As promised in my recent Seine River Cruise post, here is a post devoted to Monet and his beautifully preserved estate in Giverny where he lived for 43 years.
Claude Monet (Nov. 14, 1840 – Dec. 5, 1926) was the founder of French Impressionist painting.
He was also the first to paint a scene over and over in order to capture the changing of light and passing of the seasons, saying “I know that to paint the sea really well, you need to look at it every hour of every day in the same place so that you can understand its way in that particular spot and that is why I am working on the same motifs over and over again, four or six times even.“
Here is a remarkable picture from 1922 of Monet in his beautifully landscaped garden, the same garden I recently strolled through. The grounds are kept up to remain in appearance as they were during his time.
Below is how he painted the above view, saying “It took me time to understand my water lilies. I had planted them for the pleasure of it; I grew them without ever thinking of painting them.”
His house is just as beautiful inside as out, with big bright rooms and many paintings, including his Japanese engravings.
Back to the gardens—so lush and gorgeous. Monet once said: “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.”
Plenty of inspiration there for him to paint.
I was also fortunate to see Monet’s famous water lilies filling the walls of the Musee de l’Orangerie in Paris. In 1899 Monet began painting the lilies, first in vertical views with a Japanese bridge as a central feature (as shown at the beginning of this post), and later in a series of large-scale paintings that was to occupy him continuously for the next 20 years of his life. He once said, “These landscapes of water and reflection have become an obsession.” This final series depicts his pond in a set of mural-sized canvases where abstract renderings of plant and water emerge from broad strokes of color and intricately built-up textures. Shortly after he died, the French government installed this last water-lily series in specially constructed galleries at the Orangerie.
As I traveled, it seemed Monet was everywhere. He painted all the beauty of France including the same cliffs of Entretat that I shared a picture of (the one with the jaunty seagull) in my previous post.
One last quotation from this brilliant man: “When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you, a tree, a house, a field or whatever… merely think here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives you your own naive impression of the scene before you.“
Bonjour—I must share where I’ve been the past two weeks—I’ve been cruising along the coast of France! Our ship began its journey in the lovely village of Honfleur.
We stopped at the American Cemetery. After a brief ceremony, it was especially moving when veterans from our group went up to stand at the memorial after we all sang The Star-Spangled Banner. Later, we placed red and yellow roses on many of the almost 10,000 grave markers.
Next we sailed to Caudebec. Once there we visited Fecamp and the Cliffs of Etretat.
We sailed on to Rouen. Later we spent a special afternoon with a good-humored French monk at the Abbaye St. Wandrille. Despite our language barrier, we learned a lot about his way of life.
Oh, and if you’re ever in Rouen, do NOT miss the sound & light show at Notre Dame Cathedral–every night from 11 to midnight (check for seasonal time changes).
The next day we set sail for Les Andelys. Although there was always lots to see while cruising (wild horses!) …there was also plenty of onboard activities held each day, as well, such as French lessons, watercolor and cooking classes, Impressionism study, and various entertainments.
Once in Les Andelys, we had a fun hike up to the Chateau Gaillard. What a view!
Next stop: Vernon. First thing in the morning, we piled onto a bus for Giverny to tour Monet‘s gorgeous home and gardens which I’ll be saving for an upcoming blog post.
Later that afternoon we visited French homes in small groups. At ours (which also happens to be a Bed & Breakfast) we were served cider, lemonade, croissants, and apple cake. Our host’s eclectic collections were interesting, to say the least. At one point we realized we were tiptoeing across a real zebra skin, complete from head to tail, that her father had hunted down years ago. :(
The following day we found ourselves in Conflans-Saint-Honorine and then a trip to Auvers sur Oise to discover where Van Gogh was inspired.
Soon we arrived in Paris where an optional tour of the Palace of Versailles was offered. And if you go to the top of the Galaries Lafayette roof, you’ll find an awesome view of the whole city.
Too many WONDERFUL experiences to squeeze into one blog post, but have I mentioned the food? The chef kept telling us that all of his food was fat-free with no calories. Perhaps he spoke the truth, because after eating at least 10 courses a day, we couldn’t believe we hadn’t gained weight. I guess it’s all part of the magic of a French cruise. Bon appétit!
Top picture is of one of the final desserts being served (Baked Alaska) and bottom: a few of the Grand Circle Travel crew bidding us farewell (our tour guide, Isabelle, on the left and Captain Jacky on the right).
Back in 1786 a small cottage was built in the scenic hills of Mason, New Hampshire. Many years later, Caldecott Medal winner Elizabeth Orton Jones (1910-2005) lived in the quaint little red house. She used it as a model for her illustrations in Little Red Riding Hood, (Little Golden Books, 1948). I recently visited this idyllic setting–now called Pickity Place–with a group of fellow librarians.
