October 2005 Archives

cooking with DG



Last night our chef raised the hands with which he had just carved massive interpretations of two late Mozart symphonies solidly for three days. The clapping from the near-frenzied audience ceased whilst we waited for the critical words:

“We have a disc.”

The applause rose up again, the volume doubling with the hundred relieved instrumentalists.

We had had three days of Deutsche Gramaphon, Radio Classique and a film crew; live recordings, patching sessions and hair by hair analyses of the contents of the can. Back stage cameras had voyaged down floodlit cleavages to get a good angle on belled fingertips chafing on gut, and furry mikes had ventured under bridges to capture the sound of private mesa di voce chauffages. On stage a violinist had missed a line and spilled a string of energetic semi-quavers into the silence (hailed afterwards as “the beautiful violin solo” by the diplomats in the DG booth); a wind player had attempted to disguise the clack of his keys resulting in dire intonation (“it’s charming…very authentique, but let me see, if the clicking comes from the instrument itself then we are fine with that…”); strings had broken, patience snapped, tact adhered to religiously, migraines started, caffeine consumed, friendships strained…

“You know Brahms possessed this manuscript.” said our chef. “ I want more Brahms, less Birkenstock. This is the Occitane version of Mozart, organic on the inside and modern recherché on the outside”

The recording was ‘live’, created from two consecutive concerts. In between we made small and generally uninspired elastoplasts to cover the blemishes : “Bar 324 to 327 has a small problem of ensemble in the violins. Shall we start in bar 300?” ; “That was perfect, now a take please with the same élan and poetry of the concert version?”; “…Mmm that was very good. Just a small noise on the third note of the fourth bar, the second violist’s pendant hitting the stand during the page turn, perhaps? Once more for the ultimate jewel?”).

In concert, in the andante of the 40th symph we were seeking a particularly intimate nuance, feeling out the acoustic and what it would allow in terms of a zen pianissimo, lining the bowl of the hall with a delicate E flat vibe the consistency of eggwhite….and yet all the time we could not forget that this could be THE ONE destined for the can. Then someone in the public started to cough, really splutter, and suddenly we knew it would never make it further than the now and we were free to play, to take risks, live dangerously….make music!

...….until the next cadence, which was, of course, an ideal place to cut and paste.

The idea, of course, was to render the disc both of the now and perfect too , for who wants to hear that excruciatingly flat E in the celli – yes it was probably me - however touching or authentique in the concert, on the hundredth spin round the ipod?

It was hard work.

I sat in Grenoble station waiting for my train home watching tight-butted mountain walkers sipping their last crème before going back to the flat country, their uniform rucksacks bulging. I wondered how fit and zingy their bodies must be feeling. I could feel my butt bulging from too much time spent sitting and the pack on my back decidedly un-uniform, but surely we had made a wonderful recording and my soul was zinging…..?

Not really. Despite the immense success of the recording, strangely, I felt flat and somewhat depressed.

Reading Anthony Bourdain’s hilarious exposé of the restaurant business on the train home I came across a chapter called ‘Who Cooks?’ in which he says:

“The last thing a chef wants in a line cook is an innovator, somebody with ideas of his own who is going to mess around with the chef’s recipes and presentations. Chefs require blind, near-fanatical loyalty, a strong back and an automaton like consistency of execution under battlefield conditions”

It felt uncomfortable and familiar, and I started to wonder who will cook our Mozart and if it will be bleu or à point. The final concoction will, of course, be up to the chef and the DG sous-chefs. This line cook and occasional accidental innovator, meanwhile, was getting her saggy butt back home for some serious autumn fayre.


On arrival, a day late for our wedding anniversary, there was a bit of magic on the wall composed of two quinces, a cup and a pink rose. I was for me, and it had the very freedom which I had been missing. It had been painted not for prosperity, but for love.




I am bathing in the colours of melancholy at the foot of the Ventoux; swatches of the fall of the summer weeds and a walk into nakedness.

I am taking coffee outside. My eye wanders along a tangerine lake to it’s spinach shore, two lime puffs stand sentinel. An orchard’s tree-tips have been dipped in cerise. The crisp parchment of the vine leaves clap …

I go away for a week; a week of electric lights, Mozart symphonies and packing. I wake up from an afternoon nap in Lyon and gather my concert clothes. I arrive at the gig with my see-through Cotélac rag and, instead of the black strappy number that goes underneath it I have dozily hauled out two pairs of black knickers. (One for each breast?) Luckily a colleague helps me out.


