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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Vendredi matin, le roi, sa femme et le petit prince…*

In Absurdlandia, Animals, Artists, Food, Hautvoir, proto drafts, Sundays, Visual artists on July 17, 2016 at 11:03 am

*the title refers to a traditional French song in which the king, his wife and their little prince come visiting the singer on every day of the week. Since the singer isn’t in, the little prince says: in that case, we’ll come back tomorrow. And so on, until the singer runs through the days of the week.

Friday morning my sister and I went to the supermarket in Gaillac. So did a whole bunch of people on holiday for whom the supermarket visit was something of a family outing. Crowded parking lot, impatient parents, blocked alleys while grandpa waited for grandma to choose the one essential flavored tea among the seventy-eight varieties on display. All par for the course – and the main reason why I visit supermarkets as little as possible.

Can you call it a moment of zen when the experience borders on disgusted amazement? Zen of sorts, I suppose, that landed on me in the yogurt section.

Yogurt. A double alley lined with refrigerated containers. Yogurt for children, one label read (this meant either slurpies  with cartoon characters on them or containers with – yes, cartoon characters). Next, you had organic, health (different from the organic kind, presumably), lo-cal, flavored, with fruit at the bottom or fruit mixed in. Did they have yogurt for boys and yogurt for girls? Not that I noticed. Maybe I should complain.

In other words, senseless glut, aisle after aisle after aisle.

Yesterday, before she left for Canada my sister and I took in a exhibition of ceramics in neighboring Giroussens. With all due respect for the potter who finds fulfillment in reproducing stones out of clay, my preference went to a large amphora in the courtyard. Shaped like a traditional receptacle for oil, wine or grain, it is decorated with leaping goats, flying fish and fowl blowing on trumpets and other friends of dance and music. A small sample?

DSCN3076 With thanks to the potter Thierry Basile, whose name lurks at the bottom of the jar, along with a pair of used work gloves.

Mischief

In dreams, Food, Fun, Hautvoir, proto drafts, RLB trivia on July 14, 2016 at 8:21 am

We’re in the car, driving to the glass museum in the former mining town of St-Benoit de Carmaux, when I say something about our mother’s recoil at anything resembling humor. Yet, in the trove of photos, I see a few of her looking jolly in social settings – parties and such. But jolly didn’t fly in family circumstances. My sister’s interpretation: laughing implied a loss of control. Given some of the less savory aspects loss of control can take, you could call our mother’s efforts at self-control commendable, if misguided. Given we’ll all die anyway, I’d rather die laughing and I’d rather laugh whenever possible between now and the final send-off.

The nuns shared this dread of laughter. As for portraits done in oils (or their later interpretations in the first days of photography) – how often have you come across a formal portrait of some grandee laughing his head off, or with his teeth showing and his wig askew?  The simple answer: never.

Therefore (since this is leading somewhere) a someone given to setting off bouts of giggling in others was not invited to exercise her skills at school commencements or graduations; in classroom settings; at her grandmother’s table or during a family dinner where the main concern of all centered on the edibility of the contents in the mystery pot about to be uncovered.

Solemn was good. Mischievous was bad. Simple. Basic. Prior to the meal, we now bow our heads to ask for heavenly assistance with our digestive juices.

***

After the glass museum, we ate salade aux deux saumons (gravlax and smoked) in Albi.  Giggled over some of the more memorable culinary fiascos from our childhood. And recalled with fondness our father’s   purchase of a gadget from which he produced grilled cheese sandwiches he served with pickles, when all else was lost to the Burnt, the Raw, the… the… that thing you just lifted out of the stewpot, what is it exactly, mother? Or would we rather not know?

(Both the visit to the museum and the subsequent walk through Albi were enlivened by my attempts* to keep my pants on – the change in diet begun end of June isn’t beneficial to my limited wardrobe.)

* successful, but this added an element of suspense to the outing.

***

One boy whose papers don’t bear up under scrutiny will show up at my door at some point around ten o’clock this morning. Beyond listening to him, there won’t be much I can do to help. Who knows – there may be a hidden thread in his narrative that leads out and away, same as in a Navajo rug.

