Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Meilleurs voeux...

A charming French vintage New Year's card. #vintage #New_Years #card

Wishing you and yours a most happy, healthy, prosperous and joyous new year! 
We are home from a fabulously decadent Christmas holiday in Park City
...and now recovering from the flu. 
All our NYE and NYD plans have been cancelled
and it will be a quiet evening. 

I plan to spend it creating my Vision Board for 2014...
a collage of all the things I could possibly wish for the coming year
which will then be posted where I can see it everyday.

My New Years Resolution this year 
is to spend more time researching the things that are important to me. 
How great is that?! 
A resolution I actually WANT to do!

It's bound to be a spectacular year! 
And only hours away.
Bonne Annee a vous! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Driftmas Tree

Christmas Decor. Driftwood Christmas Tree. Great for a small home or apartment without floor space for a tree

(via Pintarest)

I saw 
one of these 
on the wall outside 
my chiropractor's office recently. 
His wife had made it and I love it. The 
only thing he told me about it was that she 
baked the driftwood to make sure all insects were 
out and then glued them to a material-covered frame. 
I must 
try it. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tiny beautiful things~ Teaser Tuesday

Hosted by MizB at should be reading.

Here's how to play:

*Grab your current read,
*Open to a  page,
*Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page,
*Please no spoilers!
*Share the title and author.

From Cheryl Strayed's 'Tiny Beautiful Things.'

"Dear Bewildered,
Several months after my mother died I found a glass jar of stones tucked in the far reaches of her bedroom closet. I was moving her things out of the house I'd thought of as home, but that no longer was. It was a devastating process--more brutal in its ruthless clarity than anything I've ever experienced or hope to again--but when I had that jar of rocks in my hands I felt a kind of elation I cannot describe in any other way except to say that in the cold clunk of its weight I felt ever so fleetingly as if I were holding my mother. 

That jar of stones wasn't just any jar of stones. They were rocks my brother and sister and I had given to our mom. Stones we'd found as kids on beaches and trails and the grassy patches on the edges of parking lots and pressed into her hands, our mother's palms the receptacle for every last thing we thought worth saving. 

I sat down on the bedroom floor and dumped them out, running my fingers over them as if they were the most sacred things on the earth. Most were smooth and black and smaller than a potato chip. Worry stones my mother had called them, the sort so pleasing against the palm she claimed they had the power to soothe the mind if you rubbed them right. 

What do you do with the rocks you once gave to your dead mother? Where is their rightful place? To whom do they belong? To what are you obligated? Memory? Practicality? Reason? Faith? Do you put them back in the jar and take them with you across the wild and unkempt sorrow of your twenties or do you simply carry them outside and dump them in the yard? 

I couldn't know. Knowing was so far away. I could only touch the rocks, hoping to find my mother in them." 

"...across the wild and unkempt sorrow of your twenties..." 
I'm trying to think of the last time I heard a description like that. That's exactly what it was but I never knew how to describe it.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The First Parisians~ at the Musee Carnavalet

Please excuse my absence this past week but I've been in travel mode which I'll write more about in an upcoming post. But for now, I'm still missing Paris...and so wish to see this exhibit.

At one of my favorite Paris museums, The Musee Carnavalet, which is free to the public (for permanent exhibits) and filled with stories, objects, paintings and artifacts all on the history of Paris, its oldest human remains are on exhibit in the archaeological section. Remnants of Mesolithic man (8000-6500 BC.) have been found in the 15th arrondissement (my neighborhood!) just 250 meters from the Seine and are now on display for the first time through Dec. 31st, 2014. (Sept. 10, 2013- Dec. 31, 2014).

If you're in Paris any time soon, stop in to see not only this exciting exhibit but the many stories about the history of Paris. The Musee Carnavalet is a treasure trove of what I call 'snapshots' of ancient Paris.


Hotel Carnavalet
23, rue de Sevigne
75003, Paris 

(Photo via http://www.carnavalet.paris.fr/fr/musee-carnavalet)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Child of the Universe

Great signs to greet your #thanksgiving guests
(Photo via Pinterest)

In my grandparent's dining room
hung an old copy of the Desiderata. 
Every year during Thanksgiving,
my grandfather would read it out loud to us. 
And at the end, he always took his glasses off
and wiped his eyes. 

