Category Archives: #Dailies / Ежедневни/ци

Гневни, злобни, злободневни, общественозначими от лична гледна точка мнения

Yuletide – Wednesday Wishes

Yule, Saturnalia, or just the Winter Solstice
It’s this time of the year again. The winter solstice marks the longest night and shortest day. It is the official start of the winter season and though the sun begins to come back to our days, the temperatures will get lower yet, because the real harsh cold weather is still to come. Both Yule and Saturnalia are similar to Christmas, and as you’ll see, they have influenced it a lot in different parts of the world.
Why is the winter solstice important to people? I think it’s because of nature and because of what it says about nature. Darkness is at its deepest. It seems the world will not come back to the sun, but just then, things turn and days start to get longer. It is a time for relaxation, enjoying the fruits of your work during the active seasons, giving gratitude to nature for her richness and celebrating the turn of seasons. The turn of seasons is what breathing and pulse are to the human life. All life consists of cycles. After darkness comes sunshine, after cold comes warmth. Nature, like life, will not stay in the same position forever. Evergreen trees are a natural choice for most of the rituals during Yule. They reflect the permanent character of life – even though most greenery is lost, it never goes away entirely. Besides that, the evergreen pines and firs make for a particularly cheerful view amidst the otherwise barren landscape.

If we turn to Saturnalia, we’ll see a slightly different picture. After all, ancient Rome didn’t know winter at its harshest. We can’t really speak of desolate darkness or cold, or even barrenness of the land. During these festivities, dedicated to Saturn – the god of agriculture, the highlight is on celebrating the fruits of the land, enjoying the results of the people’s work in the fields and the gratitude of the population for a good year without hunger and poverty. During the Saturnalia, which lasted for a week, the lower in status became the most honoured. Sometimes slaves would sit at the head of the table, while their masters served them. That time was by far the noisiest festival of the whole year.
Much like during the modern X-mas holidays, schools and businesses in ancient Rome would close inviting all the population to participate in the celebrations.
In all three winter-solstice-related traditions, a focus is put on giving: people would give small presents to their friends and family as well as complete strangers. The suffering of weaker members of the community is usually sought to be relieved by donations, charity or giving them a break as is the case of slaves in Rome.

When I hear strong opinions about the nature and origin of Christmas, I wonder if it is really wise to try and separate holidays and festive traditions between the various beliefs, when we know that people have been living together over all these centuries.
No matter which holiday you honour, do it according to your beliefs, eat and drink enjoying the work of your hands and hearts!

Cauliflower and Cream – Friday Fitness?

Today was intended for #FridayFitness but, instead, I thought it’s time to relax a bit and I’m posting a recipe which is anything but fitness-friendly, anything but healthy. I’ll share with you one of my most craved meals – Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cream and Processed Cheese. So, it’s a real calorie bomb! But, hey, friends – you can’t be health-obsessed all the time. It’s not natural, therefore it’s bad. Enough for the apology section. Let’s move on to the recipe itself.

You need:
– broccoli – 400 g
– cauliflower – 400 g
– sour cream – 200 g
– processed cheese – 100 g
– cheese (which we call “yellow cheese”) – 100 g, grated
– garlic – 1-2 cloves
– thyme – 1 pinch
– oregano – 1 pinch

How to Cook It:
Rinse the broccoli and cauliflower, cut into “rosebuds” and simmer for 5-7 min in hot water. Strain and place in a baking tray.

In a bowl, mix the processed cheese cut in cubes, the sour cream, cheese, mashed garlic cloves, thyme and oregano.
Put all in the baking tray and pour 1 teacup of the water in which the vegetables were boiled. Stir carefully.
Bake in a preheated oven, medium temperature, until ready. The ingredients yield 3 portions.


Daylight Saving Time – Time to End It

Today is time for a #ThoughtfulTuesday post. As we changed time again quite recently, I decided to write about this peculiar tradition and the idea that it will soon be discontinued.

