Bonjour friends! I am hoping everyone is enjoying the last of their summer. This post -I am afraid will show my darker side but I have no other choice at this time. I have for some time believed that the arts, along with the sciences, philosophy, education, and an occasional angel could save humankind from our self-destructive nature. This has been a hard summer for me and my faith in humankind has taken a serve beating. I hate human ugliness in all forms but I can not claim that I am immune to the temptation to occasionally beat someone over his/her head with their bibles. Please let me state this post is NOT about Jesus but rather about political powers and people who use religion -any religion to justify the oppression of people! That includes not just in America but any world government that oppresses and murders people in the name of religion and nationalism.

So, in short, I am calling on all artists with their many gifts and talents to save humankind! We have lost our way and are on the verge of becoming madmen and monsters! I know, human history is full of madmen and monsters. Most of us can recite their names and deadly deeds but we fail often to understand the true depth of their destructive powers and the stench of death their cruelty left on humankind. As we remember human cruelty; we can also remember the artists, scientists, philosophers, people of higher learning, some religious leaders, the common people along with an occasional angel - that were the voices of the damn, the powerless, the sick, the starving and the dying. We see their artwork, hear their songs, read their poetry/novels/plays, and remember their pleads for sanity.

The picture I am posting today is of poor quality and I don’t know the artist’s name or the name of the gallery in Paris! I do remember the sculpture surprised me and I almost laughed at it; thinking it was a cute take on my country’s grand Lady given to America by the French! Suddenly, I didn’t finish my laugh -I was caught by a sudden feeling that this piece of ART stood for more than a cute version of “America the Beautiful!”  I was in a hurry, so I took a quick picture and went about my business. I am often amazed at how a piece of art, a song, a line from a poem, a dance from a ballet or even a movie scene will suddenly appear in my brain wanting to remind me of a forgotten lesson! Humankind needs the reminders of those evey  lessons of cruelty, un-forgiveness, the greed of money and power; along the hatred of race, of women, of children, the old, the sick that all lead to death and destruction of humankind. It a monumental task -I am asking of all artists, and visionaries to save humankind, and I know, that this request may be impossible! You; old and young artists must all try -for without your gifts, your talents, your insights, your love of humankind we may be doomed to repeat history in all her self-destructive powers!

Re-teach us to love one another, and to aim for the power of salvation to guide humankind. It is time for Artists, Philosophers, Scientists, religious leaders/people and yes; people with good souls to rise up and remind us of our collective humanness! I plead with all of you...show us the way back to our souls...be humankind’s angels!

This will not be an easy task, many of you will find criticism and the concern from others who will feel you have lost your mind, they will fear for you, they will say,”you have lost your way into the political rip tides and will surely drown.” And they be right! For some of you, the reaction will be swift, and maybe dangerous!

Please know that I am not a silly school girl or a senile old woman and I am aware that while many of you will be met with adulation, but depending on where you live; you could draw political attention may in fact place you into the circle of danger! Artists of all gifts and talents have always been drawn to the fire, been drawn to the depth of human despair, and have felt human evil try to devour their artistic voices in the past! Artists may feeI human evil again. I am often reminded of novels, dairies, plays, poetry,  songs, paintings, movies that have shaken mankind back to their collective humankind! Please shake us, chide us, stir us, and stare us in our eyes, shout at us, pin us to our imaginations, corner our hearts and touch our souls...for the survival of humankind’s existence please, please be our angels! The pain is almost too much....


Bonjour! Hoping everyone is beginning to warm up with Spring!  

I have selected five portraits from different artists; some artists are well known and other artists are just starting down their artistic paths. The first portrait was posted by birds of_paradise ‘Mother and Child(detail) by Leon Perrault, 1894. I have often wondered what kind of portrait I would sit for? And what would I be willing to reveal about myself? In this portrait by Perrault, mother and child are completely enamored with each other; and their love for each other is tender and without question absolute! I love this portrait because it brings about memories of my days as a young mother and the tenderness of love I felt for my babies! But still, I wonder; would I allow a painter to capture my deepest moments of love? Would I fear that later on as an old woman; people would view my portrait as just sentimental fooliness of a young woman? 

The second posting is again posted by birds of_paradise and the portrait is by John Singer Sargent titled Rosydisgard. I love this portrait! This beautiful young lady of leisure makes no apologies for her position in life! She understands that she is privileged, beautiful, charming, well educated and is now ready to take her rightful position in high society! I have often wondered what it would be like to have everything laid out before me in perfect order without questions about what lays ahead? And then -to let an artist capture my past, present, and future without hesitation of judgment or fear of rebuke? A portrait for all the world to see; where there is no pain of my past and no fear of my future! 

The third posting is a portrait/drawing by adamcblalock: Female with a Pole, detail Charcoal and white chalk on toned paper 20x16 in (approx.) I found this portrait/drawing sunning and a little disconcerting! Obviously, this model is older(much like myself) and yet; there she is staring straight at us...naked! She too offers no apologies for who she is. She almost dares for us to call her: old, sickly, feeble, frumpy or ugly because if we do; she will undoubtedly not hesitate to beat us with her pole! Would I allow an artist to draw me...naked? Would I let the world glare at my scars, stretch marks, lumpy, and sagging skin? Would I -like this amazing model: stare down the misconception that showing the age of women in art -means we are to be pitied and embarrassed! Could I insist that people see me as I often see myself: strong, passionate, still full of grit, full of ideas, and eager to find new success in everything I do! 

The fourth posting is portrait by birds of_paradise ‘La Belle Accoudee’ by Charles Amable Lenoir, 1860-1926. I love her serene look. She is her own fantasy! All is well with her life and the world. She is a muse, a maiden: ready to find true love, and she is on the verge of self-discovery! She is living a life where she is the fairy tale waiting for the happy ending. Sometimes, I have viewed other people’s lives as fairy tales; believing they have never really suffered from huge disappointments or personal disasters. I have known people who always looked like they knew their beauty and self-worth as human beings! Of course, that is maybe not true for all of them, but I can not help but wonder; is life easier when you are beautiful, and young? Could a painter see me; when I was young, as his perfect muse for his beautiful portrait?

