Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Politics of a View

That old adage of wanting what we can't have may be coming home to roost. I'm referring to our desire for a roof terrace. The petite cour (3m X 6m or just under 9' X 18' is usually filled with construction materials, doesn't get much sun and is bounded on three sides by other village houses. So, in essence, it's a little like sitting in the bottom of a canyon. I did attempt to cheer it up a bit with some big terra cotta pots and plants, and a table and chairs. Maybe this wasn't the summer to put it to the real test, since the temperatures have been relatively cool . On a beastly hot Moab-like day, this little hidey-hole feels refreshing; that is, if you can pick your way through the mortier, ciment, chaux, sable, or outils.

It cannot be stressed enough: WE LIVE IN A VILLAGE WITH A CHATEAU. Everybody tells us that in an almost warning tone of voice, one step away from wagging a finger in front of our noses. But there is little consensus as to just what that means as far as those of us living on the other side of the tracks (in this case, the river) are concerned. The only thing I know for certain about all this is that the Top 2 Sacred Things in France are: #1) Dog Poop and #2) Chateaux. You are not allowed to pick up dog poop after your dog has released it; and you are not allowed to do anything offensive that people living in a Chateau might see. A roof terrace is apparently included in that list of offensive acts. Picking up dog poop on said roof terrace would be even worse.

From the north side of our roof, which faces The Chateau, I snapped a few photos sticking my head out the velux (skylight). If you look very very closely, (click on the photo to enlarge) just to the right of the tallest tree, you can just make out a tiny portion of the facade of The Chateau. This must be where all the people who would complain live. I should mention that the Chateau is not a working, operational, medieval Chateau, inhabited by knights and damsels and paysans. It has been converted into luxury apartments for modern-day renaissaince lords and ladies.

The backside of the first row of houses facing The Chateau (just across the river) take advantage of overlooking the river and The Chateau and grounds. While none of them have what is technically described a 'roof terrace', most of them have terraces or decks built over a lower house level. It has been explained to me several times that there is a difference here, which I apparently am not fully grasping. Their terrace/decks do not alter the roof lines and are acceptable; as are the 1960's wrought iron railings, aluminum windows, faux-Tahiti grass fencing, and laundry lines. The lords and ladies of The Chateau like this kind of stuff, but not breaks in the roof line.

In the middle of July we met with a planner/designer/project manager who came to the house to assess feasibility of a roof terrace. Tim, the planner, originally seduced us into thinking that we might be able to get away with building a waterproof concrete floor over the existing rooms we are currently working on in the deuxieume etage, thereby creating a troisieme etage. He proposed removing the roof at the ridgebeam and taking off roof tiles on both the north and south sides. This would open up a roof terrace area of approximately 20 square meters. Where do we sign, we said, and when can we start? He indicated that he would get back to us with drawings within a week, which turned into two, three and four weeks. We figured we were small potatoes, but called him anyway. He had some bad news.

Tim was having problems designing a stairway giving egress from the deuxieme etage to the proposed roof terrace level. The height from the proposed roof terrace floor to the roof ridge beam is only about 4', significantly shorter than most adults. Once the roof is removed, a stairway exiting onto the roof would have to be enclosed, and that 'enclosure' (a tower-like structure) would break the horizon.....and be UNACCEPTABLE!

At this impasse, Tim moved onto Plan B. He suggested scrapping removing the ridge beam, because of the problems with the stairway clearance, in favor of converting the north (street side) of the deuxieme etage. We weren't quite clear where he was going with this until our meeting at his home/office in Rennes-les-Bains last week. Great town, the river coursing through it is known for its thermal hot springs and healing properties. Too bad the designs didn't have a bit more warmth.

Plan B would leave the roof intact and remove a section of the front exterior wall down to about 3' high. The side walls remain. Moreorless a covered porch two stories up, facing north. I spoke before I thought. "What is the point?" We dickered back and forth with him, insisting that unless a portion of the roof could be cut out, forming an upside-down U-shape opening, this idea was a no-go. We were still skeptical anyway, given everything people had said about changing the front facade of a building facing THE Chateau. And now we're talking about removing a chunk out of the front wall. How likely is that to get approved?

