Summer reading

July 5, 2017

Spring has come and gone bringing sun, rain and even frost that jeopardized, even destroyed many cultures (vineyards and fruits especially).  A great loss for farmers. June went by with temperatures that were as hot as in August (30-35°C – 90-100°F). Now here comes July, a time for holidays, rest or travel,  some walking and…reading. Let me share with you some of the books I chose to bring with me up in the alpine area where I am staying right now. Nature and Ecology have been very talked and written about all over the world recently. So I thought I might as well know more about it and read the followings books.books summer 171.jpg“What a Plant knows”  (or How plants experience life) by Daniel Chamovitz

“The Hidden Life of TREES” by Peter Wohlleben

“The Four Elements”, Reflections on Nature, by John O’Donohue.

For my recent birthday I received a very pretty and detailed guide, with beautiful drawings and  texts about a “Nature Guide to the Mountains”. It has been written and drawn by a group of passionate people who, after having published for years a magazine about nature for young people, decided to go a step forward and publish this precious little book which is both helpful and very informative.

Last but not least, I got for myself another great guide to learn how to draw  animals, flowers and plants in 135 ways ! Imagine that. Drawing is something I really never did since  my children and I sat around the kitchen  table and started drawing something that one of us had proposed to do. And… I was not really the best one of the three although it was great fun. So, I thought it was  high time to try doing better, right ?

DSCN1485.JPGIn the first book I already read, “What a Plant Knows” by D. Chamovitz, the author does not define  ” a vegetal intelligence”  about plants. His question is rather :

“Are plants aware ?” and in fact he writes that they are. “They are actually aware of the world around them and of their visual environment, aware of aromas, aware of being touched, aware of their past”.DSCN1492.JPGNext time you walk through a park or to the woods, ask yourself: “What does this yellow flower see ?  Or what does this grass smell ? DSC03837.JPG“Touch the branches of a beech, knowing that the tree will remember it was touched”. I found this book by Daniel Chamovits fascinating and really enlightening. It definitely brings a new light on my daily walks, makes me slow down and look more closely at plants, flowers, Nature and its wonders. And feel grateful for all our planet offers to us.

Wishing you a beautiful Summer, wherever you are.

Gifts of love

February 14, 2016

I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day !

This small heart,  made of joyful scraps weaved together like a tapestry of friendship and love between us all, is my gift for you. I had so much pleasure sewing it slowly, seeing how simple stitches could create such movement on the various materials (cotton and wild silk). This is just the beginning of a new technique I discovered in a book by Claire Wellesley-Smith “Slow Stitch” (mindful and contemplative textile art).

DSC02044.JPGMany Valentine’s gifts of all kinds are shown in our shops. I chose a window presenting books for children. Love stories with happy endings, questions like “What is Love” ? and many more tales about those unforgettable friendships with a beloved dog, a horse or a rabbit.Maybe these books will remind you of those of your childhood or the ones you read to your kids later on ?  I do remember “The Family Bear’s Picnic”, a book brought back from the States and that I read countless times to my sons. Being in English, I had to translate this story for them every evening for quite a long time. Sometimes I would not find the very same word as the night before and…it was a drama: “No, no, Papa Ours  (bear) did not say that !” or “His sandwich was made with ham and not cheese”! Memories of love that made me smile today.DSC02029.jpgNature offers us hearts  and signs of love in places you do not always expect them. Like this  piece of snow stuck between two branches and that I had not noticed when taking the picture. In fact, I was more attracted by the setting sun caught in the forest. Hasn’t it got a shape of a heart too ?hiver, baies rougesAnd here is another gift of friendship and gratefulness for you on Valentine’s Day. Thankfulness for your visits and support even though I have not been regularly posting and visiting you these days. This is the landscape I saw this morning as I opened the shutters of the chalet up in the Alps. I am never tired of looking at it, morning or evening, at sunrise or sunset, in Winter or in Summer.DSC02062.JPGWishing you well on Valentine’s Day and on the other days too 🙂

Isabelle

Summer gifts

August 25, 2015

Summer is not over yet but the extreme heat we had just a few weeks ago is gone. We are left with memories of hot, very hot days. Like during a late afternoon when the sun shone brightly through the window and reflected its rays in a mirror. How grateful I was to dear Dena who had sent me a beautiful and exotic fan for my birthday which, of course, was a delight to use !

