Dance card, 1910, Paris (available here).
I don't know about you, but my dance card has been pretty full lately. As one might expect, there has been some clumsy stepping on toes; some missteps; at times, even the wrong tempo! But my favourite season is just around the corner and September is bound to add many uplifting melodies to the mix.
Hope you are dancing merrily through these last few weeks of summer!
Still blooming, more than two weeks after putting this lily stem in a Nambe vase.
Still gifts to the world:
And P.S. Still rock stars!
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Our fireplace mantel with 19th-century French Madonna crowns, a framed 18th-century page from the Koran (yes, religions can peacefully co-exist) from Sevilla, Spain; 18th-century French books topped with Delft porcelain miniature shoes and a vintage Santa ornament; a hand-carved wooden lamplighter from the Netherlands; an 18th-century wooden angel from an Italian church (wearing a rush crown woven with irridiscent beads from London); Christmas parcels from my daughter in the US and a glass cylinder containing an arrangement of amaryllis, berries, a silvery fern and "snow," a gift from a Dutch friend, who is a talented florist and interior designer. The mercury glass and gilt mirror is French, circa 1830. Click photos to view detail.
Antique porcelain figures at an exhibition of Christmas decorations currently underway inside the city's 15th-century gate tower.
The Virgin Mary.
Baby Jesus in a straw-filled manger. "For unto us, a child is born..."
Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus (and a wood-framed leaded window at the top of the historic town gate).
A handmade nativity scene. This picture is slightly out of focus (taking pictures was frowned upon at the exhibition), but you can see the amazing detail of each cloth figure and the surrounding scene, including a hand-woven tent.
Vintage ornaments on a wire tree.
Gingerbread in a shop window.
Outside our window, bells are ringing, while carpenters build a manger in the 15th-century church courtyard. And a house-drawn carriage is ferrying last-minute shoppers through the cobblestone streets.
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, filled with tidings of comfort and joy!
Turning the clocks back: the 15th-century church clock and bell tower photographed early in the morning. Click photos to view detail.
The same tower photographed over the roof from our second-floor balcony at 11:05 one night last summer.
Sans flags, photographed from the balcony.
The bell tower viewed from our third-floor bedroom window.
When we move, we won't miss the church bells playing melodies every 15 minutes from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. After the tunes stop, the church bells continue to ring at the top of the hour, every hour.
I've yet to meet a local resident who doesn't wish that the bells would ring every 15 minutes, rather than the pop or Christmas (in July) tunes played relentlessly throughout the day and evening. Apparently, officials at Town Hall - who purchased the bell rights from the church - consider the tunes a tourist attraction. At the moment, the bells are playing "All You Need is Love."
Hortensia blooms in muted colours.
On today's radar:
Putlizer Prize-winner Jhumpa Lahiri: Trading stories
Palestinians say they are victims of collective punishment, as the pro-Israeli US Congress withdraws aid to the West Bank and Gaza. The move follows the Palestinian's president's statehood request to the United Nations.
If you're a fan of the late singer Ella Fitzgerald and the Paris-based Hermes, act fast to bid on Miss Fitzgerald's handbag at auction in New Orleans.
The contrarians: 18th-century furnishings in a Chicago apartment.
This video filmed in Paris is achingly beautiful in its wistfulness.
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The genius Dutch florist's creation of the day, in a Waterford crystal vase.
"Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it." - Confucius
On the 1930s library table, covered with French linen: 18th-century hand-written sheet music; my friend Pia's beautiful new book, "My Heart Wanders," as well as books featuring the work of photographers Tim Walker, Steve McCurry and Reza. In the background, an English Arts & Crafts chair is covered in original William Morris Strawberry Thief fabric and a 19th-century Chinese Buddha head rests on a Napoleon III stand.
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Bunches of lavender at a florist in Delft, Holland.
A fall bouquet and a pot of lavender.
Purple thistle and pots of cacti.
It's been a day so disheartening that I listened twice to Earth Wind and Fire's That's the Way of the World. These images of water lilies remind me that from the depths of mess and muck - and even chaos - something remarkable can emerge.
Many, many waterlilies are about to bloom in this canal in Delft: surely a metaphor for challenges we can meet and rise above...
Molens van Kinderdijk or the Windmills of Kinderdijk, the Netherlands. Click photos to view detail.
In nearly two weeks in the Netherlands, we watched kite-surfing from a windy beach beneath giant grey clouds. We walked along narrow canals accented with yellow and white water lilies. We fed swans and their teenagers, as well as ducks. We watched a coot add twigs to her nest, then escort her chirping babies for an awkward swim. We hiked trails dotted with windmills. We browsed fruit and vegetable stalls in market squares and brocantes set up along little canals. We traced Johannes Vermeer's illustrious path in Delft and learned more about his light-filled paintings that still capture the world's imagination. We wandered cobble-stoned streets and narrow passageways. We marveled at the grand 17th-century architecture and symbolism of churches, old and new.
