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Reply #10 - Oct 24th, 2015 at 5:34pm

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Don; Oct. 24, 2015, I'm off to Piero's in Kaupo, we are having his memorial at his villa, my 40 year friend died 9-8-15.

Artnotes: Smells Good

...
It has been a beautiful week in Rocca Malatina.  The sun is shining, and every morning there is a soft white near-frost cover on the grass.   It is cold, but still above freezing.  I can smell everything.

I know smells are supposed to be stronger in the summer, but it is this time of year I could always smell the chocolate shop in our neighborhood in Paris.   Maybe bad smells are stronger in summer, but give me a damp October day and I can almost tell you, eyes closed, where I am standing.

Here, Harika runs around in circles, spurred by these cool temperatures, stirring up the spicy scent of mint which is as thick as the grass in our yard.   The neighbors (sadly) cut down their towering spruce and our house filled with the pine-y aroma; days later I still detect its lingering perfume outside.  I picked scores of apples from our trees – laying some in for the winter in the basement, and making apple crumble just for fun.  The house smells wonderful.

Friends brought us quince, that aromatic fruit which lends itself to jelly.  Blair loves them, odd-ball as they are, and he wants to sit and smell them.  He is painting quince as we speak.
...

I painted a lot this week, enjoying the sunshine.  Shadows are longer, the sun no longer shining directly overhead.  I miss our luncheons on the deck, but there is a coziness to being indoors.   We got our chimney cleaned, something people here found astounding.  It had perhaps never been cleaned in the history of the house.  The chimney sweep wanted to know the last time the fireplace was used.

The fireplace is in our kitchen, where I am eager to roast a whole salmon, or lamb chops.  I can roast vegetables and keep our kitchen warm with the fire.

The Cream Puff has been in the shop, getting its heater fixed (mercifully, under warrantee).  On the one hand, I am thrilled to be free of a car; on the other hand, I miss getting around.  If I win the lottery, I will buy a big luxury car (a Rolls-royce, or Bentley, maybe) and have a driver for Blair, Harika and I , who will loll in the big leather (smells good) back seat. 


 
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Reply #9 - Sep 20th, 2015 at 2:05am

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Artnotes: Don't fence me in
...
On a recent foray to Vergato, to stock up on second-hand winter clothes* (we were too early – the store still in the throes of late summer and back to school), we passed by the town of Tolé.    Well, we nearly passed by, but it was such a charming little town we’d thought we would have a look around for painting sites.  We parked and walked around the church, the hotel – there were many B&Bs.

Blair noticed a large painting on the side of one building, of a religious ilk, that resembled El Greco.  As we approached the car, I saw one on a fence, then, as I walked along, instead of finding painting subjects, we found PAINTINGS.  In addition to paintings were sculptures and many bas-relief sculptures in terra-cotta, some painted.  There was a relief of a car repair shop above the garage door; ladies getting their hair done outside the parrucheria, paintings of the trials of Pinocchio outside the school; and entire courtyard full of cats (sculpted, painted).   We walked up to the wash house and sure, enough, an ice wintry scene in there.

It is easy to pass by the little places in favor of the broad landscape, rocks as tall as the Eiffel Tower, the sky at a full 180 degrees. 

On most days, Blair and I venture out to paint.  We hem and haw, like dogs finding the right place to pee, and often end up turning the car toward home, where we paint the apples, the roses…   it is amazing for two Parisiens to have a yard with apples, pears, figs, walnuts, peaches and plums.   Harika has taken to sitting in the car in the yard, like it is a dog house.   All of us are overwhelmed.

We went to the Country Fest last weekend here in Rocca Malatina, where the locals put on a true Spaghetti Western.  There was a mechanical bull, games like “how many beans are in the jar”, and music by the “Wanted” Band.  We danced to Sweet Home Alabama.  Everything is so good spirited, you can’t go wrong.   We met folks we invited for dinner on Wednesday night.

Our life is full of many small events set in a big landscape.  We are getting ready to put on our own Rocca Malatina artshow in October (10,11,12) and are printing up painting workshop brochures to distribute at Bologna and Modena hotels (come and paint with us for a day in the country).   Will we ever adjust to being here?  Maybe. Or not.
 
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Reply #8 - Sep 12th, 2015 at 7:39pm

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...
I have so much to write about, but I will begin with the fireworks.  Last Sunday we had our usual Sunday salon here in Rocca Malatina.  If you find yourself out this way, please feel free to stop by.  If you call ahead, I will be sure there’s a dinner plate set for you.  But you can always just enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation.

