Archive for 2014

Château de Castelnaud

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Some of the Périgord’s historic sites and monuments are going into winter mode, which can mean anything from limited visiting hours to closing the doors until Easter. Fortunately the castle of Castelnaud remains open for December visitors, and we had the entire place pretty much to ourselves. A castle is a glacial and drafty domicile year-round, and viewed in December it makes a nice cozy one-room earthen-floor cottage look like the better choice. 


Vox Vesunna

Saturday, December 6th, 2014


St. Nicolas le chocolat

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

Our daughter has been so good all year that St. Nicholas found her even at her new address in this tiny hillside village. And brought a treat from our favorite bakery too.



Light the Advent Candle

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

We didn’t bring to France our ceramic Advent ring (made by wonderful potter Heide Billenstein) so I assembled a makeshift wreath.





Giving Thanks at La Savie

Thursday, November 27th, 2014


Thanksgiving is a big event in the United States, but in the rural Dordogne it’s an off-season quiet Thursday night. The three of us were the only patrons on a Thursday evening, off-season, at La Savie. It’s run by a young couple who gave up their city lives to renovate an old farm and give it new life housing both a growing family and a lovely restaurant with a fresh bright imaginative décor and menu. We celebrated quietly and far from home, but with much gratitude for our present temporary one.





Thursday, November 27th, 2014

For Thanksgiving Day, a poem by Robyn Sarah. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May this day find you among those you love.


Make much of something small.
The pouring-out of tea,
a drying flower’s shadow on the wall
from last week’s sad bouquet.
A fact: it isn’t summer any more.

Say that December sun
is pitiless, but crystalline
and strikes like a bell.
Say it plays colours like a glockenspiel.
It shows the dust as well,

the elemental sediment
your broom has missed,
and lights each grain of sugar spilled
upon the tabletop, beside
pistachio shells, peel of a clementine.

Slippers and morning papers on the floor,
and wafts of iron heat from rumbling rads,
can this be all? No, look—here comes the cat,
with one ear inside out.
Make much of something small.
—Robyn Sarah



In Monet’s Kitchen

Friday, November 14th, 2014

In honor of the birthday today of Claude Monet (1840-1926), I post a detail of a sketch from a trip to his house and garden in Giverny earlier this fall. Wouldn’t you like to whip up an omelette on this stove?






Armistice Day

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

We walked down to the monument aux morts—a memorial to be found in every French city, town, and village—to attend today’s ceremony.



Through the Bakery Window

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014






The Delights of the Valley

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

The name of our local bakery is Les Délices de la Vallée, and I can’t conceive of one more suitable. This bakery is the heart of the village: warm and welcoming, with smiling friendly faces behind the counter, filled with golden light and the scent of bread in the rainy cold predawn hours, and on certain occasions the line runs out the door. And unlike other lines (say, the one at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles), this one is permeated with a sense of happy anticipation. It’s also a place to meet people, chat, and hear news.