Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Self-Portrait



The King of Cats, 1935, Balthus 


This is a self-portrait of me with my human, Balthus the artist, you may have heard of him though he is something of a recluse, he prefers painting to almost anything else and likes to be perceived as an enigma. He is an intovert, occasionally visited by poets, writers, painters too but no other cats are ever allowed over our threshold. 

I am the King of Cats as you can probably tell from my proud bearing, size and strength.  I am known as H.M. or King for short.  It was very good of Balthus to do this painting of me and because of his supposed talent with the brush I condescendingly allowed him to be in it. He does in fact try and make out I painted it, (I ask you, who would believe that cats can hold a paintbrush?).  He tried to take over the image somewhat but my beauty and regal bearing reign supreme.   I don’t think much of his outfit but he has a uniquely odd dress sense.  I think his legs look overlong in this picture and he seems somewhat out of proportion but that may be intended, you know what these artists are like, (what do you think?).  

I am Balthus’s guardian of being (this phrase is very ‘in’ at the moment so I thought I would throw it in). Without me he would be a nervous wreck but he has learned to watch me and tries to be like me; spiritual and soulful but with an independent streak.

I shall leave you with a poem, just to prove that Balthus is not the only artistic one in this family. 


My Self-Portrait by Balthus


Lithe and long of limb, eyes as wide as his ego,
hair as dark as his imagination.
Dressed in his best, as familiars go,
Balthus is a superior specimen but
he has to be to match my royal bearing.

I allowed him to be in my self-portrait
but he tries to hog the frame, centre stage.
He presents me rubbing up his leg in
hero-worship mode;  (if he only knew, 
it is not about affection, just a 
hunger for fish). 


Cait O’Connor
aka HM King of Cats



(Another Magpie Tale exercise).











Blood Red Moon


My Last Night's Moon pics are below but

Tonight is special......

The April 15th, 2014 Full Moon is also a total lunar eclipse, hence the name Blood Red Moon.  In North and South America and a few other places in the Pacific region this eclipse will last just over an hour and a half. Which will make for an amazing star gazing experience.

The Blood Moon has always been a symbol of great change or big events coming in the near future. With this being a full total lunar eclipse the power behind the significance of this moon is of course astronomical.

This is a time when the Earth, Sun, and Moon will align and when that happens it is believed that a gateway to the stars, to heaven, is opened and we are then able to speak with those not only in the spirit world but other dimensions.

This lunar eclipse can be viewed with your telescope and even the naked eye. It is not like having a solar eclipse of the sun.

Ref.













Monday, 7 April 2014

The Palm Reader


For Magpie Tales.







The Palm Reader


I crept in showing sunken palms, chasms of
no confidence, a failing in my hands
for all to see, a map of lines I had  
worn lifelong and an eager, far
too trusting, sympathetic, ailing heart.
She swept in on an air of frankincense
and cedar, her aura rainbowed, sparkling
silver and gypsy gold with a tourmaline
ring hung on red- ribboned silk, for she dowsed,
read leaves,clouds, water and a crystal ball.
She saw weird shapes in dripping, melting wax,
all yielded secrets to her as she scryed.
She said I had a Water hand, (intuitive,
compassionate but gullible and too
unworldly for this tainted planet Earth).
A heart line deeply curvy (I did like
the sound of that) but I was without any
minor lines (well none to speak of). No crosses
or triangles, no sign of little squares.
But then she found the writer’s fork (quite rare)
which showed a poet's soul (kind, true, sensitive).
When I reached home elated, I created
a bouquet for her of words, as we poets love to do
for when we’d bidden our farewells I’d seen
deep into her psychic eyes and had no
doubt that I  had left with her the knowledge
of my very secret ‘poet’s life’ of dreams.



Cait O’Connor





Friday, 4 April 2014

All about writing






.


I read in the Indie  that it is Maya Angelou’s birthday today.   Very many happy returns Maya.

