Friday, March 30, 2007

synchronicity

amazing how fast things happen when serendipity is at work - or maybe it's the universe lining up for the a JUST CAUSE! on tuesday casual posted a comment about a nationwide action april 28th to get folks on the streets, in parks, on beaches, well about everywhere & anywhere, to call for the impeachment of bush/cheney. I sent an email to a peace listserve I'm on, in short time I received an email about a local impeach bush party that's in the works for april 28th.

this event was initially to take place in march, but stuff happened, the organizers had to reschedule and picked april 28th as it was the first date the venue had available. this is where I thought the universe must be smiling on the cause!

now the initial party has GROWN to include a pre-party rally, march and bit of street theatre. if you're in cleveland april 28th head down to lincoln park at 5 and take part in trying to take back our country! for more information on the cleveland event click here for events elsewhere click here

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

resurrected!

if you read my travel posts you may remember the traumatic experience I mentioned that happened on my LAST day in paris. I'm happy to report that my amazingly smart daughter was RIGHT the pictures I accidently deleted were recoverable. yeah, yeah, no need to obsess and worry, but I did anyway. when it comes to computers I'm either some sort of warped luddite or I share the same sentiment regarding technology as pete seeger who remarked: "Technology will save us if it doesn't wipe us out first"

ironically, the resurrected -from-the death-of-deletion were pictures I took at the cimetiere du pere lachaise. I thought there were some winners and made a little show (now that I'm back home and posting pictures and making a slide show is a SNAP!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

back to reality

returning home after an almost a complete news blackout, I find not much has changed... my fantasy that impeachment proceedings against cheney and bush getting underway didn't materialize! okay, yes, I admit I was victim to the kind of magical thinking that sometimes happens while I'm watching a uconn women's basketball game and find my huskies losing. this 'thinking' goes like: maybe if I leave the room uconn will come back, take control and win - the next thing I know I'm going in and out of the room while the game is on, psychically working to 'save' the game.

my going-on-vacation magical thinking went something like: okay, maybe if I leave the country, we'll get back on track, take control and win! zut! this didn't happen. impeachment proceedings haven't begun, we're still invading iraq, a pull-out isn't happening, our sons and daughters are still dying and suffering incredible physical and psychological trauma, there's still talk about 'taking action against' iran, and people are still feeling disenfranchised, disheartened, disgusted and depressed, and so on and so forth.

last night, my first night home, while I was sleeping, the uconn women's basketball team lost no final four appearance for them this year. maybe if I wasn't sleeping and instead I was watching the game, I could have helped the huskies. too late for that. but not too late to 'wake up' -- vacation is over, time to get back to reality and reengage. instead of magical thinking, perhaps I can work on applying the art of "magic is making things happen" and get back to doing what I can to promote peace, generate smiles, and create some beauty in our world. in other words, get back to the work on attaining the big things through small actions.

Monday, March 26, 2007

au revoir paris!


6:30 a.m. paris time. while everyone is still sleeping I thought I'd post my last message from paris. we will be heading up the hill to the champs to catch the air france bus to CDG airport in a few scant hours. how did the time go so quickly? we've had a wonderful time. we didn't get through nearly enough of our 'to do and see list' so I guess that means we'll have to be coming back another year.

sunday morning's showers evaporated and the day turned out as predicted warm and sunny, well partly sunny - there were nice puffy clouds about, but nothing threatening. after a wonderful breakfast of homemade crepes, prepared by my beau-frere who is truly a crepe master. his slogan for the secret of a good crepe is: "wipe well after each good crepe" - yes, you have my permission to groan.

we left the boys behind as we embarked our our last excursion for this visit, we knew our planned activities would hold little interest to a four year old boy. we had two destinations in mind - the richard lenoir market in the bastille neighborhood and the nearby pere-lachaise cemetery. I hadn't been to the cimetiere du pere-lachaise before, it is the resting place of many notables and a stroll through a paris cemetery is always an enjoyable and educational activity with their incredible mix of gravemarkers, mausoleums, crypts, statues, offerings and tributes left behind by visitors, and for people-watching. well, the p-l did not disappoint.

