Tag Archives: write

Total blackout

South Australia was in the eye of a nasty storm on Wednesday 28th September 2016. Despite all the announcements on radio and social media, I believe nobody really expected what happened.

Since it was my first storm in Aussie world, I decided to play it safe. I just went jogging early in the morning as it was very sunny and I noticed it was windy (I mean more than usual) so I made my way back home and decided to stay there for the whole day, working from home, just in case. Around noon the weather dramatically changed and turned into lightenings, heavy rain and a lot of wind but nothing THAT scary. I thought “well ok, not a big deal”.

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No light, no worries! I’ve got this 😉

But then around 5.00pm, things got ugly. I was chatting with my friends on “WhatsApp” and we were worried because our friend Jessica (from Mexico) was outside with this terrible weather, when suddenly we experienced a major power cut. What was unusual, is that my friends and I live in different parts: some in the suburbs, some by the sea, some in the CBD and we were all left without electricity, meaning: no lights, no heating, no TV, no internet (except on our phone for those who have enough battery). We joked about it and thought it was time to reach out for some candles (thank god, I had few big ones at home), very handy!

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Adelaide was plunged into darkness after wild storms disrupted power supplies across the state. (ABC News: Tony Hill)

A bit later, I called some friends to enquire if everything was ok on their side and to inform them about the situation. They told me that it was the same issue for them at work and actually that the whole South Australia state was experiencing a total blackout! In other words: no traffic lights in the streets, no lights inside and outside, businesses, shops, librairies force to close… So basically we are talking about a whole state and its 1.7 millions residents left in the dark! Jessica texted me to tell me that people were running in the streets, all shops were closing and supermarkets were full with people buying supplies such as water, milk, candles… (she also mentioned there were good deals on chicken breasts haha… 😉 ).

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Zinaida cooking on her camping gas stove

As the hours were passing by, my friends and I decided to limit the text messages since our phones were running low of battery and we did not know when we could recharge. It was getting darker and darker and despite all the candles, it was not very efficient to read,  write, cook (thank god I have a gas stove). It was so strange to see the city and the streets that dark. According to the newsfeed, it turned out that 2 tornados destroyed some critical infrastructures causing a network shutdown. On top of that, 22 interconnectors were knocked down by the wind. Thank god no death was reported, only properties damages, broken trees, flooding etc… People tried to make the most of it, lighting candles, playing board games, reading, drawing, meditating, checking phones, getting bored, eventually sleeping… two men were also spotted in the streets walking around with banners saying “the end of the world is coming”, “Aliens are here”…

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what a “nice” way to start a shitty day!?

On a more personal note, the blackout lasted in my house from 5pm to midnight. First time, I was in bed that early, I think around 8pm! I could not really sleep since one of my neighbors’burglar alarm went on and on the whole night forcing me to sleep with ear plugs (which I hate). And cherry on the cake, when I woke up on the next morning and I opened my bedroom door, water was falling from the ceiling so I had to contain the situation with buckets and towels and call my landlord to let him know that there was a leaking due to the storm. By the way, he sent someone to fix the issue and so far so good.

Thursday was supposed to be as bad maybe worst than Wednesday. People were asked to stay home if possible. Fortunately, despite of the rain and the wind, it was manageable. I stayed home and did not experience any power cut whereas my friend Zinaida (from Russia) did. All in all, it was not that bad but I can’t help wondering about the hospitals who had to use torches and what about if you are in the middle of a surgery when it happens, I assume they have energy power back up. And what about people on life support machines when there is no electricity… OMG I am thinking too much!

“Life without electricity, it is beyond our imagination”- Siddhant Chak

Colour the world, colour your mood

Lately I have been obsessed with coloring books for adults. It’s the new trend and it is nearly impossible to miss them when you are in a Bookshop. Anyway I own a few of them and I really enjoy using those books whenever needed. I believe coloring has a grounding effect.

