Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Waltz

Camille Claudel, The Waltz, 1893. Bronze. Poitiers, Musée Sainte-Croix

Roses from the south

Yellow Rose


Playing on The Millstone's iPod is Roses from the South, by Johann Strauss (Son). It is still one of my favourite "happy musics".
I had a "waltz phase" about 25 years ago. I could listen to waltzes for hours and let my imagination run wild. Waltz was synonym for imperial, glamorous Vienna, beautiful, romantic Sissi, swirling, carefree fun, dizzying, passionate (but very elegant) emotions.

Sissi

In search of hidden meanings...

Through Sylvia's blog, I found this amusing site which interprets a person's birth name (there's also a birthday facts site by the same author). As I find my results strikingly accurate [a wink and a smile], I urge you to give it a try.

You entered: Claudia Jane
There are 11 letters in your name. Those 11 letters total to 36. There are 6 vowels and 5 consonants in your name.
Your number is: 9
The characteristics of #9 are: Humanitarian, giving nature, selflessness, obligations, creative expression.

The expression or destiny for #9:The expression that you exhibit is represented bythe number 9. Your talents center in humanistic interests and approaches. You like to help others as you were intended to be the 'big brother or big sister' type. You operate best when you follow your feelings and sense of compassion, and allow yourself to be sensitive to the needs of others. You work well with people, and have the potential to inspire. This suggests that you could successfully teach or counsel. Creative ability, imagination and artistic talent (often latent) of the highest order are present in this expression. It's possible that you're not using or developing all of these capabilities at this time. Some of your talents may have been used at an earlier time in your life, and some may still be latent. Be aware of your capabilities, so that you can make use of them at appropriate times.
If you are able to achieve the potential of your natural expression in this life, you are capable of much human understanding and have a lot to give to others. Your personal ambitions are likely to be maintained in a very positive perspective, never losing sight of an interest in people, and a sympathetic, tolerant, broad-minded and compassionate point of view.
You are quite idealistic, and disappointed at the lack of perfection in the world. You have a strong awareness of your own feeling as well as those of others. Friendships, affection, and love are extremely important.
Undeveloped or ignored, the negative side of the 9 expression can be very selfish and self-centered. If you do not actively involve yourself with work that benefits others, you may tend to express just the opposite characteristics. It is your role to be very involved with other people and their needs, but it may be difficult for you achieve this role. Aloofness, lack of involvement, and a lack of sensitivity mark the low road of this expression.

Your Soul Urge number is: 2
A Soul Urge number of 2 means: With the Soul Urge number 2, your motivation is centered on friendships, partnerships, and companionship.
You want to work with others as a part of a cooperative team. Leadership is not important to you, but making a contribution to the team effort is. You are willing to work hard to achieve a harmonious environment with sensitive, genial people.
In a positive sense, the 2 Soul Urge is sympathetic, extremely concerned and devoted. The nature tends to be very sensitive to others, always tactful and diplomatic. This element in your nature indicates that you are rather emotional. You are persuasive, but in a very quiet way, never forceful. You are the type that makes really close friendships because you are so affectionate and loving.
If this number is over-emphasized in your makeup, you may be over-sensitive, with a delicate ego that is too easily hurt. You may be timid or fearful, too easygoing for your own good.

Your Inner Dream number is: 7
An Inner Dream number of 7 means: You dream of having the opportunity to read, study, and shut yourself off from worldly distractions. You can see yourself as a teacher, mystic, or ecclesiastic, spending your life in the pursuit of knowledge and learning.

Lunatic gondola

Lunatic gondola

Sunday Papers Pick

Another interesting article by Nick Cohen, It's 'experts' who actually make us miserable, and, here, all about some of the world's best-loved natural icons that are being threatened by global warming, namely:

The snows of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

The Caribbean coral reef

Polar bears, Canada

Skiing pistes in Kitzbuhel, Austria

The Maldives, Indian Ocean

Wildebeest migration, east Africa

Glacier National Park, United States

Monarch butterflies, Mexico

Cairngorms, Scotland

Mountain gorillas, Africa

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Tranquility

Tranquility
My latest Flickr hit. Switzerland 2003.

Friday, January 26, 2007

What are you looking at?

What are you looking at?

My true, ugly, out-of-fashion colours

I am, in principle, against the adoption of children by gay couples. I won't go into why because that's not the point. The point is that, were I to run an adoption agency, I would be compelled by law to hand children over to be brought up by homosexual couples.

I am, in principle, against abortion. I won't go into why because that's not the point. The point is that, were I to run a clinic, I would be compelled by law to perform a clinical act that goes against my conscience and deepest beliefs.

