The French boulangerie in my town closed its doors recently though it dated back to the 1800s. The original facade was taken off for safe keeping as the boulangerie will be transformed into apartments. In a land where history is in every breath taken and in every step walked, it shouldn't surprise me that one hundred year old things seem less important than two or three hundred year old things.
The ceiling in the boulangerie, that I have admired for over twenty years, had a hand painted canvas painting, three meters by two point eight meters (roughly ten feet). An angel on each corner: One holding cherries, one holding melons, another grapes and one holding a cornucopia of roses. The painting is known as the "Angels bringing seasonal fruit to make jam."
It was soiled from years of living above petite fours, croissants, eclairs, baguettes, pain au chocolates...
As the ceiling was twenty feet high, plus the lack of light made photos difficult. I will take better ones when I can unroll it in day light.
The young man stood on his tippy toes, on top of the ladder, while pulling out the nails that surrounded the painting. He was very careful. I admired him and thought: "He could be my handy man!" I didn't dare say my thought out loud. But I seriously admired his care to detail.
There is one angel in each corner. Each one has a different pose.
Some with baskets most with ribbons and smiles.
At first glance it seems to have been painted in 1920s or so.
But only an expert could tell the real date.
This angel above shows us its better side.
In the center faint clouds depict a perfect day.
A solid iron hand made hook is in the center to hold a chandelier. I don't know where the chandelier went... I never saw it in the twenty years that I went into this bakery.
I don't know what I will do with it. For the moment I will admire it, take photos of it and let it "speak" to me.
The painting is known as: " The angels bringing seasonal fruit to make jam".
The ceiling painting was framed, once with a small trim and then framed with another larger frame which covered lights that reflected on the painting.
Down. In one safe piece!
The photo (above) shows the other side with is bare.
Though it would fit in my home, I think it would be better in a bigger room, with high ceilings, with plenty of empty wall space around it and light.
They added a light layer of plastic to protect it, then rolled it up large, and carefully. Then carried it to my home.
P.S. No winner on the Guessing Game. I hate to say this but I think I have finally stumped you all!!
One season ends another begins. Winter gives way to a barrage of colors and perfume, dazzling our minds with serious questions as, "Do I take a coat, maybe a sweater..." Spring is sneaky, teasing us with afternoons that are deceivingly warm yet brings on chilly nights to remind us that summer it is not.
Strawberries, daffodils, cotton... yardwork.
Transition between the two seasons French Husband wears a jacket until it is 100 degrees outside. I usually trust it is going to be nice weather and end up begging FH for his jacket.
Roll the windows down.
After seeing shutter after shutter closed, I was feeling like it was a ghost town.
Les Temps des Petites Cigales, postcards of Provence.
The time of the little Cicadas.
I know they do not start their summer songs for months to come.
But the young man in the window, having lunch, while on a break, reassured me of the gentleness of spring.
We were at the brocante French Husband and I standing at the stand of a dealer that I regularly buy from. It amazes me over and over again at the stuff these dealers have to offer. Not one or two or five things that I like but let's say except one or two or five things that I do not like. While summing up what they had and what I wanted to buy I realized that the main dealer, the person's husband wasn't there. So I asked (in French),
"How is your husband? Is he okay (il est bien)?"
The dealer, an attractive women with a ready smile, starred at me quizzically. At first I thought her stare meant something was wrong so I put my hand to my heart, repeating myself,
"He is okay?"
She turned to her grown son (who suffers mental difficulties) and offered, "Yes, my son is good. Thank you."
With that it was my turn to look as her quizzically. Obviously something wasn't right. Did she think I thought her son was her husband? I cautiously added, "I can see your son is good, but but what about your husband is he okay?" With that said she looked at me as if something "clicked", an understanding you might say, she nodded her head upwards as one does when one finally gets something.
"Yes, yes, mais oui (but yes) he is well."
French Husband and I collected our purchases, said our goodbyes and headed towards the car. Then French Husband turned to me and asked, "Corey can I correct your French?" Usually when he says this I know that two or three seconds earlier I have made an embarrassing faux pas. I braced myself, "Sure. What was wrong this time?"
