The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Friday, 31 December 2010

Believe In Your Dreams

And so this year ends … and another one is about to begin. It stretches before us like an empty highway, like a mystery still to be revealed. On this day of the year, many of us make resolutions. But I do not believe in resolutions. However, I do believe in dreams. I do believe in making each and every  one of your dreams come true. Yes I truly do believe that each one of us has the power to shape his or her destiny and fulfill all their hopes.
Chadwick Lakes (22)
So while some of us may decide to shine like stars, others may choose to play out their dreams more subtly, in the background. Yet each dream is important, each dream is unique. Like each one of us. Give life to your hopes, your dreams so that a year from now, when you look back, you will be able to say: I did and I did it my way.
Chadwick Lakes (23)
I would like to wish all my readers and visitors and their loved ones a very happy 2011 – a year when you make your hopes and dreams come true.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas To You All

I do not know which type of Christmas music you prefer, the catchy modern tunes or the more classic hymns. These guys give an awesome rendition of one of my favourite Christmas hymns 'O Holy Night'. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and I would like to wish you and your families a very joyful and peaceful Christmas.
This blog (and blogger) will be on a break for a while. I hope to catch up with you all towards the end of next week. So I will leave you to enjoy Apocalyptica (whose music is usually much more hard and heavy) and this haunting piece of music.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

My Wish This Christmas

If I had the time, I would probably be following and commenting on at least 1000 blogs. There is so much talent out there. And there is so much pain. I look at myself and my life and I realise that I have so much to be thankful for. There are people out there dealing with diseases that, even I, with a pharmaceutical background, have hardly heard of; there are souls out there who are lost, searching for answers that never come; there are children who do not even have water and basic medicines, let alone a gift under a Christmas tree …
Flowers and decorations 016
It makes me feel pathetic sometimes how we gripe and complain when, really, we have such an abundance of everything. If I could have a wish this Christmas, I would wish to touch one person in a very special way; to make one person smile. It would just be a drop in the ocean; a grain of sand on all the beaches and deserts in the world. But it would be a start. I am sure that we come across these blogs every day. Maybe each of us should take the time to stop, read and leave a word of encouragement or of hope.  Flowers and decorations 017
And if that sounds like a very impersonal thing to do, then I suggest we all take a good look around us. I am sure that there are people in our own community who need help of some sort – and not just at Christmas, but the whole year through.
Now, for a big ‘Thank you” to Angela at Reflections for the pretty gift I received in the mail  last week. All the cute items were hand-made by Angela (who is originally from Canada but moved to Malta earlier this year). You may read about her adventures on this little island here.
Reflections (1) Reflections (2) Reflections (3)
With that I would like to wish you and your loved ones a blessed Christmas and if I am not around regularly this week, please rest assured that I will be back after the baking, the office parties and the gift wrapping is over. Although, in truth, that is not what Christmas is all about and if any of you would like to find out how I really feel about Christmas, I invite you to read this article that I had written a few years ago.

Monday, 13 December 2010

The Book Thief Who Stole My Heart

As you know, I rarely write a post about books I have read because opinions differ about what constitutes a good story. But this book gripped me from the very first sentence and took me on a journey. To Germany. During World War II. This is not a story with a complicated or convoluted plot. It is just a story about a girl, her foster parents and a Jew they hid in their basement - in Germany, during WW2. At school we learnt the history of the war but this story struck me with the humanity of its characters. Because the further I read, the more I realised that even Germans lost their loved ones during this war, even Germans were hungry and even Germans had a heart. Perhaps you might think it is strange that it took a story for me to realise this but sometimes, history de-humanises the countless numbers that died on both sides and makes statistics out of all the men, women and children that lost their lives during this conflict.
The Book Thief is one of those books which I did not want to put down and, at the same time, I read very slowly, because the characters became so dear to me that I did not want the story to  finish. Essentially, the underlying theme of the book is very simple. It is a story about the power of words - the beauty of words, the magic of words, their terrible hold over people. Because  the protagonist,  Liesel Meminger, understood the importance of words and how words could set you free in the same way that the words of a mad-mad had seduced and mesmerised a nation. The frightening thing is that, despite the lessons the world should have learnt, I am sure that if someone comes along whose words are capable of swaying nations, the world will once more be brought to the brink of catastrophe and disaster.
In Liesel's words:" I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right". Like Liesel, I too am in love with words ... struggle with words ... have felt the power of words - words talk to be, sing to be, soother me and anger me ... Perhaps that is why I felt that Liesel Meminger and I are kindred spirits on a highway of words, on a journey called life
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Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Day We First Met