I am, in principle, against the de-promotion of the traditional family as a fundamental and structural building block of society. Yet, I must, as a compliant tax-paying citizen, fund legislation that effectively promotes mono parental families, family breakup and irresponsible, non-attentive parenthood.

I am, in principle, in favour of a person being sentenced to jail when he or she has committed an offence for which the punishment established by law is imprisonment. Yet, I've just today seen a man escape a jail sentence because the Home Secretary (!) remarked that as our jails are overflowing, only very serious offenders should be imprisoned (the ruling judge claimed that in normal circumstances he would have sent the man to jail but now he had to take this "orientation" into consideration whenever he's sentencing). Great! Jail capacity is now dictating judicial sentences.

I find myself living in a world where fundamental individual principles and beliefs are increasingly trampled on by the politically correct few that hold the reins of media and politics and where the right to object has ceased to exist.

As I can't just walk out the door and go get a new set of fashionable blasé PC principles and I honestly don't think that they can grow on me at this age, I must do my best to adapt my old fashioned principles to the times so that the children I'm bringing up do have some principles and beliefs (not that I expect that to be much worth in the future if the future is what's staring at us here and now).

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Let there be light, let there be colour

Let there be light, let there be colour
Original photo. No post processing.

Let there be light
Paint Shop fun on the original photo.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tombe La Neige

Retro sound on my iPod: Adamo singing Tombe la Neige (Snow is Falling). The lyrics don't really reflect my current mood but it's really nice to listen to this type of music every now and then (even more so when it's in French).

Tombe la neige
Tu ne viendras pas ce soir
Tombe la neige
Et mon coeur s'habille de noir
Ce soyeux cortege
Tout en larmes blanches
L'oiseau sur la branche
Pleure le sortilege

Tu ne viendras pas ce soir
Me crie mon désespoir
Mais tombe la neige
Impassible manege

Tombe la neige
Tu ne viendras pas ce soir
Tombe la neige
Tout est blanc de désespoir
Triste certitude
Le froid et l'absence
Cet odieux silence
Blanche solitude

Tu ne viendras pas ce soir
Me crie mon désespoir
Mais tombe la neige
Impassible manege


Confused weather, confused daffodil

Confused weather, confused daffodil

Last night it snowed a lot

Smile!!!

Last night it snowed a lot (8)

Shenley Church End, Church of St. Mary

Quaint

Quaint

Holy Trinity Church

Holy Trinity Church

See all of my snow pics on Flickr...

It's snowing

The sight of snow gently falling in the night is so beautiful and peaceful.
At the rate it's falling, everything will be white by morning. What a surprise for the girls when they wake up. Of course everything will take twice the time tomorrow morning... and so I'm off to bed.
I hope to get some nice pics of this ephemeral icing sugar covered world during the day.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Happy Birthday Milton Keynes

The new city of Milton Keynes was born 40 years ago today (another child of 1967, same as me).
Before 1967, the name was just that of a small Buckinghamshire village that had been mentioned in the Domesday Book but now Milton Keynes is an urban area with a population of 218,000.
Originally built to accommodate an incoming population of Londoners over a period of 20 years, the new city's site was deliberately chosen to be equidistant from London, Birmingham, Leicester, Oxford and Cambridge.
The designated area was almost 9,000 hectares (22,000 acres) and included the existing towns of Bletchley, Stony Stratford, Wolverton and New Bradwell, together with 13 villages and the brickfields to the south west of Bletchley.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday papers pick

Excellent opinion column by Nick Cohen in today's Observer: Don't you know your left from your right?

Thirst

Let's see... this year I would like to go to:

- Switzerland in April (with the kids)
- Italy in June (without the kids)
- Portugal in August (with the kids)
- Paris in October (without the kids)

Even if it were all possible, that would still not quench my thirst for travel.

The first daffodil

The first daffodil

They used to bloom between February and April but now they are blooming in January. Another sign of global warming.

Friday, January 19, 2007

And yet another warning

"Carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere much faster than scientists expected, raising fears that humankind may have less time to tackle climate change than previously thought. Figures show a higher than expected rise in CO2 and scientists fear that the Earth may be absorbing less gas." -- Guardian

Yesterday's provisional balance

12 people killed, including a 2 year old child

451,000 stranded commuters in the South East of the UK

140,000 people left without electricity in England and Wales

1,000 incidents caused by the strong winds and dealt with by rail workers

192 flights grounded at Heathrow

100mph (160 kmh) gusts of wind

60% increase in calls that Lloyds TSB Insurance said it had received yesterday as people made claims for damaged homes and possessions

5 people injured when a building partially collapsed in Cheshire

3 schoolchildren taken to hospital after part of the roof of their school in Staffordshire was blown on to them

source: Guardian

And the typical Winter weather prediction for the next 70 years is the same as today's...

