Monday, June 30, 2014

DeYoung and the Restless

My new flight home from Paris was not cancelled and apparently there were no strikes happening in the city on that day!  Banner day for Paris!

It was a long day of travel, but I arrived in San Francisco to a couple of smiling faces and big hugs.  My mom and Christianne met me in the airport and I couldn't have been happier to see them.  We spent the night in the city and decided to go see the Modernism exhibit at the DeYoung Museum the next day before heading back to Chico.  It's not possible to go to too many museums you know.

We had a great time checking out some awesome artwork, including a Roy Lichtenstein of the Statue of Liberty!  I tell you, she is everywhere!  Of course, theme dressing for the national symbols unit in first grade came to mind when I saw the same painting on a t-shirt in the gift shop!  Somebody has a new addition to their teacher wardrobe!!  Woot!

Taking a selfie with three people is hard!  Ha!

Don't worry, I didn't forget about the Eccos!

Eccos at the DeYoung.

I was pretty anxious to get home to see the kids, so off we went to Chico.  I fell into bed as soon as we got home it seemed and got to see the littles first thing Friday morning.  Saturday I headed up to Greenville to pick the bigs up from camp!  It was fabulous to see everyone and now we are all getting on with the business of summer!  
Gus in his French brain swim cap! He loves it!

Finn, Jack and Abe in their French soccer jerseys. 

Next adventure for me and my Eccos...Vegas baby!!  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Take Aways

My time in Paris flew by, just like the scenery while on the train.  It was a great trip.
I spent two weeks in a brand new city, all alone.  I hardly spoke to anyone in those two weeks.  I of course, spoke a little French when necessary - merci beaucoup was actually about it!  I ordered food in restaurants on occasion, and I asked directions a couple of times.  Other than that I really didn't talk!  I was alone with my thoughts and that was something that I really needed.  I walked and explored when I wanted to.  I ate and drank when I wanted to.  I went wherever I wanted to go on my own time schedule!  I slept when I was tired and read a bunch of books.  It was restful and restorative.  

I also did a lot of things that I had never done before.  Honestly, I did a lot things I always thought I wasn't very good at.  I have always believed (for various reasons) that I had no sense of direction and couldn't find my way out of a paper bag; that I was a terrible navigator and couldn't read a map worth a damn.  This trip was full map reading, navigating and finding my way around an unfamiliar city.  While there were plenty of times that I had no idea where in Paris I was, I always found my way back to where I wanted to go.  Proving that of course, I can read a map and get around in the world just fine on my own.  
Remember this crazy map?

Another thing I'd been told forever is that I am pretty high maintenance. Apparently, I need certain drinks and certain accommodations to be a happy girl. Well let me tell you...I couldn't find a cup of black iced tea with a slice of lemon in all of Paris.  Anyone who knows me at all, is well aware of my tea addiction.  I drink iced tea morning, noon and night.  Even Starbucks in Paris had no iced tea!  Being so high maintenance, you'd think I'd have died or have had to cancel the trip.  I'm here to tell you that I survived just fine without my regular tea.  I made due with "ice tea peche."  It was Lipton tea with peach flavoring in a very small bottle and came at quite a price, 3-6 Euros a pop.  It wasn't anything like the iced tea I usually drink and it had sweetener in it! Still, I survived.  There were days when I didn't have any tea at all!  God forbid!!  I STILL survived!  Shocking, I know.  As for my accommodations...I didn't stay at a four star hotel.  I rented a studio apartment in a working class, busy and noisy neighborhood.  It was cluttered and a bit tacky.  I couldn't have been more happy staying there.  It was perfect!  It was close to the metro, included a washer and a warm shower.  I survived and was quite comfortable thank you very much.  Hmmm....perhaps I'm not so high maintenance after all.  Go figure!

Lipton Ice Tea Peche poured into a wine glass without ice!  
Old, narrow stairs leading up to the flat I rented.