"Well when you asked "Il est bien?" You thought you were asking, "Is he okay?". But "Il est bien?" Doesn't translate that way. You need to ask instead "Il va bien?". When you said, il est bien, it was understood as, "He is good" like in a sexy cute way such as: "Is he good?" As in he's nice. You know what I mean by good and nice?"
Fifty shades of RED is what I became.
"You mean to say when I ask people tu est bien, or il est bien, I have been saying, "Your goooooood or he is goooooooood?!!!" Oh God." Red endured.
You can be sure I won't be asking that anytime soon. Correction learned. Red fading.
The shop window read:
"We still do not have Chocolates
But we have soap.
A friend of mine, Carrie (who I visited in Ireland nearly 18 months ago,) is visiting from New York. She wanted to go shopping. How could I say no to that? We headed towards the market in Aix. As we drove there Carrie said, "Yann told me to watch you carefully. He says if I see you falling asleep I am to hit you, slap you, shake you hard."
The fear of getting slapped kept me awake. I asked, "Gee, great vote of confidence."
Puzzled Carrie asked, "DO you fall asleep at the wheel?"
"Well I do. But l know today is going to be a good day. I am fine. Otherwise I would never venture to drive... I am not that crazy."
Still she never took her eyes off me.
The market was nearly empty due to the high winds and grey threatening sky. It wasn't animated, it felt like an empty movie set. Stage ready, actors yet to arrive.
Carrie couldn't resist buying some flowers at the market, and two beautiful art deco hanging lamps at the brocante.
Orange is her favorite color. Hermes orange.
I carried the flowers as she picked a tie for her husband. While she looking at the ties, I noticed in the mirror that my eyebrows are no longer as dark as they use to be... right then and there I realized they are going grey! GREY! I don't know why that didn't occur to me before. It is not like I don't see my eyebrows everyday.
Blonde hair grey eyebrows in an orange store.
As Carrie tried on clothes, and teased that she was buying too much and it was my fault, I told her people accused me of such. My mom often said, "If you do not want to buy anything DO NOT GO SHOPPING WITH COREY! Otherwise you will walk out with the whole store and like it."
Carrie liked what she found.
While I was oohing and awing over her jacket, pants, blouses, mid season coat, scarf... I thought about buying something with color... a yellow scarf... or something springy. Those orange flowers were playing cupid on me.
The funny thing is an elderly woman came up to me and said, "Oh black! Black, black black! I am sick of black. SICK of it. I can tell you love it. Look at you all black as if it were a funeral. Black robs the light from your face. It looks awful on you."
I smiled ackwardly, out of politness repeated to myself, "Why bother responding? What will it serve? Let it go." But also rolling next to my polite side was a smirk begging to come out. I turned around quickly walking the other way and chirped, "Creep!"
Five Hail Marys and ten Our Fathers for you Miss Grey Eyebrows. But the person in me who said, "Creep." wanted to go have a glass of wine or something.
Black polka dots won.
On April 1st the French give each other chocolate fish called: "Friture." The tradition has it that on the 1st of April children try to stick a homemade paper fish onto people’s backs without the person knowing it, then run away yelling ‘poisson d’avril’, which is like saying, "April Fool". The tagged person is meant to give the trickster fritures, small chocolate fish.
Since Easter is usually around April 1st, the chocolate fish "fritures" are given at Easter as well.
Back in the day, or I should say in the year 1900s give or take another thirty or so, the French mailed Poisson d'Avril cards to one another.
When French Husband first told me about this April's Fool fish thing it was back in 1987.
I had come to France to meet his family. During this time, which happen to be around the first of April he told me that April's Fool was all about a fish tapped or pinned to someone's back...
A few days later it was April first. I had made two small red fish. French Husband and my Belle Mere (Mother in Law) were going to a meeting. Before they left I tapped one fish on French Husband's back and another on my Belle Mere's back.
I was tickled beyond belief at how "French" I felt as they walked out the door to their meeting.
When they came back I asked if anyone had noticed the fish tapped to their backs?
"What fish they asked?"
Their eyes widen as it registered what I was talking about, they quickly looked at each other's backs. I told them I had taped the fish to their backs before they left for their meeting.
Neither of them were very amused.
