Wings At Dawn

Now available at a bookstore near you in the USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Germany from Dorrance Publshing Company Inc. : The first novel of Marie Balustrade dealing with controversial social issues that span the globe. The stories are not meant for the reader to swoon over and fall in love momentarily for a shallow romance. Marie Balustrade intends for the audience to cry with her, to be enraged, be disgusted, and after turning the last page, to be more vigilant.  All Balustrade´s books are supported by extensive travel and research, in addition to having been a development worker in Asia for over 15 years…

The Unkindness of Strangers

I travelled from Höxter back to Berlin on Saturday, taking the bus from Hannover onwards. It was more difficult than I anticipated, having to navigate the crowded station with luggage one-handed. I usually have a sling pouch in addition to a backpack on me, and it is no problem. This time, since I am under doctors orders not to burden the neck or shoulder any further, I piled the pack onto the suitcase and rolled around. Then I needed to use the facilities, which was a major complication. It was difficult enough to do so in the hotel or training…

Air Adventure 5: Silver Linings

Spending the day in pain and my arm in a sling was not how I had envisioned my birthday yesterday, but that is how the cookie crumbled. After the medical debacle on Tuesday, flying and participating in any of the outdoor activities that involved paragliding per se were out of the question. It was a good thing I packed my camera equipment, because I became the group photographer instead, which is not a bad thing. It was certainly my first time to photograph paragliders in action, and also the first time to shoot one-handed with the left hand! It was…

Air Adventure 4: Rendezvous with Destiny (aka a visit to the hospital)

I have never blogged one-handed before, but then again, this is the first time I fractured my shoulder! The paragliding adventure continues, as did the lousy weather. It was almost wintery this morning with 9C as we hit the training grounds by 8:00am. The winds were still strong, which would not have bothered more experienced paraglider in the least, but for beginners, doing the first flight was out of the question… again. But, after a full day of lecture yesterday we were sent out to do more ground handling work with the canopies and harnesses. During the morning session I…

Air Adventure 3: Still Grounded

Sadly, we are still grounded and it feels more like winter than summer no thanks to the cold front currently passing through Central Europe. I woke up this morning to 11c and not a ray of sunshine to be seen. I thought I was doing myself a favour by switching to the lighter fleece jacket but the wind blew right through me to rattle my bones. Like I wrote yesterday, the wind is our master and commander around here, and there is nothing we can do about it. So we had more theory, which is not a bad thing because…

Air Adventure 2: Gusty vs. Gutsy

The assignment of the day was to get it up – and by it, I mean the parachute. It was a gusty day that turned out to be a gutsy one as well. We learned how to unfold the canopy, attach the entire body harness and then the parachute onto the harness. Once that was achieved, you had to sort out all the risers (cords) and pulleys, figure out the direction of the wind and then run against the wind in order to the the canopy up in the air. These are the most basic ground exercises of paragliding. Without…

Air Adventure 1: Up and Away

Originally, this week was planned as a solitary week at the beach to write, which would have been an adventure unto itself in familiar and beloved elements. I could never resist sun, sea and warmth, which are essential to my soul but I can never resist the call to adventure either, to explore the possibility of adding a new dimension in my life and possibly feature the experience in a book somehow. So it has come to pass that instead of indulging on a sea retreat I am taking a paragliding course for the next eight days. Yes, you read…

Unexpected Blessings

I missed mass this morning so I went to work feeling a bit out of sorts, knowing that there was something essential missing in my ritual. Nevertheless, as the morning wore on, I realised that there was more to the day that met the eye. I know I grumbled yesterday about being a bit impatient about the way things were going in my life. Half a year is gone, it is behind me now, and there is nothing I can do about it. Look forward. Look ahead. Aim for new heights! That is my mantra for this month. It is…