Thursday, 28 January 2010

Are we nearly there yet?

Not sure, certainly lots of stops for cups of tea, and the loo.
Think I might start another tomorrow and return to this one later.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Spring is the air...

Well possibly a bit early, but still in the spirit of the carnaval; here is a cheeky photo of the runty dog trying in vain to continue his line with his fellow pack dog, old enough to be his great aunt Mildred. This went on for about three days: runt stuck to old dog like a desperate crustacean, old dog yawning but standing patiently and occasionally mentioning that a soapbox might be helpful.
It's interesting that the urge to 'oo er missus' is so evident in both this tiny male dog (who has had his natural talents removed) and this ancient female dog (about seventeen) who was parading her assets for all the horrible dogs of the chemin to admire.


We have the usual suspects twice a year without fail. The small depressed poodle who stands by the gate in the rain, his discoloured white coat dripping, a small cloud of failure hanging above his head. The awful brown thing, size of a pregnant sheep, that somehow gets in the compound and destroys objects in his lust frenzy. Last year it was the innocent blue plastic mob bucket, this year the 'outside' dog bed, completely shredded — pieces of yellow sponge and leopard fabric everywhere. The mad black Alsatian with eyes like Steve Bell's cartoon of Tony Blaire, and lastly, the huge white and tan dog that is actually a man dressed up in a carnaval dog outfit.
This morning the compound is quiet again. The hideous things have melted away, the old dog has gone back to her knitting and runty dog is holding the wool for her.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Bad hair day

Luckily you can't see it. Hidden under a mass of purple 'tulle', here I am as someone at a film awards ceremony . . . before turning into Albin from 'La Cage aux Folles'. It was a busy morning and a great day: ate too much meat, drank too much Blanquette, and built up certain arm muscles which only get used during Limoux carnaval — and had my ear drums strained from the appalling sound system at the cafe where our group reside during the event. Am having a quiet day today, and doing jobs that require no upward arm movements.

Dr of music in tights shock incident

video

Here is Mark (in pink frilly shirt) after the morning 'sortie' of carnaval, taking part in French fete ceremonious people-diving event. I avoided it this time as I narrowly avoided death last year from pastis fumes and crushing by larger person in the band. This year Mark I and Yohan were characters from La Cage aux Folles; other films in our theme were Les Gendarmes de St Tropez, one about cabbage soup? and another about surfers on a skiing expedition.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Relishing the differences.

Is this not the most poetic road sign you have ever seen?
Would there be an English equivalent? I can't think of any. Most seem to be straight forward 'don't do that' sort of messages. 'Chickens nests in formation,' beautiful . . . Someone somewhere in an office, or possibly several people must have thought long and hard about potholes.
"What should these things be labeled as? Dents in ze road? undue undulations? bidets?"
"I 'ave a suggestion, monsieur le director — chicken nests, you know the gently sloped sides formed by a chickens scratching feet, while uttering gentle bruauack bruauak noises."
"Of course, but you are right Mr Dupont — an excellent end to this meeting. Now let's go and have a two hour lunch break involving some Coq au Vin".
Limoux is full of these holes after the recent extreme cold, although most of them resemble meteorite craters. Maybe one year the mayor will decide to spend the 40,000 euros spent (allegedly) on hanging baskets on re-surfacing the roads in the city of Blanquette. However I think they are quite good as natural speed decliners, sort of speed bumps in reverse.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Yes, its that time again

You either love it or hate it. CARNAVAL de Limoux.
We love it, maybe its because I'm a Limouxerner . . . 
Here I am dressed as Madame Toutou net (clean dog — rough translation) part of our theme of carnaval a couple of years ago. This year's theme will be revealed next Saturday at 10.00am in tha town square. 
Last night, we went (me and Ezra) to one of the best, possibly THE best theatre/circus event ever; a supreme piece of creative madness, humour, beauty and incredible acrobatics. I haven't laughed so much since I saw Eddie Izzard performing in Derby.
Well one can still be continually surprised and learn new stuff every day, even in farty old middle age — like the fact that our small town can occasionally put on performances of exceptional quality.
Another very small but wonderful thing I learnt this morning, due the nearest boulangerie being closed, was that Pujola's croissants are the best in the world.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Wintertime and the washing is easy-er

Hurrah! White stuff gone, mad temperature change, all fetid semi-dry washing out, birds tweeting in deranged manner, sunbathing dogs and lunch on terrace.
Sure it won't last, but wonderful to have a break from breaking the ice in the bathroom.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Temps gris

Hmm, seems to be changing with the weather this one.
slight 'recul' away from the screaming blue-whiteness, small re-emergence of the damp bracken tones, and limpid moss pools.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Nice 'ere innit

The afore-mentioned walk.

Satanic Christmas cake decoration.

Or, small runty dog up to his armpits in snow.
Fabulous walk above Limoux today, the snow outlining the contours of the hills, the distant mountain peaks steely and sharp against the last sun rays. Even the tile factory was majestic, a huge white battle ship surrounded by broken chips of ice floats.
Home — fire still in, Spanish cakes and tea, very tired dogs.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Cross over point

Managed to start a new painting between wood chopping, trying to dry washing and keeping members of the house happy. Thought the day was lost when I trod in a 'hidden in snow' dog poo in my new Super U slippers while chasing a big bastard dog out of the garden. Slunk to the computer and started looking up property prices in parts of Corsica where they don't get this white inconvenient stuff. Stopped just in time and slapped Gesso on a piece of MDF instead.
So it's a start. This was a journey between Winchester and Poole. My notes tell me it is an image heavy with dead bracken, dark pools of water, and hints of bright green, near to frost grass. I can only see it at the moment in icy azure tones, due, I suppose to the current weather conditions . . . could be an interesting struggle of ideas here.

