Saturday 13 July 2013


“Music is the shorthand of emotion.” - Leo Tolstoy

Anna Moura (born 1979 in Santarém, Portugal) is an internationally recognised Portuguese fado singer, and the youngest fadista to be nominated for a Dutch Edison Award. Ana Moura’s debut album was “Guarda-me a vida na mão” (2003), followed by “Aconteceu” (2005). She sang in various nightspots in Lisbon and became known on television, performing fado with Antonio Pinto Basto.

“Para Além da Saudade” (2007), containing songs such as “Os Buzios” or “Fado da Procura”, is the album that followed “Aconteceu”. With this album and appearances on programs such as Family Contact and Superstar, Moura became more widely known in Portugal. These television appearances helped promote this record, which was to reach triple platinum for sales exceeding 55,000 units. The album stayed in the Top 30 in Portugal for 120 weeks. For this album, Moura received a nomination for the Golden Globes in the category of Music, Best Individual Performer, losing to Jorge Palma.

Here is Anna Moura’s “Desfado” of 2012, showcasing her velvety voice, soulful lyrics and wonderful music. Enjoy!

Friday 12 July 2013


“It takes more than just a good looking body. You’ve got to have the heart and soul to go with it.” - Epictetus

Smoothies are a great addition to a healthful breakfast or lunch and if made with fresh fruit and vegetables can pack quite nutrition punch, while at the same time tasting wonderful. Here are three recipes to try as the seasonal produce becomes available.

Peach Smoothie

1 large carrot, peeled, chopped and microwaved with some water until tender
1 and 1/2 cup peeled chopped peaches
1 tbsp honey
1 container low fat vanilla yoghurt
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice 

Place drained carrot, honey and peaches in a blender and pulse until chopped. Add the yoghurt and orange juice and purée until smooth. Serve with a slice of orange as decoration.

Strawberry Smoothie 
1 large truss tomato, peeled
1 cup of strawberries
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp honey3 ice cubes

1 container low fat raspberry yoghurt

Place tomato and strawberries with the sugar and honey in a blender and pulse until chopped up. Add the ice cubes and pulse until chopped up. Add the yoghurt and purée. Decorate with a strawberry.

Banana Kiwi Smoothie

1 cup of kale leaves tightly packed
1 ripe banana
2 kiwi fruit
1 tbsp honey
3 ice cubes
1 container low fat vanilla yoghurt

Place kale, banana and kiwi fruit with the honey in a blender and pulse until chopped up. Add the ice cubes and pulse until chopped up. Add the yoghurt and purée. Serve with a kiwi fruit slice.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme,
and also part of the Food Trip Friday meme.

Thursday 11 July 2013


“I never think of the future, it comes soon enough.” - Albert Einstein

Today is the anniversary of the birthday of:
Robert the Bruce, king of Scotland (1274);
Thomas Bowdler, prude who bowdlerised Shakespeare (1754);
John Quincy Adams, 6th president (1825-29) of the USA (1767);
E. B. White, writer (1899);
Gough Whitlam, Australian PM (1916);
Yul Brynner, actor (1920);
Tab Hunter, actor (1931);
Suzanne Vega, singer/songwriter (1959).

Angelica archangelica, angelica, is this day’s birthday flower, signifying ecstasy, magic and inspiration.  Astrologically, it is a herb of the sun and under the dominion of Leo.  Candied angelica stem is that wonderfully green decorative element of cakes and pastries that always seems to go so well with the red glacé cherries.

On this day in 1533, Pope Clement VII excommunicated King Henry VIII of England, beginning the schism between the Roman Catholic faith and the Church of England.

Today is the People’s Republic of Mongolia, Revolution (National) Day. Mongolia is a vast land to the North of China with an area of 1,565,000 square km and a population of 2.5 million, making it a country with one of the lowest population densities in the world. The capital city is Ulan Bator while other towns are Tamsag Bulag, Mörön, Ulan Göm and Mandalgovi. Most of the country is an undulating plateau with rich grasslands that support the horses and cattle for which Mongolia is famous. Mountains to the North separate the country form the Russian Federation while to the South is the arid Gobi Desert. Rich mineral resources, oil, coal and gas remain still relatively underdeveloped. Wheat and other cereals are the major agricultural product.

