another great week

What a lovely week I just had with a group of funny, talented and adventurous women from all over the US and Scotland! And let’s not forget our lovely man Tim who ventured here with his wife and made it thru the week!

laoWe started off the week going to the Revel market.  There was a wonderful kora player at one of the cafes last Saturday. Today I went back to see him again and he is supeb- Lao Kuayate- check him out. Wonderful music and spirit.

cofe By the way, my favorite new drink to order at a French cafe is called a Noisette. It’s an expresso with a tiny splash of foamy cream. Like a small size cafe au lait.

Sunday we went to a superb flea market in the nearby village of Caraman. Everyone found great treasures to use in art work made in studio here and to go home with. This group of women worked every night til all hours and there were so many wonderful pieces for me to see when I arrived each morning. Ya’ll were great!!

encalWe attended the last few minutes of a chanted service a tthe Monatery at EncalCat which was very special. The bookshop there is a great place to find all sorts of things- watercolor calendars, small Russian icons, CD’s of chants and jazz too!, beautiful postcards of tapestries that this monastery is known for made by 1001_T1Dom Robert. Books on medieval cooking, walking the Compostela, all kinds of things.

We enjoyed going to Albi and especially when one of our gals got up to sing with the organ grinder- great! Teresa- waiting for a picture coming soon I hope!

All in all a wonderful week of art-making, seeing the sights of our special area, inspiring studio time and wonderful laughs and conversation.

My thanks to all of you for making my week so special: Tim,Teresa, Peggy, Pat, Bobbie, Margaret, Sue, Sharon, Carolyn! xoxo.


workshop week!

sun2Finally, after months of email contact with all these adventurous women, they arrived in Toulouse France for our week together. We drove through blooming sunflower fields and got settled into La Cascade. By dinner time everyone had arrived safe and sound.

marThe week began with a walking tour around our village and our neighbor villages Soreze and furnitureRevel. All medieval and so charming. Revel is a center of fine furniture-making and has been from medieval times. It also holds the Saturday maket- going on since mid 1300′s and one of the 100 most beautiful in France. We went of course and saw heaps of gorgeous summer produce along with olives, cheeses, breads, local foods and antique linens, clothes and other things hard to FR8resist.

We went to two vide greniers (“empty the attic”)- flea markets and I gotta say- even tho they were small, the ladies found GREAT stuff- antiques and things to use in found object art and to bring home. Marcia found a beautiful white linen table cloth embroidered with her intials! Carla was the queen of finding unique jewelry.  I found a couple treasures myself but tried to leave most of the good stuff for them- he he.

I’m sorry to say that after several days of good studio time- we all were too tired to celebrate Bastille Day. The music and fireworks are close to midnight and after eating a full dinner and having wine- we all said no way.

Thanks to all for a lovely week- you all were intrepid working in the studio late at night and made unique and personal art. I really loved seeing the pieces come to life. Thank you for sharing your spirit with me- Marcia, Eileen, Susan (also car driver extraordinaire), Sev, Eleanor, Carla, Allyson, Sara, Dana, and Chris -who came the farthest (Australia) and bought THE heaviest things to carry home. Hope to see you all again!


busy week

calvaire-AgutsIt’s been an eventful week- I had a few days off which I most enjoyed. Dan and I took a hike through old fields and up the hill to the Calvaire d’Aguts. The small village of Aguts is home to (and the villagers maintain ) a lovely chapel, two small priories and a beautiful cross carried from Jerusalem in 1893.

28c1043af6df31b44cff49f52725fe20The next day we went to Castres for the Fete de la Musique. This is a celebration in all of France that happens each year on June 21st- a national day to make and celebrate music. Everyone is encouraged to make music on this day. The larger cities and towns have several stages set up all around the town for “music-makers” from professionals to your neighbor who plays the guitar. In smaller villages people gather at the cafe or town square to sing or even just outside your front door!

One year many people young and old gathered on our street to sing old French and English songs. Our friends Peter played the keyboard, Ann the guitar, Kate the flute and Ian the spoons! This year we went to a bigger town to see what was happening. There must have been 20- 25 places around the town set up for music making. We wandered from spot to spot experiencing jazz, cuban, reggae, rock, folk, indie- you name it- there was a group there doing it. delightful!

