Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Starry Starry Love...

I have a new love. A long, lost love.

The Night Sky!

A friend has shared with me a new passion for learning the constellations
and other such things whose terminology
I am just in the beginning stages of learning.
But even though a new love, it feels like an old love.

I'm like a teenager again, in the throes,
but with an entity that gives me,
rather than angst,
immense feelings of beauty and joy.

Several times a day I look at the sky and smile,
impatiently awaiting our next Night Sky rendezvous together.
But like a secret love, I never know when that will be.

Clear evening skies in the Pacific Northwest's
winter (and spring and fall) months
-with which to study, gaze, learn and commune-
are a rare treat.

The day teases me with patches or clearings of blue sky,
what I excitedly hope are foreshadowings of a later tryst
when the cloak spills over everything.
And each night, I step outside my door with great hope.

Sometimes my evening dance card is filled
though I always check before bed to see if a short,
bundled up, moonless kiss might be possible.

And sometimes my Night Sky's dance card has been filled
with high clouds and fog who refuse to share.
Granted, recent low temperatures tend to add to
my already full-on Aries low-patience level.

And lately it's been cold enough that my thrice-nightly sojourns
out onto the deck to glean possible sightings
is fraught with scarves, gloves and ice under my feet.

So I don't wait long, just long enough to wink back at a few stars peeking out
or simply sigh at the blank screen
of weather pattern technical difficulties
(for Night Sky viewing trysts).

My very first recollection of the sensation of Awe
was the summer night sky of the Sierra Nevada mountains when I was 13.
I'd seen the night sky before but NEVER in it's full,
magnificent, clear mountain air glory
(which doesn't even begin to describe it)!

And here I am again, feeling 13, impatient and waiting for Christmas
only to find nightly that fog
has stolen the presents again.


(Photo courtesy of PDPhoto.org)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday is 'Missing Paris Day'~The Paris Eiffel Tower News

If you are looking for the official website for the Eiffel Tower
(in French, of course), click here.


But if you want to find out about
'The Controversy about the Eiffel Tower'~
including an Eiffel Tower Fact Book~
OR everything you wanted to know about the Pont Neuf~
OR The History of Montmartre~
OR my personal favorite museum: The Jacquemart-Andre~
OR the oldest church in Paris~
OR any number of walking tours in Paris~
AND about a gazillion other things about Paris~



I would write more but I will most likely have my nose up to my earballs
in Paris Eiffel Tower News. With info on hotels, restaurants, bars, including maps,
museums, photos and landmarks, it looks to be one of the best sites (I've found)
on the wonders that are Paris!

a bientot!



(Antique Postcard courtesy of The Graphics Fairy)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Verry Merry!

"The merry family gatherings-
the old, the very young;
The strangely lovely way they
Harmonize in carols sung.
For Christmas is tradition time
Traditions that recall
The precious memories down the years,
The sameness of them all."
~Helen Lowrie Marshall

"Love came down at Christmas;
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
Stars and Angels gave the sign."
~Christina Rossetti

Wishing all
a Divinely Lovely Christmas!


(Postcard courtesy of The Graphics Fairy)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gifts That Give Back!

Give a Gift for a Cause!

The Huffington Post is calling attention to their
Created by the HuffPost Impact Team and Causecast,
you can give a gift to those in need
in the name of a loved one.


Gifts Under $25:
$10: Give a mosquito net to help protect from Malaria.
$14: School supplies for a former child slave in Ghana.
$20: Give clean water to one individual.
And more!

Gifts $25-$50:
$25: Stuffed toy for a hospitalized child.
$25: USO Care Package for a U.S. Soldier.
$30: Solar Cooker for a Refugee woman from Darfur.
$30: Soccer ball for an impoverished child.
$35: Scholarship for Ugandan University Student.
$40: Pre-paid phone card for an American Soldier abroad.
$50: Provide US schools with up-to-date software!
And more!