I return home. The lime trees are the colour of custard, the fire in the cherry orchard is raging, the lake is burnished pumpkin and surrounded by pease pudding.

Tomorrow I leave again. I left my Camper concert shoes in a bar in La Rochelle and luckily my black suede birkies arrived in the post just in time. What will I lose this week?

Four days in which the custard could turn, the pumpkin become friable and the pease pudding blanche…..

Every colourful day counts.


life as a thing



Today friends stopped by for a spontaneous lunch and portrait talk continued. In the afternoon Julian moved pears and pomegranates around. I moved my office into the vines. He leaned out of the studio window with his 'don't know what to paint' face on. I gesticulated my 'paint me' dance, and so he did.

Today I was a pear, a pomegranate, a thing...

or as Suzanne Vega, who must know what it's like to 'sit', so beautifully expresses it:

Today I am
a small blue thing
Like a marble
or an eye

With my knees against my mouth
I am perfectly round
I am watching you

I am cold against your skin
You are perfectly reflected
I am lost inside your pocket
I am lost against
your fingers

I am falling down the stairs
I am skipping on the sidewalk
I am thrown against the sky
I am raining down in pieces
I am scattered like light
Scattering like light
Scattering like light

Today I am
A small blue thing
Made of china
made of glass

I am cool and smooth and curious
I never blink
I am turning in your hand
Turning in your hand

small blue thing

ps. I never made a wish list but if I did a small painting by our friend Clive Blackmore (linked to above) would be it.




It’s a bright tour morning in Bordeaux: I wake up early in time to meditate but instead I flee the film themed hotel ( where I, apparently, am Greta Garbo, or so the black and white prints on red plastic wallpaper try to make believe) in which, "pour les raisons de securite", it is impossible to open a single window. I am gasping for air before the long bus ride and I head for the old town, picking up the Bordeaux delicacy of a Baillardran ‘canelé’ on the way. In a café I sip a watery coffee opposite the ‘Balloon’ pregnancy clothing store and sink my tongue into the treacly squidge of the ridged marvel…..

I think: I am NOT going to be shopping in Balloon but I AM an Independent Successful Woman sitting in a Wicker Chair in front of a Café Crème as the Cathedral Spires of a French City pierce the morning foam…….

petit dej canele

Home. The forecast for the Vaucluse is ‘doux’ but it’s a rain-black morning, and our first breakfast alone in a while. It is prickly: Two Independent Successful people fighting for space but desperate to be together. Her showered and dressed, descending, starting up the clack and bump of the washing machine, whopping the chicken carcass into the stock pan with some old age celery and lighting the gas, wanting to fling the doors open and let the world in, and Him in his robe wanting to hide away quietly together with two creamy bowls of lavazza; both somehow protecting themselves...

….same old story but we never seem to learn.

It is morning number two and pelting down. The Gaggia pump sizzles, the milk boils sweet, the door is closed, there are no extraneous noises or smells and we try again, gentler this time.

We talk about the portrait, which has been temporarily abandoned because the Sitter’s 90 year old father, who had been feeding the foxes late at night at the bottom of his garden, had fallen there and had been found in the morning with a mild dose of hypothermia. The Sitter took the next plane home to be with him and the portrait sits waiting for her return. This morning Julian is looking through the various stages and his eyes are alight with something, like a young man in love.


Apparently, I say, there was an interview in Le Monde last week with Ben Kingsley in which he talks about the similarity between acting and painting. I try to download the interview but cannot do so without paying for a lifetime’s subscription to the paper. However, I find this quote from Sir Ben on Guardian Unlimited:

“Actors are hunters, we hunt for our characters…when a film director has a good take he says, “Got it!” – as if he’s caught something.”

I ask Julian if he feels like a hunter during the process of a portrait painting. He says not exactly, but he can feel close to writers in terms of character development and an increasing tenderness towards this 'thing' he is creating; a being which is somehow independent of his feelings for the sitter and yet inspired by her presence; a form of transference. He adds that the author Hanif Kureshi was asked if he ever thought about his characters after publication, to which he replied that yes, they were out there somewhere, and he cared about what happened to them, as if he had drawn them a life; the painter Lucien Freud's sitters always said the portrait was about Freud's psyche and not about theirs....

