Category Archives: Traditions

Looking UP: in Mamaia and Constanta, by the Sea

While holidaying in Mamaia at the Black Sea this August we booked a tour in a double-decker bus. Just as spectacular as Brasov or Bucharest, here are some of the sights we spotted while looking up…

Mamaia is one of the oldest Romanian holiday resorts at the Black Sea and one I visited since I was a baby. It is famous for its sandy beaches and endless beach. I almost forgot that one of the hotels there has the same name with my Mom:

Hotel Doina, in Mamaia. My Mother's name is Doina :)
Hotel Doina, in Mamaia. My Mother’s name is Doina 🙂

Here is the same gondola from Mamaia seen at sunset:

The pedestrian crossroad:

Also in Mamaia, looking up from the double-decker bus:

In Constanta, modern buildings often alternate with older houses. ses. Look at this charming balcony. It reminded me of Brasov.

Saint Mary is the Patron Saint of Romanian Naval Forces so 15 August is a massive celebration in Constanta, both Christian and military. We went there two weeks after… Look at all the Romanian flags still adorning the city:

I liked the wave design of this light-post found in Constanta Park, near the Cazino, The statue is that of Carmen Sylva, the pen name of Elisabeth, Queen of Romania 1881-1914.

Two different types of street lights right next to each other:

And look at all those birds:

Now this is not a street light, as it is a beacon light, a signaling light – but not a light house…

Still looking up, Constanta is gorgeous:

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Celebrating South Africa’s Heritage Day through Pictures #nature, #music, #books, #culture

Heritage is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as: (1) property that descends to an heir and this is also the first known use of the word, 13th century; (2) something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor; (3) something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth.

Here, in South Africa, it is the blend of our Rainbow Nation, of our diverse cultures, beliefs and traditions that we celebrate on the 24th of September, on Heritage Day.

In South Africa we love to cook… and eat:

Franschhoek, South Africa, image by @claudiofonte free on Unsplash.jpg
Cooking in Franschhoek, South Africa, image by @claudiofonte free on Unsplash.jpg
Food, image by @adalia free on Unsplash.jpg
Local food, image by @adalia free on Unsplash.jpg
Grilling lobster, Die Strandlooper, West Coast Peninsula, image by Unserekleinemaus, free on pixabay.jpg
Grilling lobster, Die Strandlooper, West Coast Peninsula, image by Unserekleinemaus, free on pixabay.jpg
SA braai by davyart- free pixabay.jpg
SA braai by davyart- free pixabay.jpg
SA biltong. image by Robert-Owen Wahl, free on pixabay.jpg
SA biltong. image by Robert-Owen Wahl, free on pixabay.jpg
Samosa, image by @fitnish free on Unsplash.jpg
Samosa, image by @fitnish free on Unsplash.jpg
Cape Town cakes, image by @unserekleinmaus, free on pixabay.jpg
Cape Town cakes, image by @unserekleinmaus, free on pixabay.jpg
South African koeksisters - food24 dotcom.png
South African koeksisters – food24 dotcom.png

We love music, movies and we love to party:

Festival of colours, Stellenbosch, Sa, image by @nqoe free on Unsplash.jpg
Festival of colours, Stellenbosch, Sa, image by @nqoe free on Unsplash.jpg

We search for the spirit of the great heart:

Johnny Clegg – Publicity Images
Malmesbury, South Africa image by @claudz free on Unsplash.jpg
Malmesbury, South Africa image by @claudz free on Unsplash.jpg
Singers, image by @chvrlz free on Unsplash.jpg
Singers, image by @chvrlz free on Unsplash.jpg

We have more than one Indie Film Festival:

We love the outdoors:

Love for the great outdoors image by @adalia free Unsplash.jpg
Love for the great outdoors image by @adalia free Unsplash.jpg
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, created by @christianperner
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, created by @christianperner
Baby rhino, Kariega Game Reserve, Grahamstown, South Africa, image by @zoeeee_, free on Unsplash.jpg
Baby rhino, Kariega Game Reserve, Grahamstown, South Africa, image by @zoeeee_, free on Unsplash.jpg
Enjoying the sun, Cheetah, image by @elenarosaschneider free on Unsplash.jpg
Enjoying the sun, Cheetah, image by @elenarosaschneider free on Unsplash.jpg
Owl, Dullstroom, South Africa, Image by @kyran12 free on Unsplash.jpg
Owl, Dullstroom, South Africa, Image by @kyran12 free on Unsplash.jpg
Ice-cream man. Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @louis_s, free on Unsplash.jpg
Ice-cream man. Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @louis_s, free on Unsplash.jpg
Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa, image by @faxmachinerobot free on Unsplash.jpg
Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa, image by @faxmachinerobot free on Unsplash.jpg
Kloof, SA, camping,image by @rachel_lees free on Unsplash.jpg
Kloof, SA, camping,image by @rachel_lees free on Unsplash.jpg
Muizenberg Mountains, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @wesleyeland free on Unsplash.jpg
Muizenberg Mountains, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @wesleyeland free on Unsplash.jpg
Waterval Country Lodge, Tulbagh, South Africa, camping, image by @lauren_abrahall free on Unsplash.jpg
Waterval Country Lodge, Tulbagh, South Africa, camping, image by @lauren_abrahall free on Unsplash.jpg

We have a diverse economy:

Cape Town stadium, image by @abo965 free Unplash.jpg
Cape Town stadium, image by @abo965 free Unplash.jpg
Cape Town, SA, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Cape Town, SA, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Kalk Bay Harbour, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @timalanjohnson free on Unsplash.jpg
Kalk Bay Harbour, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @timalanjohnson free on Unsplash.jpg
Sales people, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Sales people, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Train, SA, image by @koalamoose free on Unsplash.jpg
Train, SA, image by @koalamoose free on Unsplash.jpg
wine-lands, image by @matt_j free on Unsplash.jpg
wine-lands, image by @matt_j free on Unsplash.jpg

We are joyful and diverse:

Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, @_entreprenerd
Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, created by @_entreprenerd
friendship. Image by @bella_the_brave free on Unsplash.jpg
friendship. Image by @bella_the_brave free on Unsplash.jpg
happy people Image by @anaya_katlego free Unsplash.jpg
happy people Image by @anaya_katlego free Unsplash.jpg
motherhood image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
motherhood image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
penguin love, Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @pamivey free on Unsplsh.jpg
penguin love, Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @pamivey free on Unsplsh.jpg
people in Limpopo image by @jaimelopes free on Unsplash.jpg
people in Limpopo image by @jaimelopes free on Unsplash.jpg

We use incredible idioms, if you translate them:

And MADIBA, whom we miss each and every day:

Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick, South Africa, image by @randomlies free on Unsplash.jpg
Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick, South Africa, image by @randomlies free on Unsplash.jpg
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5 Remarkable Places You Will Want to Visit After Reading Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for via @PatFurstenberg #travel #castle #monument #history #culture

Whenever I read a book depicting real locations, actual places I can find on a map, a novel in which genuine artwork is described, and tangible, concrete buildings I know I can also visit are part of its setting, I tend to be more immersed in its story-line. The storytelling becomes more credible and, if by chance or choice, I visit those place I find myself immersed in that particular book again and, often, I pick it up and read it again.

On researching location for my latest novel, “Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for” I discovered a few sensational places; some new to me, secrets buried by history and war, others I have heard of but had not known how inspirational and amazing they were. I know, now, that I’d like to visit them all, one day when traveling to Afghanistan for tourism will be a safe endeavor once again.

1. Buddhas of Bamyan

The two Buddhas of Bamyan - the taller and the smaller one, as they once stood since their construction around 500AD and before the Taliban attack in March 2001
The two Buddhas of Bamyan – the taller and the smaller one, as they once stood since their construction around 500AD and before the Taliban attack in March 2001 – Source Wikipedia

“The Taliban did not succeed in wiping out the two Buddhas, but they became unrecognizable as the figures they once were. A cultural, religious, historical and entomological symbol and landmark.
It was a bleak day in human history when something that watched over the valley for 1 500 years was destroyed in a matter of weeks.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

The Buddhan of Bamyan were two colossal statues carved during the 6th century into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley, once along the Silk Road, in the central highlands of Afghanistan, 230 km NW of Kabul, its capital city.

