What would they say ?

November 19, 2016

Or “If sculptures could speak”.  What  would those beautiful Caryatids say ? A stately demeanor, indecipherable  expressions on their sculpted faces. Would they talk about the endless flow of visitors coming and going around them in the New Acropolis Museum in Athens ? Or comment on the heavy burden they have been carrying on their head for so long ? Exchanging about their use as decorative supports in Greece and the ancient Near East ?

dsc02173_2What could those men in their elegant toga be discussing about ?  Would they talk about philosophy ? Would one of them be teaching the others ? Or were they engaged in a more private conversation ? In any case they will remain anonymous…dsc02176Two worlds meet in this picture. Modern buildings behind a vision of other times. In those past decades when women, mothers had to travel on the back  of a mule while taking their children with them as they went working in the fields.

dsc03079Mules were equipped with two strong sacks (jute or leather) on each side of their flanks. Inside them and well protected, mothers would put a baby or a small child. Usually, the slow and regular mule’s step would bring the children to sleep.  Maybe the little girl standing behind the mule would ask : “Mom, let me sit on the mule, please, I feel tired”. The track to the alpine village or to the pasture could be long. (Sculpture by Edouard Sandoz for the association of “The Mule”s Friends”, or  Les Amis du Mulet, Sion, Switzerland).DSC03078.JPGIn an open air museum of the village of Etroubles,  Aosta Valley/Italy, close to the Swiss border, I stopped and observed this three-dimensional sculpture by Andrea Granchi, a Florentine artist. It was entitled : “Viaggiatore sedentario incontra il  Grande”. I tried to imagine what the sculptor expressed in this particular art work. Maybe the  great (grande) man on the wall would say to the traveller (viaggiatore) : “Here you come, bumping into (incontra) other travelers like you who  try – or tried – to cross this mountain pass !” It is just my interpretation of this amazing sculpture.dsc01371

Greece, Naxos Island. On the  metallic entrance door opening to a wild garden, someone had written : “This is paradise”. After a few minutes’ walk uphill, amidst bushes and trees of all sorts, we stopped in front of a dry stone wall. At the bottom of it and protected by a fence, a huge statue  of a man, more than 17 feet,   seemed lost in a long sleep. It was the “Flerio Kouros”, built  in 570 BC in Naxian marble. What would the Kouros (young man) have said at that time ? Maybe he advised the stonecutters to be very careful when they would transport him to another site for the final touches. Apparently they weren’t enough or their artwork broke before ?  The statue remains unfinished, its leg broken, the marble has turned grey/brown in time and the mystery is unsolved.dsc02430I wonder what these  sculptures inspire you ?

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White and blue and more

August 18, 2016

White and blue make me think of holidays at the seaside, Summer clothes, sailing , a bright sun,   sea and sky  of a deep blue, and….a special country  I visited last June : Greece and some of its islands.

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Santorini and its small houses huddled together on the hills and rocks overlooking the Aegean Sea. Here and there another color of a wild plant illuminates the whiteness of a house.

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A bright touch of red on a door, a blue dome in the far, an old broken wall and its multicolored layers of bricks and stones.

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More colors catch your eyes in Greece’s Summer time : a green window frame protecting a lovely embroidered curtain.

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Washing day in the sun, barely any breeze, plenty of colorful vegetation in the yard, no one around : time for a siesta indeed !DSC02236.JPG

What about the various shades of the sea, the sky, the rocks and Southern plants on this hanging garden ?DSC02228

Not to forget : the colors of History that one finds everywhere in the country; here an ancient amphitheater (Delphi) of the same shades as the mountain above.

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And when time for a rest comes, either from the brilliant sun or from too much walking and visiting, let’s close the blue shutters and enjoy the cool shade inside.

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Wishing you a colorful Summer wherever you are. Mine is turning slowly but surely towards Autumn. A transition I do not mind  and that reminds me to enjoy every minute of this brilliant Summertime.

Warmth in Winter

March 6, 2016

When the weather is not exactly bright, when rain and snow compete with a tempestuous wind to remind you that Winter is not  gone yet, what do you do ? I am not sure about you but today I feel like sharing pictures of a place in a warmer climate. Will you follow me to Italy ? DSC01277Arrival in Verona in the early evening. No Juliet on the balcony nor Romeo waiting on the alley below. A  light is on though, someone must be in. The mystery will remain…

hanging gardensA brilliant  morning !  a  joy to discover Verona and its hanging gardens along the Adige river.DSC01297Let’s cross one of the many bridges in Verona. This  one, constructed with red bricks, has been partially restored and will lead us to the ancient part of the city. A picturesque link between epochs and styles.

