Sunday, July 17, 2011

Avec le petit ami

The cutest thing carved in marble you will ever see.
Coming back onto the grid after a two-week sojourn while the boy visited.  We had a lovely time, though now the transition back to work and solitude after two weeks of fun and companionship is a bit tough.  Not, however, that it was all fun and games while he was here.  Our Parisian wanderings took into account various public sculptures--both by Dalou and others--that I need to see while I'm here.   As it turned out, we maxed out early, because on our first night's walk, to the Eiffel Tower, by way of the Tuileries, we saw easily the best public sculpture ever.  Ok, probably not the best, technically, but I do love this thing.  Gabriel Pech's Monument to Perrault ranked high on my list of most-anticipated sculptures in Paris less because of its relevance to my work (though it actually is, promise) but mostly because it is so damn cute.  Charles Perrault wrote, among other things, the story of Puss in Boots, so his monument in the children's park of the Tuileries features--yes--a cat wearing boots.  I spent no little amount of time pointing out to Jay the most salient features of the monument, which include:  fabulous knee-high boots, hat with a giant feather, billowing cape, a mouse hanging from his belt, and a necklace made of mice.  Sadly, after this, monuments of 19th-century men without a tail, whiskers, or a mice-necklace are going to look fairly prosaic.  One possible exception is Dalou's Triumph of the Republic, which I like to think can be impressive without a cat wearing boots, especially because it does feature two absolutely enormous lions instead.

Boots don't come in their size.

There are a number of benefits to studying public sculpture, not the least of which is that when your boyfriend comes to visit, you can wander around Paris still looking at things, rather than being locked up in a library.  The other advantage, of course, is that public sculpture is climbable.  Jay's presence was fortuitous for this photo, as not only did I need someone to take the picture for me, but I also needed the assurance of having someone to fall on in case I misstepped while clamoring up on top of the lion.

This way to the bog!
After looking at piles of sculpture in Paris, we then went to the land of bad art:  the British Isles.  Studying French art, I have inherited a number of prejudices about the English--namely about the quality of their art and their food.  Despite both of these prejudices playing out to some extent, we had a lovely time--especially because we were mostly in Wales--thereby bypassing the English and their bad art.  Or at least, I had a lovely time--Jay ran through fields of sheep, snorkled in a bog, and biked up and down Welsh mountains.  During this time, I drank tea. 

I also kept an eye out for lambs nursing.  Yes.  You read that right.  Lambs nursing.  I promise you that this is, in fact, the cutest thing you will ever see.  If you take a carved marble Puss in Boots, put it in a cute-ometer, amplify its cuteness by 10000000x, have Anne bloody Geddes photograph it with some babies dressed as flowers and vegetables, and then put on your cute glasses to look at it, you might come close to the cuteness of lambs nursing.  I am actually not one to be swayed by cuteness (except in marble), but damn if lambs nursing didn't make me squeal with joy.  They actually spin their tails with glee.  They SPIN THEIR TAILS.  Seriously.    

The English are coming!!  With bad art!!
When Jay was not jogging, bogging, or biking, he was defending us from the English.  A trip to Powys Castle in Welshpool proved neither dank, dark, drafty, or castle-y enough, so we took a trip to Cardiff Castle, which did indeed turn out to be quite castle-y.  Whereas Powys Castle had Romney portraits, Baroque gardens, and other renovations purposely intended to reduce its castle-y parts, Cardiff Castle had crenelations, a trebuchet, and children practicing archery skills in the banquet hall.  Much better.  In Cardiff, we also sampled a Welsh breakfast.  This consists of many types of meat, boiled seaweed, egg, toast, brown sauce, and something deceptively called "black pudding."  While the "black" should have been an important hint, it is very deceptive to call anything pudding that has, as one of its primary ingredients, blood.  That is screwed up.  Should anyone ever give you black pudding, my advice to you is to cover it in brown sauce and not ask questions.  Later in the day, I gorged myself on sticky toffee pudding covered with English custard in order to compensate for starting my day with eating blood.  As I learned the hard way, custard-covered sticky toffee pudding is quite delicious, but incredibly bad pre-panicked-run-for-the-train food.

We did catch our train, and celebrated our return to Paris by experiencing a number of Paris' most revered cultural institutions:  the Jardin du Luxembourg, Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, Sacre Coeur, the Louvre, and the cheese-covered hot dog.  While including the cheese-covered hot dog on this list might appear as if I am being purposely comedic--don't be fooled.  The French hot dog is covered with a truly monumental amount of cheese. 

Le hot dog fromage.

Despite the fact that (or more likely because) I am a trained professional, my personalized tour of the Louvre consisted less of art historical interpretations, and more of subjective judgements and random facts.  For example, I derive great glee out of pointing out the back of Delacroix's famously lustrous head of hair in Géricault's Raft of the Medusa.

Me and Delacroix rocking our hair.  Please note my Morgana-inspired ponytail.
In fact, I was so excited that I almost threw myself at the painting, which no doubt would have prompted a lifelong ban from all Parisian museums.
Ne touchez pas!!
Jay, to his credit, was able to withstand a whole trip to the most famous museum in the world with his art historian girlfriend.  For that, he deserves to be applauded.  Or better yet, get a high five.

"Nice job on the bog snorkle, dude. "

That would have been a great ending shot, but I did spend several days in the Welsh countryside, so . . . Mom, this is for you.

Flowers with magnificent backdrop of lush Welsh landscape.  Cheers.

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