Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What lies ahead

I’m still out of my depth with the meanderings of the English school system. It’s so different from what I experienced in America and in Portugal (and my husband at German school), where everything seemed to go according to clearly set out paths...

I seem to have mastered primary school level idiosyncrasies just as Clara is about to move on to secondary school but I still have to achieve precise understand of how “Sixth Form” works to feel at ease with the whole preparation for university process. “Sixth Form” is the name the English give to the last two years of secondary school - Years 12 and 13 (which correspond to 11th and 12th grade in most other countries – they have to be different in everything!) and Ana will start it next year. The possibilities are so many – clearly designed to accommodate all sort of student profiles – that the whole business is a bit daunting and confusing. Furthermore, getting into a good degree at a good university is so difficult nowadays that headmasters recommend that pupils not only achieve top marks at the most relevant subjects for their degrees (in Ana’s case, Maths, Physics, Biology and Chemistry), but also get part-time employment, volunteer for charity work, enthusiastically participate in community councils, have interesting hobbies and practice sports to maximize their chances of being accepted into their first university choices.

With soaring higher education costs and unprecedented levels of graduate unemployment, the whole thing is a big source of anxiety in our household right now, even though Ana is still only 15!

Autumn trails

Monday, November 22, 2010


Being at the right place at the right time can make all the difference.


Saturday, November 20, 2010


When I have ceased to break my wings
Against the faultiness of things,
And learned that compromises wait
Behind each hardly opened gate,
When I have looked Life in the eyes,
Grown calm and very coldly wise,
Life will have given me the Truth,
And taken in exchange -- my youth.

-- Sara Teasdale --

I do so love this poem, the concept rings so true...


I shall never be coldly wise, I shall never know the truth and I shall never part with my youth.

What's in a name?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thoughts on Armistice Day - Lest We Forget

... and on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns fell silent on the Western Front.

How ironic that the "peace treaty" that followed the "War to End All Wars" was a major factor in bringing about WWII and much of the misery that haunts us to this day? Wouldn't it have been wonderful if the world had learned something from the process and especially how the "victorious powers" should behave after a war?

Human memory is terribly short-sighted.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

– Lt.-Col. John McCrae -

We won't let the "Lost Generation" be forgotten.
For all the right reasons.

There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

-- Sara Teasdale --

O Menino da Sua Mãe

No plaino abandonado
Que a morna brisa aquece,
De balas trespassado-
Duas, de lado a lado-,
Jaz morto, e arrefece.

Raia-lhe a farda o sangue.
De braços estendidos,
Alvo, louro, exangue,
Fita com olhar langue
E cego os céus perdidos.

Tão jovem! Que jovem era!
(agora que idade tem?)
Filho unico, a mãe lhe dera
Um nome e o mantivera:
«O menino de sua mãe.»

Caiu-lhe da algibeira
A cigarreira breve.
Dera-lhe a mãe. Está inteira
E boa a cigarreira.
Ele é que já não serve.

De outra algibeira, alada
Ponta a roçar o solo,
A brancura embainhada
De um lenço… deu-lho a criada
Velha que o trouxe ao colo.

Lá longe, em casa, há a prece:
“Que volte cedo, e bem!”
(Malhas que o Império tece!)
Jaz morto e apodrece
O menino da sua mãe

-- Fernando Pessoa --


Shenley Monument to the WWI Dead

Thursday, November 04, 2010

"Argh!," she cries out it frustration!

Still so exasperatingly true! But now, women also go out to work. And if they wait for their dear "better half" to do anything around the house or help with the kids, they'd all be living in a pigsty and the kids would be bullies, junkies and flunking every subject at school. And you can't pay your way out of this.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Smoke and mirrors

It's raining a lot

Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors.
Perhaps the rain will make everything clearer.