Today is a very sad day, for I got news that a beautiful soul, a lovely friend, whom I thought I would see more of and chat with in a near future and meet again soon, passed away yesterday late in the afternoon, the day of Thanksgiving.
Michelle was strong, had a fab smile, and was a real gem.
Sadly, she has lost her last round of battle against cancer, and I can’t stop crying. I cry because of all the songs, the dances, the bottles of champagne, the jokes and golden moments we desired to share and live that will remain unsung, undanced, unopened, unlaughed and unshared together.
Last time we spoke, she was ready for the second part of the battle, she had many rounds of chemo and was on remission . I’d thought I’d send her a little gift. Then it was summer and time to settle everything for my eldest to go study abroad and live with my sister, followed by an extened stay in Europe to meet with family, and set the kid in the new city, environment, etc, visit my aging parents (who have some medical ailments), and long-time-not-seen cousins. Then I came back, began renos in the kitchen and baths. And I thought everything was fine, she was to be forever ok, she seemed fine. Until 2 weeks ago.
And now it’s over. Amazingly, she was so strong she decided to celebrate her last moments at home, surrounded by friends, dancing and singing, and smiling her way out of this world gracefully. She had a smile on her face when she passed away, and went peacefully, no more in pain, according to her husband with whom we just spoke extensively over the phone. He was extraordinarily poised and calm as I was sobbing and crying, he was comforting and we plan to all meet soon, with the kids. He told me he had time to get acustomed to the idea of her leaving, but was happy that they had a fantastic period of grace to say goodbye in a joyous, lively way.
To toast her beauty, inside and out, and her radiance, tonight hubby and I had a glass of white wine named Chateau Ste Michelle, fromCalifornia, the region where she lived with her beautiful family.
Her husband set up a fundraiser today for the kids’ college education and I chipped in of course.
We always think we will all the time in the world to see our friends, our loved ones, and meet and have fun, create memories and laugh or share difficult times. But we don’t. Life surprises us good or bad, sometimes contradicting our plans, and time is short.
Celebrate life and the ones you love, send the letter today, call, send the gift, do it before it’s too late.
Now, if you’ll excuse me friends, I have a bunch of letters to write, a bottle of champagne to open and down with friends, and a song to sing on the top of my lungs…
PS take care of you
If coffee is unseparable from cafés (or coffee houses), it is especially true in Vienna.
Maybe it’s my feeling because I am still in Vienna for a couple of days, and the subject ‘s been brewing for some time.
I shall first briefly recap how coffee came to Vienna.
The first noted effects of coffee beans (boiled and brewed) in Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula in 1100 AD. Yemen back then was the sole producer of coffee (Arabica type), where beans would be shipped from the port of Mocha (hence the name moccha coffee, then just “mocha”, “moccha” or “moka”).
The Ottomans brought coffee and built coffee houses to Turkey and its capital (then Constantinople) in the 15th century. There were places to meet, play boardgames, listen to music, discuss news and politics, and drink the delicious (and black as China ink) hot beverage, sometimes flavored with spices. The entire Arabic world fell under the spell of coffee and the male Arabic world under the delights of coffehouses. So much so that the city of Mecca briefly saw the interdiction of coffee and coffehouses, before the coffee ritual became ingrained in daily life, thus defeating the concerns of several Imams about coffee allowing for subversive ideas to be shaped by alert minds. In Turkey, although not allowed in coffeehouses, a woman could divorce their husband if he could not provide her daily dose of coffee.
In the Austrian-Hungarian capital though, the first café opened in the wake of the Battle of Vienna in 1683 against the Ottoman Empire, the turning point of a 300 years or so struggle between the Ottoman and the Holy Roman Empires. The Ottoman Empire had sought to conquer and expand its influence in regions of Europe that were traversed by major trade routes (Black Sea, Danube and Mediterranean). The Ottomans had already been tickling the ego of the Holy Roman Emperor, after they had put the Balkans, parts of Crimea and Wallachia under their rule, they were coveting Hungary territories in 1526, which led to the Siege of Vienna in 1529. As the key city interlocking eastern and western, northern and southern Europe, Vienna had been an object of desire for all the Sultans since the founding of the Ottoman Statehood in 1299… Fast forward post-battle of 1683. So, the Ottomans and their allies, defeated by the coalition of the Holy Roman Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, packed weapons and tents to return home, leaving behind them a stock of sacks containing strange black roasted beans. A man, who had been prisoner of the Ottomans, knew exactely what they were, how to use them and obtained permission to keep the beans. Following his heroic deeds in action, he was also granted the licence to open the first coffeehouse in Vienna, triggering the passionate affair with coffee that the Viennese still enjoy today.