Doug and I were not quite ready to give up on Plan A (the actual roof terrace removing the ridge beam) and were desperately trying to think outside the box looking for solutions to the stairway access issue. I found a few UK websites offering a ideas for "hatch-type" cellar and roof doors. Some of these are designed specifically for roof terraces, are electronically operated and are exhorbitantly priced. When Doug described the problem to our Aussie friend John, he independently came up with a hatch-door solution. Bingo! Maybe there's something there.

We were also so ready to just move on to the next step, not even really knowing what the next step really was. Tim suggested arranging a meeting with the Powers-That-Be in Foix and seeing how they will react to Plan B(2). This upcoming meeting on September 6 will by no means result in the most sought-after Planning Permission, but will merely give us some clues as to how to proceed further. This is a critical step, because thus far we only have hearsay. It's good info, but it's not gospel, nor does it necessarily jive with the whim of the Powers-That-Be on any given day. Talk to Person (A) and they will say getting approval for shutter colors is the real 'biggie', while Person (B) will insist that we could do a roof terrace facing south but not north (i.e. The Chateau), and Person (C) might say exactly the opposite because of the proximity to the house across the courtyard. Person (A) will say you cannot remove any front facade, Person (B) says as long as you leave a 3' knee wall it's OK, and Person (C) says forget it. The bottom line, of course, is that none of these people are the actual Powers-That-Be.

I am always puzzled by people's acceptance of apparent logic by what goes on in these villages. Jon-Pierre, our neighbor down the street, was having his shutters painted the other week. Against the more subdued tones in Leran, this shade seems more 'hysterical' rather than 'historical'. I commented on the color, which he called "Garden Green", and queried whether he had to receive approval for such a vibrant kelly green. His very quick response, called Le Bras d'Honneur (the Arm of Honor)aided by a demonstration, said it all. For those of you polite folks who don't get my drift, I have attached a photo illustration. You may practice this at your convenience at any governmental agency---I guarantee you, it provides great satisfaction. Jon-Pierre's house is right on Cours St. Jacques, the main drag, and no one has demanded a re-painting. But then, it really can't be seen from The Chateau.

I know I'm expecting alot out of this meeting in Foix next week, more than I should. I'll be ecstatic if it gives us a glimmer of hope once again. And if not? Well, there's always Le Bras d'Honneur!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Things I'll Miss in Leran and France

Well, you must have known this was coming. Forthwith, the top ten things I'll miss in France and Leran are:

10. Our uniqueness. - I think we must stand out like sore thumbs here in Leran. We are the only Americans, and I'm a pretty big target. I'm pretty sure, with our petite camionette with Utah license plates and Worst President Ever stickers, that when someone says "Les Americians" they know who they are talking about. Back in the states, we're just ordinary blokes.

9. The French villages - Je ne sais qoui. I'll miss all these villages, little and big. Something about them, their age and lack of perfection that makes them perfect. The evidence of decay is always present, but these buildings have been around for three hundred years or so, they will probably be doing just fine in another lifetime or so. Next to every well-maintained house with beautifully painted shutters is a house no one has done anything to for sixty years. And it just adds to the charm.

8. The presence of history everywhere - Everywhere you look there has been some massacre 800 years ago, or a Roman structure, or some thing destroyed in the Revolution. For an American from the Western states where history is counted in decades, not centuries, it is fascinating.

7. The Marche Nocutrne Leran - I guess we've written enough about this that you'll know why I'll miss it. There was another one last night. Nancy took a big pan of Beef Stroganoff for anyone who looked hungry. We ran into two Irish ladies who we'd talked to in Limoux earlier in the day, so we sat and ate with them. What a great thing for a village to have.

6. The climate - With the exception of the humidity, the weather, the climate have been wonderful. Every time it gets too hot, a cold front blows through and cools it off. Its been happening all summer. Our house is always cool, even on the hottest days, no need for air conditioning. And we can leave our windows open most of the time, day and night. A big difference from the continental climate I'm used to living where the temperature can shift 50 or 60 degrees Fahrenheit in a day.

5. Everything is so close together - This is the opposite side of the coin from missing the wide open spaces.

4. Wine and cheese- You know I'll miss these two stalwarts.

3. The incredible landscape - I find it so beautiful and different than where I'm from. The landscape around Leran, for me, is the perfect melding of mountains, agriculture, old civilizations, trees, rolling hills, chateaus, blah blah blah.

