Saturday, September 22, 2012

Creation, God's or Man's?

We went to Versailles today, where I took the photo below. The Sun King had a splendid palace, but who's creation is ultimately more thrilling, man's or God's? Or God's creation of humans and the gift of creativity he gave us? It helps to look up once in a while.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

¡Como se refresca!

Expliqué hace no mucho tiempo como nuestro hijo de dos años está aprendiendo y mezclando el inglés y el español (y también el francés). Otro ejemplo de su uso creativo de la morfema "ar" es "jumpar" (que quiere decir "brincar").

Hoy dijo algo de otro rollo por completo. Como está haciendo más y más fresco aquí en París, dijo mi esposa al salir del departamento, "Yo soy muy friolenta." Sin pensar, nuestro hijo respondió, "Yo soy frio rápido."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sans . . . qui ?

Je viens de lire Texaco de Patrick Chamoiseau pour mes études. J'ai trouvé dans le livre une comparaison qui m'a beaucoup plu. En parlant du personnage Esternome, le père de la protagoniste, le conteur explique comment Esternome a perdu l'amour de sa vie, une femme qui s'appelait Ninon. Pour décrire le pauvre homme après la mort de Ninon, l'auteur nous dit : "Sans Ninon, il vécut de longues années comme vivent les fleurs cueillies."

Ce serait vrai pour moi sans . . . Miriam. Et vous ?

Monday, September 17, 2012

We made it.

Until now I had forgotten to mention that we also made it to the Paris landmark last week. I got some not-so-bad photos, if I do say so myself.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Journées du Patrimoine

Yesterday and today (September 15 and 16, the third weekend of September every year) were the European Days of Patrimony (Journées du Patriomoine). This is a holiday that France began in 1984 and that other EU countries share now. Public buildings (such as government buildings) and monuments are open to the public, generally for free. It was originally called Open Doors Day in France. Is there anything like this in the U.S.? Since we pay taxes, it makes sense for us to be able to visit, say, the Senate building or the White House for free at some point.

Sénat de la France

We visited the French Senate Saturday and then dropped by the National Assembly (similar to the U.S. House of Representatives) but there was a long line that was not moving, and we had two tired children with us so we just took pictures outside.

L'Assemblée Nationale

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

France Photos

The photos that I publish from now through next summer should all be my personal photos. Monday's post had a couple of photos I took at the Jardin du Luxembourg and Notre Dame. I am very excited because my wife and I bought a new camera for our year in France. I will permit myself one photo that I did not take, of the Olympus SZ-12, which we bought at Wal-Mart.

Now, for camera geeks, this is not a big deal. In fact, it's not even a deal. This is not an SLR camera. It didn't cost me one or two thousand dollars (or even two hundred dollars). It doesn't have loads of manual controls. But what it does have (24x optical zoom and good automatic controls with a few manual controls, is more than enough for me. We can still take decent pictures like we would with a point-and-shoot, but the zoom enables us to take pictures of things we could only wistfully gaze at from afar before, like this gargoyle on the Notre Dame cathedral:

If I had a spiffier camera, I wouldn't know what to do with it anyway. So this is not a recommendation necessarily (get what works for you), but rather my saying, I love my new camera! I hope you like the photos this year.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Six Thoughts after a Week in Paris

Le Palais du Luxembourg
So my family and I arrived in Paris a week ago, Monday September 3. A few observations from the first week . . .

1. We can get to any country much faster than our forebears of one or two centuries ago. For that, I am willing to put up with the occasional inconvenience of air travel. Such as getting on a flight in Philadelphia (late) at 6:45 p.m. with (too much) carry-on luggage and two very tired little children, only to be told around 7 p.m. that we all had to get off with all of our things because the air conditioning wasn't functioning properly and we might have to switch planes, and then waiting another hour or so in the airport and then getting on again (all the time with the same two exhausted children and excessive number of carry-ons), before finally taking off three hours late. That's not fun, but it sure beats a month of sea-sickness and possible shipwreck and subsequent death.

2. In any culture, new, familiar, or home, stereotypes are truly helpful (which I suppose means that they are necessary). Parisians tend to be less friendly but I have fewer examples to the contrary from my first week here. The kind woman at the town hall who gave me information about day cares in the 13th arrondissement. The man in the metro today who held an extended conversation with my two-year-old. Et-cetera.

3. So let's not dwell too long on the stereotypes, but rather on the important generalization that people are people whether American or French or Mongolian.

Notre Dame de Paris
4. On a similar note, clichés can be quite enjoyable. I now own a watch that I bought a block from Notre Dame for 6 euros and that has the Eiffel Tower in the center. So what? It was cheap, I like the way it looks, and it works.

5. The key to clichés, of course, is too make them your own. It's my watch now, not just another piece of jewelry with a cliché on it. When I taught creative writing to high school students, I told them to avoid clichéd settings . . . unless they made them fresh. For example, there are probably no settings more cliché for a short story than Times Square or the Eiffel Tower. Yet if I tell you about the time I went up the Eiffel Tower several years ago (haven't been up yet this time around) and thought I was going to throw up because I hate heights, and I said so out loud to my friends, and then realized that everyone else on the elevator understood what I said because, hey, they were also all Americans, okay then the setting becomes a whole lot less cliché.

6. I love worshiping with people from various "tongues and nations." I have that in America, since I attend a church with a lot of international university students, and where we also assist in the Hispanic ministry. But it's wonderful to experience it in another culture too.