It all started when my friend Ana (my former Spanish teacher from Colombia) offered me a postcard from the artist: Johanna Basford! When it comes to coloring book, this girl is a GURU, believe me! Her work is amazing: have a look at “Secret garden” (my fav), there is so much poesy in her art, she managed to create a real enchanted universe.

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Colouring book for adults “Secret Garden”, Johanna Basford

So I started with her books and her postcards that I would share with some friends. Sometimes we would go together to the cafÊ, with some pencils and we would colour some beautiful magic scenes while chatting. It turned out to be very effective, especially when we were stressed or worried about something. It acted like a colour therapy session and it was a very calming and a comforting activity.

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Texturing and colouring my breakfast bowl: a good way to start the day happy and zen 🙂

It is a combination of little things that separately are just details, but when all combined, it is like a ritual where all your senses are activated. The colours that are dancing in a farandole in front of your eyes, the paper texture under your fingers, the soft  sound of the pencils pressed on the paper, the delicate smell of the drawing in progress and the taste of gratitude as the image starts to appear more and more alive.

 So now I extended my selection to other colouring books such as: Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford, The mini Mandala by Susanne Fincher, the little book of Mindfulness colouring by Holly Macdonald. I really enjoy them as they are a great help to meditate , to relax and sometimes to escape .

What about you? Have you ever tried it? Tell me all about it in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear about your experiences when it comes to coloring books 🙂

How does sunlight sound?

The sunlight tiptoed in my bedroom, crawling silently in the dark like a cat approaching its prey. Gently, silently making its way to my bed, caressing my face and whispering in my ears, calling my name. ‘A little bit more,’ I implored turning my back. But it did not want to listen, it did not care, it kept going crescendo brighter, making a warm crackling sound on the floor, its loud colour invading my space, knocking on the walls, jumping on the sheets like a capricious child. ‘For the last time I beg you to let me sleep! Just five minutes more, that’s all I am asking for!’ and I hid my face into the pillow. But now the roaring noise was getting louder, producing sharp disharmonious combinations of yellow and white tones, exploding like a military band in my ears, blowing through the windows like a storm: it was unstoppable, it was everywhere! The deafening sunlight had a message to deliver and was determined to make me listen. I could not ignore its voice anymore, it was time for me to surrender, wake up and get ready because today was the day and there was nothing I could do about it!

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This text is one of my assignments from creative writing class that I wanted to share with you. We were asked to write a paragraph using synaesthetic metaphors. The idea was to create new ways of expression by creating cross-sensory experiences where you can for example hear colours, smell sounds, see music, feel the texture of light and so on… By mixing the different senses you can layer your story and come up with a unique and original piece. In order to warm up our creativity, we were given a list of questions and we had to pick one of them and work on it using synaesthetic metaphors… I was inspired by “How does sunlight sound?” and I built a short story starting from this question. I must say I was pretty impressed with the result because it worked really good and I was really proud and happy about what I came up with! I think this technique helps to describe a scene in a original way and it helps creating a real universe by using lively images so people can truly feel the atmosphere! I hope you have enjoyed this story and I hope it will intrigue you so you want to know more 😉 Please do not hesitate to leave me a comment: Did this text tickle your imagination and if that so why do you think the main character does not want to get up? I am curious to know because it is always interesting to hear about different ideas and then we can compare with what I had in mind when I wrote that piece… Come on, don’t be shy, I am sure it will be fun!

Soupe Ă  l’oignon au bleu d’Auvergne – Onion soup with blue cheese

“A classic and comforting recipe from the French countryside that will please your palate during winter, especially after an outdoor walk in the biting cold.”

Ingredients:

 For 4 people:

 • 400 g onions

 • 2 liters of chicken stock

 • 70 g unsalted butter

 • 150 g of Bleu d’Auvergne (blue cheese)

 • 4 slices of country bread

 • Salt

 • Coarse salt

 • Ground black pepper

Method:

 • Peel and chop the onions.

 • Melt the butter in a large saucepan add the onions and gently brown over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spatula.

 • Then add the chicken stock, seasoned with a pinch of coarse salt.

 • Stir and bring to a boil and allow to simmer about 1 hour over low heat. Stir from time to time during cooking.

