Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Auvergne Weather Forecast

Taken in Montpeyroux on top of a XIIth century stone tower

Except for two days of sunshine, it has rained incessantly here in the Auvergne since I arrived a week and a half ago.  Mind you, I am not complaining, for even with gray clouds the landscape is rather spectacular.
One of the things I appreciate so much about spending time in the countryside is the wide expansive view of the sky and the amazing cloud formations in the distance. I miss that when I am back in Brooklyn.

Here is another shot taken from the same tower. This one shows the famous Puy-De-Dôme volcano in the distance.

The weather is supposed to improve in the next few days.  I hope. Along with the dark clouds, the temperature has been hovering in the low 60s and at night, I sleep under three blankets, since it dips down into the low 50s.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Busy Days In the Auvergne, France

As in years past, I have returned to the Auvergne region of France to spend some time in a tiny village high up on a hill. I arrived here this past Friday and have been keeping very busy.  First, there are neighbors to visit, news to catch up on, and most importantly, getting re-acquainted with every corner of the old stone farmhouse that has been in my family for the past 44 years.  Then there are the long lists of tasks and improvements that my husband and I would like to undertake this summer.
My favorite project by far is digging the flowers out from under all the weeds.  After spending a few hours of weeding, I once again found my lavender, roses and irises, the daisies and the clematis, which are all in full bloom.
The fields of sunflowers down in the valley are also at their most beautiful just now.  Perhaps even more stunning than sunflowers are these hollyhocks below, which I photographed a few days ago.  They were growing in a small walled garden not far from our village.  They were stunning and I was tempted to jump the fence to pinch a few seeds for my garden.

I am off to Lyon today to pick up my daughter and her boyfriend from the airport.  We are planning on some excursions and a few visits to the market.  More photos very soon.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Impressions of Norway

Good morning, Brooklyn friends,
I meant to give a sign of life much sooner, but between traveling, sightseeing and meeting new friends, the time slipped by.  As I had mentioned in my last post,  I flew to Norway to spend a few days with my friends Joe and Eunice on a beautiful island in the Hardanger fjord. It was my first time in Norway.
What a magnificent landscape.  What a photogenic place. The red boathouses and barns, the white sailboats on the dark, clear water, the glaciers and waterfalls, all are amazingly beautiful and charming.
I was lucky enough that the sun shone during most of my stay.
Thank you, Joe and Eunice for introducing me to your friends and family and for sharing your island.

I am now in the Auvergne, in central France.  Apparently, it has been raining for the past 10 days and it is still raining now, so that I have not ventured far.  More photos and news as soon as the sun returns.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Pardonnez-Moi, But I'll Be In France For A While

The Auvergne, France
The small French village in the Auvergne, where I will spend the next few weeks
The village church
The house that has been in my family for the past 43 years.

As many of you know, every year, I spend a few summer weeks in a small village in the Auvergne region of France,  where my family has owned an old stone farm house.  My parents bought the place in 1971, when I was just a small girl, so the place holds many memories.  Now, my own children are grown up and have formed the same attachment to the house, the village and the neighbors who live there full time.
I love Brooklyn, but I must admit that I am never as happy as when I am there.

I am once again on my way to our house. This year, I'll be stopping in Norway for a few days before continuing to France.

I will be blogging throughout my stay in Europe.  I would love it if you visit often and leave comments.
I promise I will be back in Brooklyn soon.  Please feel free to send me news of home.

Friday, July 04, 2014

'Take Back Gowanus': A Truly Democratic Community-Led Forum On The Future Of Gowanus This Wednesday

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A consortium of  several neighborhood groups that include Friends And Residents Of Greater Gowanus, Voice Of Gowanus, Carroll Gardens Coalition for Respectful Development, and Save Kentile, have organized a "Take Back Gowanus" forum on Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 at 7pm at the Green Building, 452 Union Street at Bond.

The purpose of the meeting is to bring local residents, business owners, and manufacturers together for a true democratic discussion on the future of Gowanus. The goal of "Take Back Gowanus" is to create a manifesto of what the community wants to see in the neighborhood they live and work in.

