The Lightning That Never Was

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What’s one to do stuck at home on a rainy day, waiting for some papers to be delivered, with no “work” work to be done? Well… a million things come to mind, but that’s part of the problem. Tedious house work to be done… exhausting, stressful thoughts and issues to be mentally sorted out, when one has no clue as to how they could be handled in a way that might provide a positive outcome.

Self-care does, of course, come to mind… but who can empty their mind for long enough in order for that to be an option? So I pace up and down, unable to focus and start doing any of the things I should be doing… knowing that when I’m like this, it’s impossible for me to sit still… hating that I have to wait on the damn papers to be delivered… hating that they never narrow that delivery window of time to anything less than their entire work day… well, hating all sorts of annoying little things, because hating annoying little things outside one’s control can be a lot easier to handle than anger.

What I really want to be doing is go for a photo walk in the park, grab some shots of the probably mostly dead roses that I just didn’t get to photograph yet, see how big the ducklings got, and generally empty my brain of all worries, concerns and fears while walking and shooting.

But no… stuck at home it is… watching the loud funny family of magpies from my window. The two young ones are so big already that it’s not easy to tell them apart from the parents. By the time I half-heartedly get my camera, they no longer are right outside my window, but further away in the garden, at an angle that doesn’t promise decent shots. After a few attempts, I put away the camera without even checking the photos.

I might as well cross some chores off the list, since I’m not able to use my time in more constructive a way. Then, as the wind stirs up, the sky darkens suddenly and loud thunders overpower any other natural noise, an idea emerges from my own mental noise. A delightful summer storm seems to be brewing.

I have a tripod, but I don’t use it often, I don’t like carrying it. So I get it from the back of the shelf where it lives, and I set it up in front of the window. I’ve watched many spectacular storms from this window, why would today be any different? I never tried to photograph lightning, so this might be a great opportunity.

The lightning storm I was hoping for didn’t happen, at least not for me. It rained, but thunder faded in the distance, the real storm happening somewhere else. However, I wasn’t disappointed. Without thinking about it, I just stopped thinking about anything else and immersed myself in my activity, figuring out camera settings, reading a couple of articles on the topic, breathing in the smell of the rain and staring at the sky, waiting for lightning to strike. It didn’t happen, but that made little difference, since what I really needed was reprieve, piece of mind, and not necessarily some great shots.

As the rain stopped, I left the camera on the tripod, hoping for some post rain magpie antics. They didn’t show up, but at least I this time I was enjoying taking a few photos of life outside my window.

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Bad hair day? Rain will do that… we’ve all been there.

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Almost harvest time… I don’t really like these plums, but surely some of the neighbourhood children will have fun trying to pick as many as possible without a certain mean old lady downstairs seeing them.

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Their fragrance in the evening is amazing. 🙂

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Not the nicest of the many neighbourhood strays… He would clearly love a nice juicy magpie rump, yet he’s the one who keeps ending up with his tail pulled and bitten by the birds.

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Finally, some shots of the magpies before the rain. The young one is still a bit shy, but mom and dad no longer care about me… not unless they expect me to offer them some nice cool water on a hot summer day.

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Everything isn’t miraculously better, but my photo session by the window was a step… something that came to me naturally, my mind providing me with a solution, if I was willing to acknowledge it and follow through, in spite of other conscious tendencies. Of course my first instinct was to not drop everything; my first thought was, “I shouldn’t waste my time like this, I should take care of the many things that need to be done around the house, since I have all this time on my hands.”

Somehow, taking care of ourselves instead of doing all those mostly insignificant things feels like a waste of time… Why does it have to be this way, why does self-care have to be so guilt-inducing? Oh, I can come up with several reasons, but there’s really no point. We all know them, we all struggle with them. Meanwhile, body and brain send discrete signals that they need a break, and they’re often ignored. Here’s to hoping we learn to pay attention to them more often!

Take care of yourselves, the best you can… don’t postpone it until irreparable damage occurs.

Fallen Beauty or What A Difference A Week Makes

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A week used to feel like “forever”, “forever” ago… As a child or teenager, having to be away from my friends for a week or so seemed like a terribly long separation, the end of which was nowhere in sight. A week apart from an adolescent love felt like cruel and unusual punishment, something that might very well be the end of the world. On the other hand, a one week vacation or trip with my friends and/or boyfriend was heaven, the kind of thing that could keep me going for months before and after.