Gifts over $50:
$65: Educate a girl for one year.
$75: Send a child to school in Africa.
$87: A Bicycle for a refugee.
$94: Specialized education for a former child slave in India.
$100: Clean water for a family.
$100: Stock a library in the US.
$128: Seeds, tools and fertilizer for a school in Afghanistan.

If you need any further reason to give for a cause,
all gift donations are tax deductible!

Give Aunt Gertie a card with the unforgettable message
that, in her name, $20 went to give a child clean water.
Or $100 for an entire family!
Go to the link above to Give for Christmas!


(Photo courtesy of PDPhoto.org)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Travelin' Tuesday~Vatican City, Rome

Welcome to Vatican City, Rome!



Being the month of the Holiest of Holidays
(and having a request for more Italy on Travelin' Tuesdays),
today we are visiting the Vatican.

the Vatican held a conference earlier this year,
inviting priests and bishops from 82 countries for the purpose
of studying and determining the challenges to evangelization
by the Internet's evolution in digital media.

Namely, ways to reach the world's youth through
social networks like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter!

Under the direction of a communication sciences professor
at Milan's Catholic University, bishops and priests
from countries all over the world
surfed the net, reflecting on
"the anthropological implications of these new realities".


The Pope on Twitter? I'd follow that! And I'm not even on Twitter. Yet!

Could be a whole new look inside a previously untouchable world.


(To send the Pope a virtual Christmas card this season, go to Pope2you.net.)

(Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday is 'Missing Paris Day'~Chinon

Another in the Traveling Doorway series! This one from Chinon, France.
Looks like the portal to a Secret Garden, don't you think?
Doors give me that mini-awe feeling, like the Muse is knocking on...
well, that would be too punny. She does have a sense of humor, doesn't she!

Mine tends to whisper in my ear, telling me all the things I need to hear:
She tells me that I am good, whole; that I can inspire that awe feeling with my writing.

But it seems to me that when pen gets to paper and push to prose,
My Muse has left the building.
She inspires, teases and then hides, as if to say,
"Go ahead. See if you can do it without me! See if you really NEED me!"

Where exactly does she go? What? Is she busy?
Excuse me, but what kind of other appointment does "My" Muse have
that would keep her away?
A writing friend once made the statement that she suspected
her muse had finally sobered up after drinking at the bar.

And mine?
What, does she have an early Squash game?
An all day Body Glow Spa treatment?
Or is she moonlighting with other writers?
Do we not each get our own or aren't there enough to go around?

Should I be leaving out chocolate or cookies at night
like children do for Santa?
What does she like? Martinis? Do I want a hungover Muse?

How 'bout coffee? With chocolate in it?
Any possible way I could leave a cup of java out with my work
and have her pull an all-nighter while I sleep?
Chocolate sprinkles on top?
This too much to ask?


Okay, ok, I NEED you!
(Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Travelin' Tuesday~Sorrento, Italy

Welcome to Sorrento, Italy!

This charming old Albergo sits atop a bluff overlooking the
Bay of Naples. Out amongst the blue and white beauty
of the Southern Italian coast, one can actually catch a glimpse of
Mt. Vesuvius and the island of Capri.

Nearby is the stunning archaeological site of Pompeii
(of which there will be a future post as it is my all-time favorite ruin)
which Vesuvius covered and entombed,
along with neighboring Herculaneum, in 79 AD.

From here, one can easily drive or ferry to Naples and the Amalfi Coast
Capri or Positano.

Would love to be gazing out from one of these chairs,
Limoncello in hand, taking photos
and writing poems.

Thanks for traveling with me. Where shall we go next?
More Italy? Greece? Spain? Portugal? Or more of France?
You pick!

(For a lovely photo tour of Sorrento along with the music
of "Come Back to Sorrento" by Jerry Vale, click Here.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Good News Day!


Sour Grapes? Who knew! Turning water into wine into clean energy!






According to MSNBC's
Technology and Science section,
The Napa Wine Company
in Oakville, California is creating
clean energy from the bacterial
microbes of it's wine-producing wastewater.









