Archive for the 'The World Community' category

Weekend in Paris

November 2, 2009 7:56 pm

P1030682Kevin set his computer to send him a reminder to buy TGV tickets exactly 3 months before the weekend we chose to visit Paris (a little planning can save a lot on train fare) and off we went at the appointed time. We did the usual touristy things like visit the Louvre, meander the magnificent boulevards and neighborhoods, and dine in classic old bistros. New for me was a visit to the cemetery, Père Lachaise. As a gentle breeze wafted falling autumn leaves through golden sunlight, we had a lovely quiet stroll past thousands of tombs, some belonging to people well-remembered but most others to people apparently long-forgotten. I was amazed to find Chopin’s grave absolutely brimming with fresh bouquets of beautiful flowers. I thought it must have been his birthday, but not quite yet. The 200th anniversary of his birth is 1 March 2010. However, as chance would have it, we found ourselves standing before his grave exactly 160 years to the day of his death. Quelle coincidence …

Albert Kahn MuseumThe next day we were very excited to be going to the Albert Kahn Museum. We discovered this fascinating Frenchman in a BBC production called The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn. Permettez-moi to quote from Wikipedia: “In 1909 Kahn travelled to Japan on business and returned with many photographs of the journey. This prompted him to begin a project collecting a photographic record of the entire Earth. He appointed Jean Brunhes as the project director, and sent photographers to every continent to record images of the planet using the first colour photography, autochrome plates, and early cinematography. Between 1909 and 1931 they collected 72,000 colour photographs and 183,000 meters of film. These form a unique historical record of 50 countries, known as ‘The Archives of the Planet’.” (To check out some of these photographs, click here.)

Unfortunately, our advance planning did not include checking the museum’s website and, to our horror, the photography section of the museum was closed until two days later to prepare for the next exhibit. Ugh! But we were able to walk through the stunning gardens at the museum. Kahn had several Japanese houses dismantled and reassembled in the gardens he constructed in Paris. In addition to a lovely Japanese garden, he built a glass conservatory, an English garden, a conifer wood, and a rose garden. The site was well worth the visit but, I’m sure, would have been even better with the photography exhibit. Check out our photos of our weekend in Paris.


Les Coquelicots … and Remembrance

June 1, 2009 11:31 am


Flanders Poppies Field

I’ve thought a lot about my negative experience of religious paintings in Valencia since writing my last post. I’ve been feeling uncomfortable about feeling uncomfortable viewing crucifixion scene after crucifixion scene. I’m clear in my belief that I can’t and don’t want to associate that type of imagery with any notion of “spirituality.” However, I have been wondering lately about just what “spirituality” does mean to me.

Then I came upon this magnificent field of coquelicots, the beautiful brilliant red wild poppies with jet black centers in bloom here everywhere at the moment. I had a sort of gentle epiphany. As I stood awestruck before that field, I realized that Nature is the temple I choose to worship in. When in the presence of such natural beauty I can’t help but feel a mixture of reverence, wonder, and an almost delirious joy  –  the proverbial “religious experience.”

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Our Month in the U.S. of A.

March 2, 2009 9:34 pm


No, pas possible! Today is March 2nd and I am only now adding a post about our trip to America. For shame!

We arrived in Gig Harbor, Washington on Christmas Eve and we flew back to France from San Francisco on Inauguration Day – Gobama! And now, about a mere forty days later, I’m finally sitting down to write a post about the trip. (Keeping up with one’s blog isn’t as easy as I thought!) Before any more time passes, I want to thank all our friends and family who took such good care of us.

We were very fortunate indeed to spend Christmas with Mom and Dadums at their home in Gig Harbor. My son Jake flew up from San Francisco to join us and my sister, Susan, and husband Tom and nephews Danny and Billy (who live nearby) were there as well. We were also there to celebrate Billy’s 18th birthday on December 28th. He invited about 40 of his closest friends over, dug a pit in the backyard, and BBQed a whole lamb Argentinian-style on a home-made vertical metal structure. And it worked – deliciously!

On December 30th, we reluctantly said good-bye and flew to San Francisco. We rented a really ugly big American car, and drove to Carmel Valley to stay with dear friend, Lynne. The next day, Kevin and I experienced our best New Year’s Eve ever. What a party! We caught up with old friends Doris and Hu, Donna and Scot, Mary and Gregg, Mark and Elaine, Marv and Wanda, and made new friends as well – Robin and John. It was a perfect gathering of people, with yet another great meal, and hours and hours of crippling dancing. And an after-party the next day. Perfect …

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Diane MacEachern’s BIG GREEN PURSE

May 30, 2008 8:51 pm

Diane MacEachern is someone who really “puts her money where her mouth is.”

