The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Of Fading Beauty And Summer Reads

It’s fading. The beauty of spring will soon be just a memory. Notwithstanding last week’s rain, the beautiful wildflowers are wilting, slowly relinquishing their glory. They are wise – before the burning breath of summer reaches these shores, they will be just a hazy, if colourful, memory of what was and what will be. I think I could learn to like summer if the wild flowers bloomed. But in the face of such extreme odds, they return to the earth from which they sprung and nurture the seed of life till the rains return once more.Salib tal-Gholja, Delimara, Marsaxlokk (30)

And I, I am a bit like the spring flowers for, unlike the rest of my countrymen (and women) who seem to spend their lives outdoors during the summer months, I tend to hibernate, cocooning myself in the relative coolness of our home and only venturing outdoors in the sunlight if I absolutely have to. With time to kill, I pick up my books and call them friends.Salib tal-Gholja, Delimara, Marsaxlokk (102)

Despite the longish into, I suppose you can say that my post picks up where this one by Suze left off. It is funny, sometimes, how the subconscious of one person seems to be in line with that of another during the same period of time. Or maybe it’s because we are all preoccupied with the same things. I have long wondered what it is that makes us pick one author over another; one blog over another. Of course, most times it is the story that draws me in. But I find that it is usually the style of writing that hooks me. Good plots and storytellers aside, I think I am most drawn to those authors who bleed their hearts out on the page; whose prose rips them asunder. Writers whose words transcend time; whose passion captures the imagination of generations.

This summer I plan to delve into the works of some writers that I have never read before. I have the following line-up in mind: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Sylvia Plath, Paulo Coelho. I would love your thoughts, if any, on these writers. Are they worth the many summer hours I will spend poring over them? Or should I just go outside and battle the pesky mosquitoes?Bingemma, Gnejna & Dwejra (101)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Little Big Things

They say that life is not measured by the number of breaths that we take but by the moments that take our  breath away.

Sunset 005

We are bombarded, on a daily basis, by images flashing through our senses like strobe lights – there one minute and gone the next. Hooked to our TV screens, our computer monitors, our iPads and iPhones and all shapes and sizes of gadgets that I cannot even name, we sometimes forget that real life is ‘out there’ and that we are the protagonists of our own destinies and, no matter how vicariously we live through the lives of others, we only get one shot at living our own.

Dwejra and Fiddien 009

Last night I felt compelled to write a note to my son, to tell him to find joy in each day; to look at the world with wide, curious eyes; to stop and smell not only the roses but the poppies and chamomile too. But above all I told him to smile; smile, smile and smile some more. Because life is about the little things. The things t hat money cannot buy.

Is-Sancir & Migra Ferha (3)

Migra l-Ferha (9)

In some ways, it was a lesson to myself, because I do tend to let circumstances drag me down. I confess that I get angry more quickly than I should and I let obnoxious people spoil my day. But only because I let them. So I am looking at life with a magnifying glass and I’ve discovered that even nature has a sense of humour. That the most detestable (to me) vegetable is innately beautiful. I’ve learnt that carrying a notebook wherever I go is a must and that although a camera can capture a moment, it is the heart that experiences and treasures it.

Is-Sancir & Migra Ferha (22)

Is-Sancir & Migra Ferha (13)

There are days when the smallness of this island gets to me. When I wish I had wings to be able to soar above the clouds and discover the wide open sky. But all it takes to bring me back down is a forgotten chapel, overgrown with weeds or the caress of sunshine on centuries-old stone. They are such little things. Such tiny, insignificant things and yet, against all odds, they keep me grounded; they keep me sane.

Is-Sancir & Migra Ferha (9)

Valletta (24)

Photographed in various locations around Malta, March & April 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Spring Enchantment

The sign for a Dead End stood sentinel at the entrance to a bumpy road that sliced through fields of still-leafless vines. But we decided to ignore it and drive on anyway. The thrill of the unknown was more enticing than the possible inconvenience of ending up in a field or in front of a rubble wall and having to reverse all the way back.