The bodies of the Buddhas were carved in the mountain cliff, while delicate details have been modeled out of mud and straw and coated with stucco for resistance. The faces, hands, and folds of the Buddhas’ robes were painted for an enhanced effect. The big Buddha, 53 m tall, was painted carmine red while the smaller Buddha, 35 m tall, was painted in multiple colors. They represented the Buddhas Vairocana and Sakyamuni.

“Taliban forces operating in Afghanistan had destroyed these colossal statues in March 2001. They started by damaging the Buddha with anti-aircraft firearms and cannons. Yet the damage inflicted was not enough for the Taliban. They returned with anti-tank mines that they placed at the statues bases. When sections of rock broke off, the statues suffered further damage.

And still, they did not stop here.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
Destruction of Buddhas March 21 2001. Source Wikipedia
Destruction of Buddhas March 21 2001. Source Wikipedia

“The Taliban dropped men down the face of the cliff. They had placed explosives into the various grooves found in the Buddhas. The plan was clear, to completely destroy the facial features of the two statues. Maybe a bad understanding of the Quran: Islam condemns idolatry. When one of the blasts could not destroy the facial features of one statue, a rocket was used in its place. It left a hideous gap in whatever was left of the Buddha’s head.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
Taller Buddha of Bamiyan before and after destruction. Source, Wikipedia
Taller Buddha of Bamiyan before and after destruction. Source, Wikipedia

But there is hope.

7 June 2015: Xinyu Zhang and Hong Liang , a Chinese adventurist couple, created a 3D image of the Buddhas and donated projector used for the installation, worth at $120 000. The 3D projection was able to fill once more the void cavities where the two majestic Buddhas once stood.

2. Qala-e Bost Fortress

“Qala-e-Boost or Bost Fort is the remnant of Alexander the Great’s Fortress in Afghanistan. What still stands today from this millennial old fortress is an impressive ruin. Helmand’s crown jewel is located on the east bank of the Helmand River, near Lashkar Gah, a city in southwestern Afghanistan and the capital of Helmand Province.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

Lashkargah, or Lashkar Gah, means “army barracks” in Persian language.

Qala-e-Bost, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia
Qala-e-Bost, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia

“The stones of Qala-e-Boost have seen wars as well as the joys of celebrations. They have known wealth and ruin. Early hymns of the Zoroastrian religion, one of the oldest religions in the world, were once performed here. One of them was the Nowruz, the famous ceremony dedicated to the Sun and marking the Iranian New Year and the Spring Equinox. Along the years Bost fortress has been used as a guard post for the traditional caravan trade from Iran to India. The Mongols, then the Persians have been here too, then the Arabs, even the Russians. Leaders and warriors came here as attested by the terracotta figurines, the inscribed seals, and the many coins discovered here, and then they left. Still, Bost remained.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
The famous arch at Qala-i-Bust or Bost, in Helmand. Source Wikipedia
The famous arch at Qala-i-Bust or Bost, in Helmand. Source Wikipedia

” At noontime, the sun spat yellow venom over the desert surrounding the ruins of the Qala-e-Bost fortress, over this war-cursed land where a misconceived culture and an overpowering international necessity to meddle fatalistically merged, long-stalling the Afghan peace process.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

What is amazing about Qala-e-Bost Fortress is not what is visible above the ground, but what is hidden underneath, the entire Bost castle, 5 levels, being in the shape of a well hidden underground.

Qala-e-Bost Fortress as seen in“Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for"
Qala-e-Bost Fortress as seen in“Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for”

“As an eerie glow spread over the flat expanse of sand, from his high point Marcos caught a glimpse of what Qala-e-Bost’s crumbling walls would have been in its time of glory. No longer a ghostly silhouette, a mere reminder of an existence long forgotten, but a castle again.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

I researched so much about this underground castle that stood the test of time. It would be incredible to walk its corridors, to see the light bouncing from the walls of its shaft, to hear the echoes of history as it was buried in its secret rooms.

3. An Afghan garden

Gardening says a lot about the nurturing abilities of a person. When an entire population has a gift for gardening it means that they have peace in their hearts and know the value of life.

An Afghan garden
An Afghan garden

I was amazed to discover how much gardening means to the Afghan people and how connected they are to their roots, to the soil of Afghanistan, nurturing or arid. How inventive the Afghans proved to be, making the best out of each situation, when it comes to gardens.

I tried to depict their nurturing nature in the pages of “Silent Heroes“.

“Afghans are gardeners at heart, did you know? Before they are mujahideen or insurgents or Taliban-bloody-criminals, they love to garden.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

4. A Military Base in Afghanistan

Military camp at Bagram, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia
Military camp at Bagram, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia

During the two years plus it took me to research and write “Silent Heroes” I researched in depth the living conditions of the US Marines deployed in Afghanistan and of all the military fighting there.

2012 army photo competition.Amateur Portrait category runner-up Cpl Dawson and his dog Lightning rest up in TCP West.Picture Captain Richard Willing MoD Crown Copyright via Getty Images
Army Photographic Competition 2012. In this handout image supplied by the Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright, photo entitled ‘LIGHTNING AND HIS HANDLER’, depicting Cpl Dawson and his dog Lightning rest up in TCP West. (Army Amateur Portrait category runner up; Photo by Captain Richard Willing/MoD/Mandatory Credit Crown Copyright via Getty Images)

What is outstanding is the level of organization and, at the same time, the little comfort these amazing soldiers put up with every day in order to do their duty towards their own countries and to keep peace for us all.

And anything reminding them of home is treasured. Like the small American flag in the image below.

A U.S. Marine looks out from his post in September at Bost airfield in Helmand province. Andrew Renneisen-Getty Images
A U.S. Marine looks out from his post in September at Bost airfield in Helmand province. Andrew Renneisen-Getty Images

“Between the building and the sheet of the tent was a corridor-wide enough for a human to pass through, two would have to negotiate. From a drain pipe facing the main door hung a small size American flag, the one civilians wave on the 4th of July, its sole purpose of connecting them with home.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

5. A field of poppies

In Afghanistan, poppies – opium poppies – mean death and poverty. I, “Silent Heroes” I tried to explain the vicious cycle that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan means. It was fascinating to learn how it started, why, and what its consequences meant for the Afghan population as well as internationally.

A soldier walking past a poppy field in Afghanistan
A soldier walking past a poppy field in Afghanistan

“The hamlet’s reputation of frightfulness came from the complete lack of vegetation. As if the poppy field that once flourished nearby sucked away any drop of water that might have concentrated in the adjacent earth, like some type of incongruous alien.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

International affairs and their local implications are never as simple as they appear at the beginning.

“So ‘The Golden Triangle’ (Burma, Thailand, Laos) was soon replaced by ‘The Golden Crescent’ (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran).”

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
World Map Opium Heroin. Golden Triangle. Golden Crescent. Source Wikipedia
World Map Opium Heroin. Golden Triangle. Golden Crescent. Source Wikipedia

Still, there is something magical about a field of poppies. I think that poppies seeds, with their ability to remain dormant throughout the years, are a fantastic representation of what hope and resilience is all about. Never give up.

Maybe because poppy has a long association with Remembrance Day. Why? Scarlet poppies (popaver rhoeas) grow naturally in conditions of disturbed, arid earth throughout the world. Poppies grew naturally after the Napoleonic wars of the 19th Century and again on battlefields of WW1.

An old, happy short-haired pointer dog in a poppy field at sunset
An old, happy short-haired pointer dog in a poppy field at sunset

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, “In Flanders Fields”

I hope you enjoyed reading about the five locations that inspired and amazed me while writing “Silent Heroes“.

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for – New Contemporary Fiction by Patricia Furstenberg

Do you have a favorite place you read about in a book?

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Searching for the spirit of the great heart, Johnny Clegg, musical activist, pioneer, anthropologist – in Memoriam via @PatFurstenberg

I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart
To hold and stand me by
I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart
Under African sky
I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart
I see the fire in your eyes
I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart
That beats my name inside

Johnny Clegg, Great Heart

News headlines enter and leave my mind as I drive through the morning traffic, my eyes focused on the row of blinking lights ahead of me.

Rarely a news headline catches my full attention, extracting me from the traffic, my mind searching for all the info it has on the subject.

Johnny Clegg, musician and activist, pioneer, anthropologist, dancer, songwriter and all-round South African past away on 16th of July 2019.

