Wednesday, July 13, 2016

News From A Tiny Village In The Auvergne, France

For those of you who have been patiently waiting for photos of markets, quaint little french towns or sunflower fields, I must apologize.
Since arriving in our family's home in the Auvergne section of France two weeks ago, my husband and I have hardly had the time to take day trips, nor do our shopping at the markets.  The truth is, we have been busy working on the house and have several projects going at once before our first guests arrive and before vacation can really start. Any trips away from the house have consisted of visits to Gedimat, Mr. Bricolage or Big Mat, the French equivalents to Home Depot and Lowe's.
Here are photos of some of the things we are doing.

Tending to the garden, weeding and pruning.
Planting flowers in all the planters
Replacing the weed barrier under the pebbles along one side of the house
And getting more pebbles to make the walk longer.
Sanding the wood floor in two rooms of the house. The pine flooring had never been finished in the 50 years since it had been installed and it looked sad and scratched.
After sanding, came the finishing with an oil product that tints and hardens and allows the wood to breathe.
And voilà the result.
The result is beautiful.

Our neighbors think 'les américains sont fous,' working all the time.
But the projects above were actually just the small ones.  Currently, there are seven workmen busy on two major projects on the house.  One of them involves three 15 meter pieces of wood, pictured behind our house below. More on those in the next post.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Greetings From The Auvergne in France

I am finally back in the Auvergne, the section of France right in the center of the country, where I spent part of my childhood and where I return to every summer.  And I could not be happier.
For the past few days, my husband and I have been busy getting my family's house here in order, working on the garden and reconnecting to all our friends here.
Since our arrival, the weather has been absolutely lovely with lots of sunshine, warm breathes and cool nights.
As you can see, we are surrounded by fields and forests. Everything is in bloom at the moment, especially the poppies growing in between the wheat. Or behind the house.
This is the view from my kitchen window at the moment.  Did I mention how happy I am to be here?


"Don't Cut Local F": A Petition You May Want To Sign If You Live In Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Gowanus or Red Hook

Back in May, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced that it will be running express F train service between the Jay Street-MetroTech and Church Avenue stations (with a stop at 7th Avenue Park Slope) this summer for a limited time. The express service will be fully implemented in the fall of 2017, with half of all F trains running express each way during peak morning and evening rush hours.

Though this may save time for many F train riders in Brooklyn, it does cut trains by 50% for those in Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill and Gowanus since no new trains will be added to the line. This seems like a poorly thought out plan given the fact that ridership along the Bergen Street, Carroll Street, Smith Street/ 9th Street and 4th Avenue stations has steadily increased over the past few years.
To make people in the neighborhood more aware of these changes, Carroll Gardener  Erin Lippincott, who, together with her husband, has set up a Don't Cut Local F web site. She is also petitioning the MTA Board not to make the cuts.

Erin's goal is "to build a voice and the support of our political reps as well as let all of the residents and groups across the affected residents know what's at risk."

From the Don't Cut Local F web site:

The MTA proposes to decrease local F Train service by 50% during peak hours at the Bergen St, Carroll St, Smith-9 St, 4 Av-9 St, 15 St-Prospect Park, and Fort Hamilton Pkwy stations as part of a plan to revive the F-Express service. These cuts would seriously harm the residents and businesses along this busy subway corridor and are scheduled to be implemented in 2017.

We support reviving the F Express Train—but not at the expense of the many thousands in Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Columbia Waterfront, Red Hook, Park Slope, and Windsor Terrace who rely on the F train daily. Some of these stations (Bergen and Carroll St stations) are are among the busiest on the F line. They are already crowded at peak hours and, with large-scale residential developments underway, it promises to get worse. In Gowanus a new 12-story apartment complex alone will soon add 700 market-rate and affordable rental units just two blocks from the Carroll St. station. Then there is the fact that cuts to the local F will further isolate the already under-served neighborhoods of Red Hook and the Columbia Waterfront. Red Hook is home to the 2nd largest public housing development in NYC and the Smith-9 St station is the sole subway link for those residents. These cuts will be a big blow.

Please sign the petition here and tell MTA Board Members: No cuts to local F Train service in Brooklyn!
Get involved by contacting our elected officials here.
And learn more about the issue on  Don't Cut Local F.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Impressions Of Avignon, France

Many, many years ago, my husband and I spent a day and a night in Avignon during our honeymoon and were charmed by  the ancient papal city immediately.  We were just passing through then, so did not have time to visit the famous Palais des Papes, but we both remember a memorable meal at a small créperie right behind the palace and the hotel we stayed at which was right next to the palace and was called, of course, L'Hotel Du Palais Des Papes.  The window of our room opened up right onto the palais, which as amazing.
So it was definitely time to revisit and explore more the city.

Avignon was the seat of Western Christianity Avignon and the residence of the Popes in 1309, when the newly elected Pope Clement V left behind Rome during a period of unrest during that City.
The papacy returned to Rome in 1377, but caused a schism when rival claimants to the papacy vied for control. Tow of the 'anti-popes', Clement VII  and his successor Benedict XIII , continued to rule in Avignon until 1403.

After the Avignon Papacy ended, the Palais des Papes was neglected. It was ransacked during the French Revolution and subsequently used as barracks and a prison duringNapoleon's reign. It was not till 1906 that is was declared a national museum.  Since then, it has been painstakingly restored and work continues on a large scale.

Today, the palace, the famous bridge of Avignon and the old medieval city center,  surrounded by its fortified ramparts, have been declared Unesco World Heritage sites.

Of course, Avignon has more to offer than the papal palace.  The winding streets with their charming plazas by themselves are worth a visit. And of course, Avignon is situated not far from the Chateauneuf Du Pape wine region and the Mediterranean.  Need I say more?

My husband in front of the hotel where we stayed on or honeymoon decades ago.