27 December, 2010

Hail all Mothers and Fathers

Just discovered that the marvelous Poetry Archive now has expanded out and has a poetry website for children, called (of course), The Children's Poetry Archive. There are various themes or poet interviews, all in a manner that hopefully children can relate to.

Here are two poems to start you off on,
I wish I had done more to teach my children about poetry when they were younger, and can only hope that somewhere in their futures they will discover the beauty of this art. There is something essentially healing about poetry. It is as if words carefully chosen have the ability to put the world back into balance.

25 December, 2010

I am enough.

"Brene Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love."

Brene Brown also does a marvelous job of arguing why we should all strive to be vulnerable instead of predictable, courageous more than brave, and kind to ourselves as well as to others. What I most enjoy about her TED Talk is the passion of her convictions is not highlighted through stories of grand deeds, but more subtly through her self-deprecating antidotes of her struggles and stumbling along the way to realising the most important thought, "I am enough."

At this time of reflection upon the challenges we have met this last year and perhaps recognition of opportunities we can stumble after in the next, watching this video places a milestone along the road of our journey forward. 

19 December, 2010

Throwing a kiss as I rush by

Ok, there are really only two things I want to tell you, as I rush off to my first appointment of the day. First, if you are putting on an art exhibit in less than three weeks time (yikes!) there is little time to do art. Thank heavens I already made the collages. What happens to all those artists that need the buzz of pressure to work? Well, I'm certainly not one of those people. There are a thousand things that still have to be done, even the simple task of writing and sending out the invitations...

Secondly, time is not linear. There are days that skip by without so much as leaving a glip in my memory. Actually, I've forgotten what was the second thing I wanted to share with you.

For any of you who used to watch 70s American television commericals, you are in for a treat.

07 December, 2010

Thinking of Pakistan this holiday season*

At the end of October, I watched the video below, which was taken six weeks after the flooding outside Pakistan's southern city of Sukkur. There is no commentary, only music and images. Please watch it. The video shows footage of enormous areas of land still under water and unconceivably large number of people living under tragically insufficient conditions as a result of the floods.

It doesn’t take any intelligence to know that while the news media has moved on to the next sensational story (i.e. today’s arrest of Julian Assange), the victims of the floods are still in desperate need of our attention and help. It is for this reason that I’ve decided to take this holiday season to offer what assistance I can, but also to take some time each day during Advent and study about the history and culture of Pakistan.

There is no time like now to shine some light upon my ignorance concerning this country and its people. If you have any suggestions as to which online newspapers, books, or blogs I should read, please leave me a comment or write me an email at the address given on this blog’s sidebar.

If you wish to find out more about how you can help, please go to the following two links (1 and 2) and learn more.

* I am not one to celebrate anniversaries, but this is my 1,111 blog posts, which is called a Schnapszahl in Germany and considered a luck number. 

03 December, 2010

Serious Kind of Crazy

This is some serious kind of crazy. Also, how can someone possibly be doing this and making sure the camera is turned on at the same time, let alone making certain shots?
cc from yukon white lights

On another note of craziness, someone (or some ones) stole a stuffed reindeer from the top of the roof of a Finnish spiced wine shop at the Christmas Market in Luebeck. Now, without knowing any of the particulars, but after studying the scene of the crime... the robbers had to have,
  • a fair amount of brawn (the reindeer was heavy)
  • a least one ladder (the roof was high)
  • a means of transportation (rules out public transport)
  • thought the idea would be funny thing to do (could be spice-wined induced)
  • been ignorant of the fact that the police station was just two blocks away (so they might live here, but not be all that familar with the city infrastructure)
This might be a highly silly thing to say, but methinks the crime could have been a student prank. What do you think? 

01 December, 2010

Swan Lake

ballet postcard_sara

I just bought tickets to see Swan Lake with my daughter over the holiday season. It is one of my favourite classical ballets: both for its choreography and music. In one of my past lives, it was also one of the ballets I learnt to dance. That is such a long time ago, it is hard to remember or even believe in.

What I do remember was the experience of going to watch Swan Lake with an ex-ballet friend in Munich some 20 years ago (long after we had both had left the ballet profession). It was a stunning performance. I remember the pure unfettered pleasure watching the ballet brought to my heart. This was something I hadn’t experience during the years while I danced.

Gone was the critical scalpel vision every dancer posses while observing other dancers. Something that cuts each dancer’s movements into feet, extensions, pointe work, and arms; each solo into the number of pirouettes turned and heights leapt; and pas de deuxs into lifts mastered. Instead, I sat mesmerised by the graceful movement and was deeply moved by the music.

I was not feeling nostalgic for those past times, but rather the experience of watching the ballet was enhanced by the familiarity of a personal shared history. This made me wonder whether this is what happens in life in general. Do we, as we grow older, receive pleasure by watching others dance the dance of life’s ups-and-downs in a way we could not when we were younger?

24 November, 2010

We all tell stories all the time

A friend's daughter and I were walking through the marketplace in her town the other day. It was early winter dusk. The Christmas Market stands were standing empty around the periphery in anticipation of next week's opening. My young companion told me how she and her family often come to the Christmas Market in the evenings after dinner. Then she told a story in short sentences with great depth,

“The adults stand crowded together while the children run around. There is music and a bubble-making fountain. The children chase after the bubbles. Oh, I love the feel and taste of the hot Christmas Punch* in my mouth and the coldness on my cheeks.”

Do not those words conjure up so many wonderful images?

* The children get a spiced Christmas Punch with no alcohol, but those adults crowding around talking are undoubtedly partaking in the more stronger sort.

20 November, 2010

New branch in the road

As most of you know, I've been trying to find a new work contract or job position since January. It has not been an easy task and, to be perfectly honest, I've failed miserably. In the nearly 40 years that I've worked, starting as a 15-year-old working weekends in a sailing shop, up until now, I've never really had a problem finding qualified work. There were even times that I had a choice of jobs.Mostly,  each job came with new and interesting responsibilities.

Still, there have also been times when economic restrictions has made it necessary to look for the same job, but with another company. What I call changing desks, or geography, but not jobs. Times when company hiring philosophies were so conservative that HR officers were taking no risks when filling free positions and thus, giving no one the opportunity to come into the positions with enthusiasm, naivity, and a willingness to try out new ideas.

These last months have been particularly discouraging because those job opportunities that I have applied to, where I covered the job profile 150%, have come and gone without even being invited to an interview. This is the first time that this has happened to me in my life. It is hard not to take this personally. Well meant platitudes from friends and family do not sooth the hurt of feeling unwanted and unnecessary. It is surprising how much of my indenity is based on my ability to work and receive a salary.