The need for such a forum arose from the dissatisfaction and suspicion felt by many who have attended "Bridging Gowanus" community planning meetings convened  by Council Member Brad Lander together with several other local elected officials.
The year-long process was touted as a real chance for community stakeholders to jointly shape a vision for the future of the neighborhood.
In reality, the "Bridging Gowanus" community meetings have been highly curated affairs, seemingly designed to divide stakeholders at small group tables, making a more inclusionary discussion impossible. Facilitators at each table stuck to rigid scripts that seemed expressly designed to get specific comments and a pre-determined outcome.
That outcome likely will involve changing the zoning of much of the area from manufacturing to mixed-use which will allow developers to build more housing along the Gowanus Canal.

"Take Back Gowanus", on the other hand, will allow the community to engage in a real, honest conversation and to demand a real collaboration between our community and the City of New York.

Please join your neighbors this Wednesday and let's show our elected officials what democracy really looks like.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Last Night's Heavy Rain Turns Gowanus Canal Into One Huge Toilet Once Again

I know that poop and condoms are not a pleasant topic, but it bears repeating over and over, until the City Of New York finally assumes its responsibility and stops using the Gowanus Canal as a huge toilet every time our local sewer treatment plant gets overburdened.
Last night's heavy rain caused another Combined Sewer Overflow event last night and by 11 PM, much of the waterway was covered with raw sewage.  The smell was unbelievable.  It was too dark to take photos, but I took a walk over both the Union Street and Carroll Street bridges at 6 am this morning, and took some pictures. It was still rather awful and smelly and the bacteria count in the water must have been off the charts.

It is unfathomable to thing that the new residents of the 700 unit Lightstone Group Project at the shores of the canal will have to deal with this every time it rains heavily.

This morning, I also found an email from my friend, who lives in Gowanus Houses.  She has been complaining that raw sewage gurgles up in her kitchen sink every time there is a heavy downpour.
She sent along photos that she took last night.  Pretty awful, isn't it?

The topic of sewer back flow at the Gowanus Houses came up at Councilman Brad Lander's Bridging Gowanus meeting last week.

We all need to join together to demand that there be no new sewer hook ups in the Gowanus corridor until the City stops dumping s**t in our waterway.
Because this is not acceptable.

Bastille Day Celebration And Pétanque Tournament 2014 On Smith Street

Though the holiday marking the beginning of the French Revolution is celebrated on July 14th in France, Smith Street's annual Bastille Day Celebration and  Pétanque Tournament is scheduled for Sunday, July 13th at 12pm.. Good thing! That means we all get to take part.

With teams from around the world competing, it is the largest pétanque tournament in North America.
So come out and celebrate, watch the players, drink pastis, eat great food and listen to live music.

The games starts at noon, but the sand will be delivered at 10 am and  it is always great fun for the kids to see it being dumped in the middle of the street.

Please register your pétanque team  at Bar Tabac, 128 Smith Street, 718 923 0918

From the organizer:

Take the largest Petanque (it’s like bocce) Tournament in the world outside of France……..
Add the World Cup Final on a giant truck mounted TV screen……
Mix with Food & Drink from some of Smith Street’s best establishments……..
Sprinkle with live music, joie de vivre, and dancing in the streets………
And you have two blocks of Smith Street’s Bastille Day Party

Our neighborhoods around Smith Street have become very French – one hears it spoken in the streets and even our public elementary school is French/English bi-lingual – so it is only natural that we celebrate the French equivalent of our July 4th with a French themed party.

Food & Drink this year will come from Bar Tabac, White Oak, Char#4, Kittery, Union Grounds, Bar San Miguel, Bien Cuit, Pane e Vino, One Girl Cookies, Britain Indian Restaurant, & Les Bretons.

XL Airways will again hold a raffle for R/T tickets for 2 NY-Marseille-NY – Try Your Luck!!.

Live Music will be coming from Lipbone Redding again this year by popular demand.

The arrival of the antique Quadrozzi Cement mixer Truck at 10AM and the subsequent spreading of the sand as it spews out of the truck and is raked into Petanque Courts is truly a sight to behold. This is the 12th year Quadrozzi has supplied the sand for Bastille Day.

But probably the best thing about the day is the people. The way they dress, the way they play, the team spirit, the sense of community, the good vibes. One wishes the whole world could be like this every day.