Friday, November 22, 2013

Franco Fridays: The Gardens of Versailles

If pictures of tulips would lift your spirits on a Friday morning, then this is the blog post for you.  Tulips seem to be the flower of Spring around Paris.

I saw tulips in colors I'd never seen tulips before, and I'd also never seen a tulip with this fringe around the petals.

 Does he look like a prosperous landowner, surveying his estate?
Or at least a famous novelist?

Well-ordered and Beautiful

I think KJ thought it was an odd memory, but the memories of the clouds in France are really vivid to me.  They were really big and beautiful and always changing.

The gardens were so massive that we agreed it must take a massive amount of people, constantly pruning hedges to keep it so immaculate.  But where were they?  We saw no one and imagined an army of little gardeners coming out at night.

It's obvious that KJ and I got separated from the group here, because there are several pictures of me making faces at the camera (which I'm refraining from posting) and a few gems of KJ hiding behind shrubbery.  

Since we went into the gardens as everything was shutting down, we missed out on the magnificence of the fountains.  If there's ever a "next time" for us in France, we'd like to go back to see them.

What a great group.

Farewell, Versailles.

Back to the train.

As an aside, I was hungry at the station and decided to buy a snack out of a machine.  They had Lay's potato chips, but I got incredibly thrown off when I saw "Nature" flavored.  I was completely confused and kind of disgusted by what possible flavor "Nature" would taste like when after a discussion with a French-speaker, I felt embarrassed.  Because of course, Nature in French means something like the original or natural flavor.  I think I just got thrown off because the brand name was in English, and so I wasn't thinking about the other writing on the bag being French.  Because who would want nature-flavored potato chips?  I went with Barbecue.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"My little vessel is as full as it can be..."

We met with my family this past Saturday to celebrate an early Thanksgiving together.  It was so good to be with everyone; it's been since Christmas last year that we were all together!  

I read somewhere last week about the idea of taking a series of pictures during a family meal, and I thought it might be fun to try a time lapse video of our Thanksgiving meal.  It was fun, and I think I learned some thing that would make the next experiment a little more successful.  I'm a novice at video production and just grateful when I can get the settings right so I can upload it!  And I'm also really thankful for these Thanksgiving images.  I hope your Thanksgiving is full of good food and light saber battles, too.  And thankful hearts, of course.  I read the perfect Thanksgiving prayer yesterday in the Valley of Vision.  It covers all of our good things in the most beautiful language.

O my God, Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
my heart admires, adores, loves thee,
for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out all that fullness before thee
in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with thee
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,
for adorning it, sanctifying it,
though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body thou hast given me,
for preserving its strength and vigour,
for providing senses to enjoy delights,
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.
I love thee above the powers of language 
to express,
for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Tuesday Walk and Random Thoughts

Last Tuesday I loaded the kids up so we could take care of some business at the library.  There's always so much drama involved with outings.  You have to decide what everyone is going to wear, listen to complaints about the clothes you picked out and make suitable adjustments, try to make sure you remember everything you need to pack before leaving the house while your thought processes are interrupted every 30 seconds to mediate in an argument about who gets to close the garage door this time.  And I have awesome, pleasant, obedient-most-of-the-time kids; they're just being kids.  And managing kids just being kids is so much work that just the thought of interrupting the normal course of our day with an outing started raising my stress levels.  But you push on anyway because you hope it will be worth it in the end, and you want to give them a happy childhood full of fun memories.

Sometimes all of the effort doesn't feel worth it, but most of the time, it does.

I mean, sometimes your mom wants to take a picture of your sister, too, and life becomes unbearable, but it passes.

As we were loading books in the car I noticed a tree with bright gold leaves, my favorite, so we trooped across the parking lot and then across the street enjoying the blustery day.  It was much colder than we expected, but running and tramping through leaves did us all a world of good.

We had some impromptu races.

Sometimes my mind feels so overwhelmed with all of the things I'd like to do, all the things I feel I ought to do, and I have a hard time coming to the conclusion that I really can't do it all.  I want to do it all, and I want to do it all well

It helps to take a deep breath (or several) and walk as fast as you can into the wind, to stop and freeze in time childish delight.

And go to Stonehenge.  Because when given the choice you should always go to Stonehenge.

"It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill;
that is the very worst thing you can do.
Let the thrill go--let it die away--go on through
that period of death into the quieter interest 
and happiness that follow--and you will find
you are living in a world of new thrills all the time."
- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity -

Friday, November 15, 2013

Franco Fridays: Paintings and Macaroons

I just had a few more pictures from the inside of Versailles to share before walking out into the gardens.

 I love this gorgeous French door...truly, a French one.

I got really excited when I saw thousands of tulips out the window.

This gallery of paintings was magnificent.  It boggles my mind to think of how long paintings of this size require to create them.

  Cedric and I had a friendly photography competition going on...he probably won.
He captures great perspective.

Remember the Henry IV painting I shared a few weeks ago?  That had us dying of laughter?

We found this guy again dressed with a bit more dignity, and KJ tried to recreate his pose here.

I think his look is kind of impossible to recreate without the shorts and the sword...and Hydra.

We found a painting of the cooperation between George Washington and French troops led by Comte de Rochambeau at Yorktown.  We wanted to illustrate the continued cooperation between the United States and France.  

Who is Audrey talking to on the phone while at Versailles??
At the end of our tour I was feeling parched, so we sought out the tea room.  The ease with which KJ now shells out any currency for bottled water and Diet Coke is evidence of his growing love and sanctification.  Of course, I couldn't stop with just a bottled water when I saw these.

They were very good.