Showing posts with label Gamone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gamone. Show all posts

Monday, December 31, 2012

Wild boar shot at Gamone

Suddenly, yesterday afternoon, I heard hounds barking furiously up beyond my neighbor's house, probably in the muddy bed of Gamone Creek. The frenetic tone of the yelping suggested that the dogs had cornered a wild boar, and that a mortal combat was taking place. Curiously, there were no hunters in sight. For a moment, I thought about wandering up the slopes to see what was happening. I realized immediately that this might be an unwise excursion, because I did not relish the idea that Fitzroy and I might suddenly find ourselves face-to-face with a wild beast, and maybe even in the midst of gunfire. Fortunately, a white utility vehicle soon appeared in the vicinity of the barking, and a couple of armed hunters emerged. A minute later, a single shot rang out across the valley... and the barking stopped. I decided to take a look at the scene. At the level of Jackie's place, I met up with a team of three hunters, one of whom was dragging a dead beast up out of the creek. They informed me immediately (without my asking) that they were not from Choranche, but from the neighboring commune of St-André-en-Royans, on the other side of the northern ridge above Gamone. Their hounds had strayed, as it were, from St-André down into Choranche, where they had come upon this solitary boar. Consequently, the hunters were obliged to kill the beast in order to save their dogs. Overhearing their phone conversations with fellow hunters, I soon gathered that these fellows from St-André didn't really know exactly where they were located. Besides, they seemed to fear that they might run into problems with the Choranche hunters.

I had refrained from bringing along my Nikon, because hunters are not necessarily the kind of folk who like to be photographed. I soon realized that this had been a wise choice, because these particular hunters seemed to be a little disturbed by their chance encounter with a wild boar at this unexpected spot. So, I'm illustrating this blog post with a beautiful photo of a live wild boar, in a typical muddy creek setting, that I found on the web.

                                                                                — Richard Bartz

By the time the slain boar of Gamone had been dragged up onto the road, dozens of other hunters had arrived on the scene, in a convoy of vehicles. The fur of the black beast, which seemed to be sleeping, was spotless. But I was stunned and distraught by the appearance of the pack of four hounds that had participated in the final combat. They were covered in layers of pink blood. And I soon learned that it was blood from the dogs themselves, two of whom had been severely wounded in the encounter with the wild boar. But the hounds gave no signs of suffering. They appeared to be contented, in their ancestral element of wolves pitted against a ferocious prey. For the dogs, a little blood and patches of skin torn apart by the tusks of a wild boar were neither here nor there. My homely Fitzroy (accustomed to watching TV, spread out in my lap in front of the fireplace) was surely impressed by these bloody canine gladiators, chained up at the rear of their master's vehicle. Urban observers (and I count myself in their numbers, even though I inhabit the savage slopes of an Alpine environment) have lost contact with those archaic ages of bloody conflicts, perpetuated these days by the hunters and their hounds.

When I first settled down in Gamone, 20 years ago, I looked upon hunters, naively and stupidly, as uncouth and troublesome neighbors. I have understood, since then, that these men remain the surviving priesthood of obscure archaic forces that we must respect perpetually and maybe seek to control... but never condemn nor abandon.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fitzroy's favorite positions

Fitzroy has developed the habit of sitting down at the top of the stairs, with his rump and hind legs on the landing, and his front paws on the first step.

Not only is it a comfortable position, but it allows my dog to meditate upon his next move, which will depend of course upon the next displacement of his master (me). Should Fitzroy scramble down to the ground floor? Or would he do better to remain on the upper floor, based upon the assumption that his master is merely visiting momentarily the second bedroom or the bathroom?

This photo reveals that everything in that vicinity is covered in a thick layer of white dust (which I've decided to ignore for the moment). The origins of that dust can be traced to the shiny metallic column seen behind Fitzroy in the following photo:

It's a tube of galvanized steel, 1.33 m long and 30 cm in diameter, incorporating an interior tube of stainless steel, 18 cm in diameter, which is the initial segment of a chimney for a future wood stove on the ground floor.