Something arrived on my Facebook page yesterday about the writing rituals of some well known writers. This was Maya’s entry:

Most writers can’t afford to check into a hotel when the urge to scribble hits, but for Angelou, it’s the key to great writing. In the wee hours of the morning she’ll book herself a room with a special request: all distracting wall décor must vanish. Armed with a bottle of sherry, a deck of cards, some legal pads, a thesaurus and the Bible, she’s spent hours crafting prose in this carefully constructed environment stripped of almost all inspiration

I love to have the thesaurus close by but haven't resorted to sherry yet.

Talking of writing and rituals, the writer Nina Milton has invited me to join the BLOG TOUR which is travelling around Blogland at some speed at the moment. Nina was invited by the writer Jackie Biggs whose blog is here.  You can read Nina Milton’s s entry at her blog Kitchen Table Writers.  Nina is a published author who has written for children, she has also written short stories and of late she writes exciting crime fiction.  She was my wonderful tutor on two creative writing courses which I did some years ago with the Open College of the Arts and I shall be forever grateful to her for her excellent advice.  I still think of her when I am tempted to use too many words or slip in a cliche!  I wish I could afford to do some more courses with the OCA; I can recommend them highly.

Anyway, the writers' TOUR involves answering these four questions and then nominating one or two other writers to do the same.


1. What am I working on?

2. How does my work differ?

3. Why do I write?

4.  How does my process of writing work?

     So here are my answers.





1.  What am I working on?

Unlike most of these ‘blog tourists’ I am not a professional writer or published author, I am just a blogger.  I have never submitted anything  in the hope of getting it published.  I have entered poems into local Eisteddfodds and won prizes and I did win one prize in a writing competition, the only competition I have ever entered!

I have been blogging for seven years now and I amaze even myself as I don’t think I have ever kept up with anything for so long  before.  It started life quite by chance as a sort of nature diary which I entered into a Country Living magazine competition and (coincidentally) Nina Milton encouraged me to continue it;  I did so and it sort of grew into a blog.

The joys of blogging and reading others’ blogs have been many and are continuing.  I have met and am still meeting many inspirational and likeminded folk from all over the world.

My other passion of late is photography and I have a blog for some of my photos here.  I am planning to put words to some of my own images, I am quite excited about that.

Funny how things turn out.


I mainly write poems;  I have a huge collection which is growing all the time and I am also writing a story in novel form based on my own and my mother’s life as there is quite a tale there to tell.  It has been an ongoing project for too long but I am determined to move it on somewhat this year. I have also written a sort of nature journal, a kind of meditative piece  which is almost ready. Ready for what I don’t know.

2.  How does my work differ?

Not quite sure how to answer that.

If a writer is to succeed they should have their own original voice which speaks from the heart and I am striving to find my own.


3. Why do I write? 





I have had a passion for the written word since I was a child.  I live and breathe books and have just retired from my (perfect) job as a librarian.  When I was quite young I used to fill exercise books with my stories of adventure. If I wasn’t reading I would write, both were my favourite forms of much-needed escapism.  As I grew older I started to write poems and that is what I concentrate on now.

(I am cheating in this next bit).

I have dug out something written a few years ago.  Nothing has changed.


Why I Write

I don’t write for you,  I write for me.

I write for you, I don’t write for me.

For whom do I write?

I write because I have to.  I am always writing in my head.  I write in bed. I write at dawn.  I write in the mists of sleep.  I write in the middle of the night in the dark when my pen makes squiggles that I hope to be able to read in the morning. Too often the words next day are illegible or just some kind of gobbledy-gook; phrases that in the night seemed to be some kind of inspired genius but in the morning present themselves as the ramblings of a madwoman.  I write all day in my head.  I write in a flash of inspiration.

I can write if there is a deadline but I don’t really like to write to order.  I write in draft by hand.  I write letters and emails in my head.  I love to write in notebooks colourfully pleasing to my eye,  I have a collection of these waiting to be filled, all picked up on my travels.  I  write on little scraps of paper because I can never find said notebooks when ideas come to me . I don’t write often enough when I am out on walks with the dogs because I nearly always forget my wee ‘walking’ notebook.  I keep a notebook in the car which is a bit of a problem if I am driving.  I don’t write in the shower because I can’t can I?  Too wet. It is however the place where so many ideas come to me in a flash. From where do they come?  I think it is something to do with the running water, its elemental energies being associated with feelings and inspiration.