Today I'd like to share it with you. 


"Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. 
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."~ Max Ehrmann, 1927.

No less than the trees and the stars! 
Happy Thanksgiving to you, Child of the Universe!
You are perfection 
I am so grateful for you.
Now go eat pie!

Monday, November 25, 2013

ALP Presents: Chris Boïcos lecture~ Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera

Frida Kahlo

This Wednesday, November 27th, 2014 at 19:30,
Chris Boïcos presents a lecture and slide presentation 
on the art of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Art in Fusion, 
timed to coincide with the exhibit happening through January 24th, 2014 
at the Musee de l'Orangerie

Chris Boïcos teaches Art History at various institutions in Paris 
and lectures on Paris Art Studies at the Galerie Beckel Odille Boïcos. 
If you love Frida, or have never seen her work together with Rivera's, 
and are in Paris, don't miss Boïcos' lecture or the exhibit. 

American Library in Paris  is located at:
10, rue du General Camou
(Just off the Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower)
75007 Paris, France
• Tel. +33 (0)1 53 59 12 60
Tues-Sat: 10h-19h, Sun: 13h-19h.

(Frida Kahlo image via American Library in Paris: HERE.) 
(Frida Kahlo/Diego Rivera, L'Art en Fusion banner from the Musee de l'Orangerie: HERE.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Triple Truth~ Buddhist thought for the day

"Teach this triple truth to all: 
A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service 
and compassion are the things which renew humanity." 

Sometimes in the presence of other egos,
especially those vexatiously engaging mine,
I lose my way and need this reminder. 

I'm still working on being loving, kind, compassionate and generous
in the face of such egoism.  

I cannot just remove myself 
because they are clearly my life lesson
so will find me wherever I go. 

So I continue prayer and meditation
in the hopes that something will one day work;
that my thin skin will bolster up;
that offense will not be taken
(no matter how aimed),
and that my heart will be generous and compassionate. 

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen
Vaux de Cernay Abbaye, France)

Monday, November 18, 2013

'Delicacies' of France~ Missing Paris Day

File:Gonadi Paracentrotus lividus riccio di mare adventurediving.it.jpg

Just saw a list of  "The disgusting French delicacies that Anglos won't eat (but should)"

Having spent enough time in France (well, never enough), I've heard of nearly all of them though not tried every one. 

At the top of the list is one I've tried but don't care for (sort of): 
1.) Langue de Boeuf (or Beef Tongue)~ This is my French nephew's favorite dish and one that his Grandmere makes for him every visit home. While I've tasted it, it's one of those pieces of meat whose texture never lets me forget what it is (and where it came from.) (This must be where he gets his love for lettuce!) However, I'm mad about the Sauce Gribiche that goes on it (an egg yolk and mustard sauce with capers and parsley and more.) I'll keep the Gribiche!

2.) Lapin (Rabbit)~ Another of my nephew's fave's, his father's Lapin a Moutarde (Rabbit in Mustard Sauce). Have to say I've grown to like this one though I remember trying rabbit as a 5 yr old and the taste (and thought) bothered me so much, I couldn't try it again until I started traveling to France and it was served to me at a dinner party. Eat it or... don't eat! 

3.) Tetines (Cow's Udder)~ I'm sorry but I don't even recall seeing this on a French menu. And I don't think you could get me to try it! The Chef says even he might not try this. 

4.) Ris de Veau (Calf's Pancreas)~ Often mislabeled as Sweetbread.  I've often seen this on a menu though did not realize it was the pancreas. Not interested in brain or pancreas unless eating them will increase the vitality of mine. 

5.) Pigeon (You know)~  Pretty sure I've tried it but this one's not so bothersome because we've grown up on poulet

6.) Tripe (Stomach)~ While The Chef loves this, the entrails and walls of the stomach of ox and sheep are not on my list of things to ever try again. 

7.) Rognons (Kidneys)~ We've been advised to have the Grandmere make them for us rather than eat them in a restaurant, just to be safer (which doesn't inspire much confidence for me.) 