What a difference some sun makes . . . just twenty-four little hours

video
Same planet, same time of day as yesterday's film, but with sun, shadows, and air like a toothpaste ad: fantastic!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Dans la neige il y a des cactus

video I think we came close to insanity today. Pathetic really, its only been two days of snow-house arrest, but seems like for ever. Experienced great troughs of anger, depression, hilarity and wonder. We have fed all the small birds of the Aude region, made tortillas, drew fish, watched super nanny in French, forced the dogs to make small yellow pools in the pure snow, listened to Keane, Jacques dutronc, Coldplay, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and Leonard Cohen, well I would have, except I couldn't find any — possible a good thing . . . and did a bit of art.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Blog for Mark

Currently in the frozen wastelands of the Netherlands. Great word that, those lands unexplored up in the North: flat, eerie, wild and windswept. Probably not. I only passed through Holland briefly years ago and ate a cheese sandwich in a service station, so I have no good visual recollection of it.
Mark, we miss your bread (actually, I just made some and it was GOOD!) and everything else, even your tutting in the kitchen. Weird days here . . . not unpleasant, but long and glassy from reflected snow whiteness. Quiet, even though we have listened to Jacques dutronc relentlessly. Quiet with that sort of stillness only disturbed by the muffled thud of a clump of snow falling from an overloaded tree. No train, no cars; snoring dogs, small movements in the house in the compound on the edge of this small silent town in a white landscape, amongst other bigger white landscapes. Somewhere in Brazil someone must be sitting on a beach wondering what snow is like.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

come on in, the water's lovely.

Odd things seasons . . .
I can't  now recall that feeling of hardly being able to drag oneself to the fridge for a bottle of slightly cool water, or driving up to the top of a local hill to locate a pocket of non-fetid hot air. When socks are a mysterious collection of unfamiliar things hidden at the back of the drawer and a small salad is sufficient for lunch.
Have been fighting an urge today to lie on the sofa under all available blankets with the dogs, eat chocolate and watch daft films featuring Hugh Grant. We are all obviously supposed to hibernate between January and April, crawl into a big pile of leaves and emerge blinking in the delicate pale sunlight of April, unwashed but enthused; ready for the new year.
I was idly perusing youtube for some info to show Ezra about the coldest place to live on earth. There it was, a small settlement in deepest Siberia. A group of lonely houses in a white expanse. A large sign proudly stated the coldest record of recent times. - seventy five degrees! The local 'weather man', dressed in a light jumper (as it was only - thirty two degrees) was describing how you would literally freeze outside in a couple of minutes if not wearing the right clothing. (presumably three ski combinations inside a hollowed out yak).
Getting the car out to go to Super U to get a new gas bottle suddenly seemed a thing of joy and wonder.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Blues removal.

I woke up this morning. This was true, which was already good; not everyone can say they woke up this morning, but I suppose if they couldn't tell you that they had woken up this morning, they would no longer be with us. Anyway, I did, and I felt a bit crap, partly due the January Jack The Ripper weather, but partly as Mark is about to depart to the land of clogs and round cheeses for 2 weeks. What can we do when we feel like this?
For me, its commencement of small unimportant tedious jobs, which give a feeling of accomplishment (sad) then lead on to the bigger picture.
Todays prime example of tedious job was washing the car. This is our noble old Kangoo: filthy, stinky and beaten on all sides including the roof, where I backed into an overhanging sign which said do not reverse here, in a car park. The cat has started a new hobby of getting in the car, getting trapped and peeing on the seats . . . nice! So the overall feeling of getting in the car recently has been . . . depressing.
An hour later we had a beautiful shining thing sitting on the drive: amazing! A sponge, two buckets of water lightly anointed with floor cleaner, quick hoover round, and my mood changed to positive — was even able to go to the bank and make a R.D.V that I had been putting off.
Mood changes are a strange thing. Must read up on what the function of feeling crap actually is, there must be a reason for it. Perhaps some people never do feel down, but then you wouldn't really appreciate when you were feeling very 'up'. Think I must stop here, and make a cup of tea, or take the dogs out.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Washing as art

Tracy Emin's bed be damned. This is far more interesting.
I have lost our clothes airer. It is red and about two meters long; how is it possible to lose such an item? It's not even in the garage. I think someone must have taken it on our open art day. Good luck to them, it was more annoying than a deck chair to erect, and more strangely space consuming in its angularness.
Make your own Tate installation. One very long piece of string and various bits of furniture to attach it to. The string position can be varied according to where the sun is during the day, or whether the fire is lit. I have further site-specific pieces on the outside of the house, and on the terrace if its raining.
Clothes as ancient as some of ours have stories to tell, especially if they have come from a vide grenier (car boot sale) first. The oldest item on display in the current exhibition is Mark's 'Criminal' long sleeved t-shirt. Purchased in the clearance department (who on earth could be this shape) of T.K. Maxx about nine years ago, this garment has been worn during gigs, house moving, gardening, midday naps, hikes, cooking, jogging, and other 'stuff' . . .  Roll over Tracy.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy new year.

Its a funny time this out with old, in with the new thing. What resolutions this morning, to be un-done by teatime. For me, less swearing — this one never works, create more oxygen (buy more trees) not a difficult one, give up being cross, impossible, due to womeny age crisis time, but at least, more tolerant in annoying situations.
2010. What to hope for, what to set out to achieve.
I would like to create a studio; the corner of our busy sitting room has become a little cramped — mostly occupied by a christmas tree at the moment. Mark is going to sell the 'gamelan' and start other music project ideas in its place. Ezra will hopefully learn to do his homework in advance, and maybe the dogs will make an effort not to decorate the house in an unwanted fashion. Now for time honored N.Y Day walk in the wind, especially laid on for blowing away the collected cobwebs of 2009.