31 December, 2016

Tar Barrel in Dale

A few years back I wrote about the group Unthanks and their New Year's song Tar Barrel in Dale. The song is lovely and inspiring...

"Throughout the year
When we sing this song
Old friends and new friends
Sing along.
May good fortune be with you,
From all sorrows refrain
Till that happy 
When we all meet again."

It is lovely to see the band has continued to grow and grow.

Happy New Year to all!


It has not been an easy year, this 2016! Last year a friend of mine, who knows something about Chinese Horoscope, said 2016 the Year of the Monkey, would mean a lot of trouble. And that is how it turned out!

2017 year is the Year of the Rooster. I am a rooster and so, I thought... hey, sounds good. But, after a perfunctory search, I found out this year does not bode well

So, instead of brooding about whether the next year is going to be unlucky, I decided rather to express my gratitude for all those persons and events that have made 2016 a better place to live.

I am so grateful..for my life companion (husband): you are the foundation of all my love and joy / to my son: who I am so proud of and wishing a good start in his first job after graduation, to my daughter: you are the sunshine of my existence and the bravest woman I know / Shae: so happy to be a part of your journey / 

friends: those near that lovingly share my day-to-day existence and those far (tiny island in the Philippines, Auckland, Singapore (now Sydney), Willimanstown, Montreal, Vancouver) who reach out over skype and bring joy from all over the world / to my refugee ladies: every conversation we have makes my heart grow / to Joan and Catalina: your art changed my thinking about what is possible and how even something temporary can be eternal / 

for the many trips I took this year / 

and lastly, to myself for being such a good Rooster (we are said to be beautiful, kind-hearted, hard-working, courageous, independent, humorous and honest.)

And to each and every one of you who read this post and have been such dear loyal readers all these years. A very very Happy New Year 2017!

21 December, 2016


Our (grown) daughter and son are both making their way home for the holidays from various parts of Germany!

No snow here in the north, but plenty of good cheer.

We've decided on doing a radically low-key Christmas this year. Parents get no presents. Children get three presents (one from mom, dad, and sibling). No tree. A few candles. Very few decorations. And plenty of music.

It's going to be fun to see if we still experience the Christmas spirit.

17 December, 2016

Walkie Talkie

Years ago, when the children were small, I had this need to escape the chaos of the house on occasion. Inevitably, I would end up calling a friend of mine who lived around the corner and ask her whether she wanted to go for a walk. My husband called what we did, walkie talkies, because there was a fair amount of both of these activities going on.

Here we are now, over twenty years later still sharing the daily going-ons. What a treasure a long friendship is.

(The photo above is taken just around the corner from where we live in the city.)

10 December, 2016

Everyone should be a mentor

I met Marie thirteen years ago, when I was working as a researcher at a university computer science research institute. She was 22 years old and she was very very pregnant. She was looking for a supervisor for her Diplom thesis (similar to a Master's).

I was delighted she asked me to be her mentor, but felt a bit of trepidation as to whether she could meet all the challenges of the next months. Four days later, she gave birth to her daughter. A further three weeks on, she successfully wrote all her final exams. She worked hard and completed her thesis with the highest mark a few months down the line.

Marie came to work with me on the project I was working on for a few years. She was amazing: diligent, flexible, pragmatic, but with a healthy portion of fantasy and silliness. It was a joy to work with her.

Eventually, she decided to move to Denmark with her partner and daughter, so her partner could do his PhD. She was 7 months pregnant at that time.  Within weeks, she found a job working as a researcher to help support the family. (Only in Denmark do they hire pregnant women!)  She gave birth to her second daughter. Continued to work and eventually started working on her own PhD.

Marie came to me whenever she needed some advice or a technical editor for her scientific papers. There were a lot of ups and downs in her life, which occasionally made it hard for her to keep her eye on completing her thesis.

Last week, she stayed with me for a few days, so I could help her prepare the defense of her doctorate. It is hard to describe the sense of fierce pride I felt when she called me a few days later to say she has it in the bag!