Monthly Archives: August 2013

My Bucket List – hope you have one too ;)

So, what is it that YOU want to have accomplished before you kick the bucket? This can be a large topic, so, perhaps we can start by making our travel lists! I have several fun trips coming up that I’m very excited about, specially the places I haven’t been to yet. The first of these is New Orleans.

thCA892HF8Also known as the Big Easy, New Orleans, as  all travel buffs know, provides heightened   sensory experiences and is a sheer delight for the gustatory and visual senses! I want to go there for the history and culture, the music and the food! If you’re reading this blog, and have tips for not-to-miss Jazz Clubs, restos,   and dishes to try, please mention them in comments. Thank you! The picture on the left is Bourbon Street, by night!

thCAEU4ITA

Here, on the right, is one of the most famous pictures of the Big Easy, depicting the French Quarter…

 

 

thCALV9P76Again and again, people have found what  they put down in a list, often came true — it’s almost like it becomes a prayer! How about you? What will bring laughter into your heart, a grin to your lips, joy on your face and light in your eyes? Think about it – and make that list…Trust me, you’ll be glad you did! To the left is another view of Bourbon Street…

 Travelling to your favorite places will widen your horizons; change you, and your whole perspective of the world, forever! There are places to see, people to meet, cultures to experience, foods to taste…and as we learn to have a greater understanding of our planet, which opens our hearts and our minds, we also learn to look at our own lives and countries with new appreciative eyes! And to that, I say, SALUD!*

Do you even have a passport? Apply for one today 😉

*In keeping with the tradition of learning to say ‘Cheers’ in different languages, today’s is SALUD — ‘Cheers’ in Spanish, in both Spain and South America. Pronunciation: SAA-LOOD

 

Would you drink this?

The world’s oldest wine bottle in the world dates from approximately 325 A.D. It was one of several found in a sarcophagus of a Roman noble, near the German city of Speyer, but is the only one with the contents still preserved.

bottle2This 1,650-year-old greenish-yellow glass amphora* has dolphin-shaped handles, and is sealed with wax. The ancient liquid has much silty sediment.  About two-thirds of the contents are a thick, hazy mixture.  This is most probably olive oil, which Romans commonly used as a preservative for wine. The oil was layered atop the wine to preserve it from oxidation.  There are several versions of the bottle on the internet. This is one of them, the other is like a normal bottle. I don’t know which one is photoshopped!

article-2072381-0F1F5D2A00000578-93_468x310It has been on permanent display at the Pfalz Historical Museum (pictured right), in Speyer, for more than a century. The museum’s wine department curator, Ludger Tekampe, says: ‘We are not sure whether or not it could stand the shock to the air. It is still liquid.’ According to wine professor Monika Christmann : ‘Micro-biologically it is probably not spoiled, but it would not bring joy to the palate.’

Back to the original question: “Would you drink it?” 😉

*An amphora is a two-handled jar with a narrow neck, used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to carry wine and olive oil.

So, who wants to be happy?

It seems everyone wants to be happy, but most people believe they have no real control over having happiness in their lives. What if I told you that was far from true and that having happiness is only a matter of choosing to be it. If interested to know more, then please read on! I’ll start by asking you to keep an open mind as you read the next few sentences. What if happiness was not related to the gratification of our desires, as most of the world believes? What if it were a deeper sense of peace and joy within, that is present for no reason at all? Does this sound too radical an idea? Why not take a look at what’s being suggested here, and try it out, for some fun for now?

What we’re going to do is, every night, before going to bed, write down in a notebook, 5 things that we can be grateful for, that happened that very day—things that brought us a feeling of joy, happiness, even relief…or any other positive emotion that lifted us up in any way at all. We will call this notebook our ‘Gratitude Journal’. If you wish to write more than 5 items in it then go ahead, but the first 5 reasons for being grateful must be related to events from this same day. After that, you may add whatever else in your life you’re grateful for. After all, knowing we have reasons to be grateful, creates a feeling of well-being, and life takes on a more positive meaning!