I do  quite often write when angry and the need to communicate my feelings is intense.

I write for enjoyment, especially this blog.

I probably write for therapy.

I write rather than speak.

I write my life.



4.  How does my process of writing work?

I dream a lot.

This would be my dream home and writing location in the west of Ireland.  I actually live in mid- Wales which is beautiful but is not my spiritual home.





I am lucky in that I live in a most beautiful part of mid-Wales so inspiration is not hard to seek out. It would be very strange not to be inspired artistically in some way by living here.  As I am not a ‘professional’ writer I am very lucky as I can and do write whatever I like and whenever the mood takes me and I don’t have to keep to any deadlines.

I get flashes;  lines and phrases will come to me, or I may see visions that move me.  I may hear something. I collect words that appeal to me and also ideas.   I scribble by hand and then type up and edit on the computer (that is the fun part).  A poem is put to rest and then brought out daily and (usually) edited many times before it is finished.  And like Valery I don’t think a poem is ever finished, I am never satisfied that it can’t be improved upon.

I have a little room upstairs in my tiny cottage which I have given the grand name ‘the study’. It is open to the stairs and is not that peaceful as I can hear the television downstairs if it is switched on. I often put headphones on and listen to music while writing; I have many songs on Spotify and enjoy shuffling through its library. I sit at the computer and look out at my garden which at the moment is filled with daffodils and primroses. A river flows through it and our field is beyond. I am so lucky to live here in this old blacksmith’s cottage, how could I not be inspired to write?

I hope you have enjoyed reading my attempts at the four questions.  I would like to nominate some ‘proper’ writers to take this tour and I shall get back to you with their names once I have their agreement.

Watch this space!

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,
Cait.


P.S.














Monday, 31 March 2014

Jigsaw






Jigsaw



Model legs, blood red shoes, spider-web tattoos, 
clothes patchy, motley and so much like her
life, a jigsaw of  unlinkable pieces.
To escape her incompleteness, she hides
her tears and becomes unreachable; like 
a butterfly she flits from bloom to doom.
By night she stares  at stars, dreams of angels 
and follows the footprints of stiletto moons.
By day she whittles all the wooden fragments, 
brightens, lacquers, polishes them all
till they look tempered, calm and harmonized
to hide the tangle, twist and snarl that lurks within.



Cait O’Connor


Magpie Tale time again (more here).

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Mothers Day



Pablo Picasso 1922


On a day when we are supposed to think fondly of our mothers (though I do so every day) this poem is not a new one but I post it again for all mothers who have been forced to be parted from their children and for all children who have been parted from their mothers, for whatever reason. (I am the baby in this poem, not the mother). 



Mothers Day


On a silent, irridescent, cobweb morning 
I laid my indigo baby in a
cradle of crystal, her wrap was pure love,
intractable and true, like her beauty.
Be under no illusion, she was born 
from an illicit assignation, but to
a world  where forgiveness was forbidden.
I was labelled loose, wild, irrational
but my life had always been impervious to hope, 
and happiness incomprehensible.
Unable to speak, or break our silence,
I held her hand as I breathed my goodbyes 
and wished for her a life more illustrious.
When she had been taken I could breathe no more;
for I was suffocating slowly under 
lumps of hardstone, which became lodged in my heart
with an inextricable, forever kind of pain.
in a locked-in, forever kind of silence, 


Cait O’Connor


Monday, 24 March 2014

The Unmade Bed






Artist Tracey Emin



The Unmade Bed


Emin’s bed leaves me ‘unclean’ and sad for
her suicidal past.  Were it mine, I
could not display it, I would set it on 
fire but many more images might erupt,
just burning to be exorcised exhibits.
Beds are where all of human life reclines:
the secret, the hidden, our tears, joys and 
dreams, sex and birth, sickness, death and dying, 
all borne of the body and the soul.
A passion for sleep may be a death wish
but in my brass bed  I  live half a life
where dreams are, where books are read by candlelight,
where thoughts come and poems bubble to the fore.
Warm as a womb, a haven, soft, secure, 
it is never ever made, the white linen 
only shaken and daily aired to change
its energies.  Imagine my hell now:  
never feeling tired, keeping going,
never sleeping, keeping going, never 
stopping, keeping going, never resting, 
keeping going, never ever finding
time for  lying down and dreaming
till we end our waking lives and die.