Pictures of yesterday's bad weather can be seen in the BBC site.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Winter Night

paiting by J.M.W. Turner(1775-1851), Shade and Darkness - the Evening of the Deluge, 1843

My window-pane is starred with frost,
The world is bitter cold to-night,
The moon is cruel, and the wind
Is like a two-edged sword to smite.

God pity all the homeless ones,
The beggars pacing to and fro,
God pity all the poor to-night
Who walk the lamp-lit streets of snow.

My room is like a bit of June,
Warm and close-curtained fold on fold,
But somewhere, like a homeless child,
My heart is crying in the cold.

poem by
Sara Teasdale

The Winner Takes It All

Playing on the iPod, perfect for a gloomy day such as this, is "The Winner Takes It All", one of the best ballads by ABBA (if not THE best...).

It was released in 1980, when I was 13 years old, and I remember my mixed feelings about it: I loved it because it IS a beautiful song but I also felt sad because it was a sure sign that my favourite band was breaking up. I really liked Agnetha Fältskog at the time and everybody knew that this song was very representative of what was going on in her life (it is claimed, however, that it was her ex-husband, Björn Ulvaeus, that wrote the lyrics inspired by his recent divorce and while he was drunk...).

Trivia:
In a 1999 poll for Channel Five, "The Winner Takes It All" was voted Britain's favourite ABBA Song.

In a 2006 poll for a Channel Five programme, "The Winner Takes It All" was voted "Britain's Favourite Break-up Song".


Good morning!

Up Close and Personal
Very stormy weather predicted for today. Outside everything is flying around and it will get worse during the day.
January is just dragging itself by, nothing much happenning except for my newfound addiction to Flickr. Since I started minding the unwritten conventions of the buzzing worldwide Flickr community a few months back, I've already managed to have 19 of my photographs featured on Flick Explore (a daily selection of the 500 most interesting pictures according to the infamous and very fickle Flickr Interestingness rating). The highest ranking I got, so far, is a modest 74 out of 500 for this picture taken 4 year ago in Switzerland.

Swiss Train
For my 60 most intesting photographs, according to Flickr, follow this link.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy Birthday, sweet baby sis!

I hope you have a wonderful day!
Click on the cake for your birthday song...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ana's new "toy"

Finally! A Mac in the house!

Out with the old in with the new

I've made the change out of beta Blogger into Google Blogger. Let's hope it's worth it. At least it finally allows for tagging. Now I have a bunch of old posts to tag...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My tribute to Salvador Dali

Time Warp at 14h19m35s - Stage 3 - Final

please clik on image or on title

time warp
n.
A hypothetical discontinuity or distortion occurring in the flow of time that would move events from one time period to another or suspend the passage of time.

EVOLUTION
Stage1
Stage2

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Dark Matter: looking at the invisible

Dark matter is the invisible and yet not fully understood stuff the universe is mostly made of: its mass is five times higher than "normal" matter (i.e. atoms). Its presence in the universe is inferred from its current influence within galaxies and clusters of galaxies, and the gravitational effect it has had on the evolution of structure in the universe.
The first direct detection of dark matter was made this past year and now an international team of astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope has created the first three-dimensional map of the large-scale distribution of dark matter in the universe.
Fascinating.
Follow UP Links: The Planetary Society, NASA, ESA

Monday, January 08, 2007

Motherhood

This is Clara's depiction of Mummy and Daddy on their wedding day. Flowers are being thrown at us by the guests. The drawing is in black and white because the wedding took place a long time ago, in the old days (!!!). I just absolutely loved this little bit of explanation!!!
Motherhood is, among other things, being utterly proud of such things as this.

Manic Monday

Great song by the Bangles. Used to be my absolute favourite Monday song about 15 years ago. Made a lot more sense, personally, way back then. Still love it, though!

Six o'clock already
I was just in the middle of a dream
I was kissin' Valentino
By a crystal blue Italian stream
But I can't be late
'Cause then I guess I just won't get paid
These are the days
When you wish your bed was already made

It's just another manic Monday
I wish it was Sunday
'Cause that's my funday
My I don't have to runday
It's just another manic Monday

Have to catch an early train
Got to be to work by nine
And if I had an air-o-plane
I still couldn't make it on time
'Cause it takes me so long
Just to figure out what I'm gonna wear
Blame it on the train
But the boss is already there

All of the nights
Why did my lover have to pick last night
To get down
Doesn't it matter
That I have to feed the both of us
Employment's down
He tells me in his bedroom voice
C'mon honey, let's go make some noise
Time it goes so fast
When you're having fun


Having fun

Bookworm

My latest experience with Paint Shop.

Title
Bookworm

Description
bookworm (bʊk'wûrm') - (noun) bibliophile, avid reader and lover of books. Bookworm may also refer to:(insect) a popular generalization for any insect which supposedly bores through books.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Souvenir from a favourite place

Souvenir...

