Friday, December 28, 2012

Sekhmet, Intriguing Egyptian Goddess

Sculptures and statues can define an era, they can reflect the beliefs of a people in another age, and provide insight into their historical significance.

Sekhmet, Egyptian Antiquities, Louvre, Paris by DGH

The statue in the photo above is the Goddess Sekhmet. Sometimes referred to as the daughter of the Sun god Ra, she is known as a warrior goddess, as well as goddess of healing. There are variations on her background, which lead some experts to think she may be older than the Solar royalty. Her leonine profile shows a goddess known for her strong convictions. Her posture is erect, yet she sits at ease.

Sekhmet's face is that of a lionness, the fierce hunter who protects and leads the pharoahs into battle. She is a member of the Solar (Sun) royalty in Egyptian mythology, the dominant cult in Egypt at the time of the pharoahs. Where the pharoahs settled, the cult of the Sun Royalty followed. In the photograph below, the exhibit as seen in the Louvre Museum, Egyptian Antiquities. Sekhmet is at the far right.

Egyptian Antiquities, Louvre, Paris, by DG Hudson

Sekhmet is the protector of justice and order, but she also has a reputation as the Mistress of Dread, and has been called the Lady of Slaughter. Other variations on her name are: Sachmis, Sakhmet, Sekhet or Sakhet.  Sekhmet's name derives from the Ancient Egyptian word "sekhem" which means "powerful one". Mentioned a number of times in the spells of The Book of the Dead, Sekhmet is seen as both a creative and destructive force. 

Sekhmet's image is used as my avatar, as you may have noticed. Out of all the statues we saw in Egyptian Antiquities in the Louvre, I chose this one.  I was certain it looked familiar. At the time I took the photograph, I didn't know the identity of the statue. The line of Sekhmet's profile caught my attention, it reminded me of something I was drawing earlier in the day. A similar profile with a lion's face graced the sides of a window on the building opposite our rented apartment in Paris. So, when I turned the corner and saw the statue of Sekhmet in profile at the Louvre Museum, I had to photograph the image. 

That ends this brief history of Sekhmet, another legend from Antiquity, and reveals how I came to use this image as an avatar.


Do you like learning the history of legendary characters?  Any favorites? Are these figures from history any different from our comic book heroes?  Please share your ideas in the comments.

Best Wishes for the New Year!  Thanks to the readers and followers of this blog for visiting throughout the year and saying hello when you can.  Thanks for the gift of your time.


References: Sekhmet, goddess  More on Sekhmet


Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Christmas Scene for the Holidays

From Santas to Snow. . .

A Santa gathering, retro windup toy in middle, by DG Hudson

Christmas, December 25th, is only a week and a half away. The tree is dressed and wreaths are hanging at our place. We have handcrafted ornaments on our tree, collected at various craft markets over the years. I remember where most of them originated. One from a gift shop in Paris, some purchased from crafty friends, others were gifts from years past. 

Handpainted Christmas Village close-up, by DG Hudson

The Christmas Village above started as pre-cast plaster houses we painted as a family activity each Christmas. We combined the houses with a few N-gauge model railway accessories, and cotton batting for snow.  Be forewarned, a large population of Santas reside here, with a Christmas shop, an old style Diner, even a small nativity scene, N-gauge scale. 

See the four Santas below?  It's four lightly stuffed felt Santas joined together, making it easier to stand, so said the friend who made them.  The clay baby dragon was made by an artist who lets me dragon-sit it.  Both are favourites, the dragon is on display year-round.  He has a roly-poly belly.

4 Santas-in-one and Baby Dragon, photo by DG Hudson

Create mini-displays or mini-scenes, if you have the space. Group items together for better effect, as the first photo in this post illustrates. Larger items are better for this and can be used on window ledges. Smaller groupings can be placed on larger furniture. Our Christmas Village is on a buffet top, so the mirror behind makes the village seem larger. Ensure things are set-up to be out of the way of guests, but yet easy to see.  

The snow-laden trees in the photo below comes from a Winter Past.  However, this morning, we did have snow flurries in Vancouver.  Hope you enjoyed the pics!

A Vancouver winter of the recent Past, by DG Hudson

Best Wishes for the Holiday Season and 2013!

Do you have any favourite decorations for Christmas (something you bring out each year)? OR Do you have a special holiday tradition? (singing, skating, skiing, a trip to somewhere warm?)

Please share in the comments, and thanks for visiting.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Book Review - The Church Mice Series

Today, I'm briefly reviewing a set of children's books that we discovered at our local library, The Church Mice series by Graham Oakley.