After much contemplation, I've decided to become self-employed (training and project management). The German employment agency offers a substantial training program and financial package towards acheiving this goal. So, it could be that this blog will have various posts about this new branch on my journey. I'm feeling a bit uncomfortable about doing this, having always wanted to keep a clear distinction between my "real" self and this blog. Yet, honestly, I do know most of you guys who read my posts, so I am not so sure why I am reticent.

What are your feelings about this topic? Do you have inner guidelines in your blogs? Does it interest you at all to know what other bloggers do for a living? Should I keep to the old format?

17 November, 2010

Thinking Out of the Box

In the last week I stood in to queues and was faced with situations that made me blink and wake up to the fact that there are some stores and food producers out there trying to walk the talk when it comes to sensible marketing.

The first was in a store that would give customers quite a few bonus points on their store card, if they could fit all the produce they bought in their own backpack or basket. The fact is, most Germans do bring along their own linen bags or baskets or whatever. Yet, sometimes customers are caught going shopping without their bags and so they usually have to pay a minimal fee for plastic bags. This is like a small demerit system. This shop I went to had a better policy. They said, "Why don't we praise those customers who do bring bags and don't consume want more plastic". Not only did I try extra hard to put all my food items in my already full backpack, I'll definitely go back because they want to praise me diligence instead of punish my oversight.

Secondly, there is a organic yogurt company that doesn't offer it's customers 110 different flavoured yogurts the whole year round. Instead, they offer about 10 different flavours depending on the season. In the late summer there are quite a few berry flavours. In early winter, there are spicy, chocolatety, Advent-y flavours. Each season brings new flavours. Some of their flavours reoccur each season. Others come and go. Where does it say that a company has to produce a huge amount of flavours all the time?

11 November, 2010

Stormy Nights


Story nights make for quiet occupations. 

08 November, 2010

Turning Garbage back into Oil

Don't you wish someone would come up with a machine that is able to convert plastic garbage back into oil and reduce carbon emissions at the same time?


Mr. Akinori Ito believes he has done just that (English subtitles).

07 November, 2010

Sounds of Failure

Yesterday, I mentioned listening many hours to my backlist of podcasts and watching videos and how inspiring I find all of their content. One of those podcasts is Radiolab and one of the series of videos is PopTech 2010. Today's post combines them both with this presentation by Jad Abumrad. 

In the video blurb they write that "He uses sound to explore ideas and share stories", but I think this video has more to do with the letting us listen to and delight in the sounds of failure.

Do enjoy!

06 November, 2010

Letting Music Inspire

The last weeks have been filled with quiet hours for working on my collages and listening to the many podcasts I subscribe to, which were lying unheard on my iTunes. It also has been a time of getting my google reader list read and watching videos. These quiet occupations inspire my collage making. It is as if learning and creating are correlating processes.

The inspiration for today's collage came from this video from the Guardian titled, “Robert Schumann: Love, music and madness”. It's focus is described as,

“Two hundred years after Schumann was born, and following on from a festival at Kings Place in London, actors Juliet Stevenson and Sebastian Koch, cellist Natalie Clein and pianists Lucy Parham and Alan Rusbridger discuss the composer's music, his passionate relationships with his wife Clara and fellow composer Brahms, and his painful descent into mental illness.”

It is typical of the high quality media this newspaper daily produces, which is why I so adore the paper. I don’t know of any other newspaper that manages to do this so well. If you know of one, please tell me.

05 November, 2010

Subtle Message

Our son is returning home again for the weekend. He's off studying computer science at a university "down south", i.e., in southern Germany. Once friends heard the news, they started calling to ask whether he could come over to help them with the technical problems that have cropped up since he left six weeks ago.

I mentioned this fact to him yesterday when we talked briefly. This morning there was this image in his google buzz links. Is he sending me a subtle message?

03 November, 2010

Glass half full

Ain't that so true?

02 November, 2010

Small Gestures of Appreciation


"Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary."
Margaret Cousins

My grandmother was a kind and gentle person, who spent her life in service to her family and her God. Even though she gave much and was given little in return, I believe she was the person who taught me most about appreciation. She had a gift of observing nature (the passing of the seasons, the changes in weather, the warmth of sun rays) and mentioning each mundane occurrence or force of nature as being something of wonder. As the years pass, I find that wonder of hers for the coming of the day and quiet pleasures of a long autumn evening.

31 October, 2010

Fossil Fabrication


I'm still doing my best to create collages for my up-and-coming art exhibit titled "Woman on a Journey". It is a year's art exhibit, as well as a series of seminars all doing with journeys in diverse sense of the word.

I can not believe it is almost November and other than a rough outline of what we want to do, Nothing Has Been Done! I am beginning to panic.

Had a great time with this collage, once I discovered a fossil effect of the rock texture.

30 October, 2010

Short Days and Sleepless Nights

Just bits and pieces of going-ons and mundane reflections...

Is it only me, or does your sleeping patterns change with time of year and increasing age? I used to hibernate in winter. Literally, sleep long and deeply through all the dark months. Now, I'm battling to get five or six hours a night. Sorry, this sounds like more a complaint than it does a reflection.

October is a month of quiet anticipation in Luebeck. No one starts with Christmas, but you can see that the shops and the marketplaces are itching to pull our their decorations and lighting out. I love this city for its music and lighting during Advent. I'm going to see if I can post a photo a day (ok, every few days) capturing the delight of the season.

We have an optics shop around the corner from us that is owned by a suppressed drama queen. For, let's face it, there is nothing more sobering than spending your days helping people to try on glasses. The only way the owner can let loose is in his choice of window decorations. He does really unique decorations so numerous and varied it is hard to know where to start. Oh, yes, how about the decoration he put up just for Halloween: a lifelike mannequin lying down with contorted limbs, covered with a white sheet, stained red as if from a bullet hole; pronouncing the victim one from a murder scene. The figure is outlined with chalk and glasses bejewel the "installation". Totally bizarre. The fact that the optics shop is right next store to a toy shop only makes me wonder how many traumatized kids are going to remember this window display for a long long time to come.

Happy Halloween everyone!

24 October, 2010

Nowhere to go but home


“... and there is nowhere to go but home, which is nowhere to be found and yet is here,
unlost, solid, the very ground on which you stand but cannot visit ...” George Szirtes

Late autumn afternoon. I'm on my way into town to do some chores. A carpet of leaves lie on the sidewalk leaden down with rain and shadowed by the winter darkness that is coming. My mind hears sighing whispers about summer travels on coastal waters in warmer seas. I turn my back on the idea of pressing on, and instead return to the warmth of home with its golden lighting and silly loving family chatter.

