Thursday, October 27, 2011

When My Team Makes It Worth It

Last weekend, I was with these lovely ladies

watching this football game

and doing this cheer.

Read all about it here, at From the Sidelines! And then it's back to GA for me tomorrow to get ready for a travelin' Soldier to c'mon home!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


We interrupt this regularly scheduled Paris post to say that Neal will be home before Veteran's Day!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Deep Breath

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It has been deemed so by Congress. Smack dab in the middle of PINKMANIA, we stop and remember all of the mamas who have outlived their babies...which, to me, feels unnatural and unjust. Although many moms have gone on to deliver healthy babies, who are growing up to be delightful children, it doesn't detract from a pain that is always there and will always show...if you scratch hard enough.

Aunt Becky, of Band Back Together, has established a Wall of Remembrance on her blog today. Shep is listed, but so are many, many, many more. If you, as a grieving mother (or father), ever feel alone, pull up this blog post and read it aloud...and know that you are not. It's a devastating club to belong to...but we will band back together.

Love, light, and prayers for a peaceful day.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Champagne Friday: a break from Paris and the mother of all lists

Last year, Shana posted a "101 Things to Do in 1001 Days." Her trip to see me in Savannah last Halloween was all the motivation she needed to finish and the post the list...since there would be some crossing off of this list while she was down. Well, I find myself in a similar predicament now. I have been working on my own 101 things to do for almost a month...adding ideas or projects as they come to mind. However, one of the big ones, Do a Trash the Dress Photography Session is TOMORROW! And I decided that I should publish the list before there is something to cross off. So, I sat down with my cup of coffee yesterday morning and added those last 30 items.

The Rules: Tasks must be specific with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. They must also be realistic and require some amount of work. I have 1001 days to complete these tasks...or roughly 2.75 years. And for some of them, that might be just enough time.

Deadline: July 12, 2014

(Also...tomorrow is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I will be posting a link to a blog that is doing a Wall of Names. But on Sunday, we're going back to Paris!) 