8.) Andouilette (Sausage of Pig's intestines)~ While we're used to sausage, I can't get used to the flavor of this one. Sort of that latrine finish going for it. 

9.) Steak Tartare (chopped raw meat)~ I've tried one bite of this and...not ready again. 

10.) Foie Gras (Goose liver)~ My all-time favorite French delicacy! I know people have trouble with the raising (and methods of feeding) geese for this purpose but served with an onion confit and a sweet white wine, it is to die for! (Sorry, no pun intended.) 

11.) Tete de Veau (Head of Veal)~ The Chef's favorite, not mine. 

12.) Oursins (Sea Urchin-- in photo above)~ I don't even recall seeing this on the menu but I can tell you from looking at the photo, I won't be trying it. Escargot (which is my 2nd favorite) is the only slimy I can do, mainly because of the sauce with all that butter and garlic and parsley. 

Now go out and try some Tripe. You know, at that French restaurant downtown. And leave the sea urchins on the beach!


To see photos of each, click on TheLocal list below. 
(List from TheLocal.fr)
(Photo from Marco Busdraghi from Wikipedia)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pacific Seafood endangered?

We're not eating much seafood these days 
after recently reading a blog about the frightening and so-far unexplained carnage
of Pacific ocean seafood and wildlife
(possibly due to radiation from Fukushima.) 

I've read several different articles
from Oceana, NOAA and even the FDA's faq's
but so far, not feeling assured
especially after witnessing my own bizarre scene of wildlife carnage
on the beach at Manzanita last month.

I love seafood and am missing it.
So I'm enjoying photos of fresh fish from Greece's Mediterranean. 

What are your thoughts about radiation
from Fukushima
reaching our seafood?

(photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, November 4, 2013

He said, She said and Haute Cuisine~ Missing Paris Day

After seeing this sweet French film recently, Haute Cuisine, (which I loved and recommend if mainly for Catherine Frot's beautifully strong leading performance and the delicious culinary scenes), I couldn't help but take a peek at the article on the new book out by the head man in the main kitchen of the palace.

Chef Bernard Vaussion, who's been employed in the Elysee Palace's main kitchen since 1974 and is retiring Wednesday, has published a memoir: La Cuisine de l'Elysee: a la Table des Presidents.

According to the film (based on the true story of a country woman from the Perigord, real name Daniele Mazet-Delpeuch, sought after by Francois Mitterand to be his personal chef in the palace's smaller, private kitchen), the men of the palace's main kitchen (so Monsieur Vaussion?) caused her some grief.

In an interview with Mazet-Delpeuch in the New Zealand Herald, when asked how difficult it was to work in such a male-dominated arena, she replied, "When I am in the kitchen, I am the boss and some people didn't like that." About the film, she states that it was well done and that "the atmosphere of the palace kitchen was portrayed in a very real way; hard but also very enjoyable to be the president's private chef." 

Mazet-Delpeuch has spent time this year touring for promotion of the film. But lest you think she is self-serving in her pursuit, when asked about her next adventure, she answers that she is considering "a project that has been presented to me that involves teaching young, orphaned Indian women to cook so that they may have some hope for their future and be able to support themselves." 

"Cooking has never been a career for me--it is a passport for adventures." 


In his book, Vaussion details the eating habits of each of the six French heads he worked under from Georges Pompidou to the current Francois Hollande.

In case you're interested:

Pompidou (1969-74) preferred traditional French cooking, heavy and rich like Boeuf Bourgignon.
Valery Giscard d'Estaing (1974-81) was partial to lighter, healthier fare and loved scrambled eggs with truffle sauce.
Mitterand (1981-95) adored Breton oysters, the finest foie gras and caviar.
Jacques Chirac (1995-2007) was famous for his love of veal's head (or Tete de Veau).
Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-12) also preferred healthy food in keeping with his trim figure. But with the recession, he took it upon himself to remove the most expensive caviar and cheeses from the menu (except when Angela Merkel came to visit!)
Francois Hollande (2012-present), a chocolate and wine lover, has put cheese back on the menu. Apparently also a huge fan of the American cheeseburger, maybe that's just been too much for M. Vaussion.