the richard lenoir market is I believe the largest of the paris markets and is a wonderland of sensory delights. you can find just about anything at this market: dazzling displays of fresh produce and fruits, every conceivable type of meat and fish, cheeses, breads, flowers, tantalizing prepared food, scarves, clothes, table cloths, fabric and materials to make your own, sewing notions, kitchen gadgets, bras and panties, shoes, well outside of large appliances you name it! the jostling crowd and hawking merchants are part of the fun of the market. the only thing I couldn't resist this year at the market were the scarves - the prices were half the price of the last time I was visited - 5 euros or less for a scarf. my sister told me the price difference was probably due to the fact that my first visit was in october, the height of scarf weather, whereas, now the vendors are trying to reduce their inventory because of the warmer weather and make room for new styles. after wandering the aisles of stalls and trying to capture a few new 'market scenes' for my archive of market pictures we left and headed up the rue de la roquette to the cimetiere.

the cimetiere du pere lachaise is considered paris's most prestigious cemetery and is situated on a hill with a lovely view of the city. the cemetery isn't that old by paris history standards, it was created in 1803 by order of napoleon himself. however, one may find bodies buried or 'housed' in the cemetery that are older than the cemetery, I learned that napoleon in order to 'promote' the place moved historical figures to the p-l. despite being a final resting place the p-l was alive with people strolling about, many with maps in hand in order to seek out the graves of people of interest. unfortunately we didn't have our own map (another case of improper planning! who would have known the authorities do not sell maps (plans) on sunday!). instead upon entry we made a list of the folks we would like to find from the plan stationed at the entrance: oscar wilde, marcel proust, jim morrison, sarah bernhardt, moliere and I'm happy to report we were somewhat successful - we did locate a few folk on our list but in our wanderings discovered the 'stories' of many unknown people; every gravesite in it's own way tells a story of life once lived.

the most amusing of our hunts dealt with locating the tomb of oscar wilde. we approached a couple who had a map to try and get some assistance in finding the section he is located in. the couple was italian - they didn't speak french nor english, and obviously we don't speak italian. when we pointed to the section number we were interested in, they excitedly proclaimed "oscar wilde, oscar wilde" to which we said "si, yes, oui" and through sign language and various utterings, they indicated that they too were interested in finding wilde's grave. so off went our newly formed hunting party, we were soon joined by two more italians (who until then were strangers to our initial italian couple) because of shared language the italians seemed to become fast friends and off we continued the four italians leading the way. they were ever vigilant to make sure we were keeping up and stopped often for us as both em and I were prone to be slow or wander off the walkway to take pictures of something that caught our fancy. once we were near the grave it was not difficult to find, fittingly all we had to do was follow the laughter. at the site was a boisterous and very international crowd. there were lipstick lip prints covering the lower half of the monument and all sorts of tributes placed at the site. the morrison site by contrast was equally crowded, but quite solemn and even had a guard present to insure nothing untoward might take place or be left (for instance one visitor brought flowers and a bottle - the guard told the man, the flowers were okay, but not the bottle of booze!).

we left the cemetery around 4:30 and before heading back on the metro stopped at the large and aptly decorated cafe (the walls were adorned with pictures of the notables across the street) for coffee and hot chocolate. the metro ride home was much fun as we reviewed our day and made terrible puns about our leeks on the metro. we had a most plesant final evening at home with family. my sister and emma were the evening's chefs and prepared the most wonderful feast - the centerpiece was a marvelous leek tarte, the recipe I intend to secure and share one day on 'the mouse.' unfortunately, the only snag in the evening happened because of my own stupidity and haste. while I was downloading my pictures I only downloaded part of the day's pictures. I 'forgot' there were two files on the card and downloaded the first file, put the card back into my camera and proceeded to delete the entire card. I quickly discovered my mistake and was heartbroken, and obviously still obsessing a bit about my carelessness. "haste makes waste" -- let's say I am reminded of the lesson of the mouse. unfortunately, missing are most all my pictures from the cemetery, the cafe, the metro ride home and the early part of the evening. emma believes that since the card hasn't been reformatted there's a chance that I can recover the pictures - how I hope that is the case, of course my favorite pictures from the day are among the deleted!

this is the last year my sister and her family will be living in paris, in july they are moving. they already have a visit planned to cleveland, I can't wait to show off our sites, although it's not paris! we have plenty to of wonderful things to offer. and then I can't wait to visit them at their next home - and I've already begun my "africa travel fund"!!

a bientot! merci paris, merci ma famille! j'aime paris et vous!