Some of us couldn’t decide which was better: the amazing five-course gourmet meal accented with herbs and edible flowers grown and harvested on location or the gorgeous gardens and pathways where we wandered after lunch. Let’s take a tour of a few highlights. I spy a little drying shed in the distance. Once inside, it feels like a worker has just stepped away. Look inside one of the gift shops to see lots of lovely items on display. And if you peek through the doorway into the next room, you’ll be surprised to find someone sleeping in Grandma’s bed! Here are a few lines from Elizabeth’s Caldecott acceptance speech: “Every child in the world has a hill, with a top to it. Every child–black, white, rich, poor, handicapped, unhandicapped. And singing is what the top of each hill is for. Singing-drawing-thinking-dreaming-sitting in silence … saying a prayer. I should like every child in the world to know that he has a hill, that that hill is his no matter what happens, his and his only, forever.”
I should have worn a red-hooded cape for my escape to this enchanted forest.
Have you ever been to the National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania? So many beautiful clocks of all shapes and sizes. The most impressive clock in the museum is featured at the end of this post.
12,000 clocks and watches!
Wait for it, my favorite is still to come…
At the age of 20, Stephen D. Engle, a self-taught dentist, began making the first known monumental clock. It took the father of seven more than 20 years to complete, but WOW, what a clock! The clock went on tour for the next 70 years and then disappeared until the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors tracked it down. Major restoration began and now it can be enjoyed by all visitors to the museum. There are 48 moving figures, as well as music and intricate details. To see Stephen’s clock in action, click on the picture below.See you next time! (Time, get it?)
Before the recent boom in graphic novels there were comic books! For many years, comic books have been available for all tastes and ages. From stories about super-heroes to science fiction, action/adventure, romance, humor, and horror.
Here is a comic book from 1922:
And here is the first appearance of Captain Marvel in 1940:
It was believed this new super hero was too similar to Superman and publications were halted until the late 1960s when Marvel gained the trademark. A variety of Captain Marvels followed.
I can remember sitting outside on a hot summer day and the excitement of flipping through a new comic book. I loved reading them front to back over and over–unlike the currently popular Japanese Manga comics which read back to front. My old stack of comic books is only valuable to me (and anyone else interested). Rather like old record albums, too many people have them, so there’s no real monetary value. That’s okay though, not sure I could ever part with them. :)
Here’s a picture of a few comic books in my collection:
You’ll notice several Archie comic books in the above picture. Archie, drawn by Bob Montana and written by Vic Bloom, first appeared in Pep Comics in 1941 and now more than 70 years later, he’s still a familiar face.
There are so many fun facts to sort through online, but since I’ve mentioned Archie (who was once nicknamed Chick) here’s the full name of his buddy Jughead: Forsythe Pendleton Jones III.
I also discovered I have something in common with Superman. His favorite book is To Kill A Mocking Bird, as mentioned in Detective Comics #27 – and later it was also said to be his favorite film.
Another fascinating character I discovered in my research was the Green Lama, a practicing Buddhist, who became popular in comic book form during the 1940s.
If you’re ever in D. C., the Library of Congress holds the world’s largest collection of comic books. They have 5,000 titles and 100,000 issues. The oldest comic book in their collection is “Popular Comics,” Feb. 1936.
Do you still have your comic books or maybe a favorite comic book memory?
Have you ever wondered what the differences are between a seal and a sea lion?
Seals have small earholes and short, hairy front flippers with a claw on each toe. On land, they move by wiggling along on their bellies like caterpillars, with their hind flippers straight out. Seals swim by steering with fore flippers and powering with hind flippers. They are more streamlined in water. Their whiskers are rounded and their grunts are usually soft-spoken.
Although sometimes with a mate, seals can be more solitary than sea lions who are usually hanging out in large groups.
Sea lions have the following characteristics: External visible earflaps and long hairless fore flippers. Their hind flippers rotate underneath so they are able to walk on land. They swim underwater using their fore flippers like wings. Sea Lions have long smooth whiskers and can bark quite loud.
A year or so ago I had an opportunity to participate in a seal release where healthy seal pups return to the ocean after their wounds have healed. Here’s a link to my seal release adventure.
Although it can be exciting to see seals in the wild, please keep your distance. They may have come ashore merely to relax or because they need help, but it’s better to call your local authorities. About the time period of my first novel, Call Me Amy, which features Pup the harbor seal, the Marine Mammal Protection Act went into effect. This law prohibits the taking of marine mammals without a permit.
There is one more marine mammal in the pinniped family and I bet you can guess who that is!
