Water-centric exploring

Ecole militaire

Kinda drippy, so we drank coffee and pondered the universe, leaving just before the drippiness was predicted to end at noon. The large building on the left is the main building of the École Militaire complex, a military school for training officers, founded in 1750. Thought it appropriate that two Jeeps awaited a green for their left turns….

M ecole militaire

École Militaire is also a Metro station, one of those close to our habitation.

Bastille monument

We took a train (no changes!) to the Bastille station, about a half-hour ride. When we emerged from the earth, the weather slowly clearing. This is the monument in the Place de la Bastille. Of course, the famous prison is long gone. It initially was built mostly in the late 1300s as a fort to reinforce the east side of Paris and to protect the adjacent city gate, Porte Saint-Antoine, with its drawbridges; the building was modified over subsequent centuries. Within decades, the fortress was sometimes used to hold prisoners; by the mid-1400s, it was the state prison used by the king, who also hosted dignitaries there—a multifunction complex…. Anyway, that’s an older version of the prison that became the symbol for the revolution in July 1789. By November of that year, the prison was mostly destroyed. By 1792, the area was a square honoring liberty, with a central fountain added in 1793.

The name bastille is probably rooted in bastide, a medieval term for a fortress. I don’t know if the term was attached to this fortress from the beginning, or the name came later….


Part of the ditch that fortified the Bastille is now the Bassin de l’Arsenal, mostly used by houseboats—some quite commodious. It was a commercial port until 1983. That boat on the left is named Ypie, I’m thinking the pronunciation is yippee.

Fleurs jaunes

We followed the lock (écluse) to the Seine and turned downstream toward the famous islands. This was in the upstream park on Île Saint-Louis. Pretty!

Omelette pork shank

At the other end of the island, we lunched at a brasserie we’ve visited several times before. We discovered it was unusually jammed by many tables of rugby fans, in Paris for the national playoff (I think). Rah!

The Guru had a ham and cheese omelette with fries; I had a pork shank, roasted with homemade applesauce. I took a gamble on my dish, not even looking up jarret de port grillé before ordering. Sometimes you have to live on the wild side (even if it’s a limited wild side).

Our lady back

After escaping the sweat-inducing heat of the dining room, we headed on to the Île de la Cité, arriving on the “back side” of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. The building was once painted, and not the stained browns it is now; I have no idea what colors/patterns. I wonder if it’d be safe to assume that most of the exterior was in the cheapest colors; some paint pigments (pigments de peinture) were quite dear in older times.

Ladys stubby towers

We crossed a bridge and began to work our way along the south bank, periodically looking back at the stubby towers of the cathedral. Even stubby, they’re pretty darned tall! By the way, the cathedral’s bells (cloches) are named—mostly with male names, but not exclusively.

Car in motion

Many boats (bateaux) passing by, many large and packed with tourists either on a tour or using them as a taxi between places of interest. This one was an unusual cargo vessel, even transporting a car.

Bridge photog

This is the third gal we’ve seen in bridal gear being photographed (bride is mariée). She looks quite happy. Behind the photo crew were several women in jewel colored gowns—emerald, royal blue—and one in black. I assume they were the bride’s attendants.

Moss moment

I got out the macro lens and looked at mosses that have taken up residence on the railing above the river next to the sidewalk. They are slowly breaking down the stone/concrete. Moss is mousse, which is also the word for foam on top of a latte (latté).

Pain bio

We made quick groc-shopping stops just before heading in for the night (tired feet! happy tourists!). This was in the window of the bakery…pain bio means organic bread.

El eterno milagro

Fort mucem wheel sea

Having seen opening times listed as 9am (Google), 10am (city website), and nothing (official webpage), we gambled that the gate to the closed-Tuesday fort might be open at 10:45am. Not. And it was overcast and windy. We took sanctuary behind one wall of the church, where the wind was more indirect. Note: no sun, windy, cold. Our destinations for touristing became the fort (beige, left) and the Mucem/MuCEM (black, central).

Fort to fort view CAS

We didn’t spend long in the fort (windy, cold), but the view was terrific—harbor entrance is below me.

Picasso costumes

An exhibition area in the fort was touted as Picasso. Turned out Picasso kinda art-decorated some theater productions, including costumes and backdrops. Kinda like “George Washington slept here.”

Mucem platelets

On to the Mucem, which is covered with this platelet web made of concrete. We went down hallways of nothing, and found a gallery labeled Roman-photo.