Sunday, March 25, 2007

one less hour in paris


sunday morning, 8:30 am local time, if it was yesterday it would be 7:30; I'm on my 2nd 'spring ahead' for 2007 - a weird thought. alas, this means one less hour on my last full day in paris. yesterday I wrote that the morning started out with blue and promising skies - well those ended by the time we started the day's explorations. yesterday's rains have carried over and now when I look out the window I see showers and grey skies. but I know this means nothing, in fact, I'm optimistic about today as I actually had the foresight to check out a forecast! geez, why didn't I think about that all this past week - would have saved me alot of improper planning consequences. anyway the forecast for today is for a showery morning with relatively warm temperatures giving way to a sunny and warm afternoon! I consider the predicted high for the day of 57 as warm compared to the weather the 40s we've had all week.

my sister and my beau-frere (I just had to get that french word in as I love it and it does so describe my feelings for this guy - he's been a beautiful addition to our family for the 17 years he been in it) anyway, they returned home from their little vacation in good shape and much earlier than any of us expected! they were back at the apartment by 10:30 in the morning. the kids, em and I were all in the lazy saturday morning zone - still unwashed and in our pjs. but I'm happy to say at least the beds were all made and the kitchen was tidied up!

yesterday's showery weather didn't deter us from another day of explorations. in fact, showers were an appropriate atmospheric contribution to a couple of our activities. my sister joined em and I - which was wonderful as that is what is the nice thing missing from this trip to paris - hanging out with my sister! even though my sister is not really a david lynch aficionado, she had the grace and fortitude to join us in making the trek to the foundation cartier to attend the "david lynch: the air is on fire" exhibition. as expected it was pretty strange but strangely wonderful and as expected some of it was pretty disturbing even repulsive; but all of it downright fascinating. what was compelling to me is that david lynch would put together such an extensive show he REALLY puts out the contents of his inner-psyche (yes, he does that in his films, but not to the extent and personal level that one's notebooks, doodles, sketching and paintings do!). I remarked that it was like seeing david in his underwear - but maybe given david's fondness for nudity, it was well more like seeing him naked.

since we were in the montparnasse neighborhood, after the show we wandered to the cemetery. this is where jean-paul and simone are buried along with countless other important cultural individuals. however, it is the grave of sartre and de beauvoir that I make a pilgrimage to; together in life, they are still together in repose. this year their grave site was adorned by many more flowers than the single red rose that marked it the first time I visited. french cemeteries are fascinating places to wander; many french carefully tend to the grave sites of their deceased loved ones and make an art of this respect to their dead. cemeteries are often home to cats which is another reason I enjoy visiting french cemeteries, but alas yesterday's rain kept them in their hidey holes.

after the cemetery excursion we took the 94 bus to the neighborhood around la madeleine. we wanted to visit maille mustard store and see the new concoctions, and there were plenty of unique combinations. we did sample of few and even purchased a couple flavors one would never find in the united states - like sundried tomato, chili mustard and a thai curry mustard (with mango!). for the next hour or so we were just part of the throngs of parisians and tourists peopling this bustling shopping area. for some amazing food eye candy we went into the fauchon stores, since we hadn't eaten anything since our morning croissant we couldn't resist picking up a couple little snacks to eat at when we got home. we cut them three and four ways, and all the adults had a taste - yes, they were incredible.

great food was the theme and wrap up for saturday, my sister and beau-frere took us to Bistro 17, their favorite place to dine and really one of the best deals in paris for traditional bistro fare. for a fixed price you receive a entree (which to americans is an appetizer) the main course (a meat or fish accompanied by a veggie) a dessert, coffee, and a half a bottle of wine each - so last night we had 2 bottles with dinner. I finally got my escargot - a few years ago I couldn't imagine eating snails, but strengthen by peer pressure during my last visit I tried one and discovered I love these little guys. okay, so they are kind of cute, but I liken them to clams and mussels - somehow my cute food prohibition doesn't extend to things that live in water (well, of course I'd never eat a water mammal but in terms of fish and other critters - cute is kosher). on my niece's recommendation I went with the steak and pomme-frites her favorite dish at bistro 17 - and it was done to perfection. for dessert I considered their wonderful creme brulee or another sweet offering, but instead I choose the petit salad avec deux fromage - how I love cheese! we were all a tired party when we returned home at 11 - I proceeded right to bed.



