Jackie Link's Blog

- A blog for no good reason

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The ones that got away


DB let me post his photo taken in Honfleur; mine would be essentially the same, but not as sharp as his Leica's, I'm sure.  There were many more along the harbor and inside an interesting church; I saw them on my Epson and just know they would have been great, Ha ha.  It's too long a story, how I erased them, but I'll keep kicking myself for a long time.   I'll be using his CF cards in my camera until I leave, saving my erased cards just in case I can recover the data, though I doubt a reformatted card can be saved.

And that's DB, caught with the light behind him, fooling around with the Viking helmet in Normandy.


Today is again overcast, but not raining like it did all day yesterday, and so I'm going out with the camera to wander the streets of Paris on the bike, see what I can see.  Yesterday I walked many miles on the Left Bank, or so it seemed, looking for a particular book, which I didn't find.  But I walked down narrow, winding streets, looking into shops and taking my time, something I would never do on a bicycle, so it was fine.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

No time

Monique & Gerald at home in Normandy
With only four full days left in Paris, I won't take much time to write or process photos and, besides, the best ones got away: I can't get over deleting Honfleur!
Yesterday I took the Metro to Bon Marche to shop, ended up walking for hours - without my camera.  It was - and still is - very dark and cold out.  It hasn't rained, but sure looks like it will any minute.  I plan to clean house and, if it isn't raining, go out riding.
These photos were taken in Normandy last weekend. . .though blogspot is very slow to upload them so I'm not sure if I'll get past the one of Monique and Gerald clowning as Vikings.  
Ah, it works again.  The stately country homes look so lonely, deserted, so unlike what I'm used to; I love them.  (This is not their house.)
...and then there are the thatched roof, half-timbered farmhouses to love, also.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Scallops & cockle shells


I probably knew scallops didn't come in cellophane-wrapped packages, but this was my first encounter with the fresh-off-the-boat variety, many kilos of which we took back to St. Hymer from Trouville and had for the best dinner I think I've ever had anywhere - exact location my secret!  Gerald showed me how to remove the nut - the part you eat - and as he picked up another scallop, it was breathing.  Uh oh, I said, this is why I get mine in cellophane-wrapped packages!
We'd walked along the beach, watching the sparse winter crowd play - some children were flying kites without wind, running along the shore - dalmations were chasing each other - teens were hanging out in the sand, sand pushed away from the sea until needed again in the summer.  I collected cockle shells along the beach and enjoyed the view of the grand old hotels, now apartments, all along the shore.
But right now I have to get going, can't take time to process pix or write about the things I saw and did with good company - and I'm still in shocked grief after stupidly deleting a day's shoot from the beautiful port city of Honfleur - probably the best pix of the entire trip.  (If anyone knows how to recover files from either an Epson P-3000, or from reformatted Compact Flash cards, please advise!)
. . .to be continued.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pompidou


I meant to take the Metro and just drop in to the Pompidou Center for a quick run-through this morning, come back for a bike and go to a few more places in the afternoon. Ha! I spent a lot of time talking myself into getting in the long line for a ticket; I went to the store and took pix of the rows of postcards, trying to decide if I really wanted to see more art - took pix of the odd assortment of people and the interesting views - went to the bathroom. Finally got in line, got my ticket, got in another line to leave my jacket and camera bag. An hour after getting there I finally went up the escalators to the galleries. 

I actually saw a lot of art I liked, some old favorites like de Kooning and Kandinsky and Chagall, and a lot that leaves me once again wondering what makes something worthy of a major museum's collection, versus being just a nice photograph - is it the immense scale?  

When I finally left it was nearly 3:00.  I dropped in a side door of a nearby church, St. Merri, which seemed fallen on hard times, full of interesting, incongruous things - old and new intermingled in a nearly random way - I will enjoy working on the images from this day when I get home.   

Needless to say, by the time I got back my eyes were ready to fall out and riding in rush hour traffic in Paris didn't appeal.  I started the tedious job of copying files to my portable storage, instead.

