Saturday, May 21, 2011

Teaching French Language

I've already written several posts about the different roles I play.  Now I want to tell you about my French classes.  I just finished my second series of classes, held in an art gallery downtown.  It's inspiring to teach and learn within the walls of our small town's oldest building, and with beautiful artwork surrounding us.
My background for being able to do these classes, is  my university degree in French language and literature, from the universities of Trondheim, Norway and Sorbonne, Paris, France.  In addition to this, I've lived in French-speaking countries for nearly seven years.
I've come up with a short, intensive program, three nights only, with a goal of having my students start talking French almost immediately.  It's lots of fun, but it's also hard work, since I make the whole thing from scratch, and I'm literally on my feet for five straight hours, talking and interakting non-stop.  First, there is the beginners' class, then, after a short break, I teach the conversation class for the advanced students.  The feedback I get, confirms that my idea, these short, intensive courses are exactly what people want.
And even though I get tired, exhausted even, it's very rewarding to see that I am able to transmit my enthusiasm for the French language, and make people communicate, also when they just know a few words! Languages are extremely powerful.  They open doors and they create friendships.
Languages are magic.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Picture of the day: Luxembourg Palace

Imade this picture of Palais du Luxembourg a couple of weeks ago, when I was in Paris as the guide of a group tour.
The palace was built in the 17e century, commissioned by Maria de Medici, the wife of king Henry the fourth. She was from Florence, Italy, and she wanted her palace to look like Palazzo Pitti back in her home town.  She also had landscapers build the beautiful garden, Jardin du Luxembourg, around the palace.  It's one of my favorite spots in Paris.  I just love walking there, especially early in the morning, when I have the garden and the view to myself...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Picture of the day: Quilts hung out to dry

I took this picture in India last December.  Driving by, on a countryside road, I spotted these quilts, freshly washed in the creek.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

The unknown brother, and his son...

During my last trip to Paris, I discovered the existence and works of Martial Caillebotte, the Impressionist  painter Gustave Caillebotte's more unknown brother. Martial was an excellent photographer, and I'll show you more of his work later. 
In this post I'll concentrate on the photographs of his children, Jean and Geneviève.  Take a look at this one:

This picture is taken by Martial Caillebotte around 1898, and you see a photograph of his son and his daughter. Yes, there are not two girls in the picture, but a big brother and his little sister.  I found this sort of interesting, and also, somewhat disturbing.

Then there is this photo, taken at the grandparents' house, with the same two children, Jean and Geneviève Caillebotte:

The boy is to the left and the sister to the right.

Then, there is this series of photos, depicting Jean's haircut. (Propably his first.)

I was trying to understand the whole thing.  Why have Jean look like a girl, and then make a whole big deal of cutting his hair and dressing him as a boy?  I was wondering if this was his father's sick artistic consept, and that the boy just had to go through with it, endure those years until the hair was long enough for the photoshoot?
Then, a friend of mine had another idea: Maybe it was him, the boy, wanting to look like a girl, and his parents being open-minded about it, until one day, he had to let go of the girl look?  After all, he doesn't look too happy...

Well, now I actually have another explanation:  In those times, in certain circles, boys were dressed like girls until the age of ten, when the hair was cut, and their masculinity began.  Interesting.  Very interesting, and I've never before heard of this custom, at least not in France.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Little William

There's no use hiding it: Prince William's wedding makes me emotional.  You see, I was 11 years old when  he was born, and I collected his baby pictures, cut them out from magazines and newspapers, glued them on the pages of a dedicated William Baby Book.  I was as if I knew the baby personally, he felt almost like family, and my biggest dream was to one day become his nanny in London...
The royal wedding one year earlier didn't thrill me that much, I wasn't into fairy-tale princesses and such, I never was one of these all pink and frills little girls,  but Prince William appealed to my emerging maternal instinct, and I was totally obsessed with this little prince.
After a while I stopped collecting his photographs, and my interest tapered off somewhat, but I still kind of followed him from a distance, and when his mother died, I cried my eyes out, mostly because of him and his brother.
But, I had my own child by then, and little by little I stopped catching up on prince William's doings.  Occationally, though, I would spot a picture of him, and it always felt strangely like seeing a photography of a relative. He grew up to be such a handsome young man, and I felt like a proud big sister...
I have to admit, I was a little annoyed  when I realized his wedding wasn't this summer but on an April Friday, one that I was going to spend in Paris, far away from any television set...
I actually forgot during the day, since I was busy guiding a group in the most beautiful city on earth,  but back in my hotel room, I went online and watched a couple of video clips from the wedding. Just to catch up.  And, to my big surprise,  I cried like a baby.  I could hardly see the screen, and I was very happy nobody could see me.
After this confession, here are some of the baby and child pictures I collected, and really, he was adorable.

The very first picture published

The photos are of course not mine, and I have to say I don't know the name of the photographers, other than Lord Snowdon, who took most of the official photos, but others are from press conferences or snapshots.  I make an exception here, from my rule of always naming the person behind a photo.