Paris Part 1: More Marble Bodies than a Twilight Novel

I am prefacing this post by saying that these Paris posts are not in chronological order...I edited all the museum photos first, so I decided to post them first. 

Wanting to be cultured folk, we decided to spend a day at the Louvre, completely forgetting that sheer act of trying to view the art is a battle that takes, perseverance, skill and the patience of...well, much more patient people than we happen to be. The whole establishment is so beautiful though, that even after seeing the monstrous line we chose to press on. 

I really wanted to see the sculpture gallery. And not just because that wing is usually much quieter with tour groups buzzing through only occasionally in a very quiet and efficient manner.

The summer after I graduated high school, I saved up my money for a study abroad trip to Paris with a local community college. Since I was not about to use precious summer hours to do anything remotely resembling work, I signed up for poetry and watercolor classes. During that summer I cranked out some of the worst poetry ever written in the English language including but not limited to a poem told from the perspective of the stones of Notre Dame. Yes, that was just as awful as you might imagine.

While my skills at watercolor probably rivaled my (lack of) skills in poetry writing,  I did enjoy it and would escape the loud, drunk college student hostel we were staying in by coming to the Louvre and splitting my time between the Dutch masters and the sculpture wing. There are plenty of little nooks there to curl up in and think and try again and again to figure out how to draw hands correctly

I still can't get them right.

Okay, enough reminiscing. The sculptures were still as lovely and serene as ever. This statue of Artemis is one of my favorites.

One of the many things I love about the Louvre is that the palace is just as astounding as the art contained within. Every ceiling, door, stairwell and window frame is a testament to the thousands of craftsmen that helped build it.

Excellence in marble ruffs.

My dad is pretty hard to please in the art department, but he LOVES the Winged Victory. So I tried to do it justice in photos. This is one of several that I am really happy with. In the next post I will share more of the things that caught my eye during our time here.

It's. Almost. Friday. Huzzah.

Lovely Girls

I like old things. Over the years I have developed a LOT of restraint when going to danger zones like flea markets and antique fairs (minus the Craigslist End Table Relapse of 2009. We do not talk about that). My kryptonite though lies in old photos showing interesting period clothing or weird situations. The clothing is easy enough to explain - I studied costume design in college and would troll the internet for photos that showed what kind of hat was appropriate for a morning visit in Victorian England or proper attire for an asylum inmate in the early 19th century (in case you are wondering, the answer is scant and covered with dirt). It's a good thing I didn't have access to Etsy at the time or I would not have had money for food.

So now I have a bit of a collection and I'd like to start sharing them here so they can perhaps inspire others. I unearthed these two interesting girls at an antique store in Chicago and am particularly enamored with them. The top girl especially is so interesting - I'm fascinated by her hairstyle (very modern) and the buttons on her jacket. I have no idea when these were taken but by the cloche hat on the girl below, I'm guessing sometime in the twenties. The photos have the slightest bit of hand tinting on them but don't appear to have been taken in a very formal studio setting - evidence given by the blurriness and half smile in the bottom photo. I love the style of these women and wish I knew the context in which these photos were taken.

A walking tour of Barga (with sporadic text accompaniment)

We spent our four-day Easter weekend in Barga, a teeny little hilltop town in Tuscany where Anthony's maternal family hails from. Since coming to Europe, I have gotten to see many beautiful things, but I was not prepared for the incredible charm that fills this place.

There is only one place to stay within the city walls - the Casa Fontana. It is amazing.

The owners were very kind and offered us a drink in their garden before we set out to explore. I showed everyone a magic trick with the amaretti cookies above. One minute the cookies were there and one blink later, the cookies were gone. And I was furtively brushing crumbs off my shirt. Magic.

Our window looked out onto one of the many little winding streets that make up Barga. 

I don't know the proper term for these little alcoves, but they were all over the place. I documented as many as I could find - this is one of the um...classier variety as it lacks the Christmas lights and glow in the dark stickers that adorn the more contemporary Mary Abodes.

The streets are so small, that most cars can't drive within the walls. Now and then we came across teeny little vintage cars, like this Fiat. Note to self, buy a vintage Fiat. Grey with red interior and white steering wheel. It can be friends with the Mini. Like a sidekick.

The tiled floor leading up to our room. We spent quite a long time just staring at it, trying to figure out how long it would take the owners to notice if we chiseled it up and took it home with us. In the end, our consciences got the better of us and we left the floor as is. Also we had forgotten to pack a chisel.

We wandered down to the market and perused the vendors. The food is much cheaper in Italy than Lausanne, so we indulged (in everything but most specifically) in a giant wedge of aged pecorino. Let me say that again for dramatic effect, Giant. Wedge. of Aged. Pecorino. I think this place may be heaven. We're only about a third of the way through it, which is good, because as soon as it's gone, we're going to have to drive the 5.5 hours back and get more. I will not let this cheese out of my life. EVER.

Banners in people's windows for the evening's Easter celebration (which we missed because, well, we had stuffed our faces indulged at dinner and fell into massive food comas).

The view from the highest point of the city.

So, the Duomo. Built in the 11th century, an example of Romanesque architecture, iconic landmark of Barga...aaaaaand kinda ominous on the inside. I guess in the 11th century, glass was not really available, so they were like "yeah, sure, natural light is fine, but you know what's better? ROCKS." 

In all fairness though, the few windows that do exists are paned in very thin sheets of stone. How they created this in Thee Olden Dayes is beyond me. 

I think the moss covered car thing (©2012 Kimberly Van Ness All Rights Reserved If You Steal This Idea I Will Hunt You Down) would be a big seller in Portland.

I need an ape (ah-pey) in my life stat. This is a matter of critical importance. Think of all the cool things I could do with it: carry groceries, move very small items of furniture...hang out with my (as of yet imaginary) would be my sidekick's sidekick.

And this is the part where I leave you with some lovely wall texture and go to work. Lots more pictures to share this week.

Happy Monday!

Vevey Pt. 2: The Town

While the market in Vevey is spectacular, the rest of the town is pretty lovely as well. We spent a few hours wandering the cobblestone streets and uncovered all manner of surprising things. (The giant fork in the lake for starters.)

I approached this fountain from too close a range to see the towering mural of a woman's face painted on the wall behind it. But then I stepped back and found myself at a loss for words.


This accordian player was fantastic.


The mountains were pulling a Lion King what with all the streaming sunlight and epic mist. Showing off really.

Tomorrow we'll go up close and personal with some of the political candidates whose posters you can see in the lower left hand corner of this photo.