Friday, March 23, 2007

samedi


it's around 8 saturday morning and the view from the window looks like it might be a beautiful day. however, I'm learning not to trust the view from the window or even an excursions out to predict what it's going to do for the day. for example yesterday morning the walk to the school bus stop with my niece was lovely, it felt warm and the sky was blue - I though 'great we are going to have nice weather.' yep, you see where this story is going! we left the house little bit later to accompany my nephew across town to his school (by the way I did put his winter coat on him) and begin our day's adventures. our destination yesterday was the musee du quai branly - conveniently located just a few blocks away! the museum opened at 10 which gave us plenty of time to find a patisserie and get a cafe au lait and a croissant.

first stop was at the post office to drop off em's post cards and fortunately the post office was near some art nouveau buildings I discovered on wednesday at rapp square - emma wasn't with me so this was perfect. somehow in the five minutes it took us to drop adam off the weather changed - it got cold and the sky wasn't looking promising any longer. so, we didn't learn our lesson from the day before and wear winter coats. no problem at least it was dry. early afternoon when it came time for us to leave the musee du quai branly this was no longer the case. c'est dommage.

the changeable weather and the experience at the patisserie didn't turn to be portents of the day nor did they dampen our day except in the literal sense. what about the patisserie, you might ask? here I thought you really couldn't get a bad cup of coffee or a bad pastry in paris - well, wrong!!! the cafe au lait was dreadful - it was so weak calling it coffee flavored water would be kind. and the croissant - edible, but not like the delicious croissants found at the place down the street from the apartment or the other croissants I've tasted around and about. in fact, this croissant was not even as good as the one we get at our local heinen's supermarket back in cleveland! oh well, not the end of the world - so I didn't get my morning coffee fix - today we'll make up for it and head down and get a wonderful cafe au lait at the neighborhood joint. if you find yourself in paris and jonesing for a good cup of coffee let me tell you avoid "au levain" on av rapp! -- walk a bit in any direction and you'll stumble on another patisserie - boulangerie, undoubtedly they will provide the sustenance and caffeine you seek!

on to bigger and better things! our expeience at the musee du quai branly was amazing as the museum itself is amazing. on one hand it reminded me of one of my favorite museums of all time - 'the musee de la civilisation' in quebec. but it was like that museum on steriods - the quai was incredible - the collection immense and the building HUGE. for folk interested in anthropology and different cultures this is a place to get lost in. and the building - or should I say buildings - are marvels to behold. the museum complex consists of four buildings and each is an architectural jewel in it's own right - from the red louvered building of the main exhibition hall to the green wall (and I mean GREEN, as is living, growing green wall) of the building which faces the quai branly.

unlike most museums I've been to in europe, the quai does not allow photography of the inside collection. of course this rule is easy to understand considering the fragile condition and age of many of the artifacts on display. the museum lighting is also very low to help in the preservation efforts, so no-flash photography would present a problem - no sense tempting folks! just a bit more on the museum interior, I found it deligtfully organic - there are no formal, rectilinear galleries; collections from the representative cultures are gently united as you wander through the curving spaces of the interior exhibition hall.

after visiting the museum we popped into the gift shop. my only disappointment is that I don't have a better facility with french - while I can read it passably well, there is no way I could make my way though the very interesting, yet scholarly texts that piqued my interest. however, I did quite well understanding all the words in the children's books I leafed through. however, my pronouncation of french is so horrid, there is no way I would subject a child to my reading aloud the story of "martin le rat et marion la souris" - instead of buying books emma and I left with a list of books in order to see if we can find them in english at the libraries or on one of the internet bookstores.

keeping with our theme of cultural diversity we decided to have indian food for lunch. actually the decision was more prompted by having a difficult time resisting the curry aromas and it was RIGHT there and the weather was getting really wet. what a good food decision that was, the restaurant we went to is named "le new jawad" although we only sampled two dishes, the 'butter chicken' we had was simply out of this world - the best I've ever tasted and the version of this favorite dish is one I will be dreaming of for years. if only I could get the recipe - I know there has to be some secret - or maybe it's the quality of the french butter used. it was interesting to eat indian food in paris and watch the other diners - emma and I approach eating indian food I expect the way it's meant to be - with nan in hand we like to scoop and soak up our saucy fare. it was amusing to see some people using a knife and a fork to cut their nan and daintily eat the bits. yes, I admit the interior of the restaurant was really fancy; many indian restaurants are very elaborately and fancily decorated, so really now!

