Sunday, August 26, 2018

Out to conquer and achieve my goals

So despite the rain, despite the long list of chores to do, despite the hubby being less than inspired, I am pretty happy with myself. I have been trying to increase my total kms each month since I got home from a month in India in April. Winter doesnt help my motivations, and my working commitments have been the only numbers rising in my life. I find that ive been working 9-10 hrs alot of days, leaving less hours in a day to fit in my walking, cycling and swimming goals. Im going to take charge of this...

While my career is somewhat important at this stage in my life, I'm also very aware I need my good health. And that takes work.

I've set some goals to get me motivated, some of the goals are based on how many kms I can walk per week/month, how many kms I can cycle (including hills) per week or month, and how many sessions I get get to the pool. My ultimate goal will be to complete a nearly 200km community ride at the end of January 2019, as part of the Tour Down Under.

Work will just have to stay within its boundaries. Especially as I am about to go back to uni to finish the final subject of my MBA. ..... managing time is always a challenge.
Currently reading (Thanks Bellezza for reccomendation)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sprint is on its way

No winter lasts forever - No spring skips its turn .... Hal Borland
Spring is definitely on it's way, and I'm loving it. My morning walks take me past some beautiful sights, like this gorgeous Magnolia in bloom. I love looking into the yards of my neighbours, and watching what they've planted or what mystery is coming up. One of my neighbours has a very productive veggie garden in the front yard - and I've noticed they've got lots of garlic, beans and probably zucchini coming up. It motivates me to get out in my garden too. I also love watching who keep flowing bulbs. The surprise of seeing freesias, jonquils, or daffodils turn up over night is such a joy in spring.

  Spring is not quite here tho, as it's still chilly and windy, reminding us that the changing of the seasons is not on a single date. The transition period is important for the land, the trees and the flowers. Transitioning seasons is also important to me - I find this transition time very important to my wellbeing and sense of person. If I allow the transition period to pass without due attention to it myself, then I feel out of sorts and unprepared.

The transition to spring is for me an important time for re setting goals - now the days are getting longer, and mornings are not so cold, and my friends are coming out of hibernation. It's time to reset the balance - a time to find what's important to me in this new era. Social life, healthy life, intellectual life, and personal wellbeing.

The challenge is that the world around me is also waking up to the new season - and business is abound. Work commitments, my voluntary circles are asking more, and family activities are being planned.

Here's to finding the balance, being fair to myself, and remembering to enjoy the moment - smell the flowers.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Paris in July 2018 - la fin!

My finale for Paris in July - and afternoon french rose! 
 Je vous remerci mes amis... I thank you all very much my Paris in July friends. I have enjoyed 2018 Paris in July so much. Every day I had a new link and new things to learn about Paris and all things French. We have all been very active, sharing our love of France,  our memories, our favourite food, authors, books, movie directors, painters, and so much more.

Hosting a blogging event is kind of like hosting a dinner party. You spend some time preparing the site, inviting the guests, setting the scene. Then after you've prepared the menu, you then spend some time in the kitchen. For me, I put some energy into calling for participants assistance - with things like the buttons. And haven't we had some great buttons to choose from this year. I particularly loved this one. But I also note some of you created your own boutique buttons - Like Mel U @ the reading life.
Designed by Lisbeth at The Content Reader
A mon avis, or in my opinion, the best part of the dinner party is the interaction with the guests, and it's much the same for a blogging event. I have loved the genuine interest and authenticity of interaction between the Paris in July guests and participants. And just as dinner parties end up with a variety of conversations happening around the table, Paris in July lights up with those different elements of conversation - from artists to their models, from recipes to the place settings, from the monuments of Paris, to the french inspired furniture in local stores, from Yiddish poets and Jewish artists escaping Paris in WWII through to memories ofliving on the street of the velodrome de hiver. We have had some deep and meaningful conversations in every corner of the room. 

Paris is certainly a city to celebrate - it's parks, green chairs, lakes and boats - through to it's patisseries and boulangeries - the wines of France through to the Creme Caramels. It's artists, musicians, composers, authors, poets, chefs and directors who engage us, challenge us and romance us.  There's so much about Paris, France to love. 

