Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hila's Tag

What are the last three things you purchased?
Métro tickets, bread, recordable CD-roms

What are the last three songs you downloaded?
Do NPR podcasts count? Fresh Air, Martini Shot, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me

What were the last three places you visited?
Amsterdam, Los Angeles, South-Western France

What are your three favorite movies?
Singing In The Rain, Happy Together, The Hours

What are your three favorite possessions?
The De Beers diamond ring my family gave me for my 30th birthday (yeah, I'm spoilt), my cashmere throw, my camera

What three things can you not live without?
My books, my laptop, my ballet shoes

What would be your three wishes?
Shhhhh, wishes are supposed to be kept secret...

What are three things you haven't done yet?
Skydive, learn to garden, achieve clean pirouettes in ballet.

What are your three favorite dishes?
Pasta with pesto, my grandma's gnocchi, my mum's chocolate mousse.

What three celebrities do you want to hang out with the most?
JD Salinger, Sofia Coppola, Barack Obama

Name three things that freak you out.
Violence against animals, ideologies, lies.

Name three unusual things you are good at.
Reading really fast, bonding with kids, remembering everything - my dad calls me The Hard Drive.

What are three things that you are coveting?
The DVD of Juno, the new book The Balanchine Variations, an Ancient marble from an art gallery, such as the one above.

Name three bloggers you are tagging
Karina, Chloe and Marie.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Summer Of Shakespeare

After the performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream, let's stay a little longer with Shakespeare... Last summer, I was dying to attend some kind of music, dance or theater festival but really couldn't afford it, so I decided to have my own little festival, and spent a couple of months reading nothing but Shakespeare. The Tempest is my favorite and the Sonnets of course are the most beautiful poems ever.
Here's Sonnet 116, which I'm posting for Pierre:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Let's Go Shopping Around Lafitte...

... at the supermarket... ... at the farm...... and at the brocante.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Midsummer Night's Dream

At Lafitte this summer, the many children are rehearsing Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (in French), which will be performed this weekend, in the castle's chai, a beautiful stone structure where the wine used to be stored... Meet our three elves!

Here's a passage from this magical play (Act V, Scene 2, Puck's speech):
Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls the moon;
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,
All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe
In remembrance of a shroud.

Monday, August 18, 2008


My heart is in mourning these days, that's why I haven't blogged in a while. Sometimes in my sadness, the beauty of the cedars outside my window brings me some respite.
What helps you when you're in pain?

Friday, August 15, 2008

From The Brocante

I went to a brocante today in nearby Tonneins and brought back a couple of wonderful items... First of all, for a mere €10 (US$15), I chose an old camera with a Carl Zeiss lens (the best!), that I was told still worked - as long as I find the necessary film, and also an ancient linen nightgown (€5, or US$7.50), with my initial, M, embroidered in red. I washed the nightgown and left it to dry under Southwestern France's hot sun to make it whiter and am eager to wear it to bed tonight.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More From Southwestern France

From top:
Benjy hides under a bench with his ball...
... the church in the beautiful village of Lauzun...
... the children caught a lizard in the garden...
... the retro and colorful wallpaper in the stairs.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Federico Garcia Lorca is my favorite poet (with Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson) and in the green environment of the South-West of France, I think of his beautiful poem:
Verde que te quiero verde.
Verde viento. Verdes ramas.
El barco sobre la mar
Y el caballo en la montaña.

While Mummy Cat Is Not Watching...

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Olympics - Remembering China (2)

The Olympics start today, so here's a post about sports and Beijing, both of which come together in my gymnastics memories...
Every Saturday morning, my mum would drive us to a gymnastics center in Beijing for a couple of hours' fun. The Chinese teachers were ruthless with their local charges, children from all over the country who trained to be future Olympians - we witnessed their classes sometimes and would see tears dripping silently down tiny little kids' cheeks as they were twisted and forced into all kinds of postures.
With us, the teachers were just adorable and never pushed us hard at all. My sister (lower picture), age , with her flexible yet muscular little body, never one to shy from acrobatics, was a favorite whom the head instructor took care of personally, cheering at her exploits. As for me (top picture), nimble but weak, and struggling with growth spurts at the age of 9, I just had fun and longed for ballet, which I tried to recreate on the beam, my favorite apparatus.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Le Château