This clever man, Georg Franz Kolschitzky, got the idea to serve his coffee alongside little pastries in the shape of a croissant, the crescent visible on the Ottoman flag, as a reminder of the battle and how the Ottomans were crushed.
I’m bridging a gap here in assuming that this little delicacy must have ressembled the ubiquitous Vanille Kipferl that is still baked today during Advent time in Alsace (East of France), Germany, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia (and available year-round in stores, offered by cookies company Bahlsen).
Nowadays, the coffee menu at most cafés, hotel tearooms, restaurants and “konditoreien” or pastry shops offers a wide range of coffee variation, not really in regards to the origin of the beans, but rather on how the coffee is prepared, with or without milky, and/or whipped cream. You can usually choose from a good dozen or more coffees! Some famous tearooms offer their own variety, named sometimes after a member of the owner family or illustrious person (Einspänner, Melange, Fiaker, Biedermeier, Franziskaner, kleiner order grosser Brauner, Mokka, Verlängerter, Kaffee verkehrt or latte macchiato, Mozart Café, Hefferlkafee, Anton kaffee, Helene Kaffee, Sisi, Franzi… etc…).
Now, about croissants. The little “coissant” or Kipferl, arrived in France around 1835-40, when a Viennese officer and his associate opened a Viennese Bakery in Paris. The success was immediate. French pastry chefs and bakers were soon inspired, developping their own version of the Kipferl, with more butter and yeast to give a fluffy, light texture to the dough. As a result, the croissant doubled in size and volume, and got a brioche-y taste. Over time, those bakers injected a copious dose of sophistication to the humble coissant, perfecting it to the chef d’oeuvre of extra-thin buttery golden layers that is now, to be found in the best patisseries worldwide (forget the sad industrial or dry flaky underproved and underdevelopped thing some hotels or pseudo-bakeries attempt to pass as croissant and wait until you encounter a proper light, fluffy, buttery, delightful one).
Moreover, delighted by the instant success of the croissant feuilletage (layering process leading to puff pastry), French bakers used the same layered pastry dough to create the “pain au chocolat”, “mirliton”, “pain aux raisins”, “sacristain”, “palmier”, “chausson aux pommes”, alongside brioche-dough pastries such as “danish”, “pain au lait” (milkbread), and other “baguette viennoise” (with chocolate chips), thus giving birth to what is now known in France and in pastry schools as “viennoiseries” ( Vienne-oiseries : things in the taste or style of Vienna, literally).
Personally, I tried and tasted many cake/coffee combos and IMHO, nothing beats a coffee and a croissant. That opinion may very well taking its roots in my student time, when upon arrival at the uni, I would occasionally pair a freshly baked croissant with a milk coffee.
In Vienna, of course, one can find the most tempting cakes, strudels, and slices of elaborated gateaux (Cardinal schnitte, Klimt schintte, Esterhazy ot Dobos torte, apple or poppy seed or cheesecake/curd or apricot strudel, raspeberry or mango mousse cakes, napoleons, walnut and coffee big gateau…) and each one can find a mate in the coffee menu.
It’s also as difficult to choose from, as much as diificult as what to choose between all types of coffee you can enjoy in Vienna. I think I’ve tried them all… Or almost (not a big fan of liquor in my hot beverage, though).
As for me, I’m a stickler for a Franziskaner, a milky coffee topped with whipped cream served in a glass alongside a croissant. And of course in a coffehouse, sipping a coffee, I write… That’s exactly what I am doing now, coffeeing and writing.
Enjoy your brew!
I think this drawing is self-explanatory.
It’s called the Race to the top (and it needs more inking).