So around the table, the party starts to beak up. It's time for guests to go home, move on, and some may have to recover... They leave the room with cheers and appreciation, one by one - and having thoroughly enjoyed the company of like minded friends for another month long 'dinner party', the guests remark.... 
encore! jusque' a prochaine fois! meme temps l'annee prochaine?  
Bien sure, mes amis - peut-etre une autre fois.... 2019.

There's no more mr Linky - but we'd love to stay in touch.  If you're still to post your Paris in July Wrap Up - you could link it in the comments here. And as with all good dinner parties - this host has a little cleaning up to do. I hope to add this years participants list and summaries into my Paris In July page (TAB at top of my blog)  as a collection for 2018's Paris in July memory. 

Dont you love to pop into your favourite sweet or Gelato place after eating too much at a dinner party?

A bientot!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Paris in July - Visit to Arles

My Paris in July friends, dont forget, we're live until this saturday - slightly extending July... which is giving me a chance to post some of my own memories of France. 
 In 2011 my partner and I, with two good friends, went to France for the purpose of watching the tour de France. For us, an absolute awesome year to go, because the Aussie Cadel Evens won!  When Aussies go OS, we try and make it worth the money and the 17 hour trip.. So after following the Tour de France, riding our bikes for most of the same routes as the race, my partner and I went to Montpelier to join a French Language school for two weeks. While staying in Montpelier, we did a day trip to Arles to do a walking historic tour. It was a great way to see the local historic sites. Our local guide - Jean-Jacques - played the pan pipe to collect his tour group after free time. It was like the pied piper.
Arles Arenas or Arles Amphitheater (french, les Arènes d'Arles) is a Roman amphitheatre. 
This two-tiered Roman Amphitheatre is probably the most prominent tourist attraction in the city of Arles, which thrived in Roman times. (reference
 During out walking tour, we walked along the top of the arena walls and then down into the centre. It was just amazing being surrounded by such history, and a strong connection with the roman era.
It has a shape of an ellipse. The facade includes two levels of sixty arches in arches, separated by side walls, massive of rectangular section. A wider opening points out the ends of the two axes of the monument. ................... It is estimated the initial capacity of the monument to some 21,000 people. To allow visitors to access the different stands, had developed an ingenious device of horizontal passages, and arranged alternately stairs circular galleries. (reference
We loved our day in Arles, which is also the home of Van Gogh.. 
Vincent lived in Arles in the South of France for more than a year. He experienced great productivity there before suffering from a mental breakdown.
Vincent arrived in Arles on 20 February 1888. After two years in Paris, he was tired of the bustle and demands of city life and longed for the sunshine and vibrant colours of the south. When he got to Arles, Vincent took a room at the hotel-restaurant Carrel, and later, one at Café de la Gare. In early September, he moved into the Yellow House, which he had begun using as a studio on 1 May. (reference
Here's a little clip I found which made me smile - people in Arles who are HAPPY. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Paris in July -I think there's another week left - week 5

Breaking News! I'm going to wind up Paris in July 2018 next weekend - 4th August - so you have a few more days to finish some of your wish lists. Its just to hard to do a wind up post mid week.

This past week has been such a delightful journey - thank you everyone for another very diverse and inspiring week. we have some reoccurring themes

  • books - ones that take us Paris, food inspired novels and recipe books, novels by Parisian Authors, books by french people for french people, short stories, and reviews (mostly by Mel U) bringing to life Authors of Yiddish background or those who experience Paris in WWII. Mae was even bold enough to post on a disappointing book about Paris. 
  • Recipes & dinners - french onion soup by Jean @ Delightful Repast was one that made my mouth water. Lisbeth hosted a french dinner, matching her wines with the menu. 
  • TV series and Films - Art @ Ripple Effects reviewed Cleo from 5 - 7, and Lisbeth @ the content reader reviewed Le Bureau des Legends airing on Swiss TV. 
  • The French Hutch shared with us her Place setting that reminded her of Franch - the Soleil and Laguiole cutlery. Beautifully representing the yellowness of french fields and sunshine. 
  • Memories of Paris - such as Sami's first visit in 1984..
I wanted to thank Sami for reminding me of some of my first memories of Paris, and other french cities. I think I'll do a post about a trip I did to Arles a few years ago. I've also been learning so much from Mel U about Paris in WWII through reviews on Yiddish or immigrant authors in Paris. Mae's review of a book about french food idioms was pretty engaging and is calling to me now.