23 October, 2010



More than 15 years ago, when our children were small, we moved into the apartment we live in now. We moved from a small slanting-ceiling attic apartment into this spacious end of the 19th century stucco-ceiling palace-like apartment. This apartment is twice as big and the ceilings twice as tall as the old one. Literally.

For the first time in my life, I took some money from my savings and bought furniture and building supplies to “make” up our new home. I spent nearly two months installing lighting, bathroom features, assembling cupboards and various pieces of Ikea furniture, building bookshelves, curtain rods and coat racks. It was an amazing time.

My father taught me a lot about how to use tools and how to build, repair, and restore things. So this time of preparing for our move into the apartment was, in hindsight, almost an homage to all of his patient instruction and care.

What I didn’t realise until today while having a conversation with my son, is that there is a very large likelihood that I might never do something like that again. Secondly, even though my father taught me how to make things and use tools properly, I have not passed on these skills to either of my children. It makes me sad to think that something so valuable and costly learned would not be used again or be lost to others.

Even the idea that no one in my immediate family remembers how my father used to whistle under his breath while working, or how he was able to repair anything, and I mean Anything, either using a special brand of black electrical tape or cable binders, is a sad thought. Obviously, it is not possible to pass on all that you’ve learned in your life to your children, but perhaps we should not slip in our diligence.

Upon reflection, what would you like to pass on from either your mother or father to your children?

16 October, 2010

Travels though my Imagination

suitcase on a beach

A dear friend and I skyped this morning (New Zealand/Germany), while the rest of my household slept. We recounted travels of past: when we were young and not so innocent, but often alone and lonely. Feeling cut off from family and friends. Those were the days when long distance calls were made only every few months, or for emergencies. Letters would take a few weeks to arrive, if not more. When you left home, you were gone.

I've spent the rest of the day remembering past travels and imagining new ones. The edges of past disasters are softened, as are potential future risks or complications. Imagination is such a great place to travel in.

15 October, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010 - Dreaming of Water


When I dream of water, I am sitting alone at the wheel of my father’s sailing boat while everyone else is below sleeping. Ahead of me, behind and aside of me, is an endless horizon of water. The sky is clear. The moon is full; casting shadows off the whitecaps of large waves thundering past and underneath our keel.

The ocean is a constantly moving, scary, awe-inspiring landscape that propels us forward towards our destination, as does the wind in our sails. The wind. The water. They are a symbiotic brotherhood that very rarely concurs.


Water makes us feel small and insignificant. Too much or too little and we are useless or helpless beings at its mercy. Yet, having once experienced that smallness, we can no longer turn our back upon the plight of others living the harsher reality of those in need. It is a burden each and every one of us carries, this call to action, not just today, but from today onwards. We have to ask ourselves what we can do to help bring clean water to others, and then do it.

I thank the Blog Action Day 2010 team and all the family of bloggers for focusing upon the topic of “Water” this day. May each of us take a sip of clean water today and pause in gratitude for its existence.

13 October, 2010

10 October, 2010

Just Right

After a week of absence (illness), I wanted to share a Goldilocks' moment of finding something Just Right.  This is Jim Boggia’s wonderful version of Thunder Road from Bruce Springsteen.

Well on my way to a full recovery.

03 October, 2010

Not being melodramatic

Trying not to be melodramatic this evening. Nomad Son is going off tomorrow to study computer science at a university in southern Germany. Don't know if I should burst with pride at seeing him set off on this new adventure or crumble with grief at reaching this poignant milestone of family history.

28 September, 2010

Not quite sure


Often when I am making collages, I work for a long time trying to get the overall effect and then, at the last moment, try and change some small, but fundamentally important detail to see if the change improves the collage or not.


In the last few collages there has been a stripe of white or a patch of white within the collage. Not something I usually do. I've liked the white though. Today, I started with the white in the background of the palm tree in counterpart to the patch of white  in the clouded sky.

Then I tried the boat. What do you think, which do you prefer?

26 September, 2010



The first quiet day spent at home in a long time. Bliss. Rain falls. This American Life podcasts play the hours away. Slowly, dusk comes unannounced and almost unnoticed.

25 September, 2010

Sunny Summer Afternoon

window sunlight

A gloomy wet autumn morn
Turns impulsively into a
Vibrant sunny summer afternoon.
My heart rolls over
And thwacks with elasticity
I run out the door
Into a crowd of sun seekers
Filling all the tables
At a nearby café.

Raindrop splattered tabletops,
The only remaining evidence of
Those depressing  past hours,
Are ignored by all
And the waiter;
Who shares the luxury of a
Smoke with a regular, and the
Simple dealings-of-the-day.

19 September, 2010

Didn't Fall Off The Edge Of The Planet

When I started this blog I made a promise that I would not explain my absences nor talk about any illnesses. So, I am not going to say I am sorry that I haven't been writing much lately, but to say I am back! Friends and I just finished giving a tea party fund raising event.

It was a roaring success because,

  • family and friends said they would help me this year during the event and they managed 100% to leave me free to sit with the people at the event and get caught up on small talk
  • nearly double the amount of people attended this year's event in comparision to last year's
  • there were a few hiccups (too many people and not enough chairs), but I have the feeling that they took it all in their stride
  • we earned a good sum of money to help the people in Kimilili, Kenya buy land for their school and start a few small-scale businesses
  • the event is over and no tears were shed and much hugs and kisses were given
So, thank you Claudia and Daniela for all your help. The same goes for you, my dearest children, you earned 10 Brownie Points today for sure.

14 September, 2010

Next Trend on YouTube?

When I saw the hand dancing video below, my instant response was brilliant.

It seems like it has everything needed in order to be the next trend: low tech, serendipity, rhythm, humour, musicality, minimalism in movement towards maximum of effect, quirky... can't stop, but I think it would be just as much fun creating a coreography as it is to watch. I can also imagine that each routine, like tap dancing, would look uniquely wonderful.

My daughter, on the other hand, was not enchanted. She says it looks too strange. So, time will tell whether hand dancing will go viral and become the next trend on YouTube.

09 September, 2010

Overheard Converstation of an Idiot

In stressful situations, not all people can remain cool and calm. Renovating a home: laying tiles, putting up wallpaper, painting window- and door-frames, though not rocket science, can put a strain on any marriage.


Yesterday, I passed a home in our neighbourhood (similar to the house above) where a couple have been working feverishly to renovate their new old home. They been at it since the beginning of the month and seem to be doing all the work themselves.