This Sunday, Paul stopped by, and told us how we must see the fireworks.   Gary said yes, this is no carnival show, fireworks up here in the mountains are spectacular.  We said we’d try to get to Monteorsello, where they were happening.  It turns out that a man involved in the fireworks industry (fuochi d’artificio) lives in that tiny town of 126 inhabitants.   There were parking lots and buses which would take one to the site, and we parked about a kilometer away and walked (it’s less than 4 K from Rocca Malatina, but we’d risk being run over in the dark).

When we got there, there was a noticeably excellent sound system playing popular music.  We settled on a slight incline, near the road, where we could see what we thought was the main field of action.  In fact there were three areas set to explode.

The show started what seemed like later than anticipated (we left our phone at home, so no timepiece).  The tower of Monteorsello illuminated, and fireworks spurted from the roof; a second song ensued and showers of raining light fell from the windows.  A hard rock song (I am terrible with song titles, and as I am your only reporter, you’ll have to take my word) gave way to huge fiery expolsions from windows, and fireworks in red and white shooting out of the tower sideways over the crowds.

Next, the main field came into action, with fires, and subsequent roman candles (hmm) shooting off in sync with the music at 45 degree angles, either side.  Then the MOST spectacular overhead-exploding fireworks made me feel I was in a pin ball machine, or on a birthday cake. I felt out-of-body in the presence of this magnificent force.  Colors of citron, teal, orange, red, green, white and gold.

Certain fireworks I can only describe as giant illuminated Cheetos sprung out of clusters in the sky.   And the music, not what I normally listen to, was compelling and ever so correct with the display.   I can truly say I was gobsmacked by this fabulous production.

And I nearly stayed at home.

 
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Reply #7 - Sep 9th, 2015 at 2:39am

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...
Don: This is why I like Laurie's work, her colors are simple and strong. No black pigment, primaries, secondaries, nice gray.
Artnotes: Awfully Nice at the Sea
We went to Nice, France this week to return that ever-so-expensive rental car we borrowed in Paris.  Renting the giant vehicle was a must, to get our last belongings out of Paris. It cost more than 1000 euros, yikes!

We needed a way to unwind once we got to Nice, a 5-1/2 hour drive from here. I drove the new September rental car (700 plus insurance – Amex doesn’t cover Italy) and Blair drove the Paris car and we met at the airport.   I was thrilled to be driving, in Italy no less, going just as fast as the underpowered Fiat would allow.

I remembered a place we painted two Februaries ago while staying in Villefranche-sur-Mer.  It was in Nice, and I so wanted to jump in the water that foggy February morning.   This 85 degree sunny day fit the bill.

We got there and everything became finer than I could imagine.  There were bunches of people:  young men standing on a green signal buoy  out from shore, other young people trying to get on a large, square “raft of the medusa” floatie.  Fat men stretched out on rocks, young girls afraid to swim.  I put on my suit and went to the water, Blair staying with Harika on an out of the way shady set of steps.   I climbed down the rugged metal ladder into the water.  It was just a little cool, but slippery in the way of sea water.  I slid in, and floated and bobbed, swam a little against waves stronger than I remembered, but feeling great.  I returned to find Blair with my skirt on, putting on his suit underneath.  He went in just like I did and we both came away with such a wonderful feeling, like a well-preached sermon.  “It was so “slappy””, he told me.  I felt just the same, and we both felt we had found a place, an experience, where, had we stayed in the water any longer, we would have gone to another place, a perfect place.   It was like a transporter of our life, with all ideal elements – moments later the sky went all wrong and the magic fled.

We drove back to Rocca Malatina, and ate dinner at 11 at night.  If felt ever so ready for the next day.


 
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Reply #6 - Aug 30th, 2015 at 2:11am

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...
Landscape with Church Monteorsello  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  13 x 18"  33 x 46cm  275.00

“You cut the crescenti in two”, she explained, “and spread this pasta (a spread, made of pork fat, and garlic) in the center, then sprinkle it with parmesan cheese.”  We were invited to an outdoor lunch at a friend’s house in the hills of Rocca Malatina.  We sat at a long table, with a dozen other guests, eating fried gnocchi, prosciutto, figs and crescenti.   We were at the English-speaking end of the table, with an Australian fellow.  His partner was an Italian woman who had moved to Australia many years ago.  The Italian woman next to me lived in Australia for twenty years, and then moved back to the Guiglia area.  We had a wonderful time.

