Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It Ain't Always 'Nice' when it's Nice

So happy to be back with the whole world again! Offline in every way shape and form since 19 August! But here I am in the brand spanking new office of Cyberbase, St. Cere! It takes so long to catch up with everything and everyone. E-mail, Facebook, Blogger, the Bank -- I've been at it for hours. Oops, must get up and have a wee bit of a stretch...

Gosh, I needed that! Just had a look out the window -- surprised to see the river Bave almost empty -- considering the cascades of rain we had earlier this week. The French seem to be battling the economic woes with lots of public works in the works. This brand new building seems to be part of a larger effort to improve the amenities of St. Cere and the surrounding area. It is the Centre Intercommunal d'action Sociale where I am sitting now.

Since the 19th of August

 Tripoli has fallen and Gadafi has fled -- hope they catch him soon and I hope they've learned lessons from the mistakes of others and that we don't ruin it for them.

Economic woes continue unabated... it seems to me that this problem is beyond the remit of governments because the global markets are outside of national jurisdictions. There has been a lot on the news about the weakness of western leadership, with the possible exception of Angela Merkel. I've heard several market analysts opine that this crisis is a threat to democratic government. Of course that is an easy line to spout, but no one has yet discussed in any discernible way what this would mean. I don't even understand what economics mean by debt -- and what is acceptable debt and what is not. The thing is too many people are more interested in scoring political points than in trying to understand how economies work and how they interact with each other when the network is global. And how can anyone 'know' the answer when no one 'knows' what the answer is.

Today, my heart broke to see the devastation visited on my favorite place, the beautiful state of  Vermont. My sister lives in Quechee, Vermont, one of the places shown a lot on the news. The pictures of the covered bridge a-swill with floods of water followed by the torrents along the Simon Pearce Glass Factory and Restaurant are terribly sad for me as those places hold many wonderful memories for the family.

There is a great need for all of us to be philosophical about the times -- but sometimes you've just gotta say that 'life's a bitch'...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Boom, da-da, Boom, da-da, Boom, Boom, Boom!!!

August 15th, The Feast of the Assumption is a holiday in France. At 9.00 p.m. on Saturday last we heard the beginning of boom, boom, boom, rat-ta-tatt boom, screech, screech, riff, riff, boom da da boom dada boom. Aynac is just a little place, you know? We could hear people faintly cheering and a loud-speaker saying something -- but mostly it was boom, boom, screech, riff, boom da da boom, etc. exquisitely clear through our bedroom window, hour after hour through the night.

Through the next day ...

Until 4.00 Monday morning. I guess they decided to give the Holy Mother a break on her day!

Sunday it was raining or drizzling most of the day. The Man and I decided to try to find out where the noise (music to some, I grant you) was coming from. It sounded like it was nearby. We drove into the village, it seemed to be coming from that direction. But once in the village, we heard nothing! We took this road and that -- sound is very mysterious, you know?

We were able to narrow the sound down to a certain vicinity. We realized it was up not far from the Mayor's house -- but from there we could hear not a note, not a rumble, not a drum beat ... Hills and valleys do weird things to sound ... We expected to see lots of cars or something to indicate that something was going on -- that somewhere in our vicinity there was a 'happening'. We had our trusty topographical map with all the back roads and secret paths marked out and after a long period of trawling the area managed to find almost where it was! Close enough to hear the music that accompanied the drum, drum, drum. To our amazement it was 60's rock music -- which was quite acceptible to our ears -- we had been sure some kind of heavy metal rave was going on.

Really, though, it's astounding that this kind of thing can go on for so many hours non-stop. But then again, it is also amazing that sound has such a mind of its own. Our house is placed in just the best place to pick up the lower registers of sound -- but not the higher ones -- the ones with the melody! I expect Beethoven's 5th would be just another cacophony of noise -- absolutely impossible to fathom.

One good thing -- got to see some gorgeous countryside I'd not seen before -- really stunning.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Magic Kingdom: An Introduction

Coming to the Lot is a magical journey for me. The Department is part of what many French people still refer to as Quercy. We have had our house here for 12 years now and each time we come we have had to drive. We have visions of one day being able to hop on a plane and arrive with a minimum of luggage -- however, that day does not seem at all imminent!

Castelnau, Bretenoux: Could house 2000 soldiers and their horses!
But for as long as we drive the journey will be magical. The geological history of this area is that it was once an ancient sea that came inland to the granite plateau known as the Masif Central, the oldest place on earth -- or one of them! So when we come to Perigord we come from the direction of Limousin, which is on the Masif Central and down, down, down to my magic kingdom of golden colored limestone buildings, mysterious caves and glorious caverns and chasms, gorges and plateaus. A land of castles and rivers, green valleys and limestone cliffs, rich with stories and wars of princes and kings -- English and French. All of Quercy was once part of Acquitaine, the battleground of Eleanor and Henry II in the story of The Lion in Winter. It was also the land of 'Oc' not 'Oui'.

So we drive down and down into the Brive Basin and then through a tunnel and, for me, the beginning of the 'magic kingdom' even though we are still technically in the Limousin for a few winding miles. After a few beautiful winding miles we pass gorgeous Turenne. The road this was taken from is the D940 and goes from Turenne all the way past Aynac to the fortified town of Lacapelle-Marival and has been there in one form or another for hundreds of years.

Further along a few miles and we come to Vayrac and there off to our right is the way to the Puy D'Issolud site of the battle of Uxellodunum between the Cadurques and Julius Caesar. (We tried to buy a house in Vayrac -- a mill in need of renovation -- it's one of those stories about 'the one that got away'! Lucky for us really!) Still further along, on our way to St. Cere, we pass a Museum to the Neanderthal. So far whenever we have made our long journey to the Magic Kingdom of Ancient Quercy, the sun has shone and the skies have been blue -- for 12 years. There is left the big climb from St. Cere to our ancient little farmhouse. And that feeling of being a million miles away and somewhere 'other'...

Monday, August 08, 2011

Me? Addicted to Technology????

I am, I am, I am. I had been so pleased with myself to have found a way around having no Internet access from our little French haven -- I do have cell phone access and my newish smart phone had e-mail capability which meant that at least I could keep track of that side of things without incurring to much additional cost -- £10 a month for 50 Megabytes -- and even an occasional foray onto the Internet if necessary. I had not even considered that my phone would completely pack up.

I get occasional 'fixes' in town at the Cyberbase center -- but The Man does not like hanging around waiting for me and I've been lucky to get anything over an hour of time -- which is probably running out right now!!! Oh hell! Guess I'll just have to make due with the rose -- ice cold, the sunshine, and the 'puttering' sound of The Man. Not to mention the 4 Men and their motorcycles due this afternoon for a couple nights of La Vie Francaise...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Swarm -- Across the Road

Around August 1st each summer a little magic happens here! Well it's magic to me because I don't understand quite how or why it works... the Man and I were sitting under the catalpa tree, him with his red and me with my nicely chilled rose, when he looked at me and said, "Do you hear that humming sound?" I listened carefully and sure enough there it was and as the minutes passed and our glasses emtied, it grew a bit louder. That coupled with the sound of a machine that made a whirring chug-a-lug sound from time to time and I was pretty sure M. Georges Estival was making honey. No fancy hive or protective clothing for him! Jamais!
This was taken last year around the same time. For some reason this particular combination of junk causes the bees to swarm by the thousands!