Horizon at Sandy Point

Monday, February 24, 2014

Paris: a passing parade

Took the train to Gare de Nord, Paris. Knew I was getting in early. My sister Vidia not going to be home til late in the evening. So I could walk in places that I remember well.
Notre Dame de Paris
Pont Neuf: construction started in 1578, it is the oldest standing bridge across the Seine

Four hours to kill: went  to St Michel near Notre Dame to take photos.  Walk to my pub Bistro 27: ferme!  not open til 3 bullshitmerde...   Walk along river side shoot more photos. Walk up rue St. Denis ... rue de putes, putes not there. Passed Les Halles, did not dare go inside.
Les bouquinistes de Paris

You can see the turrets of the Conciergerie across the river

This building looks like it was recently cleaned up. La Conciergerie is a former royal palace and prison.
Cards and mini-posters

Browsed les bouquinistes: maybe look for a present. They chased me away, no photos allowed they said.
Bistro 27: ferme jusqu'a trois heures

Not been in Paris for maybe 20 years, and the streets are the same. I could find my way around without thinking. As a student here, Paris was a playground: subject and backdrop for university projects. On honeymoon, the city of lights. To visit now in winter, I'm just passing through to see my sister.

Fontaine du Palmier in Place du Chatelet, once a fortress to protect Paris. La Theatre de la Ville on the right and Saint Jacques tower in the middle.

Even on cold days, it's nice to sit outside

Bundled up for life on the street

Special Forces?

A place to get warm ...

And eat something... I must be getting hungry



At last, my sister Vidia! She prepared a wonderful meal for us. (I was getting hungry!) You can see her paintings - works in progress - in her sitting room.
Ma soeur Vidia
Vidia's art works in her sitting room
I didn't miss the bateau mouche

Paris needs some sunshine!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Oddments from the French side

This is the continuing saga of the other in France. Never a dull moment. It's a drama to get out of Draguignan; and then another in CDG (the stop at Charles de Gaulle airport which is the most convenient to Crillon). Let's call this Dramas from Draguignan to Crillon!

Here's this nice restaurant L'Oree du Bois the parents took me to. Very elegant food. Best of all was the Valentine's greeting!
Leaving the house
Chez l'Oree du Bois

Ice cream hidden in there somewhere!

Fancy dancy

Tres elegant!

Best message of the day!
On the day I am leaving to Crillon:
Bad start! Came downstairs at 6 am, saw Mom already in kitchen. I say great. Had coffee, went up to finish packing. 9am ready to go for train at 10.30.
Dad comes out, are you leaving today?
Yes Dad, where is Mom?
Sleeping. Ok, I'll drop you.
Mom fly out her room, No, no, I'll drop you. Thought it was tomorrow you leaving.

Half hour to get to station! Never see Mom drive like dat, break every law. Made it with five minutes to spare. I coulda ded.

Then six hours on the train opposite a musician who has been to Tobago for a jazz festival. He had a great time and now wants to go back. No time to give his address - all a sudden he fly off at the next stop like he nearly missed it.
This musician performed at Tobago Jazz - we met on the train!
 Then two hours searching for Indra's car in the parking lot. Maybe she thought someone stole it. She even asked the carpark attendant who came out to suggest we try the other side! And you remember when I couldn't find the rented car that I came to the airport in to pick you all up - when Orion was four and Anjani two. Well, my case wasn't dat bad. One hour then, two hours now

Diego le dog avec le chat - if is not dog chasing cat, is cat chasing dog!

Well, since I got here, is rain rain rain in Crillon. Indra working upstairs so I don't dare make mistakes and have to disturb. She already come dong twice. Doh feel like going nowhere today. I'll read my book, Pao, sitting in front de fire. Give Sox a hug! Let me press "send" and see if it works.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

drawing writing

Christopher Cozier was always explaining his art. I cannot see a small bench without hearing his comments on being in school with teachers who had a tambran whip, what it meant to get licks, or be benched. A dark blue shirt jack on a hangar started a diatribe about colonialism and subservience. Not to mention blue soap! To rub off de brown from little boys bodies, and clean dirty words (and thoughts) from rude girls tongues: Ah go rinse out yer mouth with soap yuh hear!

