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
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
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.
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
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.