Wishes for you

December 24, 2009

May you all receive the Christmas light in your heart.

A time for a pause and for sharing,

A time for celebrating and thinking of others, not able to do so.

A time for giving one’s time to prepare traditional meals that will bring everyone around the Christmas table.

Joyful decorations, Nativity scene, scented candles, cinnamon cookies, spiced tea, Christmas songs in church, a snowman in a garden and so much more. There is this special mood at home that makes you feel like prolonging this happy time of togetherness. And why not ?

Christmas is also the time to look at others and events with the heart. As Antoine de St-Exupéry wrote in his book “The Little Prince” :

“The essential is invisible to the eyes, one only sees well with the heart”.

Those were the words the fox said to the little prince as they were going to part. It was the fox secret that he confided to him. And to many readers across the globe since the book was published. “The Little Prince” is a wonderful tale for all ages, a story to read to children, a story for  all times. And the fox secret is good to remember well beyond Christmas.

Here is a gift for you, my friendship stars’ quilt. I hope they will shine in your Christmas night and long afterwards. Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Fascinating reading

November 6, 2009

This past Summer and Fall several books have followed me wherever I went. One that I never forgot to take with me was “The Shadow of the Wind” by Spanish (Catalan) writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

book Zafón

The novel, set in post-Spanish Civil War Barcelone,  is about a young boy, Daniel. After the war, Daniel’s father takes him to the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a huge library of old, forgotten titles lovingly preserved by a select few initiates. As tradition goes, everyone entering this secret place is allowed to take one book from it, and asked to protect it for life. Daniel selects a book called The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax. On the night he takes the book home Daniel starts reading it, and becomes completely obsessed with it and his writer. He then attempts to look for other books by this unknown author, but can find none. From then on Daniel’s life takes a completely different turn !

I will not tell you more… in case you would decide to read this fascinating book (mystery, romance, thriller, period epic). One of the best books I read this year, one that is so difficult to put down !

Two books, two women

September 21, 2009

Laura Diaz and Mari are two characters that could not be more further apart.

Carlos Fuentes (Mexico) and Haruki Murakami (Japan) are also two favourite writers of mine. Both readings were fascinating and yet, how different their main characters.

Diaz-After Dark

Laura Diaz is the passionate woman who fascinated me in Carlos Fuentes’ book : “The Years with Laura Diaz”.

Mari is a shy and rather reserved young person around whom Haruki Murakami  wrote an eerie novel, “After Dark”, a book  you cannot put down easily. In fact I read it in a few hours, almost in the story real time.

Laura Diaz lives mostly in Mexico  whereas Mari’s story is set in Tokyo.

“After Dark” is a story of encounters in the hours between midnight and 7 am on a particular night. “The Years with Laura Diaz” lead you all along the 20th century  and the main events that marked that period.

Tetsuya Takahashi is Mari’s encounter during that night. The men in Laura Diaz’ life bring her to various places in Mexico, North America and Europe.

The writing style of these two books is very different too. In Carlos Fuentes’ novel it is flamboyant and very descriptive,  South American writers excel in it.  In “After Dark”,  Haruki Murakami writes about reality or dreams with a more concise style and shorter sentences, always making you want to read further and see beyond the story itself.

Laura and Mari are women you get attached to until the last page.  I almost regretted closing these two books, wishing that the story would go on and on. Imagining another end. Laura, Mari will stay with you for a good while should you decide to read those novels.

A New Earth

February 20, 2009

tafers-diary-tolle-007

This wonderful spiritual guide, “A New Earth”, by Eckhart Tolle is a precious gift I received a few months ago.  The kind of book you cannot ever part from.  A book that may well change your way of looking at life, people, events.  At yourself first of all.  I take my time reading it because of the profound spiritual writing E. Tolle is sharing with us.  I read it slowly because I like to underline some parts of the text for a second reading.  Or more. Many passages are so meaningful to me that I like to write them down in my diary. Written thoughts leave a deeper imprint on my memory. Some lines are worth re-reading, each in its own time and place.  Like the ones below about “Chaos and higher order” in the chapter “Finding who you truly are” :

tafers-diary-tolle-0031

A few excerpts from E. Tolle’s writings…”When we go into a forest that has not been interfered with by man, our thinking mind will see only disorder and chaos all around us… Only if we are still enough inside and the noise of thinking subsides can we become aware that there is a hidden harmony here, a sacredness, a higher order in which everything has its perfect place and could not be other than what it is and the way it is”.foret-neyruz-3-fevr08“…In the forest, there is an incomprehensible order that to the mind looks like chaos. It is beyond the mental categories of good and bad. You cannot understand it through thought, but you can sense it when you let go of thought, become still and alert, and don’t try to understand or explain. Only then can you be aware of the sacredness of the forest… You realize you are not separate from it, and you become a conscious participant in it. In this way, nature can help you become realigned with the wholeness of life”.

