Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Yesterday, a little 8 year old Portuguese girl arrived in the UK to join her father, a Portuguese man who was starting a new life in Ipswich. She was probably thrilled by the prospects of a new house, new friends, new place. It was late when her plane landed in Luton. At 1 a.m. the car where she and her father were travelling after leaving the airport collided with a deer which suddenly ran into the motorway. Both father and daughter died instantly.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Hey, I put some new shoes on,
and suddenly everything is right,
I said, hey, I put some new shoes on and everybody's smiling,
it so inviting,
Oh, short on money,
but long on time,
slowly strolling in the sweet sunshine,
and I'm running late,
and I don't need an excuse,
'cause I'm wearing my brand new shoes.
It's so ordinary but just so true, isn't it? Putting on a new pair of shoes, getting a new hair cut or wearing new clothes can lift your mood just enough for you to make peace with the world (as far as shoes are concerned, however, this peace will probably tend to be very short lived, as new footwear invariably means sore, bruised feet after a few hours...).
I wonder if hanging new curtains at home will lift my spirits in quite the same manner [daft thought, I know...]. I guess I'll find out in 8 weeks' time.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
Dad (in the middle) with his mother, father, brother and sister in the Summer of 1943. Only Dad and his brother survived the 1940's...
Dad (in the middle) with his brother and sister in the Summer of 1943.
Dad in the Summer of 1943. This picture always reminds me of Saint-Exupery's Little Prince...
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Occur to Her -- alone --
When friend -- and Earth's occasion
Have infinite withdrawn --
Or She -- Herself -- ascended
To too remote a Height
For lower Recognition
Than Her Omnipotent --
This Mortal Abolition
Is seldom -- but as fair
As Apparition -- subject
To Autocratic Air --
To favorites -- a few --
Of the Colossal substance
poem by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
CHILD WELL-BEING TABLE (Overall assessment)
9. Republic of Ireland
15. Czech Republic
20. United States
21. United Kingdom
Other key points at-a-glance here.
Click on study cover to access the Unicef PDF file
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Anyway, I wonder if this year there'll be any pancake races in Olney?
This is the setting of my childhood and that of my mother before me. My grandmother still lives in the same pombaline house she and my grandfather rented in Rua do Século (Lisbon, Portugal) when they were married in 1939. My mother was born here and it was here that I lived until I was 13 (and yet for another year when I was 18). Things looked considerably better when I was a child than they do now. There was no graffiti, no vandalism and almost no cars. Looking at these pictures, it is hard to believe that this road was actually dual carriage until the late 1970's.
Links for historical research
Monday, February 19, 2007
O soave fanciulla, o dolce viso
di mite circonfuso alba lunar
in te, vivo ravviso il sogno
ch'io vorrei sempre sognar!
Ah! tu sol comandi, amor!...
Fremon già nell'anima
le dolcezze estreme,
nel bacio freme amor!
Oh! come dolci scendono
le sue lusinghe al core...
tu sol comandi, amore!...
No, per pietà!
V'aspettan gli amici...
Già mi mandi via?
Vorrei dir... ma non oso...
Se venissi con voi?
Sarebbe così dolce restar qui.
C'è freddo fuori.
Vi starò vicina!...
E al ritorno?
Dammi il braccio, mia piccina.
Che m'ami di'...
Amore! Amor! Amor
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Friday, February 09, 2007
Thursday, February 08, 2007
No school for the girls today. No airports, no motorways, no trains either. England and Wales have come to a halt because of the snow. It started falling at around 5 am and it's still going strong. Loads of fun in the garden, however...
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Ten centimeters of snow are on tomorrow's weather menu. For now it's "just" -6º C outside and there's a lot of frost firmly sealing car doors shut. The girls just can't wait for next week's midterm break: being with their grandparents and aunts in sunny Portugal is their idea of paradise. Let's hope we don't get snowed in...
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Monday, February 05, 2007
...at the door.
If only for a few amusing moments...
Goldcrest - Regulus regulus
The goldcrest is the UK's smallest songbird and is dull green above and buff white below with a distinctive orange or yellow crown stripe. It is a widespread species, closely associated with coniferous forest. In winter it will join with flocks of tits and other woodland species. In the UK it occurs widely save for in treeless areas such as on the Fens and in northern Scotland. Its population has suffered declines recently, hence its inclusion on the Amber List. It suffers in very cold winters and the recent successive mild winters are a cause for optimism.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Both my girls have now proven to be apt to dish up some yummy munchies for their aging parents, even if it's only when they're "inspired" to do so (which is not too often, I'm afraid).
Ana is more of an experimental cook: she likes to come up with unusual ingredient combinations for her recipes and some of them actually turn out to be quite a success, like her scones with cherries or her apricot and walnut bread, very much praised by her food technology teacher. Routine cooking and preparations bore her (in fact, any type of routine seems to bother her...).
Clara, on the other hand and perhaps due to her tender 6 years of age, loves to help out on the basics, like washing, pealing and chopping fruits and vegetables, beating the eggs, measuring ingredients, seasoning salads and arranging the food in attractive displays.
It's great to see them enjoying themselves in the kitchen. I believe that basic nutritional knowledge and proper cooking play a fundamental role on maintaining a healthy relationship with food throughout life and I'm very glad that their schools are helping me out on this one.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Jubilee - from the Hebrew yobhel, meaning trumpet. Originally all slaves were emancipated every 50 years in a ceremony proclaimed by trumpets. This 50-year cycle eventually became a jubilee.
Slogan - derived from the Gaelic sluagh-ghairm, literally meaning army call or an Irish battle cry.
Bizarre - derived from the Basque word bizar, meaning beard. Bearded Spanish soldiers fighting in France made a strange impression on the locals, who used the word bizar to show how odd these soldiers looked. Bizarre was then "borrowed" from French into English and a word that originally meant beard came to mean strange.
Penguin - from the Welsh pen gwyn, meaning white head. This was originally used by Welsh sailors for the great auk, a now extinct bird similar to the penguin found in Newfoundland that had a white spot in front of each eye.
-- Source "Much Ado About English" by Richard Watson Todd
Friday, February 02, 2007
"If you don't have anything nice to say,
Hello darkness, my old friend,
I've come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence.
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
'neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence.
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never shared
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.
Fools said I, you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you.
But my words like silent raindrops fell,
In the wells of silence
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon God they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning,
In the words that it was forming.
And the sign said, the words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls.
And whispered in the sounds of silence.