DSC01280What a treat to sit in an old church (San Domenico), listening to the melodious  voices of  those young  and talented American singers ! They belonged to a choir and were on a musical tour in Italy. Sacred, classical and folk music from all around the world.  How lucky we were to walk into this church !DSC01314After a long guided visit through the old town of Verona, walking on uneven paved alleys on a hot morning, a pause was definitely needed. Remember the   cool pasticceria (cake shop) with so many pastries and cakes to choose from ? My choice went to a small  “Romeo” cake (chocolate/moka)  and  a strawberry tartlet with vanilla cream. With three drops of this strong Italian coffee. And a big glass of water. This was an exquisite moment.DSC01318

This was the “Flego” pasticerria. Remember ? A stylish blending of modern and old decor.

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Weren’t we happy to be back on Garda Lake in the evening ?  just in time to see the last rays of sun and its reflections on the water. Peacefulness and beauty. This was a busy and very enjoyable day.

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A few more sights of the lakeside as the sun went down.

DSC01367There was this terrace almost floating on the lake where people sat and enjoyed quiet moments or animated talks. A place for everyone and “gelati” (ice cream) for all.

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Back to the here and now… Looking outside, I see the weather has not changed, stronger rain, snow and wind. As promised to my little buddy, we will go out no matter what. You see, Ninio has been waiting, sleeping with one eye only, not even thinking of renouncing to a “promenade” in search of scents over and under the snow. So here we go, buddy ! It was nice to be back to a warmer climate for a while though. I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I did.cartes, quilt tree 032.jpg

More information about the ancient city of Verona here :

https://wikipedia.org/wiki/verona

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

Senses of Spring

April 20, 2015

Over two months have passed since I  wrote last. As I explained in a comment on my previous post, https://isathreadsoflife.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/of-colors-and-winter/, I will not be able to visit you and write as much as I would wish. Therapies are going on, tiredness is still overwhelming  but there are days when I feel stronger; the urge to go out and see nature and Spring brings me outside.  Luckily so ! I always enjoy it, no matter the temperature, sun, wind or rain. It feels real good.DSC01035Sight. One of the first senses of Spring one feels over here is certainly the view of the shy and fragile snowdrops emerging from a cold soil and opening to the morning sun. A familiar and yet always enchanting view.DSC01107 Smell. A visit to the nearby farmers’ market brings many delicious surprises these days. Amongst them, a bunch of tarragon, a sweet scented herb that I like adding to fish or some vegetables like green beans. poireauxTaste. And what about the fresh and appealing leeks ? I like them stewed and served with a vinaigrette  or as a “gratin” with potatoes and a light béchamel sauce. DSCN1378 Hearing. Can you  actually hear them ? Your may not see them though, those lively and noisy birds celebrating Spring in a joyful concerto “con molto brio”. They are back from wherever they went to, jumping in and out of their little wooden house in the garden. Delightful Spring sounds. DSC01018Touch. A gift I brought back  home  as I came out of hospital. A special heart sewed by women for other women.  A heart-shaped cushion, so soft and light, that is meant to nest gently under your arm, ease the pain and warm your heart and  soul. It was so touching and appreciated ! Much gratefulness to you, ladies of the “Cushions of the heart” group.

Wishing you all a Happy Spring ! Moments of joy when the birds sing “good morning” to you,  wonder and peace  as the tender green shades of the Season tell you about renewal and a real delight to  taste the great variety of fresh salads and veges.

Spring salad

Less is also beautiful

December 19, 2014

Strolling along the Advent’s time, trying to slow down on the path to Christmas and making a pause near those ancient walls that are part of an old castle.DSC00733

Why not take time to watch the sun through the branches and look more closely at some small wild flowers barely visible between the rough stones of an old wall ? Pinks and whites and rust emerge through the cracks.
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Exotic trees and luxuriant plants growing quietly against a shaded brick wall. A secluded garden may reveal more wild beauty.

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No flashing colors and bright lights of the Season here, no noisy and busy places, just a hint of a Light or a Star leading the way to Christmas ?

DSC00737The ruin of an ancient door joyfully decorated by ivy leaves and red flowers, under the shelter of a shower of silver leaves.

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Beauty also lies in the less visible, the shy and persistent grasses blushing under my curious and admirative look.

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The old castle, deserted on a sunny afternoon, offering a moment of peace and lending its walls to plants that only need a bit of earth, sun and rain to come back to life and bloom.

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On the way back to the city center, a narrow paved alley, a bridge between times and places, a contrast of shades and construction with the beautiful resilience of nature.

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Altitudes and contrasts

March 19, 2014

Over the past weeks it seems like I did  nothing much but come and go between the mountains (4429ft) and the plains (1480ft) and yet I can assure you a lot happened in-between ! The seasonal flu’ hit several family members I looked after; Spring cleaning fever hit me too, as well as clearing out. I also took time to visit with friends here and there. During these constant trips up and down the valley, I became interested in  comparing the changes of Season according to the different altitudes.