Roman photo love

Me, not knowing French and thinking I can sort out obvious words thought some kind of Italian whatever-art. We were there ten minutes before I figured out it means “photo novel.” This is an everyday publication type somewhere between harlequin romance and comic book, which was popular everywhere, including France, Italy, and, here, Spain.

Roman photo panel

At some point, the production involved high-end cameras, and well-known actors, from Sophia Lauren to Brad Pitt (or maybe Pitt’s face was used, but he didn’t pose, kinda like People?)

Roman photo face

The stories seem to have been heavy on human-human interactions, and adult subjects. Some were scary.

Roman photo movie

Others used character-types we’d recognize from other forms of theater.

Movie car

The exhibit included this half-car used for two-shots. Love the receding palm trees. No turns if you want to sustain the driving effect.

DeGaulle documentary

Down another hallway, we found a bunch of de Gaulle documentaries. That’s the big guy speaking. And he was tall, and had a world-class schnozz. The Guru says when he was a kid he got de Gaulle and Jimmy Durante confused.

Bull pottery Crete Greece

On a lower level, we found what seems to have been the permanent display on general Mediterranean history…accent on the people of wine, olives, and cereal agriculture. And bulls…well, more cows, I’d bet.

Jug saddle

Love this wine-jug saddle. Gotta move that product to market, no?

Ottoman Genoa something

Another gallery got into Ottoman-Genoese history. Love all the little scenarios in this painting.

Kheir ed Din Barberousse

In the museum, this guy was nicknamed Barberousse (he died in 1546). The label named him formally Kheir ed-Din. WikiPee in French calls him Khizir Khayr ad-Dîn and Khayr ad-Din. English WikiPee calls him Hayreddin Barbarossa and Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, and says his Turkish name was Hızır Hayreddin (Hayrettin) Paşa (among others). Easier to stick to Barberousse/Barbarossa. He was a famous pirate, navy-man, and, along with his brothers, took control of Algiers, then opted to ally with Turkey/the Ottoman empire against the threat of Spain. Confused? Yeah, it’s one of those mixed, complex stories typical of Mediterranean folk for millennia.

As we left the museum, we could feel fine precip. Wet, though, not the snow that nearby areas got today. We walked back to our neighborhood and I sampled a family restaurant’s version of marmite, the fish stew I had two days ago. No garlic-mustard or cheese, so simpler flavors. Except for the two langoustines, no shells. Same dried baguette slices. In this case the soup/broth was served separate from the bowl of mixed seafood species, except for a bit in the seafood bowl; this meant the soup stayed hotter, perfect for ladling at will into the seafood. The flavor of the soup was along the same lines, and I still don’t know exactly what it was/is.

Precip was a bit more intense as we skedaddled down to the bakery to get a quiche snack for later and pain au chocolat for tomorrow with our coffee. Tomorrow is a travel day, and we understand that today’s snow flurries/wintery mix in Aix will become rain for our visit. Oh, yay.

Hallux flexibility

Sloss Furnaces

Sloss Furnaces rusting industrial ruins, a National Historic Landmark in Birmingham, Alabama.

Amidst more fun talk-talk, I did an extended session with my big toe, nudging it ever toward a bit more flexibility, and then a bit more. I’m especially trying to get it to bend up at the ball of the foot, and bend down from the last knuckle. It’s at about a 1/4in of movement at present…so a little gain is a big thing.

Adventure in the piedmont

Cotton field

We took the fast road getting out of BigTown, then hit the back roads for some scenic, on our afternoon jaunt to LittleTown aka Athens.

Covered bridge

After the cotton field of red clay, we visited this covered bridge, notable for not having steel reinforcement beams underneath it, yet still carrying traffic. It does, however, have a steel (aka “tin”) roof.

Covered bridge lattice

This is the Town lattice truss style of construction, and the pegs holding the beams/planks together are formally called trunnels. [Auto-correct wants that to be tunnels…which is #NOTright.] The bridge was moved here from another location in 1924, and I don’t know if the planks were numbered then or later….

In LittleTown, we saw family and had some good laughs, ate pizza, and commiserated about this #growinOLDstuff, creak-ouch.

Eroded cross

Reefert churchyard cross Glendalough

Weathered cross supporting moss and lichens, in Reefert Churchyard near Glendalough monastic complex, County Wicklow, Ireland. Photo from May 2017.