So here we go - into our final week of Paris in July 2018! What will you focus on in these last few days? ps. I note some of you have started you 2019 Paris in July lists already.... anyone else have thoughts about that? 


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Paris in July - Ready for week 4?

Bienvenue à nos nouveaux amis se joindre à la dernière semaine. It makes my heart smile when I see new people joining in during the month we celebrate Paris in July. We have been treated to many new aspects of Paris and french living in the past week, and I suspect the next week will be another full week of options.

For me, I have been resting and recovering at home after being hit hard by a virus. So my French experiences have been slightly passive. I have been enjoying my subscription to TV5Monde which allows me to watch a range of shows in french.

I've also been enjoying a picture book I have. French Essence Here's a couple of images I'll share from it that inspire Frenchyness ....

The author speaks about collections...
samples of french items that create an ambience french.

then there are those images and colours that you expect of french culture....

And the essence of summer living in dreamy Provence....

What evokes the French Essence for you?

Here we go - Enter your new posts for week 4 here.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Simple French Recipes - Paris in July

For Paris in July, I like to set myself some new cooking challenges. This week I've been struck down with a head cold, and complicated cooking was not going to happen. But I found these simple every day recipes to try. I'm pretty happy with the outcomes. 

Farmers Cheese

I used this recipe from The Spruce Eats, and had no problems. It's so simple. Just three ingredients, 15 mins preparation, and the finished product was quite tasty and good as a cheese plate cheese, salad cheese, or to drop into a hot soup. I flavoured mine with a sprinkling of cumin for something different. 

Almond and blueberry galette

Another very simple recipe which I adapted  with gluten free flour, this has lasted in our house only 24 hours... highly recommend it. If you search for more about the Galette in french, you'll find it means flat cake - but in Brittany, it's more like a pancake. Yet the most famous Galette is La Galette des Rois - which is served to celebrate the Epiphany on Jan 6th. David Lebovitz (famed French Food Blogger) notes this 
There are two kinds of Kings Cakes in France; one is layers of puff pastry filled with almond cream, and the other is a circular yeasted cake, more popular in the south of France, festooned with colorful, sticky candied fruit.

My third recipe is going to become one of my go to favourites - it was delicious! So remember that I'm sick, I dont want complicated recipes or complicated flavours right now - so for Bastille Day, or La Fete Nationale, or Le Quatorze Juillet - this is what we had for our dinner... 

Galettes with ham and eggs

From one of my other favourite foodies, Luke Nguyen, I was attracted to this recipe. He notes that - a galette is basically a savoury crepe. They are traditionally served with ham and eggs, however you can fill them with anything you like. Although it may seem quite easy to make a crepe, there is great skill to it, so you may need a few goes to get the thinness of the crepe right. Unfortunately, mine didn't turn out as crepes, more like pancakes - but so tasty!

I had fun with each of these simple french recipes.... good luck with finding ones you like. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Paris in July - Starting week 3

Wow, hasn't week 2 been full of Paris Love! We've attracted over 30 participants, and the variety of posts are staggering. I'm having so much fun with reading and visiting posts, that I simple haven't got time to do many of the Paris in July things I had hoped to do. (I've also come down with a huge head & chest cold, which is dampening my energy levels).

Here's my own view of what's been happening in Paris in July this week. The Tour de France started, and with that my favourite TV emission -  cooking segment for each region of the Tour de France with Gabriel Gate. (I am sorry if you cant access this in different zones, but it's soo good, if you search on YouTube you may find older versions).

