Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wordful Wednesday

I can't quite remember the exact chain of events, but somehow my post about love letters on And So Forth turned into a request to Randal, from me, for a poem...

Le voilà (the link is mine):

Thither and yon through electrons we roam,
exchanging words in the shortest of lines,
you in a land flush with the richest vines
and I in a place that you once called home.

This strained verse is but a miniature tome
painting impressions in vain; all these signs
of the passage of time, kneel at the shrines
of the new; no lost letters on the foam.

A gentle request made; but what to say?
That I
purloined a photograph one day?
Nay, a thing as eternal as the sea,

a feeling stronger than the swords of old,
more valuable than the king's store of gold;
the fortune to call someone mon amie.

A moment of sheer blogosphere magic, don't you agree?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Underside of Renovation

La Belette Rouge pointed out in a comment on my post about the changes taking place on the Rue Béteille:

"Your posts have featured a lot of change and construction lately. There's this post and the tractor (loved that picture). Are you in a mood of renovation?"

I am in anything but a mood of renovation (although I know someone who is -- or at least had better be.)

I watch, intrigued, as icons of Rodez's past move into the 21st century.

My first photo shoot of the changes taking place at the Hôtel Broussy gave a general idea of this major modification, but two months later I had to return to snap images of the grey underbelly of change.

This time a worker came up to talk to me. He was rightly curious as to why I was photographing this:

-Vous prenez des photos de ça?

-Oui, je trouve ça fascinant...

-Pour vous peut-être -- pas pour nous!

-Je veux bien vous croire...avec le froid qu'il fait...

-On espère juste qu'il tient le choc!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Love emails, anyone? Everyone?

I didn't get around to writing a Valentine's Day post, but today this article culled from my favorites got me thinking about how much Internet communication has certainly changed long-distance relationships.

I've written a longer post about it here, full of indiscreet questions that I'm sure some of you could answer...if you're game...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Millau and Gloves: C'est urgent!

At least it seemed like it was at the time I bookmarked this!

An October 2007 Agence France Presse article explains how the glove industry is making a comeback in Millau, Aveyron's second-largest city.

I knew Millau had once enjoyed a booming glove industry; I knew that said industry had fallen on hard times for reasons obvious to anyone who knows anything about manufacturing in the Western world; I knew that there were signs of a renaissance in the industry.

But I did not know this fun fact:

"Millau has been since the Middle Ages the world's centre of glove-making. There is an impeccable logic as to why: in a word, Roquefort. To supply the ewes' milk needed to make the famous blue cheese, lambs were slaughtered soon after birth when their pelts were too small to be turned into anything bigger than a pair of gloves."

So, the Roquefort connection may be omnipresent in Millau's economy. I wonder if there's any link between the cheese and the viaduct?

(Expect more "C'est urgent!" bulletins as I try to wade through my over-flowing "France Profonde Urgent" favorites file!)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wordless Wednesday 11

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Change on la Rue Béteille

I think you've already picked up the feel for today's post. No scenic wonders -- although you will get a glimpse of Notre Dame de Rodez before the end, I promise.

This morning's subject is la Rue Béteille. Unless you're a Ruthénois/e or know Rodez well, the street means nothing to you.

But to those of us who drive up it constantly, the name conjures up immediate imagery: sooty buildings that have endured decades of traffic, including trucks before the days of la Rocade, the small ring road that allows vehicles to go around Rodez rather than over and through it; a depressing number of shut-down shops; a pervasive sense of gloom.

And to think all of this is changing as I write! I had better start getting out of my car on this street, as I did Friday afternoon, and fast.

Imagine: in thirteen years of driving up la Rue Béteille I had never noticed the former Midi Libre office above.

And it's a good thing I caught it yesterday, because it's on the very lower left of something big that's going on here:

Lest anyone misinterpret me, I'm not criticizing. I don't think a lot of passers-by will miss places like the Midi Libre plus dumpster cranny, nor this forlorn former barber shop:

La Rue Béteille is indeed in desperate need of a facelift, and I'm not sure there's much room for either of the above storefronts in the process.

After all, the street leads directly to the historic town center, and as such is a kind of gateway to scenic Rodez. I've often joked that it's a good thing it's one-way because visitors might be tempted to turn back -- as I was the first time I drove up it in 1995, knowing that the Rodez area would be my new home.

Yet it presents a few hidden treasures that I had better snap before it's too late. Sure, some are of interest only to weirdos (like me) who feel overwhelming urges to stick their noses against windows of abandoned structures, or even find a way to get into them.

Others, like this door, present a true sense of mystery:

I'm glad I captured it yesterday, because here's how it fits into the big picture:

I have a feeling it's not long for this world.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday's French Find: Emilie Boudet

I missed out on Wordless Wednesday this week, so I thought I'd share a French find.

Today I stumbled upon this charming blog by French illustrator Emilie Boudet. We were actually on the same Google alert because she had used the term "France profonde" in one of her posts.

All that talent and only 25 years old! The mind boggles...

Emilie's drawings and other creations are oh-so-justifiably copyrighted, so my first version of this post had no illustration. But she just left me a comment giving me permission to share one. I chose "Pianissimo" for its combination of piano and Parisian rooftop imagery.

If you love that French je-ne-sais-quoi, check Emilie's site out. And send her an encouraging comment as she is starting to write her texts in English.

Monday, February 04, 2008

There ought to be a law...

As a huge fan of musical comedies, and a confirmed admirer of Johnny Depp, I found myself in quite the dilemma when Sweeney Todd came to Rodez in "version française" -- or dubbed.

Before making any decisions, my daughters and I checked out the most essential piece of information we needed before shelling out for a movie ticket: is the score dubbed in French?

The answer is no. So knowing that the sung portions at least equal and probably outweigh the spoken dialogue in the film, I decided to take my chances at the cinema. The other option was to wait for the DVD, and I knew this was going to be big screen stuff.

But s'il vous please -- how can a version française of this film even exist? I experienced total language disconnect as I listened to the score, sung in English but often peppered with spoken remarks in French. I ended up not understanding some of the French -- and even some of the English -- because the constant changing back and forth was just too neurologically complex.

So, if you live in France and have the chance to see Sweeney Todd in VF, should you bother?

I would still say yes -- but prepare to leave the theater in a state of linguistic confusion. And I suspect this problem is even worse for the French audiences.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

What a difference a few minutes make

After leaving the Rodez train station last Saturday morning, I went up to the market in the town center. I seldom go there, so I had plans to take plenty of photos to share with you -- but it was too darn cold! I sipped a hot chocolate in a smoke-free café instead.

My frozen fingers did at least function well enough to be able to catch a striking change of light on the bell tower of Notre Dame de Rodez.

The photo above was taken at 7:57 am.

The photo below was taken six minutes earlier: