Monthly Archives: November 2012

If there is something I really like about being in the Mediterranean cradle, it’s the abundance of fresh food. I relish in the wellness that springs from it. This is food to satisfy the appetite, revive the senses and tickle the soul.

I love the immediacy of this relationship.  Local produce laid out like the patterns on a colourful vegetal carpet at the weekly market place or at the grocer’s.

Cooking vegetarian food becomes a piece of yummy cake.

I let my eyes rest on the soft curves of an apple and when I sink my teeth into the juicy flesh,  I am reminded that there is indeed  a God of small things.

As I write, the autumn light seeps in through the window and inflames the yellow of the quinces and the orange of the lotus fruit on the dinning table. A bowl swelling with overripe promises of Homeric obliviοn.

Shapes and shades painted by the brush-strokes of a Renaissance painter…

I am taking in this mundane, yet extraordinary,  beauty every single day.

Red pearls on a bed of sparkling greens….

A crown of lemon on the crest of a royal meal

Byzantine vibes over a piece of buffalo milk-pudding

Almond milk on home-made breakfast cereal

Ah, I had missed this… Daily choices that connect me to the seasons and to the surrounding landscapes.  Simple and unpretentious tastes that create a playful universe of infinite possibilities for variation.

Somehow, all riches boil down to the air and water that sustain us. To the fire that protects us and to the earth that nourishes us and supports us.


Thessaloniki is opening up its doors.

After the first international night semi-marathon, the art & photo biennale, the traditional film festival, the capital of Northern Greece hosts an open house weekend. A virgin voyage on the sea of architectural extroversion…

It was about time. Despite the mishaps and faults of modern urban planning, this city has an unbroken history of over two thousand years.

In its past, Thessaloniki has been a cultural melting pot, an important center of the Byzantine empire and at  the turn of the last century, a cosmopolitan city.

In the more recent years though, it has been neglected by the central government and disconnected from the rest of the European continent.

I  made an appointment with a friend at 22 Iktinou street  for a guided tour of a thirties’ apartment building, as I did not want this opportunity to pass me by. This chance of supporting the communion of past, present and future.

The queue was long and full of architects to be, but it was beautiful to wait outside on the calm pedestrian street and feel the slight chill of the late afternoon gradually take over.

We rounded up with a drink at the old Ethnic on a walk down the memory lane.

We discovered that the cafe had changed name, but not looks. The colours of the trademark folklore interior boldly invaded the narrow street through the large windows and a door wide-open.

After all, if you have something good inside, why would you keep it to yourself and not share it?

On a bright Swedish summer day of 2012, I walked into a the small Joe Hill museum  in his birthtown of Gävle.

The story of Joe Hill is that of a young man who crossed the Atlantic in 1902 with the hope of a better life. After loosing both of his parents, he needed to cater to his own future. Appalled by the precarious working conditions in place in the New World, he soon became an active member of the IWW, an inclusive workers’ union, open to female and foreign labour force.

Joe Hill was convinced of the power of music and lyrics as a means of conveying important messages to peers and thus became a prolific song-writer for the workers’ cause. His turbulent life ended tragically at the age of 36. He was accused of murder, submitted to a very controversial trial and finally executed in November 1915 in Salk Lake City. The trial and execution are considered to have been an efficient way of eliminating a popular activist.  “Don’t mourn – organize” was his motto.

Walking out into the broad daylight, I could not help but feel sad for the injustice suffered by a young person sacrificed as a pawn in the name of his beliefs.

At the beginning of the 20th century,  workers’ unions asserted the right of those  performing the actual wealth-producing toil to own and control the means of production. This claim is as topical and utopic today as it was back then.

Since then, large numbers of people in the west have landed on the soft cushions of the middle-class, and concerns over the fate of the working class have faded into oblivion. Reaping the  wealth produced by capitalism, our views of the world and of our own situation have changed.

Fundamental principles of human dignity are ostracised as marginal thoughts, labeled as belonging to some extreme political persuasion.

However, the core of  the problem is  the fact that we have been brought up with a fragmented perception of the world that surrounds us. Behind all the layers of right, left, center, low-class, high-class, socialism, and capitalism, there must be some long-standing principles that make up our dignity as human beings. Principles that are inherent to life in society and independent of boxes created in our minds and projected into reality.

If we could wake up from the lethargy of brands and tags, maybe we could live our lives in a more balanced way. Asserting our rights to be happy and wealthy in a non exclusive way, respectful of others.

What is happening in Greece at the moment is a great example of  what takes place  when the vultures of the markets are unleashed in the detriment of true politics.