We entertained Italians later in the week, and on Sunday we will have three continents around the table.

I wrote an article this week for Debi Lily’s magazine, A Perfect Event.  I wrote about Columbus Day, a strictly American holiday, centered around an Italian.  Although I don’t mention it in the article, I think the world is at a similar point to the one it was at in the colonial centuries.

The borders of Italy are being inundated at this time with emigrants from Syria, Afghanistan and North Africa.  Horrific scenes flood the airwaves.  To learn Italian, I should watch the news, but it puts me in a bad humor.  Immigration is always a difficult subject for me, the product of emigrants from Northern and Eastern Europe to the United States.  Not to mention, Blair, Harika and I have immigrated to France and now Italy.

Spaniards were leaving Spain at the time of Columbus, seeking asylum in Turkey, Northern Italy and the Americas.   Muslims (the ones not killed by Ferdinand and Isabella) and Jews went to Constantinople; some of the wonderful dishes of Ligurian cuisine come from the Jewish migration to Northern Italy.   Peru, South America, received a huge influx of immigrants at that time.   Later, in the 17th and 18th centuries, North America and Australia were migrant destinations.



We are among the rare people who immigrate for cultural reasons – we are yearning to learn new language, witness other people and places, broaden our horizons.  Most people emigrate because of unbearable circumstances where they come from. 

We have spent this week struggling to regulate our car situation – we can’t buy a car unless we have a “residency” permit.  Despite the fact we have a paper indicating our visa is for “elective residency”, the local powers have been dragging their feet at recognizing us.  Catch-22s abound, but I tell myself at least HERE WE ARE!


 
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Reply #5 - Aug 16th, 2015 at 11:30pm

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​Artnotes:  More, more, more
Waterfall by Blair Pesssemier  Acrylic/linen  16 x 10.5" $250.00
Don: He is pre-mixing all his darks, I don't like that much. Also, when one looks at this painting you don't see any aerial perspective between the rocks and the waterfall.
...
Everyone I meet here in Rocca Malatina loves living here, or so it seems.  It is a bit of a “resort” town, in the sense people, mainly from Bologna, come up here as a respite from the heat.

We went with the most fun people on Wednesday up to Passo di Croci Arcano.    “Bring sweaters”, P cautioned.  I didn’t need my sweater, but others donned theirs.  I clamped a hat on my head, a refuge from sun and wind, and felt comfortable.  We were at 1,743 meters (5718 feet and  6.75 inches), where trees didn’t grow and grasses looked like the sea, over huge wave hills.  We ate wild raspberries and blueberries, the best we ever tasted.  We walked on the grassy mountain ridges, with shepherds and their flocks in the distance (black sheep!), and kestrels soaring overhead.  Half the party made the trek to the lake, and we roamed the hills.

Two cousins of our landlady brought us there.  The one I rode with, G, was much like my friend Sal, who has been my friend since age 4.    We drove fast, on winding roads through the mountains, past Monte Cimone, the highest peak near our house (2165 meters = 7103 feet);  there was no time to be scared at that speed and we talked about all sorts of exciting things on the way.

All of this made me think that when one is DOING things, there is no possibility of feeling sad or worried.  G is always doing things:  he has horses he rides all around the area, he has four dogs, travels everywhere.  I love this attitude.  It made me want to do more, more, more, and I relish the arrival of a Paris/American friend next week, who we will take to Urbino, and other smallish Italian cities.  Italy is great for visiting little places, as it was made up of city states until its final unification as a country in 1870.   Each city is unique, and people are terrifically proud of their particular region.

More “things” we have done this week -- a trip to the waterfall at Lizzano with P.  It was a hearty but achievable hike into the falls, where the water was like ice, and the air significantly cooler than in Rocca Malatina.   I painted trees and Blair painted the waterfall while we were there.   I loved seeing people, several walking with their dogs.   Harika stayed at home this trip, while we did reconnaissance for future forays. 
 
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Reply #4 - Aug 9th, 2015 at 5:36pm

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Ahh,
We are back in Rocca Malatina, Italy, after nearly two months in Paris and the USA. 

...

It was a fabulous trip, with many art shows and sales.  We met wonderful new people and renewed friendships with old friends.  It made me realize that life is really about connecting with people, loving and feeling loved.  We spent afternoons on the front porch of Hemlock Lodge (aka Hemlock Gallery, with paintings floor to ceiling) “chewing the fat” and having many laughs.  Then, a jump in the lake.

