Archive for the 'ivory bits' Category
It seems fitting to begin this year’s Christmas season with a carol that originates in Thing One’s mission: Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella. This Provençal tune started out as a ritournelle, a type of lively court dance in triple time, then was published as a Christmas carol in 1553.
Georges de La Tour’s painting The Newborn Christ is inspired by this carol. It depicts two milkmaids, Jeanette and Isabella, who arrive in the stable Christmas morning to milk the cows and discover that the Christ Child has been born. They were so excited that they took their torches and ran to the village to spread the wonderful news. The villagers, also bearing torches, followed the girls to the stable to see for themselves, approaching as quietly as possible so as not to wake the sleeping baby. To this day in Provence, children dress up as milkmaids, shepherds, and other humble folk and carry torches and candles to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve while singing this and other carols.
After last year’s spring never came, these occasional sunny days are irresistible. Happily, they are becoming more and more frequent, so we may enjoy a real spring this year. In all the years we’ve lived in Seattle and spent time on the University of Washington campus, we’ve never deliberately made the trip to see the Quad’s famous cherry blossoms … until today.
It was a glorious day to be out in the Quad. Incredibly crowded and busy, with plenty of people-watching to do. Lots of engagement shots, family pictures and just picturesque scenery meant there was a lot of camera gear to check out as well. While watching the world go by, part of the world looked especially familiar: friends from our church ward several years ago had made a day trip to the city and just happened to walk past us! We keep in touch on Facebook, but it was so fun to see them again.
After taking pictures of the cherry blossoms, we decided to wander through Red Square to Rainier Vista to see if Drumheller Fountain was on. The fountain wasn’t on, but we found something better: a supercar show was taking place in Red Square. Team Gimlet are huge Top Gear fans, so this was a real treat to see so many of the cars which have been featured on the show.
The Gimlet and Thing One quickly headed off to look at their favorites (the Aston Martins, the Lamborghinis and the Ferraris) while Your Humble Narrator and Thing Two stopped to
geek out over examine the Ariel Atom.
And then the Atom’s owner asked Thing Two if he’d like to sit in it!
He doesn’t realize that his entire automotive experience has now peaked at age six. Sorry, Thing Two, it’s not going to get better than this.
Sunshine, sakura, serendipity and supercars all combined to create a wonderful Saturday afternoon.
Less than thirty days until our upcoming adventure, and I’m gathering the essentials:
Packing light is a goal (to leave room for all those souvenir macarons, bien sûr) but that philosophy doesn’t extend to leaving the iDevices empty. I’ve been experimenting with using the iPad as a travel tool and will continue to do so on our upcoming France trip as time permits. So far, the camera connection kit has worked very well for uploading photos and storing them in Dropbox. WordPress’ blogging app is okay, not great; the desktop interface is more visually oriented and thus quicker and easier to use, but I can code to fine tune the formatting as necessary. I’d like more control over adjusting the image sizes as well; while I can edit my photos with Adobe’s Photoshop Touch, it would be more convenient to have all my blog post editing tools in one place, as they are in the desktop WordPress Dashboard. We’ll see how it goes!
A few of the apps I’ve chosen for the journey:
- RATP: Free official app for the subway and bus service in Paris. Includes line and station exits’ maps, timetables, and traffic updates (including any demonstrations which are causing delays!). I’ve already looked up and saved a few routes to places I hope to visit.
- SpeakEasy French: $1.99 for the basic app (a lite version is available for free) plus an additional $1.99 for the expansion phrase packs. Each word, expression, and phrase includes a translation to French, an easy-to-read phonetic translation, and an audio recording of a native French speaker. I’m finding it very easy to use thus far.
- proHDR: $1.99. For those occasions when it’s more convenient (and surreptitious) to use the iPhone instead of my camera, this app creates beautiful HDR images. You do have to hold the iPhone still while the HDR shoots multiple images, but I haven’t had any problems doing so and the HDR pictures have turned out great.
- Wi-Fi Finder: Free locator of free and paid wi-fi hotspots around the world.
- Kindle editions of 2012 Frommers guides to Paris, Provence, and the Riviera. I love my bookshelves full of books, but between content being updated annually to stay current, and the opportunity to include active linking and more color photography, I think travel guides and e-readers are a natural, excellent fit.
- Paris Pastry Guide ebook by David Lebovitz. Is any other guidebook really necessary? I think not.
On the subject of e-readers, I have several e-reader apps loaded on my iPad but mostly use Stanza, Kindle, and iBooks. I’m also glad to see more magazines catching the clue that paper subscribers won’t pay their subscription fee twice for mobile access, so mobile device versions of many magazines are becoming available. The tablet editions of my favorite magazines will be a welcome diversion when I’ve finished reading the emergency card, in-flight magazine, and catalog.