Book, magazine and audio reviews have been coming through this week. Mae did a review of  a magazine she's loved - Cuisine et Vins de France: A classic french magazine, which gathered quite some attention of fellow bloggers with it's retro images. Jeanie at The Marmalade Gyspy reviewed some of her favourite French cooking books too. Then there were reviews of books about expats living in Paris, more on children's books from Deb, and some reviews of classic french novels on audio by Becky.

Also this week, we've had a couple of posts a little different, like Lisbeth,  who made some Paris in July Bookmarks, and Brona's post on tapestries visiting Sydney from Cluny. And I want to give a special mention to the French Village Diaries who posted on speed limits in France... worth a read if you;re planning a visit.

There were also some travel posts, including Esme's Market Day in L'isle sur la Sorgue, Molly's visit to Giverny, Mae's commentary on Paris: Where Intellectuals and Tourists never cease to roam, and Deb's post on Sunday Mass.

And then a couple of posts dedicated to home decor or things we love about France. Magnolia Darjeeling posted on Crisp Whites and Pastels, and French Ethereal for her little bit of Paris.

I wanted to make a special mention of this post by Mel U - about Jozef Czapski  - Mel has done some in depth research and notes that Czapski knew Proust and French literature intimately, working purely from memories he gave a series of lectures on In Search of Lost Times. He did this while he was in prison at Gulag between 1939-1945. Thanks Mel for this insight.

Now we head off into week 3 - what will this bring? I'm hoping for some news about how you've marked Le Quatorze Juillet, and maybe some movie reviews?  Dont forget to link your posts in here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Pairs in July - marking 100 yrs..

I'm having troubles getting into reading this July as im soo busy blog hoping. Now with more than 26 participants in Paris in July, there's alot to do. However i did start reading "When Paris Sizzled: The 1920s Paris of Hemingway, Chanel, Cocteau, Cole Porter, Josephine Baker, and Their Friends" by Mary McAuliffe PhD and was inspired by this quote to share the anniversary of Dorothy. 

"A t 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918, Marie Curie was in her lab, working as usual, when guns sounded over Paris. Not German guns, but French guns. Guns that for the first time in four years were firing without hostile intent. It was an extraordinary moment, signaling that Armistice had come and that the war, that never-ending nightmare of carnage and atrocity, was truly over. Helen Pearl Adam, the British journalist who had remained in Paris for the war’s duration and faithfully recorded her impressions, wrote that “it would have been a strange thing if Paris had kept her head when the Armistice was signed, and accordingly she did not.” For three days Paris and all of France celebrated, as people surged into the streets, popped arcs of champagne into the air, and enthusiastically embraced one another."

While November is still a few months away, this is the 100th year since then. And on July 2nd my family celebrated 100 years since my grandmothers birth. Although she  passed away 13 yrs ago, she was worthy of remembering. 

 I hadn't really thought about this before, but as I started Reading about the Belle Epoch in Paris, I started to think about Granny, and the era that she was born into. During her formative identity forming years, when she was thinking about the world she would be living in, she was enjoying some of the best years of her life.

Also from When Paris Sizzled - In the meantime, L’Oréal continued its rapid growth, aided by the new hairstyle, the bob—the short, cropped hair for women that had begun to appear during the war and that Coco Chanel as well as movie stars such as Clara Bow and Louise Brooks made popular. Instead of leading to a drop in demand for hair dye, as Schueller initially feared, the new style increased demand, as it required frequent cutting and dying. Seeing another new niche, Schueller now produced a bleach, L’Oréal Blanc, that created the rage for blonde and platinum hair that continued for decades.
Yet in the second half of the 1920s, (when Granny was 10 or 11yrs old) the Australian economy suffered from falling wheat and wool prices, and competition from other commodity-producing countries. Australia was also borrowing vast sums of money, which dried up as the economy slowed.
Then (when Granny was just 11yrs)  the Wall Street crash of 1929 led to a worldwide economic depression. The Australian economy collapsed and unemployment reached a peak of 32 per cent in 1932.It took Australia almost a decade to recover from the Great Depression. (From here)
Granny and Grandpa got married after Granny had worked for a couple of years as a receptionist.  After bringing up her own 5 children, my Granny and Grandpa became house parents for homeless or children in need of care. I grew up with these kids, like my cousins. 
In the 1970s, Australia became the new home for many Vietnamese refugees, and again, Granny and Grandpa, became host Grandparents. 

