Sunday, December 16, 2007

Happy Holidays!

December is always a busy month for me. I like to decorate the house, so that gets done first, then we always host a party for my husband's colleagues, so that's next. We had the party last Friday and now I have some time to bake, shop, wrap gifts and write cards and notes. Because it's important to get things mailed early, I have some packages ready to mail first thing Monday morning.

This is the table in the family room set for 8. It's a narrow table, so with the chargers there wasn't room for a centerpiece.
This is the table in the dining room. I have used the gold chargers in here before, but decided to change things around this year. We had 10 in this room. The table expands to seat up to 14, but 10 was enough. I always use cloth napkins when I have company. I enjoy finding new ways to fold them. These are some that I believe belonged to my grandmother or great aunt. I don't think they were used much, though before I acquired them. I use them and wash and iron them. I don't do tablecloths, though. My tablecloths are mostly easy-care.

If you want to see pictures of my home decorated for the holidays, take a look here. I was in Norway in June and have had a collection of things Norwegian for a while now, which worked themselves into my decor this year. Growing up we always had Norwegian cookies, breads, flötegröt, sylte, and more during the holidays, so that's when we would remember our Norwegian heritage. So I guess displaying my Norwegian things at Christmas fits in with remembering my heritage and family at this time of year. (I'm 1/4 Norwegian and 1/4 Swedish.)

I wish you a most joyous holiday season, spent with the ones you love, full of laughter, good times all the things you like best!!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Back Home in Duluth

We arrived home late Friday night Nov. 30th. I heard from the woman sitting next to me that they were predicting 6-12 inches of snow for Saturday. At this time of year we hardly ever get as much as they predict, but I thought some snow would be nice.

Sure enough, the next morning after we got one car started and got some groceries the snow started and continued all afternoon. On Sunday we shoveled ourselves out. We have a walkway to the front of the house and another one going back to the alley, where the cars are, so we really have to shovel both front and back, but a wonderful neighbor was having fun with a new snow-blower and did the sidewalk out by the street. That's a big part of the job, so we really appreciated that.

Now, I've been tagged. I appreciate the honor and am going to try to follow the rules, which say that I have to list random facts about myslef beginning with each letter of my middle name. My middle name is MARGARET, so this is a challenge for me.

I Married my college chemistry teacher in 1972. I like to say he’s much older than I, but we’re really only 3 years apart. He was a 2nd year grad student and I was a 3rd year undergrad when I landed in his Chemistry lab for Chem 101 or whatever the number was. Thirty-five years later, I know it was the right decision.

(This was taken last year at a Gala Christmas Party.)
I Am 56 years old. I was a kid in the ‘50’s, a teenager in the ‘60’s and a college student, newlywed and young mother in the ‘70’s. They were great decades.

I Read novels and memoirs in French. Last summer I enjoyed 4 novels by Claude Michelet about an agricultural town in central France, and then read his memoir of his childhood. I’m reading some Colette, now.

I Get to travel to all kinds of wonderful places with my husband. We even went around the world in 2006, stopping in Beijing, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Karachi, Quetta, Dubai, Pisa, Florence and Rome. If you want to see those pictures, they start here with Beijing.

I lived in Africa for a year. In 1969-70 I lived with my family in the Congo. That was before it became Zaire, which is now again the Congo.

(My mother painted this during our stay there.)

I’m a Rosemaler. I started trying to learn this interesting folk art in 2001 and have been working at it off and on ever since. I hope I am still improving and will continue for many years to learn and get better at it. Here is one of my painted plates.

I Enjoy working cryptic cross-word puzzles. A lot of people have never seen these, but they are the standard type of cross-word in England. I am doing some really challenging ones right now written by Frank Lewis for ‘The Nation.‘

I Try not to brag too much, but I’m really proud of our two sons. They both have PhD’s now. James just finished his in October. They live in Boston and Santa Barbara. They have great jobs and are fun to have around. And they’re both single, play the French horn, enjoy sports and outdoor activities, so if you know any sweet girls…. (Just kidding guys.)

My legal middle initial is S. which is the only way I could figure out how to get this one in.

I love Snow and skiing, snowshoeing, sledding or just walking in it. It makes me happy every time I see it, falling, on the ground, even in the form of slush.
(This was taken in our front yard after a big storm last March. We don't have this much snow now.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Climbing in Paris with Patrick and James

When the boys were little they loved to climb steps, so we climbed the tallest towers in all the cities we visited. We have climbed St. Paul's in London, the Dom tower in Utrecht, Sacre Coeur in Paris, and lesser known towers and hills in England and other parts of Europe.
I guess I thought we'd done all the towers, but Jim decided while the boys were here again that we should climb some towers, so we did.