Update : It’s a metaphor for the highly praised value in western societies : money and how to make more of it than the neighbour/colleague/friend/anyone else. Now, dont’ get me wrong, money’s a good thing. What’s not optimal is when what’s engrained in our brains is that it is the only value one must seek, detrimental to ethics, kindness, generosity, help to others, a sense of community. So, the end is grim, as shown in the drawing, when it’s the only ladder steps some of our fellow humans climb in pursuit of a sense of identity, when one’s identity = how much money one makes, and how badly they want it ( even crushing/mistrating/etc others to get it).
Not that I am cynical (because cynism allows for no hope), but rather a realist (eye-opened and sad, but doing something about it) that happens to have a sever condition of unshakeable enthusiasm and love for life coupled with a deep-rooted trust that humans will eventually do good on a regular basis, with a mild itching of humour (sometimes very dark), peppered with noir tendencies ( I watched too much noir movies as a teen, probably).
The musical conterpart to my condition could be the blues, and the literary genre could be linked to the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, right there, between an everlasting awe for the Creation and creativity humans can display and master and achieve, also the brutal thruth that human as an evolving race is quite fucked up (pardon my French) and rather fucks up everyhting it comes in contact with.
Ugliness (in behaviours, treatment of our planet, of the air, of other species and of the variety of people within our own species) as the polyester-ic (poly-hysteric?) lining of this shimmering cloak of beauty that covers this wonderful sphere we will no longer be able to call home if we contiue, as a group, to behave like imbecile spoiled brats lead by ignorant , greedy, power-thirsty and crass-stupid corkcroaches . (Hum, not very appealing).
No apologies for the long complicated sentences, that’s part of my literary charm, I guess, can’t deprive you of that, right? 😉
BUT, there are many good reasons to rejoice too, when we see independent actions and groups of persons all around the world coming together to trigger change, to induce new behaviours and implement sustainable ways of living, more in harmony with this marvellous paradise (Scientist & neuro researcher Bruce Lipton says we are born in heaven, and what do we do with it?).
Creative in destruction, but more creative in creation, that’s us, the paradoxical little annoying bugging colony on this big blue planet.
Let’s rejoice, for times a-changing. For the better.
Plus, summer’s almost officially here. What’s not to love?
Hum, so Apocalypse… did I really wrote that? Well, this post has been brewing in my mind for quite some time now, the title is certainly a bit dramatic, provocative as well, perhaps.
We are clearly facing turbulent times, and it looks like is it not near the end. It is also a very interesting time, because what was hidden, denied, minimised, falsely turned as a misrepresentation of the truth is now coming up and is widely uncovered. People are not having it anymore, they unleash their inner power, and that power is their voice and their ability to unite in face of adversity/injustice/despondency. They break free from the status quo, from the unwritten rules that place abusers in high places and that their fellow powerful friends will cover for them and protect them, as they sympathise for them (a frat for criminals or misusers of power?). They break free and seek the truth and speak their truth. They have been denied that right for too long, but now, they unite to turn against their persecutors, en masse, the boomerang finally returns to its thrower. The very structure of those male-led, outdated, erroneously structured, abusive, destructive, fear-based, consumerism-oriented societies is bursting at the seams. Democracy in the dual party sytem as we’ve known it, although a good idea, and the best suited for humans, is unfortunately reaching its limits and proving to be a much difficult system to sustain on the long-run than originally thought (Jefferson stated that democracy is only possible for small communities).
Watching on my screen Notre-Dame in flames, or parishioners being attacked in Sri Lanka, or in other places because of their creed, their sexual preference or their gender , after massive cover-up scandals had shaken the Catholic Institution, I thought it could very well be a metaphor for the dreaded Apocalypse of the Bible.
Apocalypse is the Greek word for Revelation. Revelation means that things that were hidden, or unknown, are unveiled and brought to our knowledge, in broad daylight for everybody to see. It’s exactely what has started with the first sex abuse scandals in sport in USA in 2011.
In the Book of Revelation, John of Patmos wrote that “For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails (tails, here, is this a metaphor for the phallus?) were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.” (Rev 9:19) and “Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” ( Rev 9:21). Yet, all those behaviours being brought to the attention to the world to see and ponder, and to act upon with justice for the victims have nothing to do with the End of the World in a religious sense.