Cait O’Connor


Magpie Tale time again, go there for more.


Friday, 21 March 2014

Letter from a Grandfather to his Grandchildren





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I copied this from Facebook, the source is the Huffington Post.

I have often thought of writing something similar to my grandchildren.  This dear man has got there first and written to his grandchildren and he said so much of what I would want to say myself to my own. God rest his soul.



On Sept. 3, 2012, James K. Flanagan of West Long Branch, N.J., died unexpectedly of a heart attack. He wrote this letter to his five grandchildren just months earlier and it is reprinted here with the permission of his daughter Rachel Creighton.


Dear Ryan, Conor, Brendan, Charlie, and Mary Catherine,

My wise and thoughtful daughter Rachel urged me to write down some advice for you, the important things that I have learned about life. I am beginning this on 8 April 2012, the eve of my 72nd birthday.

1. Each one of you is a wonderful gift of God both to your family and to all the world. Remember it always, especially when the cold winds of doubt and discouragement fall upon your life.

2. Be not afraid . . . of anyone or of anything when it comes to living your life most fully. Pursue your hopes and your dreams no matter how difficult or “different” they may seem to others. Far too many people don’t do what they want or should do because of what they imagine others may think or say. Remember, if they don’t bring you chicken soup when you’re sick or stand by you when you’re in trouble, they don’t matter. Avoid those sour-souled pessimists who listen to your dreams then say, “Yeah, but what if . . .” The heck with “what if. . .” Do it! The worst thing in life is to look back and say: “I would have; I could have; I should have.” Take risks, make mistakes.

3. Everyone in the world is just an ordinary person. Some people may wear fancy hats or have big titles or (temporarily) have power and want you to think they are above the rest. Don’t believe them. They have the same doubts, fears, and hopes; they eat, drink, sleep, and fart like everyone else. Question authority always but be wise and careful about the way you do it.

4. Make a Life List of all those things you want to do: travel to places; learn a skill; master a language; meet someone special. Make it long and do some things from it every year. Don’t say “I’ll do it tomorrow” (or next month or next year). That is the surest way to fail to do something. There is no tomorrow, and there is no “right” time to begin something except now.

5. Practice the Irish proverb: Moi an olge agus tiocfaidh sí ”Praise the child and she will flourish.”

6. Be kind and go out of your way to help people — especially the weak, the fearful, and children. Everyone is carrying a special sorrow, and they need our compassion.

7. Don’t join the military or any organization that trains you to kill. War is evil. All wars are started by old men who force or fool young men to hate and to kill each other. The old men survive, and, just as they started the war with pen and paper, they end it the same way. So many good and innocent people die. If wars are so good and noble, why aren’t those leaders who start wars right up there fighting?

8. Read books, as many as you can. They are a wonderful source of delight, wisdom, and inspiration. They need no batteries or connections, and they can go anywhere.

9. Be truthful.

10. Travel: always but especially when you are young. Don’t wait until you have “enough” money or until everything is “just right.” That never happens. Get your passport today.

11. Pick your job or profession because you love to do it. Sure, there will be some things hard about it, but a job must be a joy. Beware of taking a job for money alone — it will cripple your soul.

12. Don’t yell. It never works, and it hurts both yourself and others. Every time I have yelled, I have failed.

13. Always keep promises to children. Don’t say “we’ll see” when you mean “no.” Children expect the truth; give it to them with love and kindness.

14. Never tell anyone you love them when you don’t.

15. Live in harmony with Nature: go into the outdoors, woods, mountains, sea, desert. It’s important for your soul.

16. Visit Ireland. It’s where the soul of our family was born — especially the West: Roscommon, Clare, and Kerry.

17. Hug people you love. Tell them how much they mean to you now; don’t wait until it’s too late.

18. Be grateful. There is an Irish saying: “This is a day in our lives, and it will not come again.” Live every day with this in mind.

