August 2004


Jazz, House and Blues
August has been a month of sharps and flats. Several new business encounters during the jazz festival, a very interesting house find and the loss of a dear friend. Jake Blues, Perry's cat of 16 years, finally succumbed to the ravages of ten years with diabetes. We are glad that he managed to spend his last two months, with us, in the green fields of the Gers. He leaves his brother, Elwood, to receive double rations of cuddles. Jake was a real character and we miss him awfully.

Monsieur Moncassin comes for his daily chat

Barbara brought coffee and cookies to help the days go by

Jazz on a summer's day
15 days in fact. We had tickets for the first concert. Cesaria Evora, supported by Richard Bona. He was great and had the whole 14,000 in the tent on their feet. She arrived on automatic pilot and we left halfway through a lacklustre performance. But the real business was yet to begin. The following day we set up our table in front of the Office de Tourism (at their invitation, since their advertising for the market on the lake had been so bad). We were joined by the other local artists with their paintings, drawings and lithographies. It was to be the beginning of a long, hot and dusty two weeks. Day one, we sold nothing. Day two we cleared six euros. Day three, we booked eleven euros. Enough to cover the diesel at least. But then we had a couple who commissioned Perry to paint their mother's house. A little later, a friend of the same family bought a large watercolour landscape. Things were looking up.



Playing our cards right
As the first week progressed we had several people ask for images of Marciac as well as anything to do with the jazz. Since 'Jazz in Marciac' is a copyrighted name, we had to be careful. Still, we made a few new Marciac and Jazz oriented postcards and they sold well. The best seller was undoubtedly the 'Summertime in Gers' card, which we want to sell to one of the professional card companies serving the SW of France. It could be a winner if the two weeks in Marciac are anything to go by. Perry received a second commission towards the end of the second week from Monsieur Moncassin, who's house faced our stand. He gave us a dark photocopy of an old photograph of a building in Marciac with unusual carved, stone windows. It's already been immortalised in Indian ink, packed and is ready to be delivered.

Summertime by George GERS hwin

The chateau with a dove cot above the entrance and a walled courtyard

The incredible shrinking woman

The last taste of summer.


Back to business
It took a few days to recover from the jazz and get back to a normal routine. We set up rendezvous with our contacts and saw several new properties. Our friend Pierre took us to see three houses he had heard about. One of them was a 'coup de coeur', we fell in love with it. We could only see it from the outside, but were called by the woman who owns it to come and have a look around the following week. It has five hectares, two large barns and a free view of the Pyrenees to boot. Another house we saw was a small chateau that needed years of work done on it. (yours for €215,000! see left).

Village fete
Miélan, like all other towns and villages in France, have an annual festival. In this case, it involved a loud, local disco, an old-time dance band, huge dinners on long tables under the arches of the Mairie and a petanque competition. All this was spread over three days and nights. We heard the bass speakers until 6 am and we live five kms away! The next morning, Perry was silly enough to ask the baker's wife if she had heard the music. After an explosive, five minute diatribe, added to by each customer as they entered the tiny shop, it was clear that the older generation are not keen on house music. Not at 250 decibels anyway. We watched the petanque competition on the Sunday. Caroline was pleased to see a solitary woman playing amongst the fifty-odd men, in the shade of the oak trees. Perhaps next year she will also take part.

Reality bites
On the way back home, we passed our neighbour, Mr Morel, herding his dairy cattle across the road to the milking barn. He invited us to see a calf that he was fattening up in the barn. As the creature pumped away under a surrogate mother, Morel told us that it would be slaughtered within a week and be sitting in his freezer by the end of the month. Chilling thought.

Our minds turned to Jake who had been having a few dips and was fluctuating between hypos (too little sugar) and hypers (too much) like a yoyo. With each extreme we could see him suffering and always had to guess whether we needed to give him honey or insuline. The choice was aided by Caroline's unswerving duty, following Jake as he waddled off to take a pee in the long grass and returning triumphantly with a small beaker with enough urine to test for sugar.

The last few days of August he had another two attacks and seeing him suffering again one evening, we consulted an online cat diabetes site in America. Loads of advice came in, all saying we should give sugar, but wisely, we called the local emergency vet line and were lucky to hear our own vet on duty. He said we needed to give insuline. Finally we bit the bullet and the vet came a day later to put him to sleep. We felt so bad since he seemed to be feeling better, but we knew that it would only be a matter of time before he had another attack. We did all we could and had been injecting him daily with insuline for ten years. We knew the end would come, but it didn't make it any easier. Poor Jake, your continual search for water is finally over!

Our invitation to Sunday brunch

Le déjeuner sur l'herbe



The show must go on
Twenty four hours later, we were to host a brunch for twenty five people under the avenue of trees in front of the pavilion. The distraction was welcomed and we worked hard all morning, preparing for the event. We organised brunches quite often when we lived in Amsterdam and felt it was time to initiate the Gersoises.
Everyone was invited to bring their favourite dish, enough for two or three people. As each of our guests arrived, the tables became fuller with the most delicious food. Salmon quiche, game pie, fish mousse, Bayonne ham, foie gras (hand made by Pierre's mother), vegetable terrine, the list goes on. Our guests were mostly French with a dash of Swedish, English, Dutch and Zimbabwean. The conversation flowed along with the wine and our last guests left around 6pm. We cleared up and ate all the leftovers with Nieke at a table for three.

Thanks to this simple technology, we have been able to keep in contact with friends and family in the UK and Holland. We hope that eventually this link will even allow us to earn a living in the city, yet still live in the country. Let's see what September brings.


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© 2004 Perry Taylor and Two Can Productions, France.