2017

January 1, 2017

DSC03379.JPGHAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL and best wishes for this coming year.

Here are my new calendars for 2017 and some of my little and bigger friends who will accompany me each month. Aren’t they cute, beautiful ? These calendars were sent to me by a few rescue centers for animals. It makes me happy that they found good care and a shelter.

DSC03291.JPGStill no snow in the Alps but frosty, misty mornings that are so cold my wind chime keeps silent. Their sweet voices too frozen to sing. No swinging either.

dsc03349And when Winter rhymes with frost, colors and blue sky..this Season looks and feels just wonderful for your eyes and  heart. How can one not feel good when such a landscape welcomes you in the morning ?

Front cover of my tiny 2017 calendar

Because love, love is never finished,

It circles and circles

The memories out of order

And not always complete.

(Sara Zarr)

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On their way …

December 23, 2016

The Wise Men are on their way to Bethlehem…dsc03363Will their wisdom touch some men and women during their long travel ?

Maybe they will talk together about  Peace, show love,  bring much needed food and presents ? Give protection ?

Looking at the bright sky above, they might see Stars of Hope for the coming year ?

May the Light enveloping them all bring a feeling of comfort  and understanding.

And the war roar be replaced by the angels’ singing.

Sometimes I like to dream and imagine how different things could be. Unrealistic, I know but then at this particular time, I like to make a pause, think of others and wish everyone moments of peace, togetherness, love, health, understanding, joy.

dsc03294 WISHING YOU ALL  A BLESSED CHRISTMAS, HERE AND THERE !

We shall find peace

We shall hear angels

We shall see the sky

Sparkling with diamonds (like stars).

Anton Chekhov

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

Tribute to a Grandfather

January 21, 2015

My father, my dear father passed on December 30th, 2014. He left us all, family and friends in deep sorrow.   My heart is heavy with grief and at the same time I am so grateful for all his love, tenderness and generosity. The many wonderful memories I have of the moments, the years spent with my Dad  and family give some comfort in these days of separation  and they will accompany me every day. My father – and my mother – were never so happy as when their cherished “clan” was around them. Especially  when their four grandsons were there.

 

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Better than all I could tell you, I imagined you may like to read  a few excerpts of the thoughts and feelings his  four grandsons shared with the family and close friends during our farewell ceremony in the chapel.

“It was such an honor to be your grandson ! You have been an example that I will strive to follow all  my life. Kindness, humility, courage, you were witty and generous, you were all this and much more.  I will always remember how the Epicurean you were loved to share good meals with us, traditional or refined. You left us with dignity, head high, like the Lion you were, proud but wise and never complaining. I love you so ! (JF)

“Our grandfather was a rock, a beacon, a lighthouse where to look at in times of trouble. You showed us what moral rectitude and respect for anyone meant. What I learned through my grandfather’s kindness was his infinite tenderness, the mark of an unconditional love. A united family : this is  the Great Work of our grandfather, a heritage I will continue to cherish with you. (JB)

You are the grandfather everyone would have wished to have and whom I was lucky enough to have. Today we are separated physically, our pain is immense. However I feel that our sorrow will be appeased because I know you are in good hands. If Jesus takes as good care of you as you did of us, then your eternal stay in His company will be beautiful. Dear granddad, I send you millions of kisses. (V)

 

“The last thing you told me  was :

“I so wish I could walk again !”

Well, this wish I will realize for you

You will walk, run, jump, even swim

Because now I will bring you with me

Wherever I go and keep you in my heart always”

(composed, sung and played with his guitar in a rap style  by A.)

 

Papa, dessert gourmand

One of  my father’s favorite desserts : an espresso coffee with almond liqueur and chocolate ice-cream.

Merci papa, for all you were. We love you. Farewell to a place away from our eyes but in our heart you will remain.

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The flowers of my Summer

August 21, 2014

Before Fall arrives, let me show you the flowers of my Summer.

