Sunday, 23 February 2014

mama didn't raise no sheep

As a child, her mother would thrust the tools of creativity into her arms. Brushes and pastels, crayolas and chalk, fingers if none of the above suffice. Just give the girl a palette! The gift of choice.   

"Screw the lines kid. Paint the town red, yellow, magenta, ochre. Just paint."

Well now mama's little girl is as grown up as she'll get and showin' off how good a good lesson sticks.  Conformity, non-conformity - you're missing the point.  When hunting for beauty you don't look in boxes. 

Hearts, dear friends, not boxes. 

These images from Harper's Bazaar shook my Sunday and I hope they send shivers yours as well.

Now how's about some tunes to go with?  I've been stingy here with music of late, keeping it close, listening low, rapt, focused. Tapping toes in silence so no nuance is missed. But that's wrong of me - it's not ol' music's m.o. Without further ado, indulge in one of my favorite skillful indulgences and shake the frame ya'll.

'It's just I drink only that which makes me thirsty.'  
Happy Sunday.

- xx  

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

wanderlust wednesday: why not oman?

Just imagine...'re hiking along a wadi tumbling with recent storm runoff and splashing children enjoying the boon. An old man stops you and insists you sit and share his watermelon; the July day is too hot to go without hydration. Delicious. Chilled, juicy and perfect. Around him his family has been busily preparing a feast among picnics. They dig roasted chickens out of a buried oven and lazily rotate sizzling kebabs while you watch from your cozy corner of their rug. Everything is relaxed: smiles, sunshine and spontaneity. They inquire if you've seen the waterfalls, but you haven't yet hiked far enough. Not to keep you, they point you on your way, but only after packing up triple helpings of everything for your enjoyment. Nothing is overlooked - straws, napkins and more precious water. You try to express your gratitude, but they just wave you on your way. You stroll down to the temporary waterfall and perch on a rock to watch the children gambol. As soon as you're seated, a boy of no more than 12 dashes up to you and bashfully proffers yet more kebab. He's gone before you can try for thanks. After a lunch as nice as any you've known, you pick your way across the wide, shallow waters of the wadi, only to have another family welcome you into their fold. Realising they can't feed you any more, it's tea after tea and a generous ride home from the remote setting which hadn't occurred to you would be impossible to find otherwise.  And a new family is born...

This is why I say to you: O-me, little Oman is undersold.

Perhaps, because it's in less-than-hospitable territory?

Or perhaps because, when measured on the stereotypical Middle Eastern yardstick, Oman hasn't protested, car-bombed, prohibited anyone from anything necessary to everyday life, overthrown a dictator, been ruled by a military, encouraged sexual harassment, or civil warred for decades.
So, why hear about them at all?

 Ah, perhaps it's because Oman doesn't do loud like their northern neighbor, that yacht-wielding, record-breaking, climate-defying, luxury-flaunting, island-building, ocean-rotting, immigrant-exploiting 'friend' Dubai

But, O-my how sad that all that is, because Oman's o-mighty good time.  
(Awful. I'll stop now.)

Things you know: Oman = miles of coastline and rolling sand dunes.

Things you may know:  Abandoned mud brick villages dot every mountainside, and what enormous mountains for those villages to dot. Safety?  Every passerby is your night in shining armor, the beauty to your beast. (See above, a very true tale. One of countless instances.)

Things you probably don't know: Dizzying canyons, picturesque oases (oases are real!), wisdom wielding turtles (yup, turtles), some highly palatable goat... there's this whole spectrum of color to this colorless sand. Luxuriant palm fronds. Richly woven textiles. Shimmering bedouin costumes. Flaming sunset skies. Flowers, foodstuffs and freely flowing water abruptly appear out of unpredicted crevices, all the lovelier for their unexpectedness. A true gift for a country that is over half ever-encroaching Sahara. A true gift for the wanderer who finds it.

- xx


Has summer spring sprung yet?

Damn. Not that I'm eager or anything...