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Lawns were rather neglected this year but not all flowers. Here in front of our hospital a flowerbed was being watered. I was surprised to spot two  unexpected plants… Will you find  the odd ones out ?  Fresh looking “intruders” indeed.fleurs, veges, parterre

In the blue Summer sky,  silent visitors  flew along with a light wind they only seemed to feel and breathe. Underneath the heat was sometimes unbearable but what a lovely sight !

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The pleasure of reading Amanda Enayati’s book in the shade : “Seeking Serenity”.
“In your world, mind and body,
Be present.
Use mindfulness to heal and transform the brain, and its ability to cope in stressful situations.”
One of the ten rules on your road map for health and happiness in the age of anxiety. A much-needed guide to these difficult times. I really enjoyed this book as well as the beautifully embroidered bookmark made  with care by my friend, Janice. http://janiceheppenstall.com/blog

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Barriers, fences, walls and other man-made obstacles are bound to be crossed, aren’t they ? Those were my thoughts as I looked at the clematis flowers meant to grow along the green metal fence. And yet, quite naturally, they went over… A Summer of crossing borders, deserts and seas for so many people.

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Even my energetic Nino was affected by this particularly hot Season. He squatted my couch in the shade. We finally came to an agreement and each of us found its place.

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Maybe you can feel the heat that had accumulated on the stones of this old  house. It could be quite cool inside though because of the narrow windows and the width of the walls. I liked the plant and colored scarf that added a hint of freshness.

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Summer, terraces, parasols, cool drinks and sometimes music in the streets, another pleasure of the Season.DSC01504

My favorite time of the day was at sunset. The air was still warm from all the sun, even in the mountains but there was a touch of coolness  and of course the brilliant light behind the Alps, the sun rays on the old wooden shutters made it a special moment. Every evening.DSC01572

Moments I like to remember

October 17, 2014

On a hot Summer evening under the roof of his attic apartment. my eldest son was busy preparing a Thai meal to celebrate my birthday. Great concentration for adding the many ingredients that were chosen for  this special and delicious meal. Thanks JB !

collage, Thai foodLast June I finished sewing a picnic quilt. Lots of leftover scraps from previous quilts. I was really happy.

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The problem was that our Summer was so cold and rainy  that picnics were too rare. Fortunately Autumn has started beautifully and warmly. Sooner or later the colorful blanket will be part of a joyful day in the open.DSC00109

Oh, the great moments I spent reading these books during last Spring and Summer ! Not always cheerful stories  but certainly all different and fascinating in many ways, locations, times, styles and characters.

books, Summer 2014

I remember with emotion the outing my family and I made – as well as many cousins – to an unforgettable place in the Alps. 300 hundred years ago a major rockslide hit a small mountain village, killing many of its inhabitants and their cattle, destroying their rough wooden chalets.

Last August a day of remembrance was celebrated up on those mountain pastures where rocks are still covering much of the landscape. “Emotion”, I wrote because this area is where my mother grew up; she and her siblings used to go up there every Summer looking after the family domestic cattle. Those were hard times but “some of the best of my life”, my mother used to say. All day long I thought of her and how she would have loved to be there with us. She certainly was in my heart.

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On the road to the pastures, we were welcomed by local musicians playing the Alp horn, a typical musical instrument here.DSC00075

Another moment to remember of  this past Summer was my father’s significant birthday ! Having owned a garage  almost all his life, we thought it would be a nice surprise for him to rent an old Londonian taxi (Austin 1970) to drive him to the place where family and friends were waiting to cheering him. He was hugely surprised and absolutely delighted.

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What a great moment too when I was able to pick the first apples – boscop – in the garden ! Not exactly shiny nor smooth, they are nevertheless tasty and just perfect for pies or compotes.DSC00352Guess what other moments I always like to remember ? The adventurous walks Ninio leads me to. Nature in all its forms. Wild most of the time. Not that he refuses to go to my chosen destinations. But his eyes and slower pace tell me : “Now, how about going on exploration to places that smell interesting ?”

