Thrilled to have been a part of this!

More photos to come, but I wanted to share this avant-goût from a stunning Charleston wedding for which I provided the calligraphy.  The lovely (and I mean absolutely beautiful) bride) and her debonaire new husband shared a few shots with me.  While I'm waiting to view the rest--and I promise to share as soon as I can--please feast your eyes on these images.  

The photography is manages to be rich and ethereal at the same time-- I'm crazy for the depth of color and the composition by talented photographer Noa Azoulay of Featherlove Photography.  

Voilà the Mr and Mrs, and just a couple pics of the tags I made for the decanters at the reception.  

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correspondence, cough syrup, calligraphy

I have work to be catching up on, this weekend.  Finalizing the design of a suite of invitations (faire-parts) for a lovely Parisian bride who will be saying "Oui" this summer in Provence, as well as mixing a custom ink color (in a signature French Blue!) for the envelopes of a beautiful set of Letterpress invitations and insert cards for another expat américaine who came to me for the bespoke calligraphy of her gorgeous wedding stationery...  I'll have the printed materials in my hands tomorrow, and must be ready to go with the addressing.  I can SEE my desk from where I lie, surrounded by tissues and a growing collection of tea cups, trusty orange fur ball by my side.  And I am itching to get to work, and I'm bored of being ill.  

Yesterday I was actually too sick to get out of bed all day.  I finally succumbed to the rhume that's been making the rounds of my entourage (kids, yoga students) for the last 10 days, and only really came down with it the other day.  There's no calligraphy while the hands are shaky from fever, and no yoga while the mere idea of ujjayi breathing sets me into a coughing fit.  Wish me luck today-- I'm going have a bath, drink some spicy soup, and try to put pen to paper this afternoon.  

I will say, though, it's terribly nice having Paul come home and deliver to me my letters in bed, and for one of them to be this amazing Poisson d'Avril from the completely amazing JP Panter.  I absolutely love the friendships I'm forging with other calligraphers and artists from around the world.  

poisson d'avril



amoureuse...

... IN LOVE, that is, with my new penholder from Brian Smith of Unique Obliques.  And how.  I scurried right over to his Etsy shop to leave feedback, only to find that as it had arrived ahead of ETA, Etsy won't let me say anything about it just yet.  I must wait for the 2nd of October.  As I do not have the option to crow about it over there, I just thought I would wax poetic about it here.  What I said chez Brian at Esty, but couldn't publish today:

"Brian, this is the penstaff that has been missing from my hand !!!  You are a genius. J'ADORE. "

 

She's the long-legged beauty out front.  Brian called her form Harry Potter-esque, but I see a perfect knee, a lovely long tibia and the jewel of a little foot.  I know I'm weird.  (Hopeless balletomane, and it's hard to look through other eyes sometimes. ^^)

She's the long-legged beauty out front.  Brian called her form Harry Potter-esque, but I see a perfect knee, a lovely long tibia and the jewel of a little foot.  I know I'm weird.  (Hopeless balletomane, and it's hard to look through other eyes sometimes. ^^)

Perfect weight in the hand, elegant length, perfectly canted flange... a dream.  I'll certainly be a collector!  RUN to get one of these, you won't regret it.  

the rooshans

While working through this stack of envelopes for a big American wedding, I was listening to Dostoyevsky  and trying to not laugh at Lizaveta Prokofyevna so much that my hairlines would be shaky.  It was a lovely surprise to see a couple of Russian names pop up on the address list as I neared the end!  Russian names feel so strange and elegant on my tongue.  A pastille with a perfumy flavour, from a fancy tin.  Found in a little purse with opera gloves.   They feel just as special under the pen, and give themselves over to swirls and arabesques like stars from the Mariinski.    

 

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the greatest thing, ever

Guess who has a few nibs, a serious geek-love of all things calligraphy and lettering (with a very soft spot for French lettering and French vintage)... and the biggest collection in France of antique and vintage objects devoted to l'écriture...  IN HER NEIGHBOURHOOD? Well, almost!  Le Musée du Scribe, curated and presided over by the lovely and knowledgeable Jean-Louis Bonnefille, is just a petite demi-heure from our place.  Jean-Louis doesn't mind if you take a million pictures and share them on the internet.  Enjoy, Internet!  

pen case

pen case

bicycle of an "écrivain publique", 1940s

bicycle of an "écrivain publique", 1940s

sweet little ink well, or encrier, in the form of an escargot.  Tips forward and back to keep the ink from drying out or getting dusty.

