IntrepidWoman's Journey

Posts Tagged ‘Paris

What I have learned by my 8th birthday and after a trip to France:

– It is okay to talk loud, laugh often and argue with those you love.

– Always wishing for Friday and the weekend is a merry-go-round that ends with a whole lot of missing life.

– If no one died because of it, then do not stress over it.

– Walking gets you there slower than driving, but oh, the view and the smells along the way!

– Never think that you are irreplaceable at your job and therefore you must devote your entire life to it. Everyone is replaceable. Everyone.

– Life is not a list of “to do’s”. We DON’T have to always:

> check our work emails after work hours or when on holidays,

> eat dinner right at 5 pm,

> take our shoes off at the door,

> tell kids to say please and thank you constantly and make them hug old people when they don’t want to,

> feel guilty when we read a book instead of scrub the toilet,

> say yes when deep down we want to say no,

> give a reason or excuse when we say no.

We should:

> take time to listen to the sounds of silence;

> take time to breathe in and breathe out and just be;

> get up really early to see the sunrise, smell the morning dew and walk through the grass in our bare feet;

> drive out of the city to a place where there are no lights reflecting in the sky to truly see the stars;

> really listen to the other person instead of planning what we are going to say next;

> go to the bakery early enough to buy a chocolate croissant while it is still warm from the oven;

> thank our Higher Power for every joy and every tear and every person who is part of our life – past, present and future;

> accept change as the reality of life. We do not grow without change;

> always be as kind to ourselves as we try to be to those we love;

> get over it and get on with it;

> be patient. Everything happens when it is supposed to. It may not be in our timing, but our timing is not always the right timing. The wait is always worth it. Always.

> and finally – always trust your gut. When that little voice or second sense or Holy Spirit, or whatever you want to call it, tells you something, listen and be guided, in all things big and small. You will never go wrong.


When I put my door photos up on FB, I called the album “Doors – Without Jim Morrison.” Well, today I met an artist who went to Paris and took photos in cemeteries, including where Jim Morrison is buried. So, what I am saying, is that the “Doors” met “Jim Morrison” today!  The conversation began about France and progressed to the cemeteries and doors and ended with a promise to meet again, same time, same place in year 2012! Ha! Ha!

He is an interesting photographer who hopefully will have an exhibition of his work at our gallery in the fall of 2012. He uses ‘real’ as opposed to digital cameras and develops his own B/W photos. We will do some related programming during his exhibition for the die-hard photographers out there!

Personally, I will never leave digital cameras. I took over 2200 photos in France with my wondrous little Sony digital that was tucked in my purse and taken everywhere, everyday. I remember taking photos years ago and being so disappointed when the photos were developed after having to wait for the drug store to do the deed, and to find that not many turned out well. The cost, the time, the disappointment – nah, I am a digital diva now! I love being able to download them to my Mac and crop, enhance, etc. so that they end up being good pictures. Nice.

Oprah is interviewing Julia Roberts on the telly as I pound the keys. “Eat, Pray, Love”. I want to see the movie and read the book. I think it will be easy to identify with it.

Isn’t life wonderful? To me, it is like a bicycle ride. Over time, we travel through valleys, up and down hills, and all the way to mountain tops. The ride is not easy, but all the hard work and all the dark valleys make the mountain tops so incredible.

Hmm. That reminds me. I need an oil change.    :>)

We choose our lives, but sometimes we lose perspective along the way when it becomes too busy with responsibilities and duties and “have to’s”. As the days rush by and turn into months, then years, it can all get away from us. How do we change this? How do we yell “Stop the world, I want to get off!” when we have created such an interwoven web?

I just did stop my world for three glorious weeks, and now that I have returned, I can see how easy it is to fall back into the whirling dervish I have created for myself. I need to work because I require a roof over my head, gas for my car and shoes for my feet. What I don’t need is to be caught up so much in my work that it becomes my life. Before my trip to France, I ate, slept and talked about my job 20 hours a day. I made excuses for not seeing friends and not taking time to read a book or just sit and breath in and out. I lost myself. This has been my pattern for a long time, rushing through life at break-neck speed, trying not to feel my inner emotions and ignoring my body’s desire for relaxation and down time. I would snatch a day, here or there, but always with guilt in my mind that there must be something I should be doing related to my job or other responsibilities.

