Saturday, March 16, 2013

a quick trip to so. france~

this incredible, spontaneous journey to so. france began from a Providential meeting with an eclectic
artist~ mary de la salandra, who was visiting her friend judith, in my small hometown of whitefish, montana.
i was asked by judith to take care of her 93 yr. old mother while her and mary played around this area for the next 5 days of mary's visit. when mary showed me pix of the cottage she and her husband raymond had lived in the past 12 yrs. i couldn't believe me was my dream cottage, and it was for sale!
i then shared it with a sweet soul sister brooke, who was dreaming of cottages in france as well. brooke's parents called me over the next night to look at the pix and talk, and then the next thing i knew, they had booked tickets for the next week to go check it out!!
yet we could only stay 3 short days....
as soon we got situated in our cozy hotel in rodez, we couldn't wait to make our way over to the cottage in the tiny village of baraqueville, which is apart of the aveyron region of so. france.
the cottage is a 300 year old stone structure that raymond and mary have been lovingly working on since their journey 12 yrs. ago... she from oregon, he from england.  every nook and cranny is as charming as could be with their lovely, whimsical artistic touches!
 it was difficult to find just a couple of my fav pix as there's so much more i'd like to share of our compressed journey of a lifetime, but the above stairway leading to mary's workshop was my favorite part of the house. it was the original attached barn, and the most inspiring workspace i could imagine. 
the next morning brooke and i explored around the grounds of the old home/converted-hotel we were staying in.  it reminded us of a secret garden where enchanted treasures were buried.
yet we didn't have enough time to explore as much as we would have liked then, as we were scheduled to go to the farmer's market in the town of rodez.  there we were delighted to find in the center of town, the local bread, cheese, olive and wine makers, as well as vegetable and fruit baskets, all canopied under umbrellas to catch the light, early morning misty rainfall.

we had to try some samples of course and splurge, splitting a yummy french pastry and buying some fresh cheese and bread to take back to the hotel.  above is a photo of brooke, our chauffeur jean-marie, brooke's parents~ the queen of hearts allison & angel dad doug.

brooke and i enjoyed getting lost in the many winding, narrow stone and brick roadways that were delighting us to our childlike core! 

the next day in this wonderland we went to a nearby village 20 km. west of rodez.  the lovely ruin in the photo above was where we journeyed across the bridge then the road turned leading us to one of the most beautiful villages in all of france, the ancient village of belcastel. every structure in this village was built of stone. a magnificent fortress, the chateau de belcastel was built 1000 yrs. ago on a gigantic rock,
and became the fortress of knights, nobles, and rogues.

we dined there at a very fine restaurant owned and operated by 4 generations of family, who have always lived in this small village where the occupancy is about 50 people in the winter. what an incredible desert plate i shared with raymond!
the view below is from one of the castle windows of the charming belcastel church and beyond that the road ends with a hamlet of about 4 farms.
our last day before departure we went just 35km. north of rodez, high in the mountains, and deep in the mid-pyrenees to the magical little town of conque, which sits at the edge of a gorge, with population barely 90, with history traced back to the 600's. it too is considered to be one of the most beautiful and oldest medieval villages in france, with it's narrow cobbled streets winding throughout the mountain.

the abbatiale ste-foy or abbey church in conque was spectacular to behold. the windows were replaced after many years, by a contemporary design by a painter pierre soulaage in unique shades of grey.
along one side of the abbey was a display of sarcophagi for some unfortuate soul's buriel!
on the front doors of the cathedrale, is a very detailed carved picture of the last judgement, which is        carved with unbelievable detail and imagery, founded in 819, completed in 1120.
throughout this ancient land, the wonders never ceased and it felt as if i was in a dream that i have   dreamed and lived in for most of my life. the rich artistry and history that my being absorbed for only 3 days has etched itself into my core, and i long to return for more, more, more.

 maybe to roam on a long adventure, to open new windows of wonderment and inspiration,
as it already feels like a home away from home.