Another boy sends me three pieces of writing he’s done. Of the whole group, he’s the one with a real grasp of the French language and a real desire to use the written word. Why he’s taken to signing his stuff so-and-so President of Africa in some cases, or President of Africa and revolutionary in others, I’m not sure. Given his enthusiasm for words, the fact the authorities signed him up to learn maintenance on industrial equipment can’t sit too well on his sixteen or seventeen years of life experience.

Of the three pieces he sent me last night, the best to my mind is the one he titled Immigration. Could also be called Immigrant’s Blues. Some of the imagery in it stays in mind this morning – for instance, his comparison of the Mediterranean sea to a cold storage chest for Africa’s youth. Funny, not.

Which makes humorous mischief the better option when the weight of the world bears down too much.

(Do I add a post to keep afloat to the filing categories for this blogpost? Yep. Along with food, dreams, fun, Hautvoir, proto drafts, and RLB trivia.

Allez? Allez.

Assumptions

In Artists, Circus, Food, Hautvoir, proto drafts, Sundays on July 10, 2016 at 8:19 am

All traces of the street festival gone, this morning. Stalls going up for the Sunday market. I’ll do a quick run down before it opens. My sister arrives from Canada at some point between ten and noon. Someone wants to see me before that. One of those someones who may or may not show up. If he does, he will have unrealistic expectations. Some people cave in when the notion sinks in of what unrealistic means. Some don’t. Either way, the paths they follow are unpredictable.

Details. Over and over again. What makes this one tick and that one balk? What crucial detail am I missing in someone’s life story that may provide a few answers to puzzling behavior?

Assumptions in need of airing. Disappointments in need of mending. Connecting back to family – maybe some folks get too much but then, some folks don’t get enough.

***

Everyone tells me I missed the best show of the entire festival. A tight-rope walker who’s perfected the art of the stumble. Who balances his balancing bar on the wire, then sits off-center on the bar and so on. From a height of some seven meters, I’m told – each meter corresponds to some three years of training. So the man has been at it for some twenty-one years or so.

I wanted to see this but the boy who crossed the Meditteranean in a crowded dinghy and doesn’t like green bean salad, doesn’t like circus acts either. The two of us reach temporary understandings on some issues. Then, I discover the words we exchanged had different meanings at their landing site. Understanding someone across  cultural and personality divides – it’s a slow process.

For now, market, then whatever comes next.

 

Yes and no

In Absurdlandia, Circus, Dance, Film, Food, Fun, Games, Hautvoir, Local projects, Music, proto drafts on July 8, 2016 at 8:11 am

If writing is something like your first responder on the scene, resisting the urge takes some doing. Resisting the urge to identify. But aren’t you supposed to identify. Aren’t you supposed to put the pen to paper or the fingers to the keyboard the second the urge to do so shows up?

Answer: as the title says. Yes, for the small nugget you may find in the reams of repetitious bilge a body can produce over time. Or for a try at another angle on some obsession of yours. Some need to know that won’t go away, no matter how often you tell  yourself you’ll never get an answer other than: that’s life or who knows or some other pat formula designed to chase away the pesky fly.

Except the fly keeps on coming back.

Resisting the urge? Yes. Forever? No.

***

A phone call in all the din out on Place du Jourdain last night during pre-opening events to the annual street arts festival. A woman whose voice I can barely make out. Someone I know told her to call me. New family in town, maybe I can help. She’ll call back this morning.

***

Unanswerables. France won a soccer game against Germany last night. Honking cars streamed by with folks hanging out the windows waving flags, way past midnight. In the afternoon, an eleven-year old American boy by the name of Omar asked me – if I had a choice – what French name I would give my lodger from Mali. I’d never given the matter even the edge of a thought but the boy answered for me. “Hassan would be nice,” he said.

***

The gulf between the virtual and the real, the article says in The New York Times over one of the shootings in the States,   recorded live as-it-happened.

