Archive for the Life Category

Dream home

Posted in Life, Uncategorized with tags on August 26, 2009 by Silvia
Our home had tapestries of flowers from Guinea in the walls, switch baskets full of flowers, yellow courtains in the windows and bamboo furniture in the living-room. It had a big fireplace, and sunflowers candelabra. There were wooden African statues of hunters and animals everywhere – elephants, zebras, lions, gazelles and even wild boars.
Our home was full of books – there was more than one thousand. Those books went to Africa… They are probably in hands of children that need them more and love them more. I miss those books – old friends – but what good would they be doing accumulating dust in an old empty house where no-one would read them? So, they will be friends of their new readers, and give them all the riches and fantasy that they gave us. For the best.

Our home was full of memories. I’m sure it still is. It has seen our children arrive, and grow. It has seen our love story, our parents, our friends, our dogs and birds. It has seen our dreams grow and break. It has seen our efforts, our tears, our joy. A part of us remains there.
Now, we can only dream of a home – a home of children, of parents, of Love, of dogs and birds and flowers. A home where we can rebuild our dreams, our work, our family. A home where we can be… And finally find our refuge, our rest after this long storm.
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The way to Freedom

Posted in Life with tags , , , , , , , on July 12, 2009 by Silvia
Portrait of Fernando Pessoa, oil on canvas
Image via Wikipedia

Today I reached 103 hours of Management Accounting.

This is an important psychological victory because, finally, I crossed the line of hundred. Enough? Not yet. I still need to know how to work with SAGE and still have hundreds of exercises to do. I need to be able to complete fifty exercises in two hours to do the exam. It’s this time management the worse thing that I must deal with.

But I’m full of courage and energy inside of me. “Hunger and cold put the hare on her way.”I have all the strength of despair to push me. My Freedom is glowing at the end of the tunnel. My Freedom and my family’s Freedom. The end of the nightmare that we are gowing through. It’s a very bright star, isn’t it?

I’m compiling formulas and making resumes. I’m doing exercises and schemes… I copied all the manual into a notebook, to be able to read it. Sometimes, my eyes get so tired that I can’t read those little lettres. My handwriting is much better.

The strange thing is : I still don’t know who my tutor is. I have a good one, though…




“Oh, what a pleasure

Not to accomplish a duty,

To have a book to read

And not to make it! 

To read is boring,

To study is nothing. 

The Sun gilds

Without literature

The river runs, well or badly,

 Without an original edition.

 And the breeze, this,

So dawning,

As the time, does not have haste…

Books are papers painted with ink. 

To study is a thing where is indistinct

 The distinction between nothing and not a thing. 

How much is better, when there is mist,

To wait for D.Sebastião, 

Whether he wants comes or not! 

Great it is the poetry, the goodness and the dances… 

But the best of the world are the children,

Flowers, music, moonlight, and the sun, that only sins

When, instead of creating, it dries. 

More than that is Jesus Christ,  

That wise person knew nothing of finances

Nor does it consist that He had a library…”


(Fernando Pessoa)

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Watergarden – a piece of heaven at your home

Posted in Art, Life, Nature with tags , , , , , , , on July 10, 2009 by Silvia

What I’m going to show you is a sample of my husband’s artistry.
He did all this with his bare hands and a few tools (as you can see below).


This is a suggestion of a way how you can take advantage of that little empty space in the corner of your garden and give it a special feature, your own vision, making it become your space of reflection and Peace.


First of all, you need to clean it up, to pluck out all the grass and the weed that can prevent the growth of new plants. You need to move the earth too, the little stones, and create depth to insert your reservoirs. The easiest way is to buy rubber ones, but you can also isolate the ground yourself with liner. If you chose this way, it’s convenient that you put a layer of sand over the earth, so that you can minimise the risk of perforation and leaks.


The flow of rocks, the way you display them, is of major importance to achieve a good balance. The landscape you create with your hands must seem natural, must appear in your eyes as if it had been there all the time. You must look at your landscape and feel it as a part of you, as a way to your inner self. Of course this is not an unique recipe to everyone, because each person has a different way to see the little corner of his or her dreams.

The rocks were chosen one by one, literally. Everywhere we travelled across the country, we were looking at the ground “This one we like, this one we don’t.” The schist gives a water garden a very special shine, contributing to a very calming healing through light. It’s radiances flow between the golden and the orange, the reddish and the ocre. It’a a very beautiful rock. We used too pebbles that we caught in the river, beautifully polished by the water torrents.
There are no straight lines in a true Feng Shui garden. They are unnatural and imprisonate the spirit, while the curves liberate it. Building a pond is a work of patience and dedication; in my vision a “natural looking pond” is a true artistry. These stones were moved several times, before they found their perfect positioning.