We met and photographed off-the-chart talented musicians at the Delft Jazz Festival. We exchanged stories and laughter at dinner with long-time friends in a quay-side restaurant in Alblasserdam and shared a delicious lunch at Bussia in Amsterdam with the lovely Pia Jane Bijkerk. My husband went bird-watching and through happenstance, I met an accomplished jewelry designer, with an airy atelier enhanced with a magnificent Art Deco table and Fortuny lamps (more in an upcoming post). I purchased a vintage Delft pottery pitcher at an antique shop and an exquisite covered basket over 100 years old at a brocante. I left behind a pair of shoes, so my small bag jammed with two-weeks'-worth-of-clothes could accommodate the treasure.
At another brocante I bought a seven-foot wide canvas geological world map in English, Spanish and Dutch. It was quite the kerfuffle transporting the rolled-up map in cars and onto a train back to Paris! We ate yummy caramel stroopwaffles and Dutch fries with mayonnaise and struck up conversations with strangers. We rode trains and walked and walked for miles. We read maps and explored unfamiliar neighbourhoods. We talked to estate agents and friends about specific areas. We had amazing dinners at charming restaurants, in contrast with lunch at an outdoor cafe where three bees buzzing about my head eventually chased me away.
We went to Amsterdam, Utrecht, Delft, Leiden and Rotterdam, as well as smaller places including Haarlem, Amstelveen and Zandvoort. We went to another beach town with roundabouts and design much like an English seaside town. I took over 1,200 photographs, from grand architecture and historic buildings to portraits of my friends' five-year-old daughter to first-day-of-school festivities at a technical college to concerts and quirky sights along the way.
Through it all, I felt totally peaceful, at ease and at home, even though I speak hardly a word of Dutch. In less than six months, it will be home, both literally and figuratively. Not sure where yet, but I am confident the right place will present itself. And I can't wait!
Tall grasses and reeds lining the canals were blowing in high winds.
Windmills line the banks of intersecting canals.
Check back soon for more photos from the Netherlands.
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I spotted this musician late one evening on Avenida de la Constitucion in Sevilla, Spain. I took this photo from across the street, listening to his haunting lilting melodies on the erhu, a Chinese instrument. I decided to talk to him, which was a bit of a challenge, between my limited Spanish and his limited English. When I told him I was American, he exclaimed "Obama!" and smiled.
He told me he was in Sevilla as a "worker," which probably means he has a menial job for little pay and reward. He seemed sad and melancholy, which reminded me that Sevilla can be a lonely place to be on your own. Families tend to socialise together and tourists are usually in groups. It can be difficult being in such a lively place, when you're quiet and shy, as he seemed to be. Every one has a story; wish I could have learned more about his.
I asked the musician if I could photograph him and he said "Never mind," which I took as a yes. He was caught up in the music, constantly moving in rhythm as he played.
Listen to an erhu solo Yuan Predestined Relationship here.
Colourful clocks, Covent Garden, London. They remind me of the old vinyl records.
Never mind the transit strike, the Solidays music festival begins Friday, June 25th in the Bois de Boulogne. Thousands of people will be camped out on the grounds of Hippodrome de Longchamp (that's right across the street from the apartment; we're headed for London)! Headliners include French actress/singer Vanessa Paradis, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Hocus Pocus, Kasabian, Toots and the Maytals and Olivia Ruiz. Check out the full list of 80 musicians here.
Stages have already been set up within Longchamp and some bands are currently fine-tuning their sound systems. I can hear the evidence through the open balcony doors.
The annual event raising funds for HIV prevention, treatment and research continues through Sunday. Take Paris Metro Line 10 to Boulogne Jean-Jaures, exit the station to your right and follow Avenue Charles de Gaulle all the way to the Bois de Boulogne. You'll see signs pointing to various festival entrances. Enjoy!
My late grandmother Lucille had a curious collection of porcelain and ceramic animal figurines. As a small child, I was thrilled when she gave me this porcelain rooster, made in Japan. For a while, she looked after it at her house. But after the rooster lost its head - probably thanks to my rambunctious little brothers forever racing through rooms at breakneck speed - heavy-duty glue mended the break and the rooster came home with me.
What seemed so special about the rooster - other than it being a present from my grandmother - I can't imagine. But somehow that rooster has survived the years and now it's with me in Paris. I keep it in a cupboard, as it's definitely not my taste. But I can't bring myself to throw it away, because of the connection to my grandmother. Ridiculous, I know: we don't need material things to remind ourselves of our loved ones.
As a child growing up in the South,
Easter Sunday was a big production. We wore new dresses and sometimes
hats to church. We dyed Easter eggs and filled our be-ribboned and fake-grass-filled baskets with eggs found in backyard egg hunts. We gave each other chocolate bunnies and eggs and played silly
games. Some friends received real baby chicks, dyed in shades of pink or green. Of course, they quickly lost interest, sealing the fate of the little "pets."
