Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Jarvis Holiday: "Are you digging on my grave" in Paris

Ah, are you digging on my grave: - by Thomas Hardy

Ah, are you digging on my grave
My loved one?--planting rue?"
--"No; yesterday he went to wed
One of the brightest wealth has bred.
'It cannot hurt her now,' he said,
That I 'should not be true.'"
Then who is digging on my grave?
My nearest dearest kin?"
--"Ah, no; they sit and think, 'What use!
What good will planting flowers produce?
No tendance of her mound can loose
Her spirit from Death's gin.'"
But someone digs upon my grave?
My enemy?--prodding sly?"
--"Nay; when she heard you had passed the Gate
That shuts on all flesh soon or late,
She thought you no more worth her hate,
And cares not where you lie."
Then, who is digging on my grave?
Say--since I have not guessed!"
--"0 it is I, my mistress dear,
Your little dog, who still lives near,
And much I hope my movements here
Have not disturbed your rest?"
Ah, yes! You dig upon my grave . . .
Why flashed it not on me
That one true heart was left behind!
What feeling do we ever find
To equal among humankind
A dog's fidelity!"

Mistress, I dug upon your grave
To bury a bone, in case
I should be hungry near this spot
When passing on my daily trot.
I am sorry, but I quite forgot
It was your resting-place."

Just a bit of Thomas Hardy's dark humour to set the tone for Saturdays adventure - a trip to Cimitière Père Lachaise. We went to visit this cemetery when we were in Paris 2 years ago. During our last visit, we got a late start on the day and arrived at the Cemetery about an hour and a half before closing time. We hurried in the heat of that Paris summer (over 30 degrees) to find the various famous people buried in this cemetery. As luck would have it, and in typical Parisien style, we were evicted from the cemetery 15 minutes before closing time before we had finished our tour, and at a gate with which we were unfamiliar. This left us a bit disoriented and lost. An unfinished visit. Eric wanted to go back again this time so we could find the graves we missed the first time. Thankfully for us, we had a more strategic agenda (just 4 head stones to find) and we arrived with enough time to see them all. Our agenda included Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Moliere, and Chopin. Here is a photograph of the layout of Pere Lachaise with over 70 markers to indicate it's most famous residents.

This tomb, although simple caught my eye. Some people consider Pere Lachaise a gallery of death statues, so this unassuming marker with simple plants growing all along it's borders may seem a bit out of place. For me however, it seems more fitting. The rows and rows of grandiose statues, and mausoleums full of dead flowers and corny trinkets really doesn't speak to me. However, something living and growing, now that feels more in keeping with the cycle of life.

The kids in front of a very large mausoleum.  At first we thought it was a chapel.  
The most important thing about this photo is Hebe's reaction.  She wears her emotions on her sleeve.  
Check out her assessment of our trip to Pere Lachaise. 

Her distain for this activity started with a protest before we even got inside the gates. That protest included the emphatic statement--"I'm not going there. I hate you. I'm going to kill you." It would have been completely appropriate had she held her thought until we got to the corner of the cemetery called Le Mur des Fédérés or the Wall of the Communards. Or simply as I call it the firing squad wall. "For the record, the Federates (Communards) were the people of Paris who took over the city in 1871 following the debacle to the Prussians. Twenty thousand Communards (some claim many more) were massacred during la semaine sanglante (the bloody week) of May 22-28. The last act of the tragedy was played out among the vaults of the cemetery when 147 men, women and youths picked at random were lined up against the aforementioned wall and shot by a firing squad before being thrown into a common pit with 871 other victims shot in the vicinity." We did pay a visit to this section of the cemetery, (the firing squad wall) but luckily for me at that moment Hebe's mouth was full of a Carambar, and she no longer wanted to kill me.

If you want to know more about the Pere Lachaise cemetery check out this funny article. https://bonjourparis.com/archives/pere-lachaise-communards-wall/

Our main objective of this visit was to see the grave of Frederique Chopin.  We were not disappointed this time.  Rebecca and Thomas told us the story of one of their classmates who is a concert pianist.  When he visited this grave last year on a school trip, he wept. I guess Thomas Hardy's cynical view is not held by all.
There are still some who come to reverence and remember, although perhaps not dig on loved one's graves.  

I couldn't help but take a photo of this awesome book headstone.  My favourite in the whole cemetery. Don't you think Kelvin Sr would love this one.  Just putting that out there for a time in the future when we discuss a marker for dad's grave.  
Finally on the path that leads out of the cemetery, much to Hebe's delight.