In fact they looked at me like I was some sort of alien fish. I could feel myself sinking, going down stream. I had made a faux pas on the day were faux pas are expected. Duh.
French Husband questioned, "You put a fish on our backs as we went to a very important meeting with our lawyer?"
"Uh huh. I did. But in my defense I didn't know the meeting was important."
Needless to say they didn't buy me any fritures...chocolates.
I felt such a fool.
After dinner they started to see they humor in it. Maybe the few glasses of wine helped.
Then as most jokes later are retold and told again they found it hilarious.
And eventually congratulated me on such a comic pull.
But still no fritures.
I have never fished anyone again.
Nor have I bought those fritures.
Though the old French "Poisson d'Avril" cards, that is another addiction.
Have you ever played a prank on the first of April? If so tell me about it in the comment section, and or if you have had a prank pulled on you.
The flower shops spill into the streets with their array of pastel colored flowers. The tulips waved as if to say Spring is in the air, put a hop and a skip into the day!
Paris is beautiful anytime of the year, but spring time is the jewel in the crown. The burst of color from the coats coming off, children filling the parks, flowers gracing sidewalks and window sills...
Those of us walking by felt the celebration of color, new life, lightness of being. It felt like a mega dose of sunshine against the grey facades that I love so much.
A galore of people gathered at Luxembourg Garden. Why not. The sun was shining. Of course we spent a good amount of time by the fountain watching the children with the sail boats (Three Euros for thirty minutes.) It is one of French Husband's favorite places. French Husband's memories are stirred to the point where he becomes a boy again, giggling under his breath with desire to rent a sail boat.
Sacha was his reality check, "Papa, si vous plait..."
Those two men, French Husband and Sacha.
Talking and talking, walking and walking, laughing and laughing, loving and loving.
Makes me warm inside.
Dusty shoes means you are a Parisian. At least that what French Husband has told me these last twenty five years. I think he says that to make me feel "in" or something chic when we are walking about with dusty shoes.
Kisses on a grave: Catholics light candles, Jewish add a stone, on the grave of Simone and Jean Paul there are candles, stones, kisses and metro tickets.
The Luxembourg Garden is a fifteen minute walk from our apartment. We cheat and cross through the Montparnasse Cemetery to get there.
The two embraced, neither with clothes.
Spring in Paris.
Surrounded by golden light.
Trees begin to cover up with leaves.
I was amused by the late bloomer, or maybe the tree stood faithfully undressed by the statue?
A lovely stop before arriving is for an ice cream at:
5 rue Brea, 75006.
My favorite is the coconut milk chocolate ice cream bar.
Aren't these lovely!!!
I wanted to scoop them up and walk around carrying them.
The flower shop that I adore is nearby as well:
A must see is the carousal in the Luxembourg Garden.
I should post a photo of Chelsea on this when she was two and a half and I was nine months pregnant.
"...Carousels were born from tragedy: A jousting accident killed King Henri II, Catherine de Medici’s husband, in 1559, driving knights to practise a safer alternative to these tournaments, such as spearing suspended rings with their lances. For the birth of the Dauphin, Louis XVI held a carrousel festival in 1662 in front of the Tuileries. In true Sun King fashion, it was all pomp and fanfare: 15,000 guests watched knights in their horses participate in jeu de bagues competitions. The celebration which took three months to organise lasted only three days, but the Sun King did himself proud, because the memory of this grandiose fete still lives on: the location where it was held is known today as Place du Carrousel." Via Untapped
A blue glass top box. Handmade. Holding a variety of blue glass beads. Left behind in a drawer next to a stack of letters and a key.
A small black box with a number 63142, missing 5.
The pills are gone.
Do you think a hundred years from now people will collect Bayer aspirin boxes?
A pair of large menus without an ounce of flavorful descriptions written on them. Either the party didn't take place, or food wasn't necessary.
I love when I find menus that say for example: Chateau Margaux Wine 1855 or some far off year.
A pair of antique lock covers. One has been used, note the keyhole, the other is waiting for its turn.
What secret was held inside the drawer? And why was the lock cover removed?
These are the questions that present themselves to me while I am at the brocante.
The thread lets us know the color of her dress.