Unanswerables piling up like overdue bills. “Tenir debout dans le chaos” – the title to a piece published in a temporary paper put out during Aurillac’s street arts festival last year. A swirl of unanswerables, like so many pieces of confetti. Catching some of the patterns they make – is that the best a body can achieve?

The fine edge. Collective joy, collective grief, sadness, anger, rage, panic. Collective. Private. The edge where one emotional state tips over into another.

***

A total change in eating habits isn’t a full-time occupation? Yes and no, when you’re out in public places with food and drink provided by others.

***

Allez, I’ve used up this morning’s musing time.

 

Oh say can you see beyond the Roman candles and silver palms?

In Food, Local projects, news coverage, proto drafts on July 4, 2016 at 7:51 am

Lots to do out in the world of real. For now, I pull away from the media surf with two items: the photo of a French policeman walking over someone’s bedding in yet another encampment “evacuated” in Paris. Finding shelter for one person is tough enough, I understand full well sheltering thousands is no picnic – but there has to be better ways to treat people than loading them up like garbage and dumping them like same.

The second: the only item I’m reading in The New York Times for now, an opinion piece by Roy Scranton published on July 2, 2016.

P.S. If you replace the word ‘American’, coupled to the words ‘heroism’ and ‘military’, you discover the myth holds true. The uniforms, badges and medals change, the basic notions don’t.

***

And yes, this is still about writing my own stuff – although the flow will get interrupted a lot again today, tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday… maybe I have to revise my writing habits as I’m doing with my eating patterns.

this is a blog version of Kilroy was here

In Artists, Circus, Food, Hautvoir, Local projects, proto drafts on July 1, 2016 at 9:00 am

I hope we won’t drown in a surfeit of good intentions over here. At fifteen minutes before nine AM, I’m thinking of switching off the phone for a few hours. Text messaging is a long and tedious process.

However. Almost done on the translation of a circus act’s publicity material and about to break the morning fast. Fiction writing feels like the good little girl’s treat, these days. (If you’re good, mommy will let you play with your imaginary friends, sort of thing).

I’m intrigued by the meet-up point building up ever-so-slowly between two characters who clashed in a previous novel set in Hautvoir. How the meeting will happen – if it happens. How it will go. How it will affect the outcome of the story: all mysteries at this point.

This is it, blog-wise? Yes, for now.

 

“I was walking down the road, minding my own business…”

In Artists, coffee, Film, Food, Fun, Hautvoir, Local projects, Music, or juice, photography, proto drafts, Tea, Wine on June 30, 2016 at 8:47 am

Those are the first words I speak in Ed Maurer’s composition, Pérégrinations. Yesterday, I spoke them – and other bits used in the score – while the camera rolled. Others did the same. The shots will provide material for a clip. We laughed a lot – including after others helped me off the floor when a chair broke under me. Because of my weight? I doubt it, heavier bodies than mine occupied it first. No real harm done  but maybe I should take a refresher course in shoulder rolls and tumbles, as learned years ago in a judo class.

“I was walking down the road, minding my own business…” And then? A cat dashed across the path? A cop car appeared? A group of marchers? No one other than a buzzing fly? A squadron of stingers? Had it rained during the night? Were the fields and spider webs covered with dew? Or was this a path through a forest? What kind? A path well-trodden or a push through scrub and thorny bushes? A street? Industrial, residential…

Characters, take your pick.

***

Behavior modification. Basic observation: you can’t modify eating habits the same way you quit smoking because you can quit smoking altogether but you can’t quit eating. Obvious? Yes. Not so obvious: the how-to. A trip to the small downtown supermarket now involves a mental blanking out of some nine-tenth of the displayed food stuff. Some of those I ignored already, some I bought on occasion, some I considered staples. I won’t be counting grams of ingested protein or salt forever but I’m doing so now to get the notions straight – including when eating out with friends.

