Wide-eyed wandering, week 35

My beautiful picture

Photo by either my mother or my father.

‘Eternity is that moment in time
when you say;
I will never forget this.’
Jan Wolkers
(Dutch author & sculptor)
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This is not a food blog post

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve been thinking of adding a food post to it every now and then. Nothing fancy; just sharing my favorite recipes with those few followers who make it to my blog on a regular basis.
I grew up enjoying my parents delicious roasts, curries & stews. And got spoiled by siblings who made homemade pizzas & baked fabulous cakes for me. There are a lot of great things to say about my childhood; a list of things I thankful for.And I guess would be safe to say that our family dinners are ranking pretty high on that list. Very early on I learned to appreciate fresh & wholesome products and I discovered the value of sharing food with those you love & care for.
But even though I have always loved good food, as a kid I actually spend very little time cooking. Not because I didn’t want to, but just because there were so many others who liked it so much & they were all so very good at it. It wasn’t until I moved to my first (and last) student room that I cooked my very first meal ever. A simple pasta sauce. I can still remember how proud I felt & how it somehow tasted like the best pasta sauce I ever had. I have been cooking ever since…

So, a food blog shouldn’t be a big deal, should it? But it turns out it is. Cause somehow it isn’t happening. And it’s not like I haven’t tried. Believe me, I have. It’s just that, for some reason, I freeze up whenever I start working on what could be my first blog post about food. I don’t know what it is.

Or do I? Maybe, as usual, little has changed. Maybe I want to share my love for food with the world & maybe a tiny part of me believes I can add something new to the vast world of food blogs. But it’s just that there are so many others who love it too & they are all so very good at it. There are countless blogs filled with recipes out there; great blogs & great recipes. Who am I kidding, thinking that anyone out there would want to read the mediocre recipes I have to offer? Maybe it’s better if I stick to what I seem to do best; talking myself down completely while trying to do something as simple as writing a food blog post….

No.
It’s time to leave the ‘student room’ & show you all the best I’ve got to offer;) Because even though I am by no means a great cook, I absolutely love it & I guess cooking a healthy and tasty dish every day of the week means a lot to me. It’s my way of telling those close to me that I love them & care for them a great deal, that I want to give them the very best to keep them healthy & happy.
And at the same time cooking reminds me of the girl I once was, living far from here, sitting around the table with her siblings, enjoying the tasty dishes put in front of her by those who love & care for her too. It brings back memories & moments. But more than anything it combined the past & present into a perfect circle, which allows me to visit the childhood I so long for every now and then. That’s what cooking means to me & that’s why I want to write a food blog post!

to be continued…

The boy who wanted to know everything

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It’s my brother’s birthday today. He’s turning thirty-five. 
I haven’t seen him in over a year; this dear brother of mine. Strange how time passes by and manages to create such an enormous gap between partings & meetings. When I was little, it would have been impossible to imagine spending such a long time apart from my siblings. But as you grow up & time speeds up around you, the days seem to go faster and faster. They turn into months and then, silently, into years.

Four years older than I, which at some point in time must have seemed like an enormous difference in age. Because when I look back at the years we spend living alongside one another, I mostly remember feeling that my brother was so many years ahead of me in everything he did and attempted to do. Yes, I guess I have to admit that in my eyes, he was the brightest, most educated & inventive brother anyone could ever wish for. He read magazines filled with words I had never heard of. He climbed, walked & cycled so much faster than I ever thought I’d be able to. He cooked & baked cakes, he took photos & he worked on the computer. He seemed to know it all, yet still wanted to know everything about everything And most of all he listened to classical music all the time, something which, for some reason, seemed very sophisticated to me back in the days (Never mind the fact that he constantly whistled along with the greatest composers of our time; too loud & completely out of tune.)

I can’t recall whether we did many things together; David & I. All I remember is the movies we watched together. All sorts of movies, but hardly ever light entertainment though. I remember watching films like ‘The Holocaust’, ‘The Godfather-trilogy’, ‘The Untouchables’ and ‘Escape from Alcatraz’. We would never say much or comment on what we saw. No, we just sat together, watching the tragic stories unfold, both storing what we say away in completely different parts of our heart and mind, I’m sure. All this might not seem like much to share with your brother, but honestly these silent moments of shared interest have always meant a lot to me. Because those lazy evenings & afternoons opened my eyes to the classic beauty of the moving image & have cemented my deep love for movies for once and for all. So, it’s a fond memory.

