Not Your Average Paint by Number, It was the Mona Lisa

It is no secret how I feel about Art. Great works of Art move me like no other. When I had the opportunity to stand in the presence of greatness, I JUMPED at the chance!

When my merry band of Muppets and myself were in Paris, we had ONE day. ONE DAY! I know people who had FIVE days and did not see everything that Paris has to offer. I had to think and plan very carefully about what was important to me. I polled the Muppets, and asked what was important to them. To Genetic Offspring, the architecture of Paris was key. The Eiffel Tower was such an important piece for him. The structure itself helped change the way bridges around the world were made. So Eiffel Tower – CHECK! Chatter Box was DYING to shop. Clearly she has my sister’s Shopping Gene. CHECK! Honey was excited to see PARIS! Check! The rest of the crew were happy to see what Paris had to offer so off we went!

After Notre Dame, we walked along the Seine to the Louvre. Just so you know, it isn’t all that close. Google Maps said it was less then 2Km. We didn’t follow THAT route, not us! We went the long way. The long way included the views of the Seine which were gorgeous.

When we arrived, my mom and I made arrangements to split the group. Those who did not wish to see the Louvre left for an afternoon of lunch and shops and would meet on the bridge covered in locks in TWO HOURS. My offspring did not have a choice. I imposed a ban on free choice. We were IN PARIS standing in front of THE LOUVRE. Leonardo De Vinci and Michelangelo had some of their pieces in that building! Although the Offspring may not appreciate it today, I knew years down the road they could say “I stood in front of the Mona Lisa and looked upon her with my own eyes”.

Two Hours, okay I could do it. I needed a plan and I needed to stay focused. Honey and I decided to stick to the Denon wing. That is where Mona hangs out. She is famous enough that my offspring knew who she was. We entered through the side through Cour Carree. It seemed like miles before we saw it. Through the arch way we saw the glass pyramid, the entrance. Famous in it’s own right but for those of you who saw The DaVinci Code, you could recognize it immediately. This thrilled Chatterbox because Tom Hanks was there! YAY Tom Hanks! He was Woody in Toy Story 1,2 &3! Already the Louvre was making connections with my offspring. We stood in the endless line out side, gazing at the architecture of the old palace where one of the Louis lived. Once we went through security, just like the airport, we were in! Down the long escalator into the crowds of tourists all wanting to visit Mona, just like us.

I grabbed a map, and off we went. Ten minutes into our visit, it became clear to me I needed a more detailed game plan. I made a list of the works of art that were MUST SEES for me, I told Genetic Offspring and handed him the map. He studied it for about five minutes. Then folded it carefully and put it in his pocket. “Follow me” he replied with tremendous confidence. Of course we followed, I couldn’t let him get lost!

He led us to several Leonardo pieces including Mona Lisa, Captive by Michelangelo, The Winged Victory of Samothrace, The Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon, Psyche and Cupid by Canova and Colossal Statue of Ramesses II. Of course we saw more along the way and wings were closed which made navigating difficult, but Genetic Offspring sees the map in ways others don’t. He knew how to get around unscheduled changes and find uncrowded secret pathways.

The most significant moment for me was to be able to stand before La Vierge a l’Enfant avec Sainte Anne by Leonardo De Vinci. I was 1 foot away. I could reach out and touch it if I wanted to be arrested. I stood in the SAME place the Master himself did as he skillfully maneuvered his brush and manipulated the paint. I could feel the emotion of the painting and witnessed the depth in the background. It was clear to me he was a genius. I witnessed it with my own eyes. His contemporaries all had halos around their subjects. De Vinci painted with knowledge and conviction. He painted for himself and not what others thought he should paint. This is what brought out the emotion and passion. I must admit, I cried.

The Mona Lisa was beautiful, but being famous doesn’t make you the best. She was under glass a surrounded by a million people. I could not feel the same emotion I experienced with Sainte Anne. I was stunned by the volume of people. I am pretty sure it was the same number as the entire population of Canada.

From there we travelled the rest of the Denon Salon, and saw other great works on canvas and stone. None moved me like Sainte Anne.

All of this and more in 2 hours.

Let’s Talk Turkey!