It is 26C degrees (79 F) and humid at 9 AM in Rocca Malatina.  This is about the coolest it has been since our arrival on Thursday evening.  Much of the time it hovers around 100.  It is very difficult to sleep.

Our landlady and other friends here assure us it is unusual for it to be so hot, so long.  I hope it is just a fluke, but meanwhile I consider turning a wine tub in the basement into a swimming pool. 
Don: Do it.
Maybe we should sleep in the basement.  I went down there – too many spiders.  And those wine barrels must have been built in place, they won’t fit through the door.   Maybe I’ll buy a sprinkler.

Harika lies beneath the tree out front.  We received a warm reception at the coffee shop upon our arrival for “machiatti” yesterday.   They are now serving “cremosas”, a sort of soft serve in Pistachio or Coffee flavor.   Ludovico, the gardener, rushed down the hill to say hello on Friday – his dog had four puppies while we were away.  Our landlady stopped by and invited us for Sunday dinner.  We will see Gary and friends soon.

Being soooo hot, we decided to enjoy the air conditioned car.  We drove toward Monte Cimone, a peak of some 7500 feet.  On the way, we spotted people bathing in a river.  Harika ran down into the water at once, wading in to the gunnels, taking a long drink.  Without bathing suit, I could only go in as deep as my dress, hiked up, would allow.   Little fish nibbled my toes.   Ahhh.
 
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Reply #3 - Jul 29th, 2015 at 8:57pm

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Artnotes: 
To the Moon

Hemlock Lodge  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/panel  11 x 14"  150.00...

​I am happy to be internet-connection-free these weeks in the USA.  People feel sorry because I don’t have an iphone, but I am actually glad my smart phone is too expensive to activate here.   I am FREE.  No Facebook with its puppy videos and selfies; no marketing; no time wasted deleting junk emails.   Hallelujah!

I listen to the radio.  On Saturday morning, on our way to the Madison Art Society show at the Library, I heard the sound track of the Apollo XIII movie.  It was the 47th anniversary of that thrilling mission around the moon.  Blair points out that the cellphone has more computing power that NASA had at that time. 

I am not one to look back, but I thought of how amazing it was that the US was actually DOING SOMETHING in 1968.   We seem to have no outreach programs now – no thought to the future.  I hope someone out there shows me I am wrong about that.  All I seem to hear about is Donald Trump’s blunders, Hillary Clinton’s emails, and speculation as to what motivated that wretched person to shoot people at the movies.   Meanwhile, foreign governments run ads on TV against US policy.

Before I came to the USA, a couple of French friends told me to be careful.  One said, “Don’t go to the cinema, they shoot people there…”.   Others cautioned about churches.  Actually, there have been several shootings since I have been here, from Tennessee to Louisiana.  The other day, not far from my sister's home, a nutcase holed up in a house with forty guns held the entire neighborhood in lockdown.  What’s going on?  I think we need another trip to the moon.
 
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Reply #2 - Jul 21st, 2015 at 9:16pm

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...
We drove to High Point, North Carolina, stopping at a wonderful Cajun-by-the-road restaurant along the way, in Farmville, Virginia.  I had a fried oyster po’ boy with sweet potato fries and a large glass of Wild Turkey on the rocks.  Blair had pulled pork and fried okra.  There were posters of the duck brothers, which in the context of the oft-lacquered bar looked appropriate.

I learned later that Farmville was where a school principal allowed two black children to come to his school, resulting in the closure of all Virginia schools.  The principal was, of course, fired, and became, as a professor at the University of Virginia, a mentor to our host.  Many enlightening discussions ensued – we had a wonderful time.  We ate outdoors, in candlelight, a whole fish with roasted vegetables (I made it). 

It was a ceremonious week in the South, with the removal of the Confederate flag.  Everyone we spoke to was proud of that.  When I told the person in the booth next to me that I was a Yankee, she told me “we don’t worry about that sort of thing anymore”.   We met fun fellow-painters there, and might expect a large group at Rocca Malatina.

Church, ironed napkins and pimento cheese spread is a just another dimension of American life.   Vive la difference!

Laurie and Blair Pessemier  ON THE ROAD -- next stop, Madison CT library sale
 
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Reply #1 - Jul 12th, 2015 at 4:54am

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​Artnotes:  This Country (USA)

I wake up every day wondering what language to speak.  My gains in Italian were thwarted by three weeks in Paris; now I breathe a sigh of relief when I realize I can talk to the kids at the beach in English.  On the rare occasion when the Internet works, I try “memrise” or an Italian video, in anticipation of August.