The tale is about a vegetarian cat  and the resident mice that inhabit a church in a small English village.  A few of the mice have attitudes coupled with a great sense of entitlement.  The tolerant cat is often coerced.  These are great stories to read with the kids. 

The English author and illustrator, Graham Oakley, born August 27, 1929, is best known for The Church Mice series, from 1970 to 2000.  There are 12 books in this series with beautiful detailed art work in each book.

The Church Mice Adrift and The Church Mice in Action were 'Highly Commended' runners up for the 1976 and 1982 Kate Greenaway Medals from the Library Association.  We purchased these two titles at a library sale.  A short mini-review  of these titles follows.

UPDATE:  Photo now uploaded. Storage problem fixed.

The Church Mice series by Graham Oakley, photo by DG Hudson

The Church Mice Adrift

A tale of how the church mice and Sampson lure the larger rats out of their cozy home in the church, so the mice can move back in.  A Rataurant was their ingenious idea, the rats thought so, too.  Only one problem had to be solved - two mice had to remain with the rataurant to serve the rat clientele.  Samson, the church cat, is their only hope for escape when all the food is gone.

The Church Mice in Action

When the parson's sister visits, Samson becomes a contender in the world of cat shows.  The church mice see an opportunity to raise money for a roof repair, and to that end, Samson goes through with the humiliation of a cat pageant.  The mice do what they do best, and try to turn the odds in their favor. 


Are you familiar with Graham Oakley's stories or his illustrations?  Do you have a cat, vegetarian or normal? Please share in the comments.


References:  Home page, Graham Oakley  Author info and a list of books
Sample of what the book looks like

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Black and White Lens

Photographs in black and white appear somber, yet the image becomes dominant when color is no longer there to distract.  In the following photographs, I've included a bit of background information about each one.

Merritt Stampede 1936

A relative is in the first row of cowboys, second from the right, wearing a black outfit, and black hat on a black horse.  Notice the cars parked alongside the parade route.  A stampede is like a rodeo which includes western skills in races, roping and agility.  This was a time without television, so anything coming to town was exciting news.  Radio ruled.

Merritt, B.C., now sponsors Rodeo Fair Days, while larger cities such as Calgary, Alberta, hosts a much larger stampede event. 

Merritt Stampede Parade, 1936, Local cowboys, prop. DGH Collection


The Royal Hudson

A special steam train previously operated by BC Railway and used for tours of the coastline between Vancouver and Squamish, B.C.  This class of steam engine, built in 1938, earned the title of 'royal' for its never-failing service to the royals during their cross-country tour in 1939.

King George VI and the queen consort, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (the Queen Mother) arrived in Canada on May 17, 1939.  Their train was a silver and blue 2850 steam engine.  The King allowed the name to be called the 'Royal Hudson' and to display Royal Crowns on the running boards.

The Royal Hudson 2860, 1940s Vintage Steam Engine, by Green Eye


Fort Jefferson

In 1846, a coastal fortress is built in the Dry Tortugas, 70 miles from the Florida Keys.

The arches shown below used some of the total 16 million bricks that were carted by ship from Boston, Massachusettes, to the Dry Tortugas. Small windows were set in the brick walls, narrowed for sighting of guns, and to prevent entry of enemy cannonballs.  Dripping water from rain and constant humidity leaves deposits of sediment on the corridor floor.

Dry Tortugas, Ft. Jefferson arched corridor, by DG Hudson

Fast-forward to 2006, when we went to the Dry Tortugas on a catamaran adventure tour.  See Key West, a previous post with more details.  Fort Jefferson, the monument, is an interesting place with a history connected to Abe Lincoln and his assassination, one of the dark times in American history.  When we were there, reconstruction was underway for some storm damaged sections.


Do you like black and white photography?   OR do you prefer color?  Who doesn't like cowboys, trains or pirate islands?  Please share in the comments and thanks for stopping by.


References:  - Royal Hudson Trains,_Florida - Fort Jefferson Monument - The Dry Tortugas


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Country Girl comes to the City

Nellie had heard that jobs were plentiful in the big city of Vancouver.  When she graduated from the residential school, she wanted to see different places and meet different people.  Money was scarce on the reservation.  Even though her family and her siblings wanted her to stay, she bid them goodbye and left to make her way by herself.


Residential School graduate, prop. AHC


Her friendly smile and infinite sense of patience helped her charm the patrons at the Ovaltine Cafe, where she worked from the late 1930s to the early 1950s.  Hastings and Main was part of the downtown epicentre until the late forties.  There she met most of the local Vancouver Police officers who liked to stop by the cafe, and her future husband, a heavy duty mechanic from the prairies.