As I walked by their open front door, where the husband was laying down tiles in the entrance area, his wife came up to him with a cup of coffee she had just pored out of their themos. She was covered head-to-toe in a dusty overalls and paint was sprinkled all over her head. (Yeah, guess who got the job of painting all the ceilings.) As she was handing over the cup to her husband, she tripped and a slurp of coffee fell on his newly lain tiles.

The spontaneous poisonous barrage that came out of her husband was startling. After being rendered speechless, the wife apologized profusely. To which the husband responded, "Being sorry won't stop a plane from crashing." Talk about over-reacting. Talk about being an idiot.

All of this happened in the time it took me to walk by their front door. I know the incident is just a micro-moment in a relationship, but I did wonder if the couple will manage to move into their new place. And if they do,  how long will they stay together.

01 September, 2010

Small Doses of Happiness

I volunteer once a week at a local charity shop. It is sometimes a strange world to move around in. Strange is probably the wrong word, but it is a new sub-culture of sorts.  Most of my fellow volunteers are older than I am, though I am no spring chicken. They are nearly all women, and I have for the last 30 years worked in a male dominated world.

My fellow workers come from all walks of life, as do our customers. We have our "regulars", people who drop by every few days to see what new products we've brought out for sale.

Not only does the store have it's regulars, we, the volunteers, have our personal regulars. Inadvertently and over time, the customers find out who is working when. Now, not a shift goes by when my regulars drop by to browse around, but also to exchange a bit of small talk. Each encounter is a small doses of happiness.

29 August, 2010

Dusty Memories


Years and years ago, I was a boarder in an old girls boarding house. Those years inspired the collage above. It is hard to explain, but I felt all disjointed and out of place in the establishment. Others I knew, adapted well or even quite liked it.

22 August, 2010

Ain't That The Truth? (II)

I've seen this drawing a few times in the last months and every time I see it, I can't help to think, "Ain't that the truth?" At risk of repeating myself... do enjoy.

Spent the weekend harassed by the noise (pollution) of hundred and hundred of Harley-Davidsons driving by slowly and continuously under our living room windows. Visually, it was a hoot to go out our door and see all the rockers and bikers. But, the noise was unstoppable and unsupportable. I really must be getting old.

21 August, 2010

Converting to Short Stories


One of the weekly podcasts that I listen to with great pleasure is Writers & Company from the CBC Radio. It is a pleasure to listen to Eleanor Wachtel speak with writers about their work. She does it in such a methodical and informative manner that the authors are tantalized into speaking forthrightly within the safe net of her questioning.

Overall, writers seem a tricky bunch. They can be prickly (interview with Doris Lessing), or reclusive (interview with J. M. Coetzee), but they can also charm the pants off of you. Which is what happened in the Writers & Company: Irish Panel (May 16, 2010) program. In this program Roddy Doyle, Claire Keegan and Kevin Barry speak with wit and magnificence about the art of writing short stories.

Yesterday, I listened to the program for the third time: discovering new forms of nuance, humour and insight in the art of short stories. The interview is a veritable Babette’s Feast (1 & 2) to convert us all to this genre of literature.

17 August, 2010

Quote of the Day

Jason Clay of WWF asked a Sudanese refugee why the world didn't help in Darfur Conflict and he responded,
"You can't wake someone pretending they are asleep."
How true and truly sad this is.

12 August, 2010

Thunder Storms


One last of my window collages.

A dear friend of mine who moved to Germany nearly two years ago from Cameroon puzzles at our preoccupation with the weather. And, I usually try not to mention the weather too much. But, today there is a torrential storm. No nice patter of drops, just the swoosh and battering of the rain falling down.

I love the suspense before a storm breaks, especially, after this summer of heat and drought.

Do go and listen/read Caroline Caddy’s poem, Thunder. It so eloquently describes the “prowling thunder”,

"Sometimes very early a spatter of rain wets the ground.
  Sometimes a patch of blue sleight-of-hands a few clear drops
  but always the cough and growl
                    at the back of the trees
                        like a pet gone wild
  exploring the place between having and getting
                    and won’t come closer

09 August, 2010

Ain't That The Truth?

 Source: http://www.thinkmogul.com/

Yes, I know, very cynical... but it still caught my attention.

07 August, 2010

Chilled Out

We had the great pleasure of visiting the Natural Historical Museum in Karlsruhe the other day. The Vivium (fish and reptiles) section kept us fascinated and smiling with wonder for over an hour. I do not have the ablility to describe in detail how beautiful and quirky nature is when it comes to their design of sea creatures. The diverstiy of colours, shapes, and sizes is beyond comprehension.

I've never seen such remarkably coreographed aquariums and terrariums.They were the sort of sea landscapes that VanGogh would have painted if he knew of them.

While most of the fish seemed very occupied and busily doing what fish do, the reptiles were childed out. I stood and starred back at a iguana for over two minutes before it deemed necessary to blink. A lesson in Zen. 

04 August, 2010

Fruit Salad for 100 Dollars

We've arrived yesterday to Karlsruhe, where our son will be attending university come this fall. Couldn't have picked a better day to arrive at the city he will be living in for the next few years. The sky was blue, the temperatures mild, and the general feeling of lightness to our hearts.

When we came to the hotel where we had made our (online) reservation, the first thing we saw was a sign at the side of their door saying,
"Fruit Salad for 100 Dollar*"
All three of us took a double take! Then we looked at the footnote in small print,
"Price includes overnight accomondations for 3 persons and breakfast buffet with as much fruit salad as your hearts desire."
Hope you are all having as much fun as we are.

What a delightful marketing scheme; we liked the place even before we entered the door just because the owners possessed a good sense of humour.

31 July, 2010

Helping Women and Youths

Over the years I've been following the work of various social enterpreuers and activists. There are quite a few people, but I suppose the 3-4 people who have most directly changed my thinking on what to do and how to do things to help change the future in a positive and constructive mannter,are Nathan Eagle, Ory Okolloh, Ethan Zuckerman, and Jacqueline Novogratz.

Jacqueline Novogratz is the CEO of the Acumen Foundation and she and the foundation efforts to promot "patient capital" is highlightedin CNBC World in their program “What the Future” (part 1, part 2, part 3). Please give it a watch. In the first part of the program, the post election escalation of violence is portrayed.

It was during this time that the 250 children and gaurdians of the NGO that I work with, Community Breakthrough Support Mission (CBSM), had to be evacuated out of Nairobi and transported to Kimilili, Kenya. In the last two years, Rev. Wasike and the elders of the CBSM have tried very hard to help the women and youths to build a strong community.