Below is My Granny & Grandpa with me and my cousins. 
I'm so proud of my Grandparents. 

Other interesting facts from 1918
  • Women (30 and older) in Great Britain are granted the right to vote, two years prior to suffrage in the United States.
  • Architect Jørn Utzon is born in Copenhagen. He would go on to design one of the most iconic buildings on the planet, the Sydney Opera House.
  • The Stars and Stripes newspaper begins publishing in France, and The New York Globe begins running Robert Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” cartoon.
  • Tsar Nicholas, his wife and their five children are assassinated in Russia, ending the reign of the imperial family.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Paris in July - Moving into week 2!

Week one of Paris in July 2018 has been very busy, and very diverse. It's been a delightful journey and I hope many of you have enjoyed the reminders, the learning and the opportunity to dream! Thank you to all our active participants to date, and to all those who have been visiting us.  Here's my recap on what's been happening.
I've counted 26 participants signed up so far, and while many are returnee's, we are welcoming some newcomers, which I'm very excited by.
Firstly, can I draw your attention to Bellezza's choice of Paris in July image - a gorgeous B&W

If you're interested in posts with a focus on books and book reviews - there's no shortage here - childrens stories, novels set in Paris, Paris-ish Cookbooks, and the classics. I cant go through and name each blogger and their posts - you can find their links here, but four of my favourites are

  • Louise at A Strong Belief in Wicker posted on a delightfully gorgeous children's book called Claris, the Chicist mouse in Paris. 
  • Jeanie posted on All the Light I cannot see and brought it to life with her own photo's of St Malo where the story was set. 
  • Lisbeth has prompted me to pick up a Zola novel with her post on Nana
  • Mel U - always bringing a new perspective on literature related to Paris, is introducing us to Yiddish authors. 
There have been some wonderfully inspiring visiting Paris posts as well, for example Marilyn in her post 'France Delights my Heart' which is a must visit if you love the parks and patisseries of Paris. Nancy has also been teasing us with images of Patisseries and reviews of French Wine

I would like to say one of the fun posts I enjoyed was Deb's at A ReaderBuzz where she notes that many novels set in Paris have an image of the Eiffel Tower on the cover... go look and see what research she has done! 

As for me, I did not get time to post my own Paris in July themed post, because Lisbeth made me pick up Nana, and I also picked up When Paris Sizzled, and I had to read the Tour de France racing Guide.... Maybe I'll post something special tomorrow. For those interested in Celebrating with Paris - next saturday is Le Quatorze Juillet. Many of us will try and mark the occasion in one shape or another - and I cant wait to see what people choose to do. 

Week 2 - link your posts here.New participants - I will try and notice when you join in and link your blogs to my participants list on the sidebar of my blog. 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Paris in July - Week 1

Bienvenue a Paris en Juillet 2018. Welcome to Paris in July 2018. I'm so excited about the level of interest this year, with more than 20 participants now signed up. Merci. Thank you.

I started hosting this event with my friend Karen many years ago now as a trial to see if I liked blogging and if it offered me something creative and challenging in my life back then. While Karen now has a family and career demands that challenge her amply, I am still hosting Paris in July and still finding it fulfilling and rewarding. I really enjoy the connections that this event brings.

What I love about this event, is that it's like having a month long dinner party with like minded friends. You know - the sort of party you cant tear yourself away from cos you're having such a nice time.

So, for those who are new to this (and we have a few so that's REALLY exciting), what generally happens is that each week ( and I try to do this on my Saturday morning), I will post a weekly summary of what has been happening in the event, and I post a new Mr Linky so you can then enter the next weeks posts in there for others to find. I've also created a blogroll on the side of my blog for you to get easy access to all participants blogs. This year there's also a twitter and instagram #ParisinJuly2018, so if you're into those mediums - make the most of it. (I dont do too much in that space but others have already started).