This trip to Pere Lachaise we got smart. We started our tour at Metro station Gambetta and finised up at metro station Pere Lachaise. If you ever visit this site, I would highly recommend this route. You begin at the highest point of the cemetery and walk downhill all the way to the primary exit. A much more leisurely stroll going downhill, and on a cool day like today, makes for a pleasant outing.

A bag of Carambar toffee didn't hurt either.

Our final activity for the day was a trip out to EuroDisney Park for dinner with the Petelo Family.  Mama Coco, Chennai, Jacques, Maxime and Écarl (otherwise known as Carl).  During our last visit with Sister Petelo two years ago, she kept speaking of Maxime et Carl.  In my attempts to follow the conversation, I thought she was calling her grandson Écarl.  Everyone thought that was pretty funny.  
Learning french is not my forté.

The Brooks Vacation -- everyone somewhere else

I’m on my own this week.

Xavier, Leo and Rhiannon are camping about 2 hours away while they attend a art camp.

Rhiannon is a participant, and Xavier is a counsellor in training.

Near Peterborough Ontario
Naomi left this morning for her first year at Young Women’s Camp.

She is excited. I think she will have a really good time.

She gets to share a tent with her best friend from church which is fantastic.

I’m going to a Nordic spa tomorrow with Christine.

... another image of the camp ...
I will enjoy a massage while I am there in between floating from hot to cold to warm pools and enjoying the wet and dry saunas.


PS for more about the camp see

And now a note from the blogger, something I rarely do, but when I saw that Mary and Christine were going to a Nordic Spa I went to look at some pictures to put up on the blog.

I didn't choose any.

All of them looked engineered -- exquisite surroundings, young people with immaculate hairdos and clothing etc.  So Mary sent me a picture of where they are going.

Again, one picture, one thousand words.

I guess there are some places as good as the Shuswap.  Maybe even better.  Dave tells me that after the terrible storm a couple of days ago, we need a serious beach clean up.

It looks like that is not the case in the Nordic Spa.

A glimpse of one of the pools at Amerispa in Cantley, Qeubec. 

Mary will be the crazy one standing under the freezing waterfall.  
Christine doesn’t go farther than her ankles into the cold pools.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ed Saiedi Drops in from Stockholm

Ed Saiedi called from Kamloops and said he was in the area.
Could he drop in with his mother and brother?

And so here the four of us are:  Ed, Arta, Reza and Shayesteh.

I didn't know which of the views of the Shuswap to capture.
Here is a shot just as the sun is going down.
We are checking out the view looking west.

And here is a severely flawed picture.
A little too much mist to the left.
But what we were trying to capture is the camper that Connor put on a half ton.
Then he would drive to Kelowna for the week, taking courses and sleeping in his home.
And then back to Salmon Arm for the weekend.
When I look at the camper I think of Emily Carr going to the forest
and living there amongst nature while she painted.
Though blurred, I am in this pic with Reza and Shayesteh.
The pic was taken for Mak.  I don't know if it was a nanny-nanny boo boo, look how good things can be?
Or just a friendly "wish you were here, Mak and don't you wish this were your life?"
And now down to brass tacks and no making jokes.

I had a wonderful time walking the property with the three Saiedi's.

We went past the last of the s'more parties the Bates house.

They had just been having a S-more Cook-Off.  Who can cook the most creative s'more? The challenge is to continue on the August long weekend.  The perfectly roasted marshmallow meeting the somewhat warmed Cadbury milk chocolate square.  Or alternatively melting a square that is both minted and chocolate -- depending on one's taste.

I heard that Greg has made a request.

While s'mores are being cooked, would it be possible for no one to put their hands on the doorknobs of the house: obviously seventeen people cooking and tasting marshmallows, all of whom seem to go into the house at some point.  If the chocolate and the marshmallow that is on their cheeks and chins and upper-lips is also transferred to their hands and then the doorknobs, I can see that someone might have to be assigned to just stand at the door handles with a warm cloth, cleaning them off after each entry into the house.

Too late to write anymore tonight.  I will return to this tomorrow.


Jarvis Vacation - Our Sunday in Paris

Our Sunday in Paris

We attended the Merri ward where we met up with our friends Ana Carina and Timothy Fratta.  They were previously members of the Montreal Ward, but moved to Italy about 3 years ago.  Meeting up with them in Paris was a real treat.

