Chartres Cathedral Tour (Spring 2015)

On the road to ChartresUp at 6:30. Paris is not busy on an early work day (I was expecting the packed chaos of Rome). Today we rented a car and had to stop a passerby to ask how to start the thing – Toyoto Auris (hybrid). Not bad traffic getting out of town, then we had bright yellow fields (mustard Mother said long ago; I think hops). Long flat views.
Chartres in the mist
Chartres in the distance. Later, in our tour, the guide says some pilgrims still walk there; they say they can see the spire several days before they arrive.

chartres flowersParking is good, and it has a free, clean toilette! This after my hubby paid .50 in a shop for a stinking mess that almost made him up-chuck. As antidote to that sentence, here are some flowers that were in the parking lot.
Chartres Front
They are cleaning the cathedral – first time in 300 years. chartres dragonOutside, the statues are almost white with traces of color. Take a look at this little aqua dragon. Hard to imagine it all painted, though. Like this statue, one of dozens that caught my eye. That’s probably not a parrot on his shoulder…
chartres pirate

We walk around the outside. You never see photos of the back, but it’s lovely. With wisteria, even.
chartres wisteria

Malcolm Miller gave the tour. He has been giving tours here since 1958, is 81 and a walking encyclopedia of facts and synthesis about the cathedral. I took one years ago when he stacked us up in demonstration of how the flying buttresses worked; we held his weight with no problem.

This one was equally memorable. We wore headsets, which was good since they are working inside. Chartres Malcolm MillerLong lecture about history. The windows are the oldest in all of Europe and are didactive, that is they are meant to teach. He then “read” a couple of the oldest. He also told us about some tourists from Dallas who had lectured him about the Bible and creationism. I never realized there were words incorporated into the glass.
Chartres Stained Glass

On to Chinon, long drive. Some forests and it gets hilly. Trouble finding the hotel but the owner (new since Jan) is charming. We speak some French – she “doucement” – slowly, carefully. I’m going to get to practice after all that studying.

Musee des Arts Forains and Arts Decoratif (Paris 2015)

PantheonAfter the Cluny Museum in the morning, we went to the Pantheon. Were glad we had the “go to the front of the line” tickets. Otherwise we’d have had to wait forever and we found it a big bore. Lots of graves. Famous people – Victor Hugo, Zola, Voltaire – but dead and unavailable for a conversation.

ad towerThere was, however, an interesting church (seen when we got lost, which despite GPS, happened a lot). Take a look at the spiral staircase on the left with the little landing balconies, and the chimney flue (I think) on the right. The black blotch in the middle is not Bat Man ready to fly to the ground. It’s the back of an illumination light.

Forains theater door
Onward to Musee des Arts Forains.

It contains artifacts from fairgrounds and music halls, including old carousels. The pictures on line looked interesting. The outside of the museum was enchanting, fairy-like. But the tour I really can’t recommend. Total kitsch, boring, a commentary that was false enthusiastic – like watching an old children’s TV show. Can you tell how much I hated it? We left after about 10 minutes, even though it was one of the most expensive tickets. My advice? Avoid it! Musee des Arts Forains







Because we abandoned the tour, we had time to just run down to the Musee des Arts Decoratif, which had been on my wish list, but I wasn’t able to fit it in. That one was really worth while. Just take a look. By the way, the little face on my home page is from a special exhibit about buttons. Thousands of them.

Decoratif bat vase
Decoratif bass fiddle dresserDecoratif Deco stairs
Wouldn’t you love to have that stair rail? Or the bat vase or the funny dresser? The artifacts were from all periods. The little flute pitcher much earlier. I don’t remember about the crazy chair.
Decoratif flutist jarDecoratif weird chair











A charming riding toy for a little child. And below that, an early “Hummel” in ivory, a reminder of mortality.

Decoratif  swan toy
Decoratif skeleton

Impressionists (Paris, 2015)

imp monetWhile I’m not a big fan of painting – all those heavy women rendered in heavy oil – I love the Impressionists. The first time I saw a major collection was in Paris at the Jeu de Paume (a king’s tennis courts re-purposed for art). So much better in person than in books. I could put my face close to the picture and fall into it. I saw the air, the trees, the sea, the snow. imp archer

The collection has now been moved to the old train station, a wonderful space at least in the center, with its decorated ceilings and arches. The rooms on the sides with the paintings are more jumbled but the art remains entrancing. This shimmering river was new to me. Sadly, I didn’t snap a picture of the label so I’m not sure of the artist. Seurat?

imp saurat

However, this visit it wasn’t the paintings that caught me; it was the art nouveau exhibit. Beds, vases (see the dragonfly vase below), bookcases and a wonderful piece which was a chaise in a smoking lounge in a billiard parlor.

imp chaiseimp dragonfly

imp screen


Our visit was in the evening and I took a series of pictures out the windows across the Seine as dark came on and lights were lit. You can see Sacre Coeur where we were in the morning in the distance, then I pulled it into closeup.

The magic of Paris.

imp blue haze

imp blue haze2

imp sacre coeur2

imp sacre coeur

Hobnail Dishes – Guest Post

Cup and saucer from an entire set of hobnail dishes. The name comes from the pattern of raised knobs on the surface of the glass, similar to the studs used on boot soles in the time period. It became popular after the depression and is most often seen in milk glass. However, it was available in colors as well as clear.

This story is from my father-in-law, Don. When he was in high school, he took 2 years of Latin — considered important if you were going to college — and he belonged to a Latin club. The club used to meet in the evenings at each other’s houses. They didn’t speak Latin at these meetings, rather they were social events encouraged by the teacher.

An aside: My mother-in-law took Latin also, same school as Don. She didn’t like Latin and the teacher, whom she remembers as old, called her “a nice girl” which for some reason hurt her feelings. She went home and cried about it. She attended the same high school as Don but at the time of the Latin classes, she was dating Don’s best friend.

In any case, at these parties Don noticed that all the mothers had complete sets of dishes. Eventually it was going to be his turn to host, and his mother’s dishes were a melange from several sets. (She, by the way, had taken Latin and remembered one phrase — Ubi est agricola, where is the farmer — and used to say it to him all the time.)

Before the club met at his house, Don bought his mother a complete set of these dishes. What a win/win situation! His mother felt loved by her son. And his friends saw that he had matching dishes in his house, just like in their houses.

His daughter, my wonderful sister-in-law, now has the set in her china cabinet. It was given to her by her grandmother, who told her she had set them aside specifically for her. The set is no longer complete; the glass tends to chip. She uses one of the saucers as a soap dish (shades of the bone dish, also hers).

Glass Mobile

Hand-blown glass mobile. Strung on fishing line and hung from a clear plastic disk. The glass pieces vary from two to four inches

My sister and I found the it while walking in NYC’s Village where I lived for a time. An art weekend, the streets spilled with paintings hung on fences, sculpture, and piles of crafts. The mobile cost more than we could afford but we bought it anyway, knowing our parents would love it. My father, a wonderful architect, designed our mid-century modern house, very spare and wonderful. The mobile fit right in and was hung in the living room for all to see what great taste my parents’ daughters had. (Or so I felt then…)

One Christmas it almost bit the dust. Mother always made the house festive and as part of her decorations, she tied little red bows to each glass. She was cutting off the bows when she snipped the fishing line. Luckily she caught the glass before it fell. Our fisherman Daddy had the line handy and restrung it good as new.

When my parents died and the house was sold, the mobile didn’t convey. It now hangs in my living room where it continues to be treasured. By the way, my house is 1937 colonial but it looks right at home.