I’ve reactivated a long-time companion for this purpose: a notebook I’d bought in Montreal a month before leaving for Europe. Jottings, drawings, notions about food. Fancy meals, simple ones. One recent entry shows cartoon figures at a café table in Gruissan. Date: May 28 of this year when I went to the seashore with friends. Comment added yesterday: “I didn’t know it but I was eating my last hamburger with fries. Delicious, luckily.” Better to end something on a great memory than on a lousy one.

So. Re-training the taste buds. Including when the jollity of a morning photo shoot peaks over wine and pasta with home-made pesto.

Yes, stomach? What’s that you said? ’tis time, I agree. I’ll have breakfast now.

Specifics

In Current reading, Food, Hautvoir, Local projects, Poetry, proto drafts, Theater on June 28, 2016 at 8:51 am

Everything in need of one more push. Paper sorting and filing. Housework. Not supposed to look a given horse in the mouth? Maybe but a given fridge, yes. That part of the clean-up: done. Fridge operational and smokers take heed: baked white enamel can return from years of exposure to tobacco. Personally, I would clean a fridge prior to donating it but that’s me.

Paper. More paper. Emails. Phone calls. The blessed tumble into sleep. (Note to self: when read in an over-tired state, the final act in King Lear sees bodies falling left and right and the dazed reader no longer knowing who the players are. Kent, Gloucester, Albany, Edmund, Edgar, Regan, Goneril, Oswald, a manservant, another, exeunt, enter the mad king, etc.)

Paper. Documents. Scraps with scribbles. Kitchen, cleaning and re-organizing. Bedroom. Books. Office: incorporating a bed in limited space. Books. Sorting. Phone calls. Tiny, precious breaks to allow the child to play with a trinket or find the one and only right spot for a favorite stone or framed photo or book. Food to recover from the neighbor’s fridge. A haircut – must work it into the mix today before the photo shoot tomorrow after the meeting at social services, etc.

Pause. Time out. Seamus Heaney. A poem. Forget generalities. Specifics, always. This day. This moment. This story, searching for its own voice.

At the Wellhead

Your songs, when you sing them with your two eyes closed

As you always do, are like a local road

We’ve known every turn of in the past –

That midge-veiled, high-hedged side-road where you stood

Looking and listening until a car

Would come and go and leave you lonelier

Than you had been to begin with. So, sing on,

Dear shut-eyed one, dear far voiced veteran,

Sing yourself to where the singing comes from,

Ardent and cut off like our blind neighbour

Who played the piano all day in her bedroom.

Her notes came out to us like hoisted water

Raveling off a bucket at the wellhead

Where next thing we’d be listening, hushed and awkward.

*

That blind-from-birth, sweet-voiced, withdrawn musician

Was like a silver vein in heavy clay.

Night water glittering in the light of day.

But also just our neighbor, Rosie Keenan.

She touched our cheeks. She let us touch her braille

In books like books wallpaper patterns came in.

Her hands were active and her eyes were full

Of open darkness and a watery shine.

She knew us by our voices. She’d say she ‘saw’

Whoever or whatever. Being with her

Was intimate and helpful, like a cure

You didn’t notice happening. When I read

A poem with Keenan’s well in it, she said,

‘I can see the sky at the bottom of it now.’

Moving stuff around

In Absurdlandia, and other spirits, Animals, Current reading, Food, Hautvoir, Local projects, Music, news coverage, proto drafts, Theater on June 27, 2016 at 8:26 am

I’m not personally acquainted with toads. They have an unattractive appearance which leads to negative symbolic representations. But I’ve never met a toad in any significant way so I don’t see why I should insult the species by comparing the squishy and repulsive double-speak of a Boris Johnson to that of the warty amphibian.

Not that Monsieur Johnson is alone in his pond of squishiness. “Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises…” Caliban says in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Not all of the noises are sweet airs, nor are they restricted to the isle. Given the cacophonies reported in various media outlets, a healthy and varied reading diet comes high on my personal sanity scale. While I’d like longer stretches of time in which to concentrate on my proto draft, varied sources of activity aren’t a bad idea either.

