Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pictures at an Exhibition

Friday was my favorite day in Paris. We had arrived the evening before (Feb 12) and strolled along the Champs Elysee before dining in a Lebanese restaurant. Saturday morning was grey with snow flurries. We lay in bed and discussed our options for the day. We made an excellent decision to have breakfast brought to our room. We lounged and ate croissants, pain au chocolat, baguette with butter, cheese and yogurt. We drank cafe au lait, which tastes way better than just coffee with hot milk. Our hotel was lovely. The room was barely as wide as the wingspan of a Gunter, but was impeccably clean and comfortable. Location was great, a few blocks from the Arc de Triomphe.

Our first destination was the Musée de l'Orangerie. The Orangerie building began life in 1852 as a hot house for oranges. After a few changes of personality (military, sporty), the Orangerie was selected as the location for a gift from Monet to France, his series of painting inspired by his home in Giverny, Normandy--Nymphéas (The Waterlilies). The Waterlilies is comprised of eight compositions divided into twenty-two panels. Two oval rooms with skylights were built in the Orangerie to house Monet's vision. In the 1950s a second floor was added to the Orangerie to house an additional collection, but renovations completed in 2006 have returned natural light to these garden scenes.

Monet's well-known pastels are gorgeous in these two rotundas. I particularly like the portions with weeping willows and the fiery colors of sunset. I wouldn't mind having a serene Monet salon in my next house.

The rest of the Orangerie is dedicated to the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection, assembled in the first half of the 20th century. I prefer small art museums where you can view the entire exhibit without getting overwhelmed or exhausted. And I particularly loved this collection filled with Renoir, Cezanne, Modigliani, Picasso and Matisse, along with some painters unfamiliar to me: Utrillo, Derain, Rousseau and Laurencin. I bought a museum catalog and looking through it just now I'm seeing pages and pages of paintings I loved viewing.

After the Orangerie we moved to the Musée D'Orsay. We ate lunch in a cafe right in front of one of the huge clocks that reveal the building's origins as a train station. The D'Orsay is larger that the Orangerie, but we didn't try to see everything. We focused on the French Impressionists and the Van Gogh room--it was thrilling to see a room of his works. You can really see how his strong brush strokes bring movement to the paintings. I saw the Renoir that was on the cover of my high school French textbook! We also enjoyed an exhibit of Art Nouveau furnishings. I think I'll buy an art nouveau mansion in which to place my Monet salon.

After a wonderful day of gazing at some of the most amazing paintings in the world, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for an amazing dinner.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Wintry Mix

We're experiencing the coldest winter in Dublin in 18 years, which compared to Minnesota is still not very cold. But for Dubliners and Austinites, it's very wintry. [Some perspective: I grew up in Houston and thought water frozen in a ditch was amazing.] We've had a couple hard freezes reaching 27°F, and several days of wintry precip. Unfortunately, the periods of lovely snow have been followed by ugly sleet/hail/rain. My commute home Tuesday night was particularly unpleasant in cold slush. Bill had left work early in heavy snowfall, but it turned to rain by the time he reached Raheny. He did see a rainbow though.

Thursday saw some accumulation in Raheny, which has been sticking around in the shady spots. Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny Saturday, and we took a walk in St. Anne's.

Today we woke up to another pretty snowfall. We snapped some photos off the balcony and on the way to church. Of course, it had turned to rain by the time we left church.

19th Century St. Assam's church in Raheny centre. The church has been used only sporadically in the last decade. Plans were announced last year for credit union offices to occupy the building.

No more snow is forecast.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Follow-through in Ireland down, study shows

Homicides down 38% but murder threats up - The Irish Times - Fri, Feb 06, 2009

Actual killings are down, but threats and attempts are up. This could mean several things: people are patching things up, fewer would-be killers have the bollocks, or fewer people are actually any good at killing. Any of these would be a good thing, I suppose.