Wednesday, February 29, 2012

There's a Give-Away Goin' On!

I know you've seen this one already, but it's a fitting image for today, too.  Over at Une Femme d'un Certain Age, blog-amie déjà pseu has quite a stylish gig happening.  Stop in to take a peek and enter to win February's Cards of the Month.  (While you're visiting, you may want to check out her scarf video over at the right-hand column:  Foulard 101.  She's a master magician with a scarf!)

Seems like good timing to still make it under the wire for the Valentine's Day collection since today is the 29th of February!  Back in the day, this day was known as the one-and-only day women could propose marriage to men.  Once every four years.  So if you're feeling lucky, enter the give-away...

This image is one of the cards for February.

...and propose to someone today!

Bon courage à tous!  Et bonne chance!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Little World Views

Catching up on a bit of reading this week...

Yours on the reading wagon,

Monday, February 27, 2012

Let the Sparkle Continue...

...a little more to kick this week off.  Not to mention, a bit of a giggle.

Wandering through one of the ba-zillion antique shops in Isle sur la Sorgue, I made a photo of these chandelier reflections.  That's me in the lower right-hand corner of the mirror looking a little spooky with the dark shadows and wild 'do...

...but check out the left-hand corner:  that's the disapproving salesperson who immediately approached me asking in a very chilly tone if she could help me.  (At least she didn't make my buy the things I'd photographed!)  Ahhh...the risky life of an artist.  ;}

Yours in reflection on risks worth taking,

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Little Sparkle For Your Sunday

I spent a chunk of my day yesterday under this lovely chandelier at le coiffeur...

...and skipped out (okay...perhaps I didn't actually skip...but I certainly felt like it!) with another great cut.  Life is lookin' good from under my newly coiffed mop...and I've been in search of someone to tame the aforementioned mop for seven years!

Bon dimanche,

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Daily Double: Little World Views

Another architectural view at our Grand Theatre...

Bon weekend à tous!


The Town of A Thousand Faces Series - Nº 5

How adorable is this?  Dorothy and Toto I presume? 

I wanted to immediately commission someone to do a carving of Bodhi's likeness on the door to my building when I discovered this...

...or at least the door to the courtyard where he goes out to do his ... ahem ... 'business'.

Happy Friday!

Yours, 'facing' reality and skipping the carving of Bodhi on the door,

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Daily Double: Little World Views

During my visit to London in November, I saw Ai Wei Wei's Sunflower Seeds...or at least a part that was left of it at that time.  An impressive piece, it was intended (and, in fact, began) as an interactive piece but there were health concerns for the dust resulting from crushed porcelain.  I only saw what was left of it and it still made an impact.

More here about Ai Wei Wei and his Sunflower Seeds:

Sunflower seeds are a common street snack in China.  For the artist, they are linked to memories of the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76.  While individuals were denied personal freedom, propaganda images depicted Chairman Mao as the sun with the mass of people as sunflowers turning towards him.  However, Ai remembers the sharing of sunflower seeds as a gesture of human compassion, an opportunity for pleasure, friendship and kindness during difficult times.

Ai's decision to make the seeds from porcelain reflects its status as one of China's most prized exports.  Each seed was hand-painted by specialists working in small-scale workshops in Jingdezhen, a city famed for its production of Imperial ceramics.  This combination of mass production and traditional craftsmanship invites us to look more closely at the 'Made in China' phenomenon, and the geopolitics of cultural and economic exchange.

Sunflower Seeds is a variation on Marcel Duchamp's idea of the readymade - an everyday object selected by the artist and designated as a work of art.  'Duchamp showed me other possibilities, i.e. that art can be a way of life', Ai has said.  'The freedom of mind one develops through thinking is much more important than the form of expression.'  He paid homage in an earlier work by bending a wire coat hanger into the outline of Duchamp's face, and photographed it piled with sunflower seeds.

Ai Wei Wei was born in 1957 in Beijing, China, where he lives and works.

Juliet Bingham, Curator, Tate Modern:
"Ai Weiwei's Unilever Series commission, Sunflower Seeds, is a beautiful, poignant and thought-provoking sculpture. The thinking behind the work lies in far more than just the idea of walking on it. The precious nature of the material, the effort of production and the narrative and personal content create a powerful commentary on the human condition. Sunflower Seeds is a vast sculpture that visitors can contemplate at close range on Level 1 or look upon from the Turbine Hall bridge above. Each piece is a part of the whole, a commentary on the relationship between the individual and the masses. The work continues to pose challenging questions: What does it mean to be an individual in today's society? Are we insignificant or powerless unless we act together? What do our increasing desires, materialism and number mean for society, the environment and the future?" remembering that we're really all in this together,

The Town of A Thousand Faces Series - Nº 4

Wow!  Check this one out!  A wild beard, a crown and initials in the ironwork over the door.  Who lived here?  (I'm working on digging up some of the details on these characters...stay the meantime, let's just make up our own stories!)