(Article by Catherine Viette from France24.com)
(Interview by Nici Wickes in The New Zealand Herald)
(Mazet-Delpeuch's book Here)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Evenings with an Author: Gerald Shea at The American Library in Paris

The American Library in Paris presents Gerald Shea this Tuesday October 29, 2013 at 19:30.

Shea, a lawyer who has lived and worked in both Paris and New York, will speak about his memoir,
Song without Words: Discovering my Deafness Halfway Through Life. Like Helen Keller, he lost much of his hearing to scarlet fever when he was 6 but only discovered and was given an actual diagnosis at the age of 34. (Shea devotes a chapter to Helen Keller in his memoir.)

In an interview with Caroline Leavitt (novelist, screenwriter, writing instructor for UCLA's Extension Writer's Program and Stanford online), Shea beautifully describes life before and after his diagnosis:

"As my world grew quieter, losing high frequency sounds but keeping many lows, I wasn't conscious of it, and thought that everyone else heard words as I did, but was much faster at understanding them than I was. I have always been, I think, a happy person, and became, instinctively, an excellent lipreader. When I didn't understand, which happened often, I would laugh, or change the subject, or even sing. Music and laughter take you a long way. So I always had lots of friends, though as a child I had my angels and saints too, as I write in the book, whose voices, of my own creation, of course, were beautifully clear to me. 

"When I was finally diagnosed at age 34, at Columbia P&S, and Dr. Chang fully explained what was wrong, I was devastated. I thought back, immediately, during the seconds and minutes after I fully grasped what my life had been, to all that I had lost: the words, the ideas, the opportunities: all that lost time as Proust put it in writing of memories. And yet, I always thought, still do, that I have, and have had, a full life.

     The most moving element of my discovery, as I write in the book, was that day out in the country when I rediscovered the sounds of nature, the crickets, heavenly crickets, and the birds, the rainfall, the footsteps, the breaths, the wind, the water, the merry bubble and joy of my life as a young child. They are like Proust's madeleines, except they had been absent for almost three decades. They were a remembrance of things past, and on that day and thereafter, beautifully, miraculously it seemed, present again." 

(Being one who also suffers hearing loss, I truly wish I could hear Shea speak on the subject and on his memoir (no pun intended.) I strongly relate to his discussion of hearing things other than what was spoken and of how very much is missed. I sometimes describe hearing loss as being able to hear the sound of the voices but what is said comes across as a foreign language with nothing actually being internalized. Or of hearing things completely different than what was expressed.  I frequently go home from events, lectures, author readings trying to calculate what percentage I actually heard. If someone who knows and loves me is sitting next to me through the event, they are frequently subjected to missing segments while being asked to repeat what was just said. Without meaning to, we daily and repeatedly test the patience and stamina of our loved ones. Most people who know me have figured out that if I've just smiled and nodded but not answered their question, it's because I didn't hear it. If not, they simply think I'm being rude.)

Since I can't be there, I will definitely be reading his book.

If you're in Paris, go hear Gerald Shea at The American Library in Paris tomorrow night.

(Excerpt via CarolineLeavittefille blog with Caroline's permission)

American Library in Paris  is located at:

10, rue du General Camou
(Just off the Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower)
75007 Paris, France
• Tel. +33 (0)1 53 59 12 60

Tues-Sat: 10h-19h, Sun: 13h-19h.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Uffizi Gallery in Florence~ Travelin' Tuesday

Staying with our Florence theme this week,
the above is located outside the famous Uffizi Gallery
which began construction in 1560 
by Georgio Vasari for Cosimo I de Medici 
and continued until 1581.

(Behind it stands the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio (the old palace)
which has two small cells
and at one time held both
 Cosimo de Medici (the elder) and Girolamo Savonarola. )

Uffizi means offices and it became the offices for the magistrates 
and one of the first public museums
being one of the oldest. 

It houses works from the likes of 
Botticelli, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Filippo Lippi, 
Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio and Rembrandt. 

And this little cutie stands nearby. 
Love these amazingly ornate columns. 

Oh to be wandering the galleries of artworks today
standing in the beauty of such greatness. 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)
Details from Wiki

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lunch overlooking the David in Firenze

I'm coming to the end of my writing retreat 
and I've decided we need a little more of Florence this week
since that's where I've been in my head. 

