Thumbs Up in Paris

Cesar's statue in La Defense

Well friends, you know I go to Paris sometimes. I take pictures as much as I can, to share with you, and also, just to remember.

A Different Place: La Defense is Not Like Old Paris

I was in a different area than usual this past week. La Defense. It’s new (comparatively) and glitzy (comparatively). I like the old Paris areas better.

La Grande Arche de la Défense
Glitzy buildings and 90s high-end architecture

My hotel was smack dab in the middle of a mall.

The view from my hotel window; I used to see Montmartre or the Eiffel Tower, now it’s a mall

Stuff to Like, Even in the Modern Area

But. There’s stuff to like there. I don’t have to always be a snob. (Just most of the time.)

What’s to like? Well, Paris is Paris. Everything just looks so cool there, like these scooters.

And people walking amongst the impressive modern buildings.

Street Art!

And – my fave – street art, like this big thumb.

Here’s another angle.

Don’t you just love it? César, the artist, created multiple sculptures of his thumb, “Le Pouce,” and they can be found in various parks and museums around the world. He was “all thumbs!” (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

This particular thumb statue, at 40 ft. tall, is his largest, and probably the most unusual juxtaposition – the worker / artist hand amidst the high-tech knowledge worker setting.

The Official Write-Up, a Plaque on the Ground

Here’s the plaque about the statue. The cigarette butts made me sad, but I left them in to keep it authentic.

Polished, waxed and varnished bronze,

Like an obelisk, this monumental enlargement of a mold of César’s thumb stands 12 meters high. It is the tallest of the sculptor’s Pouces since the first one created in 1965 which measured only 40 centimeters. Referred to as a New Realism in 1960, César is known for his work on common consumerist objects which he gathered, compressed and enlarged in a spirit similar to American Pop Art.

The Bottom Line

Paris is a diverse and constantly surprising landscape of compelling and thought-provoking scenes. I can’t be a snob, or I’ll miss something cool and memorable.

Haiku Time

Note: because February is National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo) and I’m a habitual haiku-er (is that a word?), all posts will have a related haiku. For more Glover Gardens haiku, click here.

Haiku: Thumbs Up

 ❖ gotta love Paris ❖ 
 ❖ yes, that’s a giant thumb ❖ 
 ❖ reaching for the sky ❖ 

© 2019 Glover Gardens

Haiku: Santa Monica

twilight on the pier
santa monica sunset 
the benediction

Overrun with tourists and souvenir-hawking vendors, the Santa Monica Pier remains a worthy destination.

The sunset guarantees it.

The benediction of a sunset

Trust me on this.

Note: because February is National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo) and I’m a habitual haiku-er (is that a word?), all posts this month have a related haiku. For more Glover Gardens haiku, click here.

© 2019 Glover Gardens

Haiku: Youth Means Never Being Sleepless

Can't sleep

Do you ever have those nights when you just can’t sleep? That was me this week. I was sleepless at a hotel in Pasadena, California.

I tried it all:

  • Toss. Turn. Toss. Turn.
  • Punch down the pillow.
  • Imagine flowing in a peaceful river.
  • Breathe in, count to 4, breathe out, count to 4, repeat…
  • Relax every body part, starting at the feet and working upward.
  • Count My blessings (Instead of Sheep)…as in the Irving Berlin song.

But it didn’t work. 

Nothing did.

That’s ok.

I got a haiku out of it, thinking about how being young means never having insomnia. And how I never knew to appreciate that when I was young.

Haiku: Youth

those long-ago days 
when “I’m going back to sleep!”
could somehow come true

It was nice to remember the Irving Berlin song about insomnia, and how I used to watch White Christmas (the movie in which it was featured) with my Dad. So maybe sleeplessness isn’t all bad.

Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)

Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney singing the classic Count My Blessings
in the movie White Christmas

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds
If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings
I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds
If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings

by Irving Berlin

National Haiku Writing Month

February is National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo) and I’m a habitual haiku-er (is that a word?)... For more Glover Gardens haiku, click here.

© 2019 Glover Gardens

A London Fish and Chips Story: Sometimes, You Can’t Go Back, But You Can Go Forward

The famous fish and chips at Geales
London is just so London – Foggy day or not, I love it!

I’m an Anglophile

Glover Gardens followers know that I love London. I have for a long, long time. I’ve been an anglophile since reading The Secret Garden and Great Expectations as a child. My first actual foray into that foggy town was in 1997, and I’ve probably been there 20 times since. Every time I get into London, I’m torn between retracing my steps and trying something new.

Tell me – how does a gal decide between serendipity and going back to enjoy a beloved spot once again?

Retracing My Steps to Geales

Serendipity often wins, but last December, I finally went back to a cozy little seafood restaurant I had happened upon early in 2004 and returned to several times that year as part of a series of business trips. Just off the beaten path in Kensington near Notting Hill Gate, Geales has been open since 1939. That’s 80 years of serving seafood – they know what they’re doing!