First we climbed the 387 (or 402 if you believe a different web site) steps to the top of the south tower of Notre Dame cathedral. Here is a picture of some of the chimera up there. If they don't act as downspouts they are called chimera instead of gargoyles. Notre Dame has both.

The next day we climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. (about 287 steps-I counted) This is the spiral stairway in the Arc de Triomphe. That's my boot in the bottom of the photo and some strangers climbing up behind us.
Here is a picture looking toward the Bois de Boulogne west of Paris from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
The next day we climbed the steps some of which are outside and others inside to the base of the dome of Sacré Coeur. That was 200 to 300 steps, not counting all the steps that you have to climb to get to the church in the first place. Then for some reason to climb the tower you have to go down to the basement and climb from there. The photo of the church here was taken on the day I visited it with Alice, which was a nice sunny day. It wasn't that nice the day we climbed it, so I don't have pictures from below on that day.

This is the view from the base of the dome. You can see the row of openings around the dome in the photo above. That's where this is taken from, looking down at the steps below the basilica. There must be about 200 of them too.
Here we all are in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was a grey day and the line was long to go up it this day, so we didn't.
But we did return the next day when the weather was better. The line was still long so we climbed to the second level and then bought a ticket to ride the elevator to the top. That was about 700 steps, which really felt like a lot. They are numbered on the steps-668 to the second level then about 15 more to the elevators and another 15 to the lookout area at the very top.
This is actually taken from the second level. From the top the horizon is less interesting, because you are so high you are looking down on most of the easily recognized buildings. This is looking toward the Montparnasse tower, with the golden dome of Les Invalides church on the left.

Sadly, I expect this will be my last post from Paris. We are packing up to return to Duluth on Friday. But I still have lots more pictures of Paris, so I could continue to put together web pages and link them here. It's just that I would be doing it from Minnesota instead of Paris.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Walking in Paris with Alice

My sister-in-law has been here for most of this week and we've done a lot of walking. We followed 3 different guided walks, which were interesting. I have enjoyed the walks by Paris Walks. But this week things have been made more difficult by the transport strike here. This is one of the old metro entrances that were designed and built in 1900 to entice people to use the underground system. This was quite innovative and different in those days. We were lucky enough to get a train on the first morning of the strike that took us to the Mont Martre area of Paris up on top of the hill. We walked around the area before the walk started because we arrived early.This is the basilica on top of the hill called Sacre Coeur or "Sacred Heart." It was built in 1875. We were there on a cold, sunny day.
There are lots and lots of fabric stores in the Mont Martre area. We went into this one and found all these cute little mannequins. They are about 3 feet tall dressed in tailored outfits of all kinds. I took several pictures here. I asked Alice to get behind the table for this one so you could see the size of the mannequins, but I'm not sure it works very well.

And yesterday we took a walking tour of Hemingway's Paris in the left bank area. This is the fountain in the center of the traffic circle where the walk ended. We had lunch in the restaurant with the red awning. We both had Steak, French fires and salad. It was very good. Their bread was also especially good.

Today we are expecting my older son to arrive. He should be at the ariport now and trying to find a way to get here in spite of the transport strike. We sent him suggestions for several options to check into. He's 33, and has done some traveling, so we think he'll figure out something. I'm not at all happy about this strike, but we are dong our best to get around in spite of it, and doing more walking than we would if the trains and busses were all running normally.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

le Château Vaux-le-Vicomte

As I promised yesterday here is the page of pictures from Vaux-le-Vicomte. It's a wonderful château in the style of Versailles, but in a more manageable size. I suppose Louis IX would have a fit if he heard anyone say they prefer this one to his. The other thing I liked about it was that it was not at all crowded--no lines anywhere. So it is a recommended spot to visit if you can get there. I think you need a car. Vaux-le-Vicomte

I took more pictures of educational street signs today, which I would like to add here. Maybe I'll get that done soon too. I have walked past some of these without noticing them until today.

Would we be smarter if our street signs were more educational?

