Saturday, April 9, 2011

Fodder and String Theory

We spent the second week of our vacation in a 14th-century farmhouse in the Dordogne Valley of southwestern France.

The house, the hamlet and the view of river and tree-gilded hillsides were enchanting.

Fodder almost literally could not tear himself away.

Most days he strolled along the one-lane road with his Moleskine sketchbook and a selection of pens, recording the graveyard, a wedge of lichen-covered slate roof, the chateau….

He alternated his perambulations with hours in the copper beech-shaded courtyard in front of the farmhouse, sipping coffee and adding watercolour washes to the day’s work.

He wandered with us through some magnificent medieval villages, of course, followed by riverside picnics and sketching sessions, but when the Saint and I headed for prehistoric painted caves, the claustrophobe stayed home. Or rather, he wandered on the hillsides instead of under them.

Then one day Fodder made a request.

“Next time you go shopping,” he said, “can you pick up some string for me?”

Curious, I agreed.

“I’ve figured out how to get through airport security on the way home,” he explained cheerfully.

So that’s what he’s been mulling over on his treks, I thought.

“What kind of string do you want?” I asked.

He shrugged kind of Gallically, as if to say that the fibrous detail was unimportant, but to help me out he described his plan.

“I’m going to tie string around my waistband, underneath my belt,” he said. “That way, when I take off the belt to go through security, the pants will still stay up.”

Ooookay. I reminded myself that he grew up on Li’l Abner comics. And he planned to wear the belt over the string. And it was, in fact, a pretty clever solution.

Plus, nobody would ever know.

On our next foray to Carrefour, the Saint and I found the string section. There was white plastic cord, quite thick and very sturdy looking. Beside it was sisal, rough, hairy and natural. Just beneath that was slender brown kitchen twine.

“Definitely not the white plastic,” I said. For one thing it wasn’t eco-friendly and for another it just looked bad. Even worse than the other, more natural-looking choices.

“The sisal, then.” The Saint’s eyes were bright as he reached for it.

I could see the visions of Dogpatch dancing in his head.

“Not the sisal.”

“But it’s so strong,” he wheedled.

“It’s hairy.”

“It’s earthy,” he tried.

“It’s scratchy.”

He had to admit I was right but he wasn’t ready to give up.

We argued amicably in the housewares aisle for a bit longer although we both knew what the outcome was going to be. The Saint didn’t get his name by being mean to his Fodder-in-law.

The next question was: would Fodder’s strategy work? Tune in next week to find out.


  1. Lovely sketches. Fashion-wise, so like a man I know. Why buy a new and flattering pair of pants when a mere length of twine will do the trick?

  2. I haven't heard from Fodder yet, so I don't know whether he finds this as amusing as we do…

  3. Rachel, they're absolutely gorgeous! I don't know about his fashion sense though. The string sounds a little dodgy.

  4. He's a little Dr Jekyll and Mr String-ish – definitely two sides to his character. Or maybe the string is just another manifestation of his creative side.

    Yes. That's what I'll hold on to.