The fifth posting is from elenaslovings Acyl auf Leinward,120x90cm! You can contacr her at www.elenaslovings.com...As I have gotten older and suffered from too many disappointments: disease(cancer), divorce, miscarriage, they have all left pieces on my life. I have also experienced an amazing amount of love from family and friends! I had the privilege to have married my Guardian Angel and my one real love; but I must say that it didn’t come wrapped in a fairy tale. My grown children are eveything I had hoped for as a young mother! And again, I have had some great successes in my life. I have lost friendships and relatives to time and death. All of those experiences have left their pieces on my person and my soul! If...I was being completely honest about what my portrait should look like today; it would look like this woman’s portrait! She is a summary of her life well lived, but never as an ideal: nor a fantasy! Her life has been in constant change and with every event or heart beat she has endured. I find her beautiful, real, honest and a survivor! She is me and I am her!

We seem now to live in a world where many human beings are tragically being denied the basic human right to live their lives to their full potential. This is largely due to: hate, racism, disease, war, famine, environmental pollution, politics and religious intolerance! 

As Art lovers along with all Artists, I believe we can impact the fate of many by our collective voices. Let us fight for those who have no voice in wether they live or die! Each life lost is a portrait never painted! 

The ability to change the world has always been with the power of Art!

Notre Dame burning!💔🇫🇷
I can’t stop crying for Notre Dame or for All of France!

Here I am with my daughter at Notre Dame in April 2018

When Art reminds us of our humanity!

Never underestimate the power of Art to transform us!

When Art Takes Away Our Breath!

Bonjour! I hope 2019 is still full of hope and beauty! My newest posting is an unexpected surprise for me and I am a little taken back by it, but here it goes! 

I am not a film critic by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know when something touches me deeply and gives me a chance to step back and pause. 

“Never Look Away” is a genuine example of true art/true magic that comes from making a great movie. I am a true believer that ART transforms humans and gives us the gift of vision! The vision to see ourselves in the lives of others, to feel their fear, loss, physical pain, anger, and their agony! And sometimes, ART gives us a chance to mourn what has been stolen from us, and stolen from all of humanity! And Art can remind us of humanities joys, loves, desires and dreams even when they are wiped out by hatred and human stupidity! 

I am not going to say much more about this mind altering piece of Cinematic Art! However, if you are an ART lover please, please go see this deeply beautiful movie! Let me just say... this is not a fluffy feel good -touchy feely movie, but it is worth every minute of your three hours! Please, if you love art and humanity go see this movie!

Now...for a serious note; it seems as if lately...that history is repeating itself; and it looks: ugly, mean, cruel, vindictive and for many people deadly! The rise of hatred, racism, and fascism is the newest rage and not just in America, but around the world! We must remind ourselves that we cannot look away while people and goverments destory OUR humanity! We can not go back in time where: people, societies, governments and armies decide what humanity will look like! 

I believe in the POWER of ART! For those of you who create art and for those of us who love art, we together; can remind the world of humanity’s beauty and greatness! 

Hoping, I empower ARTISTS to believe in themselves! 

Me, myself, and I with Napoleon at the Nelson-Atkins Museum!

Bonjour! I am hoping everyone is planning a new adventure to somewhere exciting for 2019!

 

My post today is a diversion from my past traditional postings in that I will not be talking about my trip to Paris in 2018! I will, however, talk about Napoleon! I visited The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art located in beautiful Kansas City, Missouri! The Exhibit is called Napoleon: Power and Splendor. Eventually, this wonderful exhibit will be housed at its final destination in France at Fontainebleau Muse‘ national du Chateau de Fontainebleau April 5-July 15, 2019.

 

So, far I have seen the Napoleon Exhibit twice and I plan to see it at least once or twice more before it leaves town in March! Paris seems to me to be a city of wonder, a place where time slows down and the past is around every corner! There seems to be magic everywhere! And the history and magic always come together in her’ Palaces and Museums! 

 

I am not an expert on French history but I think most the world knows of Napoleon; his glory and his colossal fall from power and grace. This Exhibit is by far beyond the mundane, it stays away historical clichés, or Hollywood’s previous feeble attempts to spin Napoleon’s tale into some far away Galaxy! This exhibit is fair with history and takes no sides with Napoleon’s days of glory; nor does it revel in his eventual downfall.

 

The exhibit is a visual treat for our human eyes but more importantly, it transports us back to a place and time so few of us have never imagined! Even with people in this place and time of haves and have-nots; people of the French Court were far richer than we could have believed! The absolute Splendor of this exhibit makes our would of millionaires today look shabby and cheap! And maybe they are?

 

I had wrongly believed that Napoleon had risen through the rank and file to become one of the most powerful men in the world! Napoleon was no upstart. He was raised to be in command, to feel entitled, to possess all the spoils of the world and he never apologized for his inherented arrogance! From the beginning, Napoleon aggressively packaged himself the best that French aristocracy had to offer to France and the world!

 

What is equally amazing is how Napoleon and his beautiful wife, Josephine Bonaparte understood the role that propaganda could/would play in establishing Napoleon position, his power and his place in world history. Napoleon’s reign only lasted from 1804 -his coronation to his final exile in 1815! However, you can still be in awe of the sheer majesty of court life, the slender and richness of Napoleon’s royal household. You will marvel at Napoleon’s far-reaching impact that his empire had on all of Europe and especially on: the French people and on France’s role in history!

 

The exhibit’s selection of art, including portraits, maps, drawings, ceremonial alter pieces, dinnerware, swords, guns, paintings of gorgeous horses, and of beautiful people in splendid robes is breathtaking and worth every moment you will spend there! I believe almost all these wonderful pieces of art and artifacts have never been on display in North America before. It is a huge feather in the cap for the Nelson-Atkins Museum to house such an astounding exhibit!

