May 18, 2009

Chez Gaby

This is Gaby Joly.

Gaby lives in Entrevaux, which is high in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, about 60 km from Nice. I came to Entrevaux last summer with Xavier and so, this visit was round II. The city itself is stunning. It is a medieval village perched in the cranny curve of the mountain, protected by both the mountain and the vast river that flows underneath it, with its 17th century citadel sitting atop the, watching over.

Marie and I were most excited to go to Gaby's on our trip to the south. You see, Gaby's world is pure poetry. Gaby's house is not clean. Gaby is not rich. Gaby does not care much for pretension or for fancy clothes or for stuffiness or even for getting rid of spiderwebs. Gaby is an artist in every sense of the idea. Her house is an old barn in the mountains outside of the village of Entrevaux. She does the plumbing herself. She also recently completed a training session for clowns (one of her many occupations).

She tells the most boisterous tales, full of big bear movements, dramatic slanted eyes (or crossed, depending) and waving arms. In one of these tales, she was at a costume party, dressed as a domineering leather-bound woman, her friend as an Egyptian belly dancer, and another friend as a pirate. Driving home from the party the road ended suddenly. This is a road leading to Entrevaux, a road they all knew very well. Gaby and her friends got out of the car and started climbing on the massive pile of rocks to try to understand what had happened when a spotlight lit them and the police and firemen were yelling at them to get down off of the rock slide. So there they were in their costumes climbing about on a mountain that was about to crumble again. The image was delightful, but even more absorbing was Gaby's face, hands and arms as she told this little adventure. Gaby's face twists, turns and opens as she talks. In other tales, she would describe using phrases like: "with the eyes of a giraffe," "she looked like a sourpuss Austrian queen," and "breasts like pears, one pointing to the east and one to the west" (the pointing portion dedicated to you Meredith).

Gaby is a grand collector (and stylist, as it turns out. I think Anthropologie would kill for Gaby's eye). Many people are guilty of being pack rats, storing away things they will never use or that have no purpose. Gaby is also a pack rat, but an aesthetically tuned one. She has high standards and they revolve around her free-flowing sense of beauty.

Her collections include...


Egg cartons:

Watering cans:




Lavender and paper rolls:


Hanging fabrics:


Kitchen things:

And this is where we slept (keeping one eye open for beasts):

I felt like a kid discovering another world at Gaby's house.

1 comment:

la_sale_bete said...

One pointing east and one pointing west, indeed! Oh, Emile. This looks like such a magnificent and delightful adventure. And your method of description is really beautiful.

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