Monday, February 28, 2011

for those of you who were worried,

in my spare time, i actually do go to school.

here is an update on my classes.

art and architecture: we meet every monday in a different museum. we gather around paintings and make things up about color and iconography and symbology. its a treat. actually, it is a lot of fun, even if we are on our feet talking about paintings for three hours straight. today we met in the louvre and about halfway through class it hit me: i'm having class in the louvre. it doesn't get much better than that. the best part about the class is probably our hilarious teacher bernie who knows everything there is to know about art and shares it all with us. he wears really great glasses and loves to say 'things like this, yes?' and 'things like this, no?'
at the beginning of every class he tells us he is tired/out of it/ sick and apologizes for being so scatterbrained. at the end of every class he tells us that we were extra distracted/lagging/ recovering from the weekend and it makes me laugh.

political science: isn't easy. we do lots of reading for this class and it is sometimes hard. we talk about all kinds of grand french thinkers like descartes and rousseau and we talk a lot about the french revolution. the whole group is required to take this class that meets twice a week and it is really the only time we are all guaranteed to be together. our program director, professor/doctor/brother hancock teaches it. the best days are when we go on 'outings' to museums or castles and pretend to learn political science but really just take pictures and chat with his cute cute wife. we have guest speakers on occasion as well - also exciting.

french 102: this class is probably my favorite. i've never taken a beginning french class at byu before (i skipped them!), but i decided it would help me a lot just to get back to the basics. it definitely helps to go over all the grammar rules. this class is hilarious because it has about every level of french speaker possible. i always sit next to james who at the beginning of the class spoke literally ZERO french and who now is doing a million times better (although i don't know if she'll ever say 'et' instead of 'y', love ya james) and we just have a grand old time together every tuesday, wednesday, and thursday morning. the best part is when we sing hymns together. you would all be impressed.

french 311: this class doesn't really exist. we just have to have a certain number of conversations, record 50 new vocab words every week (harder than it sounds), and read the newspaper in french three times a week. i love that part. everyday there are free newspapers available at all metro entrances so it is easy to just grab and go. i don't know what i would do without my daily updates about french celebrities and the daily horoscope!

paris walks: this is the class you hear the most about. it is self-guided and we just have a large book of around 21 walks and we have to go on 14. the walks guide us through exciting (and less exciting) parts of paris and give us little tidbits of history along the way. after we go on the walk we are supposed to blog about them, which luckily is just a given for me! so, today we did another walk. however, due to the cold and the lack of desire to walk, it was more of a speedwalk. it actually was definitely a speedwalk. we walked around the embassies and the french president's house etc while emily sped-read and we took a limited amount of pictures. although it was neat to see the embassies, there is not much you can do around them because a. pictures are discouraged and b. you cannot go inside. highlights of the walk were probably the obelisk (allison wondered what the heck kind of gift an obelisk was and i thought to myself that it makes a very nice gift - one year my mom gave us all lovely obelisks for easter) and speed window shopping in the classy stores around the embassy. we saw some gorgeous wedding dresses and some serious heels. we have all mastered the art of jaywalking, which here is one hundred percent legal and most often encouraged. if there are no cars coming, actually if there are cars coming but you probably have enough time, go! we used this skill several times on our walk today. and our speedwalking allowed us to conquer a one- two hour walk in about 30 minutes. go team! enjoy our cold pictures

a little shout out to nappy b in front of a monument for him
just kicking back for a half a second
a little break from all that speed walking
you cannot really tell but i am sad because the ferris wheel is lacking all the ferris.
a.k.a. its just the wheel.
this is allison pretending to be ramses. or something like that. she was trying to tell me that since she has seen the mummified and preserved face of ramses she has seen the face that saw the face, that saw the face, that saw God. therefore, i have seen the face that saw the face, that saw the face, that saw the face, that saw God. and now, you can say the same.
jamie was a little cold.
obelisk make for great gifts
not an embassy door. i wasn't allowed to take pictures of those
love red and white
you cannot look at this window display and be surprised that french children are always dressed so well.
after our freezing cold walk we decided it would be fun to catch a movie on the champs-elysee. the four of us went to see true grit (in english) and it was really a treat just to kick back and sit for a few hours. and we all snuck in treats from the near by grocery store and shared some popcorn.
it was a great time, and the movie was cute too!
after the movie i went to FHE with emily.
hakim and i traded hats.

so, now you know. i do go to school. and i do do homework. but that doesn't stop me from having quality times and many, many adventures. alright, thats all. stay classy france.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

happy birthday mallory!

first i will begin by wishing my dear cousin, friend, and roommate mallory a very happy birthday. twenty years of good times together. a birthday surprise for her a little later.

now, every once in a while something occurs that pulls me out of the quaint, perfect, picturesque paris and sends me straight into the dirty, graffitied, sometimes even scary paris. every big city has its downfalls and although it is easy to overlook, paris is no exception. though this is a very rare occurrence, it happens. this morning was noteworthy because it was just a continuous downward spiral. not-so-great things just kept happening. let me explain.

