June 2005 Archives

dinner with friends

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This night we were treated to an amazing dinner with friends (related) Don and Penny Enarson at the Au Pied de Cachon (pig's foot). We had such a great time. Don and Penny have lived in paris for fifteen years and work with the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease in which Don is the Scientific director. We were lucky enough to catch them in a break from their outragiously busy travel schedule. They ordered the cocktails (kir, very yummy) and selected the wines and we had a fantastic 3 course french meal complete with sea snails, and crepe suzette for dessert. Penny even showed me the proper french way to hold my fork (left hand, face down). Conversation was lively with these two interesting people and I will be forever gratetful for the wonderful time they showed us and the suggestion to go to Chartres which we did several days later.


St Chapelle, Conciergerie

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Notre Dame again in the morning to take more pictures and then around the corner to St Chapelle.

Here is the tiny spiral staircase that takes you to the upper level which is the chapel. As we emerged from these stairs our reaction was the same as those around us. Everyone that entered this room was moved to silence. There was no other human reaction for the beauty of this room except maybe to let your mouth hang open which we saw people do too. There were a few whispers of "oh my god" which was an appropriate expression in that context.


Built in the 13 century to house the crown of thorns (yes the actual crown, those europeans love their relics), the windows are 50 feet high and the whole structure is nothing but glass with just enough stone to support it. It is really hard to get a sense of scale with a picture, but when you enter this room you feel very small. It seemed somewhat uncerimonious but as you entered you were faced with a bunch of tacky metal folding chairs all in a circle around the perimeter of the room. No one told you to sit down, but that was all you could do to keep from falling over.


you can get some sense of scale by noticing the little man in the bottom right corner.

After 10 minutes of awestruck sitting, here is Blair filming St Chapelle.


The conciergerie is the complex that surrounds the chapel and has its place in history thanks mostly to the revolution. This is where Marie-Antionette was incarcerated and eventually beheaded. Although we visited this piece of history like good little tourists, I neglected to take any pictures on the inside.

Strolling outside the conciergerie.

Walking along the seine river.

back to the louvre

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We head back to the louvre to soak up some more art.


considering rubens


Here is a student studying the masters at the louvre.


That evening just outside the louvre we sit and watch the sun set. I can see how artists were inspired to paint these skies and I always thought those paintings looked a little fake. They aren't. The skies are unreal. Daniel journals while the lights come up on the ferris wheel. There is a feeling of celebration in the air as families are gathering for a fun summer night. Anybody know the french word for cotton candy?



By this time we have acclimated enough to the language and the culture that we are feeling oh so comfy in this town. At the first restaurant we ate at on the very first day we learned that if you want to order water the waiter will ask, "gas or no gas?" which refers to carbonation. You don't order a glass of water, you order a bottle. And you drink wine. Lots of it. Having a bottle of wine with lunch is not unusual and fully expected at dinner. By tuesday we were pretty confident in our mealtime skills that when it came time to order desert Bryan had decided on ice cream which in french is "glace". In pronouncing this word the e should be silent, but Bryan accidentally pronounced the "e". The waiter politely informed him that he had just ordered an iceberg. After four days in paris one gets a bit giddy and so this seemed liked the funniest thing ever. At another restaurant we noticed another american family ask the waiter if he spoke english and the waiter jokingly asked them if they spoke japanese. Touche. All in all I was prepared to be met with the steroetype of the french being rude. I now believe that it is some sort of american based urban myth because we found the culture lovely and the people more than gracious. Manners and humility are universal, and so is a sense of humor. Pack that and you can travel anywhere. We did see a few instances where americans were living up to the ugly stereotype of being demanding. One in particular was a woman pitching a fit on the eiffel tower because the lift was closing and she wasn't allowed to go to the top. The poor french guy had to endure a tyrade of how he had ruined her vacation. I was embarassed and ashamed for the message that she was perpetuating for the rest of us.