 

Flowers like sun just has much as they need rain. They got a lot of rain these past months, whether in the alpine meadows, like here, or in gardens, along forest paths, everywhere vegetation has been growing and blooming wildly.DSCN0443A bush heavy with rain and bending towards the countless petals its flowers just lost. Impernanence of all things and beings.DSC00528Like a flamenco dancer, the poppy is spinning its red dress in the early morning sun.DSCN1512I like the late afternoon sun over these wild flowers, their pink shades  glowing in the warm light..DSC00659The view I always enjoy : a garden shed surrounded by a shower of yellow wild flowers. They were preceded by long golden grasses and followed by small bushes in pink and blue shades. A patch of wilderness in the garden.DSCN1486The beauty of natural amethysts on the terrace. Clematis  flowers have bloomed and bloomed, never tired of unfolding their soft petals.DSC00534

This gorgeous yellow bouquet  was given to me for my birthday last June. Flowers that meant a lot and that brightened up my home for many days.

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Summer flowers, colours of joy, colors in sad times. Friends passed in the recent months. An ancient chapel where we prayed, a rose bush growing in front of one of its  windows, the touch of color that brings back warm memories.

DSC00005I hope your Summer is full of flowers, colorful bushes, hedges where birds sing, woods with scented violets, natural meadows, paths bordered with sage, wild fennel and thyme. I hope you are enjoying  Nature in all its beauty.

Thoughts behind images

August 1, 2014

My Summer is busy over here, too busy, not enough time for taking pictures unfortunately. I apologize for not posting more regularly. I thought why not look into my archives and find some pictures I like and write a post around them ? Let’s go to Australia, Victoria, an area I visited a  few years ago and let’s imagine the thoughts behind the images. immigration museum 1 Melbourne, the Immigration Museum. A beautiful  desk aboard a ship sailing to a faraway world. Someone had been sitting there and writing home. I imagine he or she was writing home about the long, so long travel to the other side of the world. The various feelings  one tried to express in a letter : sadness of leaving behind family members, maybe and a place called home, the hope of a new future, seasickness, meeting other immigrants, limited place to live all together… And certainly a lot more personal feelings and messages. dsc07288 Melbourne, a large avenue in the center. A coffee shop. At first I thought : “Why such a difficulty choosing from all those similar bags of oranges ?”  But then maybe this man’s indecision comes from choosing from the various snacks or meals sold in the shop ? St-Ex in St-Kilda 2 St-Kilda near Melbourne. A bus stop. Those words scribbled on a board: “What is essential is invisible to the eyes. It is only with the heart that one sees clearly” . Did the person who wrote this quote just read St-Exupéry’s book “The Little Prince” and liked it or was he/she in a particular mood which inspired these thoughts ? Melbourne card-4 052 Maldon, Victoria, is a notable town for its 19th century appearance, maintained since the gold-rush days. As I walked in front of this porte-cochere, I thought how relieved travelers  must have been to  finally find a place to stop, eat and rest after a long journey by stagecoach. a person 1 Carlton Gardens, Melbourne. An oasis of peace in the middle of this large  busy city. I stopped there just to look at my city-map, eat a snack or just give a break to my tired feet. Someone was sitting nearby, reading. In front of me a man was also sitting, quite immobile, meditating maybe or lost in his  own thoughts ?  Or taking a nap ?

 

Do you sometimes wonder what thoughts or situations hide behind your images ?

Greenness in the city

August 14, 2013

Another day in Portugal. After the city of Porto, its harbour and the Douro river, how about spending some time in a luxuriant park of Porto and in Coimbra’s Botanical Garden ? It was founded in 1772 and is part of its very ancient University. More about the beautiful city of Coimbra later on.Coimbra, jardin botaniqueWon’t you come into the garden, I would like my roses to see you.” Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816) said to his future wife Elizabeth inferring that she was more beautiful.

Coimbra, meditation
I sit in my garden, gazing upon a beauty that cannot gaze upon itself.  And I find sufficient purpose for my day.  ~Robert Brault.

Coimbra, tons roses
In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there.  To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe.  I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.  ~Dodinsky

Coimbra, fleur jauneThe temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers.  ~Basho

Coimbra, serresThe mystery of a glasshouse… What kind of world is growing  under its roof, brilliant patchwork of glass tiles ? What universe shall we discover as we open the door ?