The discussion has been on since the last time we changed to DST, a.k.a. summer time, in end-March. I strongly support the idea that we should stop switching back and fro, as the cost-efficiency of this process is not valid any longer. I doubt there’s any saving going on, and that was the main argument in favour of the switching between times. Yet, I understand that the majority of EU citizens would have the summer time stay constantly. How their vote was registered, I don’t know. I suppose there was some sort of survey which I missed. Let’s assume they represent a good enough sample to make the result valid. What does their choice show about them?

First of all, let me remind you what the DST is. It means darker mornings, lighter evenings. Or, in other words – it gets light later in the morning and it gets dark later in the evening. I have several acquaintances who support the same notion – that we should stick to summer time. Their reasoning: you have more light after work and school. You can go for walks and, generally, you will not feel so oppressed by the winter mood if that’s the case. Surely, 1 hour won’t make much of a difference. Yet, people speak of it with a lot of ardour.

Why don’t they argue for lighter mornings, when we have to get up and start our days? I feel particularly despondent if it’s still dark outside when I get up. I start my day with the feeling that getting off bed is a torture, a punishment – in general, something to loathe. And, as most of us would agree, getting up doesn’t need any more negative associations to go with. It’s pretty unpleasant as it is.

So, to go back to my original point of wondering: what their choice speaks about these people. Obviously, they care more about the time after work than about the start of the day. Perhaps they don’t get up very early, so it doesn’t matter to them if the sky is dark. They can get up a little before noon, work in the afternoon, go for a walk in the early evening, and then party until the small hours. This and repeat. What are they? Not farm workers, for sure. Not medical workers either. Neither do they work at school. I have just mentioned three of the important professional fields on whose experts we depend to a large extent during our entire lives. Excluding school, perhaps.

And before this turns into a criticising post, I’ll share my true reason to side with the standard time, a.k.a. “normal” or “winter” time. I want to stick to this time because it’s the correct one from a scientific point of view. It’s the normal time, and I deeply believe we must embrace our normalcy.

Does your country change between normal and summer time? Which time do you support?

Throwback Thursday: Queen’s Album, 1974

For today’s post in the #ThrowbackThursday topic I look at Queen’s third LP album – Sheer Heart Attack, which was released on 8 November 1974. The sound in this album shifted from the sound of the previous two albums and away from progressive rock towards the classic Queen style we are familiar with.
One of my favourite songs, Killer Queen, was released as its first single and reached No 2 in the British charts. It was the band’s first international hit. Freddie wrote the song starting with the lyrics. It is about an elite prostitute offering service to top figures.
She keeps Moet et Chandon
In her pretty cabinet
‘Let them eat cake’ she says
Just like Marie Antoinette
A built-in remedy
For Kruschev and Kennedy
At anytime an invitation
You can’t decline

Caviar and cigarettes
Well versed in etiquette
Extraordinarily nice

She’s a Killer Queen
Gunpowder, gelatin
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind

Recommended at the price
Insatiable an appetite
Wanna try?

To avoid complications
She never kept the same address
In conversation
She spoke just like a baroness
Met a man from China
Went down to Geisha Minah
Then again incidentally
If you’re that way inclined

Perfume came naturally from Paris
For cars she couldn’t care less
Fastidious and precise

She’s a Killer Queen
Gunpowder, gelatin
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind

Drop of a hat she’s as willing as
Playful as a pussy cat
Then momentarily out of action
Temporarily out of gas
To absolutely drive you wild, wild.
She’s all out to get you

She’s a Killer Queen
Gunpowder, gelatin
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind

Recommended at the price
Insatiable an appetite
Wanna try?
You wanna try.

I read here, on the band’s official website, about the specifics around making, recording and releasing the album.
And now, it’s time to listen to some music. I picked the recording of Queen’s performance at Top of the Pops in 1974. Enjoy!

After this magical song, post a comment to tell me which is your favourite song/album by Queen.

Monday Mentions: Sojourner Truth

My #MondayMention post today is dedicated to an extraordinary lady.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
We celebrate her life and legacy on 26 November, the day of her death, only because we aren’t sure about the date of her birth. Not even about the year. No wonder, as we are speaking the 18th century.

Sojourner is not her real name, of course. She accepted is as a symbol and a message. But let me start at the beginning. She was born in slavery in the state of New York, her real name was Isabella Baumfree and her first language was Dutch. The region where she lived used to be the property of Dutch settlers, which is why that was the everyday language.