Without even trying I’ve accumulated a great little collection of picture books from other countries. These first two handsome editions were given to me by my son after he toured with fellow musicians in Germany and Poland.
This book of Swedish folk tales was published in Stockholm in 1946. They have been producing anthologies since 1907. I bought the book many years ago from Antiquarian Booksellers of NY for about $12. It’s gorgeous with attached illustrated plates, although unfortunately when I pulled it out to snap a picture, I discovered some of the pages have come loose.
The title translates to “Among Gnomes and Trolls.” Included in the book are illustrations by the amazing John Bauer. Famous for sympathetic trolls, his paintings have a lovely mythical quality to them. Sadly, he died in a shipwreck at age 36, along with his wife (also an artist, but better known as the model for the Fairy Princess) and their two-year-old son.
Here’s another closeup of the inside–illustration by Einar Norelius.
Other favorite books in my collection were gifts from faraway friends. Maryse airmailed me Petit Renard perdu all the way from France. The story about a little lost fox is told from two viewpoints. You flip it over halfway to read Mama Fox’s version.
This photo shows how my collection looked while on display at a public library. The little Clifford (the Big Red Dog) book is in Spanish. The very bottom, as well as the top shelf holds more French books. The two on the second shelf up from the bottom are Danish. The one on the right was written by Hans Christian Andersen–very appropriate since today is his birthday! The little brown-trimmed ones in the center are German. Do you have any foreign language books or maybe a different type of collection from a faraway land? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. I love to hear from you and appreciate when these posts bring readers together for discussion.
I’m pleased to announce I’ve been awarded a Liebster Award! Thank you very much to Maca for nominating me. Maca has been speedily reviewing lots of great books–check out her interesting blog here: booksaremylovers. The Liebster Award is a chain tradition for bloggers to share other blogs they enjoy.
Here are the rules:
1. Thank and link the person who nominated you.
2. Answer the questions given by the nominator.
3. Nominate 11 other bloggers who have less than 200 followers and link them. (I have over 200, but it can be tricky to figure that out and also, I am quite late in posting this award.)
4. Create 11 new questions for the nominees to answer.
5. Notify all nominees via social media/blogs.
OK, now on to Maca’s fun questions:
1. What is the book that you are currently reading right now? I’ll be sitting in as my library’s book club leader in a few weeks and they have chosen to discuss THE CHAPERONE by Laura Moriarty. So, not only am I giving it a careful reading, but I’m also listening to an audio version during my commute. I like to be prepared. :)
2. Do you like movie adaptations of books? What adaptation lived up to your expectations and you would recommend? Ones that come to mind are TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GONE WITH THE WIND, and many of Jane Austen’s titles.
3. In your opinion what book has the best cover ever? No way can I choose just one. So, after a quick search these are today’s choices, although I have to confess I haven’t read most of them.
4. What is your favorite/s book genre? Historical Fiction and just about anything in YA.
5. What is the book that you’ve read the most number of times? I don’t tend to read books over and over, although I know I’ve read THE GREAT GATSBY, as well as TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, at least twice. That said, I do read my own books (in manuscript form) over and over, along with the manuscripts written by members of my critique group.
6. In case of calamity (fire, flood, etc.) and you only have a chance to save a few books that you can carry in your arms. What are those books? Easy. I would grab my photo books. I love to make fancy books using all my favorite photos of family, friends, and memorable events.
7. What do you enjoy doing aside from reading? I enjoy writing, working in a library, painting, travel, music, paper-cutting, and holidays.
8. What do you prefer, physical copy or ebook? Why? Definitely ones made from paper. I like to hold them and flip through their pages. I spend enough time in front of the computer without wanting to read another screen during my downtime. I’m also fond of audio books for my car.
9. If you are given a chance, who is the author you would want to be close friends with? Hmm, this is a tough one. I know many authors who I consider to be friends already. Instead, I’ll go back a few years and choose Lucy Maud Montgomery.
10. What is your favorite part of the year? Spring, especially after this extra long winter.
11. What is the first book you would instantly recommend to someone you just met? Like me? How about my own books CALL ME AMY and AMY’S CHOICE! :)
In turn, I nominate the following people for the Liebster Award (I had to nominate a bunch back in January for a different award, so these will be all new ones):
And here are your quick and easy questions:
1. What’s your favorite pastime?
2. Favorite ice cream?
3. Favorite book?
4. Favorite movie?
5. Favorite climate?
6. Favorite vacation?
7. Favorite color?
8. Favorite hot meal?
9. Favorite song?
10. Favorite season?
11. Favorite candy?
Congratulations to the new nominees and thanks for playing!