This cross is in the churchyard of Reefert Church; the name is an anglicized corruption of Righ Fearta, meaning burial place of the kings. There was probably a church here before the present one, which is in ruins and probably dates to the 10th/11th C. Perhaps the hazel tree grove that surrounds it has similar antiquity.

Graves here include seven leaders of the Ua Tuathail clan. You probably would recognize the name as O’Toole—more anglicization. One of the 12th C Ua Tuathail’s associated with this church was Lorcán, aka Saint Laurence O’Toole (1128–1180), who became Abbot of Glendalough in his 20s and Archbishop of Dublin in his 30s.

Minutia from me to you


View west from Carnbane East area of the sizable Loughcrew Cairns complex, in May 2017. Arrow points to Carnbane West hilltop. The bumps are cairns.

Among the eclipse hoopla, you may have read that a stone in Ireland has petroglyphs that may constitute the world’s earliest known record of an eclipse. The stone is in a large stone monument in the Loughcrew Cairns complex, and probably dates to about 5K years ago. It is one of many stone mounds on the hilltop west of the hilltop that’s open to the public, where I was standing to take this photo. The hilltop we visited, Carnbane East, had at least six obvious cairns on it.

The cairn is more properly a passage tomb, oriented so that the sun can shine in the passage and illuminate carefully placed stones usually on the solstice. And, yes, with human remains.

The designers and builders of these monuments clearly were aware of astronomical minutia, so an eclipse would have been in their wheelhouse. Whether the spirals and circles some consider the record of an eclipse are just that, I don’t know, but it certainly seems possible.

River life

Toll collectors house

From February….

Before Selma had the Edmund Pettus bridge across the Alabama River, there was a bridge here. The bridge tender/toll collector and his family lived in this small house on the Selma end of the bridge. He was on duty 24/7, and had to manually/mechanically rotate the north span to let large vessels pass.


Transfer print platter

A bit creepy to hear that Salvador Dalí’s mustache survives on his embalmed face. Bit gross, too.

No idea why that occurred to me as I began to compose this….

Thinking back: Hill of Tara

Hill of Tara avenue view nroth

Here’s a wee trip down memory lane, in this case the approach avenue from the north leading south up to the crest of the Hill of Tara, or Irish: Cnoc na Teamhrach. In Ireland. This spring.

The ancient chronicles discuss an over-large banqueting hall at this civic-ceremonial center, and for well over a century this sloping feature was long called the Teach Miodhchuarta, commonly translated as Banqueting Hall, but more precisely translated as circular house of the (mead-) feast. The chronicles date to far later than the Neolithic, but that doesn’t mean they don’t record information of earlier antiquity (presuming continuity).

While I’m sure there were over-large wooden buildings elsewhere on this hill, this wasn’t the banqueting hall of the legends.

Some call this a cursus, a linear ritual complex of ditches and mounds that dates to the Neolithic period, and I’d accept that. The name derives from the linear Roman athletic race courses, which the Neolithic cursuses resemble, but to think the use is the same is inaccurate. Not for races. Avenue is a better label.

Hill of Tara St Patrick

This hill is still a locus for rituals and ceremony. Here’s a St Patrick statue, and there’s an active cemetery and church honoring the saint on the hill-flank.

Okay. Enough Memory Lane.

River view

Abe n mr sweater

I jokingly said this street art was Abe and Mr. Sweater. Turns out it is something like Abe and the Common Man. Common Man being white guy in cable-knit sweater. Nothing against white guys or sweaters. But.

London House temple

We took a fantastic architectural boat tour, and this was across from our dock. The somewhat unexpected rooftop open-air circular temple can be rented for special occasions.

Chicago from mouth of Chicago River

Our boat went out to the lock that prevents the Chicago River from dumping into the lake—its natural flow—but did not leave the river. Such a great view west of the skyline.

Chicago founded right

The grass-edged landform to the right was where the Euro-Americans first settled here. They heard the Indians saying something that they distorted into “Chicago” thinking that was the name of the spot. Turns out the Indians were commenting on the marshy vegetation—stinking onions. Or so our wonderful guide said.

Design by context

Even more than the building in the previous shot, this one was designed with a plain façade meant to reflect what was around it.

Rivers map

This one, on the other hand, has a stylized map of the rivers. That red “bench” feature way up there indicates the location of this building, a “you are here” marker.

Heart Chicago

Spotted on our way back from deep-dish pizza engorgement….