jeudi 10 juillet 2008

Better in real life

Hydrangea Hovaria 'Ripple'

(and here) than any of the photos on-line,
and waiting for me to plant them.

In the inexcusable and sad absence of photos of the boys in France (they have to be downloaded) -- and there were some great ones in the garden of the Palais Royale of Sam, Pips, Justin and Victor --, I fall back on one of my recent acquisitions, one of the new hydrangeas. It is also called Hortensia Hovaria 'Ripple', with Hovaria being a trademarked name for this particular recent form of hydrangea, which is further classed both with the macrophyllas and the quercifolias, depending on the source.

It is probably a mix of both, since the balls of flowers conform to the form of the macrophyllas, while the leaves conform to the oak-leaf shape of the quercifolias, adding the charm of being bi-colored -- deep purple and dark green -- like the blooms themselves.

The one thing the Belgian horticulturists responsible for this variety did not foresee is the structural weakness of the stems, which bend to the ground under the weight of their tremendous burdens, these gorgeous balls of softest pink petals edged in deepest pink. From a distance, you see pink, but coming close, you begin to distinguish the markings of the individual petals and are treated to the soft gradation in color of each petal.

How to say it?

When you look at a pink ball of hydrangea flowers, you see the pink of the flowers. It is everywhere. It is, certainly and undeniably, beautiful, but the Hovaria 'Ripple' offers you the soft color of the petals and the deep pink of their borders, two presents for the observer. Taken together, they are merely pink, but seen from closer at hand, you delight in the surprise and the complexity of all the petals of each flower of every ball.

Their weight requires staking of the individual stems to help the shrub maintain its round and compact form.

Another high-maintenance plant.

Oh well. At least it offers its blooms from June to September, being quite long-flowering.

The boys

à l'Orangérie

I overcame the oppressive heat -- alright, so it wasn't much by Philadelphia or DC standards, but it was hot compared to the last days -- and glare of the day yesterday, as well as being completely worn-out, to get the benches and the dogs into the Voyager and high-tail it to Viroflay. It was nearly 4:00 PM before I arrived, and just past 5:00 PM when we arrived at the Place de la Concorde, where I heard Victor exclaim, "Look! Look, Justin, Jacqueline -- there!" My eyes left the windshield, where I was concentrating to get in the right "lane" to blend into the traffic so as to be able to turn for the parking lot entrance without creating a multi-vehicle pile-up, and followed his voice to the side of the car where he was looking out the window. There was a group of police officers, gathered protectively around a man lying on the pavement in a bright yellow helmet and his scooter, lying helplessly by him.

I recognized the helmet. Ferrari was written on it in black letters. It was the guy in a suit who turned onto the Voies sur Berges along the Seine in the 16th at the same time as we did. My eyes remained fixed on him as the car turned left around the place. Blood flowed from his nose as he tried to lift his head. His forearm moved up and down, as though that were all he could do to get up. A police officer knelt over him, certainly speaking reassuring words to him. A young woman, looking shaken, stood near the front of the small green car, whose front fender was severely dented and whose windshield had a hole in the passenger side the size of a helmeted head, crack lines radiating outwards. Another man sat astride his BMW motorcycle, a witness.

Only minutes before, he and I had traveled a stretch of road together, heading somewhere. He had no idea he would be lying injured, an ambulance on its way, his scooter destroyed, a young woman scared for him and herself, and what she might have done wrong, if anything.

We watched them the first time around the plaza, and the second time, after I missed being on the right side of the barriers in front of the Hotel Crion to be able to pull into the parking lot under the huge plaza. Down the entry ramp, I handed the boys cash for the entry fee, if there were one for them, and sent them scurrying to the Orangérie to see Monet's Nymphéas murals, the famous Water Lilies mural-sized paintings.

When I caught up to them, they were just heading into the rooms.

They were both hushed and startled by the quiet, the stillness and the sheer size and presence of these works, four to each ovoid room, the light of whose skylights is diffused by white fabric stretched across their openings at the ceiling. Victor went ahead to see just how many rooms there were, duly impressed and relieved by the restraint and simplicity of the museum: two identical rooms containing eight related works of art.

They loved them. They photographed them. They had themselves photographed in front of them. Victor talked and talked about them, their compositions and content, the colors, which he loved best. He talked to an English-speaking Canadian tourist from Hamilton, Ontario, who was admiring one in the first room, where we stopped second. Victor could talk about Monet's art in English.

Justin was quiet, listening to me and Victor, who was justifiably disturbed by the poorer quality of the transitions between the panels of one, Matin (you can click on each image for a high-definition version to open in a window), in the first room, which he was sure must have been an earlier attempt, and which was, nonetheless, one of his two favorites, along with Les Deux saules in the second room. For the transitions in Matin, Monet simply hadn't gotten it quite right yet, according to Victor. He also had a great deal to say about Soleil Couchant, understanding very well what it depicted.

Each of us had his or her own favorites. It was a little like being in a chapel of art, and it is such a sweet memory now.

à Montmartre

We sat down outside, on the rails around a tree in the late afternoon sun, and plotted our next move. We would take the car to Montmartre, enjoy the view and eat ice cream, which turned out to be a Nutella and banana crêpe in Justin's case. Then, I would take Victor home to see his last remaining friend, not yet departed on his vacation plans, before he would leave the next morning for the rest of the summer months. Audouin would come from the airport, meet us in Viroflay, and go to dinner -- a pizza in Paris made Justin's eyes light up -- , followed by a drive past Paris' great monuments lit against the blackness of the night sky.

Anne-So was reminded by her neighbor, when she crossed her in the street earlier that afternoon, that she had made plans that she had entirely forgotten.

"You haven't forgotten you are coming to dinner tonight, have you?" sang the neighbor.

"Non, non! Bien sur que non," she lied with a smile, thinking, "Oh merde!" We were all supposed to have dinner together.

They are gone now to the Mont St. Michel on the Brittany channel coast, and I am deprived of contact! I have to rely on news dispatches from Anne-So.

Sam's miracle at Lourdes

There must be some actual basis in truth for the place's powers, for Sam called the person who he considered the one friend who could most appreciate his being there, because his mother had taken him there before, and when Sam said, "Guess where I am? Lourdes," Franky immediately replied, "Me, too!" His mother had brought him again, although he had either known he was going and said nothing, or known nothing in advance because Sam had no idea he could be there.

They ended up going out together last evening with Pips, and having lunch today before the train departed.

Sam had called me yesterday evening, nearly as soon as he arrived at the hotel, "You'd love it here, Mom," he exclaimed, "it's so beautiful." He described the fortified castle with its chapel on the high peak of rock upon which Lourdes is situated, and the view out to the snow-capped Pyrénées.

They were able to find more HD tapes for his SONY video camera, which has finally found a useful purpose, and are satisfied with their work. I hope that Bessie and Pips' mother, the producer and writer, will be as much so.

Sam returns on the 23h14 direct train from Paris, and Pips, sadly, goes off to his room at the Holiday Inn Paris - Orly Airport hotel to put him near the airport for his 6:40 AM flight out of Orly Sud for Athens. I got kind of used to having him around.

Now, Lyca, you are going to have to keep me posted more closely of his doings, because you can't help but take a greater interest once you know someone better.

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