As a teenager, I sang in the choir at the First Presbyterian Church, where we performed special music for Easter, including my favorite, Joseph Haydn's The Seven Last Words of Christ. Wherever I live, I try to attend an Easter church service. The most memorable was an open-air sunrise service with my daughter Jordana at Mount Nebo, Jordan. It is said to be the place where Moses first glimpsed the Promised Land, as well as where he later died. Some Biblical scholars believe the prophet Jeremiah hid the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant on Mount Nebo.
Wherever you are this Easter (or Passover), hope your weekend is happy and enriched with blessings!
Chairs with needlepoint pillows at St. Mary's, Oxford, England.
A bookcase of hymnals at St. Mary's and late-afternoon shadows on the stairs.
It's the weekend. Have some fun. Fix your hair in a daring new way. Get together with friends and make some music. Sing opera in the supermarket. Laugh, then laugh some more. Hug someone you love.
This group of musicians was entertaining patrons at Covent Garden, London.
A musical conversation.
Posing for the photographer.
Welcoming ladies descending the stairs.
Singing opera with passion and gusto.
Challenging the photographer.
Whatever your weekend plans, make the most of your time.
Bridge of Aspiration, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, London.
Have you seen the delightful film Man on Wire? It is the thrilling tale of Frenchman Phillipe Petit's 1974 stunning wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The story is fascinating, not only because Petit made history, but because he took a huge goal that seemed impossible and step-by-step - and with the help of his friends - made it happen. By sheer will, determination, courage and imagination, he spun his gossamer dreams into reality.
Each of us has a dream that we actively pursue or one hovering at the edge of our subconscious; perhaps we try to suppress it, concerned about what others may think. Maybe we worry that we're too old; too tired; too unprepared. Negative thoughts that we're not "good enough" are always ready to undermine any tentative progress. But the dream stubbornly persists, nevertheless. It tugs at our heartstrings and infiltrates our thoughts. We have flashes of wistfulness, wondering, "what if?" We have triumphant moments that seem to move us closer to our desire; at other times, setbacks - no matter how minor - leave us feeling confused and disoriented. And we wonder if the outcome is worth the effort.
Well I suggest to you, any obstacles that may appear are temporary. We are powerful. We have capabilities and strengths far beyond our imagination. We are blessed with magic and possibility. We may try to suppress the light we carry within us - for fear of outshining others - but that does no one any favors. Each of us has a purpose on this earth; a unique talent; a special gift.
"If you bring forth what is within you,
What you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is within you,
What you do not bring forth will destroy you." —Jesus, from The Gospel According to Thomas
In the early years of my childhood, my family attended a Southern Baptist Church. The minister shouted terrifying hellfire and brimstone sermons, in contrast to the soothing songs we sang. One that lingers in my memory is This Little Light of Mine. An excerpt:
"This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine...
...Hide it under a bushel? No! I'm going to let it shine. Let it shine, all the time, let it shine..." In case you haven't guessed, my theme word for the year is "light." Light as bright as the eyes can stand: sparkling, dazzling, intense light, sometimes filtered in shadow or softened to a candle's glow. Through writing and photography, I plan to shine the spotlight on people, places and issues of interest in Paris, as well as in my travels. Won't you join me?
...Hide it under a bushel? No! I'm going to let it shine.
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine..."In 2010, my hope and prayer is that each of us will be bold enough to shine our own light; to follow our own path; to make our dreams real. Why not?
In case you haven't guessed, my theme word for the year is "light." Light as bright as the eyes can stand: sparkling, dazzling, intense light, sometimes filtered in shadow or softened to a candle's glow. Through writing and photography, I plan to shine the spotlight on people, places and issues of interest in Paris, as well as in my travels. Won't you join me?
As the world turns, Selfridges, London.
Ten years ago today, David and I met in New York. A few months later, my daughter Jordana and I moved to London. A year after that, we moved to Paris, for David's job with an international organisation. Jordana attended high school at the American School of Paris and I resurrected my college French and struggled to adjust to French logic. It was my first experience not working for a salary since age 16; initially I didn't appreciate the loss of steady income and control. To lift my spirits, I began frequenting brocantes, flea markets and antiques shops. Soon our apartment was filled with an eclectic collection of art and antiques.
After discovering the endless bureaucracy required to get married in Paris, Jordana, David and I flew to Santa Fe, N.M. Our wedding ironically was at (French) Archibishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy's private chapel. Jordana's friend Vince played acoustic guitar, while she sang Bruce Springsteen's "If I Should Fall Behind." A dozen friends witnessed the happy occasion and later joined us for dinner at the Inn of the Anasazi.