The Couple, in the late 1940s, prop. AHC

Two boys were born in the next few years and jobs opened on the Dew Line, the Distant Early Warning System that was being installed in the far north.  Her husband signed on.  During his early days of work at the site, the report indicated the plane had crashed within the Artic Circle.  He was believed dead.  Communications were practically nonexistent, especially in the cold winter months. There were no letters.

Devasted, Nellie moved back to her hometown and tried to look after her young children.  Life was hard, even with family nearby.  Enduring the cold winters, the resentment by others in the community, and the feeling of loss, she worked as a waitress to feed her kids.  The customers always liked Nellie.


Nellie, in hat, with friend at cafe , Vancouver,BC - AHC


Seven months later, E.W. was able to get a letter to Nellie and advised he was coming home.  He had not crashed, after all, but had been restricted from contact.  Back to Vancouver Nellie went, hiring on with the T. Eaton Company, where she worked until she retired at age 65.  Her two boys flourished in Vancouver, riding the streetcars and meeting mom for dinner after a movie on Saturdays.

Local gossip said that Nellie's dad helped catch one of those famous bank robbers in BC, but I can't say which one.  That would be another story.  Nellie's birthday is coming up later this month when she will be 97 years old.*  There's always a celebration at the care home, and her family visits with gifts.  A lovely lady who never gave up despite her setbacks.  She's one of those people who inspire me.

*Disclaimer: Names altered for privacy; based on true and fictitious facts. Photos, courtesy of family.


Do you have a relative or a friend like this, one you would like to celebrate?  If we don't tell some of their stories, who will?  Please share your thoughts on this in the comments.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Siegfried, Brunhilde and the Witch

Love Potion and a Dirty Trick
Never trust a woman whose mother is a witch.

Sigurd and Brynhildr's Funeral Pyre, by C. Butler, 1909 (PD*)

Siegfried and Brunhilde

In Icelandic and German mythology, Brunhilde was a strong, beautiful warrior princess and Valkyrie who was cruelly deceived by her lover, Siegfried.  She appears in the Icelandic Edda poems and in the Nibelungenlied epic of Germany.  Her name variations are Brunhild, Brunhilda, or Brynhildr.

Condemned to live the life of a mortal woman by Odin, and banished for displeasing him in a judgment call, Brunhilde sleeps under his curse.  Imprisoned in a castle, behind shielded walls, within a ring of fire, her body rests until the spell is broken.  Her only release is to be kissed by a hero who will cross the flames to reach her.  Cue Siegfried.  Love is born, promises exchanged, then Siegfried leaves, with that age-old promise to return.  The trouble begins when Siegfried meets Gudrun, the daughter of Grimhild, the witch/sorceress.

Grimhild prepared the potion that entrances Siegfried, making him forget Brunhilde and his vows.  He then compounds the problem by deceiving her. When she learns of the treachery from Gudrun, Brunhilde seeks revenge.  Siegfried is killed through her planning, after which Brunhilde joins him on the pyre that takes them to the other side.  There are variations on the events and the ending depending on the country of origin.  This legend bears witness to the following quote by William Congreve from The Morning Bride, a play from 1697. 

"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."  This line is often misquoted as, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." 

Legends can be based on events in history or local beliefs. Some legends have a moral lesson at the core. A legend can grow from a real event and others' retelling of what occurred, with embellishments added to suit their purpose. Were these early legends verbal teaching tools?


Are you familiar with the story of Siegfried and Brunhilde?  If not, how about another legend popular at Halloween, The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow, written in 1820? 

Please share what you think about legends in the comments.  Do you think they were used for teaching purposes?


References: Warrior maiden Brynhildr William Congreve


Credit Art Work: Sigurd and Brynhildr, by Charles Butler, painted in 1909, Wikipedia Commons, PD.  For details, see Creative Commons (art tags).  This photographic reproduction is therefore also considered to be in the public domain.  *PD = Public Domain


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Spirit Bears and Woolly Mammoths

Don't go down to the woods, today. . .

Mother Grizzly Bear and cubs at coastal Dump*, DGH Collection

In the Great Bear Rainforest, a vast area has been purchased to protect grizzly and black bears from trophy hunting enthusiasts. This purchase also protects the Kermode or spirit bears (black bears with white coats). A bear hunt has been banned this year by coastal First Nations from Haida Gwaii down the central coast of British Columbia. Other parts of the Great Bear Rainforest may not have these restrictions, check online for hiking and guide information.