She was just 9 years old when she was sold after her owner’s death, and over the next 2 years, she changed hands twice more. Around that time, Bella started to learn the English language. In 1826, she escaped to freedom with her youngest daughter. Her master had promised to emancipate her but didn’t, so Bella ran away. She had two other children who stayed behind. That happened only a year before slavery was abolished in New York.
She learned that her 5-year son was sold in Alabama, which was illegal since he was to be emancipated in New York. Isabella had the courage to start a court suit. That case was the first one where a black woman got a victory over a white man. Then she converted to Christianity and worked as a housekeeper with two priests successively. Curiously, the latter one was accused of killing the first one in order to appropriate his fortune. Isabella Baumfree was implicated for the murder. This case also received huge public attention, and she was successful once again.

In 1843, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth by which she grew popular. She spent her life advocating abolition, women’s rights, and suffrage. Her views were radical even for her fellow-abolitionists. Sojourner Truth’s main concern was that freedom and equal rights are sought only for black men, but not women. She worried that after slavery is abolished, the movement and activists would decrease the pressure they put on political figures and law-makers and would be satisfied with the partial victory. That way, women would remain without basic rights still.
In truth, the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, the one regulating women’s right to vote, wasn’t voted until 40 years after Sojourner Truth’s death.
Still, she set the beat, right?

The Beauty of Being Prepared

On Having a Pre-Formulated Theme for Your Future Chapbook

Today’s Writerly Wednesday post started from my speculations whether or not having a theme for my chapbook helps. From there, my thoughts went to being prepared in general. Is creativity something you can direct?

I think not. But being prepared and having a direction in mind is really useful.

This year is my 9th in poeming for the November Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge. It is very similar to the April Poetry Month one, mainly in that you are supposed to write at least one poem every day. The differences start from there. In NovPAD you are also expected to follow specific prompts, while for April PAD, or NaPoWriMo, you can follow yourself and poem on whatever topic you like. Why is that so? Primarily because in November the goal is to use all or most of your resulting poems in a brand new chapbook which you might publish or submit to contests. Of course, no one stops you from doing that with your April-produced poems, yet that is not the explicit objective of the Poetry Month.
In 2010, when I first joined the magnificent community at Poetic Asides, I had no idea about chapbook or contests. I went there with the pure heart and enthusiasm for taking part in something new and wonderful – writing poetry with help and support from others who thought like me. Until that moment, I had never had a supporting community. I joined a couple of so-called “Poetry Clubs” at school and then at university, but honestly, they didn’t do much in the way of support or practical help. I don’t think those clubs sucked, I believe it wasn’t the right moment for me. Plus, let’s admit it, online is much easier. You may take your time, appear whenever it’s convenient for you and choose whether to write to a prompt or not.

In 2012, I started, as usual, simply trying to follow the stream. The previous two years I was doing NaNoWriMo along with the poetry thing, so it was both easy and difficult to write every day. Easy, because you are in the writing mood anyway. Difficult, well, you’ve guessed already. In 2012, I was collecting and sorting papers and articles that would help me in writing my thesis which was due in June 2013. That was instead of a novel that year. Because I was online all the time, I was able to follow the poem-a-day challenge and around Day 7 I noticed that I consciously chose to bend every prompt into a poem about my Dad. At first, the prompts fitted naturally, but after I found the tendency, I started looking for a fit even if there wasn’t one.

Nothing happened after that. Despite some great advice I received from fellow-poets on Poetic Asides, I never got down to actually compiling the good pieces into a book. But they are there, so I may.

In February 2014, I was writing to a month-long creative challenge. I participated in it 2 years in succession. The first time I tried to be diverse, but it didn’t work well, so in 2014, I thought I’d stick to poetry, as this is my medium. I saw again that poems go one direction, and from Day 7 or so, I started leading them in the same direction on purpose. I already compiled the Devastation of the Soul chapbook. Not published yet. I haven’t made up my mind what I’d do with it. Let it rest for a while.

This November, I created my theme a long time before November even started. I even had time to forget it, so I had to look in my earlier Tweets to see how I announced it. So, here’s a take away: announce, because you are going to forget.