Here's a precise schema of the entire system that I'm building:

[Click to enlarge]

On the ground floor, I intend to install a French-manufactured Invicta Sedan 10 cast-iron wood stove (which I don't intend to purchase until the chimney system is completed):

The stove (poêle in French) will be placed on a step between the kitchen and the living room. For the passage of the stovepipe, 15 cm in diameter (shown in brown in my schema), I had to hack a hole in the massive slab of reinforced concrete (dalle in French), 20 cm thick, between the ground and the upper floor. Here's a poor-quality photo (looking up at the ground-floor ceiling) that shows the present state of the completed hole:

The verb "hack" is quite appropriate, as I was obliged to work blindly with an assortment of diamond disc grinders, drills, chisels and hammers. And that explains the presence in the house of all the white dust. When I say that I worked "blindly", what I mean is that I didn't know with certainty, in the beginning, how to avoid damaging any vital beams in the slab (such as the one on the right, with a red line traced on it). In other words, I was obliged to perform my hacking solely in the region occupied by hollow-core concrete planks (with the typical grainy texture that you can see in the above photo). The initial problem, of course, was that the layout of the beams and planks was concealed behind a layer of plaster, which I first had to chip away. Naturally, once the stove is correctly installed, I'll be able to tidy up the rough edges of my hacking... but it's too early to worry about such trivial aspects of my construction project.

In the schema, you can see that I've been obliged to introduce a twist in the chimney tubes at the level of the first floor, just before it ascends into the attic (grenier in French). That's because I encountered an unexpected obstacle when I pierced the suspended ceiling (faux plafond in French) above the first floor: a huge reinforced concrete beam, whose vital role consists of helping to hold in place the ancient stone walls of the house.

The tube seen in the above photos with Fitzroy is therefore the first of a series of 8 or 9 elements leading up to the final object in the system: an external roof chimney. I've already ordered this object from the same excellent French manufacturer who makes all the stovepipes and tubes: Poujoulat. Taking into account the inevitable delays due to tomorrow's Mayan end-of-the-world and the Christmas festivities, I would predict that my future wood stove should become operational at around the height of winter, some time in February. Up until then, I can rely, of course, on the good old open fireplace in the living room, whose major weakness is that it tends to warm only those parts of the body that are facing the flames, leaving you constantly with a chilly backside.

Talking of the fireplace, Fitzroy has developed another habit, which consists of waiting until I've lit up the fire and settled down in front of the flames with a good book, or to watch TV. Then, without asking for my opinion on the matter, Fitzroy scrambles up onto my knees and snuggles in for a warm snooze. If I try to push him back down onto the floor, my dog uses all the force of his powerful legs and claws to hang on tightly. So, I usually don't insist any further, preferring to take pleasure in Fitzroy's warm somnolent presence. He nevertheless becomes heavy after a while, and I have to guide carefully the mass of my sleeping dog back down onto the floor, where he sits upright, still half-asleep, with his head and paws supported by my knees and the tip of his backside poised on the floor. Finally, he wakes up completely, gets the message, and finds a new position outstretched on the floor. (Unfortunately, I can't supply readers with images of the delightful operations that I'm describing.)

Observers might say that I'm an excessively permissive master.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hanging donkey shed of Gamone

A few days ago, I was woken up by a phone call from my neighbor Jackie, who informed me that the constant rain over the last week or so had finally resulted in a small landslide at the level of his donkey stable. And Jackie's car was blocked, meaning that his wife was unable to get to her teaching job. By the time I had dressed and made myself a cup of strong Ethiopian coffee, René Uzel had arrived on the scene with his mini-excavator.

By the end of the day, René had moved all the fallen rocks and mud to the other side of the road, onto my property. (During the morning, the mayor of Choranche had actually dropped in at my place, to ask for my permission for this operation.)

The donkey shed looked strange in its new setting. Jackie considers that the concrete floor of the shed has held it in place on the rim of the embankment.

[Click to enlarge]

But personally, I wouldn't bet on the shed remaining in that precarious position for too long. Meanwhile, this image of the donkey shed reminds me of the famous hanging houses of Pont-en-Royans, just down the road.

As far as I know, no building has ever slid off the cliff and fallen into the Bourne. In certain cases, it's hard to understand the static forces that hold the outhouses and balconies in place.

Maybe, in the future, the donkey shed at Gamone will still be settled on the brink of the embankment, and tourists will come to Gamone to take photos of the amazing structure.

