Confined and writing

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Hi Friends

So, a friend stated yesterday that this crisis should inspire me for a novel, I answered that I had already begun a novel revolving around it and a group of people confined in a sub, for a NaNoWriMo challenge. I wrote about half of that novel during the month of October 2016…

The title is “Deep waters”.

And coming to think about it, it’s quite weird that the very subject is about a group of renegades of all nationalities and walks of life (doctors, geophysicist, scientist, nuke researcher, biologists, pshychotherapist, artists, outcast…), confined in a clandestine submarine, escaping the mercenaries set to kill them and eradicate them paid by repressive authorities of their governments and countries, with as backdrop the collapses of democraties and politic systems known until then (it it set in 2056), massive destruction of the ecosystems, huge climate changes, and spreading of deadly infections, notably pulmonaries, and with a growing advocacy for “neutrality” in gender identification, and reorganization of countries and geo-political aeras of influence, constraint and “retraining” of minorities in camps…

Due to all the reasearch I had to do, it went on very slowly. (I had to understand thoroughly ocean acidification and how a nuke sub works, among other things.) I have had barely time to continue since the end of 2018, but those past days, I have felt like I have to finish it now. Several friends and familiy members have already read the first draft as early as Nov 2016.So, for those interested, I’ll set up a link with a password on my blog for you to read it, if you like.

Comment, DM me, and let’s make this a collaborrative work >> your interest in it fueling my creative tank to finish it rapidly.

Let’s see whre this leads us. Thanks for your time.

Stay safe at home..

(Pls find a screenshot of my editing history of Deep Waters, as in my Drive.)

Spell (bis)

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Following a very interesting discussion a few days earlier with a bookshop manager, I got the idea to draw another SPELL, because the wide spreading smartphone/socialmedia/electronic device/apps addiction seems now impossible to thwart, and it affects everyone.

Just go into a coffeeshop, and look at the customers. Too few are not glued onto their little screen.

What happened to good old-fashionned dreamy gazes, impromptu conversations, advices on which beverage to choose, and fortuitous smiles, and nodding, and cheering when we stumble upon a friend or an acquaintance? What happened to those micro-connections, when our eyes meet a stranger’s or a friend’s eyes?

What happened to those tiny glimpses of soul sharing?

Eyes riveted onto those screens that dag us into a world of synthetised emotions, and pseudo connections, we lose what what once a joy and a reason to rejoice : the ability to communicate in a friendly way.

Glued onto those screens, we do not see the person in front of us in the line steping into a dance move briefly as their favorite music plays, or seeing their amazing hair, or fashion style, we become oblivious of all the wonders that surround us…

So, let’s hope there will be more of those who switch off their device, who do not answer their phone as soon as it rings, when they are chatting with somebody, or admiring art in a gallery or a museum.

I often get scolded because I do not answer my phone right away when it rings. Mind you, I prefer to control my phone rather than they other way round.

Time to launch a new movement : I’m smarter than my smartphone, so I keep it under control.

What do you think?

Have a good day fellow bloggers, oddjobbers, readers and friends,

Floreva

Computerman

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That’s a very old drawing! McIntosh computers were all the rage, before Apple blossomed onto its virtual ashes ( well, sort of, Jobs was fired from his own company and … you know the rest)

Nowadays, I could have drawn a phoneperson with a cellphone grafted onto their hand, as it is becoming a 21th centurty plague, because we are becoming so addicted, some of us are unable to switch this device off, when with other humans/dining/showering, or visiting a museum, or do anything, basically….

Well, actually I did a similar drawing of a girl under the spell of her cellphone, for Inktober 2018… check it out!

Tech is out to get us, folks! Keep drawing and writing prose or poetry!

So long, Floreva

To the top and back

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This drawing is both a reflection and an achievement. By the time I finished it, I realised the face of the climber looks like my younger (and beloved) father’s. But that’s another story.

Climbing to the top of the mountain, figuratively speaking or not, physically climbing to the summit, our personal pyramid of goals or simply the objective to become the best person we know we can be, all this can be synthesize in the picture of a mountaineer, contemplating his feat, sitting atop of the peak he’s just ascended.

George Mallory once compared climbing to being an art, thus in his statement linking the climber to being an artist. In his writings about climbing, it describes it as a symphony. Surely, in his days of discoveries and challenges, with gear retrospectively dubbed as “inadequate” by modern mountaineers ( a statement which I am not sure to  agreeing with), climbing “unconquered” mountains set in unchartered territories  was a much more dangerous adventure than it is now

Now, who said mountains have to be conquered?

They were there before us and will be long after we’re gone. It’s just another belliquose term to describe a feat of courage, effort, motivation and pushing one’s limits. And it does not reflect properly the tremendous journey it can be. The very word implies a warlike confrontation of some sort, with a winner and a loser, or someone asserting their power over something.

Mountains are not conquered.

But we are,  by the intoxicating adrenaline rush, the empowerment of achieving an arduous task, the supreme boost of esteem attached to victory over difficuty and over ourselves. Afterwards comes the joy of being rewarded by an impressive view and a deep sense of completion.

On the other hand, fear can be conquered ; shyness, jealousy, envy, greediness, suffering have to be conquered too. Because those emotions or feelings never vanish entirely, do they? They lurk in a dark corner of the soul, muzzled for a time, feeding on one’s insecurities. We can conquer them, and yet have to remain watchful of their taking over our heart and sensibility. It’s a never ending task.

So, let’s just climb mountains, and conquer our fragile selves.

Alpiniste FV

Sommet 1963- copyright Florence Vitel 2017

Democritic Elections

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Really rigged democratic elections or really democritic vote? Same difference in the results sometimes : the people’s voice is not always heard or taken into account.

What do you think?

(Indian Black Ink and watercolours, from the early 2000’s. It seems that the wheel turns, yet nothing really changes *sigh*)

Disclaimer : this is just a drawing.

Voting day FV

Elections démocritiques. copyright Florence Vitel

Sketch : Shaun Evans as DS Morse

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Yesterday I watched one ep of the 6th season of “Endeavour”.

Actor Shaun Evans, brilliantly plays Inspector Morse in the splendid period prequel to the Inspector Morse and Lewis tv series. 

So I thought I’d dig up the drawing of Shaun Evans I did a while back, to share with you.

Pencil drawing.

 

Shaun Evans as DS Morse FV

Sad

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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…

Love, Flo

PS take care of you

 

Of coffee and cafés… and croissants.

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.

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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 SeaDanube 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.

 

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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). P1000516

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!

F.

 

 

Metaphor for a bizarre Western value

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Hi Folks,

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).

Race to the top

The race to the top – Ink- copyright Florence Vitel 2019-2020

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?

Floreva