The advantage: I am greatly relieved when I see the daily prompt because I know where to take it. I suppose I am one for preparation. Being prepared means a lot to me. It spares me from the initial chaos of wallowing in the swamp of not knowing which way to turn. It saves me a lot of time, energy and I can hit to poeming right away.
I can see this advantage working for me in my blogging activity, too. Now that I plan my blog posts and prepare by research and schedule I am able to meet the time frame I’d set for myself. I mean, having an Editorial Calendar is good, but not enough.

Maybe you have some other tricks and means by which you help your creativity get active and efficient. Or maybe, having read this, you think you should try it. Try it and in a month come back and tell me what happened.

Wednesday Wishes – Samhain

Todays #WednesdayWishes falls on Samhain. So to say, this post comes in its own topic naturally.

Samhain, pronounced SA:WIN, closely related to Halloween, All Saints’ Day and Day of the Dead, is one of the four Wiccan/Pagan holidays that mark the change of a season. It falls between autumn equinox and winter solstice, celebrates the harvest and also welcomes the beginning of the dark half of the year. It is affiliated with other holidays that are popular around the world and that share similarities. A lot of Neo-Pagans celebrate it as their New Year, though Imbolc is also an option.

Because of the lack of written documents of the ancient period, we can’t be sure how it was celebrated. Most probably, the harvest would be collected and then a feast would follow. On a spiritual level, over those days the boundary between this world and the next thins, so a lot of creatures from beyond are able to appear in our world. Priests would make large bonfires: to cleanse both the landscape from the fallen leaves, and the areas from evil spirits and influences. The tradition of disguising in costumes and impersonating evil creatures from the beyond got mixed and transferred to modern times in today’s Halloween trick-or-treating. I can safely say that all parts of the world have this dressing-up in some form. It is used to scare the evil spirits back to the beyond.

runes for divinationDivination is a ritual typical of Samhain. In it, various magical objects and rites can be employed. One simple way of doing it is by means of a Tarrot card deck. Using Runes and various types of seeds or beans is also possible. Another way is by opening the Bible on a random page and reading the first verse that your eyes fall on. Read and think what that speaks to you. I remember reading about this in Tess of the D’Urbervilles and doing it right away. I was still an impressionable young girl back then. I remember the holiday for which Tess did it wasn’t Samhain, of course. She was a devout Christian, and it must have been Michaelmas or Candlemas. I promise I’ll look into the matter sooner than later. Wink.

Autumn DecorationOut of the other ways to celebrate, I chose to mention two more: decoration and renovation. Decoration is easy – put an autumn wreath on your door and decorate your house and yard with the fruits of nature characteristic of the season, keeping to the orange and black colour. Use pumpkin, yellow and red leaves, chestnuts, twigs and dry grass, in short what you can think of. Renovation captured my attention. Choose an area of your house, or life, and think of how you can improve it. Consider what state it is in right now, and try to imagine what it could be, what you’d like it to be. Discard items you no longer need and use. Make place for new items, or just leave some empty space to enjoy.

Happy Samhain! Get rid of all things dirty and live free! Share some photos of how you celebrated whatever holiday you chose to honour this year.

Courgette with Buckwheat – My Latest Favourite Meal

Today is time for #FridayFitness and I decided to tell you about my latest favourite meal.
I’ve seen the buckwheat packs often enough and known it’s some sort of healthy thing, but I’d never tried to find a way to consume that. When I gave birth to my baby, my mother-in-law gave me a pack of buckwheat flour telling me it’s super healthy and what not. I don’t see that pack now, so I must have disposed of it.

Finally, I thought I’d buy a small pack and then start looking for recipes. I bought the seeds, and not flour as I decided that would give me more varied options for cooking. Once home, I discovered a lot of easy-to-make recipes and thought how stupidly stubborn I’d been never to try this before. After cooking my first buckwheat meal, I went so far as to consider a mono diet for 3 days in which I’d consume just that with a little diluted low-fat yoghurt.