The title summarizes what’s going on over here, both in general living and in writing terms. Housecleaning, exchanging a fridge with a freezer compartment against the current one going as a donation to the street festival. Freezer compartments are nice to have if you plan to organize meals in a less chaotic way.

Back to toads for a second because there is something toadish about Johnson. In the literary sense:

“Meanwhile, Toad, gay and irresponsible, was walking briskly along the high road, some miles from home. At first he had taken bypaths , and crossed many fields, and changed his course several times, in case of pursuit; but now, by this time feeling safe from recapture, and the sun smiling brightly on him, and all nature joining in a chorus of approval to the song of self-praise that his own heart was singing to him, he almost danced along the road in his satisfaction and conceit.” (Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows).

As reported in The Guardian, Johnson wrote the following in his column at the Telegraph : “There were more than 16 million who wanted to remain.They are our neighbours, brothers and sisters who did what they passionately believe was right. In a democracy majorities may decide but everyone is of equal value.We who are part of this narrow majority must do everything we can to reassure the remainers.We must reach out, we must heal, we must build bridges – because it is clear that some have feelings of dismay, and of loss, and confusion.”

Brave new world, and the dawning of a gentler, kinder Boris. Yes, all of us lowly non-elected ones are well-served by our champions in the political arena, these days. I have to wonder what a Rabelais or a Jonathan Swift would have made of it all.

For now: windows open to air that’s still cool. The sound of pigeons flapping their wings above the rooftops. Oh yes, and the small lizard that’s taken shelter under my bed. He(she) comes out at times. Slithers up onto the mattress or freezes on the floor. I’d hate to squish it by accident. Plus, living under a human’s bed must make for a solitary life and a limited diet too.

But how to get the message across the species barrier? Fear not, I come in friendship, little lizzy, and wish to point you to the exit. The window, see? Open. Freedom. Escape.The great outdoors. (I’ve tried this approach. Last night, I even extended an old world wall map as a carrier. No go. When my sister comes visiting, I’ll have to explain about the lizard under her bed.)

Hard to beat

In and other spirits, Food, Hautvoir, Local projects, Music, news coverage, photography, proto drafts, Sundays on June 26, 2016 at 9:45 am

A few scenes stand out from last night’s outing. The ones that linger the most after less than four hours’ sleep have little to do with the purpose of the outing: a private party for a first presentation of a musical work by a friend. I provided some words and some voice to Ed Maurer’s fifty-minute composition called Pérégrination. The sixty or so guests enjoyed the performance, the food, the drinks and each others’ company.

Two of the kids held my attention most while I did my best to ignore the groaning board of forbidden goodies, the rum punch, the raspberry tiramisu etc. (Flash exposé: I blinked and faltered over the tiramisu.)

Back to the two kids who were both there and not there. The first, a girl of about ten, sat on the ground next to a vertical rack of sausage grilling by an open flame. While I worked on the experiment devised by the Greek gods – i.e. the mortals eat the meat, the gods get their fill from the smell of the roast – the girl peered down into her lit-up phone, oblivious to everything around her.

The second, a boy of about the same age, held my attention longer. In fact, we established the kind of relationship an adult and a youngster manage sometimes. One where neither party intrudes on the other’s privacy but a bond occurs. The boy’s attention was taken up by four activities: attempts at sketching a lighted sculpture while listening to the music (didn’t work, too many people milled around); lying on his back, staring up at the stars while listening to the music; sitting at the table, observing the patterns made by wax dripping from the candles (and attempting predictions as to which would drip next); and, finally – somewhere between one and two AM, sitting on the grass again, near the pool, playing a game on an electronic device.

He left with his parents just before we did. Looked my way and sent me a brief one-finger wave. I reciprocated.

***

Faces. Photos of. Plus titles such as TNYT The Woman Who ‘Totally Understands’ Donald Trump. As irresistible as a serving of that devilish tiramisu.

***

But hark! what light breaks beyond that yonder window?  ’tis the sun, and I’d better get a move-on if I hope to work a nap into the day’s proceedings.