Maybe he should have been a writer. But he has such a great hand at drawing. It's fascinating to see the facility with which he follows a line, with which the image emerges. Plus he has this precise and deliberate way of writing, each letter, each word, sentences unravel and speed after the idea, his thought. And it seems that the recent works - a series that he calls The Arrest - are finally bringing together both of Christopher's strong points, writing and drawing.

The series of drawings that make up The Arrest were blown up on giant transparencies and installed as light fixtures at the Betsy - South Beach Hotel for Art Basel in Miami late in 2013. They will remain until the end of March - if you are in Miami, you can go and see them. They feature words sentences paragraphs whole ideas snaking towards a foot in flip-flops, converse sneakers, or a hand in the air waving or wielding something. Laocoon and crapaud dancing: his current statement on the state of our society. (Laocoon was the Trojan who warned, "Do not trust the horse, Trojans. Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even bearing gifts." He was punished by the gods and killed by two snakes. But Laocoon is associated with the snakes rather than the Trojan who was wise enough to warn his people. )

Each drawing in The Arrest is a chapter in itself. Best of all is the last, "When yuh miss me, ah gone."

The script on the bottom reads: everytime I see one of these trees, a kind of odd feeling comes over me about the time they were planted in the ground and about the content of the soil that feeds and nourishes them -

Put your hand in the air and jump and jump ... wouldn't you like to read all those words sentences in these drawings?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

made to be broken

This week I saw two art projects. One artist in the throes of creating edible art. The other artist following a line into writing drawing - or drawing writing! Whatever you call a kind of stream of conscious calligraphy, like balls of string with meanings to be unravelled. I try to enter art cautiously, because experiencing art is like entering another's secret space, their soul even. Art that speaks to you can provoke indescribable emotions, disorienting or like falling. Affective works of art can turn you upside down, and then right you again.

Today, let's consider the chocolate hearts made by Cocobel for Valentine's day. Trinidadian observances for Valentine's day are light-hearted - it's not an official special occasion. So offering a chocolate heart, filled with roasted sugared almonds coated with chocolate and dredged in cocoa, is the right gesture. The day originated in the memory of Christian martyrs named Valentine - the earliest may have been Valentinus of Rome around 496 AD. Chaucer (1300s) may be credited for the  associations to romantic love.

Leap forward some centuries to the chocolate maker's art of hearts. Chocolate making itself could be a devotional process: sorting beans, roasting, winnowing, grinding, balancing cacao content, pouring, decorating and packaging, the stations of the chocolatier's cross. The holy grail only attained when the chocolate is eaten and enjoyed. But art it is... to make a heart that needs to be eaten. Something gorgeous to look at. A heart that pulls you in opposite directions -  keep it to look at; or eat beyond satiety and let its mind-altering endorphins work their magic. Keep. Eat. Keep. Eat.

The blue heart

No names, just perfect

Watch the Cocobel chocolatier hand-paint her moulds, then fill them with liquid dark chocolate, then tap-tap-tap the chocolate so it coats the moulds evenly, and then flip them over with a bang to hollow the hearts. Chill to harden, then unmould, each a work of art. Could these lovelies really be eaten?

Do you eat the almonds first? And then tackle the chocolate shell? Nibble at the chocolate and pick at the almonds in between? Crush the chocolate shells so you can offer them round with the almonds? Why share? Eat it all by yourself, indulgently and in secret? How do you eat your heart? Let's savage the red one!

The chosen one

Scrumptious coated almonds nesting inside

Almonds first? Or chocolate?

The first cut is the deepest!

Easier now to have a smashing time.