Where am I off to tomorrow?
My friends' château is located near Marmande, a one-hour train ride away from Bordeaux. In the garden the gorgeous 17th century wood and stone Halle (top pic.), where markets used to be held, is still standing. Breakfast outdoors, with fresh bread and homemade jams, are a summer ritual everyone loves...
Every August, friends crowd the château, and the many, many rooms are all packed, as little kids run around and grownups chat or read under the ancient trees. Our hostess, who goes by the nickname Fafa unless we teasingly call her Baroness, is known to be a top-notch cook, who buys produce from a nearby farmer, so the kitchen and the entire house are deliciously fragrant...
I met the family in China, where we were all living in the late 1980's. Yves and Fafa, who are very close to my parents', have four boys, all of whom I consider my brothers: Raphaël (32), Etienne (27), Coco (22) and Leopold (15). More on the family and the château in posts to come...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Olympics - Remembering China (1)

On this blog, I have often talked about the years I spent in Kenya, Iran and Iraq back when I was a child; people who have known me for years have repeatedly asked me why I never posted about the 5 years I spent in China. As the Beijing Olympics are about to start, I thought I'd share some recollections of my time in that country and try to explain why it took me so long to write about it.
My family moved to Beijing in January 1987, when I was 9, and a few months later we traveled to Inner Mongolia with a friend of my mum's and her two boys. The beauty of Mongolian landscapes stunned us - my mum and I are standing in front of an immense sand dune on the top picture and lest you ask, yes, I was very tall and leggy for my age. As horses are an intrinsic part of the Mongolian lifestyle, we also hopped on some horses (and camels); my sister and Etienne, a friend, are riding one on the lower pic.
In most villages we went through, no one had ever seen foreigners, so people would crowd around our van and stare, gently poking fun of our big noses and light hair. Clean water was virtually impossible to find and back in those days, neither bottled water nor Coca-Cola were available; indeed, the only canned beverage that could be found was beer, so while the grownups sipped on their beer, we kids would remain hydrated thanks to the sweetest watermelons ever.
It was an amazing trip.

I am still friends with our travel companions and as of Friday I will actually be visiting Etienne, now in his 20's, as well as his parents, at their family castle in South-Western France... So stay tuned for more memories of a Chinese childhood and pictures of my week at Etienne's.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I love rock'n'roll style

I like my style to be sleek yet rock'n'roll-ish, polished yet punk. These April 77 silver jeans fit the bill. Aren't they super cool?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sigg Canteen

Did you know that plastic baby bottles have just been banned in Canada? Over the years, there have been increasingly worrying reports about the health hazards of plastic. Reheating a dish in the microwave in a plastic container for instance, especially if the dish contains any fat, will cause plastic molecules to migrate into your food, while refilling plastic bottles over and over again, as I used to do in order to not use too much plastic (a petroleum-based material...) will have the same effect; the ingestion of plastic molecules has been shown to cause hormonal dysfunction in rats.
And if the Canadians banned plastic bottles for babies, all I'm saying is, it can't be good for us grown-ups either.
On the basis that when it comes to health I'd rather be safe than sorry, I have been trying to shun plastics around the kitchen for a long time and as an ever-thirsty creature who always schleps around a bottle of water, I had been looking for a clean and light container for my water. I finally found a stylish answer with Sigg's aluminum canteens. They're very light, plastic-free, safe, can be used over and over (and over) again and they're stylish, too!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Avedon Exhibition

A few days ago, the adorable Marie and I went to see an exhibition I was dying to visit, the Richard Avedon retrospective at the Jeu de Paume museum. I've always adored Avedon's photographs, his stunning fashion shoots (model roller skating on the Place de la Concorde in the 1950's, clad in a supremely elegant suit... Veruschka seems to fly... joy always, no jaded gazes...) as well as his powerful and expressive portraits, "the unexplored continents of the human face", as he said.
Amusingly, Avedon took pictures of my other two favorite photographers, Robert Frank and Lee Friedlander...

Reflected in the poster advertising the exhibition are the trees of the Tuileries. Marie and I went for a walk through those gardens, and marveled at the toy sailboats below, that children played with in the fountains.