Monday, June 18, 2018

Picture Of The Day: Wheat And Pansies

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Little pansies growing wild at the edge of a wheat field behind our house.
For more photos of the French countryside, you can follow 

News From France: Lots Of Love For An 1866 Auvergnat Farmhouse

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Our little village in the Auvergne, under a gray sky
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Work progressing on our stone farmhouse
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New windows, made to look just like the old ones
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Repointing the back wall
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Brothers C. indulging me by pausing for the camera

Noise and dust.
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The back wall gets a rinse to remove all the dust after old mortar was removed
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The stone wall after old mortar was chiseled away
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After new sand and lime mixture was applied.
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Brothers C. leaving after completing the job.
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Driving the big 'Manitou" away after it was all done.
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The result!
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Of course, I began planting flowers behind the house almost as soon as the brothers had removed their machines.
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Dear Reader, you may remember the major renovations that my husband and I have undertaken on the 1866 stone farmhouse here in France that my parents bought more than 50 years ago.  In 2016, we had a brand new tile roof put on the house, and in 2017, we had a local craftsman pierce two new window openings in the attic. This year, the big project was to have the stones in the back of the house repointed and to have windows installed in the attic openings.

Here in the countryside of France, it is hard to find people who still have the skills to actually renovate, instead of re-muddle these old buildings.  Fortunately, in the past few years, we have been introduced to some wonderful local artisans, who are serious about their craft and don't take any shortcuts.  Since they are all very busy, it may take some time to get the actual work done, but it is always worth the wait.

When it was time to have the back façade repointed,  we were looking for a mason who still mixes mortar the old fashioned way, using just coarse sand and lime, materials that were widely available here in the countryside when these farmhouses were built.
Luckily, we were given the name of two brothers who are experts at mixing 'chaux' and at getting the color just right.  Arrangements were made last summer for the work to begin this spring.  So, shortly after we arrived here, the Brothers C. showed up with heavy equipment and got started.

Rejoining the façades, when done right, is a tedious process as the old mortar first needs to be chiseled out before a new coat can be applied. Once the chaux hardens, the excess is brushed off to reveal the individual stones.
Oh, it was noisy and dusty, but the brothers arrived cheerfully every morning and went right to work, repointing one section of our back wall after the other, until the house looked as it must have when it was first constructed.

In between all this activity, the carpenter delivered and installed our new oak windows for the two attic openings.  After a few coats of stain, the windows look as though they have always been part of the house.

Obviously, my husband and I don't relax much when we are here in France, but it feels so incredible to get closer to completing some of the 'big' jobs.  There are still plenty of smaller ones planned for this summer, but I'll tell you about those next time.

Previously:
A New Roof For An Old Farmhouse In The Auvergne
The Daily Rhythm In A Little Village In The Auvergne


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Finally, A Sign Of Life From France Or How To Survive Two Weeks Without Internet

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Oh, dear Readers, life without internet and telephone is truly frustrating, but does have its advantages., especially when you are cut off from the news.
Perhaps I was over confident when I mentioned that I would be fully connected to the rest of the world while in the Auvergne, France.  In the past few years, all it took was a quick call to the French telephone company to have our line connected again when we arrived at our house here, but this year was different.  It took numerous calls, two visits to the nearest company store, and lots of patience to learn that we would need a totally new contract, a new connection, and a new number, which took its time, obviously.
Finally, last night, everything was hooked up again and here I am, back to blogging.

My husband and I have been busy getting the house ready for summer. Soon, friends and family will arrive, so there is no time to lose.  My days have been filled with weeding, planting and cleaning.
Since our arrival, there has not been a day without a thunderstorm, so watering has not been necessary.  Occasionally, the sun will make an appearance and when it does, it is just lovely, especially the sun setting through the fog at night.

As soon as we arrived here, we embarked on yet another big project on this old stone house.  Actually, we have two or three projects going at the same time, so it has been dusty and noisy for days on end. The work is progressing nicely though, and the end is in sight.  Will post pictures as soon as I can show off the final  result.  Now that I am back online, I promise to post more in the days to come.

In the meantime, greetings to Carroll Gardens and Gowanus and to you all.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Some Of My Favorite Things In Paris

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1. Imagining I lived here full time
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2. The magnificent stained glass at the Sainte Chapelle.
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3. Walking through the many beautiful public parks and admiring the plantings.
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4. Taking a rest on a green park bench under an allée of trees.
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5. Taking time to appreciate pink roses against a cobalt blue shutter 
and stopping long enough to take a photo.
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6. The flower market on the Île de la Cité
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7. And just because...the variety and beauty of the flowers being offered.
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8. Lunch (or dinner) at Café du Commerce in the XVème
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9. A Kir Royale with Cassis to start every meal
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10. The selection at all the small fruit stands in every neighborhood.
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11. Le temps des cerises: a song written in 1866 par Jean Baptiste Clément, 
but obviously also the season
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12. Dessert at Berthillon on the Île Saint Louis.  This time, I chose Cerise and Cassis sorbet 
with a scoop of Grand Marnier ice cream.  Heaven!
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13. Finally, a stop at the Petit Bateau boutique at Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville (BHV) in the Marais to buy some striped tees and sweaters for my grandson.

In the past few days, I have criss crossed Paris on foot, métro and bus to stop at all my favorite places and to discover some new ones.  No matter how much time I spend here, it is never quite enough and leaving is always hard.
I will be heading to the countryside today and will be at my family's farmhouse later today. Can't wait!



Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Greetings From Paris In Springtime

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Dear Readers,
As many of you know, I exchange my Brooklyn live for a part of each year to return to France, where I spent part of my childhood.  I am hoping that you will come along once again, as I am making my way to my family's old stone farmhouse in the Auvergne region, a lovely part of the country known for its volcanos, its cheese,  and mostly, for its unspoiled countryside.

I have been spending the last two days in Paris, where absolutely everything is in bloom and the sun has been shining since I got here. The City never disappoints. I have been taking long walks, lazy breaks for coffee and cocktails, and leisurely visits to museums like the Jacquemart- André Museum, which is absolutely stunning,

I will  try to post often while I am here in France, but will also include relevant Carroll Gardens/Gowanus happening and news along the way.  I plan on taking loads of photos, which I will also add to my Instagram account here, if you want even more updates.

So, stay in contact, please continue to send me your tips about events back in the neighborhood and I promise to be back in Brooklyn  before you know it.
In the meantime, I hope you come along on this adventure.