We're in the last and most glorious days of fall...the colors are spectacular and the weather continues to teeter between sweet and chilly.
I had lots of time in the atelier at the beginning of the week. I finished my star book by adding covers and ties. I liked the way I was able to attach the ribbons with buttons which I sewed on with waxed thread right through the book board.
I also started working on a series of illustrations on gessoed press board. This first one is inspired by a photo I have of my mother when she was a child holding a racket and ball. Of course I took a little creative license with the details and it is certainly not a portrait of her.
Rick's sister Betsy and husband John came to visit us at the end of the week. They will stay well into next week, so I'll have more adventures to relate on the next blog installment.
We hadn't seen Betsy in several years. One of the few things we regret about our move to France is the infrequency with which we're able to visit with the people we love. Betsy has had a farm on the Oregon coast for 35 years. She has two beautiful and intelligent daughters. Abby went to Middlebury in Vermont and Zoe graduated from Stanford, but they have now both returned to Oregon and want nothing more than to work on the farm with their mother. The three women work together growing salad greens and flowers for high-end restaurant clients in the area. Zoe has her own business as well, growing all kinds of vegetables and making weekly basket deliveries for her 100+ subscribers. She plows her fields using Percheron horses. John is an archeologist and works for the Oregon government verifying that potential building plots will not damage Native American or Neolithic sites and artifacts. I really enjoyed how he characterized his move to the west. He grew up in Washington, D.C. but said that he was part of the generation which moved west in wagons...Volkswagens.
We took John and Betsy to Amboise, one of our favorite cities in the Loire Valley. Although we've visited it many times, we have never taken the tour of the castle. It's one the prettiest in the area, inhabited by François I, who brought the renaissance to France.
From inside the grounds one has a commanding view over the town, much of which was built during the 16th century. The streets are still serpentine and the buildings are ancient but well-maintained.
This time of year the colors along the river are deep and muted. The Loire river, the longest in France, flows lazily past some of the most beautiful homes and castles in the country.
François invited Leonardo Da Vinci to come live in Amboise at the end of his life. François supported him and gave him a beautiful house. In exchange Leonardo welcomed the king and engaged him in fascinating conversation in the evening. The Louvre in Paris owns the Mona Lisa because Leonardo died in Amboise. In fact François was at his death bed. Leornardo is buried on the grounds of the château in a chapel built for his remains.
Here lies Leonardo. Has there ever been anyone quite like him, either before or since?
The view from the castle garden shows Leonardo's house, in red brick, at the right of the photo. François would walk over after dinner for his evening visit.
The castle gardens are charming. We especially enjoyed the boxwood shrubs clipped into round balls.
It is pleasant to sit in this formal garden and enjoy a panoramic view over the entire village and beautiful Loire river.