Here are the Jarvis-Fratta kids in front of the Stravinky Fountain between Centre Pompidou and the Church of St Merri.  From Wikipedia you can read that this fountain is "ornamented with the16 works of sculpture, moving and spraying water, representing the works of the composer Igorn Stravinksy. It was created in 1983 by sculptors Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle."  The kids are cute too.  They are 7 works of art that move incessantly and spray interesting conversations wherever they go.  They were created at various times and represent the work of Tim and Ana Carina Fratta and Eric and Catherine Jarvis.

This photo of the kids was taken after our picnic lunch on the steps of St Merri.
 The food has been put away, but you can still see them huddling around a few bags of cookies.

Here are the visitors that arrived just seconds after the children left the steps to watch a flash mob that had formed on the square.  Amazing that the crumbs of our lunch would attrack such a crowd.

The kids watched a dance flash mob that performed for at least 10-15 minutes on the oppoiste site of the Stravinksy Fountain.  At the end of the performance, a red carpet was rolled out and one of the members of the dance crew proposed to his girlfriend.  There was much celebrating with the finale being that the newly engaged couple were thrown into the fountain.

After that we headed for Paris plage and a walk along the Seine.  Here is Timothy trying out one of several exercise bikes that are set up along the Seine.  If you pedal fast enough, you can recharge your cellphone.  

Not to be outdone, Ana Carina gave it a spin too.

Ana Carina was successful at finding 11 beach chairs along the Paris plage.  Count them - 11.  She is a super star when it comes to scouting out opportunities.  We sat under the large beach umbrellas and enjoyed some interesting conversation ranging from artificial intelligence to the kids potential careers--computer programmer, writer, criminal lawyer, etc

A selfie of me!  My kids laugh at all my selfies, but I rarely get in any photos unless I take one of myself.

The kids wanted to check out the Tour de France.  It was the final day of the race with the finale being a few laps around the Champs-Elysées.  This isn't a photo of a French stop-light, despite what you might think.  I was trying to get a photo of the fly-by that happened just as the racers took their first spin around Champs-Elysées, near the Louvre.  Beautiful blue white and red stripes across the sky.

This was my view of the Tour de France.  The police had set up a barricade to prevent people from getting too close to this corner of the Champs-Elysées right where it meets the Louvre.  The kids headed into the crowds along the Seine, but it was no place for Hebe.  She sat on the sidewalk under my feet, playing on the ipad while I snapped this photo of the riders racing by from a bit of a distance.  You can actually see the racers between the police cars if you look really hard.
We came home and ended the night by making up a pot of beef stroganoff. Yum. The delicious meal wasn't the end of the day unfortunately, since we had to do a serious post meal clean-up.

The kids are now on post-gustation clean-up duty since we discovered that the apartment is infested with cockroaches.

That was a unpleasant and disappointing surprise, but what is a trip through Europe for the Jarvis family without a few unexpected surprises. There will be no more leaving food on the counters and the crumbs on the floor will need to be swept up after every meal.

I'm glad we have a three day stopover in Iceland on the way home. I'm hoping that any cockroaches that stow away in our luggage, disembark in Iceland during the stop-over. I'm not planning to go home with uninvited guests.



Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Simple Pleasures

In an email today my son-in-law, Eric, reminded me that he likes to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

I am able to do that to excess.

For example, instead of enjoying one raspberry from the bushes at the top of the road, I made a meal of the fruit that was on the vine this morning.   I literally stripped the bushes.

Breakfast = one pint of raspberries.

I saw the dogwood at the end of the raspberry bushes.

The flowers have now turned to a clump of berries with a beautiful turquoise colour.

I have been wondering if I should cut the lower branches of the tree, so that children who run past the rock and down by the stream would have a clearer path.

Which is more fun: to duck under a branch or to fly down the path unhindered by leaves and berries?

The third simple pleasure of the morning happened when I was out looking at Lot 10 with Marcia and Glen. 

He pointed out some bear scat.

Then I saw a broken fruit tree and wondered if it was last night’s wind that had done the damage. 

“Probably the bear going up the tree for fruit,” he said.

That is when I recognized the third simple pleasure: being with someone who can put bear scat and broken tree limbs into the same equation.

And that is also when I decided to take his offer of a bear bell to tie on my wrist when I walk the paths alone.


Jarvis Holiday - Half the Fun is Getting There

Half the fun is getting there ...  and getting set up.
A short note in photos of our travel day or "How we got from Prague to Paris"

All packed up from our apartment in Prague, we headed into the metro for a trip along the yellow line to Zličin.  From there on a bus to the airport.  Here we are in the metro, bags and all.  We try to travel light, so everyone only gets one suitcase.  Hebe and I share one so that each adult only has one bag to pull.  Everyone gets one knapsack on their back.  At the airport, we always try to guess who packed the lightest suitcase. The scale never indicates that I win, but at least I keep within the weight limits.