POST SCRIPTUM: Jackie's donkey shed at Gamone was built about ten years ago by my former neighbor Bob. I often used to ask Bob whether he wasn't afraid that he had placed his construction at a fragile spot, close to the edge of the crumbling embankment. He would reply laughingly that it would take ages before all the stones beneath his shed dropped off. He was forgetting, of course, that the periodic fall of a few stones must be seen as evidence that an invisible aquatic process is in play, and that the inevitable outcome will be that loose stones and gravel, instead of merely dropping off, will start to slide.

In my two photos of the naked embankment, you might be able to make out a horizontal layer of big blocks of stone, halfway down. This is a stratum of the "poor man's stone" named marne in French (marl or mudstone in English), found in many places throughout the land. If you click the following closeup view of the embankment, to enlarge it, you can clearly distinguish the big blocks of marl, with good earth above them, and clay below.

[Click to enlarge]

Far more fragile than genuine limestone, the marl ends up developing fissures, or breaking into pieces, and this fragmentation "guides" trickles of subterranean water down the slopes, where they emerge at one place or another (often changing locations) in the form of "springs". In the present case, the heavy upper layer of waterlogged earth has ended up sliding slowly but surely on the slippery surface of the marl.

Ever since I've been living at Gamone, I find myself explaining constantly (often to local folk who should know better) that the phenomenon above my house that I often refer to loosely as a "spring" is in fact merely an emerging rivulet that has flowed down along the marl layer. Unlike a genuine spring (whose waters come from deep underground), the water obtained from a marl outlet does not flow constantly at all times of the year. For example, for several months of the year, my "spring" at Gamone delivers huge quantities of water (which are then channeled down through surface drains into the nearby creek), but it dries up completely from the start of summer until the middle of autumn. So, you can't count upon a marl outlet as a supply of domestic water.

I should have mentioned that Jackie's donkeys are not at all disturbed by the new situation that has arisen at Gamone, since they now have the possibility of residing in the section of the stable that Jackie had reserved up until now for keeping the supply of hay.

And no intelligent donkey would ever complain about being obliged to reside in a place that's stacked with fresh hay. Normally, there was a wooden barrier intended to prevent the animals from having a constant self-service relationship with the fodder, but four sturdy donkeys form a very good team for breaking down barriers of that kind.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Construction work in progress

In my blog post of 23 September 2012 entitled Preparing winter wood [display], I said that I intended to stack up the newly-arrived pile of firewood in the usual place, under a corner of the roof in the north-west corner of the house. On second thoughts, I decided to leave most of this wood outside, so that I would have room to start erecting a concrete wall.

As of today, I've almost finished the part of the wall that incorporates reinforced concrete, and moved a small part of the firewood under the roof. I have to prevent surface water from attaining the area where the wood is to be kept, so I've installed an underground drainage system alongside the emerging wall, at the place in the following photo where you see freshly-dug earth.

Meanwhile, the rest of the firewood remains outside, protected from the rain and snow by a big green tarpaulin.

As I said in a recent blog post, I've started to erect a carport outside the north-west corner of the house (which is never reached by the winter sun). That explains the presence in the above photo of new roofing timber, which I brought here in my trailer.

A ramp was created in this area over two years ago.

After those earthworks, this corner of the house was totally bare, as you can see here:

In my blog post of 23 February 2010 entitled North-west corner of my house [display], I presented a project (created by means of Photoshop) for a carport at this place.

Today, the new earth in this area has been well compacted, and it's high time to go ahead with the construction. Here's a photo of the site that I took this morning:

[Click to enlarge]

As you can see, my project mock-up was wrongly-proportioned and rather off-target, since the carport roof in the mock-up was far too low. Here's another view of the site:

Except for the six vertical posts (Douglas-fir wood, treated in a vat in a sawmill at St-Marcellin), and the pale pine rafters at the top (seen lying on the green tarpaulin in an earlier photo), all the rest of the timber comes from an old green-painted wood shed that I built in this area soon after arriving at Gamone.

It was a fine structure, built of sturdy timber, which fitted ideally into the Gamone surroundings.

At that time, I had my first opportunity of getting accustomed to building on sloping ground. The shed was located just alongside the dirt track that used to lead up to a barn on the neighboring property (now replaced by a house). When major roadworks were carried out in order to create a smooth hairpin curve at this spot, I decided to demolish the old shed.

As you can see from the above photo, unless I removed the shed, it would have been impossible to envisage a car ramp leading up to the north-west corner of the house. So, sadly, I decided to knock down my charming construction.