Yours with my face in today's sunshine,

ps:  check back in later.  we're going to stop in at the tate modern in london for a peek at one of their art installations.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Daily Double: Little World Views

A little architectural spin for a change...with a pensive character to make us wonder:  supportive ally for a defendant or attorney?  You make the call...

Voilà! The Court of Appeals here in Aix...which used to be the old prison.  Funny, that, non?

Yours in the court of appeals (no, not really!),

The Town of A Thousand Faces Series - Nº 3

Stately old girl, non?  Even though she's a bit worse for wear.

Yours in the face-off,

ps:  daily double later today!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Daily Double: Little World Views

Remember that bouquet of pussy-willow and peach branches?

Voilà!  Spring has arrived...

...if only in my living room!

Hope your day is going well.

Yours in the hayfever haven I've created with these bloomin' branches,

The Town of A Thousand Faces Series - Nº 2

As you can see, this will simply be a variation on a theme for the entire week...but let me assure you:  this is not a case of 'you've seen one, you've seen 'em all!'

Oh no, no, no!  Just'll see!  These are characters are as unique as can be.

For instance, check out the slight dimple on this one - not to mention the adorable double chin detail!

Cute, non?!  (He actually reminds me a bit of one of the ghosts in Ebeneezer Scrooge's wild Christmas Eve dreams.)

À demain...

Yours in 'about face(s)',

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Town of A Thousand Faces Series

At least that's what it should be called.  Why?  Because there are...well....a thousand faces staring out from corners hither and yon!  (Actually, I've not made a count but perhaps I will as I gather images for this series.)

In the week ahead, I'll share a few of them with you.

Meet the first fellow in the series.  He looks down upon this fine ville from his perch atop the colossal portal of the sous-préfecture, just around the corner from me...

...and he's just our starter!  More to come so stop back in tomorrow.

Yours...enjoying a little face-time,

ps:  is it just me, or do those carved wooden door ornaments look like paws as he poses sphynx-like from this angle?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bon Dimanche

I had a stately and magnificent façade to the eglise in my 'hood for you today but I'm just back from the marché aux fleurs so...instead you'll get a splash of color and a spot of sunshine for this Sunday.

I'm anxious for spring to arrive! 

What's that you say?  You figured that out? 


Is it that obvious?!

Bon dimanche à tous!

Yours in foot-tapping anticipation for the real deal,

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday Morning Marché - La Deuxième Partie

A splash of light (perhaps too much but it's the spirit of the thing, right?!)  ;}

Yours...splashing around in it...

Saturday Morning Marché

Check back later for another cheery market view on this mid-winter Saturday!

Yours au marché,

Friday, February 17, 2012


* dieu merci, c'est vendredi - thank god it's friday

California girl that I am, imagine my delight when I discovered a burrito shack in town!  wooohooo!

The first time I checked it out, the owner/chef took me for British (they often do for some reason).  "No, I'm American," I said.

He brightened and began rattling off in English tout de suite.  "I want you to come back and tell me how you like it," he said, "I'm quite sure you are going to.  It is just like the burritos in Boston!"

Ahem.  Boston?!?  Who knew burritos were a specialty of Boston?!  I smiled politely.  Then he asked me where I was from.

"California," I replied. 

He froze for just an instant then said, "Oh!  Well then you really do know about burritos!"

Yes.  Yes, I do.  And his are really good!  En plus, he serves Dos Equis...something else us California girls know a little bit about.

Bon weekend à tous!

La Boca Loca
13, rue de la couronne
13100 Aix-en-Provence

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Little World Views

Whew!  I can run my errands today sans mes gants!  Actually, without the double gloves I've been wearing for days.  Just one pair wasn't cutting it against the cutting cold that slammed into town thanks to a vicious Mistral.

But today as I zipped through the marché, I spied some very welcome signs of Spring...

Yours in anticipation of 'springs' ahead...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Little World Views

Like ducks in a line, these buddhas adorn the counter of a Chinese restaurant around the corner from me.  When I have a yen for noodly cuisine, I head over there for take-out.  No surprise to see the line-up as it is a common accent in the decor of Chinese eateries.  But check this out... it just me, or is this mischievous little character at the end...

...eyeing the pastis?!

Have a great day!

Yours in offering a bit of irreverent humor for your mid-week,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jour de St. Valentine

I'm not really sure how to send this greeting in French...when I arrived here 8 years ago, there was not really much fuss around this day.  But like many things, France has begun to catch on to the marketability and boom!  Today, many of the town shop windows are filled with hearts and flowers.

The entrance of a very cool tea shop in Marseille...all the year 'round.

Commercialism aside, I hope you enjoy many days this year in which someone will 'entre libre*' into your heart! 