 • Meanwhile mash the Bleu d’Auvergne (blue cheese) in a bowl with a fork until you obtain a creamy texture.

 • Lightly toast the slices of country bread and while still warm, spread the cheese on the top of them.

• Once the soup is cooked, remove half of the volume of onions with a skimmer or a slotted spoon. Let the mixture cool down and put it in the blender to obtain an onion puree.

 • Then put the onion puree back into the saucepan, mix, adjust seasoning to taste adding salt and pepper and mix well again.

Presentation: 

Serve this traditional dish in preheated soup plates. Place the toasted bread spread with bleu d’Auvergne on the side ready to be immersed in the soup.

Top tip:

A little trick to avoid ” crying ” while mincing onions: use a sharp knife! Actually a bad knife crushes the pulp of onion instead of slicing it – it spreads a fine mist of onion juice in the air followed by a river of tears!

If you can’t find Bleu d’Auvergne, you can use a local blue cheese as well, in that case choose a creamy and flavourful one.

Bon appétit 🙂

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Kellie, who is the North Adelaide Community Centre coordinator, asked me to take part to a good cause by writing a recipe from France. The idea was to create a “City Community – favourite soup recipes” book in order to raise money for the Welcome Centre of South Australia – http://www.welcometoaustralia.org.au/ – so they can replace a trailer which was recently stolen from them! The goal was to obtain a collection of recipes that reflect a little bit about our family and heritage. I really liked the initiative and I was happy I could help! I chose to translate this recipe into English because I originally come from Auvergne and I liked the idea that  “Bleu d’Auvergne” (a typical blue cheese from this region) was part of this comforting dish. My favourites French cheese are: Bleu d’Auvergne, Fourme d’Ambert (another blue cheese), Cantal, Saint-Nectaire, Salers and Gaperon – all made in Auvergne haha! Luckily some of them can be found at the Adelaide Central Market which is good when I am missing French cheese.

An angel to watch over me

I was seven years old when my mother passed away. I don’t remember much about her but to me she was a loving woman who rarely raised her voice with anger at my sisters or myself. She was also an excellent cook and despite the little money we had, there was always a lovely smell in the kitchen. I remember her beautiful hair piled on her head and her long black skirt under which I would hide when an unannounced visitor would knock at the door of our home. Unfortunately, she died very young at the age of 32. I remember the day well, for it was the first time I’d been confronted with death. My sister woke me up early in the morning saying that mum had pushed on Heaven’s door, but I could not understand. I knew mum was sick. She had asthma and could not breathe properly ; she needed to rest and it was not easy to find a doctor in the countryside at that time. But I was just a kid and all I could wonder was how she managed to get up out of bed and open a door since she was so weak and where had she gone?! My sister brought me to Mum’s room to kiss her goodbye.   Lights had been covered and, despite the lilies, there was a strange smell floating in the air. Mum was lying still and cold on her bed, her hands folded on her chest. She was different and so pale. She looked like a wax doll with her long hair by her shoulders and her eyes closed. My sister whispered to me that Mum’s new home was in Heaven now and that her soul had been set free. Now she could overhear not only what we were saying but also what we were thinking, so we had to behave and make her proud so she would always love us.

From this moment, surprisingly I was not afraid! I knew mum would always look after me and eventually protect me because she was an angel now and her spirit would always be around. I could talk to her about my life, pray to her and ask for help if I needed it, which I did quite often. I guess this thought has empowered me and helped me to go through life, which has not always been easy but she has never let me down. I survived a devastating house fire without a single scratch, I was captured by the Germans during World War 2 and by some miracle I managed to escape. I have reached 96 years of age and have never been sick in my whole existence.

But today is the saddest day of my life and I need her more than ever to help me get through this painful time. I am praying to her to welcome my son, her grandson, whom I am mourning, into her home.

