Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Rose is a Rose

Not a lot of time for meaningful blogging these days as the time passes 'way too fast with packing and organizing logistics for the summer and beyond. While I put together a brief slide show of France photos to share with my family later this summer, I sighed over several reminders of my time in Cadrieu. This one is a beautiful red rose from Laury's terrace rose garden. I can almost smell its fragrance!

Sunday, May 29, 2011


No one would ever mistake me for one of those tech-geek people. I have basic, self-taught computer skills. I have basic, self-taught digital camera skills. While I'm not afraid of technology, I'm not known for embracing the latest tech-gadgets and doodads. So, imagine my surprise when I found myself in possession of not one, but two iPods! It started as I began to sort and pack my CD collection. There were definitely some I wanted to ship to France. In fact, I slipped some into the first parcel that DHL is currently shipping to Cadrieu. As I put more and more aside for shipping, I remembered how excited Travis was when he showed me his iPod and told me he had his entire collection of Beatles songs on it. "You really need one, Mom!" Well, no, I didn't then, but maybe I needed one now? I did some research on the internet and decided that maybe I could try a little, cheap one to see if I could load it with music and play it on my netbook. So, I took the plunge and bought a Shuffle...which I filled with 2 gigs of music within an afternoon! You should have heard me squealing with delight when it not only played on my netbook, but also on the CD player I'm taking to camp next month. I know, I know...everyone else in the world already knows how wonderful this technology is, but give me a break..I'm old and don't 'do' tech. Yesterday I went to the Apple store at the mall and came home with this: an iTouch with 132 gigs of memory. All the rest of my music is now safely sitting in its little insides waiting to go to camp and then France. I have music for every occasion...dinner parties, house cleaning, quiet evenings with a book, joyful, open-all-the-windows days, and stormy weather days when I want to cook all afternoon. I can put photos on it and also download movies to watch on it, on my netbook, or on a TV. When I'm within wi-fi range, I can check my email, access the internet, check the weather, and pull up maps. If I were a gamer, I could play games on it as well. I'm delighted! God forbid...there may even be an iPhone in my future!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Trash Girl

Laury took this photo of me in Cadrieu. I was walking down the hill from Jean's, bag of trash in hand all sacked up and ready to dump in the big poubelle on the corner. My activity here at Red Bell Farm is much the same! To update you: I'm preparing to leave for Red Pine Camp on June 9th and preparing to return to France the end of September. My days here are filled with sorting, packing, triaging, and trashing. There are piles and piles...one for camp, one for my suitcase to France, one for shipping to France, one for Goodwill, one for the moving sale I'll hold when I return here in August, and one huge pile for trash!! I have sacks and sacks of trash. How did I ever accumulate so much STUFF? It's good to purge. Another quick update....I will continue to blog here at Melanged Magic while I'm at camp and the rest of my time here in the States. I've been asked if I'll go back to Musings From Red Bell Farm, but have decided that's 'way too confusing. So, I'll continue to Melange Magic right here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


After a standing ovation, maestro Frederic Moreau and Les Violons de France rewarded us with this lively piece,"La ronde des Lutins" by Bazzini which showcases Moreau's violin virtuosity.

 Yes, I did purchase two autographed CD's as I departed. It's not quite the same listening to this wonderful music as I cruise I-35 into Des Moines, but it brings back heavenly memories of a wonderful Sunday evening in Paris.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Grand Finale

The grand finale of my glorious weekend in Paris was a much-anticipated concert at the beautiful Ste. Chapelle. If you remember, I bought my tickets weeks ago, delighted that I'd hear Vivaldi's Four Seasons played here.
After queueing outside for a half-hour, the crowd filed into the candle-lit space. The ticketing website  disclaimed that because the stained glass in the chapel was being renovated, some of the windows might be covered. Not so this evening...they were all visible and shone with their majestic colors
Taking my seat, I watched the harpsichordist tune his instrument...
while the crowd waited, talking softly in this holy space and taking photos.
The musicians took the stage.
Let the concert begin!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Please Touch

One of the unusual things about the L'Orient des femmes exhibit at the Musee du Quai Branly is that you are invited into a special room where you are able to actually touch the robes to feel the fabric and the embroidery. A unique experience to 'please touch!'

