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.

A Chateau & A Croissant

O.K., this might be a little confusing, but stick with me.  After the old-time weekend and then recording with Polo and Nadine I returned to the little cottage in Champtocé that I was sharing with Clara (which involved the same 45 minute trek from the little train stop).

She had had a lovely, solitary week and a half reading books, drawing, journaling, working on the computer AND making fires in the fireplace.

Here is the rest of the story about how we found the cottage.  As some of you know, Laurie Corral, of Asheville Bookworks, and I were asked to teach a 9 day workshop at Chateau du Pin in the Loire Valley.  When Clara had the idea to find a place for a month-long retreat she suggested I ask, Peg Gignoux, the woman who hired us to teach at the Chateau.  As it turned out, Peg’s cousin Marie had cottages for rent just down the road from the Chateau.  Have I lost you yet?

During our time at the cottage we made buddies with Marie (our land lady) and Louise (Peg’s sister) who is living at the Chateau for 3 months to help with the family business.  This is how it came to be that we received a personal tour of the grounds.

The story of the Chateau is an interesting one.  Louise told us various tid-bits; it was seized as living quarters for the Nazi’s during the war and at present it’s owned by almost 20 members of the French-American Gignoux family.

Pretty nice eh?

The story continues…Clara has a rule for herself when it comes to France: Never go to France without going to Paris for a few days.  So, staying true to her rule, she had planned 5 days in Paris at the end of her month-long stay.  Being the lovely person she is, she invited me to come along.  Who passes up being in Paris? Not me!

Champtocé sur Loire: Travel Break

As you might have guessed by now, where I am in reality and where I am on the blog are not in alignment (though I promise to be caught up by the end of my trip).

I tell you this because what I’m about to write about is my mid-trip rest break, though in reality I am now nearing the end of my trip.  By the time I left Cathi’s house in Sisteron I had been visiting people via planes-trains-and-automobiles for 3 months.  While still in the U.S. my friend-marketing mentor-fellow bookmaker, Clara, suggested renting a place for a month-long artist’s retreat.  We found a little cottage near Angers (more on that later) and promised to meet there in the beginning of May.  So, here it is:

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  I had 3 months worth of great people and experiences to reflect on.  I had a chance to catch up on emails and began to prepare my fall/winter schedule (searching for teaching and music gigs).  We enjoyed long walks, interesting talks (it was fun to see someone from home way over here), cooking our own meals, watching French T.V., reading books, making cozy fires and sleeping alot.

I even got to paint a little…

Into the Alpes: Art Makers

Since I am on the search for artists as well as musicians and dancers, I was happy to come upon Miene Mathon and Alexis Nouailhat while visiting Aime.

They were both incredibly generous, inviting me to their homes (Meine gave me lovely tea and berry pie and Alexis had me for lunch with his family) and openly answering my many questions about their lives.

Miene lives part-time in Chaillol and part-time in Paris, where she works.  She specializes in a variety of mediums: mask making, painting and creating sets for theater.  If you are in France and interested in taking a mask making workshop at her awesome house in Chaillol you can find the details here:http://mienemathon.eklablog.com/

Aime’s friend, Bernadette, took me to market with her one morning which is where I met Alexis.  He is a watercolor painter-traveler-naturalist and has a permanent gallery of his work at his house.  Of course, I loved seeing his studio and hearing his story of how he makes his living from traveling (Nepal is his favorite), watercoloring throughout his trip and then handing everything over to his editor/publisher who creates books for sale.  He has been making art professionally since he was around 15 years old and is incredibly prolific.

I like that his work ranges from mountains and landscapes to caricatures of local musicians (Aime being one) and cartoon-type scenerios with animal personalities.  He clearly has a good sense of humor.

Later, Alexis invited me to visit a goat farm where they make chevre (unfortunately I was so absorbed I completely forgot to take pictures) and on a mountain walk.  He knew about every plant and animal we encountered.  I remain in complete awe of the huge variety found in nature across the planet.

As a naturalist, Alexis was the perfect person to introduce me to some of the natural ecology of the high Alpes.  He showed me the coucou and the parachute bird (it flies high in the sky, drops its wings and dives straight down making a dropping parachute sound as it falls…amazing!).  Below are frog eggs.

After the walk we had a lunch of rabbit (that they raised themselves), salad, cheese, bread and home-made kombucha!  They have a huge garden in the front of their house and animals everywhere.  It reminded me of home.

French Food Intermission!

Howdy there!  I think it’s time for a short intermission to continue to honor the crazy-good food here.  Festival #2 will be next time.

NOTE: If you receive these entries via email and you were unable to view the videos in the last post you can go to this link: http://afainbooks.com/blog/2010/05/15/boulegan-lostal/ to see it directly on my website.  The post is named “Boulegan l’Ostal.”

Now for some food!