Remember, many of us love all things about Paris and France, so you can post on anything - food reviews or recipes, favourite memories or dreams of visiting Paris, movies, music, book reviews, history insights, favourite french TV shows... anything.  So here goes... link in and enjoy the journey.

How tomuse Mr Linky: in Name - indicate your name and the nature of your post ie book review or title of your post... then post the URL link to the post you want people to come and visit.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Paris: The City of Light! A City Of Music!

I was looking for something that reflected my music experiences of Paris, and this is perfect!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Paris in July - Buttons

Paris in July is a community event - and we like to encourage visiting each others blogs to share the journey. There are a couple of ways I will encourage you to visit others blogs, and a way of inviting others to join in. These buttons have been developed by ReaderBuzz and Booksasfood to help us, and others, find Paris in July content. Use these on your side bar, or in your posts to identify that your participating in the event.  You may use just one for the whole month, or interchange according to your themes... 

Dont forget, if you haven't signed in yet, there's a MrLinky in the last post I did , or you can leave a message here.
I'm going away for a few days, but on my return, I'm planning to post the participant list on the side bar of my blog for easy access....  and then I am going to start getting really excited about my virtual trip to Paris.... I've started thinking about recipes from the different decades...movies I want to watch, and music to discover.

stay in touch - there's more to come

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Paris in July...... It's on again - All welcome.

Thanks to some of our usual players, I've decided to host Paris in July 2018, and keep the event alive another year. So what's it going to look like? 
Paris in July is a French themed blogging experience running from the 1st – 31st July this year.
The aim of the month is to celebrate our French experiences through actual visits, or through reading, watching, listening, observing, cooking and eating all things French!  Here's a link to some of my previous reviews.
There will be no rules or targets in terms of how much you need to do or complete in order to be a part of this experience – just blog about anything French and you can join in! Some ideas might include;
  • reading a French themed book – fiction or non-fiction, 
  • watching a French movie, 
  • listening to French music, 
  • cooking French food, 
  • experiencing French, art, architecture and travel
If you are interested in being a part of this experience use the MrLinky widget below to add in your details. 
Over the past few years, it's worked out that I've tended to post a new MrLinky each week so we can keep up with our fellow players, and follow each others Paris in July Journey.  NB, when you enter your name, also enter in brackets the theme of your posts ie, Tamara (Book review).....

To get us started, do we have any volunteers to create a themed button...Post your design on your blog and link it in with Mr Linky below


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Thoughts on cultural sensitivity

What does culturally sensitive charity work look like? 

Firstly, on reflection of what I do, I'm not sure I like the word charity. It conjures up   images of 'doing something to or for' another group... I would prefer to consider what I am involved in as a partnership. 'Walking with' my like minded friends on a significant journey, one that aims to provide resources and hold out a hand to others who may be struggling.

So the question on culturally sensitive work for arises when I think about embarking on this journey on another cultures soil. I recognize that I am coming into their space, and in doing that, I am at risk of influencing this space with my values and presence.

So how do I do this in a culturally sensitive way? I remind myself frequently that I am a member of a powerful part of the global community, and the power attributed to me because I am white, educated, rich, and from a democratic society, means I have the power to influence.. but that's not what I want to do, I want to offer my capacity, as a peer and friend, to the cause for change that is meaningful and desired by this community.

I am so lucky to have found local friends, in the NGO ODAM , with whom I share similar values. We gave developed a relationship where i believe we bounce ideas off each other. I  bring my limited experience in community development, and my lifetime of Englisher and working with stakeholders. My partners bring their intimate knowledge of the life of the women of south India. They know the political and economic environment we are are working in, they know what wont work and what might work.

I think whats most important in culturally sensitive aid work is to remember I am not an expert here, i am a student. In my work, i bring ideas, i ask questions, and i participate in conversations equally.