What this expressing of gratitude does and how it works is, it almost immediately brings us a feeling of relief, relaxes us at a deep level and changes our brain-chemistry by helping release endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormones , which when present in the body, act as natural painkillers and provide a sense of comfort, wellness and happiness. This breaks the cycle of depression, and the sense of feeling low or run down. Continuing with writing in your ‘Gratitude Journal’ will slowly, but completely alter how you feel each and every day, and happiness will become a habit. And this is where the fun begins: This sense of well-being will attract more of the same to you, because as we know, like attracts like! WE are the magnets that attracts the good or the bad into our lives. You will see that instead of attracting negative circumstances and events in your life, you will gradually begin to attract those that are a reflection of your relaxed and happy inner state, and match it fully. This will begin with baby-steps, so don’t lose faith!

I can’t emphasize enough, that as you go along being positive, and working on changing yourself and evolving as a happier, calmer, more positive person, you will find that you will attract more and more experiences in your life which will make your life more joyful! This WILL happen — guaranteed :)! Now go get that notebook and pen…

Dance — the very rhythm of life…

1_1338416903_flamenco-dancer

…and the very celebration of life! There are dance styles and dance styles, but the one that speaks to each cell of my body, and transports me, is Flamenco — so much so, that it has a core past-life feeling in my body! So, I’m studying it, learning it and for a dance that takes years and years of practice to become sufficiently , I patiently go to my classes, knowing every class makes me just a little better! Oh, and this elegant figure in the red flamenco dress isn’t me, but my perfect image to hold in my mind of a Flamenco dancer, I’d like to dance like one day. Seeing what a late start in life I’ve given myself with it, it’s a good thing I’m good at plodding when I have to do it, without burdening myself with expectations! 😉

Got 29.5 minutes to spare ? Get a cup of coffee or tea, or your favorite tipple if the time is right, and sit back and allow your senses to be drowned in the sheer poetry of this film on flamenco dancing. Please click on this link, http://www.nfb.ca/film/flamenco_at_515 and watch on full screen. This Oscar-winning short film is based on the flamenco classes taught by the two internationally known visiting teachers, Susana, and her husband Antonio Robledo from Spain, at the National Ballet School of Canada. OLÉ!*

*Olé is the Spanish equivalent of ‘bravo’

Pass up dessert? Noooooooooo…

Are you someone who can say NO to dessert? Are you like some who prefer a bag of chips to something sweet? Well, for better or for worse, I just can’t! No matter how full after a meal I am, I have a separate part that needs a sugar hit at the end of a satisfying meal, and indulging her keeps my sweet tooth happy! Dark chocolate truffles…ooooooh! Macarons with tangy fillings…another ooooooh, and this can go on and on! Some Indian sweets have me drooling at the very thought of them. In the absence of good ones nearby, I’ve developed a huge liking for Middle-Eastern ones, specially Lebanese sweets and pastries, that are easily obtainable. In my quest for the finest, there’s one thing I’ve learnt, that there’s baklava, and then there’s the mouth-drooling, soul-satifying kind! The difference?

2013-08-12 14.24.30-1-1Check out this picture! Look again — the freshness comes across even in a photograph! The layers of phyllo, with the topmost layer rising just right, with a shining texture. At the base are coarsely ground nuts, powdered pistachio for decoration, and the moist look from honey conjures words like luscious, delectable, toothsome, ambrosial, and just plain delicious…or  simply, delish, in present day parlance! Any baklava that doesn’t quite bring up the same emotion, isn’t worth the plate it’s served on…

Where I found this above piece is a story in itself! Always on a lookout for high quality gourmet foods, and noticing a Lebanese Patisserie* delivery truck parked outside a café, and noting the excellent quality of the waiting-to-be-delivered wares on the sidewalk, I asked the driver for a list of his clients where I might procure these creations. From his information, went into Presse Café on Berri Street in Montreal, and asked for a piece of the freshly delivered baklava. Well worth every bit of the time spent and effort made! The good man also told me that if I ever wanted bulk quantities, the place to go is Marché al Mizan, at the corner of St. Mathieu and de Maisonneuve streets in Downtown Montreal. Will certainly visit them the next time the sweet tooth bites ;)! If you don’t live in or around Montreal, I hope the above will send you on a quest of your own to find the perfect baklava!

