Snippets from some time ago – seagulls

 

seagull

I always try to snap pictures of seagulls whenever I have the chance. They never turn out the way I want. I comforted myself with the idea that it’s exactly why I love those birds: they’re the ultimate symbol of freedom. To me they’re like flying exclamation marks. I like them, even if they’re brutal and rude (at least at our coast, where some of them are convinced that any type of food at the beach, whether it’s in the hand of a human person or not, is theirs… who can blame them? The shore used to be their territory and theirs alone…)

This one was flying along with his mate along the Emerald Coast of Brittany. How I love northern Britany, how the view changes with every turn you take. How it’s impossible to follow the sealine by car, but how a long trail takes you from the very east to the very west of that same shore. We discovered little pieces of paradise and wondered how on earth it was possible we were the only ones there.

I tried to capture the landscape. And suddenly, they were there. I clicked out of habit, played along while they were there.

When we came home, the pictures of our trip rested in my camera. Only a few weeks after, I watched them and put them on my computer. This one hit me right in the face. This is the one I’ve been trying to take for all those years. From the very day I felt that connection with those birds up until now. I was almost in tears. This is August. This is Brittany. This spoke to me at sweet sixteen. It still speaks to me, fourteen years later.

There is more to life than eating, or fighting, or power in the Flock.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach

Reflections on Sunday

  • I went to the library to pick up some more books to read at the beach, where we’ll be spending the next few days. Probably it will be snuggled up at the couch because weather will be not cooperating, but anyway… I already finished one of the books. I’m afraid only Dutch-speaking readers will benefit from this tip, but hey, I know you are there! I’m talking about Alle bessen kun je eten, alleen sommige maar één keer by Gemma Venhuizen. (Translated: You can eat all berries, but some of them just only once.) It’s about a student trying to find her way in this world, written with lots of time lapses and a really adequate tone of voice. I liked it.

 

  • We have a new cleaner and I forgot how good that feels! She came for the first time, just to meet and make a start, and will come back every Friday in September. My husband, coming home from work, usually cleans up a little, mostly arranging things, doing some dishes, making good-looking piles, and was surprised he was done after five minutes already. She’ll be our new best friend, I’m sure of that!

 

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  • Little Boy is changing so fast! He’s really a toddler, can look a bit older just by the day and understands a lot, which makes things a lot easier (or not). He loves bringing me the stuff I ask for, he plays with the dog (who is happily surprised someone is playing with her again), he cooperates (if he’s in the mood) when I am putting his clothes on by raising his arms. He makes me proud!

 

  • Lately I barely dare to open a newspaper or turn on the news. The situation in Gaza shocks me. I know there are way too many conflicts in this world and a lot of them are not getting the attention or do not provoke the indignation that they should, but this whole Gaza mess? My heart gets cold. Really cold. With fear and with pain. I remember a dream that I had often as a kid: the tower of Pisa was falling and wherever I ran in this world, it would fall right on top of me. I knew that it technically was not possible, but boy, I hated those nightmares. The feeling of not being able to find a safe haven. Knowing that you simply have nowhere to run to. How can we continue to accept (by doing nothing) that UN schools are getting bombed? Or hospitals for that matter? It has nothing to do with choosing sides. But what if you have fear for your life and that of your loved ones every minute? Parents on both sides are afraid they’re children won’t get back from school. Except, the statistical chances of having to cope with the worst imaginable news possible are undeniably and remarkably a lot bigger on the Palistinian side. Why on earth is no one standing up?

 

And, at the risk of making this look futile after what I just mentioned, I still wanted to share with you some good reads I had last week…

 

 

 

  • Rhonda from Down to Earth wrote this beautiful post on her all time favorite topic: living the simple life and all that comes with it. I think if you find this interesting, you certainly should read her blog as well on the comments on each posts. I’ve learned a lot from those as well!

 

Do you have a weekly roundup of interesting posts? Please share in the comments, I’m always looking for good things to read!

Randy Newman – Marie

The first time I ever heard about Randy Newman, is when I was 14 years old. We had to analyze a radio program for the music class at school. I stumbled upon a musician themed-program on a station I hardly ever listened to, and I fell in love with Randy Newman. This song makes me shiver every time I hear it, I think it’s one of the best love songs ever written.