We traveled to many, many places in Europe and the US. At home in Paris, David honed his cooking skills as we hosted hundreds (!) of guests. I became a fan of rugby and horse-racing at Longchamp (although I never bet on horses; just admire and photograph them). My daughter went off to college in the US.
I started this blog and picked up a camera for the first time in many years. I took Eurostar to London at least once a month. I worked on my novel. I wrote poetry. I campaigned for Barack Obama and worked on human rights initiatives. I had a few health woes, but was lucky to have quality medical care in both Paris and London. I studied Spanish in Seville, Spain and photography in London.
I have lived in Paris longer than any city in my adult life (followed by San Francisco and New York). Ten years ago, when David was a guest speaker at an e-commerce conference (at the World Trade Center) and I a writer, covering the conference, I wouldn't have imagined this life. It's had its ups and downs, but for the most part, it's been rich with blessings. While Paris has never felt like home to me, I know we are fortunate. Having traveled as a journalist for much of my adult life, I've learned, as John Cage said, that "we carry our homes within us, which enables us to fly."
Balancing act, Selfridges, London.
P.S. Don't miss your chance to win a copy of Leonard Pitt's new book Paris Postcards! Go here to enter.
Abandoned musical instruments, Hippodrome de Longchamp, Paris.
This morning I had email from a friend, who is a talented poet. Sadly, she is very ill and moving to a hospice. This haiku is for Mandy.
The music flows through
Rain-spattered window, Oxford Street, London. If you and I look out this window, chances are we won't see the same things.
A tsunami in Tonga and the Somoan Islands; an earthquake in Indonesia. Refugees driven from their homes by the conflict in Yemen. Children going to bed hungry; others dying of malnutrition or curable diseases. These are real people grappling with serious issues; huge problems that cross socio-economic divides and traverse geographic borders.
The world has trouble enough. We don't need manufactured hatred and fear-mongering spread by right-wing talk show hosts and conspiracy theorists, polluting the atmosphere. We don't need personal prejudices of two former drug-addicted radio and television hosts foisted on a gullible and too-often ignorant public. The irresponsibility of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and their ilk (including the RNC and its ill-advised collaboration with "News"max) and the cynicism of their reckless and inflammatory behaviour beggars belief.
Of course those who shout the loudest don't worry about dangerous consequences of their actions, as long as they're raking in big bucks. Money is power in America; just ask Rupert Murdoch and other corporate media moguls and companies who encourage and sponsor ever-increasing vitriol in the name of ratings. Just ask Hollywood moguls (and French politicians) eager to overlook Roman Polanski's crimes, simply because he's an artist and a celebrity (and his films take in big box-office receipts).
Peace begins at home and we need to dial the hysteria register down a notch or two. We need to THINK FOR OURSELVES; read and be informed about the facts, not speculation or conjecture. Searching for common ground - rather than constantly focusing on our differences - would be a good start.
As Jalaladdin Rumi said, "Out beyond ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there."
And an excerpt of Mary Oliver's poem Mysteries, Yes:
"...Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers."
"...Let me keep company always with those who say
"Look!" and laugh in astonishment
and bow their heads."
"Look out any window" is a reference to Bruce Hornsby's song of the same name.
Technorati Tags: BBC, Bruce Hornsby, earthquake in Indonesia, film, Glenn Beck, Mary Oliver, music, news and current events, poetry, politics, politics, refugees, RNC link with Newsmax, Roman Polanski, Rumi, Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh, Sony A900 series, tsunami, UNHRC, Yemen
Nymphs, Westerstraat Market, Amsterdam.
Today I am indoors with the shades drawn against the blazing heat, listening to Amy Seeley's "I've Got Ideas," from her Eight Belles CD. I'm working on making my creative ideas real. I'm slowly - gently - nudging open a couple of intriguing new doors (not kicking them down, as my restless nature once may have preferred).
The important thing to remember is that stretching one's limits; pushing past boundaries - real or imagined - is a process; effort, patience and time must meld for fruition. That means persistence; not letting others' negative thinking discourage plans-in-motion. What about you? What ideas are propelling you forward through these heat-filled summer days and nights?
Summer giveaway winner
Newspapers in five languages, Amsterdam.
"There is no refuge..." A soldier writes from Afghanistan, in The Independent.
Paul Krugman writes in The New York Times about freedom of the press and the Town Hall Mob. Shouldn't these troublemakers be on holiday somewhere, rather than trying to disrupt the Democratic process??!!
Reminds me of the Leonard Cohen song, "Everybody knows:"
"...Everybody knows the fight was fixed.
The poor stay poor and the rich get rich.
That’s how it goes;
And everybody knows..."
The Anti-Defamation League slams Rush Limbaugh's slurs. But no apologies from the highly-paid blowhard or his GOP enablers.
Why is Obama embracing this terrible Bush administration tactic??!! Unacceptable then and even more so now!
