Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My Birthday and My Bucket List

Me at my most favorite place in the world.

I've been so busy lately with things around here, plus a quick trip to the US (fill you in later) that I haven't even mentioned that I checked the number one item off my bucket list for my birthday. No, I'm not dying, or at least I don't think I am. I'm just a firm believer in dreaming and realizing those dreams when possible.

First, confession time again...... I'm a Francophile. I love any and everything relating to France. I credit this to being reminded by my grandmother constantly as a child that I'm part French. Grandma's surname was Jaques, originally Jacques, but shortened  and pronounced  Jakes after the family came to America.

J'aime toutes les choses françaises.

That little spark from Grandma inspired me to take French as soon as I was able to in 8th grade and I continued till I graduated. I actually even began teaching French to 3rd graders at a local elementary school for one class period during my senior year of high school. Then there was French Club Treasurer, French Honor Society, and of course your's truly received the French Club Scholarship (paid for books).

Anyways, it was during all of these years of French classes that I was introduced to impressionist art and my all time favorite artist, Claude Monet. I absolutely adore Monet and his works, from his early years to his later years when he started losing his sight. My husband jokes and says our house is like a mini Monet gallery, because it's filled with his prints. I can spot one of his pieces from a mile away, even if it's one I haven't seen before. I even taught the kids from a young age to recognize his work, and they are quick to proudly point them out to me if they ever see one.

Claude Monet the "Father of Impressionism"

Which brings me to my bucket list. I have dreamed of visiting Monet's garden and waterlily filled pond that is showcased in several of his paintings for years now. Thus putting it at the very tip top of my bucket list. Yes, I know it's not exactly climbing Everest like others may have as their number one, and it is a bit foofoo but it's MY list. I can be foofoo if I want to.

Monet's home at Giverny

So, the hubby and I hopped a plane to the City of Lights for a few days for my birthday. That's right, birthday number 38 was spent in Paris! And la pièce de résistance of the trip was a train ride to the little town of Giverny where I got to step inside a Monet painting. At least, that's what it felt like to me. It was some amazing surreal moments for me, as we walked the grounds of Monet's home touring his famous garden and pond. For me it was all so familiar, despite never being there before. At different angles you could capture several of his many paintings, but in real life not on canvas.

Les Nymphéas (The Water Lilies)

One little spot of Monet's massive garden

Not wanting to spoil my moment taking pictures, I commissioned my husband to be trip photographer. Besides, he's the artist in our family, I'm just an admirer. While he went around snapping pictures that resembled the numerous Monet paintings I've subjected him to over the years, I was able to just sit on the many benches around the grounds and just take in all the beauty. I could have sat there forever. I was actually shocked at how many tourist just shuffle through the place without ever really stopping to take in its amazing beauty. Monet was just as much a talented gardener as he was a painter, but just like his painting style his garden did not conform to the norm either. It has been described as a mix of both French (formal) and English (natural) styles. Whatever label you put on it, it's pure genius. Monet himself called his garden his "greatest masterpiece".

Sadly, I couldn't stay in Giverny forever, but I did buy up a good portion of the gift shop to take with me or at least it seemed that way. I bought so much I was invited behind the counter to inspect all of my items. The hubby just stood back and shook his head and laughed at me. Poor guy knew there was no telling me "no" at the "Monet Store". Lucky for him we don't live in France, at least we don't live there yet.

I'm already planning how we can live on the outskirts of Paris one more item for the bucket list.

Me behind the counter at the gift shop. No, I wasn't joking.

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