Dwejra and Fiddien 033

Dwejra and Fiddien 046

The countryside was lush and the grass as green as polished emeralds. On either side of us, the silent vines are contemplating their re-awakening. Instead of getting narrower, the road widened to a little clearing and there we were in front of two gaily-painted lilac walls that seemed to form an entrance to another, much narrower, bumpier path.

Dwejra and Fiddien 024

We stopped the car and got out (well, two of us did – the Mischief Maker preferred to continue reading his beloved airplane books from which he is quite inseparable). The air was soft and warm, almost too warm, and carried on it the scent of spring. I looked at the lilac gate-way and my mind took off. Before too long I was in my own magical realm.

Dwejra and Fiddien 026

I was sure that somewhere at the end of this path, a princess slept - because, surely, those gnarled trees with their knobby trunks that seemed as old as the island itself, were once young knights in search of true love. But their quest had failed when an evil old witch turned them into mighty trees with their arms all askew.

Dwejra and Fiddien 027

Dwejra and Fiddien 028

My feet itched to explore some more, to see where the path led and what I would find at its end. But empty stomachs were clamouring for food. I would have to come back some other day.  I would have to come and explore and break the magic spell. Or maybe I would come back and fall victim to the enchantment myself.

I turned my back, reluctantly, leaving behind me a dusty path lined with brooding trees and the promise of adventure and enchantment beyond an incongruous lilac gateway.

Dwejra and Fiddien 025

Photographed at Fiddien Valley, March 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

Wasted Time

Nadur 010

Since I have taken this quote very much to heart, I fear that instead of sitting down to write, I have wasted my time scouring the Internet for inspiration for my travel scrapbook and for photos of hairstyles that might suit me (just in case I decide to go for a bit of a change). I have been productive in other ways though, as my scribbling on notebooks never ceases – nor does my photo-taking.

Dwejra and Fiddien 020

A plethora of wild flowers including giant fennel, asphodel and greater snapdragon

We had a national holiday last Wednesday and went exploring – as we are wont to do. We never expect to find anything new, but, somehow, we always do. Perhaps it’s because we tend to look at the world around us with wide-open eyes and find the unexpected in the mundane and ordinary. Because in reality, none of it is – ordinary, I  mean. When you don’t expect much, you are given a lot in return. Spring is definitely hard at work and she gives ungrudgingly. It’s a bit late to start writing about all the little big things but I definitely have enough material for a number of future posts. I’ll keep my fingers and toes crossed over that one.

Dwejra and Fiddien 019

Giant fennel umbel - opening up

And while we are on the subject of wasted time, here’s another of my all-time favourites:

Finally … I have recently joined Instagram. If any of you are on this other ‘time waster’, drop me a line, I would love to see what you are up to. My Instagram profile is here and my name is storiesandscribbles ( no surprise there).

Have a wonderful weekend and apologies if this post seems a bit all-over-the-place: I had a Nerf-gun war going on around me while I was writing it.  Thanks heavens for little boys and for big ones too.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Willful One

It was 1986. Our French lesson dragged on interminably. I thought I would scream if we had to recite another irregular French verb. Outside our classroom window, two sparrows with thoughts of nest-building pecked lovingly at each other, perched precariously on the edge of the stone balcony. In between a je suis and a tu es they had hopped over the edge and flown away. My thoughts followed them. I was soon somewhere above the puffy clouds.

The abrasive sound of chalk on blackboard brought me back to reality. Another confounded irregular verb to memorise. I  marked it in my book and peered at the board through half-open eyes, wishing I was a bird and could fly away to some fantasy realm. I turned my head slightly. Across the very narrow aisle, littered with school bags, my friend Helga was busily scribbling away. I doubted she was that interested in French verbs.

Mdina Ditch 083

“What are you writing,” I whispered between one conjugation and the next.

“The lyrics to Kayleigh,” she whispered back.

“Write them for me,” I replied, as I surreptitiously handed her my notebook.

She nodded. Minutes later the notebook was back on my desk. I glanced at them and hummed the song in my head.

Do you remember, chalk hearts melting on a playground wall?

Do you remember, dawn escapes from moon-washed college halls?

I was back in my reverie again. This time it was the clanging sound of the recess bell that brought me back to the classroom.