A week could radically and irreparably alter one’s existence and anyone saying it was nothing, it would go by in an instant, was a fool. I was sure of it.

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Now… a week is nothing. It goes by in an instant. I can put up with many uncomfortable situations for a week – that’s just life. I can go by without seeing someone I love for much longer than a week. In fact, after doing long distance for a few years and getting used to it, a week apart can be a much needed break (shhh, don’t tell anyone I said that). And when it comes to time off, a week flies by unnoticed and even if it’s better than nothing, it’s far from enough.

Then… the world becomes what it is today… pandemic… war nearby… and a week suddenly becomes very relevant again. Of course a person’s life can turn upside down in an instant, not to mention a week, but at this point it’s once more painfully clear what a difference a week makes.

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I was so pleased to see this old tree about to bloom a couple of weeks ago. There was something uplifting about it. Spring and nature had once again provided a reprieve from the maddening everyday life.

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A week and a windstorm later, the sight was less uplifting. The blossom was gorgeous. And the tree was dead.

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Several obvious analogies came to mind while photographing the old tree one last time, generally about how deceiving and unreliable appearances can be. “Rotten to the core” kept popping into my mind, probably because of the week’s events and personal experiences.

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Now, however, going through these photos… all I can think is, what a difference a week makes…

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Have a good weekend, everybody, as good as it can be under the circumstances… Make the best of it! Who knows what windstorm is lurking around the corner…

So We Can Still Be Humane – We Are Not Our Leaders

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A little girl turning 7 gets a surprise birthday party in the refugee camp in Siret, a Romanian border town. In the freezing cold March evening there’s cake, balloons, presents and strangers singing Happy Birthday in English, a language the Ukrainian girl most likely doesn’t understand. But judging by the huge innocent smile on her face, she probably understands the feeling behind it. Hopefully she stops being afraid for an instant. Hopefully she forgets the cruel reality and for a moment, she enjoys her birthday, the way any child should.

Of course, part of it was a PR exercise, considering that a certain Ministry posted the video on their Facebook page. But as far as this one is concerned, I couldn’t care less, not as long as these people get the help and support they need. For all I care, take action and do what needs to be done to help during such a crisis and you can boast about it all you want.

A week ago, when this insanity started, out local authorities and politicians were – of course – unprepared and taken by surprise, in spite of having claimed, days earlier, that they were ready. But average people and NGOs rallied on the spot, so those fleeing to save their lives received the help they needed and deserved. Supplies were gathered and offered to people needing them; transportation and shelter were also being organised, by the same simple, ordinary people, who managed to get the job done, in spite of lacking proper coordination.

I won’t deny it, I was surprised. The pandemic hasn’t exactly strengthened my faith in human kind in general or in the reaction of my own nation in particular. Fortunately, we didn’t f*** this one up. And by we I mean we, the ordinary people. Days later, the authorities finally started to catch up, in their own way… including politicians having their pictures taken next to piles of supplies in the gathering of which they had no merit. That, however, was no surprise. It was only disgusting and revolting, the way they usually are.

But at least we, the ordinary people, also have the freedom to speak our mind, to scream our rightful indignation to anyone willing to listen or post about it on the social media of our choice, without fear of persecution or retribution of any kind. We – well, most of us – are not our leaders, and we can make that clear.

Of course we, the ordinary people, have our own fucked up individuals too, who won’t fail to try and exploit those in need in order to secure financial gain for themselves. Amidst all those offering help – free help – to people in a desperate situation, there were those taking advantage and charging for their services… Fortunately, it seems that those were sad exceptions and not the rule.

From what I see, hear and read about, ordinary people all over the world share common thoughts and feelings about what Ukraine is going through. This, no doubt, has put pressure on certain mechanisms.

I won’t dwell on politicians and their actions for now… I will say this much, though… I can’t imagine any of our politicians, any of our “leaders” act the way the Ukrainian president is these days. As for our mayor… Ha! He’d probably institute a residential parking fee for tanks right before he flees town with the first private helicopter/plane available… that is, unless some “benevolent” dictator offered him a fortune in exchange for his services under a new regime.

So we can still be humane… let’s hope this lasts and the war does not.

