THE STACKS Travel Diary

Pi & Croissants


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On Today’s Menu:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
** Share a slice
of Pi Pie!
** Linger to ponder a few Parisian sights, circa 2017.
** Savor a last ½ cup on a trip to the Loire Valley, circa 1989.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

First Sip:

Brother, if you can’t paint in Paris, you’d better
give up and marry the boss’s daughter.
Back home everyone said
I didn’t have any talent.
They might be saying the same thing over here,

but it sounds better in French.

– Jerry Mulligan, played by Gene Kelly
in An American in Paris (1951),
written by Alan Jay Lerner.

Slice of Pi:

Stress cannot exist in the presence of pie.
― David Mamet

Pi Day is March 14.

Because the date 3/14
(using the American style of writing month/day)
is like the mathematical constant pi
which begins 3.14…

Rumor is that the earliest official celebration of Pi Day
was at San Francisco’s Exploratorium, where they measured,
sliced, and ate many fruit pies on March 14, 1988.

I’m afraid I don’t know which clever teacher
of which of my kids came up with this one—but ready or not—
Here we go…

Pi Day Songs
(sung to the tune of Jingle Bells!)

♪ ♫
Pi day songs, all day long,
Oh, what fun it is!
To sing a jolly pi day song
in a fun math class like this…

Circles in the snow,
Around and round we go.
How far did we have to run?
Diameter times pi!

Pi day songs, all day long,
Oh, what fun it is!
To sing a jolly pi day song
in a fun math class like this!

Or—if you’d like your pi with a side of jazz,
Here’s something from Lucy Kaplansky called “A Song About Pi”

* ** Happy Pi Day !! ** *

Linger Awhile:

I’ve been thinking this week about ways of seeing.
I once heard my father-in-law Manny say,
Everybody should take a drawing class.

When I asked him why, he said something like,
Drawing can teach you a way to see what’s around you:
Angles and surfaces, light and shadow.
Drawing will help you
look at the world more carefully from then on.

In her poem Leaving the Tate,
New Zealand poet Fleur Adcock talks about the way
seeing art at London’s Tate Museum made her look at the
scenes and views of her daily life as if
they, too, were works of art—
that “indoor pictures” in a museum help us
to see “outdoor pictures” all around us.
In other words, like Manny said to me:
Seeing art changes the way we see the world.

Curious how these outdoor pictures
didn’t exist before you’d looked at the
indoor pictures, the ones on the walls.
But here they are now…queuing up
for the
viewfinder your eye’s become.

– from Leaving the Tate
by Fleur Adcock

Adcock ends her poem with these lines:

“…Art multiplies itself.
Art’s whatever you choose to frame.”

You can read the whole poem—
(or hear it read and discussed by the poet!)
at Poetry Archive:

I always learn something new when I come to Paris.
Specifically, museums in Paris never fail
to teach me about a new favorite artist I’d never heard of.

This week the museum was the Musée de Montmartre
and my new favorite artist is Suzanne Valadon.

I spent an afternoon in the neighborhood of Montmartre—
a place I’d often heard about, but had never visited before.

It was fun to wander through, looking at the shops, riding the funicular.

Quick aside:
I said to B,
‘I wonder how much tickets to that cost?’
He went to investigate and came back saying,
‘It’s part of the Metro system. I think we can
use our subway tickets.’ Sure enough—
our Metro tickets worked!

The views from Montmartre are wonderful.

I overheard a woman with an English accent say to her friends,
‘Oh, come this way. Here’s a view of Lady Eiffel.’

View of ‘Lady Eiffel’ from Montmarte

As B and I were making our somewhat-lackadaisical way through the streets of Montmartre, we decided to try the museum—without knowing anything more than its name, which we’d read on the neighborhood map.

By the time we got there it was after 4pm, which left us less than 2 hours before they close up tight at 6pm sharp.

We were going to have to hurry a bit, going through…

Dance at Bougival
by Auguste Renoir

…which was tough! Because
Musée de Montmartre is so charming!

It was fun reading about all the artists who had lived there.

Renoir first moved to Montmartre because, being on the outskirts of Paris, the rents were cheap!
And I guess he started a trend.

During the Belle Époque period
(which was around 1870 to 1914),
many artists lived and worked in Montmartre, including:

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, composer Erik Satie, and later American expatriates like poet Langston Hughes.