it was about 2:30 by the time we finished lunch just enough time for a brief stroll and bit of window shopping - and window shopping is about all we can afford to do here - the chocolate at one chocolate shop was 66 euros a kilo. I know when I will be buying a bit of chocolate it will be pricey, but I don't think the chocolate at the two shops I like to frequent is quite that dear. but it's fun to look at all the beautiful window displays and signs and imagine. fortunately by mid-afternoon the weather was just somewhat misty and only small periods of light showers and it really didn't feel that cold any more!

we picked up a very happy nephew and it was home again, home again jiggity jig. we had another relaxed evening with the kids.... making supper, reading stories, being domestic and since it was friday night no homework to go over (however, I must say going over and discussing my niece's math homework with her the night before was fun - and I hope my 'math can be fun' mantra will make an impact - of course, the problems were fraction problems and those are the kind of math problems I enjoy most I don't know if I would have been a math booster had the problem been something out of my realm of understanding.) after the kids were clean and tucked in emma ate our 'vehicles for butter' - artichokes, we enjoyed a nice bottle of french wine and then played cards until eyes were crossing and it was time to crash.

we're expecting my sister and her husband to be home around lunchtime today - so the final two days of exploring this great city will wait; until then I guess it's time to neaten up the place so ma soeur doesn't think I'm a complete slob (incomplete slob I can live with!)




Thursday, March 22, 2007

jeudi


according to all sources it was ALOT warmer today in cleveland than in paris, but no matter, 1) we're AWAY 2) the flowers and trees are much further along in terms of color and bloom, and 3) my motto is it doesn't ever matter what the weather is when you're away, you're away and that's what matters - weather conditions are part of the adventure!

we had another great day...the morning got off to a good start and getting both my sister's kids up and going went well (much better than expected/feared), am happy to report it was totally smooth, hopefully tomorrow will go similarly well. it's been a long time since I have had to deal with the whole off to school bit for little chickadees; needless to say, I had a little anxiety.

after dropping adam off at 9, emma and I headed down the street (actually the quai d'orsay) to the musee d'orsay. it opened at 9:30 so we didn't have too long of wait. it's actually quite refreshing to be in a situation where one arrives at an art museum before it opens and find that there's a good size line. even though this was my fourth visit to the d'orsay, there was nothing repetitive or dull about the visit. today's visit was made special by experiencing it with my daughter, it was oddly kind of gratifying to find how much in common we have in terms of our aesthetic sense and discover the similarities in terms of what 'floats our boat.' the special temporary exhibits were great - they ranged from the quirky photo profiles of current d'orsay staff to mark some 'significant' anniversary to a scholarly and expansive exhibition of the artist Jules Bastien-Lepage. if pressed, I would have to say that the bastien-lepage exhibit was the highlight of what I saw at the museum this visit. in terms of style and subject manner, lepage broke away from the academy and the salon scene (he painted before the impressionists for you fellow art history buffs). his sympathetic portrayal of the rural working and impoverished classes touched my soul. his portraits of his mother, father and grandfather touched our hearts and this exhibit sparked for me a new 'artist of interest.'

after our visit to the museum we set off for a late lunch. what we chose was seemed like a authentic paris bistro & is called la vin bellechasse (or Le20). the food was GREAT (and our server was most helpful in supplying a sheet explaining the board in english - while we did okay there were a few items we needed assistance in translation on) and the atmosphere bustling with local people enjoying a full food experience for lunch - I adore the approach and total enjoyment of food in france. although since I do have some of my own food quirks - I call it "don't eat cute" I don't really participate as fully as others do - no rabbits, ducks, baby cows, and geese for me! emma had her first experience eating steak tatare, accompanied with some amazing and authentic pommes frites.

right now it's quite late, my eyes are crossing and the bed is calling and although I could go on, I find the notion of sleep extremely attractive right now (although when I started this posting it was thurs (jeudi)and now is friday (vendredi) but did want to check in and get a couple pictures up from today and for those clicking in regularly while we're wandering to say we had another bon jour!