I do love my job. It is a wonderous thing to be able to say that I get paid to do something that is fun and creative and connected to kids, art and history. Of all my careers through my life, and I have had many, working for the past 44 years, teaching and what I am doing now are the two most rewarding jobs I have ever had. I want to continue, but I want to have balance. Achieving that will be my great challenge and it must be tackled starting the day after tomorrow.

On Tuesday, I will return to a hundred emails, several programs have to be created, advertised and finalized as quickly as possible, a publication needs completion, and I will  find out what I have missed in the 3 weeks I was away. The difference from before my trip – I want to stop working at 5 o’clock on Tuesday and every day thereafter. I want to put all my thoughts and energies towards my wee grandchildren who I have not seen for nearly a month, get an outfit and a gift for a wedding next weekend and call several people to set up dinners and visits with over the next couple of weeks. I want to start a series of paintings based on the Doors of Agde. I want to walk everyday. How do I do all this when I work 9 to 5, five days a week?

One way is to remember Paris and Agde. When life starts to drown me I will look at my photos and take myself back to those magical places. Now that I have found my authentic self again, I do not want to lose me. The child in me who delights in taking photos of French doors, moving a fine tip pen over the surface of quality drawing paper and putting my feelings into words through the keyboard does not want to get lost again.

I want to have honest conversations with those I care about and really listen to what they are saying. I want to laugh a lot and hug a lot. I want to be that girl on the swing in the back yard in Marda Loop in Calgary who talked to God and felt her spirit rise above her and look down at herself and her world one afternoon. At this moment I can smell the apple blossoms on the big tree near the back door and feel the warm air on my legs and face as I swing higher and higher. There is no pressure. There is no guilt. There is no regret. There is just a young girl living in the pureness of the moment.

As an adult, I have felt that same pureness of the moment when involved in the creation of  a painting or working with clay, mache or stained glass. The right brain world where your creative centre lives, does not judge or over analyze or stress or think too much. It feels and explores, and when in that place, time is forgotten.

That will be my next trip. I am choosing to travel into that place where colors and textures and shapes work together to soothe the soul.

But right now, at this moment, I need a nap. It is all about priorities.

We found a cafe with wi-fi –  I am drinking Sangria as I download updates that I typed off-line.

Last day in Paris – July 15th:
We took the Metro to the Louvre in the middle of the afternoon. The sun came out and the area was packed with people because of the National holiday. The Louvre is massive – it goes on for blocks and blocks and branches out in several directions. It would take days, literally, to visit all the displays in the entire museum. Lyndsey and I followed the signs forever to get to the massive room that displays the Mona Lisa. After hearing that it is small, I was surprised that it was larger than I envisioned. People were standing in a huge crowd to view it and take photos. The rest of the massive hall walls were filled with paintings of the era and they were most impressive and gigantic. The light coming from the ceiling made the room perfect for photos, no shadows. It really was awesome to see the Mona Lisa and to now be able to say I have seen it in person, but after seeing it so much in books and commercialized a dozen times over the years, it did not take my breath away like the Degas pastels of dancers did the previous day.
After the Louvre we walked around the area and down to the Seine to watch the tour boats from a bridge. When I waved and told Jack to wave and shout ‘Bonjour!’ he did, and people from the boats began to wave back to us. It was fun and Jack loved it!
We found a marvelous little street cafe – I now understand the many paintings of street cafes and really have more appreciation for these paintings now that I have been here. Our meal was again magnificent, and we took photos for our food record. Sometimes we leap in and then throw our forks down, saying, “Oh no, we forgot!” at the same time. Then we grab our cameras, take our photos and go back to our forks. Magnifique!
Coming home on a series of metro trains was exhausting, so it was nearly 1:00 a.m. when we returned to our apartment. We took photos of the cafe at the base of our building as this was our last night in Paris.