This little place is preparing for lunch on the famous square,
the Piazza della Signoria,
the entryway to the Uffizi Gallery and
home of the famous statues you see in the background. 
That is a reproduction of Michelangelo's David on the left of course,
and on the right is Bandinelli's Hercules and Cacus.
And between them is the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio (or Old Palace). 
Now the Town Hall for Florence
and the home of the Mayor's office and City Council,
it was once the home of Cosimo I before he moved across the Arno River
to the Palazzo Pitti.
That's when Cosimo began calling it the Old Palace. 

And speaking of old,
there's one other photo I just have to share:

In case you are wondering what I will look like when I'm aged,
this is it. 
Permanently bent over my writing
and possibly sound asleep, 
though I cannot guaranty my socks will match anything. 
Can you tell I'm getting punchy?! 
Until we meet again...

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Florence on my mind...Travelin' Tuesday

I'm busy working on the novel this week 
from my writing retreat on the Oregon Coast
and my characters are in Florence right this minute
so it seemed a good time to pull out some of the Florence photos. 

I don't recall the exact location of this spot 
but pretty sure it is right near the Uffizi Gallery...
and the Arno river...and the Ponte Vecchio bridge. 

The shot reminds me of olives smothered in olive oil
and authentic pizza with red wine...
like this...

My characters are in the midst of a helicopter tour of Florence
with one of the most wealthy moguls in the world
which I never got to do 
but it was fun to write about.

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Les Pains et fleurs~ Missing Paris Day

Like this photo because it combines two things I love in Paris:
The boulangeries and the florist shops. 
Now if I could just be walking down  Boulevard de Grenelle 
eating the end off one of these long, honey-colored baguettes
with blossoming flowers for my table. 

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Montmartre Wine Harvest this week

The Vendanges de Montmartre (wine harvest) is this 
Wednesday through Sunday, October 9-13, 2013,
throughout the 18th arrondissement neighborhood. 
While initially begun in 1934,
the Vendanges continues every year 
mostly as symbolic tradition of the hill's once plentiful vineyards.

The theme this year of Love and Passion
will focus on food and art 
with wine tastings, local food samplings, music and dancing. 

The only tiny vineyard still working and visible on the hill
produces about 1,500 bottles of
Gamay and Pinot Noir. 
You can still view the plot at 14-18 rue des Saules.

Free fireworks and music will be held
Saturday October 12th at 9:45pm.

Take the 12 Line to Jules Joffrin, Lamarck Caulaincourt, Pigalle or Abbesses,
or the 2 Line to Blanche or Anvers. 

For a full list of events and maps,
go to GoParis here.

Details via GoParis.about.com
(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Pickpockets at Louvre caught

Gangs of thieves who have been working together 
targeting Paris' tourist hot spots
including the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, the Eiffel Tower and Versaille,
have recently been arrested.

This past spring,
workers at the Louvre went on strike
to protest the upsurge in petty crime
and this month, the police finally caught a group
hanging around the most heavily-crowded areas of the Louvre
such as near the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo.

While this was a sophisticated group,
only about ten were arrested, so there are certainly more.
The police, and the Louvre website, have posted safety measures
to follow while visiting crowded sites.
From the Louvre website:

"Pickpockets may be present in the museum.
They operate in crowded areas while you are looking at or taking pictures of the artworks.

Please follow these rules:
* Keep your bags closed and hold them in front of you
* Do not keep your money on display
* Divide up your cash and keep it in several different inside pockets
    or in different compartments of your bag
* Do not put your wallet in your back pocket. 
* Do not follow the advice of strangers at ticket machines
* Pay attention to your bags and pockets while taking photos
* In the event of a problem, contact a security officer for assistance."

I caught young teens trying to steal my wallet in the Louvre several years ago
as well as in the metro so not all groups are sophisticated. But they are everywhere in Paris. 
These rules are good to keep in mind no matter where you're visiting
to save headaches, heartache and peace of mind. 

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dreaming of Greece~ Travelin' Tuesday

Missing Greece today
as the drizzle comes down here in the Pacific NW. 
Just a little window of Nafplion's beauty
and one of my favorite walks
to cheer us up today. 