And we have entered an era of unprecedented revelations and unveilings of huge, horrendous, widespread misuse of power and trust. It is ravaging the world. It was common already in centuries past. But the new card in the deck is that now abused or outraged people are standing up for themselves. They speak, they denounce the abuse, they organise themselves to gain strength. That is new, and a pioneering step into equality and restoration of balance. What is new is that also, not only do they speak, but their voice now is heard. Probably for the first time in our collective (and soon to be short-lived, at this rate) history.
It’s probably not the return of Christ in Majesty as per the Bible, but it is a time of revelations. The recent scandals, weather upheaveals and disturbances, disasters, fires ravaging huge acreage of land, hurricane, floods, terror attacks, political or civil unrest, decline of trust in economy, leaders, society, the collapse of institutions, seem to pile up like crazy as of late, in a strange manner (almost weirdly satisfying too, as in “out with the old, hail to the new!”).
They come after the sport coaches sexual abuse scandals (Basketball Louisvile, Penn State…), the Olympic Gymnastics abuse scandals, the Jimmy Savile or Chris Christie scandals, etc… Most of them were sex scandals by unhappy ugly sad little moronic turds with a little bit of/some power preying on vulnerable persons.
Everywhere, pillars of what constituted the very fabric of our western societies so far are crumbling. The deceiving actions of institutions and their representatives we used to trust are being exposed, their misconducts and intrigues are massive, extending throughout the country (ies) and back as much as 30 years. Many male politicians, entertainment moguls or sport figures, have shown their ugly face (most of them are quite disgusting and ugly, and I’m not talking only about their actions), their disdain of ethics when it comes to behave with a moral conduct, and their lack of responsability, once they’ve been exposed. Politicians engrossed with their own power and access to high spheres of decision making have been lying through their teeth to promote themselves, grab’n’stash more money, and/or a supposed prestige, at the expense of their country’s benefit (think Brexit, Venezuela). Renowned actors, producers, photographers, musicians have used their prestige and fame to assault people. They seldom show remorse for their behaviour (and never repent), for the trauma they relished in inflicting (because c’m’on, they were not “unaware” of what they were doing, right?). They even brag about how disgustingly they love to behave, sometimes in private, sometimes in a locker room.
Now, I’m not naive, we have seen that type of behaviours in the past, but rarely though, if ever, to such extent, with such arrogance and despise of moral and decency. The decency to be a respectable human being, making the right choice and doing the right thing over one’s personal lust after : a) power , b) money , c) a non consenting or vulnerable human being , d) immediate gratification detrimental to others/ethics/example/community/areas of service.
Is this more widespread now because it is seen in acion at the highest level of respnsability and not chasitised and condemned as it should and must? The Orange Chief of Staff here in America has set the tone of gross disrespect for (in no particular order) women, children (the boy scouts are still trying to make sense of his desastrous speech), disabled people, workers, his employees, his wife, his fellow citizens, the Constitution, the Senate, the Congress (and their elected representatives), the word “Origin”, Europe, Africa, Asia (and their citizens), climate, the Earth, his generals, the intel from the FBI, the victims of school shootings (and their families), facts, the press, TV hosts, economists, seasonned politicians and counsels, his advisory staff, acurate numbers, truth, reality, grammar in general, coherence of speech and of thinking and so many others…? (hopefully, the boomerang always returns to the thrower, even if he’s a bad thrower, and if he is bad, it will hit him in the teeth. Sometimes it is also called karma).
The recent Catholic Church scandals cover-ups (firstly the child sexual abuse, then the nuns sex slavery and abortion scandals), the Jewish schools child sexual abuse scandals in 2018 and 2019), the Southern Church sexual assaults on children (Texas in Feb 2019), after the Weinstein, Cosby, Spacey, Cirrincione, Horowitz, Lauer, Goodman affairs (article of the NYT here ), after the agricultural scandals, the Monsanto trials, the abuse of our Earth, of the waters, the air, the uberproduction of plastic, the massive extinction of insects, species, the deforestation process to make money, with disregards to wild life & habitat, only just show that no aspect of life has been spared.