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Business as Usual?…

A somewhat hysterical phone call from my mother woke me up… I was going to sleep in, I didn’t have anything planned for the morning. But the personalized ring tone made me jump out of bed, wide awake – whatever that unexpected call was about, it couldn’t be good. All it took was for me to turn on the TV on a news channel in order to find out what had happened… I could guess what she was trying to express, but I didn’t want to believe it was true, even if – as many others – I was expecting it to happen.

Leave it to my mother to make a war in Ukraine all about her… but somehow her personality flaws were irrelevant at the moment, no matter how annoying I found some of her remarks. I offered reassuring arguments and reasonable thinking, and managed to calm her down. However, I was quite surprised with my calm convincing tone… because I didn’t fully believe my own words.

What’s going on over there, with all of you? That’s what I was repeatedly asked by my mother, now an Italian citizen, living in Italy.

I, on the other hand, live in Romania, in a town on the Black Sea coast. Romania’s border with Ukraine is hundreds of kilometres long, part of it in the East, most of it in the North. Suddenly Odessa, also on the Black Sea coast, feels very close. Romania is a former communist country, but was not part of the USSR. Unlike Ukraine, we are a EU and NATO country; there’s a NATO base only a few kilometres away from my town. So while the war feels mind-numbingly close, there’s also a certain feeling of security. But…

But there’s so much history one cannot forget…

But…

My great-grandmother was born during WWI, my grandmother during WWII. My grandfather was a child during WWII. My great-grandfather was a prisoner of war in WWII. My Italian step-father’s grandfather also fought in WWII. My German step-mother’s parents fled their home in East Germany and moved to the western side not long before the Soviet Occupation. The Revolution in December 1989 (I was a child at the time) which put an end to the communist regime here, was nothing compared to what all those people had been through in WWI and WWII.

History becomes more than just a story confined to boring dusty books when you’ve known some of those people. The possibility of your own lifetime and experience becoming that sort of a page in future history books can be horrifying. The knowledge that people just like you are suddenly living it in the country “next door” in this day and age is at the same time surreal, heart-breaking and enraging.

I won’t deny that I find it difficult to structure my thoughts and feelings. All I can say is, I’m writing this not only to voice my anger, but to acknowledge this dreadful situation, to share my disapproval. I’m a pragmatic person, but it’s difficult to stay that way at the moment. While I can agree that avoiding WWIII is certainly the priority, I can’t help feeling that Ukraine and its people are no more than the sacrificed pawn in much bigger a game. Some of us, living in smaller, less significant EU/NATO countries can’t help wondering, who’s next, in spite of troops being deployed, of Article 5 and of political reassurance. Then we pull ourselves together, go to work, go about our daily life, thankful that we do have something to rely on. Business as usual.

Business as usual?

At the same time, thousands of Ukrainians have already arrived at our borders, some traveling further west, some finding shelter here, others having no idea what’s next for them. Over 10000 in one day… While our authorities are bragging about us being ready to receive refugees, the reality is, of course, different… NGOs and locals from border towns have rallied, trying to offer whatever help they can. A volunteer’s words stayed with me, “Of course I’m helping, it could’ve been us.” It probably would have been us as well, had we not been a NATO and EU country…. Like I said, my ideas aren’t exactly well structured…

A friend of mine was almost crying last night during a video call when we were talking about all the broken families, all the people fleeing their homes. She was applying for a passport for her little boy, just in case, she was telling me… I can’t deny that I have had that conversation too, the one about “what if… what if we’re next… are we leaving, and if so, where…” With family in Italy and Germany, at least there are options. So, even if there’s no reason to panic and pack our bags just yet, the reality cannot be denied. It can’t only be, business as usual…

I went on Twitter yesterday – I was curious, even if I rarely use it. People were still promoting their books, talking sports, posting cat photos; only a few of those I was following were talking about… it. Business as usual.

For some, that’s their livelihood; for some, what’s going on in Ukraine is very far away; for some, this is too harsh a reality to take in; for some, this is probably fake news. I can understand all that; and up to a point, I agree that we need to keep moving on with our lives, grateful that we still can do so. But can we not also find the strength to take a good cold look at reality and perhaps accept that the ramifications are much deeper than what happens to a nation that may or may not be nearby, deeper than what happens to our economies?

Is “business as usual” the best we can do?… I fear the answer to this one.