We're off to the Normandy coast tomorrow and I will just put up this one image from today. I like it.  (Otto Dix, Portrait de la journaliste Slyvia von Harden, 1926.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Graveyards in winter

Cemeteries are cold enough places in the spring and summer, but today was exceptionally dark for our ride to Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise - the kind of dense dark it gets to be just before the rain. We first rode to a cafe for lunch and then found our way across the city. We locked the bikes outside the gate and started walking.  And walking.  And walking. We finally found a site map and then located the graves of Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Chopin and Jim Morrison - for no particular reason except we saw their names on the list.
There were very few visitors anywhere, but the few there were were visiting the same gravesites.

The last time I was there, twenty-plus years ago, was in the summer, the trees were full and I remember it being like an overgrown forest, a labyrinth of winding paths.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Louvre fatigue


I got going fairly early today, hopped onto the Metro and was at the Louvre in time for lunch - had to be fortified for the task ahead. 

I trekked all through most galleries, more interested in the other visitors than the art - way too much art - and really, I don't ever expect to go back. One whole day is punishment enough.

But this little Vermeer, alone, was worth the effort.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hercules


. . .I had a long dream about Hercules, my box turtle, last night.  I was worried that he wouldn't be warm enough under his compost pile of old leaves and I picked up more leaves from another pile - and he was underneath, wide awake and looking back up at me.  I picked him up and he was too skinny, I actually felt his ribs (you cannot feel a turtle's ribs, of course, because they have evolved into their shell).  I worry about Hercules every winter; worry that he isn't fat enough to go months without eating; worry that it isn't cold enough for a true hibernation where the metabolism slows, and that he will slowly starve to death.  

The bike brakes are fixed and the clouds appear to be breaking up outside - it's time to get back on the horse that threw me.  (Small raccoon-eye photo added to yesterday's post below.)

. . .we finally got out with the sun shining and rode to a bank office across the street from the Opera, and then back to the camera store on another errand, finally stopping for this photo from Ile St. Louis across the Seine, looking at the Hotel de Ville.    The brakes worked fine.  Good ride.  
Not to complain or anything, but just how much beauty can you be expected to appreciate while dodging Paris traffic and errant pedestrians, bumping over cobblestones just ahead of a bus, etc., etc.?  As it turns out, quite a lot - but you can't also be expected to bag the perfect photograph, can you?  I take some of these just to have material to work on while learning more technical stuff, which shouldn't show in the final image - take my word for it: they are improved.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Minor mishaps


Yesterday I didn't leave the apartment and was really tired of sitting by evening, so today I was bound and determined to get out riding.
I took off by myself this morning with my street map put where I thought I could easily get to it.   
(#1.)  At a major intersection I was caught midway by a changing light and sped up to get out of harm's way when a man stepped off the sidewalk without looking -  I must have yelled, he stopped and turned towards me - and that's when I remembered my brakes barely worked - and indeed, they didn't stop me and I ran smack into him - hard!  My glasses smashed my nose and made two cuts and gave me raccoon-eyes.  But I didn't fall down and because of the small wheels on the Moulton, his crotch was spared (too bad - he should have suffered for not looking!).  I got back on the bike, blood dripping (I was sure I had a bloody nose, but I didn't, just cuts) and kept going.  My glasses weren't broken, just me.  
Hurting, dripping blood, I kept on turning corners at random - ran into the Pantheon - kept going - wasn't running into the Seine as expected - kept going, and kept going, and realized nothing was familiar, no signs pointed to anything I knew - (#2.) time to pull out the map.  And it was gone!  I loved that freebie map.  I found a street information map, figured out where I was and got back on track (I was clear on the opposite side of the city from where I meant to be.  O well.)
I saw a bistrot sign for Le Fondus de la Raclettes, and since before Saturday I'd never heard of raclette, I decided to take its picture.  (#3.) And I stepped in a huge pile of fresh dog crap.  Yes.  Old-style Parisians do not pick up their dog's crap.  This is well known.  One always, always watches one's step.  I spent a lot of time running my hiking boot through puddles, finding a stiff wire to clean out all the crevices.  Such fun.  When it was completely clean I finally rode on my way. 
(#4.) As I was passing one of the free toilettes I decided I would at last figure out how they worked and locked the bike to a pole.  I pushed the right button, the door opened, I stepped in and pulled the door shut - but it had two handles, neither of which seemed to lock the door and, in fact, turning either seemed to open the door again.  Should I risk dropping my drawers and maybe have the door open?  Did I really have to go bad enough?  I took the risk.  The door didn't open (I know, this doesn't count as a mishap, but in my mind, it counts) and I was soon on my way again.  
By now I'd been riding for what seemed like hours, still no sun, and it was getting colder and I was getting hungrier, so I headed home.  
After leaving the bike in the apartment, I went back out for groceries.  I passed a 3-star hotel, walked in, asked for and got another freebie map. 
Later, DB discovered the cables weren't connected for the front brake and the back brake needed tightening, too.  Next time I stop fast I'll probably go over the handlebars and do a face plant. 
All is well, though my face is a mess.

