30 December, 2011

Sending Heartfelt Wishes Your Way

To all my family and friends, I send you warm heartfelt wishes your way. May the New Year be a year where some of your dreams come true and instill your heart with young optimism and lead you to discover new dreams to follow.

Being Alone

I left home to boarding school at 14, went alone to live in France at 16, and proceeded to choreograph a life of my own, on my own until I was 32 and my son entered my life. Nearly 20 years were spent figuring out the different hues of solitude, alone, and lonely.

Once you are on your own, no matter if you are alone or sharing a space with others temporarily, you are both the choreographer and dancer of your days.

There were times of sharing apartments with friends and strangers alike. Some friends stayed friends. Some strangers became friends. Some of both just disappeared into the dusty archive of "chalk it up to experience".

Most of all though, over those 20 years, I woke up alone and wandered out into the day.

I stumbled across Tanya Davis and Andrea Dorfman video poem a while ago and then again today. It speaks volumes of wisdom from someone who possesses equal portions of lion-heart and frightening vulnerability.

The poem is wonderful reminder of all those moments and years of finding the right rhythm within myself.

22 December, 2011

Divine Storytelling

The powerful words, the tonality of your deep voice, your inward journey escaping silent restraints... dupiously blessed by experiences that eventually find their way into divine storytelling.

If you wish for more...

21 December, 2011

Almost Like Santa's Workshop

Did you ever wonder what a bird's eye view of Santa's workshop would look like? Here is something not quite as magical,

but, still rather enchanting, don't you think?

Such Richness of Sound

"This September 2011, Hassan Wargui (Imanaren) from south Morocco met the group Nettle from New York City in Tangiers. A week of collaborative songwriting and recording led up to a concert outside the Cinematheque de Tanger in the medina. This is "L'Avion", one of the songs they wrote during this time."

18 December, 2011

A Tea Party

Yesterday, I met with some people I have got to know over this last year. It is fun making new friends. We chatted about our work, but also about philosophical ideas... just a really enjoyable experience.

15 December, 2011

Making sense of a difficult issue

"Seth Godin speaking at Acumen Fund’s 2011 Investor Gathering on the difficulties social enterprises face in selling their products to low-income markets."

It is such a delight when someone manages to explain a complex problem with common sense. Seth Godin, one of those people with equal part heart and brain, often manages to do just that. His explanation about why do people not buy something that is really good for them is spot on.

In the work I've been doing with NGOs there has been a reoccurring problem with adoption of new practices. In part, the problem lies with the risks of failure. If, for example, a woman planting her household garden uses new types of seeds (often more expensive) or new types of plants, there is a higher risk that the crops might fail... then she can not feed her family.

The solution we came up with was to set up a co-op garden initiative for the women to participate in. If they succeeded in growing better crops with less susceptibility to disease, we thought it would make it easier for the participants to take the step and buy the seeds the next time around. Yet, this hasn't necessarily proven true. The costs/risk factor continues to make the choice difficult.

Maybe we have to take into account what Seth Godin is saying about purchasing something new and the need for community efforts to influence individuals.

And maybe Kilimo Salama is not only a way of reducing the existential struggles of failed crops. It could also be a way of building up a community that helps small-scale farmers feel confident to adopt new ideas, get access to vital information, and more crucially, support their efforts for improved lifestyle.

13 December, 2011

Canada, shame on you

I am Canadian. I haven't lived in Canada for nearly 30 years, so I admit it may be inappropriate for me to speak as a "true Canadian".

Still, this news make me sad as a Canadian living overseas. I have lived in a European country that believed and worked towards compliance towards a betterment of ecological and economical consciousness. The Kyoto Agreement was the first demonstrative effort to build collective momentum on the issue of climate change. Not perfect. Not even monumental in its goals. Yet, it was a very good first step.

Is this just one more step Canada has taken in admitting their unwillingness to stand up to the larger forces that be (the USA)? Or, is it just a sign of a ineffectual government that is incapable of showing any backbone in the global political market?

What a shame...

11 December, 2011

Maybe the things we value can not me captured

Watch it on Academic Earth

You have got to love the internet... for all of you who want to learn and explore within the walls of (an elite) educational system... go wild.

10 December, 2011

Northern Light

sunset church
There is no sky light as magical as those countries up north. Ladyfi, who lives in Sweden, photographs one image after another that shows just that. The collage above is inspired from one of such images.

09 December, 2011

Being an Adventurer

Alastair Humphreys is an adventurer. He is asking school teachers around the world to use his book "The Boy who Biked the World" in school curriculum. 

The book is a children's book (but probably grade 8-9 level of English if English is your second language) and tells the story of his travels of bicycling the world. He would like to instill a curiosity for adventure in young people. This week he wrote this post:

"I am really pleased with The Boy Who Biked The World, my first book for children. My aim was to wrap education, the inspiration to think big and a curiosity about travel and the world into a fun, adventurous story. (You can read a sample couple of chapters here to judge whether I succeeded).
I’m now looking for primary school teachers anywhere in the world who might be interested in using the Boy Who Biked The World series as a class reading book. In addition to being an enjoyable book it is an ideal entry into many other classroom topics. I can provide bulk copies of the book at a discount price. And as well as personally signing each book I will also be happy to chat to classes worldwide via Skype, or answer questions through email.
If you are a teacher, or know any teachers please would you take a quick look at these sample chapters and then get in touch to discuss ideas. Thank you!"
Though this book obviously would be of interest to both boys and girls, I think it would be os special interest to boys. If you are a parent or teacher of teenage boys and want to concentrate positively on letting boys be boys... What better way could there be than getting their classmates to read the book and talk personally to Alistar over skype?