Have you ever toured the home of a famous long-ago author? There are so many interesting stories behind writers and their homes, but I’m going to limit today’s brief visit to Concord, Massachusetts.
In 1834, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) went to live in what we now call the Old Manse. He completed the first draft of his first published work, Nature, in the upstairs study. Another famous author who lived there was Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864). He arrived in 1842 with his new bride for what he referred to as three of their happiest years. Hawthorne is the one who named it the Old Manse which means minister’s home.
In 1835 Emerson purchased Bush which is now called the Ralph Waldo Emerson House. He moved in shortly after his second marriage and they raised their family there.
Thoreau (1817–1862) lived there briefly, as well, and was a frequent visitor. He later built his well-known cabin on Emerson’s property.
The Alcott family’s longest permanent residence was Orchard House where they lived from 1858 through 1877. Appropriately named, their land was filled with apple trees. This lovely location is where Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) wrote Little Women.
Before Orchard House, the Alcotts lived in a home they called Hillside. You can see Louisa’s father’s signature on this sketch of their home. They bought Hillside in 1845 and then sold it to Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1852. Following his tradition of naming his homes, he renamed this one The Wayside and it is still called that to this day. Isn’t it interesting to find two amazing authors who lived in the same house? But wait, there’s one more!
Harriett Mulford Stone Lothrop (1844–1924) also lived at The Wayside. Who? Harriett wrote under the pen name of Margaret Sidney. Her most famous series was The Five Little Peppers. The first book was published in 1881, the same year she married the founder of the company who published it. (How convenient!) In 1883, the Lothrops bought The Wayside. After her husband died (their daughter was 9 years old at the time) Harriett continued to run the publishing company. Eventually she sold the company which later became Lothrop, Lee & Shepard. Oh, and by the way The Wayside is next door to Orchard House (did she move in to be next to Louisa?) Either way, Harriet worked hard to preserve both homes.
I’ve barely touched the surface here, but I hope you’ll look up more on this subject. There is a vast amount of fascinating history about these homes and the authors who lived in them. All of the above houses are open to visitors and can be found in Concord, Massachusetts. There are many other places of literary interest to visit in New England, but I’d like to point out two especially notable stops: Mark Twain’s gorgeous home in Hartford, CT (check out his neighbor’s place, too–Harriet Beecher Stowe!) and Edith Wharton’s estate in Lenox, MA.
“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.— In the highest civilization, the book is still the highest delight.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you read a lot? Have you ever walked into a library or bookstore and checked-out or purchased a title only to arrive home and realize you’ve already read it before? Believe me, you’re not alone. I see it often at my library. But things are changing. Many readers now keep track of their books.
I use Goodreads. Another one to try is Shelfari. Shelfari can be visually pleasing, but sometimes the graphics are slow to load and the email ads too frequent. LibraryThing is another popular venue, although many prefer to use this just to list those books they actually own, rather than for books they’ve borrowed or would like to read at a future date. LibraryThing might be the best choice for those who collect old and rare books, since their cataloging reaches farther. Keep in mind, unlike the first two sites, after your first 200 books are recorded, LibraryThing charges a fee ($10 per year, or $25 for life). There are also a variety of phone apps that work well for some people, such as Reader Tracker.
There’ll always be a few naysayers for any online program, but since I feel Goodreads (ages 13 & up) is the most user-friendly (along with 30 million other readers), I’ll show you the steps below—follow the big blue arrows. :)
It’s very easy to sign up for Goodreads, just put in your name (or a nickname if you’d like to remain private), add in your email (this will also be kept private), and lastly make up a password.
To start your book list, type in a title (see below). The books show up immediately and you click on them to choose. It only takes a few minutes to build up your list. Later, if you decide to get more involved, you can enter giveaways for free books, check lists for recommendations, and maybe even find a new friend or two in the discussion threads. All of these optional adventures can be found under the Explore tab.
The next picture shows how the screen looks after you select a title. When you click the Want to Read tab there are two other choices as well: Read, or Currently Reading. It’s up to you if you want to add ratings or reviews to help you remember what you thought of the book. I find this useful in recommending books to others. All I have to do is glance at my list to jog my memory, no more saying: “Oh, I read this great book last year. I think it was about a boy in Italy, no France, and it had a greenish-blue cover.” Goodreads keeps me organized. Click here to join.
I’d love to hear how you track your reading!
People from around the world have asked how we’re doing with all the snow. They’ve also asked for pictures, as it can be hard to imagine this winter bliss from certain balmy locations. So, bundle up, hang onto your hats and welcome to New England! This photo shows how we walk through the early stages of a blizzard.
Later, we locate our vehicles.
Then we drive home.
We check out the window to see if there are any wildlife passing through our backyards.Next day, the kids head off for school.