With the use of electricity, wastewater fed to
microbes breaks down into hydrogen gas.

The company's goal: To create more energy
from the wastewater than would currently
be needed to treat it making the company
a "net power producer."

The winery hopes to use the clean energy to
power cars and run systems.

Who knows? Maybe wine will power the world!








To see full article, click here.
(Photos courtesy of PDPhoto.org)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Travelin' Tuesday~Florence, Italy


Just a lovely doorway I spotted in Florence on a walk.
Wishing I was there now sipping a local red and
nibbling olives and bread with nothing but
an afternoon of art and history
to discover.
Sigh...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Today is 11/11/11! (Again!)

Here we are again! It's 11/11/11!
Twice in one month (first time since the first decade of the 20th century)
and not again until 2018.

Has anything felt any different during the portal
between the last '11/11' day (earlier this month) and this one?
Not sure but it does feel like big changes are coming!

I did make sure to buy my lottery ticket
at exactly 11:11 today so...
I'll send a postcard from whatever island I end up on!

Still a few hours until the clock again turns 11:11 on 11/11/11.
How will you spend it?




(Postcard courtesy of The Graphics Fairy)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Frequently in our neighborhood, a 'gaggle' of turkeys
looks up as we pass by. (I always wonder what they're thinking.)
Since having my Native American Totem Animals read to me recently,
I now wonder what's happening in my life (what I'm thinking) when I see them
and what their visitation might symbolize.

As Totem Animals, the Turkey symbolizes Generosity, Abundance,
Fertility, Awareness, LifeGiving and Sharing.

They are a reminder to count our blessings!
And this holiday, I am mindful of the many blessings life offers.

This world is incredibly generous, abundant and fertile beyond belief
when we remember to be aware of the lifegiving sources around us
and share them with others.

And while I am making my list of blessings,
know that you are on that list!

Wishing all a truly Blessed Thanksgiving!


(Vintage Postcard courtesy of The Graphics Fairy)


Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday is 'Missing Paris Day'~Notre Dame de Paris

Another Notre Dame shot! Does anybody ever really get tired of these?

This is the view from the cafe side where I sit and write at Le Petit Pont.
I am so excited (regardless of whatever the winter weather decides to do) to sit,
people watch, sip something warm, nibble cold popcorn and write from my favorite place
in the oldest section of Paris!

I shall walk along the Seine, under the bridges and wonder
about what happened in the same cobblestone locations, in the very same dark places, under similar bridges, centuries ago.

I keep hoping that story ideas will transfer themselves from the minds of those who walked here before; that thoughts hang in the air; that memories can be caught with just the right
twist of intent.

Is it possible that the breath of those very same thoughts
that once walked beneath these bridges still lingers
through centuries of rain and windstorms,
hail and snow, just waiting for
the one who wants them?

I'll let you know...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Monday is 'Missing Paris Day'~Chateau Azay le Rideau


One of the Loire's earliest Renaissance chateaux, Azay le Rideau,
located about 150 miles southwest of Paris in the Loire Valley,
was built in the 16th century.

And like Chenonceau and Cheverny, it was created by a woman.
Gilles Berthelot, a financier under Louis XII and Francois I,
left the details of construction to Madame Berthelot.
When Gilles was accused of embezzlement, he left the area
(fleeing to Lorraine) where he died a few years later.

Francois I confiscated the chateau
(from Madame Berthelot) and gave it to one of his officers
as a token of his appreciation.

The story reminds me of Vaux le Vicomte,
a similar story of a finance minister to a King creating something too beautiful.
That story inspired the building of Versaille
(after the imprisonment of the finance minister and confiscation of his property,
architect, painter and gardener).

Moral: Never one-up a King!



(Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Wizard of Oz~ 70th Anniversary Encore Event

They're doing it again! This Tuesday November 17th at 6:30pm.

After a few streaming and other problems, a requested encore will take place this week.
After the show last time, I witnessed a near fight (between middle-aged adult males)
outside the theater over someone's noise level during the show
(during which a theater employee had to be called in).