Johnny Clegg the musician

What was so special about the music of Johnny Clegg?

It was simply infectious, a spirited blend between Western pop and African Zulu rhythms.

In France Johnny Clegg was fondly called Le Zulu Blanc – the white Zulu.

Johnny Clegg sharing a song on stage with Nelson Mandela

Johnny Clegg, musician pioneer

Johnny Clegg was born in the UK, to an English father and Zimbabwean mother who later moved to South Africa and remarried.

It was Johnny’s stepfather, a crime reporter, who took Johnny into the townships of South Africa at an early age thus exposing Johnny to a different cultural perspective.

Johnny formed his first band, Juluka, at the age of 17, with Sipho Mchunu.

Later, Johnny Clegg was one of the first South African musicians to perform in a mixed-race musical performance – this would have been the ’70s. His music received ovations in Europe and America.

Johnny Clegg’s song Scatterlings of Africa was his first entry into the UK Charts. This song was also featured on the soundtrack to the 1988 Oscar-winning film Rain Man.

Copper sun sinking low
Scatterlings and fugitives
Hooded eyes and weary brows
Seek refuge in the night
They are the scatterlings of Africa
Each uprooted one
On the road to Phelamanga
Where the world began
I love the scatterlings of Africa
Each and every one

Johnny Clegg, Scatterlings of Africa

A live history lesson with Johnny Clegg:

In the video above South African Legend Nelson Mandela joins Johnny Clegg on stage during the rendition of Asimbonanga, a song written by Johnny Clegg about Mandela’s 27 years of incarceration.

Johnny Clegg has performed on all four of Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Aids Awareness Concerts in South Africa and in Norway.

Johnny Clegg’s passing away was two days ahead of the Mandela’s 101 years birthday anniversary.

International Awards (as per Johnny Clegg Oficial page)

Johnny Clegg on stage – Credit: Real Concerts

1988 The Mayor’s Office of Los Angeles Award: For the promotion of racial harmony
1988 Le Victoire French Music Industry Award for biggest International record album sold in France between 1987 and 1988 (1.3 million albums)
1989 Honorary Citizen of the town of Angouleme, France
1990-1991 French Music Industry Award for the biggest selling world music album in France
1990 Humanitarian Award: Secretary of State of Ohio, USA
1991 Awarded the CHEVALIER DE L’ORDRE DES ARTS ET DES LETTRES (Knight of Arts and Letters) by the French Government
1993 GRAMMY AWARD nomination for best World Music Album (Heat, Dust and Dreams)
1994 Billboard Music Award Best World Music Album
1996 Medal of Honour – city of Besancon
1998 Kora Awards: Best African Group
2004 Mayoral Medal of Honour from Mayor of Lyon, France, for outstanding relations between the people of Lyon and South Africa
2004 Medal of Honour – Consul General of the Province of Nievre
2004 Medal of Honour – Consul General of the Province of L’Aisne

South African Awards (as per Johnny Clegg Oficial page)

1986 Scotty Award : Master Music Maker
1987 Communication Contribution Award
1987 The Autumn Harvest Music Personality Award
1988 OK TV Best Pop Music Award
1988 CCP Record Special Award : In recognition of exceptional achievement in promotion of South African music internationally
1989 Radio 5 – Loud & Proud Award – South African Music Ambassador of the Year
1990 FOYSA Award (Four Outstanding South Africans) Junior Chamber of Commerce
1999 Avanti Award – Best Music Video “Crocodile Love”

Johnny Clegg, his final world tour

Johnny Clegg’s passing will leave an immense gap in both local and international musical and cultural scenes.

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Orthodox Easter Eggs, folktales, symbolism, traditions via @patfurstenberg #culture #history

It was an erstwhile custom that a mother, no matter how elderly or ailing she felt, would take it upon herself to bring food to her lad bided elsewhere as soon as the snow thawed and the first white spring shoots pierced the ground.

A folktale tells that Mary, the mother of Jesus, took it upon herself to visit Jesus in Jerusalem and thus she packed a basket with fresh eggs. It wasn’t much else she could take him, Herod having just increased his taxes, again.

The road was winding through the verdant green hills of Judea and Mary’s heart felt light for each step brought her hither to her son, which she hasn’t seen in a long time. As the morning progressed her own shadow became but a puddle by her feet. Soon enough the basket began feeling heavier and heavier in her work-worn hand and her steps became slower and slower and she felt like her journey to Jerusalem had become a quest for shade. Not many trees were in bloom so as soon as Mary spotted a stream sheltered by a little arbor she quickened her step and stopped to cool and quench her thirst. It was a thirst like she had never felt before.  So she looked about and decided to stop for a few moments.

The stream singed and Mary saw a new nest above her head and smiled. Life was precious. The water moved softly over her fingers and, when she removed her hand, a few droplets lingered on her fingers. She brought the hand to her eyes and smiled, a whole life scene embedded in those tiny see-through pearls.

It was a peaceful moment and life’s moments were just like this string of beads following each other on her outstretched hand. Each one connected to the next, stronger together. Filled with love.

But it was time to move along. Before getting up something tugged at her heart and Mary lifted the white cotton fabric that covered the basket to see if the eggs were still in good shape.

A dreadful sight unfolded before her eyes. It was as if the sun had stopped shining, no gurgling from the stream could glide through the air and all proof of life on earth had been stamped out.

The eggs had turned blood red and the Blessed Mother of Jesus understood that the time had come for her son to pay for our sins. But she was first a mother and he was her baby boy and so she wept, Mary did, and as her tears rolled down her cheeks and dripped onto the blood covered eggs they drew patterns, a cross, a star, lines and spirals.

When Mary reached the place where Jesus hang on the cross, she laid the basket at his feet and kneeled to pray. Then Jesus spoke and asked her not to cry for Him, but to share those blessed eggs with the people who believe in His resurrection.

***

This is why on the Orthodox Easter we color boiled eggs in red, we draw patterns on them and we share them with our loved ones, family, friends, colleagues, knocking egg against egg and saying: “Christ has risen,” and answer “It is true He has risen.”

Red easter eggs on the grass with flowers and blowballs, naturally colored easter eggs with onion husks. Happy Easter, Christian religious holiday.

The symbolism of the Easter egg

The hard shell of the egg symbolizes the sealed Tomb of Christ.

The cracking of the egg (through knocking) symbolizes His Resurrection.

The Ritual of coloring Easter Eggs

It is said that coloring Easter eggs is a sacred ritual. The day when one colors the eggs is special and no other activity will take place.

On counting the eggs that are to be colored, one doesn’t begin with one, but with “one thousand”, thus bringing wealth in the house for the remainder of the year.

The paint was already prepared, using different plants for different colors. GREEN – was made from walnut leaves, sweet apple skin. RED came from the leaf of a sweet apple, corn leaves or thyme. A special flower was used for YELLOW. Oregano was used to give the colored eggs a heavenly perfume.

The room where the eggs were painted was also special. No worried or upset person was allowed to step inside and no bad rumors or news of people who just passed away were allowed to reach the ears of the egg-painter.

Easter egg color symbolism

Easter eggs are nowadays colored in a rainbow of shades.

WHITE – means purity

RED – symbolizes the blood of Christ and life

BLUE – symbolizes the sky above, uniting us all

BLACK – means fertility

GREEN – means nature

YELLOW – symbolizes sun and energy

Orthodox Easter Egg Design Symbolism

A straight vertical line means life.

A straight horizontal line means death.

A double straight line symbolizes eternity.

A rectangle pattern – symbolizes thought and knowledge.

A sinuous line symbolizes water and purity.

A spiral means time and eternity.

A double spiral symbolizes the connection between life and death.

Cross – symbol for Christianity

A cross with additional small crosses at the end of each arm is a Russian cross.

A star – is called the “shepherd’s star”

A monastery – symbol of Christianity

Other motives used for decorating Easter eggs: bees, frogs, snakes, lambs, garden tools, fir tree, tulip, wheat.

Other traditions call for all the family members to wash their faces with fresh water on Easter morning, water from a container that holds a red egg and a silver coin. It is believed that the red egg brings good luck, good health, warn off evil spirits and all spells.