Prior to coming to India my friend & i had this idea for a Fairtrade business but I was concerned we had not developed these ideas in a true collaboration  with our friends here in India. So in our first meeting, a very long day of discussions, my friend and I prepared ourselves to frame our idea in a way that allowed, even encouraged, debate and change. To our great surprise, and excitement, our idea fitted exactly what our partners in India wanted to do.. we were on the right track.

The past 10 days have been exciting and eye opening, as we've embarked on a partnership in this business venture. But this comes with nervousness and concern.... we hope we can make it work, and the promise of employment for these rural women will be realized.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Letter from India

Dear Friends and family
My travelling companion Chris and I are now comfortably settling into our room and local community, in a small town near the girls school and hostel. Its  very hot here, an unrelenting 40+degrees.

Yesterday we had an all day meeting with directors of ODAM learning about recent developments, changes in government policies and regulations, and new developments occurring in this region impacting on rural women and girls poverty and empowerment. It's xciting to see that over the past 11 years of our visiting,  many things have come along way forward, still many things appear the same.

It appears that the government is now taking more responsibility for ensuring girls get a complete education through to year 12, and we are hearing about a transition period where NGO's are no longer needing to provide the education support for these girls. ODAM remains very passionate about ensuring safe and appropriate hostel care for girls, and continue to manage their hostel for both high school and tertiary students for now.

Chris at the girls hostel in 2013

We have been delighted to hear that some of 'our girls' have completed science, art and engineering degrees, and some are near completion of their nursing degrees. We have more questions to ask about their transition into meaningful employment as it seems some are not working in their fields yet (not unlike our Australian graduates experiences).

We had very productive talks yesterday about the fair trade business idea, and we feel we have alot of work to do while we're here to support ODAM to develop the proposal further. I'll write more about that soon.

Thanks for all your support over the years, its just delightful to seem what our investments have achieved here.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Reflection.... culturally sensitive charity

What is culturally sensitive charity? And how do I feel about introducing new ideas into an old culture? Why is charity, or more to the point, fund-raising even going to make a difference?

I'm  pondering these questions, and many others, as I am preparing to go back to India, where I have been volunteering for the past 12 years. Each trip, (every 2 or so years), I am challenged with the same questions.... is what I'm  doing making a difference to one girl or one women's life? And how will my interaction with this community change them, either positively or not?
I am without a doubt, changed by my visits and interactions. But it shouldn't stop with me. I am interested in social changes.

This trip my travelling partner had hoped to have more indepth conversations with the NGO directors about a sustainable & fairtrade business model.  The idea being that by providing local women with sewing & tailoring instruction, and providing new patterns and ideas for products appealing to western women, an online market could be established. We feel excited and believe the unique opportunity lies in the beautiful south Indian sarees and textiles.  Yet, as we have been preparing, we've been challenged by our own thoughts.

Is the business going to be profitable? What are the costs of establishing this in India? Will Etsy be the right platform for these transactions, if English is not the local womens first language? What about the customers expectations? How difficult will it be to help the women of and isolated rural district understand the desires of the identified customer base? Will,our three week visit be adequate or just a start?

The big picture and dream, is that through selling beautiful handmade creations to western women, the NGO will be able to firstly provide a fair pay to their craftspeople, and make extra funds to support their girls hostel and education program.

While I believe these ideas are well intentioned, I am concerned that it's our vision not theirs... and that first principle of our practice should be of empowerment. I am hoping we can raise the ideas in a respectful manner and find out if there's some way we can work with the NGO to achieve something sustainable.

Bags commissioned for a womens conference in Sydney were loved by participants. 

Here's a link to our GoFundMe crowdfunding site.... All Welcome

Saturday, March 10, 2018

French Film Festival Sydney

I love french films - I love the way the French make films - I love learning things about the French people through their films... So for many years now I've been going to Sydney to see french films at the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival. This year its running pretty much all of March - soo many movies to choose from.. So I thought I'd mention the first three I have seen - and have enjoyed.