pictures: top - emma and I in the musee d'orsay bottom set: one of the icons of the d'orsay building; amazing art nouveau style display/storage cabinet; detail of above cabinet; le vin bellechasse (also known as le 20) a wonderful bistro and wine bar in the 7 arrondissement; gustave's tower

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

printemps


today is the first day of spring - what a gift to be spending it in paris. however, outside it's a pretty lion-ish first day of spring. the temperatures are in the 40s but with the blustery wind it feels downright chilly. fortunately for us my sister has plenty of jackets that we can wear since the optimists that we are only packed jean jackets - although I did include my lightweight (read non-puffy) down vest. the morning was fairly wet and grey, but the weather this afternoon has been a real mix. at times the sky is quite dramatic with rapidly moving clouds giving way to patches of blue that look like sky in a renaissance or romantic era painting - you know the ones I mean, those with those deep blue skies you just can't get enough of! then a bit later there will be a heavy downpour - crazy! is this a case of being in one of those locations that claim if you don't like the weather - wait a while and it will be something different. doesn't it seem that no matter where you go the people make this claim?

yesterday we were in the montmartre area for a big chunk of our day - checking out sacre coeur, 'window shopped' in the district's fabric shops (and even went in the one annie states is the biggest and best), winding about on the twisty little rues, basically doing what we seem to do best have one goal and improvise. we had to trim our plans a bit as my sister got one of those dreaded calls from the school nurse saying 'your child is sick.' soon off she went to attend to nina; emma and I reconfigured our wanderings so that we would be back near my nephew's school in order to pick him up at 3. and of course everything worked out well - adam's school is located near the tour eiffel and a trip to paris isn't complete until you get up close to this huge radio transmitter! we also ran upon a new museum that will be the centerpiece of either tomorrow or friday - quai branley (devoted to the 'new world' as it were - but the building alone looks like it will be worth the visit. anyhow, it turns out that my neice is indeed sick - she was able to see a doctor and he did the rapid strep test and it was positive, so with some antibiotics and a complete couple days of rest she should be better in no time. fortunately this call came yesterday and not today; today is the first day of being in charge of the kids as my sister and her husband left for prague at the crack of dawn this morning.

this morning turned out great with only one kid to get up, dressed, fed and taken to school. the routine seemed so easy and it all things considered it was pretty laid-back getting out the door, to the bus and to school. when we left the apartment emma and nina were still asleep. wednesdays are a short day at my nephew's school. feeling assured that nina was in good hands, instead of coming back I stayed in the neighborhood of the school - for me, ideally situated in the 7th arrondissement. I was able to visit the recently reopened petit palais, musee des beaux-arts de la ville de paris. unfortunately it didn't open until 10 so I spent the first hour finding a post office, and wandering the area a bit looking at the buildings and other pleasant diversions....I discovered a few incredible art nouveau era buildings on av rapp. I did make my way over to the petit palais area earlier than first intended as the rain was picking up. so for fifteen minutes before the museum opened I and about a score of other early arrivers took shelter under the building's entrance portico. although there was a special exhibit that sounded wonderful on john sargent singer I passed it up in favor of looking at the museum's permanent collection - which was pretty darned amazing! the museum is organized according to a principles of comparison and contrast and groups together sculptures, paintings, and objects d'art together of a particular movement or era. although the museum is small compared to the louvre or even the musee d'orsay its collection ranges from ancient greece to the early 20th century.

this afternoon after picking up adam and successfully getting back to the apartment on the bus (unlike yesterday it was successful yet a bit more twisted than it could have been seeing we got off the bus too early and had to figure our way to the apartment via an unfamiliar route - but no problem with the handy 'le petit parisien' which I highly recommend to EVERYONE coming to paris!) we've been chilling. the afternoon has been spent catching up on laundry, making a hearty lunch, writing postcards, putting my couple hundred (or more) pictures on cds, and giving the kids the opportunity have a home day of games, a movie, and just hanging out. hopefully the kids can get to bed on time and we all will get up tomorrow feeling refreshed, healthy and ready for whatever is in store!







lower pictures: coffee and croissants @ neighborhood boulangerie; rooftops as seen from sacre couer; fruit stand; cimetiere de montmartre avec chat; petit palais courtyard; seine view (building w/ adam's school located in american church - church tower to left)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

impressions of barcelona


we arrived back to paris at 11 pm on monday - I calculated that we had about 52 hours of time in barcelona (excluding travel time) and we tried to make the most of it! I'd love to write a detailed travel narrative, but now we're back in paris, the city and my family here calls - so instead of a narrative - I'll try and provide a little taste of barcelona in words and images.