1.       Do “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” in NYC.
2.       Arrange a traveling dinner (either from home to home or restaurant to restaurant).
3.       Make glass beads from scratch. (Thank you, ATL Groupon for making this one possible.)
4.       Learn how to bead weave.
5.       Make a sheet music wreath.
6.       Knit/crochet a scarf.
7.       Do a 52-photo project. One photo per week for a year.
8.       Go to an NFL game.
9.       Create a Paleo Friendly cookbook for our kitchen.
10.   Attend Breakfast with the Works at Keeneland.
11.   Attend night racing at Churchill.
12.   Attend Picnic on the Porch at Woodford Reserve.
13.   Do a Trash the Dress photo session with my wedding dress.
14.   Move the business completely off of Facebook.
15.   Learn to make an alcohol (either wine or beer).
16.   Floss everyday for a month. (in hopes that it will become a habit. Not do it for a month and then stop)
17.   Take the picture framing class on base.
18.   Cook every meal for a week on Sundays…for a month.
19.   Participate in the Athens Food Tour in Athens, GA (do it on Saturday morning and get a trip to the Farmer’s Market).
20.   Attend art exhibit at High Art Museum in Atlanta.
21.   Take a month off from buying beads and use only the ones I already own (can buy more findings).
22.   Go to “School”…the sushi conveyor belt restaurant in Lexington.
23.   Learn how to give myself a proper pedicure.
24.   Attend VooDoo Fest in New Orleans. (Thank you, Shoes, for the idea!)
25.   Plant Shepherd’s rose bushes.
26.   Attend the Stanislaus Christmas Tour of Homes in Macon.
27.   Read something by James Joyce.
28.   Do a boudoir photo shoot.
29.   Do scrapbooks for London and Paris.  
30.   Wash my sheets every week for a month. (again, in hopes that it will become a habit instead of something I remember to do when they start to feel crusty)
31.   Get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. (SOOOOO close)
32.   Go through all of our CDs and donate to the on-base library anything we don’t want to keep.
33.   Go through all of our DVDs and donate to the on-base library anything we don’t want to keep.
34.   Phase out all household cleaners and replace with “green” cleaners.
35.   Ice skate at Rockefeller Center.
36.   Learn how to do smoky eye makeup.
37.   Do a day of service every 3 months for a year (but if it became a habit, that would be fantastic).
38.   Make my own wrapping paper.
39.   Buy dinner for a servicemember (anonymously).
40.   Take a train trip.
41.   Submit writing to Real Simple.
42.   Go to the KY Derby.
43.   Do NaNoWriMo.
44.   Hire Eli Rose to revamp Magnolias & Mimosas. (just 30 more days and I'm going back!)
45.   Purchase a sewing machine and classes.
46.   Finish the wedding scrapbook.
47.   Begin linking up my results from Pinterest crafts or recipes.
48.   Have Yoga Fridays (like when I was in high school!)
49.   Make the business completely self-sustaining.
50.   Find God. (OK, I know God but I just think we could have a better relationship. Something that involves more than just me praying for the people who need praying for.)
51.   Write my will and funeral wishes.
52.   Give everyone on my Christmas list something handmade...but not necessarily handmade by me.
53.   Go for a ride in a hot air balloon.
54.   Do a difficult corn maze.
55.   Go geocaching.
56.   Reinstate date night on the 22nd of each month.
57.   Purchase a brick to honor Shepherd.
58.   Attend a Josh Groban or Norah Jones concert.
59.   Compile all of the photos from mine and Neal’s childhood and put them into a scrapbook for our children to have.
60.   Begin clipping newspaper articles that I think are representative of a change in history.
61.   Host a Halloween party.
62.   Establish an “answer all emails and messages within 24 hours” policy. (already doing for business. Need to do it for everything).
63.   Create a line of upcycled jewelry with pieces from estate sales and auctions.
64.   Watch Firefly.
65.   Watch Breaking Bad.
66.   Attend a taping of Saturday Night Live (which, I’ve discovered, is no easy feat).
67.   Go to the gun range with Neal.
68.   Make a stack of cards for Get Well, Happy Birthday, Miss You, etc so I’m not always rushing out at the last minute for a card.
69.   Landscape the front yard at the townhouse.
70.   Contribute enough money to Wings for Our Troops to buy a plane ticket for a servicemember to fly home.
71.   Participate in at least 1 care package event at Military Missions per year.
72.   Have another baby.
73.   Spend all of the gift cards I have.
74.   Purchase beads from free trade organizations.
75.   Allow myself to read blogs and not feel the need to comment every single time.
76.   Go to the Farmer’s Market once a month for the week’s fruits and veggies.
77.   Keep Poppy’s ears clean (which means cleaning them at least once a month).
78.   Update all virus software on my computer every Sunday morning.
79.   Buy the Sunday paper and clip the coupons.
80.   Reply back to every comment I receive on my blog.
81.   Go through all of our photos on my laptop and the hard drive and delete any that I don’t want to keep forever and ever and ever.
82.   Back up all of my photos on my laptop.
83.   Back up both blogs.
84.   Redesign my business cards with the new logo.
85.   Read “Wine for Dummies” book.
86.   Delete a bunch of Facebook “friends”.
87.   Spend at least 30 minutes/day playing and brushing the girls.
88.   Install our dream master bedroom closet in the townhouse.
89.   Install a skylight in my office/nursery.
90.   Visit Canada.
91.   Create a signature drink.
92.   Take a photography class.
93.   Take a Photoshop class.
94.   Take a cake decorating class.
95.   Grow and maintain an herb garden through the summer.
96.   Walk out on the Sears Tower’s floating window.
97.   Print and live by the 10 Simple Steps to Staying Organized (from Pinterest) for a month (at least).
98.   Complete a Christmas craft with the glass blocks I bought last year.
99.   Participate in a community garden.
100.                        Take the horse farm tour of Lexington.
101.                        Make another list.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Day After

It was a rough start to Friday morning...with me having caught a nasty case of The Wine Flu and all. I was so overcome with the only breakfast food going down was bread, nutella, and coffee. Neal volunteered to lounge around the hotel until I began to feel a little more human, but there's just no time to waste when you're on a Museum Pass, people...the clock is ticking. Besides, Neal was already showing signs of the actual flu and he was still willing to attack the itinerary...dripping snot and achy joints be damned! I hardly had an excuse...on account of mine was self-induced.

So we started moving toward The Rodin Museum, which was actually high on my list considering I had written a 5-page paper on Rodin in high school. And how do you visit Paris without making a stop to see the original Thinker? Museum pass holders skip right to the front of the line, which was fortunate as people stretched out the door and halfway down the block. Even on a Friday. Even in autumn. You can carry a purse through the museum, and you may carry a backpack, as long as it's strapped to the front. I assume they don't want you to get distracted and, while spinning to answer your wife when she says, "Honey, look at this! What do you think it is?", knock a priceless work of art from its freestanding pedestal with your NorthFace hunchback.

The ticket office/baggage check building empties out on the gardens. It's worth a walk around, especially when the Parisian weather is cooperating. You'll see a pensive The Thinker...
Rodin once declared that this was a statue of himself...evolving beyond an animal nature, to think the first thought, to reinvent the self into something better. Sitting still with the mind moving faster than the speed of light.