The other brilliant idea Alistar had this year was to spend his year in England going on mirco-adventures. This is a notion that everyone, but particularly young people should consider participating in. It can give an electrifying jumpstart to our inner lethargy or complacency and sets us off on a journey of discovery right outside our back doors. 

He and Ben Saunders are going to attempt an new adventure this year: 

SOUTH is the first return journey to the South Pole on foot, and the longest unsupported (human-powered) polar journey in history. The 1800 mile journey will take 4 months to complete, hauling 200kg sleds.

They will be sending photos and blog post daily. Following their progress would be a good geography/history project, don't you think?


I have followed Alistar's adventures and blogs for years now and know him to be a very enthusiastic, articulate, educated leader. Any contact with him would undoubtedly impress, if not inspire your children or students.

05 December, 2011

Things I didn't know

Who knew there was an international competitive sport of bodysurfering? Maybe I should watch television.

What a great sport. It is more easy to understand both the vitality and the brutality of playing the waves in this way than it is for me to understand surfing the massive waves. Bodysurfing is something everyone has done, with or without a board, the moment you are in the water and there is any waves pulling you inshore. Bodysurfing is the Merengue to the big wave surfing tango. So much more accessible and democratic. I might never have done any of the moves these surfers are doing, but my heart can feel the thrill.

03 December, 2011

An Endless Autumn

fiona sunset 04
The above is inspired/fired by a photo of Ladyfi. She kindly offered to let me use another of her marvelous Swedish landscapes.

Recently, a friend asked me whether she could make some postcards of my collages. Yes, feel free. Anyone can download any of my collages onto your computers. As long as you are not using the collages for commercial gain, I'm happy to let you use my images.

If you wish to make postcards of superb quality, I can highly recommend moo postcards (or business cards, mini cards). Their paper and colours are exceptional and the costs reasonable. If, for example, you order a pack of 20 postcards, you can upload 20 different images. Also, a plus, you can personalise the back of the postcard with your name and address.

02 December, 2011

Thinking of my others

The tall elm tree is decorated in fairy lights the whole way up its trunk and all of its branches. A magnificent serendipitous emblem of Christmas madness. The lights shine onto the windows of the three story building where three families live.

On the first floor, a rather depressive family from Uruguay, cover up the windows to shield them from the lights that shine throughout the night. The fairy tree quietly mirrors back its light into the street. The lights are unconcerned with the thick curtains. No one can impinge upon its joy.

The  family on the second floor, who so valiantly carry their baby and carriage up and down those steep stairs numerous times a day, have put large shining orange paper maché stars in every window.

On the third floor, the young couple play their violins together every evening. How romantic. Or is it just their job? They hang one red star in their living room widow. A token to Advent. It appears lost. Almost an after thought. When they are finished practicing their music, the living room lights turn off, the lone red star shines alone. In the next room their television flickers hours long.

I sit and wonder at all the goings-on in that household. The Christmas lights. Hoping they bring joy to those they shine upon.

Suddenly, the sickle moon appears from behind a moving cloud. It shines down on the building, over into my window, and thankfully, to all my others; my kindred souls sprinkled all over the place. I send you my thoughts and wishes for a fine holiday season.

30 November, 2011

My next dream job

Oh, did I laugh at this video. So very 1970s, don't you think? And to all you readers out there not from Germany... the type of jokes and bits of humour in the video are not typical of what passes for humour here. Germans can be really funny. Honest.

That all aside, wouldn't you love to work on the project? I would. 260 people employed on the project currently... wonder whether they need 261. I've never liked watching model landscapes, but I'd love to build them.

29 November, 2011

Strangely Poetic

Address Is Approximate from The Theory on Vimeo.

A strangely touching piece of film work. Wanderlust. Music. Far horizons. Paris Texas meets Wall-E in micro version.

24 November, 2011

A Woman with an Artist Eye

fiona sunset
Ladyfi is a artist who has a fantastic eye for capturing magical moments. As a British woman living in Sweden, she possess the curiosity and unique perspective of someone who has come from the outside in. The images she takes on her daily walks inspire us all who read her blog daily.

She has also generously offered on numerous occasions to send me some of her photos to make collages. Here is the original of the collage above. These two collages (1 and 2) also come from her photos.

Ladyfi, thank you ever so much for your generosity.

22 November, 2011

Starting up a freelance business

It has been nearly a year now since I started up my freelance business. I am working as a project manager, trainer, and technical editor. I do quite a bit of the former and later tasks, but the bulk of my work is, for the moment, working as a trainer.

This year has certainly been a roller coaster ride between breathless optimism and existential worries of looming failure. I thought I would write down my Top Five Lessons about being self-employed during economical times like these:

  1. Even at my age, I am capable of regularly and frequently working 12-hour days.
  2. Even after all my business experience, it is necessary sometimes to start with the modest contracts and build from there.
  3. Even if the media says otherwise, social media does not rule; word-of-mouth, person-to-person, face-to-face, straight-from-the-heart, are all top strategies for building a loyal customer network.
  4. Even if the economy is in crisis, people want to do their jobs well and are willing to pay if I can help them do that.
  5. Even though everyone is far too busy, it is surprising, and touching, people's willingness to find time to help me move forward.
To those of you who helped me learn these lessons, I am so very grateful for your enduring patience. Thank you so much.

