Monday, March 29, 2010

the Poetry Bus veers north

This week the Poetry Bus is being driven by poetess Rachel Fox, on the theme of one's favorite word.
So many, many words! How to choose just one? May I take two or three please? They're very short. Even together they're not as big as "Wednesday", or "Bandersnatch"...

Let's go

Pack the bags lightly
fill the pockets
water the plants and feed the cats

Let's go!
by foot or by rail
we shall go where we have not gone before

Furnished with snacks.

We will not always speak the language
but we will smile.
We will not always be on the map
which we forgot on the train anyway.

There's a place down the road we haven't been before
Let's go!

Other bus stops can be found here. Have a great adventure!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Photo Shoot Out: Bridges

There aren't many bridges in my town of Aubière. You've seen how tiny our little stream is, and the freeway overpasses are just boring.
But lucky for the Shootout I was in Paris this past weekend, and man, do they have bridges!
This is one of the oldest ones across the Seine, massive and grey.
This one connects the Rive Gauche to the Isle de la Cité.
What I love about this shot is there's a Monsieur Chat in it, though you really have to know to look for it! For the Monsieur Chat story and closer photos, click here.
The architectural details on the older bridges are wonderful. Every one of these faces is different, and there must be a hundred of them in all.
One of the pedestrian bridges taking you right to the Louvre.
It's a tradition for lovers to attach a padlock to the fence.
There are hundreds of locks now, all different shapes and colors.
From some bridges you can see several others.
In fact, there's probably not a bridge in the city limits from which you can't see the next one or even several.
Here a bridge peeks between the vendors of old books and cheap trinkets that line the quays from the Tuileries Gardens down past Notre Dame Cathedral.
One of the modern pedestrian bridges.
I love the shape of it.
Bridges can be interesting from underneath, too.
The Alexandre III bridge connecting the Petit Palais to the huge open field in front of Invalides where Napoleon's tomb lies is the most ornate bridge in Paris.
Some details

I like looking at statues from underneath sometimes.

Yet another walking bridge.
Not many of the metro lines cross the river. They tend to follow it, so it's nice that you can just walk across instead of having to mess with changing metro trains just to go one stop.
And the metro line 6 gets a bridge.
I like to suggest riding this line, in spite of the occassional scuzziness of the metro, because when I turn around here, there's this view:
Well, from a slightly different angle.
The sun started to set, and I still hadn't gotten around to all the bridges over the Seine in Paris, let alone bridges over anything else!

That's it for this time!

I'll post some black & whites on another occassion. Someday when I have the time and the software to play around with it.

Connect to other FSO bloggers here, and have a good weekend.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday Zebra

The zebra grazes peacefully in the central plains.
What's that!
The tiger stealthily creeps up on the unsuspecting ungulate.
Is this the end of our black & white friend?


Why, no! They're the best of friends. Tigers are from Asia-India; zebras are from Africa, silly.
Now a lion, that would be a problem.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mister Cat

It started in Orleans, but all over Paris there are graffitis of 'Monsieur Chat'.

At the School of Fine Arts.

High atop the famous fountain Saint Michel.

And perched high on walls & chimneys all across town.
There are 50+ M Chats in Paris. At least 80 have been painted, but not everyone likes graffiti on their building, and some were temporary anyway. I scored 15 on my weekend in Paris, and hope to someday have a 'complete' set.

Now that I've pointed them out to my friends Letitia & Bruno, they're going to be seeing them all over!

Do you have M Chat in your city?


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Droit de greve.