Howard Dean on Sarah Palin: "She made that up!"
And these people seem to be competing to see who's crazier - and more violent - than the next.
Technorati Tags: Amsterdam, Anti-defamation League, Bush administration tactics, GOP, Howard Dean, Leonard Cohen, Mudflats, Obama, Paul Krugman, photography, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, The Independent, The New York Times, town hall mobs
Balloons, hearts, flowers and other simple pleasures, illustrated by photos from Amsterdam:
Riding a bike.
Food and conversation.
Exploring new places.
Laughing - and shopping!
The hardy hortensia (French for hydrangeas) from my balcony, which emerged yet again, despite neglect while I've been traveling. Hydrangeas always remind me of my late grandmother, who had a yard full of beautiful blue and pink blooms.
The pottery in my favourite shade of aqua was handmade by Joyce Verver. Her atelier at Prinsengracht 136-138 in Amsterdam is chock-full of unique ceramics and stoneware pottery.
Why not share your own ideas of simple things today at Soul Aperture?
Remembering Michael Jackson's musical genius: In 1988 in Amman, Jordan this song had significance in my life.
Abruptly switching gears, this may make you smile.
Industrial furnishings at Cedric Grare's Art Atypique stand at Bastille.
Specimens, both from nature and hand-forged.
An iron star on a stand against a backdrop of 19th-century gilt mirrors and frames.
Painted driftwood sculptures remind me of Native American feathers.
A 1960s jukebox in good working order.
I was captivated by two identical oeil de boeuf leaded-glass windows at Nina Nattaf's Les Impedimenta stand at Bastille. Iron cross bars help support the glass in each window, which - despite their age - have sustained only one tiny crack. The wood frames encasing the 19th-century treasures are four or five inches thick. The windows came from a chateau in Burgundy, France.
Check back Thursday for more photos of the Antiquites Brocante at Bastille, currently underway. The event is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Sunday, May 17th. Get your tickets for eight euros each at the main entrance on Place de la Bastille. The brocante extends along both sides of the picturesque Canal St. Martin.
Tulip in full bloom, Paris.
"...Take this sinking boat
and ford it home,
we've still got time.
Raise your hopeful voice,
you have a choice;
you make it now..." - Glen Hansard, Falling Slowly
A few weeks ago I was watching Evening, the last film in which Vanessa Redgrave and her daughter Natasha Richardson appeared together. Before the film began, a trailer from Once played, along with Glen Hansard's Oscar-winning song Falling Slowly. The moment I heard the chorus, I burst into tears. You see, for months I've felt I was drifting so far off course, I wasn't sure how to find landfall again.
I've been overwhelmed with myriad expectations and writing deadlines. Even worse, while grappling with two stressful family issues, I have cast my own health and peace of mind aside. As a result, I've become physically - and emotionally - exhausted: barely sleeping, not exercising enough, not eating properly. With rare exception, I've been unable to quiet the thoughts and concerns constantly racing through my head.
Under the best of circumstances, I am hard on myself. While tolerant and forgiving of other's imperfections, I don't always allow myself the same leeway. I'm a perfectionist and that is trying. I always think I can improve on whatever I've created and keep working on it until I exhaust myself and finally just stop - stop writing; stop agonising that whatever I've created isn't perfect. Sometimes I set impossibly high standards for myself that require super-human effort, as well as cooperation from others (which isn't always forthcoming).
Certainly I have been aware that radical change was necessary: signs and portents along the way increasingly have demanded I pay attention. But even contemplating the actions required seemed too difficult, like hands against stone.
On Sunday I took a long walk and thought about the seismic shifts needed to return to my own path - not the one criss-crossed with diversions that others mapped out for me. I remembered the timely message from the Adventurers' Club: "You do realize, Tara, that your batting average is 100% when it comes to prevailing in adversity, setbacks, challenges and recessions?" Happily, that's true.
In the process of reclaiming my life, I will focus more on work-in-progress and less on others' demands and expectations. I shall take steps to ensure that certain dream projects take flight. Crucially, I shall start saying no to requests by those who rarely reciprocate. I will stop giving time and energy to people who don't really appreciate the effort. I will take a step back from "negative nellies" who are quick to criticise, but disappear when praise is warranted.
And I'm going to stop blogging every single day. Some days I might post more than one piece; others - especially weekends, when it seems fewer people are reading - I may skip altogether. Watch for some new features and guest writers at Paris Parfait. Time to shake things up!
The small neighborhood park next to an eglise has been under construction since 2006. It was uprooted - along with a memorial to Gen. Charles de Gaulle - to create an underground parking garage. While this children's playground appears finished, the photo below indicates construction is still underway. Completion is expected by June.
What a wonderful thing to see Europe embracing America again, first at the G20 in London; now at the NATO summit in Strasbourg! But it made me smile to read that New York bankers were less enthusiastic after their meeting with President Obama.
