Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Native America - Ainu

Not many people know about the Ainu of Japan. They are a minority race, the indigenous people of Northern Japan. They are similar, in their genetics and culture, to the Siberian and Northern American peoples.
"the Portland Japanese Garden hosted a special exhibition in honor of the 50th anniversary of the sister city relationship between Portland and Sapporo, Japan. Entitled Parallel Worlds, the exhibition featured exquisitely designed traditional ceremonial robes created by Ainu artists from the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and Native American artists of the Pacific Northwest. This groundbreaking exhibition became the first to juxtapose the textile arts of indigenous cultures on both sides of the north Pacific."

Some mesmerising Ainu music...

Sunday, 26 February 2012


Two friends recently suggested Qijong (or Chi Kung) might help my health.

The dictionary describes it as:
"an ancient Chinese healing art involving meditation, controlled breathing, and movement exercises."

I went looking for the real easy for lazy slobs version of Qijong (lol) and found this below. I've been doing it every morning, probably in hilariously wrong positions, but I am feeling more relaxed and just.. nice. :-) So I thoughts I'd share it here:

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

I Write...

Today I read a wonderful post about writing by a very talented writer. His name is Eddie Ombagi and his words are very much worth the effort of reading. Go take a browse of his blog.

In his latest post he said:

I asked myself why I write when I want to. It is the fire within, I realized. The fire within that makes me write, write and write. And the same fire within on some days burn so strong that it burns me into cinders and render me inadequate. On such days all thoughts simply burn into flames and do not come out of the pen or the keyboard.
Wow Eddie... that is so beautifully said, I love it. You got me thinking! Why do we write... all of us here blogging? I suspect there are as many reasons as there are bloggers.

Why do I write?

I asked that of myself a while back, when I was trying to explain it to some friends and family. I said, "I write because this is how I breath."

Later I thought how crazy that sounded, but this past year I've realised how true it is. My hands hurt as I write this. The more I use them, the more they burn.

I'm supposed to rest my wrists. Do I? Yes... and no. I rest my wrists. I have given up hobbies, cooking, housework (that one wasn't hard!). I have not raged at struggling to dress. I laugh when I drop spoons and teapot lids. I stop when my wrists crackle with electric shocks and I stop when my fingers hurt... except when I write.

When I write I go on even when I'm down to typing with one finger. When I write the thoughts come so fast my fingers burn like fire trying to keep up and lately when I write and it really does make my hands burn like fire, but there really is no choice.

I write to breathe.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Household Meme

I'm taking up this one from Mimi. :-)

The Household Meme

1. How many gravy boats do you have in your kitchen?

None. My family's love of gravy borders on addiction. I moved on to a gravy galleon years ago.

2. Do the clothes in your laundry basket need ironing?

You iron them BEFORE you wash them? Wow... that is dedication to housework! :-o

3. What is the last thing you wallpapered?

The last thing I wallpapered? Honestly? I have no idea!
But I can tell you a true story. The weirdest thing I've ever seen wallpapered was a flat we looked at to rent. No.. not the way you think, or I think.. or how most of the sane world thinks! This flat was a portion of an old house and the entire place was covered with wallpaper from floor boards to ceiling. Even the window ledges, skirting boards and fireplace were covered up and some of those walls were... lumpy. What was under all those faded flower prints? Very very strange...

4. Wooden floors or carpet?

I've found that floors are always useful, regardless of type.

5. Why do we put out guest towels if no one is supposed to use them?

To impress the kind of guests we really don't want to invite into our homes in the first place.

6. If your spatula could talk, what would it say about your duvet?

I'm more interested in how you made this connection! Time for your medication again, Mimi???

7. Have you replaced the batteries in your smoke alarms this year?

Funny you should ask this! We have a smoke alarm outside our bedroom door. When the battery dies it starts up an alarm sound that's like a weird bird chirp. It died on Sunday night, leading to a looong night of constant pitiful tweeting that led to chirp insomnia...

We fed it a new battery yesterday.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Throwing Away the Glass

Recently there's been a whole theme going round in my journey. It's about looking closer at things. It started with me losing my sense of touch this past year. I've been forced to look at everything carefully, because otherwise I drop things or hurt myself. I have to look at cups I pick up, look at teaspoons, toothbrushes, look at knives (eek), look and LOOK...

...and the more I look the more I realise how much we overlook:
textures, colours, shapes - the colours in onion skin, the grace of human hands and birds in bushes, the way sunlight and shadows change on a wall... the list of wonders is truly endless.