1. if i don't ever post again it is because of the disease that was coughed onto me this morning on the train. a very drunk, probably homeless man practically fell into the seat across from me at 9,00 this morning and began coughing the most disgusting, phlegm-filled, gnarsty cough i have ever witnessed. the smell of the alcohol on his breath practically slammed into my face and i literally wanted to cry. when he wasn't coughing he was gargling, slurping and/or sucking in the most strange and unappealing manner. i was about to get up and change seats but before i could he got up and drunkenly hobbled to the next row. gross.

2. after we hopped off the train and ran away from the coughing wonder, we saw another crazy, probably homeless man who was talking to himself. we literally ran into him as he was practically hitting himself in the head and going crazy right there in the train station. we booked it out of there fast.

3. in our haste we, as in emily and i, ended up going up two different escalators and i watched as another man coughed up who knows what right at emily's feet. she was passing him as he excuse the expression, hocked up the biggest loogie i have ever heard. it was everything i could do not to bust up laughing as emily sprinted up the rest of the escalator in disgust and i stood in wonder at we could have so many awful encounters in one day.

4. we had almost made it to the church when another crazy man started talking to us saying all kinds of strange things. we picked up our pace and he started following us talking, yelling, and blowing his nose into a large stack of napkins he was carrying (not sure what is up with us and unappealing bodily fluids/functions today). at this point we were basically running and he was still following. we even changed our normal path to school and luckily ran into a few other members so we had so company and felt a little safer.

we made it to church sufficiently creeped and grossed out.

i love paris, but i cannot deny that this adventure has its times that aren't so perfect. mind you, within minutes i was swept back into my little parisien dreamland as i sat in church listening to the beautiful music and wonderful words. if everything were perfect it really wouldn't be half as exciting.

i was in an especially good mood at church today because i got to teach a primary lesson. in french! they needed some extra help and i happened to be in the right place at the right time. it was the best church experience yet. i helped teach the 8-12 year olds and we had a grand old time together. although it can be a little sad when you are trying your best to tell a bible story in french and an eight year old steps in and rattles it off perfectly, it was a great learning experience. just like my grandpa told me, their french is slow, clear, and easy to understand. they are patient and just all around darling. they also sang in sacrament meeting; it was absolutely precious. after church we all got together for a big potluck, which was delicious of course, and then the mission presidents gave a fabulous little fireside. by the time church was over i had forgotten all about the morning events, and i couldn't have been happier.

though not a first for france, a first for the frock.
the frock goes to church! i'm getting creative with my limited wardrobe.
i went up to meet the darling mission presidents, turns out sister staheli's maiden name is 'bodine' so we were kindred spirits from the get go. they both gave lovely talks.
after church i took emily to see the view at the end of our line.
that street lined with trees is the one we live off of, and the eiffel tower is in the distance.
a windy day in the pretty park
i love park benches.
now this is what dreamland paris is supposed to be like.
em and i and the neighborhood castle.
when we left the park we ran into police,
on horses.
yes, please.

and now for mallory's birthday treat.
as you know i was in primary today, so i told the little kids about my dear cousin mallory and asked if they could help me out. they are absolutely darling. 'joyeux anniversaire' malpal! i sure do love you! enjoy your extra special french birthday treat....

and now, the moment you have all been waiting for....
NANNICK! live, in her own kitchen. lucky you.
dear, dear nannick just had an operation to remove a cataract, and that is what she is talking about. she is telling us how she can finally see colors, and see clearly. with the other eye things are still 'fou' or off. she will have the other one operated on in a few months. isn't she absolutely adorable? love my little nannick. so glad i caught this moment on camera.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

morning musings and afternoon inspiration

The clock tower strikes once, twice, elven times, and the midmorning rain picks back up. There is such beauty in the dreariness. The wetness brings out the green, gives it this lush feel. Though the rain discourages all sorts of plans I had made in my cozy bed before looking out the window, one rainy day is a nice change. A cleanse. Its refreshing. And rain or shine – an adventure will be had.

from my journal this morning as i sat just taking in the sounds and smells of the morning storm. and i must say that i think the inspiration of today started in that last line. even though the rain was coming down, it cleared up in just enough time to allow some quality adventures.