1024px-Lac_de_Saint-FéréolAnd I ended the week participating in a “Flash Mob” at Lac du Saint Ferreol! My friend organized a flash mob dance done on the dam at the beautiful and historic lake that is 10 minutes from here. The dancers were all in white holding white balloons. The music started and soon about 100 dancers were moving together. After the dance we were all encouraged to get a balloon and learn the dance routine. Being a former dancer I couldn’t resist. So the next time we did it there were at least 150 regular folk doing the dance and ending with setting all the balloons free into the sky.

The Bees – Les Abeilles

We just finished another wonderful week at La Cascade hosting the mixed media workshop of Keli Sim DeRitis and Janet Crawley. Their group was out everyday getting inspired, having loads of fun and collecting tchotchkes. At night they worked late  in the studio creating wonderfully charming art pieces- lovely collages imbedded with their collected flea market treasures and charming “frenchey” animals and birds from paperclay. You can see pics at Keli’s Facebook page.

Thank you Keli and Janet and all your ladies for a joyful fun week!

cadetBesides hosting the workshop I had a” busy as a bee” week. Friday evening there was a concert in a neighboring village St Felix du Lauragais. We went to see the junior (cadets) musicians of a wonderful orchestra called Big Band 31. I would say the average age was 15 and they are so talented- so beautifully rehearsed, so tight- they seem ready to go right into a professional orchestra. It cranberry-kir-royale-940x600was great music from the Big Band era. Saturday evening was the Vernissage for my friend Ann Mason- a lovely silk painter here in the village. (Ann and her son Steve will be teaching the next workshop at La Cascade.) A vernissage is the French version of an art opening. The group show at the Palleville Art Center was interesting and well attended with Kir Royales and  nibblies. A Kir Royale is champagne with a splash of cassis- black currant liqueur.

LautrecSunday was  vide grenier day again and we were off to the Lautrec flea market- one of the best of the summer. I found some cool things for the garden and a few other goodies.

On Sunday afternoon I saw my neighbor staring up at the second floor of a friends house (who is not here right now). There were swarming agitated bees flying all around the closed shutter. A “bee professional” was called in and he suited up, went into the house and found the hive inbetween the closed shutter and the closed window. After finding the queen and transporting her up the street to a tree, the swarm soon followed and we were all relieved. The  next day- new agitated bees, even more in number and agitation, swarming around the second shutter. Bee Man called again and discovered there was another queen. He suited up, went into the house and after quite a bit of time, the new queen was found etc etc. We all stood outside chatting, watching, waiting for the drama to unfold. Better entertainment than any recent movie I have seen!

a Photographers Week

201206031238This past week I hosted the photography workshop given by Marie Otero and Karen Burns. It was wonderful to see all the great photographs they captured of our village and all the places they went in the area to get inspiration. Thanks to you ALL for a lovely week!

vide-grenier-Durfort_i_18808The week started off with our annual Village Vide Grenier (Flea Market).

For the first time in three years we had good weather. Lots of vendors- all our neighbors and professional brocante(antique) dealers too .Many wonderful bargains to be found. I don’t have much “good junk” yet to get rid of so I put just five things on my friend’s table and sold four of them. (Of course I bought the same number of new “treasures” too!)

280px-Oppidum_de_Berniquaut_(commune_de_Soréze_-_Tarn)I also hiked two times this week (to combat the amount of food I am eating) up to Berniquaut. This ancient ruin is well worth the hike- the views of our village Durfort and the next village Soreze are stunning. It was a beautiful day to sit at the top of the mountain with 74007778the old ruins and look down on our village and all the planted gardens and lovely houses from the 13C onward.

And last but not least- a trip to the movies in Castres to see The Homesman- the new Tommy lee Jones movie. In English with French sous- titres (subtitles). Beside enjoying the movie I can pretend I am improving my French too!

119-8Oh, and one more interesting activity- I went to a French Tupperware party! Some things are just universal. It was a really fun time ending in a barbecue of yummy sausages- my favorite, Sausisson du Morteau. Great week.