They both told each other the other needed to grow up!

Who knew The Wizard of Oz could spur near violence between 'adults'!

Can't wait for the encore presentation
(hopefully with less problems and a more~or less~ mature crowd).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today is 11/11/11!



I always assumed it was just me~ that ominous feeling I had anytime I saw 11:11 on the digital clock but apparently it is a phenomenon that many have attached meaning to. I always felt like it was the time I would die. (Some things became eerily clear the day I saw my birth certificate and realized that my time of birth was 11:10am. So 11:11 was actually my very first moment on earth.)

This month, in numerology, the entire month adds up to 11/11: November being the 11th month and 2009 adding up to 11. And 11 is considered a Master Number- the others here being 22 and 33- which mean even greater intensity.

According to Christine DeLorey (Creative Numerology), for the first time in our lifetimes, we are now, today, experiencing the energy of 11/11/11 and as rare as this is, it will occur twice this month, again on November 29th.
Let's look at some of the numbers associated with today's rare energy pattern:

1~ is the symbol of Light, associated with the sun. It is Life Force itself. Beginnings of all things and energy that changes form. A high degree of mental vision. Intuition. Illumination~ truth coming to light.

2~(1+1=2)- is unity and correlation. Reproduction. Cohesive thinking. It is adaptability, common sense, a pacifying influence. It is peace.

3~ (11 x 3=33)- is activity and action. Catalyst. Communication. Expression and optimism.

Now when the numbers are doubled, the energy changes, both in intensity and potential. They become Master Numbers.

11 is about illumination, vision and inspiration. Intuitive knowledge and mastery. Or as DeLorey points out, "elev-ated intuition".

22 combines the power of 1's vision and inspiration with structure and cohesiveness. It is the power of manifestation.

33 is about using the imagination to combine 11 and 22 with enlightened communication.

6 is about our personal home base. Priorities, family, healing. Responsibility.

With all of this knowledge, there are a myriad of ways to spend the day. Me? I believe at exactly 11:11 on 11/11/11, I will be in a state of meditation, focusing on...World Peace. No wait! That was from my Ms. Enlightened Universe speech.

I will be having a phenomenal meditation partay for 1!

(Actually, World Peace will be on my list! And in regards to 2012, there are also any number of ways to read today's energy with all of the above information. But as DeLorey states: "...this is not a time for speculation concerning the future as if it is something set in stone. On the contrary, it is what we do or don't do between now and 2012 that is all important." )


(Image from Graphics Fairy)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday is 'Missing Paris Day'~Creperie in Chinon, France

A little creperie in the Medieval town of Chinon, once the favorite residence of King Henry Plantagenet (of England). I love how the river (Vienne) in this window painting flows into the street reflection of cobblestones (or vicy vercy).

The town, in the heart of the Loire Valley, was once a Roman camp and later, the birthplace of the famous French writer Rabelais, a Renaissance writer and satirist, doctor and humanist.

One of my favorites of his quotes: "Gestures, in love, are incomparably more attractive, effective and valuable than words."

Chinon was also visited by Joan of Arc in 1429 who announced herself to the King of France as "a messenger of God". A statue of the Angel of France graces the Place Jeanne d'Arc.

If I were here now, I would water my horse with the region's Cabernet Franc red and order une crepe avec beurre et sucre.

Do you have a favorite crepe?

(Photography copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Fall Soak...


After doing massages recently in McKenzie Bridge, Oregon,
I stopped at a couple of lakes for a walk in the Fall sunshine,
then headed to
for an early evening soak before driving home.

Belknap has two mineral pools,
a Lodge for overnight guests
as well as cabins and camping options
and a lovely garden walk
(photos to be added in a future post).



The lobby was
dressed for the holiday...




...and the grounds still awash with
summer's last blooms.




Ahhhhhhhh.....

Drunk with minerals, sunshine,

lake and river views,

skyhigh Doug Firs against the deepening blue skies,

the sunset glow and the entire body soaked in hot water.

