Sunday, April 26, 2015

A sandstorm


April arrived fluttering like a butterfly-
Resplendent,
full of colour in my back yard,
Saying hello to
purples and mauves
huddled together
in the tall black pot.

His iridescence beamed-
on reds, oranges and pinks
lined up like 
little ballerinas
waiting for their
teacher to enter
the studio
in their fluffy tutus.

The birds sang songs with
sweet melodies
to please April
while
his furtive flights
touched
yellows and greens
peeping through the
larger trees. 

The whites were the first to notice
April's concealed cunning,
but they kept quiet.

Cloaked in Dust,
stormed April one day
and smothered the colours
in a sandy veil.

All that shone
Was gone.

Breath-
Stifled by the tiny particles of sand and dust
Clogging.
Coughing.

Into a thousand pieces
my heart broke
when I stepped out
and saw
the blushing brides 
burdened
with burqaas
so heavy
they broke their backs.

A few
lay martyred on the sand covered bricks.
Scenes of Syria
on the BBC
after a bomb attack
dust and debris
children’s faces
innocent eyes
but no smiles
questions buried
under the sandstorm of egos
caked in mud
dried and dying
young.

Why?
I asked.
And took the hose out.

April sighed
and delivered his message-
'Life happens when we are making plans.'

'Stop the strutting you fool!'
he chided.
‘these are not your flowers
your back yard
your garden
YOU belong to them
You are at their service.

Get up.

Dust off.

Stop whining.

Wash off the expectation.

Prune that ego.

Open your eyes
and look at the gold that 
I sprinkled
to
change 
your Perspective

You don't own.

You belong.

It’s a sandstorm.

It’s not Syria.'



*************
Perspective is a clever companion.

A fellow yogi mentioned the word when I was complaining about how horrid the back yard looked and how I had spent the entire morning cleaning up. 
It made me stop and think and the poetry (or the words above) demanded to be written.

Feeling rich and abundant-
owning nothing.

I belong to the sand particles
and will become one someday.

Such riches need to be shared. 

So, here are some shots of the Garden Party- 
the before, the after and the after after 
the sandstorm...

Purples and mauves...Verbenas, Alyssums, Violas, Scabiosa grew together this season.

Snipping or cutting (called deadheading) the old blooms really encourages new ones.
So don't be shy- snip away.








Reds, Oranges and Pinks in their tutus.

This year, Hibiscus plants and Gazanias flourished happily:)










The first lot of Zinnia seedlings I bought died- almost all of them. A few of the plants that I grew from seed did well. This flower is from the second lot I bought from a different nursery. They're doing fine.


Morning Glory grew gloriously well this year- it's the easiest plant to grow from seed and its voracious appetite to grow and climb is insatiable. 
It gives and gives...just make sure it gets a bit of shade when the sun is too hot and lots of water- 
it gets thirsty.
It reminds me of my teenager son- walking stomach- growing taller every day:)



Trailing geraniums filled many baskets and kept me from doing the laundry many a times. 

I stand and stare for hours at these beauties. 
Just stand and stare-
sometimes 
with love
and sometimes
with wonder
but always
with gratitude.
Thank you for
filling  my life
with 
colours of joy
and 
generosity.





I'm not sure what this plant is called. A friend calls is Cat's Tail- 
please enlighten me if you know.

It's a slow starter but very very sturdy.
It doesn't die in the sweltering heat of Doha's summer.
You can use is to fill baskets and pots.

I usually plant these with petunias and the asparagus fern- so that by the time the petunia is bidding us farewell, these beauties come out and say hello-
the party carries on...




Yellows and Greens...

Snapdragons are the easiest to grow in Doha. Just keep deadheading the old blooms.






Lantana

"The Whites were first to notice..."

Sweet Alyssums



 Seductive Gardenia




Intoxicating Jasmine- Mogra


 Asparagus in bloom.


Cloaked in Dust,
stormed April one day



and sprinkled gold.




GOLD DEPOSITS on my windscreen.



'Why?'
I thought,
And took the hose out...



Fresh,
Clean
and 



Radiant...



Lest we forget
that
each
moment counts.

Moments make days
and days make lives. 

'We live our lives- the way we live our days.' 

words I read somewhere,
 I can't recall where.



I live my moments.
I
stand
and
stare
and smell
the roses-
any chance I get.

A dear friend gave me this rose bush when she moved.
Oh! You have to smell the sweet sweet smell to get a whiff of heaven. 
Thank you Mimi:) xx





I was out in the yard when the news of the earthquake in Nepal came through. 
I pray for the souls and the survivors and carry on.