[all images sourced from Pinterest with some alterations by me]


Friday, 14 February 2014

v-day, d-day

While some may really love this holiday (or generally don't give a damn about this holiday), equal numbers seem to despise it. Really despise it.  Actively. Loudly. Google 'anti-valentine' for a taste. It's funny that Halloween and St. Patrick's can pass so benignly, but Valentine's Day? Let the vitriol spring forth!   

"Why do we need an excuse to celebrate love, anyway? We don't. We don't need a national holiday for love. We should demonstrate our love every day, not just bow to marketing pressure on some random instutitionalized one.  Plus, why should I have to be in love? Cupid is stupid and dating is overrated."

To you, poor offended bunny, I offer the three sweetest words in the English language: 

You are right.  

I'll even do you one better. Here's a list of reasons you're right, even extra ones you may not be bitterly articulating to your social circles:

  • Valentine's Day is blatant commercial opportunism. Companies and advertising agencies capitalize on emotion and encourage people to buy things to demonstrate their love, rather than encouraging people to love openly, freely and regularly, sans pursestrings requirements.
  • Even though the marketing angle may focus on love, there's been an unfortunate social shift from love to guilt. You feel guilty if you forget to buy her flowers or cook him dinner or don't have the time or inspiration (or inclination even) to plan an elaborate surprise. You feel guilty if a family member or friend sends you a card full of candy hearts and you didn't return the favor. You feel guilty that you weren't the one who baked food coloring-laden cookie hearts for the office. Not loving. Not romantic. Grateful, sure. But mainly guilty.
  • The companies trying to profiteer most off this lovefest are often not ones whose actions demonstrate much love - if any - for the domestic and international communities where their products are made and sold. (Here's looking at you, Coca Cola; and Apple, you're not getting away either, with your bizarre evite to shop your Valentine's Day collection. A heart-shaped iPad wouldn't seem so appropriate tomorrow...)
  • Single, dating, married, divorced, cohabitating, bro-mancing, girl crushing, some quirky Her kind of thing going on - what does it matter? Why is that the love relationship we fixate on? I love all kinds of people - my family, my friends, my co-workers, the guy at the coffeeshop who remembers my order, the woman who doesn't make me pay for my overweight suitcase, the sellers at farmer's markets who encourage you to take their free samples - and I would love them regardless of whether or not I also am in love with a partner.  If this is a day about love, it should be about love in its manifold incarnations.
  • Don't even get me started on the potentially murky waters of childhood valentines: bullies, favoritism, pressure, exclusion, loneliness, heartbreak. (Although, none of that is exclusive to Valentine's Day. Or to children.)

But I also believe this:

 If we should be basking in love and loved ones every day, then we should support occasions that encourage people to do just that. (Sentimentally, no financial support required.) A reminder to demonstrably love thy family, friend, colleague and neighbor? A reminder to recognize how much we care for one another and take time to consider how we could show it? A reminder to celebrate romance and love stories and the relationships that most define who we are and what we care about?

Eh, could be worse.

Consider it a national shove into the pool for kids who are scared of lovey-dovey waters.
(And just be glad no one's going to knock on your door demanding candy, or dye your morning latte green and inexplicably pinch you for your sartorial failings.)

Instead of a high-pressure date night or a hoopla of heart-shaped truffles, Valentine's should be inspiration to stop and consider what you love about the people around you, and how you could  show them what makes them special. Love is awesome. Celebrate that!

(I plan on making pizza and chocolate bark with my love and giving him and extra squeeze or six, plus Skyping our families for some quality face time. It will be excellent.)

And if hearts are really your thing, then you can take a page out of fair Drew B's book and take the day to find it in everything.  

Equally important, without Valentine's day, how would anyone have an excuse to make these? 

Do you really want to rob the world of such a punny opportunity?

[Rhetorical.  Obviously.]

So, to all you lovers and haters and apatheticizers out there, whether you want to hear it or not,

Happy Valentine's Day!  I think you're great.