The last time I was in Montmartre, Paris, the crêpe au grand marnier I ordered in a café was attacked and devoured within a question of minutes by a flock of fierce sparrows who gave me no chance whatsoever of even tasting it (not that I'd share it with them after they'd taken the first bite right from under my nose). Me and the sparrows were the centre of all attention and laughter - and the subject of some tourists' photos - in the famous and packed artists' square for a couple of minutes (my 2 minutes of fame)! My friends' crêpes (alcohol free...) were completely disdained by these very Parisian sparrows.
Et vive la France!
This picture (from one of my Flickr friends) triggered this post.

Great design



Recent articles on Apple Computer's senior vice-president of industrial design, Jonathan Ive, a boy my age who's widely regarded as the most important British designer of our time. I'm a nutter for his work.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

"To Artina"

painting by Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), The Kiss, 1907–1908

I will take your heart
I will take your soul out of your body
As though I were God
I will not be satisfied
With the little words you say to me
I will not be satisfied
With the touch of your hand
Nor the sweet of your lips alone
I will take your heart for mine
I will take your soul
I will be God when it comes to you.

"Hell's vengeance boils in my heart"

"Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" better known as the Queen of the Night's Aria from Mozart's The Magic Flute has been Ana's favourite since she was about three years old. When we were still living in Lisbon, she used to spend long hours with me in the car, stuck in traffic jams or just driving around, and the music was always on. I'm a big Mozart fan and I also believe that a lot of his music is very appealing and beneficial to young children.
Anyway, the Queen of the Night's aria is this week's pick for this blog and it's now playing on the iPod (click on the "My Player" icon or on this picture from one of the opera's scenes to listen to it).
A long, long time ago, I used to dream I'd be able to sing like this one day...
"It is considered to be one of the most famous opera arias (or arias at all, in fact) in the musical world, though the debate is ongoing as for the reason why.
First, the arias is highly memorable, fast paced and grandiose. Slower arias always tend to be less publically adored than their fast counterparts, which is perhaps the reason why the abovementioned first aria of the Queen is less known.
Secondly, the aria is widely renowned for being an extremely difficult piece to execute at all, not to say gracefully and artfully. It requires the singer not only to carry very long phrases with stable or even increasing intensity and not only requires flexibility even greater than that of a regular feminine voice, it requires a range not possesssed by the majority of singers. The aria's range is two octaves, from F4 to a stunning F6. The piece requires an extremely high tessiture of B4 to B5, and therefore singers with a lower natural tessiture may damage their voice by repeatedly singing this part over a long period. Basically all contraltos and mezzo-sopranos cannot reach this note, at least not singably if at all, and even most sopranos cannot produce it at all, not to say clearly and musically. Most sopranos who were previously able to reach this note, lose it at a later point in their career.
Lastly, even if the singer is able to produce the notes with the agility and range required, it needs to be done very gracefully and musically, otherwise ruining the piece. The high notes (especially G3-Bb5) need either a very fine voice or a highly developed piano in order to be produced singably, in contrast to a screech. The singer has to be able to change the effect of her voice to emphasize the meaning behind the words, which is very difficult in this kind of trickily composed pieces."

Insomnia

Escher, M.C., Day and Night,1938

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Holiday blogging

The kids are still on holiday. They stay up late and pretty much monopolize the laptop whenever they're home. I've had little chance to blog or to visit other blogs lately (uploaded some photos onto Flickr but that's about it).
Hubby is leaving for Mumbai tomorrow and will be gone for more than a week. He's excited about the trip even though he probably won't have much of an opportunity to do some serious sightseeing. Doesn't want to take my camera: claims it's too much responsibility.
Meanwhile the girls will restart school and their activities on Monday. By now, they're pretty anxious to get back.
Before that, though, on Friday, I'll chaperone Ana's first "independent" trip to the movies with friends. I promised I'd seat at the back of the theatre and be as inconspicuous as possible. Only one other mother showed some concern about a bunch of 11-year-olds going to the movies by themselves. As she has a newborn baby and a toddler to care for, I volunteered to keep an eye on the premature teenagers. The film they're seeing is "Flushed Away" (by the makers of "Chicken Run" and "Wallace and Gromit"), so Clara can also see it with me (it's a pity all of her friends are still away).
I haven't seen Ana as excited as this for a long time. She used to be quite a TomBoy a couple of years back but now she can spend a whole afternoon trying on different clothes!

Our family, according to Clara (Rose is Clara's new baby doll)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Look Mum, I'm in the News !!!


One the pictures I took in Monterey, California, 11 years ago made it to today's front page of the Monterey Local News!

Monday, January 01, 2007