Hello, all you lovely people out there. Thank you so much for either signing up to read or accepting my invitation. I feel honoured.
Today I invite you to virtually visit the Republic of North Macedonia. I will also update you on my precautions because of my ex and how I read “Black Lives Matter”. And peeps I am so happy I got his post up in time. Had to have a long conversation with two WP Happiness Engineers because neither Chrome nor Opera let me read my blog. It let me sign in and then moved me back to the sign in page. It’s sorted for Chrome. I had to enable third party cookies. For Opera, it isn’t, and they are investigating.
So let’s get out there and do Monday!!!!
What’s Happening in Bee’s Life
As I told you last week, I put as much of my online life private because a troubled ex had contacted me again. However, I have also contacted the police to make them aware of the situation just in case he had somehow figured out where I live. It might be far-fetched, but who knows. Stranger things have happened, and if I need to call them, I want them to know what’s going on.
Otherwise, I am quite relaxed and enjoy more time for reading. Originally I had planned to go back to work on the 18th. However, I was advised by my oncology team to wait until the middle of December for my immune system to strengthen before I dare to meet the people at work.
In summer, I decided to change my 2020 reading list to cover black authors to support the Black Lives Matter movement. I realised I knew next to nothing of black peoples life experiences and reading lots of different authors was enlightening.
So far I read:
Marriage Unarranged – Ritu Bathal, Grand Union – Zadie Smith, Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi, The Age of Magic – Ben Okri, Children of Virtue and Vengeance – Tomi Adeyemi, Of Thee I sing ~ Barack Obama, The Moon is also a Star ~ Nicola Yoon, Brown Girl Dreaming ~ Jacqueline Woodson, How to be an Antiracist – Ibram X. Kendi, Salvage the Bones – Jesmyn Ward, The Underground Railroad ~ Colson Whitehead, Between the World and me ~ Ta-Nehesi Coats, Little Leaders – Bold Women in Black History Vashti Harrison, Homegoing ~ Yaa Gyasi, Astrophysics for young people in a hurry ~ Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Sorry for the format but unfortunately the new block editor seems to have problems with making lists when you copy and paste.
As you can see, I covered a variety of authors and genres. I have no problem to read children’s or YA books. A good book is a good book no matter who it is written for, and both Barack Obama and Vashti Harrison offered a wonderful way of telling about amazing black people. Neil DeGrasse Tyson explained the universe to me in a way I can understand. All three were entertaining, and I enjoyed them a lot.
I found a couple of new favourites. Tomi Adeyemi’s “Children of Blood and Bone” is a gripping fantasy trilogy that made me read like “The Lord of The Rings”. I couldn’t take the books down. Unfortunately, the third isn’t out yet. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah” showed me a Nigeria I knew nothing of. That of educated young Nigerians and how they see the world and not an Africa of only poverty, no education and charity. I realised that my view of Africa is rather short-sighted. And thirdly Yaa Gyasi whose epic “Homegoing” seems to summarize the experience both of black people in Africa and those taken to the new world over three centuries. She weaves together the stories of two sisters and their descendants in a masterful way that throws a light on many fascets of black experience. So much to learn.
Three books which challenged me but I liked a lot were “Salvage the Bones” by Jesmyn Ward, “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehesi Coats & “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi. I found Ward’s description of the life of a poor black family in Mississippi at the time of Hurricane Katrina hard to read. I found her writing beautiful, but the topics of domestic violence, violence between peers and the violence of racism were hard to stomach. I can’t quite put my finger on why I found Coat’s and Kendi’s books so challenging. Maybe it is because of the male point of view. What I found interesting though was what I could relate to: Not feeling safe when you are outside of your home. Not fitting in the narratives of their communities. And wanting a better life.
And then there was one book I simply did not understand. Ben Okri’s “The Age of Magic” is also beautifully written but only seems to throw bits and bobs at the reader and then hurries off to another piece. I think though this might be a book that you need to read more than once to understand what might lie behind all the images.
I also enjoyed the rest of the books, but it would lead too far to write about these too. I have planned to make my reading list much more diverse from now on because that opens up so many new horizons. If you do not know any of these books please chose and read. They are certainly worth it.
Are you ready to come away with me to a different horizon too?
1. Introduction to The Republic of North Macedonia
Were you aware of a country called Macedonia? I was only faintly aware of it and thought more about the province in Greece or the country of the bible. This is another beautiful, troubled and fascinating country of the Balkans which deserves to be discovered.
I won’t write much and rather let you watch the video’s which give you a much better insight into the beauty & information of the country than I could give you. However, when I watched them, I started to wonder how much countries and their borders how we know them today are artificially made. Maybe they are an invention that serves no one but only cause trouble.
Please enjoy and forgive me those with advertising in them. The creators need to make money, and advertising is one way to do so. Please subscribe if you like the videos. These creators put a lot of work into their films and deserve our support.
2. Maja Hill ~ An Artist from the Republic of Macedonia
I do not like to use Wikipedia as my only information source; however, when it comes to this part of “Come Away With Me” I often need to go back to it. Many of the Eastern European artists are either hardly known here in the West even though many of them work and live here. Or they are rather frugal with the information they put out online which is sensible, I guess.
