October 13, 2013
Rather than showing you the grayness of my foggy morning – it seems as if the mountains have disappeared – I much prefer to remember Summer, its alpine meadows, its colours, scents, tastes, all precious gifts that I hope you have enjoyed yourself too.
During a wonderful birthday party, a lot of delicious food was served , amongst which those small tomatoes of all shapes and shades just picked in the garden. My favorites were the dark red ones, almost purple. So sweet and juicy.
Lavender and parsley added an exquisite touch to the pieces of chicken and potatoes.
Beside various wines produced locally, we were offered a kind of “herbal water” served in a big glass jar. The cool water was flavored with branches of lemongrass, mint, rosemary, sage and even a few cherries. So refreshing !
As an extra gift, and not the least, Pierre’s birthday celebration was held on a superb “terrace with a view”. One you do not forget : the well-known vineyards of Lavaux over the Lake Léman, surrounded by the Alps.
Somehow it was also everyone’s birthday because of the reunion of dear friends as well as for the treats that had been prepared with love. The magnificent view was a fantastic gift. A Summer day to remember when Fall is at the door and some summits are already snow-capped. Oh well, Autumn will give us more colors, scents and tastes, won’t it ? More gatherings to look forward to.
Happy Sunday to all !
September 12, 2013
To say “goodbye” to Portugal and close this series of posts about my journey to Porto and surroundings, I would like to share with you some special moments, places, tastes, memories of here and there during a short and eventful week last May.
Vende se. For sale. An empty house full of memories of people. A house whose inhabitants may have left for various reasons. Lack of buyers for selling it to ? No means to repair it ? Moving to another city in search of a job ? Emigrating further away in Europe, the Americas, Africa ? One sees many such abandoned houses or closed down shops during these critical times for the Portuguese economy.
Art Nouveau style. A striking contrast. A lot of buildings of the early 20th century in Art Nouveau style, are still visible in Porto. This ancient coffee house has been closed but its prestigious façade and decoration remain. A memory of times gone.
Brazilian hot chocolate, probably the best I ever drank (and this is a Swiss telling you this Believe me, this creamy, tasty, full-flavored beverage is worth the detour.
Pastelleria (bakery), cakes, pastries and sweets are renowned in Portugal. You find bakeries everywhere offering an abundant choice of delicious sweets. Here in a street of Coimbra at the end of a folk festival.
Stamps. I like writing and choosing nice stamps for my postcards or letters. In a little village along the Douro river, a very nice young lady at the local Post Office went out of her way to choose all kinds of different stamps for me. In doing so she also loved practising her French, which I really appreciated. People’s kindness and friendliness were constant during my stay in Portugal.
Flowers. When and where you least expect them, they come at you through a gate, over an old wall, along a street. Bundles of colourful “flores“, highlighting any old stones.
Churches are numerous in Portugal, of all styles and epochs, simple or heavily decorated, often with azulejos. I chose to show this Porto skyline with you. No overpowering churches but present and beautiful, barely outlined in the setting sun. Thank you for having followed me during the Summer across my journey to Portuguese cities, gardens, river and other places I felt like sharing with you. I really appreciated your visits and comments.
April 8, 2013
On April 8th, I posted this blog about the colour green in a way of feeling closer to a Spring that was lazying somewhere but definitely not here ! Guess what ? One week later a friend of mine, Karen at
proposed one of her photo hunts : “Colors of your world”. The deadline is on Sunday, April 28th, please have a look at her blog if you feel like participating. I chose to send this post as my contribution to Karma’s challenge.
St Patrick’s Day has come and gone as well as the green wave that is associated with its celebration all over the world. Originally though it seemed to have been the blue colour. Green is the shade many of us long for at this Season in the Northern hemisphere. Winter is not in a hurry to give way to Spring this year. Personally I cannot dissociate green from Ireland. For having lived there years ago, I remember marveling at the infinite array of greens in the Emerald Isle.
It is a colour I use a lot when sewing. I find it relaxing. Like in this small scrappy quilt where I put together some Irish memories. Edna O’Brien’s “Mother Ireland” is the first non fiction and most personal book of the famous novelist. Her memoir (1976) includes seven essays written in her lyrical and sensuous voice. E. O’Brien wrote many other works (she is a playwright, poet and author of short stories) and had to see some of her work banned.