Mdina Ditch 084

It was  March then, as it is now. At lot has changed since that far-off day in the classroom. And a lot has remained the same. I am no longer a bored teenager at school and the ‘80s are just a golden memory. But I am still prone to day-dreaming and to building castles on clouds. Only now, those moments come upon me while I am driving or cooking. And, yes, sometimes while working too. I still hum Kayleigh in my head and, although I have a lot of quiet moments, I can be boisterous and a little bit unruly too. I have changed but, deep down where it matters, I have remained the same.

Medieval Mdina (12)

Our classroom balcony – just above the main entrance

As for March, it is as unpredictable as ever. It is willful and capricious. It  is sunshine and thunderstorms; raindrops and hail. It is beautiful beyond any other month of the year and the most willful out of all of them. March is predictably unpredictable. A maiden clothed in the most exuberant cloak of colours that only the Master painter of the universe can devise; a tomboy with a most mischievous grin. I delight in all that this month has to offer and I will it to go on forever. Because, you see, we are strangely akin, March and I, and I was going to tell you why but, on second thoughts, I will leave it up to you to figure it out.

For those of you that are curious, here’s Kayleigh:

Speaking of change, our school has recently been transformed into a centre of Culture and Leisure. More about that, if you are interested, here and here.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Fabulous Fridays: March

Picnic at Dwejra (92)

Excuse my rather long absence – things have been rather hectic at this end. March is here and since it never does anything by half measures, it rushed in on the wings of a strong wind and heavy rainfall. I think I love it best out of all the months of the year. And for good reason – because it gets really pretty around here at this time. It doesn’t last long, but while it does, I will be enjoying every minute of it. I hope you’re all starting to feel spring stirring. I am in a bit of a mad rush but I’ll be back with more about March and me next week.

Humming along to:

Monday, February 24, 2014

That’s Me In The Corner

Sometimes I get excited about the smallest things. Like this journal that I have had for years and that I have neglected for the past five. Because I ran away with this crazy idea that when I wrote in a journal, I had to fill in pages and pages with words. I felt like I had to chronicle every single event. Every minor swing in mood. Every exhaled sigh. Every word spoken. Of course, that was completely overwhelming. Which is why I gave it up. But I recently had an epiphany - thanks to this article. Journaling is about capturing moments in time. It is not about writing my auto-biography. I mean, who would want to read that anyway? I am writing in my journal for myself, not for an audience, and knowing that makes the whole process enormously liberating.

So I have taken up my pen again. And, in an inexplicable way, it is such a relief to do things the ‘old-fashioned’ way, using paper and ink. I jot down my thoughts, snippets of this and that, scribbled in a hard-bound, burgundy journal that I picked up around 10 years ago from TJ Maxx. Because, you see, I’m that girl who writes much better than she will ever speak. The one who prefers to day-dream than to face the stark reality of life. I am in love with words and the way they can make me feel. For me a journal is not just a collection of memories but the outpourings of my soul.

Keep a notebook

via Mama’s Losin’ It

It is almost insane that I held myself back because of self-doubt and because, instead of getting lost in the moment, I dwelt more on the events or details that led up to it. Now there is nothing reining me in and I believe that I will find myself as I slowly fill with words the blank pages of my journal.

I will never be one of those people who will stand up and give a speech in public. Nor will I ever be the person at the centre of an animated discussion – unless I am with my closest and dearest friends. I will always be the one who’s listening, analysing (over-analysing maybe) the situation and jotting down mental notes. People see me as aloof, cold, even, or totally disinterested but it would be totally different if the discussion was taking place on paper. My soul has always craved an outlet for all these pent-up feelings. So that is why I have this blog – and now my journal, so that I can tune-in to that secret part of me that is hidden to so many. Because, yes, that would be me in the corner, shunning the spotlight. That would be just me – alone with my thoughts and my pen.

I’ve Got Kugel Spirit « Life is Not a Movie

via We Heart It

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Colours Of The Seashore

The sun shone brightly – oh, so brightly – from a cobalt blue sky. It felt like a late spring day, but it wasn’t. This was February. This was winter. I sighed as I rolled down the car window and the warm, sultry air caressed my face. I needed to re-charge, so we drove to a rocky beach that we do not frequent very often. It was deserted, except for one solitary fisherman casting his line, a diver and an older, foreign couple soaking up the sun. The air felt tangy, full of sea and salt.

