Reflections on the Louvre

IMG_2887 2 (1)Ah Paris, la ville des lumieres.

My dad sent me an email while ma jolie femme (my beautiful wife) and I were in Paris last summer. The email came on the last day we were in Paris. He said, “It must be beautiful there at night. I always wanted to see Paris at night.”

It suddenly dawned on me…

We had not really seen “The City of Lights”.

Paris was given the above nickname, La Ville des Lumieres, because it was one of the first European cities to use gas street lights and it was prominent in the Age of Enlightenment.  Now we did not see much of the physical lights of Paris and considering our lack of awareness as to our location most of the week, we did not feel too enlightened.  Nevertheless we had a good time slogging through the streets of Paris in hot and humid conditions, sans lumieres.

The previous week we spent in London, where the skies did not darken until about 10:00 PM. We were not accustomed to this, even with the much-anticipated switch to Daylight Savings Time in eastern Kentucky, where it gets dark a little after 9:00 PM. We still do the time change to aid the farmers, or the late-day yard mowers.  I belong to the latter group.

I thought in Paris it would get darker sooner since we were east of London. However, my internal compass could have been playing tricks on me since in Kentucky, Paris is slightly west of London. So give me a geographical break.

The summer days in Paris are llllooooonnnnggg and hot.  Due to the heat and humidity, and my 60+ yr-old body tiring more easily, we were back in our hotel room by the time it got dark.  The only lights we saw in Paris were generated by our handheld devices.

This last night, we tried to stay out past dark. As we were eating our last Parisian meal at a cafe called Le Petit Suffren.  I was about to fall asleep in my plate of tomatoes with mozzarella and pesto.  The beautiful Missus was dazed as she finished her chicken crepes.  We were both sufferin’.

We did see some lights of Paris during the day.  I took this picture while we were on top of an open air bus.  It is the reflections of light off the pyramid at the Louvre.

We actually were walking in Paris after dark the first night we were there, but we were lost and looking for our hotel.  We did get a glimpse of La Tour Eiffel dans les lumieres that showed itself between buildings. However, my wife playing the part of femme fatale in our little street drama was putting me in a compromising position of choosing between setting up a tripod for a photo or…actually there was no choice.  She was tired of walking and wanted sleep. When I slowed to a stop to reach for my camera bag, I saw the look.

No amount of French could pretty-up what she was thinking.

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Eiffel Tower

IMG_3828 2Google maps said it was just a short nine minute walk from the Gare du Nord train station to Chez Cazimir.

My lovely wife and I disembarked from a relaxing train ride from London to Paris.  We needed relaxing because we had just spent a week in London with our 15-month old granddaughter who wasn’t too concerned with the Crown Jewels or The Tower of London or where Winston Churchill helped plan the defeat of the Nazi forces invading his beloved England during the big war. Her only concern was to lick every hand rail she came into contact with and to use her pacifier as a vehicle to taste the subtle differences of each sidewalk she trod.

My wife and I had a little different noshing experience planned when we got to Paris.

So we were ready for our first French meal, a Sunday afternoon brunch, at Chez Cazimir. We were meeting a friend of mine and his wife.  He and I had been on trips to Haiti together and by coincidence we happened to be in Paris at the same time, they at the end of their trip and we at the beginning.  It sounded like the beginning of a Hemingway novel, a chance meeting of New Englanders and Appalachianers. And for good measure, a Frenchman living in Monte Carlo thrown in to share our table.

This sounds all too easy doesn’t it?

Well fate had to work overtime to overcome my directional inadequacies.

Imagine my surprise as we walked out into a light Paris drizzle and found that all of the streets in Paris, France are written in French.  And they aren’t displayed on the street corners but on the sides of the buildings.  And the street names change at each intersection.

I guess when you are a city that is over 2,000 years old, there have been a lot of people after which to name a street.  Sooner or later you run out of streets, therefore you don’t get a whole street, you just get a block.

I could sense my wife’s panic set in.

When I finally stopped to ask directions of a lovely Parisian family, there was a bit of a language barrier.  We repeated this Franco-American street drama numerous times over the next 45 minutes until we were thirty minutes late for our meeting time.

It was the first of many exquisite meals we enjoyed over the next four days.  It was so good to see my friend and for our wives to meet.  We spent about two hours in that cafe and it was a good start to our Paris stay.

I took this photo of the Eiffel Tower on our last day in Paris.  I experimented with my take on French impressionism.  However I don’t remember seeing any of Monet’s paintings in black and white.  Maybe he wasn’t artsy enough to pull it off.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

 

 

 

Reconstruction of the West Liberty Christian Church

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We won another victory over the tornado of 2012.