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It is such a joy to be back on my blog and back in this community I am grateful to belong to, dear readers. I have a lot to tell you and pictures to share after returning home from…(It will be a surprise in my next post) But for now I would like to share something very meaningful to me. Before I tell you more, let’s take a pause, sit comfortably in the sun or in the shade, and enjoy a cup of tea or a glass of your favourite fruit juice. I am so happy to tell you about a book I read recently, that I loved for many reasons. It is called How to Make an African Quilt: The Story of the Patchwork Project of Segou, Mali. The book is written by Bonnie Lee Black.

Bonnie, book

This is a memoir, not a crafts book. It contains so much more than the making of an African quilt. Why am I telling you of this book in particular ? Because it touches me personally. The true stories Bonnie tells about her experience in Mali are about solidarity, friendship, determination, cultural sharing and hope. Bonnie created a women’s project that one cannot but love and feel proud of. This book is precious to me because it was written by a friend of mine, whom  I did not know as a writer when I first “met” her.

About 14 years ago, I responded to an item in a French quilters’ magazine that mentioned Bonnie’s Patchwork Project in Segou. Bonnie was asking for used French quilting magazines with patterns she could use for her project in Mali. I found quite a few on my bookshelves that I sent her and her Malian friends. At that point we started writing to each other now and then, and we’ve kept in touch over the years.

Bonnie, magazinesGuess what ? Today I have the immense pleasure and honor to welcome Bonnie Lee Black as my guest writer on this blog. I am also very thankful that she has offered to share her life-changing experience in Africa as well as some patches of her life. Thank you, dear Bonnie, for telling us more about your book, your quilting project in Mali and what your hopes are.

http://bonnieleeblack.com

“Thank you, Isabelle, for this honor to share with your readers my wonderful experience in Mali, now encapsulated in my new book, How to Make an African Quilt. The title, as you suggest, is really a metaphor for “connection” – cultural connection – and I’m hoping that theme comes through in its pages.

This book is actually the sequel to my Peace Corps memoir, How to Cook a Crocodile (Peace Corps Writers, 2010), about my two-year service as a health and nutrition volunteer in Gabon, Central Africa. When I completed my service in Gabon, I decided to go to Mali (rather than return to the United States) and do independent economic development work there. I was in my early fifties and felt I still had more to give.

Soon after settling in Segou, Mali (which is the textile “capital” of the country), I met a group of talented Malian seamstresses who asked me to teach them patchwork quilting. Well, that was a challenge for me because I’d never done patchwork quilting. But I soon taught myself from a quilting primer and happily created the Patchwork Project, which the women loved. In the book I share their stories and show their joy, especially as they sat together at the quilting frame (a makeshift contraption I made from lenghts of bamboo) laughing and singing as they stitched.

I took the project as far as I could in the thirty months I lived in Segou. But it could go much further to help the women there earn extra income. I wrote this book in the hope that someone, somewhere, some day might read the book and be inspired to take the project further. That someone would have the business-and-computer knowhow that I lacked – and still lack. When the talented graduates of the Patchwork Project of Segou, Mali begin to make patchwork quilts to be sold internationally over the Internet, then I’ll feel that my dream for these women has come true and my book has done its job.”

Bonnie Lee Black

Malian seamstresses 2“If you want to make a lasting work, be patient, be good, be livable, be human”

Amkoullel, l’Enfant peul, 1991

by Amadou Hampate Ba,Malian writer and ethnologist, 1900-1991

Here is a link to the Wandering Educators website which shows a video about Bonnie’s book.

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

http://karmardav.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/colors-of-your-world/

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.quilt JOK, trefle

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edna_O%27Brien

“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”.

E. O'Brien, Mother Ireland

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 !”

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“Green is the colour of youthfulness; it is full of Spring energy and direction of growth, urgent on its journey towards the light”.Verrey. grange, bisse

“Gravity cannot keep it down; the call of light is always stronger”

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“Green is the colour of relentless desire. Even under earth smothered over with concrete, tarmacadam (or if I may add, pebbles), the green blade will rise”.paved street 2

“Nothing can keep grass down, its desire endures. You can find it anywhere, on top of ancient ruins way above the ground or growing in little indentations on top of massive rocks”.green on stone

“It rests the eye, and still remains the colour of the day’s desire”.paysage, C. Breton

Dormancy

January 22, 2013

Scott Thomas’ first photography challenge this year is about Winter. http://viewsinfinitum.com/2013/01/09/assignment-23-winter/ What does Winter mean to you ?