Divine!


~Pool facilities are $7 per hour or $12 per day per person.
Hours are from 9am to 9pm Sun-Thurs.
9am to 10pm Fri/Sat.
Bathing suits required.~
(Mineral Springs content: Lithium, potassium, sodium, rubidium, cesium, fluorine, chloride, bromide,
iodine, antimony, copper, mercury, bromine, lead, arsenic, magnesium, calcium, strontium,
barium, manganese, iron, phosphate, silicon dioxide, sulfate, carbonate, bicarbonate!)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday is 'Missing Paris Day'~L'Amoureuse

In honor of our upcoming trip to Paris, I'm showing a whimsical little video with Carla Bruni's L'Amoureuse. I'm so behind the times. I knew that the new(ish) wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy had been a model but was surprised to find that she is a singer as well. I know. I really should know these things.

Hope you enjoy the video as much as I did!

(P.S. To enjoy the video without interruption, go to the bottom of this blog and click the Pause button to stop the background music--which is now L'Amoureuse.)



Thursday, October 29, 2009

Living Visualization Picture Book~ San Francisco

Something's working! Whether it's the Angels doin' their Fetch-and-Make-People-Happy-Thing or the proper amount of affirming and visualizing, vibrating at previously intended levels or what-not, things are happening.

Yesterday I got word that one of my short stories won an Honorable Mention in the Writer's Weekly 24-Hour Contest. Besides being Honorably Mentioned, it also means door prizes!

And after spending some time this summer trying to create the perfect Writing Retreat but not finding the suitable elements so as to make it affordable, not too distant and without taking too much time off work, a writer friend invited me to join her and another writer at the OWC (Oregon Writer's Colony) Beach House. One week a month is set aside to be used as a Writer's Retreat at a VERY reasonable price and I have booked myself in for at least 2 of those weeks next year, possibly more as we get closer to scheduling dates.

And the biggest news...After putting it out to the Angels a short time ago, 'The Ed' found that our carrier 'suddenly' lowered their mileage amount criteria for European Travel after the new year.
So we are booked for early next year to return to our Home Away from Home (Paris) to check on things, eat some Foie Gras, visit family and shop the open air market. Not thinking this was possible any time soon, we are elated and find the rain slightly less bothersome. Travel has a way of enhancing one's perspective.

Speaking of which, I've decided that as we go along here, this blog will also serve as a sort of Living Visualization Picture Book and since I hope to one day (once again) live in or near San Francisco, I am occasionally including shots to remind me of my inspiring City.

The above photo was taken at the little Hyde Street Park at the top of the hill (up which the Hyde Street cable car travels) and directly across from Lombard Street. You know! The Crookedest Street in the World?! If you go past the tennis courts and follow one of the little paths to the right all the way back to the furthest corner facing the Bay, you are greeted by a most famous and enchanting bridge.

When we lived in the City when I was a teenager, our house was three blocks from this little park and we walked our two dogs here (Peppie and Camille~a black, male poodle and a blonde, female afghan). While the neighborhood has become even more gentrified than it was when we lived here and most businesses have changed venue or at least owners, Swenson's Ice Cream still serves some of the same flavors it did in the early 70's.

What is your favorite City and/or memory about a snapshot where you grew up?

(Photography copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday is 'Missing Paris Day'~Petit Palais in Paris





This photo of the Petit Palais seemed appropriate after my Angel post. This exquisite building was created for the Universal Exposition of 1900 and houses the Musee des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris housing works by some of the best Impressionists including Pisarro, Cassat, Manet, Gauguin, Renoir and Morisot.

Avenue Winston Churchill, 8th Arrondissement
Metro Stop: Champs-Elysees-Clemenceau
Open Daily: 10h-17h40
Closed: Mondays and Holidays

I'm putting it out to the angels for another trip to Paris soooonnn!
Will keep you posted!

Bon Semaine!

