Archive for May, 2012

Cutting Up the Mix Tape

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Recent events have resulted in it becoming particularly difficult for me to listen to certain songs without turning into a blubbering, sobbing, wimpy-girl mess. So what better way to deal with this than to pick up a very sharp knife and cut things.

Knives

Call that a knife? These are knives – on loan from my professional mouse-brain slicing friend, Becky

Tape stencil

That took a while.

Tape Stencil

Wet paint.

Tape Stencil

Ta da!

Now if I manage to sell this on my Etsy store I will have not only cured my emotional attachment to certain chansons but also made some moolah! Now THAT’S thinking.

Hand cut, hand printed original image on acid free paper. Measures 16 x 24cm.

I Hereby Declare…

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

I’m umming, I’m ahhing, so I am publicly announcing that I, Jessica Odette Davies, am going on a camp. And not just any old camp – Camp NaNoWriMo. This is WORSE than most camps. Sure, I won’t have to sleep in the mud and I get to use my own toilet, but by declaring today that I am signing up, I am committing to writing another 50,000 words in 30 days. Yikes.

For those of you who remember, last November I tackled the 50,000 word challenge and survived! I did it! I wrote the words! I have done ZILCH with those words since, but they continue to haunt me from my desktop. So why not write more? My last attempt saw me write about my life à Paris, this time I am going to attempt fiction. I have never been good at fiction, and I don’t see why I will start being good at it now. But by gosh, I am going to try!

Now the only problem is finding a subject. I have an idea but I fear it to too based on reality and therefore my story will turn into my usual non-fiction, reflective narrative. I want to avoid this. I want to write something completely new, completely different, completely weird. So I am now presenting you with a challenge – 7 days to provide me with a topic for my story. Anything. Except no love-sick vampires or high school boys flying around on brooms while wearing thick-rimmed glasses. That is your mission – you MUST accept it.

Fanfarlo are Fab and Deserve More Fans

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Seriously, Paris has a problem. It appears that the technology that we call ‘air conditioning’ or ‘fans’ in Australia has never quite reached this cosmopolitan, fashionable, fast-paced, ‘we’re the best at everything’ city and as a result every time I go to a pub, a concert venue, a shopping centre, a supermarket, a hairdresser, a clothing store, an ANYWHERE I die from heat overload. Yes, I know it doesn’t get as hot in France as it does in Australia but that’s not a good reason to then turn on the HEATING when it is 18 degrees outside and there are going to be hundreds of bodies squished into an unventilated space.

Ready for my example? Here it is. Monday night, Tom and I went to a small concert venue called La Fléche D’Or to see the super awesome band, Fanfarlo perform. We had been to see the Jezebels at the same venue in September of last year and has discovered two interesting facts that allowed us to be better prepared for our second visit.

  1. You cannot leave the venue so it is best to eat beforehand.
  2. It is sooooooooooooooooo hot in this place that you will sweat like a pig, lose 10 kilograms and feel faint for most of the concert.

With our stomachs full, we arrived an hour after the doors opened, therefore reducing the amount of time we would have to stand around sweating/fainting. The support band had only just started, so I was pleased with my timing. I still managed to wear too many clothes though. At one point during their set, Fanfarlo suggested everyone remove all of their clothing in order to keep cool. It was almost a logical idea.

Despite the heat, Fanfarlo were terrific – they played lots of songs from their newly released album plus some of their more well known hits. They were very chatty with the crowd despite the occasional “Parlez en Française!”. Unfortunately, as per usual, the mysterious “No matter where you stand at a concert, half way through some idiot is going to come and annoy you” phenomenon happened. It is amazing – at all gigs that I go to, at some point, a drunken, tall, jumping idiot comes and knocks people over or stands right in front of me, and therefore distracts me from enjoying the music. This happened again, except there were four of them. At least they were having fun and enjoying the music, but one of them was an old guy in a horrible leather jacket who kept telling the crowd that we had to dance like we were at a disco. Ahhh… the French and their discos.

Anyway, we left hot, sweaty but with lovely songs floating through our heads. And it is moments like being at a concert, standing in a busy metro train or walking through large crowds in Paris that I am glad I am an unusual tall blonde and that I stand at least a head taller than most French people. It makes for an excellent view of the stage.

