Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gospel avec Meester Blaiz

Ne le dites à personne, je n ai jamais pris un seul cours de piano !

Soreze entertainment on a wet and cold Sunday that shoulda’ been warm in late April, is a Gospel show at Notre Dame de la Paix, the parish church.  A musical style “couleur blues jazz” has been promised and G and I take my friend N, in town from California out to see the show and meet M and D there with their visitors over from Wales.

The local dentist, who wears a Captain Ahab beard, but in a friendly way, greets us as we rush up the steps to the open church door saying “Bienvenue, beaucoup de chaises.”  (Welcome, plenty of chairs.) We pay and take the third pew on the right.  By 8:45 pm, we figure that they have waited past the 8:30 pm start time for a better crowd, but kindly Ahab announces that Meester Blaiz is en route from Ville Franche and will arrive dans quelque minutes.

Mister Blaiz arrives before we are too cold in the unheated church, sits at the electric organ in front of the altar steps and begins singing his way through le repetoire of gospel traditionals with his partner Naoële.  His singing and playing are a little hard to hear in the space but Naoële’s voice is great, once she cuts loose on “Jericho”. 

Mister Blaiz à la guitare en concert et accompagné par Naoële

 Notre Dame is getting quite chilly. We snuggle together on the pew under N’s serape and one woman in the front row wraps her scarf up over her nose.  We begin to get a bit concerned, there are 36 songs listed on the back of the program and they have started by singing 1-7 in order… broken only by Meester Blaiz asking us to “Eemageen” that Gospel is the answer to the problems of the world and to imagine several other things that I don't quite catch.

I hear N and G in whispered discourse:

I’m counting the people.

I already have.


That includes him.

I am transfixed by the uncanny resemblance of what I have decided are mother and transvestite son ahead of me to the right – both have short brown hair, identical brown skirts and tops and one small gold hoop earring, but I am sure the younger once had a beard on that strong jaw.

 Nobody Knows"

By the time I am making note that the main altar Christ has been nailed behind the wrist, not through the palms like the Christ on the side altar crucifix, it is clear that we outlanders, at least, are suffering from expectations not aligned with those of Mister Blaiz. 

I’ve taken the opportunity to read the program -- “Mister Blaiz chante l’espoir” – Good, he has hope in common with President Obama. “He is traveling France and the rest of the world to galvanize those who doubt, who have fear and who suffer…”  I translate just in time.  I was feeling the urge to stand and shout out “Shut up and sing!”

G and N conspire:

I could faint.

Oh, no, don’t do that.

Then you two would have to help me out…

I am down to analyzing the relative breast sizes in the paintings and statues of Mary during “Rock My Soul” even while joining my voice to Naoële’s when she croons soaring notes.  The unrepentants in the last pews refuse to be drawn in.  Downcast eyes are checking watches.  D's eyes, rolled heavenward in the pew across the aisle, are not seeking the lord above but looking for corroboration of “Good lord when will he be done?!”

We rise with the others at the terminus of the third version of “When the Saints” and it is not to rhythmically signal approval or a desire for more, but to use the cover to duck and run for the exit.  “Let My People Go”, indeed.



Monday, April 20, 2009

The Urge to Create (L'envie pour créer)

I was reading at  The View from Inside My Head blog  this evening, where Peter was saying "I need to make things and if I don't that need grows and niggles at me until I do." I know that is certainly true of me, too. 

Here in Soreze, I have been partly filling that need with blogging =o). Taking the pictures for the blog has gotten me out and about the village and beyond with my little digital camera in hand. Once pictures are dumped to computer there's a need to view, maybe to tweak, then upload to ye blogge and work at trying to get some layout of picture with words...

Cooking has long filled the "need to create urge" from a period in my life when there was neither time nor material to create in other ways. The habit of constructing an eye-pleasing and tasty salad learned during that time is almost more filling than the eating of the salad once it is done.  Making soup broth from leftover bones and vegetable scraps is a useful creative urge to have in these lean times.