sweet little ink well, or encrier, in the form of an escargot.  Tips forward and back to keep the ink from drying out or getting dusty.

lots of vintage ads for inks and nibs.

lots of vintage ads for inks and nibs.

bottles and bottles of ink  ::swoon::

bottles and bottles of ink  ::swoon::

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nibs and nibs

nibs and nibs

this pencil box compliments of Marie Rose, the perfumed death of head lice.  :-0

this pencil box compliments of Marie Rose, the perfumed death of head lice.  :-0

conjugaison for the little écoliers   

conjugaison for the little écoliers   

l'écriture française

l'écriture française

how to cut a goose quill

how to cut a goose quill

or get yourself one of those new-fangled Yankee steel nibs.  

or get yourself one of those new-fangled Yankee steel nibs.  

I'll be back for sure.  I just had to get a few photos up for the calligraphy lovers over at Tumblr.  ;)   

around these parts

 Summer was sweet.   

There was busyness, with calligraphy commissions, and with helping Paul a bit, being a jack-of-all-trades around the house and with his work.  There's been yoga with my core group of super-disciplined students who continue their practices straight through les grandes vacances, and I've had the pleasure of seeing them bloom throughout these summer months as the warmth spread into their bones, joints, and connective tissues--this is the time of year when the impossible becomes possible.  Suddenly there's that elusive bind!  there's the lift!!  there's the strettttchhh.  Ahh.

calligraphy and yoga

There was my birthday, and city trips, and days by the sea, and apéros taken in the garden when the day cooled by a degree or two and everything was quiet, except the cicadas chirping and the ice cubes clinking in the rosé.  

And most recently, some new friends and new opportunities.  An expansion of our little 'Club Ashtanga' to a new space.  Watching my schedule filling up, filling out a little more all the time.  It's good.  

On to la rentrée!  This is the real beginning of the year, as everyone knows.  The kids have their school supplies, their pencil cases, their tubes of gouache and their cahiers, and so do I.  In October I'll be participating in some calligraphy classes at the Musée du Scribe in St Christol-les-Alès.  I've got my eye on a new penholder from Unique Obliques  to complete the back-to-school feeling.  And, by the time our little Franco-Anglo-American contingent is celebrating Thanksgiving, our home sweet home will have seen some more major refurbishments and we'll be dining on our Tofurkey in style.  

Ah, there is is!  Autumn.  The cherry tree is already turning.  Happy 1st day of September.   

 

Vivre en campagne...

... à la montagne en été, c'est pas loin du bonheur.  :) 

En quelques années, j'ai appris à aimer le lifestyle des Cévennes quand la temperature dépasse 33°.  Nager dans les rivières si froides, bouquiner en plein soleil, boire du rosé frais au bord de la piscine... (surtout les mélanges rosé-pamplemousse qui se trouvent au bout du rayon et qui sont destinés aux filles, avec un taux d'alcool plus faible, et l'etiquette rose vif que Luke a nommé Barbie Wine. :)  Je l'ai essayé pour la première fois cet été et c'est bon, ça ne saoule pas quand il fait chaud ;)

Et les excursions à la mer et au resto comme hier.  Trop bien.  Que ça continue, car après ces dernières semaines hyper chargées, j'ai vraiment envie d'un glandage intégrale à la cevenole !  La prochaine fois, on arrivera de bonne heure à la rivière avec une glacière plein de petites choses à grignoter et de l'eau gazeuse.  Je veux qu'on se pose ici sur le rocher, où il n'y a pas de passage, avec des lunettes de soleil, de bons livres, de la crème solaire.  Pas de prise de tête.  Summer.  

 

photo prise il y a quelques années à La Vis, quand les enfants étaient tout petits et j'étais toujours citadine.  



franco-phony

The funny thing about living among Brits in France is all the opportunities I am afforded to mess it up right proper in three languages (English, French and 'murcanbien sûr). I'm like an study-abroad chick who, on the phone to her American family, talks about watching "films" and discussing my plans for "these holidays".  Well, in more 30-something fashion, fielding questions from adolescent Franco-anglais stepsons who want to know where I've stashed the new pack of toilet roll.  This delights my family to no end in the U.S., as they think it's all hilarious and weird, and they swear up and down that I sound just like Mary Poppins.  It's not only vocab; my vowels appear to have migrated.   

