Tuesday, July 26, 2022

July 14 Paris celebration and some sights along the Tour de France 2022

The Patrouille de France (French Acrobatic Patrol) of the French Air Force is shown above. It has been active since 1931 and is one of the oldest and considered one of the best in the world. It traditionally opens the military parade in Paris on the 14 of July /French National Holiday (also known as Bastille Day in anglophone areas.) Then about two weeks later, it flies over the Champs-Elysees Avenue at the close of the Tour de France. Nine pilots fly the Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets with a team of 32 mechanics for support.
A 14 of July military parade down the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris has been a tradition since 1880. The parade starts at 10:00 am and lasts two hours. This year's theme was "Sharing the Flame" - a reference to the flame of the Resistance, and to the Olympic flame of which France is now the custodian until the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. Olympic and Paralympics' medalists were part of the procession. This year French President Macron wished to honor Eastern European nations and invited their troops to open the parade (photo shown below courtesy Ministère des Armées.) The units and flags of the Baltic States, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary opened the parade with troops on foot, followed by the soldiers of the French regiments engaged within the framework of NATO on the eastern flank of Europe, such as the alpine hunters deployed in Romania and Estonia. (France's Rafale fighter jets are also helping to protect the Polish sky.)
The parade included 6,300 soldiers on foot, 71 aircraft, 25 helicopers, 221 vehicles and 200 horses of the Republican Guard. Louis, a 17 years old ship's boy and future ship's mate, was the youngest soldier in the parade. He is pictured below, courtesy Le Ministère des Armées.
In the evening of July 14, Parisians, French people and foreign visitors were invited to gather near the Eiffel Tower to watch the fireworks at 11 pm, for about 30 minutes. The theme this year was "Carpe Diem" (seize the day - take advantage of life.) The fireworks paid tribute to Ukraine, projecting the Ukrainian flag on the Eiffel Tower, the blue and yellow rockets drawing hearts in the sky, on the song "Stefania" by the Ukrainian group Kalush Orchestra, winner of the Eurovision contest. (Photo of the Ukraine colors in the first left photo below, courtesy Le Parisien.) This was followed by a public concert then popular dancing in various streets.
Most large towns, small cities and villages in France display fireworks for the national holiday, the 14 of July. However, this year to minimize the risk of fire linked to the ambient dryness and extreme heat, some municipalities canceled their traditional fireworks. One of the cities still with great fireworks was Carcassonne, shown below, courtesy Aude Tourisme. The Tour de France stopped to rest in this town, but on July 18, 2022.
The Tour de France 2022 started on July 1st and ended on July 24, 2022, including two rest days. It covered a total distance of 3,328 kms/2081.4 miles, about the same distance as Helsinki, Finland to Lisbon, Portugal or Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas, Arizona. There were 176 international riders from twenty-two teams (8 riders in each team.) The 21 stages covered 6 flat stages, 7 hilly stages, 6 mountain stages and 2 individual time trial stages. Apart from France the Tour visited 3 foreign countries, Denmark, Belgium and Switzerland. The cyclists rode into 39 stage towns. The Tour attracted 12 million spectators and was broadcasted into 190 countries. Founded in 1903, the Tour de France is the most prestigious bike race on the planet. Below is the 2022 route.
If you click on the Tour de France link on the right side of my blog you will see 21 entries. Along the years I have given the Tour's history, explained the stages, the colors of the jerseys and more. Please check any of these posts. It is quite fitting that the Tour started in Copenhagen, Denmark. Copenhagen is the world's most bicycle friendly city where the number of bicycles outnumbers the number of cars. If the US is known for having more guns than people, Copenhagen is known for having more bikes than people - 745,000 bikes for 602,000 people, and just 120,000 cars; the number of SUV vehicles, unlike in the US, is at a minimum. The first time we were in Copenhagen we stayed in a central hotel. I was so surprised to see more bikes during rush hour than cars, with business people in suits and some women in dresses and heels.
