Cajun tunes in Ardèche!

La Gang du Quêteux is a Cajun group from Ardèche made up of some old friends of Geraud’s and new friends of mine.  And guess what!?  They have a new CD hot off the press!  Here is a fun, short video made for the project.  If you are interested in a copy of the CD email, Valerie at beausauvage

Here is the video link in case of viewing troubles:

Similar, but different…

Of course, since coming to France, I notice all the little differences between life here and life in the U.S.  I thought it would be fun to go through the house making photos of a few of those little differences:

It took me a couple of weeks of naturally reaching for the “C” faucet thinking that “Cold” water would come out before I finally learned.  Nope!  “C” is for “Chaude” and “F” for “Froide.”

Shopping for your average, daily life products wasn’t always easy, but eventually I learned things like “bio” means “organic” or “après shampooing” (after shampooing) is “hair conditioner.”  Géraud has had to go into the pharmacy with me multiple times (even ibprophen and cough drops have to be bought from the pharmacy, they are not carried in grocery stores) to help me find various feminine and prenatal products that I could normally find on my own in the U.S.  He’s always a good sport about it.

Pictured above are dishwashing soap (savon de vaisselle) and toothpaste (pâte dentifrice). The reference of “pâte” for “paste” in toothpaste is interesting to me because it is also the word for dough or pasta.

You often see toilets that flush with a button.  If you look closely the button gives you the option of light or heavy flush…pretty fancy huh?  Light switches and plug-ins are different too (hence the need for an adapter when I use my computer).

For my first visit with our midwife, she asked my height and weight measurements.  I opened my mouth to answer this oh-so-standard question when I realized that I had no idea.  The midwife looked at me like I was from Mars until I got the chance to remind her that we use pounds and feet/inches in the U.S. rather than kilos and centimeters/meters.

Even google knows I’m in France!  (How do they do that?)


Food Happenings

Some of the food we have eaten…

Being gluten-free here is a little bit of a challenge (and a bummer considering all the wooooonderful baked goods there are to be found.)  Through the years, I have basically let go of baking and replaced all of my cravings for sweets with dark chocolate.  However,  Géraud and his family and friends won’t hear of me skipping dessert.  Dinner at a friend’s house this Sunday included a wonderfully airy, gluten-free cake with chocolate chips, lemon zest and almond powder in place of flour (sorry I don’t have a picture of that one).  Géraud has been experimenting with brownies made with “farine de châtaignes” (chestnut flour) and he made the crêpes below with a mix of quinoa and rice flour.  Mmmm…

#1 Local pears from the Saturday morning market soon to become a pear-apple crisp.
#2 An upturned jar with green-lentil sprouts under way.
#3 Mushrooms we gathered during a walk (Géraud learned about hunting mushrooms from his grandfather.  It’s a big thing here.  When the season is right and it’s a day or two after a good rain you will find cars parked all along the little country roads left by folks of all ages searching for mushrooms.)

“Lait cru” written on the little signs mark the raw-milk cheeses.  The absolute majority of cheeses in France (of which there are hundreds and hundreds of different kinds) are unpasteurized.  Though I agree with eating “live” foods, I admit that when a super-duper moldy cheese appears on my plate I take a double-take.  These are moments when I remember that I am an American (though this doesn’t stop me from tasting!).

This picture is from New Year’s Eve at about 3:00 in the morning.  Our friend Pascal (a real high-energy kind of guy) is leading a group croissant making effort.  The table is outside under a tent so that when the croissant are ready, they can put them directly into the old-timey, wood-fired oven to the right.  The bottles of water are to be used as rolling-pins.  Since we were heading home at this point we didn’t get to try them, but we hear that they came out of the oven around 6:00 a.m. and tasted great!


Donkey Walk

I try to take a walk everyday.  This particular day, as you can see, was a beautifully clear, blue sky, sort of day.  Perfect for taking out my sketchbook and mini-watercolor set.

Here are our neighbor’s houses and our neighbor donkey:

Doesn’t he have a such a beautifully shaped head and ears?  Pretty darned cute,
I have to say (and he’s not shy either).

Many folks around here grow apricot, cherry, pear and apple trees either as serious farmers or to supplement their incomes.  I’m looking forward to spring when all the hillsides are in full, fruit tree, bloom.

My sketch of the day:

It has been so long!

Why, hello there!
It has been a good while since I have written last.  Those of you who know me personally, know that sooooooo, so many big changes have happened for me in the last year and a half since my big trip to France.  I will spare you the details, but to update you in a general way:

*I am back in France living in this house…

…with my French husband…

…8 months pregnant with my first baby…

That’s that for my personal life.  Now that I am way out here, making a new home with lots of fast changes I would like to start blogging again to keep connected.  With who?  With you!

But don’t worry.  I have no intention of making this blog about how oh-so-romantic it is to be living here or how oh-so-challenging it is to be pregnant and a new mother (though, of course, our daily lives are integral in our creative lives).  I am still painting, playing music, making books and exploring in general.  I still want to participate in the creative exchanges that happen via the net while far away from home.  How does that sound?

So…to be continued.