Nine years ago today I met my husband (well, he wasn’t my husband back then) for the first time. We spent the summer of 2001 writing long e-mails to each other. Every. Single. Day. Then, in December, my handsome friend from St Louis just felt he had to attend his second cousin’s wedding. The rest, as they say, is history.
Various Pics Nov 02 - May 03 035
We spent a wonderful 10 days visiting historic places, eating out, meeting friends. And talking. For hours on end. Just the two of us,  in my car, accompanied by a howling wind  (a north-easterly this time – the one we call the gregale) and lashing rain. I remember everything so clearly – the warm glow of a first kiss, and the cold air that made our fingers and noses numb (it actually got cold that year with temperatures plummeting to 3 Celsius during the day – like I said, I remember everything :))
Nine years later, we’ve weathered a few storms, but that warm, fuzzy feeling is still there. And my sweet husband still manages to surprise me with flowers every now and then.
Flowers and decorations 005

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Where the Sea Meets the Sky

Had a relaxing weekend – did some shopping, some cleaning, hardly any cooking (yay!), spent some time in the company of old friends that I had not seen for a while… And I went for a wonderful walk on a desolate trail. It was the perfect place to watch the storm clouds roll in and move on – just gazing at miles and miles of empty, grey sea and wondering what it’s like to be in that magical place where the sea meets the sky.
Hagar Qim and Mnajdra 002
 Hagar Qim and Mnajdra 003
Hagar Qim and Mnajdra 021
Just me and my thoughts: pondering, dreaming, thankful for the beauty of a cold December day.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

A Roller Coaster Week

It has been one of those weeks. Since Thanksgiving in not a public holiday over here (and I have an American husband) we decided to celebrate the  holiday on the weekend prior to the actual day. We spent all of Saturday cleaning and cooking and and between us managed to come up with quite  a feast. My husband, who always cooks meat much better than I do, roasted a smoked ham with a Dr Pepper glaze. I was in baking mode so I made a plaited loaf and an orange cranberry cake. We also had greens and a side of smashed sweet potatoes. At times like these, I find the recipe centre at Better Homes and Gardens a good source of information and inspiration.
Thanksiving (3)
Thanksiving (2)
Thanksiving (9)
The evening went well but the next morning my son woke up with a fever of 103F and I spent most of Sunday nursing him. Thankfully he was as up and about on Monday.
Work has been super-busy with one thing after another. Thursday I woke up with a swollen throat and half-way through the day I started shivering one minute and boiling the next. I was  pretty sure I had a fever but had to stay at the office as I was the only one left – my manager had his car wrecked and our assistant is on reduced hours – so I had to hold the fort. Once I got home, I found out that I had a fever of 101F. I spent Friday at home - sleeping, reading and setting up a page on Facebook for my blog. I an not sure how that will work yet but I hope it will be a way of giving my blog more exposure. If any of you have already explored this avenue, let me know how you have found it.
This week will see me decorating the house for Christmas and doing some shopping in between work, cooking and keeping up with all your posts. I hope you all have a wonderful week.

Monday, 22 November 2010

He Sings To Me

After days of silence he is finally back. In the velvety stillness of an autumn evening all I can hear is the mesmerizing call of his voice. He can be brash and his ferocity whips everything around him in a frenzy of motion. Where he comes from and where he goes to, nobody knows. Here one minute and gone the next – as elusive as a mystery.
PB141827 PB141828  
But when he lingers and I lie in bed waiting for sleep to come, then he sings to  me. Like the legendary sirens, he sings to me, wishing to lure me out into his frantic arms, tossing me hither and thither and doing with me what he will. Because he is none other than the mighty north-west wind. The wind with majesty in his voice; the one we call the majjistral (pronounced mayyistraal) – my favourite wind, the one that lifts my mood.
Just a whimsical tribute to my muse - the NW wind.
Photos from my archives - taken from our house on a day very similar to today  in November 2008.

Friday, 12 November 2010

The Gypsy In Me

I hope that  you have a few minutes to spare today because I would like to take you with me to those cities and places that have a special in my heart. There are events in my life that I do not want to forget and writing about them here makes me re-live them, giving me the illusion that I am back again. A trip back in time to when I
* walked up a mountain track in Sundance and bathed my feet in cool water at the foot of a water-fall.
* hiked in Arches National Park in the scorching July heat, gazing at the splendour of those natural arches and watching the sun set behind Delicate Arch.
* returned to Rome, time and again, feeling my soul come to life each time i wander through its ancient ruins.
Malta & Italy 2003 069
* stood on Charles Bridge as the sun set and a man played a beautiful serenade on his violin for the price of a few pennies.
* rode the roller-coaster at the top of the Stratosphere Hotel and soaked-in the lights of the Vegas casinos.
* gazed in awe at the Colorado River from the top of the Grand Canyon and felt at once both insignificant and immensely powerful.
* fed the pigeons in St Mark’s square and rode a gondola on Gran Canal.
Venice 2005 (31)
* climbed to the top of the Torre del Mangia and looked down at the warren of narrow, winding streets that make up Siena.
Tuscany 590
* window shopped in Paris and eaten crepes in Montmartre.
Paris - Lorna's Day 1 (1)
* felt dwarfed by sky-scrapers in Chicago and ran barefoot in the grass in Millennium Park.
* traipsed through advent markets in Vienna as the first snow started to fall and ate Sachertorte at Schonbrunn Palace.
Vienna - Nov 2007 (29)
* seen a queen’s jewels in London and mourned at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
* sat on the shores of the Great Salt Lake and listened to the mournful cry of the gulls.
* been awed by art in Florence.
Malta & Italy 2003 360
* swum with the pelicans at Cabo San Lucas and experienced the thunderous roar of the Pacific as it crashed into the rocks known as Finisterra – Land’s End.
Cabo San Lucas June 12-19 2004 089
And after each journey I return home and stay put for a while before the gypsy blood in me urges me to take off and explore some other country beyond these shores. So who knows where my vagrant blood will take me next? New York, Morocco, Jerusalem, Machu Pichu, Cefalu`, Greece and its island, Granada, the south of France … the list goes ever on and on … I wait until the call becomes too insistent until I finally have to give in .
This post was written in no particular order so you will see different versions of me depending in which year the photo was taken. All the photos are from 2003 to the present. Unfortunately, I cannot share photos from all the places I visited because I did not own a digital camera at the time.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Monday, Monday

