My love for French began at a very young age. Through Jason's job I have now had three opportunities to explore France and it has not disappointed yet. I love the architecture, the history, and the language. I grew up near Detroit (3 miles from where I now live) so that means we picked up Canadian TV stations. Every morning we watched Mr. Dressup and Sesame Street, but because of a timing issue it was more convenient for our schedule to watch the Canadian version of Sesame Street than the American version. Because it was Canadian, a good portion of the show was in French including the alphabet and counting to 10. I fell in love with the sound of French - it's like speaking in cursive! A friend gave me a cassette tape with French children's songs that I listened to over and over.
Regrettably, I did not study it as a foreign language in school, but that didn't stop me from loving it and learning it informally.
Music provides words and spirit for many young people and for me the music was The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and Beauty and the Beast. There were a few others but those three soundtracks were particularly captivating to me. As I explored the Paris Opera House, walked the narrow and briefly barricaded streets of Les Halles, and snatched glimpses of the Paris country side, I could hear those soundtracks in my head. (For the record, I've also read each one of these books and understand they are works of fiction. I've also read a great deal about the French influence on the United States.)
The opening of Beauty and the Beast brings us to our word of the day. I learned what bonjour meant from later in the song when we hear "Bonjour, good day, how is your family? Bonjour, good day, how is your wife?" Bonjour is a greeting, but literally means "good day." I also learned that Belle means beauty, but those weren't the words that caught my imagination though.
Today's Word: Provincial
Three syllables. Pronounced [pruh-vin-shuh l] Defined on dictionary.com as having or showing the manners, viewpoints, etc., considered characteristic of unsophisticated inhabitants of a province; rustic; narrow or illiberal; Belle wanted more than a provincial life. The people in her town were narrow minded and non-readers. They didn't understand her desire to read about far away places or her yearning for adventure in the great wide somewhere.
Narrow mindedness can attack any place or people. We are under that attack now as we are able to get our news from our political point of view, search for churches that confirm our beliefs, and watch sports broadcasts that celebrate the greatness of our chosen teams. This is dangerous because it leaves us without the need to defend and thereby refine our opinions. Wherever we look around we can see ideas that confirm our thoughts and keep us from broadening our viewpoint.
Travel and reading broadly can combat that mindset. Travel wakes me up to new ways of thinking and doing things. I have differing opinions with many of the books I have read, but as I read things I disagree with I go back to the Bible and see what God's Word states and often I am challenged.
I, like Belle, want so much more than a provincial life. I want adventure in the great wide somewhere full of ideas and exciting stories. Thankfully, because of the age we live in that is a possibility well within reach. Get out there and explore the world though both literal and literary journeys. It doesn't have to be a long trip to a foreign destination. Check out the cities within easy driving distance of you and your own town. Read books that challenge your way of thinking then go back to the Bible to firmly plant your thoughts in Truth. Together we can celebrate a life of adventure and exploration.
Our summer adventures have been keeping me busy and unfortunately away from my computer. I have a lovely Tiffany blue notebook that is full of ideas and thoughts that come to me as I travel, but getting those thoughts onto the blog has proved to be challenging. Hopefully I can soon work past my technical difficulties and learn to work remotely. Technology is not always my best friend, but it allows me to do this, so I will persevere.
In the second full week of June we visited Paris. My husband, Jason, headed there for work and Logan and I tagged along as tourists. Travel with him is something I do as often as I can because it gives me insight into what his business trips are like and the stress he is under. As he travels we often hear comments from people teasing about his fun jet-setting life, and if I didn't understand I could be jealous. He has traveled throughout the United States and internationally to Canada (Quebec), France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, India, and China on business. What I learn when I travel with him is that business travel involves little time to adjust times zones, working at hectic paces in strange places, and little chance to enjoy the culture or scenery. Logan and I explored all over Paris, but Jason worked most of the trip. We did have one day together and some time at night for adventures as well. Sometimes he gets a break and is able to explore so I don't begrudge him that a bit. We took every minute he could spend with us and thoroughly enjoyed our time together.