For now, I’ll leave you with some images of the Black Sea, taken in Romania and Bulgaria during calmer times… right now, holding on to hope for calmer times…

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Robert Burns wrote to a friend:

“I myself can affirm, both from bachelor and wedlock experience, that Love is the Alpha and the Omega of human enjoyment. All the pleasures, all the happiness of my humble Compeers, flow immediately from this delicious source. It is the spark of celestial fire which lights up the wintry hut of Poverty, and makes the chearless mansion, warm, comfortable and gay.”

Continue reading “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

A Strange Kind of Serenity

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I will never bake perfect looking gingerbread. But I can bake great tasting gingerbread and, in my book, that’s more than enough. In fact, that goes for all my baking – it’s something I love doing, I’m not at all bad at it, but my baking will always have a homemade look about it. I have neither the patience to strive for an army of identically looking gingerbread figurines, nor do I have the discipline to always stick to the recipe for all my baking. Since I do understand how it works, I have fun with it, I experiment and I enjoy the slightly different results I get. That very diversity and that imperfect homemade look are perhaps what makes the entire process just right… dare I say, my own kind of “perfect”?

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Continue reading “A Strange Kind of Serenity”

Christmas… Quirkiness?

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How are you, did you have a nice Christmas (in case that’s something you celebrate) or a nice December, in general? I certainly hope so…

How about your little corner of the world, is it festively decorated? All sparkly and lit, perhaps boasting a Christmas fair or two?

It’s certainly the case in my neck of the woods… Our town was in lockdown for the entire month of December last year, so there weren’t any Christmas lights or seasonal festivities and decorations. That made sense. This December however… isn’t making that much sense. As for common sense from our local authorities… well, that’s been MIA for so long now, why should it be any different this month? “Someone” clearly felt the need to make up for last year (in more ways than one), so Christmas was going to put on a show in our town this year, at any cost… And when I heard the obscene price they decided to pay for it… never mind, I’m doing my best not to get political.

I love a nicely decorated town on Christmas. In normal years, in December I tend to take a longer route home only to enjoy the lights; and even if I’m not a big fan of Christmas fairs, I might go and take a look, enjoy the atmosphere. And we could have had all that, at much lower a cost, the rest of the money being put to much better use…

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Given the context, I didn’t feel the usual joy at the sight of brightly lit up streets and parks. I didn’t even bother to visit the Christmas fair. Not until Christmas day, that is, when I finally gave in and went for a walk in the area to take a look. Sure, all the booths were closed and I didn’t get to see it in all its disturbing glory in the early afternoon, but what a sight it was nevertheless… What else can one do but laugh, at that point? It’s either that, or pack up one’s bags and run far, far away… Continue reading “Christmas… Quirkiness?”

1 Song ‘Till Christmas

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Well, my blogging friends, have you been nice this year or perhaps more on the naughty side? Not much time left to make up for our transgressions… or is there? Personally, I believe the most we can ask for is to have someone to accept, respect and love us for who we are, warts and all… someone who doesn’t give up on us even when we’re at our lowest, someone who endeavours to point us in the right direction when we’re wrong and has the patience to let us get there on our own… someone for whom we can do the same. I hope you have such a person… I hope you are such a person for somebody… because if that’s the case, then yes, there’s still time – not everything revolves around a holiday (season) and there’s more to Christmas than unrealistic expectations, countless presents and excess of all sorts. So in case you celebrate Christmas, may you have a happy one, filled with joy, love and appreciation!

Be kind and stay safe!

December Gifts

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A blogging anniversary notification from WP, that’s yet another sign that Christmas and the end of the year are near. Thank you for sharing sharing yet another year with me, for letting me be a part of your lives and for teaching me so much about appreciation and kindness, simply by opening up and telling your stories.

My small “thank you” gift to you is the same as every year since I started this blogging journey – electronic stocking stuffers, my ebooks.

If you want a copy of Parallel LivesGlass Slippers and Stilettos, Albatross or Frames, or  perhaps you’d like to offer them to someone who might enjoy them, use the following links:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1053416

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/822554

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/645454

Feel free to download/offer as many copies as you like!

Happy reading and Happy Holidays!