 

I have selected five portraits of Napoleon from the exhibit that are just a few of my many favorite portraits! I choose to keep my selection just on Napoleon portraits. The first portrait, Bonaparte at the Pont d'Arcole (1796) by Antoine-Jean Gros, is a stunning portrait of Napoleon as a young gallant officer just beginning to shape his vision of who he would become. The second portrait, Napoleon Crossing the Alps (1801-1805) by Jacques-Louis David is a propaganda portrait that depicts Napoleon in all his military might, dashing (well dressed), strong, fearless, ready to engage in battle for the glory of France! The third portrait, Bust-Length Portrait of Napoleon in Ceremonial Robes (About 1805-14)by the Workshop of Baron Francois-Pascal-Simon Gerard, is of Napoleon at the top of his game: Emperor! The fourth portrait, Portrait of Napoleon in the Uniform of a Colonel of the Grenadier of the Foot Guards (1813-14) by Francois-Pascal-Simon Gerard, I picked because of the medium; it is made of mosaics! The fifth and last portrait of Napoleon, Napoleon on His Deathbed (1821) by Denzil O. Ibbetson, is by far the most tragic of all! In this exhibit this portrait is the last portrait you will see of Napoleon after having spent a good two hours indulging in the glorious days of the French Empire; only to turn the corner and be confronted by Napoleon’s death. It is an amazing portrait of human death! It is raw and simple; there is nothing to distract you from the painful truth that no matter how glorious, powerful, and rich a life you have lived, death plays no favorites! Napoleon died the way we all will die, alone; and maybe...if we are blessed -there is an angel in the room who speaks a little French!

 

As I have said way too many times before: all forms of ART give us...our humanity! This fabulous exhibit does that and more!


Death of the Virgin by Caravaggio

Bonjour! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

 

With this last post for 2018, I must say “thank you” to everyone who has taken time out of their busy day(s) to follow my humble Paris/Art blog! I am so grateful to all of you! I wish 2019 sends all of you on a new adventure to someplace fun and exciting that includes lots of ART.

 

Next, I have a serious disclaimer; this new posting is about how art can take away our breath and give us moments that will last a lifetime! And I am very sorry for the poor quality of my picture!

 

This photo of the painting, Death of the Virgin by Caravaggio, was taken in Paris by me and is by far my favorite ART moment....ever! I had spent the day looking at gorgeous paintings at the Louvre! They were all majestic paintings of Kings, Queens, Grand Dukes, and beautiful Princesses! They were all dressed in furs, silks, jewels, diamonds; all painted in lovely castles and extravagant palaces! Other paintings were about of course of Greek and Roman mythology with the Gods painted in all their slender! I was in heaven and with every painting, there was something to discover and acknowledge about the Masters who have shaped our Art world as we know it today!

 

I think I have said it before, but I believe ART in any form can take us to new levels of enlightenment as people and bestow upon us human grace! I do believe, however, that we must seek out the ARTS and support artists whenever possible. We must be active participants in the magic of ART. I am in awe of artists because I believe without them our human existence would be unbearable and we would all surely perish from the weight of dead brain matter!

 

And so, I had been at the Louvre for about three hours floating along on cloud nine, enjoying the intoxicating ambiance of being in one of the worlds most beautiful museums. So, out of nowhere, I stumbled upon this painting, Death of the Virgin, and in a literal blink of an eye; my knees became weak, my mouth fell open, and my heart almost stopped beating! I consider myself a religious person but I pride myself on being open-minded regarding many of the worlds great religions. So, there I stood in front of this huge painting that had suddenly...left me paralyzed -I simply could not move! This painting took away my breath and there I was watching ‘the Virgin Mary’ in her last moments on earth! She was not dressed in furs and silks, and no gold crown laid upon her head! She was extremely poor, and it was obvious she had lived a hard life filled with the pain of losing a son -that she had freely promised God to bring into the world and mother. She had not bantered for riches: nor frame, she did not ask to be spared from her missable human existence of poverty, social isolation, and despair! Mary, I believe spent many years in fear that her newborn son would be killed. And so, Mary and her family spent many years in exile. After the death of her son, I wonder if her years were lonely and if she longed to be with her son? I do believe Mary was given comfort and yes, maybe even cared for by angels after her son’s death. But in the end -she needed to be comforted by the disciples whom Jesus loved best! It is said, that ‘the Virgin Mary’ summoned the Apostles to pray over her in her final hours! I am assuming the men that are captured in this painting are the Apostles. I can not begin to express my gratitude for this single breathless moment!

 

I don’t know the real history of this painting, I know little of the painter Caravaggio or who commissioned this magnificent painting; but I know at that moment, I truly began to understand the power of Art and as humans, we can not live without it! Art is transforming and we must seek out that transformation within our impoverished existence and help us find heavenly grace and surely....our corrective souls.

 

Art is everything!

 

#thelouvre

Alice in Wonderland by Salvador Dali. Bronze sculpture.

Alice in Wonderland

Recently, I have had a chance to rethink my ordinary life. For most of us with expectation of the rich and famous; we live ordinary lives by the things we do day in and day-out: going to school, going to work, coming home to spouses and children, going to the churches we love, cheering for our sports teams, crafting our hobbies, spending time on our yearly celebrations, chasing our passions for bands/concerts, ballet, art/museums, live theater, movies/TV, charities and the list goes on and on. Our ordinary lives are defined by what we do and don’t do; and by what we love and don’t love!

 

In the last three years of my perfectly ordinary life; things come crashing down -sending myself and my family on a survival course with Cancer. I had always had a bucket list of sorts but I believed back then -I still had all time in the world to mark that “to do list” off! So, now...I have doubled my list of wanna get stuff done list! But some of the things on my list require me to stretch beyond what I believe are my talents and/or natural gifts. Some ideas will stay on the list and never make it off the page but for some, I am hoping they will leap off the page and will become a reality! This year 2018, I went to Paris for a wonderful six weeks and I marked off multiple activities from my bucket list! But since then, I have added several new items.

 

So, as I begin my new adventures for 2019, I am hoping to avoid the pitfalls of middle age such as withdrawing from activities, family, and friends. I am looking to increase my sense of empowerment, and encourage my creative side!

 

I decided to include a picture one of Salvador Deli’s sculptures ‘Alice in Wonderland!’ In Paris, there is a Dalí Museum nestled in the heart of Montmartre and there is a small Galleria attached to the museum. I picked this sculpture because it represents the hope that one has when signing up for a journey, an adventure. The wonderment and excitement are exhilarating! But, like most new adventures there are pitfalls, wrong turns, rabbit holes, and mischievous characters who would like nothing more than diverting us from our new founded belief in ourselves!