Almost four years after a horrible tornado took our 102-year old building from us, we moved into our new church building.

Previous to this, we worshiped at another church.  I know it was a great sacrifice on their part but they  graciously provided their building to us for about a year.   This was a wonderful act of kindness to a reeling church body after taking a devastating blow.  Luckily we were able to stagger back to our corner and get our wits about us.

We were at this time able to go through the difficult stages of shock and grief over our building.  Also the healing started as we dealt with the emotional attachment to a building that was so meaningful to many of us.  Seeing our children coming to accept the Lord Jesus and go through the act of baptism, walking some of those same children down the sloped aisle to their awaiting spouse, saying good-bye to those who meant so much to us at their funerals was on all  our minds as we started planning for a new building.  We all knew how hard it would be, for we had not planned on bidding adieu to our old friend on the corner of Prestonsburg and Broadway.

We then worshiped in a mobile unit for another eighteen months or so back on our lot.  As we stared at a vacant lot where the old building stood, a constant reminder of what was taken and how much work lay ahead of us as we tried to fill that same lot.

We then built a metal building on the back of our property and praised God there.  We shared this building with the food pantry.  On some Sundays we could smell rotten potatoes or onions or other produce.

Eventually God’s grace and mercy brought us through the storm as He promised.  We had our first service on the first Sunday of 2016.  We were so excited. We moved in before the building would be finished and we are still waiting for the downstairs and kitchen to be completed.

I am very grateful to our congregation for their perseverance and their faith in the one and only Creator.

I took this photo during the construction of our new church building and loved the shadows on a late afternoon.  You can see the domes of two buildings in the background, the dome on the right is atop our old, 109-year old court house.  The tornado weakened the roof and the dome collapsed into the courtroom.  The dome on the left is our new judicial building that was close to completion when the tornado hit.  It had to have major reconstruction.

Through it all, when our faith was struggling and our strength seemed to be fading, God answered our prayers and reminded us that His Grace is sufficient for us.

As I write this, I am listening to a song by Jeremy Camp called “Same Power”.  He sings about “the same power that rose Jesus from the grave, the same power that commands the dead to wake, the same power that moves mountains when He speaks, the same power that can calm a raging sea, lives in us.  He lives in us.”

I know we have a long way to go.  We still have to pay for this building.   But we have already had one to commit her life to the Lord Jesus and was baptized.  There will be more.  There will be weddings and funerals and memories for the next generations of God’s people, if He permits.  He has blessed His people since the beginning of time and will continue till the end of time.  Then Jesus will usher in His Kingdom and I will see some of those I said good-bye to in that old building.

After the tornado,  I was interviewed by CBS reporter Anna Werner as we looked at the pile of rubble that was the old building and she asked me what it would mean to see a new building standing here.  I replied, “God always wins.”

He has won another victory for our small town.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Washington Monument

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For the first time in a month of Sundays, we were going to a high falutin’ French restaurant and I was excited.

My wife and I were in the “city that never sleeps”.    That’s right, Washington, DC.  Because, “how could they sleep at night?”

My cousin and his lovely bride of a few years were treating my wife and I to a very enjoyable weekend in this exciting city.  The last time we were in DC was in 2010 and they were getting married.

Reservations had been made at Bernaise, a classy little French* restaurant near the Capital.  The interesting thing about this French restaurant was their specialty…French Fries.  Really, no joke French Fries at a French restaurant…go figure.  Well they just call them fries,  the French is implied.  The award-winning chef likes to serve his fries, or frites, with steak.

Now I like a good steak and spud as well as the next redneck Irishman** that settled in them eastern Kentucky hills, but come on, at a French restaurant?  I want something French, like snails in fancy sauces.  I compromised and ordered some frites as an appetizer.  I must say, those were the best fries I had ever eaten.  I knew they would be good since packs of ketchup did not accompany them.  Now I wish McDonald’s would give out packets of terragon with their fries.

We also had a memorable meal at Menomale in the Brookland neighborhood.  We ingested some very tasty Napolese pizza.  This was way beyond Papa John’s “better ingredients”.  I never realized that there is a certification that pizzerias have to abide by to serve Napolese pizza.  I will supply this educational information for you at this time so I may qualify to apply for some type of grant to purchase plane tickets to try more pizza in the birthplace of modern pizza, Naples… Italy not Florida.

