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 !

DSC01458

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 !

DSC01416

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

DSC01460

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.

DSC01420

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.

DSC01462

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.

DSC01385

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

Advertisements

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.

DSC00108

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.

éboulement

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.

DSCN1549

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 ?”

DSC00285

Astronomers and stars

June 15, 2014

As I received this image (in B&W), together with a fine poem by W. Whitman, I could not but try imagining how this world must have looked in colors. I spent a quiet moment painting it according to my own wishes.DSCN1543 WHEN I HEARD THE LEARN’D ASTRONOMER

WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;

When I was shown the charts and the diagrams,

to add, divide, and measure them;

When I, sitting, heard the astronomer,

where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;

Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

” Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass, 1867

stars quilt   Have you ever stopped and looked up at the sky on a clear night ? Have you ever taken time to search for stars, the brilliant ones and the more dimly-lit ones ? Have you ever felt dizzy while looking up, your head pulled back and you neck sore from observing the vastness of the sky ? Dizzy, amazed and feeling so small under the celestial vault. We obviously need to be grateful to science and scientists to research and explain all kinds of phenomenons. Don’t we also need taking time to look behind the charts, figures and diagrams ?

 

Here is something I liked and felt like sharing with you ? 😉 http://io9.com/5973932/walt-whitmans-when-i-heard-the-learnd-astronomer-in-comic-form

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 !”

moutons 1

“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”

green lantern

“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

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

Erri De Luca (1950) is an Italian novelist, translator and  poet. He is selftaught in several languages including Ancient Hebrew and Yiddish. De Luca is also a passionate mountain climber. “The Weight of the Butterfly” is one of his books I thoroughly enjoyed reading and that illustrates beautifully this facet of Erri de Luca.

I feel like sharing with you in pictures some lines of one of his poems : “Considero Valore” or “What I highly value” :

“I highly value any form of life, snow,

a strawberry, a fly,

the mineral kingdom,

the constellation of stars.

I highly value wine, for the time of the meal,

An unvoluntary smile,

I highly value the tiredness of someone who did not spare one’s efforts,

and two elder persons in love.

I highly value all that will not be valuable tomorrow and all that has not yet  much value today.

I highly value all kinds of pains,
I highly value sparing water,

repairing a pair of shoes and

keeping silent when needed,

Rushing up to the first cry, asking permission before sitting, feeling grateful without even knowing why.

I  highly value knowing where the North is in a room, the name of the wind that dries the laundry,

The travel of a vagabond, the nun’s fence,

The patience of the condemned man, no matter the wrong,

I highly value the use of the verb “to love”, Amore,

and the hypothesis there is a Creator

Many of those values, I have not known.”

“Oeuvres sur l’eau et autres poésies, 2002”

Erri de Luca

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erri_De_Luca

Quote about books :

“I read old books because pages that have been turned many times and that bear the marks of fingers have more weight for the eyes, because each copy of a book may belong to several lives.

Books should remain free, unattended in public spaces so that they would travel with passers-by who would take them for a while and read them.  Then books should die like their readers, used by sorrows, contaminated, drowned, put inside a stove during  Winter, torn apart by children to make little paper boats. Briefly said, books should die in any way but not because of boredom and  privately owned, sentenced to life on a shelf”.

Erri de Luca

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 !

new year and gratefulness

January 10, 2012

The Twelfth Night celebration  is barely over and the traditional pancake is now a memory. It is usually baked with ground almonds, butter, eggs, sugar and flaky pastry. Sadly, this year  I forgot the main attraction: the hidden  lucky charm!  Five pairs of questioning eyes looked around the table wondering who had swallowed it… I confessed forgetting to put the tiny china king inside the cake before baking it. “Oh well, we enjoyed the cake anyway” was the main reaction.

2 0 1 2   is on its way indeed and I sincerely wish you a good health in a Happy, Peaceful and Hope-filled New Year.

The family holidays spent up in the Alps were very enjoyable. A lot of snow fell before Christmas. Skiers were overjoyed, drivers a little less and I was delighted since I mostly walk along mountain paths, skiing is no longer on my programme. The tracks are so peaceful during  Winter contrary to the slopes  which are very busy with skiers and snowboarders. These narrow paths are far less visited than in Summertime. Sometimes you might meet another hiker, a few people going snowshoeing or a hare, appearing and disappearing like a white flash.

Depending on the temperatures, some  bees hibernate in a hole in the ground from October till April. Another kind of bees  winter inside their beehives; the swarm  gathers near their supply of honey and with carefully measured flutter they create their own heating. Very clever and precious little insects.

Other kinds of animals will not even dream of hibernating, never even heard about it ! Like   this tireless and curious beagle, my Nino, persisting in his continuous investigations no matter the Season and temperature.

Reading, as you know, is very much part of my activities.  I received two books : “The Girl in the Blue Beret” by Bobbie Ann Mason. I have not started it yet but am looking forward to doing so soon.

“Stitches from the Soul”, Slave Quilts from the Ante-Bellum South, by Gladys-Marie Fry, Ph.D. A fascinating and moving reading through history and quilting.  Most of all it is about “the  roles and contributions of slave women to plantation life that had been swept under the rug of history”. (G.-M. Fry). This is certainly one of my most precious books on quilting.

The third book under the Christmas Tree was a “pre-Christmas gift” I offered myself. Not really planned but all the more appreciated. One day last December I went into a thrift-shop hoping to find a lamp for my sewing table. I came out with “Ansel Adams’ An Autobiography”. I am asking you : “Which of you, friends of photography, could have resisted buying this wonderful and rare book ?” I have always admired Ansel Adams’ pictures of nature, B&W treasures I could look at endlessly and just wonder. And now Ansel Adams’ autobiography is in my hands and I am enjoying every page of it !

Indeed I am grateful for this piece of luck I found between ancient chinaware and used, certainly much  loved wooden toys.

Grateful I am also

for you, reading these thoughts of mine

for my loved ones

for my three men’s love and thoughtfulness

for everyday’s little surprises

for lessons learnt the hard way

for my boys first drawings, cards and letters to me

for the Forty Shades of Green of Ireland

for Mozart’s clarinet concerto, Adagio

For gingko leaves in the Fall

for my mother’s gift of fabrics

for my unique and favourite sister

for Elvis

for the sea air

for Nino’s  loving and almond-shaped eyes

for the Connemara hills covered with yellow broom flowers

for Syracuse in Sicily

for Roy, Juan y la familia

for snow falling silently, lightly

for the birchtrees forests in Russia

for Dvorak, Smetana, Brahms, Saint-Saens, Vivaldi, Bach

for Indian spices

for Italian cuisine

for a simple cabin somewhere

for B. Kingsolver, S. Cisneros. A. Munroe, F. Sagan

for a glass of Gewurztraminer and grilled salmon

for cello music

for the thoughts in my quilts

for my friends, everywhere, at any time

for, for, for so much more !

Have you ever tried writing your liste of people, things, moments, places, music, food, etc. you are grateful for ? There is a lot to learn about oneself, I think.

Thanks to marah for suggesting this  “List of  100 Things that give you life, the things that matter”.