Accordingly, the Climate Change Performance Index's for 2022 shows Denmark as the top-ranking country in the world for global climate policy. Out of rankings of 60 countries and the EU, the US trailed the pack in 55th place. It could be the US's obsession with SUV vehicles. On average, SUVs use about a quarter more energy to move than a standard-sized family car, because they are larger, heavier and create more drag. A quarter might not sound like much, but between 2010 and 2018, the proliferation of SUVs on the road resulted in an increase of 3.3 million barrels of gasoline used per day. This created an uptick of 0.55 gigatons of CO2 over one decade, to 544 million tons of CO2, making SUVs "the second-largest contributor to the increase in global CO2 emissions since 2010 after the power sector." To put it another way, it means SUVs are producing more emissions than the entire aviation industry. The IEA forecasts that if conventional SUV purchases continue at the same pace, by 2040 they will have offset the emissions savings of close to 150 million electric cars. But, in the US, SUV sales continue to grow regardless. In Denmark there are twelve freeways just for bicycles.
The Grand Depart started in Copenhagen and stayed three days in the country. Fans came out to cheer the Tour in incredible numbers - thousands in every town. The Tour is truly international. One of the reasons I really enjoy it is because fans cheer the racers regardless of their nationalities. Of course I am happy if a French or American racer wins a stage but I am as happy to see a deserving racer win from another country. It was so sad at the Atlanta Olympic Games when most of the public left the indoor bike racing event when there were no US bikers left but just racers from the UK, Australia and Italy. Only a handful of people watched the winners get their medals - truly a shame.
If I could, I'd fly back home to France every July to watch the Tour. But since I can't, watching this most famous race live on TV is a highlight of my summers here. I love the high drama of the race so physically challenging as well as the passion of the riders. Watching the hundreds of thousands of spectators from many countries is also fun. Of course, the scenery along the route or from the helicopters and drones over all the cities, towns, villages and hamlets is a joy; many castles are shown. I visited two of the castles below - the castle of Chillon in Switzerland (in center of collage) when I went twice to Lausanne and the castle of the Malmaison (bottom left) which is only 15 kms from Paris (about 9 miles) and visited it several times with my mother.
Since 1905 the Malmaison Castle has been a French National Napoleonic museum. Bonaparte had bought it for his wife, Josephine de Beauharnais (1763-1814) in April 1799. Napoleon lived in it several years and Josephine died there in 1814. The interior of the castle is one of the few places in France to exhibit a homogeneous set of furniture from the Napoleonic Consulate and First Empire. My mother and I loved to visit the rose garden there. One of their old antique Bourbon roses is called "Souvenir de la Malmaison." Originally it had been called "Queen of Beauty and Fragrance" but when one the Grand Dukes of Russia obtained a specimen from the Malmaison gardens for the Imperial Garden in St. Petersburg it was renamed "Souvenir de la Malmaison" as a remembrance for him. It produces light pink color blooms with a delightful fragrance; it is a climbing rose. I grew one in my garden in Georgia, shown below.
I even drew one of my Souvenir de la Malmaison roses.
The Tour racers drove by numerous lovely and historic towns. To mention and show even some of them would take pages and pages. Stage 13 ended on July 15 at Saint-Etienne. It is the only French city designated Creative City of Design by UNESCO. In 2020, Saint-Etienne also received its second UNESCO label as an "Inclusive City of Design." Saint-Etienne with all its museums and buildings is a permanent design experience, in architecture as well as in every day life. In 1915 the mayor of the city ordered a replica of the Statue of Liberty. Stage 19 ended in the town of Cahors. This city is famed for its wine and gastronomy and holds the label "French Town of Art and History." The famous medieval Valentre Bridge here is part of the pilgrimage path to Santiago de Campostela. The 14th century bridge took 70 years to complete, from 1308 to 1378 (in center of collage below.) Two new cities on the Tour were Lacapelle-Marival with its blue lake (bottom left) and Rocamadour (top left below.) From the Middle Ages on Rocamadour has been visited by pilgrims as it is also on the route of El Camino de Santiago. The population of 600 rises to 1.5 million tourists in summer.
