Monday, August 23, 2010

Trip Reflections: Paris, Picasso and Heartstrings (a year ago)

A year ago today I was in Paris and in Picasso heaven.

That's where this picture was taken, in the sculpture garden at the Picasso Museum. I can still remember how excited and inspired I was that very day. To read my blog post from Paris on August 21, 2009 on my day with Picasso there, click here.

I feel so lucky to have seen the Picasso museum in Paris, as it is now closed until sometime in 2011. That's bad news for those in Paris, but it's good news for people around the world who will see some of it's 500 Picasso works in a travelling exhibition. I understand it has been in Helsinki and Moscow so far, and is still overseas. The exhibition is coming to the Seattle Art Museum in October and I think it just might be reason for a road trip (with some nudges from my sissy).

So... back to Paris. All told (or is that "all tolled"?), I was there about a month, and it was heaven. HEAVEN.

What great fun it was to have my niece Branwen visit me for my time there. And what a year it has been for her since then. She hadn't yet graduated from her jewellry program and we spent many an hour having cafe au lait and pain au chocolat - in our fav cafe - and talking about what she would do when that day came. How awesome is it that today she has her own studio, a website ( and her Chicadora line is a smash hit at art shows and at Favorites in North Vancouver. I remember going to a flea market in Paris with her where she was hunting out old silver spoons; she'd begun making them into jewelry... and today her spoon rings are constantly selling out. I love mine. And I still can't believe all that has transpired for her in that time.

Some fav moments and memories:
  • Our sweet little apartment in the Marais, and how we would greet each other with "Bonjour Madame", calling out the window when the other came home and entered the courtyard below
  • Paris Plages, and my meal on banks of the Seine - and the elderly man I met who told me all about his life in Paris - and the couple I gave my doodle of the scene before me to (more here)
  • Throwing out my backpack and getting a suitcase on wheels!!! (what had I been thinking?!?!)
  • The Kandinsky exhibit I went to at the Pompidou Centre
  • Discovering the Opera Garnier, quite by accident, and how amazing it was (including the underground waters that gave birth to the Phantom of the Opera story) (more here)
  • All my adventures exploring the old Paris Metro stations and the underground subway art... wow, wow, wow
  • Wandering the covered passages (more here)
  • The violin concert we stumbled on in a little church one day
  • The day we got caught in the most tremendous rainstorm and ducked into a big 'ol bookstore... it rained so much that we had to walk around buckets... I left with a wee Picasso book - in French!! I figured it would help me with my language skills(I just came across it the other day)
  • Getting lost and separated from Branwen and Maryanne at Pere Lachaise cemetery
  • Hanging out with Marjorie
  • Connecting with Shawn and Jessica from the states whom I'd met in Barcelona
  • The day Branwen saw one car drive up and over another car at the Arc de Triomphe
  • My first "stand and pee" toilet!
  • The day I - for some confounded reason I still cannot explain - bought a fondue pot
  • Discovering the teensy skinny Pilot G-TEC-C4 pens that I still draw with today, and my first doodle with such fine lines!
  • And, oh, the fresh baguettes, the cheese, the pastries.... ooh la la!!
Oh, Paris, how you grabbed hold of my heart and didn't let go. I still feel it.

I actually went back to Paris again on my 51st birthday in January - story and pics here.

I'm sure I will return one day. Paris is one livable city.... would love to go back for a few months or even longer one day.... but, heck, I'd be happy with a few days, just to be there... (sigh)

What's the Point?

Talk about inspiring.
Dalton Ghetti is a patient man. Now there's an understatement. This artist carves his works into the tips of pencils. Really. They take ages, some take years, but it's his hobby. He doesn't sell his works. And never throws them out.
He now has an exhibit in the British Museum for American Art. If you are in London, the exhibit is open until August 29th.
I learned about Dalton from an email today so wanted to share it more broadly. I found another post containing the images from that email string, click here to be amazed.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

All Aboard BC Ferries

As I write this, somewhere there is a drama playing out. Either here, on the 5:00pm sailing from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay (or Vancouver to Victoria for the non-locals), or at the Tsawwassen terminal. Or perhaps a little in both.

