I’m back

1 Jul

I'm back photo

Who would have thought.  The goddam ‘Kat’ came back.

It’s been a bloody long while, so I thought I might re-introduce myself.

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I am Kat and I live in a region in Southern France called the ‘Minervois’.  I’ve been here for nearly 20 years, yet still feel like the ‘foreign’ Australian marvelling at the exotic sights, sounds, smells and tastes of this part of Europe. Which is just as well, because with family and friends so damn far away, there’d better be something in it to keep me here!!  The exoticism… and the Vigneron.  He’s called Benjamin and he’s French.  He’s the reason why I am here and the biggest reason why I stay here.  Together we have a child, a lovely 13-year-old called Lilas (which in French means ‘lilac’).

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Why did I start a blog?  To keep me sane!  Living in a foreign world with foreign ways and customs can be so exciting, so frustrating. And so wonderful. I wanted to record it all down and the more I shared, the more I realised I loved living here and noting down my days and collecting images of it all was a fun way to keep the diary going that I never wrote.

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La Liviniere, Minervois, France

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jardiniere cooking

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Then it all came to a screeching halt.  Why it came to a screeching holt was not just one, but a few major events that took my mind off me, then back to me… events that came crashing, unwelcomed, into my family’s life.

But I’m still here!  And in this time I’ve never stopped watching and observing – even if at one point, watching like a stray cat after a fight with only the one eye open.

 

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No of course this isn’t me, it’s Ryan Gosling.. giving you an idea of me as the stray cat after the fight

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…this is me, x-ray version

It’s been a way of distracting myself, to watch and admire the beauty and lovely ugliness around me and snap images to hold it all for longer.  I didn’t continue with my diary/ blog, but I became obsessed (call it OCD) with recording visually the places and people around me (they are to be found here).   It’s the same kind of behaviour, you could say, as when I first arrived in France; in not being able to communicate with French people, I was forced to step back and observe.  It was forever tiring and challenging, but in watching and listening, I was taking in the extras that surrounded conversations.  Now, 20 years later, I understand much more of the conversations around me, but my eye has sharpened and I love the extras that surround everything.  Recording all of it has been my way of healing.

first collage 2019

So here you find me many years later, back clunking around on the keyboard, sharing scenes and recipes and wines from the Minervois …back to some hopefully interesting conversations with this diary.

Thanks for your visit!

Kat xoxo

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the locals

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Mum

13 Sep
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Jan Livesey (outside the church for my Christening )

Showering you with flowers for your birthday Mum.

Love Me xoxoxoxo

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13.09.1937 – 11.07.2016

La Force

4 Sep

If you could register* all the events in life – the good, the bad, the memorable and the ones you are reluctant to remember…  You cherish them, are thankful for them, ignore them, fear them.  They make you what you are and hopefully, influence you to carry yourself forward, strong and determined to keep looking around the next corner.

“Life’s not a straight line,” I still hear Mamy (my French grandmother) saying to me, many years ago when I’d had my first taste of mortality, at a time I would prefer to forget.  I was sitting there at rock-bottom, listening to the words of this discreet and loving 87 year-old woman as she reeled off dark events in her life (nursing my baby for me, far physically stronger than me – my baby the beautiful being in this heavy time).  She spoke with dignity and humility. I’d had no idea of what she’d been through in her life – this petite, elegant woman who I already loved for how she observed people around her (I was doing a hell of a lot of that myself, not understanding or speaking the language of my new home), her conspiratorial grin and her willingness to accept me into the foreign family I’d suddenly landed myself in.  I looked upon her with new eyes.  She told me with certainty I would get through this time.  Mamy’s strength and empathy empowered me.  I thought, if she got through all of that, I can.

Many events have followed this conversation – and amidst the beautiful, there’s bloody well been a steady drum roll of tough ones for our family in the last few years.  But I understand the thread that runs through all of them, the good the bad, that collects me in its force and nurtures me.  It’s love. I sound bloody kitsch.  I don’t want to imply ‘lurve’, the cliched Hallmark cards or tits and arse ideas of lurve. I mean the big love. Love for and from the people in this life with me.  It empowers me, making me cherish today and determined to see tomorrow.