Here's a street sign that I passed yesterday in the Marais. The sign tells me that I am in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. (Paris is divided up into 20 smaller districts, each of which has it's own mayor.) It tells me the name of this street (King of Sicily) and that this king lived from 1220 to 1297, was the brother of King Lois IX and was proclaimed king of Sicily in 1266. Do your street signs give that much information? I'm starting a collection of photos of Paris street signs.
I have a page of pictures of the castle we visited called Vaux-le-Vicomte almost ready to link. I just need about half an hour to finish it up. Maybe tomorrow. I have to go out now to get some bread for lunch, then walk to an area near here that I want to visit today, then get back here because I have an apointment to get my hair cut this afternoon at 3:00. So you see I can't do it today. I will try to get to it tonight.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Walking the streets of Paris - It's all good

My favorite activity here is just walking the streets. :-)

I overheard an American ask a guard for directions. The place he asked for was far enough away that the guard couldn't give him complete directions, just pointed in the general direction he should go. The man was pulling a suitcase, but the woman with him wasn't. I wondered where they were going with just one suitcase. No one travels that light these days. I asked him if he wanted to look at a map. I always have a map with me. But he responded "Oh we have a map. We're just too lazy to look at it." Then he added "It really doesn't matter. It's all good." I thought that was a good observation, but he was pulling a suitcase. If I were pulling a suitcase I would want to get rid of it and get out walking without it as soon as possible.

But it's true that here in Paris It's all good. I haven't found an area yet that I didn't feel comfortable in. Sometimes I choose not to go down a certain street because there is a lot of construction on it, which blocks the sidewalk, or because the architecture is mostly post war or between the wars-boring concrete. Those streets are rare, however and I find almost any street I choose has some hidden surprise or interesting shop to recommend it.

So, I have put together some photos of some of the streets I've walked the past few weeks
on this page--Streets of Paris.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Antiques market

We arrived home from our trip back to Philadelphia in the middle (literally) of this antiques fair. We had no idea this would be going on. We came up out of the metro and here we were. We took our luggage home and rested a bit then came back out to explore some more.

There were many booths on both sides of the street for two blocks. This is right in the main street nearest us. Many vendors were selling antiques, and I think nice ones, though I'm no expert.

There were also things like glass,


Items from Africa,

and the Orient,

But mostly from Europe. Look at this huge crystal egg! Porcelaine, china, silver, linens and lots and lots of other materials. I wish I'd had more time and free shipping.

By the way, I didn't shrink these pictures, so if you click on them you can see all the tiny little details.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A brief note explaining my absence

I just want to let my loyal visitors know that I will be away for a few more days. We've had company here, which kept me busy for a few days and now we are heading back to Philadelphia for Jim's mother's funeral on Thursday. We will be back here on Saturday. So I haven't given up on this blog, just am taking a break from it. I'll get back when I can.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Ile de la Cité

The very center of Paris is on an island in the Seine. If you've been to Paris, you no doubt have been on this island. Notre Dame is on the island as well as La Sainte Chapelle, two of Paris' most well-known and well-loved landmarks. My mother wanted to see la Sainte Chapelle again, so I waited until she got here to go there this time. You have to wait in line to go through security to get in. We rode the metro to the island and began our visit with the old prison called the Conciergerie. My pictures of this part of the island are here.

After visiting the Conciergerie and La Sainte Chapellle, we walked the short distance to Notre Dame Cathedral. Notre Dame was completed 80 years earlier than La Sainte Chapelle in the mid-1200's.

My mother is back home in Indiana now. It was great having her here and being able to show her a little bit of my life here in Paris this fall. I doubt that she misses all the steps she climbed in Paris.

Monday, October 1, 2007

We tried again to do the canal boat trip

And this time we were sucessful. We got seats right in front of the boat and enjoyed the trip.
The rest of the pictures are here. Canauxrama boat trip on Canal St. Martin.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

What's this wet stuff?

Rain you say? Rain in Paris? Oh well I guess it was bound to happen. I've been in Paris for 26 days and one of them was rainy. Here are some pictures of the rainy day we had last week. We took my mother into the city and then into the Jardins des Tuileries. Naturally I took some pictures of the gardens and flowers and trees. And I know you were dying for a better picture of Jim and my mom, so there it is. How's that?