20 November, 2011

The Arduino Project

I've been meaning to look at the six documentaries noted down in this blog post for a while now. First, well-made documentaries are fascinating to watch whatever the topic. Secondly, not so many years ago, I worked as a researcher in a great project promoting creative uses of digital technology in schools. If you share any of these two interests, please watch the video above.

The film outlines the Arduino project that provides students with a cost effective single-board microcontroller for controlling design projects. It is an open source hardware project that could become a very valuable learning tool for high school students. Basically, Arduino could be for hardware design what Alice is for object-oriented programming.

Even if you are not a teacher or not a parent of teenagers or not a technology buff... watch the video anyways. It will give you a glimpse into a world where innovation and creativity is a reality and not just a possibility.

19 November, 2011

Commercialising Fun

Sorry, not my normal style, but this French advertisement really is a hoot.

Also, can you imagine the initial marketing meeting? "I'm thinking pink bicycles, neon light stripper..." Must have taken a lot of courage.

A Thank You to Those Who Keep on Creating

keep drawing from studio shelter on Vimeo.

Years ago, I tripped over Elizabeth Perry's blog, where she posts simple drawings about her daily life. They are wonderful, funny, beautiful snapshots. She never writes very much in explanation of her subject, but the objects she draws do.

She partakes in other wonderful projects. Like going to a museum every day it is open for over seven months and making a drawing of something she sees.

She is the type of person who, given a choice, I'd love to meet over a long cup of tea and just ask her about what she sees and how she see it.
Over the years on my blog, I have republished a lot of the videos Elizabeth has put on her other blog (including the one above). This post is just an expression of thanks for all the creative input she gives those of us who enjoy her art.

14 November, 2011

Fine Quality

It is hard to tell people back in Canada what makes people tick here in Germany... well, this video almost captures the feeling of a job well done that is what makes so many people here happy.

12 November, 2011

Clash of Companions

We have a wonderful bakery right near where we live. It opens around six am. On Saturdays, like today, the early customers are an odd lot of still-awake-disco-goers, on-the-way-to-work-the-morning-shift-workers, and, touchingly, a fair group of fathers-of-small-babies-pushing-their-children-through-the-streets-to-let-their-wives-sleep-in-to-an-almost-humanly-acceptable-time-of-day-heroes.

Something New And Magical

LG (smartphones) and Google went out of their way coming up with this advert/product launch/art installation... whoever was behind the idea and the production has come up with something very unique. Wouldn't you have loved to have been there?

The building coming alive starts out very mechanical, so do stay with the show, for it eventually goes into the natural, fantastical, magical.

10 November, 2011

What Was So Cool...

What was so cool about the two young girls dressed in chic clothes... seeing them, so obviously happy, as they sang the latest pop song walking down the street, not caring a hoot who was looking at them... and how envious by-passers were (myself included) witnessing how comfortable and cool they felt... how very certain they were of their fantastical sublime-ness.

And all that despite the fact they were wearing their dorky bicycle helmets.

07 November, 2011

Poetry In Motion

Even though I promised myself not to embed so many videos from The Guardian, I just can not resist publishing this beautiful video on how to make sushi. Pure poetry in motion...


I've been thinking of doing a series of collages around tea... here's the first attempt at capturing what teatime means to me after 40 years of loving this drink in all its variety.

06 November, 2011

The Siren's Song

siren song
In Margret Atwood's poem, The Siren laments about the gullibility of humans. How we seek what we can never know... we yearn to hear only the one truth, the one song. A song that speaks not of truth, but simply expresses our deep yearning.

This poem makes me wonder about our gullibility in constantly seeking out experts to tell us how rid ourselves of our persisting malaise about what is to come. We yearn so to know… what is going to happen, how can we circumvent disaster, how can we come through it all unchanged?

Perhaps, just occasionally, we should just choose to turn off the television or not read the article. Choose not to listen.

02 November, 2011

Tasty In The Making

One of my favourite things to eat is tempura vegetables and seafood. I am sure though I never have had the joy of actually eating tempura prepared with the same care as Yoshinori Ishii prepares his.

I've just put "going to Umu and eating tempura" on my list of things I would like to do in my life.

30 October, 2011

As Time Passes Quietly

Dear Sister, Dear Friend, and to
Those of Us who remember... days
Of hopeful anticipation, butterflies,
That prickling sensation, those
Moments before flight, when there
Was air under my feet, oh the joy,
Oh the lightness of breath… stepping
Forward into an adventure. Knowing
I'd never really know, but still...
Leaping, prancing, twirling with
Abandon, because life was spring
All was new and my spirit was free.

Now my dreams are muffled in
Coats of daily challenges, whether
Fair or not, it does not matter,
Really, truly, they do not define my
Self. Time slowly, quietly dances
Amongst the leaves of such splendor,
Such sublime lightness. The falling.
Who would have known? Certainly not
Me of the past. Thank God for that.

28 October, 2011

Green Flash

Seeing a green flash is somewhat similar to sighting a whale or having an iguana silently approach you while you sit still and silent at its water source... it is magic.

I am not sure you can capture the moment, or even should try. The green flash is all about anticipation. How can that possibly be anything by flighty?

23 October, 2011

The Strange Thing Is...

The strange thing is that most of my friends and many of my acquaintances are under the false impression that I am very computer suave. Sure, I've been at this a long time, but that does not mean that I necessarily know what I am doing.