The sound of water cascading over the stones is like a song in the silence. Though it may not seem. A submersible pump must pull the water to the cascade, from the lower preformed liner to the cascade on the top. Of course you must think of the leaning on the ground and you must fit your reconduction tubes before building your stone puzzle.


 The water means wisdom, while the rocks grant the spirit the security and the protection of the life within the mother’s womb. That’s why the combination between the two is so vital. In practice, we need to create a little cove with peaceful singing waters, surrounded by the majestic
envelopment of the mountains (in a small scale, of course!)

This is the final conception. A cascade on the top, from where the water falls in a first large basin. Then, it flows through the ground, isolated with liner, among the shinning rocks, to a second one; it has a little cascade from where the water falls into a third, and so on. If you close your eyes, you hear a constant flow and a song that won’t stop dripping in your mind, as if you were in the most isolated and quiet refuge in the middle of the mountains.
What you see here, growing over the rocks, is Verbena and Poligonum (knotgrass). You can give it colour with Irises, Water Lilies and Lotuses. You can give it flow, using rushes with light pending leaves that flow in the breeze. The Bamboo is very musical and refreshing, and its presence gives a mystic oriental atmosphere to your garden.
The Japanese lantern is so beautiful that we couldn’t forget it. Though we didn’t have much room to build a small wooden bridge (moonbridge) as we wished, this lantern provides so much magic to this garden, specially at night, that we almost forget everything else. It is the representation of the Earth, Water, Fire and Wind.

Ca you see the colours?
The yellow means the mind, the optimism, the ability to reach, the reflexions. It’s the energy, the justice and the honesty.
The green is a bridge, like the heart. It’s the idealism, the unselfishness, the understanding.
The blue is the highest intelligence and the depth of truth. The blue inducts contemplation and tranquility.
The white shows us the shine and the supreme purity of the light. The white is faith, is reason and is also hope.
And many other colours have different meanings. I just tried to give you an insight of what you can see in this picture.

And, as Nature takes its time, this is the way how it looked, after one year.


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The Invading Darkness

Posted in Life, rock the cage with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2009 by Silvia
Light in the Darkness

Image by Michael Mistretta via Flickr

Suki went to work feeling happy, pleasantly determined to work like a donkey, ignoring pain and tiredness, as she used to do when all doors and possibilities of a brilliant career were still on the table. And so she did, the first four hours, organizing the merchandise beautifully, tidying up, taking her cages in and out. Suki was singing, as she always does, because music helps her spirit to maintain concentration on the job and the body to keep the rhythm (isn’t that why they sing those songs in the Army?). Suki thought “This is a brand new day, a bright new start.”

Then an Apprentice of Manager came to her, around five o’clock, asking: “How many time of break do you still have?” Suki answered “One hour!” “Then, you have to take it now!” “Why?” “Because Mr. Supreme said that you have to!” “Well, tell Mr. Supreme that I can’t have one whole hour of break now! It’s the Health and Safety Regulations!” How come this, may you ask… Suki’s job is a physically demanding one, like a sport. It takes time to warm up the muscles and get them to work well. If the warming up isn’t done properly, the workers are subject to all kinds of accidents, that can include resulting in paralysis. When the muscles are all warmed up and the workers take one hour of break, then the muscles cool off, the pain comes and it’s quite difficult to restart. Suki likes to work, she doesn’t like to be there blowing balloons. It’s already difficult enough at the beginning of the day, because in practice the workers really don’t have the time to warm up. There was a time when Suki went to work walking, not only for economical reasons, but she realised that when she arrived it was much, much easier to get into the rhythm. To be able to restart the body when having one hour break in the middle of the day (uuufff!)… It’s almost a miracle.

The Apprentice went away. Soon enough, Mr. Supreme came to Suki, with an outraged look on his face and said: “You must have your breaks in the middle of your working day, because this is the convenience of the factory.” Convenience of… Well, as Suki remembers, the breaks were created, in the first place, to protect the Worker, not the factories. The breaks prevent the Worker from doing excessively long turns of effort and from risking accidents caused by tiredness. Suki explained that to Mr. Supreme. “I’m sorry! It’s the System!” Well, then the system forces her to take her breaks, one hour and a half, concentrated between half past three and six o’clock. Yes, because when she tried to take her first break at two o’clock, “No, you can’t, because there are too many persons in break at this time!” OK. Half past two? “No, people have lunchtime. You must wait until everybody comes back!” “Three o’clock, then? “There are still persons at break! YOU MUST wait until everybody comes back!” That’s why Suki said between half past three and six o’clock.  Hey, but you are forgetting some important detail: between four and five no-one, but absolutely no-one can have a break.  What’s left for her, then? Half an hour from half past three to four. One hour from five to six. One shift of four hours and a half, then one shift of one hour, then one shift of two hours. And there is something absolutely blinded in the middle of this story. Why her, why Suki has to wait until everybody else comes back to be entitled to a break?