These are the nearly free city bikes, Paris Velib, found all over town.  I do see many people riding them.  You have to be signed up and have a card, but the first half-hour is free and many people get where they need to be, leave it at another station and never have to pay extra.

P.S.  Both handles in the toilette are to open the door - I guess the lower one is for small people, or something.  When one pushes the button to open the door, it automatically becomes occupe, and the door is locked behind you.

I thought you'd want to know.



Sunday, January 20, 2008

South to Provence

Pont du Gard, Provence, France

Gerard and Francoise took us to this site yesterday after a traditional raclette lunch in their St. Laurent des Arbres home, where we'd been for three days.  Often, DB and Gerard were working on computers (both are working photographers) in Gerard's Boulbon atelier, and I took walks or read.   It was a very relaxing get-away, less than 3 hours on the TGV - it would take all day to drive that distance, and a huge improvement over the old compartmentalized, slow trains.


Gerard and David

I have several hundred photos to deal with, but I will probably wait to work them when I get home (the 12" laptop screen isn't good for graphic work).

I made a vegetable and beef stew for our dinner, but without my usual ingredients, not sure how it will turn out.  It should last a few meals, though, and that's the whole point.  (I guess it was O.K, there's only enough left for one more meal. . .)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Work day

I spent today going through old film looking for a particular shot, but it was another gloomy, cold day and I had no plans, so it was good to have an excuse to stay inside and work.  We're off to Avignon on the train tomorrow and not sure when I'll get back to add to the blog.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Museum day

It was raining today, a good day to finally go to a museum and see art - as if this whole city wasn't art enough - and I also finally tackled the Metro, which is easy once one gets past the ticket-buying machine.  (A young woman with the perfect classic face of Liberty sat across from me; it was hard not to stare at her.)  Ten stops and I'm at the Musee d'Orsay.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Making soup

I decided to make vegetable soup for dinner and walked in the rain up Rue Blomet to the natural food store that DB goes to. Passing across Rue Petel, if you turn to your left, suddenly, there's the Eiffel Tower, looking to be just a few blocks away (and it isn't very far away, at that).  But Naturalia didn't have any onions, so I ended up going to the Monoprix too.  And then I sliced and cooked it all up and the soup was fine. 




Sunday, January 13, 2008

Long shadows


I've never been this far north at this time of year and I am constantly confused by the long, long shadows.  At home it would be nearly sunset with the sun so low in the sky, here it's not yet noon.  The light is white, not the golden I'm used to.  Cold.