Most likely springtime.
She seems happy with herself.
A hint of a smile.
A clip holds her curly hair in place.
A collection of postcards. Only three. But I bought over two thousand. The old man was going out of business. Retirement. I looked at ten or twenty of his postcards in his neatly stacked boxes. I could tell the collection was to my liking.
He shared his love for old postcards.
I listened, and thought to myself it has taken him years to collect all these, and now they are going to be mine in less than five minutes.
Over one hundred years old gatherd in five minutes. Odd.
Snippets of emotions, greetings, how are you...
Her dream was to be a flapper.
But her diploma in hand spoke otherwise.
Surely she danced the night away.
The little beads neatly kept all these years tell me so.
What stories will our tiny trinkets, junk in our drawers, leftover mementos stuffed in a shoebox tell about us?
I hope they say, "Happy ever after."
We planned a trip. While I packed my bags a comment from someone played over and over in my thoughts. The commenter said something like she, "...missed her non internet mind."
Disconnect to connect.
I too missed my non interent mind. I stopped packing, sat down and did something I rarely have done in the last eight years: I wrote several blog entries in advance and pre posted them. Then I unplugged my computer and stuck it in a drawer. But I didn't stop there I unpacked my camera and put it in the drawer too.
I took my cell phone, promising myself I would only take a few photos of our trip, and only go online for a few minutes a day to check on family.
Little did I know how wonderful it would feel to have a vacation from my internet mind, from thinking about: "What to write today for my blog?", and not stopping to take a photo.
The stillness was inviting.
Disconnected I felt abundance of time and space.
Even on the narrowest of streets in a city.
My thoughts hummed a different tune. I read late into the night. I took long naps in the sun. French Husband did the same. We spent hours holding hands while walking randomly. Our biggest decision of the day came when we would come to a street corner, we would look at each other and one or the other would lead the way.
Red checked cloth.
Red tomatoes, strawberries, cherries, rubies... Poppies!
Roses are red, though violets never are.
Red its a holiday color,
Red as in stop,
Red as in anger,
Red as in love.
If you are looking for French notions to create with, check out:
Red is a sunset
Blazing and bright.
Red is feeling brave
With all your might.
Red is a sunburn
A spot on your nose.
Sometimes red, is a red red rose.
Red squiggles out when you cut your hand.
Red is a brick
And the sounds of a band.
Red is hotness
You get inside
When you’re embarrassed
And want to hide.
Fire-flicker red –
And when you’re angry
Red runs through your head.
Red is an Indian
A Valentine heart,
The trimmings on
A circus cart.
Red is a lipstick
Red is a shout
Red is a signal
That says, “Watch out!”
Red is a great big
Red is the giant-est
Colour of all.
Red is a show-off,
No doubt about it –
But can you imagine
Living without it?
My favorite wine? Red.
If you are ever in Beaune, France you must stop at Christine's Winery:
French antique textiles.
But cannot cut.
Which make creating something nearly impossible.
Yet adoring pretty piles they do make.
The radishes are here. Three weeks early.
The French who have a love affair with dining have a certain way to eat radishes.
While looking through my 90,000 plus photos for RED I stumbled upon my dear friend Erika's daughter Amelia. Oh sweet memories rushed in... several years ago they came and visited us, the above photo is from that time.
What is your favorite color of roses?
French Husband do you know mine?
I bet he doesn't. He will say, "You like violets?"
I would say, "The question is what color of roses?"
In which he would shrug his shoulders and say, "Purple?"
I love him.
Zinc stencils that I sold awhile ago. But! I found some more last weekend!!
Where to go for a classic, red checked cloth, old time feel French meal?
I have heard that it is impossible to find the toile de jouy's copper transfer plates (at the brocnate)... one day I hope to find one.
What color is your front door?
How I would love to have this one be mine...
Our front door is brown as in wood. French Husband says he doesn't want me to paint it. I would LOVE to paint it. Burnt Orange. But if I paint it he will not be a happy camper. I daresay he would be pretty upset. I am still working on him to change his mind.
My niece Molly with a red bow!
Red Rose jam... I made it twice with Annie's instructions. I also made rose vodka, it was divine. Oh God was it good!