Posted in Culture, Uncategorized

Seasons

How can the thought of spring not conjure up images of those first warm days, of nature coming back to life?  And autumn – beautiful colours, and grey November fog.

Seasons.  They’re so deeply engrained, so much part of the flow of life.

Not for everyone.  So many parts of the world don’t have distinct seasons.  This is one aspect of culture I had not thought about much, never having lived outside of Europe.  Yet today, my Brazilian friend (living in Germany) was telling me that when someone talks about, say, spring, she literally has to think something like:”Spring, ok, that’s March/April/May time, so it’ll be starting to get a bit warmer. ” It’s not second nature to her.  She is used to the weather being relatively stable all year round.  You don’t have to take seasons into account when you book something way ahead of time.  Fascinating!

Seasons.  So important as a framework for our year for some of us.  Pretty much irrelevant to others.

I love all this stuff!

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Posted in Uncategorized

… like she’s our own family…

I am just re-reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  Amazing in so many ways.  One passage particularly grabbed me.  It comes right after the book is published, as they are awaiting the backlash, not knowing what will happen to them, how bad it will get.  Aibeleen walks into a surprise party that her church have thrown for her.  This is the only time they will ever be able to acknowledge that she was part of writing this, to celebrate her courage.

He (Reverend Johnson) hand me the book.  “We know you couldn’t put your name in it, so we all signed our own name for you.”  I open the front cover and there they is, not thirty or forty names, but hundreds, maybe five hundred, in the front pages, the back pages, along the rim a the inside pages.  All the peoples in my church and folks from other churches too.  Oh, I just break down then.  It’s like two years a doing and trying and hoping all come out at once. […]

“There may be some hard times ahead,” Reverend Johnson say to me.  “If it comes to that, the church will help you in every way.” […]

I wonder what Miss Skeeter would do if she was here and it kind a makes me sad.  I know ain’t nobody in town gone sign a book for her and tell her she brave.  Ain’t nobody gone tell her they look after her.

Then the Reverend hands me a box, wrapped in white paper, tied with light blue ribbon, same colors as the book.  He lays his hand on it as a blessing.  “This one, this is for the white lady.  You tell her we love her, like she’s our own family.”

What an amazing picture of courage, of standing together, of community.  It makes me wonder where that is still present in our world.

Posted in Uncategorized

Laura Mvula

Truth be told, I’m not the biggest music lover around.  But there are certain pieces that capture me.  This is one of them.
 
 
So incredibly beautiful!  I could listen to it again and again.  Sometimes I do.
 
Laura Mvula is also, apparently, potentially, The Next UK sensation.
 
I’ve known Laura for a while and it’s been great to see her develop.
 
Listen and enjoy!
Posted in Uncategorized

A Home Like a Hug

A friend paid me the best compliment yesterday.  I should have written down her exact words immediately (but didn’t) so this is just a rough quote:

“You’ve made your home so welcoming!  Every time I walk in, it’s like getting a hug!”

I love my home and I love it when others feel welcome and at home in it!

Posted in Culture

“Don’t think of the danger or the stranger is gone.”

Expat Lingo

“You Only Live Twice,” is the overblown Nancy Sinatra-sung theme to the Sean Connery-led Bond film of the same name. You know, the one where he supposedly “passes” as Japanese for half the movie?

As a “romantic internationalists” I’m easily emotionally entrapped by mythic tales of global adventure. See for example the post, “I Blame James Bond.” Similarly, I’m wildly sentimental about the line, “I had a farm in Africa … ,” from “Out of Africa” even though Karen Blixen’s old-fashioned expat story ends in syphilis, heart-break and ruin.

So, you won’t be surprised to hear that I read the over-wrought words of “You Only Live Twice” as an exotic expat-living theme song. For those unfamiliar with the song, you can hear it on YouTube here. It was also the music used for the final scene of last season’s Mad Men. The key lyrics are…

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Posted in Uncategorized

Oh How I Want This!

My dream home would definitely have one of these!

A place to hide in, to take a break from the world, to dive into a book.

A closet transformed into a book nook.

I would happily give up a closet for that.  If only I had a closet to give up…

Click here for the original link.

Posted in Art

Listening to Art

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_mulata)

I like art.  But rarely do I take the time to listen to it.  Either a picture draws me in immediately (and it’s usually the colours that will “get” me) or I will pretty much walk right past it.  Only on rare occasions will I stop, make an effort, really listen to what the picture is saying.

The picture above is one of those I would have walked right past.  It’s not a style I like.  Not enough colour, not immediately beautiful.

But the thing is, before I ever saw this picture, I read about it.  I read about the story it tells, the symbolism involved.  When I finally looked it up online, I wanted to see, to discover.  I was fascinated.

In 1618 the Spanish artist Diego Velazquez depicted the Emmaus meal in a painting called “Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus”.  Jesus and the disciples are depicted in the top left corner.  But the picture focuses all our attention on the maid.  The astonished look on her face as she overhears their conversation suggests she’s realized that a previously deas man has just eaten her food.  The meal is hinted at, but it’s all washed and tidied away.  The central item is a piece of rag.  The new world has collided with the old.
(Tim Chester, A Meal with Jesus)

It’s all there.  Suddenly I get the picture.  I look beyond mere aesthetics at the story.  The kitchen maid realising what has happened, how this will change everything.  The sheer miracle of it all.  It’s all there and now I see it.
All because there was an incentive to look, really look.  Maybe I should do that more often.