Here  is my contribution to Scott’s  assignment.

Winter 2012-2013 is  particularly cold and snowy in some areas of Switzerland and yet it is only January ! In an alpine area, this Season brings a lot to mind like the best, in particular the various kinds of sport activities to the most unpleasant and dangerous, like extreme coldness, icy roads,  avalanches. There is also one aspect that touches both the vegetal and animal world: dormancy. If you consider the time I spent away from my blog. you could also include humans 😉

During a train travel between Geneva and the Alps, I was looking at a landscape of vineyards under the snow. A lovely patchwork in white and grey shades, no bustling around, just quietness. I thought of nature and its resting time, dormancy.  I love this unique landscape of Lavaux terraced vineyards spreading down gently to the shore of Lake Léman. The whole area is protected by Unesco. Here are more pictures for you :

http://www.lavaux.com/

vignes, guérite

First snow in early December. As I opened the shutters one morning, I was surprised to see  whiteness all around. The air was chilly and silent. I smiled as I spotted what looked like two animal shapes sculpted by snow. A hare ? A turtle ? In any case, they were well into their dormancy period.lapin, tortue

In a more urban landscape,  some construction sites experience their own dormancy period in Winter. Work had stopped. A greenhouse in the botanical garden nearby was all lit up, a warm looking sight. The heat inside was such a contrast with the outside temperature. Tropical trees and plants were  blooming, no sign of rest there.chantier

A familiar sight, the terrace in front of our home. On the previous day, I sat there for a while,  letting my eyes wander on a landscape I am  never tired of looking at.  Now it is time for garden tables and chairs  to  take their own rest.terrasse, neige

The little hedgehock was on the way to his favourite spot to spend the Winter: a big heap of  leaves secured from Ninio-the-beagle’s investigations. Both had a rather traumatic meeting a while ago… and I doubt Ninio will ever tease the hedgehock again.  As I got nearer, he stopped his quick little steps and buried his head in the snow. Discreetly, I retreated and let him move on for a long Winter sleep.

hérisson, hiver

Someone just eaten a good part of my tasty and juicy apple. See below. I had left it on the picnic table while I taking a picture of Lake Livingston, Texas, at the end of a very hot July afternoon. The squirrel’s stomach was full and contented.  Not a bit disturbed by my presence, he lied down on the bench warmed by the sun, made himself comfortable and gave me a last look before entering  in a lethargic and sleepy state. Aestivation ? Another kind of dormancy, away from the coldness of hibernation in the North.

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Sleep well, greedy little one 🙂

How do you think my own dormancy looked like over this past month ?

Just like this. Books. Lost in books of fiction, history, biographies, memoir. A few have been read and enjoyed a lot. Others’ turn will come soon.books, Jan. 2013, HDR

Images and thoughts

August 9, 2012

Summer is well on its way. We are having  such a heatwave over here !  Unusual canicular  days are followed by violent storms, heavy rains and coolness.  Temperatures going up and down at brief intervals. Our landscape is especially luxuriant this Season,   gardens and fields are grateful : flowers, cereals and vegetables abound.

An orange-red rose, my favourite, with as many petals that open every day as the pages of a scented book you would read with delight.

Some of our fresh vegetables picked early in the morning and served for lunch. On the menu that day for our visitors: leeks with vinaigrette,  grilled zuchinis and chards au gratin with cheese. We will have to wait a few more weeks to taste our purple potatoes, something new this year.

It has been a rather busy Summer with little time for blogging and visiting you, my friends, I feel sorry about this;  there were several birthday celebrations, family and friends’ visits, excursions and picnics in the mountains but also quiet times along a river near  our home. Days are longer and as the sun sets on the water, I sometimes meet  a family of swans catching its rays as they glide gently towards the shore, hoping for some pieces of  bread I don’t always have.

