Baha’i Gardens Haifa

what a trip… Israel!

not having travelled abroad for a longer distance than to Penang in  the last 3 years, the chance to travel to the Middle East  I could not pass up and  accompanied  Matthias on a biz trip to Israel over Chinese New Year.

we spent a few days on our own and visited an old friend from Hong Kong who moved to Jerusalem 3 years ago.

the images are from the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa, smack in the center of the City, starting from the German Quarters right up the Carmel Mountain. they are beautiful, but for the most part not accessible for non-believers.

but the memory of the gardens, indeed almost all parts of the country  we traveled through, pale in comparison to the lingering and deep impression Jerusalem left us with!

what a remarkable place of shared human history, the gateway from the origin of us, emigrating from the African continent on to Europe and Asia, birthplace of quiet some man-made gods, lost cultures and empires – a place fought over for thousand and thousand of years and ongoing still…

our brilliant guide, the historian Eran Tearosh, ended his day tour for us in Jerusalem’s Old City with these wise words:  “in neither the Bible, the Koran, the Torah  or any other religious book or historical document have we ever found proof that any of these gods ever existed. but today, we have walked many hours  over and through the living history of what really matters – the believe!”

now I am revisiting  the book: “a people’s history of the world” by Chris Harman and my interest in history of all kind is revived…




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happy new year everybody!

a caring message of hope,  joy and community  survival – “a subversive plot” TED-story worth watching

best wishes for your “growing success” and a great future of personal gastronomy!

                                           es guets Neuis!


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ok, I admit, this time I can’t claim that beautiful sunny weather has kept me away from my computer and blog writing…it’s monsoon season and an exceptionally wet one at that.

Matthias and I spent last Sunday afternoon in the Sungei Buloh Wetland and were forced to take shelter from a massive downpour in one of the observation huts – which turned out to be a fantastically rewarding wait!

two otters swam up close, waddled up and underneath the floorboards of the hut, presenting us with a unique and beautiful close-up encounter: we watched them through the spacing in the floor and they looked straight up at us! they were cute (and smelly) and seemed not all disturbed by us!


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our brains

it turned out to be a rather wet month, and the weather forecast for the upcoming “monsoon” season predicts a lot more rain than usual and a longer period on top of that, too. we live on top of the hill – it’s great exercise to get up and down to catch public transport on the main roads but has the added benefit of remaining floods free.

occasionally, accessing the main road needs to be postponed for an hour or two and meetings and errands simply have to be cancelled or re-schedulded…which is really fine with me –  in fact, I love the “slow life”, the freedom to adjust daily activities to nature’s rhythm.

it allows me to read (a lot!), learn and discover new things every day, explore and understand issues and connections. the National Library has a spectacular selection on just about everything , online news platforms and forums and the occasional TV documentary make being held hostage by bad weather a really interesting time!

watched two interesting, informative and worthwhile Ted videos on our brains today :

now, it just started to pour again –  time to go back to reading…

if you need to be sure your imminent trip is a dry one… a good site to check up on the weather in Singapore and Johor:

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trying, waiting times…

maybe the best we can do.. sit back, watch and hope for the best – and that of course is as varied as we and our life circumstances are.

following  the news on the “not so free” markets (as if a free market had ever existed) is a rather “unsettling  read”, to say the least.

I waiver between a fatalistic “acceptance” of the unavoidable bankruptcies and national defaults and a frantic analysis and search for “escape options and solutions”.

and admittedly, the equally absurd hope that it will simply “solve itself” – nothing unifies people more than shared misery, and this prospect seems the most certain of them all.

having grown up and into the most prosperous time in human evolution (according to most economists and politicians) poverty and hunger are as abstract to me as most financial products  invented in recent gilded times.


the one thing we can do is getting off the bench and start producing part of our own food to supplement our daily diets.

working the soil and tending the plants will not eliminate worries  but calm the mind and refresh perspectives.

A few herbs in beautiful containers, a bean producing, colorful flowering vine along a sunny corridor, joining a community garden project and putting in a few hours every week maintaining the plot are just a few options to consider.

gardening is relaxing and a simple, pure pastime. it teaches us respect for weather and its impact (since we are also the very ones dramatically influencing it to great dismay and destruction).

it should also make us acutely  aware of the most influential resource for any life on earth: water!

and who knows, there might be a time in not such a distant future, when food production is not an option to spend your spare time with but an existential one.


in reference to the image above (from “The Leichtag Family Healing Garden” at the Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California, USA) resting on a bench and reading is way up there on my most favorite list of enjoyments.