What my friends do not realise is that sooooo often my son receives calls from me similar, truly, similar to these spoken on Byran's voicemail,

Dearest Long Suffering Son of Mine, thank you for your amazing patience when it comes to all the troubleshooting you have done over the years. Thank you for sending the link of the video above to your mother.

I don't know if there was any hint-hint-nudge-nudge intended... even if, you message well taken.

30 September, 2011

Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Doctor's

MakeUseOf is a brilliant site to get information just about everything to do with technology. If you want to know the who's who of media, or learn about new trends, or just gather new ideas, this is the site to go to.

This morning I stumbled across a description of a new web app called Ovulation. The app helps you figure out (presumably for those women/couples wanting to become pregnant) when you ovulate.

(mmm hmm...sipping my hot tea)

Initially, my reaction is, wow, we've sure come a long way since my young adult years, when fertility and ovulation cycles were not a topic of public discussion. Instead, here was a totally refreshing blatant proclamation,

"Numerous methods exist to solicit feedback after an event. However, sometimes the feedback is more timely and helpful if it can be gathered during the performance and Ovulation lets you do exactly that."

(letting the steam from my cup steam-up my glasses)

OK, my mind did a little trip... performance... what do they mean, when it's happening, or when you are performing that marvelous act of trying to make a baby during a time that increases your chance of it happening?

(my mind going into early 1960s primp sex education mode)

Then I read the final sentence,

"... It is a web app that allows you to create a page for your event, which your audience can go to using their smartphones."

(double take)

Ovation is a web app...

Usually, I am terribly tried being dyslexic. This morning it gave me ten minutes of uncontrollable mirth.

29 September, 2011

Anniversary Overlooked

I just realised that I forgot my sixth-year blogging anniversary. My heavens, how could that happen! Many marriages don't last that long.

And, yes, the first flush is long over. The "is this all" hit the wall, was rather messy, but I managed (hopefully) to clean it up without anyone noticing (thank you Charlotte and Kristi for your help on this occasion).

It almost makes me teary to think of all the ups-and-downs that I experienced over these six years. Would I start a blog today knowing what I know now?... to be honest, probably not. Would I want to miss out on blogging, no matter how sporadically it has become?... definitely not!

Directly connected to all approximately 1,200 blog entries are the nearly 250 collages I have made. It boggles my mind... here are a good slice of my favourite collages. (I know, you've seen them all, but I thought it would be appropriate to post the slideshow once again.)

I have met great people through my blogging, have developed deep and meaningful friendships, discovered brilliant ideas on other blogs, explored a lot of my inner landscape, and probably left behind the most important document in my life for my children to explore at their risk some time in the future.

Long live the internet!

17 September, 2011

New World

Many many years ago, I wrote three scripts for computer games for women. It was an idea before its time...the games blended video sequences, digital storylines, and mini-games into a gaming experience that was quirky and entertaining.

In order to try and find a game publisher, I attended a few game shows. And, while I was there I did manage to speak to people (men) involved in the business. They kindly introduced me to the ins-and-outs of the publishing business.

The gaming business is huge and exciting and a massive sub-culture many people never "get". Yet those who know their way around in this world have great stories to tell.

P.S. The scripts are still in their numerous binders in a storage cupboard. I got as far as having a few meetings with production managers of Sony Europe. Their final thought, "interesting, but too expensive to produce". One of these days I'll take the scripts out again and brush off the dust and see whether there is anything worth salvaging.

15 September, 2011

Strange Experience

Just came back from lunch at our local Mac-fast-food-place. Haven't been there for a while. Certainly not just when all the schools have closed for the day. It was very strange experience... the machines peeping endlessly away, much in the same way the monitoring units do on intensive care wards, the crowds of hungry teenagers, the rows of hamburgers being added to from one end and taken away from the other, very Tetras like...

13 September, 2011

Rambunctious Fun

Sometimes making music is a rambunctious sweaty fun sort of affair where the noise and foot stomping lends its vibes to the music on stage. Video in point. Can you feel the audience jumping up and down on each others toes?

08 September, 2011

The Art of Living Life Barefoot

There are two types of sailors. Ones that see the deck is wet and carpeted with sharp objects and wear the appropriate footwear. And those who slow down and get the feel of the danger by being barefoot. I was raised in a sailing tradition of the later.

If we put shoes or boots on while on-board, it took away a vital means of sensory perception. Instead of letting our feet help us “see” our way across the deck, we would blindly bump our way around.

The reason I am babbling on about this is because I spent a good part of the night (sleeping badly at the moment) thinking about the art of living one’s life barefoot. How there are whole groups of people or cultures that go through life so.

My early childhood in Venezuela and Grenada was completely barefoot. In my later childhood we were always so at home. We even tottered down the frozen driveway in deepest winter barefoot to dig the newspaper out of the snow bank without shoes. And there were the blissful summers where our feet never touched anything but stone, sand, grass, and hot pavement of the roads coming home late in the day.

Then nearly thirty years ago, I moved to Germany. A culture that doesn’t embrace bare feet. I’m sure you’ve seen the German tourists that wear sandals with socks. This just shows how clearly they don’t get the concept of going barefoot.

Ok, in the privacy of their homes, or while sitting in their gardens… yes, you can get a glimpse of folks here wiggling their toes. But that is about it.

I’m not saying this is wrong. It is just other. Not bad other or good other… just other.