July 15

We got up at 5 a.m. to clean the apartment and take a cab to the high-speed train. Traveling first class was lovely as we had comfy seats and a good view. I was enthralled with the countryside in the first hour out of Paris – lush trees, rolling hills, the most charming farms with crops and white cows and gorgeous stone farm houses out of an earlier century. So picturesque! I totally understand how France inspires a person to want to paint and capture its beauty!

Four hours later we arrived in Agde where our landlord from Britain, David, picked us up at the station. He made two trips to the house – one with Lyndz and Jack and some of our luggage and the second with David and I and the rest of our bags, in his very tiny English car and we soon saw why. The streets are very narrow and the way he maneuvered through the side streets where the stone houses are so close was incredible.

The closer we got, the more in shock I became. We ended up within a maze of turns and twists and 400 year old stone walls, then walked past a rabbit cage containing a little white, long-haired, floppy-eared fellow and up steep steps to our house. In the basement there is a bedroom with en-suite and a window to step outside which is for me. The house has 4 levels. I will post photos. Finally, a warm shower with plenty of water pressure – heaven!

We have 3 levels plus a private, open roof top deck! It is so old but updated for comfort. He paid 16,000 pounds for the building and then had it updated for wiring, etc. adding 3 bathrooms. Many of the interior walls are stone while others are white plaster. Large windows open wide to cool the interior at night and have shutters on them to keep out the daytime heat and to lock for security. No glass window panes!

On the promenade around the corner was a street market today. I think it is here twice a week. There are many cafes along the river and the ambiance is right out of a book! We had a rest in the afternoon before venturing out to the river and cafe walk and another excellent dinner. Lots of local sea food here! There was an orchestra playing with an operatic singer near the bridge and the music floated out over the water to our outside cafe for our enjoyment.

Not home again until nearly one. Everything shuts down at midnight so the walk back was dark and quiet and the night air was cool and fresh. Sigh!

July 16th

Everyone slept in until after 11 a.m.. From all afternoon at the Louvre and not getting to bed until after 1 a.m., then up at 5 a.m. for a train to Agde and then exploring with a sidewalk cafe evening and another walk around until bed time again after midnight, my poor body cried, “Enough!” I have shut down for the day. The rest went off to find the bus that goes to one of several beaches in the intense heat of the day. I have my sparkling water, my fresh prunes and a roof top bed to relax on, so that is my plan.

Like many hot climates, this place shuts down for siesta about 12:30. The stores close and everyone retreats inside for a break from the heat, coming out later, refreshed and ready to continue the day. We like to walk the streets and go down to the river where there are an abundance of cafes and little shops. There is a young Canadian, looks to be in her 30s, living around the corner from us. She is from Thunder Bay, Ontario. David and I both know people from Thunder Bay. Not sure if she lives here full-time, but seems to own her house. This would be a lovely place to return to for the summer every year.

There is not much English spoken here however. I would have to truly concentrate on learning some proper French to live here. The menus are difficult. I was expecting a salad with fruits of the day in it but ended up with salad greens with an assortment of fish of the day in it last night! Not sure how French people stay slim. They do walk a lot, but they eat a lot of high calorie foods and drink a lot of alcohol! I am curious about their cholesterol level – will google when I go home.

July 19 –

David and Lyndz are heading to Tour de France for two days tomorrow. Jack and I will be on our own for 2 nights and 3 days! Life here is sublime!

Today was France’s National Holiday and it was celebrated very well by the French – parades, fireworks, events happening everywhere. Rain did not dampen the spirits, the French nor ours. We headed to the Louvre where I contemplated the Mona Lisa. I can’t say it made my heart beat faster, but finding a lovely John Constable and standing in front of it did!

It is nearly 2 a.m.; we have only been home for 2 hours and need to get up before 5 a.m. to catch the high-speed train to Agde at 7. This is a 4 hour, very fast trip from Paris in the north to the south of France.