From the Geales website

More Posh Than I Remembered

It was cold and drizzly on that December 2018 evening when I went back to Geales, and a little spot at a corner table was just what I needed to warm up. The place was more sophisticated than I remembered; back in 2004 it was loud and crowded, had a fisherman’s-wharf / corner market feel with fish and chips served in newspaper, and maybe even red-checked oilcloth on the tables. Travel-weary and in T-shirt and jeans, I felt a little underdressed in the genteel surroundings; you’ll note how smartly dressed the folks at the next table are.

View from my corner table; I did some people-watching and got caught (by the lady)

While researching Geales to write this post, I learned that there was a big revamp done in 2007 and a change of ownership, which explains the more upscale decor (slick but unfussy).

Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor
This photo courtesy of TripAdvisor
Photo from Geales via USA Today article

Let’s Talk about the Food

But let’s put the decor aside and talk about the food. The menu has definitely been updated. How updated? Well, alongside classics like mussels, fish and chips, fish pie and fish cakes, there are choices like lobster linguini with sun-dried tomatoes, and wild mushroom risotto with truffle oil. I’d have dressed better if I’d known that!

Lobster linguini from the Geales Facebook page

My first course was taramasalata. It was an excellent version of this special cod roe-based spread, very light and creamy, and not dyed an artificial pink like so many are. I’m pretty sure that Geales didn’t have taramasalata back in the early 2000s; that’s part of its new sophistication.

Taramasalata with grilled flatbread

My dish of choice back in 2004 was usually mussels served in a tin bucket, but I went for the grilled fish this time. However, it was my waitperson’s second day on the job, and she brought me fish and chips instead. She was delightful, young and earnest, and I didn’t have the heart to complain. So I ate it. Wouldn’t you? When in London…

Fish and chips with mushy peas

I almost never eat fried food, but the fish and chips were delicious, and the mushy peas were the perfect accompaniment. So very British. Breaking with tradition, I went for Tabasco instead of malt vinegar, threatening my Anglophile status. But hey, Tabasco is a global thing, right?

A Worthy Fish and Chips Experience

I didn’t realize until I was writing this post that Geales was ranked #3 on USA Today’s article, the 10 Best London Fish and Chips Restaurants. Perhaps I was meant to have fish and chips on that rainy London night. Serendipity.

All-in-all, it was a nice meal and worthy experience. While I was expecting the homey warmth and fish-market ambience that I had enjoyed in the earlier version of Geales, I got over my surprise at its more upscale vibe pretty quickly as I savored the food and the people-watching. (People-watching was always good at Geales.)

The Serendipity of the Unknown and Surprising

My conclusion is that sometimes, you can’t go back. What was there before no longer exists in the same form. But if you take a step back, look at it as something new, an opportunity, perhaps you can go forward. When the known and comfortable becomes the unknown and surprising, it can be serendipity.

Haiku: The Chip Shop

mushy peas and fish and chips
unspoiled by poshness

National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo)

Note: because February is National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo) and I’m a habitual haiku-er (is that a word?), all posts will have a related haiku. For more Glover Gardens haiku, click here.

© 2019 Glover Gardens

Dog Haiku for Humans

Cute dog picture

This is Luna.

She runs, jumps and plays. She loves her life with her humans, The Girl Who is Always Hungry and The Best Eater.

Luna wrote a haiku to accompany her portrait below and telepathically transmitted it to me through the camera lens.

you could make my day
if only you understood –
pick it up! throw it!

I really appreciate Luna’s haiku contribution, which is kicking off the Glover Gardens participation in National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo). More to come!

© 2019 Glover Gardens

Haiku: Homemade Soup (NaHaiWriMo)

I’ve been doing this National Haiku Writing Month thing now for a couple of weeks, and it will come to a close as February transitions into March. Today, I’m going to utilize the daily prompt from NaHaiWriMo: homemade soup. It’s a reference to a post from two years ago at around this time when some of my European colleagues made a fantastic soup at Glover Gardens during an open house for my team.

pot luck perfect
in-the-moment lentil soup
my colleagues rock

The Europeans were the first to arrive and breezed into the kitchen with overflowing grocery bags, tons of energy, and a plan to create a homemade masterpiece. The ringleader is wearing the chef’s hat.

To read the whole story and check out their kick-butt (that’s a technical term) recipe for lentil soup, click here.

And if you want more soup recipes for a cold and rainy winter’s night, I’ve got a couple:

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Food & Wine: 40 Photographs That Changed the Way We Eat (and a haiku)

“Stilleben,” 1910, Wladimir Schohin

Foodie friends, I received an email today from Food & Wine magazine that I want to share with you.