Now let's talk about being lazy.  This is also something I have been told and had believed about myself. I have no idea how many miles I walked while in Paris, but I can tell you that I walked for hours everyday.  Is sitting down and looking at an amazing piece of art considered lazy?  I did do that.  I also stayed in the apartment and read for a whole day - it was a vacation after all!  I even sat in a few cafes and watched the world go by every so often.  So if that qualifies me as lazy then I guess I'll take it.  But I thought a lot about that label while I was gone, and thought a lot about my life in general in terms of being lazy.  I don't know why I took that label and owned it.  I tossed that label out the window on this trip.  It's not possible  to have nine kids, teach 20 first graders, and live a full life like I have and be lazy.  I'm not sure why I didn't realize that before this trip.  I guess it took walking for miles and miles, and having the space to examine my life to figure that out.  I'm so glad I did.  
Napping does not equal lazy.

Another take away from this trip was probably the most important and most positive realization for me.  I have been told in lots of different ways that I am too dependent to do anything on my own.  Now I enjoy the company of others.  I do.  I enjoy having friends, meeting new people, working collaboratively with my colleagues, hanging out with my kids etc.  I also very much love having some time to myself.  I love peace and quiet.  I love to read and write and be alone. This doesn't happen very often in my life - remember those 9 kids and 20 first graders? I don't get much of an opportunity for alone time in my life and this trip certainly gave me that!  I didn't need to be with anyone else.  I didn't want to be with anyone else.  I was fine on my own and continue to be fine on my own.  I've been fine on my own for quite some time now and have managed to take care of myself and my kids on my own. Again, having the time to walk and think and examine gave me the perspective to realize that dependent is not the same as enjoying the company of others.  I am plenty independent and capable and competent.  Phew!   
All by myself, sitting in a restaurant, reading a book, happy and content as can be.  

I probably didn't need to go all the way to Paris to discover that these things that I had believed about myself weren't true, but I'm sure glad I did!  It was a wonderful place to walk, contemplate and get to know myself better.  As I was exploring one day, I happened upon a store with the strangest window displays ever.  I loved one of them most especially because it pretty much summed up how I was feeling about these negative things I had always believed about myself.  I had to take a picture.
Nothing like a big red chimp to get the point across eh?

My Eccos served me well in Paris so I think I'll take them on some more adventures.  Stay tuned!

Eccos on my age in Paris.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Au Revoir Paris

All good things must come to an end, sadly.  I received an email last Sunday from the airlines that explained that due to a strike by the air traffic controllers, my flight home was cancelled.  Yes, they plan their strikes well in advance in Paris.  So I called the airlines to rebook my flight and my choices were to stay an extra week and miss my trip to Vegas for a conference, or come home a week early.  Well, the choice was obvious... I needed to come home early.  I wouldn't miss my trip to Vegas with Susan and Renee, and I could see the kids for awhile before Vegas!  I figured it was a win-win situation.  So.... I packed it up and headed home on June 25th.

My packed bag in the metro station for the last time.

On the metro for the last time. I'm on my way to the train that will take me to the airport.

I was actually pretty excited to ride the train.  It's not too terribly different than the metro, but I didn't take the train much on my trip.  It was another new experience!

The B train that would take me to the airport.

Eccos on the train.... wait, those aren't Eccos!  
Birks on the train.  
TSA was coming. I was prepared for easy on and off of the shoes!

Au revoir Paris!  It's been real!  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Rodin and Armor

Today's adventure: Rodin! What a great way to spend the day!

Are you ready for today's art lesson?  I learned a lot today.  Rodin made many casts of his famous statue The Thinker.  It was originally a very small statue.  He made it larger once he decided he liked it so much.
The Thinker in the garden of the Musee Rodin.

Rodin also liked to take apart his molds and reuse the body parts to make new statues or statues of individual body parts.  
Hand by Rodin

Rodin's work was compared to Robert Maplethorpe's photography in a special exhibit.  Maplethorpe loved Rodin and studied him closely.  He also took pictures of isolated body parts as well.  They both used movement and light and line in their work. It was stunning to see these works side by side.  Really powerful and beautiful.
Hands by Maplethorpe

It was also very cool to see all the famous Rodin sculptures in one place.  The Museum is located in what was once a hotel that became an artists quarters.  It was then purchased by Rodin and made into a museum by him as well.  
The Kiss by Rodin

Hotel Biron that houses the Musee Rodin

The museum also has beautiful gardens to wander.  Rodin sculptures are tucked into the garden landscape amid beautiful flowers and lawns. 