Fanfarlo in concert in Paris

My view.

Who is that Guy?

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

There’s a new sock creature in town but no one really knows who he is.

That guy sock creature

Hello, Sir.

He is one of those mysterious types – people are saying he is either an undercover agent working for some secret governmental department (or the tax office) or he is Spanish. His moustache would suggest the latter but no Spaniards are that tall. Have you seen his legs?

That guy sock creature

He's really tall for a Spanish person.

There is also the question of the remarkably spiky hair that descends down his back. Rumours are spreading that maybe he comes from some sort of demonic land and has come to influence innocent children, encouraging them to join his cult, but the fact is he doesn’t talk to anyone. Not a soul. No one even really knows if he can speak, and if he does, what language. Maybe, they say, he doesn’t have a tongue.

That guy hairy back

You can't blame a guy for having a hairy back, but this is just strange.

Everyone refers to him as either, “That Guy”, “The Red One” or “Alf” as they figure he’s from another planet. He doesn’t seem to be as friendly and outgoing as the real Alf, which is really quite disappointing. All That Guy does is walk into the pub staring with his blank-eyed-look at no one in particular, and then he points at the bottles of Coke lining the fridge. He sits at the bar, sipping slowly through a straw, occasionally turning to look at who has just walked through the door. Once he has finished his drink he will order another, and then a third, a fourth, until the sun goes down, everyone heads home and the pub closes. He will then place the exact change on the counter, slide from his chair and leave.

That guy moustache

He sure does stare a lot.

No one knows where he lives. Once some of the neighbourhood kids tried to follow him home, but they lost sight of him when he disappeared into the woods. Some people say he gets sucked up into an alien spaceship and they claim to have seen bright lights shining over the deepest, darkest part of the woods at night time. Others say he climbs down a hole into the depths of the underworld, while others insist they have seen him walking past their windows in the early hours of the morning.

That guy hole in sock

He shows signs of having led a tough life – clearly life is hard where ever he is from

Normally the town’s folk wouldn’t put up with someone as strange as him hanging around, but the problem is that he is also a highly profitable tourist attraction. Bus loads of tourists roll into town every day hoping to catch a glimpse of this strange personality. The pub has never sold so much Surf ‘n’ Turf and the newsagent is making great business selling tshirts with “I Survived Seeing That Guy” and “What’s He Looking At?” printed on them.

You, too, can survive seeing That Guy – he’s on sale at my Etsy Store.

B-O-N-J-O-U-R

Friday, May 11th, 2012

What a wonderful day to be in Paris! The last month has been rain, rain, rain and grey, grey, grey, and then out of the blue came the sunshine. It reached an impressive maximum of 28.7 degrees today, a miracle considering the recent averages temperatures have been hovering around 16 degrees. The only downside was the strong wind that blew pollen and seeds into eyes and down throats – not so much fun when I went for a bike ride in the afternoon and finished with tears streaming down my face as my eyes tried to get rid of evil horse chestnut blossom.

I spent the day with the windows to my apartment wide open, letting in the warming temperatures and the exciting feeling of the approaching summer. It was a good day – I hung a blackboard in my kitchen to act as a creative outlet/shopping list and framed the best version of my lino stencil. I still want to do more prints of that stencil, I just need to go and buy more equipment first.

My main project for the day was to finish off a large piece that I started last week. I have been busy with visitors and being social (it’s a hard life) and so my half-finished project has been sitting on my desk staring at me. Today I had time to get out my sewing machine and work like crazy. Et voilà!

Bonjour material letters

It's almost as if Macgyver is speaking French.

The next step is to iron the letters flat and then attach them to a long string to hang them in my apartment. The other option is to frame them all separately and scatter them throughout the room. But string is cheaper.

Potting About

Monday, May 7th, 2012

For months I have been eyeing off some dirt that runs along the sides of the driveway behind the Récollets. So much vegetable-garden potential. Recently some gardens have popped up and after some investigations I discovered that the plots are given out to people who live in the community and who have no garden space of their own. As a resident of the building, I figured I should be allowed a slice of dirt, and so I inquired and I am now a proud land owner (well, user as I haven’t bought it nor do I own it in any way) in Paris!