Source: HuffingtonPost


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Feast in the House of Simon




Feast in the House of Simon, El Greco





I am Mary, I stand weeping at his side.
A quiet soul, a sister for Martha,
I am the one who listens;
I was  never possessed, only labelled
by those who would wish to  keep me secret.
I have foreseen a vision of death so telling that
all I can do is anoint the holy man
in preparation for what is to come.
Aromatic myrhh and myrtle, saffron
and cinnamon, are filling the house of Simon
with their sweet fragrance.
From an alabaster cruse my soft hands
pour oil so gently onto the  parched skin of
my beloved Jesus, a highly precious
oil of muskroot, whose colour of amber
matches my long tresses.
Such is his power, this prophet, healer,
Son of God,  that by divine alchemy,
this act of love (and every other that
may come in any future world of fear)
will change me and all around me into gold.



Cait O’Connor




Another poem for Magpie Tales.  Many more interpretations can be read there, do visit.  

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Decay







Decay


A hotel room, tumbledown, gone to wrack and ruin. 
On the table,  the TV,  friend of the loner,
As always,when time has warped,
once-upon-a –time echoes sing out to me
All around  is mouldered, mildewed,
a home now for mice amongst dilapidation. 
Lights flicker, even the power is fading; 
I sense a ghost upon the dusty boards, 
oppressive remnants of a life fill me with dread,
the atmosphere, first cloying, now chilling.
I slip away and leave the memories behind
of perhaps the tragic  lives of those passed on,
who left us only embers of their past still burning,
smouldering still within such  eeriness.







Cait O’Connor



Another poem for Magpie Tales.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Wisdom, Washing and a Poem



Hey, don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.
Bill Hicks




It's a hanging out the washing day today for me, yippee.

(This is not my house!  I collect pics of washing lines as I have a thing about them).





This dropped into my Inbox today. I thought I would share with you.


Thought of the Week

To end suffering—not only by relieving its symptoms but by eradicating its root cause—is precisely the aim of the Buddha’s teaching. We must first realize that the true cause of suffering is not outside, but inside. That is why true spiritual practice consists of working on one’s own mind. The mind is very powerful. It can create happiness or suffering, heaven or hell. If, with the help of the Dharma, you manage to eliminate your inner poisons, nothing from outside will ever affect your happiness, but as long as those poisons remain in your mind, you will not find the happiness you seek anywhere in the world.

Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche, oral instruction given in Paro, Bhutan in 1987, translated by the author.
 (1932-1999)

I shall end with a poem written by an American poet I have discovered recently. I am afraid I have mislaid the title.  I might name it Spring, just for now.  I have tried to contact the author to ask her permission to post it here but I cannot get through........ I hope you don't mind Stacy.


Spring.


He said
Spring always reminded him
Of silk dresses,
rims of their sewn edges
Hugging the breeze
Like petals mending
Their strong, poetic skeletons
In the aftermath of winter.

We’d spy
The first flight of a butterfly
On a porch swing
In the country.
Tin trailer and a horizon
Of black-shingle roof
To shed us from the sun.

Two ice teas between us,
We’d talk of books,
The stiff voice of Yeats,
The sheets where Sexton slept,
And like a traveler mid-stop,
He’d bring his melodies to me.

I’d ride the baritone waves
Of his old love songs,
His tan skin and hand joints,
all open-throat and thrashing keys.
And when his fingers paused mid-play,
I’d pray he still had
Something left to say to me.


Stacy Lynn








Thursday, 6 March 2014

BOOKS!




Dear Diary,

I have read two good books recently, one straight after the other and strangely and completely coincidentally, the themes of each book are very similar. Both are about searching, lost fathers and lost daughters and both cover psychological suffering.

I actually bought the first book, it is unusual for me to buy books as I am of course a library devotee but I happened to be in the local Tesco  -  not that I shop there very often as I am not a fan but when I do go in there  I always scan the book aisle thoroughly (fellow bibliophiles will understand).

I noticed this book for sale, priced at only £2!



Book description

Alice is back in the family house that has never felt like home, waiting out the last few days of her father's life and yearning to escape.  Across the city, a homeless man named Daniel searches for the daughter he has always loved but never met.


Connected by a secret, Alice and Daniel are about to cross paths in unexpected and life-changing ways.