Today, I present to you… Courgette with Buckwheat

What You Need:

courgette – 3-4 pcs
carrots – 2 pcs
bell pepper – 1 red one
onions – 1 bunch of green ones, but I used half an old one
garlic – 1-2 blades of green one, but I didn’t use any
buckwheat – 1 teacup
dill – as much as you feel right, I used a teaspoonful
oil – I used olive oil
You may add salt in case you need it, of course. I don’t.

How to Make It:
Rinse the courgettes and cut them in cubes. Heat up a little oil and add 1 teacup of water. Add the onions and garlic in small pieces and stew them until they are soft. Then add the courgette, carrots and bell pepper. Add the buckwheat, 1 teacup of water and boil until ready. That means about 15 minutes after the water boils up. It’s not a long wait, all in all.

If you wish, you may transfer the mixture in a baking plate and put it in the oven for some time. I didn’t. In cooking, I prefer simple. And I didn’t understand if you move the mixture before or after you cook it in the pot.

Serving suggestion: Sprinkle some dill over the dish.

Everyone in my family loved the meal, so I’m cooking it again tonight. Give it a try yourself and share your photos and opinions with me!

Tuesday Tales: Aida, by G. Verdi

Synopsis from My Standpoint

Aida, the story of the tragic love between a princess and a captain against the background of military conflict between Ethiopia and Egypt, was completed in November 1780. It’s a four-act work and the premiere was in December the next year, in France. The time of the narrative is not specified, so it’s hard to place it to anything more precise than the Old Kingdom.

Radames, the Captain of the Guard for the King of Egypt, hopes to be in charge of the Egyptian Army in the imminent war with Ethiopia. At the same time, he is in love with an Ethiopian slave living in the palace. That slave is actually Aida, the Ethiopian princess, and her identity is secret to her captors. To make matters more complex, the King’s daughter, Amneris, loves the young warrior, but worries that he might be enchanted by another. It is true, as we know, plus Aida loves Radames in return, but the two haven’t admitted their feelings to each other. Wow, how dramatic already!

The military forces of Ethiopia move close to Egypt, in a campaign to free the princess. The Ethiopian king, Amonasro, declares war and Radames goes to war leading the Egyptian army. Aida is torn between her love of her father and country, and Radames.

Suspecting who Radames’s love interest is, Amneris, the Egyptian princess, tells Aida that the young captain has died on the battle field, which makes her reveal her feelings towards him. That affects Amneris, filling her with bitter spite and revengefulness. I already pity her.

The Egyptians win a victory and take some Ethiopians hostage. Aida’s father is among them. She runs to him, but he wants her to hide his real identity from their captors. Thus, King and Princess remain incognito. In an age when no photo IDs were available, that is no wonder. It is much more surprising when notables are recognised near and far despite obvious difficulties.

The captives beg the Egyptian king for mercy, although the High Priest and the crowd insist that the enemies should be put to death. In honour of the victory, the King promises to Radames anything he wants. Radames, in his turn, begs the King to spare the captives’ lives. That is granted, Radames is declared successor to the throne and to be married to the Egyptian princess. The King and Princess of Ethiopia are to remain hostage for life, lest they plan a revenge in their homeland.

Aida and Radames get together in some mystic move. I didn’t get how it came to this, but operas often play this trick. So, on the night before Radames and Amneris’s wedding, the two lovers converse, while Amonasro, of Ethiopia, listenes behind a rock. He has ordered his daughter to learn the location of his army and their planned attack direction from Radames. Aida asks her lover to flee with her in the dessert, and unknowingly, he tells her where his army is camping and where they are going to attack.

Amneris and the High Priest appear on the scene and, seeing Radames conspiring with the enemy, call the guards who arrest the commander as a traitor. Meanwhile, Amonasro has told the young man who he is, so Radames is astonished by the news of the night: one horrible and one confusing. The horrible one is that he spilled the beans to the enemy, while the confusion comes from him realising whom he loves.

Amneris sincerely wants to save her love, but Radames refuses to deny the accusations. He is sentenced to be buried alive and brought to a lower vault in the Temple of Vulcan. In the last scene, we see Radames there expecting his fate and believing Aida is safe. This wouldn’t be a true tragic opera if that were so. Aida appears in the same chamber and both sing to their destiny, goodbye to life and earth’s suffering. Above ground, Amneris is miserable. This final piece leaves me with several questions.