 

 

A few years ago, my husband bought us a ticket to his concert and it was one of the best gifts I have ever had in my entire life. To be honest: I was shocked to see him this young in the video, I think getting older suits him well. He has a great style and the best, more-than-slightly-ironic style of humor which make his performances just perfect pearls of storytelling.

 

Which song did you discover in an unexpected way?

Photo a Day – exactly halfway

Through summer, I mean. It shocks me how fast time is going.

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1. Landscape. My dog was happy with this one, ’cause I finally took her on a walk again, just the two of us. And my camera – I’m using my iPhone for this. Landscapes like this are quickly disappearing, mostly because every empty spot is getting built on. It’s ironic. 

 

2. Lunch. I enjoyed my sundried tomato-spread, turkey and arugula sandwich a lot. Little Boy wasn’t too hungry and didn’t eat much of his lemony broccoli pasta.

 

3. S is for… shadows! Very early morning walk, wit my very early little bird. I keep telling myself he’ll eventually sleep in. When he’s sixteen or so. But I love this picture. It’s one of my favorites from the last weeks.

 

4. In the middle… of a big pantry purge. Shame on me, I cannot seem to avoid food waste like I should. Really have to work on that one.

 

5. Pile. I managed to empty the floors of my disastrous home office room. I’ll get to the piles. Sometime. I hope it will be before September, because I would want to start with a clean slate.

 

6. Thankful for… my Little Boy. Motherhood overwhelms me sometimes, but it’s so worth it. I never ever could have imagined I could love someone this way.

 

7. Spot. I brought our lovely dog to her vacation address. I decided to take the train, as it is a 2hrs drive and at least I would be able to read a little. Turned out to be very crowded, but she behaved perfectly.

 

I really enjoy this challenge set by Fat Mum Slim and I bought the Little Moments app she developed too. I consistently use the same filter, because I like how everything comes together so nicely, but there are some beautiful alternatives to be found in the app. The only thing I cannot seem to manage is to make the app post to my FB page instead of my personal profile, so I save the pictures to my camera roll and post them from there. Works fine too. 

And as you can see, I finally decided to give PicMonkey a go. And I have to laugh every time when messages pop up (you know, when you haven’t logged in for a while, that they took the freedom to eat the cookies on my desk, or the ‘oh no, are you sure you don’t want to save this masterpiece’ stuff…).

 

What are your favorite photo apps or programs?

Reflections on Sunday

  • While in France I started and finished a book gifted to my by a good friend. It was a bit blah. She bought me Train Dreams by Denis Johnson mainly because it’s short, so I would finish it in less than a month (yes, she knows perfectly how I feel lately). But it didn’t ring my bells. At all. Too fragmented, too ‘loose’. Not my style.

 

  • I started another one with more luck. I really enjoyed Cinnamon and gunpowder by Eli Brown. The main idea of the story already made me smile. A famous chef working for a rich English lord watches his boss being shot by pirate Mad Mabbot. She kidnaps him and promises him to let him live if he manages to cook her something glorious every week on the ship, with what he can find on board. That’s not much and he’s really upset by the whole idea of working for her and betraying his country, but has no choice. I love to cook so I had a blast reading his menus, and I appreciated how the well developed the characters were. I can absolutely recommend it to anyone who loves stories with tons of humor, a style that’s a bit oldish yet witty and good story with enough layers to keep you interested.

 

  • I had a rough week. Little Boy was not in his best mood. Really testing me and not sleeping very well so rather grumpy too. But this morning we went strolling through the weekly brocante market to find him some little metal toy cars (we bought some new, but honestly, both my husband and I think those older cars had more variety and were simply more fun). I found him several and chose the to take home. LB was over the moon, especially with his bus. The kid loves busses.

 

  • I’m finding joy in cooking and decided to make Jamie Oliver’s 15 minutes my best friend this week. Not because I actually believed being able to make everything in that time span, but because I loved the show on television and I had seen several great meals that I wanted to try. It’s a winner. My husband loved almost all of them and I will certainly do some recipe posts (because I never ever stick to a recipe if it’s not baking) in the coming weeks.

 

  • I’m completely in cooking mode, so it’s a bummer that my veggie box subscription is on hold right now. First I was in France (no complaints there), then the company that prepares them took a week off and for the next to weeks the shop were I pick them up is closed. So I’ll just drool on pictures of Denises CSA share.