Time to travel
Anyone who lives in a big city knows that no matter how beautiful or exciting the city, every three months or so, you need a break. After being home nearly four months without travel - even missing my usual side trips to London - it is time to get out of town.
So I'm off for some peace and sunshine elsewhere in France. Back soon, with photos and perhaps an adventure or two to report. Hope you're enjoying your own sunshine-filled weekend, wherever you are!
Both fragility and strength lie in these intertwining branches, Parc de Edmond de Rothschild, Boulogne-Billancourt.
Remember the Sting song "Fragile?" After reading the latest installment of Australian artist Judy Wilkenfeld's Visual Anthologies, I was reminded that despite our fragility, we also carry vast hidden reserves of strength. And when necessary, we can summon that strength to push us forward through difficult challenges.
Judy's work is truly stunning, artfully blending beauty, humanity and history. Go here to see her thoughtful creations.
"Dancing on the ceiling," in a Paris department store vitrine.
Whatever you're doing to celebrate St. Valentine's Day, hope you have fun! Remember that Lionel Richie song "Dancing on the Ceiling?" Check out this '80s video, with guest appearances by Cheech and Rodney Dangerfield.
"...Someone who does not run
towards the allure of love walks
a road where nothing lives." - Rumi
One of a dozen gorgeous white roses for Valentine's Day.
Ancient wood and iron decorative shutters over a shopfront, Barcelona, Spain..
Today I was out buying things for my camera (and the new Bruce Springsteen CD Working on a Dream). I've been busy cataloguing photos - copying nearly 4,000 images onto CDs, so I can delete them from my laptop. And before you ask, yes, I'm getting an external hard drive to house the full-resolution photos.
Recently, I've had a few requests and had to hunt for ages to find particular photos - only to discover I'd deleted some of them! So this week I'm making a concerted effort to organise my images - both on an external drive and filing backup copies of CDs - so I can find them in a hurry. How do you manage to keep track of your photos? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
My very wise friend Vanessa Valencia wrote this today:
"...It was a very sad person who invented the idea of being too old for this or that. Of being too skinny, too tall, too short, too fat, for this or that. It was a very sad person, who blurted out mindless thoughts, that too many people listened to. Thoughts that set boundaries for centuries. Thoughts that had no meaning. No bearing. Just mindless thoughts of one negative person, that took off like wildfire. And because for some reason, it is easier to buy into negativity, we did. But, we don't have to. We never did..."
And I think her words definitely apply to these situations:
Joan Walsh's Salon article Some things just don't change
An excerpt from Glenn Greenwald's brilliant article in Salon:
"...As it turned out, of course, hundreds of the detainees imprisoned at Guantanamo when that 2004 Op-Ed was published -- ones which most of the country was calling "Terrorists" -- weren't "Terrorists" at all. They were guilty of absolutely nothing. In fact, the Bush administration subsequently acknowledged as much by eventually releasing hundreds of them -- after they had been put in cages for years with no trial of any kind. There still continues to be grave doubts about the guilt of many of the remaining detainees, including ones that have been there for years and are probably irrevocably broken as human beings.
"In fact, just two months ago, a right-wing, Bush-43-appointed federal Judge ordered five detainees released on the ground that there was never any "credible evidence" to justify their detention. Despite that, they had been imprisoned in Guantanamo for six years and were subjected to barbaric treatment that drove several of them close to insanity. They were released only after this judicial exoneration as part of a habeas corpus hearing in a federal court -- exactly the kind of hearing which the 2006 U.S. Congress, when it enacted the Military Commissions Act (with the support of most of the Washington Establishment), voted to abolish (an act that was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in its 2008 Boumediene decision, which restored habeas rights). Advocates of the Military Commissions Act, and those who now want to deny normal due process to accused Terrorists, argued then and still argue now the AP/Yoo line: Terrorists have no rights."
Reading these three articles makes me shake my head in wonder at the biased reporting of the Associated Press (once a bastion of respected journalism) and other newspaper and television media. It's no wonder the mainstream media is faltering, when objective, ethical reporting is too often abandoned for television ratings and/or placating conservative advertisers.
Then there are the shrill one-note refrains of the Bush administration cheerleaders - who persist in making the same false claims, over and over, like a broken record. Instead of working together with Democrats to solve problems, all they do is try to spread fear and innuendo. Enough, already! The American public is not stupid and won't fall for the "shock and awe" spin and illusions anymore. Ca suffit!
Today President Obama discussed this genuine threat on which we all should focus some attention.
Technorati Tags: Associated Press, Barcelona, Bruce Springsteen, energy policies, environment, Glenn Greenwald, global warming, Guantanamo Bay detainees, habeas corpus, human rights, Joan Walsh, news and current events, politics, Salon, Vanessa Valencia
Rassemblement de ballons libres, Place de la Concorde, Paris, 1930. Click to enlarge.