As I was boarding the ferry as one of the last foot passengers, a man was heading in the opposite direction, obviously in a hurry. A BC Ferries staff person had accompanied him, and stood explaining the situation to the guy taking the boarding passes, “He may or may not be back by the time we sail,” she said, nodding towards the man. Then looking directly at him said, “You have exactly 10 minutes to be back on board. No more.” She said it with a whole lot of emphasis, trying to make sure he really understood. He took off in a mad dash. As I handed in my boarding pass, I heard the two staff people talking. “He must have been the first car on and ran up the stairs, to get up here that fast” remarked the ticket taker. All kind of interesting, as I was sure it was only about 5 minutes to sailing time, but I guess she knew her stuff.

As I walked down the gangway, I noticed the same staffer talking to another female employee at the foot of the gangway, “Yeah, his wife and child went to the washroom, and he drove on….” They were shaking their heads, seemingly more amused than really concerned. Well, I hope the cat really has nine lives, because curiosity really did kill the cat on this one… “What, he drove his car on without his family?” I asked. “Yes. His wife and child went into the terminal to use the washroom and weren’t back by the time the ferry started loading, and he just drove on.” “Seriously?” I asked, at somewhat of a loss for words. With a nod the first lady staffer went back up the gangway, presumably to watch for him. But I could sense the other lady staffer was willing to talk, and I waited.

“Happens all the time,” she said. I laughed and said, “You’re kidding.” “Nope,” she said, “if it’s time for their car to board, they just drive on and assume the rest of their party will walk on. In this case, I think it might have been a baby, so that’s not good. But you’d be amazed at what people will do sometimes.” “But his car is on the ferry, and he isn’t, “say I. “Yup, you got it,” she says, and grins.

Apologizing for being so snoopy, I thanked her for telling me about it, and wandered away wondering what would happen.

So, I offer up the following possible endings. You know, kind of like those tween mystery novels where you read the beginning, and pick the ending you most want. Let’s see:

  • A. Man runs down stairs to the car level, bolts towards the concession building, finds wife and baby standing outside the washroom looking baffled, man grabs baby, yells for his wife to run, and they fly like no one’s business back across the tarmac to the stairs, then up the stairs, then up the gangway, and get on in exactly 10 minutes, with the staffer saying, “Jeez, you really cut that close.” Likelihood: not a chance.
  • B. Same as A, but they head to the loading ramp for cars, explain desperately to the car loading team what happened, and walk on at the lower vehicle deck, just in the nick of time. Likelihood: extremely low.
  • C. Same as A/B, but they don’t get back to the ship in time, they are running, but time runs out, they barely get ½ the way back when the gangway or loading ramp (take your pick) is lifted before their eyes. Likelihood: more likely than any scenario so far.
  • D. Same as A/B/C, except as man finds his wife, the ship’s whistle sounds over her cries of disbelief. Likelihood: pretty high
  • E. Same as D, but man cannot hear the ship’s whistle over the sound of his wife’s anger and shouts of “You idiot, you idiot!!” Likelihood: extremely high.
  • F. Man runs like a madman around the concession area, looking for his wife and baby, but they are nowhere in sight. Meanwhile, wife and baby sit in the back seat of a stranger’s car, still blathering her story, hoping like hell that her husband wasn’t stupid enough to run off the ferry after the car was loaded. On board, the kind strangers utter empty assurances, “I’m sure you’ll find him.” Man is still somewhere near the concession and can be overheard muttering, “Shit. Shit, shit shit shit shit!” Likelihood: equally high
  • G. Same as F, but wife and baby have walked onto the ferry via the lower car deck, after explaining to staff what happened. No change to the part of the story where the husband is swearing his head off by the concession. Likelihood: pretty high
  • H. Same as F, but wife has climbed the stairs up to the passenger loading gangway, struggling baby weighing her down. Wife emerges from stairway 1 just after husband descends down stairway 2, missing him by a fraction of a second. Likelihood: not likely, but you never know.

This is the kind of thing where the various possibilities keep splitting off into endless variations, kind of like that quantum physics thing….

What do you think happened?

This reminds me of another ferry boarding incident about 20 years ago that would make a good story… I should write that up sometime….