Eccos at Musee Rodin

After I left the Musee Rodin I wandered the streets nearby.  I found another beautiful museum to visit!
This lovely building is the home of Napoleon's Tomb, the Hotel des Invalides.  This is actually the church dome where the tomb lies.  One of the wings of the Hotel des Invalides houses the Musee de l'Armee, the military museum.  

Napoleon's Tomb

Eccos at Napoleon's Tomb

Admittedly, I am not that interested in military stuff. None the less, I went through the military museum after seeing Napoleon's Tomb.  It was filled with case after case of armor, swords, and guns.  What I saw surprised me.  The armor was gorgeous! The swords were so beautifully decorated.  The guns were beautifully carved and etched.  There were whole rooms of cannons!  It was actually pretty interesting and cool.  I really liked it.  

Head armor for a horse. So cool!

Check out that beautiful armor!  

After learning all I could manage at the military museum I decided it was time to call it a day.  I hopped back on the metro and headed back to the flat for a yummy dinner of bread, cheese and cherries.  
La cerise origine France Provence

Saturday, June 21, 2014

On Top of the World

Here I am on top of the world...or at least at the top of Paris.  I went to the Pompidou today and rode the escalators up to the top!  The view was amazing.  For some weird reason I didn't think it was going to be quite so high!  I got more and more nervous as I continued to climb up high, but up I went.  I quickly snapped a few photos of the view and then went inside the building.  I hate heights and my stomach flip flopping all over the place!  Yikes!!!

The escalators are pretty cool.  They are in these tubes that zig-zag up the outside of the building. 

Do you see the teeny tiny Eiffel Tower out there?  

Surprisingly, I think this was my favorite museum so far! It was full of fun, colorful and funky stuff - pop art that really makes no sense to me.  It was also full of other more modern painters that we all know and love - Matisse, Picasso, Kandinsky, Mondrian.  I loved it all.  Okay this one I didn't really love:
There was a big white tent, wailing music, sand and a palm tree in the middle of the tent with alphabet letters projected on the ceiling.  All I could think of was Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  I don't think that was what the artist was going for.  I have no idea what it was supposed to represent.  There were other weird ones...lots of plastic bottles strung together.  I didn't get that either.  
This was the only thing that resembled "art" to me in this part of the museum.  You can't really tell, but it's made from a grocery bag, newspaper, feathers and beads.  The artist (I can't remember his name) took a lot of mushrooms in the 70s while he created art.  Not very surprising!  It looks like someone raided a teacher's craft drawers.  It looks like a first grader made it too!  But really, I loved this museum!  
The rest of the museum was filled with amazing work!  
I know I look bored to death, but inside I was screaming "oh my gosh!  It's a real Picasso!!"  I was totally trying to look calm, cool and collected so I didn't make too much of a fool of myself.  
 Mondrian - love the yellow!
Georgia O'Keefe - love it all!

There was a music festival going on in the area so bands were playing, people were dancing and there was a ton of good people watching.  So after wandering around for quite a long time, I went outside and sat and watched.  

Eccos at the Pompidou

Then this happened - 
I finally ate some glace! They made it into this rose for me!  This is from a place called Amarino. I had lemon and strawberry.  It was super yummy and almost too pretty to eat.  Loved it. 

I met a man while I was eating my glace who was a fabric importer for 15 years and has recently lost his job.  He now draws caricatures for living at 10 Euro a pop.  He was sweet and a little sad.  I didn't get my picture drawn (I kind of felt bad about that) but he asked me to dinner.  Ha!  I politely declined and went on my way.  Who knows if his sad little story was even true.  He was sweet though.  Not my type however!  Too funny.  

Nearby there is a fun pool with funky fountains in it.  It was colorful and fun.  Sat and watched more people from there.  It is surrounded by a bench so you can sit and enjoy the fountains up close.  