Naadam (literally “games”) is a traditional festival in Mongolia. The festival is also locally termed “Eriin Gurvan Naadam” (“the three games of men”). The games are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery and are held throughout the country during midsummer. Women have started participating in the archery and girls in the horse-racing games, but not in Mongolian wrestling. In 2010, Naadam was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO.

The biggest Naadam of the country is held in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar during the National Holiday from July 11 – 13, in the National Sports Stadium. Naadam begins with an elaborate introduction ceremony featuring dancers, athletes, horse riders, and musicians. After the ceremony, the competitions begin.

Naadam is the most widely watched festival among Mongols, and is believed to have existed for centuries in one fashion or another. Naadam has its origin in the activities, such as military parades and sporting competitions such as archery, horse riding and wrestling, that followed the celebration of various occasions, including weddings or spiritual gatherings. It later served as a way to train soldiers for battle. Now it formally commemorates the 1921 revolution when Mongolia declared itself a free country.

Genghis Khan’s nine yak tails, representing the nine tribes of the Mongols, are still ceremonially transported from Sukhbaatar Square to the Stadium to open the Naadam festivities. At these opening and closing ceremonies there are impressive parades of mounted cavalry, athletes and monks. Another popular Naadam activity is the playing of games using shagai, sheep anklebones that serve as game pieces and tokens of both divination and friendship. In the larger Nadaam festivals, tournaments may take place in a separate venue.

Wednesday 10 July 2013


“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.” - Swami Vivekananda

I am away from work for work for two days, taking part in a Leadership School. This is a series of professional development seminars that our People and Culture department organise in order to cultivate the talent of leaders within our organisation. Thirty of our staff of 400 have been chosen in order to take part in this development program and it provides a forum for discussions, activities and a think tank so that we can advance the strategies and goals of our organisation in an efficient way. External facilitators are in charge of the meeting and the mix of staff from different departments and at different levels in the hierarchy make for an interesting experience.

Frank discussions are had and people are encouraged to actively participate and state their ideas, views and opinions about things that are good or not so good within the work environment. We work together to acquire new skills and develop existing ones. Facilitators provide an environment conducive to creative thinking and an honest tackling of identified issues and problems within our work environments. We work under the Chatham House Rule, and this is something that fosters that feeling of safety and frankness when expressing one’s views.

The Chatham House Rule is a core principle that governs the confidentiality of the source of information received at a meeting. The rule originated in June 1927 at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, also known as Chatham House ( The rule (not “rules” as is often misquoted) was reviewed and refined in 2002, states:

“When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”

This allows people to speak as individuals and to express views that may not be those of their organisations, and therefore, encourages independent discussion, not hampered by allegiances or “towing the party line”. Speakers are free to voice their own opinions, without concern for their personal reputation or their official duties and professional ties. The Chatham House Rule resolves a boundary problem faced by many communities of practice, in that it permits acknowledgment of the community or conversation, while protecting the freedom of interaction that is necessary for the community to carry out its conversations.

When a group meets, using the rule guarantees anonymity to those speaking within the context of the meeting so that better insights and free debate may be encouraged. The rule is often used internationally as an aid to free discussion. The original rule was refined in October 1992 and again, in 2002. Chatham House has translated the rule into Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian.

Meetings, or parts of meetings, either may be held on the record, or, under the Chatham House Rule. In the latter case, all participants are understood to have agreed that it would be conducive to free discussion that they should be subject to the rule for the relevant part of the meeting. The success of the rule may depend upon it being considered morally binding, particularly in circumstances where a failure to comply with the rule may not result in sanction.

Care needs to be taken not to invoke the Chatham House Rule where what is intended is that the views discussed be kept confidential. The Chatham House Rule is intended to promote public discussion of the views expressed at a meeting, but without attributing those views to any individual or organisation.