I woke up this morning thinking of my brother, far away, living in the States, living a life I know so little about. And I couldn’t help thinking how time has the tendency to come between you and the ones you love most. It’s been so many years; David living his life, while I’m living mine. That’s how life is suppose to go, I guess; you grow up together, share a life, until you don’t and that’s fine too.
But today, on my brother’s birthday, I want to take a moment to think about the clever, stubborn & inquisitive boy who left home many year ago, just to who grow into an educated, adventurous, loving & talented man/husband/ brother. I wish him all the happiness in the world and want all his dreams to come true. And hopefully, one day, we can dig up a long, preferably slightly gloomy movie and spend an afternoon side by side watching it…

Happy Birthday, David!

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Under African Skies

This song fills my heart with longing and a sweet sense of sadness, reminding me of who I am and where I once began.     But it’s the best kind of longing, not the heavy, crippling kind which used to follow me through all my days after leaving the African continent.

No, today I am merely grateful that I got to live through such an amazing childhood, filled with so much beauty & wonder.

Today I listen to Paul Simon’s song with happy tears in my eyes and think of my version of Africa, the version that will remain dear to me for the rest of my life.

Today I sit & listen to this sweet lullaby of time gone by and think about Nelson Mandela; his passing, the childhood hero he used to be and the privilege of spending my days under the same African skies as a man of his magnitude.

May you rest in peace, under African skies…

And the Award goes….

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Ever since I can remember I’ve been wanting to become either an actress or a musician. And not just any actress or any musician. In my childhood dreams I have always been aiming for the stars; I wouldn’t settle to become some hardly-famous B actress, who half the world had never heard of. Or a poor vocalist with no audience.  No, I was destined to become the world’s next Madonna, I so clearly was  a Meryl Streep in the making; just quietly binding my time, waiting for the very best moment to grace the stage and leave the world in awe with my mind-blowing abilities. I imagined myself answering witty interview questions while gently strumming my guitar. I spend days thinking of the teary eyed acceptance speech I’d give as I was handed my long awaited, well-deserved, Academy Award. And no, I wouldn’t be in it for the fame, the fast life or the fancy dresses. I was just a 6 year old girl who felt with all her heart that she was born for greater things; exceptional achievements and larger than life milestones.

Today, so many years later, I’m not an actress, not an recording artist, nor am I famous in any other way. I haven’t achieved greatness, yet, and it’s most likely that the long and graceful acceptance speech I had in mind will remain unwritten and most definitely unheard. I still have mountains of dreams and long lists of things I want to achieve, but my goals have slightly changed and I guess time has taught me that maybe being a little realistic won’t hurt me in the end. For example, I have accepted that I will probably never fill a concert hall with my sweet singing voice, nor will I record that album I’ve always thought I would. And I have given up on ever getting my hands on that much-loved golden statue, even though I still watch every Oscar-ceremony with the sinking feeling of  ‘that could have been me’. But since I haven’t acted a day in my life and my self-esteem is hardly Grammy nor Oscar-worthy , I had to admit at some point that it was all a bit of a long shot…

Through the years I started focusing on more accessible goals, other talents to tap into; I started to write& draw, I picked up the camera and discovered my love for capturing moments using words and images. I got older and wiser, most of my childlike confidence got replaced with that mature portion of self-doubt and insecurity, that seems to go hand in hand with becoming an adult. With every word I wrote, every photo I made, I asked myself whether it was good enough, whether I really though anyone would want to read or see the things I made. Not only did I give up on my grand, somewhat idealistic, dreams, but I guess  that at some point I gave up on my own abilities altogether.

So, imagine my surprise when I opened my mailbox this morning and found a lovely little comment from fellow blogger Kiz, from http://simpledailypleasures.com/ , telling me that she had nominated my blog for a Liebster Award, explaining how she thoroughly enjoyed my words & pictures. Me; nominated at last. Okay, it’s not an Oscar. And alright, I actually had no idea what a Liebster Award was up until a few hours ago, but the point is; I have been nominated an Award. Someone actually read my blog and liked it. Read my words, saw my pictures and thought they were good. Worthy of being read by others. I can’t believe it.

Thanks you, Kiz, for making part of my dream come to after all these years. It means the world to me!

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So, the Liebster award; a pay it forward award that helps new bloggers, like myself,  get recognized and read. There are a few rules and conditions:

1)      I have to post 11 facts about myself

2)      I have to answer the 11 questions my nominator asked of me (interviewed at last!)

