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Tag Archives: Life

At Horizon’s End – Chris Sarantopoulos

The Man Who Fed On Tears always knows whose time it is to pluck from the world of the living. His existence is one of a symbiosis between his need for the tears and woe he causes to those closest to the deceased, and the natural order of life and death to which he is bound. He never questions himself or his actions and has never made a mistake. Until now.

Stella is a four-year-old girl who misses her mommy and wants to see her again. She doesn’t yet understand the concept of loss, so when she sees close family members crying, she tries to stay cheerful and optimistic. After all, Mommy said they’d see each other again when the time comes At Horizon’s End. So if they’ll meet again, why is everyone crying?

Short stories are always challenging to review, especially ones of exceedingly short length, such as At Horizon’s End.  However having been sent a preview copy, I was willing to take the task on so shouldn’t complain about the challenge.

The story is a poignant dealing with, and understanding of grief, essentially from three sides; four-year old Stella, her family (to a lesser extent as they are mostly in the background) and Death, who is having something of a wobble in his understanding of the impact of the job.

The touching, simple and sparse narrative switches between these two main characters, offsetting a child’s innocence and moving way of looking at things with something more timeless and harsh in death who, is humanised to good effect.  The split narrative works well and fleshes out the scene to good effect.

This is a story of love, a short, sharp piece of prose which I really did enjoy.  The conclusion is strong and raises some interesting speculations which adds to the overall story.  It’s a lovely piece of writing, it won’t take you long to finish but if you are anything like this reader you will think on it for a good time after.

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Posted by on 31/07/2017 in Fiction

 

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The Lagom Trend

Torturing myself with visits to local bookshops to window shop – whilst purposefully leaving my wallet at home – I have been noticing all these books on Lagom.  At the beginning I thought it was just one or two popular books that were around all the time due to popularity but no, it’s an uncalled for glut.

It was perhaps inevitable after all the literature and TV from Scandinavia that has been coming over to these shores of late, that other less interesting aspects would also.  This is being marketed as a new lifestyle trend in the form of Lagom.  The closest translation of Lagom (so the internet informs me) is ‘in moderation’, or ‘just enough’.  A cynic may suggest the success of Hygge has encouraged this new trend. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 30/07/2017 in Life

 

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Giving Something Back

We arrived at a piece of wasteland, a building site but today transformed, not so much in its aesthetics but through care into a community meeting place. A bright haven, where once a week smiles come easily and some much-needed respite is welcomed.

The Dasmariñas chapter of Kiwanis International are a great bunch of people, passionate about helping and really enthusiastic for the families and also to talk about what they do.  It was a wonderful experience both in terms of being involved and seeing how things work at the front end of charities.  It was also a gentle reminder that I could do more and an encouragement to do more and be involved.

Everything was set up and soon enough I was introduced and invited to give out food to the kids who were either impressed by my height, my can’t-cope-with-the-heat look or possibly bemused by my Casper the Friendly Ghost whiteness which was certainly more pronounced than I am used to.

It’s more than just food and drink that are offered by the Kiwanis team though, solar lamps and hair cuts for example are also things that are provided throughout the three-month programme.  it is a relief for the parents as well, there was a great spirit and everybody was smiling. It puts one’s faith back into humanity and was a relief from all the tragedy that we read and hear about every day.

Charity is always worth a contribution and seeing videos is all well and good but being there in person means so much more, its valuable as an experience and to really understand the lives that are touched by the generosity of the donators and volunteers.  Not only that but to also to use the opportunity to thank the team members for what they were doing.  It is not often I am lost for words but that day, all I could keep repeating was how great everything was and what a wonderful job they do. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 08/07/2017 in My Writings, The Philippines

 

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Kawanis International, and What’s Important

Lots to share with you this week including a surprising hidden find local to my house but first off is a long-delayed trip back to my Philippine experiences and a most unexpected offer.

Totally out of the blue, I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to – twice – join the local Dasmariñas chapter of the Kiwanis international charity and help distribute food to children in need.  I was excited to spread the word about what I saw there, especially as I wasn’t expecting such a wonderful offer but was nevertheless eager to take them up on it and see a side of the Philippines so far unfamiliar, up close.

Kiwanis International has been around since 1915 and now has over 600,000 members in over 80 countries and aims to help children in many ways; according to the website Members stage nearly 150,000 service projects and raise nearly US$100 million every year for communities, families and projects.  Impressive stats, showing how dedicated people are and how generous, with their time and money.