“Irish ? In truth I would not want to be anything else. It is a state of mind as well as an actual country. Perhaps it is that, the unmitigated challenge of landscape, of rock, of meadow, of woodland, of rain and of sheer desolating emptiness that makes people hurry there and hurry from it”.
There are magnificent black/white pictures in this book. They were taken specially to illustrate “Mother Ireland” by the acclaimed Irish photographer Fergus Bourke.
Another Irish writer and philosopher John O’Donohue, born in the West of Ireland, expressed so beautifully what the colour green meant for him in a book: “The Invisible Embrace of Beauty”. Here are some excerpts of a particular chapter entitled : “Green : The Colour of Growth”.
“One of my favourite images from childhood is of meadows. Often the sheep would be let in to graze there. When you opened the gate, you could almost feel the meadow breathing. It was absolutely carpeted with grass. The colour of this grass was so rich as to seem blue-green. The sheep needed neither introduction nor persuasion; they simply gave in and became instant addicts !”
“Gravity cannot keep it down; the call of light is always stronger”
March 29, 2013
Wishing you all a Very Happy Easter Weekend !
Last week, I received those “cascarones” decorated for me by Mariana, a dear friend in Texas. What a surprise and a pleasure to open a long box of 12 colourful eggshells ! Only one of them had not coped with the long travel over the pond. You can see it in the basket : half broken and filled with paper confetti. More information about this Latin American, Mexican tradition here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascar%C3%B3n
I wish I could have sent you Springful images of my surroundings. No way. As I write to you, it is snowing again and the rare flowers that I spotted a few days ago like snowdrops, crocuses, primroses, are now covered by a layer of snow that keeps growing. So, why not stay in tune with the “cascarones” and share pictures of a beautiful trip I did in May/June 2008 in South Texas. The vegetation was in full bloom and my friends’ gardens were enchanting. And cool to sit in.
Fina’s bougainvillea right outside my window.
Dora’s artistic tree in her magic garden.
The Canelas Bakery is “Serving Crystal City for three generations“. I imagine those tasty pastries are on my friends’ table on Easter Day, with a lot more delicious homemade food.
This is a painting created by Juan for his sister Mariana. For me it symbolizes the warm welcome I received in my friends’ home. The generosity of their kind heart. The creativity and variety of their tasty cuisine. The strong family links between all generations. Their luxuriant and inviting gardens. The unbelievable heat around midday when only a foreigner could be on the streets taking pictures…
Can you feel the heat under this clear and blue sky ?
This is probably one of my favourite pictures taken during my Texas journey. A wide, straight and endless road. A flat landscape (particularly in this area) and a big, huge sky. And, last but not least for a Swiss person, no mountains on the horizon. Thank you Juan, thank you to your dear family for making me feel at home in your hometown.
Feliz Pascua !
March 15, 2013
This is my contribution to a new photography assignment proposed by Scott Thomas: black-white photography. I find it always interesting to join in, visit other participants’ blogs, learning more about photography and seeing each one’s perception of a similar theme. March 20th, 2013, is the deadline to share your pictures.
All details are given here : http://viewsinfinitum.com/2013/03/06/assignment-24-black-white-photography/
Ninio, my Beagle, in one of his patient looks, waiting for the photography session to end and go for a walk. I converted this picture to see how my colourful dog (black, white and tawny) would look in B/W. I like his somewhat softer look and particularly the expression in his hazel eyes.
December 23, 2012
Sharing some snowy
JOYEUX NOEL, MERRY CHRISTMAS, FELIZ NAVIDAD, HYVAA JOULUA, FROEHLICHE WEIHNACHTEN, GLAEDELIG JUL, BUON NATALE
A beautiful little book “Au nom de la mère” or “In the name of the mother”. Erri de Luca tells about what is probably the most well-known story in humanity. The Italian author focuses on Miriàm, a young Jewish girl engaged to Iosef. Under his hand, the story of the Nativity is seen in the Hebraic context and is a praise of all mothers, body and soul. A wonderful read particularly during Christmas time.
« Grace is the superhuman force to face the world on one’s own, without any effort, to defy it… It is a prophet’s talent. It is a gift and you received it. You are full of grace”.
