Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My parents on their wedding day
June 5, 1946

Today is my parents' 67th wedding anniversary. This is the first one my father will spend alone. They were married on my father's graduation day- he graduated first in his class from Annapolis (my mother was still a Barnard student). Yes, that's a torpedo. My father always gave my mother yellow roses - one the first year, two the second, etc. I think when it reached two dozen, he just continued with that number. From a daughter's perspective, it was a rocky marriage, but I know he'd rather have her here today. I sent him some yellow roses.

Painting on the facade of a building

If I keep up this every-two-to-three-days posting pace, this will be one very long blog. For those just dropping in, this is in lieu of sending out lots of emails to family and friends. But mostly, it's my diary of the trip - hence all the little inconsequential details. Just look at the photos, if you'd like!

Park fixtures and plants painted
as shadows on the park wall

It is so wonderful to have spring (definitely not summer) here! The sun has been shining for several days now, though it is still cool and breezy. So I have done many hours of strolling - mostly in the 6th arrondisement (somehow I didn't get Alix here and I should have).

Nearby park with fruit and vegetable garden

Not too far away, I found a little park that contained a grape arbor, an orchard, berry vines, an herb garden, a vegetable garden, and a preschool (growing little children?). Lots of people just hanging out here on the benches - me, too! - but I couldn't figure out who gets the produce. 

The potting shed

It clearly wasn't a community garden in the US sense.

Side of a van parked in front of the park/garden 
- the gardener's, maybe?

I checked out St. Sulpice - the square in front will hold a big poetry festival this weekend. The day I was there the square was devoted to a photography market - lots of vendors/photographers with a huge variety of photography.

St. Sulpice

Eglise St. Sulpice is a Baroque church - a period that definitely doesn't inspire like the Gothic or Romanesque. In fact, it reminded me of why I got a D on my Baroque Art term paper back in 1968. But it makes for enjoyable photographing, nonetheless.

A detail from the thing that holds the holy water
- I'm sure there's a name for that

Other than just being outside in the sun, the best part of that day was getting into the Chagall exhibit at the Musee de Luxembourg without a line. Just wait until 6:00!

Chagall painting

The theme of the exhibit is Between War and Peace - his reactions to one and dreams of the other. You never know which museums will let you photograph and which won't. Obviously, this one does, though most of my photos were taken at an angle. I'm reproducing ones related to peace, though I don't have the names of the paintings.

Chagall painting

The theme reminds me of what is happening in Turkey and that in turn reminds me of a short poem by Cecelia Woloch, who leads the USC Poets in Paris program, from her chapbook Carpathia.

Brasov, 1989

            - on a photograph by David Turnley

The women are waiting in line to confess -
standing or slumping or leaning on canes
or half-crouched, backs pressed to the wall
of a wooden church in Brasov, Romania.
It's the Year of Our Lord, 1989; six months before
all hell would break loose, and the brute
who's starved them - a nation of starvelings -
will be shot, point-blank, in the head.

The women's faces are calm, or grim
- one might wonder, Where are the men? -
but the light is golden, warm, diffuse,
as if all sins, once confessed, or desires
(who has butter today? has meat? an egg?)
could be left at the feet of a wooden saint
with a whisper, a kiss, a prayer for forgiveness:
Because we've been broken. Because we've obeyed.

Makes me think of the United States.

A sweet little cafe in the 5th

Easily said by someone who is spending her days sitting outside lovely cafes while sipping chilled rose.

More graffiti

And sometimes you have to be sitting in just the right place to see the graffiti near the rooftops.

Zadkine Museum

Another favorite little museum is the Musee Zadkine - another museum that was created from the artist's studio. It is small and set around a lovely garden. Margo VanVeen mentioned Zadkine sculpture in Rotterdam harbor in one of her pieces in Terry Ehret's Dylan Thomas workshop.

More Zadkine

There was a class of young students - maybe seven years old - at the museum. They were drawing some of the sculptures. I wonder what they made of the hermaphrodites?

Students at Zadkine Museum

Their teacher asked them to guess the meaning of a particular sculpture (it's behind the tree). They decided it was of someone in prison (it is next to a screaming figure which represents the destruction of a city). Turns out that what they thought were prison bars were the strings of Orpheus' lyre.

University of Pharmacology botanical garden

Directly across from the museum is the school of pharmacology. It has a big garden behind a big locked gate. But someone was going in just as I came out of the museum so I got a peak the green houses and garden. I wonder how many big pharmacology schools in the US have gardens. If there ever were any, I'll bet Big Pharma had them ripped up long ago.