This morning I took off on my own, riding the Moulton, afraid to lock it and risk losing it, so I pretty much just kept riding for an hour or so.  I headed toward the Seine on Bd de Vaugirard, hung a right on Bd Montparnasse, for old-time's sake, a left on Bd St Michel, and once across the river, stopped to watch ice skaters in front of the Hotel de Ville, on artificial ice, much like our Embarcadero Center's outdoor rink.  I think it was much colder today, but in general, it's not much different than home, a mild winter here, so far.

I didn't take my camera out until I stopped in the Jardin des Tuileries, where I took the only photos for today - all done near noon.  See the long shadows?

My hands got very cold out of my gloves.  I stopped again at the Musee d'Orsay and watched a young woman draw the outdoor rhinoceros sculpture, without gloves, not whining.  I was impressed.

The rest of my ride back to Convention and Rue Blomet was uneventful, and then I had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.  (Great peanut butter.)  Once I warmed back up I got to work learning more technical stuff, and tonight, while we worked on images, we watched "Panic Room," dubbed in French, of course, but it was every bit as exciting as when I saw it in the states.  

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sunny Saturday

The sky was blue and the sun shining for a nice change today.  Once on the right bank, it was my turn to decide where to ride - and since I never know where I am, an adventure (of sorts) was guaranteed.  
Somehow I got us to an imposing building, one I'd never seen before, Palais Garnier (Opera de Paris) and we stopped to look at it.  I liked the row of street lamps and wanted to try to photograph them, knowing I couldn't get them lined up in a row - no way to get the right vantage point for it - but we locked up the bikes and I had a go at it, anyway.
  Afterwards, I headed us up and away from traffic, stopping again at this Art Nouveau Metro entrance, with Sacre Coeur in the background.  I thought a photo of me in my new orange helmet was needed for this blog, so DB obliged, using my camera.
 
And then, still riding up hill, winding around on the narrow, cobblestoned streets of Montmarte, we made it to the top, to Sacre Coeur, where the tourists were enjoying this beautiful Saturday.  But we didn't feel the need to take more photos - it's been done.

Riding back to Montparnasse in Saturday traffic was perhaps less fun, but not for me, I like it all.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Rainy Friday

Photo: Sept. 2006
We rode to the Place de la Concorde on an errand at the American Consulate this morning,but I couldn't take the camera because of the security checks and, besides, it looked like another rainy day in Paris. (Indeed, it was a rainy Friday and we got wet before we got home.) The crowd in the waiting room was the usual collection of people; bureaucracies look pretty much the same everywhere, I think.  Got some groceries and came back to read about the city, instead of being out in it. Fell asleep. Now drinking coffee, hoping to stay awake until late and get myself onto local time.

Usually, while I travel, I write what I'm doing or seeing in a little notebook, but here I have the use of a laptop - what the heck, I might as well babble on about nothing, just like I do at home.

The Ferris Wheel is back up; it wasn't there in the spring.  DB has an extraordinary night shot of it at his Digital Railroad Web site.  

What I always find really special about riding around any city on a bicycle is how much you can see, how easily you can move around the outstanding spots.  If I listed all I see, this would turn into a very long tour guide!  I love the way it all moves around me as I move around it: threading a way through traffic circles, over cobbles and bridges, around scooters and pedestrians and other cyclists, looking at all the sights the while.  Love it.  Rain or shine.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Orange city helmet

Yesterday, when I got to the front door to take my walk it was raining and so I went back up in the elevator to get an umbrella. Another tenant kept talking to me, calling me madame. I don't know what she was saying, I just kept smiling and nodding, assuming we were commiserating about the rain; it seemed to work O.K.
When I got back downstairs it had quit raining, the sun was shining, and it was beautiful the rest of the day.