Alice has just returned to London from months of travelling abroad. She is late to hear the news that her father is dying and arrives at the family home only just in time to say goodbye.  Daniel hasn't had a roof over his head for years but to him the city of London feels like home in a way that no bricks and mortar ever did.  He spends every day seearching for his daughter, the daughter he has never met.  Until now.


Heart-wrenching and life affirming, this is a unique story of love lost and found, of rootlessness and homecoming and the power of ties that bind. It is a story for fathers and daughters everywhere.


I couldn’t believe it, after all £2 is half the price of an average magazine these days!   I hardly ever buy magazines now, they are always crammed full of adverts and the  articles are either very samey and repetitive or cover subjects which have no relevance to me at my stage of life.  I find blogs far more interesting, I wonder do you agree or are you still a magazine reader?  The only publication I do subscribe to is Mslexia which I adore and always look forward to its arrival in the post,  if you haven't heard of it, it’s a quarterly magazine especially for women who write.

I digress as usual.

I checked the book and saw it had a good write-up with glowing reports:

Graceful and subtle..love in all its shape-shifting complexity, is at the core of this novel' that and the consequences - good and bad - of keeping secrets...The shifting and intricate dynamics of family life and the vertiginously painful feelings of loss induced by relationship breakdown and bereavement are written with imaginative precision.  This is a thought - as well as an emotion-provoking novel...It also sparkles with hope. Independent on Sunday.

Exquisitely written. Butler writes with lucidity, compassion and a beautifully detailed eye for London and all its quirks.  Metro.


There were many others and some from a few eminent novelists.  

So I splashed out.

I did enjoy the book, it was original in style and very well written,  worth every penny and many, many pennies more.  I  would definitely recommend it to you, it reminded me a bit of Clare Morrall’s Astonishing Splashes of Colour (Morrall also praised the book). 

A very enjoyable read..subtle and clever. Clare Morrall, Booker Proze shortlisted authorof Astonishing Splashes of Colour.

This is Sarah Butler’s first novel.  I look forward to her second.   

*

This is the second book, one I have just finished (sadly).



Marian Keyes called it a gem of a book and I agree for it is certainly a classic and one to be treasured.

If you have got to know and understand the lovely Saga in the TV drama series The Bridge then you will be halfway to understanding the main character in this novel (another first novel!).  I borrowed it from the library and read it in just two sittings, one sitting covered about 75% of the book. - I admit I was a little unwell at the time but had I been fighting fit I would still have been glued to its pages.  

All through this novel I had such a strong feeling that this would make a great film; with the right director and good casting it could be a smash hit, I do hope it does happen. 

It is an unusual book in that it has many aspects which grip you. It is very well-written, it is funny, it is moving and touching romantically but above all I found it to be a memorable learning experience.  It is a must-read for folk who know only a little, or nothing at all about the subject of the autism spectrum/Aspergers.  The characters were real (I cared about them) and the 'whodunnit' element ran throughout, right to the end (who was the mystery father?).  I didn't want the book to end and yet I raced through it,  smiling and laughing a great deal inside and hoping things would work out in the end.  Did they? Well you will have to read it and see.  I have lent the book to my husband now and he is laughing out loud - a lot  - and I feared he wouldn't take to it. 

As I read it I must admit that I had the feeling that I might be one of only a few who would rave about it.  I recommended it to my daughter but feared she might not appreciate it. It is quirky and I do have rather quirky tastes sometimes and perhaps I identified a little with the male character in some of his OCD behaviour (only a little!) and perhaps I identified with the female in the book because of her lack of identity and her search for her father.  I have after all conducted my own search for both my parents........... but that is another (long!) story........

I had a look on Amazon before I recommended it to other folk, just to see if it was popular and lo and behold it has already had over 600 rave reviews and is in the bestsellers. I am probably a little late to the book and perhaps some of you have read it?  If you have read either of these two books do let me know your thoughts and any other good read recommendations anyone may have would be very much appreciated.

I shall blog soon about what books I have lined up on my bedside table.

Talking of which it is past ten and my bed is calling,

Bye for now,

Go mbeannai dia duit,

Cait.