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.
August 28, 2013
Coimbra, the ancient city situated on a hill by the river Mondego, South West of Porto. An urban center best known for its university (1537), one of the oldest in Europe but also for its monuments, churches, museums, parks and intense cultural life centered around the university. A town of contrasts between the ancient upper city on the hill and the low city, more modern and commercial by the river. Coimbra’s small cloisters, hidden gems, shadowed and secluded gardens where it feels so good to sit and enjoy a peaceful moment.
Coimbra’s well-known cabaret “Fado ao Centro” where we sat waiting for musicians (all students) to perform their songs (fado) of hope, love, longing, sadness about emigrating. Songs of protest and rebellion in troubled times too.
Coimbra, Santa Clara quartier, away from the busy city, the prestigious monuments and buildings. A little house on the hill, shutters closed to keep away the midday sun, a deserted terrace illuminated by a flamboyant bush of hibiscus.
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.
December 3, 2011
How would you feel if suddenly your world would look in yellow or red or blue or whatever colour you cannot imagine right now ? Would it change anything for you ?
This is not a recent picture. Since the time I took this portrait of a lady deeply concentrated on her work, I could not figure out what exactly she was doing. I am always shy to take pictures of people in the street. The scene was so special, the mood in her workshop too, I just had “to click” from the street. From the various phials, pens and tools I had a quick glimpse at, I imagine she was doing some sort of calligraphy. What would you say she was making ? What do you see ?
Last Summer I visited a gallery in my hometown. There were two artists who presented their artworks. A lady (Mathilda Raboud) who had created some funny, cheeky and unusual ceramic angels and an Italian artist from Florence, Rosario Memoli. He had worked with all sorts of textiles that he either sewed or stuck on a white canvas. It was abstract art, a kind of reflection on the way space is organised between immobility and movement.
I know it is abstract art… but I could not help seeing it differently. Or rather finding a meaning to his particular creations. Laugh if you want but it is what I seem to see in the above picture : a proud rooster is chasing away a black and white sheep while his favourite polka dot hen is quietly nibbling at a flower
Same sort of tragedy with this other artwork by Memoli… I see a sort of hen (yes, again) and a strange mythological creature with a dangerous looking dented tail. They seem to be arguing. Could the reason be the many colourful seeds in the upper right corner that both are coveting ? See the way my imagination takes over sometimes ?;)
For a long time artists have shown us how to see and think differently. They taught us that there are as many ways as there are people since we all see everything differently. A liberating gift, isnt’ it ?
Rosario Memoli’s artworks bore no title. Maybe the artist intended to free our imagination ? The writer Eugène Ionesco wrote in his book “Découvertes” :
“An artwork is a series of interrogations. Since there is a construction, one can consider a work as an architecture of interrogations. Every artwork must be brought into question”.
August 7, 2011
Summer is a bouquet of wild violets catching the late afternoon sunrays
Summer is the scent and sweet taste of fresh raspberries just picked in the garden.
Summer is the Season when straw hats bloom under the heat.
Summer is another beautiful opportunity to play “cache-cache” (hide and seek) in the meadows with your friend.
Summer is a time for many celebrations.
In Summer roses of all shades and shapes love to blossom.
What is yours ?
May 27, 2011
How do I know about it ? That is a real nice story. One that happened thanks to Internet, quilting, a painting class of 15 students between 15 and 18 and their dedicated art teacher, Renee Sonka, in the heart of the Midwest, Minnesota.
From Africa to Switzerland and on to Minnesota/USA
or how African fabrics are inspiring and travelling !
You may remember this quilt of mine, an African mosaic I posted on January 2009 as I started this blog. It is a logcabin pattern made with countless scraps of fabrics I brought back home after a stay in Africa with my family.
The art teacher, R. Sonka, had a particular project in mind for her painting class. It was entitled : AFRICAN TEXTILES as inspiration for mixed media paintings. The designed plans were to study the textiles, infuse mixed media, think about subject and meaning, become the composer, develop sketches and realize one’s idea !
In addition the students were to create a larger collaborative painting where each of them would be responsible for small sections of the whole. Together with the picture of the quilt, I had also posted a detail of it. This is what the students chose to create painted versions of sections of my quilt.
This is the collaborative painting of a section of my quilt ! I cannot express how honored, admirative and touched I am as I look at the work of those 15 talented students. They used acrylic paint on canvas. Never would I have imagined that my quilt could be such a source of inspiration. It is a beautiful project and you can all be very proud of all you achieved !
The other three pictures represent individual compositions designed by students. More inspiration from patterns, textures, colours found in African textiles. They used acrylic paint on plywood, some include other materials such as fabric, cardboard and raffia.