Suki explained that to Mr. Supreme, as she could.  And she asked: “Who else in this factory is forced to have one hour break in these terms?” “Ah, many people have…” Yes, they have because they want, because they chose to (as Suki knows, everybody walks in and out of the factory when they want, for a cigarette, for a chat, to go anywhere else, at the point that the Direction had to put the Security counting the minutes, because they lost track of their own workers). “Who else is forced to…” No-one.

Suki told Mr. Supreme: “I didn’t want to issue a complaint for detriment when I was told that I have no future in this factory, for the fact that I was promised that after Christmas I would be doing training to evolve in my career. I didn’t want to complain that I was yelled at here, that I was lied to, (how many times?), that I was forced to close my eyes to violations of the principles of the Company… But this is already too much to me. Are you sure that you want to do this?“ He laughed: “Who are you going to complain to?” After all, HE IS Mr. Supreme. Suki told him who she was going to complain to (I can’t say it here, because the Company would be identifiable and they finally would have a good reason to sack me). But Suki told him about the governmental agencies that take care of problems of discrimination. “Discrimination?!” He laughed at her again. “Yes, that’s the only way I can understand the difference in the way I’m treated here, this harassment that happens here every day!” “You are doing blackmail with me!” he said. “No, I’m not! I’m going to act legally, accomplishing every step that the Law previews, on something that I can’t bear any more.  It’s a right that, as a Worker, I’m entitled to.” And Suki thinks that it’s much more honourable to warn him than to do it on his back. Suki was never the treacherous kind of person.

Suki asked him: “Mr. Supreme, think for a while! What am I going to do here during one hour of break? You know that I can’t go home!” He asked: “What do the other ones do?” “They talk!” But, if Suki is forced to go for a break when everybody comes back, how can she talk to anyone? In practice, this is a sort of segregation, which is more a violence to the spirit. “Oh, then you are saying that you can’t take one hour of break because you can’t talk?” “Mr. Supreme, please don’t try to take advantage on the fact that I’m a foreigner to put meanings in my words that I didn’t mean to say!” Suki told him again that her fundament to a refusal is in the Health and Safety regulations. “Then, if you can’t stand the effort (not in these exact words) of this job, you must look for something else! (exact words)”

And this is it.

Suki went home, before her shift ended, crying and with her heart beating excessively. She was so nervous that she almost couldn’t stand up.

Suki didn’t go to work today.

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Manifestum of an unemployed teacher

Posted in Life, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 6, 2009 by Silvia

Today, one more time, I started looking for a job.Once again; how many times did I do it in the last two years?

It’s not because my Book Tour started today; it has no particular reason related to the job I do nowadays – it’s because my bank account fell disastrously to zero, it’s because I owe already more than I earn in one month. And I already reduced my expenses to the absolutely indispensable.

My mom told me yesterday, when I was talking with her in the phone, as I do every weekend: “Oh, Silvia, if it was to get in the situation you are now, you should have staid in Portugal!” Dear mom! One one hand, she has a point – in Portugal, I had a free house (my father’s house) and a permanent well-paid job as a teacher. “But, mom! If I had staid in Portugal, I would never have published a book as I did here! My husband would never be able to get a job (he was considered too old to work, at 38) and would never have been allowed to be studying again! I wouldn’t be studying too and, worst of all, the children wouldn’t have a future!” Tough choice, isn’t it?!

“But, Silvia! For example, this week Miguel Sousa Tavares published a book!”

“Dear mom, give it a thought! Who is Miguel Sousa Tavares?” I know, he is an excellent writer – no-one ever puts that in question – but would he ever publish a book in Portugal if he wasn’t already famous?…

I love to teach

I love to teach

I know! How hard is it to understand and sometimes it is even painful to think about it. I’m a teacher. In the UK, the Teacher is the “Most wanted profession”. There is such a lack of teachers that they are producing “fast-track” ones to fill the vacancies, with six months to one year of training. I have a five years Degree, with specialization in Education, and I just can’t find a job as a teacher! I’m qualified in Modern Languages and Literature, fluent in English, French, Portuguese and Latin, sixteen years of experience, approved by the NARIC and fully registered in the GTCE and no-one gives me a chance.

