Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pretty Things

It seems to be human nature to adorn ourselves. Pretty soon after people set up housekeeping in the caves, they started painting on the walls and picking up pretty rocks to wear.
Look at turquoise. You're walking around looking for good roots or a nice small mammal for dinner and in among the rocks is a pretty one the color of the sky or the ocean. How can you not pick it up and bring it home? Then one thing leads to another and you want someone to notice you or have something pretty and jewelry happens.
I have always loved pretty things. And I have always loved making things. And I guess that's why I make jewelry. Beads have become wildly popular and I'm along for the ride. The variety of smooth, sparkley, shiny, nacreous or glowing is endlessly facsinating
Well, you can just cram so much jewelry in your jewelry box until you realize things have gotten out of control. About when this was happening to me, I came to the realization that other people would pay for pretty things I'd made. I sold earrings on the beach and bartered in the shops on my last trip to Mexico.
Lately, I have my pieces in my friend's shop, Three Orange Doors. It's a fascinating past time. My favorite pieces are about something or especially for a friend. A good friend , studied hard to complete a course in massage and for her graduation I gave her a piece especially for her. I tried to add some magic and protection and strength. The mother of pearl tablet says "I love you" It has crystal, a silver spiral, turquoise, jade, amber, pearls and czech glass.
For another friend, Ursula, I made a bracelet. Here is the story that goes with Ursula's bracelet: Jade Bear: Jade is universally thought to bring good fortune and longevity, especially by the Chinese culture. The Chinese superstitions and legends abound around Jade. An especially tough stone, the clear sound of jade being struck is very beautiful. The Chinese thought it symbolized the five highest virtues: benignity, lucidity, resonance, immutability and purity.
Amethyst highlights: The stone of spirituality and contentment. Amethyst bestows stability, strength, invigoration, and peace, the peace being the perfect peace which was present prior to birth. It is warm and cuddly as well as regal and ruling. Calming, strong, protective qualities, healing, divine love and inspiration. It enhances one's psychic and creative abilities.
Moss agate lozenge: Moss Agate has been helpful to the farmer and when worn while planting, to ensure a good crop. It is often called the "Gardener's Stone". Moss Agate aligns itself with the Heart Chakra and is thought to help bring peace and balance to those with excessive duty in their lives.
Pearl highlights: Pearl is a soothing influence. It is said Pearls aid in digestion and may reduce the chance of developing ulcers. If used properly, said to lessen stress and related maladies (hypertension, headaches, and exhaustion) which may help prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Silver Cowrie Shell: The cowire shell is perhaps the most recognizable of African cultural and spiritual symbols. It is an item that we wear when we wish to portray the message that we are conscious, spiritual and fighting for the upliftment of Africans worldwide. They are used to make statements: social, cultural, spiritual and political. The intended symbolism of the cowrie depends on the context in which it is used. But regardless of its use, the cowrie always inspires admiration, respect and awe.
Smokey Topaz Faceted Stone: Topaz acts to initiate faith and to further the quest for the enlightened state. It attracts people toward one for friendship or business. It used in the treatment of disorders of the liver, gall bladder, and endocrine glands.
Tree Agate Leaves: Tree Agate brings plenty, including crops/agricultural ventures and in business. It is considered a "centering" gemstone that provides for communication and finding peace with the earth.
Rhodochrosite Flower: Rhodochrosite has been called a "Stone of Love and Balance", providing balancing and love on all levels for all bodies. It contains pulsating electrical energy which emits the strongest power in the universe, the power of love. Rhodochrosite is also an Earth stone for healing of the Earth and for showing love to the Mother of us all. It helps one to serve the planet in Her time of need, allowing for one to recognize that the responsibility is actually a joy.
Flat oval Serpentine: Ancient Romans used it as a protective stone against the powers of darkness. In ancient civilizations of America, serpentine was considered a guardian of vital energy and a protector of the soul against invisible powers.
Labrodite heart: Metallic iridescent. It brings forth each wearer’s strengths to share with the world originality, easier and more restful sleep. Labradorite helps us relate to others. It opens energy flow to Solar plexus and brow chakra and whatever other centers are most in need.
(We each have one. I loved it so much I had to make my own!)

Monday, November 19, 2007

La Sainte-Chapelle

La Sainte-Chapel has to be one of the most beautiful things I've seen. It sits surrounded by the Palais de Justice, practically in the shadow of Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité where Paris was born. It was built by Louis the IX to house relics the devout king had purchased for more than three times than the price of erecting the chapel.
It was planned in 1241 when Louis IX obtained a piece of the true cross and construction began in 1246, was completed all within about two years and consecrated on April 26. 1248. It is just like the guide books say: It's like being inside a Tiffany jewel box. An amazingly large portion of the walls are fabulous stained glass and most of them are original. The walls are richly painted and it is truly awe inspiring.