Credit: The Vancouver Sun, Sept. 17, 2012, Environment, NGO buys bear hunting rights, by Judith Lavoie, Victoria Times Colonist. NGO=Non governmental organizations

Good news for the bears: The Raincoast Conservation Foundation now controls hunting in the heart of spirit bear country. (Size=28,000 sq km + 3500 newly acquired sq km.; measurements from news article)



Spirit Bears

The Kermode bear (kerr-MO-dee), or spirit bear is a subspecies of the American Black Bear. It's noted for one-tenth of their population having white or cream coats. The Kermode bear's range includes the north and central coast of British Columbia and inland toward Hazelton, BC.

A male Kermode bear can weigh 500 lb (225 kg) or more and stands 6 feet tall. Females are slightly smaller, weighing in at about 300 lb (135 kg). Spirit bears, because of their ghost-like appearance, hold a prominent place in the oral stories of the Canadian First Nations and Native American lore.

National Geographic estimates the spirit bear population to be between 400-1000 individual bears. In their information, they suggest "the spirit bear may owe its survival to the protective traditions of the First Nations, who never hunted the animals or spoke of them to fur trappers". Kermode Bear

*This photo shown previously in the post The Right Place - Must have been the Write Time on my Rainforest Writing blog.



Woolly Mammoths

Mammuthus primigenius: The woolly mammoth, or tundra mammoth is the last species of mammoth.

Woolly mammoth remains, which may contain living cells, have been discovered by an international science team in Siberia. Months of research will be needed before findings are conclusive, but what IF soft tissue DNA is found? Will cloning be far behind? These creatures are believed to have died out around 10,000 years ago, although small groups may have survived longer in Alaska and in Siberia.

Whether climatic change or overhunting by humans caused the mammoth's final demise in Earth's past, it's an amazing find for scientists today. I'll be watching for any news about the cloning part. Woolly mammoths were described in Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear series.

Credit: Vancouver Sun, Science section, Sept. 12, 2012; Associated Press; Mammoth remains found in Siberian permafrost raise hopes for cloning.


Have you heard of spirit bears? What about cloning of the DNA of long-dead woolly mammoths? Do you remember Jurassic Park? Please share in the comments.




Monday, September 10, 2012

What's Your Chocolate Blogfest

To get in the flavor of this blogfest on September 10th, think Chocolate.  What image does that conjure in your mind?

M.Pax, Laura Eno, Brinda Berry and Ciara Knight are hosting the What's Your Chocolate Blogfest.  You just have to talk chocolate, relate chocolate memories, and tell us about chocolate loves from your past:   chocolate fudge, chocolate dipped berries, chocolate liqueur, chocolate cheescake, handmade chocolates, and so on.  

What's my chocolate?  Dark Chocolate
and then, there's. . .

Too Much Chocolate

One chocolate dark night in early December years ago, we decided to make 150 truffle sized chocolates for Christmas gifts.  As novice chocolate makers, it took hours to shape that many fondants and dip each one into chocolate. We never made chocolates from scratch again.  At least two people are needed to make enough for several gifts, one person to dip the pre-made fondant shapes and one to grate the chocolate and keep it liquid for dipping. Although our place smelled sweet and chocolate-covered candies covered every surface, once was enough.  A true story.


Don't forget to answer the question. . . What's your Chocolate of choice?  Please share in the comments and thanks for stopping by.

To get back to the list of other bloggers participating in this Chocolate blogfest, click the link:

What's Your Chocolate Blogfest (M. Pax's site)


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Paris - Street Level Study

Near the Moulin Rouge, Starbucks in Montmartre, Paris.  A welcome break halfway to our destination. . .

Starbucks in Montmartre, Paris by Green Eye


The square cut cobbled stone of Pere Lachaise's streets in the autumn.  Step carefully, as this isn't a completely flat surface.   It forces a respectful pace.


Pere Lachaise cobblestones, Paris, by DG Hudson


The Eiffel Tower seen from ground level, the Trocadero in the lower centre of the photo. The blue building on the left is the entrance to the tower elevator.  


Paris advertising on the Champ Elysees using two images of Brigitte Bardot. 

Champ Elysses, Paris, by DG Hudson

Forever bronzed in his headlong stride, Winston Churchill walks to meet whatever challenge stands in his way. 

Winston Churchill in bronze, Paris, by DG Hudson

Sometimes, it's the little things that stand out in our memory.  For that, you need to be on the sidewalk, at street level. 