Paris lives up to its nickname of "city of love" as you see people kissing everywhere. On the metro, on the street, in the cafes, everywhere. Of the handful of European cities that we got to see it was by far the cleanest and well kept city which revealed a real sense of pride for its beautiful culture.





ukraine buskers, louvre nazis

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On our way to the louvre we had to change metros and in the transfer hub where you change lines we heard this music coming out of the tunnel. After standing on our appropriate train platform I couldn't resist the urge to go chase down this music. Following the noise through the winding tunnels we came upon this band of ukrainian buskers. I grabbed our big video camera from Bryan and we filmed these guys for about 15 minutes which seemed to make them play all the more lively. The guy with the flute kept winking at the camera. I managed the nerve to give them one of the release forms that we had printed in french for them to read and sign. We bought one of their CDs.


Click to see the buskers in action (3.9Meg)

Popping out of the metro suddenly face to face with musee du louvre was another one of those intense moments for me. It represented the culmination of countless dreams and efforts. I was steps away from being in the presence of some of the worlds greatest art. The running joke was how long it would take me to lose it once we were there. I knew I was in trouble when the tears started to well up before I got in the door.

Once inside it was hard to know which direction to go. Everyone tends to make a beeline for Mona and frankly I wasn't so interested in getting the obligatory picture in front of Davinci's icon. There was so much more to absorb. Starting slow with Eutruscan antiquities one of the first famous works we saw was the Winged Victory. At this point I was fine. I love sculpture but it doesn't move me on the level that painting does. I was still awestruck, but fully functional viewing the sculpture. At this point I have my camera in gear and and snapping like all the other tourists, but I spot one of the louvre employees to inquire about the use of tripods. I have a very high sense of adhearing to the rules and so after an exchange of broken english(her) and slaughtered french (me) I have the go ahead for tripod use, or so I thought. Most sites in Europe allow photos but some don't allow tripods. So giddy as can be I round the corner and come face to face with my first Botticelli and set up my tripod and start to shoot. Well three shots in two very serious looking louvre police descend on me with the very clear message that tripods are a no-no. They spoke no english at all and yet I tried to tell them that I had asked permission but not understanding a word they only viewed me as the worst sort of offender. I was crushed. Not because I couldn't use my tripod, but because they misunderstood my intensions. Apparently the woman who "gave permission" didn't have it to give. Well, lets just say that for this HSP (highly sensative person) the combination of jet-lag, years of dreams coming true in an instant, and getting my hand slapped by the louvre nazis was just too much for me. I burst into tears. Feeling like a total fool it took several minutes for me to get myself together but the stage was set. Going through the louvre was very intense. Work after work, artist after artist I stood in front of trying to absorb it all. Many tears (of joy) were shed and would be the pattern for me throughout the trip.

Here is Bryan at Winged Victory.


Botticelli, with tripod.


Trying to get close to Mona

notre dame, arc de triomphe

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Navigating the metro system took some practice but once we got the hang of it there was really no other way to travel. Our lodging was in the historic setting of the former wine and spirit storehouses of Bercy which had a metro stop spit you out right in the middle of this hip shopping and cafe center. Our room was a block away, perfect for a home base to scout around paris.


Our first outing was Notre Dame which is a pretty happening place on a sunday. Yes people still attend services there but there is serious competition between the tourists viewing the cathedral and the attenders. In fact they have two lines that form for this purpose. We did both. We spent time playing tourist snapping our photos around the outside, enjoying the lively atmosphere of the surrounding park and the beautiful weather. Children chased pigeons and families sat on the grass and on benches laughing and watching the tourists. We also attended vespers as "attenders". I was so surprised to find that the few years I studied french actually started to come back to me and I was able to follow along and, at one point, actually sing along with the beautiful voices that echoed through that incredible building. This was only one of the first of many intense experiences ahead of me.


Here are my guys just outside the cathedral.


Daniel asked to join in with these french buskers. Who knew you would find diggeredoo players in france?


Street skaters performing outside the cathedral.


We ended the day with the arc de triomphe.


Here is bryan in the middle of the street shooting a time lapse of traffic whizzing around the arc.