1. The most challenging and also the best movie I've seen so far was 'Beats per Minute' (in english) or 120 Battements par Minute. It's set in Paris, and the members of the advocacy group ACT UP are demanding action by the Government and Pharmaceutical companies to fight the AIDS epidemic in the early 1990s. I was a young  graduate during that era, and this movie has really changed by understanding of the world back then. I would definitely watch this one again. here's a link to the short.

2. Back to Burgundy, set in Burgundy (haha), is a lovely story of adult siblings returning to their family vineyard when Dad dies. They love their vines and their wine but their adults lives have taken them to different places, and staying on the land isn't the only choice they have to make.

3. C'est La Vie was the premiere film of this years festival - and it made us laugh and giggle. It was about Max, a seasoned wedding event organiser and caterer. Today, it’s all hands on deck for Pierre and Héléna’s nuptials in a breathtaking 17th century French chateau.  As per usual, Max has everything precisely organised but, as the celebrations get underway, Murphy’s Law takes over.  we were sitting on the edge of our seats as Max and his team pull together to make Pierre and Héléna’s special day memorable for all the right reasons. 

My thoughts so far -  still love french cinema. I have two more weeks to fit in a few more movies, and I hope to see at least another 5.... I'll be overdosed by the end of the month. If you care to see what's on this season, check it out here.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

What happened to the blogging community?

I recently sent an email to a blogging peer. Nothing unusual really. However the interaction left me pondering. Firstly, blogging isn't really a social media platform is it?  My blogging peer had left a comment on my post. I wanted to acknowledge that and respond, which i did through the comments section on my blog. But I dont have any sight over whether she sees my responsive comment. So I decided to email her to ensure we 'connected' on the subject.

In the era of other social media platforms being instant response, one click comments etc... blogging isn't really about instant communications and connection, its more didactic, and slower, perhaps more considered.

So, the topic of our chat was actually about blogging challenges. Blogging challenges are essentially community engaging. Its about like minded people sharing the experience during the defined time frame. My blogging peer and I essentially agreed that a good blogging challenge will be managed by a community minded host, and thus the host will set up means and processes to encourage participation, sharing and linking (this can be difficult because blogging isnt set up for this well). Some do this very well, others seems distracted or not even present.

My blogging peer noted that its different for different communities ie, boookies, foodies, crafties etc... she may be right.. maybe some topics endear themselves to interactive idea and opinion sharing, or is it about the participant and host?

What do you think? Has the blogging community changed? Have you experienced changes in events ? What makes a good one? What do you like in a good challenge, and what supports your participation?

Food for thought as July is coming sooner than we know.

Monday, February 19, 2018

My very belated Japanese Literature Challenge Reviews

I am a huge fan of this challenge, hosted this year my Mel U @ the reading life and Dolce Bellezza, the 11th Japanese Literature Challenge ran from June 2017 to January 2018... Sadly, I didn't get much read during my University studies, but I did enjoy these two books over the summer. 

Having participated in most of the 11 years of this challenge,  I have read nearly all of Murakami's books, some novels in themselves, but many compilations of short stories. Murakami has a reoccurring set of themes in his stories, and these short stories, in Men without Women, are the same. Music, trains and transport (including train stations), school friends and universities as a period of life, and intersections between relationships. While these short stories are written from a mans perspective, I appreciated the reflective approach of Murakami on life, in the moment, and the people you share it with..  While I haven't finished all of this yet, it hasn't disappointed. 
 I have, again, read others by Banana Yoshimoto (and by the way, I love that name), so this one was definitely on my list. My niece studied Japanese at high school, and the one thing I remember about Japanese language that she taught me (when we had the pleasure of travelling together in Japan), was that Moshi Moshi is what you say when you answer the phone. Its a pleasantry like Hello.

So this book is about telephone calls... between the dead father and the living and grieving daughter. But its much more than that too. Without going into the details of her fathers death (I don't want to spoil anything), the narrator is joined by her mother in grief. This is about both of their coming to terms with their loss, but also finding their new..

I really enjoyed this. Banana introduces new ideas and new themes that weave together the fully story of a young women discovering her place in the world. I can safely say, I'll read more from Banana Yoshimoto..