The tall and almost bare larch trees in the Alps; snow melted in places but no green buds yet.arbres-mâts

A forest of slender masts in the town of Morat, at the edge of a lake. The boats are stlll protected from the cold and the frost that can cause so much damage in Winter. Soon they will sail on the lake though.

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Under an unusual mountain fog, the slate roofs of the chalets are still covered with a thick layer of snow.

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whereas the old red tiled roofs of the ancient houses shine under the sun near  Morat.

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Snow flowers over 4000ft

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and  Spring first pink blossoms at the lakeside.  So welcome !

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Someone you know, my Nino, is almost taking off a steep slope in the mountains, a simple joy he never gets tired of,

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and a thirsty dog (20°C on that particular day) taking a bath and drinking water at the edge of the lake, after playing with his master on the grass.

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Typical Winter activity…

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and early Spring relaxing moments at the lake.

DSC00268Such are my landscapes at the moment. Winter is not yet over (far from it) and Spring is starting to shine down in the valley. I even saw apricot trees in bloom, a rare sight at the end of March. I wish you happy moments, joyful colors and a warmer sunshine in a blue sky.

En route for Spring !

Summer abundance

October 13, 2013

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Rather than showing you the grayness of my foggy morning – it seems as if the mountains have disappeared – I much prefer to remember Summer, its alpine meadows, its colours, scents,  tastes, all precious gifts that I hope you have enjoyed yourself too.

DSCN0634During a wonderful birthday party, a lot of delicious food was served , amongst which those small tomatoes of all shapes and shades just picked in the garden. My favorites were the dark red ones, almost purple. So sweet and juicy.

DSCN0643On a bed of wild camomile and rosemary. black cherries were glittering in the sun. Are you tempted ?

DSCN0642Oh, the taste and scent of those sweet strawberries !

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Lavender and parsley added an exquisite touch to the pieces of chicken and potatoes.

DSCN0640Beside various wines  produced locally, we were offered a kind of “herbal water” served in a big glass jar. The cool water was flavored with branches of lemongrass, mint, rosemary, sage and even a few cherries. So refreshing !

DSCN0658As an extra gift, and not the least, Pierre’s birthday celebration was held on a superb “terrace with a view”.  One you do not forget : the well-known vineyards of Lavaux over the Lake Léman, surrounded by the Alps.

Somehow it was  also everyone’s birthday  because of the reunion of dear friends as well as for the treats that had been prepared with love. The magnificent view was a fantastic gift. A Summer day to remember when Fall is at the door and some summits are already snow-capped. Oh well, Autumn will give us more colors, scents and tastes, won’t it ? More gatherings to look forward to.

Happy Sunday to all !

Silent times

May 18, 2013

So much time and patience have been needed recently to first open my PC, then read my mail and respond to it, write on the blog or read you ! My old PC definitely needs a rest or better said, a retirement after a long and good collaboration. Slowly but surely.Remington 2Maybe I will go back to writing on an impressive  type-writer such as this  Remington from other times ? It was sitting quietly on a coffee house table.

A letter 2Or maybe I will switch to snail mail – which I often do anyway – choosing a lovely stationary, using my favourite fountain pen and letting it flow gently on the soft paper ?

montgolfièreSomething is sure though. A travel is planned soon. I will fly over the Alps to a warmer climate (hopefully !) and when I return home, you may well find me sitting in front of a new screen 😉

In the meantime, I wish you a happy and sunny Spring, plenty of pictures, thoughts and experiences  to share. I look forward to reading you.

Take good care of you.

See you again later. Au revoir et à bientôt.

Isabelle

This is my contribution to a new photography assignment proposed by Scott Thomas:  black-white photography. I find it always interesting to join in,  visit other participants’ blogs, learning more about photography and  seeing each one’s perception of a similar theme. March 20th, 2013, is the deadline to share your pictures.

All details are given here : http://viewsinfinitum.com/2013/03/06/assignment-24-black-white-photography/

Nino, regard, B&W

Ninio, my Beagle, in one of his patient looks, waiting for the photography session to end and go for a walk. I converted this picture  to see how my colourful  dog (black, white and tawny) would look in B/W. I like his somewhat softer look and particularly the expression in his hazel eyes.

magnolia B&WEarly morning in a park of Houston, a flower of magnolia that looked so fresh and brilliant. I felt like heightening this contrast in converting the picture in B/W.

Lyon, B&W, 2Lyon, France, on the deck on a barge. The colours of the boat were a bit dull and I was surprised to see the difference in shades as I converted the picture.

double click, Williamstown, Melbourne

“Here’s to the happy couple !” Williamstown’s harbour, Melbourne. And long live the daring photographer 😉