There are many aspects to the coin. On one hand, the crisis was inevitable. A state impoverished by corruption, and a system favoring the powerful and wealthy was doomed to collapse.

However, the way the crisis is handled is definitively not beyond critics. Austerity measures with dubious support are proposed by the outside and implemented by a puppet-show of politicians. Money has to be produced fast. But how can a failed system be corrected if the weaker strata of society are punished and left without recourse? How is this so much talked about development going to take place. By whom?

I am really not that convinced about the intentions of the European Union to stand united in diversity and support the principles of prosperity and peace on its entire territory.

Big German companies are involved in bribery scandals, war equipment is sold in quid pro quo arrangements to the Greek government at the same time as the Chancellor is going back and forth on the financial support in dramatic negotiations.

It seems that there is no will for a real political solution. Some analysts even claim that Germany may announce a referendum on the euro on the occasion of the 2013 elections.

Capitalism, market economy, plutocracy, debtocracy, dominate the vital space of citizens….

In the meantime, people around me have stopped watching the news and are happy with the mild weather so far. With petrol prices soaring at around 1,30 per litre, people are looking into alternative solutions, including wood, air-co, pellet stoves and natural gas (not available in all parts of Greece). Heating costs are just impossible for a normal household to bear.

During last year’s harsh winter,  my friend and her family slept on mattresses in the living room, at a comfortable distance from the pellet stove.

On the other hand, 3500 persons have killed themselves in acts of desperation, pushed by a stagnating economy and the untouched realities of their personal dramas.

The basic salary is currently set  at 586 euros (collective labor agreements are soon to be cancelled by the disputed loan agreement), and a rental apartment cost at least 200 euros a month.

An unsolved survival-riddle for many in these days when applied mathematics are in full swing.

And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God, Ecclesiastes 3:13″.

Old time-classics never fall out of fashion. Hopefully fads do.

Rustic – that’s the word for Brussels at the heart of autumn. Just like the worn out, jagged edges of the maison de maitre rooftops.

Wholemeal bread, pumpkin soup, Belgian brews and densely populated coffee shops decorated with wooden panels in the colour of stale honey.

Rustic like hard book.covers and apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon.

Twelve  days seemed like a comfortable time span, but my planning falls short. My days are filled up to the brim. I run all my errands on foot and then compensate with generous lunches.

I spend time on the solid friendships built over time and, of course, come to realise that  eleven years cannot be squeezed into a fortnight.

This is it, my postcard from the city of laces, waffers, chocolate and impossible schedules.

After days and days of sunshine, clouds cover the skies of Thessaloniki. The suitcase for my  Brussels evening flight is packed. When I take a walk in the late morning, the air is warm and moist, and a light intermittent rain fills the air.

By the time I am ready to leave the house it literaly pours down.

Perfect weather for daydreaming. When daylight is dimmed and water falls down from the heavens, I always have the impression that the countours of  time and space become blurred.

These days I often think of Kyoto. The power of the rain projects me back to the couple of days spent against a backdrop of high clouded mountains,  rain-kissed japanese gardens, dried fish snacks, silk kimono linings touching the ground,  pagodas piercing the sky and mouth-watering macha ice-cream on sale everywhere.

I spent hours walking around the city on my own. Somehow the most beautiful recollection is finding a dry spot for my lunch in one of the gardens. Entering the wide open door of a small house equipped with benches, hot steaming tea in a thermos and a small altar.

I sat on the bench, sipping my tea and eating out of my lunch-box bought at a nearby grocery store. I watched people passing by in the dampness of the rainy day. When I finished, I paid my respects with a slight bow in front of the altar.

I look out of my Kyoto window and I am in the airport  bus. The oneness of the world is tucked inside my heart like a colourful ribbon.

The rain has retrieved and the clouds over the bay are illuminated in shades of gold. Colours inflame in the sudden light and a rusty leaf suddenly looks as if made of copper.

The smile of a child while wet tears are still dripping off its eye-lashes.

Suddenly, I discover the gigantic rainbow soaring in the ether. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet…

I can’t take my eyes off it.  I just want to tell the passengers next to me to turn around and look, but I don’t do so, and I regret the self-control imposed by the adult mind.

The arch of light ascends over a robust  mass of pale concrete and I know it is the best of omens.


Clockwise, otherwise & likewise

The Chick on a Pea

Clockwise, otherwise & likewise

Sadness Theory

Music with passion for the environment

zee pause café

taking a moment, having a coffee, writing down some thoughts