today really was full of all kinds of inspiration. emily and i set off for the city with a few simple plans in mind, we wanted to find where my grandpa lived while here on his mission many years ago, we wanted to find le cordon bleu where the one and only Julia Child attended culinary school here in france, and we wanted to go grocery shopping so we could conjure up a quality french meal for dinner tonight. we had no idea how much more would be in store for us. this moring as we were leaving we passed by another girl who boards here named therese. she told us that she was going to this giant old cemetery, something de passey.., and that she would bring us back a map so we could go. we said thanks and au revoir and the idea left our minds. inspiration one:coming up from the victor hugo metro stop on line 2 (where we were planning on finding the old mission home) we had a run in with your typical street flower-salesman. he was selling these precious little bouquets of daffodils. see below.
though i had no need for a bouquet, and really didn't want to be carrying one around all day i felt like i should buy one. so i did. i am a sucker for flowers. i justified it by saying that the man probably desperately needed my two euros, and emily assured me that they would last and make a pretty arrangement in my little vesinet room. so we continued on and in fact did find the very place that my dear grandpa told me to look for.
and there we found the old mission home, where he spent many of his days! i was walking down the very street that he walked on so many years ago. how neat. after a couple pictures with the old building that is now the embassy (ambassady? empire?) of some foreign country, we pressed on to find le cordon bleu!
inspiration two: we decided to search for a different metro stop to take us to line 12 and when we finally happened upon one i realized it was line 9 and we would have to stop at trocadero to change to the 6. i remembered someone telling me there was something worth seeing at the stop so considering we had all the time in the world, i convinced emily to stop with me and see what was up. as we looked at the plan of the quartier, i noticed a certain cemitiere de passy, and it sounded oddly familiar. we decided to check it out, and realized that it must be the one therese had told us about this very morning.
it was amazing. it was the most eclectic cemetery i have ever been in, such a contrast from the stark perfection and organization of Normandy, this was a humble jumble of every different type of ornate and simple grave stone, tomb, or even little house. old and new alike all mixed in together - some perfectly kept and beautifully decorated, others falling into decay and covered with moss. it was so peaceful and emily and i wandered about looking at names and dates and wondering who was lucky enough to rest here. we found a map, and realized that such people as edouard manet and claude debussy and the like were 'burried' here! inspiration one came into play. i now had a beautiful bouquet of flowers to leave for one of my favorite french composers. though it took us forever to find his tomb, it was well worth the search. what a neat thing just to happen upon. and we made some friends who were also searching for debussy. i left my little bouquet and it looked just perfect.

after that little side excursion that ended up being way more than we could have ever hoped for it was time to find le cordon bleu. we found our way back to the metro after a quick stop at another eiffel tower angle and headed onward. though we walked a little ways in the wrong direction, le cordon bleu was easy enough to find. there it was in all its glory. emily was so excited and i was pretty pumped too. there we were standing in front of the very place where julia child learned to cook. holy cow. we took a few pictures and emily was good to go, but then inspiration three came into play and i decided we should go in. though there wasn't really a public door i just waltzed on in with emily right behind and ended up in a sort of office area. one women abruptly said sorry you can't be here and the other said 'ohh no no no, where are you girls from' and proceeded to tell us to just look around and do whatever we wanted. we looked at a few amazing chocolate sculptures and then she offered to give us a tour. so emily and i got a tour of the world renowned culinary school. we walked into the kitchens where some of the most famous chefs teach and got to explore the demonstration rooms and classrooms. it was so neat. we found out you can actually sign up to come in for a day to learn some french cooking skills. we might splurge and do it. i was so glad i went with my impression and just walked on in.

we came out of le cordon bleu beaming and just so excited about our adventures of the day. it couldn't have been any better. just across from the metro stop was a little carrefour so we stopped to get our groceries done. we came home and because julia child had definitely inspired us emily and i made a tartiflette for dinner. it is a special french potato dish and it turned out perfectly, probably because we listened to debussy the entire time. really! we even invited nannick to dine with us and she told us it was perfect! she had never had a homemade tartiflette before and she was impressed. it was so fun to actually make something from scratch and we plan on doing it more often. next time we'll conjure up some french dessert i think. it really was an adventurous day. the morning rain couldn't keep us from having some fun. literally right when we walked back in the door at home the rain started pouring again, perfect timing. coincidence? i think not.

pretty flowers
color obsession
my grandpa's street
the very door of the old mission home!
wonder if it still looks the same!
detour to see some cute french kitties
cemetiere de Passy
i couldn't get over all the old names. and the view of the tour eiffel!
cemetery door
standing in the midst of all the graves
flowers for debussy
they fit quite nicely.
one last shot,
looming skies
the ultimate adventurers
you can't have enough pictures with the eiffel tower, right?
sometimes the metro music gets up close and personal. this accordian player was literally that close to me. the all denim was a nice touch.
le cordon bleu! a gorgeous sugar sculpture, emily with the julia child shrine, the official logo, and me standing in front of the julia child kitchen
metro hands
we came out of the station back in le ves to this little peak of blue skies
nothing like walking home, baguette in tow

p.s. a very special surprise coming your way tomorrow, i mean it is my dear mallory's birthday,
it is going to be good.
and a little happy birthday shout-out today to cute cute shelby. here's to 20!