Today we had another incredible meal in a sidewalk cafe. I had escargot, duck with potatoes cooked in the juices and apple pie with their special pastry accompanied by real vanilla ice cream.  This was followed by a mocha coffee that had shaved dark chocolate in the bottom of the cup, which when stirred into the coffee was absolutely orgasmic. Sorry Tim Hortons! I will post photos of our meal once we arrive at our next destination.  I have  so many photos from today! Our next stop is a much smaller place, around 22,000 and near several beaches on the southern coast of France.

I bought a Mary Poppins hat tonight to cover my weird, baby-fine hair which has been very rude since we arrived here. I realized it is exactly like the hats worn by the women in the cafes where Toulouse Lautrec painted except it needs a large flower on the side. I will talk to Carrie when I get home! I bought it in a little shop where the young man said I reminded him of his grandmother and then said she was a marvelous lady. He had been talking to David and Jack outside a few minutes earlier so I told him that was my son and grandson. He went out and gave Jack a present and told David that he had a lovely mother. David thought he meant ‘lovely wife’, as he had never heard anyone refer to me like that before; not ever, in his whole life, ha! ha! Ah, those Frenchmen, young and old, are wonderful!

I will miss Paris and must return someday. Traveling the metros is so easy to get to any destination, and there are so many museums, art galleries and restaurants that I could return every year for the rest of my years and explore new things every time. I have loved staying in an apartment. It is so French and so charming. We were able to unpack and ‘live’ here for a week, preparing many of our meals and enjoying the scenes on the streets below. I will post some of the photos I took tonight, showing the cafe on the main floor with the bright lights and red awnings, below our apartment. We took pictures at midnight as we arrived ‘home’.

I will even miss the cold showers. Well, maybe not so much. I look forward to our new destination where we will live in a four hundred year old house for the next two weeks. It will be a more laid back pace with trips to the beach, open markets for fresh food, shopping in quaint little shops and maybe time to read a book or finally send those post cards that I bought at the top of the Eiffel Tower to mail to those who sent me addresses.

This evening outside the Louvre, I finally purchased a little metal Eiffel Tower from one of the many street merchants who are selling them. I decided that I wanted one to perch on my desk at work to remind me that there is more to life than my job. I also bought some prints to frame of the art works that moved me the most in the Musee D’Orsay, so that my right brain (creative side) will be inspired to pick up my brushes and pastels when I get home and to do so on a regular basis. Life is too short to just work and then sleep. I want to work and dream and create with much less of my time spent on the work part. . .

I have no idea what time it is, but I am very much awake in the middle of the night again. Paris never goes to sleep. With all the windows open (and no bugs!) I can hear sirens, vehicles whizzing by and many conversations below on the street as so many people walk. People do not sleep, so this is the ideal place for me, Lisa and Karry!

You could live here and not own a car. What a glorious thought! The metro has a massive network to take you anywhere and it is fast.

Someone came today to ‘fix’ the hot water. We still only have about 10 seconds of it before it turns icy cold, but what an incredible way to cool down your body’s core at the end of a day with plus 30 temperatures. I love-hate it all at the same time.

Jack is a wonder. He will only be four in August and has been a real trooper. He walks the distances with us and waits in line with us and enjoys the sites. Tonight he is talking about a boat ride tomorrow. Hard to believe we only have 3 1/2 more days in Paris! I wish it was longer, but we still have 2 weeks down south in Agde with beaches and day trips.

Good thing my thyroid makes me the Energizer Bunny in the day time, but I wish I could sleep more at night!

Jet lag is an evil thing. I have just woken up and have no idea what time or what day it is. I think it is Sunday and I know I am in Paris. It is pitch black outside and I remember we went to bed around 2 a.m. Why is there so much traffic and people on bikes and walking down below our apartment? What actually woke me up was the television turned on without anyone touching the remote. Weird. We tried to turn it on the first day, but nothing. Obviously it has its own agenda, as does the hot water or lack of. After a dusty day and walking miles to the Eiffel Tower and then back after midnight, a cold shower is lovely before bed. Seriously, it is.

Would I walk that far and stand in line that long a second time to go to the Eiffel Tower? No, but I am glad I did the first time. We went to the top and arrived as dusk settled in. We could see the entire city from all sides as we walked around, cameras madly flashing. It was jam-packed with people.