Have you heard that Parisians are rude and difficult? Paris is just like any other place you will visit. You will get what you look for. If you seek beauty and culture it is to be found in spades. If you expect the people to be rude and the tourists obnoxious you will find plenty of that too. On a past visit to Pairs we encountered a gracious host at a restaurant. He showed us around his establishment with pleasure, introduced us to the chef, and told us about himself. Among other things he had studied at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. His English was fluent. He offered us the French menu because it was better worded and offered to explain the options rather than just handing the English menu. We happily obliged and had a marvelous time. Later, another American couple and their friend came in. They were abrupt and asked for the English menu. Our waiter spoke French to them and they spoke about him as though he couldn't understand them. It was truly painful to watch. They expected to find a rude Parisian and they found one. We expected to find a kind Parisian and we found one. The city is what you make of it.
We left Paris as different people than the people we were when we arrived. We learned and grew in ways that only come trough experiences traveling. What are your favorite travel destinations for business, personal, or missions? I will definitely have more to say about Paris later, but for tonight, I must say bonne nuit.
On Mother's Day I wrote about being the youngest of six children. My mom tells the story that after getting pregnant she worried I would be lonely and would want someone to hang out with so maybe they should have a seventh child. My dad promptly told her that he would be my friend so there was no need for number seven. Joking or not, he kept that promise. Sunday afternoons were our time to explore museums or do stuff together. We often wandered the grounds of Cranbrook or went to the science museum there. He took pictures and we would work in the darkroom together. In my memory I was a big help, but looking back, maybe he was just being very patient with me.
Besides being fun to spend time with, he's practically Google. I could ask anything and he always had an answer. "When did World War I end?" "Where is Timbuktu?" "What is escargot?" Yup, he knew. If he didn't, he knew where to get the answers. One of the reasons I read on such a wide number of topics is wanting to possess the same wide base of knowledge that he had.
During all those afternoons spent together I learned so much from him. Not just about facts, but about how to live. He worked hard in a tool dye shop for a very long time, but he liked it. Sure it was work, but he never spent Sunday night complaining about going back to work on Monday. He would talk about what they were doing in the shop with interest and took pleasure in his work. When I was in college he switched from 50+ hour weeks to working "only" 40 hours per week and he was telling people he was semi-retired. He showed what it looked like to do all things for the glory of God, by working without constant reminders of all his sacrifice.
Despite working all those hours he always took time for hobbies. He ran, rode his bicycle, and for the majority of my childhood he was a photographer. His work is unique and he has won multiple awards and even sold some of his work. Despite the success, it was always something he wanted to enjoy. He's been asked to do wedding photos and photograph products for catalogs, but then it stopped being fun so he said no. It wasn't about the money. It was about the personal gratification he took from those activities. We've decided he's actually the OG hipster because he was doing all the cool stuff before it was cool. Long beards, cardigan sweaters, iced coffee, pinhole photography, he did it all. Not because he wanted to fit in or because he wanted to keep up with any appearances. It was for him.
In this way he reminds me of one of our favorite artists, Vincent Van Gogh who said, "What am I in the eyes of most people -- a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person-- somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then -- even if that were absolutely true, then I should like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart." I know that my dad is not a nobody, but he didn't focus his life around being a somebody so his life demonstrated what he had in his heart.
Thanks dad for being great example and a great friend.
I tend to think deeply about things. According to 16 Personalities, a site where participants can take free Myers Briggs personality tests, I am an INFP-T. Often, when I tell people I'm introverted, they are genuinely surprised because I can be outgoing and seemingly extroverted and I have no problem speaking in front of others. In fact, I love teaching and speaking in front of large groups, but one on one meetings are terrifying for me. A loud party with lots of activity is absolutely exhausting and a concert with loud music and so much going on is draining. I LOVE my alone time, but not being lonely which are very different. (I'll say more about that another day.)