Harika and I spent the morning on the beach.   I painted these boys three years ago; two have become men, the other two aren’t far behind and now there’s two more little ones.  The girl seems to have moved on, maybe in marriage, or to a boyfriend of her own.  I can dazzle them with my painting – the two little boys, the boat, one of the grown ones in the deck chair.

We’ve been coming here to Hemlock Lodge for fifteen years now – the age of my nephew Henry.  The first year he was only four months old, sat in the water in the “shrimp boat” – a foam baby chair which floated.   My father can no longer make it up the hill.   When we went out for lunch, I tried to help him out of the car – he is so light (or maybe I am strong from moving out of Paris), I seemed to have lifted him off the ground.

I love America – from speaking my own language, to visiting with women at the thrift store (we bring no clothes here, only paintings, and must buy a wardrobe each summer), to sitting on the porch electrocuting bugs and reading books.   Going to the grocery store is easier than anywhere else we have lived.

We’ve been coming here to Hemlock Lodge for fifteen years now – the age of my nephew Henry.  The first year he was only four months old, sat in the water in the “shrimp boat” – a foam baby chair which floated.   My father can no longer make it up the hill.   When we went out for lunch, I tried to help him out of the car – he is so light (or maybe I am strong from moving out of Paris), I seemed to have lifted him off the ground.

I love America – from speaking my own language, to visiting with women at the thrift store (we bring no clothes here, only paintings, and must buy a wardrobe each summer), to sitting on the porch electrocuting bugs and reading books.   Going to the grocery store is easier than anywhere else we have lived.

On Friday, I went to the store to buy lamb chops for grilling on the barbecue, and ingredients for a carmelized garlic tart (new/old cookbook: Plenty).   They had everything I needed in one place – imagine it – and I smiled as I placed my purchases on the cash register belt.  Lo and behold, my credit card didn’t work.  It was the only means of payment I brought.  I was most disturbed, told them I could go to my father and borrow the money – they said they would keep my basket.  Then I started to think more about it, and went for the cash machine, which didn’t work either.   I looked toward my basket.  Just then the cashier called me over – “this woman”, she said, “wants to pay for your groceries”.  What?  I told her I could send her a check. She told me not to worry about it, she was just paying for them.  $70.00!  I choked up, I was so struck by her generosity.   

What a wonderful country!
Don: I got the image posted by putting the image on my site and putting a url to the image.

...

 
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Jul 3rd, 2015 at 6:52pm

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​It's been a week of ups and downs -- the downs unfortunately do not include the temperature.  It was 102 degrees when I painted in the Luxembourg Garden yesterday with two painters -- one from Texas, the other from Alaska.  I had to sit in my little bathtub full of cold water afterward just to get my temperature back down to a reasonable degree.   

Both the painters were good sports and hung in there for two hours.   We were plagued with insects, who are enjoying this heat to the utmost.  I see bugs I haven't seen before -- brilliant yellow green in small and medium.  A group of what looked like june bugs took up residence beneath my paint bag.  Yikes.

We've been disposing of our belongings, mostly on the street. I don't feel bad about that -- so much of what we have is donated by others or found on the street.  It's actually gratifying to have people pick things up.  We had eight frames, with intact glass that a photographer took -- he was having a show in the coming weeks, and was delighted to find them.  Thank you, thank you -- he couldn't say enough.  Another item was taken by the cleaning lady on three -- "it will make my husband so happy".  I love these dishes!!!  The desk disappeared in 10 minutes.

We've moved everything ourselves, which is hard on a body.  In fact, a person who took our chinese day bed insisted we have it downstairs for her to pick up.  Do you have some kitchen things I could have, she asked.  Uh, no.  I feel better about putting things on the street -- in fact, we call the city of Paris large item pickup, but nothing is ever left when they arrive.  Luckily, we have an elevator.

Lots of folks have been great -- someone is lending us their apartment when we get back on 4 August to pack the car for Italy. The new tenants for our apartment are letting us keep a few things in the basement until then.   A neighbor brought us lunch as we worked.  I suspect more than one buyer is supporting our move by supporting our show.

We've had a super show -- 18 paintings sold, to date.  Here are some pictures of the interior at 102, rue de Cherche Midi, 75006 Paris.

Don, my computer is acting strange, no sound, can't post images. July 6th I got the sound back.
 
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