All projects are member funded and help feed some of the kids who live below the poverty line,  as always with charities, they can only do so much with what they have but from what I saw, the little they have can go a long way and with more support a lot more good could be done.  There is so much more to this wonderful charity than I could write about here, so please head on over to the website http://www.kiwanis.org/ and take a look at what they do and of course any donations would be wonderful.

My next post will be an amalgamation of my personal experiences of going to a couple of these events, it certainly opened my eyes and made me eager to go back and be in a position to do more.  That will be the post I have been perhaps most excited in sharing with you, which is why today, I have been deliberately vague. Plus I haven’t yet written it out past the first draft so that’s always a factor.

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Posted by on 05/07/2017 in Blogging, The Philippines

 

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Word To Your Mother (tongue)

Sumerian inscriptions circa 26th century BC

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The Language history of the world shows more of the true impacts of past movements and changes of peoples, beyond the heraldic claims of their largely self-appointed leaders.  They reveal a subtle interweave of cultural relations with power politics and economic expediency.

There’s a short glimpse into the book I am currently reading, Empires of the Word:  A Language History of the World, and as you are no doubt wondering, yes it is absolutely fascinating. Thanks to language and the written word we have civilisation, cheap copies of the greatest and most defining texts that have been produced through the human experience and the combined weight of a shared history.  Sadly we also got The Da Vinci Code but it’s a small price to pay.

Now here’s a great bit of music (with lyrics, thereby making it relevant to this post) and a brilliant video to boot.  Also a new episode of Twin Peaks tonight and apologies for the obscure Vanilla Ice lyric title.

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Posted by on 26/06/2017 in History, Languages

 

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Costa de Oro

Being invited off on a family weekend holiday is always a pleasure but also slightly intimidating when it is only your second day and everything is still new.  I had no idea where we were going but welcomed the opportunity for some rural exploration.

After an exciting introduction to Filipino road use and then getting stuck in a tunnel (thanks to world championship skateboarding, on Easter Saturday on a busy road, no less) that was reminiscent of some sort of zombie film, it was with great relief that we hit the coast.

With a fleet of three boats, packed with people ( as well as more awaiting our arrival) and supplies it was a steady voyage along, around a point and then it was patient gazing time, trying to pick out all the features such as banana boats (great fun by the way) and places to buy a cool drink.

Despite a massive building overlooking everything, Costa de Oro still looked lovely.  We were located a short bridge away from the pool and sea with plenty of greenery and rooms. Sleeping in a tent was my destiny which was fine by me as I was anticipating my first night looking up at the Southern night sky. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 05/06/2017 in The Philippines, Travel

 

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A Dance to the Music of Time: Autumn – Anthony Powell

Continuing the chronicles of life experience via narrator Nicholas Jenkins, this spoiler free review focuses on books seven to nine of the series: The Valley of Bones, The Soldier’s Art, and The Military Philosophers.

Obligatory warning to those people who feel it necessary to pick up a series at the half way point for reasons only known to them: whilst not spoiling anything of these or previous books, if you do like what you read, start with the Spring books as the Autumn omnibus will be pretty impenetrable at this point to newcomers, who will lack the sense of nuance created in previous volumes.

This third mini trilogy in greater narrative is another 720 page tome which is a joy to spend time with.  By now its obvious that I love this masterwork otherwise I wouldn’t still be endeavouring to carry on but the more I engage with the characters, the richer the books become.  As with the previous books the reader is in for a treat, discovering and rediscovering characters full of wit, eccentricity and intricacy.

Another phase of life begins anew for Jenkins et al. and the effects of the war lead to some unexpected changes in familiar personalities, whilst exploring the impact of some exiting characters.  The impact of the second world war is far-reaching not just in geographical and emotional ways but also to the shaking up of social class structure.  This book is one of acute change on all sides.

In this modern world of ours where everybody wants to talk (or shout) about themselves, it is refreshing to find a narrator who reveals little of himself throughout the books and focuses on what is going on around him. Whilst he retains the same detachedness that has seen him through school to this point there is now, more than ever, a justifiable sense of experienced world-weariness.  The books he name checks – most noticeably Proust and to a lesser extent Balzac – give a tantalising hint to the man behind the narrative voice and the author himself.

There are the usual slew of new characters introduced and getting to know them counteracts the very real boredom of the war as seen from the backwaters and offices of the UK.  This dullness of duty is offset by Powell’s wonderful prose, it is rich in both depth and message and gives the right amount of balance to delivering bright spots in what is a very downbeat (to say the least) time in history.  Few authors would be able to be as precise and delicate in this depiction. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 02/06/2017 in Fiction, Modern Classics

 

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