donderdag 31 juli 2014

Day 22. Balconies

Whenever I am in Paris one of the first things I do is taking pictures of balconies.
French balconies are so elegant.
So romantic.
Sometimes made from cast iron long time ago.
Different shapes and painted usually white.
Simple ones and very complicated ones.
Always beautiful to look at.

Today I realized that till now I didn't make photo's of them.
Tonight, while at a market in Saint-Cyprien I took some shots.
Here is a small selection.

And there was this strange looking balcony made from concrete and looking like a tree.


woensdag 30 juli 2014

Day 21. Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité

Late in the morning we took the car to go to Bergerac.
The city of Cyrano.
The man with the long nose who fell in love with his beautiful niece Roxanne.
Ofcourse he is visible in the city.

There are two statues, but I liked this one the best.

The city itself is pleasant, but not that special.
We walked around.
Had lunch with view on the Dordogne river.
Visited some churches.

As we passed a school I saw the words:

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.

Immediately my mind went of to the discussions this year in France when the politicians had to make a decission about the law which would make it possible for gay people to get married.
One could see that a big part of the French society was at this point very conservative.
And that: Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood had a very different meaning than during the French Revolution more than 200 years ago.
What did happen during all those years? How could a part of the society became so strongly against it?
I was shocked when I read article about it. 
What is wrong with two people loving eachother who want to get it official?

At the end the law was passed, and gay marriage (gay marriage? You mean marriage! True.) is now possible in all regions of France.

My own marriage.

I got married with Bram after being together 25 years. Before that we never found a reason to get married. Why copy that heterosexual institute? What benefits would it give? Bram had been married and was against that idea of getting married. Grown up with the word freedom it wasn't an issue for me either. During the time when I came out I became very active in the gay movement. Immediately I was involved in a group who would go to schools to talk about homosexuality in classes. It felt as a mission for me. It felt that I want to be outspoken about it. No more hiding. Open and honest.
There wasn't a reason for us to get married. We don't have property or lot's of money which needed to be written down. Live now, not in the future. Perhaps not wise at the end, but we felt it that way.

Than -while on holiday in Danmark- we saw the first male couple getting married in Copenhagen. One with a black suit, the other wearing white. Nothing for us we felt. It is a copy, and we don't want to belong to the married majority of society.

But opinions can change I have found out. It all depends on the situation.
When Bram was diagnozed with an aneurysm he had to go through a major and difficult operation.
I remember that we spoke about it. What to do when things would go wrong? If he would come up in a coma and stay there for a year or more? What would be the outcome? Who would be the spokesperson when things would go wrong? Being together almost 25 years it was clear that I would be that person. 

It became clear that we needed to take a step. I went to the City hall and got information. Strange brochures with brides in white weddingdresses and grooms in black suits. No male/male or female/female couple was visible.
While cycling home I met up with Bram's former accountant who advized me to get married. Everything is than legally arranged. The same rights as everyone who got married.

I came home. Told Bram what his accountant had said. Bram immediately replied. 
Allright than, let's get married, but I don't want to talk more about it, otherwise I probably won't do it. And than: what do we need to do first? Fetching the divorce papers in Amsterdam. Let's go than. It took a few weeks to get everything arranged.
We didn't talk about it. We asked Evelien and Theo to be witnesses at the wedding. 
It became a morning to be remembered. No fancy clothes, but holding his hand when we said yes to eachother was very special. The hand I knew so well after all those years. We promised to be there in good and in bad times. Little did I know at that time what the future would bring for us.
Looking back it was the best thing we did at that time. It was positive and an important step for the both of us.
We had coffee and cake in a restaurant. Got a beautiful gift and in the afternoon we had to go to the hospital for the last check. Everything was allright. The operation could go through.

Marriage. It is about equal rights for everyone. 
I am not sure if I ever will marry again. 
Time will tell.
At this moment the love in my life is enough, and for the moment there is no reason to do it again. It is good the way it is.

dinsdag 29 juli 2014

Day 20. Calm

Short notes on a calm day.

Swimming after waking up.
Late breakfast.
Writing postcards.
Swimming together.
Downhill by car.
Postoffice in Les-Ezys.
Stroll among the rocks.
Coffee at a terrace.
Drive in the surroundings.
Small road.
Lovely meal together.
Late night swim.
Life is good to me.
Life is good to us.

Day 19. Weather

Rain when we woke up.
Dry when we went swimming.
Sun when we had breakfast.
Cloudy while cleaning up.
Dark clouds after shopping.
Rain when Rik Jan and Ineke arrived.
Dry when we sat outside drinking wine.
Cooler when we had dinner.
Rain when we had the dessert.
Dry when I wrote this blog.
Tomorrow has arrived.

maandag 28 juli 2014

Day 18. Garlands on a Festival

We read about the "Festival des Epouvantails" in the little village Meyrals.
It is the festival of the scarecrows. 
Next to this there are theatre perfomances, a choir was singing medieval music in the little church. There are stalls with local produce.

After doing some shopping at the lovely market in St-Cyprien we headed off.

We had to park the car in a field.
Immediately my eyes spotted garlands.
Garlands. I am keen on them.
Ever since I was a little boy I loved making them. And recently I have discoverd that I still do.

