Saturday, November 29, 2008

Brussels Biennale

Yesterday, we went to the Brussels Biennale. I posted my photos on Flickr and will have to play around to get some of them to this posting. Okay, I just got some images off Flickr but oh so tiny. I think I need a tutorial. In any case, it was in very interesting venues. The main one was the old postal sorting office building which had been vacant for 10 years. The building had no heat and was minimally light. We loved the structure more than what was on display and the views were quite good, too. The windows were very dirty but I liked this view with the modern buildings veiled by the dirt. More on this after we return from our day trip to Bruges. In the meantime, you can check out this link here. A nice little video and some views of Brussels. See you soon.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving day (USA) in Brussels

We celebrated Thanksgiving Day (U.S. holiday) in Brussels at a restaurant called Drug Opera. We liked the strange-ness of the name and it looked cozy, didn't have someone outside calling us to come in (as on another street that reminded us of a street in the Latin Quarter in Paris - one guy said he was Mr. Satisfaction!) and it turned out to be very good. We had Belgian beer, Chuck dark and me blonde. It was very good. We ordered the salmon, also very good, and finished with, what else, a Belgian waffle (caramel on top of it, sided by a boule of dulce de leche & noisette & some chantilly to top it all off. We were very stuff, oh yes, just like at one of our thanksgiving dinners. We walked for a bit, the rain was off and on again, but it was chilly so we ducked into a theatre venue and checked out the offerings (some in English) and then ducked into a hotel lobby to wait for the shuttle to bring us back to our hotel. We clinked our beer glasses and gave thanks for all we have. We hope all of you in the U.S. had a happy thanksgiving day and those of you not in the U.S. a lovely day, too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Diner last night, Lunch today

Last night, we went to see a wonderful concert at Cite de Musique. I'll be putting some of Chuck's photos of the site on Flickr. We came back into our neighborhood and realized that we were hungry. It was 11:30 p.m. We decided to get carry out pizza from Pizza Momo. It was delicious.

Today, for a late lunch, I brought in a piece of asparagus and avacodo tarte for Chuck and I to share. For dessert, a roulade with tiny chocolate chips and pistacchio paste. Doesn't it look like an escargot?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mardi - Tuesday

There's an international harp competition being held here at the Cite this week. One of the practice rooms is on our floor and we're treated to harp music most of the day. I was so happy to see this silouhette of the harp and harpiste this morning.

Lunch today, Douceur de 9 Légumes, avec une touche de
crème (creamy vegetable soup,) baguette (whole wheat,) olives Provençales and cornichon.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A treat from Gitte

We've been meeting artists from many different countries. The artist across the hall is Gitte from Norway. She's in my cours Francais. She's a textile artist, as I mentioned in an earlier post, and we talked about fabric. She gave me some small samples of what she does. I'll incorporate them into my Purses for Change that I sell in my Etsy shop (which I've put into vacation mode while I'm away.) I'll send her some of my fabric scraps once I return home so she can work her artistic magic on them.

Tonight, we had a meet up with two Iranian artists. One lives down the hall from us. After seeing his really wonderful work, we went downstairs and around to the back of the building to the studio of another sculptor. We'd never been in these sculpture studios. They're very interesting. They have frosted glass walls with doors that open to the outside, not to a corridor like our door does. They have a sleeping loft that one gets to by going up a curved stairway. He had work in progress, too, and it was also very wonderful. It turns out that they know the artists we met two years ago, Fatemeh and Mashid, and we took a picture of the four of us to share with them. We carried on a conversation though we have NO Farsi, and they have limited English and French. We managed though and that's the amazing thing about being here and meeting artists from other countries. It's like what Rick Steve's says: Travel changes people. It broadens perspectives and teaches new ways to measure quality of life.