had the cleveland museum of art not had a show last fall, I don't think I would have considered making a trip to barcelona, but both emma and I were bit by the 'gaudi bug' during the barcelona exhibit. when we found a cheap flight from paris to barcelona (I mean CHEAP - thanks ryan air) it was too good to pass up. barcelona is truly a glittering gem on the mediterranean, the city is steeped in history and shaped by an artistic sensibility that I've never experienced anywhere else before. other cities are infused with art - but somehow barcelona is different - the public, street and high art here are palpable. of course, my impressions may just be the glow of being away, on vacation, and away from grey days and winter clastrophobia and cabin fever. but there must be something special about the city to have nurtured and 'turned out' such artistic genuises such as picasso, miro and GAUDI - gaudi, who I stand in total AWE of - to me he is the leonardo da vinci of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

emma and I spent most of our time walking the city, taking in the sights, sounds and trying to get a feeling for the ebb and flow of daily life. one thing barcelona is not is a sleepy city - the place is ALIVE with movement, color, and passion. people everywhere and the people on the streets of barcelona seem to hail from every where -such an diverse city in terms of both residents and visitors.

barcelona is....
...a city of amazing buildings
...wide avenues, narrow streets and alleys
...cobblestones, granite, marble, brick, and mosiac tile
...people strolling - movemento
...laundry on balconies
...high public art
...wandering minstrels and street musicians
...playgrounds filled with the laughter of children
...soccer being played by young, old, male and female
...lovers embraced and friends with linked arms
...men gathered in twos and threes chatting and smoking
...happy babies, crying babies, and everywhere babies and their mommas and papas
...spray paint grafitti artists
...tapas, paella, cervaza, sangria, olives, and sea salt
...street mimes and living statues
...pickpockets and hub, hub, hub and coochie, coochie
...the ring of the ubiquitious cell phone and the peel of scooters and motocycles
...a city of so much, a place to return to again and again








Friday, March 16, 2007

bonjour!


4:40 am paris time saturday morning. in an hour we leave to pick up the shuttle for our barcelona sidetrip. thought while I had a few minutes to post a few pictures from yesterday. since it started out such a sunny warm day, emma and I decided to forego museums and inside activities, and logged lots of miles on foot. we essentially wandered around a few of the popular sections of the city. we left the house late mornings by taking the metro to rambuteau-st sebasteien and then used the les halles area as our starting off point for the day. we had a goal to see notre dame, people watch at a sidewalk table at the cafe de flore, walk along the seine for those marvelous views, and basically go wherever our feet took us. some days that seems the best way - be loose as a oie! since there's no time to write in length I will let a few pics will tell a bit of yesterday's story.




pictures: emma & I before i.m. pei's famous pryamid; a little bridge music; the birdman of notre-dame; evening on the place de la concorde; seine view

Thursday, March 15, 2007

post from PARIS

it's after midnight on friday (paris time) essentially I've been up since wednesday morning (or wed. afternoon paris time) and despite my need to sleep I thought I'd post a quick blog as who knows what tomorrow morning will bring. I don't seem to possess the ability to sleep on planes anymore and once we got into this marvelous, gorgeous city, my adreneline kicked in and the desire for sleep went elsewhere - too much to see, too much to do! before I tuck in, hopefully for a nice long sleep, I thought I'd post my first greeting from paris.

getting out of cleveland was a bit sketchy with turmulant and nasty weather delaying our departure and making for a bumping ride to detroit - despite leaving detroit 30 or 40 minutes late, the winds were with us and we arrived at CDG 40 minutes ahead of schedule. my sister met us at the arc de triomphe and we walked from the arc to annie's house (about a mile or so) in the sun of a beautiful young spring day! this little walk seemed to rejuvenate my energy and renewed my dormant desire for this enchanting city. I truly am a city mouse. I spent the afternoon reacquainting myself to the streets and familiar landmarks of the 17th & 8th arrondissements (my 'home away from home' here in paris) and learning some new routes. the most important is the route to my nephew's school, next week I'll be 'in charge' of delivery and pick-up of my nephew to his school while my sister and her husband are off on a much needed and deserved 'romantic getaway' (altho I'm sure it's me the "incurable whatever' adding the romantic getaway to their planned trip to prague).