How do you remember your travels?  Do you keep notes, use a journal, record videos or photograph everything?  Please share in the comments. 


Two upcoming blogfests you should check out:

Sept.10, 2012:  MPax, Laura Eno, Brinda Berry, Ciara Knight,
What's Your Chocolate Blogfest

Sept. 17, 2012:  Alex J. Cavanaugh,  Genre Favourites Blogfest


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Time for Retrospect

Could you tell someone your life story? 

What were the main turning points?   Do you remember?  Here are some ways to collect those memories.  Retrospect means looking back.
Images (photos, video)

Visuals excite our brain as we try to identify what we see and match the image to personal memories.  Have you looked at old family photographs and wondered who those people were?  It takes a minute or two to identify who, when, where and what (event) on all visuals before we file them away.  Identify online with a caption or tag and group items together (the maternal or paternal side of the family, distant relatives, family or school reunions, family trips).

Vancouver, Burrard Inlet seals sunning, by DG Hudson

To get started, sort photos and gather paper collectibles in a storage container.  Discard or repack what you can't use, but retain a sample of concert programs, tickets, posters, sports books, travel maps, special cards or letters.  A flat-bed scanner is useful for enlarging the images taken with small format or older cameras.

Record Known Facts

Where the family name originates (both sides)
-Newspaper clipping of an event which helps establish time period
-Family tree known connections (use a template or record free hand)
-Heirlooms or special family treasures; include history, if available

Collect Memorabilia

Family get-togethers or summer visits with relatives are the ideal time to collect those memories by using your camera or getting someone else to do it for you.  Include a beloved t-shirt of your fave band, autographs, old school records or class photos.  Don't forget, this will be a cumulative project and you're the curator.

Mother-in-law c.1940s - DG Hudson Collection

Break the task into smaller chunks

Transcribing family stories can be done in small bits; determine main ideas and what you want to include.  Match photos to event.  Be creative in your display.  Make collages.  The final format can be print or digital, but consider whether you need multiple copies for any interested siblings or only one for your family. 

No gender specific skills required
Men and women can do this.  Quality of presentation is subjective.  I made a birthday photo album for BIL (brother-in-law) of his childhood and teen photos.  BIL was surprised and pleased seeing photos he had forgotten about.  Keeping track of memorabilia isn't always high on men's 'what to do' lists, but at least make a minimal effort.  You may be glad you did.  Blogger Arlee Bird recently wrote a post on storing some of these memory collectibles


Memory quilts (sewing skills required)

The design of a memory quilt should reflect the style of the person who will receive it.  What does that person like? Do they have a hobby or interest that suggests a theme?    You can design-your-own or purchase a pre-cut pattern at sewing stores.  I design my own layout and mix and match patterns with a related colour or theme.  To personalize, add applique to some squares and use needlework for the reverse of the quilt.  A very basic outline of steps for crafting a memory quilt follows.

Crafting a Memory Quilt

  • Make a list of elements to be included on memory side of quilt, calculate size required and purchase amount of fabric needed.  Play with design of front and back on paper first.  Use fabric and colour to enhance design.
  • Cut squares.  I used a pattern for 11in x 11in, (metric=28cm x 28cm).  The size of the squares will determine how many are needed for a finished quilt.  Photograph design layout after basic squares cut, this can be used as a reference. One side consists of 11 x 11 squares; the reverse side is a solid piece providing a background for personalization.
  • Stitch vertical rows of squares, then join the rows together to complete the large inner square section of the front.  Applique and machine stitching detail are added at this stage.
  • Design the needlework needed for the back memory part of the quilt. (freehand or stencils). Complete needlework stitching.  Tiny sew-on charms, heritage lace, buttons or antique doilies can be used as embellishment. 
  • Sandwich the front and back together, overlapping back to front to form the edge binding.  Add basic stitches by machine or hand to secure the front, back and fiberfill layer.  Voila!  (That's the short story.)
  • Handwashing the quilt is recommended particularly if some items are vintage. 

Destroyed or overused Baby books or albums

They can be salvaged.  Take apart at the binding, carefully cutting the pages along the spine with a sharp knife.  Each page can be inserted into the top opening clear pocket pages of a scrapbook.   Other small collectibles can be kept in these as well ( a lock of baby hair, a baby bracelet, etc.)


Additional References:

It's Your Life - Prove it!  Ideas and Information to get you started from an earlier post of mine.

Check out Arlee Bird's blog, Wrote by Rote for more ideas about memoirs and taking care of family history.