Food and a dental experience

I was way too busy juggling pots and pans on our two electric burners to take photos of both the kitchen (a mess of activity) and the table (nicely set by Chuck.) The food turned out to be very tasty and I was pleased with myself. Our guest brought a delicious wine and some dried fruit, which was not as dry as the same things we get in the U.S. Succulent dried plums, thick apricots, and soft figs dusted in powdery sweetness. Chuck didn't expect the pit in the plum and ended up chipping a piece off of this front tooth, which he told me about much later in the evening. This morning, we walked over to the Surgery of the dentist that I'd visited last year, two years ago,whenever. I was thinking we'd have to make a rendez-vous, but no! He took Chuck as a walk-in client, not "my" dentist but his brother, and did an amazingly fast and excellent bonding repair of the tooth. The cost: 45€. I'll say no more.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday #2 (Dimanche) at the Bastille Market

The market was crowded, which is not my kind of place to be. I forget and think I'll be okay, but after awhile, I'm like OKAY, done with this. We walked to the end of the stalls and back, threading our way through the people, benches, and dogs. We bought a baguette. We decided to walk back along rue Franc Bourgeois and see what new shops were along the street. Shops were just opening up, people were strolling, and then little white flakes came out of the sky. Surprise! It was snowing, not a lot, but definitely snow flakes. We got a bag of pistachios nuts from the shop at the end of the street with all the falafel shops. Yum, did that street smell good! We came back to our studio, however, and ate leftover soup. We were glad to be in and warm. Now it's raining, windy, and probably very chilly. A good night to stay in and entertain, which is what we're going to do. Hope our guests don't mind coming out to join us on a night like this!

Sunday #2 (Dimanche)

Chuck took some photos of a building detail this morning as we headed out to the Bastille Market. It was chilly and grey but we were somewhat dressed for it. I got this clearer view of Notre Dame from the window this morning because of the leaves being almost totally gone from the trees out front and the sun sort of appearing. I had to post the cakes here. They made the grey day a lot more cheerful.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Today's lunch.

Two kinds of spreads, stuffed grape leaves, tiny tomatoes, Comte cheese, cherry yogurt, and organic bread with sesame seeds...Add some wine...and Voila, today's lunch!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Today, Vendredi #2 (Friday)

We had a mission to accomplish today, but it didn't quite work out, however, our walk over toward the Jardin du Luxembourg made it possible for us to have a lovely lunch out. The brasserie Luxembourg had seats near the window for us and I was able to catch some sun, for the little time it was out. Chuck had a Cesar salad with chicken and shaved parmesan cheese. He loved it. I had a spinach salad with blue cheese and nuts. It was quite good. We added a plate of our first pomme frites for this trip. Next to the restaurant, Delayau, a shop with very artistic looking desserts.

This evening, because we'd had a bit of sun today, the sunset was actually visible. The sky was so nice but my photo doesn't do it justice, only gives you an idea of it.

Later, before dinner, we stopped at a little restaurant on rue Charlemagne, just a block away. We saw a display of hats in the window there last night and wanted to see what was going on. We poked our heads in, but the display was just being set up. Two sisters from Germany (Köln) were selling hats that are handmade. I got a nice green one that has little sparkles on it. I was surprised that Chuck liked it, but he said the sparkles looked like rain drops. Here I am, looking to me, like someone in a 1930s photo, with Gabriela, Marguerite, and Francoise, who owns the restaurant. Check out their site here.

Jeudi #2 (Thursday)

Last night, Thursday, We went to the vernissage (opening) of a show at Philippe Gelot gallery. Philippe's wife, Marylene, helped Chuck with the printing of his photographs last year while we were here. It was a nice show of photographs in the urban environment. Marylene stopped by and we were standing with her across the street from the gallery when I took this photo. On the right, by the corner, are two of their friends, whom we got to meet and speak with (one woman spoke Spanish so I had the chance to practice.) The view up the street is towards the Hotel where friends of ours stayed. We pass it frequently and look at all of the film memorabilia and knick-knacks in the window.

As we wandered home, we passed through the courtyards of the Village St. Paul. Some galleries were having openings and this scene was so quaint. Did they do this for tourists? It didn't seem like there were a lot of foreigners there, but how cute, a woman in a red beret singing chansons, a man with an accordian! Oh mi oh mi how Parisien and weren't we fortunate to happen on it.

The last two images are interesting to us. Tour boats pass on the Seine in front of us, with bright lights blazing onto the building and into our studio. We love it. The buildings across the way are lit up and a light show appears on our walls. Chuck hurried up and turned out all the lights. Of course, without the movement, you hardly get the effect but just imagine it, the lights moving along the walls....tres tres tres marveilleux.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mercredi (Wednesday)

The rainy night scenes are actually from Tuesday night after we went to the opening of the Patrick Mimran show. I waited outside of Franprix while Chuck was getting some wine. It was lovely with the reflections. Yesterday, we went shopping for groceries. Here's what we got. Notice that we got 3 packets of cookies and chocolate bars. Chuck loves those LU and Bon Maman cookies. Also, notice that I used my KootSacs for the produce. The clerk thought that was bon. I got a Comte cheese and a thick slice of Boucheron. The latter is SO creamy and not terribly expensive. I had intended to make an omelet for us after hearing a concert.