Monday, April 23, 2012

pieces of my heart

i feel like pieces of my heart are in another place...a large city at that, for this country girl who calls Montana home.

a few weeks ago i was asked to join my dear friends in the most amazing trip for a week to New York City!!  it truly was a dream-time journey into 'another world' i've never before experienced.

i have so many amazing photos and stories, but will share with you a few, just a 'taste' of the flavors of this incredible journey.

we stayed in the most magnificent of the New York hotels...the renown St. Regis.  each detail of the elegant decor and service in this place made you feel as if you were royalty! getting out of our limo the first night and seeing elton john in the doorway, and terri spelling in the elevator, let you know you were in for delightful surprises, let alone the magnificent fresh spring floral displays everywhere, and original maxfield parrish art lining the walls
the streets amazed me with the most mesmerizing architecture, and window displays filled my artistic pallet with new inspiration and awe.

we dined on some of the most ethnic, authentic, delicious cuisine, awakening taste buds i never knew were there!!  from the most elegant french restaurants (our fav is la grenoille), to quaint side street bistros, even dining at the incredible italian restaurant 'joanne's trattoria', named after lady gaga's mother, which she gifted to her parents.

one of the most wonderful of days was spent at the magnificent metropolitan museum of art.  it was hard to grasp that we were standing in the presence of the original works of william adoulf bougereau, and klimt here pictured, european paintings from 1230 to 1800 (like boticelli, rubens, rembrandt, vermeer, goya, etc.), 19th-early 20th century paintings  of picasso, matisse, degas, cezanne, renoir, monet, van gogh, gauguin...and so many more of the master's works... room after room of the greatest art in the world!  i could have spent a week there alone!

we walked from the hotel many blocks away to central park, as the misty rain was falling, which made the park seem even more enchanted and mysterious. 

 trees were budding and flowers blooming everywhere as the fresh, fragrant scents of spring wafted through the air, drawing through a maze of pathways where we got lost for hours!
we ended up at in strawberry fields...the memorial for john lennon donated by yoko.

then it was amazing to attend the longest running Broadway musical ever (of 23 yrs!)...the phantom of the opera!   words cannot describe the powerful special effects and elegance of this production!

then it of the highlights of this trip...attending 10th annual celebration of 'poetry and the creative mind.' many celebrities gathered to read their favorite poetry and to share personal experiences in their lives.  in this photo you see the most lovely meryl streep reading, and seated is claire danes, john wesley harding & brooke shields. what a special event this was to be apart of!
 to spend such an eventful week with my beloved friends, allison, doug & brooke, who so graciously 'showed me the town' with all their love & generosity, i couldn't have been more blessed! we spent wonderful moments with many of their friends, and even got to see my niece who lives in soho, and an old classmate from highschool. it couldn't have been a more wonderful first visit to the big apple! 
all too soon we were in flight back homeward, with the last beams of a full moon dipping over the city.
back to the wide open spaces where the buffalo and antelope roam.

back to the little town of less than 6,000 people in the NW corner of Montana, where the one main street of town is for the most part, free from the hustle and bustle of the fast lane.

our little town at the base of 'big mountain' ski resort with towering views of God's creation,
is considered by many to be the last-best place.
big sky country
home, sweet home!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

blessed be the works of her hands

last year, during the blogging event "one world one heart" i 'met' the most wonderful woman who was the winner of my art piece offered in this event. this loving lady~ suzy quaife, creator of suzyqusthreadworks blog, has become a dear part of my life. her heart and hands are gifted with so much love, overflowing into every fibre and fabric in which she creates the most luscious pieces of inspiration that could be imagined. and on her blog she often takes one on walks on her enchanted grounds, through flower and vegetable gardens, and pathways leading into pieces of paradise. suzy surrounds her home in the far southern coast of new south wales with beauty, and beauty is the fabric of her life.
recently i received a wonderful package from her, allowing me to feel and smell her fragrance...her heart and soul. this journal is layered with treasured pieces she has collected, inspiring me too, to add my treasures. i love how a rainbow appeared on the forehead on the face of the lovely lady on it's cover as it was photographed! blessed be the works of her hands.

if this beautiful journal were not enough, suzy gifted me with more pieces of old which could be used in further embellishing it's contents or other projects. her cup overflows into mine. how blessed i am to have such a special friend, who has shared so much of her heart offering in gifts, letters and continual support and love.

we shall look forward to more opportunities to connect with other friends afar in blogland, through lisa swifka's international blogwide event upcoming...our world~our art. thank you lisa for creating such an event to bring artists & bloggers together. thank you suzy-q for your beautiful love.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

sweet swaps

today i received a lovely little envelope from the UK...from micki wilde of the secret hermit, who began the sweetest art swap last month, in which all who signed up would make a piece of art and micki in turn would send off one of her lovelies, which i am so blessed to receive:
this beautiful piece resonates within, and the solitude of the night she whispers her secrets. oh how i love this....and it's true in my many nights of praying in faith and hope! thank you so much micki for this treasured piece!!!

my swapped piece was this small, framed painting entitled 'finding feathers' which i'm so glad has winged it's way to it's new home with micki!! blessings be!