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Notre-Dame de Paris, a Visit before the April 2019 fire via @patfurstenberg #NotreDame #tourism #culture #poetry

Over 12 millions tourists visit Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris every year. It may seem like a vast number, but compare it to the billions who haven’t even heard of this breathtaking, this époustouflante church nestled on a tiny island in the City of Lights and you can consider yourself lucky to be one of those few millions. We were. We are, went through my mind as we dumbfounded witnessed her (for the French consider their monuments of art to be of feminine genre) burn on in the evening of Monday 15 April 2019 during a LIVE TV broadcast . We’ve visited the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris in August 2018. I want to share with you a tiny fraction of the marvels we saw.

Getting there…

To visit “Our Lady of Paris” or The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris on Ile de la Cité (one of the two Parisian islands on Seine) you can take the Line 4 metro (M4 purple) or use one of the five bridges that connect the island to the rest of Paris. Do use the metro (Métropolitain, Métro de Paris) when in Paris, it is super fast, reliable, easy to use and super fun.

The Ile de la Cité metro station (stop for the Notre Dame Cathedral) was opened on 10 December 1910 .

Metropolitan - Cite Metro station near Notre-Dame de Paris - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg.jpg
Metropolitan – Ile de la Cite Metro station near Notre-Dame de Paris

Here is the first sight of the Paris Notre Dame Cathedral, the precious 300 foot (91.44 meters) spire lost in the fire that engulfed most of this magnificent church in April 2019.

The Notre Dame’s spire was a key component of the Paris skyline and it one of the first things you see as you search for this medieval cathedral. Perhaps not many know that this spire, first erected in 13th century, was damaged before, at the end of 18th century and replaced in 19th century using a design by architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc.

Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris and spire – as seen from Ile de la Cite Metro station, August 2018

Slender arm outstretched

She reaches for her Father.

Notre Dame’s spire.

(Spire, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

From the metro station, as you hurried footsteps take you along Rue de Lutèce then Rue de la Cité and you round the corner towards left, you are suddenly rewarded, faced with a beautiful square bordered by shady trees and behind it, closer than it might appear and so modest in its centuries-old fame, awaits, always awaits, the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris.

Notre Dame Cathedral facade -  photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral facade

Icon, Gothic bride,

Graced with long lines, rose windows.

Awaits your prayers.

(Notre Dame of Paris, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a place of worship before being a historical landmark.

Front facade (west facade):

As in any Christian church, the altar faces east, away from us. The main entrance will therefore be through west. As you stand in front of the cathedral, left hand side is north, right hand side is south.

Notice the two 69-meter (228-feet) tall towers and the spire (at the back) raising between them. The famous bell sounded by Victor Hugo’s Quasimodo is the North Tower (left side and slightly bigger). The South Tower (right) houses the cathedral’s famous and oldest bell, “Emmanuel” (recast in 1631). This bell was the only one that was not melted down to become a cannon during the French Revolution.

Also worth noticing are: the “Galerie des Chimères” or Grand Gallery – it connects the two towers. Here is where the cathedral’s legendary gargoyles (chimères) are found and the King’s Gallery (a line of 28 statues of Kings of Judah and Israel – placed right above the three arches or portals).

Notre Dame Cathedral -West entrance and facade- photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral -West entrance and facade: North (left) and South (right) towers, the spire showing between them, the Grand Gallery and the King’s Gallery underneath.

Of hope and promise

Her white rose blooms set in stone.

A new beginning.

(Rose Window, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

Right in the middle of the west facade is the beautiful West Rose Window dating from about 1220. It is 9.6meters in diameter and its glass was recreated in the 19th century.

A rose window is any circular widow, especially used in Gothic style constructions and depicting a detailed design like a multi-petaled rose. Why a rose? Perhaps because the rose flower is a symbol of balance, of hope and new beginnings.

Notre Dame Cathedral rose window exterior - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – the West Rose window exterior also known as The Virgin’s Balcony

All along the front of the west rose window is the balcony of the Virgin with the statue of the Virgin with Child guarded by two angels Do you notice how the rose window forms a halo behind the statues of Mary and those of the angels?

Notre Dame Cathedral rose window exterior statues - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral rose window exterior statues

Pure eternal bliss,

Angel kiss on baby’s cheek.

Our Mother’s love.

(Mother Love, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

On the main, west facade of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris one cannot miss the three (west) portals (not identical), magnificent examples of early Gothic art. They were sculpted in the 13th century with the purpose of teaching bible lessons to the peasants that could not read, but came all the way to this church to pray to God.

Notre Dame Cathedral under sunlight - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral under sunlight

She always awaits.

Sun, mist, snow… blazing fire.

Our blessed Lady.

(Notre Dame, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

The Center Portal – The Last Judgment Portal

This is the largest of the three portals. The space between two portals is called a buttresses. Each buttress has a niche that houses a statue.

Notre Dame Cathedral - west entrance detail above main portal - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – west entrance detail above central portal – the tympanum

The sculpture above depicts the Last Judgement. Above the sculpture thee are archivolts with lots pf saint sculptures.

The Right Portal – Portal of St. Anne (the Virgin Mary’s mother)

The Left Portal – Portal of the Virgin

Notice the three parts of the tympanum. On the top part there is a scene depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, with an angel crowning Mary.

Underneath, the top lintel depicts the Death of the Virgin – Mary lies on her death bed surrounded by Jesus and the 12 Apostles. Underneath is the bottom lintel with three Old Testament prophets (left) and three Old Testament kings (right) holding scrolls with Christ ‘s prophecies.

Notre Dame Cathedral - left portal photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – left portal

Solid, tactile pray

Centuries encased in stone.

Hopeful new whispers.

(Statue, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

Notre Dame Cathedral - West entrance left portal - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – West entrance left portal, Virgin Mary’s

On the left side of Saint Mary’s portal there are the door-jamb statues: Emperor Constantine, an angel, Saint Denis holding his head, another angel.

Notre Dame Cathedral - Saint Denis holding his head and two angel- photo Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – Saint Denis holding his head and two angel – left side of Virgin Mary’s Portal

On the right side of Saint Mary’s portal there are more door-jamb statues: Saint John the Baptist, Saint Stephen, Saint Genevieve and Pope Saint Sylvester.

Notre Dame Cathedral - Statues of Saint John the Baptist, Saint Stephen, Saint Genevieve, Pope Saint Sylvester on Portail de la Vierge - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg.jpg
Notre Dame Cathedral – Statues of Saint John the Baptist, Saint Stephen, Saint Genevieve, Pope Saint Sylvester on right side of Portal de la Vierge

Between the two doors of Virgin Mary’s portal there is a statue of Mary and Child. When we visited Notre Dame of Paris there was a bird’s nest in Mary’s crown… Always hope.

Madonna with Child, Portal of the Virgin -Notre Dame Cathedral - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Madonna with Child, Portal of the Virgin -Notre Dame Cathedral

Shelter in winter,

Cover from rain, blazing sun.

Love’s many faces.

(Mary’s Love, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

At the very left of Virgin Mary’s portal (the left portal) is the Statue of Saint Stephen.

Saint Stephen -Notre Dame Cathedral - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Saint Stephen -Notre Dame Cathedral

Here is a view at the King’s Gallery (a line of 28 statues of Kings of Judah and Israel) – above the three west portals. The original statues were placed there in the 13th century. Sadly, during the French Revolution they were mistaken for kinds, pulled down and decapitated. New statues were later sculpted by Geoffroi-Dechaume. In 1977, 143 remains of the decapitated statues were discovered and can now be seen at the Middle-Ages Museum (Hôtel de Cluny).

To be so small…

Notre Dame Cathedral - looking up 2. photo by Lysandra Furstenberg.jpg
Notre Dame Cathedral – looking up

I am child again,

Safety, acceptance, peace, love.

In God’s Home, my church.

(Home, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

Notre Dame Cathedral - looking up. photo by Lysandra Furstenberg.jpg

Inside the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris before the April 2019 fire

A view along the enormously tall and long nave (130 meters long, with double isles left and right), towards the altar, while standing in the (west) entrance. The nave can accommodate 6500 worshipers.

All the columns that support the vault are identical, although they reach different parts of the six part vault. Because of this our eye is led all the way to the altar.

Notre Dame Cathedral ceiling main nave view 1 - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – the ceiling above main nave view 1

Right above the altar rose the Cathedral’s flèche or spire that sadly collapsed in a mass of led and charred wood in the April 2019 fire.

