All original images for this blog - including my students' paintings of their Roosters with Attitude, can be found on http://http://blogs.angloinfo.com/nutmeg-art-and-us
Alan and my Mum finally arrived in France and suddenly it's two months since I wrote my last blog. Amazing. So much stuffed into so little time. And we're so happy here.
As soon as he arrived my special husband moved straight to where husbands ought to be (he he he) ...
... the kitchen - wearing a beanie because of the cold and because he keeps banging his head on doorways made for small French people. And ....
... up a ladder hanging paintings in the gallery, and hanging many, many more paintings all over the house, and hanging lights, and fitting smoke alarms, and hanging ..... oh so very many more things for his ever-loving wife.
He did quite a lot of that in the first few weeks and now, two months later, our home and business are humming happily. In fact, I ran my first monthly art workshop yesterday afternoon (regular Wednesday classes start next week) and had an absolute ball. We painted Roosters with Attitude. They are always named at the end, so I have pleasure in introducing you to "Gregoire", "Wayne" and "Mr Clucker".
Daffodils, magnolia blooms, sprouting carrots, tulips, exuberant strawberries and AWOL spinach seedlings have dominated our outside pleasure recently. I love this garden and am so pleased we arrived in the bare and beautiful winter months which means we're absolutely delighting in seeing what's popping up and what's flowering all bright and new and shiny now, heading into summer. A friend, Phil, from Lantillac just down the road, has kindly agreed to help me keep the weeds in check and I think I have become his ultimate garden frustration. I love to plant flowers in amongst wild grasses, without creating formal flower beds, and keeping one or two of the less huge and pervasive weeds (mainly dandelions, which I believe are the first spring foods for bees anyway) which flower happily in amongst the grasses. Phil shakes his English head in disbelief and peers at me suspiciously, and with patient humour, out of the corner of his eyes.
So while I'm showing you the first Daffodils I've ever planted, let me tell you a bit about a few of my precious items on display here. The stunning blue vase was Alan's mum's and we suspect she bought it in Venice many years ago. Murano, one of the Venetian islands, is world famous for its glassware. The Picasso-styled glass ornament, together with the brightly coloured perfume bottle, I bought last July (2014) in Venice whilst I was there doing abstract painting workshops with a handful of international artists (from Australia, Israel and the USA). The columnar vase on the right is unique, a one-off creation by a Portuguese artist, also purchased last year when Alan and I toured down through Portugal in Milly the Motorhome.
Behind the tulips and now living alongside my Venetian and Portuguese special things, is a watercolour painting we picked up in payment for a night's stay at a France Passion motorhome site in Brittany last year ... while we were having a look around to make sure we wanted to move to Brittany. I intend contacting that artist and maybe visiting her again one day soon.
The lovely thing about the pack of tulips I planted last October ... the same week I signed the lease on Nutmeg Tower ... is that they flower one colour at a time, one after another. So we had huge pink tulips and as they were wishing us farewell the deep red tulips opened up. As they started drooping the gorgeous golden yellow tulips begged to be picked for inside, and there are still a few more deep reds waving their heads out there, hopefully not going to be picked by Bridie.
Our vegetable garden has been such fun. It's the first time we've had the opportunity to garden together, even although, with loads of admin work still to do related to moving to a new country and starting up again, it's been a bit of a rushed activity. We even had Mum out there in the sunshine, on a good day, filling little pots with soil. Excellent therapy for her. Bridie thought she was in heaven with all of us out there, but mainly got yelled at for digging up what we planted and for trying to water the garden in her own way ... by biting the garden hose.
We've carted packets of seeds around with us for a few years so have literally planted them with the aim of seeing what comes up this year and what doesn't. We hope to have better planning and fresher seeds and seedlings next year. So far it looks like an overload of carrots, a crop of strawberries, a variety of lettuce, enough coriander to keep Alan happy, tomatoes and broccoli for Mum, with gooseberries and spinach for me. I planted quite a few spinach seeds hoping for loads of leaves to eat fresh and to freeze but most of them fell victim to Bridie in the first couple of days and it seems I'm only getting one plant so far. Sniff.
Bridie, who turned one year old this past week, only once upturned a few pots of seedlings ... mainly my spinach ... and I must say, it was probably my fault. For some time I have been playing with her by hiding her toys under two old green plastic plant pots, for her to find. She probably thought this was just a variation of her game and that I must have hidden something for her in those pots. My yell of horror when I saw what had happened and my fierce "Bad Girl" look (which my kids know very well) were enough to tell her that was not a good thing to do. A couple of times I've seen a look of temptation in her eyes but she has wisely refrained from repeating that behaviour. Good dog.
Maybe not such a good dog. She does everything I do, and (my fault again, I suppose) to keep her lively mind occupied and calm, I generally let her copy me ... if I'm laying the fire, she's allowed to choose a stick to chew; if I'm sorting the throw-away paper, she gets an old envelope to chew, etc. So this particular day, I was happily picking a bunch of tulips for the house, so proud of the first tulips I have ever planted producing such incredible blooms ... I turn around and what do I see? Bridie standing there happy as a lark with a tulip in her mouth. "Mum's picking tulips, so I pick tulips" was written all over her face. Plus - this is fun. I didn't think it was fun and have now taken to sneaking out to pick flowers, sans Bridie.
I'm sure many of you have had experience with Altzheimer's patients so you'll understand why it's taken me a couple of months to get back to blogging. Our doctor in Ireland did say that the move would be difficult for Mum and that we'd need to expect a period of settling where things would be difficult. It's been very traumatic indeed at times, and very upsetting for all of us. The problem is that life has to move on and life is never smooth and event-free for anyone except the most hermity of hermits. The worst part of this monster disease is not the stress we find beating in our hearts, but the fear and anxiety in Mum's eyes. When the monster is at its worst she accuses us of the most unbelievable intentions and we have to lock the front door to make sure she stays safe; when its just behaving mildly she is fearful and lonely and very afraid, with lightning in her head and a heavy black thing pushing her down (her own words); and when its just teasing us she's forgetful and confused, forgetting that I'm her daughter, and forgetting how to peel vegetables, and forgetting where to find her bedroom, etc. Good days are just mildly forgetful days where she sits for hours trying to read but sadly not comprehending one word on the page. Never mind, books are her great joy and comfort. Especially art books ... even if she has forgotten she can paint haunting and delicate watercolours.
It's raining today, like it has been for a week or so, so the grass hasn't been cut as planned - and I love it! The butterflies take flight in my stomach when I go out there and hear all the birds and enjoy the long-haired grass and the heavy new leaves on the trees. For me, it pulsates. This is what it looks like right now, this minute. Wild and wet and, in my opinion, how a garden in the country should look. We don't have guttering on the house. Instead, there's a row of little stones which break the impact of the rain drops as they fall from the roof. I took the pic above out of the bathroom window. In real life it was a jewel-like scene to watch the drops fall off the tiles.
It's "bees a' buzzin' " stuff, this garden.
See you soon!
Please don't forget that all images and the full blog can be found on http://http://blogs.angloinfo.com/nutmeg-art-and-us