 

Dalí and his wife Gala were soul mates but they didn’t live a happy-ever-after life with each other. Gala served as Dali’s muse but their relationship was a train wreck. Other artists like Van Gogh fought with many of his good friends regarding the direction that his work should take. So, how does one weigh and measure the words of muses, good friends and loved ones against the vision of the adventure? Many a movie and novel has been produced and written with cautionary tales about wandering too far off track in search of self-fulfillment. I have given this a great deal of thought and have decided that I will stay with my perfectly ordinary life.

 

I will celebrate the things I do or don’t do day-in and day-out! I will continue to love my dear spouse and family, along with my delightful friends in every ordinary way; but maybe, with a little more gusto! I will start to add in some little things from my bucket list but slowly, gently, so...they should almost be missed or barely noticed. Maybe at first:  an art history class or a poetry class; and later...ballroom dancing classes!  I have decided to celebrate my ordinary life and I will find charm, and resilience in my today life. The rich and famous can have their jet sitting lifestyles; I for one -plan on not jumping down any rabbit holes in the near future! 

 

So, three cheers for the wonderful stuff in our lives, the choices we make and maybe, more importantly the choices we don’t make! 

Duty for Love of Country and God!

Today's Artists Will Be Tomorrows Masters!

One of the many things I discovered while traveling to Paris was how much I truly loved art. I grew up around art, my mother loved art and was by many accounts a talented artist. When we lived in San Francisco, we would spend many long hours going from museums to art galleries in and around the Bay Area. My mother had a fierce love for art and she was an amazing artist in her own right. But...she lacked the confidence to really follow through on a path that was for her scary and unpredictable. Like many women of her generation, there was not much support for women "to have it all!"  My mother was at her best when she painted portraits. Many of her paintings have been given away according to her last wishes, many have been destroyed or lost. I think she was an amazing portrait artist but she never; I think, truly understood what a rare gift she had for looking into her models' eyes and seeing their magic; their humanity.

 

While in Paris, I had a rare opportunity to book a tour at the Louvre with an exceptionally brilliant portrait artist named Kate Chartier. While I had no idea who Kate Chartier was at the time; she give me an experience of a lifetime and I am beyond grateful! It is Kate Chartier that I wish to highlight in today's blog. It is always a great treat to be able to view art through the eyes of a true Artist. If you a novice art lover like myself and can go to lectures where artists talk about: their craft, their gift, and their talent..do go! It is enlightening to hear them speak and give their insight. It will add many new layers to your understanding and appreciation of all art forms. I have seen several examples of Kate's portraits but the portrait of this young military Officer is by far my favorite! Kate has painted many high ranking Officers in the military. Her passion and talent have renewed my faith in the future of art. While it is important to love, preserve, and protect past masters; we must also look to all artists that surround us in the present. The artists of today will be the great masters of tomorrow! 

 

I don't know the real story of this military Officer. So, I am going to let my imagination run away with me! The really great thing about Art is that your imagination is free to discover it’s own reality! 

 

He comes from French aristocracy and his family has generations of decorated military Officers. He left behind boarding schools and college 'frat houses' in his early twenties. He has always understood his true calling to be that of service to his Country and to God! He is not easily swayed by convention and he distrusts people/politicians who can only speak in platitudes! He understands that history is always written by the victors of war and so, he also knows people are sometimes set free by war -while others are enslaved by war. He does not glorify war for parades or for metals. He is proud of his service, of his Country and he will always do his duty.

 

His eyes are dark, deep like the sea. He knows good men who have perished in war. And sometimes, he dreams of them, he hears both their laughter and their last moans before death. So, sometimes he marches in parades and wears his metals, so his Countrymen will not forget whom they have lost; who he has lost! It's not been easy but he would have not wished for another life for himself because with every breath he takes -it is for France and for God!

 

Celebrate today's artists -they will be the great masters of tomorrow and Kate will be in that great circle of true masters! You can find Kate on Instagram. Kate , I adore your art! Gina.

Two of the best professionals in all of Paris!

Sam is now a friend & April’s adoption is pending!

A Little Change Of Pace!

 

Something I discovered while visiting Paris is that there are many professional services that can add fun, adventure, convenience and safety to your trip. These professionals are worth the extra $$! I am going to suggest two such services that I believe represent two of the best examples of the entrepreneurial spirit in Paris!

 

First, I would like to suggest that 'safety' getting in and out of the Paris Airport is a must! Having a private DRIVER for you and/or your family when you first arrive in Paris will make your first couple of hours in Paris a thousand times more earier, esp., with extra luggage, not being sure of your accommodations, and maybe not being aware of the varvious neighborhoods of Paris.

For transportation needs I suggest: SAM CAR which is owned and operated by Sam Chteoui/Chauffeur Prive' and you may call him at: 0033 761 900 958 or contact him on WhatsApp! Sam actually picked up and delivered (myself), my daughter, and several friends all safely to my doorstep! Sam helped with luggage, steps, and give excellent tips/suggestions on how to have a safe trip while having fun! Sam Chteoui actually helped to keep my daughter safe after there had been a mix up regarding her drop off time! Sam refused to just drop her off unattended and leave her to defend for herself! He spent a total of two hours giving my daughter a professional driving tour of Paris! She was eventually re-united with me, happy and safe thanks to Sam.

You can also arrange to have Sam drive you/family to other destinations in and around Paris as well. As it turns out - I now consider Sam to be a dear Paris friend! 

 

My second suggestion for adding some fun and adventure to your Paris trip is to consider hiring the top rated Tour Guide in ALL of Paris: April at www.aprilinparistours.com! April is a top notch professional who can take you and your family on many different kinds of tours in and around Paris! April is willing to design individual and group tours. April will develop excursions that are fun and will fill your days with adventure while in Paris! April also has pre-packaged tours that are inexpensive as well! And again, April is now my fourth daughter and the adoption is pending!

 

Again, adding professional help, guidance, adventure, and fun will make your stay in Paris safe and unforgettable!

Young Woman Sewing in a Garden, Mary Cassatt, 1880-1882. Musée d'Orsay

Love letters shine through the darkness!

In this painting by Cassatt of a young woman, she is actually sewing but my initial reaction was that she was reading a note. So, for this story, the young woman is reading a note! 

 

I am hoping this posting will ring true for many of you. When I first saw this painting; I was not impressed. The subject matter seemed a little sedated and there didn’t appear that there was much going on to interest me. Like many of the museums, and galleries of Paris there is a lot to distract visitors and that is why it is important to take lots of photos, so you can revisit them later.