This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving. This was the first Thanksgiving in a very long time that I did not celebrate. Historically that weekend is filled will family, friends food, laughter and the Rotor Rooter Man. Not once did we ever invite the Rotor Rooter Man over for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe we should have, then we would have been given a deal on fishing out turkey necks from the garburator. Hind sight is 20/20.

I did not celebrate Thanksgiving in the traditional sense because I was busy flying home from Paris, France. No one thought to fill my fridge with Turkey, stuffing, potatoes or rutabaga while I was gone, not that I am bitter about that or anything. Okay, maybe I am little bitter. But being a non-traditional kind of gal, I did actually give thanks for several things in my life. So my friends, it is time for another Edmonton Tourist top 11 list!

The Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11 Things She is Thankful For:

  1. I am very thankful I went to Vimy Ridge! Vimy Ridge is located in France and is a significant battle in Canada’s History. You can read more about it here. It was a powerful and moving experience for me and my family. Walking through the cemetery and looking at the ages of the boys, who were not much older then my children or my nephews, made me pause and be thankful for what I have. The visual of the munition craters in the surrounding battle fields and the maple grove you walk through was such a moving experience. It is one I will never forget. It is a much different experience being there then reading about it in history books.
  2. I am very thankful for Facebook. I know you think I am cracked in the head. Facebook has given me the opportunity to get to know Americans on a friend basis. I am proud to say I am a world traveler. With that experience comes a opportunity to defend your identity. Everywhere in the world where I have been, an American had been before me. Likely it was the same Texan I met on a cruise to Alaska. He was rude and self centered. So I naturally swept all American’s with the same paint brush. Here is my formal public apology to the Citizens of America. I am so sorry I stereotyped you in that way. One person who is not globally aware does not mean the entire country is that way. I have met some spectacular people who live south of the border and proudly call you my friend. I am honored that you live next door. I am thrilled it is you who is my neighbor and not someone else. So Please forgive me for stereotyping you in a way that was unbecoming to you and made me less of a Canadian.
  3. I am very thankful for my family. I know it is cliche and everyone says it. But after spending a week in a caravan with my family, I appreciate them more then I did before I left on my vacation. All our strengths came together and complemented each other. Other days it came together and clashed like the titans. But in the end, it was more fun then should be legal. We laughed together,teased each other, fought like crazy and cried. It was worth every second and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
  4. I am very thankful for French Dairy Products. My husband said it best, “Canadian Customs won’t let you bring dairy into the country because everyone would know French Dairy is better and that would kill our industry.” It was so amazing I will mourn it for a lifetime.
  5. I am very thankful for my 5 senses. I know this seems odd but after my vacation to Europe it is so very true! I saw buildings that dated before 1322! I could hear the Church bells ring in every little village along the way. The sound was angelic! The smell of the lush, green forest of Germany reminded me of home. The taste of the foods and beverages from shops in the villages and carts in the city brought a thrill to my taste buds every time they tried something new! The touch of my skin was so soft in the humid climate of Europe compared to the dry prairie of home. My skin misses you already Europe!
  6. I am very thankful for Maple Trees! Please don’t tell my Grandpa if you see him before I do. The Maple Leaf is such a strong Canadian Symbol, yet I saw more Maple Trees in Europe then I ever have in Canada. It made me proud and homesick all at the same time. My children collected maple leaves and pressed them in their books. I love Maple Trees!
  7. I am thankful for Canada’s low population! We were traveling on the Paris Metro when an abandon package was found. The train needed to be evacuated. That means a GAZILLION people tried to squeeze through the door. 6 million people ride the Metro everyday. There are only One Million people in the Greater Edmonton Area. When we arrived in Canada, it seemed like the country was deserted!  Low population density is a beautiful thing.
  8. I am thankful for Art. We spent some time in the Louve of Paris. I stood before paintings that I had only ever seen in books. It is a much different experience to see a Leonardo Da Vinci painting in person then to see it in a book. I could imagine him standing where I was looking at his own work and deciding what needed to come next. The depth and emotion in his work far surpasses any of that of his contemporaries. It was a spiritual experience for me. Later that same day, on the steps of the Seine, I met another artist who made a living from his work. I was moved buy his choice of colour and vision. I bought a piece of his work and love it as much as I loved looking at a Da Vinci.
  9. I am thankful for language. I know, you think it’s another odd choice. I speak one language fluently. Obviously it is English. Here is Canada we are considered a bilingual country. All our food products have both English and French labels and ingredients. Our version of Cereal Box French helped tremendously in grocery stores and markets. German Language was fairly easy to read and figure out because it is so closely related to English. But mostly I am thankful for the abilities of others who took the time and effort to learn English. This enhanced my trip because I was able to meet and learn about their life and thoughts about places. This was the true highlight for me. From talking to Adolf Herr the clock maker to Arnuad the Disney Cast Member and everyone else in between. I loved meeting new people.
  10. I am thankful for water. For it’s million and one uses to its life giving nature. I was thankful for clean clear water on this trip. But more thankful for water when I came home. Canada, you produce some of the best water in the world, thank you.
  11. I am thankful for my bed! As fantastic as my days were in Europe, my nights filled me with dread. I slept in a bed that was too short for me, the mattress was too thin, and the blankets were not warm. An uncomfortable night can seem longer then a busy action packed day. After forever and a day on the airplane, sliding into my thick cozy bed was pure ecstasy.

