Saturday, June 25, 2016

Going Back to Inishmor

Inishmor
Sept. 2014
Do you ever dither over decisions? You know...worry about the money or the logistics or the whatever to the point that you have a hard time making the decision at all? I've been dithering like this over a decision to participate in a writing pilgrimage to Ireland next year led by Christine Valters Painter, Abbey of the Arts. I've blogged about the Abbey before and raved about its online offerings. I spent 8 days in west Ireland in 2014 with Christine and her husband, John on a monastic pilgrimage. So I know how just rich, inspirational, and special this writing retreat, Writing on the Wild Edges of the World will be. It's 6 days on Inishmor, the Aran island that I vowed I'd return to when we visited there in 2014. Yet....I still dithered.

Until yesterday, that is. I made a quick trip into Cajarc at noon to post a bill. As I turned to get back into my car, a voice called to me. A woman in shorts, backpack and hiking boots asked me for directions to the tourist office. I could tell she wasn't French, so asked if she spoke English. She did. In fact, she was Irish! We chatted for a few minutes about walking the chemin (she'd already done the Moissac to Compostelle part and is now doing the 'backside' Le Puy to Moissac), where I'm from, where she's from, Galway, Inishmor. She was delightful and even taught me my first Irish word: madra (dog).

I took it as a 'sign,' came home and registered for the writing retreat which will happen in April 2017. After all, how often to you run into an Irish woman in the deep heart of France? I'm still worrying about the money, the logistics and the whatever, but I'm pretty certain that the Universe will take of those things...and that it wants me to go back to Inishmor!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016

An Eye on the Arab World

Facade of the Institut du Monde Arabe
Paris
I'd passed this glass-clad building with its distinctive facade many times as I'd walked to and from the Gare d'Austerlitz, but I'd never visited the Institute of the Arab World. This trip to Paris I had a day to explore before I met my niece, so I decided since the Institute was on my Paris museum pass that I'd give it a look. I'm very glad I did. The huge glass squares inspired by traditional Moorish latticed-windows, have photo-sensitive 'eyes' that open and close much like the iris of a human eye. They regulate the amount of light that enters the building.
From the inside, each window looks like a big black and white quilt pattern. These eyes are wide open
while these are in various stages of being closed.
The overall effect is a stunning wall of light and shadow that is constantly changing.

The first four floors of the building are devoted to research and conference rooms where cultural dialogue, the mission of the Institute, between France and 18 Middle East and North African nations takes place. The museum and art displays are housed on floors four through seven. They feature the art, music, science and everyday life of the Arab countries represented. There is an impressive collection of astrolabes as well as religious texts and icons from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, a reminder that all three of these world's great religions came from this common source.
This beautiful robe of multiple layers of gossamer-thin fabric was part of a display about the hammam and would have been worn after bathing was complete.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Time with Elaine

Elaine
Square Rene-Viviani
Paris France 2016
I didn't have nearly enough time with my fun and lovely niece, Elaine. We made the most of what we had, though. I think she liked Paris. I know I loved spending time with her. Let's do it again!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Glowing Gold

The evening sun cast a golden glow on Notre Dame. The 8 PM organ recital was magnificent! I fully expected to see the Hunchback swoop down on his bell rope and snatch up Esmeralda. There are some truly memorable experiences in Paris that don't cost a dime!
The view from my window!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Say It Isn't So!

I made my pilgrimage to Notre Dame this morning. I go at least once every time I'm in Paris. In case you're interested, 8 AM is the best time to visit...hardly anyone there except for the faithful attending early Mass in the choir. While Notre Dame is always beautiful, I was really disappointed to see all the love locks on the fences around the church's gardens. I thought we were done with this nonsense!! Don't people get it that no one wants to see this? And that it's defacing a beautiful, sacred place?