Iosef to Miriàm, Mary, Marie
If you would like to see more of this magnificent painting by Andrea Solario, “Madonna with the Green Cushion” ( part of it is pictured on the book cover), the following link leads you to Le Louvre Museum in Paris.
December 1, 2012
Last July my family celebrated my only and favourite sister’s birthday. It was special. A birthday with a round number, the type that is more striking than a yearly celebration, you know? We had planned a beautiful celebration for my sweet little sister. Each of us had a personal and particular idea for a gift. I had mine too but I needed everone’s help. By now, you should know what I had in mind
A quilt of course ! Here it is : our common project and my personal gift for Françoise’s birthday. Improvisation for the sewing part but not for the preparation ! When I asked family members and friends to give or send me one or two pieces of their used clothing, they did not know what I was up to (at least not all of them) but they joyfully agreed. The most difficult part was to get some used clothing from my sister herself. She was not meant to know anything about our project.
Spring and particularly Spring cleaning helped me. Some time in February I told Françoise of the great feeling I was experiencing in sorting out my wardrobe, getting rid of clothes I no longer wore even though I liked them a lot. Which I absolutely meant.
“What a good idea ! I think it’s time for me to do the same.” said my nice sister.
Taking a deep breath I told her : “Great ! why don’t you send some of your used clothes to me ? I know what to do with them”.
And this is how it all started. After a few weeks my sewing room looked like a “souk” or African market. I was a bit panicked before sorting out the clothes I could use or not (too beautiful to bring my scissors close to them). The leftover garments I gave to an “Emmaus” charity shop.
The overall blue material in the quilt comes from a pair of linen trousers my sister wore and the grey stripes used be a shirt belonging to her companion.This silk blouse and black velvet pullover, for instance, were amongst the favourite clothes worn by Françoise. I hesitated a long time before cutting through them but I knew she would love to find pieces of them again on her quilt. Underneath the block, Ninio-the-Beagle is “stuck” in total admiration
A precious block made of one of my mother’s aprons bordered by a piece of her embroidered handkerchiefs. The hook belonged to my grandfather and the heart is sewed in one of my grandmother’s dish cloths. The three of them were very present in our hearts all along the birthday celebration.
Precious : one of my sister’s best friend clothing, her checked black and white trousers and rose t-shirt. My sister immediately remembered those clothes.
“We all love you, Françoise” (title of the quilt)
Françoise was So surprised ! and delighted. Such excitement as she tried to recognize what belonged to whom, including her. A lot of fun. And a happy quilting that brought back memories, places, events. Sewing together all kinds of materials was not exactly easy but I enjoyed the slightly wonky look of this quilt. Different.
November 22, 2012
HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all, here and there, who are celebrating and sharing !
The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway —
Thanksgiving comes again!
Wishing you a beautiful day !
Peace, Love, Good Health and Joy.
October 10, 2012
Today, October 10, is the 10th World Day for the Abolition of Death Penalty. Many events of all kinds are organised all over the world for this occasion. This year the emphasis is put on the progress that has been accomplished for the past ten years regarding a universal abolition of death penalty and also on the challenges to be taken up in the future.
This quilt is a common project created in fact for the International Day against Torture and Death Penalty, I sewed it a few years ago. The many embroidered squares of cotton were sent to me by members of various Human Rights organisations in my area, namely Amnesty International, ACAT, Lifespark. Each plain cotton square has been stitched with the name of an inmate, one who is sentenced to death. Behind each name there is a life, its history and a fate which in several cases has already come to its end.
This quilt took me months to put together. It is filled with so many various thoughts and emotions. It was definitely not an easy quilt to sew. Nevertheless it was one I wanted to create with others for this special day, as a mark of our engagement for this cause.
As I sewed along, my thoughts went to these inmates, men and women sentenced to death, waiting for years in their cells, a respite between life and death. In one month, one year, ten years, even longer often, they will be escorted to the death chamber. Some prisoners receive a brief letter about their scheduled day and time of death. Others will never learn about their planned execution but in the end, all of them have to follow the guards to a chamber or a yard.
How could I not think also of the victims and their shattered families and friends ? I thought of their loved ones whose life had been changed forever in the most devastating way. Never to forget. Some families have found inner peace in a forgiving process. They are members of reconciliation groups, like “Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation” http://www.mvfr.org/. I truly admire each and everyone of them, as I believe forgiveness is probably the most powerful action a human being can accomplish.