The 21 stage ended in Paris as usual. The winner of the Tour this year was the Danish rider Jonas Vingegaard. He is the first Danish rider to win this race since 1996. At the start of the race in Copenhagen, 35,000 paying fans had packed into the Tivoli Gardens to greet the riders. They must have been deliriously happy to have one of their own win this grueling race. The 25-years old Vingegaard showed an impressive display of strength. He is below with his little daughter Frida.
Another thrilling Tour de France has ended. Now we have to wait for the 2023 rendez-vous in Bilbao, the Basque country of Spain, for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2023.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Fading roses in the Roselawn garden ... and the Nashville Connection

In my last post I recounted how I drove from Nashville to my house in Georgia in late April 2022 so I could vote in the French presidential elections on April 23, 2022. I explained how the vote was done at the French Consulate in Atlanta. Then on May 19, 2022, I drove again from Nashville to Georgia so I could vote this time in the US General Primary Elections. On Friday May 20th I voted at the Cobb County main office in Marietta, GA - this was the last day for "early voting." The general election day was Tuesday May 24th.
This is the way voting was done in Cobb County: after your name and a form of identification is checked you go to a booth and click on the candidates' name you select on a screen. When you are finished, your selections appear again and you have to certify them. Then a printed document comes out of the machine. You have to read it and certify it again, and sign it. Then you take this paper to an official who asks you if this document shows your vote accurately. You affirm it. He places the document in a huge electronic reading machine and all your selections are recorded. He indicates that your vote has been entered and gives you the sticker "I'm a Georgia voter." I don't know if voting is done the same way in all the US states.
Both the French elections and the Georgia elections garnered much interest in the country and made the first pages of the main newspapers. Former president Trump who had actively tried to overturn the results of the 2020 Georgia elections came to Atlanta to campaign against the current Republican Governor Brian Kemp, but Kemp won the Republican 2022 primary anyway. Stacey Abrams is the Democratic primary winner for 2022; she ran in 2018 and narrowly lost to Kemp. Below are pictures of Republican Governor Brian Kemp and Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams (Courtesy Atlanta Magazine.)
On Tuesday May 24 since I had voted already I decided to go visit a garden. The weather was pleasant and mild, in the low 80s F (27 C.) I had never been to the Rose Lawn House Museum in Cartersville, GA. It is 19 miles away fom my house (30 km) and took less than 30 minutes to reach. I just knew this was an historical Victorian mansion with a rose garden. I was not aware that it had been the residence of a famous evangelist in the long ago. I arrived at 10 am and entered the house for a tour. Two other visitors joined me presently.
In the 1860s the house had one story with an attic. The owner, a local merchant, Nelson Gilreath, converted the attic into bedrooms. Samuel Porter Jones, the nationally renowned evangelist, purchased the house in the 1880s and added two stories in the back of the house. In 1895 he enlarged the original structure by raising the house with hand jacks and mules so a new larger ground floor could be inserted, with a basement underneath. He lived there with his wife and children until his death in 1906. His widow, Laura McElwain Jones, continued to reside in the 18 room mansion until the 1920s. The house was purchased by another owner in the 1930s but became vacant in the 1960s. In 1978 Bartow County acquired the property and converted it into a museum to house the memorabilia and writings of Sam Jones and Rebecca Latimer Felton, another resident of Cartersville. The museum is open 3 days a week and hosts weddings and special events on weekends as well as arts and crafts fairs during the year. It contains furnishings of the period and of the Jones family, with many photographs, including of their six grown children. (Click on collage to enlarge.)
The docent gave excellent historical information on the house and many anecdotes on the Jones family. The newer ground floor was formal with large rooms.
Several windows had lovely stained glass inserts.
There were large portraits of Sam Jones and his wife Laura as well as notable paintings on the walls.
On the second floor, which had been the original ground floor, we saw the original entry door (on left in collage below.) A small room and a bathroom had been made into a bride's boudoir.