I found this image - reproduced from an original photographic plate - in an Ile Saint-Louis shop. Maybe not quite as many onlookers cheering as at President Barack Obama's inauguration Tuesday, but close!
Adults and children alike long have been fascinated by balloons and flight. In 1783, French brothers Joseph Michel and Jacques Étienne Montgolfier invented the hot-air balloon. In 1908 American aviator Wilbur Wright broke records for distance, duration and altitude during a 56-mile flight from Le Mans to Paris. A year later, French aviator Louis Blériot made the first complete balloon flight across the English Channel.
Here's a blast from the past: the Fifth Dimension singing "Up, up and away."
Technorati Tags: 1930, antiques and collectibles, balloon flights, Barack Obama, Fifh Dimension, French aviation, Jacques Étienne Montgolfier, Joseph Michel Montgolfier, Louis Blériot, news and current events, Paris, Place de la Concorde, The Red Balloon, Wilbur Wright
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman writes in The New York Times that an inquest should be launched into the actions of the Bush administration. No one should be allowed to get away with the widespread damages and unmitigated disasters Bush & Co. heaped on the United States - and the world. No one is above the law. Read the full story here.
Glenn Greenwald reports in Salon that binding U.S. law requires prosecutions for those who authorize torture - including Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Condoleeza Rice et al.
"...And the philosophy that was at the base of the last administration has ruined many, many people's lives. The deregulation, the idea of the unfettered, free market, the blind foreign policy. This was a very radical group of people who pushed things in a very radical direction, had great success at moving things in that direction and we are suffering the consequences." - Bruce Springsteen, in an interview with The Guardian.
Better days ahead - starting Tuesday!
Scroll down the page for additional posts today.
Technorati Tags: 2008 election, Abuse of power, Afghanistan, Bruce Springsteen, Condoleeza Rice, Department of Justice, Dick Cheney, economy, environmental policy, FEMA, Gaza, George W. Bush, Glenn Greenwald, Guantanamo Bay, Halliburton, human rights, Hurricane Katrina, investigation into Bush administration's actions, Iraq, John Ashcroft, no-bid contracts, Obama, Paul Krugman, politics, presidential pardons, right-wing Republican base, Salon, The Guardian, The Middle East, The New York Times, torture, US Constitution, voting rights, warrantless spying on Americans
"...where we can see heaven much better." Remember The Supremes song Up the Ladder to the Roof? Rooftop view of the city from Antoni Gaudi's Casa Batllo, Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona, Spain.
A close-up of the tiled dome atop Casa Batllo.
The dome viewed from the opposite direction (taken via telephoto lens from across the street).
The tiled "dragon's back" of Gaudi's organic design.
A mosaic-tiled arch with a view.
Dancing pebbles on a rooftop terrace.
Following his hugely-popular "Yes We Can" song and video, Will.i.am. debuts his latest ode to Barack Obama, "It's a new day!"
Happily, America has remembered its promise.
As Frank Rich writes in The New York Times:
"...The actual real America is everywhere. It is the America that has been in shell shock since the aftermath of 9/11, when our government wielded a brutal attack by terrorists as a club to ratchet up our fears, betray our deepest constitutional values and turn Americans against one another in the name of “patriotism.” What we started to remember the morning after Election Day was what we had forgotten over the past eight years, as our abusive relationship with the Bush administration and its press enablers dragged on: That’s not who we are.
"So even as we celebrated our first black president, we looked around and rediscovered the nation that had elected him. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” Obama said in February, and indeed millions of such Americans were here all along, waiting for a leader. This was the week that they reclaimed their country."
Meanwhile, the Bush administration continues its race towards the bottom, doing as much damage as possible to ordinary Americans before leaving office.
Mural, Haight Street, San Francisco. Photo by Julie Michelle.
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Bruce Springsteen performs for Sen. Obama and his family and supporters in Ohio.
It is hoped it's a harbinger of races to come: Sen. Obama has won the tiny hamlet of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire 15-6. It's the first time since 1968 the community has voted for a Democrat.
Scroll down the page for the latest report of voting issues around the country, updated throughout the day.
Javier van Velthoven plays his guitar near the Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain. His haunting melodies linger in the stone-walled alleys and passageways surrounding the cathedral. I was so impressed with Javier's guitar skills, I bought a CD. It contains Javier's beautiful interpretations of Francisco Tarrega, Fernando Sor, Antonio Rubira, Issac Albeniz and Manuel de Falla, among others. His version of Albeniz's Asturias is magnificent! I could listen to Javier for hours.
8.G, a group of young musicians in Barcelona, has a Latin/Carribean sound not unlike the Buena Vista Social Club. I also bought their CD, containing music both danceable and romantic that makes me wish I were still in Spain.
Meanwhile, an American artist is set to create an enormous portrait of Sen. Barack Obama on the beach at Barcelona.
