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October 2016

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A Costume Ball.

A few days after we renewed our membership to the Musee d’Orsay, I got an email advertising a Second Empire Ball in the Salon des Fetes at the museum. The accompanying picture showed dancers twirling around a big gilded hall. Lessons in dancing the quadrille were optional, but seemed a wise idea if one were to attend.

That same week, I’d just finished another historical novel, this one set in England about Henry VIII and his ministers, Wolsey & Cromwell, who, judging from most accounts, were not out for the common good, but were only interested in stuffing their own pockets and egos, as the saying goes.

Re-creation can be fun, especially if you live in a city oozing history on every corner, so why not go to a costume ball! Plus, the Second Empire was cool! So, I signed us all up and was determined that we’d have fun! Even if a few of us don’t dance…

Paris became the city that it is today under the Second Empire. In an astonishingly short time, Paris was completely re-ordered. It was central planning at its niftiest. Train stations were built. City parks were created. Beginning in 1853, over the course of 17 years – Napoleon III and Georges-Eugene Haussmann completely rebuilt the city.

New boulevards, now famous parks, museums, opera houses, art galleries, on and on. Tens of thousands of workers were employed to bring water, air and light to the city center, widening the streets and making it the most beautiful city in Europe!

Much of it was practical too. They rebuilt the sewers of Paris so they no longer emptied into the Seine, and built a new aqueduct and reservoir to bring in more fresh water. And zoning and regulations allowed Haussmann to impose architectural standards for the buildings along the new boulevards – they had to be the same height, follow similar design, and be faced with the same cream-hued stone – thus stiff regulations gave flower to beautiful symmetry.

So, on a sunny Sunday in October, we dress in our merchant costumes, and stroll over to the cab stand and hitch a ride to the ball in a Toyota Prius.

At the entrance where they take your tickets, we can hear the ball music. We take the escalator up one level. The girls are embarrassed to be in costume. But when we walk into the room and are surrounded by everyone costume, they smile. The golden lights, the warmth of the room, the music is loud and energising and there is the magical movement of dancers keeping time.

The dances are of the time – the quadrille, the polka. The caller leads the crowd along with help from professionals. Whirls twirls take the men and women in large gowns great distances in a few steps. Taffeta, ribbons swish by. Faces light with exertion and fun. The room becomes hot, but the ladies have fans. We are in 19th century Paris, lo and behold.

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Heeyyy!

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When you’re walking around, these are the little places you might pass.

Hug hug, kiss, kiss! How’ve you beeeennn…  darling little pumpkins… sweet sugar pies… ! It’s been fo r e v e r…. like last spring when we were at that parade jazz thing in St. Germain, we ate mint ice cream and the lady in the dress made of all those ribbons walked by, remember… we were talking about how much we loved the 20 somethings, how they’re changing things around, making things with their hands, like that ribbon dress… surely…

So. Let’s tell you what we’ve been up to, then it’s your turn…ok?

Alright. I’ll be swift. Mostly, I’m gonna show some pix. We’ve been good.

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Fox Hunter’s Paradise – on a clear day you can see Pilot Mountain from here.

June was a bunch of end of the year gatherings. Then July 4th we’re sitting on Main Street in Virginia watching the Fourth of July parade with some oldest and dearest friends and family. Everyone’s on a picnic blanket. We’d already had a cookout earlier on the river with some other folks. If I’d had any sense I would have taken photos, because I hadn’t seen some of those people in years. But I didn’t. I was enjoying the time and forgot.

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Just driving around. Purtty, huh?

Anyway, summer was the green grass of home and the blue skies above. We roamed around the mountains, volunteered in a community theatre, spent time at the lake with Bunny and Mom, had lunch at Draper Mercantile, yum, got up early and stayed at Floyd Fest all day and heard Elephant Revival standing under a big maple tree with a big crowd, what a great band to see live. Biked the trail. Drove the dog around some beautiful back roads. Got tomatoes at Horton’s, went to berry day at the Independence farmer’s market, sat on the front porch out at Matthew’s farm and watched the chicken hawks fly over the fields.

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Some cow.

And then it’s September. And we meet again. Here’s September in photos.

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Skye is good at grabbing baguettes.

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The bonbon stand across from the Odeon Movie Theatres. Andrew and I went to a movie last wknd.

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Crowds before the movie.

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Crossing thru the Place des Vosges, I had to catch the red ball.

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We’re always walking through the Luxembourg gardens. We used to jog there, but now we go to the Bois.

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I was going over the Pont Alexander to meet someone.The girl’s got her shell.

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She’s got her fork.

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Andrew and I went to see an exhibition at Van Cleefs and Arpels. While we were waiting in line, I photographed the refurbished Place Vendome.

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Sunday morning walking up to get buns at Cafe Bechu, the best buns. We ran into a demonstration.

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Luxembourg with purple autumn clouds.

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Andrew’s coffee at the Finnish Institute.

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A walk along the Seine with friends. I keep stopping to photograph. On the left you can see 2 nuns sitting on the bench, a red bag beside them.

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Looking over to Isle Saint Louis.

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N = Napoleon III.

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All for now! See you next week!

 

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