Today’s artist is one of those. Her name is Maja Hill, who was born and educated in Skopje when it still was part of Yugoslavia. Now it is North Macedonia. She moved first to Paris and then to the UK, where she met her husband. She now works here as an artist and lecturer.
Her paintings depict life in the city and on the streets of the city. If you are interested, have a look in her blog to find out more about her and her work: Maja Hill on WordPress. She has developed an interest in animation, and you can see some of her work on her YouTube channel:
3. A Climate Activist of North Macedonia
The videos of “Deutsche Welle” and “France24” in the introduction paragraph have shown you already several climate- and eco-activists in North Macedonia including the problems they are facing. So we skip this section.
4. Food of North Macedonia
I chuckled all through this video because of the comments the poor participants made. This video from Links Across Balkans shows a variety of Macedonian foods and Americans trying them. You probably will recognise some of the dishes from the earlier “Come Away” posts or if you are familiar with Greek food. It’s not a cuisine for vegetarians or vegans is all I can say 😉
And if you are after some recipes check out this post that leads to 16 links with Macedonian recipes:
I hope I could make you hungry and interested in trying some of these dishes out.
One of the things that astonished me for the last couple of posts is how many Eastern European dishes I ate as a child in Germany. I assume that might be because the area I come from had a huge influx of Eastern European Germans after the war. We had goulash, filled cabbage and moussaka regularly. Well, Mousaka is Greek and not exactly Eastern European. But, interestingly, I did not only grow up with typical German food.
5. A Poetess of North Macedonia
Lidija Dimkovska was born in Skopje North Macedonia while it was still part of Yugoslavia. She studied in Skopje but went on to get a PhD in Romanian Literature in Bucharest. Today she lives in Slovenia as a freelance writer and translator. Lidija Dimkovska won the EU Prize for Literature in 2013 for her Novel “A Spare Life“.
To me, it is interesting how poets use their art to make sense of the history of their countries. Many contemporary Eastern European artists (not only poets or writers) work on their experiences of growing up in a communist country, living through the Soviet Union breaking down and the social changes happening now. Lidija Dimkovska’s novel “A Spare Life” seems to be a metaphor for the former Yugoslav countries struggling to find their identities after forcefully being stuck together for decades.
I dedicated the second part of this year to black authors, but I get more and more curious about the poets I have introduced to you on “Come Away With Me”. Next year, I think I will explore their work.
Find out more about Lidija Dimkovska here:
6. Mental Health in North Macedonia
Looks like I need to add a lot more time for researching the mental health situations in the “Come Away Countries”. It is quite difficult to get any usable information from search engines. Most of them give me UK mental health links after ten suggestions on the country I am looking for.
The closest I come to find anything is European Union, WHO or UNICEF links. So that is what you need to content yourself with these two links. Sorry.
7. Some musicians of North Macedonia
For some of the Balkan countries we have visited so far, I found it hard to find music. Most of the artists seemed to have been part of the Eurovision Song Contest tribe, which isn’t usually my thing. However, the Macedonian page on Last FM gave me some exciting bands and artists. Please enjoy.
And where are we going next week?
Come Away With Me 2020 Musical Challenge Country for Monday, November 30th, 2020
I am taking a rather random route around the world, but sometimes it makes sense. Next week we venture into Greece. Please find musicians from Greece on the Last.FM page.
As for the suggestions to take part:
- Join in! No matter where, when and with what. No matter if you have cancer or not! You missed the first week? Don’t worry. Just jump in when it suits you.
- Send us the link! The ping-back option does not always work so please leave a link in the comments of the post on the day you take part.
- Tag your post either with ” Come Away With Me Musical Challenge”/ #CoAwWiMeMuCh” / “Come Away with Me 2020 Musical Challenge” o/“CoAwWiMe2020MuCh” / . You can also use these as hashtags for Twitter and other Social Networks to give your post more exposure. If you add #blog and #music with your hashtags it will get you more readers.
- No matter which music or country the prompt favours you create with it whatever you please. This is supposed to be a fun challenge and no chore.
- I post a prompt for the next week with every “Come Away With Me 2020 post” I write.
- If you like, use this picture for your readers to find the posts.
I am fundraising for McMillan and you can still donate here (UK only until January 2021) and download Bees McMillan Coffee Morning German Christmas Download (PDF file) (no it’s not in German but about German recipes and Christmas )
My goal is 200£ and so far you brilliant people have donated 10£. Thanks!
Just one more thing before you go: The hospital that is treating me is fundraising for a dedicated breast cancer unit which would allow some same-day diagnosis and better premises for patients and staff.
Please, if you can spare a little money hop over to their Just Giving Page and give as little or much as you can. Or share the page on your social media. So far the campaign has raised about half the amount needed: £418,648 of £800,000 (October 2020).
Your support means a lot to me! Thank you very much.
Thanks, my dears, for staying with me until the end.
I appreciate your presence.
Please stay safe, stay kind and remember that you rock!