Friday, August 3, 2012

PARIS - Postscripts

The Hotel de Vendome

A private residence in the 1700s, this building reflects its 1714 modifications.  In the photo below, you can see the delicate wrought iron railings, and the details of the building design.  Each arch was topped by face plaques (sometimes called grotesques).

Hotel de Vendome detail, Paris, by DG Hudson


Oscar Wilde's Tomb
The back of Oscar Wilde's tomb in 2010 illustrated the need for protecting the surface of the monument. The family arranged to have the tomb cleaned and protected by glass, while still allowing the view of the design.  For more information, refer to this post on Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Wilde's Tomb, Back view 2010, by DG Hudson

W=Wilde Thing (My blog post April 2012, A to Z challenge)  Oscar Wilde, wiki

Walling off Oscar Wilde's Tomb


Old Paris Cityscape

A miniature of Paris in the 1700s behind glass in the Musee Carnavalet.  This style of building didn't allow for light to penetrate to the street.  If you were fearless, you could try using the interconnecting rooftops for your getaway.

Museum miniature of Old Paris, by DG Hudson



Bronze Dalida, Singer, in Montmartre, Paris by DG Hudson

Dalida, an international singer performed and recorded successfully for 30 years in many languages:  French, Arabic, Italian, Greek, German, English, Japanese, Hebrew, Dutch and Spanish.  She spent her early years in Egypt as a member of the Italian Egyptian community, but lived her adult life in France.  Her career spanned the years 1956-1986.

Refer to Personal Life at the link below for the tragic details of her lovers and husbands. Dalida’s private life was marred by a series of failed relationships and personal problems. On Sunday, May 3, 1987 Dalida decided to end her life and left a suicide note.  Monday, May 4, 1987, near noon, her body was found. She died alone at her Montmartre residence in Paris. 

Dalida was buried in 1987 in the Montmartre Cemetery.  Alain Aslan, the sculptor, also made a statue on display outside her tomb.  The bust of Dalida in the photo above is on display near her previous residence . 


Is any of this new to you?  Ever heard of Dalida?   Do you like people or location photos?  Please share in the comments.



All photos by DG Hudson in Paris, 2010, unless otherwise noted.  Biography details of Dalida, wiki
and Personal Life  Famous singer, Dalida and her music Hotel de Vendome, Paris, wiki  Carnavalet Museum


Monday, July 2, 2012

The Triplettes of Belleville, A film

. . .and the Tour de France

The Triplettes of Belleville* (Les Triplettes de Belleville), is an animated comedy film released in 2003.  Written and directed by Sylvain Chomet, it was called Belleville Rendez-vous in the UK.  The visual effects are retro and perfect for the material.  The film was an international co-production between companies in France, the UK, Belgium and Canada.  The film's music is 1920s inspired and includes characters reminiscent of Josephine Baker, Fred Astaire, Glenn Gould and Dhango Reinhardt-the guitarist playing for the singing and dancing Triplettes.  Triplettes of Belleville Trailer and photo  Youtube-Triplettes of Belleville.

*Also known as Belleville Rendez-vous in the UK.

The film tells the story of Madame Souza, a grandmother who goes on a quest to rescue her grandson Champion, a Tour de France cyclist kidnapped by the French mafia and taken to the city of Belleville.  Souza is joined by the Triplettes of Belleville, music hall singers from the 1930s, and her obese hound, Bruno, as she searches for the hideout.  This is a film about a grandmother's devotion and ingenuity as well as about the annual Tour de France, a world famous cycling event currently taking place, 30 June–22 July, 2012.


Have you ever heard of this animated movie, The Triplettes of Belleville OR the Tour de France?  Are you a competitive cyclist like the grandson in the story OR are you a weekend cyclist, riding for pleasure and fitness?


References: General Info, Wikipedia & French poster illustration  Film site rating  Tour de France 2012 Info

Friday, June 1, 2012

Vancouver Update - A Bridge and Crepes

Bridges and the construction of the same have always fascinated me.  The image below shows the existing Port Mann Bridge in British Columbia, with the new cable design to the left.

The Port Mann Bridge, with New Design by DG Hudson

This design is actually very appropriate for this location, with the clear view of the mountains or the water.  The white cables form a pattern that appears graceful even in the construction stages.  The orange rounded arch belongs to the existing bridge.

Parallel Bridges of the Port Mann in BC, by DG Hudson


The new incarnation of the bridge will expand the capacity of the the existing Highway #1 in connecting the Fraser Valley to the Tri-Cities area.  According to Wikipedia, the old bridge, built in the 1960s will be dismantled.  This was news to me.  Discussing the new bridge can be touchy, as tolls will be the chosen source of income to finance the ongoing costs and maintenance.

