Eat what is NOT on your Plate
"Go ahead eat the Chocolate! The New Year is around the corner! Go ahead I can see you want it! Vas-y!" How could I tell my friend it wasn't the chocolate I was eyeballing it was the pedestal plate! Gee! How often do you see a plate nearly two hundred years old, looking like it was this year's Christmas gift? Smiling I took the chocolate covered cherry, nodded a, "Merci!" and popped it in my mouth, though secretly inside wishing I could have the plate too! Really, will I ever grow up?
Many crystals reflecting light
Sometimes knowing what we want strikes through us like lightening, our desire becames pure and focused, our feet run steadily along the path... yet other times the light comes with the crash of thunder diffuses our knowing, as if our minds have become a crystal...with the light we are dancing colors over the horizion, going million directions at once. Is that the life of an artist, the creative juices just bubble up and need expression!
Going to yesterdays brocante was like that for me...so many interesting things I couldn't focus. I just wanted the other buyers to leave so I could take my time!
carved in stone...
(not like my last new year's resolutions.)
The paint on this frog is old, though maybe not as old as the frog. When I bought the frog I didn't think about how faraway I was parked...the walk to my car was not a HOP SKIP and a JUMP! Had I thought about the distance...Oh, I still would have bought that Red frog!
A 19th century painting of, "The Way They Were..." Time moves on and holds still. What will be remembered of us ?
Like the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories
Of the way we were
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we? could we?
Mem’ries, may be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it’s the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember...
The way we were...
The way we were...
Barbara Streisand sings this song.
Dangle Sixteen ribbons from the ceiling, at the end of each ribbon tie a sugar cube. Sixteen ribbons with sugar cubes hung from my daughter's ceiling, down to her bed. When she woke up Sugar cubes danced overhead, SWEET SIXTEEN was lipsticked in hot pink on her mirror.
When Chelsea was born, a friend of my Mother's told me...ALWAYS celebrate your daughter's birthday as HER day and not part of Christmas.
Happy SIXTEEN Birthday! Chelsea Girl dancing in red and flying high, angels do!
19th-century Provencal Santons
19th-century Provencal Santons
Worn from wear, but still holding on to their humble offerings, they were carelessly abandoned into a basket. Who would have guessed, that their starring role as “little saints,” in the Provençal nativity scene, after all these hundreds of years, were not wanted? Did the *Santonier push them aside as she created new santons in bright jupons, and fishing gear?
“What will become of us?” asked la Poissonnière as she re-adjusted her heavy load of fish? Le Vannier put her baskets down begging, le Tambourinaire, to play some music.
(During the French revolution, churches were being sacked, and objects of faith destroyed. Christians could not celebrate Christmas in the Church; instead they set crèches secretly in their homes, as a way to celebrate their faith.
Santons are handmade and painted Provençal figurines, representing peasants of the 18th and 19th century. They are set in a crèche, a typical French country village, which
surrounds the nativity, Mary, Joseph, the Christ child and the three kings, wear traditional clothing.)
When the strong mistral wind tipped the basket over, I noticed them! Age had not been merciful to their tiny structures, yet their simple gestures caught my attention. I carefully scooped them up, and brought them home.
*SANTONS or in Provençal language Santoùns. The people who make santons are called Santonier.Click here to see a Creche of long ago https://www.santonsmarcelcarbonel.com/images/droite/pagecreches%20images/images/crecheleopolddor.jpg
Never makes mistakes Never makes a cake!
1988 "Buche de Noel is my favorite cake!" Bright eyed and hopeful was the response eagerly given by my French husband, the newlywed! The flavor was a known fact; Spread chocolate on anything and it was labeled: Yann's.
My mother had made jelly-roll cakes for my brothers and I when we were younger, was that the same thing as Buche de Noel?
18 years ago, before Internet and expatriate membership was a given at every corner in France, anything English was like having a 20/20 in Lycee! Peter Mayle was probably writing, "A Year in Provence," while I was struggling in Paris with only three words of French in my pocket of vocabulary! How was I going to find the recipe? Calling my Mom in California was out of the question given the nine hour time difference!