Half gone!
Chocolate last? Or almonds?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

meanwhile on this side of the world

Sun's glow before daybreak

The sun's early ray over the east scarp and through the trees throws light in the room. It's time to wake. Get out of bed. Shuffle downstairs. Dogs already yipping at the back. Give us our breakfast they say. But they wait. Today is Panorama Sunday: from east, south and north, converging on the savannah! I'll catch all on tv, a parallel reality. Later I will go out for papers and to check for mail at the p.o. box. Check my email first. Make a bread batter and set to rise.

Sunlit window
Humming birds attacking the feeders - they must be hungry from the overnight fast - before disappearing in the heat of the day. The sun is high now oranging the vermilion head of the immortelles where there's a racket of oropendolas, a few parrots and many smaller birds.  I think, I should do the Great Backyard Bird Count ( but so many birds are unnameable - I haven't learned the vocabulary beyond hummingbird, blue jay, oropendola, corbeau, tanager ...

The girl on the other side of the world has sent a message. Sunday's already gone for her. She's going to bed. It's sweltering in the Australian summer. She's thinking about furnishing two rooms. She's pleased to have fresh vegetables so she can start cooking. When I sleep, she will be going into Monday.

The son is four hours ahead - he'll be having lunch when I am breakfasting - and ten hours behind her. The man chilling in the foothills of the Alps near the south coast of France is one hour ahead of the son and nine hours behind the girl. What's the riddle? Shuttling between time zones, how many parallel realities can you bear?

Are parallel realities like trees growing in the same area?

The question is this: can you step in the same river twice? Can you ever return to the same place across the ocean of time? Who will be there to welcome you? Parents outgrow their parenting and you must learn a relationship that you never had. It feels as if you were jettisoned too long ago; the drift is too far, the separation too deep. The landscape seems the same, but the trees are all grown or gone. How to navigate what's there, what's not there.

I fall asleep some nights to Simon and Garfunkel's ageless "Sound of Silence" or "Bridge over Troubled Waters." This is calming when the valley is silent, the moon high and the temperature has dropped to a pleasant 22. Some weekends though, I go to sleep to the din and inanity of a DJ in a bar in Cantaro. The shape of the valley funnels sound straight to my ears skipping those sleepers on the flat level with the village. Nothing stops my sleeping though - never miss the dreamtime.

My mind is hop skipping the stratosphere, bouncing off the moon at the best of times. It's possible you know to time travel even while you are awake. For a second or two people think you are aloof, not seeing them, preoccupied. But you've gone where they cannot follow. I used to read about astral travel and be disappointed that I never found the technique or time; both have come lately.

To sleep again, perchance to dream... until fore day morning come

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Les Demoiselles Coiffees and the drowned valley

I thought today would be a rest day. Since tomorrow I go back to the folks in Draguignan, and Indra and Pierre return north to Crillon. But no, the Abominable Snowman made tracks even though the weather was overcast this morning. And so when the sun came out in the afternoon, he was raring to go for a last lap in the area.

Direction Barcelonette, east towards the Italian border.
So we drove a little way east of Pontis and Chorges, again towards the Italian border. We were headed to Barclonette which maybe got its name from the same place as Barcelona. It is the largest town in the valley of the Ubaye river and has a long history going back to 1200s. Some of its early inhabitants migrated to Mexico and returned.

Definitely a warmer Mediterranean ambience

On the streets of Barcelonette

So Pierre finds a cock to play with!

Between Pontis and Barcelonette stand these nature-sculpted forms Les Demoiselles Coiffee. These are free-standing rock pillars, looking like ladies with piled high hairdos.
Les Demoiselles Coiffees
In the Ubaye valley

We come upon Lac de Serre-Poncon where an entire region about 20 km long and three km wide was drowned in the Ubaye valley, to create the largest man-made lake in western Europe. It had been decided in 1895 to create a dam after severe floods in the 1850s. Work did not start til 1955 and the dam was complete in 1961, drowning the village of Savines. The lake gathers water from the Durance and Ubaye rivers as they flow towards the Rhone.

Lac de Serre-Poncon, the largest manmade lake in western Europe