While waiting in long, long lines, we noticed illegal vendors selling little metal and glass towers and watched them get caught by police on bikes. They were escorted out of the area, likely to return within the hour. There were dozens of them everywhere.

But the best part of the trip was after we came down. It was dark by then and we walked a short distance then sat in a grassy park area with hundreds of others, looking up at the tower. People were singing, playing games, having picnics and thoroughly enjoying each other and the magic of the moment. The tower lights were on and on the hour they began to blink rapidly like a Christmas tree. This caused the crowds to cheer and loudly applaud. Men walked around selling beer and wine and we toasted the tower and our good fortune to be there at that moment.

Back to the beginning – we started the morning by walking down the street from our apartment and finding little shops of meat, fresh produce, cheese, pastries and breads. Thank goodness we shopped and ate well at 11 a.m. because we did not sit down and eat again until we returned from the tower after midnight. I will post photos of our tarts, especially for Lisa tomorrow.

I must try to go back to sleep if at all possible. We have another busy day ahead. On a side note – I received an email from weekend staff from my job, asking me how to do something. I guess he forgot I had left for France as he did not c.c. the email to anyone else. Oh well. I am here and my job is there and I do not care. (I really do, but I said that because it rhymes.) And yes, I know. It is a bit perverse to think I would actually check my work email at all!

I’m not sure now whether to say good night or good morning, but signing off until later,
~ Intrepid Woman

T’was the night before Paris…

and all thru the suite, piles were everywhere, nothing was neat. The suitcase was empty and so was my head; so much to do, I just wanted my bed! When into my mind, sprung an idea so great! I would play on the ‘puter and start packing at eight.

I wont sleep a wink. It really wont matter, if I goof off right now, I can still do it later! Washing to do and passport to scan; I know I can do it. I can, yes I can!

The plane will arrive and I will be on it, in one hand a drink, and the other my wallet. With wee Jack beside me and a ten-hour flight, we will all be in Paris and toasting the sight!

So dash away cares and dash away time! I will soon be in Paris, a city sublime!  A poet I’m not, but that doesn’t matter. I’m eccentric and right-brained,  and as mad as a hatter!

~ Intrepid.Woman

Twenty five hours from now I will be heading to the airport with family for our flight to Paris. At this moment, I want to freeze time. There is joy in anticipation. At this exact moment, there is a sense of wonder as to what will be and how will it change me. I like this frozen moment of sweet anticipation. I am trying to disconnect mentally from work and just be.

For a few moments, I am just me, with a long past that just stops right here, now. I do not want to anticipate or wish for or plan or envision right at this moment. I just want to be me, sitting here with my history and my battered heart full of love and loss, and the ‘lumpies’ in my thyroid . . . just breathing in and out. All is good.

Okay. That is done! Time to finish the coffee and get those jobs crossed off my list and clean the apartment and get an oil change before I go and. . . .

Just one more moment.  Ahhh.  Life is good.

Long, busy day working at my list of things to finish while new things just kept popping up and making the list longer. Passing the torch to others now. I am done. Finished. Over. I have a life that does not include work. It includes Jack, my little heart-song. Tonight on the phone he said, “Two sleeps” and “I love you Nana”. Sigh!

Good story: contacted the two winners of our photo show, young people who get a week at Red Deer College in an art program in August. One said she wanted to give her week to another girl because she was a good artist and really would love it. Tried to talk her out of it , explaining you did not have to be a ‘good’ artist to go and enjoy the week. She was adamant, in front of her mom, so I accepted that she wanted to do this for her good friend. Turned out they barely know each other! She just really admires the other girl’s talent. I went to the Arts Council tonight (who are paying for the scholarships to this camp) and told them the story of this unselfish girl. They decided to send her too, as well as the other winners. Nice way to end the very busy and somewhat frustrating day today.

I hope these two girls enjoy the week-long art programs together and especially hope they become fast friends by the end of it! That would be a lovely ending.

And that sound you hear is applause. My hat is off to the Arts Council for their spontaneous generosity. Passing forward is contagious.

Historically Speaking

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