A couple of rooms were more dedicated to Rev. Sam Jones and his family. Samuel Porter Jones (1847-1906) became an attorney in 1868 and married Laura McElwain. After the loss of a child he became an alcoholic and left his law practice. As his father lay dying he promised him he would stop drinking and start preaching. At first he began preaching locally but because of his compelling delivery, style and wit he attracted a national congregation. He was on the road preaching more than at Rose Lawn in Cartersville. He preached to crowds of up to 50,000 in cities like Boston, MA; Cincinnati, OH; Los Angeles, CA; Toronto, Canada and more. In five weeks in Chicago, IL, he preached to a quarter of a million people. He also had his sermons and several books published.
For twenty years in the summer months Rev. Jones preached from a wooden pulpit in an open air pavilion that could hold 5000 attendees. People would come from long distance to hear him. They came in specially chartered trains from Atlanta and Chattanooga and more came on horseback and buggy. In 1886 he had the Sam Jones Union Tabernacle built in Cartersville (photo below) where he preached, together with several other well-known ministers, to a crowd of 6000+. The revival would last 10 days. The tour guide said he was the "Billy Graham" of the 19th century - the evangelist rock star of the age.
An area in a room was reserved for "the Nashville connection" as our tour guide called it. Rev. Jones went to preach often in Nashville and drew large crowds in tent meetings. In 1885 he drew the attention of Captain Tom Ryman who operated 35 steam boats on the Cumberland River for passengers, freight, bars and gambling. After he listened to Rev. Jones Captain Ryman "got religion." Upon leaving the crowded tent and seeing people outside who could not get inside he promised to build a large tabernacle in Nashville where Jones could preach to all. By 1890 Ryman had the Union Gospel Tabernacle built. Ryman had asked Rev. Jones to move to Nashville but Jones refused. The exhibit in the room showed the original Bible that Jones used in Nashville.
Rev. Jones went often to Nashville to hold revivals where he would preach in the center of the tabernacle (that only had one floor at the time.) He often complained of being crowded. In 1897 the Confederate Veterans wished to hold their biggest convention there. They contributed to have a second floor gallery built. After Captain Ryman died on December 23, 1904, Rev. Jones held a funeral service for him on Christmas day and asked the packed tabernacle if they agreed to have it renamed The Ryman Tabernacle. The audience of 4,000 rose and said "yes." In later years the building became the Ryman Auditorium home of the original "Grand Ole Opry" where country music was born and gave Nashville its "Music City" nickname.
A room was dedicated to Rebecca Ann Latimer Felton (1835-1930) who was also from Cartersville, GA in Bartow County. Her husband William Felton (1823-1909) was a member of the United States House of Representative and she ran his campaigns. She was a prominent woman in Georgia: a writer, lecturer, feminist, an advocate for prison reform, for women's suffrage and educational modernization, but unfortunately had also been a slave owner and a white supremacist. When a Georgia senator suddenly died before the general election in 1922 the GA Governor who was a candidate for that election chose Felton to serve as senator. Only 27 months after the 19th Amendment (giving women the right to vote) on November 21, 1922 Senator R. Felton was sworn in as the first female US Senator then served for one day. She was the first female senator for GA. (The second woman senator to represent Georgia in the US Senate came in January 2020 when Governor Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to fill the seat left vacant when the current senator became ill. However when Republican Loeffler ran for the Senate in November 2020 she was defeated by democrate Raphael Warnock.) The room contained Mrs. Felton furnishings, memorabilia, books and her guitar.
Some of her dresses were also exhibited. One of them, a black dress, is protected in a glass case. A sign above it states that around 1900 "Mrs. Felton was asked to make one of her numerous speeches in Atlanta. In desperation of what to wear and not having time for a trip to Atlanta, she took her curtains from the window and dyed them black. She then made the dress, added lace ribbons and fringed tassels ... and wore it with a taffeta petticoat." It also says that when Margaret Mitchell wrote "Gone with the Wind" she remembered her friend Rebecca Felton's dress and used it as an inspiration for Scarlet O'Hara's curtain dress in the book.
The rest of the rooms were bedrooms with some more bedrooms on the third floor.