Then came the unbearable sadness of walking with a friend towards her death and yet experiencing at the same time the beauty of seeing her growing brighter and bolder with every step she takes away from this weird crazy muddle we call 'being alive.' I wrote a letter about that and shared it here on my blog. You don't have to read it, but you do need to understand that the same day I wrote that letter I saw a picture on the internet that just leapt out at me. It said:

Dear Optimist, Pessimist and Realist,

While you guys were busy arguing about the glass of water,

I drank it.

The opportunist.

I read that and I realised that I'm tired of that glass of water; I'm tired of measuring Life. Maybe I'd just like to drink the water. Maybe I'd just like to look deeper, feel more... be alive while I'm living.

Today I'm throwing away the glass!

The artwork above is made by me and you are free to use it. :-)

The photo was taken by 'Jade' of,
a place that makes lovely games for little girls.

Friday, 17 February 2012

New Banner - Older Quote

I've made a new banner for my blog. All the photos on the right are real photos I've used on this blog in the past, but the middle quote is new, because it's older. ;-)

Yep, the quote I thought was the original actually wasn't! I always thought the saying was:

"The journey of a thousand miles start with a single step."

but that's a modern interpretation. Lao-Tze's actual words translates closer as:

"The journey of a thousand miles starts beneath one's feet."

It makes more sense actually. Lao-Tze was the founder of Taoism, the concept that gives us Tai-Chi and the Yin-Yang idea of perfect balance.

He also created the concept of Wu Wei - which kind of translates as "Without effort". What he was meaning was the way of Nature and the Universe. Planets turn, seasons come and go, plants grow and water flows... all in a natural unforced way - Wu Wei.

It makes more sense that he'd see a journey starting beneath feet than in a step forward. Stepping forward is an action of force... starting with a contemplative standing position is completely different. To me "beneath our feet" is where all our our dreams and hopes lie. It's who we are, our central core, and the best possible place to start any journey. :-)

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

With Love...

Recently I wrote one of the hardest letters I've ever written. I wrote a goodbye.

It was very hard because the fact I needed to 'say some things out loud' didn't automatically mean the person on the other side needed to read them. So... I was scared of being clumsy or tactless, but it had reached a stage where the need was just too strong, plus I didn't want to leave it too late.

You see... I wrote a letter to a friend of mine who is dying. She might be here for months and months still, but she might not and I just didn't want to wait too long and maybe never say what was in my heart. Her name is Judith and I've talked about her on my blog in my In Beauty blog post series.

Somewhere in writing to Judith a few more people became a part of that letter: her daughter, Jessica, and another mutual friend, Holly. I wrote it all out, posted on her support group page, held my breath... and those friends were very gracious enough to read my words and understand my need to say them.

Now they have given me permission to share this very personal letter here on my blog. I am very grateful, because I know this letter was as much for me as for them, but maybe sharing it again here might help others who face similar circumstances of having things they need to say:

Dear friends

This group was named "Cancer support through collective thinking" and maybe on the surface that might seem to have not worked. The truth is that collective thinking, group prayer, all the love we have, doesn't always stop people we love dying. People we love die... people I love right here in this group are dying. And how do you write about that?

I'm so glad I have come to know you, but I really wish it was for better reasons. I have no words for the big emotions - the pain, sorrow and just plain old UNFAIR of it all. I wish I could unwrite this story and make things better.

Thank you for this place, this small sacred space, for allowing us all to walk with you on this very personal and painful journey. What I've learnt from being here is that it isn't hope that floats... it's love. When everything else sinks to the bottom - love floats. Love soars. And I am so privileged and honoured to have been here in this group and witnessed that.

You see... for me this group has been about watching lots of small miracles. I know all of us were hoping for the big miracle, of Judith being healed, and Holly too, but within that.. . (no word fits!) disappointment there are so many miracles and I want to talk about them today. Because I do fear leaving saying things till it is too late.


You were always an amazing woman, but through the last few years you've become so much more. I cried here when I read about you tearing up your life, your diplomas and paperwork, but later I was thinking about it and remembering when you were in that journey and you'd write to tell us all about your studies and your dreams for a website. You were so excited and you know... maybe the journey really was more important than reaching the destination.

Maybe the point of those studies were what they taught you about you rather than what you could teach others. But then again you have been teaching all of us for years, especially these last two years. You've taught us all about bowel cancer, but even more important (to me) - you've taught me about the true meaning of Grace. You always were graceful, but you have really grown in grace and Grace these last few years. You have, are, and always will be, an inspiration. But more than that - you have shown yourself to be one pretty damn awesome human being!