First of all, why would Radames not reject the accusations? He didn’t inform the enemy knowingly, he was cheated into it. I don’t believe his death would remedy the situation. Another trait here is that he didn’t want to live without Aida. But, why want to die? He believed Aida escaped and was safe. So, lay low for some time, wait for your moment, and go. Life is strange, you never know what the future holds. These sound like all to modern considerations. I know that noble characters in old work don’t think in such opportunistic ways. For the heroes of old, there is all or nothing, now or never. I understand that I’ve grown. Up, old or wiser.

My other nuisance concerns the place. What temple of Vulcan? Who is that god? Wasn’t he one of the Roman pantheon? I’ve never heard of an Egyptian god called Vulcan.

In conclusion, I think this poor girl, Amneris, is the really tragic character. First, she loves someone who doesn’t return her feelings. Not only that, but his heart belong to someone else. Although Amneris is a princess, she loses this fight to a slave. Of course, the winner is also a princess, but who knows that? Then she hopes to get the upper hand in some way or another, but finally, she loses all. Imagine the humiliation Radames causes to her by meeting up with another woman on the night before their wedding! Imagine the disrespect! Spectators forget about the feelings of characters who are not loved by the protagonist. We want to support the loving couple. Anyone else is of no importance, as if another woman has no right to feel they way she does. When has love asked for permission, though? I felt for Amneris the first time I knew she was in love with this outstanding guy, Radames. And you know what more? I don’t like him very much. He has large enough fandom, I reckon.

As for Aida and Radames, they are heroically tragic, and they are the central characters in the opera with pretty good dividents from that. They are protagonists, everyone in the audience is supposed to sympathise with them, and remain in our hearts forever.

Poor Amneris! Poor rich and happy princess in love with the commander-in-chief!

Thoughtful Thursday: Fathers Rock!

Today’s post is about … dads. I loved my dad, depended on him for everything in my young life, miss him a lot in my adult life, and I believe he deserves the honour of a post. My husband is a wonderful dad, so this post honours him also.

I collected some Fun Facts from here all of which seemed interesting to me.

“Approximately 52% of fathers say they are the primary grocery shoppers in the family, an increase of 10% from 1995. Additionally, 11% of moms research the products they buy compared to 24% of dads.”

Wow, I must admit, the “additional” fact surprised me. I’ve always thought mothers, and women in general, are more prone to research foods and nutrition. Is it the father-role that brings about this change in men? Or is my initial assumption wrong and twisted by the fact that men are usually quieter about their health habits?
The first fact – that fathers do the shopping more often than mothers, is true for both my families. My father was the primary shopper, and my husband is in the same role now. More patience for the supermarket queues, more physical power to carry heavy bags – just part of the advantages they have.

“A new study shows that fathers who share household chores with their wives tend to have more ambitious daughters as well as daughters with more broad definitions of gender roles.”

That definitely hits home with me. My dad took as much care of chores as my mom. They cooked together and did the dishes. That really taught me that women’s place is not in the kitchen. My father told me that a woman is not a cook, cleaner, washer and household utility. Whenever I visited a friend and saw fathers sitting in front of the TV, while mothers were cooking and serving food, I felt awkward. When I grew up to have boyfriends, I found out I hadn’t learned to behave in the “proper” way a girl should. I expected my boyfriend to share the chores with me.

“When fathers are involved in their child’s education, the children perform better in school, learn more, and exhibit healthier behavior.”

Hm, I don’t know. I was always very good at school and my father encouraged me in a meaningful way. On the other hand, my mother usually motivated me by threats and insults. Still, I don’t know if the statement above is true since my brother wasn’t very good at school. He is very intelligent, in fact, much smarter than me. Yet, school wasn’t his thing.

The world’s oldest “Father’s Day card” is a 4,000-year-old Babylonian tablet that a young boy named Elmesu carved to wish his father a long life and good health.

Well, this is just an interesting fact. I’m glad children thought lovingly of their fathers in those times, too.

We have to admit it: Fathers rock!