These days, while I'm working on the carport, everything is being held in place by clamps.

Above the northern doorway into the house, a pair of steel brackets (almost a century old) has always intrigued me, and I still have no firm idea of their purpose.

I was able to use one of these mysterious brackets as a firm support to hold the posts in a rigid position up until such time as I insert all the necessary triangular ties to ensure the stability of the structure.

During my work, I'm being constantly observed by a conscientious ever-present foreman.

Exceptionally, the foreman's surveillance was interrupted briefly this morning when he took time off to consume a Kleenex that had dropped out of a pocket of my overalls.

But he's a friendly foreman, who rarely criticizes the quality of my work.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Building a carport

Up until now, I've never had any kind of automobile shelter at Gamone. So, in winter, the car is often covered in ice and snow. At other times of the year, leaves and oily berries from the linden trees fall onto the car, creating a mess. A fortnight ago, I decided that it was time to build a carport. And the nice sunny autumn weather made it a pleasure to work outside. Last Saturday, I was thinking about writing a blog post with photos of the work in progress. That would have enabled me to explain that the construction of the carport hasn't left me much time for blogging. Then, on Saturday night, the weather changed abruptly. Heavy snow—rare at this time of the year—started to fall all over the Vercors range. By Sunday morning, the slopes of Gamone were covered in a thick blanket of snow. The lines of the electric fence around the donkeys' paddock had become heavy cylinders of snow, and they sagged to the ground, enabling Moshé to escape. Fortunately, he headed down towards the old sheep cabin, where I was able to lock him in for Sunday night. By Monday, the sky was clear again. The following photo of the Bourne valley presents an unusual mixture of leafy green trees and snow:

I've continued to work on my carport, although it's unpleasant to slosh around in the muddy dampness. I'll put up photos of my construction work as soon there's a bit of sunshine. For the moment, the structure is little more than half-a-dozen wooden posts set in the ground on the northern edge of the house.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pumpkin scones

In the middle of a hot summer, life's not easy for pumpkins, which crave for water.

But they survive, and perk up—as sprightly as ever—as soon as the sun goes down. Then, in autumn, the harvest is so impressive that you end up wandering what you might do with all your glorious pumpkins. Well, here's my well-tested suggestion: Make pumpkin scones !

First, you need to produce pumpkin purée. Slice the pumpkin into big pieces. Remove the seeds, but don't touch the skin. Place the pieces on a non-stick tray (called Tefal in France) and bake at 200 degrees for an hour and a quarter. Let the baked pieces cool, then detach the soft pumpkin from the skin and place the fragments in a big bowl.

To transform the baked pumpkin into a purée, the ideal solution is a a gadget such as you see in the above photo. (My daughter Emmanuelle first informed me of the existence of this inexpensive soup-making device, many years ago, and told me that it would change my life... and she was spot on.) I soon had a pile of pumpkin purée.

Pumpkin purée is great stuff in that you can ladle it into plastic bags, each bag holding a cupful of purée, and deep-freeze it for your winter scones. Now, let's look at the recipe for pumpkin scones. At one stage, you'll need an essential ingredient that Americans (world champions in the domain of pumpkin scones) designate as pumpkin pie spice. In France, this product is obtained by mixing together four familiar spices, shown here:

Here's the precise recipe:

— a tablespoon of cinnamon (cannelle)

— a teaspoon of ginger (gingembre moulu)

— half a teaspoon of nutmeg (muscade moulue)

— half a teaspoon of ground cloves (girofle moulue)

Add a pinch of salt and mix. Keep the mixture in a sealed jar. For each batch of pumpkin scones based upon the preparation I'm about to describe, you'll only use a teaspoon of the mixed spices.

Here in France, people who would like to try out superb Anglo-Saxon recipes such as scones are often mystified unnecessarily by the names of three basic ingredients, whose French equivalents are shown here:

For French readers of my blog, here are the explanations:

— So-called buttermilk is simply fermented milk: a Breton product designated as lait Ribot.

— Anglo-Saxon baking powder is simply the French stuff known as levure chimique alsacienne, sold in its familiar little pink paper packets.

— Anglo-Saxon baking soda is simply the French product designated as bicarbonate alimentaire.

In France, these products can be found in your local supermarket. Once you've got everything in place, the preparation of pumpkin scones is quite simple.