3)      Nominate 11 bloggers, with 200 or less followers and link them in this post

4)      Go to the bloggers pages and tell them they’ve been nominated

5)      Tags back are not allowed

 

Alright, here we go:

Eleven facts about Naomi

1)      The book ‘Extremely Loud & Incredible close’, a most amazing novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, inspired me to become a writer. This book really changed my life, simply because it spoke to me in a way no other book had ever done before.

2)      I drink my espresso strong  with a cloud of milk

3)      When I fall in love with a certain cd or song, I can listen to it for days on end. Discovering a new song makes my day

4)      You are allowed to wake me at 4 A.M for a good vegetarian Indian curry. But only for a really, really good one!

5)      I love being outdoors and spending my days surrounded by nature. About three years ago I went to Scotland and  walked the West Highland Way, an experience of a lifetime!

6)      I’m a Lostie. I have seen the entire 6 seasons of this mind-blowing series  about 5 times by now.

7)      I’ve written & published two books of poetry and two of my poems have been published in a children’s book.

8)      When cycling or walking on my own, I have long, wordy conversations with myself. Both monologues and dialogues. Should I be worried?

9)      One of my ultimate feeling of freedom is riding my mountain bike as fast as possible, while listening the David Gray greatest hits album.

10)   I’m a green tea (with lemon) addict.

11)   For some reason I remember the words to almost every song I ever heard.

 

Questions asked by Kiz

 1)      What are your simple pleasures?

My simple pleasures are a nice warm cup of tea, homemade pie (lemon-pie or coffee cake), going for a long walk, playing my piano, digging in the garden, cuddling my cat, eating fresh veggies and watching a good movie/ series together with someone as enthusiastic about good series and movies as I am.

2)      What keeps you awake at night?

Mostly it’s an enormous amount of words keeping me awake at night. As soon as I am in bed, my head starts to fill itself with all sorts of lines and sentences, begging me to write them down. I used to have a pencil next to my bed, to scribble down bits and pieces on the wall, afraid I would forget it all.

3)      What’s the first thing you notice about yourself when you look in the mirror?

The occasional annoying pimple or red spot, I can’t look passed them

4)      Chocolate or Vanilla?

Chocolate, definitely

5)      What is your favorite thing to smell?

Rain on dry earth & lime zest, both those smells transport me right back to my childhood days.

6)      Ideal Sunday morning?

An elaborate breakfast with my sister, a pot of tea, espresso, clear blue skies outside the window & my hiking boots waiting for me to take them for a long, lovely walk…….

7)      Biggest Global concern?

I have quite a few global concerns, but what concerns me most is that there are still so many people who seem either totally unaware or totally unconcerned about the environmental issues we’re facing. Of course, there are also heaps of people who are really changing their ways and doing what they can to make a difference. But just to see the way some people still pollute, waste water and energy and decide to look the other way when it comes to environmental issues, it worries me.

8)      Favorite thing to write about?

I love to write about the little things in life; the simple things that really matter & have the ability to complete one’s life. I also enjoy tapping into my vast imagination; when I write fictional stories I have a much darker writing style. I love to explore my fictional characters at their darkest hour, it gives me the opportunity to really get to know them and fully understand the kind of person they are.

9)      Weirdest kid names you have ever heard?

Pilot Inspektor, son of actor Jason Lee. That’s just not a name, is it?

10)   Top of your bucketlist?

That’s a hard one. What about the top 3 of my bucket list, not in any particular order:

  1. Publishing my very first novel
  2. Making a whole lot of beautiful & unforgettable long distance walks in places like Scotland, Norway, Ireland, New Zealand ect…..
  3. Singing a duet with Milow (incredible Belgium singer-songwriter). Okay, I admit, I still dream big…

11)   Favorite foreign language/accent?

I have a thing for really nice British accents. Nothing too posh or over-the-top, but just the beautiful, clean-cut use of English. Irresistible!

 

11 Questions for my nominees:

1)      Which movie made a lasting impression?

2)      Best time of the day?

3)      Who is your favorite (story)book character and why?

4)      If you could chose one talent, which talent would it be?

5)      Which music are you listening to while writing this?

6)      How would other people describe you?

7)      What is your earliest childhood memory?

8)      What is the best thing you ever learned/ best advice you ever got?

9)      Train, plane or automobile?