Then there's he finally came to be in Rodin' repertoire...although there's an earlier version of Balzac in the museum that I like much better (all I'm saying is...penis...).

and then there's the occasional blonde...

Be careful....she bites. 

While the gardens do wrap around the house, to the back, we decided to meander on in to the museum and then finish with the back gardens on our way out. In the Rick Steves book, he details the main pieces of each room and there are 2 floors to the house. We decided the best place to start was Room 1

As the story goes, when you are a fresh-faced artist in Paris, you are generally poor. And live models cost money...especially the pretty ones. So, when deciding where to spend your money, it makes total sense to eat well and hire the ugly people. Such is the case with this gentleman who, although hard to see here, had some sort of nose deformity. Rodin sculpted him anyway. After leaving the finished product in his studio overnight, he returned to find the back of the head had frozen and broken off under the bitter cold conditions. Rodin loved it and kept it....the critics freaked out and demanded he fixed it. So there are 2 heads on rotation at the Rodin museum. This one happens to be the original. The titles are all in French so I'm calling this one Lobotomy

We could truly appreciate this sculpture, The Bronze Age, after having seen Michelangelo's "slaves" in the Louvre. So similar in pose and realistic features. Rodin created this while he was living in Brussels and was accused of not sculpting it, but instead simply casting it from a live body. Pft! Critics! Nope...he was just that good. 

This always has been (and probably always will be) my favorite Rodin sculpture...The Kiss. It's like sitting on the jagged rocks of a California beach and, just as the sun sets, turning to wrap your arms and your lips around the person you've chosen to see it with. Er...except for the whole nudity thing. California...This was the first of Rodin's work that the public actually adored, but he came to hate it...claiming it was too simple and sentimental. Silly man. We love sentimental! 

These 2 hands, which form The Cathedral, are actually 2 right hands. I don't know the story on this piece, I just know that sometimes I enhance our photos with Photoshop and sometimes I butcher them all to hell. This would be the latter. On my screen it looked amazing and haunting so I hit "save and replace" and got this...which looks like a skin disease. So, my apologies to you...this is such a breathtaking display of art that you really do just have to see it for yourself. 

Although it is primarily Rodin's work in the Rodin Museum, they also feature pieces by Camille Claudel...who began as Rodin's muse and ended as his lover (of course. And this is why the only nude Neal will ever paint is me. I've seen How I Met Your Mother...I know how this all works out in the end). This sculpture, titled Maturity, depicts a scene (probably more realistic than we realize) of Rodin ultimately choosing to stay with his wife (who stands behind him and whispers into his ear that if he sees that skanky little bitch one more time, she will cut off his balls and feed them to him) and Camille, just as he breaks free from her desperate clench. Somehow, I found myself both rejoicing for Rose who has won her husband back, and feeling utterly heartbroken for Camille as she loses the only thing she loves. 

Camille was quite talented and this room is full of her art...which does sort of look like Rodin's. But Rodin returning to his wife ruined her and her ability to create anything at all. She went mad with jealousy and grief and spent the rest of her days institutionalized...probably sculpting the most beautiful mashed potatoes. 

This version of The Thinker was created for a massive project Rodin began but never finished (you see a lot of that in here. Mama Virgo would not approve), titled The Gates of Hell and filled with characters from Dante's Inferno. They are outside in the gardens...beautiful but ultimately unfinished.

The Thinker(s). I couldn't help it. He is most handsome when he has no idea I'm hiding behind art and taking pictures.

And this brings us to my favorite sculpture Rodin did of Balzac...headless and holding an erection. I wish there was a series of these...say...with all politicians.

These are all pieces that I loved and wanted to remember. I don't know the stories or even the titles. But they speak to me all the same.

The garden view from the second floor of the museum. I did very little tweaking on this one. It truly is that green. Maybe they should hold The Masters here.

This is looking at the back of the the opposite direction as the above picture. When you come out and walk around the side of the house, you will pass several food carts as you stroll to the back. The area is also littered with sculptures and fountains. I'm sure if you were starving, you could eat here, but we had plans to grab something on Rue Cler.

The Gates of seen in the garden.

As we exited the museum and started toward Rue Cler, I realized that I should have peed back at Rodin's place. We were fairly close to the Army Museum and still on our Museum Pass so we decided to stop at Napoleon's tomb so I could use the bathroom. And, of course, to see the tomb...which Mama Virgo insisted we visit. If you make a pit stop at Napoleon's Tomb, you should know that it's in the cafe, down the stairs, and it costs 40 cents to use. I just saved you a lot of hassle at a time when you'll be needing less hassle and more privacy. You can thank me later.