“I’m looking for something a little but more vulpine, less square and comfortable...”he says,

-And I know what he means. The Sitter is not ‘pretty’ in a conventional way, she has something much more compelling and energetic than that; a raw, stretched animal beauty. Julian holds forth – in his minimal way - about the portrait being a love affair with the 'thing'. And it’s true. When Julian and the Sitter come downstairs from a sitting I sense the love for ‘the thing’, like a quartet coming out of a rehearsal bound in love by Mozart. There’s a magical space between them which we cannot share. Gradually, as they slip back in to the routines of tea-making and relating to the people in the room, that space lessens, but for a moment they are plugged into something infinite and timeless. Radiance.


And so breakfast number two passes, peaceful yet stimulating, and suddenly I look forward to many many more of them until one of us falls, hopefully whilst radiant, feeding the foxes at the bottom of the garden. Or painting. Or playing a Mozart quartet. Or sipping creamy lavazza.

Easy Jet


Easyjet has a lot to answer for. La Rochelle has now changed from this:

fournisseur marine

to this:


In my old haunt - the 'Bar La Marine' - mean oysters were served meanly and bitter coffee was served bitterly by people who spoke English resentfully despite my French greeting. I almost wept salt tears.

how to pull an audience

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Seven people enter the seventh car of the TGV train from La Rochelle to Paris. One is a sleek Dutch redhead with strong lips, one a pale long chiselled Swede, one a blushing Texan cheerleader, one a thickly curled Bolognan nut, one a swimming champion from Anchorage, one a Wagnerian hero....

They try to fit their strangely shaped boxes in and around the existing squares of luggage.

Miss Alaska is sitting next to a fresh smelling Frenchman.

" What do you all do?" he asks "Are you models?"

" No, Monsieur, we are the Musiciens du Louvre"

(She might have added: "on a high from a standing ovation, sea air and lots of oysters")

The Frenchman leaves the train in Paris, smelling a little less fresh, with a renewed zeal for Mozart and an email address in his pocket.

dates for your diaries



No this is not the portrait gone horribly wrong, but since so many of you ask ....

here are the dates where I will be playing in a town near you in 2005 (and yes they include London and Paris); :


17 October - Toulouse
21.00 Odyssud Grande Salle Blagnac (near Toulouse)

18 October - Bordeaux
20.30 Le Pin Galant - Merignac (near Bordeaux)

19 October - La Rochelle
20.30 La Coursive, La Rochelle

21 October - Lyon
20.30 Opera de Lyon, Lyon

28 and 29 October - Grenoble
20.00 MC2 Grenoble


December 8 - Lille
Opera, Lille

December 10 - London
Barbican, London

December 14 - Paris
TCE Paris

December 16- Metz
Arsenal, Metz

If you come, introduce yourselves and we can have a party to rival the Paris blogmeets!

Don't forget that if you can hear me I'm not all I crack myself up to be.

Also, on the latest Cecilia Bartoli album, 'Opera Prohibita', for which posters will be plastered all over your local fnac and Virgin stores and coming out ya itunes, I have to admit to being on one track!

three days in the life of a portrait


Day 1

The first day is spent making space: The Artist, the sitter, the Artist's wife and his brother haul and scrape, knocking down beams in the old hay barn to give more light.

A dormouse, having escaped death in the clutches of the Artist's cat but still in poor form, is found clinging to the beam of the studio window. The Artist rescues him.


At the end of the day the Artist does a practice postcard painting and declares the light ideal.

The crew sit down to a dinner of roast pork accompanied by honey and ginger roasted butternut squash.

Day 2

faye day 3b

During the night the Artist's cat licks her lips and brings a gift of a dead dormouse to the Artist and his wife. They hope the rescue was not in vain.

The Artist is happy with the soft and autumnal light and the Sitter with what will be her view for the days to come. The two chestnut trees in the distance appear in a painting she already owns and she lets her eyes rest on a point in between them.

The Sitter is nervous about being horrified at what she will see at the end of the day end and about facing her large bits.

A base is achieved from which to take risks, scrape and add paint.


fay 2 jbg


The Artist's friends cook him a well earned white truffle risotto.

Day 3


The rescued dormouse reappears in the rafters, fully recovered and peering down at the painting from above.

faye day 3 a

After two hours the Artist starts to swear and so the Sitter is released for a fag break while he scrapes back some paint and hums out his frustration. He descends ten minutes later, calling it a day.

The Sitter is not quite happy with the shape of her mouth....


"Let's all go morris dancing" exclaims the Artist.

They eat organic sausages and mash instead.

To be continued...

...and later to be published in the artist's own version at permanent-red


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People keep going to Italy.