10)   Describe your kitchen in 5 words

11)   Now describe your life in 10 words

And then last ,but certainly not least:

My nominees

This turned out to be the hardest part. Not because there are not enough really beautiful and inspiring blogs out there, but because I simply haven’t discovered them yet. I am rather new in the vast world of blogging and I actually want to take my sweet time to discover all the hidden jewels between the many, many blogs I have wandered into. So, for the sake of being imperfect, I have decided to do things a little different. I will nominate the few blogs that I follow & love and furthermore, I will add nominees in the future. Blogs that I am yet to find, love and admire….

So, for now, these are the nominees:

1)      http://www.getinthegoodlight.com/

Sweet, beautiful and lovely blog about Thomas and his mum, journeying through the wonders of childhood one picture at the time.

2)      http://www.eyefreckles.blogspot.com.au/

Inspiring and beautiful child photography by a homeschooling mother of 5.

3)      http://www.seaandsalt.com/

The word & images on this blog make you feel, hear, taste and see the sea

4)      http://curtainsforthewindow.blogspot.nl/

The name of this blog made me an instant fan.

These blogs are all well worth visiting, so feel free to have a good look around. Thanks for bearing with me throughout this extensive blog post, hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then she came…

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There we are; a collection of child. Arms, legs holding one another. Little fingers holding on to little arms. A messy bundle of brother and sisters. Happy, satisfied, but incomplete . All of us waiting for the last piece of our heart and soul to arrive; one last pair of legs, another set of hands to hold. Happily and patiently waiting for another.
We are a puzzle with pieces missing, but we’re not worried.
She will find us soon enough and when she does, life will be perfect at last.

ImageAnd then she came

And she changed everything. Made our lives so much brighter, the sun that much sunnier. My little big sister; the mornings we spend chasing one another around the garden, pretending to be cops and crooks, villains and heroes, both king and beggar. Effortlessly living two lives or more in the hours of one single day.

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These days she lives far from me; building a life of her own, making memories in which I don’t play a part. But it does not matter, for she will always be with me and I with her. We’ll forever share the jokes only we understand, recall the adventures only we got to go on, love the songs we listened to over and over, cherish the stories we made up as one day slid into the next.  We’ll continue to make the other just that bit crazier, just that wee bit wilder, bring out the best and the better.

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Twenty-seven years ago she came. She found us, completed us.
Life has been perfect ever since.

Happy Birthday, sweet little, big sister!

To my sweet siblings

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18th of February 2013,

as good a day as any to tell you I love you.

A perfect day to thank you for finding me, sharing your lives with me so naturally, loving me so boundlessly and without question. This love we share is unconditional; love that sprung to life in our souls the moment we met one another. Love that has never left us and never will.

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A tangled mess of arms, legs, dirty little nails, scraped bony elbows. Perfectly tailored to hold on to one another for the rest of our united lives. Where would I be without you? Where would you be without me? Who would understand that smile, who would notice the smallest twinkle in the eyes, who would take that trembling hand and hold it till it trembles no more? You helped me grow and you taught me to be who I wanted to be. You filled and still fill my life with light and laughter and give me reason to sing and dance through all of my days.

We were meant to be, of that I’m sure. Yet still I can’t believe we all met. And for that I’m grateful, I’m delighted and I’m forever thankful.

Love, your sister

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This is me

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Bukumbi, Tanzania, a small village on the shores of Lake Victoria. In front of the house I grew up in. One of the houses I grew up in.

If you could step into this picture and you’d turn around the corner, this is what you would find. Huge boulders, towering high above our large, once-chalk-white house.  Home to vervet monkeys, klipdas and myths of ghosts and  hyenas. A perfect playground on  long, sunny days. Immensely scary when storms rolled over the land, filling a purple sky with the unforgiving sound of thunder caught between rocks.

Washing on the line. Soaking wet clothes, dry within hours. Sheets, towels and t-shirts stiff as a board, the fragrance of sun soaked into each and every fiber. At night, after we had washed ourselves with the cold, slightly brownish water that reluctantly ran from the tap into the bathtub, my mother would wrap a sun backed towel around us, giving the sun a chance to kiss us goodnight.

When I think about my African youth, I think in sound and smell more than in words these days. Maybe I’ve used up all the possible words to describe the place, as I’ve spend years trying to note down the right sentences to describe the pain that leaving this great continent caused. Ledgers full of detailed accounts, books full of poetry to voice the deep, desperate longing which held me captive for years on end. And while I was writing this all down, it never once occurred to me that I might not have been so desperately longing for Africa, but just for the child that lived there. The little girl that I once was. Full of dreams. Full of  hope. Naively confident that she was destined for greatness. Sometimes I think about her now and I wonder whether I disappointed her at all…

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