Showing posts with label Repellin neighbors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Repellin neighbors. Show all posts

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thinking of Françoise

At the rare times of the year when it contains water, Gamone Creek flows down past my place and through a corner of the park of André Repellin and Madeleine. There, in a rocky corner, Tineke Bot and Serge Bellier have placed their steel montage that evokes the memory of the Repellin's unique daughter: our friend Françoise.

She was indeed a transparent young woman, whose purity and willpower had a mineral but steely luster. Today, I find it perfectly appropriate to remember my neighbor as an angular friend who—in spite of her relative youth—maintained a rigorous old-fashioned style of relationship with me (as with most people, I would imagine). Every January, she would walk up here with her dog to offer me New Year gifts of biscuits and jam. It was unthinkable that Françoise might address me otherwise than by a quiet and polite vous, never by my first name or by the pronoun tu. Then she would wander across to the slopes on the other side of the creek, and scramble excitedly and noisily through the grass, for half an hour or so, with her beloved dog Briska.

Shortly before her death (if I understand correctly), Françoise had indicated explicitly that she wished to be remembered in this splendid nook of Gamone Creek. That is the case.

POST SCRIPTUM: The cocker spaniel Briska has always been a most excitable dog. Whenever Madeleine strolls up here to Gamone, my Fitzroy is delighted to receive a visit from Briska, whose hysterical barking antics are so much more fun than the staid behavior of Fitzroy's usual companions—Sophia, Moshé and Fanette—who must be seriously provoked before they'll join in a joust. Fitzroy hardly needs to raise a paw to get Briska started. Then he gallops gaily alongside his female visitor, admiring her noisy and spectacular lunacy.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Awkward doorways

I've always been intrigued by this series of three doorways that give out directly onto the main road entering Pont-en-Royans from the Drôme.

A passerby has the impression that it's a long while since anybody ever opened any of these doorways. In the case of the one on the right, severely attacked by humidity, its days of being opened are surely a thing of the past. I refer to them as "awkward" because the proprietor of a doorway, prior to opening it, would need to ask the gendarmes to halt the traffic on the road. And I don't think these busy officers would be happy to intervene in that way for any significant length of time.

The proprietor of the middle doorway (and the space behind and above it) is none other than my neighbor Dédé Repellin, whose photo appeared at the top of my recent article entitled Down by the riverside [display]. A few weeks ago, Dédé told me the full story of his curious doorway. To appreciate the details, you need to know that, at the rear of this building with the road-level doorways, there's a prominent and ancient street: the rue du Merle (Blackbird Street), which lies two or three stories higher than the doorways and the road. Dédé purchased this place long ago, and he used the upper space (not shown in these photos), giving out onto Blackbird Street, as his workshop, enabling him to look after his trade vehicle. In the space above his doorway, to the right of the wooden ladder, you can see a curious box structure, composed of concrete bricks and apparently fixed to the far wall. Well, this was in fact a cavity that Dédé built so that he could drive his vehicle into the workshop, up at the Blackbird Street level, and then crawl down underneath it, inside this concrete box, to change the sump oil. Fair enough. He could still do that, if he wanted to… but Dédé's personal garage at Choranche offers him, today, a more comfortable environment in which to replace his sump oil.

The most amusing part of the story concerns the stuff to be found today behind Dédé's road-level doorway. Apparently, long ago, he bought a secondhand metal lathe, weighing a ton, and installed it in the space behind that door. It's still there, and Dédé would be thrilled to be able to make use of this precious equipment. But this is unthinkable as long as he's faced with the problem of opening and closing that doorway. So, the ideal solution would consist of extracting the metal lathe from that place and reinstalling it up at the Repellin home in Choranche (just down from my place at Gamone). But this transfer would be a major undertaking, requiring that the road be blocked for a period of at least a few hours, so that a mobile crane could be brought in to grab the lathe and lift it onto a truck. Dédé has concluded that a such a project is far too complicated to be imagined. Consequently, his precious metal lathe is likely to remain forever imprisoned behind the old brown door.

Incidentally, this story suggests that vague dreams may have been unfolding in Dédé's mind, a few days ago [see my earlier blog], while he watched the movements of the giant mobile elevator work platform…

Monday, September 14, 2009

Income tax

September 14: the eve of the final date for a payment of income tax. Even my magnificent dog (adjectives fail me when I evoke Sophia) sensed that there was urgency in the air. In fact, Sophia senses everything in my existence. So, I invited her to jump into the car and accompany me down to the post office at Pont-en-Royans. Taxes are less painful when you pay them with your dog.

On the way back, we were halted by my neighbor Madeleine, who had been waiting in the middle of the road to give me a plate of figs:

She suggested I might make jam. I replied that her figs would surely be devoured within a few days, before my thinking about jam. In her usual unpredictable, totally random but lovely style, Madeleine (by the roadside, alongside my automobile, with Sophia awaiting impatiently our return to Gamone, a hundred meters up the road) started to tell me the history of the silver plate upon which her gift of figs was placed. I'll spare you the complex details about something overflowing, long ago, and eroding the silver plate. But I know already that, because of this fuzzy tale, the figs will taste all that much more delicious.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dédé back on the road

A few days ago, I was happily surprised to find that my neighbor Dédé had strolled up to Gamone on foot, like at old times.

With his knee problems, it's not an easy excursion, but the fact that he has got back into the walking act is good news. I suspect, too, that Dédé appreciates the possibility of being able to chat with somebody other than his dear Madeleine. I'm not suggesting that Madeleine is not an excellent conversationalist. On the contrary, I think it's her favorite activity, and she's a prolific talker. When Madeleine and I start chatting together, for example, it soon becomes quite difficult for one or other of us to get a word in edgewise, as the saying goes. But I would imagine that Dédé likes to have a change of voice from time to time.