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Carnavalet Museum

I'd heard of The Carnavalet Museum, which sounded interesting, so on the first day of my mother's visit here that's where I decided to go. It was chilly yesterday, so it seemed a good day to do a museum. We rode the 76 bus to the rue du faubourg St. Antoine just past the Place de la Bastille and walked from there the 3 blocks to the museum. This museum tells the history of Paris in paintings, interiors, and sculpture. After spending a couple hours in the museum, we walked a couple blocks from there to the Place des Vosges, where we had lunch before heading back here in the afternoon. This photo is taken from the courtyard inside the museum. The museum is in two old houses in Paris. This one was lived in by Mme de Sévigné in the 18th century I think. She is best known for her many letters written to her daughter and others. I just ordered a book containing some of her letters, which I think will be interesting to read.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Les Jardins du Luxembourg

I finally got to visit the Luxembourg gardens this weekend. Actually I spent time there on both Saturday and Sunday. The weather was wonderful and the gardens were full of people, but they are so big that there was still plenty of open space. I put some more pictures here.

We did have a little rain today around noon, but it really didn't last long. I was out shopping and got caught in it, but I had a rain hat and rain coat, so I was fine and I only had two blocks to walk anyway. I was almost home before the rain started.

I'm looking forward to Jim getting home Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Journées Européennes du patrimoine II

Day two- Sunday.

As I mentioned before, I went to see a few of the ministry buildings in Paris 7th arrondissement. This photo is of the "salle de bains du roi." The king in question is actually the King of England--George VI. Check this page for the rest of these pictures. Paris Ministries

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Journées Européennes du patrimoine

Many European countries celebrated their heritage on September 15th and 16th. Here in Paris many museums were free and other public buildings that are not normally open to the public were open for part of all of the weekend. At the chateau de Vincennes they were having a special two-day medieval festival. There was to be a dinner and ball in the evening at which medieval costumes were required. They gave a phone number to call to rent costumes. Since Jim is out of town, I didn't think I wanted to go to a dinner or ball without him, so passed on the costume. But I did want to go and see the costumes, so I went for the parade Saturday.
My pictures are here.
On Sunday I went into Paris and got inside the prime minister's residence, the ministry of agriculture, the ministy of education, the town hall of the VIIème (each of Paris's 20 arrondissements has its own mayor and town hall) and the ministry of foreign affairs. That last one was spectacular. Again I took lots of pictures, except not at the prime minister's residence, where it was strictly forbidden. I will try to get those pictures organized on a web page, and let you know when it's ready.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Le Canal St. Martin

On Friday I decided to go visit the Canal St. Martin. I knew of it first from the movie Amelie, then from Google maps, then I found these boat tours on the canal and thought that sounded like fun, so I decided to take one. I wrote about it on this page.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Le Marché

There are still public markets all over France. There is one 2 blocks from here on Wednesdays and Fridays. We arrived here on a Tuesday and I visited the market Wednesday, Saturday and again on Wednesday, so 3 times in the first 8 days here. I took the picture above on my first visit. Then I took some more pictures this week, which I have put on another page. Market photos.
I can buy most types of food at the market - produce, meat, prepared foods, cheese, but not canned or frozen or packaged foods. Also you can buy clothes, underwear, lingerie, toys, scarves, trinkets, and other things there. I need to go to a store today for kleenex, paper towels, plastic bags and milk, but I've got food in the house to last me for a while.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Famous Monuments in Paris

It has occurred to me that my readers may be expecting pictures of the Eifel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, etc. Well, this isn't my first visit to Paris and I've seen all those things on previous visits. I have been visiting areas of the city that are new to me and doing things I have not done before, so no photos yet of the big monuments. I will visit those and take pictures some time.

I have been to the Place de la Bastille and photographed the tower there. We haven't felt any rain since we have been here, but some days are sunnier than others. The temperatures have been in the 60's to low 70's every day, so just about perfect. Most days I've gone out without a sweater or jacket and usually with short or 3/4 length sleeves.

Here is the Tour Eiffel taken from the top of the Montparnasse tower. It was a little hazy the day we were there. I set my camera to take high resolution pictures and then cropped the photo when I got home.

And here is a photo of Sacre Coeur taken from the parc des Buttes-Chaumont, which I visited yesterday.

And finally another photo from the top of Montparnasse--Les Invalides.

So I hope this will satisfy those of you who were looking for more famous monuments. :-)

I did put some pictures from my walk at Place des Vosges on this web site.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A visit to Louis Pasteur Museum

We decided to try to visit the Louis Pasteur museum, which we thought was on the campus of the Louis Pasteur Institute, a bio-medical research institution in Paris.