PS - a ship's officer just came on the PA and said< "Your attention please, we are nearing Tsawwassen terminal..." then dead silence. A few giggles around the ship. Then he comes back on, "Just kidding folks, we are nearing Swartz Bay terminal..." LOL.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Random Pics and Reflections from New York City

I have time to kill while I sit at JFK waiting to board my flight home, so avoiding boredom by reviewing pics and uploading some random stuff. This pic is from my first visit to the Strand book store, which I wrote about here. These are the awesome $1 racks outside. There must have been 20 of them.
Inside the store... it's HUGE!
Maybe half of their Picasso selection (oh, heaven!):
Owl on the roof of the Strand... I sat down in one of 4 chairs in front of a window on the 2nd floor (ah, slight breeze on a hot day!) and noticed this guy. I thought he said, "Whoooo's that?" but it might have been my imagination.
Outside the Strand, a lady backed into this bike while the crowd of $1 book rack browsers watched on. She finished parking then got out of her car and walked away. No one said a thing. Arghhhh!!! I wasn't going to get involved while travelling, but jeez, people!
If you get really broke on vacation... and you set a daily budget then continually blow it... when you are low on cash... or just want to save your money for something else, you can get a lot of food for $20 if you find a real grocery store. OK, I liked, this was $22.90, but still, not bad. I am one of those lucky people who can enjoy cereal with water, so if my hotel room doesn't have a fridge, it's still no worries for me. I just pick up a plastic spoon, and for my first dose of cereal I buy one of those little single-serving cereals in a cup, and change the cup.
Birds on a wire. I love old peeling paint like this.
Section of the Berlin Wall in Manhattan. I wrote about finding it here.

They say there is a first time for everything! I was so surprised, these guys will usually do anything for a buck. I think, perhaps, he's an employee, not an entrepreneur. Or, if he's the latter, he won't last long...
Gee, that mannequin seems almost lifelike! The one on the left, the one with the head, of course. Oh, yeah, it's a DJ performing in the shop window. I think it was an Armani store or something.
Is it me, or does something look off kilter here? My meal wasn't amazing enough here to warrant a write up, but it was fun trying to keep everything on the table, just a week slant there...
Cute kid with blue-haired doll on the bus. I am a big fan of Manhattan busses, even though many (including The Pod's survival guide, boo!) say no one takes them. Well, that's ok, because it means that there are virtually no tourists on them, just locals, and rarely crowded. In 5 trips to NYC I think I've only stood on a bus twice. And they are air conditioned. And you get to see where you are going!!! It's easy for Manhattan to feel like little islands when you poke your head up like a mole from only using the subway. I use both. Busses are especially handy cross-town, as most subway lines run north/south only (due to the fact that they were all separate independent lines at one time), and can save time. But not always, if they go through a really conjested area. Study up and give them a try. Get a transit map that includes busses and subways, and you are all set.
While waiting for said bus, I noticed the metal disk attached to the hood of this taxi. It is a permit or something. I guess that prevents someone from painting their car yellow and sticking a toy store taxi sign on the roof....
OK, there was one really, really rainy day when I was in town. I had a good laugh when I came up behind these two ladies (locals, I believe) who had improvised some rain gear....
Cafe I was "stuck" in when the rainstorm hit. I just stayed and talked to the molecular biologist who was at the table next to me. I kid you not. That's the second one I've met this year. These boys are SMART!
The cafe was great, so I'll have to look up the name and mention it properly, but it also made me laugh. You'd think it was a movie scene where Apple had gone a little heavy on the product placement. When I arrived, I think there were 6 or 7 Apple laptops in use on about 12 tables. In fact, the starting point of my conversation with my smart scientist was when he opened a pc laptop... lol....
What eventually happens to a bike left locked to a post too long, I guess...
Inside of a bathroom door. Don't ask me why. I have no idea.
OK, weird thing to find in an art store, at least for me. You can buy the sneakers in your own size, or the size of your loved one, then paint. Heh.
I have no idea what this lady had going on, but it was definitely worth of an odd stuff picture snag....
This guy was pulling his concession down a lane of traffic, next to the parked cars, outside Grand Central Station.
Excuse me ma'am... there appears to be a tree growing out of your backpack.... ??? !!!
The Bag Man is my friend. This store is the craziest store to go into (I dare you!). I go in when I need cheap luggage to take extra shopping home (I often bring just a carry-on to NYC, then get a cheap bag to get me home, which I then give to charity). This time my bag - on wheels - cost me $10.99. 34th Street and 8th Avenue, right by the subway.Had an interesting chat with a local when I took a pic of this building. She was confounded as to why so many tourists took pics of it... I didn't really have an answer, other than "it's different".... to which she said, "It is definitely that"... I asked if she meant that in a bad way, and she said not necessarily. Anyways, it was cool.
Ever wonder how the really nice shops get the pretty leaves in their windows?
Closing up shop for the day...
I wonder what the puppy ordered for dinner....
Almost time to board my plane, so that's it for this round. More to come, I'm sure...