2. Our crazy friends - We've made some wonderful friends here and we will miss them. I'm not quite sure why we have met all these wonderful people; French, British, Australian, Canadian, Irish, but we have. There is something about this village that seems to throw people together, there is only one bar, or perhaps the Marche Nocturne, or the size of the streets or the size of the village, or maybe the fact there are a bunch of English speakers all thrown together in France. Almost all of us are actively working on our French language skills. I suppose there are historical precedents. Think of the Jewish ghetto in New York; Jews from all over the world in one place. Little Italy, same thing, a bunch of Italians from all over Italy in one neighborhood. It can't help but bring you together.

1. Leran

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Top Eleven Things I Miss in the States

11. Our Hot Tub-About the only good thing about winter is that it makes it more fun to sit in the hot tub on a freezing cold morning.

10. Garbage Disposal - Yep. One of the greatest inventions of all time. No more smelly and rotting food in the trash under the sink. It goes into the solid waste stream where it belongs rather than in the trash where it attract flies and pests, and then to the landfill where it rots and smells and attracts vermin. If you don't compost, and we don't here in France, or in Moab (got no garden) and can't (skunks in Moab) then the next best thing is a garbage disposal.

9. The Dishwasher - No need for any commentary here.

8. Stores open at lunch between 12:00 and 2:00 - This is a tough one. I do appreciate the pace of life here. When everything is open 24/7, as in the US, it's great when you want something at an odd hour. But it also contributes to the fast-paced life we try to avoid. A double edged sword, indeed. Waiting for the hardware store to open at 2:15 in the afternoon is frustrating when you just need a drill bit or a couple of screws to complete a project. They shut down for two hours after a grueling three hour morning. But the lunch shut down is pretty sacrosanct here, and whenever we go out to lunch we always see some plombiers, city workers in the blue boiler suits, construction guys, etc. I would imagine that standard black lunchboxes don't sell too well here.

7. Blue Cheese Dressing - I know I could make it here with all the great bleu fromage, but has anyone got a tried and true recipe that they could send?

6. Everyone Speaking American English - It has been three months and I have had conversations with only two Americans, and I've spoken to the Canadians who have a house across the street (they have gone back home). Other than speaking to Nancy, and hearing some American or Canadian kids in Carrcassone, that's it. The rest of the English I've heard has been spoken by French, (some good, some bad) and of course British English (an amazing range of dialects, by the way).

5. DVD's via Netflix - A great collaboration between the US Mail and the internet tubes.

4. An Outdoor Place to Sit - Don't have it here. Got it in Moab.

3. Wide Open Spaces - Don't have it here. Got it in Moab. This landscape here in the foothills of the Pyrenees is absolutely gorgeous. The beautiful villages and castles, bucolic landscapes are always pleasant on the eye. But unless you are high up in the Pyrenees, there is no place where you can look out and see the horizon without lots of evidence of mankind. I never fail to enjoy the scenery here , but at times I miss the miles of open space.

2. An American Breakfast - They don't do it here. You can get coffee, croissants and cornflakes, which is fine. I did see an English breakfast offered in Paris just opposite the Eiffel Tower, which is similar, but you can keep them old nasty bangers. So it will be nice to have a plate of fried eggs, hash browns, bacon, toast and coffee.

1. NPR - This is what I miss the most. National Public Radio. I can get it on the internet, Morning Edition, at noon French time, out of Salt Lake City, where it is 4:00 am. I manage to listen to it once a week or so. The evening version comes on around 2:00 am so I have never listened to it.

1. Dry Air - Wait! This is what I miss the most. Two number one's, it's a tie. Dry air, 10% relative humidity. Yeah, this is what I miss absolutely the most. If you've got nice dry air you know what I'm talking about. If you've never lived without humidity then you don't know what you are missing.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Look Back to See Progress