Those of us working with the CBSM often get asked why we are focusing so much of our efforts on helping women co-ops and youth groups to build successful small-scale businesses. Recently, Rev. Wasike wrote the following about our work in general and empowering women and youth specifically. I'd like to share with you his thoughts on the matter for the eloquently argue the matter:

The essence of all of our work is to make the community a self-reliant and independent collective. This compels us to initiate programs that may be realised by the women in the local community. Women in Kimilili and the surrounding area have not been allowed to partake in running business es because their husbands do not approve. They believe women should stay culturally apart where they can bring up their children in the homes; irrespective of whether there is food available or whether their children are attending school or not. Traditionally, women have been competing in the number of children they give birth to as a form of status since polygamy is still practiced.

For as long as I can remember, youth 's work in our community was to take care of the livestock. Tragically, this livestock no longer exist in large scale as used to be, hence make this group is left idle and hence a source of violence and crime in the community.

My understanding is that what a child needs most today in order to be self reliant tomorrow is food and a good education to unlock potential of the child. A child also needs shelter for security and health when sick.

Most men in Kenya, and this is culturally approved , believe it is okay for them to inclusively use any income increase they earn to increase the number of wives. The bigger their families are, the more respect they earn in the community. This is unlike women, whose first priority is the wellbeing of their family (parents and children.

I believe that by empowering women and youth in the community, we are doing something similar to doing an overhaul on an engine that we can always count on for the rest of our long journey. Thankfully, it is becoming more common to see women running business than it was previously. Yet, without proper knowledge on how they can best do business and without the proper capital their journey is arduous.

Hence if a chance arises for us to empower one woman who has 10 children, what we are doing in creating this opportunity is taking care of the 10 children. In fact, starting the women empowering program has already created real help. For instance, during the last school term almost all the vegetables the school cooked for the children came for free from the women co-ops we trained in our first two CBSM Gardening Vocational Training Program workshops. During the workshops, we taught them best business practices and gave them water pumps and seeds.

This term we have avoided the cost of cooks, as four women who had applied to be enlisted for workshops and our facility was not able to accommodate them, offered to do the cooking at CBSM school for free for children this term . They did this on the condition that they would be able to attand the next series of workshops. They have done wonderful work this term, reduced the cost of running the school as salary for cooks is recurring cost and recurring costs are very painful always come when one one is not ready. Fortunately, we are happy to be giving our next workshops in August, which they will be able to attend.

It is our believe that through collective will and work we will offer our children a safe and happy environment to grow in.

Rev. Wasike

30 July, 2010

Food for Thought

Over the years our family diet has changed from being a primarily alkaline diet to much more of a acid diet according to this chart. Part of the reason this has happened has to do with the fact of going local in our eating habits (e.g. more local fruits) and eating lots of pasta dishes. Will have to chew over the information for a while and see if there isn't anything that is easy to reintroduce into our eating habits rather than taking away.

28 July, 2010

A Parallel World

The nearby turkish barbershop is closed this week because of rennovations. The place has a large front window that frames the flow and buzz of activity within. Turkish barbershops are a fascinating sub-culture in the neighbourhood we live in. Hair is cut, beards are shaven, and excess facial hair is plucked with much finesse.

It is not an exageration to say the effect is more sculpturing than hairdressing. In contrast to other barbershops, the shop across the street allows older sisters, mothers, grandmothers to sit on the bench across from the row of barberchairs and watch the master barbers at work on their loved ones. Sometime it seems as if there might be more observers than there are customers, but that might be my subjective opinion.

23 July, 2010

Remix Heaven

Kleptones - Come Again (Beatles vs Rare Earth vs Beaties vs Daft Punk vs Cypress Hill vs Boston) Video by Crumbs Chief from The Videotones on Vimeo.

It's Friday and so I wanted to share this delightful remix. May you all have a sunny and enjoyable few days at home or on your travels.

20 July, 2010

A Sunset of the City

The hot dry summer days loll on. I’m still seeking employment. Though I should say, I do have meaningful employment; lots of projects being juggled both here and in Kimilili, Kenya. Now I just need employment with a salary.


Listening to poetry these days. Find it soothes my restless soul. Today’s find was Gwendolyn Brooks’s, A Sunset of the City. Please go to this link and her speak the poem. I love how she describes growing older,

It is summer-gone that I see, it is summer-gone.
The sweet flowers in drying and dying down,
The grasses forgetting their blaze and consenting to brown

There are moments now when I feel such, but I try and let them flow away with the summer breeze.

19 July, 2010

Pace of Life

Something to consider. If the pace of life differs between countries, cultures, and religions, do you think it differs throughout your life various phases?

"Past-oriented vs. present or future-oriented personalities differ across many landscapes, and factors like religion, geography and culture greatly influence how individuals experience time."

linked from Neatorama

14 July, 2010

Renewed Hope


As you guys know, I've been seeking a new job position for the last months*. After many ups and downs, I had lost my spirit.  That is, until a friend and I sat down and worked through a list of possibilities: narrowing and prioritizing the possibilities into Plan A, B, C, and D. My spirits picked up knowing that there were concrete tasks I could do towards finding a job.

And as it so often is in life, I was working through this list late last week, when all of a sudden I tripped across a job description that exactly fit my credentials and hopes for a Plan A job. It took me two reads before I could believe that even though the times are tough, there are still jobs out there that I reallyreally would like to do.

I've just received word that the organisation has been inundated with applications and so they ask for my patience. This might mean that I won't even be invited for an interview. But, you know, this will not be the end of the world. Now that I have found the job description with my name stamped on it, I just have to find another organisation with the same sort of viewpoint. My hope has been renewed.

10 July, 2010



I've been wanting to announce the following for a while now. It is quite exciting partake upon such a venture and I am forever thankful to the group of friends who have agreed to help organise this ambitious program.

"Woman On A Journey is an art and culture program that is to take place in the Frauenhotel in Luebeck, Germany throughout the year of 2011. The program includes an art exhibit of collages by lilalia, as well as contains various workshops and seminars exploring the central theme of ”Inner and Outer Journeys Of Discovery”.

The seminars are informative and inspirational presentations, whereas the workshops are participatory or exploratory in nature. Various themes are explored, such as,

  • Women traveling Solo
  • Luebeck: A city seeped in culture and of many cultures (perspectives from migrant women on International Women’s Day 2011)
  • Growing old with all your senses and common sense
  • Africa: A Continent of Resourceful Entrepreneurs
  • Social-Marketing vs. Social Engagement

Woman On A Journey is the brainchild of lilalia and Sabine D. whose intention is the support of women networks through artistic and cultural exchange. In the background of the art exhibit and public events is the promotion and support of a community of businesswomen in Kimilili, Kenya. The central goal of the program is to create a lively conversation amongst women who aspire to living life as an inward and outward journey of discovery."