One of my first memories which turns up in my head was when I was a 4 years old boy.
My grandfather -who was a very strict man- was having his birthday in a few days. Me and some nephews had this plan to decorate the room with home-made garlands. The simple one's: a strip of paper sticked together with glue in to a circle and so on.
But, because he was so strict, none of us dared to ask.
I was the youngest, and perhaps he would say yes if I would ask.
Going down to ask I still can feel the nerves.
My grandfather picked me up, put me on his knee.
Than I asked -ofcourse very kindly- if we could make them.
There wasn't an immediatley yes, but after a minute or, so he told me that we could do it.
He put me down and up I went with the good news.
There is a printed paper from that garland which is still in my head.
Purple violets in a kind a golden frames with little golden dots around it on very thin white paper. Probably it was used as wrapping paper.
We made long garlands and after putting it up it looked so festive.

A few years ago I made garlands again for the 70th Birthday from dear friend Janneke.
I did cut hundreds of little flags in various fabrics.  Put the lines up in the garden and with little pegs I put them on the line. The look was great and everyone loved them.


A few years ago I read in Selvedge (my favourite textile magazine) about "The Fabulous Garlands of Sophie Cuvelier"
Circles of hand painted paper on white thread lines.
I admire her work.
Very inspirational.
I did try to buy them when I was in Paris for Jos his Birthday, but I couldn't find them.
There was nothing I could do then make them myself. Sorry Sophie.
At the famous papershop "Vlieger" in Amsterdam I found hand made paper from Nepal.
I cut out circles and sewed them together with white thread.
The result was great and he loved them. One line is still hanging in front of the mirror.

At Meyrals there were garlands hanging from the top of the church down.
Flowers in bright colors.
I almost couldn't stop taking pictures of it.

A garland always makes me smile.
It moves in the wind.
Very festive and joyful.
Perhaps it brings out the little boy inside of me who loved making them.

But up now to the exhibiton of scarecrows.
There were a lot in a great variety of materials.
Traditional ones made with straw.
Other one's were examples of recycling.
Made by children and grown ups.
All of them had the energy and fun inside them when they were made.

Here is a selection of them.

zondag 27 juli 2014

Day 17. Ossip Zadkine

Today we went to the little village Les Arques in the region Lot.
It was claudy and fresh when we left.
A beautiful drive down south.
The sun came out and it was warm, but very pleasant.

In Les Arques is the Musée Zadkine with work by this famous sculptor.
Ossip Zakine, born in 1890 Russia (Smolensk) has had his atelier for many years in Les Arques.
He passed away in 1967 in Paris, and is buried on the graveyard Montparnasse.

The museum is very small, but inside is a great exhibition from his work. 
Sculptures from wood, stone, bronze, drawings, tapestry, ceramic.

Is was just wonderfull, touching, moving and very impressive to see.
He was one of the greatest sculptors of the 20th Century.

Outside are sculptures too and inside the church one can see a beautiful Pietá.

Here are some images I took.

I am sure when I have the opportunity to go again I certainly will.

Day 16. What's for Dinner?

I love Artichokes.
Before the 1st of January 2014 I had never eaten them.
Jos cooked the first one I had at his place.
Since that time I have eaten many of them.

It is always a joy to eat them.
Picking all the leaves and dipping them in a sauce.
And eating the soft heart.
Kind of luxury food.
But the cooking of it is very simple.

My dear colleague Riky has often asked me how to cook them.
So, esspecially for her, but also for all readers is the recipe with our favourite sauce.

Buy the best artichokes you can get.
There are many varieties.
Big one's, small one's, all over green, with pink ended leaves.
It doesn't matter which one you choose, but if they are very small buy 2 per person.
They shouldn't look dry, but fresh green.
I usually buy two at the market in Amsterdam when we are together.
Today I bought 2 at the HyperMarche in Le Bugue.

Cut of the stem as close as you can next to the leaves.

Place them in a big pan.
Put boiling water over them. They should be covered almost complete.
Cover them with a lit.

Bring them to the boil.
Cook them till you can take a big leave easy off.
It can take 45 minutes till 1 hour, depending on the size.

Yes, it is hot, but just try.

Eat it to see if the flesh part is soft. 
Tear it off with your teeth.

Make in the meantime the sauce.

You need:
Olive oil 
Garlic (as much as you like). I used 2 gloves.
Creme Fraiche.
Salt/ Pepper (not essecially needed)
Lemon (optional)

Put 3 tablespoons mayonaise in a bowl.
Add 4 tablespoons of Creme Fraiche to it.
Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to it.
Cut your garlic finely and  add it to the bowl.
Mix everything together.
Add salt and pepper if you want.
Eventually a squeeze of lemon.
Sauce is done.

There are ofcourse more options for a sauce to it. A simple vinaigrette for example. 

When the artichokes are cooked till perfection.
Take them out and put them upside down in a colander.
(couldn't find one)

Than, place them on a plate.

Open up the leaves.

Put on the table.

How to eat.

Take off one of the outerleaves.

Dip them in the sauce.

Eat all off the leaves till the heart is visible.

 Than, take of the hay.

The heart of the artichoke appears.
Cut it into pieces and dip in the sauce.

Drink white wine with it.

Best outside on a warm summer evening in France.
And even better with my new love opposite me.