Summer also  brought its days of sadness and loss. Two dear friends passed unexpectedly leaving family and friends deeply shocked. The sun shone brightly though as we all gathered in a small mountain village graveyard to pay homage to both friends, at a two weeks’ interval. Sadness for the great loss.

Sadness for all that remained to be shared and said. Sadness when the realization of their absence became more tangible every day.  Why so soon ? Unanswered question. At about the same time,  I began reading  a book about Celtic Wisdom by the Irish writer and philosopher, John O’Donohue: “Anam Cara” or “Soul Friend” in Gaelic. Thank you to Lumens Borealis http://lumensborealis.com/about/ for having introduced me to John O’Donohue’s writings.

Serendipity,  happy coincidence in a moment of distress ? I don’t know but here are  a few lines, comforting thoughts, that J. O’Donohue wrote about death in his inspiring book :

The Dead Bless Us

I believe that our friends among the dead really mind us and look out for us…One of the exciting developments that may happen in evolution and in human consciousness in the next several hundred years is a whole new relationship with the invisible, eternal world… We do not need to grieve for the dead. Why should we grieve for them ? They are now in a place where there is no more shadow, darkness, loneliness, isolation or pain. They are home. They are with God from whom they came. They have returned to the nest of their identity within the great circle of God…the largest embrace in the universe, which holds visible and invisible, temporal and eternal, as one.”

So much gratefulness for these lines and deep reflections about death, and about much more I read in this wonderful book.  Hardly a day passes without  thinking of those two close friends although now sadness is mixed with the serene and happy feeling of having known them both.

For  R. and J.-J.  I chose this Vivaldi Cello Concerto, largo. I know they loved it.

The circle of life. As days go by,  sorrow is followed by joy as a new life  has brought  happiness in my family. A baby girl, Alima,  is sharing her irresistible and peaceful smile with us all. A sweet messenger of Peace as  shown on the card her parents sent us :

“Jàmm rekk ! Kayra dorong ! La paix seulement”

Good wishes in Wolof, Mandinka and French. Alima’s papa comes from Senegal, her maman is my niece. The words  chosen by her parents to announce their daughter’s birth mean : “Peace only or Peace be with you”.

Welcome sweet little Alima !

Over the past month,  I have  been asked  if I was working on a new quilting project. Yes, indeed I was and still am. A quilt is finished and has been offered to my sister for her Birthday. Two others are in progress (WIP) ! But that is another story that I will tell you about later. Just a few shots to give you an idea.

Part of my sister’s quilt sewed with so much love.

Detail of a quilt I started after the devastating tsunami in Japan.

Choosing some materials for a new quilt. A small monthly quilt project.

White and more

March 11, 2012

Hello Dear you all,

As I just wrote in my previous post, it felt so good to find your warm thoughts and messages  as I came back home. Thank you so much for your visits, encouraging comments and good wishes, it really meant a lot to me. I feel much better and slowly but surely all my energy will come back.  As I left home, snow was falling heavily behind this window you know well by now.

Today there is still some snow around but the sun is brighter on nature green patches. I like to think that Spring is not far and that all sorts of colours will spread over our  Winter landscape.

Colours are everywhere though  even in hospitals where white used to be the norm. I tried to catch a few of them to share with you.All day long the light changes and brings out colourful details on a wardrobe or on a bouquet of flowers. Behind the curtain the evening lights look like stars and I loved to look at the houses nearby in the  soft early morning shades. Then there is this bright small lamp, companion of some sleepless nights.The lamp and the book. An interesting story and one I enjoyed reading. The story – based on true facts – takes place during  WWII when some American pilots had their planes shot down by the ennemy. Many of them died. Some  men parachuted over French Occupied territory and were lucky to be saved by members of the French Résistance (partisans). Dangerous days, weeks and months awaited all those involved in the rescue of the Allied soldiers, including the pilots themselves, of course. This book kept me awake for many hours until a nurse would check on me and say : “Now you must sleep !” But then during the day, she would ask me : “How is the story going on ?” 😉

There were quite a lot of emails waiting for me on my PC. One of them was from Scott Thomas at Views Infinitum.

The good news was that a new photography challenge has been assigned by Scott Thomas.  The subject is one I look forward to working on : Abstract Photography.