Bahar ic-Caghaq (8)

We walked to the water’s edge. The sea sashayed at our feet, its surface shimmering in the unrelenting sunlight. Never at rest, it sighed and gurgled as it playfully embraced the rocks and shoreline.

Bahar ic-Caghaq (24)

Its hues were as flamboyant as ever – a palette of blues and greens, married together to create the aquas and turquoises that make my soul smile.

Bahar ic-Caghaq (10)

Bahar ic-Caghaq (34)

It took a lot of effort but I finally managed to tear my eyes away, and let my gaze linger on the seemingly unimportant things.

Like the limestone bleached to an almost-white;Bahar ic-Caghaq (50)

a perfectly round rock-pool lined with brilliant green moss; Bahar ic-Caghaq (40)

shy little creatures peeking from nooks; Bahar ic-Caghaq (32)

the shells of a thousand summers ago. February-001

We have so little here but that makes me appreciate the abundance of simple things so much more. I feel a deep-seated joy when I seek and find beauty where others might find none. I looked back at the sea – at its clarity, at its mysterious depths, noting its innocent playfulness.

Bahar ic-Caghaq (54)

Tomorrow its colours could change, its mood could swing to a roaring insanity. Tomorrow it could all be so different.

Bahar ic-Caghaq (28)

Location: Bahar ic-Caghaq, February 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fabulous Fridays: Love, Only Love

So starts the second stanza of one of my favourite ballads. But love is, perhaps, the most abused word in the dictionary. The world seems to have  lost the concept of what love really means. Yesterday, my son asked me when Valentine’s Day was first celebrated and I made the snide remark that it’s just another Hallmark holiday. But, on this day dedicated to  love and lovers everywhere, I will refrain from being cynical.

USA 2013 1481

So where did it all start? Well, like all other good things, this day started off as a fertility festival in ancient Rome. The Lupercalia was celebrated between February 13-15. Then, some time around February 14th (or so they say), a Christian man named Valentine (possibly a priest) was martyred. His crime? He defied the emperor (Claudius II) by continuing to perform marriage ceremonies even though Claudius thought that bachelors made better soldiers. And the rest is a mish-mesh of legends and history. But leaving all cynicism aside, where would the world be without love? We all need it, we all crave it and we are all the better for having found it.

USA 2013 1483

The way I see it, we should celebrate our loved ones everyday and not wait for mid-February every year to let them know how much we love them. But I still hope you have some romantic plans lined up for this weekend. If not, well, there’s always one of your favourite love stories to watch. These are just two of mine.

Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age.- Anais Nin

Love has no desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires; To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully.- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

As for that ballad I mentioned, here it is …

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Watching The Storm Roll In

It’s been one of those weekends. I meant to accomplish much but didn’t do half of what I planned. Saturday was a slow, lazy day. The rain fell incessantly. I relaxed and read and didn’t do much of anything - my favourite type of day after a hectic week. It gave me time to think about the month that has just flown by. Apart from celebrating my birthday and dealing with a bout of flu, January went the way all Januarys usually go – without much fanfare; anonymously, almost.Nadur 001
Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny. Out in the yard, drops from the previous night’s rain hung upside down on the washing line, like diamond beads on a necklace. I shook the line and they scattered everywhere. In the afternoon, we went for a drive, aimlessly, and ended up at Nadur Tower – the highest point on the island. Nadur 017
This place always has a profound effect on me – like it has a secret story to share and it wants me to tell the tale. Beyond the tower, far out at sea but moving quickly inwards, a fierce storm raged. Soon, wispy tendrils of clouds floated around the tower’s head. Hot on their heels, slate grey clouds enveloped us in darkness. Nadur 007
Nadur 011
As we ran to the car, the rain started to fall. We sat there for a while, in silence, watching the rain form tiny rivulets on the windows. Then we drove away, leaving behind a brooding, lonely tower. With a story to tell.
Nadur 020
Location: Nadur Tower, Bingemma Gap – February 2014

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