The Altar

solemn interior of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris with stained glass windows and altar with cross and crucifix - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
solemn interior of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris with stained glass windows and altar with cross and crucifix

Left and right of the high altar are the kneeling statues of Louis XIII and Louis XIV. At the back we have a glimpse of theouble ambulatory.

Notre Dame Cathedral view of High Altar and Pieta - photo by Lysandra Frustenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral view of High Altar and Pieta

In front of the cross found on the altar is the Pietà statue by Nicolas Coustou. They both escaped unharmed from the April 2019 fire. How unbelievably amazing is that, considering that the spire that collapsed rose right above them? Did you know that pietà means “pity”, “compassion’? A pietà is Christian art sculpture depicting
the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus.

Notre Dame Cathedral view of High Altar and Pieta 2 - photo by Lysandra Frustenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral view of High Altar and Pietà – close up

The Rose Windows

The North rose window, 12,9 meters in diameter, has almost all the original stained glass dating back to the 13th century. Its central medallion is dedicated to Virgin Mary.

A beautiful N rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral-photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
A North beautiful rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral including lower 18 vertical windows
Notre Dame Cathedral - N rose window (about 1260, rebuilt in 1861) photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
The north rose window of Notre Dame, Paris. Built in 1250 AD rebuilt in 1861

Sun’s prayer on glass,

Life giving rainbow indoors.

Bright, solid liquid.

(Stained Glass, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

The South rose window, 12.9 m in diameter, 84 panes ( donated by King St. Louis and installed around 1260) was affected by the French Revolution and both World Wars. Its stained glass window dates from 1845. The south window is dedicated to Christ as south receives the most sunlight, more illumination (in the northers hemisphere) – associated with the coming again of Christ thus being the most alight between the two rose windows of the transept.

Looking up towards a beautiful S rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral-photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Looking up towards a beautiful South rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral

After multiple repairs throughout the centuries its panes are now out of order. The architect Viollet-le-Duc rotated the entire rose with 15° to create horizontal and vertical axes for stability in the masonry.

Notre Dame Cathedral South rose stained window and ceiling - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral south rose stained window and ceiling

The Stained Glass Windows

Beautiful lighting through the stained windows. The lighting inside the Notre Dame Cathedral is never the same as the outside daylight plays different shades on its stained glass windows.

Notre Dame Cathedral - stained glass windows detail -photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – stained glass windows detail

The elegant stained windows of Notre Dame Cathedral depict religious stories. Although some of them were destroyed during the World Wars, some are even originals from the Middle Ages.

Above the isle there is a (with windows as well) and above are the clerestory windows. Notice there is one arch on the bottom level, then three arches above, then the windows.

Notre Dame Cathedral stained glass windows along the North and South aisles
Notre Dame Cathedral stained glass windows along the North and South aisles

Shimmers in the air,

Red, green, yellow, blue – festoon.

My prayers upbeat.

(Church Mood, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

The original clerestory windows were just a rose window and up above was just wall. The cathedral was much darker. So below, the left bottom image shows an original clerestory window (except that above the round window it would have been wall).

Notre Dame Cathedral stained glass windows  - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral stained glass windows

Lighting with color through the stained glass windows of the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris.

The clerestory windows are the little windows right at the top. They have no crosspiece dividing the light.

Notre Dame Cathedral - clerestory windows, photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – clerestory windows

The light pouring through a stained glass window always differ – with your distance from the window, the angle you see the window at, the time of day or season. It is always a good idea to revisit a church, if time permits. It will be a whole new experience. Spiritually too.

Notre Dame Cathedral - Saint Mary Statue and stained glass window in one of the side altars of the ambulatory - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – Saint Mary Statue and stained glass window in one of the side altars of the ambulatory

Each stained glass window has a biblical story to tell.

Notre Dame Cathedral - stained glass windows details - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – stained glass windows details

Is this statue looking away from us or is he absorbed by something small, at his feet?

Notre Dame Cathedral - statue in the aisle - notice the high vaults and the inner row of columns- photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – statue in the aisle – notice the high vaults and the inner row of columns

The Chandeliers

There are 27 chapels inside Notre Dame of Paris, their entrances marked by chandeliers. These chandeliers are a symbol of the light of God and were know as “Crowns of Light” during the Middle Ages.

Notre Dame Cathedral - columns and chandeliers - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – columns and chandeliers

Lighting up a candle is such a personal, spiritual experience.

Notre Dame Cathedral - prayer candles - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – prayer candles

Heart wrenched secrets, hopes.

Embodied in a flicker.

Candles speak to God.

(Candles, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

The Transept

The transept, perpendicular on the nave, forms the big body cross of a church. Notre Dame of Paris has a rather narrow transept as it has been built after its nave. At each end of the transept we find a big, rose window, the North and the South.

Notre Dame Cathedral ceiling main nave view 2 - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg.jpg
Notre Dame Cathedral ceiling main nave view above the transept.

If memory serves me right, this medallion mural of Mary and Jesus surrounded by gold stars on blue sky was in the middle of transept, above the altar. The great spire would have rose above it.

Notre Dame Cathedral ceiling mural - Mary and Jesus gold stars on blue sky photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral ceiling mural – Mary and Jesus gold stars on blue sky

Brighter than the moon

In its magical glory.

Prayer for my home.

(Star, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

The area where the choir members sit is located behind the transept and shielded by this Gothic wood screen.

Notre Dame Cathedral interior detail, stone column and wooden panel depicting the life of Jesus- photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral interior detail, stone column and wooden panel depicting the life of Jesus

Medieval wood sculpture on the chancel screen in Notre Dame de Paris depicting biblical scenes – below.

Medieval wood sculpture on the chancel screen in Notre Dame de Paris depicting biblical scenes - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Medieval wood sculpture on the chancel screen in Notre Dame de Paris depicting biblical scenes

Great image standing in the ambulatory, looking up through one of the arches, looking up into the vault. Have you ever tried to steal an unconventional peek inside a cathedral or museum? See things from a different perspective, literally.

Notre Dame Cathedral - interior 1- photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – interior

This would be a view from the North ambulatory. You can see the North Rose Window and the stained glass windows of the north aisle.

Notre Dame Cathedral - interior 1- photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – interior

The Vaulted Ceiling

Notice the six part of the 12th century vault. The clerestory windows are 13th century.

Notre Dame Cathedral - vaulted ceiling - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – vaulted ceiling

One lesson I learned from our visit to France: always look up. The ceilings, the vaults are often overlooked and are simply magnificent. A work of art in their own right. Just think of all the forces that keep them together. Right above your head.

Notre Dame Cathedral - vaulted ceiling 2- photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – vaulted ceiling

On each side of the vault notice the isle, above it the galley (with windows as well) and above the clerestory windows. What a beautiful elevation.

The Pipe Organ

Notre Dame Cathedral - view along the nave towards the main entrance and vaulted ceiling - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – view along the nave towards the main entrance and vaulted ceiling

I love the space above my head when I sit in a church.

Notre Dame Cathedral - view of organ, West rose window and Angel statue standing above the main entrance - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – view of organ, West rose window and Angel statue standing above the main entrance

Did you know that your entry in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, is blessed by this Angel placed atop the entry doors?

Notre Dame Cathedral - Angel statue standing above the main entrance - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – Angel statue standing above the main entrance

Bless  those near by,

Hear their prayers, see their hearts.

Sings the Angel still.

(Notre Dame Angel, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

The Notre Dame Cathedral Great Organ was one of the world’s most famous musical instruments consisting of almost 8 000 pipes, playing five keyboards, parts of it dating back to medieval times. It has been often renovated over the years but it still contained pipes from the Middle Ages before the April 2019 fire.

Notre Dame Cathedral Pipe Organs and West Rose window - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral Pipe Organs and West Rose window – photo by Lysandra Furstenberg

Sculptures

Christ on cross-great bronze crucifix was a gift from Napoleon III. Napoleon III (Louis-Napoleon) married here Empress Eugénie de Montijo in 1853. He was 45 years old, she was 23 and would not succumb to his charms without a marriage. Later Napoleon III
restored the flèche, or spire, of this Cathedral, a work carried by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.