The recent photo of you on holiday... I don't think I replied. Everyone was saying nice things, but my first thought was, "Oh, she's leaving us." You're glowing so bright lately that it's as if your physical body is starting to become translucent. I can't look at your photos and see much of the physical anymore. Dear lovely soul, I know you are on the last part of this journey and I so wish that wasn't true. To say you will be missed is like saying the sun is kinda hot. For your family I want you to stay, for you... I want you to fly. I want your soul strands to slip each knot softly and easily. Floating, soft, free... I want you to fly.

I need to add that one of the best parts of the last two years has been watching your daughter, Jessica, transform from being "merely" (grin) a lovely young woman to an astounding beautiful young woman. Astoundingly beautiful - within and without. Scared? maybe. Sad? Oh yes, but so much stronger within her centre. Jessica, you glow just as brightly, but in you it's a fire. A fire that will keep you here and keep you glowing brightly. A fire that will help you warm and comfort others and your self when the time comes to let your mother go. I am so honoured to have been here to watch you grow and GROW. It has been beautiful, sad and wonderful to witness.

There's another bright soul I am so honoured to have met through this group...

Dearest Holly,
I have loved meeting you and getting to know you. You are awesome. :-) I look at your photos and see such a beautiful young woman, fighting so hard to LIVE, but I also see a white-fire comet spirit bouncing about in a human skin. I don't know how such a slender physical body manages to hold in so much power and sparkle! I don't think you will fly away one day - I know you will leave us in a shower of sparkles and a rush of stardust ...but I hope you get to bounce about in that human skin long enough to be ready to zoom when the time comes.

Holly and Judith,
I can't even begin to imagine what it feels like to know you are dying. I have no right to even speculate, at what it is like to be either of you, b ut I can share what I do know. Even though I'm psychic and I know for certain there is more out there than "life" I've felt scared of death and dying. I'm just as anxious for my loved ones to stay with me as anyone else, but about 18 months back something happened that did change how I saw death... because I SAW Death.

It was one of the many days we waited around my dad in ITU while he was in between worlds. I saw this tall shadowy robed figure, head bowed and hood so deep there was only darkness and I needed to know...

I needed to know.

So I asked Death to show me its face and it turned to me and pulled back the hood... let the cloak fall away... and I saw an angelic being so incredibly beautiful that it was truly DAZZLING. Gorgeous, perfect Love, but blindingly bright. That's why death was shown hooded and cloaked - because the reality is just too bright and beautiful for our dull "real life" eyes to cope with.

As much as I'm not keen to think about how I get to the dying part of my life story I am now very excited at the thought that one day I'll get to meet that fantastically bright and beautiful angel once again. Most likely you'll get to see him/her before me, but we never really know. Either way I hope we get a chance to stay friends that side too. I'd like a chance to hang out and have some serious fun together! ;-)

With love

I am so priveledged to know these amazing women, and their amazing menfolk, there are some wonderful men lurking in these stories!

your sharing has made such a difference in my life. You travel a road we all will take, one way or another, and you shine a light on this darkest of places and say, "See?" ... and suddenly it isn't the 'scary unknown' anymore. ♥

Judith has a new blog: Chasing Rainbows. She's sharing her personal journey there, along with her love of music. She has some lovely music videos up. I'm really enjoying them. :-) Holly's blog is Passing Cloud. She posts her life adventures along with all sorts of inspirational things. She has some smashing photos of ice and snow up at the moment. I highly recommend both blogs. Oh, I started browsing Holly's blog today and found a photo I've never seen before. Wow... you go look here and tell me if this doesn't fit what I wrote about Holly perfectly! Talk about a sparkly soul? *grin*

And finally, to all my blog readers.
Life was never meant to be about surviving. It's a journey, an adventure... experience it fully in every moment you have!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


I've been forgetting to update and friends keep asking, so...

dad's doing well and only needs check ups every six months now. Mom has recovered well from her surgery, but her back still gives her a lot of pain. So she's walking easily, but still can't stand for long, which is frustrating for her. Hubby is being kept busy... by me. lol I need help a lot, since my fingers don't feel properly I drop small things all the time. I'm lethal with teaspoons!

Mostly, I'm doing ok, because I'm resting my hands-wrists more and the medication I'm on does work. I know that because I forgot my afternoon tablets a while back and... owwwOWWW. So, yes, I now know that the medication helps. LOL

I wear wrist splints at night. They are uncomfy and make sleeping awkward, but I can sleep the whole night again, which is WONDERFUL. Last year the lack of sleep turned me into a zombie..