Underneath the Tinsel or Making My Own Christmas Traditions – Part Three

Note: I wrote and first published this lengthy 3-part post in December 2015. I was in Madrid – as so many other times that year – and contemplating December frenzy in Spain was (much like that entire year) a special experience I will never forget. So much has changed since then… in more ways than one, I have changed too… But my core values are the same and so are my Christmas related beliefs – because many things are still the same. So this is why I chose to repost it and hopefully you’ll enjoy it. Have a decent December, everyone!

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Part One – The Illusion

Part Two – The Reality

Part Three – My Own Christmas

I didn’t know it then, but that Christmas Eve would stay with me for as long as I would have memories to hold on to… not because it was fabulous, but because it was the first time I felt and understood what it was all about – what I needed it to be all about.

It was just the three of us listening to Christmas songs and staring at the flickering lights in the Christmas tree… my Christmas tree, as I felt the need to point out several times that year. We were 16 or 17 and it was the year that my grandmother had decreed that I was too old to have a tree. Well, if I was too old for a tree, then I was certainly old enough to do things however I saw fit when it came to Christmas in general. Faced with a minor family drama and a harsh blow to her loving grandmother image, she gave in and allowed the tree. That concession, however, would cost me all my Christmas gifts, I was warned. I didn’t mind, a few pairs of socks and another ugly scarf were definitely worth giving up.

It may not have been the most beautiful Christmas tree that I ever had growing up, but to this day it remains the one I treasured the most. We were all somewhat sad and ashamed sitting around that tree, my best friend, my boyfriend and I, that year… Yet we were also so very happy, so very content, finally so very peaceful. My best friend and I had gone shopping for the tree the day before and then he helped me get it home, spending hours in the December cold and snow, trying to find the greatest one I could afford. That was as fun and pleasant as it should have been, the way both of us had forgotten it could be. Continue reading “Underneath the Tinsel or Making My Own Christmas Traditions – Part Three”

Underneath the Tinsel or Making My Own Christmas Traditions – Part Two

Note: I wrote and first published this lengthy 3-part post in December 2015. I was in Madrid – as so many other times that year – and contemplating December frenzy in Spain was (much like that entire year) a special experience I will never forget. So much has changed since then… in more ways than one, I have changed too… But my core values are the same and so are my Christmas related beliefs – because many things are still the same. So this is why I chose to repost it and hopefully you’ll enjoy it. Have a decent December, everyone!

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Part One – The Illusion

Part Two – The Reality

The choir started singing all those beautiful carols we loved. That was the best part of it and I didn’t want her to miss any of it. I’d go get her, I told my grandmother. I was handed my coat and scarf, and in a low voice I was warned there would be trouble if I caught a cold, thus ruining everybody’s holidays. I snuck out as discretely as possible, but disgruntled looks from some of the older ladies could not be avoided.

There she was, on the bench in front of the church, just where I expected to find her, smoking a cigarette. Her face was cold, sad and pale, and her fingers trembled slightly as they moved the cigarette back and forth. We could hear the choir from the bench outside the church and that’s where we stayed and listened to the carols that year. Pieces were falling into place – even if I was still very young, even if I couldn’t quite explain it, I was starting to understand why my mother didn’t want to be there in the first place and why my grandfather kept his distance, refusing to take part in that charade every Christmas. Continue reading “Underneath the Tinsel or Making My Own Christmas Traditions – Part Two”

Underneath the Tinsel or Making My Own Christmas Traditions – Part One

Note: I wrote and first published this lengthy 3-part post in December 2015. I was in Madrid – as so many other times that year – and contemplating December frenzy in Spain was (much like that entire year) a special experience I will never forget. So much has changed since then… in more ways than one, I have changed too… But my core values are the same and so are my Christmas related beliefs – because many things are still the same. So this is why I chose to repost it and hopefully you’ll enjoy it. Have a decent December, everyone!

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Part One – The Illusion

The house was filled with that delicious smell of baked goodies. Vanilla and a variety of other aromas I was too young to know or recognize conspired with my grandmother in creating that warm, heavy, divine, mouth-watering smell that could mean only one thing: Christmas was only a few days away.

It was the final element in that trilogy of olfactory sensations that I have associated with the winter holidays from a very early age. The oranges were the first harbinger of the impending festivities and as I stood by the big fruit bowl, scratching at one of them with my little nails so I could carry its perfume with me, I knew there wasn’t long to go ‘till the much expected moment.

