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It takes a village to raise a child - African proverb

>> 27 March 2008

ANGALEO is the first cinema for children that travels around the world.

The Heger family: mom, dad and 3 boys (aged 2, 4 and 5), will travel around the world starting in September this year. In a 14 ton truck. Their goal is to show cartoons to children all over the world. To make them dream for a while.

You can be part of their voyage. For 10 euros your picture will be taped to the side of their truck and travel with them for 3 years and 150.000 kilometers. And you can win a trip to South Africa at the same time.

Check out their website and travel with them.


I've been doing a lot of abstract painting lately, extremely abstract. No brush, no paint, no canvas, I just think about it. - Stephen Wright

Like actor and writer Stephen Wright, I have lately been thinking about painting more than actually painting. Yesterday however I seemed inspired and courageous enough to stand in front of my easel and throw something on canvas.
The first try turned out laughable :-)
The second try is the painting you see here.
And today I have been at it again! And it feels good.
Just wanted to share that.
I am not content with the way the painting is photographed. So if any of you has any tips on how to photograph works of art, please let me know.


Herman Hesse

>> 26 March 2008

Today just some wise words from Hermann Hesse:

“You know quite well, deep within you,

that there is only a single magic,

a single power,

a single salvation...

and that is called loving.

Well then, love your suffering.

Do not resist it,

do not flee from it.

It is only your aversion to it

that hurts, nothing else.”


...nothing in the world

is more distasteful to a man

than to take the path

that leads to himself.


If you hate a person,

you hate something in him

that is part of yourself.

What isn't part of ourselves

doesn't disturb us.


~Hermann Hesse


Work is a necessity for man. Man invented the alarm clock - Pablo Picasso

>> 25 March 2008

Before I was a mom, I used to go to bed late. Or early but I'd read until late. I could sleep until noon without feeling I'd lost a day. I had to set my alarm clock to get out of bed in the morning. Although I do not fall into the category of an early riser, I do not have a problem to get out of bed when the thing buzzes. I do not understand the concept of the snooze button. I prefer to set the alarm at the correct time and then get up. At least those 10 minutes of snooze are spent in deep sleep and not dozing.

When I became a mom, the whole concept of time changed. There was no more ME time. Time was spent looking after a baby and making sure its every wish was catered for immediately. No alarm clock was used in the first months. I adapted to my son's rythm, waking and sleeping when he did.

Once I started working again, I needed to get organised. I used the alarm clock once more in order to get up before my son, prepare breakfast, pump some milk, take a shower, get dressed, dress my son and be ready to go.

After my second son was born, the same scenario was played out all over again in the first few months. And my oldest son was the perfect alarm clock shouting Mammmmmaaaaaa at 7 o'clock sharp!

I now find myself not having to set the alarm. Before going to bed I know I have to get up at a certain time and I will miraculously wake up around that time. I find it mysterious and interesting how the body clock changes and adapts.

When our boys were sleeping over at their grandparents', I was so much looking forward to sleeping in in the morning. Of course I woke up at 7 am sharp thinking I heard someone call me... But it was a pleasure to be able to turn around and go back to dreamland for an hour more.

Next week I have to start working again and I will have to use the alarm once again in order to get up before everyone else and become the busy bee preparing for the day to come.
They say regular exercise is good. As my boys are with my parents today, I better go out for a run.

Some related sites:
Here are 5 ways to syncrhonize your body's clock.
Women and sleep
Sleep Drive and Your Internal Body Clock by the National Sleep Foundation.


To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark - Victor Hugo

>> 20 March 2008

I am a fervent reader.

I love books.

I love to buy books. I love to own them.

I buy more books than I read.

Maybe this comes from a childhood frustration? We were not poor, but spending money on books was seldom done. We lived in a small village in the country and there was no library close enough to get to. But we had what I call a wonderful invention: a library bus full of books would stop in our village every two weeks and I made sure never to miss it. It made me discover books that I would never have read otherwise. For free.
I remember the joy I felt when hearing the honking music announcing the arrival of the bus. Entering it was like penetrating into a secret, wonderful world full of stories. For me, the magic of books dates back to that time and has only amplified today.

The library bus still exists and tours the little villages to bring books to the reading community with half of its books for children and young adults.

