My home, where stories are always appreciated. The nativity sits alongside the Buddha on a Chinese painted table.
Snowflower and the Secret Fan:
This is a wonderful book about friendship through change and adversity. More than bound feet, it explores the ties of love that bind and strengthen us.
“Lisa See‘s bestselling novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, explores the complex nuances of female friendship between childhood friends Snow Flower and Lily in 19th century China. They are laotongs, “old sames,” bound together in sisterhood as tight as their own painfully bound feet through their devotional love for one another and the suffering they endure together from the woes and demands of being married women in their time. Nushu, a secret language known only to women, further cements their bond as they write to each other on the folds of fans and exchange them furtively.
In the film adaptation of the novel, out in theaters now, Snow Flower and Lily face their personal challenges with quiet strength and sacrifice and treat each other with tenderness rarely seen in any kind of relationship today, a delicate emotional balance that Chinese actress Li Bing Bing and Korean actress Gianna Jun achieved with astonishing dignity.”
(For more information, click on source link.)
I love villages and have lived in quite a few. They are a little like a home on a larger scale and function in a similar way, with everybody playing a role. As with a home, they have a heart although it can be difficult to identify, sometimes it’s in a church, pub or hall, or it can lie within a person, family or in each of the inhabitants. Villages are facinating because they represent life on a small scale and it’s possible to get to know many of the inhabitants. Some think they contain more than their share of eccentrics, but I believe that’s because the size and situation magnifies and draws attention to those individuals, whereas in a city they would be undistinguishable.
Here are some interesting villages:
The Berber town of Chefchaouen (known as Chaouen as well) is a jewel nestling in the crown of Morocco. The people are gentle and relaxed in this little blue town. The old part of the city has a distinctly Andalusian feel to it. The Medina (Arabic for ‘town’) is small and uncrowded. The atmosphere is very relaxed and unrushed, unlike many of the other Medinas in North Africa. The Plaza is dominated by the Grande Mosque that dates back to the 15th Century. Unfortunately, visiting the inside is not allowed for non-Muslims. Just off the square is the Kasbah – which is home to one of Chefchaouen’s most beautiful gardens. Well worth a visit. For a more traditional experience try the Hammam – traditional Arabic bathes. There are several in the town and days alternate between men’s and women’s. You need to check locally. Its a fantastic experience and definitely one worth trying. I’d love to see this blue town and no doubt, the colour contributes to the laid back nature of the people.
Yongding in Southeast China’s Fujian Province is the home of many Hakka families and is known for its unusual architecture called Tulou (Hakka Earthen Fortresses). These large, circular edifices were built by the Hakka, one ethnic group in China. The older examples of this style of construction consist of interior buildings enclosed by huge peripheral ones holding hundreds of rooms and dwellings. With all the halls, storehouses, wells and bedrooms inside, the huge towerlike building functions almost as a small fortified city. People really live and work here, and invariably, when you show up on their doorstep they will grin and say, “You’ve come! Have some tea!”
Kandovan Village, The ‘Flintstones Village’ in Iran is a tourist village in the province of East Azarbaijan, Iran. It is formed entirely of stone. Originally, all you could see here was volcanic rock. However, residents who fled from Mongolia created an entire village made of stone as a means of hiding away. The village is indeed wonderful. Just look at the collection of hard and dense volcanic rock that has formed and become a village. It feels like a return to the Stone Age! In this village there is also a five star hotel made of stone called ‘Laleh Kandovan International Rocky Hotel.’ How about that?
Like anyone else, I too have the potential for violence; I too have anger in me. However, I try to recall that anger is a destructive emotion. I remind myself that scientists now say that anger is bad for our health; it eats into our immune system. So, anger destroys our peace of mind and our physical health. We shouldn’t welcome it or think of it as natural or as a friend.
(credit to the Dalai Lama, from Facebook, click on link for more.)
I love charity stores. I was out with my 83 year old Father and my 14 year old daughter on Saturday. My elderly Dad has been dragged to many a place he would never have set foot in were it not for me, charity stores being one of them. He, like many immigrants I’ve met, take great pride in being able to buy ‘new.’ I don’t know why? From an environmental perspective, it discourages waste and is a form of recycling, keeping our landfill to a minimum. Anything purchased in such a shop will also be helping the charity it represents. My favourite reason by far is exemplified by something I saw on Saturday. Near the counter my attention was drawn by a colourful picture, lightweight metal with four identical panels but for the colours, an Andy Warhol style image of Golda Meir with a clock face on it. (Who you ask: She was one of the founders of the State of Israel and their 4th Prime Minister.) I called my Dad over to look at it, he partly horrified at the everything of it but secretly pleased that I knew who it was. The woman behind the counter listening to us suddenly exclaimed, “That’s who it is!” I had no particular use for a clock but I loved that it was there, sharing space with grandmother’s china, all manner of labour saving kitchen devices that must not have saved much labour, holiday souvenirs to remember fun times but are better forgotten, stacks of books with emphasis on the helping self variety (as helpful as the labour saving devices I suspect), everything from the elegant to the kitsch and the tat inbetween. I love the journey back through the decades, the eccentric variety and it satisfies the hunter / gatherer in me as I search for bargains. I bought this bottom table and the vase from a charity shop some months ago and could not resist. Have a look at your local charity shop, you never know what you’ll find.