Tuesday 9 July 2013


“The moon puts on an elegant show, different every time in shape, colour and nuance.” - Arthur Smith

A supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth. The technical name is the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system. The term “supermoon” is not astronomical, but originated in modern astrology. The moon will not be so close again until August 10, 2014. Supermoons occur about once every 14 full moons in a full moon cycle. Magpie Tales  has provided an image of last month’s supermoon by Julio Cortez, to inspire participants in her creative writing challenge. Here is my offering.


One day I’ll tear
The thin gauze of the passing seasons,
Transcending time
I’ll pass into the infinite.
Stepping on bleeding moon

Expiring in its death throes
I’ll merge with dying breath
Of supernovaed sun

And travel through Armageddon.

I’ll fathom the true meaning of eternity
Seconds, days, aeons being identical,
My soul will fill to bursting
And still yearn for more;
Forever on until my eyes resemble seas
My brain engorged with newness and
With increasing understanding.

And ever onward,
To know,
To learn,
To understand,
To seek,

To find,
To see the reason why...

Monday 8 July 2013


“Pictures are for entertainment, messages should be delivered by Western Union.” - Samuel Goldwyn

We watched the 1972 John Sturges “Joe Kidd” last weekend. This was a good old fashioned Western starring Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, John Saxon – “old fashioned” relating to the look and feel, although the plot was a little more inventive than the cowboys versus Indians or bad guys versus good guys type of Western. We quite enjoyed it as it was short, direct and non-pretentious. Had not seen a Western for ages, so this was quite a refreshing change from the typical Hollywood pap that is served up nowadays.

Joe Kidd (Eastwood) is a tough, former bounty hunter in the American Southwest. When a band of Mexicans find their U. S. land claims denied and all relevant records “destroyed in a courthouse fire”, they turn to violence and eye for eye and tooth for tooth reprisals. Louis Chama (Saxon) is their charismatic leader, full of revolutionary rhetoric and mobilizing the Mexicans under him to demand land reform. A wealthy landowner with interests in the disputed area, Frank Harlan (Duvall), decides to settle things his own way – using a slash, burn and destroy policy. He hires a band of killers and wants Joe Kidd to help them track Chama. Initially, Kidd wants to avoid any involvement, until Chama makes the mistake of stealing Kidd’s horses and terrorising his friends.

The plot turns quite ambivalent denouncing violence on the one hand, but justifying on the other, ending up on the side of truth, justice and the American way in the end. Nevertheless, it does make for an interesting story and there are enough Western conventions in it to keep the genre fans happy. Eastwood plays his role with ease and aplomb – having been typecast to a certain extent as the tough, strong silent cowboy who rights wrongs. The other actors all do well also, even the two token females in what is essentially a cowboy and horse opera.

Lalo Schifrin’s music is suitably ominous and quite suited to the action, blending into the background when it needs to and as it should. Costumes, sets and wide open spaces are well done, Hollywood has enough experience in this genre to make it look right. Overall the film is entertaining and a good B-grade film with enough wry humour, action and even some morality/ethical type of questioning in order to keep it interesting. Watch it if you come across it, it’s quite good fun!

Sunday 7 July 2013


“All colours are the friends of their neighbours and the lovers of their opposites.” - Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall (Moishe Shagal) was born on July 7, 1887,  in the village of Vitebsk, Byelorussia. He was the oldest of nine children born to a working-class Jewish family. In his career, he was associated with several major artistic styles and one of the most successful artists of the 20th century. He was an early modernist, and created works in virtually every artistic medium, including painting, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramic, tapestries and fine art prints.

In Russia at that time, Jewish children were not allowed to attend regular Russian schools or universities. Their movement within the city was also restricted. Chagall therefore received his primary education at the local Jewish religious school, where he studied Hebrew and the Bible. At the age of 13, his mother tried to enrol him in a Russian high school, which was not allowed. Chagall’s mother offered the headmaster 50 roubles to let him attend, which he accepted and Marc attended school.

A turning point of his artistic life came when he first noticed a fellow student drawing. Chagall would later say that there was no art of any kind in his family’s home and the concept was totally alien to him. When Chagall asked the schoolmate how he learned to draw, his friend replied, “Go and find a book in the library, idiot, choose any picture you like, and just copy it”. He soon began copying images from books and found the experience so rewarding he then decided he wanted to become an artist.