“Small is Beautiful – Economics as if people mattered” by E.F.  Schumacher and “The Age of Absurdity” by Michael Foley  - both worth  re-reading in times like these (and any other, frankly).



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summer break

it’s been hot here lately;  sunny clear sky, steady breeze… summer they way I love it!

enjoying the beautiful weather, my sister’s visit (the second in my 22 years of living abroad) and taking care of my small garden space kept me off my computer and writing… and I will extend that and make the most of the ample sunshine but promise to use the next “bad” weather spell to catch up a bit on activities indoors…

in the meantime:

happy summer holidays!

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new hardware

I apologize for the long silence – no news to read, no image to enjoy…

for quiet some time now, Matthias and I considered switching to apple computers, and over the Eastern break, we finally went ahead and did it.  after gazillions of error messages respective alerts that I exceed my hosting capacity, we also switched providers…

none of the above went as smooth, as fast or as painless as we hoped it would  (but then, does it ever?)

it slowly starts to be less painful, but we still encounter way too many error messages to be comfortable with.   please bear with me a little longer ..

for all of you who are leaving Singapore for extended summer holidays:

enjoy and have a great time!

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writing…and cyberspace

I redesigned the look of my website – adding the big yellow “news” button on the intro page – with two goals  in mind:, firstly, to entice people to check out the news/blog and be entertained anew while revisiting the site, and secondly, starting to write a lot more, hence producing the news!

Expressing what I think about, what I care about, what I worry about …what I read about and believe to be valuable enough to be shared with my readers, too.

It was the repetitive mantra of quiet many friends who told me to write:  you have an opinion on anything, so much to share and say and you are hugely entertaining, you make us laugh And think!

But I learned pretty fast that it is much harder to write well than to speak eloquently -sharing a great conversation, where one retort spurs another and stories are spun and woven naturally,  is considerably easier to pull off entertainingly than my attempts in capturing respectively conveying some sort of spontaneity and flow while writing!

I decided to adhere to my friend Deepa’s advice: just write, don’t censor yourself while doing it and give yourself some time to practice; you may get better at it (and if not, I can always simply stop, right?)

 I believe the main reason to be the “unknown” audience; not knowing whom I address, what this person who pressed the news button is searching for and expecting, why she or he arrived at the site: looking for landscape service, a table fountain, an article, the pink luminescent color “Tropical Sexy Pink”… or …me (by far the most uncomfortable reason I can think of)?

Frankly,  I think it’s a lot more fun and intellectually challenging to have an interactive conversation than a monologue with an unidentified human with access to technology…

Which brings me to the subject of my pondering of today: the anonymity of the gazillion numbers of “friends” people have on face book… and the anxiety this cyber “competition” seems to elicit.

I recently read an article in a Swiss paper (such is the convenience of the internet, it allows me to follow up on my fellow Swiss’ worries and sorrows half a globe apart) that the fake, made-up and highly over-extended, over- polished, over-exciting lives of their facebook friends renders their own real lives boring, mundane and utterly not worth living!

 It was reported that more and more (especially young women!) seek the help of psychotherapists as they feel wholly inadequate and therefore extremely lonely: not enough friends, not good enough looking, no adequate career, no boyfriend or husband, and so on…

Which made we really wonder: how can they not be aware that people may assume completely made up identities in the cyber space? How can they believe what they read (and see for that matter!) and compare this to their very real lives?

Harry G. Frankfurt, philosopher,  wrote an essay “On Bullshit” (because there is SOOO much of it) and then followed up with an equally well written and argued essay on “Truth” .

Quote   – If there were no such facts or truths, if the world invariably and unresistingly became whatever we might like or wish it to be, we would be unable to distinguish ourselves from what is other than ourselves and we would have no sense of what in particular we ourselves are. It is only through our recognition of a world of stubbornly independent reality, fact and truth that we come both to recognize ourselves as beings distinct from others and to articulate the specific nature of our own identities. How, then, can we fail to take the imprtance of factuality and of reality seriously? How can we fail to care about truth?   We cannot.  -   Unquote

To all the internet induced depression sufferers: read the book and re-evaluate your position on both issues!

I am not very interested in the cyber world of “avatars” and “youtube”- glory and I always wonder, when and how people actually get anything resembling real work or real life done, with all this twittering, facebooking, sms-ing etc going on…

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we all have our personal struggles and though times… but disasters like the one ongoing in Japan, on several fronts, sets these in graphic perspective.