From http://pizza.about.com/od/Neapolitan/a/Neapolitan-Pizza.htm

An authentic Neapolitan pizza has a crust made from a dough that is made with highly-refined Italian type 0 or 00 wheat flour (read more about flour types), Neapolitan or fresh brewer’s yeast (not dry yeast), water, and salt. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer and formed by hand, without the help of a rolling pin. The dough is topped with raw, pureed San Marzano tomatoes from Italy; fior di latte, which is mozzarella cheese made from cow’s milk, or mozzarella di Bufala, which is mozzarella cheese made from the milk of water buffalos, usually raised in the Campania and Lazio marshlands in Italy; fresh basil, and extra-virgin olive oil. The ingredients must be all-natural and fresh. The pizza is baked for 60–90 seconds (baking time cannot exceed 90 seconds) in a minimum 800°F stone oven with a wood fire.

 

I took this photo of the Washington Monument on a day my wife and I were rambling about.   There was a caretaker mowing in the shadow.  He kept mowing and would not leave, probably a junior congressman from some insignificant midwestern state, supplementing his income because he hasn’t figured out how to “not sleep at night.”  I waited as long as I could because I knew my internal wife-is-getting-impatient meter was expiring and I was out of excuse coins.

I darkened the shadows during processing to hide this dedicated servant in the black obscurity, ala “Deepthroat”.

Incidentally, the most excited I saw my wife the entire weekend…when we emerged from the subway station at Dupont Circle,  looking for a nice breakfast bistro,  and we spotted Le Kreme d’Krispe .  Oooh La  La.

 

Footnotes were added to give this a look of educational material to further add to my ruse of getting grant money.

 

*In my neck of the woods, we say “Franch”, which explains why I always get Ranch dressing when I order French dressing.

**I feel that this term is politically insensitive, therefore I am leading a charge to keep Notre Dame from opening a community college branch on the banks of the Licking River. So far it is working.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

 

 

Indiana Farm in Winter

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Last night I was so proud of myself.

I entered into the world of uber-technology…I watched a movie on Netflix.  Now this was not just ordinary Netflix, like anyone can do by getting movies in the mail.  No, this was on my newly installed AppleTV Netflix with it’s own remote control device and onscreen menu.  I wish I was a little more nerdy, so I could have appreciated what was happening.

Excitement was building as I looked over from the deep cocoon-like encumbrances of my recliner to my wife, whose eyes had seen enough of the day, or enough of me, by 9:00 PM.  She was on the express train to Nod.

At the very moment when the basis of all human knowledge and entertainment was liberated from the fortified stronghold of her clutches (she gave up the teevee remote), I knew I could watch anything available to me from filmdom’s bounty. But alas, as if I had an HBO or Showtime free weekend, there was not much there to hold my interest.

In the midst of an eastern Kentucky January, the sun is about as rare as a good movie on the menu I was perusing.  So I was looking for something light and comedic and cheery to help coax me from the precipice of seasonal affective disorder.  So naturally I decided to watch a little Swedish film noir with subtitles about dealing with those pesky, lovable scamps called Nazis.  This lively romp takes place in the late 1930’s when Sweden was trying to stay neutral as Germany came a callin’ on Finland.  For some reason, no other colors were added to the winter blues.

I took this photo of an Indiana farm in the midst of winter last year.  I like the loneliness of the barn in the field.  I like the feel of desolateness.

My wife and I went to Indiana this past weekend to see our daughter and our Hoosier son-in-law.  My son-in-law, whom I love dearly, complains that I only take pictures of Indiana that look dark and dreary.  Since he moved my only daughter to Indiana, I say “One man’s happiness is another man’s sorrow”.

He did not need subtitles to understand that message.

 

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

 

Country Church

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Before you read any farther (or is it further?) please be warned about my mood.

Lately, my mood has been 3D…dark, dreary, and dank.  According to the Urban Dictionary,  the stoners use dank to describe something of high quality.  So in that vernacular, my dark mood has been really dank, man.

There are many reasons that I can contribute to this blue melancholia, none of which by themselves should contribute to my glumness.   Basically, I have always been a pretty happy guy and never worried about much, though no one ever accused me of being an optimist or no one has ever called me “Sunshine”.

Lately, things have changed in my psyche.

I feel  I have been struggling to free myself from the tentacles of life’s encumbrances.

I have been asking myself many questions during the self-analysis sessions late at night and early in the morning when my body is refusing sleep.   Sometimes at work, I find myself  on Freud’s couch, slipping into a session (some would say spacing-out) only to be brought back to the present tense by the other person in my presence slapping me to see if I haven’t been body-snatched.  How long does post-tornado stress last?  How long after your kids get married and leave the nest does it take to emotionally stabilize?  Will life in the sixties be worse than the fifties?   Have I misinterpreted how the peace of God is manifested in our lives?   Can I really be this selfish?   How much is a house in Tuscany?   Is there any chance my body will feel better as I get older?