Friday, February 25, 2011

how now, brown cow.

yesterday we stepped out of the quaint, old, grounded center of paris and headed to the outskirts of the city to the modern and sky rising business area. today we left the quaint, old, grounded center of paris, we left the touristy sights far far behind us and headed somewhere where probably very few americans ever set foot. the selon de l'agriculture. take your typical county fair and add a whole lot of french class and about every other person in france and that is what our experience was today. it was crowded, it was exhausting, but it was so fun. you'll see why.
animals were everywhere. and yet the pavilions where the exposition was were still surprisingly clean. this was definitely not your typical down home country fair.
in between the animals were all kinds of fun information booths and goods to be seen. want to guess how many eggs are in the giant sphere? go for it. want to take a quiz and win a free prize. do it! i did it. although, these things are a bit harder when in french.
i loved being surrounded by darling french children. they really are too cute. these two little boys and i watched a little chick hatch out of its egg. wild.
an observation: animals look totally different here. that may be hard to believe but it is true. i think they are furrier, or perhaps they, like the people, are just all around classier. but really. if you sat a french sheep right next to one raised on an american farm, there would be obvious differences. i couldn't get over how pretty some of the cows were.
the pigs were fun too. and they made me think of my dearest friend mindy and her pig-raisin' days.
some of the cows and horses were out of this world huge. i'm not sure if this picture even remotely does it justice but it was out of control.
there were a few different 'pavilions', all huge, with different themes that just had never-ending booths and displays. there were SO many things to see. we saw all kinds of animals from every region of france. every kind of vegetable, fruit, grain and flower. travel agencies. bread. lots and lots and lots of wine (don't worry we didn't sample any of that). we were there from 11,30 til around 15,30, but we could have been there for a few days and not seen everything.
there was even farm equipment to pose with!
i discovered a new delight today that is in the running as being just as good as nutella. it is a taste and texture like nothing else i have ever experienced. i think that it is caramelized milk, a.k.a. super smooth, milky carmel that i really could eat all day. and thanks to the fact that i purchased my own pot, i have. hooray milquidou.
some of the cows were actually pretty cute. i liked the ones with curly whirly hair.
in the vegetable section we tried the strangest little tomato strawberry cocktail whipped up right before our eyes. i never would have thought tomato and strawberry would work together, but it made for a tasty little smoothie-ish drink.
the best part of it all had to be the samples. free samples EVERYWHERE. mainly, mostly delicious cheese. goat cheese. sheep cheese. cow cheese. blue cheese. every kind, every color, every shape. some good, some less good. we also tried all kinds of saucisson, flower flavored candies, breads, yaourts...
one booth even stir-fried up some lamb for us, right before our eyes!
and the eyes of the sheep on display right next to him. yikes.
free sample loving.
the second best free sample: apples. lots of apples. these apples were a little bit carbonated. and the old fashioned corers reminded me of party's with miche. i was in heaven. also, today i brought back the messy bun. check that out.
there was a large section for all good things from around the world. booths for canada, brazil, sweden, spain etc. etc. i loved all the color in the french-polenisia and tahitian booths.
today i also witnessed a french horse getting a french braid. neat.
i also saw something that i NEVER thought i would see here. wildlife. as in wildlife tees, on sale. here. although i saw no one remotely near this booth, they were there. and i was really excited about it.
and our gluten free girl.
the samples were divine, and the men working the booths were equally great. these two literally said mademoiselle take a picture of me, and then posed/lit their pan on fire. love that. i also flirted with another great chef named max. he was telling us about all the goods he had to offer, "this is liver, this is vegetable mix, this is regular sausage" and then he pointed to himself and said "this is max" i laughed and said i liked max, so naturally he asked for my name. as we were leaving he called out, "make sure you come back, because i like madeline" nothing like flirting with french agriculture expo men.
after the hours spent at the agriculture exposition, we decided we needed to sit down and actually digest all the samples we ate, so we headed to the eiffel tower in hopes of running into one of the girls in our group for her birthday. jamie and i had a classy little photoshoot while allison was a little embarrassed and emily so kindly held out coats.
i love living in france. we didn't run into our friends, but we did see some particularly good looking 'mecs' or guys as we people watched for a good hour.
we had kebabs for dinner, talked about crazy dreams, and made great plans for future adventures. by this point of the day my messy bun was out of control. this is an attempt to capture the crazy curls that the french air causes.
when we finally parted ways with james and allison, they were sad to see us go.
and i came home and had an urge to give myself a makeover. so i did.
and then i had emily take more picture of me.
(she says she really doesn't mind)
we call it the africa butterfly.