At age 20 he began to study painting, first in Vitebsk, then in St. Petersburg. His distinctive style was already beginning to appear in his early works.
 In 1910 he began four years of living in Paris, a city that kept drawing him back for the rest of his life. In Paris, he became acquainted with art movements of the time, including Fauvism and Cubism. He also became acquainted with leading artists of the time, including Braque, Picasso, Delaunay, Leger, and others.

Chagall held a very successful, one-man show in Berlin in 1914, as part of an eventual journey home.
At the outbreak of WWI, Chagall returned home to Vitebsk, where he married Bella Rosenfeld. He worked in Vitebsk for several years and became director of the Vitebsk Academy of Arts. He moved to Moscow in 1920 and worked on stage decor and painted panels for the avant-garde Jewish Theatre. After it was made clear he would not have the freedom to develop, given the political realities of Marxist socialism, he left Moscow for Europe in 1923.

After arriving in France, he met French art dealer Ambroise Vollard and started creating etchings for future publications. These were not published until years later due to Vollard’s death and WWII. Chagall’s paintings were shown at galleries in New York as well as Paris, Berlin, and other European cities. He was commissioned by Vollard to produce a series of etchings illustrating the Old Testament version of the Bible. These were also not published until after WWII. During his travels, Chagall fell in love with the Cote d’Azur. Chagall eventually moved away from Paris to a villa near Porte d’Auteuil.

Chagall continued to work in France despite the growing Anti-Semitism of the Nazi movement and the invasion of France by Germany in 1939. He was eventually convinced by his daughter Ida of the urgency to leave France. Marc and Bella first travelled to Marseilles, France and eventually left for the United States in May of 1941. Their daughter Ida joined them a short time later.

Marc Chagall arrived in New York City in June, 1941. In addition to paintings, he worked on theatre sets and costumes. His paintings were exhibited in New York, Chicago, and Paris. His wife Bella died suddenly in 1944 due to a viral infection. Marc ceased all work for almost a year. In 1946, after the end of WWII the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City held an exhibition showing 40 years of Chagall’s work. He had become very well known, and he began making plans to return to France.

Chagall returned to Paris in 1948 and signed Teriade (Stratis Eleftheriades) to publish his graphic works. He settled in Vence, in Provence in 1950. In addition to painting, he continued to create graphic works. Many of his earlier etchings and lithographs were finally published in the early 1950’s. His daughter Ida introduced him to Valentine Brodsky, whom he later married. In this period, he expanded the mediums in which he worked to include ceramics, stone sculptures, mosaics, and tapestries.

In 1958, he designed scenery and costumes for the ballet Daphne and Chloe for the Paris Opera. This led to other public commissions in the 1960s, including stained glass windows for the Hadassah Synagogue near Jerusalem, the United Nations, and several cathedrals in Europe. He designed a new ceiling for the Paris Opera House and panels for the Lincoln Center in New York. He also produced what many consider his best graphic works, the Daphne and Chloe suite of lithographs in 1961.

In 1966, Chagall moved from Vence to St. Paul de Vence (still in Provence). Chagall’s reputation continued to grow. He continued painting, producing graphic works, and producing public commissions. His works were exhibited at the galleries and museums throughout the world, including the Louvre and Petit Palais in Paris. He produced the America Windows for America’s Bicentennial celebration in 1977 in gratitude for America taking his family in during WWII. These windows can be viewed today at the Art Institute of Chicago.

He died March 28, 1985 in St. Paul de Vence, where he was buried. His long, prolific career and distinctive themes and use of color make him one of the acknowledge masters of 20th Century modern art.

The painting above, “The Circus Horse” of about 1964 illustrates Chagall’s style admirably with its free, expressive use of colour and sprightly draughtsmanship. The figures counterbalance the expanses of bright colour and juxtaposition of human figures and animals (a device Chagall often uses) is particularly apt here in the circus. Chagall used this theme many times in his artistic life and the bright, multicolour action of the subject suited his sensibilities.