Living here so long has changed me in many ways, but in no way as much as in this matter. I see American tourists walking through airports wearing flipflops, and shrink into myself. All those bared toes… in public… how inappropriate. I look at teenagers wearing bare feet in the cities during a hot summer day and think, spittle, grime, and dog poo.

Oh no, I’ve sold out! How could that happen? Could it be possible to retrieve that feeling a naked innocence of times past?

Would I have to take off my soft and warm slippers this cold rainy morning to do so?

31 August, 2011

Fashion Dork

Somewhere along the way from metamorphosing from a child who liked to climb trees and didn't give a thought to whether my socks were matched or my t-shirts were on the right way around, and becoming an adult who was trying to make herself as attractive as possible the James Dean types out there, I missed a critical step... learning about fashion.

Last Friday I attended my first fashion show. Actually, I attended the general rehearsal for that evening's fashion show. I spent more time wondering what drives the (amateur) models to want to become models than I paid attention to what they were wearing.

28 August, 2011

Danny Macaskill- Doing what he does best

I'm sure I've shown one or two of Danny Macaskill's cycle stunt odysseys. My son sent me the link to this one, The Industrial Revolutions, and I was struck how marvelous the film team managed to gather a balance between intricate and sweeping movements, between the mind and gut feelings.

Danny Macaskill - Industrial Revolutions (by cutmedia1)

I'm not sure what made Macaskill the hero of a brigade of young people who spend their lives doing stunt cycling... but I am glad he is succeeding in doing what he wants in life.

25 August, 2011

Slow Return

When I started this blog, all those years ago, I promised myself not to apologise, not to explain away bad blogging behaviour... but, I do want to say I am sorry for not idling here for such a long while.

The summer was a delightful one of continual guests. Oh, how easy it was to become distracted with friends and family knocking at my door daily, "Do you want to come out and play?" What better an invite could I wish for?

Not that you left my life... I did read you, one and all. And now that summer is more of a willful bedmate showing signs of wanting to leave, I promise more attention in the weeks to come.

07 August, 2011

Life's Wisdom

Link from my son today. Thought it would be good to share with you. Don't know about you, but Tetris is one of those games I played forever.

30 July, 2011

Trying to make Amends

During a recent visit with my younger brother and his family, it was pointed out that I had not included any photo or story of him in a family journal I created for my children years ago. This was a grave oversight.

An oversight I can only explain by the fact that those childhood memories, or the ones that I recorded, happened in my early childhood. Up until the time I was about 10-years-old. My brother, seven years younger, just didn’t figure into those times.

Later, when he was a young child, I was gone, having left home at 14. Now, I am perfectly aware that this is all just talk. So instead, I decided to try and make amends by creating this collage and writing him a poem.

The boy in the collage reminds me of my brother. I imagine the boy has been asked by an older brother to take his bicycle and put it into the garage. The boy is too small to ride the bicycle, but pride and excitement allow him to skim over the ground faster than any bicycle could.

(If you look closely, both his feet and one of the wheels are off the ground.)
boy and bicycle

Little Brother

We grew up in two different epochs.
Where those sitting at our family table
Varied in numbers and vulnerability.

You, with your joyous youthful naivety,
Were able to run light foot over ground,
Not once touching that precarious surface
Vibrating with its undercurrents of

Disgruntled teenager murmurings and
Old people’s loud whisperings,
“The times are changing. The end is near.”

Your world was filled instead with a
Giant imagination that transformed
All our adult pettiness into something noble
And worth worshipping, though we were
Not the heroes we could have been.
Should have been. The ones you deserved.

24 July, 2011

Homage to my Umbrella IV

umbrella05 dawn
To tell a story. To do so with self-depreciation and humility. To make choreography.

Heather McHugh does so brilliantly. I was going to quote the last words of the poem, the sage words, but that would be taking away the soul of the story. Do enjoy.

19 July, 2011

Hats Off To Akala

Hats off to Akala for rapping, ranting, raging, rhyming with heart and sharp eloquence. Please watch to the end. You can even listen twice. Pure energy and tension and still loose.

09 July, 2011

Homage to my Umbrella IV

umbrella01 red
There are no childhood memories more filled with sounds, smells, and touch then those summer days spent near water. Timeless moments with sand between my toes. Salt from the sea caked in the crevasses of my skin. The feel of the sun hard upon my scalp. Digging. Digging. For gold. For China.

Stopping briefly to run into the water. Quickly, secretly, I flip my bikini bottoms down so the cakes of sand can dissolve away from between my legs. Quickly. Joyfully. I dive deep down into the coldness. My breath sucked away. I struggle to surface. An intake of breath a triumph. The wind slaps waves into my face and up my nose.

Rushing back to shore, I plop back down in my hole to China.

Such memories are divine. They transport every cell of my body back in time.

06 July, 2011

Homage to my Umbrella III

Spending some delightful days in Amsterdam with friends. It rains. It shines. The talk flows. The laughter bubbles over.

This city holds many fond memories of youthful escapades I shared while visiting a South African dancer friend. Riding through the city on the back of his rackety bicycle in the wee hours of the morning. He'd rush into the company ballet class having consumed two cups of strong Dutch coffee. No sleep. He'd finish the day's rehearsal with an empty pack of cigarettes. Manage an evening performance, which he'd get free ticket for me to watch. Then we were off to a bar with theater friends.

