Monday, June 27, 2011

Writer's Tour near Pont Neuf~ Walks in Paris

Recently I took a Writer's Tour/Walk in Paris
following online directions to several late writer's home addresses. 

But before I began, taking full advantage of late spring's perfect weather,
I took my little baguette sandwich from a nearby stand
and (joined the crowds) for my own little 
Picnic Partay for One! 

I parked myself on a bench in the shade 
in this sweet little park just adjacent to the Pont Neuf
(which, of course, I don't ever recall seeing before). 

It was the perfect place to begin an afternoon
to myself in Paris. The Chef had business to attend to 
so it was just me and a few dead writers. 

After I finished my sandwich,
I followed the directions to the last home of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.
At Rue Dauphine at the end of the Pont Neuf,
go just two blocks up to Rue Christine and make a left. 

According to this online source,
it was here at 5, rue Christine that Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas lived
(after they left the more famous rue de Fleurus address and with a few absences)
 until Stein's death in a Neuilly sur Seine hospital (a suburb of Paris) in 1946.
Toklas stayed on until 1964.
(Unfortunately the only car on the entire block
had to be a huge white van parked directly in front of their door,
limiting my photo capabilities of their address.)

In the mesmerizing glow of warm sunshine and Gertrude Stein's ghost,
it took me awhile to make myself leave the block
so I took a few more photos as I haunted the street's treasures. 
 I found an interesting shadow pattern inside one entry...

...and the lovely courtyard of a hotel at the other end of the block.

Just a few doors down from 5, rue Christine, this restaurant 
left me wondering if it had also been a food establishment during their years here.
Maybe they popped in on warm afternoons like this one for an aperitif before dinner. 
And maybe they stayed on for a plat de poisson or a souris d'agneau 
before walking the few steps back to their own door, their books and their art. 

I finally made it off the block
to continue on the tour to a few more artist's addresses.
Next week we'll continue our Walk in Paris with a few more pictures
of my one day of the 8-day 'American Writers in Paris' Tour.

And if you wish to see the full tour, 

(Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Summer Solstice!

Happy first day of summer all! 
Thought you might enjoy this photo taken recently at our 
Saint Charles Market just a few minutes walk down from the Eiffel Tower.

It definitely makes me think of summer.

The Solstice begins today at exactly 10:16am in the Pacific Northwest.
And I've been reading about how the cultural theme of this year's solstice chart is about
enormous shifts and changes around the globe between 2010 and 2015.
We feel it, we've seen it and hardly anyone is left untouched by it,
whether it's within our own family, on the news
or in your neighboring town.
Change is usually uncomfortable
but with it always comes opportunity!

So while I'm wishing us all a relaxing, enjoyable summer filled with warmth, love, bounty
and the many traditional things we enjoy about the summer months,
let's find a way to help those around us (or even those far away)
who are not enjoying the same creature comforts of summer.

Do some tithing, take food to a shelter, offer someone a helping hand.
It could be you next month (or next year) who needs a hand.
And the immediate gratification (something we all enjoy) is worth those few dollars
and the healing within our own hearts.

What better opportunity?!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cremerie de Grenelle~ Walks in Paris

On a recent walk in our neighborhood in Paris, 
I looked up to see something I don't remember seeing before. 
An old cremerie sign from time gone by. 

Clearly the shop below is no longer a cremerie.

By the looks of it, 
it's been there a very long while 
so I just missed it on my many walks down this street. 
I stopped in my tracks and my heart nearly skipped a beat 
when I looked up and saw these magnificent pieces of historical art.

The colorful scenes are a bit hard to make out...

But I'm just happy to have seen them! 

One of the things I love about Paris,
even when you think you've fully seen a particular area,
there is always something new to see. 
You just can't see it all. 

And FYI (re: the last post),
a magical little puzzle piece actually did float down from the sky
and land right into my hands this weekend.

Something I've been pondering for the last year or more
regarding writing about my ancestors 
suddenly took a new shape and perspective 
and gave me the idea I've been looking for. 

It came in the form of an interview I was listening to over the weekend, 
from a decade past and from one man now deceased. 
In fact, the interview and the information has changed my perception on a lot of things,
about myself, the people around me and about history. 
 I know I'll be sharing more about it in a later post. 
It's too big not to share. 

But for now, it's the last day of spring. 
And I'm wishing you magical puzzle pieces 
in your life and the coming season. 

