Sunday, March 22, 2015

Follow Me

Stars seem to cascade from the rose arbor at Marie Antoinette's Hameau.

Photo credit:  Micah Bug

My close, personal (purchased) friendship with Versailles...  and this book...

might make you love Paris as much as I do.

There are certain things that I have to do every time I go to Paris.  


Musée Carnavalet
Cordeliers Convent
Les Puces flea market
Notre Dame Cathedral
Le Hameau and Petit Trianon
St. Germain des Prés neighborhood
Versailles Visite Privilège
Cour du Commerce area
route of the tumbrels
day trip somewhere
Le Coupe Chou
Le Louvre

There are some I've seen, but not satisfactorily.: catacombs, Sainte Chapelle, Saint Denis Cathedral, La Chapelle Expiatoire, Sacre Coeur, the medieval wall remains, Palais Royale...  Paris is full of nooks and crannies to explore.  I want to go to Musée Grevin and see the actual bathtub in which Marat took a knife to the heart thanks to Mademoiselle Charlotte Corday.  I'd like to hunt down the locations of scarcely known, obscure historical spots.  Haussman's work altered the city so much that the Paris of the 18th century is no more. Damn the too late invention of the camera.   A bit of research, though, and glimpses can be seen.

It's my mother's birthday

This was taken the weekend of my father's birthday at our favorite restaurant, Baudien's, at Fowl River.  Seafood.  In his book, Defiant, Alvin Townley referred to my siblings and me as my mother's "small, loyal army" or something similar.  Apt description.  We revere her.  And, we all miss her very much.


These are the rough drafts of a few of the letters that I wrote to my father while he was a POW and a picture of me writing one, acutely aware of the responsibility to say something, anything, to make him feel better.  Some of the letters have notes in my mother's handwriting stating which pictures she mailed with them.  I couldn't find the picture of me in the gypsy costume.  Darn it. Gypsy is a good look for me.

Dear Daddy,

I don't know if you know, but before school started I got a kitten which is now a cat.  About two weeks ago, she had 5 kittens!  I still like to fish a lot.  Not to be bragging, but I am one of the smartest kid (sic / Editor's note:  ironic, huh?) in my class.  School will be out in 3 more days.  I will be sad when it is over my teacher is going away.  Susie the goose had 7 babies.  Mommy said I should have a farm because I love animals so much.  Almost all the ducks had babies this spring.  I am going to join Girls Scouts next year.  I only have 2 boyfriends which I don't know if they are my boyfriends.  I really have a lot of tomboyish in me.  Mother says I would be a good boy.

With neighbor, Sarah Jean Taylor, holding baby duck that we'd swept up in a net.  We were too loosely supervised.  I'd never have let my children violate those poor little ducklings' rights.

"I only have two boyfriends which I don't know if they're boyfriends."  Sounds like I overthought everything even when I was ten.  A girl's life is full of confusion.  Good thing I had tomboyishness to fall back on.


Three Years in the Making

I'm proud of Micah for knowing what she wanted and making it happen.  Three years ago, she bought Liberty's foal.  A purely sentimental decision to buy the foal out of the mare she used to ride, love, and own.  It was a decision that went against all logic.  Micah bought Lanie knowing she'd be in NYC accumulating a quarter million dollars in student loan debt while paying monthly board and expenses for a filly in Texas.  Micah didn't look left nor right despite the fact that she's normally as indecisive as I.   There wasn't any agonizing though she's as careful with money as I am careless.  She knew it had to be.  She knew because, as she says in the video, she "just has so many feelings."

Lanie turned three this week and, on Tuesday, Micah began the process of training her under saddle. We didn't know what to expect, having heard stories that ran the gamut from the horse sitting down, breaking out in a sweat and trembling, bucking, running away. Every time I watched her or handled her, I'd hear Mick Jagger singing "I'll never be your beast of burden" in my head.  (Especially after she kicked me when I was working with her, but let's let bygones be bygones.) We've all seen the Westerns of the horse being "broken" in the round pen by the cowboy that usually ends up in the dirt. 
When the time came, she was totally unphased to have Micah climb on her back.  


Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Southern Girl's Smile and Hair Color May be Fake, but her Silver and Pearls Must be Real

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Back when I got married, for southern girls (and maybe northern girls, too, but I don't recall knowing any) registering for silver and china was a vital step in the wedding prep. In my case, picking out china and silver is nearly all I recall about the months before the wedding.  Strasbourg was my mother's pattern and, in my opinion, incomparably lovely.  My groom agreed, so that's what we chose.

There's a tongue in cheek section of the Southern Belle Primer that describes young ladies according to their silver pattern.  According to the author, a Miss, or perhaps Mrs., Schwartz (but, certainly not Ms.), this is Me, based on my choice of a silver pattern.:  "Strasbourg girls are traditionalists and just a bit formal. As good Southern girls, they are entranced with anything that’s festive and use their good silver almost all the time. Southern men love girls who pick Strasbourg because when Strasbourg girls bring out the good silver, they also bring out the good food. They don’t mix well with boys whose mothers have Buttercup. They will both always fight for control."

And, to think, up to now, I've relied upon my personality type to tell me who I am.  How have I managed?  I beg to differ on Miss Schwartz' analysis.  Not festive.  Not a cook.  I don't fight for control.  (Like to have the last word?  Maybe.)  Ever since I read the description in my mother's copy of the book, twenty years ago, I've identified more with the Chantilly profile which says, "Don't let all that sweetness fool you.  Chantilly girls were often fast in high school."  Haha.

I'm not a "Southern women" in the context in which it's presented in the book, (don't get me started on sororities) but "my people" come from Mobile, a city that prides itself on its Southernness.  Not only are my pearls real, but they belonged to my grandmother and, better still, their lustre is enhanced by a poem from the lovelorn beau who gave them to her, as related in this previous post.  

The Progress of Love by Fragonard

I'm rereading a book about Madame du Barry and, as usual, feel compelled to get it all straight in my head by writing it out in a blog post.  The problem is that everything is so complicated and interwoven that writing about it is a mammoth task to which I'm not equal.  Scholars could write entire books about the most obscure details.  Madame du Barry's story is fascinating and even tidbits are worth exploring.  For instance, it was mentioned in Du Barry by Stanley Loomis that she commissioned Fragonard to paint a series of panels intended for display at her Pavillon de Louveciennes.  I was curious about the paintings and checked around on the internet.  Here's what I came up with and thought worth mentioning...

The descriptions beneath each of these paintings are from this website: 

The Pursuit

In The Pursuit, a young man offers a lady a rose, which is a symbol of love and courtship. A fountain is present in the background and is a sign for the female sex ; the flowing water symbolizes seminal fluid, and together they suggest sexual consummation that is predicted for the couple's future. A statue of two cherubs chasing an animal is also in the background. The cherubs symbolize the man and the trapped animal is the young woman he hopes to attract.

The Meeting

The Meeting is a scene of a planned tryst set in a garden terrace. The piece of paper in the woman's hand indicates that it is probably a letter sent to her to arrange the meeting. The white and red colors of the couple's garments imply purity and passion. The man scales the wall like a knight who has stormed a castle, only to find the woman waiting hesitantly. The expression on her face and in her movements indicates that their tryst is about to be interrupted by an intruder. The statue of Venus in the background reinforces this hesitancy, as she disarms Cupid.

The Crowning

The Lover Crowned depicts a scene in which an artist immortalizes the action of a woman placing a floral wreath upon her lover's head. The gesture of crowning one's lover implies sexual consummation and commitment. The statue of the sleeping Cupid suggests that his job is done because the couple has consummated their relationship and are so confident in their love that an artist has been asked to capture it for all to see.

The Love Letters

Lastly, in The Love Letters, a couple reminisces about their courtship by rereading their love letters. Letters allowed people to profess their love and preserve an affair as they wished to remember it. The statue of Amitie (goddess of Friendship), along with the dog at the couple's feet, signifies friendship, love, and fidelity as the conclusion of the story.