 

After I returned from Paris - we were in the process of selling our home and down seizing which we did eventually. After we moved into our new home and we had some time to settle in; I started working on organizing my office space. I came across an old wooden box that over many years I had stored old letters, cards, and photos. I had completely forgotten about this box and was surprised by its content. This box had been started when I was much younger, and I didn’t realize I even had a trace of sentimentality at the ripe old age of twenty-eight! 

 

In this box - I found many things that brought back lots of wonderful memories; it also brought back memories I didn’t even remember caring about. Much to my surprise- I found not one but three letters from suitors that I had left behind for reasons I can’t even now remember. Although, I am sure my future husband may have been a part of that reason! I sat down to read the letters; each letter was well written and very thoughtful. None of the letters were mushy but these young men -each expressed their desires for their future which hopefully included me.

 

This was not a happy time for me and I had been pretty beaten up by an ugly marriage and a mean divorce. I was hyper-critical of myself, afraid, lonely; and sad, so sad I remember. With each letter that I read, these would be suitors saw so much more than I saw in myself. Their words were again: kind, genuine, and thoughtful. I was suddenly transported back and remembered each of them for their extraordinary kindness and bravery to put into words what they had hoped for.

 

So, I started looking through my photos of art I had taken while in Paris hoping to find a painting that I would help me piece together an old memory. And I found Mary Cassatt – Young Woman Sewing in the Garden. I like to think she was reading a note that made her smile, and that pieced together a puzzle for her maybe - a small puzzle but a puzzle none the less.  She was actively and intently reading her note. The note doesn’t make her afraid, lonely or sad. 

 

Why is it that there are times in our lives when someone understands us better than we understand ourselves? They see us clearly for who we were at that moment and who they believed we will become later in life – they see our future potential when we do not! 

 

So, I am going to write myself a love letter(note) and I am going to put my letter in my little wooden box and store it away. It is my hope that my children many years to come will find all the letters and realize life is a puzzle that we piece together ourselves; with the help of: friends, lovers, would be suitors, spouses, parents, siblings, ex’s, children, grandchildren, not so nice people and the list goes on and on. I have had a good and happy life since that time. I believe now that I had found strength, kindness, hope, and self-forgiveness in those love letters. I will keep them all until it is time for my children to throw them away.  

 

 


The benefits of a Martini lunch! :Pablo Picasso - The Absinthe Drinker - 1901

Moments of Stillness and finding Joy and Peace!

Bonjour! Welcome back. I hope everyone is planning a vacation to somewhere! I need to say sorry for the poor quality of the photo. I didn't realize the photo needed to be retaken. I have decided to use the original photo anyway - since it is important for me to convey what a wonderful feeling you get from seeing art first hand and up close. I think this portrait is an splendid example of Picasso's younger/earlier years in Paris.

 

I think one of Picasso's goals as an artist was to be able to peer into his subject's eyes and see his/her soul - if not the very origin of their beings. There is a real story behind this portrait, but I like my story better, so I am telling my story instead! 

 

When I first saw this painting, it made me laugh! I thought that Picasso had found this odd little Madame humorous and may have developed a distant friendship by occasionally acknowledging her from across a crowed Bistro. So, in the last five months I have been drawn back to this portrait almost weekly. 

 

There sat a odd little Madame in a French Bistro at the end of a brutal week. Life had not been kind to her, although her garments were made of silk and velvet would at least suggest she was well off. Whether this Madame sitting in a corner sipping a martini had her facial distortions at birth, or they were inflicted upon her later in life or Picasso just saw this woman's wounds and painted them; it's hard to say. But most of all, I think Picasso saw this Madame's humanity and while life had not been kind or generous; this odd little Madame found a moment where she could find joy in a simple act of sitting in a crowded Bistro sipping on a martini. She had learned to let the world's judgments of her disappear in a crowed Bistro. Maybe, she had found a small moment in time where she found some joy, and maybe some peace. She had decided that her life would not be judged by other's standards but rather by her own - she had found her own joy, her own peace, her own reasons for her life.

 

I think it is a gift to be able to sit quietly and find moments where life's disappointments, insecurities and failings fall from our shoulders and we can redefine ourselves on our own terms without the critical judgements of others. And maybe...this is how we all survive our days and nights by finding ways to feel small moments of joy, love and tenderness in this world even if it means sitting in a crowded Bistro by ourselves sipping on a maritini. 

 

I admire artists of all kinds: painters, dancers, musicians, opera singers, actors, writers, and list is too long. But, if you consider yourself to be an artist than you have my deepest respect and esteem; because regardless of your craft, talent, or gift artists give me/us our humanity and all of you deserve our support and gratitude! 

 

Beauty is Everywhere!

Springtime in a French garden!

Woman With a Parasol by Claude Monet 1886 Musee du Louvre, Paris

We all need time to reflect and quite the chatter!

 

I saw the real painting in Paris, however, the above painting is just a picture of a copy that hangs in the Artist’s house. The large two-story house is surrounded by a colorful and vast garden. Visiting the garden in late April/early May was perfect timing-everything was just blooming and the flowers were bright with color and the promise of a great summer was just ahead!

 

As I have been thinking about the moments that take away our breath it is important to remember the moments that remind us to breathe! 

 

This painting is about remembering that there are times when being alone with ourselves and remembering who we really are (minus the chatter in our heads); can help clear up the confusion. Solitude allows us to focus more intently on what is important. Solitude can be healing to the body, mind, and soul.

 

This young woman is clearly looking out -she is (maybe) trying to find a different path or trying to find her way back home again, but either way; it is her decision. It’s a clear day, warm -yet a cool spring breeze catches her ribbons on her bonnet and her umbrella shades her from the sun. I think she is in no rush to hurry home to the chorus line of children, barking dogs and stray cats. There at home await(s) her -laundry, dishes, the chatter of servants and the bickering of children. She has found for a moment some solitude, a quiet place to be with just herself. She feels a little lighter maybe, she may even feel a little younger! She will not run away, but rather for her there is a new sense of clarity. She is a little stronger, and now maybe, she has some color in her cheeks and she is ready for her day!