I am a very luck girl to have so many things to be thankful for. But mostly I am thankful to be home. This is something I need to keep remembering. The importance of home.

Please Don’t Tell Me Anything, My Brain is Already Full.

A chimpanzee brain at the Science Museum London
Image via Wikipedia

Today was one of those “bone weary” days. I know you get them. The kind where your joints and muscles ache, your skin hurts, and your eyes hurt to look at stuff. I brought it all on myself.

I had the intention of going to bed early-ish last night. Early for me is between 10:oo and 11:00 pm. I am a night owl. I feel recharged after dark and do not understand the need for early-risers to be so chipper ( yes honey this means you). Life got in the way last night, between writing letters to political members and watching Craig Ferguson, I procrastinated long enough that I went to bed 15 minutes before the pumpkin hour.

The stress is starting to build in my new Tourist Life. You know how I can tell? I cannot remember a single thing I am supposed to do. My brain fell out. If I didn’t know any better I’d swear I have pregnancy brain. I don’t, there is no way I am pregnant. If I was I would give the baby to my sister for Christmas. No, that is not the problem, but I think I know what is.

My Brain is Full.

Who knew there was a capacity? I thought there was a potential for infinite learning! So the question now is, how do I let go of the stuff I don’t need? My dad calls it a fountain of useless knowledge. I know a lot of crazy and obscure facts. Like…Who holds the record for the longest Goal Scoring streak on the Edmonton Oilers?

A> Wayne Gretzky?

B> Dave Lumely?

C>Ryan Smythe?

D> Paul Coffee?

Nope you are wrong – except my friend from Jr. High who knows this stuff too. B> Dave Lumely. Or this one, It is impossible to sneeze with your eyes open. Or did you know that Leonardo Da Vinci invented scissors. If you are playing trivial pursuit, you want me on your team. I caution you, I am very competitive and wont let you answer a thing, but we will win.

I use to remember everything from all the data reports I needed for team meetings, my kids schedules, my husbands schedule, school volunteer events and dates, every birthday of every person I know, my telephone number and bank money transactions. Now I can’t even tell you what my favorite colour is! I thank Steve Jobs everyday that I have an iPhone and I know how to use it! It is so simple to use, I don’t need to remember how, it just happens. PHEW! Because without the calendar,  notes, email and contact list I would be curled up in the corner weeping uncontrollably. A friend and colleague at work today said the brain works differently with a hormone fluctuation. Well, I AM getting old, and hormones work differently, but I don’t think that is it. My Brain is full and I need to do something about it because school work and day work needs to fit in there. Hopefully one day my brain will be back in top-notch shape

So here is the plan, I am not going to take responsibility for non-essentials anymore. If you need to get to volleyball practice, set your alarm or tell your dad. If you need to plan a baby shower for a friend, email me what I need to bring. If you don’t, I won’t remember and you will be disappointed. If you are unsure how to operate the data bases at work , look it up in the manual on the black shelf, everything you need to know is in that book , no in the white one. If you need me to buy groceries, sorry I can’t. I walk in and just stand there looking at the pretty colours and forget why I am there. Email me if you need something. edmtourist@gmail.com If I have it in my phone, I can do it.

Other wise, forget it, my brain is full.