Then came the tree. My grandfather was never too involved in all the preparations, but getting the tree was always his job and I was his trusty sidekick. It was our little tradition: we would scour all the Christmas tree markets until we found the perfect one, I would choose it and he would carry it home. I don’t know about him, but that intoxicating fir tree smell would make me completely forget about the freezing cold wind, about the icy patches on which I really needed to watch my step and about the snow, which somehow managed to find its way into my boots each and every time. The serious, respectable, stern man became a child again, analysing fir trees, laughing more than I would see him laugh during the entire year and always indulging me, all the while knowing that the one I chose would inevitably be too tall. He’d be the one severely reprimanded as soon as we got home, but little did he care. Continue reading “Underneath the Tinsel or Making My Own Christmas Traditions – Part One”

15 Songs ‘Till Christmas and Secret Santa Horrors

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Perhaps the secret to a good Santa is not only to know what to give, but also when to just give up and move on… So while I love Christmas and gift giving, I don’t really like this particular Christmas tradition. Luckily for me, I was in high school last time I had to put up with Secret Santa…

I don’t like giving gifts to or receiving them from people I don’t like. There, I said it! As a child, I’ve had mixed experiences with the dreaded Secret Santa gift exchanges – from offering the perfect present to the boy I had a crush on and then slow dancing with him at the school Christmas party in middle school (what was that if not a dream come true?) to having to give a present to the smelliest boy in the class and nearly getting slapped for it in high school.

As an adult, though, I don’t really see a point to this… Continue reading “15 Songs ‘Till Christmas and Secret Santa Horrors”

18 Songs ‘Till Christmas and A Reminder to Be Human

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One story that will always stay with me is the way someone extraordinary, a person incredibly special to me, found out there was no Santa Clause when he was a child. His out of work parents couldn’t afford to buy their children any presents, so they simply told them the truth. It was the early ‘90s and a myriad of political, economic and social changes, as well as personal choices lead to that situation. But what difference do all those reasons make to a child?… In a different part of the same town, my family (or at least my grandparents) was undergoing its own decline, but our “bad” was nowhere near theirs and so many other families’. There was a Christmas tree in our home, beautiful gifts under it, and plenty of food for all of us – enough to spare, in fact…

Some 30 years later, many things are different in our little corner of the world. And yet, disturbingly many have remained the same. In November, about a month before Christmas, World Vision Romania’s heartbreaking statistics pointed out the sad truth yet again. In rural areas, 1 out of 2 families cannot afford to buy any gifts for their children; 1 parent out of 6 has less than the equivalent of 2€ to spend on children’s gifts, and 1 out of 3, less than 10€; 7 out of 10 parents would choose to offer necessary items like clothes, shoes or school supplies instead of something which would only provide joy to a child.

Outrage was, of course, the standard reaction. Doubt and disbelief followed – that can’t possibly be true, those number must be wrong (media outlets that hyped the news and created some confusion in the way they presented everything in order to make it sound more sensational didn’t help, of course). Then a different sort of outrage was unavoidable – outrage against a useless state, outrage against unfit parents or both. Then, as everything else, it faded away, and we – especially those of us inhabiting large urban areas, went on with our lives and our own compulsive Christmas shopping. After all, how can any of that be true, when shopping centres and stores of all sorts are filled with people and merchandise flies off the shelves this time of year?

I don’t know whether the numbers are right or not; but I believe they could be, and I know there’s lots of that going on in urban areas as well. I also know that there are unfit homes and families, and the state should and could do a lot more at least for the children living in that environment, if not for the adults as well. But how does it help a child to know that their misery is a corrupt state’s fault? And yes, a Christmas tree, a toy and/or a nice meal won’t change a child’s life; but is that to say they don’t even deserve to experience at least one moment of joy, of what life should be for all children?

Like I said, financially speaking things were not always great for my family when I was a child living with my grandparents. But there was always food on the table on Christmas, there was always a tree… And every year we stuck to our little tradition, my grandmother and I – we put together a bag of clothes, shoes, toys and school supplies that I no longer needed or had outgrown and took them to a certain family in my great-grandmother’s village. Was my grandmother doing it out of the goodness of her heart? Hell no, but that’s another story; and it made no difference to those children anyway.