It was Napoleon I, Napoleon Bonaparte, to be crowned King in Notre Dame Cathedral on 2 December 1804.

Notre Dame Cathedral -Christ on cross-great bronze crucifix was a gift from Napoleon III. photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral -Christ on cross-great bronze crucifix was a gift from Napoleon III.

A painted wood sculpture in scenes from the life of Christ, the risen Christ appears to the holy women, Wood painted panel inside Notre Dame Cathedral

Scenes from the life of Christ, the risen Christ appears to the holy women, Wood painted panel inside Notre Dame Cathedral. Image by Lysandra Furstenberg
Scenes from the life of Christ, the risen Christ appears to the holy women, Wood painted panel inside Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral - Virgin Mary icon and painted statue - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – Virgin Mary icon and painted statue

So much dedication and work goes in a sculpture. Dare I compare it to the work that it is poured inside a novel?

Notre Dame Cathedral - interior: stone carving and column detail - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – interior: stone carving and column detail

Cloister detail in Notre Dame Cathedral, interior -Statue and stained glass window

Notre Dame Cathedral interior = Statue and stained glass window - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral interior -Statue and stained glass window

Hopeful stretching towards the sky.

North facade of Notre Dame showing the exterior of the north rose window - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
North facade of Notre Dame showing the exterior of the north rose window

A different view of the Notre Dame Cathedral: from atop the Eiffel Tower.

Notre Dame Cathedral seen from top Eiffel Tower - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral seen from top Eiffel Tower

“But noble as it has remained while growing old, one cannot but regret, cannot but feel indignant at the innumerable degradations and mutilations inflicted on the venerable pile, both by the action of time and the hand of man, regardless alike of Charlemagne, who laid the first stone, and Philip Augustus, who laid the last. On the face of this ancient queen of our cathedrals, beside each wrinkle one invariably finds a scar. ‘Tempus edax, homo edacior,’ which I would be inclined to translate: ‘Time is blind, but man is senseless.’” (Victor Hugo – The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

Embedded in the stone and concrete outside the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris is this geographic marker. It is used to measure all distances away from Paris. It is Paris Point Zero.

All roads lead to Notre Dame Cathedral
All roads lead to Notre Dame Cathedral – Paris Point Zero.

A useful detailed floor plan of Notre Dame Cathedral, source Wikipedia. When visiting a monument or a museum having a detailed floor plan is an excellent idea.

The Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris - floor plan. Source wikipedia
The Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris – floor plan.

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This Valentine’s Day, Say #IDONT To Child Marriage

This Valentine’s Day, Say #IDONT To Child Marriage

What thoughts come to mind when you’re thinking of Valentine’s Day? Your partner’s affection? Chocolate and champagne? The heartwarming feeling of knowing that your child is secretly crafting you a card?

Perhaps you choose not to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and that is all right. It is our human right – freedom of thought and expression.

Imagine yourself forced into marrying a stranger, brutally removed from your home with no right to further your studies or earn money, forced into home labour, having children and being beaten up for the smallest mistakes – even forced into prostitution. Unable to voice your pain, having no one to listen to you.

Millions of children around the world are forced into such a marriage, against their will and without the slightest knowledge of how it will shape their future – how their lives, their physical and emotional wellbeing will be affected.

Child marriage is a human rights violation. Although the law is against it, this practice – often seen as a tradition – is widespread in rural and impoverished communities, where gender inequality is prevalent. In developing countries, one in nine girls is married under the age of 15. Unfortunate families and their children become locked in a vicious cycle of poverty that will engulf future generations.

By ending child marriage, these girls will be able to finish school, delay motherhood, find decent jobs, be able to provide for their families, live fulfilled lives and be removed from the cycle of generational poverty – as well as improve the economy.

Ukuthwala is a traditional practice that takes place in South Africa the practice of abducting young girls and forcing them into marriage, often with the consent of their parents. It occurs mainly in rural parts of South Africa – in particular, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The girls who are involved in this practice are frequently underaged, including some as young as eight.

“If a family has six children and there is a daughter the family cannot support, it is a way of getting rid of her,” said professor Deidre Byrne, chairperson of the Unisa-Africa Development Programme set up to promote girls’ rights.

Although originally this practice was not intended to be an abuse of human rights, throughout the years and perhaps due to poverty, the practice has changed, and girls are no longer given a choice. Financial reasons can force the girl’s parents to accept the marriage; on the other side, the girl is often rejected by her own family if she tries to escape.

More than 91,000 South African girls between the ages of 12 and 17 are reportedly married, divorced, separated, widowed or living with a partner as husband and wife, with the latter forming the majority of the group.(Statistics SA)

Courtesy Buzz SA

A social worker with the Open Door Crisis Centre in Pinetown said that the price for a child bride can be R4,000, which “is a lot of money (if you have nothing)”.

Five little known facts about child marriage

1. Child marriage happens all over the world.

More than 700-million women and girls alive today were married before they turned 18. Although child marriage happens in the U.S. and the U.K. as well, it is most prevalent in developing countries, as one of the main driving forces is poverty.

2. Both boys and girls are married off by their parents, but girls are in much higher demand.

Marrying at such an early age forces both boys and girls into adult responsibilities. They have to drop out of school or are interdicted to attend school. Reaching adulthood, these people will lack the education required to campaign for themselves, being vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. The vicious circle of poverty stretches over yet another generation.

Girls forced into child marriage are at high risk of violence from their spouses, in-laws and even their own family, should they try to run away from an abusive relationship and return home.

3. Child marriage is almost universally banned.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women prohibit child marriage. These treaties have been signed or ratified by most countries, yet there are national and local laws that permit child marriage to take place with only parental consent.

4. Child marriage and teen pregnancy are dangerously linked.

Globally, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among adolescent girls. Child brides are at very high risk of complications during pregnancy and birth, as their bodies are not mature enough. They often have limited access to medical help. An early pregnancy, often the result of a rape, puts girls at risk of being married off to the father of their baby, whoever he may be.

5. There is a critical need for laws prohibiting child marriage and marital rape, for laws on birth and marriage registration.

Mandatory schooling and gender equality can definitely empower girls. By considering girls equal to boys there will be less motivation to engage in child marriage. Both girls and boys must be educated with regards to their sexual and reproductive health and their human rights. When girls are empowered and can stand up for themselves, they even become advocates in their community.

Perhaps the eradication of extreme poverty is one of the very first steps towards ending child marriages.

Since 2015, UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) has worked to improve global awareness of child marriage, as well as taking action to end child marriage through the #IDONT international campaign on Valentine’s Day.

Join in and say #IDONT to show your support towards the estimated 70-million girls who will be married as children over the next five years, forced to say “I do” and having their human rights violated.

Child marriage – Frequently Asked Questions or contact UNFPA South Africa.

This article was published on Huffington Post SA on 14 February 2018

 

 

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12th Day of Christmas Haiku, #Haiku, #drummers #drumming via @PatFurstenberg

12th Day of Christmas Haiku: Twelve Drummers Drumming

Twelve drummers drumming

Pa-ra-pa-pam-pam. Peace on

Earth. First snow falls soft.

~

Happy New Year 2019!

In older versions of the song the twelve drummers drumming were lords a-leaping, bells ringing, fiddlers a-fiddling.

It seems that the first drums were introduced to Europe during the Crusades, brought back from the Holy Land; they were Egyptian and Sumerians.

I hope you will enjoy the 12 Days of Christmas haiku; there will be published one each day starting on Christmas Day. Subscribe to my newsletter to never miss a blog post.

You can enjoy more haiku on this page of my website.

Find all my book on Amazon. Enjoy!

12 Days of Christmas images available freely on 3dinosaurs.com

Text and Haiku-San © Patricia Furstenberg.

I hope you enjoyed my haiku. Let me know your thoughts in comment below.

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Movie Music Monday, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meet Me in St. Louis , 1944, Judy Garland via @PatFurstenberg #Christmas #moviemusicmonday

Movie Music Monday, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meet Me in St. Louis , 1944, Judy Garland via @PatFurstenberg #Christmas #moviemusicmonday

One of my old times favorite Christmas movies – ever since I can remember – is Meet Me in St. Louis and I am thrilled that it remained a Christmas favorite in our family!