The proposal at The View from Inside My Head is to post the "Make Something" challenge and see what happens, so here goes . . . . I will make something and pass it on to the first five people that comment on this post and agree to the following -

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. Whatcha get is whatcha get.

2. What I create will be just for you, with love.

3. It'll be done this year (2009).

4. I will not give you any clue what it's going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It may be weird or beautiful. Or it may be monstrous and annoying. Heck, I might bake something for you and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure!

5. I reserve the right to do something different.

6. In return, all you need to do is:

7. Post this text on your blog and make 5 things for the first 5 to respond.

8. Send your mailing address - after I contact you.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter, Eastre, Eostre

The moon stared down on the village Wednesday night and whipped up a fury of wind that scoured stone houses and rattled the plane trees.

When I went out for a breath of fresh air Maundy Thursday evening, Notre Dame beckoned me with open doors. I stood at the back of the church, outside the circle of worshippers, making only the mystery of the incense mine, preferring the celebration of Eastre, the mother goddess of fertility, spring and renewed life.

It was a wet market on Saturday, but a lively one, especially sous le couvert de la salle de marché médiéval (under the cover of the medieval market hall). Everyone was shopping for the Easter Sunday meal and catching up with friends and family come to town for the holiday. G introduced me to a new café on the square in which to have a warm and welcome grand café crème indoors.

Catching up with the Tartlette blog on Saturday evening, I found a lovely recipe for Pavlova with lemon curd and berries. I had just picked up a basket of fraises Gariguette (small local strawberries) and some fresh eggs at the market...I had a lovely new teapot I wanted to show off. I decided to make a treat and invite G, M and D for Easter tea!

I joined the last minute shoppers at the Utile around the corner and picked up lemons for the curd. I hand whisked the egg whites with the sugar while listening to Prairie Home Companion (April 4th with Wynton Marsalis and his Quintet) over the internet -- as is often my Saturday night habit.

I couldn't manage the height or stiffness of peak which the ladies at Tartlette seem to easily achieve with their cuisine-arts, but the crunchy on the outside/marshmallowy in the center Pavlova Pancake, (as I dubbed it) with tart curd and tasty berries gave delicious layers of transmogrified egg nuance to our Eostre tea party.

Quite fitting for a holiday that has undergone considerable shapeshifting through the ages, non?

Bisous de Pâques,

Monday, April 6, 2009

Abandoned or Full of Life (Abandonné ou plein de vie)

Churches are still prevalent in Europe, in their physical presence at the top of the hills and en l'ancienne centre ville. The St Martin bell tower in Soreze was completed in 1512 and, though the church was destroyed during the religious war between the Catholics and Protestants in 1573, the tower was saved as a watchtower and its stone shell is an identifying emblem of Soreze.

As people streamed up the slope to the steps of the Notre Dame de la Paix parish church on this Saturday before Easter bringing bunches of boxwood and olive branches to be blessed for Palm Sunday, you could feel the pull of the old beliefs.

My good friend S is visiting from the UK and I took her down the road to the Abbaye d’En Calcat in Dourgne to hear the chanting of forty white robed monks. We hadn’t anticipated the high endurance Mass, nor the turn out of hundreds of people with more branches in hand.

That hour at the abbey gave rise to strong auditory memories: voices with the sonorous reverberation of well-forged bells, the catholic story of Easter made mysterious again in French, the tintinnabulation of chain against thurible as incense perfumes the air, the coughing of old smokers, the pat pat pat of little boy feet at the back of the church, “La paix soit avec vous.” (Peace be with you.) from the strangers in the pew next to us.

Our afternoon was spent at the first “vide grenier” (literally “empty the attic” - flea market) of the season around the square in the nearby village of Saint Félix Lauragais. After surveying the booths of most of the vendors, I was getting a little hot in the bright sunlight.

I noticed the church was open and stepped in to get a look. The choir and organist were warming up for an evening performance. I sat and soaked in the notes and cool air falling from the gothic stone vault.

It was a weekend blessed with friendship, sun and peaceful sounds.

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