Sunday, February 21, 2010

Frozen fountain in Paris

My friend, Danielle, sent me this picture. Her son and husband took it last week. Cold weather and France? A winning combination. Makes me want to go even more.
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

My mother, looking French in France

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Marie Antoinette holding Louis Charles with Marie Therese at her side. Her older son, Louis Joseph, is pointing into the cradle. Her youngest child, Sophie, died shortly after Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun completed the portrait and her image was removed from the cradle. Louis Joseph died of tuberculosis before his eighth birthday, mere days before the Tennis Court Oath and the beginning of the end of the monarchy. Simplistically speaking. The beginning of the end must've been coming for some time.
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Rousseau's influence

Marie Antoinette built (had built for her, needless to say) a small working farm complete with a mill, dairy and farm animals. She, in her simple muslin dress, was at home there, contrary to her subjects' image of her.
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Stairway to Heaven

The Petit Trianon was built during the previous reign and was given to Marie Antoinette by Louis XVI. She went there for relaxation and privacy. It was, by royal standards, fairly simple, but entry was by invitation only. Spiteful, excluded courtiers laid the foundation for the tower of gossip and misrepresentation that toppled the monarchy.
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A temporary reprieve

The secret door through which Marie Antoinette barely escaped when Versailles was invaded.
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Depicting a perhaps fictional scene from their failed flight to Varennes, this cartoon shows the king being recognized because of the comparison made between the passenger in the berlin and the king's image on the bill. What a long ride back to Paris that must've been.
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Louis XVI

From what I've read, Louis XVI was a kind man, an indecisive man, a man temperamentally ill-suited to be a monarch. Many see him as weak but, to me, he showed admirable strength in staying true to his beliefs. He certainly wasn't the tyrant the common people of his time believed him to be. They could've benefitted from some unbiased reporting (Where's CNN when you need 'em?) rather than the poison pen of Marat and the libelists. The main oddity in his story is the fact that he refused to consummate his marriage to Marie Antoinette for seven years. Peculiar. I could set forth some theories but y'all can come up with your own. He does look handsome in red, though, doesn't he?
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I haven't had a chance to research this painting (meaning I haven't gotten around to googling it) but it's of Marie Antoinette, two of her children (the only two remaining, at the time,) in the Tuileries, apparently being verbally accosted by poissardes, the fishwives, of Paris.
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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Micah arrived home today for a few days, so we're going to work out the details of a trip to Europe with her roommate, Sarah, and her mother. Of course, the Louvre is high on the list of places we have to go. The National Archives contain exhaustive records of the Revolution - from records one might expect... of trials and executions plus memoirs, and the like - to the physically minute, yet historically huge, scrap of paper on which Charlotte Corday jotted Marat's address as given to her by her coachman, the handwriting slightly irregular due to the hackney bumping along on cobbled road toward what she may have viewed a glorious destination. I don't suppose that tourists are allowed to browse the National Archives. Somewhere in Paris, perhaps the Louvre, one can see Rose Bertin's fabric notebook on which Marie Antoinette would mark, with a pin prick, the fabric she chose for her clothing. The amount of documentation and artifacts remaining from the time period is surprising to me. In a time much governed by irrational delusion, meticulous records were kept.
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Charlotte Corday went to the guillotine believing she'd stopped the violence by stabbing Marat in his bathtub.
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From my baby book

a sketch of me in the park
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A page from my baby book. The notation in my mother's handwriting.
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My mother gave me this poster years ago.
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If walls could talk

Hotel de Ville which has housed the municipal offices of Paris since 1357.
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Something missing

As much as I love the thought of the family living in France and cherish the photographs, if I were actually able to remember those days, they wouldn't measure up because my beloved younger brother and sister, with whom I feel such a bond, weren't born yet.
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My Catholic upbringing is certainly a factor

From my mother's diary: May 24, 1966 "Today Madeleine was confirmed. She looked sweet despite poison ivy on her face.
The new church was consecrated at that same time. Fr. Lloyd was there. He was so nice to us. Madeleine chose Ann for her confirmation name. I got her a pretty statue of the Blessed Mother from her Daddy and me." The new St. Nicholas Catholic Church in King's Grant was not nearly as cool as the old one which was an old white wooden one. I barely remember it but do remember listening to my Dad sing a solo there shortly before he left for Vietnam. I've been gone from Virginia Beach for a long time but went back to St. Nicholas to attend my mother's memorial service. Either it was gutted and remodeled or my memory is completely off because it felt like a completely different place. I chose Ann for my confirmation name because it was about as plain as it could get. I was self-conscious that my real name was so long and unusual.
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Street corner magic

