Posted by: kdeversblog | September 18, 2017

The Eiffel Tower: Industrial Age Icon

The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 as a centerpiece of the World Expo and to commemorate 100 years after the French Revolution. It wasn’t intended to remain after the Expo and yet it is still here and is the most visited monument in the world.

It is completely repainted every seven years. Today it’s a tawny brown color. John and I visited the monument on a blustery, rainy day. We rode the elevator to the first viewing point and took photos of Paris.


There was a life-size display of M. Eiffel talking with a colleague in his Tower office.

Then we took a different elevator to the top viewing spot, 1,063 feet above ground.


We waited in so many lines and as we wound our way around, the wind tore at our jackets and destroyed my umbrella. We really couldn’t see much of anything from the top so we didn’t stay long. I could feel the Tower move a bit in the wind, or maybe it was my imagination. Regardless, I was glad to be back on the ground and out of the mass of people shivering and jostling to get out of the weather and into the elevators.

It turned out that the best way to see the Eiffel Tower itself was on the boat ride we took down the Seine River. It was a lovely evening, our last in Paris, and it was a great way to see the city.

We rode up to the Eiffel Tower then turned around and skirted the two islands.


Later, we were able to see the Tower lit up at night and watch it sparkle with the twinkling lights. This happens at 8, 9, and 10 p.m. and the show lasts for about ten minutes.

Posted by: kdeversblog | September 18, 2017

The Pantheon in Paris

In Paris it seems there are as many motorcycles as cars. The bikes can zip between cars in the lanes and seem to be utterly fearless. I’m sure they all have smug smiles as they leave the cars languishing in traffic. Sometimes the cars seem to view the lane markings as suggestions and we saw a few close calls as cars start to drift from one lane to another. The bikes fill their own lengthy parking areas so closely spaced you could easily walk down the line from seat to seat.

Approaching the Pantheon we saw an example the this cozy line up.

The Pantheon is a gorgeous treasure located in the left bank near the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Inside the Pantheon the walls are covered with fresco paintings depicting the struggles of the French people through their history. Partial covers are hung above the paintings to filter the light and protect them during restoration.


The dome is carved and also painted with frescoes. The light through the windows creates soft shadows throughout the rotunda.

A Foucault pendulum swings back and forth and there are many lovely historical sculptures.

This New-Classical monument honors the French people and provides a burial place for many French VIPs including Voltaire, Rousseau, Alexander Dumas, and Victor Hugo. It is also the final resting place for Marie Curie, Louis Braille (inventor of the Braille language), and the hero of the French resistance, Jean Moulin.

Posted by: kdeversblog | September 11, 2017

Lush gardens, tiny boats, and pony rides

Le Jardin du Luxembourg, the garden at Luxembourg has it all. It’s the perfect place to take a leisurely stroll and marvel at the beautifully designed and well-kept garden spaces.

There is a nice breeze this day, but according to the signs it can be a virtual mistral . . . Hang onto your hat!

The plantings in the main area are lush and follow a pattern of repeated colors with taller accents of grasses and shrubs. The realistic statuary adds lovely focal points and sets off the green lawn within the garden space.

I was fascinated by the extremely large containers that held the small trees and the large cement planters overflowing geraniums. These huge items fit the large open space perfectly.

The garden also includes a large manmade pond where children launch tiny boats with long sticks. The breeze moves the plethora of boats around the pond.

Walking around the grounds we discovered a semi-hidden spot with a fountain and vines trained on tree branches. The leafy vines created huge loops strung out from tree to tree.

And there were adorable small ponies for the kids to ride. This reminded me of Elli and Fran at the Lake Serene Pony farm when they were young girls.

It was a lovely, peaceful day at the Jardin!

Posted by: kdeversblog | September 10, 2017

An adventurer’s breakfast

Just a few blocks from our Airbnb is a delightful restaurant where we had our first Paris breakfast , a perfectly cooked omelette with ham and cheese, a flaky croissant, toasted baguette with butter and jam, tea, and orange juice. It was delightful to sit outside and watch the international world of Paris stroll, run, and selfie their way along the sidewalk.

We find a nice place to sit at a small found table and order our breakfast. Then the server arrives with a square table top that attaches to the round table. This gives us the space we need to the meal.

This meal was such a delicious way to start the day that we have come here three days in a row. It’s consistently lovely and the servers are friendly and bilingual. This meal always kept us going through the morning as we walked and used the subway to get to our destinations. John is a master subway navigator and the system is beginning to make sense to me.