The musical Meet Me in St. Louis follows the events of a whole year in the lives of the colorful Smith family at the very beginning of the 20th century. You have fun and laughter, lots of singing and a worry-free lifestyle, at least for the children of the family! An MGM production, the movie was based on a series of short stories by Sally Benson, originally published in The New Yorker magazine under the title “5135 Kensington”, and later in novel form as Meet Me in St. Louis.

Moonlight glow, sparkles and a red dress on Christmas Eve…

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
(as sung by Judy Garland)


Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles will be miles away
Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now


Songwriters: Hugh Martin / Ralph Blane
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Note: the line “Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow” was replaced by a more celebratory “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough” when Frank Sinatra recorded this song in 1957.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” lyrics  and movie clip are property and copyright of their owners. “Meet Me in St. Louis” movie clip is provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

The #MusicMonday meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

What are your thoughts on White Christmas? Have you watched it yet? If not, December is a good month to watch a romantic musical!

Let me know in comments below.

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Festive Dessert for Christmas and Easter, Romanian Cozonac, a Sweet Bread Recipe, Reteta Cozonac

Cozonac is not only a culinary tradition , but a lesson in history as well. First baked in Ancient Egypt, sweetened with honey and filled with nuts, it soon appealed the Greeks plakoús, πλακούς – who added raisins and walnuts into its filling. Next, the Romans loved it, adding their own spin to the recipe, dried fruits, and sharing it all over the Roman Empire – Romania included.

Cozonac Recipe

NOTE: this recipe makes 4 loaves (and 3 baby ones, please see below). Half it if you want to make less.

The cozonac is a sweet bread with filling, so having a filling is crucial for an all rounded taste.

TIME: preparation alone, between 3 – 4 hrs with baking time (because the cozonac must be allowed to rise twice). To reduce this time you can prepare the nut filling the day before).

This recipe makes 4 loaves and 3 baby ones

The recipe for cozonac consists of two parts:

  • the filling (this is a nut filling, but if you are allergic to nuts or prefer not to use nuts, you can skip this part and use 250 g small cut Turkish Delight or plain chocolate spread instead);
  • the sweet bread dough.

Nut filling recipe (for 2 loaves):

  • 250 ml milk (I used a lactose-free coffee creamer)
  • 425 g ground walnuts (TIP: you can put the walnuts in a sandwich bag and roll them over with a rolling pin – please see below)
  • 170 g white sugar
  • 40 ml rum extract (you can substitute with 10 ml vanilla extract)
  • 10 ml lemon extract (or lemon juice)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp good cocoa powder (even 3 Tbsp if you love cocoa)


You can put the walnuts in a sandwich bag and roll them over with a rolling pin to ground them.
Cut the Turkish delight in quarters. You can use snow sugar (icing sugar) to stop it from sticking.

How to prepare the nut filling:

Melt sugar in milk over medium heat.

Melt sugar in milk over medium heat.

Add ground walnuts and stir for 10 minutes, until mixture is thickened.

Add ground walnuts and stir for 10 minutes, until mixture is thickened.

Remove from the heat and add cocoa, rum extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest. Set aside and let it cool.

Remove from the heat and add cocoa, rum extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest.

Sweet bread dough recipe (makes 4 loaves):

  • 1 l milk (I used a lactose-free coffee creamer)
  • 2 kg white flour
  • 12 Tbsp white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 40 ml rum extract (or use 5ml lemon juice + 10ml Vanilla)
  • 6 -9 eggs at room temperature (depending on the size, e.g. 6 XL or 9 small). Use the freshest eggs you can find. The yolks will also give the cozonac, when cooked, a lovely light-yellow tint.
  • 300 g butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 packets fast rising dry yeast (3×10 g)
  • 1 beaten egg for brushing the top of the loaves (or milk)

TIP: you will need a mixing bowl big enough to accommodate both your fists and still to give you enough space to knead the dough. A big cooking pot can also be used.

Mix butter, 1/2 of the milk and sugar in a saucepan and place it over medium heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Add the other 1/2 of the milk and let it cool until just warm.

Mix butter, 1/2 of the milk and sugar in a saucepan and place it over medium heat

Beat the eggs and blend them in the lukewarm milk mixture. Add lemon zest and rum / vanilla essence. Mixture should be +- 35 Degrees before adding it to the flour (too cool and the yeast will not be activated; too hot and it will kill the yeast).

We used 9 small size eggs.
You need 3 tablespoons of lemon zest in total.

In a large bowl place the white flour, sprinkle the salt and the dry yeast and give it a little mix. Make a hole in the center, like a well. Add the butter-milk-sugar-egg-essence mixture in this well. Mix with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are blended together – see images below.

In a large bowl place the white flour, sprinkle the salt and the dry yeast. Add the butter-milk-sugar-egg-essence mixture in.
Mix with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are blended together.

Next you need to knead the dough with your fists for about 15 minutes. Knead then fold it over, turn the bowl 180 degrees and repeat. This will get the yeast to work. If the dough sticks to your hands pour a little bit of cooking oil (a teaspoon the most) over your hands and rub them, then knead again.

Knead then fold it over, turn the bowl 180 degrees and repeat.

Just when you are done (15 minutes later) tug the dough in all around turning it into a nice, flat ball, rub a little bit more cooking oil over its top and all around the walls of the bowl. This is important as the dough will rise, you don’t want it to stick to the walls of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic and a clean tea towel and place in a warm spot. Allow the dough to rise until double in size. (about 20 – 30min)

Cover the bowl with plastic and a clean tea towel

Meanwhile, oil and flour your loaf pans and sprinkle your working area with flour. You can feel like a kid again and draw something…

Oil and flour your loaf pans and sprinkle your working area with flour.

Once the dough doubled in size kneed it down the dough once or twice, then divide it into the number of loaves you decided to make.

Once it doubled in size kneed down the dough once or twice

Pick one of the balls of dough and, while holding it above the working surface, stretch it a bit. Lay it flat and roll it with the rolling pin until it is about 3-4mm thick. In lengths, it has to be a little bit longer than your cooking pan. With a butter knife divide it in three.

For each loaf: roll the dough about 3-4 mm think, cut it in three strips.

TIP: consider how many loaves you will make and divide the nut filling or the Turkish delight accordingly.

Fill each of the three strips with the fillings desired. Roll each strip, pinch both ends and pinch along the rolled edge. Plait the three rolls together into a loaf. Carefully pick it up and place it in the pan.

Fill each of the three strips with the fillings desired. Roll each strip Plait the three rolls together into a loaf.

Repeat for the remainder loaves.

Repeat for the remainder loaves.

Place each cozonac into a greased and floured loaf pan, brush with egg or milk and cover with a lightly greased plastic and a clean tea towel.

Place each cozonac into a greased and floured loaf pan, brush with egg or milk and cover with a lightly greased plastic

Allow the loaves to rise for another 20-30 minutes in a warm place.

Switch on the oven at 170 degrees Celsius or 340 Fahrenheit (Gas 3-4).

Bake for about 45 minutes or until light brown.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until light brown.

Set the pans on their side for 5 minutes.

Remove from the pan using a butter knife and then allow the cozonac to cool completely before serving – if you can resist it.

Serve with milk, coffee, tea, ice cream, red wine or with hard boiled egg and spring onion for breakfast!

Cozonac is best enjoyed with milk, coffee, tea, ice cream, red wine…

Merry Christmas! Craciun Fericit!

What about you? What is your favorite Christmas meal?

If you decide to make cozonac using the recipe above, do send me a picture of your cozonac. I would love to post it here!

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Bells #Christmas #Haiku via @PatFurstenberg

Bells, a Christmas Haiku

Ding-dong, chimes for all,

Penniless, wealthy, young, old.

Silver bells in tree.

~

Welcome to Christmas Haiku! This December you can enjoy a winter themed haiku each day until Christmas Day. From the 25th of December I will post a super-special series of haiku on a humorous theme. My Christmas prezzie for YOU! Subscribe to my blog (newsletter sign up on the right column or beneath this post) and never miss a haiku with your morning coffee or favorite cuppa! Merry Christmas!

You can enjoy more haiku on this page of my website.

You can find more winter themed poems in my children’s book Puppy, 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles and more Haiku in As Good as Gold:

 

Find all my book on Amazon. Enjoy!