 

Again, ‘this just my imagination running away with me!’ I think that is how the song goes!?

 

So, ART most always I believe -helps to remind us of our mutual humanity while still allowing us to finds our own truths, our own paths and reward us with the sense of clarity that comes when we take time to breathe.

 

 

A moment in time! Pierre Auguste Renoir - Dance in the Country'

When a artist captures a moment in time!

Today - I received some heart breaking news from my dear friend Adam who lives and loves Paris! This new update is for you dear, dear Adam. 

 

The above painting is one we all know but seeing it in person will take your breath away! I think we all have moments both good and bad that take away our breaths and leave us in awe as human beings. I do think that is why we love art because it sometimes it captures those human moments (both good and bad) and leaves us speechless. Here is this beautiful young woman in the arms of someone she loves, dancing the night away in her pretty dress under a starry night in Paris! She is in her moment - which will place a mark on her memory and maybe even on her soul for a lifetime! I like to think that there she was dancing the night away and in an instant their eyes meant and her moment become the artist’s moment! And in that moment the artist was transported with this pretty young woman to a kind and gentle place where love, music, the night sky of Paris gave them both the human experience of grace! Grace is when there is no past and no future; just single moment when our existence is pure and good! 

 

So, dear Adam may you someday soon - dance under a starry Paris night with someone you love! Your moment is yet to be! 

 

 

Floating over Paris!

First, I owe you an apology! I had very intention of keeping my blog current while in Paris but the fun and excitement of Paris just got in the way!

So, I failed to keep my blog current while in Paris but I now have had the time to really think about and remember the many people and places that made Paris so rich and colorful! I just posted some of my favorite photos! I think a couple of pictures have been viewed before. 

Just a few of my favorite memories of Paris!

Some places and people I love!

Paris under the Cherry Blossom Trees!

Springtime in Paris!

Spent this last Sunday at Sceaux celebrating at the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Paris! The weather was perfect and I enjoyed visiting with five-thousand of my closest Parisian friends! The champagne is from a wine tasting at a local Chateau! Sundays in Paris are for church, families and friends. If you ever get to Paris remember to take time out enjoy the parks and gardens! And if you love people watching the beautiful parks and gardens will bring you sheer delight! 

Ok, so don’t judge me!

Day 15 in Paris and I am eating Parisian Chinese!

Ok, this  authentic Parisian Chinese! There are days when it’s just easier to go with what you know! After grueling day of getting my nails done: buying hair color(blue), reading Emily Dickinson in the park and haggling with the junk...I mean VINTAGE shop owner over a bag; I just needed to eat something quick and non fussy! Dinner was delicious and I have leftovers! 

Day 14 in Paris and I finally broke down!

I will add I followed up with a M&M chocolate chip cookie!

It had to happen sometime! Suddenly there were stomach pangs for American food! And may I add; I eat the whole thing in under 15 minuets! 

The best cup of coffee ever!

In Paris with some of the people I love!

Friday night dinner in my Paris flat!

Family and new friends have make Paris special!

Saturday morning breakfast with family!

What a joy to have Rachael and Keith in Paris!

It was such a treat to have Ruthie in Paris!

Ruthie insisted I learn the Paris Metro!

One of my favorite examples of Street Art in Paris!

Street Art is everywhere in Paris!

Guess who is in Paris with me? My daughter Ruthie!

Off for a morning walk in Montmartre!

So, my daughter Ruthie is visiting me from Atlanta! I am so excited to have her with me in Paris! We spent the morning eating our way through my neighborhood of Montmartre! We toured Sacre’-Coeur Basilica! I think this Basilica is one of the most beautiful churches in Paris! 

Ruthie thinks I need to keep my most recent posts at the top of my blog! So, I am changing my format! 

Beautiful!

Paris Opera is gorgeous!

Night at the Paris Opera!

Paris Opera House!

Well, the Opera House was beautiful inside & out! The staff were professional and very nice! The Opera itself was a higher Paris art forum then my little raggie mid-America self was use too! I am not sure that modren day psychiatry has a place in Opera! And the sad part was everyone, I mean everyone was mesmerized by the Opera! I on the other hand, wanted to pour gasoline on myself and light a match! Good thing I didn’t have either! But still, worth 2 Uber rides and a 10,00 in Euros! 

More pictures of the places I have visited!

My professional tour guide April was fabulous! Go to:aprilinpaistours!

Opera National De Paris!

My $10 Euro ticket!

Tickets to the Paris Opera House can be pricey! Prices are based on location of your seat and how much stage you wish to see! I am a happy camper for 10.00 Euro!You can buy the cheap seats a 1 1/2 hours before the show starts and I will be seated 45 minutes prior to the show! I can’t wait to get inside! More pics to follow! 

Ok, this next posting is really funny but only until tomorrow morning!

Lost my head again!

Ok, so last night I decided that I should hide my wallet, passport and money in my apartment each time I leave in the morning! Now, I should very clear that not only do I love my little apartment but I feel perfectly safe in my apartment complex! However, none the less, I decided to hide the above items anyway! So, I did...hide them! I remembering thinking that I would pick a place that would only make sense to me, so no professional would ever find my stuff! Well, my planned worked beautifully! While, I now believe a ‘professional’ would still find my stuff in under three minutes; I have no clue where my stuff is located! So, this is really kinda funny but only until tomorrow morning! So, I have lost my head and stuff in Paris! Does everyone have American Express 800 number? This is so me! My husband is right...I am a danger to me, myself and I! 

My favoite Tour Guide April Pett from April in Paris Tours!

My 2 full day in Paris!

Well, the City of Paris is delightful, intriguing, beautiful and big, really big for such a small city! Paris, so I am told is 8 miles by 8 miles but I don’t believe it for one minute! Paris is huge with streets that go in every direction: lots of cars, trucks and motorcycles that speed along without any concern for pedestrians! Do not and I repeat: do not walk aganist a red light because you will surely die a quick but painful death!  And no, they will not stop to pick up your dead lifeless body and move it to the sidewalk. The City of Paris gives new meaning to the term ‘road kill!’

I spent two days with my professional Tour Guide April Pett and I have to say it was one of the best investments so far! April, helped me get a monthly Metro Train pass, find my neighborhood supermarket, and the best neighborhood cafe for my morning coffee! We went and saw many of the standard tourist sights but her knowledge about each site made everything much more meaningful and informative! I learned a lot and I feel better informed as a first time world traveler! 

