Monday, August 8, 2011

Swan Lake

It has been a rather quiet week. One might suppose that this would be a busy month in our business, but just the opposite is true. Most of the country is at the coast right now and we've had a week of calm, with only the occasional visitor. 

We used the opportunity to get a few other things accomplished around the house, such as refinishing our computer desk. Unfortunately I have no before photo to share with you, but imagine this pretty table lacquered in thick mat black. It looked rather like a table for a Chinese restaurant. The top was covered with felt. Green felt when we first purchased it, green like a billiard table and with large holes here and there. There is a rather embarrassing story to tell of trying to purchase a new piece of felt to recover it.

French is all about the vowels and how you pronounce them is really critical in making yourself understood. Although the difference in the sound of eu as opposed to ou is subtle to the American ear, it makes a world of difference to a French one. When I asked a nice man at the fabric store for some felt, I meant to say feutre, but instead asked for foutre, which is an entirely different request. Put delicately, as it is in my dictionary, I was asking to be "possessed sexually." Hmm. Luckily Jos was with me and stepped between me and the salesman to take over the transaction for me.

In the end I did get the felt, without the other and we recovered the table in a maroon felt. This was four years ago. Suffice it to say that my mouse did not like the fuzzy felt and the fuzzy felt didn't much care for the mouse either. Another large hole developed just where the mouse rests. When we went to the Marché Saint Pierre in Paris a few weeks back, I found a nice piece of white naugahyde for just a few euros. It seemed the right thing. Leather would be really wonderful, but dreadfully expensive, even if such a big piece could be located. My idea, while we were at recovering the table top, was also to strip off the black paint, down to the bare wood and then whitewash the thing.

After two days and every stripping technique known to man, two caustic chemicals, sand paper, steel wool, wire brushes, electric sanding machines and even a blow torch, we had to admit that removing all the black was going to mean removing the very nice carved flowers as well. So I settled instead for the blackwash look. I like it. It's a great improvement.

I am in the middle of various studio projects, working slowly along. The only recent finished products are these collages which I had quite a lot of fun creating on top of old paintings.

I have spent the week writing about rivers for my family website. It created an urge to get out the kayaks and hit the water. We invited our ever-enjoyable neighbors, Anne and Christine to join us.

We drove just a few kilometers down the road to a very nice lake in Le Plessis-Dorin. It's a fisherman's paradise. Anne and Christine helped unpack the kayaks, which rest so nicely on the top of the car on a rack we've had for that purpose for years. It luckily fits our little French Renault as well as it did our Saab in the U.S.

A family of swans greeted us as we approached the lake, probably hoping for a few crusts of bread, but when they saw our boats, daddy swan hissed and squawked, shooing his group away. The fisherman did much the same, not liking to share their lake with boating people. A representative was sent over to demand our authorization papers. We had received permission from the mayor, but they insisted we call him to verify for their benefit. The mayor gave us the go-ahead and we promised the fisherman to stay far away from the left bank, where they were set up with their lawn chairs, coolers filled with beer and bait, and their handmade fishing poles.

Anne was enthusiastic to get going. She looked chic in her safety vest. Unfortunately only one person can fit in a boat, so we had to take turns.

Off she and Rick went towards the calm end of the lake.

Christine and I were next. I love the quiet that one experiences on the water. It was utterly still on the far reaches of the right bank except for the sound of the wind in the reeds, the call of the herons and ducks and the slapping of the paddles as they scooped up the water to propel us forward. We didn't talk at all.

Anne and Christine were enthusiastic about the adventure and we all decided to do more of this, but next time in four kayaks.

Of course this sky photo (crows above a field), is just for you, Janet.


  1. Bonjour Nancy,

    I love my cloud/bird photo!!! That was so sweet of you to think of me. Isn't it funny how we are thinking of our blog friendships even when away from the computer? I do the same thing.

    Love the swan photo...I can see an art print there or a pretty serene painting.

    Ok...I have to say...with chalk paint you would not have needed to strip anything..not even black. Chalk paint is fabulous for an old world look.
    Perfect for that piece...wish I was there to tackle that table ;->

    I do really like the faded blackwash effect...very pretty.

    Again..thanks for my clouds

    Au revoir,
    Janet xox
    It does look so very peaceful out on the lake. Mr. Secret Agent has been talking about geting a kayak lately..hmmmmmm.

  2. "...feutre/ foutre..." Faire rire!
    But the table looks lovely in blackwash, I think.

  3. Nancy....sounds like you are enjoying every moment of your summer!!! I am too!!!! Getting my house painted, never mind about computer tables....although it does look great.....hugs!!

  4. Wow!
    I wanna go too. Nice place ,Very beautiful !