28 May 2009

Photodex.com new software StylePack Vol 2

Very recently I was one of a few selected photographers to help develop a demo promoting Photodex.com’s new ProShow StylePack Vol 2 software program. The demo can be seen on Photodex’s Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=84384744372 or on their website http://www.photodex.com/products/styles/v2_promo.html

26 May 2009

Inside St-Gervais-et-St-Protais Church

This church is one of oldest of Paris. Its existence at this place is mentioned as early as the 4th century. Dedicated to Gervasius and Protasius, the church was formerly the seat of the powerful brotherhood of wine merchants.

25 May 2009

She's Up for the Count!

You read it here first.  Finally the invalid - moi - is healed and walking around on her own. There are not enough words to express how grateful I am to have that ordeal behind me.  It was certainly a learning experience and increased my awareness.  Of the many things I now know, these are the highlights:
  • How to ask for and graciously accept help.  
  • How to rest and heal without worrying about work.
  • How poorly designed the Louvre is for those confined to a wheelchair.
  • How indulged the French are with home health care as the standard - everyone comes to you!
  • How impossible it is to travel the Metro by wheelchair.
  • How many different ways we can get from our apartment to anywhere in Paris - by cab.
  • How many fantastic friends I have.  I don't think I've ever received as many gifts, cards and well wishes via email.  Amazing.  I commit to you all that I will pay it forward.
  • Entrance to Paris museums is free for the disabled and one companion.  Woo hoo!
  • How productive telecommuting can be; the 2 minute commute from bedroom to office means 58 extra minutes working at the start and end of each day!
  • Finally, how chivalrous and loving my husband and best friend is; he pushed me (and my petits chiens) all over Paris in that wheelchair.  Even though it was too short, which meant he had to hunch over like that famous Notre Dame character, he never once complained.

A Room with a View

Over Mother's Day weekend, the five of us piled into the car and made the nearly three hour drive north to the small seaside town of Ault.  We stayed in a two bedroom apartment we rented from a colleague at work.  It's the top floor of a 3-story home across the street from the beach. You can view the cliffs from the kitchen window, while both bedroom windows face the sea.  

We arrived around noon on Friday, May 8th and got keys and instructions from Frederic's parents - en Francais.  We nodded a lot and used many gestures. Once the transaction was closed, we set out to find a restaurant for lunch.                              
It takes just 10 minutes to walk through Ault, so we took two spins to assess the restaurant selection and then settled in for a fine meal with dogs on our laps. They were so well behaved!  So quiet and still that most people didn't realize they were in our laps. We studied our paper placemats, which were decorated with maps of the nearby churches and castles, and made our plans for the latter part of the day.

We traveled north up the coast to the village of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, a destination made popular because of its medieval character, Gothic church and long waterside boardwalk.  We saw the prison cell Joan of Arc occupied in 1431 just before she was burned at the stake.  It is small and dark, reminiscent of the cell of the Count of Monte Cristo, but it has a stunning view of the sea. The village has lots of charming shops and restaurants, flowers and parks.  We throroughly enjoyed ourselves and returned twice during the course of the long weekend.

Aside from the many seaside villages we visited including Cayeux-sur-Mer, La Crotoy, Le Treport, Mers-sur-Bains, and the inland towns of Abbeville and Amiens, our greatest joy was being out in the wide open spaces and seeing the most inviting fields of green.  We're city people, but five months of Paris is best offset with a long weekend in the country.  

Each night when we returned home to our seaside bungalow, Miss Delaney challenged us to a rousing game of Monopoly.  She loves that game and plays aggressively.  The dogs listen to her tell us each that "We're going down!" as we land on her always well improved real estate!

We took this photo with the timer on our way out of Ault.  We enjoyed our three days in northern France and look forward to many more opportunities to explore France and beyond.

17 May 2009

Classic European Character

While having a glass of wine at an outdoor café that bordered a small open public square, I had the opportunity to watch and photograph many people as they passed by or stopped and rested on several of the park benches.

This older gentleman with the hat, scarf, cane, old rugged coat and scruffy beard looked like he came straight out of central casting.

14 May 2009

8 Years and Counting

On May 5th, we celebrated our 8 year wedding anniversary. We made reservations at Les Ombres, a well regarded restaurant with a beautiful, close proximity view of the Tour Eiffel. A couple of weeks earlier, when we called to make reservations, we told them we would be celebrating our anniversary and asked for a window seat. They told us no problem.

When the 5th rolled around, inspite of it being mid-week, we got all dressed up and made our way to the restaurant. We had to take a cab because of my knee, so we spent over 10 euros for the ride over. Les Ombres is atop Le Musée du Quai Branly located on the left bank of the Seine River. It's an innovative cultural institution featuring African and Asian art.

We arrived at the restaurant right on time (the Harris family is NEVER LATE). We saw a name beginning with an H on the list of reservations with notes that it was an anniversary celebration and with a request for a window seat. We said, "That's us", since there was no HARRIS on the registry. They looked at us with disdain and said, "No, it's not." Then they asked us what hotel we were staying in. Hotel? "Why we're locals!" we said. They told us that reservation was not ours, but they could squeeze us in. We assured them it was more than a strange coincidence that the notes referenced an anniversary, window seat, etc. They looked at us as if we were theives out to steal another couple's good table. They then showed us to a horrible table so I said, "That's it, we're out of here." Randy agreed and followed me to the elevator and down to the ground level. I mean really. We got all dressed up and decided to take a chance on this restaurant hoping we could steal another couple's reservation? Right.

We strolled along the sidewalk under the last light of a fairly sunny day. We were a cliché, All Dressed Up With Nowhere to Go! Randy felt bad because he made the reservation. I sat across from him when he did it, so I heard what he said and I heard their response. It was definitely their mistake, not ours.

But spilt milk it was, so we set off to find a romantic little restaurant. We took another cab to Ile Saint-Louis. We found a charming Italian restaurant (my favorite food!) and settled into a quiet table in the back. The food was so reasonably priced that we splurged on dinner. We exchanged cards and pondered our luck at celebrating this special milestone in the City of Light. No reservation mix up could spoil our night. The stroll home was magical.