The other evening we were walking in the burnt umber evening sun listening to the hunters’ shots amplified by the Ventoux and my mobile started vibrating in my pocket. A voice squeaked with excitement:

“We’ve just come back from Piemonte and we have a white truffle! He is sitting in the Arborio rice waiting for you to come and eat him…”

He was introduced to us the next night in the jar of shiny pert grain in which he had been hanging, spreading his pong. We passed the object round, reeling at first from the power of him and then, unexpectedly seduced, leaning in for a second whiff. After the appetiser he appeared at the table clad like a baby in a christening dress in a white lace handkerchief and we were allowed one peep. The upper layer of cotton was lifted to reveal the earthy nipple (or any other rounded sexual part you care to imagine) before he was shaved onto our aromatic rice.

It had been the truffle and the chestnut season in Piemonte, we were informed by our friends as we let thick slabs of white gold drop into our dishes. Over a gooey and delectable cake of goats cheese flavoured with chestnuts we started, as we always do with foodie friends here, laying in to and bemoaning the state of restaurants in Provence:

You feel like a treat, like not cooking, like having someone else do the washing up and work up the ambience. You feel like good simple home cooking at a decent price.

“Where is there to eat?” you ask one-another….

“Well there’s yours and there’s ours”

“Well, and there’s George and Jo’s.”

Over a toasty hazelnut tart with mascarpone –the last of their imports - I recounted my Saturday night restaurant experience in our village and they recounted theirs in Italy.

Mine: We had been invited out by some American friends whom we don’t know very well and they wanted to go to ‘Chez Hortense’. Thinking of the badly painted lavender sign, the possey of frilly knickers they use to decorate what is, essentially, a hayloft was quite enough to make me feel sick. However, we knew that the food was disgusting and overpriced and that no-one French ever went there. I tried to dissuade them, but they wanted to go. It being the hunting season, I ordered a dish of wild boar, which arrived in a ridiculous cocotte nestling up to three brussel sprouts and six grapes. I spent the entire meal raising my cupped hand to my mouth as if to stifle a cough I didn’t have and spitting out the grizzle. It was inedible and it was embarrassing.

“Lovely” our friends said as we left.

Theirs: Asking in the local bar where they should eat, our friends were direxted to a simple Osteria where they unashamedly stated that they were vegetarian. They were treated to an unpretentious feast of intensely flavoured grilled vegetables and pasta. Meanwhile, the man on the next table arrived with something in a white cotton handkerchief, of which he silently allowed the proprietor a glimpse. There were nods all around and a bowl of unadorned tagliatelle and a scraper arrived…. Everyone was happy.

So we stay home. We are all beavering away: Julian is going at the portrait in his new huge-windowed atelier, his brother is plastering a bathroom, I am playing bits of cello, roasting tomatoes with basil and making a vegetable stock with which to make a trompettes de maure risotto for some friends who are coming over for some good simple home cooking. Meanwhile we are planning that little trip over the border for our wedding anniversary and this time I’m not letting it slip.





Julian and I both have new tools. I have a new classical bow, on which I can ride through the first phrase of the Beethoven A major sonata like a yacht with red sails and Julian (almost) has a studio.

Dressed to protect his curls with a white rag wound dashingly around his head (yet nothing, of course, to protect his hands or lungs), Julian of Arabia has today dismounted the mink -poo- clad rafters, leaving a carpet of said excremental fossils to clean up (and the rusting old tins of petit pois the minks obviously lived on) but revealing the full height of our hayloft. Our metal framed windows are in, surrounded by a velvety insert made from chaux and red sand, and we are looking in to solar tubes to light the back wall and thus illuminate forthcoming large masterpieces….

The first portrait is being set up as I write and, oh my! what a view for the sitter!


Over roast pork and Miel de Garrigues and ginger roasted butternut squash last night we talked about Cezanne. I remember vividly a painting of his gardener, which I saw in the Thyssen museum in Madrid:

“He’s just standing there but you can feel so much movement in the picture - as if you have been watching him walk all around the garden…”

“Actually he’s not standing, he’s sitting”

…..and thus (I like to think!) my point is proven. There is nothing fixed in the picture. It is a moment in time, and no more. Is the reason, we wonder, the work of this wealthy man from the south of France is so free and loose that he didn’t have to please anybody or earn a living? Was he free simply to play?

There is a liberty, which comes from not feeling like we have to perfect something in order to please an audience; to fix or overwork it, but can dare to leave it imperfect, vulnerable and in motion. A moment in time, and no more.