05 July, 2011

Homage to my Umbrella II

The sound of the sea greets me in the dark hour before dawn. Salty foam from the white caps out at sea mingle with the turbulent sandy swirl of waves breaking over the coral reef just outside me open bedroom window.

There is a rhythmic intake of silence then a swooshing sound, and thankfully the thunder of a wave breaking below. My mind drops back into a dream on the plains of an Arabian desert. Sultans. Silk. Caravans. Salt. Spices. Images that jumped out of the pages of the book I am reading. It lies half open with my thumb marking my spot. The reading lamp draws night creatures even in the coming dawn.

Bird song. First tentatively. Chirp. Breep. Cheep. Then a sudden wild burst of abandonment. A symphony.

My breath changes. My limbs shift. My mind wakens again, but this time to the day.

03 July, 2011

Homage to my Umbrella I

Summer is here and the only thing I can say is, "Are you kidding?" I'm not going to talk about the weather, no matter how strange and horrible it might be. Instead, I've decided to do a series of "Homage to my Umbrella" collages, with little or no comment.
Long ago, there was a time when I loved nothing better than going for walks during storms. Ah, my early 20s, when primal fears and melancholic indulgences ran amok. Fortunately, I had some chums who would accompany me on these excursions. Snow, sleet, fog, torrential rains... all good elements to batter down my moodiness.

Looking back on those days, I imagine the me-then calling up today and asking the me-now to go out for a walk and the only thing that comes to mind is, "Are you kidding?"

24 June, 2011

Slam Dunk

Our family has a contest going on along the lines "What was mom thinking?" Mothers (and fathers) are meant to help raise their children to be strong and healthy. To do this, they need to feed their children a balanced diet. So, our contest is to establish acts of gross wrong-doing in meeting children's nutritional needs.

My brother once witnessed an act of pure genius... in some small Scottish diner, a mother served her children French Fry sandwiches for breakfast! French Fries between two slices of toasted white bread. (OK, there were doses of ketchup in between as well.)

So, my brother has held the record for the best bad meal for the last 23 years! Oh, we've tried, but no matter what we've seen, the Scottish French Fry Breakfast Sandwich has always come out on top. Until today...

I saw my prize at a school sport event. The parents had set up a breakfast buffet for the school children.  Right in the middle of the buffet table, on a big aluminum platter, was a mountain of soft white bread rolls with squished chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies in between. Here is the recipe,

  1. Take one white bread roll
  2. Slice through the middle
  3. Take one chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies
  4. Squish flat
  5. Place between bread roll
I am not joking. Appalled, I talked to one of my friends about it. "Oh, I used to sneak to the local store and buy one of those on the way to school when I was a kid." This creation is not the invention of a crazy mother, it's actually tradition here!

Now, I am all for French fries and sweets, but for breakfast... Anyways, this creation is a slam dunk for upsurging my brother's prize, so I can't complain.

What is the worse you every saw a parent giving their children to eat?

16 June, 2011

Somewhere in the corner of my cupboard

In the corner of my cupboard, underneath a pile of clothes I no longer fit in, is a t-shirt from my dad. There is a photo image of an “Old Fart” (him) parachuting. He’s wearing a helmet of sorts. His face is squeeze up almost beyond recognition. His arms are extended outwards. He’s in the middle of a free fall. There is this wonderful goofy expression on his face.

The story behind this t-shirt is the following…

On the occasion of my father’s 70th birthday, he spontaneously decided to gift himself a trip to Australia. A friend of his had sailed his boat from Canada to Chile, and then over to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. My father, apparently on a whim, decided to visit his friend and spend some time with him on his boat.

He took a bus journey through the outback of Australia: Sydney to a harbour where his chum’s boat was anchoured in the Great Barrier Reef. While making the journey, he noticed a sign in some town offering tandem parachuting adventures. Pay up front. Climb onto the plane. Make a jump.

Years before, he’d mentioned he had only two regrets; not having parachuted and not having gone paragliding. So, during that bus stop in the middle of Australia, he thought, “What the heck.” He walked up to the airfield and asked to be on their next jump.

He went up and parachuted, but he was so overwhelmed by the experience, his mind blanked. Therefore, he went up a second time. Just so he could remember the experience. It was on the second jump, the photo was taken.

He got the t-shirts printed up for his family as a way of announcing the event. We had no idea. I’m not sure any one of us would have given his our blessing if he had decided to ask us if we thought parachuting for the first time at 70 years old was a good thing.

Now, many years later, I toast you, Dave, for your craziness. Thank heavens you took the jump. Thank heavens you showed us that life is meant to take risks.

13 June, 2011

Some things are meant to be shared

There are things happening on the internet that have to be shared. Whether it is a traditional newspaper giving voice to young musicians (above)...

Or, listening to a director talk about the creative process of making a film with humble beginnings, yet it reached large...

Or, global internet fans following a fellow's poetic wanderings around the world...

There is so much out there in the tubes that is inspiring. Barely a day goes by without my tripping over something perfectly marvelous.

06 June, 2011

Different Perspective

Flying in a motorized paraglider over one of the most diverse continents in the world, George Steinmetz captures in his photographs the stunning beauty, potential and hope of Africa's landscapes and people. See the project at http://mediastorm.com/publication/african-air

This last winter, I saw a photo exhibit of George Steinmetz in Berlin. It was a series of macro-organisms (animals, birds, insects) motifs. Stunning.

One thing that was puzzling about some of the photos the place they were taken from. The perspective of up above, but close gave a remarkable viewpoint. In this video, I discovered why. Make sure you look at the video full screen.