07 July, 2010

Let's All Play Some Football

Well, don't know if you guys are interested, but tonight Germany plays Spain in the semi-finals of the World Cup. Everyone around here is just going through the day as if all is normal. I suspect though that they, like me, are just going through the motions and their concentration is not really on the task at hand.

If you have time please watch this video where Raphael Honigstein talks about whether Germany has a chance of winning against Spain.

No matter who wins, it is bound to be a great show of fine football playing. So those of you who haven't ever cottened to this game, give it a try. You might be surprised.

04 July, 2010

Windows of my Journeys III


Many many years ago, when we were sailing the Venezuelan coast, we came upon an island that had been hit by a great tidal wave. The regional lush landscape was replaced by desert terrain. Initially, I thought this island to be far less interesting than the jungle bush, but soon I was a convert to the diversity of desert landscapes. This collage is a homage to those times.

30 June, 2010

Windows of my Journeys II


Life is ridiculously busy since I returned from Toronto. Everyday I start with a list of items that need to be done. The end of the day comes with having crossed off quite a few, but there are always more left only half-done.

It is not yet noon today and the list looks something like this:
  • write three blog posts for up-and-coming Football Tournament in Kimilili (not done)
  • go for long walk with A. (done)
  • work out job search priority list with A. (done)
  • create mock-up text for website my son is creating for sponsor company in Nairobi (mostly done)
  • write S. in Germany who is going over to Kimilili as a volunteer in August with the list of contents of the two boxes I sent to him yesterday that he will take with him (not done, left over from yesterday)
  • ask A. whether she knows anyone with an old laptop for the women's co-op in Kimilili (forgot)
  • rework "Women on a Journey" concept (started, needs lots of work)
  • write C. about whether her family is willing to help if needed for young woman I know who is going to work in Capetown's townships (not done)
  • wish C. happy wishes on starting new job tomorrow (not done)
  • prepare for charity shop monthly meeting (not done)
  • attend charity shop monthly meeting (not done)
  • need groceries (not done)
  • 5 other items that I forget what they are (typical, ssheesh)
Mid-day... time to get going...

Collage makes me feel calm when all around me chaos rules.

26 June, 2010

Windows of my Journeys

I've started another series of collages. For now, I will call them "Windows of my Journeys".


This is one of the collages I am making for a exhibit. The exhibit is part of a year long art exhibit and series of workshops called, Woman on a Journey, that is going to take place at the Womens-Only Hotel in 2011.

24 June, 2010

Football Fever

Sorry, you guys. Bad case of Football Fever and can't make it to our regular tea party. Will be back soon.

19 June, 2010

Concentration at Work/ Working with Concentration

It took six days for a group of Buddhist monks to create a mandala of compassion out of coloured sand. I think this is the first time-lapse video that I’ve seen that was captures the work of someone producing a singular piece of work over such a long period of time. The monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery who created the work apparently then destroyed the mandala and scattered the sand into a river for it to be carried off into the world.

To read more about the creation of this mandala you can go to the following links (here and here).

18 June, 2010

Special Times with Friends

Toronto has apparently experienced a fantastic warm and sunny spring. One of the funny things about this trip was the rainy cold weather I brought with me. Yet, the photos I took on the two or three good days seem to defy this impression that I gained as the Bringer of Bad Weather.

This trip was unique in the amount of time I spent walking and talking with friends. What a delight this was. Particularly, we walked through two neighbourhoods (Cabbage Town and Dundas/Bathhurst) I hadn't known before. We also went to museums and saw the normal tourists sites, but I didn't take any photos of these because there are much better ones to be found on Flickr or other photos sites.

16 June, 2010

From Another Perspective

One of the reasons I so delight in going to cafés is because I love looking at the mundane day-to-day dealings of life viewed through the eyes of a stranger (me), yet also that of a participator (customer).

This lets me sit and watch two fellow customers idle away the morning waiting for the rain to stop.


Or just watch a veteran waiter work the espresso machine with an ease of movement that is highly enviable.


Or, consider how our choice of footwear can say about our personalities.


In the end, the experience of sitting in a café is similar to being both an insider and outsider all at the same time.

14 June, 2010

Gil Scott-Heron, I'm New Here

Something so mesmerizing about Gil Scott-Heron's voice and the moving images along the walls and piano keys...

There are still some posts that I am composing concerning my trip to Toronto and Montreal. Been trying to catch up on my google reader and all the emails. Thought I would be able to get so much done today. Not so. Slow as a snail actually would be the best way to describe the pace.

Wonderful to be back, though the time spent with family and friends was brilliant.

Big news... oldest child officially finished with high school (grade 13). How marvelous! Congratulations, dear son of mine.

12 June, 2010

Nothing Left To Say

Always appreciated John Clarke and Bryan Dawe's input.

10 June, 2010

Rainy Toronto Morning

The Old Portuguese man with the long grey beard stands outside the cafe smoking his cigarette. He does so in a manner that doesn't tip the ash off, instead it leaves the ask attached to the glowing ring forever descending closer to the filter.

His cup of coffee awaits him patiently at his table in the corner.

The owner of Wah Fook Seafood Trading, a shop that is walked with hanging plants and vegetable garden seedlings, stands under the awning finishing his cigarette just at the same time the Old Portuguese is lighting his. When Mr. Wah Fook is done with his quick smoke, he begins to shift some of the plants from under the awning with those potted plants standing on the sidewalk away to the left of his shop.

He subtly, but irrevocably, crouches over to the sidewalk space of one “Manuel R. Bentes, Denture Specialist” before he opens up his office this rainy morning.

04 June, 2010

Curiously Lacking in Representation

As so often happens in life, a common thread of an idea has woven its way through my reading over the last week or two. This common thread is the lack of vital representation of  women leaders in our society. It started to make itself present through a  lecture I listened to that Stephen Lewis gave called, Women: Half the World, Barely Represented. (This was the 4th of the 5 Massey Lectures he gave in 2005.)

Then my son sent me this rather whimsical video called The Bechdel Test,

You would think with such minimal requirements contemporary films would manage to past the test, but it does not appear so.

Then this video by Women's Media Center that was a winner of the Vital Voices youtube contest discussed the curious lack of representation of women in media.

It really makes you wonder doesn't it about how long it has taken to move such small a distance? Or maybe not, the news I read today lifted my spirits. Congratulations Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessa!