Dear Food & Wine Reader,

Not long after the invention of photography in the early 19th century, photographers began training their lenses on food. As part of a yearlong celebration of Food & Wine’s 40th anniversary, we’ve gathered 40 milestone moments in food photography. Chefs, historians, and photographers all gave their input for this collection. Some of these photos capture the zeitgeist of their culinary era; others sparked dining trends—and some even changed the course of history. From diplomatic dinners abroad to the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, from behind-the-scenes moments on set with Julia Child to the nascent days of social media latte art—here are the photographs that have forever altered how we perceive food and food culture in America.

Food & Wine Editors

If you’re interested in food, food history, food photography or just cultural history in general, I encourage you to click on the links and view the photos with their short stories. As a teaser, I’ve included a couple below.

I love this picture of Julia Child on the set of her TV show, taken by her husband. As the story notes, it illustrates just how much goes on behind the scenes of a cooking show.

The Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

The one below is from 1910 – can you believe it? The article describes the difficult process that the photographer (artist!) undertook in the developing and printing process to get this final product. I don’t know much about photography (yet), but even I can see how the dots on the photo connect all of the elements in this still life.

Working Title: 40 Image / Published Title:
Wladimir Schohin, Stilleben, 1910 / Courtesy of Amatörfotografklubben I Helsingfors rf, Finland

The next one is from McCall’s magazine in 1943, called Lemonade and Fruit Salad. I love how stylized it is, right down to the use of the leaf-shaped napkin rings to anchor the fruit. I’d like to recreate that look sometime for a luncheon or afternoon tea (if I had those kinds of parties; maybe I’ll start).

Working Title: 40 Image / Published Title: 15.
Courtesy of the George Eastman Museum. Photo by Nickolas Muray, © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

Source: 40 photographs that changed the way we eat.  Check it out!

300x0wAnd also, the current issue of Food & Wine is all about food and photography. It is excellent! They turned photographers loose for a large segment called “Cooks and Shooters” and the stories and photos are wonderful.  The recipes are all from these articles by the photographers, and it is cool to “see” the world of food through their eyes.

And finally, because there are still a few more days in February, National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo), here’s a haiku for all of those venerable food photographers.

portrait, still life or
action shot – delectable!
here’s looking at food

© 2018 Glover Gardens

“Jeans and Attitude!” Haiku for Go Texan Day

Let’s start with the haiku:

On Go Texan Day,
I’ve no hat, boots, cattle…just
jeans and attitude!

Today is Go Texan Day in Houston.

You might not know what that is, if you’re not from ’round these parts.

logo_houston-livestock-show-rodeoIt’s the official start of the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which is a big deal to many around here. Not being a cowgirl, I haven’t been to the rodeo in years, but you can’t miss Go Texan Day, even in the office environment. Folks wear western garb to show their Lone Star pride, and the 11 trail rides that started around the state some days back all converge on Memorial park later today, where they camp overnight before joining tomorrow’s parade. You really can’t miss them; 3,000 riders on 11 different routes into the city tend to make an impression.  That’s the point.

Map from Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo site; click to read about the trail rides

I snapped these photos from my car window as I was coming back to the office from lunch on the Thursday before the rodeo in 2014.  I was on the Tomball Parkway access road, and lo and behold, there came the covered wagons behind me! It was the Sam Houston Trail Ride, ten wagons and 75 riders headed into Houston from Magnolia, which is 70 miles from the rodeo destination. Needless to say, I was late getting back to the office, and needless to say, I didn’t mind because the show was worth it. Only in Texas!

Every trail ride has a trail boss, who plans the ride, coordinates with the wagon boss, rides in front, and is responsible for keeping the horses, riders and the public safe

The wagons are coming!

Trail Riders Going to Houston Rodeo
With one day left in their trip, the riders look a little tired

The horses weren’t fazed by the automobile traffic at all

And, because I didn’t post a haiku yesterday, missing my one-a-day commitment for February, here’s a repeat of a recent one (before National Haiku Writing Month / NaHaiWriMo) with a similar theme:

Texas Cow Eyes

drop-in visitors
on a rainy afternoon
gotta love Round Top

Texas Pals
A longhorn and his little buddy in Round Top, Texas; see the whole post here – photo credits to Rosemary Luning

© 2018, Glover Gardens

Haiku: Suicide Journey

Posting a haiku daily during February for National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo) has me digging up some of these little poems that I’ve written and stowed away. Many were created in moments of reflection or times of sadness in which the haiku exercise was a way to process grief or tragedy. Today’s is one of those.

turbulent journey,
abrupt and violent ending ~
now on the peace train

The suicide was my brother’s. His pain is over, but the grief ebbs and flows like the tide for all of his loved ones.

Here’s a plea for anyone who is hurting to reach out before making a final choice: My Brother’s Suicide: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light. If you want to learn about suicide prevention, please check out the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Photo credits to my son; he took this in Galveston on his 19th birthday. Our family has a special connection to the seashore, as you’ll note in my days by the water .

Peace be with you.

© 2018, Glover Gardens