Today was definitely an "A Plus" kind of day. "A Plus" as in, yes, A+, but also, of course, "A Plus" as the motto of the Rohan family, meaning "no better" ("a" is a negating "a" - as in "atonal" or "amoral"). Here are the letters of the motto wriggling their way across a balustrade of "granite lacework" at the Château, which Gretchen and I visited this afternoon. I had an entirely different reaction to the place this time, treasuring the 19th century aspect of it (where last time, I had been puzzled at what I saw as its over-compensating nostalgia attempting to beat back the ravages and memory of the Revolution). In learning that the Rohan family came back to the castle in 1860, I understood that the 150-year sequoia was planted the year of their return - they really mean to stay this time! Not only that, it was planted where one of the towers that Richelieu had burned down had stood. So there, Richelieu. And when you're in the English park, that sequoia does indeed look like a tower. Well played, Rohans!
It was a little odd to be in the gardens without hunting for answers to Easter Egg questions. :-) But will you look at that? And the breeze was blowing the petals everywhere. A+
And this wonderful, reaching tree.
Oliver feeding one of the two goats that live with about four geese right behind our house. Coming home from school on Friday, he and Iris and Eleanor saw some other kids feeding the goats vines and dandelions, and ever since, they have wanted to go feed the goats every day. Especially Oliver. He calls it his "appointment" with the goats. My favorite part? He talks to them in French!
Back to the castle. The last time we had been in the "Tour Isolée" it had been to figure out how many eggs were missing from Mama Hen's recipe. This time, a marvelous, dusty and cracked display case was visible. On the left, were natural objects: stones, minerals, crystals; on the right were cultural objects: small pots, figurines, and this wonderful ivory comb. It seems to come from Sicily (so indicates the tag giving the date of acquisition as 1907 below), but what is it? I will have to ask my extraordinary archaeologist friends the Foss-Schindlers, as it seems to be a myth scene (why else have so many nude women in a chariot being pulled by swans?). The comb itself must be from the 19th century, no? And I completely don't understand the male figure to the right handing the female figure what looks like a comb. The female figure is holding apples, but there are all sorts of reasons for women of myth to be holding apples. A+ mystery!
I end on a delightful couple of images that show the hidden laughter in life. The castle of Josselin has an extensive doll museum, culled from the collection of one of the more recent duchesses - most dolls are from the first half of the 20th century, but there are some from the 18th century. Currently, there's an exhibit of dolls from Africa as well as one of dolls from Japan. It also has many sub-themes (nun and priest dolls, Disney dolls, Breton dolls, etc.). As you can see from this image, the dolls are exhibited very professionally: a doll may stand in a themed group of dolls, but each one is beautifully lit so that you may notice each individual detail. There are no narratives in the display, save for the very quiet narrative of the group of dolls.
So how do you explain this image of a lion, a dog, a polar bear and a frog stalking a pretty hapless purple-feathered chicken? Either I missed a very entertaining chapter of Aesop's Fairy Tales, or this is very, very funny all by itself. Next time I feel hapless and cornered, I will remember this chicken's perpetual plight.
3 days ago