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Friday, May 29, 2015

Books lately...

I've been working on an editorial project and reading for leisure. With all the reading I do for work you would think I'd want to do something else for fun. But nope.

I finished ready the exquisite novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I still remember the moment when I read the title of the book in the thick of the story when the characters are holding on to dear life during a hurricane. Thrilling! I love that moment. This classic book is echoed in Salvage the Bones the 2011 (US) National Book Award winner for fiction which I read a few years ago.

And this is a relationship book a friend recommended... I wasn't sure if I should read it or Esther Perel's Mating in Captivity. I love Perel's TED Talk  on desire and follow her on Twitter -- but I decided to give The Queen's Code a shot.

New Arts & Crafts Manual for Namibian Teachers

It's been a long time...

This week I was fortunate to be in attendance at the launch on 26 May of a new Arts & Crafts manual for Namibian teachers held at the Finnish Embassy in Windhoek. This exciting new publication was funded by the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED) and the Finnish-Namibian Society more than 13 years after Cabinet approved a policy on Arts and Culture. The manual was developed over 2 years and 9 months through workshops with teachers with the integral support of  NIED. A lot of emphasis was given on the importance of art in a holistic academic programme and the benefits of developing fine motor skills and teaching individual expression.

All the speakers -- including Ambassador Anne Saloranta, NIED Director Dr Hertha Pomuti and the speech given on behalf of the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Honourable Katrina Hanse-Himarwa highlighted the challenges that Arts teachers face -- including tight budgets, lack of classroom space and art supplies and general attitude of arts education as a luxury. The fact that arts training is not a requirement in teacher training education means that many tasked with this role have little if any experience with arts and crafts. The hope is that this manual engages and provides them with all the necessary tools to have effective and inspiring art lessons. It is jam-packed with activities that are culturally relevant and crafts that can be made using locally available materials, either from nature or recycled packaging. I would love to see what results a more supported arts education programme yields in the next 13 years.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Lemons and small change

My mother gave me a huge bag of lemons from her lemon tree and we've been squeezing it into lemonade. It got me thinking of the mantra "When life gives you lemons... make lemonade!" and my children and I joked that Ouma doesn't have to buy lemons from the shop anymore. Then I thought about the lemonade stand and then my random musings got me thinking about all the loose change my children have been collecting for ages, and my own coin collection in a small ceramic bowl I keep in my kitchen...

So I went to my bank last week and got a pack of coin bags. We collected quite a chunk of money and I could easily deposit it at my bank. Win! Thanks for the lemons mama!

Friday, May 15, 2015

I love my chai

There's tea... and then there's spiced tea. I love my chai!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

2 / SHOP at one-of-a-kind stores

When traveling abroad I always make a list of things I want to bring back... always hoping I'll discover new finds too... and then inevitably end up having to make choices because "I can't possibly fit all of THAT into my suitcase!?!" Well this time around I decided to allow myself time to wander, discover new stores and to buy only what I LOVED. Here are some highlights:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Scientists and other cool women

Today I logged on to a cool Google doodle. Women like Inge Lehmann, Anita Sengupta and Amelia Earheart are set to be role models in my house. My youngest daughter is fascinated by planets, space and generally how things work: 

"Mama, how do batteries work?" 

"How do cars drive?"

"What makes electricity work?"

"When I go to Mars, do you want to come with me on my spaceship?" 

"Mama, I think God lives at the edge of the universe."

She wants to be a scientist. Sometime last year she asked me:
"What do I have to study if I want to be an inventor of cool stuff in space?"
-- I told her that I thought the best career path for her would be to become an aerospace engineer. I even went as far as researching where she could study. I think here or here are good options... I know, she may change her mind, but I can't help being excited at the prospect of raising a future scientist. I hope she grows up supported by her peers, like Einstein and Marie Curie.

She is also, like most children, very perceptive and would ask questions about the order of our society:
"Why are presidents always boys?" 

-- To which I've answered, "They're not. Women are world leaders too."

This "issue" of the lack of visibility of women in science and politics really bothers me. In a good way -- because it motivates me to seek information and images and present them to my children. If the media and our schools don't do it then we as parents have to step up. I took a stack of newspapers and started looking for positive female role models. I figured it would reflect reality better than a glossy magazine (which are often filled with sexy models and super polished high achievers, both of which we are meant to want to be) and I liked this challenge because it means even households who don't have or can't afford magazines could do this project. So here is what we came up with.