Her new book Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World is a clarion call to consumers to exert the “power of the purse” and send the only message the marketplace appears to understand: consumers are getting smarter and better informed, and want to spend their money on products that can help sustain, rather than destroy, the planet.

So what if corporate mentality can’t conceive of “green” being anything other than the color of money? If enough consumers – most of whom, let’s face it, are women – send the marketplace the message that we will no longer purchase unsafe and polluting products in wasteful packaging, the marketplace will respond.

Diane’s book offers a wealth of information on products we all use every day, and lots of that information is quite alarming. Did you know, for example, that the Federal Drug Administration has evaluated the safety of only 11% of the 10,500 chemical ingredients used in lipstick, nail polish, hair coloring, soap, and other personal-care products? That means that 89% of those chemicals we bathe with, slather on our bodies, and make-up our faces with every day have not been evaluated for safety. Nor, as Diane points out, is it known what the cumulative exposure to chemicals linked to specific health concerns can be. According to the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors, which “oversees” the industry, “a cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without an approval from the FDA.” Who exactly does the FDA exist to protect anyway: people or industries?

The beauty of the book is that is not just a litany of frightening statistics – far from it. It is also brimming with advice and resources on where to purchase greener and safer cosmetics, cars, food, household cleansers, clothing, garden products, electronics, furniture, kids’ stuff, and more. Enough information, in short, to empower us to change the way we live.

The marketplace will always sell what brings it the most “green,” but if we demand less polluting and safer products, well, we the people will have taken responsibility for doing something ourselves to create a “cleaner, greener world.” Hey, it’s not like we can wait for Congress to take action ..


Zimbabwe-Bound Ship Heads Back to China

April 24, 2008 6:25 pm

Yes!!! Read the story in the New York Times today.

It’s nice to read some good news every once in a while.  🙂


Arms for Zimbabwe May Turn Around

April 22, 2008 4:10 pm

22ship-600I’m hoping against hope that the Chinese ship carrying over 77 tons of weapons worth more than $1.245 million will soon be heading back to China. The New York Times reported today that Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa called on other countries in the region to not let the ship dock in their ports. Mr. Mwanawasa also heads the Southern African Development Community – a bloc of fourteen southern African countries – that has come under sharp criticism for not censuring Zimbabwe’s failure to release the results of its presidential election three weeks ago. The Times said that Mr. Mwanawasa’s statements were remarkable because so few African heads of state have been openly critical of Mugabe’s regime.

Why are the other African leaders so quiet?

Meanwhile, also on the front page of the NY Times today: “U.S. Identifies Tainted Heparin in Eleven Countries.”

“A contaminated blood thinner from China has been found in drug supplies in 11 countries, and federal officials said Monday they had discovered a clear link between the contaminant and severe reactions now associated with 81 deaths in the United States.”

But don’t worry – I’m sure the Chinese government will soon be executing the managers of the offending drug companies.


Where is the Chinese Arms Shipment?

April 20, 2008 9:05 am

The Guardian reports this morning that there were conflicting reports yesterday as to the destination of the Chinese ship turned away from South Africa after dockers in Durban refused to unload a cargo of weapons destined for Zimbabwe and a legal rights group won a court order blocking the delivery.

The An Yue Jiang was at first reported by a human rights group to be headed for Mozambique but was later said to be heading south, possibly destined for a friendlier port in Namibia or Angola.

The Guardian reported yesterday: “Helen Zille, the leader of South Africa’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, warned that the shipment could result in carnage of ‘genocidal proportions’. Pointing out that a consignment of Chinese machetes had prefaced the genocide in Rwanda, she said: “The mind boggles when one considers the damage that could be done with the consignment of arms sitting in Durban harbour.”


Chinese Ship Carries Arms Cargo to Mugabe Regime

April 18, 2008 11:49 am

The An Yue Jang outside Durban Harbor April 17, 2008This is the lead story in today’s issue of the Guardian, a London daily:

“A Chinese cargo ship believed to be carrying 77 tonnes of small arms, including more than 3 million rounds of ammunition, AK47 assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, has docked in the South African port of Durban for transportation of the weapons to Zimbabwe, the South African government confirmed yesterday. It claimed it was powerless to intervene as long as the ship’s papers were in order.

Copies of the documentation for the Chinese ship, the An Yue Jiang, show that the weapons were sent from Beijing to the ministry of defence in Harare. Headed ‘Dangerous goods description and container packing certificate’, the document was issued on April 1, three days after Zimbabwe’s election. It lists the consignment as including 3.5 million rounds of ammunition for AK47 assault rifles and for small arms, 1,500 40mm rockets, 2,500 mortar shells of 60mm and 81mm calibre, as well as 93 cases of mortar tubes.”

Alas … China …

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