I help out a representation of "The Kitchen Maid"
a famous Dutch masterpiece by
Johannes Vermeer (painted 1658)
There isn't a very direct way to get from Provence from Istanbul. I flew first to Amsterdam, where I was able to experience an hours worth of my Dutch heritage. In the very nice Amsterdam airport, there is a small gallery of paintings from the Rijksmuseum, the famous Dutch Art Museum full of Van Goghs.
Isn't that a fabulous idea - to have an art gallery in an airport? To share the very best of one's culture with people who are stuck in an building with no place to go? I'm surprised there aren't similar art galleries in airports all over the world. Good job, Dutch people, you made me proud. And you made me want to come back.
From Amsterdam, I then flew to Marseilles. It was an utterly gorgeous day without a cloud in the sky. Southern France has the soft, balmy Southern California-type weather only without the pollution. When the plane flew out over the Mediterranean and the Southern France coastline of majestic rocky fjords, it was simply breathtaking to take in the coastline, the sea, the sailboats and yachts, and the sun-washed city of Marseilles. I had no idea there was such a pretty, craggy coastline to Southern France.
I knew Robin would not be there right away to pick me up, having never once arrived on time to get me at any airport in the world. There is a comfort in knowing someone so well. I knew eventually she would show up and I would no longer have to loiter around the lobby, sneaking peaks at the amazing weather outside.
Robin and her husband live in Singapore now full-time where Robin has started a new job as a Senior International Government Affairs Advisor for a large oil company. She has her hands full between her new executive position, two daughters, and her husband's health care. Robin's husband has been recovering the last couple years from the surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy involved with having a brain tumor.
While my friend Robin employs a terrific Filipino man to help her physically care for her 6'4" husband, I wanted to give my dear friend lots of love and appreciation and make sure someone was taking care of her. We had last seen each other in Prague when she came to visit for some serious girlfriend time and I dragged her to the Museum of Communism rather than letting her see the art she wanted to see (hey, she worked for the State Department then, I was doing my duty as an American citizen).
La MourradeEventually, my beloved friend came to the airport and we packed ourselves off for the trip to Provence and her fairy wonderland home "La Mourrade." Robin and Jim rent their home out much of the summer, when they do get to spend time there, they practically cry leaving the place, life is so beautiful there.
My bedroom window
Overlooking the terrace, the Lubéron,
and the spectacular mountain painted by Cézanne,
Mt. Sainte-VictoireAlong with their spectacularly-sited La Mourrade provencal home, this is the beautiful lunch Robin had prepared that greeted me upon arrival:
Oysters on the Half Shell
A fresh, healthy Provençal salad
Grilled Sardines Stuffed With Lemon
A life-long friend
is a blessing.
I am truly grateful for
my friend Robin.
with Black Currants
and a sprig of homegrown mint
A beautiful cappuccino to end the meal
Later that night, while enjoying champagne poolside, Robin asked, "Now aren't you glad you came to Provence?" Yes, I was. It was the start of an amazing week.
Poolside at La Mourrade