I love using our fridge as a gallery because everyone uses the fridge at some point during the day and I can position things at child height. We found pictures of a football team, a local professional tennis player, a happy school child holding books, a university graduate, a young boxer, a taxi driver, and entrepreneur and a pilot.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Friday, May 08, 2015

Parents pics = good karma

They say its good feng shui to have a photograph of the child's parent(s) in their room.

A wonderful Feng Shui secret for establishing parental influence is to have a picture of the parents in the child's room. This is the subtle and best way to assert your authority.  [Feng shui for mothers]                                                                                         It's also a lovely way to display more of our photos at home.                                                                           

This photograph of Ruben and I was taken in 2004 by our friend Laurent Ziegler at a small park in Rotterdam.  It fell out of a book I was dusting from my bookshelf. I tore the background out from an old magazine and framed it in a spare frame that was lying in a random drawer. So much nicer to see it frequently and share it with our daughter.

This photo in the butterfly frame was taken at a formal family photo shoot with Windhoek based photographer Leigh Daniz. Before this it is was stuffed in an envelope. Loving photos can act as gentle reminders for us to show more affection. I hope it also helps with the whole "authority" thing!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Marketing nerds

There are so many nerds out there that are easy to love. Seth Godin. He's one of them. I've been thinking a lot lately... well, for years actually, about what I consume. Food and cosmetics. Household supplies. Stationary. Fuel. And often, when I'm in the store (or petrol station) I wonder who I'm supporting. Two things often cross my mind:

1. How much do I want to spend?
2. Where is this made?

I'm very bad at sticking to my decision under question one. So as much as possible I shop with a list. The second question is sometimes framed "Is this Namibian?" and the answer is often "No". It irritates me that we consume so much and seemingly produce so little. I keep saying to myself, "I need to talk to Team Namibia". Maybe I'm not well informed. I want to be an empowered consumer.

But above and beyond where my clothes, cosmetics and food is made (or grown) I worry about content. Information. Entertainment. Culture.

As much as I read Namibian books and listen to Namibian music and go to local performances, there is no denying that my appetite is fed from mostly exotic sources. Same for my children. This is something I feel I can at least contribute to bringing towards a better balance. I love listening to American podcasts, watching a Ghanaian web series, reading South African magazines and enjoying every good thing the world has to offer. I just feel we should bring more to the pot. And for those of you doing it... keep bringing it! Let's get the word OUT. I want to see Team Namibia stamped on everything produced here. Let's use our spending power to our own benefit.

Working hard... feeling wonderful

I'm feeling wonderful, working hard on an editorial project, juggling home and studio time, catching up with friends, making sense of all the stuff in my handbag, surviving hay fever and trying to sleep at night. So I'm dropping three links from the Internet while I work on some new posts. ENJOY!

This is what 3D printing can do #hormones
My new favourite podcast DeathSex&Money -- why are the money ones most interesting?
And finally, you know how much I love Justina over at The Jungalow so last night I popped onto Dabito's gorgeous photo site Old Brand New. I'm ordering The New Bohemians today!

Friday, May 01, 2015

Today is May Day

[Poster via SAHA]

May 1 is celebrated worldwide as Workers Day. Three years ago one of my favourite bloggers stood up and made a stand about its significance. Since then, without much ado or taking to the streets (as I've done for other causes), I have become more mindful of how I spend my day on the first of May.

To quote a local newspaper as it stated 10 years ago: "Workers know that this is their day, but most workers don't know how it came about, why it came about and the significance it has for any working class in the world."

"Today is a commemoration of the historic struggle of the workers throughout the world against capitalism, exploitation, and for safe working conditions and respect for the dignity of workers.

It came into being as a result of the successful demand, claims and demonstrations that was (sic) carried out under the umbrella of the Federation of Organised Trades and Labour Unions when it passed a resolution stating that eight hours would constitute a day's work from May 1,1884."

My small act of solidarity on this day is simply: no shopping.

What does May Day mean to you?

Enjoy the weekend and stay safe!