I took this picture of a country church in Rowan County, KY on Rt. 519.  This church has since moved to a new location.  I was drawn to the shot by the shadows thrown on the church by a large tree.  The shadows remind me of the struggles that await us as we exit the church doors into Satan’s realm.  Lately I’m not so sure that some of the shadows haven’t crept inside.

I mentioned tentacles before and it seems like these shadows represent those tentacles that encumber us at times.

I  don’t have any real reason to feel this way.  The all-powerful God, the Lord, and Creator of all knows me and still loves me.  I have a wonderful family that has grown recently.  I have learned to like fish and kale and other good foods that will keep me living for a hundred more years.

My vacation is coming  and my alter ego will soon be taking over and Big Surf Daddy refuses to be encumbered by life’s tentacles.  When Big Surf shows up my days will be dank again…man.

If you like this photo, you can see others here.

 

 

 

J. Geils

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I stood outside Wetherby Gymnasium feeling all grown up.   I could smell the excitement, the freedom, an occassional whiff of Smashburgers from the Dairy Cheer across the street and dirty denim.  There was also a strange smell, like burning rope, but not any kind of rope I had smelled burning before.  There was also the smell of what I remember Crosley Field smelling like when someone spilled a beer.

I was fourteen and it was the spring of 1972.  I was waiting  to see Rare Earth in concert.  This was to be my first true rock concert.  I rode to Morehead with a friend who was a junior in high school and was way too cool to be spending time with me, a lowly freshman. We came to the campus of Morehead State University to meet my brother.  He was a freshman at MSU and was living the dream, eating out three times a day, letting his hair grow out, going to rock concerts, and hanging out with college girls.

On this particular night, I was like my brother…living the dream or whatever you would call a 5 foot, 120 pound, near-sighted bantam standing amid a massive horde of college students.  Oh, and I did not have a ticket.  My brother, in his new  college wisdom, told me I would not need one.  He said when the doors open, the crowd moves so fast through the openings, the ticket takers don’t even try.

I felt the mass moving.  I looked up and all I saw was afros and beards and pony tails moving slowly against a cloudy sky.  Then a strange feeling came over me…I was floating.  I looked down and saw my feet were not attached to the earth anymore.  I was being carried by this throng toward the doors and all I could think about was staying upright.  This was my first experience with festival seating for rock concerts.

My feet never hit the ground until we were past the doors and inside.  At this point, it looked like a sprint for people with  no sense of direction.  We went everywhere.  My little group settled in the seats on the side, awaiting one of the hottest rock bands of the day.

There was rain in the forecast, but I don’t think cataclysmic gulley-washer was ever mentioned…for it came one…a big one.  Water filled the hallways of Wetherby Gymnasium so fast, I thought I was seeing animals coming in two by two.  But it was just the football team.

Some of the more chemically engineered students were body surfing out in the halls and concession areas.

There was some concern as to whether the band would go on due to all the water in the building.  Evidently the electrical engineering department was among those crossing over to chemical engineering that night  because there was going to be rock and roll as soon as the water receded enough to find the outlets.

All the water in the building activated my little bladder, so I had to go find the restroom before the band took the stage.  As I pushed through the men’s room door and headed past the urinals to the stall ( my bladder was not only small but also shy), I could see in my periphery there were other folks in the restroom.  I recognized the faces of Rare Earth from their album covers.  Their dressing room must have flooded because they were in the men’s room with all of their stuff.   And now Rare Earth was listening to me pee.

As I washed my hands, I kept waiting for some big security hoss to pick me up and gently urge me to through the door.   It never happened.  And as I took my time soaking up the moment and gazing in the mirror of the newly inhabited Rare Earth dressing room, I could see the images of the band watching this little imp at the sink who dared to interrupt their pre-show meditations.  Alas, no one said a word to me except the mass of black hair squatting against the wall.  As I made my way out, I recognized the conga player, Edward “Guz” Guzman and we made eye contact.  He said to me, and I’ll never forget, those important words,  “What’s happenin’ man?”  I surmised he did not want an answer.

I regaled my friend and brother with my latest escapade when I returned to my seat.  Rare Earth came on stage shortly and did not disappoint the water-logged throng.  Miraculously, no one was electrocuted…not by electricity anyway.

I took this photo of another concert I attended at Morehead State.  This time as a photographer for the university when I was a student.  The J. Geils Band came to Morehead and this shot of J. Geils is one of the better ones I snapped that night.  It was also lead singer Peter Wolf’s birthday and he brought out a bottle of champagne and poured into the waiting cups of the crowd near the stage.

There was a different type of mass movement that night.   The campus police moved to the stage but not because they were fans of the band.   At the time Morehead was a dry town and they did not appreciate the way Mr. Wolfe was passing out birthday wishes.

I think the electrical engineers were called into duty that night, because someone pulled the plug quickly.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.