After lunch DB said lets get you a helmet and go riding. I said, but you said we wouldn't be riding this time of year and he said, no, I said, don't bother bringing your bike, that's different. And so, I get to use the really high-end Alex Moulton, the one that's made of aircraft stainless steel, with Dura Ace, and with front and back suspension. The stem is completely adjustable fore and aft and in no time we'd made it fit me and off we went, me with a really big grin that just wouldn't quit, riding the streets of Paris again.
We stopped in a bike shop for my new helmet, a Bell Citi model, just right for city riding. They only carry the one dark orange color.
And then we rode over cobble-stoned streets, so much easier on the Moulton, to a block on Blvd. Beau Marchais, where there are several camera stores, each with a different focus: large format, Leica, medium format, Rollei.
Yeah, riding the streets of Paris.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Fragments


I spent way too much time figuring out how to put audiobooks onto my iPod, to have for the long flight here.  I was pretty sure I wouldn't really listen to them.  I don't think I'm a good listener.  My mind wanders.
So I pretty quickly lost track of what I was listening to, said the heck with it and put my music on shuffle.  Ha ha, book chapters are the same as songs.  I'd listen to Monk, then a random book chapter, Davis, another chapter, Bach, another.  This amused me all night.  I consider it the perfect way to read a book, not unlike a jigsaw puzzle, fitting the pieces of two separate books together to form something all my own.
I'm going to go for a walk in the neighborhood after I finish my coffee.  It looks like rain.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Luggage as metaphor


I'm leaving home for a month (note to would-be burglars: all my valuables have been stored elsewhere). I have several hours before I leave and everything I need to do is done.

For the past week, and even longer, I've made piles of things I wanted to be sure to take, little things that would come in handy, like a camping headlight for reading in bed, books, little unlabeled plastic bottles of this & that, tiny notebooks, old bicycle route sheets and maps to plan training rides for Velo Girls, computer glasses, warm slippers - you get the idea.

Some of it goes in the big suitcase, some in my camera bag, some in my carryon backpack, some in my hidden wallet, some in my shoulder bag.

And here's where it gets tricky. When I want, say, my sunglasses, which bag will they be in? In Paris I'll remove all my clothes into a loaned CostCo bag (thanks, Jill - everything fits perfectly!) and store the hard case out of the way. So all those odds and ends of things will have to find their everyday home.

I know when I travel by bicycle life becomes so much simpler. Handlebar bag: wallet, glasses, little stuff; port pannier: bicycle stuff; starboard pannier: civilian stuff; rack trunk: tools, book, camera, etc. Nothing leaves it's assigned space over the course of the trip and I can put my hand on whatever I need without going through every bag.

In my house, it's not so simple. I've lived here for many, many years. Odds and ends have accumulated. If something first found it's home, say, near the phone, and I "reorganize" and move it, it might as well have gone in the garbage, I'll have to replace it. And then I'll have two, maybe three, of the same dumb thing.

Already, my travel bags mimic my home, and at this moment I'm already not sure where I put what. Somehow, I don't think I really care. I will just laugh when I have to go from bag to bag to find my damn sunglasses!

3 hours and I'm outta here!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Between squalls


In an hour I'll be braving the Bay Bridge to take Sibyl to birdie camp (boarder's). She's already asleep in her little travel cage.

I forgot how much time there is in a day when you don't have anywhere to be - the rain canceled my weekend rides. I'm actually relaxed, ready to leave for Paris a day early. Maybe I'll go to a movie tomorrow instead of working old images. I haven't had the camera out all week and that seems just fine.

The poinsettia tree, yes, it's a full-fledged tree size, made it through yesterday's storm. It was pretty exciting here, but since our power didn't go out, I think my neighborhood was lucky. There's much debris from the jacaranda tree next door, and two discarded X-mas trees wound up at my front gate, but otherwise, I don't see any damage.

Today's thunder was momentarily exciting, but I think the worst is over - for now.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Another year, already?

Gas House Cove - Marina
OMG, 2007 is toast, and I had so much fun that it went by in a blink.

But today I rode to meet Judy in the Marina and we pushed through some fierce headwinds, across the bridge into the Marin Headlands.

I carried my camera, but the air was dense - smoggy? - and so I didn't get it out much.

I'm more tired than usual - wind does that.