At the museum, I loved all the tie-ins
of paintings to place—
the gardens, buildings, and objects in familiar paintings were here to see in real life. ++

For example…

There is
“The Swing”

which is a 1876 painting by Auguste Renoir,
painted here in these gardens.


here is the swing
in the garden of
Musée de Montmarte,
in the same spot where Renoir painted.

Another example…

There is
“Les Jardins de la rue Cortot a Montmartre”

which is a 1922 painting by
Suzanne Valadon.
It shows her husband reading
under a gazebo
in the gardens.

here is
the gazebo
in the gardens
of Musée de Montmartre
in the same spot where Valadon painted,
and where I took this photo
of my patient husband reading.

Suzanne Valadon’s atelier and apartment 

My favorite part of Musée de Montmartre was seeing
Suzanne Valadon’s studio because it was so evocative.
Of a time and place.
Of one woman’s work-a-day life.

Interesting note!
Before becoming an artist herself,
Suzanne Valadon worked as a model.
For instance, she is the female dancer in the
Renoir painting ‘Dance at Bougival.’
(See above.)

Another day, we walked for miles through off-and-on rain,
and found the Rodin Sculpture Garden.

In the gardens of Musée Rodin

The combination of grey skies, black sculpture, and early spring flowers was so striking.

The weather was much nicer the day I took a walking tour called the Women of Paris. The tour was created and is run by a woman named Heidi Evans, who worked for years as a traditional tour guide but grew tired of talking about so many men and almost no women. For about two years now, she’s offered tours exploring women’s roles in history, literature, and theater.

I went on the Sugar and Spice tour, which emphasizes women writers. +++

To me, the most interesting parts were the stories about Colette, George Sand, and Sylvia Beach. Well, that and the chou à la crème…

Stops for sweets were included in the tour!

Having just watched the Colette movie (2018, with Keira Knightley) on the plane ride over, I was especially prepared to hear stories about Colette!

I can’t quite figure out a translation for the Colette quote
that’s on the plaque outside her former home.
Something about a place being
darkly attractive yet stifling to the soul.

“Half-Cup More”

The first time I came to Paris was
almost exactly 30 years ago.

B and I were still newlyweds. We stayed in a campground in Versailles, slept in a tent, cooked meals on a camp stove, and visiting Paris meant a 20-minute train ride….

Here’s an excerpt of my travel diary from that trip
in April 1989, about one day when we ventured
out in the opposite direction.

Me in 1989

We took the train down to Orléans. We rented bicycles there and biked along the banks of the Loire River. The day was mostly fair, a few times it threatened rain, so we were afraid to venture too far, but it only sprinkled on us once.

The countryside was very pretty. Fields carved into small sections: grape, then gold wheat intermingled with red poppies, then a line of tall dark trees.

There were very nice bike paths along the river. We saw two rabbits and a family of seven ducklings feeding among the waterlilies. Sometimes we rode along levees with water on both sides of us. It was on one of these levees that we stopped for a picnic. A very pretty setting.

Take-Away Box

Prof B in 2013

When we do return, it shall not be like other travelers,
without being able to give one accurate idea of anything.
We will recollect what we have seen.
Lakes, mountains, and rivers shall not be
jumbled together in our imaginations;
nor, when we attempt to
describe any particular scene,
will we begin quarreling
about its relative situation.

– Elizabeth Bennet
in Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

Thank you for reading!
Kelly J Hardesty

Thoughts? Questions?
Scroll down to the endand you can leave me a note!
Always so lovely to hear from you.

You Can Read More…


photo credits:
All photos are by me.
Except the the two photos of me
those are by Prof B.

Renoir’s Dance at Bougival
is my photo of a magnet that my mom
had on her fridge for years.

+++ I highly recommend Heidi Evan’s
Women of Paris walking tours

++ Here’s the website for the
small-but-charming Musée de Montmarte


Please note:
Whenever you click on ‘Post Comment’ your comments always come to me first. Then I post them below.
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© Kelly J Hardesty 2024

2 thoughts on “Pi & Croissants”

  1. I love that Pi Day was first celebrated at our very own SF Exploratorium. Hurray for the creative, awesome science geeks who are always so friendly and helpful there! Also, I’ve had the pleasure of riding the historic funicular in LA with a close friend who lives there. It, too, is just the price of a regular train ride.

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