Meanwhile, I am shooting stills accross the street.


landing st eustache

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Losing six hours is something that I have never experienced. Our little trip began by getting off of a plane at 7 am in paris which to my body was of course still 1 am. They try to help you with this in the airplane on the way over by letting you sleep a little and then declaring "good morning, bonjour"! while serving you orange juice and opening up the blinds to the sun outside that never went down. This apparently is supposed to fool your body into thinking that it is morning. It doesn't work. But at any rate we got off our plane and then onto the metro heading for something to do until we checked into our lodging at 3:00. This is when the back pack thing really was important. We had all of our stuff and there would be moments throughout the trip where we would be carrying all of our stuff, so this was the first test.


Randomly choosing a train stop to snoop at we emerged from the metro tunnel at the foot of my first photo shoot, St Eustache. A Gothic chapel built in 1214. Here is Daniel with his pack inside this all but abandoned cathedral.


Breathtaking windows. These were some of the first things I photographed. Jet lagged but exhilarated by the surroundings I found new meaning to the phrase, "on the clock". I really had my work cut out for me.


two days to blast off

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Counting down at the anderson house has put what would normally be the leisure first week of Daniel's summer vacation into high gear. Even he has a project that has to be done before we leave. Having begun his own adventures in freelance design he is working like mad at his own new business, tying up a CD project and a website for a friend. I am so proud.

I am under a pile of papers and other such terribly boring work that I just can't focus on, and who could being this close to a dream vacation. So instead of doing the work I sit here blogging and sipping my coffee hoping to work up the steam to cross the finish line. And of course there are all the other little things to do, like dyeing and braiding Daniel's hair. He has wanted it dreaded and after hours of labor with a tease comb and only eight dreads to show for it I became discouraged. Not just because of the time it took, but his hair is just so shiny, healthy, and utterly undreadable that what was resulting was a little too frizzy, so he is now opting for braids. That I can do.

And I must clean the house. And I keep remembering other little things that I need to do and add to the master list. But honestly for the first time in our vacation taking lives we could probably drop everything and go and the sky wouldn't fall. This is a miracle. Previous trip prep in the anderson house have consisted of the fire alarm scramble of Bryan staying up all night finishing a last minute chart for the one church service that he would be missing, while I dutifully packed his clothes for him. Not only are we not functioning in that kind of crisis mode in order to deserve one week off, we can actually have four weeks. I have these moments of utter disbelief that leave me with a lump in my throat. Like yesterday, on the way to pick up Bryan from work I just burst into tears.

I guess that is why when I was little my mother would not tell me in advance if we were doing something special. Because the times that she did I would get so worked up with excitement that I would ultimately make myself ill and not get to go. Fast forward to today and it is no different. In fact Bryan has taken to poking fun at me when I am flipping through the travel books because I can only do a few pages at a time before shutting the book with a heavy sigh. At this he makes a popping sound to symbolize an aneurism. So if I don't return from this trip dear friends you will know that it was because my heart gave out in front of a Botticelli or some other such thing.

Hey, what a way to go.

But really what it all means is that I couldn't be more grateful that we get this opportunity. This year has been such a blessing in the wake of a few hard years of transitions that the contrast keeps giving me pause. And to top it off yesterday Bryan came home with a raise.


And now I look at the clock and the bottom of my coffee cup and realize I better get to it. My red pen is poised over the master list. Two more days to go.

sidekick test

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Can I blog with this thing?

tick tock to travel and techno-lust


I can't believe that one week from today we will be on our trip, the trip I have dreamed about, hoped for, worked for and planned for since sitting in high school freshmen french class. And to boot I get to go with my two most favorite people in the world who were not part of the picture in freshmen french, my husband and son.

Somebody pinch me.

Thankfully, all of the little details are falling into place, like much needed shoes for Daniel and more importantly news that Bryan's passport will arrive on time. That little detail was a special source of anxiety. Thanks to Bryan making multiple calls to Toronto (he's canadian) he finally got a straight answer about his passport status and which particular black hole it was stuck in.

The last few weeks have been magic as each day brought in the mail something travel oriented. Eurail passes, museum passes, bus passes, camera gear, luggage accessories, and on an on. Suffice it to say that someone who didn't know me upon entering my living room may have assumed that I was addicted to QVC because of all the boxes. Ok maybe that is overstating it a bit but due to the nature of the trip (that is, 50% work and 50% leisure) we have invested in some major gear for my business. One item in particular will send avisualplanet.com in a new and suprising direction.

a Sony HD video camera.