Nowadays I'm a LOT more human! ;-)

In the morning my hands are fairly numb and then the pins-needles kicks in bad, for maybe two hours. I have that now, but if I type really slow and use my ring and middle fingers to type I manage ok. Plus if I just dangle my arms it eases off. So I stop maybe every paragraph and just rest till I can write again. :-)

The things that start my hands hurting are anything where I put stress or impact on my wrists, but the medication has helped a lot. Before Christmas, when the meds were new and I didn't have the wrist splints, driving in the car was very painful, because of the vibration. Now I can go for two hours in the car and not feel any discomfort. Now it takes fairly big things, like chopping veggies or stirring food, to hurt. So hubby does all stirring, chopping, peeling in cookery as well as lifting heavy things, turning bottle caps and even stirring my coffee (see teaspoons above to understand the danger there!).

The doctor has sent a letter to the hospital to set up surgery for me, but I have no idea when that will be. Otherwise life is very quiet. With driving hurting and fuel prices soaring we haven't been going out on drives for months, so I'm not getting to take any new photos. My photo for this month is actually one I took last year in February. The quiet is nice. Last year was mad. At one stage my calendar showed that we were averaging three doctor's appointments a week! After almost two years of that craziness having a whole month (this February) with only two appointments (mom and dad) is bliss. ;-)

For Valentine's Day...

A beautiful video...

Music “Silver Eyes” by Ashram
Poem “Je t’aime jusqu’au cri” by Alexander Hakman
Translation by Sophie
Poem read by Lescintilla
From the blog MIND PRISM with Alex and Sophie

I’ve loved you despite myself
Entwined with your being, in a swirl of disquiet and dizziness
I didn’t want to say, “I love you”
Out of fear of seeing you disappear like a leaf wrenched from its stem
Nevertheless, I love you until my heart screams
Until I lose my breath each time you distance yourself and leave a void

I have loved you hidden behind the curtains of night
My childish glances followed your every step
My eyes drank the words you would not speak to me
Your words. . . that the light emanating from you wrote on the scrolls of shadows
Your words . . . like fiery stars
Shooting from the dark night to light my way
Your words . . . that you sowed from page to page
In the book of our destinies
And I locked my heart away
So it could not follow your path
But . . . my heart is rebellious
It dances with your words, so soft and so powerful
Clings to its emerging dreams
And today, it wants to speak to you
I love you as one loves a dream hung from moonbeams
I love you as one loves a spring on the rippled slopes of dunes
I love you like the majestic eagle loves to soar and be free
I love you with strength and passion as only tigers know to love

And even if the future is unsure, I want to love you forever
I will love you with all my hope, quivering with impatience
I will love you to the depths of your soul, to the enigma of your silence
I will love you until the desperate need to chant your absence,
Until the fragile confession of an invisible secret

I will love you…


Monday, 13 February 2012

New Design

I'm trying out a new blog design and banner and I'm moving my photo of the month down to below the pages. Not sure if I like the photo placing or not, but I do like my new banner! :-)

oh and... is it too big? I'm not sure about width of this screen.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Turning Japanese.. or least I think so!

I couldn't resist that song joke. LOL

I've added Google Translator to this blog and my Peace Thimbles. Anyone speaking any language on the list, please let me know if it's hilariously bad or makes sense. I've tried the two I can manage - Afrikaans and Spanish - and they seem reasonably okay.

Oh, and here's the song for anyone who didn't get the joke. ;-)

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sweets and Sour

Last week I was tidying up and was about to throw out a chocolate tin when I accidentally discovered something very disturbing. (all chocoholics please look away now - this post will shock you)

Every year hubby's family buy us a tin of Cadbury chocs for Christmas. In the beginning I used to save the tins, because they are useful for storing all sorts of goodies in. I've recently realised that I have more tins than things needing storage, so I decided to swap an old tin for the nice new one we got this Christmas. That's when I noticed something funny going on. . .

Can you see it?

I'll give you a hint. Christmas 2010 tin is on the left.

Here's another photo with another hint - the new lid fits both the new and old tins, so there's no change in diameter of tin size. . .

You guessed it by now, didn't you? The new tin is SHORTER and... it holds LESS. Less chocolates for Christmas with no change in advertising or in pricing!!!

Here's the bottom of Christmas 2010 tin, as you can see the best by date was up to August 2011, so it wasn't an older tin.

...and now Christmas 2011 tin.

It's gone from 943g to 826g in under a year. That's a loss of 117g of chocolate. That's an entire chocolate bar!

I will certainly be warning the family to not buy us any more tins in the future.