The concert was performed by Kiyoko Lerner, in honor of her husband, Nathan Lerner. He's the man whose exhibit we'd seen at MAHJ the other day. We were pretty happy that we'd gotten the information in time to get tickets for the concert. Maya, who is in my French class, and is a pianist, came with us. We really liked the concert very much. The program included Mozart, Beethoven, Messiaen, and Dvorak. We hoped to speak with Mrs. Lerner afterwards and happily, we did. We were all invited to the post concert reception. There was champagne, wine, hors d'oeuvres, desserts. We were very surprised and pleased, of course. We got to speak with Mrs. Lerner (who invited us to see her Bob Nickle print - he was our Prof at U of I, Navy Pier-when we were in Chicago next) and Maya got to speak with her, and her sister, who'd just arrived from Tokyo. There were also many other Chicagoans there and we exchanged e-mails. We finally headed home about 11 p.m. feeling very uplifted by the entire experience. And I didn't have to make dinner!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A walk to galleries in Saint Germaine and horses!

Yesterday, as we crossed over to Ile de la Cite, on our way to the Saint Germaine galleries, three mounted officers of the guard went by us, struggling to get my camera out, I ended up catching only their back ends. The horses were the tallest I'd ever seen in real life. I wish I could tell you how many hands! So big! Even Gita who rides horses in Norway said that they were very tall. We went into a number of galleries with the main destination being the one with the Kurt Schwitters collages on display. They were all for sale but prices started at about 105,500 euros. We bought the catalog for 25 euros. Chuck was so happy to see these originals. They were quite small in size. Some of our students might remember the short film we used to show about him. Here's a photo of the Galerie and one of the collages in the book, which of course doesn't show the true colors or size, but wow it was great to see it in person.

We stopped into a gallery with pieces made of fabric. Gita is a fibre artist. Here we are in the mirror.

Here's the image of the backside of the horses. The really neat thing this morning, is as I was in the post office getting stamps, we heard the clomping of horses hooves outside in the little street, and about 50 mounted officers in full dress of the Guard Republicaine went by. Neither Chuck nor I had a camera with us. Waaa! I asked the postal clerk what was going on, he said "oh nothing, it's normal," with a wink. Hardly normal! There are lots of videos on YouTube that show this group in action.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A surprise on a bridge.

Crossing the Seine yesterday, (I don't know how I got this underline thing, it's annoying me and I can't stop it!) we saw a guy in a kilt putting on a jacket and cap, opening a bag and sure enough, taking out his bagpipe. We stayed for the concert. I really like bagpipe music and appreciated the nice surprise of hearing it with the Seine in the background.

the Nathan Lerner Exhibit

The other day, we went to see an exhibit entitled Nathan Lerner and the New Bauhaus in Chicago. Well, we're originally from Chicago and know of both the old and the new Bauhaus, but we'd never heard of this man, or so we thought. It turns out that we are artist descendents of his. He was the class mate and/or teacher of our teachers. We recognized projects that we'd done as students. We couldn't believe that we'd never heard his name mentioned, or did we, and did we forget. His photographs were wonderful. He did many of Maxwell Street in the 1920s and 30s. As a kid, my father took me to Maxwell Street to buy a jacket once, which I loved. I remember the street being like a big flea market. It turns out that we do know this man, but in an unexpected way. He gave up photography for awhile and did design work. He is the man who designed the honey bear bottle and the sponge mop!! Also, he and his wife owned the building that Henry Darger lived in, and discovered his work when he moved out to a nursing home. We'd seen their names in the Darger catalog from a show we'd seen. Okay, so things are coming together! More than this, we got all emotional about what our teachers passed on to us, which in turn, we passed on to our students. For real, we got out of the museum (MAHJ - Musee d'Art et Histoire Judaisme) and stood on the sidewalk and were all like "can you believe this?" His wife is a classical pianist and is giving a concert in her husband's honor tomorrow night. We're planning to go to the concert.