Friday, May 20, 2011

L'Orient des Femmes

After church on that Sunday in Paris two weeks ago, I made the short walk across the Seine on the Pont de l'Alma, took a quick right and ended up at the Musee du Quai Branly. Situated in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, the Branly features 'indigenous art, cultures and civilizations from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas.' My goal was to view the exhibit put together by Christian Lacroix, French fashion designer, called L'Orient des femmes and featuring the museum's collection of both old and modern women's dress from the Middle East, specifically Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and the Sinai Peninsula. Some of the women in these countries have since been burqua'd; some still wear variations of these gorgeous robes for marriage ceremonies and festive occasions. Most of the robes on display date from the late 19th to late 20th centuries. So much beauty collected in one subtly lit and dramatic space! It was a visual feast. For your enjoyment, a slide show of some of my favorites...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Paris By Night

On Saturday of our weekend in Paris, Laury and I decided to do a night boat tour on the Seine. Yes, it's touristy and yes, Laury and I have both done this evening boat ride before...
but there's nothing as beautiful as Paris by night or...

as bright!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Sunday Serendipity

I decided Saturday evening that I wanted to attend services at the famous American Cathedral in Paris. Not only had I not been able to attend church all winter, I wanted to see this Episcopal cathedral where my priest, Mary, had lived and 'supplied' for a month. Laury and I enjoyed a cappuccino together at the Gare d'Austerlitz Sunday morning, and then I set off on a metro quest for Alma Marceau, the stop a half block from the Cathedral in the 8th arrondissement. Many stops, many changes, and almost an hour later, I found myself here sliding into a pew, a bit out of breath, hot and sweaty from hurrying to arrive before the service started. As I learned from the historical tour given after church, the Cathedral, built in the Gothic Revival style, was designed by architect, George Edmund Street. Begun in 1881, it was completed in 1886 and the first service was held in September.

As you can see, the interior of the Cathedral is quite beautiful. There is a magnificent pipe organ and a piano donated to the church by a friend of Cole Porter who played it many times while his friend owned it. The stained glass is breath-taking. Flags of 52 states hang above the sanctuary, and the floors are tiled with beautiful marble. According to our tour guide, the Cathedral was taken over by the German army during the occupation of Paris in WWII. They loved it so much that they used it for Lutheran services until Paris was liberated by the Allies. They allowed Anglican services to be held in another part of the Cathedral during this time. All of this was a wonderful discovery, but the true serendipity of the day came during the priest's announcements. It was the weekend of Les Arts Georges V and an artshow was being held in the Parish Hall. Now....I have a connection to Les Arts Georges V as I have a piece of art painted by one of its artists, Mary Blake. If you followed my blog, Musings from Red Bell Farm, you may remember this. Might Mary be represented at the art show?
Not only did she have watercolors on display, she was there in person! I walked up to her and asked 'Are you Mary Blake? I'm Evelyn Jackson.' She cried...'Red Bell Farm!' and proceeded to tell the story of our cyber-meeting and my purchase a petite watercolor. I love a good serendipity, don't you?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Be Prepared

A street sight outside of pharmacies from Figeac to Paris.
Be Prepared!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Saturday Sights