What?… Am I ugly? I’m asking this because there were schools that asked for a photograph with the application form… I didn’t know that one needs to be a top-model in order to teach Latin!

Am I a criminal, someone who can’t approach children or vulnerable adults? No! I have clean police checks from the UK, including Scotland, and from Portugal. I never in my life did any wrong to anyone and I even have participation in several charity and cooperation activities.

No. I’m not selling my position. Sometimes I have doubts about my willing to go on being a teacher in those “terms and conditions”. I’m just letting the injustice and the grief out of my heart.

Someone recently asked me why I published my book. Why here?… Why now?…I didn’t come to England with the slightest intention  of publishing a book – it’s the absolute truth – but when I was looking for a job (this time as a teaching assistant!) I was told (how many times?): “We can’t give you this job, because, you understand, we can’t be sure that you know enough English to teach!” When I tried to do a training course, in an University, I was told: “As a foreigner, you couldn’t write an whole essay in English!”

OK! Discriminative reasons, but still I can understand the feelings behind them.

But now, what is happening? “Turn your talents into teaching” advertising is passing on TV on and on. I applied.  “No, you can’t do it! You are already qualified to teach any subject at any level.” This was the answer of the TDA. A dead end.

I was then asked for letters, written and stamped by the Boarding Directions of every school where I worked. I contacted the schools. The answer from the British schools where I worked was (quite reasonable indeed) “We can’t write references for someone who worked here just one day or two days!” In Portugal, it isn’t done because a teacher  isn’t an employee of a school. The employer there is the Ministry of Education, not the schools. And the Ministry kindly provided all the documents it could.

So, am I being penalized for being a foreigner or not?!

To be a teacher in the UK, I would need experience in the UK. “Thirty days at least”, they say. I can’t have experience, if no-one gives me the chance to work.

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Happy Birthday America!

Posted in Life, Tribute with tags , , , , , on July 4, 2009 by Silvia
United States Declaration of Independence
Image via Wikipedia


The New Colossus

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


(Emma Lazarus)


      I know that you probably saw these images and words a thousand times. I know that is nothing new. But I can imagine the amazement and the enchantment in the spirit of the poor immigrant who arrived to the harbour for the first time, after a long and  troublesome journey through the Atlantic, and saw this solemn Lady there, in the horizon, lighting the way to Freedom. What a feeling…

      I was always fascinated by its extraordinary symbology, ever since I read, when I was a teenager, the books of the series Patricia, by Julie Campbell (why do the editions have different names from country to country?!), and here is what I learned:

      The Lady Liberty holds a torch in her right hand. I like to think that it lights the way to Freedom, but it goes a little further than that – it represents the knowledge, the forward-thinking. Go as far as you can, reach as high as you can. The rays of its crown are the symbols of the world, seven continents and seven seas. The number seven is magic in itself and has a powerful influence throughout the History.  The crown has twenty five windows – the twenty five gemstones we can find on Earth. 

      As I couldn’t find the list of these gemstones, I asked my son , who is an “expert” in Mineralogy, and he said : “Diamond, Ruby, Saphire, Rubelite, Verdelite, Jade, Emmerald, Agatha, Amethist, Opal, Aquamarine, Pirope, Lazurite, Zircon, Turquoise, Spinnel, Topaz, Iolite, Tanzanite, Charoite, Labradorite, Morganite, Bixbite, Andalusite, Rhodochrosite. The organic gemstones are Pearl and Amber.

      In her left hand, she holds the “tablet of the supreme architect”, which represents the Law and the Declaration of Independence. We can read in this tablet the inscription, in roman numbers, of the date July, 4, 1776. But what I really love about the statue of Liberty are the broken chains in her feet – the liberation from oppression, the end of slavery?…

      As I was looking for meanings, I read in the a sentence which brings a lot of goodness to me: “The people of the United States are joined together, not by religion, race or genealogy, but by a shared  set of beliefs about Freedom.”


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Posted in Life, Literature on June 30, 2009 by Silvia
Cherry grove in flower at the Auckland Domain.

Image via Wikipedia

“As soon as we knew each other
We inaugurated the word friend!
A friend is a smile
From mouth to mouth,
A very clean look
a house, even modest, that is offered.
A heart ready to beat
In our hand!
Friend (…)
Friend is the opposite of enemy!
Friend is the corrected error,
Not the pursued, explored error.
It is the shared, practised truth.
Friend is the defeated solitude!
Friend is a great task,
An endless work,
A useful space, a fertile time,
Friend is going to be, and is already a great party! “

Alexander O’Neill

Thank you, dear friends, for letting me participate in this party!

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