The choice to go high-def was my husbands wise idea. Always with his finger on the bleeding edge of technology, I have trusted his direction in this realm of my business from day one. From buying my first camera years ago to the new compact (fit in my backpack) tripod that arrived yesterday, he has not failed me yet in making the smartest choices on gear. Of course this new hi-def camera is probably not going to be in my hands most of the trip. While in conversation yesterday he slipped and called it "my camera" and so I suspect that the bulk of filming will be done by him. This actually gives me great joy because although this business has been a fifty-fifty thing all of the "creative" work has been mine while he keeps the nuts and bolts of the site running. Now he can join me on the creative side.

And when you plan on running a business while globe trotting another handy item to have is a sidekick. This among other little gadgets and gismos (ipod,laptop, etc) makes me feel like I have stepped smack in the middle of a star trek episode. We are literally a multimedia studio packed into three backpacks. Entirely mobile and still able to do customer service in a second thanks to satellite connection. It's awesome.

Ok now I sound like a total gizhead. I have never been a gadget hound, always viewing these items as nice practical convieniences, I have since been converted. I have fallen in love with my photo ipod (it plays music not just hold photos!) and I think my new tiny motorola phone is sexy.

What can i say. When I fall, I fall hard.

photo safari a dry run at the zoo

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The gear works great. Saturday we managed our "dry run" with gear in backpack and some new travel clothes from REI. Here is a shot from my new nikon (the old one conveniently packed it in a month ago and is in the shop). Can you tell that this tiger was a long distance from me inside a walled in paddock? zootest.jpg

sisterhood in process


Sisterhood is evolving. The centerpiece woman(who represents my mother and also other women who have lived with limitations imposed on them because of their gender) has a veil that reaches through one of my "thin place" portals. This veil turns into a road where others(women) who have gone before us walk. I didn't know that this painting was going to go this direction as I fully intended on painting two paintings. The idea of lifting up our sisters meshed with the idea that we are also supported by those that have gone before. It was a surprise for me when the two came together. The painting is leading me. How cool is that?


the first mow

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I woke up one morning a week ago and turned over and said to Bryan, " I am going to go see if we have any grass". Taken out of context that phrase could be highly misinterpretted, but around here it was fully understood. It is funny that when you plant grass seed there is this compulsion to check it every hour to see if something has happened. Needless to say we have been guilty of "watching grass grow", checking on it everymorning like it was christmas and santa had left presents.

So here we celebrate the first mow. It is a momentous occasion that marks the first real landscaping project that Bryan and I have done. Woohooo! We have grass!


check out the before picture here.

too the zoo

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It has been a crazy week of this and that, but today we are off to the zoo.

what for?

to test drive some new gear and our packs for our euro trip. This time in two weeks we will be landing in the city of love and we want to know that all our gear will stand up to the travel challenge. So today we go on a photo safari if you like.

off to shoot some animals.

water rotation duty

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Today while doing my normal routine of working/artmaking/housewifing/travelplanning, I am also tending to a newly planted lawn. Project 26 of this ongoing remodel of our dear little property involved tearing up an overgrown slope of a side yard and taming it into a lovely terraced lawn. This was precipitated by project 25 which was the installation of what my husband lovingly called the "cuisanart", a giant grinder pump that connects our toilets to city sewer. The installation of this tore up the back of our property. After consulting with a landscape designer and getting a quote of five thousand dollars (gulp) which amounted to tons of mulch and some little plants we opted to take on the project ourselves.

Fortune follows the foolish.

So armed with five hundred dollars worth of railroad ties, rocks, and a huge bag of grass seed we gingerly began project 26 a month ago assuming that it was a "weekend warrior" kinda thang. Yea right. Four weekends later we have something that looks like we need to move in farm animals.

Actually that is a good thing.

What we now have is a slope covered with straw which apparently is the prescribed method for babying newly planted seeds.

Now the task is to keep those little babies watered so they don't die.

Before picture. May 7

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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