We passed this church, which was called St. John the Baptist de la Salle. I hadn't heard of this saint before, but I liked the statue of him with the children.
Then we passed a building on our right with lots of people walking around it carrying notebooks. They looked like students. We still weren't sure where the museum was, but through a gate on our left we saw this statue, which Jim recognised from some papers he'd read.
We went into the reception area at the guard house and asked for the museum and were told it was here. The girl asked us for ID's and made us name badges right on the spot. We clipped them onto our clothes and walked into the museum. Inside we saw signs directing us upstairs. The desk for the museum was empty, but a sign said it would be open at 2:00. It was 1:55, so we waited. Pretty soon a woman came along to take our admission (3 Eu. each) and then guided us on a private tour of the museum. It started in the laboratory where Pasteur had worked. There were quite a number of instruments he had used and vials, flasks, wooden models, etc. that he had used or made. There was a recorded description in English. When the woman returned Jim asked permission to photogragh one of the instruments that he was interested in. Pasteur was the first person to recognize dissymmetry in molecules, which is what Jim's work is about. She allowed me to take a picture for his book, but I don't feel it would be right to publish it here. We then toured the rest of the museum, which was his home--bedrooms, sitting rooms, a bathroom, stairway, etc. It was all elaborately furnished in Victorian style, but they didn't allow photographs. Finally she took us to his crypt. That was incredible! She did tell me I could take a picture there. If you look at the larger version of this picture you can see the mosaic depiction of rabbits on the right, which he used in his research and dogs on the left, the source of the rabies disease and it's hard to make out but the boy on the arch is the first boy that was cured of rabies by Pasteur, who later grew up to work for Pasteur. You can see two sets of feet, two of the 4 angels who represent Love, Hope, Charity and Science. Jim liked that Science got equal billing with the other virtues.

Pasteur lies in the black marble casket and his wife who out-lived him by 15 years is buried behind the gold gate closer to the altar. She didn't think she was important enough to be buried in the same space as her husband, but she asked to be close to him and to the altar. This crypt was built after Pasteur's death and his body was moved here. There was a huge funeral for him at Notre Dame de Paris.

This is the institute that we passed across the street from Pasteur's home and the musem. I would move the picture up above, but I don't know how to do that. I've tried. I just can't rearrange the photos once I put them on the site.

Pasteur received many honors during his life-time. You should look up all the things he did. He was the first to discover vaccination and found a vaccine for rabies. He also worked with silk worms to prevent a disease that was wiping them out. And he discovered that germs could be killed by heating and that beer could be sterilized without changing the taste by heating it to a certain point. This is the process we call pasteurization, which we know better for treatment of milk. In Paris they have even named a street after him.

This is another street that we passed as we left the area, walking toward Montparnasse. We rode to the top of the Tour Montparnasse, which might be the topic of my next post.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Paris Apartment

Here are some pictures of our apartment here. We've been here about 48 hours and have already gotten to know the neighborhood a bit, but these pictures are ones I took within the first few minutes of our arrival. Here you see our 4 suitcases in the bedroom. The apartment has 4 rooms and a bath in a row all facing the street. The master bedroom is at one end, then the bathroom. This is a compact room, with a shower at the far end and a washer/dryer just inside the door under a cupboard.
I'm standing in front of the shower taking a picture toward the corner, where two mirrors come together. I don't know if I always hold my left pinkie in the air when I take a picture. Everything in the bathroom is new.

The next room is the kitchen. This is directly across from the entrance to the apartment. There was some mail here when we arrived, so the marble table is covered with mail. I'll have to get a better picture some other time. The kitchen is also compact. You can see everything in this picture. Fridge/freezer at the back on the left; sink, stove, oven on the right. It is unusual to find a kitchen inParis with enough room in it to eat. The little marble table is just big enough for the two of us and that is where we have eaten the 6 meals we've had here since we arrived.

This is the dining room. It has a very small table, which doesn't show here much. The table is 24" wide by 63" long. It sits against the wall normally, but can be pulled out into the room.

The last room at the far end is the den and my study. That's the desk where I am sitting now.

If you turn and look back down the hallway to the bedroom this is what you see. I think my wide-angle lens makes everything look a bit bigger than it is. I don't have dimensions. The rooms are small, but comfortable. I think we'll be fine here. The apartment belongs to some Americans, who are in the U.S. right now. They have completely remodeled the place, leaving as far as I can tell only the walls, floors, ceilings and crown moldings from the old place.

And finally, looking out the window to the street below. We are on the 6th (5eme) floor. Those buildings across the street are about 100 years old. I'll have to look for dates on the ones on this side. They look to be about the same though.

So that's our home away from home for the next 3 months.

P.S. After reviewing this post, I realize I forgot to resize the photos, so if you click on them you will see the very large original versions. I'll try to remember next time to resize them to a more reasonable size.