If I look back at the pictures we took in late May, then I can really see some progress. It has been slow, and sometimes progress seems non-existent. The language problem is real. It takes a large amount of time to learn and adjust to the materials and methods used here in France. We have trouble using the telephone and asking complex questions, and we have trouble communicating with the vendors in person at BricoMarche, Monsieur Bricolage, MicoBrico and Romera. We have used catalogs published by the vendors of building materials, advice from friends, and advice from people we run into who interpret for us at the material vendors. In short, we learn from anywhere and everywhere we can.
In the top row of pictures you can see what it looked like as we were removing the floor that was so spongy and also 6 inches off level. In the first picture, looking up at the old floor joist that are now gone, you can see the old stone wall, as well as openings without windows and the water heater. In the second picture I am pulling up the sub-floor which consisted of a layer of drywall, which formed the ceiling below, and a layer of particle board. We then replaced the floor joist, (as related in a post back in June, "Joist a Walk in the Dark" or something like that) and put up a drywall ceiling which Nancy has since finished.
In the third picture you can see that Nancy has rendered the stone walls. It was very poor stone work so there was no soul searching involved in covering it up. You can see the rendering and several layers of wash with pigments that Nancy labored so hard at. A large leap in time and work brings us to the fourth picture. You may remember the post where we talked about putting up walls with metal studs. Here you see the results. You should also notice the new floor of fir planks salvaged from elsewhere in the house, the new walls, windows and doors. Behind the door in the corner is the hot water heater that we levitated for a couple of days, and behind the louvered doors, a closet. Nancy is shown working on the ceiling and walls, giving them a coat of mud. The new windows make a great difference in letting in light compared to the old, opaque and drafty window substitutes, even if there is not a particularly spectacular view out of them. Buying them was an adventure in spending large amounts of money based on my rough drawings, measurements and lots of pointing and pantomime.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in the fourth picture you can see a temporary light bulb, which means the room got wired by the newest electrician in France. And he is not a very happy electrician. He is pissed, fit to be tied, and disappointed with the cheesy, crappy, poorly designed products available in France. The switches, outlets, wire, and tools are all sub-standard compared to their American counterparts. Not just different.......crappy. And not only that, they are about five times more expensive. The only bright spot is the round electrical boxes, which means you just cut a hole in the drywall with a hole saw, and slap in the cute little electrical box. Neat and clean. But not so fast. Unfortunately, you can't cram all the wires, connectors and the outlet into the box. Go figure.
Now, divert your attention the last picture. That is what the rest of the deuxieme etage looks like. It is a collection of junk, building materials and residue that should be carried down the stairs and into the trash, not to mention a few tools. Next summer, it will be converted into a bathroom and a salon. You can come and help if you want, or just watch.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Marche Nocturne Leran, Part Deux

This was the seventh Marche Nocture Leran this summer and there are two more to go. Last night was looking a little "iffy" due to the cool weather and rain. (Eat your heart out, those of you in the USA, no drought and heatwave here.)
The first picture is the cauldron of escargot being emptied. I think it was late and the vendor was not going to sell out, so she handed out the little cooked bugs to anyone who wanted them. I had two earlier, so I was full. Not two cauldrons, two snails.
Next you can see Ian and Jo, two friends who live in the village of Revel. It doesn't have a bar so they come to the friendly confines of Leran to let their hair down. Beside them are Eileen Simmons and Lee-anne Furness, who look like they are really enjoying me taking their picture. Well, it was late. Then there's Andy Attenburrow, a filmmaker and film making teacher, and owner of a B&B here in Leran. Behind him is John Furness taking my picture while I am taking Andy's picture. Then we have Nancy looking pensive, then John, who along with his wife Lee-anne own the Impasse du Temple, a fine B&B. (Last night, John kindly pointed out that in my post about some of the folks in the village, I had incorrectly married up Christian to the foxy meat wagon lady. This turns out to be untrue as she is dating Monsieur Boulbas, our village plumber. Thanks for that correction, John. We occasionally strive to be factual here at North of Andorra.)
Next is Alan Simmons, composer, air guitar master and troubadour, bravely preparing to eat one of the little cooked bugs.
And lastly, an after sundown shot of the tables on the street, the lights strung up in the trees on the main street of Leran. (Do click on this one to enlarge it.) Each Friday night in July and August they haul out the tables and benches, vendors arrive, the barricades are set up to re-route traffic. As I mentioned in an earlier post, you can buy dinner from one of the vendors, bring your own, buy a bottle or glass of wine, or bring your own. Very civilized. And it's something that probably can't happen in most towns and cites in the US. It is a lovely tradition even if the tradition is only several years old here in Leran.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Assumption of the Plaque de Platre

A post-Spectacular hush enveloped Leran on Monday. The village was exhausted. By a stroke of pure dumb luck, it turned out to be one of our best moves yet. We had scheduled a delivery of 18 sheets plaque de platre.