More importantly, I hope you know how much I appreciate you.  I'm sending this Valentine to all of my readers around the world.  There are thousands of you each month, which continues to amaze me! 

You all rock - each and every one of you!

Enjoy your day!

Yours in appreciation and gratitude,

*entre libre:  enter freely

Monday, February 13, 2012

Little World Views

Let's keep it simple to begin the week...

Hope your week is off to a gentle start!

Yours - right along with you in the unfolding,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tying Up Loose Ends

Two new keys now work to give me access to my building.  Like many things in this little French life, the process was not easy - especially because it took the better part of a snowy day back and forth from the 'artisanal' keymaker before the 25€ key actually worked.  (In my frustration, I firmly asked for a reimboursement for the key which didn't work.  The keymaker's response?  He laughed at me.  That's right.  Not a laugh due to something funny I managed to mangle in French but a contemptuous, condescending laugh.  Par for the course.  Not one of my favorite parts of living as a mildly feminist American in a patriarchal culture....but I digress...) 

The second key was made to order at my favorite quincaillerie* and both are now in fine working order.  And it's a good thing because today's high is only going to be 36ºF and I don't want to spend one second more than necessary outside of that door.  When I last checked, it was 26º and the 'feels like' temp was 17º.  Which prompts this California girl to ask:  Are those even temperatures?!?

Bon dimanche à tous!

Yours...cuddling with my lap-warmer, Bodhi,

ps:  The flowers?  My favorite Saturday ritual:  le marché aux fleurs

* quincaillerie:  hardware store

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Little World Views - Saturday Housekeeping

These beauties...

...and a bit of this...

...and a pinch of elbow grease and the world will look a bit brighter after this Saturday ritual!

Bon weekend à tous!

Yours - up to my elbows,

Friday, February 10, 2012

Little World Views

I need to get a new key made so I can get into the front door of my building to climb these stairs...

Since the door has been 'fixed', my key has not worked in it and I've been having to ring one of my neighbors to buzz me in.  Not that those lovely neighbors didn't appreciate the banana bread I made as a petite merci, but banana bread can only be good for so many buzzes!

Wish me luck!

Yours in hopes of snagging a working set of keys to my kingdom,

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Little World Views

With fingers crossed for continued good luck, this season's cold (cold as in rhume, grippe*...the stuff that knocked me flat for the entire month of February last year and reordered my world) has been mild...

...but for a little lingering cough.

Yours, catching any of my little left-over coughs in a dainty mouchoir,

* rhume:  cold   
   grippe:  flu

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Wednesday Window on Provence - Kitchen Magic

Today is a teaching day for me so I'm only here for a moment to share some additional kitchen magic - from yesterday morning. 

What a beautiful world, non?  How lucky are we?!?

Yours in the belief that everything's all light!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Hidden Gems from Back in the Day

I'm still learning about Aix and its countless hidden gems, but Marseille is an entirely different oyster!

In the 7 years since my arrival, most of my trips to Marseille centre ville were fairly traumatic: 

There was the saga of the carte de sejour to begin the process with innumerable goose chases hither and yon to hammer down all of the gophers and jump through all the hoops until I had that little card in my hand - at which time I could take a breather for a year before I had to plan to do it all over again.

After that came the working papers. This time Paris stuck her nose in things and gave me an official-looking list of things to do and an equally official-looking list of addresses at which I was to do them. 

I started out in good faith, but often upon arrival I was met by someone looking at my list and shaking their head and pointing in another direction while scribbling a new phone number on a scrap of paper with their free hand.  So would begin the next leg of the chase.  (On one such day, I figured I'd at least treat myself to lunch as long as I was in town but of course, it was two o'clock and there was not a crumb of lunch to be found.  Too late.  Some things are really organized here - like lunch time.  But the working papers process?  Not so much.)

It was unnerving to say the least.  On some days I wondered how it was that anyone actually ever received their bloody working papers as it takes months, literally, to figure out the first step...and a few more to figure out where to take it.

More than once I mused that it would have been easier had I been born knowing how to operate in a country that is clearly led by people who have all been trained by the Keystone Cops.  (Okay, admittedly, that's a bit harsh...but there were days, let me tell you!)

Aside from a feeble attempt to share this city (the oldest in France) with my sister while she was here  (a visit in which I may as well have tied a fashionable scarf around my eyes as I stepped off the bus and wandered around blindly with my arms outstretched and locked straight in front of me for all the good I was as a guide for my poor baby sis'!)  I just haven't set foot in the place for fun...until a few weeks ago.

A friend of mine, who now lives in Aix, lived in Marseille for many years and she knows it so well she actually could tie a fashionable scarf around her eyes to walk around the place.  I'm convinced she would never miss a step! 