Lunch.  Sandwich extraordinaire made by Catie.  She used up the last bit of sandwich meat, cheese, bread, tomatoes and cucumbers from our fridge in Prague to make delicious sandwiches for lunch on our travel day.  We had to prepare our own lunch today beause we we're flying with Czech Airlines.  It is a budget airline.  Thus, the food and drinks are only for purchase during the flight. Sadly, they don't even provide a free soft drink to  the weary masses.  This airline is probably the worst I have ever flown in regards to leg room.  My knees were literally touching the seat in front of me, and that was before the man in front of me decided to put his chair all the way back.  It kind of felt like having someone lie in your lap during the flight.  Thank heavens the flight was only 1h40min.  

We couldn't go back home from our shopping trip before stopping at the local bakery for a fresh baguette or two.  We might have also purchased a few croissants and a pain au chocolat which didn't make it home for a photograph.  Such is life in Paris.

Since Prague doesn't use the Euro, we need to get rid of our Czech Kroner before leaving the airport.  We spent the last paper bills on a meal in a restaurant our last night in Prague so only have coins left to spend.  Eric and I pool our coins to find that we have 91 Kroner (about 5 dollars).  Enough for a Twix bar and a small bag of Candy for the kids to share.

Arriving in Paris kind of feels like coming home.  We are staying in the same apartment that we rented during Eric's sabbatical so getting there on the metro was old hat...excpet for the fact that the RER line C to Ave Henri Martin is under construction for the month of July and we didn't learn that until we had already gone to Station St Michel to change lines.  Back on another line and then yet another transfer finally found us at Rue de la Pompe and the exit to our apartment.  Ahh  Paris!  Getting there is half the fun, and the other half is getting set up in a new place.  A quick trip to a brand new grocery store in our neighbourhood (17th arrondisement) found us hauling home this cart full of treats.  Favourites local treats include Carambar toffee, Créma candies, favourite juices, apricot compote, yogurt, fruit  and a roasted chicken for dinner.

"Buckle up for safety."  Hebe with Joey and Joey Jr getting strapped into her seat for take off.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Jarvis Holiday - The Matching Game

So here is a little game to play.  Try to guess which Parisien treat was purchased for which member of our family.  Five treats.  Five Jarvii - Eric, Catie, Thomas, Rebecca and Hebe

Box of Macron = Hebe.  Hebe has been dying to eat Macrons in Paris.  She has been talking about it for weeks.  Yesterday she helped me pick out this small box of  Macrons. Her favourite was the raspberry flavoured one.  If you want to learn how to make Macron Cookies, check out this website.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2-7Hjzyl5o  Too much work for me, but you never know.  Maybe we will try it when we get back to Montreal.   After watching this video I understand why each Macrons cost 1 euro. Labour intensive treat.

Croissant = Rebecca.  It's a classic and her favourite

Pain au chocolat = Catie, although she chose a croissant the first night in Paris

Pain au chocolat = Thomas

TArtelette au pomme = Eric.  
His favourite however is an abricotine but there were none left when I arrived at the patisserie yesterday.

We spent yesterday holed up in our apartment.  Everyone had their fill of computer/internet time and sleep.  In the evening we finally left the apartment for a family walk to La Tour Eiffel.  It is just 15 minutes from our apartment.  Last time we were here Hebe didn't have a chance to take the classic "I'm holding up the Eiffel Tower" picture.  She made sure to get a photo this time.  Even Joey, her stuffed monkey got into the photo.

Here is a family selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower during the 10 p.m. light show.  Eric and I moved our family quickly through the crowds of people and tried to head to a more open spot under the trees on Trocadero.  It feels less safe/more at risk to be in Paris this trip, so heading for crowded public spaces doesn't seem like the best idea.  There is, as always, security around the Eiffel Tower, but because of all the recent terrorist attacks across Europe, heading for places that are a bit off the beaten path seems prudent.

Ahhhh.  Paris.  
The city of love and lights.
Hebe saw a playground to her left after I took this photo.  She headed straight for it and played until the sun set.  
Catie, Thomas and Rebecca joined her on the playground equipment.  After Hebe spent 5 minutes on a merry-go-round in the park, she came over and crawled into my lap.  "I don't feel good."  Motion sickness at it's best.  We headed for home and gratefully she didn't loose her lunch.  We arrived home near 11 pm to call it a night.