These quotes from E. Tolle’s “A New Earth” take their full meaning as I walk through the woods, almost daily. Without realizing it concretely, the forest no matter where I walked through it, always appeared harmonious and beautiful in its own “disorder”, its natural state. Better than in any park or botanical garden (although I enjoy them a lot too) I found myself “aligned” with life, as Tolle writes. A deeply beautiful feeling.

“I Dream a World”

January 22, 2009

i-dream-a-world1Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America

Photographs and interviews by Brian Lanker, Edited by Barbara Summers,  Foreword by Maya Angelou.

A precious gift I received years ago from an American friend in Central Africa. Seventy-five wonderful women are presented through photographs and interviews. Each person recalling a special event in her life. Each of them in her own language, accent and with a great openness.

Barbara Summers writes :”… A truly beautifying discovery for me was to find so much love in anger. It was a fist-up, death-defying love that challended the unfair conditions of life and muscled in on injustice as it nursed both sides of a nation. Valiant and vulnerable, these women were there”.

A Poem by Mari Evans from “I Am a Black Woman”

“I

am a black woman

tall as a cypress

strong

beyond all definition still

defying place

and time

and circumstance

assailed

impervious

indestructible

Look

on me and be

renewed”

In this time of celebration in the United States, I took this book out of one of my bookshelves and slowly turned its pages with admiration, respect, gratefulness. And  deep emotion.  Looking at the Inauguration Day’s celebration on the Swiss TV, I saw some beautiful women’s faces and expressions in the public listening to their new President.  I saw their shining eyes and huge smiles, I saw and heard their cries of joy and encouragement. I saw different silent forms of happiness, tears, attentiveness to every word and movement. Prayers. Thankfulness.

Unforgettable moments shared miles away.

I would like to share Brian Lanker’s words at the end of his preface of this superb book :

“In fact, all of the women in this book have dreamed of a world not only better for themselves but for generations to come, a world where character and ability matter, not color or gender. As they dreamed that world, they acted on those dreams and they changed America.

This celebration of sisters is not an attempt to elevate or lower any segment of society, it is merely an opportunity to savor the triumphs of the human spirit, a spirit that does not speak only of black history. My greatest lesson was that this is my history, this is American history”.

Thank you Rosa Parks, Eva Jessye, Maxine Waters, Clara McBride Hale, Maya Angelou, Ruby Dee, Marva Collins, Septima Clark, Mattie Morris Losey… and so many others.

Ulysse’s books

January 14, 2009

ulysses-books4Ulysse was my grandfather, one whom I suppose everyone would wish to call “grand-papa”. His origin was Swiss-Italian. His father, a sculptor, came to the French-speaking part of Switzerland in search of work, which he found in a small town where my own grand-father was born. As far as I remember, my souvenirs of Ulysse were those of a kind, patient, humorous and  sociable person. He used to sit for hours in his “grand-father’s armchair”, reading through his very thick glasses, oblivious of everything happening around him. Lost in his own world. He read whole bookcases. Mainly  history books. They were about the history of the canton  he was born in (Valais), and of its people. He collected ancient books too and, when money permitted it, he  had  some of them bound by Léon, a good friend of his, a  bookbinder who loved books and treated them with the same respect and admiration  as Ulysse did.  This soft,  scented leather  enchanted me whenever Ulysse showed me his recent discoveries.

Before he passed my grandfather gave me something  precious : many of his history books and the wish to learn more about  it.  He also gave me   the love of books, of reading and writing. I was lucky to receive his old armchair too. When I sit there, a book in my hands, not a day passes without thinking of my grandfather. With such gratitude and happiness that our paths crossed.