I just loved turning the corner to see this magnificent structure against an evening sky.  (Okay, I admit. I may have been under the influence of just scoring that fabulous jacket and shirt...but still...)

This lovely 19th century gem still beams proudly with its original architecture.  The Spanish clothing store, Mango, now resides here - in what has become one of the hottest shopping areas in town.

I think I might just grow to like this long as I don't have to do any official business there ever again...for a very.long.time.

Yours in discovering new corners and re-covering from old traumas,

Monday, February 06, 2012

Little (Indiscrét) World Views - Monday Morning Humor

I'm an all-natural, found-stuff-only type of girl when it comes to photography. 

Man, oh, man!  Every now and again, the universe delivers a gem!

Have you ever noticed the lines outside the ladies' room?  Intermission to a concert, a play...before or after the cinema?  Always with a line.

The men's room, on the other hand seems to have a revolving door with people breezing right in - and right out.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this line of guys after the marché Saturday morning!

Each day between noon and 13h (1pm), the vendors at the marché rush around to break down their stands.  They toss their stuff around to get it out of the way as they load up and move out to make room for the hungry lunch crowd.  Apparently these guys got tossed aside in just the right spot for a much needed a 'pit stop' after a tough day of modelling woolen goods.

The random universe has quite a sense of humor, non?

Yours ... waiting in the other line,

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Sunday Bonus - Southern European Météo...

...or at least le météo here in Aix today:  too bloody cold!

(Thanks to a certain anglaise, who one day validated my use of 'bloody',  I'm trying to clean up my potty mouth...sort of...okay...let's just say that I'm occasionally inserting more innocuous alternatives to replace...well...let's just say other 'gros mots'*  I go through this drill in a cyclic manner....and it usually doesn't really last.  Sometimes 'les gros mots' are the only mots that really fit.) to start a pot of spaghetti sauce...or chili...I'll have to see which one wins as the best belly-warmer!

Yours in layers of cashmere - and big wooly ski chausettes - against today's freezing temps,

ps:  if you're late to today's party, don't miss the dance with light that was posted earlier!

*gros mots =  swear words

Kitchen Magic

The word photography is from the Greek:  phos = light and graph = drawing or writing.

I'm not sure who's zooming who in this image, but this is the kind of marvelous light I'm always on the lookout for!  Check this out! 

Just remember:  Everything's all light!
And in my own little kitchen.  You just never know when you're going to run into one of those magical moments - right in the middle of an otherwise mundane morning.

Bon dimanche à tous!

Yours...tripping the light fantastic...sometimes in the kitchen,

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Little World Views - La Grande Finale

Need to make a statement of personal empowerment to take your life back and move on?  

Here's one way:

Je t'aime pas = I don't love you.

As I wandered the length of the lovers' bridge, this particular specimen took me quite by surprise...and then it made me giggle.  I suppose we can all relate to definitive moments like this.  

Isn't life wonderful in all of its messiness and complication?!  Not to mention all of the creative ways we choose to navigate the messy mystery!

Bon weekend à tous!

Yours...locked outta luv  ;} 

Friday, February 03, 2012

Little World Views - Pont des Arts, deuxième partie

Don't you wonder how all of these couples are doing?  I do.

Stop back in tomorrow for the surprising final image in this series!

Yours in in lock-down (on the Pont des Arts, that is),

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Little World Views

I remember a quote that promoted the idea that "if you love something, let it go..." 

Seems reasonable in an existential kind of way.

Here in France, there's something else going on.  We're lockin' love down here!

This is one of the images on this month's Cards of the Month selection...only in color.

The Pont des Arts is a pedestrian bridge that links the palais du Louvre to the l'Institut de France.  For ages, artists and photographers have frequented the place for its perspective and views. Now international lovers have plugged it into their GPS devices as a place to declare undying love - well, mostly undying love....more on that later.

The charming collection of locks are placed on the linked fence and the keys are tossed into the Seine - so romantic, don't you think?  The city of Paris? ...errr...not so much as occasionally there is a sweep in which the fence is cleared of all of the cadenas d'amour.  But as they say, "love is blind" - and sometimes stubborn - as the persistent romantics keep showing up to lock it up with their amoureuses/amoureux

The next two days will be an hommage to le Pont des Arts and lovers all along the spectrum of romantic love.  Curious?  Check back in to see what I mean.

Yours in love...with le Pont des Arts,

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Cards of the Month - February 2012

...or I should say, "Les cartes du mois sont arrivés!*" 

This month is a celebration of L. capital U. capital V!

Here's one of the images of the five in the set...

Order now so you can fill someone's boîte aux lettres on that special day...or any other day of the year ahead!

Yes, you are correct.  This is very similar to yesterday's image...I just couldn't decide which I liked better...when in doubt...

Yours waiting by the mailbox,

* the cards of the month have arrived

ps:  there is no © on the actual cards...that's simply an internet image stamp.

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