Monday, February 28, 2011

Week 40: Children Big and Small

Beautiful clouds over Montmirail, with green green fields beyond

We picked up Rick's oldest son Farid at the airport in Paris on Monday. It was the first time he has come to visit us since we moved to France. It was a great pleasure to see him again. For the first few days he was here we lived in parallel universes. He slept most of the day and lay wide awake most of the night. I've never seen anyone hit so hard by jet lag.

One day Rick took Farid to Le Mans to show him the pretty old city while taking care of some "big city" errands at the same time. The Roman walls around Le Mans have been standing for two thousand years. The designs made with alternating brick colors are intricate and vary throughout the structure, which stretches several city blocks. The wall itself is held together with packed earth, not cement. These are some of the best preserved Roman walls in all of Europe, including Italy. I love the way that in succeeding centuries, people just built on top of them, making a lovely layer cake of architectural fashions.

Farid in front of the Roman walls of Le Mans

Our weather this week was mostly rainy, with moments of brilliant sun peeking through the clouds. We took several walks anyway. The crisp air is invigorating and there is a moodiness to the countryside on such days which seems almost Gothic and rather romantic.

 View over the garden walls

Roof Tops in the Place du Château, Montmirail

At a certain moment in the week Farid had the inspiration to shave his head. We found him in the bathroom with hair clippers in hand and a large pile of hair at his feet.

Off with the long locks

On the weekend Emily and her family arrived to visit with Farid. Some friends were passing by on their way from Brittany to Paris, so they were invited too. The house was full and lively for a couple of days as the party included three young children.

Emily, Jos and Quinn await the others for a communal breakfast

Stefan and Katell were at Emily and Jos' wedding, where we met them for the first time. They have two children, Lya and Zelie. Stefan is a magician and was an integral part of Emily and Jos' wedding ceremony. He made their rings appear in a burst of flame. It was wonderfully exciting and just right for the union of two actors/clowns. We've seen Stefan on television since, as he is quite a well-known performer in France. His wife is a poet and has just published her first book. Lya is 7 and Zelie 4.

 Quinn is happy to see Lya, who is very attentive to him

Breakfast in the dining room together

 Lya and Zelie play with Quinn's trains. Sharing is hard when you're 2

On Saturday it rained a bit, but an outing was planned to the zoo nonetheless. Quinn had a great time, especially seeing the monkeys, who are a particularly favored animal.

Quinn and his winning smile at the animal park, a really humane "zoo" near our house

On Saturday evening we invited several neighbors over to meet Farid. We had a drink at home and then went together to the restaurant in town. It was a rollicking great time. I meant to take photos but once everyone arrived I forgot all about it. The only photo I have of the evening is of a game of Pictionary before the guests arrived.

Pictionary by the fire

Katell and the girls were interested in learning a little bit about etching so we had a short class on Sunday morning. I prepared the plates and the girls, much younger than any I have taught so far, made  drawings using proper etching tools.

Katell and Zelie

Farid got into the action as well. Rick gave him the mini course and Farid made a sports-themed dry point.

Farid gets the run down from Rick

Lya adds some texture to the plate before etching

After the drawings, done on a hard ground, had been transferred onto the prepared plate, we etched them in the acid for a couple of minutes.

Lya is ready to ink up and print

I inked up the plates for the girls in various colors and we then printed them with great fanfare.

Lya turns the press. Zelie was just a little too small

Everyone looks on for the exciting moment when Lya's print comes off the press. Stefan is behind the camera.

Quinn , Jos, Emily, Katell , Zelie, Lya, me, Rick and Farid enjoy Lya's finished etching hot off the press

 Stefan, Lya and Katell with Lya's tree etching

Each of the girl's etchings were printed in four colors. Zelie made flowers and butterflies, Lya made a tree with clouds. They all turned out beautifully.

Most of the finished prints

Quinn hasn't shown too much interest in etching so far. He did enjoy taking each and every one of the crayons out of the jumbo box and dropping them one by one through a hole in the top of a trunk.

Quinn in the studio with Zelie

The week went quickly. especially the very active and social weekend. Children big and small filled the house this week, bringing lots of warmth, even while it blustered out of doors.

Children looking out of our apartment window on the third floor as I snap their photo from the terrace

Photos this week by Stefan, Rick, Emily and myself


  1. What a wonderful weekend! We had so much fun. The etching class was just fantastic and it was great to be able to catch up with Farid. Thank you guys for being such amazing hosts!

  2. Very nicepictures of the children and family, full of tenderness and happiness. The girls are very pretty.

  3. Hello Nancy,

    Wow...what a great time everyone had! I love seeing children learning and enjoying the whole creative process. Afterall..they are the future arts and crafts community and we must nurture that.

    Again, your photos are such a joy to look at. I never tire of the view from your home over the rooftops of your pretty town.

    Glad to see Rick got to spend some time with Farid. Father/Son bonding is always a good thing at any age.

    Are you seeing signs of Spring yet? It will be Dogwood season her in Virginia in a few weeks. Always a beautiful time of year.

    Be well

    Janet xox