I've posted this before but it's one of my favorite pictures of the time my family lived in France. Jimmy and Billy look so precious.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Madame Royale Marie-Therese Charlotte de France

The only child of the King and Queen of France that survived the Revolution. Released from prison when she was 17, she later married her first cousin, her father's brother's son.
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Louis - Charles Crown Prince of France

Died in prison, after being isolated from his family, and coerced into falsely accusing his mother and aunt of incest.
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Monday, February 8, 2010

Last letter of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France

16th October, 4.30 A.M.It is to you, my sister, that I write for the last time. I have just been condemned, not to a shameful death, for such is only for criminals, but to go and rejoin your brother. Innocent like him, I hope to show the same firmness in my last moments. I am calm, as one is when one's conscience reproaches one with nothing. I feel profound sorrow in leaving my poor children: you know that I only lived for them and for you, my good and tender sister. You who out of love have sacrificed everything to be with us, in what a position do I leave you! I have learned from the proceedings at my trial that my daughter was separated from you. Alas! poor child; I do not venture to write to her; she would not receive my letter. I do not even know whether this will reach you. Do you receive my blessing for both of them. I hope that one day when they are older they may be able to rejoin you, and to enjoy to the full your tender care. Let them both think of the lesson which I have never ceased to impress upon them, that the principles and the exact performance of their duties are the chief foundation of life; and then mutual affection and confidence in one another will constitute its happiness. Let my daughter feel that at her age she ought always to aid her brother by the advice which her greaterexperience and her affection may inspire her to give him. And let my son in his turn render to his sister all the care and all the services which affection can inspire. Let them, in short, both feel that, in whatever positions they may be placed, they will never be truly happy but through their union. Let them follow our example. In our own misfortunes how much comfort has our affection for one another afforded us! And, in times of happiness, we have enjoyed that doubly from being able to share it with a friend; and where can one find friends more tender and more united than in one's own family? Let my son never forget the last words of his father, which I repeat emphatically; let him never seek to avenge our deaths.I have to speak to you of one thing which is very painful to my heart, I know how much pain the child must have caused you. Forgive him, my dear sister; think of his age, and how easy it is to make a child say whatever one wishes, especially when he does not understand it. It will come to pass one day, I hope, that he will better feel the value of your kindness and of your tender affection for both of them. It remains to confide to you my last thoughts. I should have wished to write them at the beginning of my trial; but, besides that they did not leave me any means of writing, events have passed so rapidly that I really have not had time.I die in the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion, that of my fathers, that in which I was brought up, and which I have always professed. Having no spiritual consolation to look for, not even knowing whether there are still in this place any priests of that religion (and indeed the place where I am would expose them to too much danger if they were to enter it but once), I sincerely implore pardon of God for all the faults which I may have committed during my life. I trust that, in His goodness, He will mercifully accept my last prayers, as well as those which I have for a long time addressed to Him, to receive my soul into His mercy. I beg pardon of all whom I know, and especially of you, my sister, for all the vexations which, without intending it, I may have caused you. I pardon all my enemies the evils that they have done me. I bid farewell to my aunts and to all my brothers and sisters. I had friends. The idea of being forever separated from them and from all their troubles is one of the greatest sorrows that I suffer in dying. Let them at least know that to my latest moment I thought of them.Farewell, my good and tender sister. May this letter reach you. Think always of me; I embrace you with all my heart, as I do my poor dear children. My God, how heart-rending it is to leave them forever! Farewell! farewell! I must now occupy myself with my spiritual duties, as I am not free in my actions. Perhaps they will bring me a priest; but I here protest that I will not say a word to him, but that I will treat him as a total stranger.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Isn't Mom's crooked smile cute?

I don't remember ever seeing this recent acquisition before and don't know where it was taken. I like the background. And, it kind of matches Mom's dress.
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Previously unseen, a different angle

Taken the same day as the one familar to many of us, this picture includes what appears to be a written identification of the photo. Under Dad's name, the 65, 7, 18 must refer to his July 18, 1965 shootdown date.Don't have to be a cryptologist to figure that out. That date probably jumps into each of my sibling's heads when they see the number 65. The video taken this day is on the blog, on the right hand column. Click on the National Archives exhibit link.
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