I love to stare off in deep thought and although I may not be able to find my keys or notice something directly in front of me, I notice the flight patterns of birds and see the beauty in poetry. This doesn't bother me. Except the losing the keys part. That is SO annoying. But I have learned to appreciate that I love things others don't appreciate. That's a good thing. I don't need for others to love it for me to find it interesting. Today's word is a result of musings about birds. Have you ever noticed how a flock of birds will change directions together? I love watching this. How do they do it? I'm not the only one to ask this question. Scientists have studied the phenomenon and are still defining it. One site called it a "flight flock" while another called it a "maneuver wave." (For the record, I vote for maneuver wave.) This article from Audubon does a great job of explaining what is going on and how the maneuvers take place. Several types of birds move like this, but one group is especially intriguing, which brings me to today's word.
Today's Word: Murmuration
Four syllables. Pronounced: [mur-muh-rey-shuh n] Defined on dictionary.com (because it's too obscure for my OED) as a flock of starlings. Below I've posted a video of a murmuration. It is positively fascinating. The way they turn and move together is mesmerizing to watch. The sound is almost apocalyptic near the end as they get closer to the camera.
I promise this is an entirely useless word that you will never need to know and will rarely use in your everyday speech unless you discuss the flight patterns of starlings regularly. But that doesn't make me love it any less. The word's beauty is not diminished by its unnecessary existence. Just like noticing movements in flocks of birds, noticing beautiful words is something that helps me appreciate the beauty around me. The Audubon article quotes poet Richard Wilbur who compared a murmuration to "a drunken fingerprint across the sky,” which is a captivating way to describe the undulating movements of the flock. (Undulating, another great word.)
Go for a walk. Breathe deeply. Notice the little things, like how birds fly and move together. Contemplate what Jesus said in Matthew 10:29, "Aren't two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's consent." The video below shows over 10,000 starlings in a murmuration. Each movement is known by God, which is something that I can take great comfort in, even at the darkest of times.
This past weekend was a whirlwind of activity that kept us busy in a wonderful way. Some friends came in town to help celebrate Jason's 40th birthday and a fun time was had by all. Logan finished school on Friday so he is fully celebrating summer, but I am still subbing in the school district which doesn't dismiss until June 15. So, one more week of work for me then I can join Logan in the summer fun. I will post more about the places we go on my travel pages, which are still works in progress. I've provided links for a few activities if you are interested in more information. If you have any questions about places on the list please let me know and I will be happy to help. Adventure on, friends!
The Great Summer of Adventure
(in no particular order)
1. Visit the Cranbrook Science Center
2. Make pretzels
3. Build and test paper airplanes using a landing strip
4. Swim with the Millers (neighbors and friends)
5. Day Camp at The Henry Ford
6. Watch The Princess Bride
7. Make a memory book for Derek
8. Visit the Ark
9. Read Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
10. Visit the Detroit Science Center
11. Test spaghetti strength
12. Run a 5k
13. Visit Cranbrook Gardens
14. Pick blueberries
15. Play the license plate game
16. Visit Greenfield Village
17. Build an egg drop
18. Foling tournament
19. Visit Paris
20. Watch Newsies
21. Visit Edsel Ford House and Gardens
22. Ride bikes to Rochester
23. Star gaze
24. Read Something Big Has Been Here by Jack Prelutsky
25. Visit the Detroit Zoo
26. Make pancakes
27. Jackson Pollock painting
28. Family game night
29. Make butter
30. Visit Ann Arbor Hands On Museum
31. Swim party
32. Visit the Detroit Institute of Art
33. Build a LEGO city together
34. Explore Belle Isle
35. Science experiment
36. Visit Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum
37. Watch fireworks
38. Visit the Outer Banks
39. Bake treats for the neighbors
40. Make color changing flowers
Let the adventures begin! If you post to social media don't forget to use the hashtag #greatsummerofadventure2018
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."