So, this is why it feels like a time of revelations, if not the End of Times, which will come sooner, if we continue to ignore obvious signs that Nature is outraged and that we have collectively and for too long abused and overused the resources of this wonderful planet called Earth or Gaia. These times can be seen as scary and terrifying, I see them as a chance to come clean and turn tables, getting rid of dirty practices and abrasive behaviours favored by tyranny mindsets from some leaders and world enslavement to profit. A chance to pacify our feverish minds consumated by technology fantasies, get rid of our fears, clean our planet and our ways of living. A time to expurge the pus of toxic behaviours (all of them ), cleanse, heal and implement better suited habits and societies.
For some time now, Gaia has been demonstrating quite boldly that she is fed up with us, and will eradicate us and wipe us off, as thouroughly as we have applied ourselves to deplete, abuse, pollute, neglect, mistreat, ignore and wrongly use Her.
Boomerangs returning to the throwers….
Thanks for your time, pls comment (respectufully, as you always do, my dears)
So long, F
Disclaimer : I am not overly religious and I certainly do not claim to know things better than a regular Churchgoer. I expect respect (of my person, my opinions and my choices), as I give it. I respect all religions, provided they treat their adepts with respect and a high standard of morals and ethics, provided also that they live according to what they preach and set an example. If they do not comply with what they preach or do not respect others in their differences and their alterity or otherness, then they just discard and oucast themselves from the field, they have no legitimity to tell others how to conduct their life and can certainly not demand anything other than what they deserve.
Today, the iconic Cathedral of Paris, Notre-Dame has been ravaged by fire. The live feeds gave us an idea of what it must have been like, to see a city, or churches, castles, buildings being destroyed by flames in medieval times.
I used to be a student of the nearby University, the Sorbonne, and I often sat on a bench , on sunny days, to admire this gem, after a day’s of study.
Today, Notre-Dame was a prisoner of a blazing fire, and the images shocked the world.
Today, like so many, like you who have been to Paris and visited this incredible architecture masterwork, I am extremely saddened by this catastrophe.
Cathedral Notre-Dame has gained worldwide renewed fame with the animated movie The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and later with the eponymous musical, both based on the works of Victor Hugo.
Notre-Dame is unmistakeably linked to the very identity of Paris. more than 14 million visitors admire its architecture and beautiful works of art. Its building began in 1163 and was completed in 1345.
The rooster atop the spire of the cathedral contains 3 major relics : a piece of the Crown of throrns, (brough back from Jerusalem by King Saint Louis (Louis IX) after the 7th crusade, as the Crown of thorns was a gift from Baldwin II, Latin Emperor of Constantinople), a relic of Saint Denis (saint patron of paris and of France) and a relic of Saint Genevieve (saint patron of Paris , whose prayers stoped Atilla the Hun at the gates of Paris, thus saving the city, in 464). Luckily, 16 statues were taken from the roof recently to be restored, thus avoiding being destroyed in the collapse of the spire.
The roof over the choir has been entirely destroyed, we do not know yet how badly the rose windows and the panel windows dating from the 13th century have been damaged. Some statues, paintings, and church ritual objects have been severly damaged or destroyed.
Let’s keep Notre-Dame’s spirit alive and let’s give this old lady her splendour back.
Thanks for reading,
I experiment with a new penbrush, blush in colour ( which is a favorite).
Working on a theatrical project, I have designed the poster for the play ( which basically tells the story of men shot as example during WW1, and their rehabilitation thereafter).
Here is what I came up with.
Later I’ll post the inktober promt ( “angular”, talk about non-inspiring)
Hello friends, I ‘ve been badly sick all night long and all day today, too weak to get out of bed and unable put myself to draw.
Cramps, muscle aching deep into the limbs, headache that did not dissolve even with 4 times 2 advilcapgels, high fever, shivers, nauseous and painful belly and stomach, plus dizziness.
This too shall pass, I’ll be my buoyant self anytime soon…hopefully tomorrow.
Ironically, today’s Inktober prompt is Exhausted, and this is exactly how I feel. I might take a pic of my miserable sick self and post it!
I hope your Sunday has been brilliant and good.
I decided to participate in the October drawing challenge Inktober.
First time! Super excited. So, here we go! Drawing is another great way to tell stories.
The Prompt of today is : Poisonous. I decided to add a little of red Indian Ink for a touch of drama. Enjoy!