The tour was now over. The two visitors returned to their camping on Lake Allatoona and the docent went to lunch. She invited me to stay and visit the grounds as long as I wished. The 3 1/2 acre property also includes a carriage house (that is used for weddings and parties,) a one-room school and a smokehouse. I left the house and walked around to the school house and carriage house. Please click on the collage so you can read the information panels.
There was no one around now and it was lovely walking under the huge magnolia trees with fragrant blooms. Some of those trees had grown so high over the decades that they would not fit into my photos.
Finally I was able to check all the roses in the garden - the reason really why I had driven to this house. Rev. Jones' wife Laura had planted a beautiful garden with 225 rose bushes (thus the name Rose Lawn.) Over the years and with neglect the roses were gone when Bartow County purchased the house and grounds. The GA Master Gardener Extension Volunteers (MGEV) helped to restore the garden with the return of 200 rose bushes. Because of the MGEVs work the Rose Lawn garden is considered a historical demonstration garden. The rose bushes are planted around the lawn with information panels. Most of the roses are "heirloom" roses, also known as "old garden" or "old-fashioned" or "heritage" or "historic" or "antique" roses - they belong to a class of old roses that existed before the introduction of the first Modern Rose "La France." (French rosarian Jean-Baptiste Guillot (1827-1893) introduced the pink rose cultivar "La France" in 1867. It is considered the first hybrid tea rose.) The heirloom roses bloom in early May. Most of the blooms were fading or already faded by the time I visited the garden in late May. I still took over 65 photos while trying to find some roses in bloom. This is the way the roses were indicated on small panels, for example the rose Safrano below (introduced in 1839.)
The old roses have such memorable names. Some in the garden are: Reine des Violettes (1860) on top in the photo below, and Melle. Franziska Kruger (1880.)
Others in the garden were: Monsieur Tillier (1881,) Mademoiselle de Sombreuil (1850,) Baronne Prevost (1842,) Bourbon (1800,) Perle d'Or (1884,) Etoile de Lyon (1876,) Reve d'Or (1869,) Maman Cochet (1893,) Mlle. la Comtesse de Leusse (1878,) General Schablikine (1878,) Duchesse de Brabant (1857) which was President Teddy Roosevelt's favorite rose - he wore it on his lapel.
When I drove back to Nashville last Sunday May 29, 2022, a nice surprise was awaiting - the lonely rose bush that had been planted by the side of my house had a bloom, and it was fragrant!

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Spring in Nashville and Atlanta ... and the French elections

With the weather so erratic, we had warm days in winter and freezing days in spring. Last January, soon after the Holidays, it snowed in Nashville. I was supposed to drive to Georgia, but waited. A week or so later, it snowed again - which is pretty unusual for Nashville. Below are pictures of the snow from my front porch, on the left, and back porch.
But then in early February it warmed up so much that my three year old's Saucer Magnolia (magnoliaxsoulangeana) in Nashville bloomed nicely.
Meanwhile when I returned to Georgia it looked like winter and was very foggy. The woods around the house looked ominous.
Then a couple of days later it was sunny and daffodils could be seen in many Georgian gardens.
Returning to Nashville, spring was gone and it snowed again.
A week later the warmth came back. Trees and shrubs were in bloom such as my Yoshino Cherry Tree and flowering quince shrub.
In Mid-April I returned to Georgia for a couple of weeks as I had to vote at the French Consulate in Atlanta. I could not vote in Nashville as there is no French Consulate there. The blooms on my azaleas were almost gone.
Several years ago my late husband and I found a tiny maple tree, about one foot tall, in our Georgia front yard. We transplanted it to a better area. I was surprised last week to see the tree was now taller than me.
The second tour of the French presidential election was on Sunday April 24, 2022, but because of the time difference the French overseas or living abroad had to vote on Saturday April 23, 2022. The Consulate General of France in Atlanta has jurisdiction over the U.S. Southeast for the states of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North and South Carolina and Tennessee. I already drove the 9 hours round-trip to Atlanta to vote for the US presidential election since I am a dual citizen (and my main home is still in Georgia,) so did it again for the French elections. The Consulate is located in the Buckhead area of Atlanta near the upscale Lenox Mall in a tower adjacent to the Mariott Hotel.
