind' for all the macarons in Ladurée... It's how I found myself! It's how I learned, thank heavens, that life is not a magic carpet...  but a much richer tapestry with all the little plain threads holding those few silver and gold ones into place.

So RdV every Monday for the Paris Episodes and a wee giggle; 'cause, in spite of what my darling adoptive France mistakenly believes, you can laugh and work at the same time!

A Julie et tous, I hope this will entertain you and inspire you and even bring forth a few of your own tales... for where ever we go in the world, what ever 'exotic' country we live in, we can't escape from ourselves!

See you tomorrow for a cuppa with Silken Purse and hopefully a new piece of wooden inspiration if I can only get off this keyboard ...