Saturday, October 1, 2016
While I'm fairly stoked about this pancake project at the school, my project manager side needs to have the details nailed down quite a bit more. Therefore, I devoted Saturday morning to calculating the amounts, determining what equipment Myriam has that I can borrow for the event, and finishing the power point for the kids. I also actually tried making pancakes with Myriam's portable crepe-maker and had Marine take pictures of the various steps so I could include them all in the slide show. I found out the school does not have a kitchen of any sorts so the teachers will need to sort out four grill-like appliances for us and plug them in at various points in the classroom. (Hope they also get enough extension cords! I wish Ben could FedEx me some of ours -- we have about 47, give or take.). Anyway, it has all worked out thus far and I have trustingly sent my list of necessary equipment and supplies to Myriam, hoping that all is in place for next Friday morning.
In the past couple of weeks, I have been trying to arrange a get together with Nathalie, Myriam's friend who celebrated her 25th anniversary several weeks ago. Myriam indicated Nathalie likes museums so I texted her to ask if she wanted to attend one with me. We agreed to go to the musée de l'École de Nancy. I've never been one for art nouveau but as it has a significant history here in Lorraine, I felt I should meet it head on. As Nathalie knows extremely little English, I felt it would force me to communicate clearly in French; however, as it turned out, when Marine heard we were going, she elected to come along as well. Therefore, as is often the case of 'the best laid schemes o' mice an' men,' my plans for French study went awry. Nevertheless, I still benefited from the outstanding museum.
The museum is housed in a beautiful turn-of-the-twentieth-century property, in keeping with the time period of its belongings. A number of French artists are represented there, most notably Émile Gallé, who achieved international fame and is credited with leading the French Art Nouveau movement. Interestingly, he was also a real social leader for his time, organizing evening schools for the working class, publicly defending Romanian Jews and speaking up for Irish Catholics during British rule. He founded the movement known as the 'École de Nancy' along with men whose names I read on street signs in these parts: Victor Prouvé, Louis Majorelle, Antonin Daum and Eugène Vallin. When I visited Louis Majorelle's home a couple of weeks ago with Myriam and Thierry, I received a taste of what was to come in this museum; however, it didn't prepare me for the ornateness and tremendous craftsmanship that I saw today. The variety of media (wood, pearl, glass, canvas, ceramics, textiles, etc.) that these artists worked in was impressive. In addition to the glasswork and ceramics, there were so many grand pieces of furniture that obviously took several months, perhaps years, to design and build. It's one thing to have an artistic eye and design a beautiful object but another to be able to craft it as well. I particularly loved the furniture, with its curves and intricate inlay work. Some rooms also became pieces of art in and of themselves as the artists built wooden accents and designed tapestry-like walls to augment their furniture. It was interesting to see this type of art in a new light. At the end of the visit, Nathalie made me a generous gift of a book depicting Gallé's work; it's an unexpected souvenir of my visit here.
I realize I have been remiss in not mentioning to date a very important member of my French family. His name is Sanai (pronounced 'see-nigh' in French), and he is their 'animal de compagnie.' In actual fact, he's not their pet; he's a pet of the neighbours but he visits so often and spends so much time here, he may as well belong to this family. He's a large, very sweet, and at times rambunctious, Golden Retriever. He most often visits at mealtimes but also comes by unbidden at various other junctures in the day. The Poirots keep a water bowl out for him and while everyone in the family gives him lots of hugs, Thierry appears to be his favourite as he is especially susceptible to giving him meat off his plate. Sanai will make himself at home by sprawling out in the middle of the kitchen, with cooks and others stepping over him as required. When not in his own yard or in the Poirots' space, he generally chooses a spot in the middle of rue de Fontenelle halfway between his true house and that of his adopted family, seemingly sharing his affection equally between the two.