That’s my whole point – if we can, we should do/donate a little something to help a needy child/family, regardless of why we do it. The numbers may not be the same everywhere, but there are people in need, no matter where we live. Is it guilt, generosity, desire to show off? Who cares, as long as that decent deed is done and an innocent soul can have at least one good day a year… because yes, one good day is better than no good day at all. And here’s the thing… even if we’re not exactly well-off, even if we do work incredibly hard for what we have, but are sitting in our cosy, perhaps nicely decorated homes, behind our computers/smartphones/tablets, our belies full and our bodies warm, then we surely can spare a little something for a starving freezing child…

Stay safe, everyone, be kind and share some of the joy!

20 Songs ‘Till Christmas

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I wanted to do a December Christmas song countdown ever since I started blogging. Ideally I would have paired the songs with holiday related memories, thoughts and opinions. Perhaps I would have added photos to reflect the festive – and sometimes not so festive – mood as well… But there was never enough time and/or determination.

Well, my blogging friends, this is probably the closest I’ll ever come to accomplishing that. I’ve already shared about my love-hate relationship with the holidays, as well as the reasons behind and it and how I managed to make peace with Christmas… and with myself, regarding Christmas. Hopefully I’ll manage to share some interesting memories and thoughts this year as well, but much like when it comes to the holidays in general, I tell myself, “no pressure”… But most importantly, no over the top expectations, from myself or from others. So there will be songs, there will be photos (most of them from previous years), and occasionally there will be stories as well. Continue reading “20 Songs ‘Till Christmas”

Much Needed Me-Days

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Just put on that new pair of boots you so wanted, and get out! Go, take a walk… take some photos… feed the ducks… smell the falling leaves and let the cool autumn sun touch your skin. Just take a break! Just stop overthinking. Stop overanalysing. Stop obsessing. Just relax. Just be. Spend some time with you, on you. The world won’t fall apart if you do.

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More often than not, that’s easier said than done. Continue reading “Much Needed Me-Days”

2020 Moments

Happy New Year, everyone! But is it, though? Has anything really changed overnight? For the better, I mean…

Much as I try, I cannot shake the feeling that we’re trying too hard to put 2020 behind us. I can certainly understand the need for a fresh start and the hope for a better future. I share them. What vexes me is the senseless desire to “forget”, as well as the strange belief that everything will not only change, but go back to the way it used to be “before”.

Forgetting means repeating the same mistakes over and over again. And… maybe I got something wrong… but wasn’t what we’d been doing “before” exactly what brought us where we are now, to this place we dread and desperately try to escape? I’m sorry, but I don’t think we learned our 2020 lessons… not all of them and not all of us, at least.

Right… deep breath… it’s neither the time nor the place for yet another rant, much as I feel like one. Instead, I’d rather thank our lovely Lens Artists hosts for keeping us together and helping us in our efforts to stay sane and creative in 2020 (Tina is hosting this week’s challenge – Favourite Images of 2020). Continue reading “2020 Moments”

Happy New Year!

I seem to be lacking words of wisdom right now… even traditional sweet clichés are somewhat difficult to string together, because the year that just came to an end was anything but typical. So I’m only going to say this… if we can’t find it in ourselves to do anything for others, to accept we are part of society (whether we like it or not), at least let’s make our own lives easier and better by thinking of the bigger picture. For once, the common good is undeniably our own personal gain as well.

A happy, healthy, and if possible sane and fulfilling New Year to all of you and your loved ones! Stay safe by keeping others safe too!

The Nature of Summer #5

Am I the only one who sees a stylized Christmas tree there? Hmm… might be the excessive heat this week making me hallucinate while craving slightly cooler temperatures, even if not exactly the winter chill. 😀

Road or no Road… Congratulations, Lens-Artists!

One person’s smooth road, another person’s torment… Considering everything that’s been going on in the world recently, this may very well sum up the confluence of events, I believe. Knowing what awaits behind the corner is one thing, following the right path is another… and discerning that right path – any path –and transforming it into a traveled road is yet another. Continue reading “Road or no Road… Congratulations, Lens-Artists!”

June News and See You on Twitter

I’ve set myself a small blogging goal for this first month of summer. I’m not much of a review writer – in fact, I thoroughly avoid it – but I do want to share a few thoughts about two or three books I read recently.