Headed home after listening to music and all that people watching.  Stopped for the ingredients of my favorite French dinner - bread, cheese and a tomato with some fruit.  Doesn't get better than that!  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Statue of Liberty

Nope, I'm not in New York City. It was funny how often the Statue of Liberty came up today though. She was everywhere! I visited the Musee d'Orsay today and there she was just as I walked in. Of course there were groups of school children sitting right by her! She's much smaller than our version in New York of course, and she's still brown, not having been exposed to the weather and all. It was fun to see her.

I loved the Musee d'Orsay. I had great hopes of visiting the Musee Rodin today as well, but by the time I was finished at the Orsay, there was only about an hour to spend at the Rodin.  I'll have to squeeze that in another day! The Musee d'Orsay had so many great works that I had never thought I'd see in person. It was amazing to walk through the museum and look at paintings that I've only seen in books right in front of me. There was a special exhibit of Van Gogh. It was based on a book written by this man who spent nine years in an insane asylum. He was an artist in the 1940s and since he was "crazy" he wrote a book about Van Gogh being "crazy" and what his art meant. The exhibit was all about how society caused Van Gogh to commit suicide or something. Honestly, I did not care a bit about this man's points of view. I was far too interested in soaking up all the Van Gogh paintings in front of me.  
Photos were not allowed in the exhibit, this Van Gogh was outside the special exhibit. I do not think pictures were really allowed here either, I snapped this one  really quickly (that's why it's off center) and then felt super guilty about breaking the rules. Everyone else was taking photos, but you know what they say ... 189 wrongs, do not make a right! Ha! I ended up buying a couple of postcards after the exhibit. They will have to suffice. It was pretty exciting to see his self portraits, roses and sunflowers.  Starry Night was not part of the exhibit, there were so many others that were, I couldn't complain.
Here I am with Van Gogh himself.  
There were lots of other things that I saw at the Musee d'Orsay too!

Susan texted that she was headed out to see some gators on a swamp tour in Louisiana. I spotted this and thought of her right away.  Hopefully her experience with the gators wasn't quite like this!  Yikes! 

After the Musee d'Orsay, I decided to take a boat trip down the Seine.  I was up for sitting down for an hour, enjoying a cool breeze and seeing the sights.  
I got a great view of the Eiffel Tower from the boat.  What a beautiful day too!

I had to take a selfie! It was too good an opportunity to pass up! Ha!

The Musee d'Orsay from the boat.  
Apparently, it was originally a train station that was converted to a museum much later. 

Pont du Alexander III
This is the fanciest of all the bridges across the Seine.  

While I was on the cruise on the Seine, the Statue of Liberty came up again!  I couldn't get a picture, but by one of the bridges there is an exact replica of flame on the Lady Liberty's torch.  It's gold and everything.  It was very cool to see.  I meant to walk by and get a picture, but I got distracted by the Louvre! oops!  I guess it was dedicated to Princess Dianna after she died.  I'm not sure why.... 
Then, as we went under yet another bridge, they told us how another replica of the Statue of Liberty was a the end of the bridge.  She's everywhere I tell you!  The French are pretty proud of that gift to the United States!  

Eccos on the boat on the Seine.

After I got off the boat, I walked back by the Louvre.  I can't seem to get enough of that place.  I didn't go in again.  It was close to closing time, but the grounds outside of the Louvre are fantastic as well! 

There is that cool pyramid again!  Love this place!!

On my way back to the Metro, I actually shopped a little bit.  Can you believe it?  I shopped!  I picked up a few souvenirs for the kids and then made my way back to the flat.  I didn't realize that I hadn't eaten since lunch until I got back!  I was actually still full after seven hours!  It was an amazing lunch to be sure!  I made a special trip to a restaurant called Frenchie To Go that I had heard great reviews about. It was worth the special trip to a new part of the city.  The food was awesome!

I had fish and chips.  The British girl sitting by me said they weren't the British version, and they sure weren't the American version either.  It was so yummy!  I'll take this French version any day! 

The fun part of making this trek to find this restaurant was that I had to take the train.  The RER C to be exact.  This is different than the Metro.  It's still underground and all, but it's a real train, not a subway.  It was a fun new adventure!
The C train - double decker even! 
Eccos waiting for the train. 

Well, it was another great day in Paris!  We shall see what tomorrow brings.  I'm sure it will be good!