The bus did not come.
I went out there, in the cold and the sleet and the rain and the flood and the earthquake and the mudslide and the drought and the crushing heat and all, and there was No Bus.
Because this is France.
and the bus is on strike today.
The busdrivers are protesting somethingorother. Something about retiring at age 5.
I am protesting
against the absense of the bus.
And I will be grumbling
all the way home again.

hop on TFE's Monday magic, y'all

Friday, March 19, 2010


Ah. If you're here for the Friday Shootout post, it's farther down. In the meantime, this is my latest random destination, which I saw on Sunday and am only now getting around to posting.
I'm off to the little town of Neussargues, about an hour and a half south of Clermont, to explore for a day. Thankfully, this was not my train. I had a nice, new, comfy one. It's hard to believe what's still on the rails, though!
Walking out of the station and onto one of the main streets, I saw things did not bode well for lunch. Happily, I've been to small-town France before, and on Sunday, and thus had fair warning that nothing to eat would be available. Arriving just at noon, it was a near thing to get to the bakery before it closed, but I had a nice ham&cheese baguette with me.
Neussargues is more a collection of three or four loosely connected villages serving the surrounding farmland. There is an umbrella place. It seemed to be just a largish house out of which they sold umbrellas. No idea if they made them there - all was shut up tight for the Lord's day.
This is the "Chateau". Really a very large house. There's another one down the street a ways.
Some of the other buildings weren't so nicely kept up.
Off for a hike around the countryside! I had planned to come with my friend Mev, the new post-doc at the lab, but she had to cancel. I suspect she's much more of a city-girl, and won't miss ten miles among the pastures and woods. Especially since the ground is quite muddy.
Moss and lichen seem to grow all the way around the tree trunks and fenceposts - utterly useless for finding 'north'!
Still working on that ultimate tree-on-the-horizon shot.If I ever quit the day job for photography, I'd be a portraitist for trees. OK, that's not a horizon, but I liked the layout of the old wall of rocks with the hazels in the middle. Mm, no, those aren't hazel. I don't know. I'm no botanist. Trees. Yes, some small bushy-type trees.
Many of the pastures seemed to be seriously infested with moles, or something. The cows weren't out yet. They were all close in around the farmhouses.
I failed to write down the name of the village two miles west of Neussargues. It's on the St Jacques de Compostelle pilgrimage route (man, that route goes everywhere!), and this chapel is looks over the tomb of a particular pilgrim. I would have loved to go in, but it was locked tight. The tiny graveyard was chock full of classical french graves (a full-sized slab of stone covering the whole grave, plus headstone or ironwork cross), some of which had sunk into such ruin they were just a shadowy outline.
To get to the chapel, you have to walk along the wall of a farm that has several loud and jumpy dogs. I bet when the St Jacques season is in full swing, and there are dozens of passersby every day, the inhabitants, including everybody just across the street, get pretty tired of it.
In the far distance, the ruined castle of Mardogne overlooks the confluence of three valleys. Not much is left of this massive 13th century structure, but a trail does go there, and maybe this summer I'll come back for a longer hike.
Back in town, the other castle sits privately behind its walls. They have plastic chairs and laundry drying in the yard just like everyone else.
The little church was quite pleasing. I usually take a peek, just to see. Some of these tiny old churches are quite dank and horrible inside, and others are dry and nice. They all echo, and they're all cold, but whether that means chilly or cool is a matter of context.
This one had wonderful windows.
By this time I was really thirsty for a beer (somehow beer is better than water after a full day of walking on winter-soft feet), but absolutely nothing was open. One step too far and you're out of town.
Another farm in town. Really, the house is in the village (it's a one-street place), and once you get past the outbuildings the backyard just goes forever. This one cow was all on its own, eschewing the company of its many sisters all bunched together by the feed trough.
The chickens all came running. They seemed to expect something of me, but finally got bored and went back to pecking the ground.
Every town has a park, and Neussargues is so spread out it has at least three. This one was empty except for the lone pink rabbit on a bench under a tree. The popular one down the hill was full of families playing soccer and hanging around in the first warm weekend of the year.

And back to the station. It's both small and old-fashioned, so trains are indicated on panels they change when necessary. Shows you how often the schedule changes! It might have been fun to mess with the signs, but, well, there is a station-guy around somewhere, and the fine must be pretty stiff, so....
maybe next time. And next time I'll go someplace that at least has a vending machine at the station to get a Coke or a bottle of water. Never mind. I had enough time left to walk back to one of the larger streams and take a drink there. No telling if I've poisoned myself. Didn't seem to do any harm.