Dry ingredients. In a big bowl, mix together 2 cups (260 grams) of flour, a third of a cup (75 grams) of sugar, a teaspoon of spices (as described above), a teaspoon of baking powder (levure chimique), a half-teaspoon of baking soda (bicarbonate alimentaire) and a dose of genuine vanilla.

As far as the vanilla is concerned, a convenient solution is the sachet of powdered vanilla sugar. If you resort to the liquid extract, then a few drops should be added to the moist ingredients (described below). The nec-plus-ultra solution that consists of grinding dried vanilla beans from Madagascar is applicable if you happen to have a son such as my François who visits all kinds of exotic places on his archaic moped.

In the usual pastry-making manner, use a pastry-blender device or a pair of knives to insert 125 grams of unsalted butter (beurre doux) into the flour. Here's a photo of a pastry-blender:

Stir in a generous quantity of raisins (I prefer the soft white variety) and walnuts (from Gamone, of course).

Moist ingredients. In a small bowl, mix half a cup (an 8th of a liter) of pumpkin purée with the same volume of buttermilk (lait Ribot). Stir well.

Insert the moist ingredients into the big bowl of dry ingredients, and stir lazily until everything is humid: just enough, but no more. On a floured board, pat the dough into a flat slab, and cut out eight fragments. Place them in small non-stick pie cups of the Tefal kind: a must for pie-makers.

Flatten each scone in its tray, then brush the top surface with a mixture of an egg beaten with cream. Sprinkle the top of each scone with chunks of pistachio nuts or sesame seeds. Place the Tefal cups on a large Tefal tray, so that the underside of the scones won't be scorched. Bake at 200 degrees C for some 20 minutes. Here's the result:

In all modesty, I have to admit that these are surely the finest scones I've ever tasted. To be eaten with a glass of cool Sauvignon.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pierrot wanted a wife

I devote time and energy to family history for two basic reasons. On the one hand, we have a moral responsibility to celebrate the lives of our forefathers. On the other hand, in the spirit of a detective, I'm thrilled personally by the pure problem-solving aspects of genealogical research.

In the rural French context where I settled down some two decades ago, I have no known ancestors, but I often carry out investigations of a family-history kind. I'm interested in the history of my house, and of individuals who were members of its various households. Today, we're accustomed to the idea that individuals and their families might move through several different houses, maybe located in different places. There's an obvious complementary notion: a particular house often supports the existences—births, lives and deaths—of numerous individuals and families.

[Click to enlarge]

Concerning the background of my old stone house at Gamone (which was in a deplorable state when I discovered it in 1995), I've already acquired quite a lot of information. I know above all that its occupant in the middle of the last century was Hippolyte Gerin [1884-1957].

Indeed, I think inevitably of my predecessor Hippolyte whenever I gaze out upon the glories of the Choranche Circus and the Cournouze.

Naturally, I've been intrigued by this man Hippolyte, who once lived here in the very room in which I'm writing this blog post. I sense his presence constantly, not as a ghost, but as a factual figure of the past. The spirit of Hippolyte accompanies me whenever I wander around Gamone, and I have come to hallow his memory as if he were an ancestor. Which he is, of course, in a certain sense. I often come upon tiny and trivial elements of my Gamone existence (such as a fragment of metal from an agricultural device, for example) that cause me to believe that Hippolyte must have surely been at the origin of such things. I was only half-surprised therefore, a decade ago, when I came upon a daft oldtimer stumbling up to Gamone, carrying bottles of red wine in a grocery sack, who informed me that he wanted to "have a little drink with Hippolyte". After phoning his alarmed daughter, I didn't have the courage to tell the old man that Hippolyte had disappeared from Gamone half-a-century ago. But had he, really and totally?

I've just learned that Hippolyte's ancestors came from a nearby village named Echevis whose current population is around 60.

Arriving in Echevis, you have a vague feeling that you might have reached a tiny remote Paradise, far from the agitations of the world. And you're right. Besides, Echevis was one of the six villages involved in the amazing survey known as the Terriers du Royans, carried out on behalf of the lord of Sassenage in the middle of the 14th century.

Click here to access my French-language presentation of these extraordinary medieval documents, which are currently being transcribed and translated.