I went there today with our 2 year old. He knows what a bus is, but he couldn't seem to grasp why a bus should contain books instead of people. He was more interested in the other kids than in the books but once at home 'bookbus' had become a new word in his evergrowing vocabulary and I hope to have planted the magic bookseed in him too.


How far does your food travel before it reaches your mouth?

>> 13 March 2008

I don't mean the path from your plate over your fork to your mouth. I mean the road from where it was planted, grown and harvested to where you cook it in your home.

Do you know where the food you buy comes from?

When the average North American sits down to eat, each ingredient has typically travelled at least 1,500 miles. The French consume ingredients that have travelled an average of 2000 km.

In 2005 Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon started the 100 mile diet. For one year, they would buy or gather their food and drink from within 100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia. A 100-mile radius (or 160 kilometres) is large enough to reach beyond a big city and small enough to feel truly local.

A strawberry yoghurt equals about 9000 km
if one takes into account the road travelled
by each of the ingredients necessary to produce it.

A similar experience was done by a journalist from the French Psychologies magazine (the article - in French - can be found here). She lives in Paris and thought that would make it easy. She received her vegetable basket every week from local producers via the French Amap organisation (the international network can be found here).

But besides those products for which the production circuit was well identified, she found she had to become a detective to find a few local producers able to fill her fridge. The supermarket was banned as most products come from far away. When asking her local shopkeepers where a product was coming from the answer 'France' was not precise enough. She had to give up fish but her partner warned her that he would not give up his hummus from Israel or his Green Tea.

Transport by plane has an impact
on the environment of 100 times
superior to boat transporation.

She found that such a diet radically changes our relation to food. It becomes difficult to invite people for dinner if they insist on chocolate mousse or to go out to a restaurant. And it is even harder to identify the origin of all the ingredients in ready to use products such as tomato sauce or fresh ravioli pasta. The easiest way, and the best in terms of ecology, would be to plant everything you eat yourself. Not easy if you, like the journalist, live in Paris. But if you start by eating fruits and vegetables only when it's their season (i.e. no strawberries in the winter), you've already made a first step.

1 kg of apples from South Africa
correspond to 5 liters of fuel.
0,25 liters for the same
quantity cultivated locally.

Our household has recently made some changes in that direction as well. We have replaced the Italian mineral water San Pellegrino (how come you can find this about anywhere in the world? WHY?) with our local mineral water. We go shopping with our own bags. We mainly buy organic fruit and vegetables. We plan on setting up a small vegetable garden this year.

Not necessarily ecological, but better for your health: we try to buy products that do NOT contain trans fats as they are not essential nor provide any benefit to the human health but instead increase the risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, liver dysfunction and infertility. In most countries, these fats must be listed on food, so you better look out for and reduce them in the future!
[The] food chain we have now is not
designed to feed people.... it is designed
to produce the maximum amount of cash
in the shortest time. ... The global free market
might be good for some things (perhaps we get
better computers and warships that way)
but for farming, and hence for humanity
as a whole, it is disastrous.
Complete quote from Colin Tudge at
Treehugger can be found here.


>> 3 March 2008

Today I would like to share a book with you that was a very engrossing experience for me.

The book is called SHANTARAM by Gregory David Roberts.

The novel is based on Roberts' life - oh and what a life it is!
Roberts, an Australian, is thrown in jail for armed robberies conducted to support his heroin habit. He escapes from that prison and arrives in Bombay where he learns the language, lives in a slum where he sets up a clinic for slum dwellers, gets recruited by the Bombay mafia for whom he does currency crime, gold and passport smuggling, spends time in prison in India and joins mujaheddin fighters in an operation in Afghanistan.

Despite all the crime, Roberts is a tough guy with a big heart. Although I condemn his outlaw escapades, he is a very good writer and poet. Every sentence rings true and he manages to pass on some phyolosophical wisdom. It is fascinating to be taken on this adventurous journey where each incident is more mindblowing than the one before. I lived with Roberts as he sank into the deepest depths and I smiled with him when he rose to glories. It is a page-turner of a book, full of surprises and the over 900 pages never seem long. It is an epic devoid of sentimentality but filled with harrowing experiences, true laughter and tears which jump from the pages and grip your heart. All the characters in his novel are so alive and real that I was actually disappointed to find out they are fictitious.
Roberts has sold the rights of his novel to Johnny Depp and Warner Brothers and the movie is likely to be released next year.

I recommend you go out, get it and savour it.

Shantaram website


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