Friday, August 20, 2010

In the Big Apple: Leaving New York

Me and my friend Lisa Ch, who I mentioned in my last post (sans pictures):
Lisa showing off her ring from La Alberca, where we did our program. I have the same ring.
Well, it is time to go home. It is hard to leave New York, but it's been a great visit. In the end, with so much time, it was very relaxing. Now for a few pics from my last few days. A little hard to see, but this is me, last night, on the rooftop deck at my hotel.
Black sheep?
Those phones were at Grand Central Station, which I almost forgot how much I love, until I was back inside, so I goofed off for an hour or two. Loved taking pics of the people sitting next to this sign...
I just love the hub bub of Grand Central, and love a pic that's clear with just one or two people blurred. It says action... love it!
More people on the stairs, it's a common thing to do...
Until a cop comes and shoos you away....While I was there, I wandered by this sign and remembered... "ah ha!!", that's something I've always wanted to do!
They had some outside seating set up for the summer, and while it looked lovely, IMHO this didn't qualify as the 'real' thing....
The Campbell Apartment is one of the most famous bars in the world, and is such an integral part of Grand Central that it actually has its own entrance:
Me pouting at the dress code requirement posted at the entrance. I was in a teensy tank top, shorts and sandals.
I asked to peek inside to take a pic, and, alas, they let me in!!! When I said I knew I wasn't dressed appropriately, and the girl at the door said "We're not too busy, and it's different for girls anyways." Cool. In I went. When I asked if I could take a few pics, sans flash, as long as I didn't include any guests, he offered to take one of me, with flash. Sweet. This is me and my rich little $7.50 Amstel. I do not have flowers in my hair, I think that's some lamp behind me.
Not much one can take a pic of, without flash, and without including people, in the dark... but just for the mood...
Bartender blur... I love this one!
Now, some pics when I went down to Greenwich Village and SoHo yesterday...
It may not look like much, but this intersection at Houston and La Guardia (also known on the opposite side as West Broadway and Houston on the other side of the street) hides something very special. Two things, actually. I got here taking the 6 train to Bleeker Street. I actually took this pic as I was walking away from the two things I am going to show you.
First, or should I say last in terms of when I saw it, was this explanation of what was planted in all that greenery on the corner, and what the "Time Landscape" is. Click the pic to enlarge it if you want to read (it's kind of cool). Otherwise, keep scrolling down for the most exciting thing....
I came across the destination of my trip approaching from behind, from Bleeker Street. Which ever way you approach, look for the towers of the NYU residences (called Silver Something) and you will find this Picasso beauty:
It is an enlargement of Picasso's 1934 sculpture, The Bust of Sylvette, and it was done by Carl Nesjar. If you want to read more, click here (also some interesting stuff about the complex, designed by I. M. Pei). I had a glorious time, just wandering around, soaking it in, and taking pics...
While technically in Greenwich Village, the blue of a building just into SoHo provides an interesting urban background for this fabulous work...
I was thinking how lucky those students were, then I noticed this cat tree in a window.... and I thought, how lucky that cat was, getting to stare out at a Picasso all day! Meeoooow!
Now,one more pic from my dip into SoHo... this one of just a cool blue stairway...
Now, a few more pics of my hotel, The Pod, which I wrote more about here... this is the lobby. It really is a cool space.
Another pics of the lobby. The art is the work of New York artist James Rizzi, and there were original paintings in this theme throughout the hotel, including the hallways and some of the doors. Interestingly, I was chatting to the concierge today, and he is also an artist and collaborates with Rizzi. See some of Bryan Raughton's stuff here.
Looking from the outside deck of the hotel into the lobby lounge. There is something really cool about how this pic turned out that I like. By the way, I am sitting in that very lounge now, at the laptop bar, as I write this.... killing time before my evening flight.
My feet on the back deck last night as I enjoyed a glass of wine.
Looking up from the back deck. Isn't that cool?
Now, up to the rooftop, just as dusk was settling in....
Hip places to sit on a hip deck in a hip little hotel. How hip is that?
My foot and the Manhattan skyline as the sun set. I was lying on my back on one of those wooden bench things. The clouds were pretty cool... though the evening was hot.
Oh, Big Apple, how I will miss you! But I'll be back again, that I know for sure... I still have more pics, and will, hopefully, post them when I get home. Hope you enjoyed joining me on my wee journey here....