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This sad story is one of my assignments from creative writing class that I wanted to share with you. We were asked to look at old pictures we owned and to write a short story up to 500 words about loss from the perspective of a person we had chosen. The idea was that the loss had occurred when the person was a child and we had to tell what happened and how it had impacted our character’s life. We were also asked to write in the first person subject past tense as it was a recollection and many years had passed since the tragedy had occurred  We had to show what the child had learnt through this experience that stayed with him to adulthood. I must say it was a difficult exercise since generally I prefer to write about fun things and loss is not really my favorite genre. It was also a bit overwhelming for me since I decided to base my story on a true family life chapter. Actually I chose my grandfather who lost his mother when he was only a child and I became his voice for the duration of this assignment. On one hand it made me sad and a bit depressed to write about these past memories, I mean I can only imagine how hard it must have been painful for him. But in the other hand I am glad I could transcribe as a tribute stories I have  been  told a  couple of times by my grandfather. His mother, my grand-grandmother, was a beautiful woman who sadly died very young from asthma and I am grateful she is a caring and loving angel watching over my grandfather in sadness and happiness helping him to go though life giving him hope and bravery.

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My grandfather’s mother who died at 32

Red

She stopped the car at the red light. She looked briefly into the rearview mirror and she noticed her eyes were still red from crying.  The roses were lying next to her on the front seat. She was wondering who was sending the flowers; probably somebody who wanted to feel good about it! Each damn year on Valentine’s day it was the same old scenario: a beautiful deep red bouquet would be delivered to her work place without a card or a message. In a way it felt good that somebody cared about her, but at the same time it hurt so much because it also reminded her of the passion and love she once had, which had been tragically and irremediably taken away from her.

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This text is one of my assignments from creative writing class. Rather than starting to write from an idea, I was encouraged to start with a word that would act as a trigger for writing. The idea is to explore the sounds and meanings of words, to get new ideas and perspectives. I was asked to write only a paragraph (short story) using the trigger word: RED by sound or by meaning… it was up to me! I must say it was interesting because I never proceeded this way before… generally ideas or images drive my creativity! So it was interesting to start from a simple word as “red” and build a story around it! I am happy with the result because I managed to create a story in just 100 words! What I really enjoyed about this exercice is the fact that at the beginning I had no idea where my story would go… I just knew I would use “valentine’s day”, “roses”, “traffic light”, “passion” because they are deeply associated to the red colour but my story really took life under my pen with the words I was using one line at a time, growing like a deep velvet rose on the heart of my white page filling it with its warm colour! 

Creative writing class

“We will fly in a brand new sky!”

I can’t believe that I am following creative writing classes in English with native people!!! This is so exciting and rewarding to be able to do such thing, to feel I am one of them, to believe I am not that different! At the beginning I was scared it would be too hard for me but finally I realised that when you are enthusiastic about something you can make it happen!

In a previous article, I have mentioned how important it is when you live abroad to have other activities that are not directly related to English. Learning the language of your new country is a necessity but sometimes it can be frustrating and it is a long path so it is important to reward yourself with other activities that are not too demanding.  For example, my friend Nasim (from Iran) is following painting classes, my friend Balbina (from Spain) is taking part to Zumba dance once a week and I have recently enrolled to a creative writing course and guess what we are all having fun! We are learning new things, changing our routine, meeting native people, making new friends, hearing about specific and technical vocabulary we are not familiar with… and it is great because we are doing something we enjoy a lot 🙂 something we feel proud about it where English is not an issue… well it is not totally true for me as I am following a creative writing class where I am supposed to write beautifully in English haha! Speaking of that, I will be posting from time to time some of my assignments so you can check my progress and see that nothing is impossible!

So don’t be shy! This is your chance to meet awesome people, to start a new activity, to make a difference in your life! Pick something you really enjoy, something you have always dreamt about in your home country but never took the chance to do it! Any classes… it can be dance, beach volley, Spanish, drawing, photography, cooking, yoga… anything! You are in a new country, that’s your moment, don’t miss it!

 

 

Adelaide College of the Arts

TAFE SA 

39 Light Square

Adelaide  – South Australia 5000

http://www.tafesa.edu.au/adelaide-college-of-the-arts/writing