(Photo copyright:Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Beautiful Ruins~ Teaser Tuesday

Hosted by MizB at should be reading.

Here's how to play:

*Grab your current read,
*Open to a  page,
*Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page,
*Please no spoilers!
*Share the title and author.

Hollywood, California

Before sunrise--before Guatemalan gardeners in dirty dinged lawn trucks, before Caribbeans come to cook, clean, and clothe, before Montessori, Pilates, and Coffee Bean, before Benzes and BMW's nose onto palmed streets and the blue-toothed sharks resume their endless business--the gentrification of the American mind--there are the sprinklers: rising from the ground to spit-spray the northwest corner of Greater Los Angeles, airport to the hills, downtown to the beaches, the slumbering rubble of the entertainment regime..." (p.15)

"In Santa Monica, they call to Claire Silver in the predawn quiet of her condo--psst hey--her curly red hair splayed out on the pillow like a suicide. They whisper again---psst hey-- and Claire's eyelids flutter; she inhales, orients, glances over at the marbled shoulder of her boyfriend, sprawled asleep on his 70 percent of the king-size. Daryl often cracks the bedroom window behind their bed when he comes in late, and Claire wakes like this--psst hey-- to water spritzing the rock garden outside..."  (p.15)

 "Faced with such decisions (college, boyfriends, grad school), Claire has always been a pro-con lister, a seeker of signs, a deal-maker--and she makes a deal with herself now, or with Fate:  Either a good, viable film idea walks in the door today--or I quit...) (p.17)

"Then Claire starts for the bathroom, officially adding Daryl to her deal with Fate, like a hostage (Bring me a great film idea today or the strip-clubbing boyfriend gets it!)..." (p.19)

"And that's when a single wistful thought escapes her otherwise made-up mind: a wish, or maybe a prayer, that amid today's crap she might hear just one...decent...pitch--one idea for a great film-- so she won't have to quit the only job she's ever wanted in her entire life. 
(p. 19)
Outside, the sprinklers spit laughter against the rock garden." 

From Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins

Maureen Corrigan of NPR's Fresh Air calls this novel:
"A literary miracle...A sweeping stunner of a narrative...The entire novel is a kaleidoscopic collection of 'beautiful ruins,' both architectural and human. This novel is a standout not just because of the inventiveness of its plot, but also because of its language."

And another claims that it "shows novelists how it is done." 

I've been jonesing to read this book since last year and heard spectacular things about it. But only this weekend did I realize it is the same author as the one my husband has been raving about from the book he's reading (Land of the Blind). 

I'm only on Chapter 3 but in awe of his writing!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Metro gets a cleaning~ Missing Paris Day

Paris' state-owned public transport operator RATP 
(Regie Autonome des Transports Parisiens) has announced,
the metro is about to get a cleaning.

Pierre Mongin, head of the RATP, has promised 70 million euros a year 
for the next five years for a major overhaul 
meant to clean up both the grime and the smell. 

I love the Paris metro no matter its condition,
though I know residents who won't ride it other than in an emergency.
But it would be nice to give it a better reputation than it has now. 

Can't wait to see the results! 

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Le Cafe Du Commerce~ Missing Paris Day

This is a favorite little lunch spot in our neighborhood.
We usually stop here first thing when we go to Paris
partly because it is close but also because it now signals to us that we have arrived.
It is brasserie food so nothing 5-star but has a beautiful interior 
and decent traditional fare.
One day soon I will do a post with the interior photos to give you the flavor.  
You can go HERE to check out their website.

Le Cafe Du Commerce
51, rue du Commerce
75015 Paris 
33. 1. 45. 75. 03. 27

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Clinging and loss~ Buddhist Thought for the Day

"You only lose what you cling to."
~Gautama  Buddha

I'm clinging to summer
maybe because it's the last day of August,
the sun is setting sooner and my flowers are tired. 
Even though summer started early in the Pacific Northwest,
it's still gone faster than I can wrap my head around. 
Since mid-August, 
I've felt the head of fall rearing itself 
and instead of feeling grateful for all those long, luscious summer days,
I'm mourning the end of them. 
I know we'll have plenty more beautiful days coming to us
but I can't stop feeling sad for the end of them. 
This is where the 'being in the present moment' idea comes in handy. 
And the quote above. 