( Photography copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Angels in the Air

Sorry to be away so long but I've been kept hopping these days. As I told a friend yesterday, Boy, make a little request to the Angels for more work and then...STEP BACK! Not complaining. Thrilled, appreciative...and in awe.


Last week as I was listening to a tape about angels on the way to my newest work venue, I pulled into the parking garage and had a few minutes to keep listening and put my head back before going in. Straight ahead, at eye level just a few feet from my car was the license plate of the car on the next level---in my face. And the word on the plate read: ANGELZ!


So as they say...Be careful what you set your heart upon!


(Artwork from The Graphics Fairy.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday is 'Missing Paris Day'~Doorway Series



During some of my travels, I 've been known to take Door and Window Series photographs and this is from a little French town, the name of which I have forgotten. This door makes me think of all the things I am missing about France: Foie Gras followed by the taste of Sauterne, champagne before dinner, escargot, open-air markets, the rushing sound of the metro, boats on the Seine, old cobblestones.

And Family! Missing all of you!

Happy Lundi!
(Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays






Here's how to play:


*Grab your current read,
*Open to a random page,
*Share 2-3 “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page,
*Please no spoilers!
*Share the title & author.


This week's selection is from Alvin and Heidi Toffler's "Revolutionary Wealth"~


"Tomorrow's economy, for example, will present significant business opportunities in fields like hyper-agriculture, neurostimulation, customized health care, nanoceuticals, bizarre new energy sources, streaming payment systems, smart transportation, flash markets, new forms of education, non-lethal weapons, desktop manuracturing, programmable money, risk management, privacy-invasion sensors that tell us when we're being observed--indeed, sensors of all kinds-- plus a bewildering myriad of other goods, services and experiences.


We can't be sure when these will or will not turn profitable or how they will converge. But understanding the deep fundamentals will reveal the existence, even now, of new needs and previously unidentified industries and sectors--a huge 'synchronization industry,' for example, and a 'loneliness industry.'

To forecast the future of wealth, we also need to look not just at the work we do for money but at the unpaid work all of us also do as 'prosumers.'"


Must read on to find out what 'prosumers' are exactly.
And...programmable money? Ok, I'm Googling that one!


Have a good week!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday is 'Missing Paris Day'~Adorable Little French Girl




This Monday instead of a Paris photo, let me introduce you to The Most Adorable Little French Girl who will tell you a story. A friend forwarded this to me and I'm happy to share it with you.


Makes me miss my adorable little French Baby Girl and her stories. Wishing I'd gotten some video footage of the French songs she used to sing. Just like her mother, when she was small, she sang constantly. Every nursery rhyme and tune from preschool, every television and radio jingle, every single thing her head could remember or put to music, she sang it. In the car, in the bathtub, while getting dressed in the morning and while petting the dog.


And just as I most likely whined often enough, "Please stop making that noise", Baby Girl's brother has also stopped the 'infernal' singing.


Tres triste! So enjoy this story today because next year, she may be done telling them.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday is 'Missing Paris Day'~ Tour d'Argent



The Tour d'Argent has been serving Parisians and tourists for over 400 years. Beginning in 1582, it served the likes of Henry IV, the court of Louis XIV, the Duke of Richelieu and Madame de Sevigne. Alexander Dumas used the site in one of his books.

While no longer considered "The Best" Paris dining experience, it is still considered one of the best views with a meal, looking out on the Seine and Notre Dame. And the ducks are still numbered, now having served over one million!

This gastronomic museum, situated on the rez de chausee, is filled with exhibits and memorabilia regarding the history of French food as well as of the many famous patrons of the restaurant and inn. It also serves aperitifs before the meal.

Some friends asked recently what fine dining restaurant they should try for a one-time experience while in Paris later this month. This might be the one.

Anyone have any other suggestions? Le Procope? The Jules Verne? Would love your input.

Tour d'Argent
15 Quai de la Tournelle
75005 Paris
1.43.54.23.31
Metro: St. Michel





Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ode to October


Ode to October


As I sit among the oaks
in the warm October sun
and the turning leaves twist and dance before me
out above the meadow

a lone, silky spider's thread
sails along a breeze,
visible only for a moment
in a crystal flash of sunlight.