Orange Girders and White Cables, Pt. Mann Bridge by DG Hudson

Scheduled for completion by the end of 2013, the new bridge is expected to improve the commuting experience.  We'll have to wait a year to find out.

See References listed below for more links.

*** ***

Greater Vancouver Regional district

In Coquitlam Centre Mall, at the intersection of Barnet Highway and Lougheed Highway, we discovered a small welcoming cafe called 'Crepe de licious'.  They have other edible delights such as gelatos, breakfast crepes and Paninis also on the menu.  This is healthy light eating.

Crepe de licious cafe, Coquitlam Centre by DG Hudson

These ladies shown below made our delicious crepes BEFORE I said I would mention them in my blog, then they graciously posed for a photo.  The special coffee was very nice too, not just your usual drip and splash.  They took the time to make the crepe the way I do at home, but they have far better equipment.  Some crepe makers, of professional quality, are available for sale in the store.  Prices for sweet or savoury crepes range from $4.25 to $9.95. 

Friendly Employees at Crepe de licious.

To learn about other locations, check the website

Crepes. . .they can be versatile.

We had our first nutello crepes at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.  I make my own batter and crepes using a basic recipe.  It always works.  I don't use special equipment.

Do you like crepes? Any creperies where you live?  Share the names in the comments, and where they are located in your city.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Monet's Garden - A Palette of Color

In the old province of Normandy, in Giverny. . .

Monet's Garden Entrance, Giverny by DG Hudson

In Giverny, Impressionist painter Claude Monet's restored house and garden provide a look at the inspiration for many of his paintings--his gardens. In Monet's day, the train was the only access to the village, 80 km, or 50 miles from Paris. In the late 1800s, the village population count in Giverny was about 300. It hasn’t grown that much since then, but the town does see many more tourists. One of reasons is Monet's Garden at Giverny.


Monet's House in Giverny, Autumn, by DG Hudson 

In 1883, middle-aged Claude Monet, his wife Alice, and their eight children from two families settled into a farmhouse here, west of Paris. Monet, at that point a famous artist, would spend 40 years in Giverny, traveling less with each passing year.

Monet lived in the house with its famous pink crushed brick façade from 1883 until his death in 1926. He and many members of his family are interred in the village cemetery. The house has a huge kitchen, and a large bright studio, now used as a gift shop.   Monet’s Japanese prints are on the wall, a ceramic cat sits on a table. No photos are allowed inside the house. The bedrooms are small, but probably normal for the time. The rooms are complete with period furniture, much as they would have been during the time Monet lived here.

Monet's Water Garden, Giverny, Fr. by DG Hudson

The Water Gardens are most peaceful, with the sound of running water and lovely vistas that change with the seasons. We were there in the Autumn when the gardens were lush with growth.

Monet's Garden at Giverny, Real Water Lilies, by DG Hudson


Claude Monet's property at Giverny (house and gardens), left by his son to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1966 became a Museum opened to public visit in 1980 after completion of large-scale restoration work.

Are you a gardener? Have you seen Monet's garden? Do you like Impressionist painting?  Please share in the comments.


References:  Giverny Gardens Giverny  Foundation Claude Monet 
Rick Steves on Monet's Garden

Sunday, April 1, 2012

PARIS - The Street Scene

In the Marais,

Saturday Marais Street Market - Paris, Fr. - by DG Hudson

Our first weekend in Paris, we wanted to see the local neighborhood.  The Marais street vendors set up their stalls on weekends so we joined the shoppers strolling the sidewalk flea and craft markets between old churches and apartment buildings.  The tiered steps force you to slow down your walk and check out the wares.

In parts of the Marais, you'll see the older streets that are just wide enough for small cars or Parisian motorbikes; the buildings are protected by concrete stanchions and cars that never seem to move. Perfect for walkers. Small museums are hidden among the residential blocks in these older neighborhoods, providing a second life for the former homes of aristocrats.



Montmartre, Lapin Agile on left, Artist Cafe late 1800s - DG Hudson

Wandering the streets of any city is an excellent way to find those unique tiny shops that sell art supplies, or that cafe that serves Breton crepes.  You need to know which ones to avoid, as well.  This post will highlight some of the streets we explored.  In Montmartre, you'll find winding, old-style streets that climb ever upward and curve around churches and other buildings, some of them centuries old. 