 

  • And my home office still is a mess, so procrastination wise there’s nothing for me to learn yet, but I could very much relate to the solution offered by Sally. Calvin and Hobbes are the best. Which reminds me I actually have a decent excuse to go through hundreds of their gags, as I am updating my course material. Win.

 

  • I had planned to post more regularly but that turned out an epic fail. I really should work on a decent editorial calendar and whip up some posts ahead of time. I’m losing myself on pinterest looking for examples, so if anyone could tell me what works for him/her, any advice is appreciated!

 

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Landscape

Today I took a walk to find a spot to photograph. The prompt for today was landscape and it got me thinking. A few weeks ago I read an article in a national newspaper on how our country slowly is getting built full to the brim. It’s rather ironic actually. We all want to live in a quiet place, surrounded by lots of green. The thing is, all the places that qualify will soon be noisy and fully built, because, well, everybody thinks he needs a house with a bedroom for each child and a substantial garden.

I plead guilty by the way. We live along a rather busy road in a rather quiet village, our house is not big, but it does have a garden with a swimming pool (yeah, we didn’t put it in, but it’s there anyway). Two cars because we need them to go to work. It’s a circle and it’s hard to think out of it. When we bought this house (it’s actually the shed of the neighbor’s house that’s totally renovated as a separate house), we knew that the fields across the street were for sale. They’re still not sold, but one day there will be houses on it. When I took the dog for a walk, I noticed there was a beautiful swampy area totally filled with trucks and drained to make it ‘usable’.

 

It scared me. Do we really think we can just adapt our environment to our convenience and not pay for it somehow? Were will all that water go? A few heavy rainstorms and many parts of the country are flooded one way or another. That’s not the first time. And it is partly our own fault – filling our world with concrete, the same concrete that we hate if it’s not used for our own purposes.

 

How are things where you live?

 

 

landscape

Flashes from France

  • It’s a six hour drive. Little Boy did great, but six hours is enough. Any longer drives to further destinations will be done probably at night.

 

  • My parents rented the house for three weeks. We went the first week, and arrived just after my brother and his partner. My father has a thing for his rental homes: he has to be able to walk around them and it has to be in a quiet place. Well, it was quiet. Really quiet. At the very end of the smallest village, with a private lane of 800 meters and surrounded by cows, you could barely choose anything quieter. It’s surprising to discover the sound of silence again, and realize that you haven’t actually heard it in years.

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  • It felt really good when everybody started to arrive. My parents came in the next day, and my sister, her son and the girlfriend of my other brother shortly after. I cooked a great meal on a beautiful stove. Really, if there was the slightest possibility I would have taken that thing home with me. And it was nice to see how my mother enjoyed to not having to cook (she’s an excellent cook, but after a long drive, just getting served is the way to go).

 

  • It was hot. And sunny. And quiet. And lovely. And Little Boy enjoyed each and every minute. He played with all the family members, made up a name for his cousin (only two months older then him) and while they hardly could play together, always wanting the exact same toy, they constantly looked for each others company. Sweet!

 

 

  • Having a week with my family was refreshing, even for my husband. He had a hard time going home and even wondered if he hadn’t made the wrong decision by choosing to live near his family instead of mine. We played games, talked a lot, he even took a walk with Little Boy and my parents alone. I could really see how he bonded with his son, and how LB adores his father. He even cried on the way home, that he wish he could see LB more often after work and connect during weekends instead of feeling the pressure to constantly do things around the house. It’s his character, but I hope some of that urge will stick somehow, even in the rat race he’s in.

 

  • I love French food. The supermarket meat was the best I ever tasted. It all looked dark, but it was great meat, with great flavor and not half water. And the artichokes just taste best in France, with my mother’s vinaigrette inventions on the side.

 

  • How could we be near a zoo and not visit it? Of course we did, and we had so much fun!

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  • On the last day, my husband and I jumped on the occasion to do some wine tasting in the neighborhood. We loved the warm welcome of a very local vigneron, who had chosen to do everything the traditional way and using ecological methods. I love wine tastings, even though I don’t like wine. I’ve learned to smell really well and to describe what I smell, and often I’m able to guess what my husband will love. And I must say: I smelled some lovely wines. Not the cheapest (for those we went a few blocks further and even though they had good wines, it’s nothing compared to the rich, mineral smells I got with the first man) but boy, they will be great!