Each subway stop has its own unique “look” which makes it fun. The entrances have lovely art nouveau elements in the fences, lights, and signage. John has been patient as I try to understand the system of different lines, directions, and stop names. The tunnels and trains are uniformly clean, wall maps are everywhere and for the most part signage is clear.

The only challenge for me has been the seemingly endless stairs in the subway. You have go down stairs to get into the subway, up stairs to get to a different line, then down again to get to a different direction, repeat, repeat, repeat! Eventually we used the RER and discovered they have escalators – oh, joy! The RER is more of an express train and the M, or Metropolitan is local with more stops. We’ve used Uber once and a taxi but mostly it’s lots of walking and subways.

I love the view from our apartment. We are on the third floor and it’s fun to open the two big windows and observe the activity below. We are on a relatively quiet street but there’s lots of activity at the bistros and shops. One of the aspects of Paris that I appreciate is the aromas of food and spices that fill the air. There is an overall sense of calm and peacefulness that I find very welcoming.

There are lots of cars and motorcycles and drivers don’t hesitate to communicate with their horns. The police and emergency vehicles have a distinctive blue light on the top of their vehicles and the sing-song siren I’m used to hearing in European movies.

I’m using my rudimentary French all the time and I love it when people respond in kind. Although sometimes we use one another’s languages. I’ll leave a shop with a happy “au revoir!” and the shop keeper responds, “goodbye!” Funny!

Posted by: kdeversblog | September 10, 2017

Paris casts its spell

img_0427Like countless numbers of people before me, the vibrant and beautiful city of Paris has charmed me with its delicious food, gorgeous architecture, and easy access to art and culture.

My friend Marie drove me to the airport on Wednesday, September 6th and although I had some pre-flight jitters, I was excited about the trip. I knew that Marie would take good care of my dogs and Richard was at the house, so the homefront was in good hands.

After the flight to Atlanta, a reasonable layover and an eight hour flight to Paris, I sailed through baggage claim and customs.

My first view of France was a during a long descent to the Charles DeGaule airport. I was surprised to see so many open fields and small clusters of buildings.


The Viator shuttle met me and several other passengers at the airport and the drive to the Airbnb where John and I are staying was a stunning introduction to the city. All sizes of motorcycles vied with cars, with a few bicycles thrown in to increase the danger factor. I recognized landmarks that were only familiar as photographs or movie locations. As we paused in traffic, I turned my head to see the Eiffel Tower and craned my neck to peer straight up its full length.

John welcomed me at our  Airbnb on rue St. Andre des Arts in the St. Germain area of the East Bank. I felt a bit tired since I barely got a few hours of restless sleep on the plane, but after getting settled I was ready for a walk around our neighborhood. It surprised me how I quickly adjusted to the time difference and experienced no jet lag. After a solid ten hours of sleep the first night I was refreshed and ready for our J & K Excellent Adventure to shift into high gear!



Posted by: kdeversblog | September 6, 2017

Leaving the smoke behind

The fires raging in Oregon have brought ash floating in the air and settling on everything. The air is white and many people are wearing breathing masks, including the mail carriers and anyone who works outside. The sun, when we see it is an angry smear in the sky.

I put out fresh water for the neighborhood cat that likes to visit. It probably didn’t take long for it to get coated with fire debris.

Maxine and Macky seem to be wondering what’s happening. I’ve tried to keep to my regular habits as much as possible. Macky must have had a case of sympathetic travel nervousness. During the night he vomited and of course I stepped on it this morning. Just a reminder of doggy love!

It’s amazing how complicated it is to fly now, especially overseas. But finally the day of departure has arrived. I’m packed with bags the right size and under the weight limit.

The one peach I was saving to eat today tasted lovely but my own case of nerves prevented me from eating it so I gave it to Marie. I was able to eat one last strawberry, though, after washing off the ash!

It was so nice to have dinner with Fran and Josh last night. We looked at the map of France and traced my route from Paris to Marseille by way of the Loire valley, the Dordogne, and Provence. 25 days on my Excellent French Adventure with my friend John Hollister. A couple hours and I’ll be onboard Delta and the fun begins!

Posted by: kdeversblog | August 27, 2017

Fran’s birthday

It was so nice to have Elli here for Fran’s birthday. It was a quiet celebration and that pleased all three of us. It was nice to have a simple salmon dinner and sip French champagne while we caught up with our news. Elli and I had fun shopping at Olive & Vine in St. Johns for a Moroccan themed collection of goodies Fran can use to make the dishes she tasted while in Morocco.