And, like my puzzle piece and the cremerie,
I'm wishing you that joy of finding something new
in what you thought was explored territory! 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Total Eclipse of the Moon~Buddhist Thought for the Day

"Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth."
~ Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta

I chose this quote today not only because it spoke to me personally
but also in honor of the lunar eclipse happening this week. 

According to Susan Miller (via,
Eclipses "shine the bright light of truth",
"act as brilliant illuminators",
"are especially effective at revealing someone's character or true motivations".

They "have a way of changing perspective...
as though a puzzle piece suddenly fell from the sky, right into your hands",
"bring unexpected changes of direction",
"play with our sense of time by compressing it and speeding things up".

With three eclipses in a row (each two weeks apart~ one on June 1st ~solar~,
another on the 15th ~lunar~ and another coming on July 1st ~solar again~,
it could be a BIG month of changes and/or illumination.
That's a lot of alignment among our 'time planets' too.

If you're experiencing a lot of change or emotional upheaval right now, don't worry.
The eclipses just rattle our foundations a little (or a lot, as the case may be)
and force us to make changes we might not have otherwise made,
get us out of that rut, nudge us on to the next level.
They call it evolving and we all get to do it.
Just take care of your health, and
hold on to your hats just in case
 the floodgates may
be opening.

Ok, now that we've been forewarned,
I'm ready (especially for that puzzle piece).
Are you?

~For more information on eclipses,
read Susan Miller's entire article on
How To Deal with Eclipses~

Monday, June 13, 2011

Paris in Jaune~ Missing Paris Day

Jaune was everywhere in Paris this spring! 
Look at this luscious beauty.

A friend recently showed us his fancy old car and I was so excited, 
eyes lit up, I jumped in the front seat asking all kinds of questions, begging for a ride.
Friend turned to The Chef and said,
"I had no idea you had a Car Chick!"
I have to admit it. I've been known to peruse old car shows soaking up the past,
ogling shiny paint jobs and decadent or old, rustic interiors.
Sadly, I'm not the same when it comes to fashion.   

When I got off the plane this last time in Paris,
I was all dressed in black. 
My sister took one look at me and said,
"What? Are you going through your Goth phase?"
So I asked, "Ok, what is the latest in Paris since last I was here?"
She looked at my attire again and said,


And guess what else? 
Sandals resembling the exact make and model
of a pair left back in my Pacific Northwest closet.  
And with the weather being so tres magnifique,
EVERYBODY was wearing them! 
Zuts encore!

Oh well, here are a few lovely Paris yellows
to brighten your day. 

This last one, taken in the French countryside, was snapped on a breathtaking walk! 
In some directions, almost as far as the eye could see,
 fields of Rapeseed (what the French call Colza and make into oil) were so bright 
you nearly had to shield your eyes. 

French relatives most often toss their green salads with a colza oil vinaigrette
and somehow they always taste better to us than ours. 
Europeans are even cultivating it for biodiesel fuels. 

One of these days, I'm going to cultivate it myself
(ie: sneak it home)
and serve it on my guest's salad
so I can hear them ask the same question:
"Excusez-moi, but how exactly did you make this amazing vinaigrette?!"

(Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Paris in Full Bloom~ Missing Paris Day

 Paris was in full spring this visit,
flowers blooming like ripe cherries everywhere. 

Hard to resist the urge to pluck a few colorful, velvet blossoms
to smile and shine on the dining room table. 

In fact, as I took this photo,
 a small someone who 
simply couldn't resist
wandered into the frame.

I took a few 'photo walks' on my own this trip.
'The Chef' tries to be patient, having to stop and wait for me on every street corner,
but I can see it sometimes wearing thin. 
However, when we pass any Immobilier window,
it is I waiting on the corner while he scopes out Paris Real Estate deals
just to see what's out there and the current price per square meter. 

My camera and I have learned to make the most of these moments,
looking for anything photo-worthy from the corner. 
Hardly difficult in Paris.
Just look for the luscious colors in just about any patisserie.
I've found snapping they pretty little faces
is nearly as much fun as tasting,
but without the guilt.
And can be enjoyed 
over and over again.  

The Acacia trees (in full purple or white bloom)
can even be enjoyed more than once. 

It's been far too long since we've been in Paris in the summer
(winter being our travel season of late)
and while it was officially spring this visit,
our first week felt just like early July.

The parks were filled with the laughing, young, international set
picnicking and frolicking in the grass. 
I might have been right out there with them
but I was too busy~
capturing their likeness.

My apologies for being away from the blog so long this week.
Technology issues have plagued.
But happy to be back.
A wonderful week to you!

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)