*I’ve been OCD-recording visual images on my Instagram feed, vigneronswife

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Eight-Oh Dad

4 Sep

Love you Pop xo

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not Zzzzing, Bzzzing

24 Mar

buzzing

I feel like I’ve emerged from a big sleep.

But I haven’t been sleeping.

I haven’t been nodding off, I’ve been just temporarily out of action.

My mind though, has been in overdrive and whirring and whirring.  It’s been having a huge time, chock full of stuff – crap, weird stuff, joy, confusion, peace, weird stuff – buzzing like the beautiful bumblebees around me in the garden right now.

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But as Spring gets into its step, I am starting too as well.  I can get up, get out, bloody well brushing off the dirt from the last scrape.  The mind is buzzing and ready to clear out the crap.

image from 'Old Tom's Holiday', by Leigh Hobbs,  ABC Books, 2002

felt something like this…

Just one of those little chunks of life that reminds you (again) that it’s good to have life (again).

Please don’t chuck.  I’m sorry for the harp music, the chubby little cherubs and the waffle – sounds like I’ve lost it (again), but I mean it.

And stuff it, they’re flying right above me now with the bumblebees.

a happy new year

31 Dec
Aussie Xmas Tour

An Aussie Xmas Tour…

We’re about to greet the new year and I want to shout out a G’day from stinking hot Adelaide.

Don’t be fooled by the home-made version of our tree for this year… we’re not in gay Calamiac, we’re down here in Oz.  And on the eve of Christmas, our family’s old tree, after 40 years, decided to hang up its boots – so Lilas and I put together a ‘Xmas Tour’!  It’s a wonder what you can find in a shed full of old boxes…

And I must say it’s thanks to you, Mum, that we have a ‘tree’ this year.  Much to my objections, you put up this tower, festooned with ribbons as part of the decorations for our post-elopement-wedding party.  Did I squirm! – wondering what the Frenchies would think… But it was a hit, and thanks to you, it’s come out in full glory again.

Bonnes Fetes and Happy Days for 2014…

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The Vigneron at work

27 Oct
squeeze those babies

squeeze those babies

That’s it.  The grapes are all in and the Vigneron is content.  No more 24/7 reading of satellite images and predicted weather patterns on numerous websites, he can relax and is relieved that this region has been pretty bloody lucky with its weather.

The grapes on the vines looked great and ripened slowly resulting in fruit with a lower baume and high maturity.  So, enfin, 2013 looks like a good year!  The man is happy.

Autumn vines, La Liviniere

Autumn vines, La Liviniere

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I came down from the hill rather early a couple of mornings ago and had a peek at what was going on in the cellar.  I love the smell in there.  Takes me back to when we met.  OK squeaky violins time – yes, harvest time is special for me, it was during a harvest, all those years ago, that the V and I met.  I was in my hometown, Adelaide and he was ‘the Frenchie’, with little English (come on, admit it), clad in King Gee work gear, a divine Roman nose, working long vintage hours for a winemaker friend – that swept me off my feet.

Fast forward a decade or more, and I am still smitten when I smell the tanks of fermenting grapes in the cellar (oh to bottle this in a jar, a quick whiff and happy married couple all over again…).

‘Les Vendanges’ is a dynamic time and as I’ve said many times before, the village comes alive when the grapes are coming in.  A whole year’s work is reaping its rewards and the old tractors are out on every village road, chugging in full force with trailers laden with glistening grapes.  Even our baby was born on the first day of an Aussie harvest…

But let me get back to where I started.  I was in the village early one morning this week and called in on the V to see what was going on in his cellar.  The red grapes are all resting in their tanks and every couple of days they’re  ‘pumping-over‘.  After a month of this, they will put it all through the press.  One more step towards a delightful, drinkable juice.

Here’s some images for you from that morning, in and out of the cellar…

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ben at work

Benji in the cellar

Benji and Yves

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grenache!

juicy Grenache

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gren a gren bthe Grenache resting in wooden 'tank'

the Grenache resting in wooden ‘tank’

And over the road…

the neighbours opposite

the neighbours opposite, Domaine Arnaud

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…another neighbour, another Yves – of Chateau Faiteau, the cousin of Domaine Arnaud…(in a village, it’s all family)

Eloise

Eloise, downtown La Liviniere

downtown La Liviniere

Eloise and Fanny

Eloise and Fanny

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heart door

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laundry wall

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…and the ride back up the hill to home

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