Lots of walking and lots of stairs!

Google Map is a very good idea when getting around Paris

I suggest having an itinerary with all the addresses to the sights you are visiting is a good idea!

Beautiful Montmartre! My first breakfast in Paris!

Montmartre is a neighborhood you can explore for days and never be bored!

Montartre is home to artists, writers, poets, musicians, religious pilgrims and romantics! Montmartre has a long and famous history! This is by far my favorite neighborhood! 

My first day out seeing the sights of Paris!

She is magnificent by day but absolutely beautiful by night!

When in Paris fellow the tourists! There are easily a hundreds of sights to see and experience! I recommend you give yourself pently of time to get around! If you can- learn Paris Metro transportation system! It’s fast, easy to learn, will get everywhere you want to go in Paris and will save you a ton of money! 

I finally made it to Paris!

Well, I made it to Paris but not without some trauma to my psyche! AirFrance didn’t like the size of my carryon. I tried to explain that my medical equipment would not fit into the standard carryon. While the carryon was about 2 inches taller, it was not wider then what AirFrance required! They insisted that I take out my fragile medical equipment and place the pieces into two seperate plastic bags! The bags AirFrance provided gave NO protection for my medical equipment! I informed them that I had checked with AirFrance customer service department and they had said, “all would be fine!” The Gate Supervisor said, “AirFrance’s customer service people didn’t know what they were talking about!” Which may or may not be true! Finally, after much debate about whom would pay for $4000.00 in broken medical equipment; I was allowed to repack my equipment and broad the plane! There were at least 50 and I do mean 50 carryons that didn’t meet the size requirements for AirFrance; and none of those passagers were stopped and required to place their belongings into plastic bags! 

The AirFrance’s Gate Supervisor informed me that on my return trip from Paris that my carryon with my medical equipment will not be allowed on the plane - no matter what! 

So, I have to question why I was selected for extra scrutiny when it was so very obvious that many, many paying customer’s carryons didn’t meet AirFrance's standard requirements? Maybe, I should not have said anything about my medical equipment in the 1st place?  Maybe...honesty is not the best policy when it comes to AirFrance? 

Now...on to more happier postings! 

Springtime in Paris!

Beating Cancer...so I can travel the world!

I am a first time world traveler! I am looking forward to adventure, great food, wine, art, history, shopping, & fashion! I am especially looking forward to making wonderful new friends that will create a bond of lasting friendships. My country of choice is France for my first great travel adventure! I plan to fall in love with Paris, its wonderful history and its citizens!

Springtime in Paris!

I can think of no better time to see Paris but in the Springtime! The weather is cool, maybe slightly breezy and a little rainy. The air I am told: is fresh, clean, and at times...you can smell the new blooms! School is still in session, there are not a lot of tourists yet, and many citizens of Paris take this time to enjoy their beautiful city!

In addition, walking around Paris I will not be hampered by bad weather, but I will make sure to bring an umbrella and a coat with a hood!  Some other practical hints that I have received: it is important to wear good walking and/or biking shoes. Do not wear a lot of jewelry, and do not carry a huge purse. Please do walk on the sidewalks but not too close to the streets. Men should make sure their jackets have inside pockets for passport, wallet & money! And last advice was from a Frenchman, “try not to go walking around with a smile on my face all the time!” There was no explanation given; I guess, I will just take his word on that topic! Do Americans smile all the time? Maybe we do - when we are on vacation or on an great adventure! 

Preparation for the BIG trip is so very important! I have a disclaimer however: the above picture is NOT representative of me in any shape or form!

 

In preparation for my trip I hired a seasoned Travel Agent (More information coming about my Travel Agent & how you can contact her later in my blog)! This was done, so I could navigate the choppy waters of getting a great price for tickets, renting a flat, deciding where to go & when! Also, this wonderful Agent is helping with the rail tickets, cooking classes, French lessons plus a day trip to Monte Carlo! Also, Paris is full of free or inexpensive activities! So, I can do all the tourist locations & still surround myself with activities that will create a real sense of Paris life! 

 

Budgeting and the Euro

Budgeting is a huge deal and things can get pretty messy very quickly! First, set a budget but be sure to be very realistic about the money you can really afford to spend while traveling in Europe! Don’t underestimate your Budget and make two lists. The first list should include the essentials: housing, transportation, food, drink, tipping, and buying essentials such as shampoo etc. The second list should include: taking tours, classes, and going shopping! Both lists should allow for the unexpected expenses! Avoid impulse buying! Have an idea about what little luxuries you are willing to splurge on! Currently, the conversation rate is a little high! So, for very $1000.00 in US dollars you convert to Euros you will get back $800.00! Check with your local Banks! Most Banks do NOT have an International Department! Most Banks will require you be a customer but not all, so again, check around! I recommend you only travel with no more than $800.00 Euros at any given time! There are Banks everywhere in Europe and I do recommend you complete any $$ transactions with a Bank! Buying Euros from ATM’s is pricey and unsavory individuals can watch you complete your transaction; which will set you up for really BIG problems! Try to keep all your $$ transactions discrete! Remember, don’t carry all your $$ with you and if staying at an Hotel take advantage of their safe deposit boxes! Budgeting will allow to enjoy your travels without going into debtors prison!

Just learned from my Travel Agent to make sure when using an ATM for cash - always use ATM’s attached to Banks and always request your funds be given to you in Euros! If of course you are in a country where Euros are the currency! Again, be aware of your surrounding, and don’t carry ALL you credit cards, money and passport with you while sight-seeing in Paris! Be discrete with your money!  

Next Blog International Driving License

I got a senior citizen discount on a geat car rental!

International Driving License

Ok, so I have been doing a lot of research on-line regarding my up and coming trip to France! The topic of having an International Driving  License has came up several times in different posts! Opinions are almost evenly divided on the pro’s and con’s! So, without much deep thinking on my part, I decided to get a license. I am not planning on driving in France, but in my effort to be the best Girl Scout ever; I decided that I would be prepared! There are a slew of on-line companies that offer International Driving License(s) as a product. I didn’t recognize any of the companies with the exception of one and that is AAA! All companies require you produce verification of who you are! Which means faxing over legal documentation to them. I am not a paranoid person, but if I wanted to steal personal identities, offering this service would be a thief's perfect set up! 