For the visual artist the question is perhaps obvious: When to let go and walk away? In music, however, as a performance takes place in time the questions are less obvious but, just as in life, the tendency is to grasp, fix, control and live in anything but the scary now.

I remember a master-class with the pianist Andras Schiff when I was eighteen. I had prepared (and overworked) the Beethoven A major sonata. My hair and shoes were shining and so was my performance. I had worked on finding the ultimate rendition and feeling for every phrase and I was proud of my polished result. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the eyebrows of my musical hero rise and fall, his fingers lively in his lap.

“Sold!” I thought to myself and launched confidently into the repeat of the exposition, which was, naturally, exactly the same.

After the opening phrase second time round Maestro Schiff threw his pasty limbs up into the air in exasperation:

“Once I believe you. Twice you are a liar!”

And so, in that profoundly humiliating moment, witnessed by all my colleagues and the boy I fancied, I was discovered to be a fraud.

I am still trying to learn to be present. I imagine it will take at least a few lifetimes, but with my magic ivory and snakewood wand I hereby ‘repair’ (as the Buddhists say) my commitment to simply PLAY Beethoven in the here and now.


two autumn leaves



Everyone is in bed and I take my chair out to the middle of the plum-bright vines. I face the Ventoux and meditate. I hear birdsong everywhere and the red vine trucks start up like prehistoric cicadas. After about 20 minutes, a warm tail curls around my bare leg - my very own furry gong. Slowly I open my eyes and I see Oscar, Manon and Julian standing near. My family are welcoming me in to a new day of seasonal blushing.

Cleaning terra cotta tiles this afternoon and baking like a good loaf in the aubergine and pumpkin heat; scraping away dust and cement and polishing up the blood red grooves, black runnels and pink pock marks of a life already trodden; preparing the hearty ochre slabs to receive the footsteps of our life and laying each individual tommette in the sun to dry. As I work I am listening to Joni Mitchell on my ipod. 'Woman of Heart and Mind' drives through my mournful veins like wine through the dry Sangre de Cristo mountains.

An old boyfriend told me once that this song reminded him of me.

'I am a woman of heart and mind
With time on her hands
No child to raise....

He knew something then that I am only just starting to feel.





Meditation is doing very strange things to my cello practice.

I usually time my practice. It's a pathetic hangover from having to get up at 6 to scrape for an hour before breakfast as a kid, and an excuse to pat myself on the back and say:

"Well done Ruth, you've done an hour. Now you can go out to play!"

Yesterday, however, the afternoon seemed to morph in an exploration of sound and suddenly it was l'heure de l'apéro. Good thing, 'cos I needed it!

I had been on an extraordinary trip with one phrase of a Beethoven sonata: Getting lost in the silent fall, like an autumn leaf, of a dominant to it's tonic accompanied by the drum of a woodpecker; the scream of a seventh shifting up a semitone to the shocked gasp which releases the allegro accompanied by 'The Archers' leaking from J's studio; the interval of a fourth yawning open like original desire punctuated by the ping of an email arriving in my inbox; knitting a never-ending phrase from horsehair as a cat scratched the wood-pile below my window.....

Everything was vivid, everything part of the music. Isn't this what happens when you are high?

(I remember being that awful goodie-goodie - prepare your bucket now - who, when joints or stronger were passed around at parties, said:

"I don't need drugs. I get high on life!"

It was really only because I was, and am, terrified of losing control and infact the one time someone slipped something into a cake without my knowing I was consumed with thoughts of murder and revenge whilst doing a very bad impersonation of Elvis and then I was violently sick on their mother's fur coat, so perhaps it was for the best.)

Julian, meanwhile, who likes to stroke his canvasses to music found himself making the same brushstroke over and over again as his arm followed my endless repetitions, and creating a very over-painted vineyard which he then had to discard in favour of beautiful boats for his high wife to ride....

The Viognier tasted great. Roll on Day 29, I say!





At the market in Bedoin it was as if the breath was being punched out of the sun. People were moving between stalls buying saucisses and trompettes de mort, clouds were racing in the sky, pastis was being drunk in rickety chairs on cafe terraces but it was all happening as if on borrowed energy; the last manic movements of a clockwork world; desire eclipsed and only a memory of it being played out. Then, for a few moments, everything was still before the sun gasped back it's impulse to shine.