As a self-published writer, I know how much reviews matter to indie authors. Yet, I must admit, I’m still uncomfortable reviewing other people’s books. Just because I like or dislike something, that doesn’t mean, everyone has to feel the same, I keep reminding myself. I also need to remind myself that a review and literary analysis are two very different animals, so I don’t fall into old habits. But once in a while, especially when it comes to fellow bloggers whose writing I appreciate, I can’t help talking about their books. So I hope you enjoy their works as much as I did, should you decide to give them a try.

On a different note… Yes, my friends, I finally went and did it. Yours not-so-crazy-about-social-media truly has joined Twitter – @AnaLindenAuthor ! I still have mixed feelings about the event, but I’m giving it a try. So be patient with me and if you also have a Twitter account, let me know and maybe I’ll see you there as well.

It’s Still Spring… Even at Home #20

A spring so many of us felt we’ve been robbed of is coming to an end… A most unusual spring… A spring of fear, loss and uncertainty… A spring of unexpected, sometimes unwanted realizations… Perhaps a spring of gratitude too – gratitude for what we do have… Perhaps also a spring of generosity and self-sacrifice, so others could be safe, alive… A spring of learning, even if the truths learnt may have been painful ones… A spring like no other. Continue reading “It’s Still Spring… Even at Home #20”

“Frames” – How It Came to Be

I had been looking forward to that getaway for months – a trip I wasn’t sure would materialize – and as I was driving that early morning, it was finally beginning to feel real. It was real. That patch of beautiful wild flowers featured in my title story, Frames… well, it was also real. Everything else is fiction, but the flowers were real, an out of place wonder covering a mound of dirt in an otherwise prosaic field by the freeway.

Some images stay with you… their impact makes you want to find out the story behind them or at least create one such story. By the time I reached my destination, a rough outline of a nameless story had already taken shape in my mind. But I had recently finished Albatross and needed a bit of a writing break, so I knew it was a story for another time.

A shot would easily take that patch of flowers out of its natural context and create an entirely different reality for the unknowing observer in another context. It could suddenly be a dreamy field of wild flowers instead of some wild flowers on top of dirt by the freeway. Reality reframed or just one frame of a bigger, more complex reality? The answer is a personal subjective choice.

Coincidentally, I took some poppy shots the other day. What an unexpected find, I thought to myself, blooming poppies in the wind, with the beach, a calm sea and a blue sky on the background. Some of you also liked the one I already posted. All sorts of positive words come to mind when thinking of those shots, especially considering the recent lockdown months. But… but what you don’t see in any of those photos, what I carefully avoided to include in any of those frames is the large pile of rubbish only a few steps away from those beautiful flowers. Thinking back, perhaps I should have included it, but I was too taken by the angle excluding it.

My point is, we go about doing this in many, if not all, aspects of our lives. We like to think we see the full picture, we have the full truth, when in fact we only have instances, a few frames on which we choose or are forced to build our judgement, conclusions and decisions. Sometimes we get it right, even by mistake… other times we ignore the background, we find a way to exclude the ugliness from the picture in order not to have to deal with it.

The same happens to my characters. They’re neither picture-perfect, nor horrid, but they might appear to be either one or the other, depending on the moment one interacts with them. But once the angle becomes wider and the background less blurry, does their behaviour become understandable and acceptable? That, too, is a personal, subjective choice…

It’s Still Spring… Even at Home #6

It’s time I resorted to those photos taken at the beginning of March, right before lockdown. I was so sure I’d have the chance to shoot many more blossoms and spring flowers, but as we all know, life went in a different direction.

Little did I know when taking this shot that we’d be confined to our homes only days later. I didn’t get to see the trees in full bloom in my favourite park this spring, but I take solace in the fact that at least I had a chance to enjoy the more precocious ones. Of course, at the time I took the sight for granted and spent too much time distracted by the chill in the air and the wind which made it difficult to get decent shots. I’m sure there’s a lesson in there, somewhere….

Stay safe, everyone!

It’s Still Spring… Even at Home #2

From freezing days to balmy ones, from winter coats to T-shirts, from grey barren trees and gardens to blossoming trees, blooming flowers, green leaves and fields, spring has come and is now w about to start fading into early summer… And most of us feel like we’ve missed it, been robbed and in the transition process from one “normal” to another, we’ve lost not only a season, but a lifestyle, a familiar world.

Continue reading “It’s Still Spring… Even at Home #2”