Panel created by Greta Gangestad
Panel created by Annette
The art teacher, R. Sonka, sent me all those pictures, for which I am very grateful and happy to share with you. Thank you Renee for all your mails and details; without them I would probably not have been able to explain well enough the development of this great project.
This is the school Art Show that represents the drawing, painting and ceramics classes. A beautiful compilation of weeks of work, individual and collaborative. I like this concept very much.
Here is a link about the Art Show and the Mounds Park Academy in Saint Paul/MN.
May 24, 2011
Scott Thomas Photography’s challenge for this month is about “Your hometown history”.
My hometown is in another state but surely a “hometown” is also the place one feels good in : my close family lives here as well as some very dear friends. I have enjoyed practising many activities over the years since my family and I decided to settle down in this town. I love the area we live in now almost as much as the one I was born in. My hometown then would be Fribourg in the French speaking part of Switzerland. Halfway between Berne, our capital and the picturesque area near the Lake of Geneva, not far from my “real” hometown in the Alps.
As for history… this subject has been very much part of my life thanks to my paternal grandfather, Ulysse, who was a self-taught historian. A long while ago, I wrote a post about him :
This is the old part of Fribourg on a rather grey day. The medieval town was was built in 1157 along a river. The Sarine river borders two areas in my country: the French and the German parts. Fribourg (town/canton) is one of the 26 cantons/states of the Swiss Confederation. Almost one third of his 30000 inhabitants are students. Several academies, high schools and a bilingual university attract many young people from here and abroad.
This medieval town used to be surrounded by ramparts. Most of those walls were destructed over the centuries. A few of them remain and have been restored as well as one heavy wooden gate that would close the town at night.
A colourful old house that used to be a military arsenal. Nowadays people seem to be more peaceful in town and the arsenal became “Arsen’Alt”. The large painted house is meant to bring people together in the Alt district. It promotes local community life for all those wishing so: kindergarten, various courses, craftwork, cultural activities, meetings, movies, birthday parties, etc… An inter-generation leisure complex.
By chance I happened to be in the old town when a photography exhibition took place on a square. It was all about the people who lived and are living now in this part of our town. Maybe one of these two ladies recognized herself or someone she knew on a picture ?
Pictures from today and yesterday; remembering history in a district that used to be a deprived area inhabited by large families coming from the country in search of a job in town. Years later many of those same families left their old houses that had become run-down for apartment houses in the upper part of the town. Ancient houses have been restored and are now sought-after… Times are changing.
Just an old pub about one of my idols ;) “Elvis et moi”. The owner must have the complete collection of The King’s LP’s ! A real fan and a charming lady. Pity the pub was closed as I took this picture.
Many museums are worth visiting in Fribourg. A favourite of mine is the Gutenberg Museum. A whole post would be necessary to show you its wonders. I will write more about it some time. For now let’s meet the writer and the bookbinder…
… as well as two Turkish musicians who were practising folk music in a garden outside the museum: “Our landlady does not allow us to play in the apartment !”. They were preparing for a traditional celebration with members of their community, an important one in our city.
Are you tired after the visit ? Then why not take a break on the lawn or on this stone (molasse) bridge. From there you will be able to have another look at the old city, like in the first picture. Fribourg or Freiburg in German is a town of bridges over the river. Bridges over cultures, languages and times. Bridges that join rather than divide. It is a small town you may well enjoy visiting if you are around someday.
Thanks Scott for allowing me to use pictures of various “times”. I loved this theme too.
May 14, 2011
There is a new photography challenge at Scott Thomas’ “Views Infinitum” :
Here is what Scott writes about it :
“This month’s assignment will be about Hometown History. Specifically, Your Hometown as in year’s past. Whether your hometown has centuries of history or less than a hundred years, you can find places, people, things and stories about its past.
Please, have your photos posted on or before Midnight (your time), Wednesday, May 25, 2011.”
April 22, 2011
This beautiful quilt is Not mine. It was designed, sewed and quilted by Sherri Lynn Wood, a great artist, and I am very happy to share it with you.
A few days ago I had the surprise to be given an award by Sherri Lynn Wood. A “Gorgeous Blogger’s” award ! How touched and honored I feel !
To me, Sherri Lynn’s magnificent quilts suggest “freedom” in her choice of colours, patterns and general design. I love the way she creates movement in them. A colourful dance. Sherri Lynn also does Craft Therapy and developed the “Passage Quilting” (for the bereavement process); something I have started to do in memory of my own mother who loved sewing so much. Visiting Sherri’s blog is an encouragement in many ways in one’s life. Thanks again for the award and for all you share with many.
Here is a link to Sherri Lynn’s creative and inspirational blog that I always visit with much pleasure.
In receiving this award I was asked to answer a few questions :
When did you start your blog ?
What do you write about ?
