Looking back at this past year, it can be characterized as a time of renewal. Valerie drew on the inspiring vein of our Californian environment for the subject matter in her tapestries. She completed a major piece, depicting an old barn in a meadow. The tall yellowed grass submits wavily to the breeze.
The sky runs from deep blue to turquoise. Good weather clouds ﬂoat over the scene. It is exquisite.
Her next tapestry, which she has just started, portrays a Californian shrub, the milkweed. It is off to a very promising start. She has also participated actively in three different groups of local artists, who meet regularly and interact in mutually beneﬁcial and pleasant ways.
For instance, Valerie took part, during the summer, in a collective exhibition, known as Art Trails.
People of the Mariposa County could visit private homes, in each of which art pieces by two or three local artists could be looked at.
Now, with the start of a new year, she is about to display her tapestry work for several weeks in a bank in Oakhurst. In addition to her art, she has become involved in local history. There is an historical museum in Mariposa, with a rich collection, artifacts dating back, in particular, to the Gold Rush and to its aftermath. Valerie goes there regularly, as a docent, greeting visitors — often people on their way to or from the Yosemite National Park —, answering their questions and guiding them through the collections.
We spend winters in California, but summers in France. In Europe rather, where we took a few joint trips. To Northern Wales, by occasion of the big history of science conference in Manchester, which allowed us to see our dear friends, Jenny & Martin Rocke in nearby Chester. To Budapest, ﬂying from Strasbourg on a totally clear day, when we feasted on the awesome sight of the Alps, covered in snow from a recent storm, extending through Switzerland and Austria. Following which, we enjoyed being on a cruise on the Danube, upstream until Bavaria. Even though it was organized by a French company, the crew was entirely Hungarian. Accordingly, we were only one set of Laszlos, there were a few more — including two of the musicians. To Sweden also, for a conference in Uppsala.
In mid-August, we were joined by my children and grandchildren, by occasion of my 75th. It was held in Southwestern France, not far from our village. We stayed in a fancy boutique hotel, complete with gourmet dinners, splendid grounds and gorgeous weather. The main memory is of sitting by the swimming pool, with the grandchildren endlessly jumping in or, better, pushing one another into the water. A few days later, my eldest daughter, Sophie, moved to the Land of Hesse, with her children. She is now consul general of France in Frankfurt — where I visited them prior to ﬂying to California for the winter.
Renewal? I am attempting a career change, switching from science writer to biographer. I attended a conference of biographers in New York. I also made trips, to Wilmington and to Basel, to meet with prospective biographees. My ambition is to do a book, assembling a dozen biographies of people who, even though not celebrities, are all busy preparing our collective future.
Other than that, I organized a one-day conference in Paris, on June 12, on chemistry and archaeology. I took part in a workshop on Materiality and Memory, in late November, in Haute Provence, preparatory to a collective book on that topic. And remained active with lectures and a number of published pieces, small and large.
We send you our friendliest regards and wish you a Happy New Year !