*Patisserie is pastry, or a pastry shop in French! Do you agree with me that pastry doesn’t sound half as tasty and sexy as patisserie? There’s something about the French language that just IS… :)! In fact Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the USA and a Francophile** and oenophile***, said: “Every man has two countries – his own, and France!” Phew – thank you for that Mr. Jefferson…now I can claim France as my own, too!

**A Francophile is a lover of everything French, the country, the culture etc.                          ***An oenophile is a lover and/or a connoisseur of wine and the culture surrounding it

Make Way for Ducklings

thCAPY1DMH

The timing of this blog couldn’t be better! I have many interesting travels coming up the rest of the year, so obviously there’ll be lots to post…blogs and photos. The first of these trips is next week, to Boston, for a travel and blog writing workshop offered by AWAI (of Delray Beach, Fl). 

Although I’ve visited Boston more times than I can remember, and the Boston Common is one place I love to walk through each time, I have somehow always missed seeing the sculptures in the above picture, Make Way for Ducklings* by Nancy Schön.

Looking forward this time to seeing Mrs. Mallard and her babies, before going to the Boston Taj for the Afternoon Tea, described on their website as ‘a refined, relaxed ambiance that’s just right to savor tea and convivial conversation.’ My last time of enjoying the ambience and sharing convivial conversation there, was with my son, daughter-in-law and five year old granddaughter. They introduced me to the place, being one of my son’s favorite haunts in the Boston-Cambridge area.

*The sculpture is based on the book, Make Way for Ducklings, by children’s author Robert McCloskey. It’s the story of ducklings Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack who waddle after their Mother, Mrs. Mallard, looking for a home, which ends up being in the Boston Public Garden, known by its moniker Boston Common.

Teething Troubles – Technology – Tyranny

thThis isn’t me, but it’s how I look today — overwhelmed with the above Ts! The teething troubles of setting up a blog are compounded by the tyranny of being minimally technologically adept. 🙁

Hopefully it’ll all get easier as the days pass! As a complete non-techie I’m just not able to quickly make this blog look like the end-picture I have in my head. Oh well…patience is the name of the game, and I do know where to get the help from — a techie friend, and those nice guys at hostgator.com, my hosting service. In the meantime I’m just going to have fun posting here—the real reason for starting this blog!

Somewhere in the world it’s Happy Hours :)…5 à 7* in French, referring to the p.m. hours! I have stuff to do, but if you have a glass in your hand, then here’s a virtual ‘cheers’ in French, Santé!**

*  Pronounced ‘sank aa set’                                                                                                                          ** Pronounced ‘sawn-tay’ in Parisian French; ‘saan-tay’ in Québec French (The word means ‘health’…an abbreviation of ‘To your health’!)

Hello world!

thCA2JL83E

This blog has been gestating for almost two years now! That’s about as long as it takes an elephant to gestate…LOL! Is it a boy? Is it a girl? In fact, I loved what a friend said, that with the two Ws…Wanderings and Wine, my ‘offsprings’ are twins ;)!

Having these ‘babies’ see the light of day, finally, on August 13 at 12:59 a.m. feels pretty awesome!  Yay, to the TWINS 🙂 … so, one more time, raise that glass, and say “Cin Cin!”*

*Italian for ‘cheers’, and pronounced ‘tchin tchin’. Why ‘cheers’ in Italian? Oh, because it sounds more urbane, and even exotic ;)!