After leaving Sacre Coeur early last Saturday morning, Laury and I wandered the rues towards central Paris, enjoying the sights along the way....
Tables ready for the croissant and coffee crowd...
Prayer flags fluttering in the morning sun...
velibs awaiting riders...
its priests...
its commemoration of its old Les Halles market neighborhood, and
its newest Confirmands.
A new favorite store. Laury and I both admitted we could spend a lot of money in here. Why do we love almost everything in the store? Duh...it's our generation! And somebody did a whole lot of serious cleaning out of their parents' attics to find this wonderful collection of in-perfect-condition clothes from the 1960s and 1970s.
A new least favorite place in Paris...Les Halles. This courtyard is actually below street level. From the top on the street, you can go down to three different levels of modern mall stores. Very unattractive, very crowded. I'd read a lot of negative comments about this 'new' Les Halles that took the place of the historic marketplace that supplied food...meat, vegetable, fruits, cheese...to Paris for centuries. Those comments were right. While Paris usually does modern/old very well, this place misses completely. It was a relief to leave it!
If you're interested in some photos and commentary about the projects currently in progress to beautify this area, click here. It's in French, but the site has some great images of the buildings and the work-in-progress.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wall Art

Each metro stop in Paris is just a little bit different from the others. While all boast the same advertising posters, each has different colored or configured seating, and some have musicians playing in the halls. Abbessess, one of only a handful of deep stations in Paris, has stairways decorated with lovely wall murals.

At least they used to be lovely. Now they mostly look like this:

We were appalled at the graffiti not only here, but everywhere we looked in Paris. Laury's posted about it on her blog as well. It seems to be much more prevalent than I remember from my trip here in 2009. It's one thing to tag the walls of abandoned buildings, but to defile beautiful art is not okay in my book...it's rude, disrespectful, and shows a total lack of maturity.

Sacre Coeur

Laury and I ooh'ed and aah'ed over the illuminated back side of Sacre Coeur and couldn't stop taking photos of its almost surrealistic beauty. It almost didn't look real with its intricate details sharply etched against the black night sky. And the fact that there were hardly any other people here made it feel a bit eerie after the brightly lit gaiety of the front side and Place du Tertre just around the corner.
FYI...Sacre Coeur is just as beautiful in the light of day. Especially early in the morning when Laury and I caught it before the hordes of tourists arrived.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Friday Night in Montmartre

After Laury and I settled in at our hotel in Montmartre last Friday evening, we set off on foot to wander the streets. We hadn't gone far when we spied the back side of Sacre Coeur and immediately made a bee-line to it. I've never seen the back side of the church, but it's now become my favorite side...no people! The front of the church was jam-packed with tourists enjoying the beautiful spring evening, lolling on the steps catching the view and listening to a jazz duo. We made our way to Place du Tertres which was also full of folks taking in the sights and having their portraits done by the many artists who frequent the square. We plopped ourselves down at an outside table, ordered a biere pression, and commenced to spend the next hour people-watching. As night fell, lights twinkled on all around the square and the beautiful domes of Sacre Coeur were illuminated against the dark sky
We were chatted up by one of the artists, but no matter how charming he was, we still didn't want our portraits done.We were entertained by the mime across the street. We ogled three luscious Paris policemen as they strolled around the crowds on the lookout for 'badness.' We discussed the size, shape, fashion statements and degree of sobriety of the hundreds of people milling around in the warm spring evening. We puzzled over a Keystone Cop-like chase scene that played out in front of us. A dainty young man ran by on tippy-toes chased by another young man looking very intent on doing him harm. As they rounded the corner and ran out of sight, our waiter simply shrugged his shoulders and muttered something about 'crazy.'

After paying for our very pricey beers (10 euros for a beer is expensive in my book!), we walked back to the hotel rationalizing why our evening was worth the money...
1. It's Paris!
2. It's Montmartre on a gorgeous spring evening
3. We got an hour's worth of fabulous people-watching--so entertaining.
4. We lusted after three handsome men in uniform young enough to be our sons
5. The beautifully illuminated Sacre Coeur was our table companion for the night.
6. The beers were huge and lip-smacking good.

Tomorrow I'll share some of the beauty of the back side of Sacre Coeur. If you click over to Laury's blog, Soar-Dream-France you can read her account of our evening in Montmartre.