This was not your ordinary 'curbside delivery'.
We had to shop
around all the bricolage magasins to finally source out who could accomplish our objective: raise them up to the level the deuxieme etage (our American 3rd floor) so that we could just pull them through the window. Voila! No hoisting them up several flights of stairs, bashing them into walls, railings and other obstructions along the way.

The search to find our miracle worker took some doing. This being mid-August, it was only natural that Mico would be closed for an entire week and couldn't deliver until later in the month. After a few other strike-outs, we finally approached one of our other favorite places to spend money, Chausson, in Mirepoix. No one there speaks any English, but they have always been helpful beyond belief. After a lengthy dialogue and photos of the front of our maison, we came to an agreement. They had a piece of machinery at their store in Pamiers that could lift, rotate and swing the plaque de platre into position so that Doug and I could pull it through the window. Now we're talking......all for a very lovely price, one that nearly shut down the entire operation. Then we thought about times we have carried drywall up single flights of stairs, when we were 10 years younger, and whipped out the Carte Bancaire. Brains won out over brawn.

Tomorrow is Assumption Day, August 15th, yet another one of the major saint's feast days celebrated with great relish in France by closing all stores and government offices. It's just too bad that it occurs during August, when most everything is already closed. In our own sacrilegious way, we participated in an "assumption ritual" on Rue du Four a little early.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Spectacular is History

It's over, thank goodness. It was a hectic week, a lot of waiting and killing time and tension. But it is over. And it was good fun and we met a whole lot of wonderful folks while we toiled as figurants #99 and #100 in our local history pageant.

The big day began with us reporting for duty, expecting to go over the last refinements of the program, at 11:00 am with our costumes and our folding chairs. Unfortunately, as has happened so often, we were victims of an informational error and we weren't expected until 3:00. Okay. We went home and showed up again at 3:00 for the second parade through town in our Noble person costumes. You can see Nancy and I walking down Cours St. Jaques having just passed the bar where our fan club was having refreshments. We traipsed through town, and eventually filed back to the chateau where the Spectacular was to take place. Backstage, Nancy and I changed costumes, which was what every other player was doing as well.

As had happened the day before, people showed up with their own costumes, medieval, Belle Epoch, Roman, gladiator, you name it. The advertising for the Spectacular says that you can come in costume and join the parade. I would say the participants in the Spectacular were joined by an equal number of costumed folks there for the sole purpose of parading through town with us. Remarkable, no?

Only after seeing these photographs by the esteemed neighbor and good friend Alan Simmons, was I aware that a member of the U.S. Cavalry was in the parade. I don't know why or who or where he came from but there he was. He was not in the Spectacular, and he's probably not American or a cavalryman, but he's pictured right in front of our house.

You can see me in my monk's costume as Simon de Montfort on horseback is extolling the Pope's army to go out and kill the simple, peace loving Cathars. You can see Nancy and I in our noble costumes parading and smiling on cue, and Nancy in her paysan costume doing something vaguely agricultural, harvesting invisible wheat, perhaps. The marauding gang of fur-bearing heathens are Huns attacking unsuspecting paysans.

The Spectacular went along without a hitch. Nothing that distracted from the enjoyment the passel of spectators were enjoying, anyway. But late in the play, one young man had a wardrobe malfunction. (I love it that we now have terminology for this event.) He was in his fourth or fifth change of costume and was strolling in his 1870's finery, top hat, morning coat, vest, with two damsels on either side, when his pants fell down. He was basically window dressing at the time and everyone's attention was focused elsewhere. He calmly walked along until such time as he could unobtrusively pull up his pants, and hold them there. But, I'm telling you, it was funny.

The horses and horsemen were great. Jousting, acrobatics, the Spectacular had it all. The horsemanship and what the presence of the big critters added to the event cannot be underestimated. Without the horses, it would have been something akin to a school play with better costumes. With the horses it approached spectacular.

A nice final touch to our first 'performance' on foreign soil was that the cast, rather than escaping to the dressing arbor to change into civilian clothes, applauds the audience as they exit the prairie du Chateau. In costume, we lined the walkway leading up to the road and clapped and cheered for the approximate thousand spectators.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Day Before Our BIG DAY

Au Fil du Temps....the passage of time. If you walk the streets of Leran this weekend, you might think you had entered The Twilight Zone, and that the dramatic voice blaring over the loudspeakers was the French counterpart to Rod Serling himself.