Maybe you would like to participate too ?  Please do. Deadline is March 21st, 2012.  All details are explained here :

http://viewsinfinitum.com/2012/03/07/assignment-18-abstract-photography/

A little “thank you gift” for  your thoughtfulness for me :Pour toi, for you, a choco heart !

Sharing my reading

October 10, 2011

As promised, here are some of the books I read during these past months. They were either offered to me for my birthday, recommended and lent by friends or bought after I read a critical review. This is where I usually buy them.

“The Butterfly’s Weight”   is a  touching story . This is the title (translated from the French) of this little book by the great Italian writer Erri De Luca. A real jewel of a book. The writing is both poetic and thought-provoking. De Luca tells about an epic battle between man and nature. An old hunter, poacher, and an old, noble chamois; it is about their fight for survival. The originality of this book is that each of them, man and animal, tell the story from their own perspective. De Luca’s writing is just beautiful !
Unfortunately I am not sure this book has been translated in English yet, very few of De Luca’s works have been up to now. Don’t miss it when it will be.  This is a book I will surely read again. More slowly this time to appreciate it fully.

Another birthday gift. I know, I am a spoiled child… The friend who sent me the following book  always chooses books that I just cannot put down. I had never read anything by Carol Edgarian. She received great praise for “Rise the Euphrates”. I read “Three Stages of Amazement” in a few days, so engrossing it was.  C. Edgarian’s book is about the fragility and complexities of marriage and a demanding career. I found the central characters, Lena, Charlie and Theo very likeable and believable. Their story is ordinary and yet complicated and very humane with a touch of humour that I loved. A family journey at different stages of their life through love, marriage, motherhood, grief, betrayal, adversity, loyalty,  wisdom, hope.

The next ones are three books that I took more time in reading and reflecting upon. The first two books are real stories that  will remain with you long after their last page is turned.

“If Nights Could Talk” by Marsha Recknagel is a remarkable,  honest and courageous memoir written with great eloquence, even humour in spite of the tragic events that touched the persons involved in this stunning story. M. Recknagel’s memoir starts  when a derelict kid – Jamie,  her nephew – arrives on the writer’s doorstep. It is about the meanness and love in families, about evil and redemption and how one person can make all the difference in someone’s life by struggling to recreate a family. Marsha and Jamie are each other’s saviours. A beautifully written story, full of feeling and truths. I strongly recommend it.

“Shot in the Heart” (Un Long Silence, in French) by Mikal Gilmore. Mikal Gilmore writes about his brother, Gary, who was  sentenced to death and executed by a firing squad in 1977 after he committed a murder and refused any appeal.

“I have a story to tell. It is a story of murder told from inside the house where murder is born. It is the house where I grew up, a house that, in some ways, I have never been able to leave.”

Before  Gary’s tragic story devastated his own life, Mikal Gilmore decided to write this brave book to try and understand his heritage, to undo the blood ties and escape the family’s curse. M. Gilmore’s book is a real investigation both affective, painful and uncompromising about his own family and his origins. “Shot in the Heart” is a  very dark and courageous journey.

Today, October 10th, happens to be the 9th World Day against Death Penalty. The campaign focuses on a petition asking for a universal moratorium on Death Penalty. It will be the main theme of the 4th resolution of the United Nations regarding DP that will be voted on December 2012.

Both of these books are also powerful and humane documents about resilience. They are about the ravages caused by a devastated childhood where love and respect are just absent. “Murders of the flesh and the spirit”, as M. Gilmore wrote.  Reading those books was not only trying to understand the perversity of the acts that destroyed a family. It was  also about  realizing how someone’s childhood can be broken.

Then, I needed another type of reading, one I had meant to do for a long time. I chose Thich Nhat Hanh‘s “To Touch Life”. The Vietnamese Zen monk resides in a small community in France. He  teaches, writes,  gardens,  works  to help refugees worldwide. He also  travels all over the world to share his teaching about inner harmony. How to fulfil the unity (oneness ?) between body and mind through conscious breathing and meditation.

Before saying good-bye and wishing you a pleasant week, and a good reading – whatever  book is in your hands at the moment – let’s share a few quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”

“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

More inspiring quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh here :

http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/9074.Thich_Nhat_Hanh