Photos were prohibited when we were there, but many of us were clicking away (without flash). It's simply irresistible in such a lovely spot. It seemed to inspire reverence unlike other churches I've been in on my travels. Maybe it was awe, but the people there all seemed to be stunned to silence by the incredible beauty of the place. There were chairs along the side where you could sit and drink in the beauty and that seemed to be what everyone was doing.

The rose window is from the 15th century and I was just enchanted with it's colors and shapes. All the stained glass windows were restored in the 19th century and during the World War II they were removed to protect them and replaced after the war.
Paris is full of wonderful things and this is definitely not to be missed!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Restaurant Chartier

Here it is, Restaruant Chartier. The original name that you can see above the entrance is Bouillon Chartier. In their own words: "At the turn of the 19th century, the idea was to serve for a very small price a real hot meal to the blue collar and the people of the neighbourhood: the well known "bouillon", a mixture of meat and vegetables." So, it's not a fancy place, but that's not point here. You are in Paris. This place feels like Paris now mixed in with Paris 100 years ago. It's a fabulous space lined with huge mirrors with a giant sky light and polished brass racks for your coats and bags above your head like on a train.
The food was plain and French and tasty and filling. The waiters were lightening fast and took our order on the paper covering the table.The Wine was a house wine with their own label and a good time was had by all. I learned about this place from a neighbor before my visit to Paris in 1989 which was all too short and didn't include a stop at Restaurant Chartier. So to be able to make it this visit was a treat I had been waiting for a while! It was a Saturday afternoon and the friends we were staying with finally had time from their busy jobs to get out and see some Paris.
Really, if you are in Paris, Restaurant Chartier is worth a visit. It's living history!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Paris Musings

I've already been back more than a month, but I'm still under the spell of Paris. This was my third and best visit to Paris. I had the extreme good fortune of having wonderful friends currently living in Paris. So, every morning when I woke up, I'd go into the front room and this was my view. Avenue Bugeaud from the inside. Go ahead and be jealous. Can you see the little pot of cat grass on the floor out there? That was for Omrey, the chubby tabby. I fell in love with him. Everyone fussed about how fat he was and his eating disorder and he needed exercise and everything but he was a beautiful cat and I just loved him. He had the typical cat behaviour: out to see the cat grass...back in... back out...

There was also a shih tzu living there too: Chiara. I longed to take her to the cafe so we could really pretend to be authentic French ladies with our doggie at the cafe. But Chiara's heart belongs to Daddy and she waits for him. We put the leash on her and let her know we were excited to take her to breakfast and she just looked at us like she didn't speak a word of English. Well, she may have been born in Brazil and lived a lot of places but her people speak English around the house, so we knew she was just being sweetly stubborn about the whole thing. So, Ursula and I spent our days wandering about, window shopping, drinking coffee, snacking, buying wine, cheese, fruit, vegetables, bread at the markets, gossipping, descending into the Metro to come up in yet another beautiful neighborhood of Paris. Then, at the end of the day, we came back to our own beautiful neighborhood for wine, fruit, cheese bread and chocolates with our friends...

Sunday, October 28, 2007


What better place to start a blog than Madison, Wisconsin's Freakfest? State Street in Madison has long been THE party spot in the Midwest with people coming from miles around to experience Madtown at its maddest. Halloween had gotten out of hand in past years with riots, smashed windows and other bad behavior in past years. The Fest is now tightly regulated with an entrance fee and barricades for several blocks in all directions.
I am among the crowd that Will Not Pay to go to Freakfest. We dine early at a State Street restaurant and exit the restaurant just about when they are beginning to charge freaks to enter. But HA! We are in already! Wandering the lightly crowded street. Sharing it with the freaks, way too many security personnel and the horsies. Yes, mounted police patrol the festivities! Which is a superb reason to go early. The crowd is thin enough so everyone takes a wide berth around the horse dung.
Everybody comes. Nuns, vampires, Dorthy, The Wicked Witch, brides, hula dancers, ghouls, ghosts, naughty nurses, gypsies, prom queens...
The kleig lights at one end of State Street are blinding. It makes for a surreal experience walking around at night in light brighter than day. We looked up above the trees and the moon above the unnaturally lighted trees was a lovely sight. I'm sure the vampires were loving it.
We left early, but not before Elvis on Velvet showed up. My own personal favorite bordered on art. Our character was dressed rather like a chimney sweep and had fashioned a harness with 4-5 Crows flying above his head. In his arm was a basket with a baby crow (hand puppet) He had a duck call (or crow call?) in his mouth and cawed all evening.

(Todays photos: courtesy pixn8tr)