Shields adorned the London plane trees on Cours St. Jacques, and banners of flags hung high overhead. The street was converted to pedestrian mall for the marche artisanals setting up their booths. The vendors donned their favorite medieval costumery for the event. Pottery, tea towels, hand-painted roof tiles, bobbing magnets, candy, soaps and candles, just a few of the ways to spend money. Even an organ grinder and monkey were part of the festivities. Doug thought he might like a pony ride, but there were height and weight restrictions.

Even La Poste had a booth selling Ariege CD's and photo envelopes. Sylvie, in the green dress, is our most helpful postmistress at La Poste.

A performing dance and musical troupe has kept everyone entertained for two days now, juggling, bellydancing, playing medieval instruments and general humorous interactions. I didn't recognize any of them, so am assuming that they are on a scheduled circuit of medieval fairs.

The first of two defiles (processions) through Leran was Saturday at 3:30, so we all gathered outside the Chateau gate and received our instructions. We were to look "noble", and of course no glasses or wristwatches. Keep a stately distance between couples. In addition to the cast and crew of the Spectacular, other villagers from Leran and no doubt the surrounding area also arrived in one of their many medieval outfits and joined in.

The procession started late---we can only assume this since we didn't have our watches, but that's what people said afterwards. We processed in and around Leran in a rather convoluted route, taking a brief interlude at one point for a water break. This mandatory interruption totally discombobulated the integrity of the processional, and we had to regroup before continuing. Spectators cheered us on, cameras clicked, but the medieval nobles maintained their composure.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Some of the French Folks We Know

These are some of the French folks we know. Nancy took all of these pictures, perhaps around the time of the first Marche Nocturne Leran in the beginning of July. What I say about these folks is what I know from various sources. I can't guarantee the accuracy of any of this information. I'm sure they would describe their lives differently if they had a chance.

Starting at the top left, is Thierry. He threw the party that we went to with Mathilde. I know virtually nothing about Thierry except he is very droll and always goes out of his way to say hello and shake my hand and give Nancy a "bissou".

Next comes Nellie and her two daughters, Virginia and Laura. I can't tell the two lovely young ladies apart and won't try to do so now. They, along with the other Thierry run the bar in Leran. When we sit down at the table, we give each of the ladies two "bissou" and Thierry a handshake before we order a drink. Lovely people. They let us run a tab.

Next is Marc. Marc is an Algerian by birth and came to his ancestral home in Leran when Algeria achieved independence. Marc speaks, French, Spanish, Arabic, English and another language, maybe Italian or Portuguese. I can't remember. Marc speaks openly about his former profession as an arms dealer all over the world. His house is right to the back of ours and we know when he is using his plumbing because the pipes run outside the house and we can hear the noise of water rushing down the pipe. He has a French version of a military jeep as well as some kind of troop carrier. Marc is a piece of work.

Next is Christian. He is the barbecue man. He shows up to parties and special occasions. He pulls a trailer behind his car that is a grill with a stash of wood, generally grape vines. At the Friday night markets he grills steaks, chops, warms breads and cheeses and he does this for whatever you wish to put in his tip jar. I think, but I'm not sure, that he is married to the lady who shows up in the meat sales wagon, so he has a vested interest.

That brings us to Isabel, she runs the little market in Leran that is closed as often as it is open. Next to her is Chantal. She is the secretary in the Mairie's office. They say the secretaries in France, who toil away in obscurity for their local mayor, are the real holders of all the power. Dick Cheney to George Bush if you get my drift. Chantal apparently works every Friday night in July and August without pay, setting up tables and benches and every other task to make Cours St. Jacques ready for the Friday night festivities.

And lastly is Phillipe Lamond. We bought our house from him. He and his wife, Corrine have adopted a baby from Tahiti, and the poor souls had to go all the way there to get Pearl. Corrine and Phillipe have some Appaloosas (of all critters) and are in the Leran'Cestral with us. They have much better parts than we do. Mostly they ride around with swords and round up paysans in fabulous knight costumes. In one scene they are the Duke and Duchess, or the King and Queen or some type of royalty. Bring your own horses to the pageants and I guess you get the plum choice of roles.

Remember to click on the pictures to enlarge.