I write mainly about my interests and passions : nature, reading, quilting, photography, travels. I enjoy posting pictures of my area, moments of my day and thoughts. Just sharing life.
What makes this special ?
What has been and still is special about blogging are the contacts that are created with other bloggers. The pleasure I feel in connecting and sharing with friends and visitors; their comments are always a bonus to the initial post I write and I would like to thank all of them here.
What made you start writing ?
Simply the love of writing. I always seem to write either for me (journal), for others, to penfriends or for causes I have been engaged in. Hardly a day passes without me sending a card or a snail mail letter. Writing this blog is a different experience; it is also a way to keep in touch with the English language since I am French speaking.
What would you change in your blog ?
The appearance maybe ? As I am not a good technician, I like the simplicity of this particular blog though. I am happy when I notice that some of the bloggers who started visiting me are creating links with some of my contacts. This I would never want to change Connections and communication are the path to a better understanding between us.
I have met many “Gorgeous Bloggers” since I started this blog and there are many more I am not aware of. It is a very difficult choice to name only five blogs for this award. Anyway here are some I just love visiting :
Grace and her love for fabrics, bright colours and artistic journals, an artist who will enchant you with her wonderful creativity.
Janice has many talents that range from beautiful photography to needlework, quilting, music, reading… A very creative lady.
Robert´s photography of “his” Australia is like a dream that would lead you through infinite space, way beyond the ocean and the endless sky of Queensland.
Bernie is an amazing and generous person who shares with us an incredible variety of uncommon and interesting subjects found here and there on the net. Always something new to discover in his blog.
I love visiting Amy-Lynn’ blog; she is a wonderful observer, writer and photographer of Nature in Nova-Scotia. A Gorgeous Blogger indeed !
January 6, 2011
Walking in the garden a few days after Christmas. I was enjoying a fresh and early morning sun as I spotted a branch of blackberry, shaped like a heart. A wild and stubborn bush, not ready to give in to Winter. The persistent branch made me think of this past Summer bounty and of the delicious marmelade waiting on the kitchen table for the family breakfast.
Fleeting images of particular moments during the Holiday Season. I realize that the grandfather who once was as tall as his grandsons looked now small and frail. Emotion. A moment of love shared between generations, smiles and looks of complicity that belong to the three of them only. A wonderful bond.
My activities will not resume until mid-January. These days after Christmas are “in slow-motion”. Remembering family celebrations, animated talk around the table, gifts being offered, a surprise for everyone. Each family member had decided to offer a gift to one person only chosen by drawing lots. Each one kept the secret until Christmas Day. What an excitement as the time for sharing gifts came ! I was so happy that mine was meant for my Dad! I offered him a soft warm fleece jacket in his favourite colour, grey/blue. He loved it and is wearing it almost every day since Christmas
Sidney Poitier’s spiritual autobiography is one the best I have read in a long time. “The Measure of a Man” is the story of his life from his birth on Cat Island in the Bahamas until his recognition as a great actor in Hollywood. When he was about 12, S. Poitier told his sister : “When I grow up, I want to go to Hollywood and become a cowboy “. He had just seen his first movie in Nassau, a cowboy one of course. In 1963, S. Poitier was the first black actor to win the Academy Award for best actor for his great performance in Lilies of the Field. He also received the Life Achievement Award for an outstanding career and humanitarian accomplishment.
Reading his memoirs is like having a worthwhile conversation with an older family member, his words are powerful, reflective, generous, humane and so moving. It makes you look closer at the foundations of your own life.
Looking forward to even more reading. Family and friends know me… and I received several books:
The Amish Quilts, 1870-1930, showing many reproductions of quilts from private collections in Switzerland; there are also some very interesting chapters about the origin and history of the Amish.
Matthieu Ricard, “Spiritual Paths”, a small anthology of some of the most beautiful Tibetan writings. To be read slowly too.
“Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time. I have already started reading it and can hardly stop…
“The Rothko Chapel” by Domique de Menil. With her husband, John, Dominique founded the inter-religious Chapel in Houston/Texas in 1971. The de Menil’s dream was for the Chapel to promote interfaith dialogue, human rights and the arts. I am so grateful for this gift, a beautiful souvenir of a memorable visit of this Chapel some years ago.
From Barbara, my English quilting friend, I received the loveliest Desk Diary you can imagine !
More gratefulness. To Marie, http://ancientcloth.wordpress.com/ my inspiring and creative friend; she sews and expresses herself beautifully in her quilts. Marie sent me those colourful parcels.
Wonderful handmade gifts and special fabrics I look forward to sewing in my quilts. Precious presents from here and there. Thank you so very much, Marie ! All is truly appreciated. My thoughts are with you.
January will be a slow month for me. As my friend Marah wrote on a beautiful card : “Never let the urgent crowd out the important”.