It's obvious

I was walking down a residential street and a grandmother was walking with her grandson - about four years old - coming toward me. He stopped suddenly and she told him to keep walking with her. He turned and walked back the other way - right into the street. She calmly walked up to him and took his hand and walked the way he wanted to go. No mention of the danger of just stepping into the street.

Students' scooters locked out front
of an elementary school on a city street

Between one place and another I walked through the Bon Marche department store - the oldest one in Paris. I felt as though I were in Macy's in downtown San Francisco, where you can't see the exits because they want you to walk around confused in the hopes that you'll finally by something. Must be a universal marketing strategy.

Bon Marche department store

One of the hardest things to do here is resist taking a million photographs of windows. I'm always looking up and so many of them are gorgeous. I've really had to restrain myself.

Just some more windows

Another day, another church. St. Etienne-du-Mont, which is just next to the Pantheon.

St. Etienne-du-Mont

It's a combination of styles, but I didn't get to see the whole thing because most of it was closed off for a service. So I'll be heading back. I love the ceiling. The remains of the patron saint of Paris, Ste. Genevieve, were here until everything was burned during the Revolution.

More St. Etienne-du-Mont

I understand the gut desire to destroy everything of the "enemy's," but think of all the incredible things we've lost through the centuries. A desire best repressed, I think. I really don't like Versailles. What it represents makes me almost physically ill. It was gutted during the revolution and in disrepair for a long time. I'm glad it's still there as such a glaring reminder of the causes of the revolution.

 Sitting outside a cafe, again, at
Place des Contrascarpe

And so back to me and my part of the bourgeoisie, as I sit and have another glass of wine and enjoy the entertainment from the immigrants and throw some euros for thanks.

Entertainment at Place des Contrascarpe

Last night I treated myself to the first "nice" dinner out. I went to La Rose de France on the Isle de la Cite. It was a beautiful night and the restaurant looks out on Place Dauphine, which has been turned into one giant petanque (French bocce) court. The Place was filled with young people (mostly 20s and 30s), with picnics and bottles of wine, playing petanque.

Gathering for petanque at Place Dauphine

Petanque, unlike bocce, has no regulation court size or shape. You can just play it anywhere, so there were small groups all over the Place with picnics spread out on the benches. It was fun to watch.


The couple sitting at the table behind me was from Marin County. I didn't talk to them, but got to hear an awful lot of inane (and some intimate) conversation. They were rating their dining experiences - I think Las Vegas came out ahead. I didn't turn around and answer their questions about the food or explain that they were watching petanque, not bocce.

Some lovers last night

I certainly didn't let them know I'd overheard her say, "The way you kissed me, the way you touched me, I knew I was going to see you again." They were a middle-aged couple coming out of divorces. He turned out to be one of those loud American guys who walked up to a young couple speaking English at another table asking, "So where ya from?" Wisconsin! Great state!"

The Seine last night

My meal was nice, though the same amount of money would have bought slightly better food. The only spectacular thing I've had in Paris was the sorbet de cassis in creme de cassis I had one night. There may have been some nostalgia in that. 

Along the Seine

When Chuck and I were here in 1973, I had sorbet de cassis for dessert every single night - and I think he had profiteroles most of those nights. When I was here in 2006 (or was it 2005?), I had it a few times but it never matched my memory of it. But one bite of it the other night and that was it! Now I know where to go if I need a fix.

Seine sunset

As you can see, last night was a lovely night for a walk along the Seine! I hadn't planned to be out so late, so once again, I hadn't brought my tripod. When I plan to walk for hours, I don't want to add any extra weight. Eventually I'll make an expedition with the express goal of using it.

Cite Metro stop

I didn't get home until 11:30 - I was out nine hours! - and the Metro stop near the restaurant was pretty deserted, but when I came up in Montparnasse, the joint was jumping and the cafe on the corner - looking up at the Montparnasse Tower - was packed.

Inconsequential corner cafe

But the best thing is still to just stop at a cafe with a good book, my notebook, and a nice rose. It doesn't have to be a special location and it helps that it's a good way to find a bathroom. Yesterday's book was The Diving Bell and The Butterfly. I never saw the movie and this was here at the apartment. Lovely, sad book with some short chapters that read almost like prose poems.

And I'll leave you with a view from the shower! The nearby window is the kitchen of the apartment. The others always seem to be closed. The balconies are off the stairway landings. Not much reason to use them, but I stepped out on one once.

View from the shower

No comments:

Post a Comment