Then I also thought of other families, often forgotten, their distress and deep sadness is just as immense. They are the prisoners’ families, innocent of any crime and yet having to face this ultimate punishment : the scheduled execution of a spouse, a son or daughter, a Dad, a family member or a friend.
What about some of these death row inmates who had been claiming their innocence for years and who were proved right, only too late ?
So many thoughts went into every stitch of this quilt. Such inexpressible feelings under the embroidered names of those men and women whose life or mental state went very wild, violent and uncontrollable : feelings of despair, regrets, shame, revolt, remorse, indescribable sadness, loss, hopelessness although at times Hope would shine dimly in their borrowed time.
Yet, there is Hope that one day a universal abolition of death penalty will prevail. I truly believe that Justice, anywhere, can use other means than a penal revenge to protect society from dangerous criminals instead of killing them. Is killing a good response and example for showing that killing was wrong in the first place ? “An eye for an eye and the world is blind” said Gandhi.
I expressed my Hope in choosing colourful materials, mainly African, for sewing together the various embroidered squares. As if instinctively I wished bright shades could help healing painful scars in the heart of all those concerned, in an humble and compassionnate way.
Many thanks to all of you who joined me in this project.
We were out in the recreation yard, just walking in our separate cages, exchanging thoughts. After they came to take F. back to his cell, I waited for my escort but he didn’t come. I guess he forgot about me.
I walked about until I ended up by the gate. A nice breeze was coming through the bars. The sun was shining and I closed my eyes and stood there, facing it.
The rays warmed my skin. It felt good, like when I used to stand on the beach. My eyes still closed, I saw oranges, reds and yellows, and I was somewhere else.
It was still and I could hear a bird chirping somewhere in front of me. My eyes still closed, I reached towards it but my fingers collided with the gate instead and I was at once brought back.
Still, It felt good to have been away, if for only a moment.”
More information on this World Day for the Abolition of Death Penalty here :
(Human Rights Education Associates)
September 8, 2012
Some weeks just go by their own quiet way and rhythm. I do not mean a routine because there seems to be something special in each day. In some weeks though there are events out of the ordinary, people and places you will remember. The week described here was one of those.
Monday is sometimes a day when I try cooking new recipes. Pies or quiches are amongst my favourites. Some of them I find reading blogs such as Tammy’s. Her blog is not only about food but also about community supported agriculture. Well worth reading.
The recipe is about a tomato pie. Since I had a big and beautiful zuchini waiting to be picked in the garden, I added some of it in the pie (grated and grilled a little). This is the only change I made. It tasted really delicious, Thank you very much, Tammy.
On Tuesday I had to go to town and found a quiet lane to walk for a while with Nino-the-beagle. Guess whom we met ? Another beagle looking lonely behind a fence. What do two beagles say to each other when they meet : “Let’s escape together and go hunting !”
Wednesday morning. Brilliant clouds welcomed me as I opened the shutters. “O, beautiful golden clouds, what will you bring us on this day” ? As it happened, the warm morning turned into a stormy day. A rather temperamental weather this Summer but a rain that was well needed too.
A short break after work on Thursday afternoon. As we were sitting on a bench with a friend, a “school-boat” was floating down the canal. A lady was steering the little boat back to its mooring. Not as simple as it looks and she did very well.
On Saturday morning at our friend’s home, we were awaken by a ballet of helicopters. Every third minute or so, a helicopter would fly over the area, fill a big bucket of water (700 liters) and pour it down on the forest which had caught fire during the night. It took the pilots two whole days to stop it. Nobody was injured and the damage could be stopped in time.
Sunday was a happy celebration day ! Family and friends gathered around Alima, our youngest niece. The sun shone brightly for her. There were prayers, songs, dance and lots of African food and music. Another change of scenery in this particular week. Alima was quite comfortable and relaxed dancing in her proud grandmother’s arms.
Guess what I did on Sunday ? After a rest following the previous long day, I sat down on a lovely terrace between sky and earth, took my pen and some nice stationary; I wrote to a dear friend all about my recent week. Internet is not part of her world and we both enjoy exchanging letters every month.