02 June, 2011

Artemis Fowl (Book 1)

Just came back from a few days away down to southern Germany. Golden warm south,

board orange 72

Lovely. But, I missed the blues of north,

board blue

Spending this day making collages and listening to a wonderful reading of Artemis Fowl's first book.

I love this children's fantasy series. If you like fantasy books and do not know the series, or if you have children >10 years, do yourselves a favour and give it a try.

Graffiti Artist in Need of Spell Checker

Written on a wall in Hamburg,

"Regie, Rock & Roll, R&B"

27 May, 2011

Wonderful Day

DARK SIDE OF THE LENS from Astray Films on Vimeo.

Stupendous! In support of Mickey Smith's mastery, please watch, enjoy, and spread his work onwards into the world. For as he explains,

"It's an art form in itself. (We are) Silent work horses of the surfing world... Most folk don't even know who we are, what we do, or how we even do it, let alone want to pay us for it."

24 May, 2011

Who says statistics can't be fun?

Oh heavens, this site is so much fun! For all of you, young and old, this is one smart software tool to experiment with. For you who are parents or educators, there are a lot of stories you and your children can come up with using the information here.

23 May, 2011

David Lynch: A People's People

Did any of you watch the series, Interview Project, by David Lynch? He went from the east coast to the west coast, interviewing people in apparently a very happenstance way. The interviews are short portraits of these people's lives. Collectively, they create a portrait of a country.

He's now doing a series, Interview Project Germany. The interviewees speak their dialect or local accent, but there are subtitles. Even if you do not like reading subtitles, please spend some time and reading them, for often what the people say is touchingly vulnerable and honest. What I like about these three interviews is the fact that the people live(d) modest lives, but seem genuinely happy with them.

Can you hear the difference between the way that Karl speaks and Luci? Luci comes out of ex-DDR. When the Berlin Wall went down over twenty years ago, the life she knew up to that date vanished. I was talking to a friend of mine recently about why it is that foreigners living in Germany don't say they are German, even after they have received citizenship. She responded with the fact that she feels she is a East Berliner and not a German. The area that she grew up in, the education she received, the social values she was raised in, they have changed or disappeared. This is not to say she is unhappy. Contrarily, like Luci, there is an acceptance mixed in with loss of that what they once held dear.

Then there is Betty, who talks about dressing up fashionably in the 60s and 70s. It's hard to imagine bellbottoms and hot pants. Friday night disco in the local bar. Yet, it is reassuring to know that she did live those moments.

Do enjoy.

19 May, 2011

Bitter Sweet, But Oh So Dear

OK, another Guardian gem:

"Randy Newman gives an exclusive performance of his song Losing You and talks about the difficult events that inspired it."

There is also a wonderful article, a fine piece of journalistic writing, that accompanies the video. Do enjoy.

18 May, 2011

Facebook Offline

The Offline Social Network (HUNGRY BEAST) (by abchungrybeast)

What I like about this video is how the whole concept of social media sites like Facebook really doesn't make much sense if you remove it from the online world and into IRL. The idea of poking and befriending and message wall... Strange. Recently, my family Facebook group announced the death of a relative on our Facebook wall. It doesn't appear that anyone but me felt this totally inappropriate.

15 May, 2011

Modern Haiku

japanese box2

Don't know if I mentioned my journey with Twitter... here's the short version. Joined. Found some people to follow. Was followed by some of them and few others. Basically didn't get it. Basically, thought I felt as if I was sitting underneath a waterfall of rushing information. This left me with a sensation of pressure building in my head. So, I quit. Walked away.

Journeyed on with no twitter, though lots of friends kept saying come back into the waters. Decided that rejection is not always the best consequence of critical thinking or social activism. So, I started to tweet again. This time, as a poet of modern haiku. If you wish, my twitter name is shortshortstori.

I have followers. Most who I do not know personally. It is a puzzle how they found me. It is also a delight.

10 May, 2011

It Gets Better, Social Media with Ice Cream on Top

Sometimes social media and the people on the forefront do something that is just fantastic. "It Gets Better" campaign is one such case. All the hot shots are doing it...

Even the geeks are on the bandwagon...

In my university days, studying electrical engineering, any gay engineering student had to hide his gayness. Not because they feared being ostracized, but physically beaten. "Gay bashing" was a weekend pastime of some of the more seriously homophobic tech students. Just love this Google employee's video contribution to the campaign.

But, my real hero when it comes to stirring up the dust is Rick Mercer. Please look at the following two videos. Don't you just love a good rant?

And, lastly, Rick Mercer and a group of famous Canadian media people and artists.

To all you out there to whom this message is directed to... find someone today to help you, and don't wait until tomorrow.

09 May, 2011

Mediation Weekend


Wandering out into the garden in the early morning hours... to catch the threads of spider webs on my face, the drone of the bees amongst the apple blossoms, and the droplets of dew on the edge of my pantlegs.

05 May, 2011

Having Gone Astray

Clive Stafford Smith, legal director of Reprieve discusses the information contained in US government records made public (leaked) about the 779 prisoners of Guantánamo Bay. According to the records, over 80% of the people were completely innocent of those crimes they were suspected of. 606 people have already been acquitted and were known to have no intelligence of value for the government.

The purpose of Guantánamo Bay was/is intelligence gathering to prevent future attacks. He says that the problem is the US was trying to gather intelligence in a very unintelligent way,

“If you sweep people up who you know are innocent (and it is in these documents), and if you mistreat them horribly, then you are not going to get reliable intelligence; you are going to make yourself a lot of enemies.”