Sunday is almost over again. It’s been a mostly relaxing weekend. I love my job but for some reason, I dread Mondays – the traffic jams; the constant rush to get things done. Sometimes I feel like a slave to my own routine, like it’s the end of the world if I deviate slightly from my day to day chores and activities. So I have no one to blame but moi for all the pressure I am putting on myself.
But is it selfish to sometimes wish I could just take off and go somewhere far from the stress of everyday life - to a place where I can dream and get back in touch with myself? Am I the only one who finds Mondays so oppressive? Perhaps I just need to grow up and remember that Monday is just the day after Sunday and that the world will still keep on turning if I decide to do something on a whim and throw my planned routine out of the window. Sometimes I feel like I am turning into a frightful bore.
My apologies for a rather melancholic post. Hope these flowers will cheer you up.
Spring flowers (7) Spring flowers (9) Flowers in our garden (1)
All photos were taken last Spring in our garden.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Ruby Tuesday – Pretty Polly

It’s been a while since I joined this weekly meme hosted by Mary at Work of the Poet.
Today I am sharing a photo of a gorgeous parrot that was nice enough to pose for me when we visited Grant’s Farm one hot, humid day last June. I really loved the vibrant colours on this parrot.
USA 364
Looking at the parrot took me right back to my childhood, to my great-grandmother’s house and to another colourful parrot – perhaps not as beautiful as this one – squawking away at whoever cared to stop and admire it as is sat on its perch in the balcony. It’s strange how one minute I was at Grant’s Farm and the next I was transported back to being a 4 year-old child sitting patiently on the lap of an 80 year-old woman as she reminisced about her youth. Such is the beauty of that thing we call memory.
For more Ruby Red posts go here.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

A Painting In The Sky

Sometimes, when life gets too hectic and insane, I look out the window to catch a glimpse of the dying day. And what I see always makes me catch my breath. Because there is always a different painting in the sky.
Autumn sunset (3) 
Unparalleled beauty – perfect in every way.
Autumn sunset (5)
A few minutes of sheer enchantment before night falls and all the beauty is erased – until the next day.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Show Me A Picture And I’ll Tell You A Story

Of a city of water-ways, bridges and boats.
Tuscany 315
Of a man with a dream who would become king.
Tuscany 287
Lend me your ears and I’ll tell you the secrets
Of a ravaged fortress still guarding the land.
Tuscany 271
Give me your hand and I’ll show you the beauty
Of colours and textures
Tuscany 290
And sculptures and stones.
Tuscany 282
Reflections and churches;
Tuscany 302Tuscany 289
Graffiti and ruins.
Tuscany 311
Tuscany 322
All photos taken in the Nuova Venezia and port districts of Livorno in October 2009.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

And Then The Clouds Rolled In

Rainy days 001    The thunder roared.
Rainy days 002
And the rain poured down.
Rainy days 003
It’s been a cloudy, rainy weekend and more rain is forecast for the rest of the week. I have loved every minute of it. The perfect weather to curl up and read. Something which I have neglected to do for quite a while. And although sometimes I miss the longer daylight hours of spring and summer, there is something deeply satisfying about closing the shutters, drawing the curtains and cocooning oneself inside a cozy house listening to the rain drumming a tattoo on the ground and losing myself in whatever real or imaginary world a good book will always take me.
Rainy days 005

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

A Cup of Memories

Old cup (2)
It’s not really much to look at – just a small cup with several chips and small cracks. Yet each time I hold it in my hands my heart skips a beat. This humble cup has been in my mum’s family for at least one hundred years. I remember it vaguely at my great-grandmother’s house and now it has passed on to me.
Old cup (3)
And each time I hold it in my hands I wonder what other hands have held it. Was it a child’s cup? Is it the only survivor of a whole set? It seems so fragile. How is it possible that it is still intact after all these years? If only it could talk … if only it could tell me … so many memories in one little cup.   Old cup (8)


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