Early on Saturday April 23 I drove to Buckhead Atlanta (a 45 minutes drive.) Already there was a long line of voters waiting in the lobby of the tower. French IDs or passports were verified then small groups of voters were led to an elevator. Once on the 11th floor there was another line. Two small pieces of paper were given, one reading Macron and the other Le Pen. You proceeded into a small booth and placed your choice into an envelope. Then you inserted your envelope in a large clear box. Your name was crossed off the list of registered voters. Voila! Easy peasy. (Click on collage to enlarge.)
I had not seen so many French people in a long time. The French Consulate showed how many French people living abroad are registered to vote. The highest number is in Switzerland - 174,820, a small country the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. In the whole USA there are only 136,533 registered French voters - a small number considering that almost 200,000 US citizens live in France, which is smaller than the state of Texas.
This is the first time since I have been in the US that I have heard so much about a French election in the US news and media. I guess it was because of Marine Le Pen, the extreme far-right candidate. Here is a sampling of her platform: No more Muslim headscarves in public, to be sanctioned by the Police. All schoolchildren to be in uniforms. Catholic nativity scenes to be shown in all public places and only Catholic Holy Days to be allowed. Generous social services unavailable to foreigners unless they've held a job for five years and if not, they are to be returned to their home countries (bye bye long time Brit and US residents.) Limit French nationality to French born from French born parents only.
Le Pen would pull France out of NATO's military command, leave the Euro zone and reinstate the Franc, weaken the Western military alliance, get out of the EU, make a strategic rapprochement with Russia (oppose sanctions against Moscow) and "away from the US sphere of influence." An admirer of former President Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen copied his MAGA (make American great again) into "make France sovereign again." Her political brochures had showed her with Vladimir Putin; she obtained millions in loan from Russia for her campaign. She told the BBC: "The main lines that I defend are those defended by Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin." Below are some cartoons on Marine Le Pen. (Courtesy Franc-Tireur, Timeslive za, Charlie Hebdo and Irish Trinity News.)
The French Embassy in Washington, DC, showed the French election results per each French Consulate in this country. In Atlanta the results were Macron 87% le Pen 12%. The highest were in Boston, Macron 95.48% Le Pen 4.52% and the lowest in Miami, Macron 75% Le Pen 24%. It was a nice election spring day in Atlanta.
The Miami, Florida, results go with the territory where that state has one of the most extreme right wing government. My friends overseas may not know that lately Ron DeSantis, the Florida Governor, had a law passed, House Bill 1467, which allows books and textbooks to be banned in schools and school libraries. Anyone or a librarian providing "prohibited" material to a student could be charged with one felony per book. So far 200+ books, including classic or a book like "Who is Barack Obama?," have been banned in Florida and 74 math textbooks. When books are banned, students are curious and seek them out. Tennessee banned the Holocaust novel "Maus" from the classrooms and its sales went way up. Last Wednesday, Tennessee Representative Jerry Sexton said he would burn books that were considred inappropriate for school libraries. In 2021 more than 1,500 books were banned in the US. I have not heard of any library book killing a child, but since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 more than 300,000 students have experienced gun violence in schools. In 2021 alone 34,000 students were exposed to gun violence = so, why are guns not censored instead of children books?
There are no answers to such nonsense. But it is springtime, flowers are blooming again, days are getting longer, grass and plants are vibrant once more, birds are abundant, and trees are turning different shades of green. After two weeks clearing the Georgia house I would have liked to visit a public garden - maybe next time. Trees and weeds have grown so much in the backyard in Marietta since I partly moved to Nashville that you can barely see the lake in the backgrouond - see photo on left.
Pine trees have been a symbol of strength, steadiness, resilience and wisdom. Maybe to share such benefit I often sat in my backyard in the sun watching nature taking over the land and smelling the southern pine trees.
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