03 June, 2010

International Travel

These are some of the observations of my trip yesterday:

What is it with people traveling in their flip flops? An international airport and an airplane where you are squished together, are not the places to wear beach gear. Enough already.

Having an hour in the earlyearly monring to sit and watch the "ramp agents" (kid you not, that is what was written on their polo shirts), window cleaners, shop people, and waste disposal people clean up and prepare their shops and the departure lounges for a busy day, was like watching a symphony of efficiency of motion.

A note to Air Canada: taking the very bad idea of a corn dog, stripping it of its stick and hot dog, squirting some chickpea mush back in and serving it in a paper container with Air Canada stamped in the corner, does not make it a meal.

Boy, can I talk up a storm when I am dizzy with exhaustion, joyful at seeing dear friends, and so excited at the prospect of sharing their company for the days to come.

24 May, 2010

New Trend


The newest trend that's cropped up in the last while in restaurants and cafes, is their practice of moving away from common American soft drink brands towards locally made brands. The soft drink above is called, "Sauer", which translates either to "sour" or "mad". And, it's rhubarb flavour is sour and madly wonderful. It's list of ingredients (rhubarb and red currant concentrates, sugar, and water) is refreshingly simple as is it's taste. No chemicals. No perservatives. There is only enough sugar to insure that your cheeks don't pucker inwards.

What I like most of all is the thought that going local can mean many things. 

23 May, 2010

Not all things go wrong...


Was listening to Felix Dennis' poem, "Not all things go wrong..." this morning and thought it went well with the collage I made yesterday.

The last paragraph of the poem,

"Not all things go wrong - and after
Winter's famine comes the spring,
Kindness, beauty, children's laughter -
Joy is ever on the wing."

rung so true of these days, like today, when the sun shines and all members of this household are pleasantly preoccupied with various adventures.

21 May, 2010

Early Morning

On my walk this morning, I caught the glimpse of a couple taking their boat out for an early morning journey. Most of the other people on the bicycle paths and sidewalks were rushing on towards their offices or school classrooms. I imagined the couple standing near on the top deck with the thermos full of hot coffee and a sunny day in front of them, and was envious of their freedom.

Then I realised that I also had the freedom to take a short journey of my own.

So, I sat on the sunny bench in an empty playground and listened to Krista Tippet and Alan Dienstag's insightful conversation titled, "Lessons from the Lifelines Writing Group 
for People in the Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease: 
Forgetting That We Don't Remember".

It was a wonderful stolen hour.

20 May, 2010

Strolling along the my favourite Café

If I remember correctly, I told you about my favourite café that is located in a flowershop not far from where we live. Here is a slide show of photos taken last week...

On a side note, my favourite season in Germany is spring. My favourite season in Canada (east coast) was autumn.

Since I am at home looking for meaningful employment, I tend to go out for a lot of long walks. Sometimes I go along, but not always. I have a handful of friends that occasionally accompany me during these meanderings. Their company and our conversation is as much a comfort, as it is an opportunity to explore all things vast and small.

17 May, 2010

Life of a Slouth

For the first time since January, when I became unemployed, I have this feeling of quite anticipation in my belly. A joy to be able to work on whatever projects I want to do. There are no deadlines. There are no outside pressures. There is just a whole notebook full of ideas and the will to translate these ideas into concrete actions.

For instance, do some research on various projects:

The “8 Goals for Africa” song is part of an awareness and advocacy campaign developed by the United Nations System in South Africa on the eight Millenium Development Goals. The program began in 2000 and is supposed to finish in 2015, so that means the program is the last phase and yet, there is so much more to do.

12 May, 2010

I heart TEDxNYED

Ok, I know, I know, not more TED, but heck, yes to more TED. Just spent the day watching the TEDxNYED videos. My mind is sizzling. My butt is numb.

I won’t bore all of you who are not educators or parents of children in schools, by embedding all of my favourites. Rather, I just want to make a list of links to a few of them and explain why they are worth watching.

Dan Meyer’s presentation introduction is a grabber:

“Can I ask you to please recall a time when you really loved something: a movie, album, a song or a book. And, you recommended it wholeheartedly to someone you also really liked. And, you anticipated that reaction, you waited for it, and it came back, and the person hated it. So by way of introduction, that is the exact same state that I spend every working day of the last six years… I teach high school math.”

He then goes on and explains with passion and precision five factors that contribute to this situation of having to teach math to unmotivated students, as well as five factors that can change this.

Dan Cohen’s presentation is titled, “The Last Digit of Pi”, and is an entertaining, but probing story about pi, which is “a story about the psychology of change and the inertia of the past systems of knowledge, and past systems of education”.

Mark Welsh is always an interesting person to listen to. In this talk he is no less so. He tells a very funny story at the beginning that explains the tortures and joys of culture shock, but also discovery of and participation in these new cultures. “This is actually why anthropologists do what they do. We want to become children again and learn a new world in a new way with open eyes.” How marvellous is this description of the journey all of us should venture on, anthropologist or not. Yet, in the end, his talk is not one of inspiration, but of caution (sometimes when we try to use media (for social changes), media uses us) and we would do well to listen.

Jay Rosen’s presentation is called, “Pragmatism: Look for really good problems…”. Watch it. Enjoy.

09 May, 2010

Mother’s Day

Making a bit of a fuss of Mother’s Day is fine with me, but I really feel it should be more of a big to-do about our children. Where would we mothers be without all of the joys and challenges our children introduce into our lives? I know there is International Children’s Day, but it never is quite measures up to all the kind gestures of cake-eating-flower-giving-card-making celebrations of Mother’s Day.

My son sent me a link to the following cartoon animated story from Story Corps. Twelve-year-old Joshua Littman, who has Asperger’s syndrome, interviews his mother, Sarah, and the their conversation is very poignant at times.

Q&A from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

It would be nice to have a Family Day, don’t you think?

08 May, 2010

Spring Colours


There is a wonderful flower shop downtown that runs a café on Fridays and Saturdays. I love going there, particularly on a grey raining day like today, so that I can feast upon the variety colours and forms of the flowers. I'll have to see if I can take a photo of this.

07 May, 2010

Janelle Monáe - Something Fresh

Janelle Monáe featuring Big Boi of Outkast, “Tight Rope.”

I just love this fusion of song, dance, storyline, and music video production. Janelle Monáe and the other musicians and dancers have created something fresh, though there is some very old about the moves too. Maybe not old, but classic. Can you make something new that is already classic? I've watched the video now five times and with each viewing I learn to like it better each time.  

04 May, 2010

Good Guy

Thought you might enjoy this poetry reading of Bill Murray's. Good guy through and through.