Text and Haiku-San © Patricia Furstenberg.

I hope you enjoyed my haiku. Let me know your thoughts in comment below.

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Mistletoe, #Christmas #Haiku #Sunday #HaikuSan via @PatFurstenberg

Mistletoe, a Sunday Christmas Haiku: Haiku-San

 

Hidden in the tree,

White or red pearls with bow tie.

Unexpected guest.

~

Welcome to Christmas Haiku! This December you can enjoy a winter themed haiku each day until Christmas Day. From the 25th of December I will post a super-special series of haiku on a humorous theme. My Christmas prezzie for YOU! Subscribe to my blog (newsletter sign up on the right column or beneath this post) and never miss a haiku with your morning coffee or favorite cuppa! Merry Christmas!

You can enjoy more haiku on this page of my website or in my new book, Christmas Haiku:

An inspirational collection of winter and Christmas themed haiku to help you relax.Enjoy a daily haiku paired with gorgeous seasonal images as well as haiku for “The 12 Days of Christmas”

Find it on Amazon worldwide in paperback and for Kindle / e-reader: Amazon US, Amazon UK. Here’s a sneak peek:

Discover humor, poetry and haiku in As Good AS Gold:

“Haikus at the end were tiny diamonds.” (Kathryn Meyer Griffith, long time author)

“I have a confession to make. I’m not much of a dog lover. I’m more a cat person so I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy As Good As Gold, celebrating dogs. I needn’t have worried. I thoroughly enjoyed this charming collection of verse and as a result of reading it I think I understand dogs so much better.” @Lindahill50Hill, Book Reviewer

As Good As Gold is also available in Large Print, colorful pictures, a dyslexia friendly edition: get it on Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Espana, Amazon Deutschland.

I chose the name Haiku-San as it derives from Haiku, meaning unusual verse in Japanese (hai=unusual, ku=verse, strophe) and San, the honorific Japanese title when speaking about people. San is also the phonetic transcription of the first syllable of the English word Sunday, Sun-day hence Haiku-San, a Sunday feature on Alluring Creations involving Haiku I write.

Find all my book on Amazon. Enjoy!

Text and Haiku-San © Patricia Furstenberg.

I hope you enjoyed my haiku. Let me know your thoughts in comment below.

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Star #Christmas #Haiku via @PatFurstenberg

Star, a Christmas Haiku

Brighter than the moon

In its magical glory.

Prayer for my home.

~

Welcome to Christmas Haiku! This December you can enjoy a winter themed haiku each day until Christmas Day. From the 25th of December I will post a super-special series of haiku on a humorous theme. My Christmas prezzie for YOU! Subscribe to my blog (newsletter sign up on the right column or beneath this post) and never miss a haiku with your morning coffee or favorite cuppa! Merry Christmas!

You can enjoy more haiku on this page of my website or in my new book of Christmas Haiku:

An inspirational collection of winter and Christmas themed haiku to help you relax.Enjoy a daily haiku paired with gorgeous seasonal images as well as haiku for “The 12 Days of Christmas”

Find it on Amazon worldwide in paperback and for Kindle / e-reader: Amazon US, Amazon UK.

 

 

You can find all my book on Amazon. Enjoy!

Text and Haiku-San © Patricia Furstenberg.

I hope you enjoyed my haiku. Let me know your thoughts in comment below.

 

Follow this blog:
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Movie Music Monday, White Christmas, Holiday Inn, 1942, BingCrosby, Fred Astaire via @PatFurstenberg #Christmas #moviemusicmonday

Movie Music Monday, White Christmas, Holiday Inn, 1942, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire via @PatFurstenberg #Christmas #moviemusicmonday

I can never resist the romantic glamour of 1940’s-1950’s Hollywood musicals and its Golden Era in general. The fabulous musicals produced then still offer a generous amount of escapism. Be it Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Humphey Bogart, Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, I’m sold!

Holiday Inn is a movie filled with romance, music, gentleman-like manners, dance, dance, dance and fabulous gowns!

Here are Bing Cosby and lovely Virginia Dale in one of the most memorable and enchanting rendition of White Christmas:

Do you know the story behind the White Christmas song?

White Christmas is the most popular Christmas song ever written.

The lyrics to the song were created by Irving Berlin (1880-1989), born Israel Baline in Tyumen, Siberia (definitely knew a thing or two about what a real white Christmas looks like!). Irving, together with seven siblings and parents, emigrated to the US in 1893. Everybody had to work to make ends meet. After the death of his father Israel, 21 years of age, took a job as a “song plugger” (performing new songs in saloons, vaudeville theaters or on street corners). This experience proved invaluable and Berlin learned first hand what the audience and the what audience enjoyed the most music-wise.

The first draft of White Christmas was probably drawn in California but it was finished in Berlin’s weekend house in New York at the very beginning of 1940 and it soon to be performed in the musical Holiday Inn and performed by Bing Crosby.

History, however, had other plans.

On December 7 1941 Japan bombed the American port Pearl Harbor. Americans counter-attacked. War was on and that December 1941 the lyrics of White Christmas suddenly had a whole different meaning to the soldiers that left for war overseas and the families left behind:

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know”

That year, 1941, White Christmas was performed on the radio as early as October, by popular demand.

To honor the spirit of those left to war and who took strength from listening to his son, Berlin removed a few humorous verse:

“The sun is shining, the grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway
There’s never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, L. A.
But it’s December the 24th
And I am longing to be up north….”

In 1975, the final evacuation of Saigon was signaled by the song “White Christmas”

After almost twenty years of Vietnam War, Americans set their evacuation plan, needing to pull out 1000 Americans and 6ooo Vietnamese whose lives were at risk if left behind. The evacuation code was, read on Armed Force Radio: “The temperature in Saigon is 105 degrees and rising,”  followed by the playing of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”

Here are Bing Crosby’s White Christmas lyrics:

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.
And may all your Christmases be white (all your Christmases be white)
And may all your Christmases be white (all your Christmases be white)
And may all your Christmases be
(All your Christmases be white)
(All your Christmases be white)”

“White Christmas” lyrics and movie clip are property and copyright of their owners. “Holiday Inn” movie clip is provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

The #MusicMonday meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

What are your thoughts on White Christmas? Have you watched it yet? If not, December is a good month to watch a romantic musical!

Let me know in comments below.


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Christmas Lights, #Christmas #Haiku #Sunday #HaikuSan via @PatFurstenberg

Christmas Lights, a Sunday Haiku: Haiku-San

Shimmers in the tree

Red, green, yellow, blue – thy blink.

My smile reflects you.

~

Welcome to Christmas Haiku! This December you can enjoy a winter themed haiku each day until Christmas Day. From the 25th of December I will post a super-special series of haiku on a humorous theme. My Christmas prezzie for YOU! Subscribe to my blog (newsletter sign up on the right column or beneath this post) and never miss a haiku with your morning coffee or favorite cuppa! Merry Christmas!

You can enjoy more haiku on this page of my website, in my new book, Christmas Haiku

An inspirational collection of winter and Christmas themed haiku to help you relax.Enjoy a daily haiku paired with gorgeous seasonal images as well as haiku for “The 12 Days of Christmas”

Find it on Amazon worldwide: Amazon US, Amazon UK.

… or enjoy more poetry with my new books:

Jock of the Bushveld, Africa’s Best Loved Dog Hero. Jock and his master shared a life of adventures in the African bush. eBook, 99c/99p/0.99EUR or read free on Kindle Unlimited: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, Amazon Germany.

Vonk the Horse: Spark, the Bravest Stallion of the 18th Century.
Sail the high seas to the end of the 18th century, the middle of winter in the southern hemisphere. eBook, 99c/99p/0.99EUR or read free on Kindle Unlimited: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, Amazon Deutschland.

Huberta the Hippo, Amazing Adventures of a Happy River Horse. Read about the adventures and misadventures of a real African hippopotamus that, one day, at noon, decided to migrate. eBook, 99c/99p/0.99EUR or read free on Kindle Unlimited: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, Amazon Deutschland.

I chose the name Haiku-San as it derives from Haiku, meaning unusual verse in Japanese (hai=unusual, ku=verse, strophe) and San, the honorific Japanese title when speaking about people. San is also the phonetic transcription of the first syllable of the English word Sunday, Sun-day hence Haiku-San, a Su