Recollets garden

Lots of little gardens

Becky and I are sharing a 180 x 100 patch of clay that we are hoping to turn into a blossoming, productive and essentially delicious garden. On Saturday we ventured to Truffaut, a garden and animal centre, and purchased plants and a 40L bag of soil improver.

Interesting fact: Carrying a 40L bag of soil improver from a shop to a train to home is about as fun as carrying a 40kg flat-packed shelving unit on the metro. Becky is wonder woman and carried it most of the way, while I mastered the ‘drag it along the shiny floor’ technique.

Anyway, we now have massive muscles and yesterday we planted our new plants. We have snap dragons (did you know they talk?! Becky showed me this for the first time… wow.) and marigolds; a lavender plant; some bulbs which we are hoping to see again soon; beetroot; various sorts of tomatoes; tiny lettuces; and mint, parsley and basil.

Vegetable garden

So much potential

We will soon be producing truck loads of vegetables and selling them at market stalls. And in the meantime, I can stick my head out of my window and throw rocks at any one who is attempting to steal our produce. You’ve been warned.

Au Revoir, Sarkozy

Monday, May 7th, 2012

I love those moments when planets align, miracles happen and water gets turn into wine, and you manage to find yourself in the right place at the right time. Yesterday was Round Two of the French election and I was eager to find out the results.

French election sign

Votez!

Unfortunately, I currently have no television, my internet is too slow to stream the results and I was out at dinner with some visiting friends when the results were announced. While in the restaurant, I could hear sounds the suggested the results had been announced – mostly horn tooting and “OOoouuaaaiiii!!!”s. Thankfully, the lovely waitress who was serving us asked if we knew the election results and happily announced that Hollande had won. Ouaiiii, indeed!

This was fantastic news – no more sleazeball as President. After we discussed politics with the waitress for awhile and she gave us free L’Eau de Vie to celebrate Hollande’s win, we headed outside and home. In order for me to walk home, I was heading towards the Bastille and mentioned to my friends that there may be something happening there as when there is something to celebrate or protest about, Parisians tend to head there. It appears I was correct.

Bastille election

That's a lot of people.

The Bastille was a swarm of people and the monument in the middle of the giant roundabout had been taken over by young celebrating Parisians. I have never seen so many happy French people – everyone was smiling! Seriously. I’m not joking. People were happy, dancing, drinking, and generally congratulating each other on having ousted the bad guy.

Apparently on the other side of Paris the rich folk were crying, but here in the Eastern half of Paris where people barely earn enough to pay their monthly rent, the people were ecstatic.

My friends headed away from the crowd and back to their hotel – I, however, had to somehow cross the Bastille to get home. Sure, I could, and maybe should, have gone around, but where’s the fun in that? And so I headed in, joining the throng of happy Frenchies.

Bastille election

Vivre la France.

It was fine until I reached the other side and tried to get out and joined a flow of people trying to exit next to a flow of people trying to get in. It wasn’t fun. I can understand why people would panic in situations like that as humans start pushing each other, trying to get through and yet can’t get anywhere. I took many deep breaths when I finally got out of it.

The walk home was entertaining – so many people out celebrating the political victory. It was like post AFL Grand Final celebrations except with less punch ups. I can’t imagine Australians ever getting that excited (or on the other side of Paris, that upset) by the results of an election. Young and old were out, shouting, cheering and tooting their car horns. It appears Parisians can get noisy.

It was wonderful to witness the celebrations, although I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like if Sarkozy had won. Best not to imagine, I think.

In Ink

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

I finished my lino cut today and then played around with paint. I really wasn’t sure how much paint to use and the best way to apply it, so it took a bit of experimentation before things started happening. It still isn’t perfect but I now get the general rules for successful paint application, and look!

Lino print

Printed.

I am very pleased with the results. I want to experiment with adding some colours and layers. I am looking forward to see what eventuates!

Mural Magic

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

It is nice to see my friends doing awesome things. Miles Noel is a guy who went to school with my brother, peeled italian sausages with me at a terrible pizza restaurant in Perth and is generally super cool. He is also a painter and is growing his collection and presence within the Australian art scene. He recently did a mural on a wall in Angove Street, North Perth for the local festival and has released this time lapse video of his work. Very exciting stuff. Love it.