To my English expatriate husband I sound just like Alabama Worley from True Romance. Shhh, don't tell him he's waaay off, and that my native Michigander nasal could never sound like a Southern drawl.  We won't be too hard on him; he's been living in France for almost 20 years.  His memory of the Queen's speech is probably no less murky than his ear for Yankee.  Nevermind that some kind of odd French syntax has crept into my speech, and like Paul and the boys, I end up spitting out such weird constructions as "I must be falling sick, today at yoga we told me I look fatiguée, quoi ."  That kind of mess doesn't even raise an eyebrow at the dinner table.  

These kids say "do the math" and not (obviously!) maths.   All three of them put toMAYtoes on their quesadillas (yes, with an American step-mother they are being brought up to revere the corn tortilla).  They have cell phones, not mobiles.  They watch American tv.  They don't wear trainers.  They don't go to the TOILET, thank god, but to the blessedly vague bathroom.  They've pretty much given over to calling their "trousers" pants, without giggling.  In effect, they seem resolutely American to all the U.K. diaspora in France.  The lady at the British Tea Shop swears that Luke sounds and looks exactly like me.  

At home we speak a pidgin that works for us, no matter how odd it sounds to the truly French, or the truly British, or the truly American.  We are hybrids.   

Once I leave the home-sweet-home, though...  Eh.  Sometimes it's very obvious that I've left the city and am now spending all my time in the country, hors de la société, much less of the time engaged in Pure French conversation.  I make mistakes; I forget obvious things.  

Par exemple : the other day, I sallied in to the quincaillerie--i.e. the builder's merchants--i.e. the hardware store (can you see how many translations I have to process these days, just to talk on the phone to my mom about my quotidien?), in search of some paint stripper.  

Décapant = paint remover.

Décapotant = condom remover. 

Which one do you suppose I clicked up to the counter to ask for, with my sunglasses perched on top of my head, flashing my best "give me customer service" smile, and wearing a sassy little summer dress and platform sandals?  

 

I need to get out more.   

 

glory glory

On my way to yoga this morning at 6:30, the sunshine was backlighting all the acacia in bloom on the mountainside, and everything was wearing a golden halo, even me.  The proof:  I flipped on la radio as was shooting the shoots (that's how I think of a bit of extra twirly, curly road that dips down steep past Lasalle), and it was too good to be true...  Django Reinhardt playing Bach.  My tummy floated up up up, and tickled my heart, like it will on a swingset.  Nary another little Citroën on the road, just me and my little grey lemon and gypsy baroque, and sunshine yellow, and sky blue.  


 

les saints de glace

"Les saints de glace sont une période climatologique située, selon des croyances populaires européennes du Haut Moyen Âge, autour de saint Mamertsaint Pancrace et saint Servais, traditionnellement fêtés les 1112 et 13 mai de chaque année. Ces saints sont invoqués par les agriculteurs pour éviter l'effet d'une baisse de la température sur les cultures, qui pouvait être observée à cette période et qui peut amener du gel (phénomène de la lune rousse). Une fois cette période passée, le gel ne serait plus à craindre."

my translation:  "The Ice Saints is a climate phenomenon taking place, according to popular beliefs dating from the late Middle Ages, during the feast days of Saint Mamert, Saint Pancras, and Saint Servais (the 11, 12, and 13th of May each year).  The protection of these saints is called upon by farmers to ward off damages to crops caused by a drop in temperatures associated with the period of the red moon.  Once this period has passed, the risk of frost is considered passed as well."

I'd never heard of the Ice Saints before this year.  I don't remember anyone mentioning them in Montpellier, but this year in the Cévennes they've been whipping up chilly temps and the Mistral has been whistling around the house, too.  Still waiting for Spring in the south...  The other morning on Télématin, Mme Weatherlady said we might expect more seasonally appropriate temps dans deux petites semaines.  Patience!

This is a weekend for staying in, writing letters, and drinking litres of hot verveine.

pour ma cousine bien aimée

printemps 2013: t'es où, là ?

Il se passe un tas de choses ici en ce moment, mais sous un ciel grisâtre pleuvant et/ou une humidité quasi-permanente qui rend mes cheveux schizophrénique (la moitiétrèèèès bouclés et l'autre sans ressort), et moi toute triste et mal-chaussée avec une paire de bottes en caoutchouc qui appartenait au Petit Dernier il y a trois ans. Tout ça pour dire que je n'ai pas encore pu mettre ces magniFIQUE paire de chaussures à talon compensé bleues que j'ai achété début mars, quand le printemps donnait l'impression qu'il savait se comporter correctement.