Life's fickle
and
Death's
unpredictable.

'WHY'
comes back to haunt.

I breathe in 
and 
grab the moment.

Life
and 
Death-
the
inseparable
cosmic
companions
dance
to
show me
where
I belong.






Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Aah! Philadelphia! and its Ten Thousand Villages

"Are you a student or a teacher?" he asked.

BLUSH! BLUSH! This winter coat must be slimming and younging- I thought and looked pleased.

"Teacher, but I don't teach here."

"It doesn't matter where...as long as you teach." beamed the kind shop assistant at the J.Crew store as I unzipped my wallet to prise out my credit card to pay for the navy blue wool scarf I'd decided to buy on sale.

My FIRST EVER teacher's discount! WOOHOO!

This happened in Philadelphia in December 2014 and just like that this gorgeous historic city became my:
'Ab Fab' - absolutely favourite US city:)

There are a few other reasons why I  LOVED PHILLY, like:

a) I spent a lot of time with my sister- just like we used to before we both got married etc.

b) I bought two beautiful books here (Bird by Bird and Writing Down the Bones- thanks to Pauline's blog) which lie on my bedside table now and will probably never move from there.

c) A twenty year old asked me if I were a student (ignore the image of mature students...erase that image!)

d) We discovered a shop called  Ten Thousand Villages, and

e) The streets are named after my favourite nuts- walnuts and chestnuts;)

What's not to like?

So here we go...a photo essay of our many many walks up and down Walnut and Chestnut streets.



Independence Hall 








At the Liberty Bell Centre




Graffiti Galore







Lights at night...


One morning, after eating a hearty and  a very reasonably priced but freshly prepared breakfast at Gene's Cafe on Walnut Street, my sister, niece and I wandered into Ten Thousand Villages- a wonderful shop filled with treasures from all over the world.


All my memories of trips seem to blossom from conversations I have with strangers who turn out to be kind and interesting and full of stories. 

The lady who served us at this beautiful shop grew up in Rome, Italy. I don't know how but the conversation veered towards food- the eternal ice breaker. 

She spoke about each item we had picked up with such love and care that it felt like she had crafted them herself. 

I'm sure you've come across people who seem so perfectly matched to the jobs they do that their joy spills over. Watching her wrap our purchases while she enthused about the artisans made my day. The three of us couldn't stop talking about her all day. 

If we do what we do with love, it shows and that positive energy (or whatever you might call it) touches people around us- moments as ordinary as these pitter patter their way like rain drops into the pool of my soul and whenever I am feeling frazzled, I just dip into this cool pool and a comforting Aah! sets me right.

It's wonderful to be human.

As usual, I picked up treasures for my garden....

A well travelled Snail (thanks Danielle;) - created in Bangladesh- sold in the USA and 
currently living in Qatar:)



created by 

A birdhouse bought with the right intentions but it's too pretty to leave outside just yet. I take it out only when there are no sandstorms on the horizon. 
Lately, Doha has been hosting a LOT of sandstorm parties- so sorry birdies...this pretty house is staying indoors for now!


Made in Cameroon


An etched gourd from Peru...

created by

And of course, we had to pick up this Liberty Bell Christmas ornament...

made by

Stepping out with all these goodies felt like we had been to a magical place where artists and artisans created beautiful pieces for ordinary people like me to take home and enjoy. 

 Almost four years ago, I made a conscious decision to seek out local artisans or artists if I were in the mood to buy 'stuff' on my travels. The stories that I get to hear and the people I get to meet because of this seeking turns these souvenirs into treasures- and the birds chirp their complaints when I get too silly and don't let them use their birdhouse- they just have to deal with it!

How can anything bought in a glitzy soulless store ever live up to this magic?


Try it sometime.

Here's the link to the Ten Thousand Villages...
http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/


And finally, on the last day...

A long walk down Chestnut Street
without the kids
my sister and I
walked
and
talked
and
clicked
the blues









A three dimensional mural to trick the senses...






If you are planning to visit Philly, here's a comprehensive guide to the best restaurants.
http://travelingpanties.com/2015/02/20/top-10-best-restaurants-in-philadelphia-plus-the-best-cheesesteak-in-philly/

We enjoyed honest and delicious food prepared and served by the Amish at Dutch Eating Place in the bustling Reading Terminal Market.
This place reminded me of the Borough Market in London on a Saturday morning- AWESOME!

This brings us to the end of the Philly tour folks- 
I hope you enjoyed it:)

Here's a video a friend shared on her fb page recently- this might explain why a discount that saved me less that $3 meant so much...