spring is so much more along here than back at home in cleveland - which I understand actually is currently having a seasonal setback in the short time I've been gone (I understand there was some white stuff around today!!??! - SPRING in cleveland here today, gone tomorrow!) around me the flowers are coming out, there is a haze of green shimmering on the shrubs and trees, and nary a christmas decoration is in sight! there is so much I love here - the art, the architecture, the food, the people, the literature, the history (who was it that said france has so much history it could be a dozen countries - well maybe I, I think in my sleep deprived state, I may have adapted someone's quote about france having a rich history into this quite accurate 'remark' - one of my bookwomen can help on this!)

with this all said, I'm now really ready for sleep, but I did want to check in with 'the mouse' (yes, all that know me, know I am a bit compulsive), and register with those that will be 'checking in' our safe arrival.

DISCLAIMER: my blogger connection is all en francais so please pardon my typos and misspellings, I can't seem to be able to run spell check! maybe I'll figure that out tomorrow, but maybe not as I may be having too much fun to want to spend time on such a pursuit! my other problem for this late hour is I can't seem to be able to post pictures easily and quickly, I did want to put up a few winners from today! but instead of a few there's just a couple! c'est dommage!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

counting down the hours...

wow, in a blink of an eye it went from counting down the weeks, then the days, to now the HOURS! if all goes according to schedule in just a few short hours, my daughter emma and I will be flying off for our springtime adventure. pinch me! in 24 hours I might just be sitting at a sidewalk cafe in paris soaking in the city's beauty and maybe even enjoying a bit of dejeuner!

just a few days ago I thought we'd be leaving in the midst of winter, but in another blink of an eye it went from winter to spring. the last couple days have been so mild and warm, tasha and I have been able to resume our long strolls to all our regular haunts. yesterday the local park was bustling with the level of activity generally seen on a warm summer day - jabbering toddlers keeping their 'big people' hopping on the playground, scores of teenagers shooting hoops, people with dogs everywhere and everyone with a smile and nod of happiness! the little store down the street replaced last weeks bags of salt for icy walks with racks of primroses, tulips, pansies and shamrocks. I couldn't resist loading up tasha's stroller with a few pots of pansies and once home the pansies were just the inspiration needed. now the house looks cheery with freshly ranked beds and a pot of those happy pansies on the steps. the only discordant item in this whole "spring is here" picture is the continuing presence of holiday decorations (and I'm not talking about st. patrick's day and easter decorations - although there are plenty of those about) I'm talking christmas decorations! please people, I mean seriously, it is the ides of march, we're just a few weeks away from passover and easter - isn't it about time to put away the candy canes walkway lights, santa and reindeer on the roof, cascading blinking lights, and the deflated snowmen and snowglobes littering your lawns. it sure would be nice to come home to more pots of flowers on steps and porches and an absence of 'it's looking a lot like christmas.' we'll see......but perhaps I best not hold my breath!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

act locally 5.13.07



yesterday I heard about a simple affirming activity for peace that each of us can make happen this year on mother's day. on may 13, head to a local park with friends and family, pick a spot and stand in peaceful silence for a while. inspired by Sharon Mehdi's delightful children's book "The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering" and by the 'mother' of mother's day Julia Ward Howe standing in the park for peace sounds like mighty good mouse medicine to me! Mehdi states that her book is "a little story about peace for anyone who thinks she can't save the world." through it's simple message of hope the story demonstrates to us that we can be the change in the world with the smallest of actions.

if you have five minutes sit back and relax, with the magic of the internet I found the following video of a group of women from ohio reading mehdi's story and asking us all to join together to save the world!

Monday, March 12, 2007

think global, act local


this week will mark the 4 year anniversary of the US invasion and war on Iraq - the human costs of this action are staggering. in order to demonstrate the toll of the war the peace community in cleveland is staging a 8 day vigil, each second represents and commemorates each of the estimated 650,000 war dead (iraqi and us deaths). today the number of US soldiers who have died is nearly 3200, a sobering figure, but dwarfed in comparison to the number of iraqis who have lost their lives.

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired,
signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

--Dwight D. Eisenhower

what is that saying - the devil is in the details? well, here's more information to digest as we consider the 'big picture':