I am a bit puzzled why the supply chain of water, food, medical supplies and fuel in Japan itself to the affected areas seems to be very slow and insufficient. Japan is one of the best organized, stocked and logistically managed countries on earth – and most certainly one of the best prepared to deal with natural calamities. 

I understand that it is difficult to be prepared, though, for these three occurences at once;  an earth quake of epic intensity, an ensuing immensly forceful Tsunami and the afflicted damage, with uncertain future impact, to the nuclear plant at Fukushima.

either one on its own would stretch emergency and relief operations, but it’s combination simply has to.  the cold weather and snow fall are adding to the troubles and so does the sketchy public announcements regarding the nuclear fall out.

my heart goes out to all the people affected and bereaved by these natural events  – and wish for speedy and plentiful supply of life’s necessecities, strenght and hope and determination to rebuild their communities

our worries are insignificant and mundane in comparison…

I wish you all contentment and a peaceful weekend

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a cousin in the woods

by coincidence, we discovered this beautiful “wilde” cousin of the Tacca chantrieri whilst hiking trough the Bukit Timah Hills last Sunday…

our thoughts and deep sympathy are with the many Japanese who lost loved ones in Friday’s immense natural phenomena, a seismic event nobody can and ever will be really prepared for

we wish Japan and its people strenghts and endurance and an unwavering drive to restore their communities, villages and landscape

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when Matthias and I traveled around the world,  almost 30 years ago – about the same time National Geographic predicted that we are heading into the next Ice Age –we were still able to discover and experience  distinct,  authentic and unique cultures and  traditions in the continents and the many countries we visited.

 it was incredibly interesting, beautiful, fascinating and immensely enriching!


now,  our god children and nephews are in their early twenties and do on occasion travel to far away, “exotic” places.

and what do they find,  starting right at the airports,  which more often than not resemble shopping malls with air access?

well,  mostly, the b… same things they find right at home…

Starbucks, Gaps, McDonalds  and lots of other boringly predictable branded stuff

if they are really adventurous, they can try local food… at least this either remained or  underwent recent revival,  thanks to all the food channels and programs on TV worldwide.


The “Americanization” of planet earth, the stripping and destruction of individual ethnicity and culture, traditions and values and “replacing” it with ? what really ? is really tragic!

I believe these “values”-  especially economically (the shortest path to profit) are at the source of all our  problems: the corruption of capitalism and the subsequent destruction of habitat, communities and biodiversity.

I welcome your comments and input – but even more helpful and interesting would be  any suggestions of how to counteract and, at best , reverse these effects.


thank you and have a happy weekend!

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in between the silence…

the thoughts I share with you in this post are personal and not necessarily related to my work – but always close to my heart

I have to admit that this year so far has been unusually quiet …in stark contrast to 2008 which was full of hectic activity and actions and personal tragedies

the loneliness of developing, designing and patenting a planting systems and products all by myself mutated into a bit too much of a solitary experience…

despite quite some efforts and contacts to introduce the concept to major players in the market all over the world, finding a producer for the patented plant container solution prooves a difficult task indeed! the patent for the inventive planting system/concept came along nicely and I will need to file nationally within November of this year – whether- and even more importantly, where – I will attempt the actual filing is still up in the air…mainly because finding a producer for the 13 strong product line has been elusive so far.

so many brilliant ideas and solutions on design and products – any takers?

nature is –besides the love of my life – the centre and source of my well-being: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve walks refresh spirit and “green cleans “the soul, and the familiarity of the botany in the gardens exudes a deep sense of peace, calm and groundedness…

so much of our lives is constantly floating and changing – and this instability rattles me more often than not…

we traveled to New Zealand, a country we hope to call home one day, where I would like to establish a little farm and “return” to the simple life I’ve always dreamed about – a life which would bring full circle the happiest times of my childhood: working in the gardens with my grandmother Louisa, whom I loved most in my entire family.

the first half of 2009 was spent – sensibly and enriching, I believe – to read and learn about food, herbs and spices, medical plants and herbal medicine, about essential oils, its applications in holistic body care as well as its medical benefits; autodidactic learning process in the healing properties of plants and its essences.

while one can’t really prepare for living on and off the land through books and research, spending time in the National Library and on the “ever so clever” internet expands dreams and hopes and aspirations – and seeing some great real life experiences while traveling and visiting organic farms and sustainable businesses in all aspects of life keeps the dream well alive!

keep yours, my friends!

happy weekend – Gabriela

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happy notes

…. for every day

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