Safe and Sound and On The Ground

As we used to say in the helicopter business, I'm 'safe and sound and on the ground' at my destination. I arrived at Red Bell Farm this morning. My delay was not caused by travel problems; my flights were smooth and uneventful. We even arrived in Chicago almost an hour early. How often does that happen? It was so good to see my friend, Karen at the airport. I rarely have the luxury of someone to pick me up when I travel, so I felt very spoiled. We had a lovely dinner at her house, split a bottle of wine and caught up on all the news before I fell into bed pretty whipped after a long day of flying. My plan was to come home, then on Tuesday morning, but my car wouldn't start, despite the fact that Karen had started it up for me just last week. Oh well, that's why I have AAA. They came, jumped it, and I drove to their shop to have the battery charged. With the delay, I had to re-schedule my appointment to have the plumbing reinstated. So, I spent last night at Karen's again and am waiting now for the guys to come turn on my water and make my toilets usable. My suitcase is unpacked, I've put a few groceries in the cupboard and checked out the premises. Except for two dead mice, all is how I left it last September. It will be good to sleep in my own bed with my very own pillow. While I have lots to share about Paris, it will have to wait until tomorrow. Back soon...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bonjour from Paris!

Bonjour from Paris! The weather is beautiful, the crowds are starting to increase, and there is lots going on.
Laury got off to the Lot this morning. I'm off to the Ste. Chapelle in an hour. Tomorrow is a travel day. See you on Tuesday!

Friday, May 6, 2011

On My Way

As you read this, I will be on my way to Paris. I'll be seeing this in my rear-view mirror...
and this.
If I have internet access at the hotel in Paris, I'll be checking in from there. If not, I'll be back next week updating you on my travel adventures from Red Bell Farm.
A bientot!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Turn in the Road

I've been counting down the days until I leave this place. Tomorrow is the day. I go to Paris for the weekend, and then I'll fly to the States on Monday. It's been difficult...this leaving...and these feelings of each thing I do being the 'last.' The last language class. The last haircut.  The last time I'll 'bonjour' Christiane and Jean-Paul when I walk by their house. The last time I'll mow the lawn...okay, that 'last' hasn't exactly been a sad one! This morning as I walked the dogs, this curve-in-the-road sign and its pretty poppies caught my eye. In a twinkling, it hit me...this really isn't the last of anything; it's more like a curve in the road, a moving in a different direction for awhile. I'll be doing things and getting my life organized in order to come back to this place I've grown to love these past few months. So, I'm easing into the turn and gathering myself for the next adventures this road called life will bring. I'm easing into the change of direction knowing that if all goes as planned, I'll be back to this particular curve-in-the-road place next September, ready to be part of this village and the sweet life it's shared with me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bringing Water

In a land that lies along a river, it doesn't seem like farmers should need to bring water to their crops. And while spring here is rainy, once the hot months of summer arrive, rain becomes scarce Irrigating fields and crops becomes necessary. It's already begun. This field was rapeseed earlier this spring. You can catch glimpses of it in blooming yellow in this collage from an April blog post. Once that was harvested, the farmer plowed and disked his field. Yesterday he began irrigating prior to planting.
Water is pumped to the surface,
fed into the spray device,
and then broadcast over the thirsty field in great sweeping arcs of moisture. As we left class yesterday at the bibliotheque on the hill, we could see it watering the earth.
A little further down the road, the farmer lays pipe and tall spray devices to water his vegetables. I think what you see is lettuce or another type of salad green.

Isn't it strange that even in this land formed and defined by water, it's not in the right place or in the right quantity to meet our needs?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Heavenly Fragrance

I wish I could capture scent on my camera like I can video and sound. The fragrance of these roses fresh from Laury's garden is wafting in on a warm,soft breeze blowing off the Lot outside my window. It's heavenly!