Moulin de la Galette, Montmartre, Paris by Green Eye

Small sidewalk cafes are tucked into creative spots on the streets as you ascend the hill: Moulin de la Galette, of Renoir fame, La Maison Rose, and Lapin Agile, an artists cafe. We took a detour to see the petite square of the Wall-Passer and listen to the story behind the sculpture. (The sculpture depicts the main character in the story, a Parisian tale.)


Rue D'Orchampt, Graffiti wall:

Graffiti in Montmartre - by DG Hudson


Bouquinistes / Booksellers of Used or Rare Books

Bouquinistes by the Seine River - DG Hudson

Only stopping briefly to look at the literary offerings of the bouguinistes, I didn't buy anything.  I first saw them in their closed position when we walked by the Seine River in the evening.  Locked dark green boxes that blossomed into reading material and other printed objects when opened in the daytime. 


Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysses by DG Hudson

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées leads to the Arc de Triomphe at the end surrounded by the L'Etoile, recently renamed to honour past President Charles de Gaulle (Place Charles de Gaulle).  Pedestrians can access the Arc de Triomphe via the underground tunnel. 

Commissioned in 1806 after Emperor Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz, the Arc de Triomphe wasn't completed until 1836 under King Louis Philippe.  There were various reasons for the delay.  Beneath the Arc de Triomphe lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.   The coffin was interred on Armistice Day 1920.


La Grande Arche

Le Grande Arche, centre horizon, from the Arc de Triomphe-by DGH

A 20th-century version of the Arc de Triomphe, La Grande Arche de la Défense is a monument to humanity and humanitarian ideals.  In the photo above, the Arche is the square hollow shape at the distant end of the street. The tall building on the right is the Palais des Congres de Paris.  The placement of the Grande Arche was specific and completed the line of monuments forming an axis that runs through Paris to the Louvre at the other end.


Can you name other cities with interesting streets? Or streets that hold a special memory for you?  Please share in the comments if you do.

For more details on the City of Light,  check the Paris Posts Tab at the top of the page at my Rainforest Writing blog.  

References: La Grande Arche  Montmartre Trivia Booksellers
Napoleon's Arch


Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Eiffel Tower, Paris - a Photo Study

The Iron Lady

When evening comes, Tour Eiffel wears her light colours and starts to sparkle.

The Eiffel Tower charmed me more than I expected, with its delicate scalloped ironwork designs on the lower edges. Paris is a city known for its artistic elegance in wrought iron, and this tower is no exception.  How much more fantastic the Eiffel Tower must have seemed in 1889, after its completion for the Paris Exhibition.

The Eiffel at a Different Angle

Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, born December 15, 1832, in Dijon, France, is the man who designed the world famous Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) for the 1889 Exposition in Paris. He was also a writer, publishing 31 books and treatises about his numerous projects and experiments. More information about Gustave Eiffel can be found at the links below this post.

72 Names of Men
(scientists, engineers, and associated professionals) who contributed to the Eiffel Tower's construction, line the bottom edge on all four sides.  I was impressed until I discovered the women who contributed were omitted from being so exalted.  It was the Age of Men, then, wasn't it?  Women didn't have the vote.

Eiffel Tower - View of 1st level by DG Hudson
 On the lower edge under the first overhang are the names, half obscured by the protective netting.  Since 2010/2011, these names have been restored to their golden lustre, making them a little easier to read from ground level.


Ironwork Detail of Eiffel Tower

An elevator at the entrance takes visitors to the different levels and offers an interior view of the supporting structure on the way up. A private elevator takes visitors to the second level if they have reservations at the Michelin-starred Restaurant there.  Check the website for information on the third level. 


On the first level is the main restaurant, Le 58 Tour Eiffel, on the second level is the Jules Verne Restaurant, both with above average prices.  There are many reviews to be found online for both restaurants. See link below.

Blue Paris, at dusk from the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur upper left on horizon.  The Seine River cuts through diagonally.

Most of our time on the Eiffel Tower was spent photographing the four sides of Paris visible from the first level.  The photos before and after are a sampling.

The Trocadero View from the Eiffel Tower

Trocadero with Carousel at left, by DG Hudson

Hope you enjoyed the photo tour, and if you'd like more of my Paris Posts, see under the tab at the top.

All photos taken Autumn 2010 in Paris France by DG Hudson.

The Eiffel Tower

Paris Exhibition of 1889
The tower formed the main symbol and the entrance arch to the fair.

How about you?
-Have you seen the Eiffel Tower in Paris?  (Vegas doesn't count)

-Do you know of or like another city's iconic monuments better?  Please share in the comments.