The month of “pont” (bridge) weekends is upon us. These are when the holiday falls on a Friday or Monday. Even better are the ”viaduc” (viaduct) weekends which extend two to three days beyond. Asuncion day qualifies for that category this year. Yeah!
ROBO DOG ok, there is quite a story involving this 16mm footage from our early days in France. I shot it with my old newsreel Beaulieu back in 2002. Upon our arrival back in the Bay Area 2005, I sent the footage to San Antonio, Texas for its transfer to mini DV tape. The lab later claimed to have never received and thus I thought it was lost forever. (keep in mind that throughout my photography studio career I relied on the service from the USPS with never a lost package) Then in 2010 I got a mysterious call from a man in Houston, Texas claiming to have my footage and DV tapes (naturally my name and contacts were on the film cans). He said that he had received a package from Germany many years ago that he assumed was intended for his sister (who was in Germany) and he only now got around to opening it. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. This footage was irreplaceable. The other characters were; Grisou (little grey one- named by farmer) the mama donk and her son Georges (named after my gramps) and our stud duck Miro (a real cranky sort). One day the pre-teen daughter of our chatelain neighbors witnessed him swallow one of the newly born chicks (culling the weakest as is natures way). and of course our sweet little nature babe
The Killing Field…. The Jonsred finally died (after 10 years’ service), but have bought a new Swede to replace her: a Husquavarna (maker of fine motocross bikes back in the day). This new troncenneuse cuts like butter, so I dropped another 80 footer to celebrate. Finally got the one stuck against the walnut tree out of the stream. And now am contemplating taking the tree on the left (leaning toward the walnut, in the middle of the pic. - oh no, here we go again…), to have a better view of cliff, and the Chateau d’Anglais, constructed during the Hundred Years’ War. For now just 2 of 5 trees remain. Will be burning these in a couple years…
got a heavy long iron bar and was able to leverage it to this angle. the trunk is now stuck in the stream and two branches are tettering on the edge. I yank and yank and pound and pound, but it still won’t fall. chainsaw in the shop, cut and drop soon. j’espere
Don’t try this at home As a follow up to the last post. I’ve been kicked out of the Norwegian woods club on accout of burning these unsplit mega logs like above. In my defense I did take several overwhelming whacks at it but hey why over expend myself. It burned for an entire day and the morn of the next
Call me Espen (Norwegian wood revisited) I just read an article in the Intl. Herald Trib. (my English info bible delivered daily) about a recent popular book in Norway about the culture of wood there. It is about the art of cutting, splitting, drying and stacking wood and the importance of this culturally. I can relate. I feel like a squirrel, scurrying around with my wheelbarrow in the yard for twigs. Eyeing, planning and timing which trees to fell. Arranging everything in our dirt floor cave by dryness and so on. When the morning frost lifts I’m with my best bud, Jonsred (sorry it’s Swedish) chainsaw, sharpening the teeth, adjusting the tension earphones around my neck ready for action. timber.. oops just dropped a 60 footer which didn’t hit the ground as my wedge cut laid her into the neighboring walnut tree and she is standing at a 120 degree angle caught in her branches. The challenge now is the trunk buckles as you cut and can wedge the chain making it impossible to extricate. (that already happened when I first cut the trunk I had to whack with the splitting axe to complete the cut and free the chain) phew. This wood thing goes on in all seasons too as with fires going every day for 5 months. Wood is also stored in the ruined mill house and outdoor room under the terrace. I wonder which culture reveres raking and tilling. haha.
Imagine driving these skinny country roads covered with ice and snow. Advance warnings are color coded and this rated an orange for vigilance. Even on good days it’s tight when two medium-sized cars approach, let alone anything larger. We had two beautiful snow fall days. The school bus was cancelled so I had to tackle the uphill back road to Loubressac. At that time there were no cars going down, so I was able to hug closer to the middle (they don’t have guard rails on these roads and the drop offs are dramatic). Our 5 speed Renault was up to the task. The picture is from the village, the day after one dump, and as you can see it melts pretty fast. There was time however for building snowmen, making snow angels and chasing the pooch down the hill.
As war on extremism/terrorism rears its ugly head again, this time in Mali, I’m reminded that we first moped here immediately after 9/11, which led to the invasion of Afghanistan. This time it is the French trying to defeat the religious zealots and return democracy (albeit the African version) to their former colony, Mali. Not to belittle the pain and suffering or tackle the politics of these interventions. I want to comment, through my own experience as a traveling photographer/filmmaker the neuterization of the true violent nature of war as depicted on television coverage now as compared to an earlier time. I was born in America during the “baby boom” after WWll. I had to register for the draft, luckily for me, at the end of the Vietnam war. The draft was abolished in America soon after and I was never called upon to serve. During those war years America had three TV networks. Watching the nightly news was a ritual for most families then. There was a barrage of gritty, grainy images of smoke, dense jungle, wounded soldiers carried through the chaos to the helicopters and flag-drapped coffins loaded onto transport planes. Watching French television coverage of this present conflict strikes me as a video game influenced, graphically sophisticated depictions have replaced the realities. Perfectly rendered, almost 3-dimensional images of fighter jets leaving their carriers and crossing computer generated landscapes to the site of exploding buildings and figurines is followed by ex-generals sitting in the TV studio interacting with and analyzing these depictions. Eventually we get embedded reporters and with them a sense of who these guys fighting for us are. But, I think that lets us off the hook emotionally to the horrors of war. We’ll never know these soldiers or how they really feel, nor the follow-up to their stories. The less polished images of yesteryear made war seem more rudimentary and less controlled. Bravery and purpose (on both sides) can’t be questioned. But it comes right down to senseless killing and there is nothing glamorous about that. Another long slog, I fear.
As I mentioned our sweetie was invited to spent the hectic pre-Christmas morning in the patisserie/boulangerie where Didier, a 6 foot tall bear greeted her with a friendly voice and kisses on both cheeks, then spirited our girl away “Revenez dans trios heures!” Sure enough 3 hours later they invited me to join them behind the counter, even though the line of customers snaked out the door. In the back room 5 Frenchmen in starched white aprons and huge smiles greeted me and raved about my daughter’s enthusiasm for learning how to decorate and frost “Les buches” . A few freshly made gateaux were on the work table but the pastries, having started at 4 A.M. were almost done. Although we usually steer clear of these rich cakes, we had to purchase one decorated by our industrious 11-year-old. It was the perfect addition to our fete de Reveillon (a much scaled down feast!)