Yesterday afternoon, I drove to mysterious Echevis for the nth time. But this time, I was like an obsessed pilgrim, because I was searching for the roots of my friend Hippolyte. And I struck up a conversation with an 86-year-old resident named Rochas. When I informed him that I was seeking traces of the Gerin family, he told me the terrible tale of Pierrot Gerin, who had been in love with Angélique. (I've been obliged to invent the given names of our characters, who have passed into obscurity.) Pierrot, mentally retarded, worked well for his widowed father, who did everything that was possible to take care of his son. But the caring father was taken aback when Pierrot informed him that he was in love with Angélique, and wanted to marry her.

"No, Pierrot, I can't allow you to marry Angélique and leave our home. As long as I'm alive, I must protect you, and take care of you."

One of Pierrot's dumb mates summed up the situation abruptly: "What a nasty bastard. As long as he lives, your father won't let you marry Angélique. Your only hope is to kill the old bugger."

That was bad advice for a simple-minded fellow such as Pierrot. That evening, he walked back down from Echevis towards the neighboring village of Sainte-Eulalie, to meet up with his father, who was returning from his agricultural labors in the valley. They met up in the middle of a series of five dark tunnels alongside the Vernaison, on the clifftops, known as the Petits Goulets (no more than two or three kilometers from my home in Gamone).

And Pierrot promptly pushed his dad down into the abyss.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

My neighbor's donkeys

A few days ago, a bit of half-hearted barking by Fitzroy informed me that something slightly irregular was happening at Gamone. When I rushed downstairs, I discovered that we had received the visit, for the first time ever, of my neighbor's five donkeys. Fitzroy's barking only appeared, of course, to be half-hearted. The truth of the matter was that my dog was in total control of the situation. I would imagine that, in Fitzroy's mind, this meant that the donkeys were grazing contentedly, and gave no signs of attempting to enter my house. So, in a canine sense, all was more-or-less in order. During the minute or so that it took me to race back upstairs to phone my neighbor, the donkeys had moved down the road. By the time that Jackie appeared on the scene, his animals had discovered the nice patch of green fodder alongside Madeleine's place. Jackie borrowed a rope from his aunt and had no trouble leading the matriarchal donkey, followed by the others, back up to my place... where my own donkeys, Moshé and Fanette, looked down with curiosity upon all the movement.

[Click to enlarge]

With so many donkeys now present at Gamone (count me, if you so insist, in their numbers), I've often suggested to Jackie that we should set up some kind of a business. If and when my son François finds time to visit me one of these days, now that his huge TV series of moped shows is finished (the production, but not the airing), I'll ask him for advice in the spirit of the story of the writer Robert Louis Stevenson [1850-1894], author of Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes, evoked in one of my son's excellent travelogues [display].

Otherwise, Jackie and I might look into the idea of bringing our donkeys up to a cabaret level, like the smart donkeys of Emilienne d'Alençon [1869-1946], who performed at the Casino de Paris.

Besides presenting her donkeys, Emilienne was quite a talented young lady, generally described in French as a courtisane. This term (for which I can find no good English equivalent) designated an attractive female who had succeeded in imagining elegant ways of marketing her charms in the context of distinguished and wealthy admirers such as the Duke of Crussol d'Uzès, King Léopold II of Belgium and the jockey Percy Woodland. Even an aging donkey such as me could surely be infatuated by the splendor of such a trainer.

Of a sexually ecumenical disposition, Emilienne got on well with the famous model of Toulouse-Lautrec known as La Goulue [1866-1929].

Emilienne also got involved with a British lesbian poetess who called herself Renée Vivien [1877-1909] and wrote in French.

Nicknamed Sappho 1900, Renée died in a suicidal atmosphere at the tender age of 32, in the purest of depressive romantic traditions.

Talking about smart donkeys (as we once were), I happen to possess a remarkable but little-known bible on donkey wisdom (a precious gift from Christine) written by Victor Hugo.

Naturally, before making plans about their future education, prior to some kind of music-hall show, I asked my donkeys for their opinion on this project. Moshé seemed to like the idea, but Fanette reacted surprisingly (she's a young female) in a strictly negative manner.

I've told my neighbor that I would be happy to go ahead with some kind of a project aimed at bringing our donkeys up to a music-hall level.

We both agree however (at the risk of appearing as old-fashioned male sexists) that it would be unwise for the donkeys and us to get involved in any kind of fragile business context with romantic lesbian dancers and suicidal female poets, no matter how enticing they might appear.