Bruce Springsteen appearing for Barack Obama in Philadelpia:
"I am glad to be here today for this voter registration drive and for Barack Obama, the next President of the United States.
"I've spent 35 years writing about America, its people, and the meaning of the American Promise. The Promise that was handed down to us, right here in this city from our founding fathers, with one instruction: Do your best to make these things real. Opportunity, equality, social and economic justice, a fair shake for all of our citizens, the American idea, as a positive influence, around the world for a more just and peaceful existence. These are the things that give our lives hope, shape and meaning. They are the ties that bind us together and give us faith in our contract with one another.
"I've spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and American reality. For many Americans, who are today losing their jobs, their homes, seeing their retirement funds disappear, who have no healthcare, or who have been abandoned in our inner cities. The distance between that promise and that reality has never been greater or more painful.
"I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his work. I believe he understands, in his heart, the cost of that distance, in blood and suffering, in the lives of everyday Americans. I believe as president, he would work to restore that promise to so many of our fellow citizens who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning. After the disastrous administration of the past eight years, we need someone to lead us in an American reclamation project. In my job, I travel the world and occasionally play big stadiums, just like Senator Obama. I've continued to find, wherever I go, America remains a repository of people's hopes, possibilities and desires and that despite the terrible erosion to our standing around the world, accomplished by our recent administration, we remain, for many, a house of dreams. One thousand George Bushes and one thousand Dick Cheneys will never be able to tear that house down.
"They will, however, be leaving office, dropping the national tragedies of Katrina, Iraq and our financial crisis in our laps. Our sacred house of dreams has been abused, looted and left in a terrible state of disrepair. It needs care; it needs saving; it needs defending against those who would sell it down the river for power or a quick buck. It needs strong arms, hearts and minds. It needs someone with Senator Obama's understanding, temperateness, deliberativeness, maturity, compassion, toughness and faith, to help us rebuild our house once again. But most importantly, it needs us. You and me. To build that house with the generosity that is at the heart of the American spirit. A house that is truer and big enough to contain the hopes and dreams of all of our fellow citizens. That is where our future lies. We will rise or fall as a people by our ability to accomplish this task. Now I don't know about you, but I want that dream back, I want my America back, I want my country back.
"So now is the time to stand with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, roll up our sleeves and come on up for "The Rising."
Photo of cardboard cutout abandoned at Solidays, the three-day series of concerts scheduled each first weekend in July in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris.
Rock En Seine organisers are threatening a lawsuit, after singer Amy Winehouse abruptly cancelled her performance, two hours before she was scheduled to appear as Friday's headliner.
Winehouse's musicians arrived in Paris Thursday and rehearsed at the venue at Parc de Saint-Cloud. But Winehouse never left London for Paris.
"We were told by Winehouse's agent at 8 p.m. that she would not be there and we were forced to cancel the performance," the statement said.
"We have still not been given any explanation of the exact reasons for her absence. We are very sorry about this situation and share the disappointment of the festival-goers."
Nearly 80,000 people are reported to have attended this year's event. Featured performers included R.E.M., the Kaiser Chiefs, Kate Nash, The Roots and Jamie Lidell, among others. The annual festival was initiated in 2003.
Boys with birds, Notre Dame, Paris.
In the small park opposite the Hotel de Ville, this chain-smoking gentleman brings a bag of breadcrumbs and holds them - one by one - in the air. Birds flock to him. Click photo to enlarge for detail of the two sparrows on his hand and another en route. I had only my small pocket camera with me, which is limited in capturing movement.
Local musicians on the Ile Saint-Louis.
Bicycle with child's seat near Boulevard Saint-Germain.
Jewel-tone dahlias, Ile Saint-Louis.
Art nouveau sign, corner cafe, Boulevard Saint-Germain. Notice the red geraniums in a window-box?
17th-century building with the slanted foundation and leaded windows to prove it, Ile Saint-Louis.
Courtyard entrance, Ile Saint-Louis. Standing inside the courtyard are visiting Canadian friends Anna and Glenn, with whom I had lunch and spent a lovely afternoon. You may know Anna as the delightful blogger Naturegirl. We are having dinner together later in the week and will take more photos.
Hearts on fire.
An empty doorway midway through renovation.
Exposed wood on the same doorway. I like the effect created by remnants of various paint colours.
Grapes on a vine, local greengrocers.
Too many choices of cheese, shot through the vitrine of the local fromagerie. My friend Karyn once lived in a bijoux apartment three stories above this cheese shop. In the summertime, the aroma wafted through the building, despite the building owner's efforts to minimise the problem.
P.S. Almost anyone who's traveled has an airline horror story. But this one's hard to beat. (Hat tip to Americablog). And now United Airlines has the nerve to consider charging passengers for food on international flights! The words hubris, greed and incompetent management come to mind.