Fran loved Elli’s gifts and I’m hoping to get an invitation to dinner when she makes her Moroccan dish. I had been planning and working on her gifts for the past month. I bought a top and Capri stretchies from Dharma Trading company online. I dyed them a pretty light grey and used a lapis blue to tie dye the top.

Then I decided I would make a long necklace to go with the outfit. Friday night I went to Beading Happy Hour at Belladonna Beads with Elli. I made Fran’s necklace and Elli make a pretty shell necklace that matches one of her favorite color combinations.

Sitting outside in the evening enjoying the cooler temps and one another made for a sweet time together. Macky and Maxine kept us company as well. I’m so grateful to be near my daughters and I cherish any bit of time we can spend together. Happy, happy birthday dear Fran!

Posted by: kdeversblog | August 26, 2017

Total solar eclipse August 2017

Rather than join the throngs of people traveling to be in the path of totality, Elli and I settled for “partiality” and were glad we did. I don’t enjoy throngs of any kind so our neighborhood location suited me perfectly.

We took our eclipse glasses and my dogs, Macky and Maxine and walked to the St. Johns Community Center. On the way we stopped and watched the moon take a bigger and bigger bite out of the sun. We had an extra pair of glasses and when we were close to the park we saw a young couple squinting at the sun. We gave them our glasses and assured them they were safe. They were thrilled to be able to watch the show.

It was amazing how much light we had even when there was only a tiny crescent of sun left uncovered. We noticed a change in the quality of the light, though and the temperature dropped a bit. The dogs were happy to sit with us and we found the perfect bench where we could keep watching in comfort.

Dogs are smart and of course they don’t stare at the sun! It was so much fun to be in the park and there were a lot of families there explaining the eclipse to their kids. It was relaxing and fun – no traffic and no throngs!

On the way home Elli pointed out that the eclipse was showing up on the sidewalk and street. The light filtered through the tree leaves and created little crescent suns. It was the same principle as a pinpoint camera. We could actually watch the progress of the eclipse as the sun moved across the sun by looking at the crescents on the pavement. It was a lovely finish to the experience to be walking through the eclipse under the trees.

Posted by: kdeversblog | August 25, 2017

A step back in time

What could be more fun than dressing up in medieval garb and going with my daughter, Eleanore to an SCA event? This one day was so relaxing and fun I forgot to look at the time. Since my work day always consists of meetings and deadlines this time-free day was lovely.

My tunic was a replica from the Byzantine era that I made several years ago. The light muslin fabric was perfect for the warm day. Elli made her gorgeous 12th century dress made out of light weight wool, and the vibrant orange fabric made her easy to spot. I especially like her turquoise booties made by a master shoemaker friend. She figured out how to construct her braid covers that were a popular adornment in that era. Her hair isn’t actually that long!

The SCA stands for the Society for Creative Anachronism and it started in the 1960s as a lark by a group of friends. Since then it has grown to an international organization with a complex and layered structure. There are guilds for members with skills and crafts they would like to share. Members can receive recognition for their contributions to the group. Some members refine their fighting skills though tournaments and can rise to different levels such as knight or king. The geography is divided into baronies that cross states and countries. We are members of the Barony of Three Mountains.

This event took place at Trojan Park in Rainier, Oregon and was a camping event for several days. I liked seeing the array of tents and most sites had a day tent for cooking and eating and separate smaller tents for sleeping. While Elli and Leith taught their class I took a walk along the river and gathered branches, grasses, and flowers. Back at the day tent I sat outside and put together a decoration to hang on one of the tent poles. While I did this, Leith and Kelly’s daughter Tully played tunes on her guitar.

The fighting that takes place in the tournament follows very specific rules and the fighters wear protective armor. The helmet is the heaviest piece (Leith’s weighs 16 pounds) and all together the men are wearing a substantial amount of gear. The referees keep a close eye on the fight and often the fighters will declare themselves “injured.” Most of the men know one another and there is a great deal of mutual respect. The goal of the fight is not to actually hurt their opponent, it is to earn points and move up in rank based on their skill.

Posted by: kdeversblog | August 20, 2017

Surrounded by love

I have a separate and unique relationship with each member of my extended family. Together we support one another and nourish our own community. In this gathering I feel valued and respected, surrounded by love.

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