Moss sways in trailing rivulets
like the dreadlocks of a forest nymph
matted with twigs and leaves
and soon to be dripping with winter's tears.

The last of the season's dragonflies hover and dart
and now in the sun's path,
hundreds of gleaming, powder-white objects swarm,
basking in the sun's cloak of radiance,
invisible just a moment before.

The scent in the shadowed places
reeks of summer's early morning,
Earth's own tangy sweetness
emanating from piles of warm, dying leaves

smelling of pumpkin and sawdust,
swimming holes and overturned earth.
A small plane overhead hums its nostalgic, rumbling tune
taking me back to my grandmother's garden

of spiny artichokes and pickling cucumbers.
In the kitchen, applesauce bubbling
frothy on the stove,
swelling the house
with its tempting sweet tartness.

A fire crackling
before the freshly-cleaned hearth,
sending billowy bands of sweetly charred, smoky resin
to fill the quiet neighborhood.

In summertime on this walk
I duck into shady dells
and avoid the benches
drenched in scorching sun.

Today, the shadows are cool and biting
and I search for sun-warmed rocks
while yellow jackets hover an inch from the ground
as if searching for lost change.

Red berries perch atop bare stems
amid tufts of dirty cotton balls.
Dying leaves bed the trail
and whisper to me as my feet drag them.

Small oak leaves flicker and twirl
madly, franticly to their deaths
while larger leaves drift in slow motion, silently,
gracefully to their own last bed of scented needles.

An elderly lady bug,
spots dimmed and fading,
climbs the mountain of my shoulder
and at the top takes flight.

Poem & photo~ Copyright: Kirsten Steen
Photo: Chartres Cathedral
Poem posted last February.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday is 'Missing Paris Day'~ Home of Camille Claudel



Just down the Quai from Notre Dame
and the Cafe Lutetia (pictured earlier) is the door to
the home of Camille Claudel, French sculptor and artist.


Born in 1864 in Fere-en-Tardenois, Aisne, her family moved to several different locations in France (including a stay in Bar-le-Duc, the home of 'My French Family' and where I've spent many a Christmas) before finally, in 1881, settling in the Montparnasse section of Paris.


In 1883, while she studied under Alfred Boucher, Auguste Rodin agreed to lead the sculptor's class while he was away and it was here that he met the young Camille. The two began a tumultuous affair.
(Note: the Ecole des Beaux-Arts still refused women at this time! )


About the time she broke off her relationship with Rodin, she moved into this building where she lived and worked until 1913 when a mental illness prodded her family to incarcerate her in a psychiatric hospital.






This plaque outside the door includes a quote from one of her letters to Rodin:

"There is always something missing that torments me."


Unfortunately, during her illness, she destroyed many of her works. And while her doctors told her mother she was perfectly capable of living outside the hospital, her family refused to release her.

The film version of her life, made in 1988, stars the stunning Isabel Adjani as Claudel and Gerard Depardieu as Rodin and was nominated for two Academy Awards.




(Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Buddhist Channel

A relative of mine was just given his Buddhist name (though I'm still waiting to find out what it is, what it means and what I may now call him--or if that's even allowed. Maybe there are rules about who can speak his name or when it should be used.)

Between my own budding interest in Buddhism, a friend's ongoing practice and a relative's new one, I stumbled across The Buddhist Channel.

If you haven't already clicked on it from the sidebar, check it out. Very interesting news ranging from Myanmar Buddhists and their treatment to archaeological relics found all over the globe to books on the wide-ranging subject.

I'd love to read the one on what the Dalai Lama says Capitalism could learn from Buddhism, especially in light of Michael Moore's upcoming film (which I plan to see) and all that's going on in the world. The book, called The Leader's Way, is written by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Laurens van den Muyzenberg.