To make a French Christmas cake, a Buche de Noel, for my husband's 24th birthday in September that was going to be a challenge equal to anything Napoleon had to do! Napoleon is believed to have said...That the man who never makes mistakes never makes a war. Couldn't Yann have said brownies!
Down to the metro, direction Rue de Rivoli, destination: Brentano's, the bookshop in Paris (since 1895) with a large English section. Certainly, they would have a cookbook in English.
On entering Brentano's there stood an American the size of a fortress! Soft drink in hand, he was carrying on like his world was coming to an end, demanding the sales-girl, "...Don't you understand, E-N-G-L-I-S-H! I want a map of Paris IN English! A map that says, "Big White Church on top of the Hill," none of this rue crap, you understand! Why, tell me why, can't you folk just print a map that says street instead of rue?!" The petite sales-girl looked bewildered as she tried to explain. I left the bookshop, to embarrass to request a French cookbook in English.
Up above the markets of Les Halles, battling in our kitchen the size of a nutshell, mustering up memories of my Mother making jelly-roll cakes, gathering allies in chocolate, sugar, eggs, and flour I conquered my Waterloo! We ate cake that night!
Email if you would like my recipe for Chocolate Chestnut cream buche de Noel!
Smell the Roses
Several years ago I would have passed the car with the trailer, with a blink of an eye. That was before I made the New Year’s resolution to SLOW DOWN.
Slow was my speed and noticing life at the moment was my new way of being.
Slowly driving on the road between my home and the freeway, between vineyards and views of Saint Baume, straight ahead of me was a trailer being pulled by a car. In the trailer there was bags of yard clippings, a brocade armchair, boxes of bottles…wait what was that… re-track...armchair in the trailer! As if leaning up on my stirring wheel would let me be closer, I focused in on the armchair to see what was wrong with it….four, perfect, stubby, Napoleon III black legs, two arms covered in dark maroon brocade, straight back…I pinched my lips together and nodded, a good vintage armchair going to the dump! Being the spontaneous type my plans diverted from l'épicerie, to following the car ahead! Sure enough the blinker indicated we were turning into la décharge, dump yard.
I pulled up alongside of, Mr. La Décharge. Monsieur starred at me like I was a crazy lady. (Wasn’t the first time and wouldn’t be the last time someone thought that of me…) “Bonjour Monsieur,” in my heavy dead gives away accent, “What are you going to do with that fauteuil?” Putting one hand on his hip and the other on the armchair he grinned, “Either throw it in the dumpster or throw it in your car.”
Stop and smell the roses, and drive slowly and see the beauty!
The sound of glass breaking on the tile floor; it is a sound that says a thousands little pieces have shattered everywhere, that only bare feet can find. Slowly, I turn the corner to see what has come to an end.
When living with antiques how curious it seems when something breaks. Take for example the glass last night, just a simple wine glass found at a flea market, what made it extraordinary was as fragile as glass is, it had survived these last 100 years without a chip or crack. Moving from cupboard to table, hand to hand, table to sink, sink to cupboard and possible a few moves to different homes, and sold and bought a few times over…only to end its day as shattered glass on our tile floor.
Often I think what stories could an antique piece tell if it had a voice? Where has it come from, and who has owed it? What history could it give from the passing from hand to hand, until my picking it up and asking, “How much for the glass?
This I know, it was at least 100 years old, it wasn't made of crystal, but it wasn't a bistro glass either, it was used for red wine not white, I bought it in Lyon years ago, and my son often drank milk in it.
What's the beauty in Poubelle?
The little things I have collected, that have no real value on their own, due to a chip, or a crack or a tear...Instead of throwing the defaulted bits and pieces away, or disregarding them to a chest of drawers never to be seen again- I have collected these fragments of yesterday and display them in apothecary jars. Creating them into, "scrapbooks or "scrapjars," you might say.
For more history about apothecary jars look at the site below:
Flea market in Marseilles
Just a few hours into Saturday morning, dark and early, before the roosters had a chance to dream, I would go to the Marché aux Puces, flea market in Marseilles.
