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

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... 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!

Teaser Tuesdays~ The Robber Bride

Hosted by MizB at

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 Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride:

"Her mother did not die for another three weeks, but it was the same thing, because sometimes (thinks Charis) there is a fold in time, like the way you fold the top bedsheet down to make a border, and if you stick a pin through at any spot, then the two pinholes are aligned, and that's the way it is when you foresee the future. There's nothing mysterious about it, any more than there is with a backwash in a lake or with harmony in music, two melodies going on at the same time. Memory is the same overlap, the same kind of pleat, only backwards." (p.290)

Believe it or not, this is my very first Margaret Atwood book ever and I am truly enjoying her play with words, her descriptions, her metaphors. As an aspiring writer and a perpetual student in the form, I am always in awe of other's abilities to cook, sew, massage with words.

Now your turn: What are you reading?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


September 9, 2009.

What does it mean to you? To some it has prophecy written all over it. From Nostradamus to The Book of Revelations, there are some out there who are calling this day the beginning of the end, a test of wills between Good and Evil.

One states that CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) near Geneva on the Franco-Swiss border may create a black hole which will devour the Earth, possibly on or around 2012. Some claim that 999 is actually the inverted symbol of 666---or the Beast and the coming of the Anti-Christ. There are more as well but before we get too far down the path, take a closer look at the numerology.

Tomorrow's date doesn't actually add up to 9-9-9 but 9-9-11. In reading several different numerologists and looking up the numbers 2, 9 and 11, the words that come up repeatedly are community and brotherhood, shift and connectedness, beginnings and endings.

2= Cooperation, Harmony, Partnership, Patience.

9= Tolerance and Humanitarianism, shifting the focus to our connection rather than self; the end of a cycle and releasing those things we no longer need; letting go.

11= Inspiration and Illumination.

According to Christine DeLorey (Creative Numerology-check out her very interesting articles),
"we must understand the basic principle of evolvement which is that we cannot move forward and hold onto the past at the same time."

It is true for us personally, systemically, globally, politically and collectively.

Our evolution has to do with how well we can tolerate and balance (in all dimensions: physically, mentally and spiritually) the enormous tension between the extremes pulling at us with such force.

And guess what!

The center is moving.

(I can hardly wait for November 11, 2009-- 11/11/11.)

Postcards courtesy of:

Teaser Tuesdays~ On Becoming an Alchemist

Hosted by MizB at

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 Catherine MacCoun's "On Becoming an Alchemist: A Guide for the Modern Magician".

"The notion of reincarnation implies that we need a do-over, that we don't get incarnation right on the first try. Part of us dives boldly into earthly existence while another part recoils from the brink, as if to say, 'You want me to do what?' The one who dives is called the soul."

Monday, September 7, 2009

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

(Photograph copyright: Kirsten Steen)Taken through the window of a restaurant on the Ile St. Louis. Don't remember the name or exact location but loved the Old Paris tile mural. This was our screen saver for awhile, reminding me of so many French meals enjoyed with the hopes of many more to come. This scene makes me want to slide into a cushy seat (as the table is slid away from the wall to make room for my entrance as is the custom by the gentlemanly waitstaff), order a kir and peruse the French menu.

I have daydreams of Foie Gras and Sauterne, Coquille St. Jacques, Tarte Tatin and Vacherin.
I do miss the Choucroute (most likely more of a German meal of many types of meat and sauerkraut but the French love to do it big and make it their own).

We once attended the draining of a French 'lac' by the hunters and fishermen in that area, said to be done for the sole purpose of giving the younger generation something to remember. When the draining was finished and the fish hauled in with nets, separated and divided up, a long trailer sat nearby with one long table inside. A cook had prepared Choucroute for 20 and all along the table were bottles of Alsatian beer and white wine, plates of sausages, bacon and ham knuckles, piles of sauerkraut and scattered baguettes. We sat on benches and stuffed ourselves, partaking in the laughter of a day filled with 2-3 generations working, playing and eating together! One of my favorite memories!

If I were sitting at this table right now, it would most likely mean there was plenty of time to do lunch the French way, with hours to while away on nothing but food designed to make one's eyelids flutter, the sound of a language that makes's one's heart race (for a variety of reasons), and time for a nap apres.

Has anyone eaten here? Recall the name? After gazing lovingly at these tables for the better part of who-knows-how-long, I plan to make this a destination so the memory of it is filled with the particular taste of a certain food and wine. And I promise photos!

Happy Labor Day everyone!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Summer in San Francisco

Finally back from a hectic (but great) summer. I was fortunate enough to get to San Francisco twice this summer, my own personal Summer of Love. First trip was with my sweetheart, planned with the idea that it would be our only burst of excitement during what started out to be an unusually quiet summer. Then came a 6am call from my sister in Paris, homesick and ready to book a flight with the kids, arriving right after we returned from SF. Aannnd, she wanted to do a roadtrip to San Francisco as well. When you've been pining for something and the universe answers in boatloads, one doesn't question. One simply says "Yes"!

So first stop for this camera was the Palace of Fine Arts, designed by Bernard Maybeck for the 1915 World's Fair (also known as the Panama-Pacific International Exposition) held in San Francisco between February and December of that year. The Exposition was said to be in celebration of the completion of the Panama Canal but was also considered San Francisco's way of celebrating their successful comeback from the 1906 earthquake. The Fair itself was held along the Marina, taking up 635 acres.

Inspired by Greek and Roman architecture, the allegorical figures (created by sculptor Ulric Ellerhusen) represent "Contemplation, Wonderment and Meditation".

Walking through the Haight District while waiting for a friend, I found my own wonderment and meditation.

San Francisco nearly always delivers for this traveler and rarely disappoints. Stay tuned for a visit to George Lucas' "Lucasfilms".

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays~ Pope Joan

Hosted by MizB at

Here's how to play:

*Grab your current read,

*Open to a random page,

*Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page,

*Please no spoilers!

*Share the title & author.

By request, Teaser Tuesday is back! Glad to know someone missed it. This week's selection, Pope Joan, is a book I come late to as it seems many in my blogging world have read it and the movie is soon to be out. I'm still waiting to hear who the lucky blogger is that will walk the Red Carpet with Donna Woolfolk Cross. I'm just back from vacation so maybe it's already been announced and no one's told me yet that I'm going!

Here's an excerpt from Donna Woolfolk Cross' Pope Joan.

"While Gerold paid for his purchase, Joan's attention wandered to a few sheets of ragged-looking parchment scattered untidily toward the rear of the stall. The edges of the sheets were torn, and there was writing on them, very faint and obliterated in places by ugly brown stains. She bent close to read the writing better, then flushed with excitement."

Happy Tuesday!