30 April, 2010

Ray of Hope

I had a job interview just before Easter. The position is as a teacher in a industry and trade school. I've been invited back for a second interview next Monday. Please keep your fingers crossed.

25 April, 2010

Personality of Things


A while ago, I saw a photograph exhibition in a café in Berlin that was a series of images of the contents of women’s purses. The contents were either neatly positioned in a sort of collage, or just randomly dumped out onto the surface of a table or sidewalk. The images were rather provocative as well as informative. They did seem to speak of the personality of the owner.


I’ve always wondered whether the same thing could be said for what you find on pin boards or how you arrange your office desktop. What do you think?

22 April, 2010

Audience Experience versus Musical Participation

I know a couple that is very active in a charity organisation that brings classical music into people’s everyday lives. They arrange for very talented musicians, mostly master students from the local music conservatory, to play music in concert halls, churches, school auditoriums, hospital wards, prison cafeterias, senior citizen homes, women centers… anywhere people gather, they try to bring music to them.

One of the perks of this couple’s volunteer work, is they get to know many of the musicians personally. A few years ago, three musicians mentioned how they were preparing some pieces for an international music competition. They were concerned that they had only practiced the pieces, but not actually preformed them. So, began a series of home concerts in my friends’ living room.

The next concert is just around the corner (piano and violin) and I am very much looking forward to going. It is hard to describe how magical it is to hear music of such beauty in the intimacy of a living room. There is something visceral, physical, and emotional about the experience. It cannot be compared to recorded music, and not even music performed in a concert hall.

I watched this video today with much interest:

On the TED site, the video is explained as follows:

185 voices from 12 countries join a choir that spans the globe: "Lux Aurumque," composed and conducted by Eric Whitacre, merges hundreds of tracks individually recorded and posted to YouTube. It's an astonishing illustration of how technology can connect us.”

Initially, I was very intrigued by the idea and even the realisation. Then it started to remind me of some science fiction film, a little eerie, if not unsettling. Then I realised that, from an audience point of view, it just doesn’t work for me.  It couldn’t be further from the experience of sitting in the living room with a group of friends and hearing every nuance of a musician’s genius.

The merit of Eric Whitacre’s idea is perhaps in the experience the people performing the piece felt. The opportunity to sing in the comfort of your home and still participate in a virtual concert.

What do you think, would you rather be in that living room as the audience, or in your bedroom as a participator? 

20 April, 2010

Impressive Images and Good Graphics

The Big Picture has another series of spectacular photos of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano outbreak.

My son has been stuck in southern Italy these last days due to the reduced air traffic in Europe. The gods willing, he is making his way home today.

One of the reasons I so enjoy the Information is Beautiful blog is that the author asks the right question and finds the clever answer so often.

David the creator of the graphic above just posted the following information:

"We got our figures wrong on the CO2 emissions of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajoekull. Badly wrong.

So we want to apologise.

We pride ourselves on good data and solid information. Despite detailed research and feedback from Icelandic vulcanologists, our figures were out by a magnitude of ten

The volcano is emitting 150,000 tons of CO2 per day, not 15,000 tons."

Even though David made an initial mistake, I still think the corrected image shows how graphics are good for presenting both the big picture and the small details of a situation.

19 April, 2010

Media Production in the Warmth and Comfort of Home

(making of film of a Belgium natural gas advert, the advert is shown at the end of the film)

Stop-motion animation is one of my favourite forms of filmmaking. When I was working in schools, it was the sort of project that children “get” right away. It doesn’t matter whether they are grade 2 students or grade 13 students, you explain the basics and off they go. What is so transparently unique about stop-motion is how a simple idea (e.g. warmth means wool) can be translated into a charming story.

Many children tell extremely complex stories that are often unintelligible to their listeners or readers if they are given free reign of their imagination. Stop-motion storytelling is most effective way of slicing the storyline down.

Take a look at the video above if you want to see how making a very simple stop-motion film allowed this young fellow, Pep, start creating media rather than just consuming it. This is the sort of media production educators (principals, teachers, and parents alike) should be encouraging their students to do.

For a detailed and interesting analysis of what Pep is saying in the film, please go to this post of Henry Jenkin’s Confessions of an Aca-Fan blog.

I’ve published numerous stop-motion animations in the past, so I won’t bore you with any more. If you want to know more about how to make your own stop-motion, please go to this post at makeuseof.com.

17 April, 2010

Everyday Heroes V

Everyday heroes we encounter are important influences on our lives. They have the ability to alter our thinking and, often, even the direction of our decision-making. This post is part of a series I am writing about the heroes I have met.


Name: Ruth
Profession: corporate law
Marital Status: married
Children: a daughter
Place of Origin: Cameroon

How we met:

Ruth came to live in Germany with her young daughter a year and a half ago. She came in the dead of winter. Ruth knew how to speak German and she had conscientiously studied all the facts and figures of this new country she was marrying into. What she couldn’t learn in the warm and wonderful climate of Douala, was what winter cold feels like. How deep damp winter weather can hurt you teeth and bones.

How the winter darkness can sap all the residues of sunny joy stored from childhood memories from the marrow of those bones.

How impenetrable are the blank facades in the faces of her German neighbours.

How confusing is the bureaucratic machinery that every citizen and resident must comply to.

Yet, Ruth proves to have more resilience and resourcefulness and quiet charm than all those dour beings and circumstances that are scattering stones in her way. She has forged loving relationships with her new extended family. She has become mightily efficient at navigating herself around the labyrinth called German bureaucracy. She’s helped her daughter find a place in her new neighbourhood. She has become a wise and kind friend.

What she has shown me:

She has shown an ability to move with assurance in a strange culture. She has show me that even if you are confused and at times desperate, you can’t stop moving in the general direction you see as forward. Whether it is forward or not, is almost irrelevant, just take purposeful steps as best you can.

14 April, 2010

The Moipei Quartet

Photo of The Moipei Quartet

Rafiki Kenya blog post a few days ago included some information about the Moipei Quartet,

“The Moipei triplets Mary, Martha and Magdalene and their younger sister Seraphine form the all girl music group, Moipei Quartet. These talented Maasai girls have very beautiful voices (well trained by their father Nicholas ole Moipei who is also their teacher) and often perform 'a capella' or accompanied by piano only, mostly in classical styles. Some of their songs also bring us a message, like Mbiu ya Mgambo, which highlights the plight of girls in the Maasai community.”

They have just brought out a new CD. Can imagine some of you (that means you, Fee) might like to order it.

I loved this song way back when, when my family and I used to watch John Denver sing it on his television show.