So, I went with AAA. They are a recognized company here in the US and have a great reputation for service. However, don’t bother calling their 800 number because you will age like a tick on a dog waiting for someone to speak with! Instead, just search on-line for a local AAA office near you! You can walk in during business hours, produce your State issued License and in about fifteen minutes you will be the proud owner of an International Driving License! I have been told that having an International Driving License is NOT considered legal ID in Europe, so always have your Passport with you! 

Airbnb

A place to call HOME when Traveling!

As we all know Traveling can be expensive. Traveling on a budget and for a long period of time can and will make you crazy! Of course - the most expensive part of traveling is finding reasonable living quarters that are accommodating, safe and reasonably priced! Hotels while lovely are very expensive especially in and around Paris! And this is where finding ‘a place to call home’ while traveling can tear your budget apart! After purchasing my airplane ticket, finding a place to stay was overwhelming and looking like a deal breaker!

Enter my Travel Agent who directed me to Airbnb! This International Housing Company has been around since 2008 and has helped make traveling the world a financial possibly for thousands of would be travelers! I found their website to be rather easy, allowed me to change my mind on locations, dates, and prices. There seemed to be hundreds of offers for flats, apartments, homes and mansions! 

Their website is informative about each household available, with pricing, accommodations, and host restrictions: i.e., no animals, and no parties for example! I found my apartment just outside the center of Paris! My flat is in a beautiful neighborhood that has its own story to tell with lots of cafes, shops, markets, art galleries and retail business! My host is easy to contact, has been very helpful with suggestions and hints about local life! 

According to Airbnb all safety precautions are taken to ensure both hosts and guests are a good fit and no one is left in a difficult situation! I am sure that problems can/do occur but Airbnb seems willing and quick to help with suggestions and alternative accommodations if needed! 

There are other International Housing Companies out there and the great wide web can direct you to those sites! Shop around, ask lots of questions, plus ask fellow travelers for their recommendations. Remember - safety and the reputation of the company should be your main concern when deciding on whom to book with! 

 

Pardon My Mess While I Learn to Blog!

Navigating Paris!

I have been told by my French tutor Madame Bayliss that knowing the main streets of Paris will keep tourists from wandering the streets of Paris aimlessly! She suggests that knowing the main streets and where landmarks are actually located will help make walking in Paris a treat instead of a nightmare! The map below there is a street named Rue de Rivoli with lots of shops and very eager shop owners!

On going Medical Concerns

Made a checklist of all medications

Ok, tomorrow moring I head off to Paris! So, one of my biggest concerns has been how to travel with medications and with medical equipment! Some medications I take everyday and some medications I take as needed! I also have a medical device (machine) that I need to use very day! So, I have a forty two day supply of meds and the Pharmacy knows of my travel plans. And for my medical device; I have a copy of my prescription and all reading material as it relates to the opernation of my medical space suit!  I had checked with all airlines and the rules seem to be the same. TSA has final approvel of what medical equirement gets on the plane and what dosen’t! Standard walkers, cranes, etc., are allowed. My device will require extra time since it is not very common! 

Also, remember the more conservative a country the more restrictions they may have on certain types of high powered meds. Make sure to do your research! There’s no need to get arrested at customs over medications! And one word to the wise...don’t take other people’s meds with you! It is really a big no, no! 

Now, for my last point! If you are able to travel but have a medical condition or ongoing medical issues and your Doctor says it’s Ok to travel than do it! You may need to do some extra planning but get out and see the world! The world will be a better place for you having traveled!  

Leaving on a Jet Plane!

Well, it is almost time for me to get on a jet plane and go to Paris! I had a very interesting conversation with my Travel Agent today! Her basic train of thought was that while many Americans travel to Europe on vacation, many Americans fail to enjoy their European vacations! She believed it is the little things that trip up Americans like: the food, $$, tiny apartments, having to walk everywhere, unfriendly natives, and not having the right clothing and shoes! Her advice? When traveling enjoy the differences! Don’t get caught up in comparing little stuff to home! Remember to be kind, mind your manners and enjoy the sights and sounds of your new world! 

Don't Leave the USA without Medical Coverage!

Up until recently, I believed my Medical Insurance coverage in the US was mine to take anywhere in the world and USE if needed an Emergency! Well, I was wrong! Please Do check with your medical insurance provider in the US, but you maybe disappointed to find out; they either provide little or NO insurance coverage once you leave the USA. I do know individuals who are seasoned world travelers and do not carry additional medical insurance! I find this surprising since they are well off, and savvy on so many levels. I have even recently spoke with individuals who have pre-existing conditions and they do not travel with additional medical insurance. Please, please do not leave home without medical insurance that covers you outside of the USA! You can google for web-sites offering medical insurance and you will be surprised to find there are a slew of sites. There are some sites that once you have added in your basic information such as: your travel plans, age, and number of people/including children; they will compare different policies, benefits, and prices! These compassion sites are most helpful and educational. In some cases - you can chat with a real person. He/she will not recommend one policy over another, but they can help you understand what benefits you are willing to pay for! I am now going to tell you which Insurance Company I picked and why, but first;  you must know, I am NOT receiving any financial considerations from this company!

I picked GeoBlu! First, they were recommended to me by relatives and secondly, once I spoke with their customer service representative - I was sold. She answered all my questions easily, quickly, and with language that I could understand! My Pre-existing condition will be covered. She never asked what my condition was, but I did tell her that I am currently in good health. She did verify my Insurance Company's information, which makes sense! 

Now, for pricing! I did not go with the cheapest coverage or the least amount of coverage! I asked about different scenarios and all are covered! Since, I know all too well that life can and will throw a curve ball into any travel plans: I decided to go with the max amount of coverage including dental care! I can tell you now; it is a relief to know that I can receive medical care if needed!

Please do not skip this very important step while preparing for you vacation!

 

Putting Blog online - more postings to follow later!

Future postings: Travel/Health Insurance(🤕), International Driver's License, Letting Your Car Insurance Co know your Travel Plans, Adding an International Calling Service to Cell Phone, Credit Cards to Take & Credit Cards to Leave at Home and the US Embassy in Paris!