Porto, jardin des plantesGive me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.  ~Walt Whitman

Porto, eucalypts
Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw.  ~Henry David Thoreau

Coimbra, oiseaux du paradisBread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul.  ~The Koran

Porto, olivier

Even when seen from near, the olive shows
A hue of far away. Perhaps for this
The dove brought olive back, a tree which grows
Unearthly pale, which ever dims and dries,
And whose great thirst, exceeding all excess,
Teaches the South it is not paradise.
Richard Wilbur
Walking in a botanical is always a deep pleasure for me. Looking at Nature in so many different forms is enchanting for the eyes and the soul. Gardeners have been working in the same alleys for centuries, students from the nearby University have observed, studied and written about the life  of plants – often a secret for a visitor.  I walked and sat in a garden in Portugal. Yet much of the  world  was present around me. A palm tree  from New Mexico was standing  beside a mighty eucalyptus from Australia, its strong, unmistakable scent reminding me of the Australian bush. A Chinese bush was blooming along a colorful  rose garden from Southern countries. The olive tree – last picture – was the “ancestor” in the garden : if I remember well it came from Israel and was about 1000 years old.

My garden is my favorite teacher.  ~Betsy Cañas Garmon,www.wildthymecreative.com

Can you guess

July 14, 2013

where I stayed during the last week of May  ? During the two hours flight from Geneva to this ancient and picturesque town, I had a look at this map and thought I would share it with you. The many flight lines all seem to converge to one particular spot in the South of Europe. A small country on the Atlantic coast from where several navigators left for maritime discoveries : Africa, America, Brazil, India, Macao (China). Great explorers  like Magellan, Vasco de Gama, Zarco amongst many others.Portugal, mapOur destination was Porto – or Oporto – in the Northern part of Portugal, an old city we had been planning to visit for a long time. Spring was much more advanced than in Switzerland, the touristic  Season had not fully started yet, temperatures were pleasant. Our timing was good, it truly was the most enjoyable vacation.

Porto and surroundings offer so much to a new visitor that it would be  impossible to tell you about all its various aspects. Let me just show you in a few posts the pictures of some of the places that touched me for a reason or another. This is the first post of a few others showing you different glimpses of Porto, the Douro river and Coimbra, a town in the South of Porto.


After landing in Porto and leaving our luggage in a small hotel in the center of the city, my husband and I walked  to the upper town. The view was stunning. A labyrinth of houses of all sizes and colours, huddled together and decorated with the famous Portuguese “azulejos” (painted blue tiles). The red tiled roofs added a touch of colour in those dark and narrow alleys as they glistened in the sunset.Porto, old townSeagulls were everywhere, “A winged squadron flying over us, happy pigeons travelling all over the world, messengers of memory, going over the washing lines in the alleys, huts, grocery shops, sleeping dogs in the sun, red flowers growing in the rust…” (Alberto Nessi)Porto, mouettesPorto  is a harbour city. Sometimes here and there an ancient building in Art Nouveau style looked to me like a towering ship from other times coming out of the haze of history.Porto, Art NouveauContrasting  styles of architecture add to this city’s charm. Richly decorated mansions, shops or cafés have grown side by side with other houses, more simple, that line narrow paved alleys. There were not too many visitors at this time of the year but these lanes can be quite crowded when all shops and  restaurants are open, especially in the evening or early morning. This is where Porto’s life is felt at best.Porto, paved alleyThis most unusual and beautiful hall is part of the central railway station of Porto, Sao Bento. Impressive “azulejos” and sculptures cover the walls and ceilings. This beautiful  building dating from 1916  is well worth visiting even if one does not travel by train. Which we actually did when going  for a visit to another city, Coimbra. More about that later !Porto, railway stationFor now as the sun goes down over the city, let’s just stop for a while on the top of a hill overlooking the Barreido district and others, less luxurious, which lead to the river. Will we meet there later ?Porto, skyline

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.

Christmas mood

December 23, 2012

Sharing some snowy

CHRISTMAS STARScarte de Noël, 1 to wish you all

  JOYEUX NOEL,  MERRY CHRISTMAS, FELIZ NAVIDAD, HYVAA JOULUA, FROEHLICHE WEIHNACHTEN, GLAEDELIG JUL, BUON NATALE

book, de Luca, mère

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.

http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/madonna-green-cushion