So, while we were there...'s several nested coffins inside of each other (oak coffin holding an ebony coffin, housing 2 lead ones, then mahogany, then tinplate). But really?? Is this necessary? He was like 5'2". And this thing was freaking huge. I mean compare it to that chick standing to the right and it will sort of give you an idea of the scale of his final resting place. Although if you want to preserve anything, ask the French. When they exhumed him to move him here in 1840, he was still perfectly preserved...even after 19 years of being 6 feet under.

And because it's the Army Museum, there are other famous military leaders entombed here.

You can visit the crypts and view it all from downstairs, but by this point we were starving. And we still had to walk the 6 blocks or so over to Rue Cler and search out food. So, we blew a kiss to Napoleon and head out the gates.

If you are going to piece together a picnic while you're in Paris, Rue Cler is the place to go. The marches (imagine there is an accent mark over that e, will you?) put out delectably fresh fruits and vegetables everyday, the charcuterie displays delicious cuts of meat, and of course there are the boulangeries for all of your bakery needs. We decided to grab a sandwich, dessert, and drink from one of the takeaway stands in the middle. I think this was the first time we had eaten lunch outside of a cafe...and we were hooked. There is not a single meal at a cafe that can compete with picnicking in Paris when the weather is nice. I don't believe we lunched in another cafe (except at museums) after that. With plastic bags of goodies in hand, we headed over to the Eiffel Tower for an afternoon of people watching and relaxing.

As everyone knows, chocolate lava cake is the perfect cure for the wine flu.

The entire day had been warm, but overcast. Heavy clouds threatened eventual rain. But in the late afternoon, after we had seen literally busloads of tourists flock to the tower for pictures and picnics, the clouds finally started to break apart and the tiniest patch of blue shown through.

I had downloaded several of Rick Steves podcasts of what I guess is his radio show. Who knew?? And the guests were 2 French gentlemen who discussed everything from off-the-beaten path walks in Paris to cafe etiquette to the history of the Eiffel Tower. During one of the call-in segments, they discussed how Parisians have a lot less personal space than Americans. When an American walks up to a sidewalk cafe and sees maybe 1 or 2 empty tables, they deem it too full for dining and look for something emptier. French walk up, see a lively joint with just enough space for lucky! And they pop a squat to join in on the madness. And, I must admit, we had been choosing our cafes like that. The quieter, the better. Well, when in France...

As we strolled back to the hotel, keeping an eye open for a cozy dinner place, I spotted a cafe across the street that was happening. Tons of tables out front were full of young Parisians, smoking, drinking, and eating the most delicious looking salads. We stuck a pin in our personal space bubble and crossed the street to grab the last open table on the sidewalk. The waiter quickly came over to take our drink order ("Happy Hour" over there starts at like 3 and goes all night...but I would not consider the prices to be anything similar to back home...where 2 for 1 is the ideal. Most beers were still $5-$6 for a pint...) and explain some of the menu items. He was quite pleasant and easy to understand. We waited patiently for our drinks to arrive and discussed how glad we were that we had chosen such a bustling cafe. This was the way to eat in Paris...why hadn't we done it sooner??

Not 2 minutes later, our charming waiter got into a screaming match with his co-worker over a table of his guests who had skipped out on their bill. Hands were flying, curse words (I'm assuming they were curse words...apparently today's young Parisians have moved past "Mon Dieu!", which is what I learned in the 8th grade) spewed forth. Our waiter stormed inside the restaurant, leaving us a little puzzled but not concerned....until he clopped back outside, man-purse in hand and headphones on his head. He was ranting and waving with his free hand and headed off into the sunset.

"What are the chances that it's shift change?" I asked Neal.
"Not great. He was awfully mad about something. I think our waiter just quit."

Now we were concerned.

We had been waiting almost 20 minutes for our drinks to arrive and had seen the tables around us served drinks and dinner. A lovely managerial-looking woman appeared outside and began waiting tables. She flitted about, checking on drink levels and how dinner was tasting. It was time for action. I followed her into the cafe, to the register and kindly asked if she spoke English. Of course she did. I explained that we had given our order to our waiter, but not had received drinks or dinner yet. She nodded in understanding and then spouted, "My waiter! He just....PSH!" and made a dismissing motion with her hand.

"He quitter??"


He had managed to quit after taking our order but before actually putting it in the computer. What are the odds?? So they had no record of us at all. She was so frazzled and seconds from having a full come-apart in my presence that leaving now seemed inhumane. I gave her our order again and returned to Neal to confirm his suspicions...he had just PSH!

They didn't comp our meal or really even they would have (or we would have insisted) in the states. But the salad and burger were divine and the story is priceless. I would say, in the end, we might actually owe them.