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pics taken in Le Cadet's dusty (under construction) room, where husband was hard at work hanging a new door while I was wistfully taking pictures of my shoes.  

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LOADS going on around here, but under a grey sky, under a fine mist that makes
my hair schizophrenic (half limp, half crazy-curly), and me in my fall-back
pair of the Petit Dernier's old rubber boots, instead of in these
most beautiful blue darlings that were bought one sunny
day back in early March, when it looked as though

Spring were going to behave decently.  Pfffft.

coveting...

Scandinavian prints.  I didn't adore the way this dress fit; I was looking for more structure  through the waist.  But I'm loving the embroidery and the color.  

just a saturday market day

At the Saturday morning marché in Sommières last month, I was walking through the medieval town centre with Paul. 

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Walking past a shop window, this inscription in stylo-feutre caught my eye.  Isn't it beautiful?  It's in the exercise of his art that the artist finds a happy compromise with all that has hurt or defeated him in daily life.  -- Laurence Durrell

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I love to see poetry, philosophy or literature venerated in this way.  I love the idea of the shopkeeper--a boulangère or a hardware store owner, or a barber, dog-earing a page in the book he was reading and coming in early one morning to write it in his vitrine, to share it with everyone.  Feeling so moved by this idea of the cultivated  French villager, his hands busy with earning his daily bread but his head full of poetry and prose, I looked up to read the name of his business on the awning above.

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Oh, how nice.  A butcher's.  A

 horse meat 

butcher's. 

Just...  yeah.  No, that's it.  Have a lovely Wednesday, internet.  xx

New Year's Day

misty morning

misty morning

2013 starts out softly, contentedly.

Paul brought pre-practice coffee and water up to bed, and we snuggled each other and the cat for half an hour before going downstairs to light the fire.  Things had to be put in order and some dinner mess from the night before had to be dealt with, but the silence was nice while I washed the dishes in hot water and put the kitchen back to rights.  Children filtered in and had their breakfasts.  Chatter, jokes, resolutions for the new year.  Sweep up the cinders, the fire roaring now, and remember that in 2013 the geo-thermal heating will go in and I won't forever be sweeping up ash and dust ten times per day.  Lots of good things to come, lots of changes. 

Our pre-agreed Granny practice after the NYE champagne of the night before was just Standing, then urdhva dhanurasana and savasana under wraps.  I've come away to journal a little about my plans and projects for the new year and to post something here.  Paul's downstairs making a celeriac and assorted root-veg soup and the good smells are drifting up to me here on the 3rd floor. 

Wishing everyone peace and happiness.  Big love.

Bill

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Last week, I was forcibly adopted by a cat! 

I was coming home from work, and stopped to pick up a few things at the InterMarche.  When I was walking back to the car, I saw a nice orange cat come running across the parking lot toward me.  He was mewing with a little creaky voice.  I crouched down to see if he'd let me scratch a little behind his ears, and he jumped into my lap.  He was purring loudly, and rubbing his head against mine.  I could see he was a tom, and that he had no collar.  Right away, I called Paul (who was also on the road coming back from work) to tell him that I'd met a Nice Orange Boy in the parking lot of the Intermarche.  He figured I was talking about some guy giving out oranges in the parking lot, for a promotion at the supermarket ;-)  He told me that he'd be passing the shop in a few minutes and would pull in to see me.  The cat didn't leave; he sayed stuck to me!  When Paul did arrive, the cat began to pay him similar attentions.  Very affectionate.

The cashiers inside told Paul that the cat had belonged to a family who moved away, and now the cat was always at the Intermarche's Café begging for croissants.  They were hoping we'd take him home, as none of them could, and not all the clients appreciate having Mister around meowing for breakfast while they're having their coffee. 

So!  I have a cat!  I've been wanting one for so long, and he is so adorable.  He eats his dry food, he sleeps in our bed, he goes outside to have a sniff around but he always comes back.  He's going in for the snip on Tuesday next week, because I can't have him peeing on the boys' trainers even though he's not done anything nefarious and Tomcatty so far.  I'm not sure how old he is.  I'm happy!  I have a nice orange cat!  I call him Bill.  He's a nice boy, Bill.