In the last few days I have come to a resting place. The mountain of chores has lessened to a maintenance-friendly hillock and there, at the end of action, I find a space with no need for movement. In that space I find my desire. Something internal is moving me towards my cello. I am watching it, listening to it's whisper, and I am laughing. Maybe I just won't pick it up again? When was I last moved to pick up my cello and make a sound? For months I have been shunting it between my knees and wielding the bow on the dot of 10, 15, 21.00......

Sometime in the next few days I might just find myself sitting with it and, from the stillness within, I might be moved to play. Like the in-breath arising naturally from emptiness.

I remember a teenage girl I taught once who was pushed terribly hard by her parents. Poker faced, she spun through the motions of concerti, scales and studies, winning everything and feeling nothing. I was part of the plan to make her win more and feel even less, except I didn't buy it. Once I had gained her trust, I sat with her in silence for an hour. Her only instruction from me was that if, at any point she was moved to make a sound she should follow that movement. If not she was very welcome simply to sit with me. After about twenty minutes a tear spilled over her cheekbone and down her cold cheek, softening it.

"I don't feel anything" she said.

Her desire to sing out or even to move had been totally eclipsed by all the control.

We sat again. Towards the end of the lesson she put her bow to the string and played one note.

I was that girl once and, for an instant yesterday as the sun was partially eclipsed by the moon, her emptiness shivered through me again.

walking meditation



One of the disadvantages of touring is the lack of regular contact with a community. I would like to go to a weekly meditation group for example, and a yoga class. I am a disciplined person - you have to be as a musician - but I think I need other people around me for support when it comes to maintaining a practice, and I think I need a practice.

This summer I ordered the Insight Meditation book and accompanying cd from the internet, checked the voices weren't too honeyed and over-Californian on the cd (they weren't) and popped it on my ipod. I toured for five months with it and I meditated twice. Ouch. The silly thing is it felt great and it heightened my concentration on the cello......

Help, luckily, was to hand recently and I have been inspired by Dale and Jean to commit to 100 days of meditative practice. Since there were only 78 days left it felt less scary than committing to a lifetime. Through this floating e-community I may have found a way to ground myself in a practice I have been wanting to start for years. At least I have taken the first step.

I started on day 22 with a walking meditation. It was not that different from my normal walks except that I set myself the task of simply noticing sensations I am only now giving names to: The mistral freezing one earlobe whilst the hot sun burned into the opposite shoulder; the sound of two birds flirting in the sky; the feel of the pine needles under the cork of my shoes and through into the soles of my feet; the smell of fermenting fallen grapes; the sight of a piece of sky being framed by oak leaves and the crunch of ancient stones shifting as I paced. I tried to maintain what our sixteen year old guide in Nepal talked about and whose beauty and power I, practically a middle aged woman, am only just beginning to understand - the 'empty box'.

Empty mind.

I was prepared for calm and focus. What I was unprepared for was the joy which comes from simply being present. I was practically delirious!

It was not unlike how I feel after playing.

Towards the end of my walk, when I allowed my thoughts free reign again this is where they roamed: As I placed each foot down on the earth I felt a sense of respect for her. I would even go as far as to call it love. I thought with repugnance about the possibility of doing her harm. Then I thought about our cats and how, through my feelings for them, I have come to love all animals. Then I thought about children and imagined that, through loving a child of one's 'own', one surely could never harm another being......?

I wafted back to the house on my nirvanoid cloud of world peace to hear shouting. Julian's work day had been disturbed by a phone-call from our land-lady's daughter. She had, as far as we could see, stolen paintings from the studio and was holding them as ransom until we moved the last of our stuff out. She was lying about there having been a storm and the window having been open so that she had had to 'rescue' them. Julian was, understandably, furious.

I think that, just maybe, I got a miniscule amount less lost in and scared by a display of anger than I might have done previously and thus was able to be a little more loving towards J when he needed it....

If so, perhaps I'm on the right path.


lemon surprise pudding



Last night, in the flurry of last minute dinner preparations, Julian sold this to a friend of our guests in Rhode Island. He responded to their email by informing them that - quelle surprise - J and G were just about to arrive for dinner and that the lemon in their picture was being morphed into a lemon surprise pudding for them.

It turned into a lemon double surprise pudding as a special guest, sensing the zesty heat, came in through the lime designer cat flap...


....and the pudding itself, it's preparation having been abandoned in the flurry of putting a red dot on it's canvas namesake and having been resumed after too many bottles of Roi Feignant, was a complete flop.