The reason he feels the US and everyone else needs to take a close look at what happened (and still is happening) at Guantánamo Bay is simply,

“You can’t learn the lessons of history, if you don’t know what that history is.”

It is important for us to know how terribly the American government went astray.

04 May, 2011

Why My Mother Is An Anglophile

One of the things that my mother and I used to disagree on when I was younger and Quebecois was how cats pyjamas the Brits are. She loved everything British. I less so.

Yet, the literature, the free London museums, and the Guardian has done much to make my views milder over the last years. But, it is Alys Fowler and her terrier (I believe called Isabel), who made me realise how Anglophilia is part craziness (in all the right ways), as it is a marrow transplant of fay. I love the fact that she looks incredibly elegant and happy in her garden, all the while having dirt under her fingernails.

If you wish to see more of Ms. Fowler's videos, do go... here.

28 April, 2011

Cherry Blossom Petals

photo from topmedic

Young boy loses himself playing in a sandbox populated with last year's toys and carpeted with this year's cherry blossom petals.

22 April, 2011

No Television Zone

television blossom

Another collage in my television series. For someone who has not owned a television in her adult life, having diddled away many sunny childhood days in front of a television, I've used a television in five collages. Hmmm, what would Freud say about that?

21 April, 2011

It's been a while

It's been a while since I've posted a TED talk. Figuring that you guys have probably caught on to the idea of how awesome some of the talks are. And, there have been numerous occasions when I've been tempted and not given into the temptation.

Today, a beautiful sunny day, a day before a long Easter weekend, I want to post one more TED talk:

For Kathryn Schulz is so right about being wrong, so clever and unassuming at the same time. She brings joy to my heart.

Perfectly Precise

As someone who has never owned a car and always biked to work... this message made me feel a bit smug. Usually, I am not like this, preferring to let others live (or drive) as they choose. Fortunately, two car households are still in the minority where we live. Even though people do love their cars, most people don't automatically get into their cars whenever they live their homes, but use their bicycles or public transport system as well.

17 April, 2011

Quiet Sunday


It's a quiet Sunday afternoon after a very busy week. Another very busy week. As many have been this year. Going to have to rethink this busy-ness, or this business of constantly being preoccupied with the white noise of purposeful professional endeavours. Instead, why shouldn't I just try to discover a mindfulness, an awareness for small pleasures and tender mercies that unfold each day. Such gifts.

Thank you for reading this blog.

10 April, 2011

Come Outside To Play

We had the most lovely of warm sunny spring days today. As I sat on a park bench with my eyes closed, I heard the voices of all my childhood friends calling me to come outside to play. The residues of winter, dead leaves and broken branches, not quite vanished from the corners of the garden. Buds on the branches. Discarded jackets littering the lawn. We ran around crazily, wildly; pure joy.

What I like about this video is the playfulness. How they could take a simple idea and translate it into something that visually matches the beauty of the music note for note. Do enjoy it, my dear friends.

09 April, 2011



A few years ago, I discovered Jackie Kay a Scottish poet. She makes me cry and laugh*, in general, makes me believe that the world is a messy place, but sublimely so.

What a gift it must be to speak your mind and ponder your thoughts in such a way as with words well chosen.

I have a friend back in Montreal who does so by writing plays. Watching Jackie Kay read her poems today, made me miss my friend, for she can always shake me awake with her words.

* Be sure to listen to both of the poems in both of the videos.

06 April, 2011

Mangrove at Dusk


There is a mangrove near where my mother lives and where my parents used to keep their boat when they were not off sailing. Late afternoon and during dusk herons and cranes used to gather. Not in plenty, but like fishermen each carrying for their territory.

04 April, 2011

Cricket, A Mystery to Me

I've never understood how cricket works. Yet, in Grenada, as most countries that were once British colonies, cricket is played by young and old alike.

The Big Picture has some magnificent photos this week that show the every-dayness of the sport, as well as the mass hysteria.

25 March, 2011

Need to inspire

Nichole Pinkard from New Learning Institute on http://vimeo.com">Vimeo.

A friend recently asked me if I would hold a series of mini-workshops for youths and their parents concerning media literacy. I don't know what it is like where you live, but in Germany, there tends to be an enormous amount of discussion about the dangers of media and very little celebration of its potetial to influence our children's ability to develop their communication and problem-solving skills.

Nichole Pinkard speaks persuasively about how imperative it is for us to inspire our children toward learning a complex set of learning skills they will undoubtedly need in the future. Can you imagine what it would be like to have access to the Digital Youth Network program (especially library part) she discribes?

Mimi Ito from New Learning Institute on Vimeo.

Equally, Mimi Ito looks at the questions of "Why do we assume that kids socialising and playing is not a side of learning?" and "Why do we assume that schools can't have a spirit of entertainment and play as a part of what they are doing?". Her group has done extensive research about "friendship driven participation" and what short of beaviour and learning processes the children are involved in. They have also looked at all the things kids do beyond just chatting with each other after school.

She summarises succinctly the gap that exits between the generations. How the older generation places very little value on the time their children spend before the screen. How they even believe the internet is hostile to learning. What she says is must do is  to differentiate between friendship-driven activities and interest-driven activities. If we lump them all together we miss the opportunity to enter into a conversation with our children about something that has a huge potential to teach them important skills.