Sunday, April 29, 2012

Getting Ready for Paris

04/29, Sunday
Lots of clothes from our Figueres/Barcelona trip need washing. Today's the day for that.

Also, J&M have invited us to a band concert in Puy l'Eveque. One of their friends whom we met last week, Tony, plays the euphonium (baritone brass instrument) in one of the bands. The concert is at 3:00pm in the community center. it is well attended by local folks. We are impressed with the number and quality of events available in this "countryside" area.

The first segment of the program features the Harmonie de Puy L'Eveque, a 26-instrument group...trombone, French horn, trumpet, clarinet, saxophone, flute, baritone, drum, timpani...brass and reed instruments. Five numbers, "Les Moulins de Mon Coeur" (Windmills of my Heart) written by Michel Legrand is one I recognize. Also, a medley by a French composer, Michel Sardou: "Une fille aux yeux clairs" and "Les lacs du Connemara", the last of which was repeated and the audience clapped in time.

Part two is another 22-piece band Lyre Republicane d'Orbigny. Their eight numbers are more complicated rhythms, including a Mambo #5 (Perez Prado), Just in Time, Mask of Zorro, even Hello Dolly!

Part three combined the two bands for four more tunes, The Pink Panther was one. The program was about two hours in length. I had thought we would hear more French-style music (whatever that might be, especially today when music is global).

The four of us took a short break at home, then walked up to Fumel for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant, A. Dong, where we enjoyed prawns, squid, chicken, beef, and crisp noodles. Back to John and Madeleine's for a DVD session of The Ascent of Man.

04/30, Monday
We'll try to finish up our outdoor painting today, but it is raining on and off. Mom is doing online research on Paris, Colmar, smaller towns, and train connections. That leaves me for clean-up...vacuuming, washing a few items by hand and wringing out.

We watched an old 1969 movie "Midnight Cowboy" with Dustin Hoffman and John Voight this afternoon. A classic. A Texas "cowboy", Joe Buck, and a NYC "con man", Ratso Rizzo, develop an unlikely bond living on the fringe in NYC.

Over dinner we watched a documentary "Happy" about the importance of happiness in our lives and across cultures. A very challenging goal for each of us to work on.

Would you believe it? We downloaded and watched a third movie! "Vicky Christina Barcelona", Woody Allen's film about male-female differences that takes place in Barcelona, having just returned from there ourselves.

05/01, Tuesday, May Day
May Day in France (and Europe, in general) is a big holiday much like the US Labor Day. Most businesses are closed, banks, government offices, schools, too. And, the weather has made a dramatic improvement...lots of sun and blue sky.

We're off with J&M to buy some plants for their garden this morning to a bastide town of Tournon d'Agenois overlooking a valley. It's an annual event with flowers and plants, food, jewelry, clothing, and entertainment. J&M buy eight or ten plants to put in planters on their patio.

The entertainment is a jazz band of old men called Les Lafayette Stompers. Keyboard, percussion, flugelhorn horn, trombone, and one guy sings in English. Lots of people, dogs, kids, all enjoying this beautiful warm sunny day.

It's such a great day we have decided to take a long bike ride along the river into the countryside. Shortly after we leave the small commune of Condat we pass an old stone barn which we have seen before, but this time the door is open with a sign "Gratuite Gallerie". So, we stop in to meet the artist, Cèlestin Morcillo, who is a dapper older French man. His barn is filled with his oil paintings, all nicely displayed in frames. We are the only ones there so he takes time to show us several pieces and explain about them...unfortunately we can't appreciate his French explanations.

The bike road leads past farms and camp grounds. Lots of colza plants that will become canola oil soon. Also, sapling plum trees. The farm houses are typical stone buildings with several attached barns and granaries.

Two hours and 20 miles later, we return to find John and Madeleine out on their patio planting the new flower plants. They are colorful and really cheerful.

J&M have invited for a hike along the Lot, but in a different place on the south bank toward Libos. It is a crude path where we can hear the river as it flows through a power sluice and over over rapids. John, who taught biology at university, explains some of the derivation of plant species naming as we see specimens along the trail.

The evening finishes viewing a DVD about Paris, many of the usual sights but filmed and narrated in a more intimate way.

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