Buddhist Thought for the Day:
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. ~ Buddha


(Above photo taken at The Japanese Tea Gardens in San Francisco. Copyright: Kirsten Steen ;~)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays~Zen in the Art of Writing











Hosted by MizB at shouldbereading.wordpress.com.




Here's how to play:

*Grab your current read,
*Open to a random page,
*Share 2-3 “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page,
*Please no spoilers!
*Share the title & author.

This week's selection is from Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing:

"So from the age of twenty-four to thirty-six hardly a day passed when I didn't stroll myself across a recollection of my grandparents' northern Illinois grass, hoping to come across some old half-burnt firecracker, a rusted toy, or a fragment of letter written to myself in some young year hoping to contact the older person I became to remind him of his past, his life, his people, his joys, and his drenching sorrows.

"It became a game that I took to with immense gusto: to see how much I could remember about dandelions themselves, or picking wild grapes with my father and brother, rediscovering the mosquito-breeding ground rain barrel by the side bay window, or searching out the smell of gold-fuzzed bees that hung around our back porch grape arbor. Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don't they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers."

Now you!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday is 'Missing Paris Day'~Ile St. Louis
































(Photograph copyright: Kirsten Steen)
One of my favorite old, timbered buildings on the Ile St. Louis, these sit just around the corner from Shakespeare & Co. and Notre Dame. One day I'll have to partake of les frites et biere at La Friterie and actually sit outside at one of les tables.
Happy Autumnal Equinox to all!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Wizard of Oz~ 70 Years!

I'm so excited! "The Wizard of Oz" in High-Definition for the first time. In theaters, one night only, Wednesday September 23rd at 7pm in select theaters nationwide. Includes outtakes, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. Plus "To Oz: The Making of a Classic".

After not seeing it for years, I watched this, one of my favorite movies, under the stars this summer with my sister and my niece who had just flown in from Paris (nephew opted for NCIS at home with 'The Ed'). There we were, cozied up in our lawn chairs under blankets, my 'tween' niece tucked deeply into a sleeping bag. We'd had dinner, ice cream, made our toitie stops and were all ready when it started. Twenty minutes into the film I looked on either side of me to see how they were enjoying it only to find both family members sound asleep. Even the Wicked Witch of the West cannot keep jet-lagged eyes from inspecting their insides.

Even though I have just watched it, you can bet I'll be at the theater to see the rare outtakes and footage and watch the Scarecrow dance in Hi-Def on the big screen.

To Oz? To Oz!
(Check your local theaters for location!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Travelin' Tuesday~ San Francisco & Lucasfilm

All photos copyright: Kirsten Steen


After years of wondering exactly where this filmmaking haven was located, I happened to 'stumble' upon it after taking recent photos of the nearby Palace of Fine Arts.

Once you've found it, there's nothing to tell you that you've arrived, nothing announcing your location, no big signs giving clues as to who's property this belongs to...


...Just a few statues to the favorite medium. This one is of Eadweard James Muybridge (1830-1904), "The Father of Cinema".



And some scrumptiously landscaped lawns with views indicating money the Presidio most likely has not seen in decades, if ever.






...But then you find the office location where things come into a bit more focus and clues abound.



The gorgeous lobby...





...is filled with Star Wars memorabilia and paraphernalia including books, statues, props used in the films and lifesize replicas.




My niece and nephew from Paris do their thing...She, true to form, makes friends with Vader. He, with a masculine come-uppance of testosterone, gives him a warning, facing him down with the Evil Eye.








My nephew being enamored of ALL things with a screen, I tried to get us in to a couple of buildings so he could glimpse the process of filmwork being done behind closed doors. Watching several of those building doors open with young, bleary-eyeds emerging, I was disappointed to find that each building entrance has a front desk checkpoint where all must show ID.

Ah well, it was enough to finally find the place and be able to show it to the kids. Though I did have visions of standing in the middle of the lobby hollering his name until the God of Lucasfilm came out to give us a guided Behind-the-Scenes tour, 3-month passes to the next film set and a gracious invitation to his home in Marin for lunch.

Next time!