Hindu religious shrine in Budhanilkantha, Nepal. Click photo to view detail.
At first glance at the image (above), you may notice the trefoil shapes in the iron grillwork, the prayers pinned to the wooden posts, the red powdered remnants of offerings and marigold petals. If you look more closely, you may see a woman in red peering through the grillwork. When I took the photo, I focused solely on the structure itself. It was only as I turned to walk away that I noticed the woman in the corner, gazing at me.
"Everything we see hides another thing," said Rene Magritte. And sometimes we fail to observe what's right in front of us.
I could not believe my eyes when I read President Barack Obama has caved to the Party of No's demands to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. This from the president who has long opposed tax cuts that favour the rich, repeatedly insisting such a cynical measure was his "line in the sand."
The President now claims that "compromise" is necessary to further extend benefits for the unemployed and provide more tax cuts for middle class Americans. In return for protecting their deep pockets, the Republicans agreed to pass legislation granting such concessions to benefit ordinary Americans.
"...And no one was angry enough to speak out." - Inscription found on one of the Pyramids, Giza, Egypt.
But did John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and their GOP colleagues care about the unemployed and middle class? No. The GOP signed a letter actually refusing to legislate an unemployment benefit extension unless their demands continuing tax cuts for one percent of wealthiest Americans were met.
Why do any of these obstructionists still have a job??!! Seems the Republicans of 2010 would prefer the United States be run like a Russian oligarchy, rewarding their rich cronies and caring little about solving serious problems or righting imbalances for the rest of us.
As The New York Times wrote in an editorial, "President Obama's deal with the Republicans to extend all the Bush-era income tax cuts is a win for the Republicans and their strategy of obstructionism and a disappointing retreat by the White House."
"Welcome home." A Buddhist monk walks across paint-stenciled words at a monastery high in the hills above Kathmandu, Nepal.
So nice to have a travel-and-guest-free peaceful weekend at home. It's been snowing in Paris, offering an excuse to cosy up by the fire and read The Apothecary's House; enjoy lovely meals prepared by my resident (husband) chef and address a huge stack of Christmas and New Year's cards. Just for a day or two, everything else can wait.
The Nepali and English words inscribed on the building (pictured) indicate "The True Meaning of Life" by the Dalai Lama:
"We are visitors on this planet. We are here for 90 or 100 years at the very most. During that period, we must try to do something good, something useful with our lives. If you contribute to other people's happiness, you will find the true goal; the true meaning of life."
"Right from the moment of our birth, we are under the care and kindness of our parents and then later on in our life when we are oppressed by sickness and become old, we are again dependent on the kindness of others. Since at the beginning and end of our lives we are so dependent on others' kindness, how can it be that in the middle we neglect kindness toward others?"
A jumble of snow-covered bicycles, Monday night, Amsterdam.
David and I have been in the Netherlands, searching for a place to live. We looked at properties as big as Amsterdam canal houses: strange mazes of odd-shaped rooms spread over three floors, accessed by narrow twisting stairways. These curious abodes would hold all our furniture, with an abundance of empty space remaining. We viewed a city loft-type space, with too many large windows overlooking neighbours' windows and backyards. We saw exposed timber beams painted over by clueless developers.
We viewed an apartment with original stained glass windows, but basic modern design and tiny box-like rooms. Its main attraction was its sprawling rooftop terrace. We spent two hours with Samira - our wonderful estate agent - in a massive traffic jam in evening snow, in what should have been a ten-minute drive. In the estate agents' office, we drank tea and laughed ourselves silly over amusing translations from Dutch to English.
The third place we visited was a charming maisonette, in a beautiful location. It had huge windows, with splendid views of a church. It featured fantastic architectural elements that meant probably a third of our furniture would have to remain in France. But I found myself wistfully gazing out those wide windows at the snow falling and passersby laughing - and just for a moment, daring to wish the magic could last.