Following on from our theme of the tyranny of handbags, I now advance to shoes, Jimmy Choos, whatever may amuse…
Here is one of my favourite songs about female emancipation- from shoes!
“Les Femmes Chausees,” The Poozies
“Western leaders should listen to the Dalai Lama and then examine their own relationship with China.”
The headline from an article taken from the Mail online, makes some very good points, some deeply relevant issues to consider.
“While dropping into Britain to collect the Templeton Prize of £1.1m last month (and immediately giving it all away), Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama once again rattled the leaders of the People’s Republic of China by having the audacity to hold a sneaky meeting in the basement of St Paul’s Cathedral with David Cameron and Nick Clegg.
Right on cue came the Communist regime’s threats of ‘serious consequences’ towards our ‘conniving’ government for consorting with their arch enemy. It kicked these off by placing the British Ambassador to Beijing on the naughty step and cancelling a visit to the UK by one of their senior leaders. Not that this will be the end of it either, because there’s sure to be further leg slapping for our premier and his deputy that in all likelihood will amount to a reduction in pocket money for the rest of us.
Gosh, what a lot of bother we’re having to put up with over this 76-year-old monk who has given our new ‘bff’, the Chinese government, the run around for the past 60 years or so, spouting off about compassion, tolerance, peace and all that.”
In recent years we’ve witnessed quite a few occasions of China throwing the weight of its wallet around, threatening ‘consequences’ against any nation who plays host to the spiritual leader. And despite his receiving more individual honours than possibly any other man on the planet – not least the Nobel Peace Prize; Congressional Gold Medal and the Templeton Prize (awarded to ‘outstanding individuals who have devoted their talents to expanding our vision of human purpose’), there are nations in the ‘free world’ who have succumbed to China’s threats and refused entry to the Dalai Lama. The Netherlands is one, and more famously South Africa, which dragged its heels in granting him an entry visa in order for the monk to attend his close friend, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday celebrations last year. In the end, his fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner travelled to the Dalai Lama’s home-in-exile in India in defiance of the ANC.”
“But what really irks our ‘buddies’ even more is the Tibetan spiritual leader having the gall to continue his solo campaign (insofar as assistance from major powers is concerned) for the religious and cultural freedoms of his countrymen in Tibet. Crikey - no wonder the PRC leaders call him a ‘separatist’ and a ‘devil’ - I can just see the posters plastered along the Great Wall: Wanted - The Dalai Lama – For Kindness against Humanity.”
If you would like to read more of this piece, click on the link provided and I’ll leave you with this, the Dalai Lama’s answer to the following question:
What is the big thing that surprises you about humanity the most?
“Man - because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he doesn’t enjoy the present,
And as a result he doesn’t live in the present or the future.
And he lives as if he’s never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.”
We’re nearly at the end of my small things series and I admit, this one is a bit of a cheat. This image of Ardvasar Bay on the Isle of Skye, THE GREATEST PLACE ON EARTH is not small, you might say. An island is big, substantial, not tiny by any estimation. This particular island is the second largest (shared with Lewis in size) in the Inner Hebrides. In relation to say, Scotland as a whole, it is small, small compared to many other places in fact, Russia, China, Canada and the United States, a mere speck on the page by comparison.
For me it is huge, fills my heart and has shaped my thinking, dominated my memories and has become a part of who I am. What is small is this image in relation to all the feelings and memories that flood through me every time I look at it. My smallest, most enormous joy - Skye.
In keeping with tomorrow’s post, “It’s the Small Things,” (on ‘A View From Outside the Box,’ url: adialogue), a cup of tea is very high on my list of pleasures. For my own purposes, it needs to be a mug. The whole cup and saucer thing is just too fiddly for home. I prefer a mug I can wrap my hands around (not bone china as it burns), something heavier. It greatly helps if I can stare off into the vast unknown, gazing at a tree or flower but transported elsewhere. This is what tea is for me, a drug to aid contemplation, time travel elixir, tranquilising tannin and best of all, permission for time out.