Friday night my checklist would unfold:
Flashlight- Money in small bills Pocket notepad- Check book- Pen- Brocante bag- Gas in car-
On the top of the list for Friday night soirée, go to BED early.
My alarm clock was set at 3am, (to this day I can hardly stand a certain ring tone on alarm clocks! The dealers, at the Marché aux Puces, started unloading their goods before 4am.) Quietly tiptoeing around the house so as not to wake anyone, I would dress, drink some water, gather my brocante bag and head for the door.
The Puces had around 300 dealers, Cd's, baby shoes, tire rims, boxes of postcards,19th -century mirrors, chandeliers, armchairs, and on rare occasions, "Louis's and Henri's" this and that. There was also bronzes, Provencal pottery, gilded bits and pieces, antique hardware, paintings, books; frames...every Saturday had the regulars and the irregulars. The good stuff for the early birds and junk that someone would call a treasure. You never knew what would show up at the Puces, and that was the best part of it all, the unexpected! The anticipation of possibilities!
Most the dealers were men. And everyone had a nickname, either to do with what type of person they were or what they sold:
The guy on the corner
Italian frame guy
The witch, (always had amazing things with high prices.)
The guy from Manosque
The rat, (someone who always found the best things!)
These nicknames were the foundation of the Puces; they were the ones who had the most interesting stuff! It was their reputation that would wake me at 3:00am, chanting in my brain, "What will they have this morning?"
Flashlight in hand, scouring the barely visible scene ahead I would search. "Bonjour!" and a nod of the head, is all you said in those wee hours; when the hunt was on conversation was off!
As the morning light faded the dark sky and the street lamps would dim, the chineurs gathered around the Café aux Puces, for Chocolat chaud and croissants. Then the conversations would start to unwind. The licking of lips, the eyes of envy, as the tales of what was bought, what was missed, and who had what and how much they paid, and do you think it was a good deal?
If you are in Marseilles an early Saturday morning wondering what to do at 3am...
Grab your brocante bag and go:
Marché aux Puces
130 Chemin de la Madrague-Ville
Outside and at 9am Hall opens up
4am to 1pm
My 98 year old friend paints, everyday.
He is a tall, elegant, aristocratic man who paints abstracts--
Cubes, figures without facial expressions, and one eyed boomerangs
in vivid color.
His paintings are his hobby, his story, his adventure.
He never sells his paintings.
One day I invited a friend to come with me, and visit my artist friend. Though a world of difference I feared stood between them-- Young man from
They clicked instantly.
We were standing in his studio amongst the hundred one eyed boomerangs which seemed to salute us. Neither of my friends spoke the others language so I elected to translate. Their conversation was full of art, culture, history and design. I was happily going along with the flow of their discussion when suddenly I heard my voice saying “…He said he would love to own one of your paintings, have you ever thought about selling any of them?” --wait what are you saying-- I turned to my friend and whispered, as if I was interrupting their conversation, “You cannot ask to buy his paintings we are here to VISIT remember?” At the same time my ears heard in French, “Well, if you want to buy some of my paintings I suppose I could sell you a few?” -Wait what are you hearing-
I turned to my artist friend recounting, “I thought you once told me; selling your paintings would be like selling your family!”
I was in the middle of my own muddle. Baffled by the change of events!
We drove off with fifty or sixty paintings in the backseat .
Anything is possible. Life is full of surprises.
My artist friend sold his one eyed boomerangs,
to an antique dealer who proudly hung them
next to his Maire Antoinette!
A few weeks later a package came in the mail addressed to me. It was hard and flat. Opening it I discovered a painting of many short brush strokes in thick muted colors. Towards the center there are blotches of red brush strokes surrounded by greens and yellows. I held and looked at it, then I placed it on the mantle and stepped back, slowly I walked clear across the room to admire it.
On the backside of the painting a small one word note was attached it read, “Bouquet.” Ah ha! A bouquet of flowers! As if my mind became a camera lenses focusing instantly on the perfect painted petals!
Life is how you see it. (Or paint it or Hear it or speak it.)
Modern artist friend can paint flowers in muted colors!
My antique dealer friend can buy a family!
And me the small town girl can-can!