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen) 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Favorite Place on Rue St. Dominique and Summer Exhibit

A favorite little spot I just had to share. 
Am missing Paris these days
and wishing I'd been there for the Paris Plage this summer
and ohh-so-many-other-things! 

If I were there now,
I'd hop on over to the Parisienne en Ete vintage photography exhibition
at the Docks en Seine (until October 6th)~ 
48 Black and Whites of Paris in the summertime 
taken between 1880 and 1960 
by Boris Liptnitzki and Henri Roger of the Viollet-Roger Agency.
It's a free and outdoor gallery along the Quai d'Austerlitz.

And then... I'd go take a few summer shots of my own. 

Docks en Seine
34 Quai d'Austerlitz
13th Arr.
Metro: Gare d'Austerlitz

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, August 19, 2013

France: Recession Begone

It's official! 
France is now out of its recession.
According to a Telegraph UK article, France's Finance Minister has confirmed the end of the recession.
And the reason? 
"...largely due to improved domestic consumption."  
All that consuming has to be good for something! 

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen) 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Glastonbury and the Isle of Avalon~ Travelin' Tuesday

I haven't spent much time in England 
but after several days spent driving the Lake District awhile back,
I'm aching to return. 

And one of the places I knew I had to see while there
was the famous abbey ruins and city of Glastonbury. 

As I've mentioned, 
my novel touches on Mary Magdalene
and it's said that she may have briefly spent time here. 

Legend has it that Joseph of Arimathea brought Jesus here as a boy.
And that when they escaped after his death,
Joseph landed here with Mary Magdalene before she went on to the South of France. 

Located in Somerset (once known for its plentiful apple orchards and strong cider),
the Abbey was once the most important in England,
the site of the crowning of Edmund Ironsides as King in 1016. 

At its earliest recording in the 7th and early 8th century,
it was known as Glestingaburg.

The 13th century French poet, Robert de Boron,
wrote that Joseph brought the Holy Grail with him 
in which he captured some of Jesus' blood. 

And further legend states that 
when Joseph landed in Britain and thrust his staff in the ground,
it flowered into the Holy Thorn tree,
a specific hawthorn which only grows near Glastonbury
and flowers twice a year, at spring and Christmas. 

The original Holy Thorn became a pilgrimage site in Medieval times.
And every year,
a local vicar cuts a sprig from the most recent Holy Thorn
and sends it to the Queen. 

Some say that Glastonbury was built at the request of Joseph of Arimathea
to house the remains of Jesus' blood and the Holy Grail.
And the Abbey now calls itself the "oldest above-ground Christian church in the world." 

Below are a few scenes from the kitchen 
which I always find interesting. 

Even further steeped in lore is the belief that 
Glastonbury was the site of King Arthur's Isle of Avalon.
Monks from the Abbey claimed to have found the graves 
of King Arthur and Guinevere near the church's Lady Chapel in 1191. 
When a new abbot, Henry de Sully, ordered a search of the grounds,
monks found the coffin with a cross which stated,
'Here lies renowned King Arthur in the island of Avalon.' 

Geoffrey of Monmouth, who wrote the History of the Kings of Britain,
called it the Isle of Apples, which in old Breton
is spelled Avalou.
And according to Geoffrey,
Avalon is where Arthur was taken after his battle with Mordred
to have his wounds tended.
Avalon was also known as the Isles of the Fortunate
because it grew apples, grape and grain all of its own accord. 

The town of Glastonbury itself is filled with shops 
catering to the New Age and Pagan cultures it attracts. 

The church of St. John the Baptist dates from the 15th century
and it is here that the vicar and the students from St. John's school 
sing carols around the Glastonbury Thorn tree and the eldest pupil clips the cutting  
which is then taken to the Queen.

Somehow on that visit, 
I missed the Tor, St. Michael's tower, up the hill from the ruins
and the Chalice Well, a holy well at the foot of the Tor,
which just means, of course, that I will have to return!

Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen
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